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sed Angels in all manner of Holiness, since We, as well as They, are always in his Presence. To this purpofe it would be expedient, daily to renew our Resolutions of living well, and every Morning to refresh and quicken that Zeal, with which they were made at first. To beg of God that he would help us, and enable us that Day to begin well; To begin, Í fay, for all that we have done hitherto ought in lowliness of Mind to seem, and to be acknowledged by us, as nothing.
Great Diligence and Watchfulness is necessary, in order to discharging faithfully what we have intended, and resolved, zealously. For if They, who are most sincere and vigorous in their Purposes, are yet too often weary, and remiss in their Performances, What do we think must needs become of those who purpose but very feldom, or very coldly? 'Tis true, indeed, the Occasions of our falling off, or fainting in our Minds, are various and many; and seldom do we allow our selves in any Omission of Religious Duties, without even thus perceiving a very sensible abatement and decay of Zeal. The Perfeverance of good Men, in the midst of so many Difficulties and Avocations, must be ascribed to God's Favour and Afliftance, more than to any Care and Wisdom of their own.
And Good Men have always this Notion of the Thing, for they depend upon God for the Succefs of all they
do, even of their best and wisest Underta. Prov. xvi. 9.
kings. A Man's Heart deviseth his Way, but the Lord dire&tetb bis Steps, says Solomon : We may con
trive and act as seems most adviseable ; Ibid. i.
but, as the very Preparations of the Heart, by which we do so, are from the Lord, so is the Event of our having done it entirely in his disposal.
If at any time a Religious Exercise be omitted upon the account of some other Act of Piety, or some Work of Charity at that time inconsistent with it
this does us no Disservice, and the Omiffion is easily o repaired. But if thro' any loathness or indifpofition of Mind, if thro' Laziness or any voluntary Neglect of
our own, our customary Devotions be passed over; IO. this is from a wicked Cause, and will not fail to have
a very ill Effe& upon us. When we keep our Zeal; with all our might , and do our very best, yet even then we shall find our felves often defective. But, tho
we cannot arrive at absolute Perfection, nor conquer * all our Frailties, nor prevent all our Hindrances in Goodness; yet ought not this to discourage us from striving and resolving. And, when we do fo, we shall
do well not to content our felves with general Intenno tions, but bend our Force against some particular
thing, and chiefly against such as we have found by * Experience to be the greatest and most troublesome "Obstruction to our doing well. The Condition of Tour Affairs without, and that of our own Souls with4 in, must be diligently considered, and reduced into by the belt Order we can; because both the CircumU stances of the One, and the Dispositions of the Other, contribute greatly to our furtherance in Piety.
It may be you cannot at all times recollect and call TI
your self to account, but certainly you cannot want Opportunities of doing lo once every Day at least. The Morning or the Evening are proper for it. As Night you may lay out your Businels for the Day fol
lowing, and, at the return of Night again, you may I reflect what hath passed in the Day-time ; how your , Thoughts, and Words, and Actions have agreed with o that Scheme of Behaviour you laid before your self.
Where you have transgreffed, how far exceeded or fal
len short, and in what Instances, (for alas! it is but too F. likely that you have in many Instances) offended God
and Man. In this Scheme you form of living well, y
quit your self like a Man, in resisting the Affaults of qe the Devil. To this End begin with keeping a strict
hand over your Appetite ; for when you have once at tained to a rigid and masterly Sobriety, all other flefhly Delires and Temptations will be vanquished and kepi under with much less difficulty. To the fame purpose, beware of Idleness; be constantly in Action, let Read ing, or Writing, or Praying, or
Meditating, or Contriving somewhat for the Good of Others,employ your leisure Hours. Some Bodily Exercises are very fit to be used, but these will require Prudence in the choice of them; for all are not equally convenient ; and therefore the Nature and Degrees of them must be considered, as well as the Temper and Conftitution of the Person consulted, to render them profitable.
Some religiousExercises the Community is concerned in, and they must be attended to in Publick. Others are perfonal, and these will be best performed in priyate. This Distinction is of great use, to keep Men from A&ing improperly; for even a good thing may lose much of its gracefulness and commendation, by being done out of due place and time. Another nécessary. Caution, which many good People stand in need of, is, That you should not be so zealously bent upon any private Devotions or Duties, as for Their fakes to flight or difuse the Publick; for these require at least an equal degree of your Esteem, and care in the attendance of them. But when you have discharged your Dury in that Point, and done all that your particular Station, or the Commands of your Superiors require from you, Then is the proper Season, and then you will do well, to return into your own Breaft, and employ the remainder of your Time, as Piety and Religious Purposes shall direct. And here again a prudent Choice is needful; For all sorts, even of Religious Entertainments, are not suited alike to our Spiritual Advantage. Some difference arises from the consideration of the Persons, and another very visible one from the different Times and Seasons of using them. Some
are more proper for Holy-days, others for Common Days ; some for Festivals, others for Fafts; Some for a time of Temptation and Afiction, others for a peaceful and serene State of Mind ; Some to Persons in Grief or under calamitous Circumstances; others for Prosperity when the Spirits flow gayly, and our Hearts rejoice and fing for the Goodness of the Lord. Particularly it will be convenient in an especial manner to renew and raise our Souls by very frequent and folemn Acts of Piety and Devotion, at the constant returns of all the Christian Festivals. For these should represent to our Minds the eternal uninterrupted Festival of Joy and Thanks, celebrated by the Saints in Hea
And this should put our Souls upon the Wing, inflame our Devotion, Mount us up thither, and make us act even beyond our selves; more chearfully, more vigorously ; as if we were just then going to receive that Glorious Reward of our Labour, which thefe glad Seasons bring so lively Ideas of to our Thoughts.
And, if the Time of our receiving that Reward be ftill delay'd, let us so be thankful for a longer time given us here,as at the same time to be humbled by chat very length of Life, which the generality of the World are apt to esteem the greatest Happiness that can befall them. Let us endeavour to do God still better service, but let us suspect, that we have not served him yet as we ought. For, if we had, he would not have puc offour Recompence to a farther Day; and probable it is, that he does not translate us to Heaven as yet, because we are not fit for it. And let us therefore double our Care to qualify our felves for that Glory,which in his own appointed time shall not fail to be manifested in us. Come he most affuredly will, Luke xii. 37. and Blessed is that Servant whom his Lord, Match, xxiv. when he cometh, shall find watching. Verily T 47. Jay unto you, he will make him Ruler over all bis Goods and Partaker of: The For of the Lord.
CHA P. XX.
Love of Solitude and Silence.
your Time for privacy and conversing with your felf; and let this be spent in frequent and thankful Refle&ions upon the Mercies of God; and in reading good Books. Among which I advise you by all means to let alone nice Disputes, and unprofitable Speculations, and keep to such Subjects as may be proper for the exciting your Zeal and quickning your Affections; rather than such as may employ the Subtilty of your Wit. Never fear that you shall want leisure for these good Purposes. For if you will prevail with your self to abate the mere Impertinencies of Life,the unnecessary Converfations, the Time spent in hearing and telling of News, in enquiring after, and spreading about idle Reports; and such as are either faulty or frivolous wastings of your Time, you cannot want fufficient Leisure, and great Opportunities, for cherishing and improving holy and heavenly Meditations. Thus did the most eminent Saints industriously avoid Company and Business, and chuse to converse with God in private, as much and as often as possibly they could.
?Iis a good Reflection, which the Philosopher made of himself; That he never was in other Mens Company, but he came out of it less a Man than he went in : And this is that we may frequently confimby our owa Experience, after a great deal of Discourse hath pals’d. Tis certainly much easier for a Man to reItrain himself from Talking at all, than to enter into Discourse, and not say more than becomes him : Infinitely easier to live at home and fee no body , than to go abroad into Company, and return innocent. A Man therefore, who make : inward and frijitual Per