« 前へ次へ »
fection his great End, must imitate the Blessed Jesus, and often withdraw himself from the Multitude. No one is qualified to converse in publick, who is not highly contented without such Conversation; nor to entertain, or receive entertainment from Others, who cannot entertain himself alone with satisfaction. No Man is fit to govern, who hath not learned how to obey : No Man can enjoy Mirth with safety, who is not at the same time in a Condition of rejoicing in a Good Conscience : None is fit to speak freely, but he
who can, without any violence to himself, refrain his · Tongue, or keep silence altogether. . . Accordingly we may observe, that the Pleasures and inward Security of the best Men, have always been tempered with the fear of God. Nor was their Humility or their Care one whit abated in consideration of those extraordinary Virtues, and abundant Measures of Divine Grace, in which they excell'd common Christians. But the Security of Wicked Men, and that Satisfaction they take in themselves, springs from Pride and Haughtiness of Temper ; and therefore the constant Effects of it are an undue contempt of others, and a false Opinion of themselves.
Never flatter your self with an Expectation of abrolute Safety in this Life, whatever your Condicion, how far retired from the World, or out of the way of Tempration it may seem to be. For it often happens, that those whom the World esteemsin Strength and Virtue above Common Men, have been involved in Dangers proportionably greater than Theirs, merely upon the account of the too confident Opinion they had of their own Abilities. And this Consideration makes the being tempted sometimes a Blessing, greater than that of living altogether easy and free from Temptation. For the oftner we are attack'd, the greater Check this gives to our Self-conceit and Spiritual Seçurity ; and the more we are afflicted, the lefs
race? Vi Ticari
apt we shall be to love or use the external Advantages of this World, beyond the bounds of Decency and Moderation. And if a Man could so perfectly draw off his Mind from these, as never to pursue any tranfifory Pleasure ; never to engage himself with the World; O what blessed, what perpetual Peace of Con. science would that Man feel, and even be ravished with ! Nay, could we but cut off all our unprofitable = and groundless Fears and Cares, and employ our Thoughts upon such Objects only, as are weighty and useful, such as promote the Honour and Serviceof God, our own Salvation, and the Good of others; How ea, sy and quiet, how free from all Reproach, would fuch a one's Breast be to him! .
No Man deserves inward and heavenly Comforts, who does not diligently examine and willingly afflict himselfTo be qualify'd for this Solitude, it is absolutely needful to observe that Method recommended
by the Pfalmist, Commune with your own Heart Matt vi in your Chamber, and be still. Enter into thy
Closet, and shut the Door about thee, says our Saviour. Advice, which never can be more feasonable, than upon these Occasions : For the Closer will give you the Satisfaction, which it is scarce possible not to lose in a more publick place; And if the Closet be not pleasant, the only Reason is, that it hath been lefs frequented than it ought. To those who at first use this Retirement carefully, it ministers a Pleasure and secret Consolation, above. what any Company or Diversion in the World can pretend to.
It is by filent and solitary Study, that the Soul gets acquainted with the hidden Mysteries of Scripture; here she finds those Floods of pious Tears, by which holy Men wash themselves. Day and Night; here she contracts a Familiarity and free Intercourse with God, so much the.closer and more intimate, as she removes to a greater distance from the Noise and Hurry of the
World. Think not then, that the Man who withdraws from his Friends and Acquaintance is perfectly alone. No, he only changes that for better Company, and is visited in his quiet Retreats by God and his holy Angels. A wise Man would rather chuse to live thus unobferved, and to profecute the Business of his Soul without Interruption, than even to work Miracles, and attract univerfal Admiration and Applause, at the expence of neglecting his own Safety.
It is highly agreeable to the Character of a person entirely devoted to God, to stir but seldom abroad, to decline being publickly feen of Men, and to be as little fond of seeing the World. For to what purpose indeed fhould any one be eager to see that which he must not enjoy The World posjeth away, . and all the desire thereof, fays the Apostle. Iob. ii. 17.Our sensual Affections invite and entice us, but when the moment of gratifying that Inclination is once over; what have you got by the Bargain, but serious Remorse and an unfétled Temper of Mind? He that goes out full of Satisfaction, often returns as full of Melancholy and Disgust; and many a Merry Evening occasions a Sad Morning. Thus all the Pleasures of Sense carefs and court us at the first meeting, but at their parting leave a Sting behind, and gall our Hearts with sharp and killing Pains. What can you see in any other Place which the most retired Grove or Defare will not present to your Eye? Here you survey the Heavens, here view the Earth, here see the several Elements, which are the Seeds and firft Ingredients of which the whole World and every Creature in it are compounded.
But what can you see either here, or any where else, which is of long continuance? You expect perhaps that Variety will satisfy you: Alas! it cannot be. For; suppose you could at one View have all things under the Sun ser before you; what is there even in this, save only the beholding them with your Eyes? Turn then
thofe Eyes where they may gaze with Profit. Look.
ing form of imbibe feeled and hold of yo But till
CHA P. XXI.
Compunction of Heart.
TJE that would grow in Virtue and Grace, must be
1 sure to preserve a constant awful Sense of the Divine Majesty upon his Mind; Checking by this holy Fear all his indecent Liberties, keeping his Appetites and Affections under strict Discipline; and not l-tting himself loose to light or extravagantMirch. Employ yourself therefore in humbling and afflicting your own Mind, and this will certainly lead you to a devout and truly Christian Temper. For infinite Advantage
is to be had by these zealous Exercises, which Folly and Inconsideration quickly lose again. One would wonder indeed, how Men can indulge their Mirth to so extravagant a degree, when the Miseries of this Life, and the Sins we have to account for, are so many and so great, that a Man who seriously considers the Danger his Soul is in , can very hardly be merry at all, without some sudden Damp upon his Spirits. It is from the Levity of our own unthinking Minds, a stupid Forgetfulness of our Simful Condition, and a continuing insensible of those Sorrows which ought moft tenderly to affect us, that we so often indulge the Excesses of Laughter and Gayety, when Sighs. and Tears would much better become us.
Aflure your self, there can be no true Liberty, no innocent Merriment without the Fear of God, and a good Conscience. Happy therefore is the Man, who can disengage himself from all those Hindrances which the Business and Diversions of the World cast in his way, and give his Thoughts up entirely to that godly Sorrow, which worketh Repentance and Salvation. Happy He, that can abandon every thing by which his Conscience is defiled or burthened ; and fer himself at liberty from treacherous and ensnaring Pleasures. And this may be compassed by Resolution and Constancy; For how difficult and contrary foever it may seem to the general way of the World , and our own former Practice ; yet no Habit is so ftrong, but by frequent and Manly Attempts the direct contrary Habit may be acquired and confirmed. ; If you will firmly set your self to let other Peoples Affairs alone, They will follow the Example, and not concern themselves with yours. Do not therefore, create unnecessary Trouble to your self, by making other Mens Business your own, and involving your Thoughts and Cares in Matters of Persons above you. Leave the Great Ones of the World to manage their