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The hardest and most unpalatable Proofs of our Virtue, best declare the Fervency and Sincerity of it ; And if Disasters or Calamitous Accidents cool or draw off our Affections, this is an Argument, that a Man is
not yet what the Apostle requires we should Ephef.iii. 17.
all be, Rooted and grounded in Love.
Have observed, my Son, thy Notions of
Divine Love ; but Thou, alas ! art not yet arrived to that resolute Bravery and Prudence there described.
Disciple. ] Lord make me sensible wherein I fail, and teach me how to mend it.
Christ.] A small Temptation shocks thy Obedience. Thou bogglest at Difficulties, and fallest from thy own Stedfastness, if I seem to withdraw my Favour.
Favour. The Comforts and Affistances of Grace are to be with'd with Zeal, but not with Impatience : Nor mayest thou so set thy Heart upon them, as presently to recoil, if such Supplies do not at all times answer thy Expectation. I hide my Face to try thy Courage. For true Christian Magnanimity is most eminently seen in Troubles and Distresses ; in turning the Deaf Ear to all those crafty Insinuations of the Enemy, which take the Advantage of Melancholy and deep Perplexity of Heart, to ruin and seduce unstable Souls, by tempting them to despair. This Virtue rejoices in Prosperity, but does it with such Temper, as not to be offended, and fall away by reason of Adversity.
He that loves prudently, keeps his Eyes upon the Giver, considers the Kindness and Disposition of his
Friend, and values the Gift by that, not by its own Quality and intrinsick Worth. He finds more real Satisfaction in my Affection, than in the most profufe and desirable Benefits which flow from it. Not that I would condemn all Doubts and fad Misgivings, for those are incident to the best Men ; and the Infirmities of Nature do not admit such perfect Evenness of Mind, as is always affected alike with the Love and Delights of Holiness. Those sensible Pleasures that good Men sometimes feel themselves transported with, are the Effect of Bounty and Favour, and great Indulgence ; not necessary and inseparable Consequences of Virtue. The fweet Foretastes of Heavenly Joys are such as you cannot depend upon, till brought to the Fruition of that Land of Promise. And therefore no just Conclusions can be drawn from thence, to the Prejudice of those who want them ; because in this Life they are given at Discretion, and frequently make way for a severer and more feasonable Discipline. And when that Discipline takes place, then to persist in doing well, to strive manfully against all the Reluctancies of frail Flesh and Blood, and hold out in despite of all the Importunities and discouraging Suggestions of the Tempter ; this is a Proof of true Spiritual Bravery, and entitles such valiant Combatants to à noble Reward, and exceeding bright Crown,
Let Reason therefore, and a well-grounded Faith, not Fancy and Imagination, govern thy Behaviour ; And, after what manner foever thy Soul is affected, let thy Purposes of Obedience be still the same, and thy Perseverance unbroken. Sometimes perhaps thou art all Rapture and Joy, and these Extasies are not what the prophane World suppose, mere Dreams and Delusions : Sometimes again thou wilt relapse into Weakness and Wandrings, these are not thy Choice, bụt thy Misfortune ; Nor dost thou create them to
thy self, but fuffer them with much Regret. Now
This indeed you must know, and constantly remem-
off from that strict Guard, which ought always
God in Prayers, in hearing his Word, in reading the Holy Scriptures. And happy he thinks himself, if by degrees he can draw you to a Disuse of these Things : For nothing more provokes his Malice, and crosses his Designs, than to see Men frequently upon their Knees, zealous in discovering and confessing their Sins ; devout and attentive Comers to Church ; and constant Receivers of the Lord's Supper. When therefore he would persuade you to be cold and remifs in any Matter of this Nature, be sure to give no Credit to his false and wheedling Insinuations, for they are fo
many Snares laid to captivate and to destroy you.
thy own treacherous Villany; I am well aware of
are upon the Hook ; Thy fly Deceits are loft upon " Me, for I am resolved already, and my Jefus, who “ vanquished thee
upon the Cross,will assist “ nefs, and enable me to overcome thy Temptations. " Think not to terrify me with Difficulties; for Death " and Sufferings are light Calamities, in comparison " of Guilt and Sin; and these I infinitely rather chuse, S than once to comply with thy wicked Motions. cs Be gone then, and for ever hold thy Peace; for I "s will stop my Ears, and am from this Minute in
flexibly deaf to thy most troublesome Solicitations. “ Thou thinkest to run down a poor weak Mortal, but
even that Mortal is a Match for thee through Chrift " that strengthens him. And strengthen me he will; for " the Lord is my Light and Salvation, whom then Mall " I fear? The Lord
is the Strength of my “ Life, of whom then shall I be afraid?
Psal. xxvii. " Thoʻan Hoft were banded together against me, yet will “ I not be dismay'd; for the Lord is my Helper, and
my God is the Rock of my Confidence.
Fight therefore the good Fight, and follow the Captain of thy Salvation, like a stout Soldier. And, if at any time thou lose Ground through Human Infirmities, rally thy Forces again quickly, and enter upon a second Engagement with redoubled Vigor ; not doubting seasonable Recruits from Me. But if at any time thou prove Victorious, let not this Success exalt thee beyond measure. For Pride and Arrogance are of fatal Consequence, they often end in dangerous Errors, and are justly punished with almost incurable Blindness. Let the frequent Examples of Vain Men, undone by their own Folly and my just Indignation, 'be fet before thy Eyes, as so many Sea-marks, to warn thee from steering the fame dangerous Course : And the greater Conquests thou obtainest over the Devil and thy own Frailty, the more humble and cautious let these Advantages make thee in thy Conduct; and
the more just to God, in afcribing the whole Success and Glory to the powerful Affittance of his Grace.
CHA P. VIII.
Y Son, when
warmed for my Service, it will be advisable to decline all those Methods of publishing it to the World, which Vain Men are so industrious to take, and content thy self with its being known to God and thy own Conscience. Rather endeavour to moderate and suppress those pompous Expressions of it, in which some place the very Perfection of Zeal. Think meanly of thy Own Virtues,' Boaft not of that Grace, whereby thou art capable of differing from another. But let the Remembrance of thy own Unworthiness make thee fear the Loss of Gifts, which thou didst not deserve ever to have. This is not only an undeserved, it is also a very short and uncertain Privilege ; for the brightest and warmest Zeal is apt to languish and wax cold ;
and unless Men could affure themselves of such a Degree of Grace, as would alter and fix these variable Natureş of theirs, the Feryours of Religious and Holy Desires can never be constant and equal.
While therefore thou enjoyest thefe pleasing pious Comforts, humble thy Soul with Reflections upon thy Impotence and Misery, thy Coldness and Deadness, when thou hast them not. And consider withal, that the Improvement and Commendation of a Christian's Virtue confifts, not only in the thankful Use of Grace, but in a modest, humble and resigned Temper, which