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so contentedly does he perifh in Vanity and Vexation, unless thy Grace make him wiser, and raise his Mind to better and eternal Concerns.
CH A P. L.
Psal. čvlij Man. How often have I fail'd of Succour, and true Friendship, where I had most reason to expect it? How often found it, where I entertained no such Éxpectas tions? So vain and uncertain is all Trust in Man, so entirely does the Safety of Good Men depend upon Thee alone. Blessed therefore, and for ever admir'd, be that Good Providence, which orders and difpofes all Events, to thy Impotent and Fickle, thy Ignorant and Silly, thy Deceitful and Deceivable Creatures !
Who among all the Sons of Men ever behaved himofelf with fo prudent Care, and exact Circumspection, as not sometimes to be over-reached by Treachery and Trick, and involved in Difficulties and Troubles, which the most Jealous Foresight knew not how to de fcry or fufpect? But he, who places no Confidence in' Human Subtilty, and rests in God alone, and acts with downright Honesty, and a good Conscierice, is less subject to such Inconvenience, than cunning and intriguing Men : Or, if he be surprized and impofed upon, yet is his Deliverance generally more speedy and effectual, and his Comforts in the mean while more fenlible and supporting. For Thou, Lord, never forsakest those utterly, who put their Trust in Thee. A faithful Friend, and such as will stand by us in Ade versity and Want, is exeeding hard to be found ; but
Thou art always the same, and no Change of Circumstances can change Thee, or abate thy Affection. Happy is the Soul that is built upon the Rock, Christ; Were this my Cafe, the Fear of the Malicious would not distract, nor the Calumnies of the Envious disturb me.
But who can foresee all future Inconveniencies, or prevent all that he may foresee? And, if the Ills we are aware of, and provide against, are fo grievous to be born; how much more heavy will be those Wounds, whose Smart and Terror are doubled by Surprize? We often blame our felves for not being wiser, and have reason to condemn our too easy Credulity ; That especially, which greedily assents to the Flatteries and Commendations of Men, and relies upon their mighty Professions of Friendship and Esteem. For, tho they call and think us Angels, yet we cannot but be conscious to our felves, that we are no better than Men, frail and wretched Men. Whom therefore shall I believe ; whom indeed but Thee, O Lord? For thou art Truth it felf, incapable of deceiving, or
of being deceived. But as for Men, they Pfal. cxvi. are all Lyars, weak and inconftant, frail
and treacherous ; especially, in what they fay, so exceeding fabulous and vain, that it is a Point of Prudence to fufpend our Faith, and thou haft wisely taught us to beware of their falfe Insinuations. Thou haft forewarned us of their Treachery
and Malice, told us, that a Man's EneMat. xxiv. mies shall be those of his own Kindred and
Houfhold ; and that when Men fay, Log Christ is here, or lo, beis there, we ought not to believe them. The Truth of these Predictions I have learnt by fad Experience, and wish I may grow wiser at my own Expence.
Be sure (says one) you keep this private which I tell you, and yet that very Man in the next Compaby divulges what he had imparted just before, under
the Seal of Secrefy. From such unsincere Dealers as these I beg to be delivered, and from their treacherous Ways; that I may neither come within their Power of betraying and abusing my Confidence, nor injure any who repose the like in me ; Make me then, Lord, a rigid Observer of Truth, and religiously firm to my Word: For what I cannot but resent, when done to Me, it never can become me to put upon ahy other Person. Silence indeed, and forbearing to concern one's self in the Affairs of our Neighbours, is not only a Virtue, but a Convenience and Benefit. Caution in Crediting, Reserve in Speaking, and Revealing one's self to very few, are the best Securities both of Peace and a good Understanding with the World, and of the Inward Peace of our own Minds. Endeavouring to approve our felves to the Knower and Searcher of Hearts, and not suffering every Blast of idle Report, or empty Profession, to carry us about, but guarding our Conversation carefully, and labouring to conform every Thought, Word and Action to the Divine Will; These are a good Man's Safety, and Satisfaction, and Wisdom. How sure and calm a Retreat does that Man make, who chuses to preserve thy Favour, by making an Escape from Pomp and Noise; preferring thy Approbations before the loudest Fame and Applause; and willingly abandoning those painted Follies, whose glittering Outsides impofe upon our Senses? Who prefers contrite Sorrow, severe Virtue, and solitary Devotion, before the showy Pleasures of the World, or that empty Admiration, which Ambition and Vain-glory affect. Praise is indeed the Consequence and Encouragement of Virtue, but it is sometimes so unseasonably applied, as to become its Bane and Corruption too. For the whole Life of Man is one continual Temptation, and we have a subtle Adversary to deal with, who flips no Advantage of undoing us. Our Praises he improves to his own Pur
poses, by swelling us up with them into Pride and Self-conceit. And many Souls have perished by that Virtue, published and celebrated, which, if unknown and unobserved, had come to mighty Perfection ; and been infinitely happy, by the Advantage of Secrefy and Silence.
C H A P. LI. Of Trusting in God, when Men Speak Ill of us, Chrift. ] Tand fast, my Son, and be not terrified
with the Shock of Calumny and Reproach, but let me be thy Refuge and sure Confidence. Alas! what are Words but empty Sounds, that break and scatter in the Air, and make no real Impression? If not Report alone, but thy own Conscience too re, proach thee ; bewail thy Guilt, and reform what hath been amiss. But, if upon Examination thou find no Ground of accusing thy self; strengthen thy Mind in Innocence, look upon this wrongful Judgment as a Suffering for God's fake, and bear it accordingly with Patience and Contentedness. He expects that thou Heb. xii. should ft resist even unto Blood, when called
to it ; But how will the Man be able to endure Wounds and Blows, who is not yet a Match for Words and Affronts ? Enquire a little into the true Grounds of fuch Impatience, and thou shalt find it & Symptom
om of a Soul fick' and indisposed. For how can it' be otherwise accounted for, than, that thou art yet Carnal, and retainest a greater Regard for the Opinion of Men, than can be well consistent with a Person who hath renounced the World, and professes to dedicate himself entirely to God? Whence is Reproof so grating
and uneasy? Whence that sollicitous Care to contrive Excuses? whence that forward Zeal in thy own Vindication, if not from a Dread and Abhorrence of that Contempt, to which thy supposed Miscarriages would expose thee ? Fondness of Honour and Reputation ljes at the bottom, and an inordinate Desire to recommend thy self to Man's Esteem. Which shews, thou are not yet fo humble, so resigned, but that a Principle of Vanity lurks still within ; nor is the World yet dead to Thee, or Thou to the World.
Attend diligently to my Instructions, and the Cenfures of ten thousand Men will not be able to disturb thee. Let them proceed in their Envy and Malice, and blacken thy Name after the most spiteful manner that Hell it self can practise or invent, yet what art thou the worse? Çan all this change thy Person? Or hath thy Head one Hair the less for it? Do but compose thy Mind, and resolve to despise it, and all blows over. These Scandals vanish and fly away, like Motes in the Sun, and are neither more nor less, than what Refentment makes them. To be provoked with every Panderous Word, argues a Littleness of Soul, a Want of due Regard for God ; but the brave generous Mind, whofe All is in God, and who refers himself entirely to his Judgment, is above the Terrors and Discouragements of Men, and lays no Stress upon Their Notions of Things. For their Notions are frequently rash and false ; they feldom do, and sometimes cannot, enter into the real Merits of the Cause ; but to Me all Hearts are open, and from my piercing Eyes no Secrets are hid. I know distinctly, both what Manner, and with what Intention, every Thing is done." The Person who receives, and does the wrong, are both under my Cognizance ; and even the wrong it self is done by my Permillion; that by this means the Thoughts of many
may be reveala ad. I hall not fail to make a just and clear Decision