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approaches; In my own better Judgment, which confiders things in the Christian and Spiritual Sense, I am abundantly satisfied, how much the harsher Difpensations of thy Providence conduce to my Soul's Advantage. And, tho' no Chaftisement for the present seems joyous buit grievous, yet my better Sense, when I think freely, convinces me of thy Wisdom and Mercy, and that it is even good for me to be afflicted.
CHA P. XXII.
The Infirmities and Miseries of our Present State.
Disciple] | Will confess my Unrighteousness unto the Lord, Pfal. xxxii. ! and bewail my Infirmities before him. For every trivial Accident cafts me down, and I am often overwhelm'd with Sorrow, upon Occasions which my Caliver Thoughts abundantly convince me, deserve rather my Contempt, than my serious Concern. Sometimes I fee and condemn my own Folly, and mighty Resolutions I make, how bravely I will behave my self for the time to come ; and, yet upon the next Assault of some slight Misfortune, this Imaginary Heroe is beaten from his Post, and cannot stand the shock of a very common Difficulty. The poorest and most despicable Things are, I find, capable of becoming great and dangerous Temptations ; And I, who at a distance defy them, yet, when brought to the Tryal, feel, by fad Experience, upon how slippery Ground I stand.
This is indeed the wretched Condition of thy poor unstable Servant: But, Lord, do 'Thou, in much Compassion, look upon my Frailty, for thou knowelt it
more perfectly than I my self can. Stretch Pyallxix. forth thy Hand, and draw me out of these
deep Waters, and out of this Mire of Sin and Weakness, that I sink not in ny Corruption. I cannot easily express the Melancholy Reflections, the Shame and Confusion, the Indignation and fad Perplexi-' ty of Heart, which the Consciousness of my own Inability to resist Temptations, and the Inconstancy of my best and most vigorous Purposes create; and, tho' my Will be not always vanquished, nor do I (blessed be God) yield to every wicked Suggestion, yet the repeated Assaults of the Enemy disturb my Quiet, and I am weary of a Life, which consists of perpetual Hazard, and painful Conflicts with my self. The Wretchedness of my Condition is but too manifeft ; I need no other Argument to prove it, than that easie Access evil Thoughts find to my Breast, which, in despight of all my watchful Care, and most manful Struggles, are much sooner insinuated, and received, than either driven out again, or prevented from entring.
Look down then, thou Almighty Rock of Israel, and Lover of Souls, and interpose thy Power and Protection; Give seasonable Succour, and happy Success to my too fruitless Endeavours. Arm and Guard me with Strength from above; and suffer not the Old Man,the corrupt Inclinations of my Flesh, which refuses to be entirely subdued and brought to Reason, to usurp the Dominion over my better part. For this Obstinate Rebel renews its Insurrections daily, and bids me Battel ; calls me to Combats and hazardous Engagements, which must never, never end in perfect Peace and Safety, so long asthis miserable State of Mortality endures. Most milerable indeed; since every Action and Accident of my Life involves me in fresh Dangers; since every step I take is upon Snares and Precipices; since every Time and Place is thick beset with Troubles and Toils, with Treachery and Temptation, and a numerous Host of Enemies ready
to devour and swallow me up. For a fatal unintersupted Succession of Tryals are every Moment renewing their Attacks, and when I have happily vanquished many, and fondly promise my self a Truce; as many more immediately draw down upon me, and make fiercer and more furious Attempts upon some other Quarter, which, I hoped had been sufficiently covered from their Approaches.
And can a Life, subject to such Surprizes and Hazards, embittered with so many Troubles and severe Tryals, incumbred with so much Frailty and Corruption, be valued and mightily coveted? Nay, can That deserve the very Name of Life, which naturally breeds Plagues and Diseases, and exposes us to such variety of Deaths ? Yet stupid Man hugs, and embraces, and esteems it his only Happiness; expects Ease in the midst of Distraction, pursues Joys in a Valley of Tears, and vainly sets up for the boasted Perfection of Pleasure, in a condition of inevitable Misery, and lingring, certain pain. Scmetimes indeed the tender Sense of some Amiction cuts us to the quick ; and in our Melancholy Moods, we give the World hard Words; call it Deceitful, Treacherous, and Vain; but even They who Rail at it most Liberally, and profess to Hate and Despise it, cannot be prevailed with to be content to leave it. The Flesh and its Affections have fill a powerful Influence, and spur Men on to the Pursuit and Love of those very Enjoyments, which Reason and their own Experience have taught them, cannot be worth their Pains, nor in any degree answer their deluded Expectations. For we must observe, that our Love and Hatred of this World proceed from very different Causes and Principles. The
... Lults of the Flesh, the Lufts of the Eye, and 1 John iii. the Pride of Life, engage our Affections ; and these are ever present, and ever vehement with Us. The Calamities, and Griefs, and Pains we feel,
d lingsinte' of Tomoly Mood Ireacheroiberally,
and not even the call it Decej gods, we
provoke our Hatred and Contempt, and represent Life a Burden and Misery; and these have their Intervals, and work upon us freely and by Fits. The Former too strike in with Inclination, and are assisted by Nature ; the Latter have no Influence upon us, but what their own Weight gives; all their Impressions are forcible and violent, heavy and painful, and such as we submit to, only because we cannot help it.
Thus Sense and sinful Pleasure ger within us, and, which is very lamentable, debauch our Reason. The present Ticklings of the Body cheat the Mind, and vitiate our Palates to that degree, that, being prepossessed with a false Tast of worldly Sweets we have no Relish left for that delicious Entertainment, with which God and Religion Feed and Feast the Pure and Heavenly-minded Soul. For, O! those happy Men, who have learnt to despise and abandon earthly Things, and Consecrated themselves entirely to God, by Mortification, Self-denial, and a steady Course of severe Virtue; these exalted Spirits know and feel the truth of God and his Promises; They find unspeakable Charms and sensible Delights in the voluntary refusal of those Toys and Baits which cannot be had with Satisfaction, nor coveted with safety. They fee and despise, and pity the Folly of abused Mankind, discover the lurking Frauds of the Tempter; and, that the imagined Happiness and boasted Pleasures of sensual and earthly Men, are only Snares and Dangers, Vanity and Cheat.
C H A P.
CH A P. XXII. Of Placing all our Hope and Happiness in GOD, Disciple.] D Epose thy self, my Soul, in God, upon
T all Occasions; and above all other Dependances ; for he is the only sure Refuge, the eternal Rest of the Saints. Grant me thy Grace,O sweetest, kindest Saviour, to value, and love, and trust in Thee above all things. Make me to prize thee far before Health and Beauty, to desire thee more than Honour and Advancement, more than Riches and Power, more than Wit and Learning ; To rejoyce in thee more than in Pleasure and Prosperity, more than in Reputation and Praise, more than in the largest Promises, the highest Deserts, the most exalted Gifts, the most transporting Joys, which thou canst impart, or my Heart, when most enlarged, is able to receive, Let me admire thee above Angels and Arch-angels, and all the Host of Heaven; above all Things visible and invisible, more than all that is, or can be, which is not thy own self.
For Thou, my God, art the best and most excellent Being ; In thee alone is Plenty and Fulness, sweet Refreshment, peaceful Comfort, and ravishing Delights; the Perfection of Beauty and charming Graces; true Honour and adorable Greatness : In Thee, as in its proper Center, all Good meets, and dwells, and hath , and doth, and will continue to abide, from, and to all Eternity. Give then thy self, my dearest Jesus, for all thou givest, and all thou promisest to give besides, is poor and little, when compared with the Sight and Fruition of Thee. And I have found, by long Experience, that all thy other Favours, nay, all Nature is too short and narrow to fatisfy my Soul; whose unbounded Desires exalt and