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duced to follow vain and wretched Objects, or think any Advantage can deserve thy Praise or Admiration, thy Love and Pains ; except such only as are fixʼd and Eternal. Let Truth be thy chief Delight, for This is unchangeable; let thy own Unworthiness be the chief Object of thy Hatred and Contempt, for this is the vileft, the justest Thing, upon which thy Displeasure can discharge it felf.: Fear and decline no Calamity, comparably. to Sin. For no Lofs, no worldly Disappointment or Disaster can have fo fatal Consequences, as the Loss of a Good Conscience and God's Favour, by tranfgreffing his Righteous Commands.
Some Men are more concerned for Subtilty of Knowledge in Religion,than for an humble and sincere Obedience. They are acted by a Spirit of Pride and Curiosity, and affect to penetrate the Mysteries of Faith ; and value themfelves much more for being able learnedly to dispute for Truth, than for adorning it by their Lives, and rendring that Knowledge effectual to Salvation. These Men frequently fall into dangerous Snares. I set my Face against their Arrogance, and suffer them to. perish thro? the Vanity of their own Imaginations.
But do thou employ thy Mind upon other Sorts of Enquiries, and account it greater Wisdom to get a perfect Knowledge of thy own Works, than those of Almighty God. His Ways are unsearchable,
Rom. xi. and paft finding out ; but thy own are necessary to be nicely examined. And the Consideration of the Evil thou hast done, and the Good thou hast lefc undone, will turn to better Account, than thy Scholastick Speculations, concerning the Divine Nature and Counsels. Some place their Religion in Images, fome in Good Books, fome in an-outward Shew and Pomp of Devotion, measuring their Piety by the Prayers they say, the Sermons they hear, the Meals they abstain from : Others honour me with their Lips,
tertainments are no longer welcome to them; they
and talk familiarly of me, whose Hearts I am as utter a Stranger to, as their allowing me no place in their Thoughts and Affections can make me. But some again, without such formal Pretences, are Men of true Spiritual Wisdom, and inward Purity ; their Defires and Conversation are in Heaven, and earthly Eneven grudge those Hours, which the necessary Cares for supporting these Bodies cut off from the greater Concerns of their Souls. And these are the Men, that lend a willing Ear, and bring a Temper truly teachable to the Instructions of my Spirit: In Them he teigns and triumphs. For, having vanquished the Corrupt Inclinations of Flesh, and inspired them with à true Christian Bravery of Soul, they despise the treacherous Vanities of this World, and lay out all their Love and Labour upon the Joys of that better World, which, till God thinks fit to admit them into it, they strive to anticipate, by keeping their Minds Night and Day intent upon it.
CH A P. VI.
Laud and magnify thy glorious Name, O
Father of Heaven, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the Goodness and Tender Compassions, with which thou haft been pleased to remember and relieve my Misery. For unto thy Lovingkindness alone, oʻFather of Mercies, and God of all Comfort, are owing all the Supports, with which the Soul of thy unworthy Servant hath been at any time refreshed in the midst of my Trouble. And therefore to Thee alone be the Praise. To Thee, O Father, with
the only Begotten Son, and the Blessed Spirit the Comforter, will I render Honour and Thanksgiving for evermore. Descend then, Blessed God, into that Soul, for which thou hast expressed so great a Tenderness, and let thy Presence fill me with Gladness : For thou art my Health, my Joy and my Glory, my Hope and my Refuge in the Day of Distress.
I must confess with Sorrow that my Love is weak, and my Virtue imperfect ; nor can the one be fupported without thy Grace, or the other be cherished, unless thou fan thy Holy Fire, and feed it with thy Heavenly Comforts. O visit me then with thy Salvation, and make me to improve under thy Holy Discipline. Deliver and purify my Heart from all corrupt Affections, and irregular Passions ; heal my Spiritual Diseases, and take away that Dross and Filth, which obstruct my purer Delights of Divine Love, discompose my Patience, and shake my Intentions of Perseverance.
For Love is great and powerful, an excellent Virtue, and mighty Advantage in Well-doing. It lightens the heaviest Burthens, makes Difficulties easy, and smooths the rugged Ways of Duty ; takes out the Bitterness of Sufferings, and gives them a delightful Relish. This is the Principle, which fires us with a vigorous and active Zeal, inspires brave and noble Attempts, and spurs us on with an impatient Desire of still higher Degrees of Perfection. For Love ever labours to be uppermoft, and disdains to take up with low and vulgar Attainments. It hates Confinement, and would fain get loose from all Worldly Affections ; that so its inward and spiritual Prospects may not be intercepted, by any Temporal Good or Evil, which darken and block it up. In Love is the Perfection of Pleasure and Strength ; it is higher than Heaven broader than the Sea ; it fills the spacious Universe, for it is born of God; The first and best of all his
Creatures : And as it came from Him, so it never rests till it have got above all Finite Beings, and center again in that Only, that Infinite Good, from whence it originally sprung.
The Person acted by it flies with eager Hafte, does every thing with Chearfulness and Pleasure, and fuffers 110 Impediments to stop him in his Course : He gives all Things liberally, and yet possesses All, because his Soul is united to that Supreme Good, in and from whom is all Perfection. He looks not so much at the Gift as the Giver ; and be the Quality of that what it will, it only serves to render him more grateful to its Author. Love knows no Bounds, no Measure ; but , thinks it can never do enough ; and attempts Things even above its Strength, not considering so much what it is able, as what it is desirous and disposed to effect; The Vehemence of Desire takes off all Sense of Difficulty, and thinks nothing so great but that it may and ought to aim at it. And hence proceed those mighty and astonishing Atchievements, which Love does daily bring to pass, where the Fire continues strong, and is not damped by Sloth and Faint-heartedness.
Love is eternally awake, never tired with Labour, nor oppressed with Affliction, nor discouraged by Fear ; But, like a clear and strong Flame, is ever mounting upwards, and makes its way thro' all Opposition. It cries continually in the Ears, (for fervent Love is that Cry which pierces the Ears) of the most Highest; and all the Language of Devout Souls inflamed with it, is to this Effect: My God, My Love, thou art my All ; and I am entirely Tbine. Enlarge my Heart, and make me capable of yet more Love ; that I may feel and feast upon the Sweetness of the delightful Affections, and even melt away and lose my self in the Extasies and Charms of this heavenly Disposition. Increase and blow up this divine Flame, that, not content
to excel others, I may daily excel my felf. Teach me the Song of Love, and receive me up on high; to Him in whom my Soul delighteth ; and fill me with such Raptures of Joy and Praise, that even Sense and Life may be swallowed up in Bliss. Let me love thee much more than my felf; nay, love my felf and all good Men, to whom thou art dear, only in and for Thee; For so haft thou commanded in that Law of Love, which is but as it were a Beam and Efflux of thy own Glorious and Divine Excellence.
The Love of God is nimble in its Motions, sincere in its Intentions, ardent and zealous in Devotion, sweet to the Soul, brave in Attempting, patient in Enduring, faithful in Executing, prudent in Action, slow in Resentment, generous and manly, and seeks not to please the Person's self, but the Person beloved. For, where a Man seeks his own Advantage only, there Interest, not Love, is the Principle upon which he moves. Love is cautious and circumspect, upright and humble ; not soft and effeminate, not fickle and fanciful ; not fond of Vanities ; but sober and grave, chafte and refined, constant and fedate, fevere and reserved. This disposes us to Submission and Respect towards our Superiors ; to a mean and modeft Opinion of our felves ; to Gratitude and Devotion towards God ; it inspires Hope and holy Trust, even in Times of Calamity and Discomfort. And necessary it is that it should do so, since no Man is fo happy as to love without Pain, or always to live under the Light of God's Countenance, so as that no Clouds should ever intercept the cheering Warmth of his Favour, and create some dark Intervals.
That Man therefore does not deserve the Character of One that loves God, who is not disposed and content to suffer any Afictions, which the Divine Provi. dence fees fit to inflict ; or thinks much to do what. ever his Will declares fit to be performed. In a word, K 2