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Moses, and go with him into the Taber
Exod. xxxiii. nacle to ask Counsel of thy God. There thou shalt often meet a proper Answer, have many Thoughts seasonably suggested to thy Mind, and return wiser, both for this and the next World, than thou wert before. For Mofes always took this Course in doubtful Cases and important Exigencies: He made Prayer his Weapon and Refuge, by it he vanquished many Dangers, the Malice of Enemies and wicked Men, escaped and detected their Devilish Designs, and retorted the Mischiefs they intended, back upon their own Heads. Now what that Tabernacle was to Him, thy Closet and thy Conscience are to Thee. Neglect not then by any means to consult this Oracle, and implore the Directions and Affiftances of Divine Grace. For the ill Consequences of acting upon thy own head without thefe Precautions, are intimated to thee, by that Instance of yoshua and the Israelites : Who are expressly faid to have been de- 7oh. ix. ceived by the Gibeonites, to their great Prejudice; because they gave too eafy Credit to their flattering fair Pretences, and engaged in a League, without first enquiring of the Lord.
CHA P. XLIV.
.] Y Son,
and I will in due time bless them with a proper, and profitable Issue. But wait with Patience till that appointed time of mine, and do not anticipate the Methods of my Providence; for I know how to convert every Delay to thy Advantage.
Case whatsoever, is
Disciple. ] Lord, I most willingly commit
Concerns to thy Management, for all that little I am capable of is very insignificant. And therefore I cannot but wish, that this Sense, to how little purpofe all my own Pains and Contrivances are, might free me from anxious Thoughts concerning future Contingen, ces, and dispose me calmly to acquiesce in thy wife and good Pleasure.
Chrift.] Alas! my Son, eager and greedy Men covet they know not, what. An Object at a distance engages their Desires, while they fee only the fair and glittering side; but, upon closer and more distinct View, Enjoyment undeceives them, and they grow sick, even of their own Desires. For their Defires are various and mutable, and ever veering about to fome fresh Object. It is therefore of some conser quence, for a Man to forego his own Inclinations, even in Matters of no great Importance. But he, who hath attained to the Faculty of doing this in any Reach and Envy of Fortune, and at the highest Pitch of Human Perfection. Yet even this Man will find his Virtues called to the Test: For the old Enemy of Souls is ever framing fome Stratagem to undo good Men, and lies in Ambush Night and Day, to catch an Opportunity of ensnaring unwary Souls. Let then his Diligence provoke yours, and be not lefs affiduous to save than he is to destroy you. For this
is the Purport of thy Lord's Command; Matt. xxvi.
Watch and Pray, that ye enter not into Temptation.
CH A P. XLV.
In Man dwelleth no good Thing.
Disciple.]T ORD, what is Man, that thou
Pfal. viii. Son of Man, that thou visitest him? How can he deserve to be assisted by thy Grace, or fuccoured by thy Favour? What Right have I, fo vile a Wretch, efpecially, to complain unto my God, if he withdraw his Presence, and leave me to my self? Or, if I beg and pray for Comforts, what have I to alledge in my own behalf? How can I take it ill, if he reject my Pétitions ? This I am sensible is all I ought to think, or can pretend to say, That I have Nothing, and am Nothing, and in my own Nature tend to and pursue after Vanity and Nothing. A miserable Creature, faint and feeble, incapable of so much as one good Desire, till animated and strengthened by thee. Tickle and mutable, subject to Infirmities innumerable, and perpetual Decays ; but Thou, my God,
Heb. xiii. art the same, Testerday, and to Day, and for ever; Ever happy, and just, and wise, and good, and ordering all things for the best, after the Counfel of thy Divine Will. Well were it, if I were but equally disposed to Good and Evil; but the Corruption of my Nature, alas! preponderates strongly to Vanity and Vice. I easily fall from my own Stedfastness, and am carried about with every shifting Wind of Time, and Chance, and Passion.
And yet thus weak and veering as I am, thy helping Hand can Comfort and Confirm me. Thy powerful "Grace, without any Human Aids, can work Wonders in me; can strengthen my Resolutions, scatter my Fears, and fill my Soul with Rest and sweet Content. If, when I thirst after higher Degrees of Vir
tue and Devotion, or if I fly to thee for Succour in Distress, when all other Succours fail me, (and all but thine will and must prove ineffectual) If then I could but abandon all other Hopes, and repose my whole Confidence in thee alone ; Then might I entertain some Expectations of thy Favour; then wait with Joy, for the chearful Returns of Grace and Comfort from above. For all my Successes are thy free Gift, and I my self a despicable Wretch, not able to affect any good, not in a Condition to merit the least of all thy Mercies.
What therefore can I have to boast of, who, till I despise and go out of my felf, am not so much as qualify'd to receive Allistance from Thee? Or how can I desire the Applause and Admiration of Men? What! Shall I pretend to glory of Weakness, and Inconftancy, and Nothing? This were a Vanity beyond Example, an Extravagance beyond Imagination. How foolish and absurd, nay, how hurtful and destructive a Vice is Ambition, which, by undue Pursuit of Honour, robs us of true Honour ; and, affecting Favour with Men, incurs Punishment and Displeasure from God? For he who labours to please himself, is sure at the same time to offend Thee ; and loses true fubstantial Virtue, by covering empty Praise. For true Honour and Virtue consists in glorying, not in our selves, but in Thee, O Lord; in magnifying, not our own Attainments or Performances, but thy free Grace ; and in loving and delighting in nothing, but fo far only as may advance thy Honour.
Not unto Me, therefore, not unto Me, but Psal. cxv.
unto thy Name be the Praise. May Men commend and extol not my Works, but thy Power, which inspired, produced and perfected them: And may this Commendation devolve so entirely upon thy Grace, that not the least part of it may fall upon my Concurrence with it. Far be it from me to arrogate any
thing to my felf; for while I rejoice in Thee, I find
Chrift.] F thou feest others grow great in Reputa
tion and Preferment, while thou art overlooked and despised, let this, my Son, be no Concern to thee. Look up to Me, and set thy Affections and Hopes in Heaven, and then the Neglect and Contempt of Men will give thee little Trouble.
Disciple.] Were it not, Lord, for the Blindness and Corruption of Nature, which makes me fond of Vanities and Joys, I should have juster Notions of these Matters. For he, who rightly understands himself, cannot but discern, that it is not in the Power of any Thing without, to do him real Prejudice; and consequently, that he can have no reasonable Ground to complain of thy Providence, however it thinks fit to