| C H A t. XI, Of Peace of Mind, and á Defire of Improvement. M E N might live quiet and easy enough, if they

would be careful not to give themselves trouble, and forbear meddling with what other people do and say, in which they are no way concerned. But how should he be easy, who makes other Mens Cares his own? Who industriously seeks Disquiet, and when he might rest in Peace within doors, goes abroad to invite and fetch Disturbance home to his House who takes such Pains, and spends so much Time to enquire into the Affairs of Neighbours and Strangers, altogether foreign to him; and feldom or never descends into his own Breaft, that he may examine and under

stand himself ? Blessed are the Meek, fays Mattb. v.5. the Scripture, for they shall inherit the Earth Isa. xxix. 19:

14:19: peaceabiy, and increase their Foy in the Lord. And whence is it, think you, that fome Holy Perfons can so perfectly abstract themselves from the Concerns of this World, and find such satisfaction in their Divine Retirements, and Solitary Contemplations ? From hence, no doubt; that they have made it their Business to mortify all earthly and sensual Affe&tions, and so have devoted themselves entirely to God, and are at liberty to attend upon Him without distraction. But we find the Case much otherwise with us, bem cause our Passions interrupt our Piety, and the Transitory Things of this World continue tenderly to affect us. We seldom gain an entire Conquest over any one ill Habit ; nor are we zealous to make every day we live a Step to higher Degrees of Virtue. This is the reason why we are so cold and insensible, or at best, but lukewarm and indifferent, in the Exercises of Piery and Private Meditation.


one ill Have a step to high to cold and it

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Were we but, as we ought to be, dead to the World and our own Lusts, disentangled from those Chains and Snares within, that hamper and keep our Souls down to Matter and Sense, then should We also relish Acts of Devotion, and be ravished with marvellous Joy, when our Thoughts are fixed on God and Heaven. The only, or the greatest Bar to these Spiritual Delights, proceeds from Passions unsubdued, and from our own Sloth, which cares not to encounter Difficul. ties, nor aspire to the Perfection of the Saints. Hence is that Tameness and Dejection of Spirit, so visible, so scandalous, when any little Misfortune comes across us : Hence our vain Confidence, and anxious Care, which seeks and depends upon Humane Helps and Remedies; and neglects God, our only sufficient Refuge and Deliverer. . Would we but quit our felves like Men, and reso. lutely stand our Ground, we should not fail of Succours from above. God is always ready to strengthen those who strive lawfully, and place their Hope in the Assistance of his heavenly Grace: He means our very Hardships and Dangers for our Good; and engages us in new Conflicts and Temptations, that he may make our Victories more glorious, and qualify us for 2 brighter Crown. If we content our selves with the Observance of the outward Duties only, and suppose this is the utmost Perfection necessary for us; we bring Religion into a very narrow Compass, and my quickly get to the End of it. But alas ! the Main of our Business lies within : The Axe must be laid to the Root of the Tree, and our Sensual Appetites quito cut down, before we can attain to true Pleasure in Holiness, and a peaceful Serenity of Mind.. - Would we but impcle upon our selyes the Task of Mortifying a fresh Luit, and conquering a vicious Habit every Year; even thus in a little time we miglio attain to Perfection. But alas! we often take che di


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

rect contrary course; and are generally more wary, more devout, more zealous to do well, and to avoid evil, when we first enter upon a Religious Life, than after we have spent some time in it. The Fervor of our Affeétion, which ought in reason to grow every Day stronger and brighter, cools and goes out again; and we reckon it a great matter, if our Zeal can be kept up to the same warmth, which we felt at its first kindling. We are too tender of our Ease, and loth to put our felves upon the stretch : whereas, would we but use a little Severity, and submit to some Violence at first, that Trouble would quickly wear off ; and all our Progress in Virtue be, not easie and to- i lerable only, but even a delight, and wonderful sa- ; tisfaction to us.

'Tis hard, I own, to part with our old Friends, and to unlearn Habits to which we have been long accustomed : and harder yet it is, to enter into a formal War with our own Inclinations; and obstinately! deny what we eagerly desire. But if we do not con- , quer smaller Difficulties, what will become of us, when assaulted by greater ? If we do not resist our natural Propenfions at first, before Inclination is strengthened by Custom, the Enemy will gather Strength ; every Day's Practice is a fresh Reinforcement; and the longer the Delay, the greater will be the Difficulty. O think of this in time, and consider the happy Effects of an early and serious Piery: What Peace, what Triumphs to our selves; what Joy to others, to God and Christ, to Angels and Good Men you will certainly procure, by behaving your selves gallantly in this Spiritual Warfare. This sure will balance all the Hardships, of Virtue; reproach your Cowardice and Sloch, provoke and inflame your Diligence and Courage ; and make you zealous, refoJute, iinpatient to grow in Grace, and advance evesy Day in. Spiritual Perfection..



The Advantage of Afflictions. YT is good for me that I have been in Trouble, says Daa 1. vid. Nor isit David's Case alone, for

Psalm cxix. many Men have reason to bless that Providence which sendsCrosses and Calamities upon them. These bring a Man's Thoughts home, put him upon

Reflection, and help him to understand himself and f his Condition. They shew him, that he is in a State to of Exile and Pilgrimage,and forbid him to set up his fi Hope and Reft, in a strange Country, where he is no

better than a Sojourner.

Nor is it thus with those Sufferings alone, which the immediate Hand of Heaven infiicts; but even those whereof Men are the Instruments : The Injuries and contumelious Usage, the Calumnies and Censures of them who speak and think ill of us, bring their Profit with them too; even when most wrongful, most un. deserved. For chefe ofcentimes are an occasion of res ctifying our Measures, as bringing us to a jufter and more modest Opinion of our felves: They cure our

Ambition and Vain-glory, and convince us how vain t' a thing it is, to thirit after Reputation and the Praise fel of Men, when even Innocence and Goodness cannot 10 protect us from Slander and Reproaches. They teach ti us to set a due value upon the Testimony of our own el Consciences, and therighteous Approbation of God, in the Searcher of Hearts; when that which he will not 22: fail to commend and reward, cannot escape the Con, ü .tempt and Condemnation of the World, nor prevail

for so much as fair Quarter, from our mistaken and ö injurious Brethren. {. It is therefore both our Duty and our Wisdom, so entirely to place our Happiness and Expectations in

C 2


God alone, that we shall not need to be extremely solicitous for many outward Comforts, or feel our selves destitute, or much dejected, when any of these happen to fail or forsake us. For when a well-dispofed Man is oppressed with Sufferings and Temptations, or perplexed with Evil Thoughts, he then feels experimentally how necessary the Divine Affiftance is, and how litrle he is able to do or endure without it: Then he is touched with inward Remorfe, then does he groan in secret, and in the anguish of his Heart, pour out his Requests for Relief and Deliverance: Then even Life it self becomes a Burthen,and Death desirable; as that which will translate him from this Valley of Tears and Corruption, to a Life of Immortality with his God and Redeemer. In a word, Such Circumstances as these are more effectual than ten thousand Arguments, to convince him by his own sensible Experience, that perfect Security, and entire Satisfaction are not so much as consistent with the Condition of Man in this present World, and therefore we must be content to wait another and Future State, which alone deserves our Affections, because It alone can make us truly and compleatiy happy.


Of Resisting Temptations.

Co long as we continue in this World, we must pot D flatter our felves with an Imagination so vain, as that of being exempted from Tribulations and Tryoch vii. 1: als : These are lo inseparable from MortaSec. lxx. E. lity, that fb calls the Life of Mana Warvulg. fire, or Place of Exercise. It highly concerns every one of us upon this account, to take great


« 前へ次へ »