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to restore and augment them to thee, when I see that convenient too.
Nor think me hard and unjust in these Dispensations; for who shall forbid me to do what I will with my own? I gave thee what thou could'It not claim; and I take away what thou haft no right to keep. For
every good and perfect Gift is mine, and not James i. 17.
a Debt but a Favour. If then Affidion comes, remember ’tis of my fending; and I, who laid the Cross, can both remove and recompense it: I kill
and make alive, I bring down to the Grave, I Sam. ii.
and raise up from it ; And in the instant that I lay my Thunder by, and smile again, thy Heaviness shall be changed into Joy unspeakable.
In all my Dealings I am just, in ail am wife, and good; and deserve, not only thy Admirațion, but even thy Thanks and Praise ; Could'It thou but rightly comprehend my Methods, and the secret Reasons of them, thou would'ft drink up the bitter Potion with Joy ; with Joy, upon this very confideration, that I do not spare thee to thy hurt, but fend Aflictions in pure kindness to thee, when I foresee they will be for thy Advantage. Observe the Tenure of my gracious Promise to my best beloved Disciples : tis my Father
loved me, even so bave I loved you. But both John xvi.
my Father's Love to Me, and Mine to them was express’d, not by false and transitory Joys, but by sharp and long Conflias; by being called, not to Honours, but to Contumelies and Disgrace ; not by indulging them in Ease and Sloth, but by inuring them to Tryals and Difficulties; by calling them, not to Reft and Peace, but to bring forth noble and generous Fruit with Patience. Remember well these Words, my Son, and then thou canst not think much, to drink of the Cup that I drank of so deeply, and to be baptized with the Baptism that I was baptized with. Thou canit not then despair, or think that
God, in afflicting thee, hath abandoned all Care and Concern for thy Benefit, fince even that tender, that unparalleld, that unconceivable Affection, with which he loved his own dear Son, hindred not his making that very Captain of thy Salvation perfect
Hebr. ii. abro' Sufferings. And what art thou ? What is the best of Men in comparison of Him ? What are thy Agonies and Tryals, the very worst of thine, in comparison of His ?
CH A P. XXXVI.
Of seeking God alone.
HY Mercy, Lord, is great, which hatha
thus far aslifted me; but still I feel I want a larger Portion of thy Grace, which may conduct me to such a State of Perfection, as may secure and set me at liberty from all the Obstructions which the Creatures lay in my Way. For so long as I retain an Affection or Concern for any thing in this World, I find my Soul checke and restrain'd in her Mountings to Thee and Heaven. How often do I make the Prophet's Wish my own, Oh that I had Wings like a Dove, for then would I fly away and le Pfalm. lv. at reft ; Lo then would I get me away far off, and remain at a distance from the World. Now what is inore at ease, more abstracted from the World, than a true lingle-hearted Honesty ? What can boast of Freedom equal to His, who covets nothing upon Earth ? All created Beings should indeed be palled over, and left behind in this Flight, and a Man must make a Stretch even beyond himself, and abandon his own Natural Inclinations and Defects, in order to get a distinct View of the Creator, and those Perfections in him, to which
no Creature bears any Resemblance. Now this is the very Reason, why so few employ their Thoughts in Heavenly Contemplations with any sensible Delight ; because when they attempt it, they do it unskilfully; and bring thofe Worldly Affections along with them, that damp and disgust them in the Undertaking.
It is not, I confess, an eafie Matter ; nay, 'tis not possible to Flesh and Blood, by its own Strength, thus to purge the Affections : Nothing less than a liberal and very powerful Inspiration of Divine Grace can thus exalt the Mind, and as it were, carry the Man out of himself: But till such Exaltation of the Soul have disengaged one from all Temporal Interests, and fix'd down his Desires to that one Object worthy of them, God himself; all his Knowledge and imagined Excellencies are very little worth. For whatever false Notions of Honour and Greatness Men may delude themselves with, yet still all they have poor and little Souls, and dote upon that which ought to be disdained, who allow any thing, besides the Infinite and Eternal God, a very honourable Place in their Affections and Esteem. For All which is not God, is Vanity and Nothing, and ought to be nothing regarded. How vast a difference is there between the Wisdom of a mortified pious Man, enlightned from above ; and the pompous Learning of a profound and studious Divine ? That Knowledge which descends from above, speaks its heavenly Original, by marvelous and noble Effects; and works a greater Change in the Man, a greater Improvement in profitable Knowledge, than all that Comprehension, which the best Capacities, and the most indefatigable Industry can ever attain to.
We often hear very glorious Characters of Divine Contemplation, and the wonderful Delights and Transports attending it ; and These a great many appear very fond of, but then they have no regard to the neceffary Preparations for it ; their Minds are full of sensible Idea's, and possess’d with the things of this present World, and the Subduing and Mortifying their Desires and Passions is a Matter they take no care about : And while their Affairs continue in this
Posture, they are in no degree qualified for those ExPercises of the Mind. Methinks it is a most unaccount
able Folly, and argues that Men forget what Spirit they are of, when they call themselves Christians, i.e. Spiritual Persons that have solemnly renounced the World with its Vanities, and the Flesh with its sinful Lusts; who profess to believe and to seek Happiness in a future State, and to place that Happiness in the Perfection of their Souls ; and yet, in Reproach and Contradiction to these Professions, suffer Body and Sense to run away with them; lay out themselves entirely upon perishing and paltry Advantages, while the subftantial and everlasting are wretchedly neglected, and their Souls so perfectly forgotten,that they scarce afford one serious thought to their most important concerns. Or, if at any time we set our selves to think, some Trifle presently interrupts and draws us off from any profitable Recollections. Nay, we our selves fly out, and are glad to be diverted from a severe Examination into our own State, which is sure, if diligently pursued, to present us with objects of Shame and Sorrow, such as will wound our Sight, and soon make us weary of this necessary Work. Thus we never trouble our selves to observe which way our Inclinations are disposed, or whither they tend ; nor do we seriously bewail the abominable Impurity of our Hearts, though there be nothing but Ímpurity there. The way of all Flesh is corrupt upon Gen. vi. the Earth ; and that universal Corruption says the Scripture, brought a Flood to destroy Mankind and every Creature. But whence, do we think,
proceeds such Corruption of Manners ? from the Corrupt Affections of Men, no doubt. For, if this Fountain be not sweet, the Action, which is but a Stream and Emanation from it, muft of necessity be flat and bitter. For a pure Heart is the Ground-work of a holy Life ; and as naturally springs from it Fruit from the Tree.
And herein we are much to blame, that so little Regard is had to the Dispositions of the Heart; without which no true Judgment can ever be made either of our selves or others. But this, which is in truth of greatest Consequence; the very point upon which a Man's whole Character turns, seems to be laid aside, as a thing too nice and speculative to be very curious in. We fix our Eyes upon the outward Action, consider what, or how much a Man hath done ; but with what Sincerity, with what Zeal, with what honest Intention he did it, or whether with none of all these Qualifications, we trouble not our selves to enquire. So again, for the Estimate we make of Persons, they are all foreign from the true and proper Foundation of Merit and Respect; The Riches, Valour, Beauty, Judgment, Wit, Elcquence, a good Style, or a sweet Voice, or a Knack of Management in Town or Country-business, his Preferments, or his Profession, These we immediately take care to be informed of, and proportion our Value and Respects accordingly; but a Man's Humility and Poverty of Spirit, his Meekness and Patience, his Devotion and Piety, These are seldom mentioned in the Character, or recommendedas Motives to induce Regard. Thus Nature and Grace have their different Prospeas and Affections. The former looks at the Outside of a Man, and rates him according to things that are not his ; the latter places all within, and sets not at all by external Ornainents and Advantages : The former builds upon a