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The fick Book.
| C H A P. 1. . Of the Contempt of the Vanities of the World.
Y E that followeth me, shall not walk in Dark
ness, but shall have the Light of Life, Fob.yiii.122
says that Chrift,who declares him
1 self the Light of the World. The true Importance and Design of which Words is doubtless to inStruct us, that the way to be truly Enlightned, and to deliver our selves from all Blindness of Heart, is to make his Holy Life the Object of our Imitation, and to form our Dispositions and Actions upon the perfect Model of that bright Example. But how shall we follow a Pattern, which we but little think of? And therefore the first Step toward thus Copying after him, is the employing our Thoughts, with great Frequency and serious Attention, upon the Perfections of this Divine Original.
. . 2. The
Satisfactinding of icectrine, befor
2. The Doctrine taught by Christ, excells all the Instructions deliver'd to Mankind by all the Holy Men that ever lived; and every Man, endued with a true Christian Spirit, will not fail there to find a hidden Manna, like that of old , fitted both to nourish, and minister Delight to his Soul. The true Account then of Mens hearing the Gospel, without any sensible Relish, or eager Desire, is, that they are not endued with the Spirit of Christ. This is a Treasure found of them only who desire to find it; and a Man must resolve and endeavour to form his whole Conversation upon the Principles of that Doctrine, before he can attain to a full Understanding of its Excellence, and feel an inward Satisfaction in the Study of it.
3. And here indeed lies the true benefit of Medita. tion and Knowledge. For, without this, how poor and unprofitable a thing is Speculation. What is a Man the better for entring into the Sublime Mysteries of the Trinity, and being able to dispute nicely upon that adorable Union, if in the mean while he want that Meekness and Humility, without which he must needs lie under the Displeasure of the Trinity ? Certain itis, that Diftinctions and Notions, tho' never so subtle or . serviceable to the Truth, do not make a Man Just and Holy: But a careful and conscientious Life, recommends us to the Favour and Love of God. I had ra-, ther be affected with a true penitent Sorrow for Sin, than be able to resolve the. niost difficult Cases about it. Suppose you had all the Bible faithfully treasured up in your Memory, and a perfect Comprehension of all the Moral Philosophy in the World To what purpose serves this mighty. Stock of Rules, if not drawn out in- t to Use by Charity, and seconded by Divine Grace ;
. Vanity of Vanities, all isVanity, said the PreachEcclef.1.2. er ; and his Observacion admits of that single Exception only, taken notice of in the Conclusion of his Book, Love God, and keep his Commandments, for this !
Ito cerning perfectly
is the whole of Man. He who would ap-
4. Vanity most certainly it is, with great Solicitude " to seek and place our Hope and Confidence in Riches,
which are sure to perish. Vanity, to cherish our Am
bition, and strive, by all possible means, to attain a 1. high and honourable Station. Vanity, to indulge the
Desires of the Flesh, and court those Pleasures, which draw after them grievous and lasting Pains. Vanity most exquisite, to be infinitely concerned for living long, and perfectly indifferent, or but coldly affected, concerning living well. Vanity most fåtal and stupid, to determine our Thoughts and Cares to this Life present, and never look forward to that which is to come: Todote upon things that fly swiftly from us, and cling
fast about imaginary and transitory Delights; while we ! suffer our felves by these to be detained and diverted from the Pursuit of substantial and eternal Joys.
s. Oh! turn this Vehemence of Desire upon the right Object, and remember, to how little purpose it is placed on that which cannot give Content, since most true is that Observation, which ought to make us wiser, The Eye is not satisfied with Seeing, nor the Ear filled with Hearing. Use then thy Eccles. i. 8. utmost Diligence to wean thy Soul from the Love of the Things that are seen, and set thy Affections on Things tbat are not seen. For , be assured, that they who follow their own sensual Appetites, 'do lose, not only their Labour and Expectation, but their Innocence and Pu. rity, the Peace of their own Conscience, and the Favour of Almighty God.
CH A P.
THE Desire of Knowledge is natural to every Man
I but what Advantage is it to be knowing, if that Knowledge be not feasoned with Virtue and Religi on? The vilest Peasant, and he, whom we in fcorn think least removed from a Brute, if he serve God according to the best of his mean Capacity, is yet a beti iter and more valuable Man, than the proudéft Philo. sopher, who busies himself in considering the Motions of the Heavens, but bestows ño Reflection at all upon those of his own Mind. Thé certain Confequence of knowing a Man's self truly, is a mean Opinion of himself, and not being exalted with the Commendations of other people. And, supposing my Knowledge so vast and extensive, that nothing this World contains were hid from it, yet what would all this avail me in the fight of God, who when he comes to Judgment, will try me upon the Issue, not of what I have known, but what I have done?
2. Restrain that extream Desire of increasing Learning, which at the same time does but increase Sorrow, by involving the Mind in much Perplexity and false
Delusion. For such are fond of being thought Men of • Wisdom, and respected as such: And yet this boasted
Learning of theirs consists in many things, which a Man's Mind is very little, if at all, the better for the knowledge of. And sure, whatever they may think of the matter, he who bestows his Time and Pains upon t'iings, that are of no service for promoting the Happiness of his Soul, ought by no means to be esteemed a wise Man. Words and Notions give no inward Satisfaction; but a Virtuous Life never fails to comfort and refresh the Mind, and to minister the best Antidote
2. Reiten have done Mue, not of