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and strong upon me every Day and Hour. Be Thou my Comfort in this exiled and desolate Condition; Afswage my Pain, and incline thy Favour to thy Ser
. vant, whose parched and languishing Soul Psal.cxliii.
klii. gaspeth unto thee as a thirsty Land. Thou only art able to do this; For, what the mistaken World calls Comforts, are but so many fresh Additions to my Burden. I long most earnestly to enjoy, but cannot yet attain my Wish. Fain would I grasp and cling to heavenly things, but am detained and faftened down to Earth, by Vanities below, and unmortify'd Affections. My Mind labours to get above there, but even, when the Spirit is willing, I find the Flesh extreamly weak, and my sensual, prevails over my better, and heavenly Inclinations.
Thus am I, wretched Man, involved in a perpetual War, and live in contradiction to my self; my own Hindrance and Torment, moving different ways, and pursuing different Ends and Prospects at one and the same time. How great is my Concern and Conflict, when I set my Mind to Meditate and Pray, and, in the midst of this Exercise am interrupted by a Clutter of worldly and carnal Imaginations crowding in upon me? Go not far from me, O my God, neither cast away thy Servant in Displeasure. Scatter these dark and gloomy Clouds, which intercept my Vision of thee, by the Brightness of thy Lightning ; Thunder
.. upon them from Heaven, cast out thine ArPsal. cxliv. rows and discomfit them. Recollect my Broken and Scattered Thoughts, help me to forget the things of this World, to reject, and despise, and effectually drive away all sinful Imaginations. Affift me, thou substantial Truth, and Root me fast, that no blast of Vanity may shake and unsettle my Heart. Diffuse thy Heavenly Sweetness through my Soul, and chase away all nauseous, unsavoury, and impure Affections, for these cannot stand before thee.
• Particularly, deareft Lord, I implore thy Compassion upon my Infirmities; and in thy Mercy impute not to me, my many wandring thoughts in Prayer. For there, I must confess, my Distractions are great and frequent; and I am often least of all in that place, where I stand or kneel: Thus, while my Body is before thy Footstool, my Mind is carried away I know not whither. And this is a very melancholy Reflection, such as gives me occasion to suspect, and deeply bewail my felf. Since where my Thoughts are, there properly and indeed am I; and where my Thoughts frequent, and delight to dwell, there without doubt is the Object of my Affection and Concern, and that which either natural Dispositions or long Cuftom renders most delightful, that to be sure is most familiar, and comes continually uppermost. All this I gather from that Observation, which thou, Eternal Truth, hast left us, that where our Treasure is, there will our Hearts be also.
Matth. vi. This then is the Rule, by which I try and found the Bent of my Heart; If I love Heaven, the Thoughts of it will be frequent and pleasant to me. But if I love the World, the effect of this will be, that I shall feel excess of Joy in prosperous Events, and be asimmoderate in my Grief for those that are otherwise. If I love the Flesh, wanton and Carnal Imaginations will often return upon me, and be entertained with Satisfaction; but if I love the Spirit, then shall I find in Spiritual Objects a grateful Relish, and dwell upon them with true Delight. For this my own Senses and Experience assure me, that what I love moft, I am best pleased to be entertained with, greedieft to hear and forwardest to talk of, most careful to remember, and to preserve deep and lasting Impressions of upon my Mind. And therefore, though I cannot attain to it so fully as I wish and strive, yet I can plainly perceive, and do truly value and admire the Happiness
of Them, who can abandon all, and stick to Thee alone; that commit a holy Violence upon their natural Inclinations, Crucify the Flesh, and with a pure bright Zeal, and a clear Confcience, can offer holy, fervent Prayers,' a Spiritual and unblemish'd Sacrifice : Where All without are forbidden entrance, and All within is composed. These Men, fo firmly intent upon Thee and their Devotions, are fit to praise thee with those Angels, whose refined Excellencies they so happily aspire after, and to whose blessed Society thou wilt one Day exalt and admit them.
CH A P. LIV. of the Defire of Eternal Life, and the Happiness of
Them who strive Manfully.
Chrift.] A Y Son, when thou feelest thy Soul in
TVI flamed with an eager desire of Eternal Happiness, and thinkest long to be released from this Prison of the Body, that thou may'st be blessed with a nearer and more distinct view, a perfect, full and uninterrupted Fruition of my Brightness and Majeity; set open all the Avenues of thy Soul, and greedily receive the holy Inspiration. Express thy humbleft Thanks to God, and be duly sensible of his Goodness, who deals so bountifully with thee, visits thee with his Mercy, supports and strengthens thee with his Grace, and raises those Affections up to, Heaven, which have a fatal innate Tendency to immerse thy Soul in Earth, and Flesh and Sense. For, do not mistake the Matter, no Reasonings or Endeavours of thy own have power to effect so good a Work, or to create those Spiritual Inclinations; the Finger of God is in them, and they are owing to no
lefs noble a Cause, than the free and bountiful Donation of Divine Grace and Favour: The Design of which is to advance and exalt thy Virtues, to make thee humble and modest, with Reflections upon the Strength of another made perfect in thy Weakness; to fit thee for future Tryals, and sorer Conflicts, to engage thy Affections, and encourage thy Perseverance, in the faithful Service of so gracious, so good a Master.
Nor let thy Spirits be dejected, Son, if this be not done with all that Zeal, and entire Resignation of a Heart perfectly undivided, which thou could'It wish. For, as in Common Fire there will always be some Smoak; so in these holy Flames many Men are sincerely desirous of heavenly things, who yet cannot quite diveft themselves of Carnal Affections, nor be absolutely free from all Temptations. And therefore, some other Prospects will often interpose, as well as that of promoting God's Glory only, by those good Actions, for which the Assistances of his Grace are sought, and earnestly implored. Of this thy own Experience convinces thee by sundry Instances, in which thou seeft no reason to suspect thy own Integrity. Nor will all that be condemned at the last Day,which was attempted with a mixture of some Desire to promote thy own Advantage. Only take care that this Desire prevail not so far, as to incline thee to prefer what may contribute to thy Profit or Delight, before those Things which will procure my Favour and Acceptance, and be for mine and for Religion's Honour. For with a wise considerate Christian, my Will takes place above his own Desires, or any the most inviting Object; and if it reign not in his Heart alone, yet it always sits fupreme, and over-rules the rest. I know all thy Desires, and thy Groanings are not hid . from me. Thou would'It this Inftant be ad- Psal. xxxviii. mitted into the glorious Liberty of the Sons of God; the blissful and eternal Manlions of thy heavenly
Father's House are thy I gings and Delight; and as
the Heart panteth after the Water-springs, so Pfal. JX111. . doth thy Soul pant and thirst after me. But as yet thou art not ripe for these Joys; that happy Hour is not come ; for this Life is the time of Warfare,and Action, and Trial,and not of Rest,and Joy,and Triumph; and thou must be content to wait with Patience, till the Kingdom of God shall come in perfection.
The Condition of Mortals upon Earth is that Exercise and Discipline ; the Joys they feel are Comforts and Supports, not full and perfect Happiness; they are given not to satisfie, but only to sustain them. And therefore receive them as they are, and use them to their proper Purposes, that by them thy Constancy and Patience may be preserv'd from sinking under the weight of any Difficulties, which either the doing or suffering things, to which frail and Corrupt Nature is averse,may at any time expose thee. For the Change of a Man's self is a very laborious Undertaking, and yet this must be done. The Flesh with its Lusts must be crucified, a New Heart and a New Spirit introduced, many things done which offer Violence to a Man's Inclinations,many forgone and let alone, to which he is strongly dispos'd. Others thou shalt often observe crown'd with Success, when thy own no less painful Endeavours are defeated and disappointed : Others looke upon as Qracles, when thy better and wiser Advice is disregarded and despised : Others will suffer long, and at last obtain their Desire; Thou, perhaps, tho* equally patient, equally fervent and zealous in thy Application dismist with a Repulse; Others be great in Fame and general Esteem, while thy more deserving Virtues are pass'd over in Silence; Others caressed, preferr d. trusted in Matters of Consequence, and looked upon us useful and necessary, while thou art re:puted a useless and insignificant Person. These mi- . B Haken or partial Judgments of Men will grate hard