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shew, that all Book III. of JESUS CHRIST. 201 Comforts are breaking in upon thee, like a glorious Sun from an astonishing Eclipse. 'Tis Rashness therefore to conclude Affairs in a loft Condition, because some Crosses have baulked your Expectations : Nor can either thy own Refentment of Misfortunes within, or the Violence of any Calamity without, give thee sufficient Grounds, from the terrible Face thy present Circumstances wear, to pronounce, That all'Hope of Escape and better Days are past. Nay, which is the moft sensible and most deplorable Çase of any, if at the same time that I scourge thee with outward Calamities, thou feel the inward Supports of my Grace withdrawn, which should enable thee to bear the Rod; Yet even so, think not thy self forsaken, or that I have utterly cast thee from my Presence. TheWay to Heaven is set with Briars and Thorns; and they, who arrive at that Kingdom, travel over cragged Rocks And comfortless Defarts: And more it is for their Ad, vantage to have their Virtue awakened, and brightned, and brought to the Test, by the Smart of Adversity; than that all Things should go sinoothly on, without any manner of Let or Molestation.

The Heart of Man is deceitful, who can know it? Thy very self art often under very dangerous Mistakes about thy own Condition. Thou art ignorant what thou artz and much more ignorant what is fit for thee. But I, who have a perfect Understanding of both, fee plainly, that it is proper and beneficial sometimes to be left to thy self; that thus, struggling to so little purpose with the Calamities that bear thee down, thou may'st be brought to a just and humble Sense of thy Infirmities ; that this Sense may check thy Vanity, and owing entirely to another Hand ; and thou in truth nothing less than that mighty Manthou art apt to take thy self for. This makes my depriving thee of thy usual Comforts convenient, but still 'tis in my Power

to restore and augment them to thee, when I see that convenient too.

Nor think me hard and unjust in these Dispensati- ons ; for who shall forbid me to do what I will with my own? I gave thee what thou could'st not claim; and I take away what thou hast no right to keer.

For every good and perfect Gift is mine, and James i. 17.

not a Debt but a Favour. If then Affliction comes, remember'tis of my sending; and I, who laid the Cross, can both remove and recompence it:

I kill and make alive, I bring down to the Sam. ii,

Grave, and raise up from it : And, in the instant that I lay my Thunder by, and smile again, thy Heaviness shall be changed into Joy unspeakable.

In all my Dealings I am just, in all am wise, and gcod; and deserve not only thy Admiration, but even thy Thanks and Praise. Could'st thou but rightly comprehend my Methods, and the secret Reasons of them, thou would'st drink up the bitter Potion with Joy; with Joy, upon this very Consideration, that I do not fpare thee to thy Hurt, but send Afflictions in pure Kindness to thee, when I foresee they will be for thy Advantage. Observe the Tenure of my gracious Promise to my best beloved Disciples : As my Father

loved me, even fo bave I loved you. But both

my Father's Love to Me, and Mine to Them, was express’d, not by false and transitory Joys, but by sharp and long Conflicts ; by being called, not to Honours, but to Contumelies and Disgrace ; not by indulging them in Ease and Sloth, but by inuring them to Trials and Difficulties ; by calling them, not to Rest and Peace, but to bring forth noble and generous Fruit with Patience. Remember well these Words, my Son, and then thou canst not think much to drink of the Cup that I drank of fo deeply, and to be baptized with the Baptism that I was baptized with. Thou canst not then despair, or think, that

God,

John xvi.

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God, in afflicting thee, bath abandoned all Care and
Concern for thy Benefit; fince even that tender, that
unparallel'd, that unconceivable Affection, with which
he loved his own dear Son, hindred not his making
that very Captain of thy Salvation perfect

Heb. ii.
thro sufferings. And what art Thou?
What is the best of Men in comparison of Him?
What are thy Agonies and Tryals, the very worst of
thine, in comparison of His?

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CHA P. XXXVI.
Of Seeking God alone.

Disciple.] THE

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HY Mercy, Lord, is great, which hath

thus far aslifted me; but still, I feel
I want a larger Portion of thy Grace, which may con-
duct me to such a State of Perfection, as may secure
and set me at Liberty, from all the Obstructions which
the Creatures lay in my way. For, so long as I retain
an Affection or Concern for any Thing in this World, I
find my Soul check'd and restrained in her Mountings
to Thee and Heaven. How often do I make the Pro-
phet's Wish my own, O that I had Wings like
a Dove, for then would I fly away and be at

Psal. lv.
rest? Lo then would I get me away far off, and re-
main at a distance from the World. Now what is
more at ease, more abstracted from the World, than
a true single-hearted Honesty? What can boast of Free-
dom equal to his, who covets nothing upon Earth?
All created Beings should indeed be passed over, and
left behind in this Flight; anda Man must make aStretch
even beyond himfelf, and abandon his own Natural In-
clinations and Defects, in order to get a distinct View
of the Creator, and those Perfections in him, to which

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no Creature bears any Resemblance. Now this is the very Reason, why so few employ their Thoughts in Heavenly Contemplations with any sensible Delight; because when they attempt it, they do it unskilfully. For they bring those worldly Affections along with them, that damp and disgust them in the Undertaking

It is not, I confefs, an easy Matter, nay, 'tis not possible to Flesh and Blood, by its own Strength, thus to purge the Affections. Nothing less than a liberal and very - powerful Inspiration of Divine Grace can thus exalt the Mind, and as it were carry the Man out of himself. But, till such Exaltation of the Soul have disengaged one from all Temporal Interests, and fix'd down his Desires to that One Object worthy of them, God himself; all his Knowledge and imagined Excellencies are very little worth. For, whatever falfe Notions of Honour and Greatness Men

may

delude themselves with, yet still all They have poor and - little Souls, and dote upon that which ought to be disdained, who allow any Thing, besides the Infinite and Eternal God, a very honourable Place in their Affections and Esteem. For All which is not God, is Vanity and Nothing, and ought to be nothing regarded. How vast a Difference is there between the Wisdom of a mortified pious Man, enlightned from above ; and the pompous Learning of a profound and studious Divine? That Knowledge, which descends from above, speaks its heavenly Original, by marvellous and noble Effects; and works a greater Change in the Man, a greater Improvement in profitable Knowledge, than all that Comprehension, which the best Capacities, and the most indefatigable Industry, can ever attain to.

We often hear very glorious Characters of Divine Contemplation, and the wonderful Delights and Tran{ports attending it; and These a great many appear

very

very

fond of. But then they have no regard to the necessary Preparations for it; their Minds are full of sensible Idea's, and possess’d with the things of this present World ; and the Subduing and Mortifying their Desires and Passions is a Matter they take no Care about. And, while their Affairs continue in this Posture, they are in no degree qualified for thofe Exercises of the Mind. Methinks it is a most unaccount-able Folly, and argues, that Men forget what Spirit they are of, when they call themselves Christians, i. e. Spiritual Persons, that have folemnly renounced the World with its Vanities, and the Flesh with its sinful Lusts ; who profefs to believe and to seek Happiness in a future State, and to place that Happiness in the Perfection of their Souls; and yet, in Reproach and Contradiction to those Professions, suffer Body and Sense to run away with them; lay out themselves entirely upon perishing and paltry Advantages, while the substantial and everlasting are wretchedly neglected, and their Souls so perfectly forgotten, that they scarce afford one serious Thought to their most important Concerns. Or, if at any time they set themselves to think, fome Trifle presently interrupts and draw's them off from any profitable Recollections. Nay, they themfelves fly out, and are glad to be diverted from a fevere Examination into their own State; which is sure, if diligently pursued, to present them with Objects of Shame and Sorrow, such as will wound their Sight, and foon make them weary of this neceffary Work. Thus we never trouble our selves to observe which way our Inclinations are disposed, or whither they tend; nor do we seriously bewail the abominable Impurity of our Hearts, though there be nothing but Impurity there. The way of all Fles is corrupt upon

Gen. 6. the Earth; and that universal Corruption, says the Scripture, brought a Flood to destroy Mankind and every Creature. But whence, do we think,

pro

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