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Actions. You feel Desires, like inward Springs, put you into Motion ; and very eager sometimes you are of doing what you are verily persuaded is good. But, even when the Thing it self is commendable, the Intention and Motive Men go upon, ought to be nicely considered. For it makes a mighty Difference, whether I or Themselves, be principally in their Thoughts. Now this Discovery is not hard to make. For, it my Honour be their great Concern; howsoever my Providence disposes their Affairs, they will conclude what I do beft, and will be contented with it. But if under this Disguise of Holiness, there be a lurking Corruption of Private and By-respects, if Gain makes Men Frugal, or Ambition Virtuous, or the Praise of the World Charitable ; or the Consideration of their own Health Temperate ;. these are Principles, upon which no Dependance can safely be had. Their Conduct will be unequal, and vary as Events do ; and every Disappointment of their Expectations will produce Trouble and Impatience.
Do not therefore be too confident of every sort of Inclination to do well ; but first advise with Me, and take care to build upon a good Foundation. For Men who act upon indirect Ends, very often repent when it is too late ; And that which at first they proposed great Satisfaction and Advantage from, proves at long run their Torment and Loss. Nay, I must give you this farther Caution yet, That even good Inclinations are not to be taken at first sight, . nor rafhly pursued without a diligent and prudent Observation. For it may be convenient fometimes, to put some Restraints upon the very best Intentions. They who neglect this, and give free Scope to their Zeal by too great Eagerness, often exceed the Bounds of Moderation and Dee cency; sometimes give Offence to their Brethren by their extravagant Heats, and impetuous Sallies ; and sometimes, upon any Resistance or Difficulty, which
obstructs those precipitate Fervours, lose all their Inward Peace, desist from their good Designs, and fall from the Heighth of Rapture, to the Extremities of Melancholy and Despair. So that, to make thy Zeal in Well-doing in all Points what it ought to be, it is by no means sufficient, that it be honest and well-disposed, unless it be also sober, and regular, and discreet.
Again, There are some Occasions and Circumftances, which render a sort of holy Violence necessary, and oblige Men to act quite contrary to their Inclination : To bear no manner of Regard to Flesh and Sense ; or what will be most agreeable any farther than may serve to set the Mind in Array against them, and resolutely engage in a formal War, for the reducing, or keeping them in Obedience to the Superior Faculties of the Soul. For, by thus frequently controlling, and counter-working all that Human Nature hath a Tendency to, the Outward Man is by degrees qualified for Duty; and acquires a great Readiness of doing, or suffering, whatever shall be impofed upon it. And in these Exercises the first Foundations are laid, of Contentedness with a Little, of Satisfaction in a private and neglected State, a mean and narrow Fortune ; and of Patience under any Crosses or Calemities, without those murmuring Thoughts, which are apt to beget hard and irreverent Reflections, and too often break out in wicked Complaints, and saucy Expoftulations, against the Justice, and Wisdom, and Goodness of God and Providence.
CH A P. XIII. The Necessity and Reasonableness of Patience. Disciple.] Y all the Collections I am able to make
from my dear Lord's Instructions, and the little Experience I have of the World, Patience seems to me a most necessary Virtue : For the Condition of Man in this Life is fo exposed to Calamities and Sorrows, that, in despite of all his Endeavours after Peace, Troubles await him every where, and his Ştate is that of Warfare and continual Suffering.
Chrift.] It is so, my Son ; Nor is it fit it should be otherwise. For those Men have a wrong Notion of Peace, who make it consist in Freedom from fuffering ; in either having no Troubles, or being insensible of
any. This is a State, neither attainable by a Man, nor convenient for a Christian. The Peace, I would have thee aspire after, is such as consists very well with Amictions. And this is gained, when a Man hath brought himself to that equal Composure, and resigned Temper of Soul, as firmly to persist in his Duty, and to rest satisfied in the Dispensations of God, when he thinks fit to try his Virtue, by very great and grievous Adversities. If this appear a hard Saying, think how much harder it will be to endure the Torments of Hell, and the implacable Vengeance of an angry God. Nature, as well as Religion, teaches Men, of two Evils to chuse the less. And this is done, when they set themselves fubmissively to undergo Tribulation here, for the fake of God and a good Conscience ; that they may, by such patient Suffering, deliver themselves from the dire Effects of his Wrath, and never-ceasing Punishment hereafrer.
Now Tribulation is a Portion distributed in common to all the Sons of Men ; distributed in large Measures, even to those Children of this Generation, which thou perhaps vainly imaginest to be most exempted from it. For even the gayest and most prosperous of them all are not without their many and sore Evils. 'Tis true indeed, They take a great deal of Pleasure, indulge their Inclinations without Controul, and so their Misery makes a less sensible Impression upon their Spirits ; but Miseries they have. Or, put the very best of their Case, and suppose their Joys to be without any Interruption, their Wishes without any Disappointment ; Yet, even thus, how long would their Happiness last? Alas they vanish like a Dream, and all their Prosperity foon scatters like Smoak : Nay, not only their Enjoyments themselves, but the very Remembrance of them perish in a Moment. Their Life is but a Vapour ; and Death will be sure to swallow up them and their Gayeties in speedy and perpetual Oblivion.
But this is putting the Cafe more favourably than it ever happens in reality : For, even in this Life their · Plenty and Pleasures are chequered with Misfortunes,
and all their Sweets allayed with a bitter Mixture of
Pleafures too are short and fleeting, treacherous and deceitful, irregular and exorbitant, a Shame and Blemish to Human Nature'; And, if Men be not sensible of this, That Ignorance proceeds from their own InadTertency. Their Reason is intoxicated with present
Delights, and their Minds blinded by Vicious Habits, by which they degenerate into Brutes, stupidly abandon themselves to the transitory Pleasures of Sin and Lust, at the Expence of Everlasting Pains ; and consult the present Gratification of a vile Mortal Body, with the Ruin of a Precious and Immortal Soul.
Go not thou therefore after their Excesses, nor place thy Happiness in serving, but rather in commanding, subduing, denying, mortifying thy own Inclinations. Delight thou in the Lord,
Psal. xxxvii. and be Mall grant thee thy Heart's Desire. For this Delight will teach thee, that the Happiness of Man consists in Inward and Spiritual Satisfactions, in the Contempt of this world and its empty Gayeties. And the less there are esteemed and affected, the greater and more rayishingly sweet shall those generous and noble Pleasures prove, which result from the Experience of God's Favour, and the substantial Comforts of a good Conscience.
But still these Comforts are not to be had, without much Labour, many Conflicts, and sharp Sufferings. For the Corrupt Inclinations of Flesh and Blood, and the confirmed Habits of Vice, create great Difficulties; and ask Time and Pains to conquer. And conquered they may be, by introducing the contrary Habits of Virtue. The Flesh indeed will recoil, and think it self ill used ; but Reason and Religion will silence those Grumblings, and resolute Perseverance in good Works. vanquish
all thy Reluctances. The subtle old Serpent will seduce and importune thee, but Prayer and good Thoughts drive the evil Spirit away; and Fasting and holy Exercise, or constant lawful Business, will keep him out. For he never enters so easily, so successfully, as v:hen Idleness sets open the Door, and an empty Heart makes room for his wicked Suggestions
C H A P.