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proceeds such Corruption of Manners ? From the Corrupt Affections of Men, no doubt. For, if this Fountain be not sweet, the Action, which is but a Stream and Emanation from it, muft of neceffity be flat and bitter. For a pure Heart is the Ground-work of a holy Life; and as naturally springs from it, as the Fruit from the Tree.
And herein we are much to blame, that so little Regard is had to the Dispositions of the Heart; without which no true Judgment can ever be made, either of our felves or others. But this, which is in truth of greatest Consequence, the very Point upon which a Man's whole Character turns, seems to be laid aside, as a thing too nice and speculative to be very curious in. We fix our Eyes upon the outward Action, consider what, or how much a Man hath done ; but with what Sincerity, with what Zeal, with what honest Intention he did it, or whether with none of all these Qualifications, we trouble not our felves to enquire. So again, for the Estimate we make of Persons, they are all foreign from the true and proper Foundation of Merit and Respect
. The Riches, Valour, Beauty, Judgment, Wit, Eloquence, a good Style, or a sweet Voice, or'a Knack of Management in Town or Country-Business, his Preferments, or his Profession, These we immediateBy take care to be informed of, and proportion our Value and Respects accordingly. But a Man's Humility and Poverty of Spirit, his Meekness and Patience, his Devotion and Piety, These are seldom mentioned in the Character, or recommended as Motives to induce Regard. Thus Nature and Grace have their different Prospects and Affections. The former looks at the Outside of a Man, and rates him according to things that are not his; the latter places all within, and fets not at all; by external Ornaments and Advantages. The Former builds upon a
false Bottom, seeks her self what the values in others, and is oftentimes deceived and disappointed : The latter reposes her whole Hope and Love in God, and is never mistaken, never deluded by false Expectations.
CHA P. XXXVII.
Hou canst not, Son, be entirely free, till
thou hast first attained to such a Mastery, as entirely to subdue, and deny thy self. For covetous Persons, and Lovers of themselves, the Luftful, and Busy, and unsettled Men, the Lovers of Pleae fure more than Lovers of God, are all Slaves ; Vile and Unprofitable Slaves; condemned to fruitless endlefs Toil ; seeking what they cannot find, and contriving what they cannot compass; or if they could, what they cannot long enjoy. For every thing, which is not of God, is foon brought to nought. Observe this short, but certain, Aphorism: Forsake all, and thousalt find all. Let go Desire, and thou shalt lay hold on Peace. Consider this Rule diligently, and transcribe it into thy Practice, for Practice will explain and prove it to thee.
Disciple.] This, Lord, is not the Work of a single Day, a Maxim not fitted for weak Capacities, but such, as in one short Sentence contains the utmost Perfection of a pious and resigned Christian.
Chrift.] And why, my Son, should that Perfection affright or discourage thee? Call up thy Zeal, aspire to true Greatness of Soul, and, the nobler the Virtue is, the more eager and generous Resolution do thou express of attaining to it. Oh! thật thou wert of that
happy Disposition, which utterly discards all narrow and felfish Considerations, and submits itself entirely to the Obedience of my Commands, and the Disposals of my Providence! So should thy Person and thy Behaviour be acceptable to thy God; so should'st'thou enjoy great Satisfaction, and Peace in thy own Breast. Alas! there are still many things, which must be abandoned; Many, which till thou hast Sacrificed to me, the Happiness thou aimelt at can never be obtained. Buy therefore of me the pure refined Gold of a heavenly and refined Disposition ; for that shall make thee Rich, above all the Treasures of this World. Cast off the Wifdom of this Generation, and do not footh thy self with their foolish Imaginations: For they purfue Shadows, and take delight in Vanity and Nothing. Remember I have told thee, that the things which are lightly esteemed, must be purchased at the Expence of those, which this World esteems most precious. For, what is more despised and mean in common Reputation, what more neglected and forgotten, than that true heavenly Wisdom, which renounces all Merit of its own, and is content to be disregarded by the Men of this World? This mortified and humble State of Mind is what indeed some people profess, and in Words commend; but their Practice plainly condemns it, and gives the Lie to all their dissembled Praises.
And Matth. xiii.
yet this Wisdom, poor and despica
ble as it appears to common Eyes, is that Pearl of great Price, for which all other Poffefsions are wisely given in Exchange: That hidden Treasure which is always like to continue hid, since it lies low, and few either do, or care to, find it."
CHA P. XXXVIII.
The Changeableness of ourTemper, and bow to fix it.
O not, my Son, depend upon any pre
sent Disposition of Mind, with which thou feelest thy self affected, for this is fickle and of short Duration. Variety and Change is what Men must be sabject to, so long as they carry the Frailties of Flesh and Blood about them; and all their Endeavours cannot fo fix their Hearts, as to keep them constantly the same. Sometimes they find themselves difposed to Mirth, sometimes to Melancholy; now they are Even and Serene, by and by all over Disorder and Confusion; This Hour Fervent and Devout, the next Lukewarm and Cold; Studious and Industrious to Day, slothful and unfit for Business to-morrow; Serious and Grave, and Thoughtful now; and anon again, Gay and Trifing, light as Air. But the truly wise Man, who is acted by the Spirit of God, gets above this changeable Region of the lower World. He suffers not himself to be carried about with every Blaft and Impulse of Inconftancy, but settles upon the Basis of the one Excellent End, which is always first and most in his Thoughts, the Port to which he makes, and the Compass by which he steers all his Designs and Actions. For by this Method it is very possible for a Man to continue unshaken and unmoved, by any Gust of Inclination from within, or Accident from without. The natural Changeableness of Human Affections, being yet more improved by Mens own voluntary Uncertainty, and proposing no constant End or Rule to themselves. Now that Intention, which fixes upon God as its only End, will keep Men steady in their Purposes; and deliver them from
being the Jest and Scorn of Fortune. And this in Scripture is stiled a Single Eye, because it ever looks and aims but at one Object.
The more intent then that Eye is in this Prospect, the less diverted from its Mark, the firmer and more consistent Men are with themselves : And the less Impression does any Change of Wind or Weather make upon such diligent and wise Pilots. But still Infirmity prevails in most: and, if some Pleasure or Profit come betwixt, they retain so much Tenderness for themselves, and their temporal Advantages; as to be diverted from the same vigorous pursuit of their first Prize, and allow this fresh one a part at least of their Endeavours and Desires. They love God, but they would love the World too; and in this State of dia
vided Affections fomewhat resemble the Fon xii. 9.
Jews; who, as the Evangelist observes, came to visit Martha and Mary at Bethany, not only that they might see and hear Jesus, but that they might fatisfy their Curiosity in gazing upon Lazarus, whom he had raised from the Dead. It must therefore be your great Care and Business, to compose this Distra&tion of Thought, to fix your Heart to one Purpose, to seek one Good, one End, so zealously, that no thing else may come into Competition or Partnership with it: to look upon every thing which diverts you from, or cools you in this Pursuit, with an Eye of Contempt; and constantly to keep your Hope, and Desire, and Love (which are the Spring and Guide of all your Actions) upon Me alone.
CH A P.