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| Df the Imitation Book JII. the Effects of it may be less visible. For I, who taught them then, continue teaching still; Nay, I direct
my Speech to All, but All will not hear it. For there are many deaf to all my Charms; and therefore deaf, be
cause they stop their Ears; hate my InProu. i.
structions, and will none of my Reproofs. They listen to the World much rather than to God, and are more disposed to obey their own Corrupt and Sensual, than his Pure and Heavenly Will. The World invites them with short and transitory, trifling and empty Joys, and they greedily engage in its Şervice I covenant for Eternal and Excellent Rewards; and the insensible Wretches will not consider, or think them worth their Acceptance. This Folly is universal ; For who among the Sons of Men, expresses half that Zeal and Earnestness, that folicitous Desire to please, and dutiful Fear to offend, in his Deportment towards me, which he does in Matters relating to this World, or in Obedience to Masters upon Earth? Consider this, and blush for Shame; for What, but Shame and Confusion of Face, can be the Effect of thy Reflection upon this unworthy Usage, this moft absurd Folly?
A small Preferment is esteem'd a valuable Confideration for long and painful Journeys. Men fy for it eagerly, and hasten all they can to get ground of their Competitors ; This is every one's Care, and it is accounted a Reproach to be negligent in such Pursuits. But, when Advancement to Heaven and Eternal Happiness is offer'd, they are flothful and unactive, and scarce a Man is to be found, who thinks it worth the while to mend his Pace, or fets one Step forward to meet, or to secure, fo glorious an Advantage. A little fordid Gain engages all Mens Industry ; a trifling Sum embroils them in tedious and expensive Suits ; And Promises of Things scarce worth their having, they are content to drudge for ; to lose the Ease of their Days, and the Sleep of their Nights, and think their
Toil and Anxious Care well paid, if they can compass them at laft: But a substantial and unchangeable Good, a Recompence greater than they knew how to value justly, Immortal Glory, and the Honours of the Saints, are funk so low in wretched Mens Esteem, that the least Pains and Hardship are thought too much for them. ) mi
And art thou not ashamed, lazy, insensible, grumbling Wretch, that the Children of this World Thould pursue Death and Ruin, with a more vigorous Induîtry and Zeal, than thou canst find in thy Heart to bestow upon Life and Happiness ? Shall Toys and Yanities win more upon their Affections, than solid and true Good can upon thine ? Nay, even those Vanities, whose very Enjoyments are empty, do often mock their Hopes, and-are never enjoyed at -all : Their Friends promise and deceive ; They labour but cannot attain: But my promises are without Repentance ; None taxeth me with Breach of Faith, or can complain, that his Dependance upon my Word hath at any Time disappointed him. For I require only Love and Perseverance ; And, if these bě not wanting, I answer to the full, nay, I far exceed, my Servants largest wishes and longing Expectations. Yet falso and fickle Men can easily persuade, and the God, who cannot lye, calls and promises in vain! I am the fure Rewarder of all that diligently seek me ; and if such meet with Sufferings and sharp Temptations, these are not Marks of my Displeafure, but wisely order'd, and kindly intended, to prove the Sincerity of vants Zeal, and to illustrate their Virtues. · Write then my Words in thy Heart ; Grave them in deep and lasting Characters ; Ponder them diligently, for thou shalt find them a seasonable Relief and neceffary Support in the Day of Tryal and Adversity. What Reading only hath not taught thee, Affliction will interpret and make plain. For I do not
always visit my Chosen alike. Sometimes the Comforts of my Grace are proper; at others, the withdrawing those Comforts, and bringing their Patience and Constancy to the Touch, by Outward Calamities, and Inward Anguifh of Spirit. Thus I daily train them up in Goodness, by chastising and making them hate their Sins, and cultivating and encouraging their Advancement in Virtue. The One Dispensation engages their Love of me, the Other abates their Fondnefs for the World. But loft and wretched is that stupid Creature, upon whom these Methods make no
Impression; For He that rejetteth Me, John xii. 46. ,' and receiveth not iny Words, bath One that judgeth him in the last Day.
CH A P. IV.
Disciple.] Lord, my God, Thou art my All, my
only Good; but Who, alas !: am: 1, that I should take upon' me to speak to fo Great, so Glorious a Majesty ? Poor finful Duft and Ashes ; a wretched Worm; less than the least of all thy Servants; much less, much viler, and more despicable, than I dare to think, or am able to express or conceive. And this very Vileness, Lord, I beg thou wouldst consider, that so my helpless defolate Condition may move thy tender Pity, to a miserable Creature, who neither is, 'nor hath, nor can do'any thing, without thee. : For Thou only art Good, and Holy, and Powerful; and that of Power fo.boundless, of Mercy fo diffusive, that thou fillest all things with thy Goodness ; and none but those guilty Souls, who refuse to partake of thy Grace, are shut out from its kindly
Influences. Behold me then hungring and thirsting after thy Righteousness, and let me not be sent empty away. Call up thy Bowels, and remember thy Compaffions and old Loving-kindnesses ; and fill my Soul with thy Grace and Heavenly Dispositions, that it may be a Dwelling fit to entertain that blessed Inhabitant, who will not take up his Abode in defiled and desolate Places. • But how can I furnish a House for my Lord, except he' vouchfafe to assist and supply my Wants? How can I sustain the Miseries and Temptations of a Troublesome Dangerous World, except thou graciously interpose and support my Weakness? Turn not then
away from me'; neither delay thy Fatherly Care ; for if thou grant not refreshing Dews, and water nọt my Heart with thy Grace, it will remain a dry and barren Ground. Teach me, dear God, to know and do thy Will; and with sincere Humility, and indefatigable Zeal, enable me to persevere in my Obedience For Thou art my Wisdom, and my Righteousness; my Infirmities are not hid from Thee'; Thou knoweft me perfectly, and understoodest all my Défects, not only before I was born, but even long before the World it self was made.
thy Face au
Walk humbly with thy God, and worship (Him in
Chrift.] Do indeed, my Son, know thy Frailties,
and thy Dangers, but let not these discourage thy Endeavours. Seek and love the 'Truth, and let thy Heart.be right with me, and all shall be well at last. For Truth and Sincerity will be thy Prote
ction, and defend thee from the Assaults of the Devil, and the Attempts of wicked and deceitful Men.
Those who are thus set free, Mall be free
indeed, nor shall the Seducements or the Discouragements of Enemies to the Truth, be able to ensnare or divert them from their Duty.
Disciple.] True, Lord. And this Persuasion makes me more earnestly implore thy Asistance. That thou, who art Truth it felf, wouldit in much Mercy condescend to instruct, and direct mes to preserve and protect me; to break the Snares of the Ungodly to pieces; to deliver my. Soul, and establish me unto the End; To purge me from all corrupt and inordinate Affections, that my own happy Experience may convince me of what I already believe, and render thy Service perfect Freedom.
Chrift.] My Children cannot be more zealously difposed to ask these Blessings, than I am ready and pleased to grant them. Hear therefore the Truth, and how thou mayest recommend thy self to my Favour and Acceptance. Reflect with fad Remorse upon thy past Offences ; let the Remembrance of these render thee vile in thy own Eyes; and take heed, that no Confidence in thy best Actions, fwell-thee with vain Conceits of thy own Deserts. For sure it is, thou art a Sinner, laden with Guilt and many grievous-Infirmities; prone in thy own Nature to Vanity, easily seduced, quickly diverted from good Resolutions, and overcome by very slight Temptations. In short; No Excellence belongs to thee, which can in any degree juftify thy Pride or Boasting; but infinite Occasions there are to exercise thy Humility and Lamentation, infinitely more in truth, than thou canst be duly sens Gble of
Let not then the mistaken Value of any thing thou art, or doest, delude thee with falfe Appearances of Worth and Perfectien ; Let not thy Affections be fe