ページの画像
PDF
ePub

me.

to the Prejudice and Neglect of better and weightier Concerns; Or, lest I be enticed to Sin by the Pleasures of Sense, or discouraged from the steady Pursuit of Virtue and Heaven, by too tender and afflicting Resentments of any Calamities which may happen to

I speak not now of those vain Superfluities, which the deluded World so vehemently contend for ; but bég to be preserved in these Miseries and Dangers. For Miseries and Dangers I cannot but esteem the common and unavoidable Incumbrances of Life ; since these are heavy, and cling close about the Soul, and put it under fuch a strait Confinement, that it cannot freely obey the Dispositions it feels within, of getting above Concern for the World, and fixing its Desires and Endeavours upon Spiritual Objects. Thou, O my God, art Sweetness inexpressible. But, that my Soul may truly relish thee, turn, I beseech thee, all my Worldly Comforts into Bitterness ; left they vitiate my Palate, and give a Disgust to Heavenly Things, by fome deluding Charm of present pretended Good. O ! let not Flesh and Blood prevail in their Conflicts with the Spirit ; let not the World and its fading Glories cheat me into Ruin ; let not the subtle Enemy of Souls supplant me with his tempting Wiles. Give me Courage to resist, when called to the Combat ; Patience to endure, when called to Suffering ; Firmness of Mind to persist immoveable in my Duty, when Temptations and evil Suggestions labour to seduce me. Exchange, if it be thy Will, the transitory and false Comforts of this World, for the Oyl of true Gladness, the Asistances and sweet Satisfactions of thy blessed Spirit; and, instead of Carnal Love, and Sensual Inclination, let the Love and Desire of Thec be diffused thro'

my whole Heart, and reign Unrivalld there.

Even Food and Raimnent, and the Necessaries by which Life is sustained, are a Grievance and Obftru{tion to zealous and refined Souls. But what must be a Burthen, let me not make an Occasion of Sin ; by using the Creatures intemperately, by a Luxurious Indulgence, or Inordinate Appetite. Nature, I know, it is my Duty to support ; and therefore, entirely to refuse and neglect these Provisions were Sin and foul Ingratitude. But to enlarge our Desires beyond the proper Uses of these things, and let them loofe upon Superfluity and Vanity, Delicacy and Delight : This the Law of God hath most wisely forbidden ; because it were in effect to connive at all Licentiousness, by cherishing the Flesh, and animating and supporting it in Insolence and Rebellion against the Spirit. Between these two Extremes there lies a safe middle Way, in which I humbly implore the Guidance of thy Hand ; left I decline from Virtue on either side, and, going astray after my own Inclination or unadvised Zeal, forsake my Path, and fly out beyond the Measures Thou hast prescribed for me.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

CHA P. XXXI.
Self-Love tbe greatest Obstruction to Virtue and

Happiness.
Chrift.] CON, if thou aim at Purchasing All, know

that it is not to be bought at any Price, less than thy All. Earth must be bartered for Heaven ; and where I give my felf, I expect the whole Man in exchange. Think not therefore of any private Reserves of Interest or Pleasure, in Bar to my entire Poffession; for all the World cannot do thee greater Prejudice, than fuch Self-love. This sticks more close, while !

other

[ocr errors]

other things are loose and at a distance. And all things faften upon thee, only according as the Degree of thy own Love and Inclination for them gives Opportunity and Advantage. If your Mind and its Affections be pure, and sincere, and moderate, nothing shall have the power to enslave you.

And what Pretence can you have for Suffering them to be otherwise ? For who would fet his Love upon things, which cannot be obtained without Difficulty, oftentimes not with it; or, if they be, cannot be enjoy'd without Danger? Who would court Bonds and Captivity, and be fond of having that, which will obstruct his weightiest Concern, and rob him of his Liberty ? Were these Considerations duly attended to, it must appear prodigious Folly, for any Man not to resign himself up entirely to Me; to waste his Strength with unprofitable Vexations, and labour in the Fire for Vanity, and create Troubles, which it is in his Power to avoid. Obey my Will then, and submit all to my Disposal, and then thou art out of the Reach of the World and its Temptations. But, if Interest and private Respect still govern in thy Heart, all thy Application will be in vain. Thou runnest away from Troubles in one place, to meet them in another ; seeking Rest but finding none, because thou always carriest thy Torment about thee. For, even in thy most successful Attempts, there will be somewhat wanting to give thee compleat Satisfaction ; and in thy most private Retirements thou wilt be dogged and haunted by some Crosses. The World and its Advana ' tages can do thee no Service by being enjoyed, but by being slighted and despised. This is the Case, not of Riches only, but of Honour and Reputation too. For they also make themselves Wings, and fly away; and thou canst never be safe or happy, but by mortifying thy Ambition and Vain-glory.

How

How many people please themselves with fond Imaginations of Ease and Leisure to be good, in a Country, or a College-life? But Cloisters and Desarts lignify nothing, without the Zeal and Disposition of a Hermit. The Convenience of Place is very little ; and all its boasted Expectations vanih, except the Man be changed, as well as his Residence, and manner of Living. And this Change is not, cannot be effected, unless his Mind be fixed in Me alone, as the proper, the only Center of all its Affections and Defires. The Liberty Men enjoy otherwise, is very short and unfaithful; for fresh Occasions of Sin and Trouble will quickly offer themselves, and then not only the old Inconveniences will return again, but new and greater, and such as are peculiar to that new State of Life upon which they have entred : And thus their very Refuge becomes a fresh Temptation.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]

A Prayer for Purity of Heart, and Heavenly

Wisdom.

Disciple.] E

that, being strengthened in the Inner Pfal.li. 11.

Man, I may purge my Soul from all vain Anxiety, and banish idle

Fears, and get over the Difcouragements and distracting Troubles of the World. Let not the wild and impatient Desires of any thing here, though never so alluring and seemingly valuable, perplex my Thoughts, and draw me off from Thee. Give me Grace to consider my self, and all below, as things full of Vanity, and of very short Continuance. For such indeed are all Things under the Sun, vexation of Spirit, and altogether lighter than

Vanie

Vanity it self. And he who constantly looks upon them as such, is the truly, the only Wife Man.

Impart to me then, O my God, I beseech thee, that Heavenly Wisdom, which may dispose me to seek thy Kingdom and thy Righteousness; to sell all for this one Pearl of great Price; and to esteem

Matth. xiii. my

self rich in no Treasure but Thee; to. love and delight in thee alone ; to take Satisfaction in all things else, in fuch Degrees, and in Subordination to fuch Purposes only, as thou haft appointed ; and to receive every Dispensation of Providence, with fuch a Spirit and Temper as becomes my Duty, and may render it serviceable to the Ends for which thou fenteft it. Grant me füch Prudence and Conduct in all my Conversation, that I may decline and despise the Insinuations of Flatterers, and meekly receive the Contradiction and Reproaches of Gainsayers and Slanderers. For this is Wisdom indeed, when a Man is not carried about with every Blast of Air ; but stops his Ears against the Syren's Charms ; and resolutely proceeds in a straight steady Course of Virtue, in despight of all the Subtilty of those who labour to entice, or the Malice of them who would terrify, and drive him from it.

CHA P. XXXIII. How a Christian ought to behave himself, when

Men speak Evil of bim.

MY

Chrift.] Y Son, if Detractors and Slanderers

speak or think ill of thee, let not this much disturb thee. The Provocations to Impatience and angry Resentments, which such ill Treatment usually ministers, will be much better employ'd against

thy

« 前へ次へ »