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The Life of a true Christian is indeed one continu'd Cross; but since this is the way that leads to Paradise, it is by no means fit, that I should depart from it, or repent of my holy Resolutions, and good Beginnings.
Come then, my Christian Brethren, let us advance boldly. Courage, for Christ is with us; he does not only lead us on, but will enable us to follow him. For his fake we have taken up the Cross, and for his fake we must persevere in bearing it. Behold the King and Captain of our Salvation, marches at our head, ready to fight our Battels. Let Us, like gallant Soldiers, follow; let us abandon our Fears, and manfully prepare to die in the Field; and not stain our Honour and lose our Crown, by flinching from that Service, and those Hardships, which he hath made our Duty and our Glory.
CHA P. LXII.
Against being dejected with Temptations.
Chrift.] Udge not, my Son, of thy Favour and
Acceptance with God, by such false Measures, as the Warmth of thy Devotion, and the Delight which results from the Discharge of thy Duty; for I am better pleased with Humility and Patience, and deep Contrition of Heart, in a disconsolate and afflicted State, than with an eager Zeal, and the most exalted Acts of an easie and prosperous Piety. And whence is it, dost thou think, that every little Scandal, which detracts from thy Reputation, so sensibly affects thee? Were it yet more to thy Difparagement, yet could it not be worth thy Concern. This is not the first Injury of this kind, nor is it like
to be the faft, if thou live longer among Men'; and what is not new or trange ought not to surprize thee, I know thy Courage and pretended Bravery, while Danger keeps its distance; Thou canst discourse like a Philofopher and a Chriftian, and give excellent 'Advice to thy Friends, when they labour under strefs ; but when Their Case happens to be thy own, and some unexpected Calamity comes home to thee, thy Prudence and Resolution forsake thee quite, and thou standest no less in need of the Counsel and Support, which thou wert wont so freely to impart to others heretofore.
Let this Experiment remind thee of thy own Frailty, which by such Instances appears not to be Proof against the slightest Misfortunes. For even these Instances are greatly for thy advantage, and bring thee to a right and perfect understanding of thy own Condition. Grow wiser at least at thy own expence; and as thy calmer Reason fhews they ought to be, To let thy Behaviour manifest, that these tender Resentments of TemporalEvils are banished out of thy Mind. If thou cannot entertain Adversity with abfolute Indifference, yet let it not drive thee to Despondency and wicked Distrust; and, however the first Onset may disturb thee, yet rally quickly, and let it not long overpower thee; and tho' perhaps thou art not arrived to
that perfection, of counting it all Foy, when Jam. I.
thou fallest into divers Temptations, thou canst not be excused from undergoing them with Meekness and Resignation, and Patience. If thou art not yet got even thus far, but some indecent Reflections rise up in thy Mind, yet let not this secret Indignation break out into irreverent Expressions; but set a Watch
upon thy Tongue. and keep the Door of thy Lips, Psal. cxli. resolve at least that thy Mouth shall not ofand xxxix.
fend; and though thy Heart be hot within thee, yet let not any passionate Complaints burst
out, which may cast Imputations upon the Honour of God, impeach the Justice and Goodness of Providence, or give Offence to thy weaker Brethren. For by thus manning and guarding well the Qutworks, thy inward Commotions will in time be composed; thy Sorrow by degrees shall turn into Joy, and che Favour and Mercy of that God, be inclined to relieve and comfort thee, in recompence for thy Reverence and Submission to his good Pleasure.
As I livé, Saith the Lord, I will help thee speedily, and comfort then who earnestly seek me; who put their trust in my Salvation. Call up thy Christian Fortitude, and sink not under thy Burden, but prepare for greater Trials. If thy former Troubles have overwhelmed thy Spirits, and prevailed over thy Temper and thy Virtue, let not the Remembrance of thy former Trials discourage thee. The Lord knoweth whereof thou art made, be remembreth that thou art but Duft: Psalm ciii. A Man, and not God; Flesh, and not Angel, or unbodied Spirit; How canft thou then expect to continue in an undisturb'd state of Goodness? How should thy Virtue be above the shocks and shakings of Temptation, when even the Angels kept not their first Eftate; and Man in Paradise, so foon fell from In. nocence? I am thy sole Protection, who raise the Souls dejected with Sorrow, preserve those who acknowledge and bewail their own Weakness, and glorify with
self the humble Christians, who are ashamed of their Follies and Miscarriages.
Disciple. ] Blessed be thy Mercy, for the gracious Words which drop from thy Mouth, soft as the gentle Dew, and sweeter than Honey and the Hony-comb. What would become of me in the extremity of my Distress and Anguish of my Soul, did not thy Promises and seasonable Inftructions refresh and comfort me? But be it as thou wilt; for I cannot think it any great matter, how long or boisterous my Voyage is, so thou
at last conduct me safe, to that peaceful Haven, where good Men are at rest: Let my Afflictions be never so great, so thou grant a happy Issue, and turn my Sufferings to good effect. Be my Condition in this Life Adverfe or Prosperous, no Prosperity will profit, no Adversity harm me, but in proportion to the State in which I die. ' And if I go well out of the World, my continuance in it cannot be fo troublesome, that I should have cause to repent or complain. Order my Affairs then as thou pleaseft; but always, O my God, remember me for good ; lead me in the right and ready way to thy Kingdom, dispose my every Axion towards the attainment of Salvation, and let me so pass through things Temporal, that I finally lose not the things Eternal. : Amen.
Against Prying into Things too high for us, and pretending to Fathom the Depths of God and Provi. dence.
Chriß.] Doufnot, naye Som take
O not, my Son, take upon thee to dif
pute, or determine any thing concerning abstruse and difficult Points ; nor too curiously en, quire into those mysterious Dispensations, which God hath purposely concealed from thee. Concern nog thy self about the amazing Distributions of Grace or Providence; why one Man is forsaken and in dilfavour with God; another so surprizingly indulged by him ; This Person exercised with AMictions and Sorrows, or That so gently dealt with, so unaccountably exalted. These are things out of thy Sphere; and all the Parts and Penetration, the acuteit Wit, and acquired Improvements of Man, are much too
short and feeble to enter into the Reasons of the Divine Counsels. If therefore such Curiofities return upon thee, look upon them as the Suggestions of the Devil, by which he labours to disquiet and unsettle thee." If Men impertinently busie, require a Solution of such Difficulties, content thy self with that general Answer of the Prophet; Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just are thy Judgments; The Fudg- pealxix. .
Fer. xii. 1. ments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether ; His Righteousness standeth like the strong Mountains, fixt and immovable, eminent and conspicuous ; and his Judgments are likethe great Deep. A vaft and dark Abyss, such as we cannot see to Psal xxxvi.7. the bottom of, or fathom with the short Line of a Finite Understanding:
My Methods and Dealings are to be admired and had in reverence, not sawcily criticized upon by my own Creatures: For no Creature can have a Capacity proportioned to them; and what Men cannot comprehend, they should not presume to take into Examination.
As little ought they to enquire and dispute concerning the Merits or the Preference of Good Men;which of the Saints excels in Virtue, or is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? For these are Questions in which Men are no way concerned, such as ingender Strife and Debate , and turn to no good Account ; they cherish Arrogance and Pride, Envy and Faction, while Men break into Parties, and each contends for the Preeminence of him whose Order and Patronage he is devoted to, or whom his own Vain Imagination inclines him most ro honour. The Effect of this is very visible, and the Mischiefs that spring from such an impertinent Zeal, exceeding numerous and lamentable ; The Controverfie neither poflible to be decided, nor worth deciding, if it were.
And if those Saints have any knowledge what pafles here below, this indiscreet