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pleaseft. For this I know, that how grievous foever these Temporal Crosses may be, yet better is it to feel the Weight of thy Hand here, than hereafter. All Things are naked and open to thee, even the ininost Recesses of our Hearts; Thou knowest the Things that will be before they are; and needest not that any should inform thee what is done upon Earth. Thou seeft what will contribute most to my Improvement in Goodness; how great and good Effect Distresses have, to fcour the Ruft from our unactive Minds, and brighten alt our Virtues. Take then, my God, thy own Measures; I only beg, that thou would'ít not . disdain, and give me over, and think me unworthy thy Care, for thofe Blemishes and Misdemeanors of my Life, which none are better acquainted with, which none indeed are thoroughly acquainted with, but Thou the Searcher of Hearts alone.
Work in me, I intreat thee, a true Amendment: Instruct me in all things fit for me to know; Difpofe me to love all Things worthy my Affection ; to think, that every Thing deserves my Praise, in proportion as. it pleases thee ; fto esteem nothing highly, but what is precious and honourable in thy sight; to look with a generous Disdain upon all that thou thinkest vile, and never be reconciled to what thou hateft. Let me not, I beseech thee, judge by outward Appearances, the seeing of the Eye, or the hearing of the Ear, which are subject to infinite Delusions and Mistakes. But give me a right Judgment in all Things, whether they relate to this or another State, to the outward, or the inner Man: And, above all, let it be my fpecial Care to inform my self in thy Will concerning me. Men, who form their Judgment upon Sense, often err; Men, who set their Affections upon the sensible Objects of this World, are frequently disappointed and miserable: For, is a Man, for instance, one whit the better, because he is grown greater in other Men's
Esteem? Is common Opinion the Standard of Merit ? Nothing less. Here every Man abuses his Fellow; The Cheat impofes upon another as great a Cheat ; the Vain puffs up the Vain; the Blind misleads the Blind, the Weak supports the Weak; and all the while, by empty undeserved Commendations, each brings a true Reproach upon the other, while he extols him against Sense and Reason. For after all, thefe Praises are but Words without any Significance; nothing more than Air and empty Sound ; for every Man is just so much, so good, and neither more nor less, than he is in thy Efteem only. I
CH A P. LVI, A Man must be content with meaner Acts of Vira
tue, when be is indisposed for greates.
O not suppose, my Son, that thy. Zeal
can always be equally bright, or thy Mind capable of Transport and intent Contemplation upon heavenly Objects at all Timę. Thou carriest about with thee a Laad of Infirmity and Corryption, which will often damp the clearest Flames of Devot tion, darken thy Mind, and check its poble Flights , and make thee know and feel, that Mortal Flesh and Blood is a heavy, but inseparable, Incumbrance upon a Rational and Religious Soul. While Men are in the Body, there is no Remedy, but they must feel and groan under the Weight. And groan they ought ins deed, when they consider, how great an Interruption this is to their Attendance upon, and entire Dedication of their Time and Thoughts, to God and Heavenly Objects. These they must be content to dwell upon as much as may bea by snatching all those happy
Intervals, which Leisure and a good Temper of Mind allow them.
But when the Soul is indisposed for Nobler Exer, cises, when Cares or Infirmities press it down, let it not be unactive. Variety is here of use; and Works of a meaner Rank in the Scale of Virtue must be reçurred to; that thou may'st be still employ'd, still waiting for the happy Hour, when I shall return and visit thee with larger Measures of my Grace." Bear with Meekness the present Discomfort and Incapacity, the dry and barren State of my Soul, till I send my refreshing Dews, and infuse a Principle of Fruitfulness, for a Product in greater Plenty and Perfection. For I can foon make thee to forget thy past Troubles, , and fatisfy thy Mind with the Abundance of Peace, I open for thee the fpacious Plains of Scripture, that thou may'st be enlarged, and run the way of my Commandments in Liberty; and, with a Soul full of Joy and inward Exultation, say, I reckon that
Rom. viii. the Sufferi?gs of this present time are not Wortby to be compared with the Glory wbich shall be rex vealed işi uş,
CH A P. LVII.
Ord, I must needs with Shame confess
thy Com forts, or any part of that Care thou art pleased to take of my Soul; and therefore I have no pretence to complain of hard Usage, or Injustice, when thou with drawest thy Grace, and leavest me to my felf. Whole Şeas of Tears could not so cleanse my polluted Soul,
as to render it pure enough to merit the blessed Infuences of thy Spirit. Scourges and Vengeance are the Portion of a Wretch, who by so many and so grievous Transgressions hath offended thy Majesty. The more therefore I reflect upon my own Sinfulness, the clearer and juster Notions I have of thy free undeserved Mercy. For Merciful thou art, even to Astonishment, whose Bowels thus yearn' over the Work of thy own Hands ; who thus to all the World haft manifefted the Riches of thy Grace in the Veffels of Mercy, and extendest thy Liberality to those who have no Right to challenge, no Recommendation to induce thee to it.
But, if we could pretend to Comforts, yet how could we expect fuch divine, such incomparably sweet and noble Marks of thy Favour? So very unlike, fo much above any Human Helps or Encouragements ? For how could I expect the Bread of Life from Heaven? Good Works I know of none I have to plead; but the slightest Recollection even amazes and confounds me with Sins innumerable brought to my Remembrance. My vehement Proneness to Evil, and shameful Sloth and Backwardness to Reformation and Goodness, are of themselves so evident, that should I labour to cloak them, the Attempt must needs be vain; For thou, the Searcher of Hearts, art privy to them; Thou canst disprove me, and no Advocate is to be found, who could offer any thing in my Vindication. What then can I justly lay claim to, but Hell and everlasting Flames? I own with Grief and Shame, that Reproach and Contempt are my due; and that I am unworthy to be named among thy Sons, or even thy meanest Servants. Nature indeed starts back, and cannot without Reluctancy acknowledge its own Vileness and Guilt; but I will offer Vio. lence to my Native Pride, and freely confess my Sins, that thou may'st shew thy Justice and Faithful
ness, in a full and free Pardon of the Faults I do freely confefs.
But where shall I find Words fit for fo miserable a Condition, or how shall so scandalous a Creature apa ply to thee for Pardon? I know no other Terms than these, that can become my Mouth. “Lord, I have “ linned, I have done wickedly. Mercy, thou Judge
of Quick and Dead, Mercy, or I perish. Respite " thy Sentence yet a little while, and grant me some “ time at least to bewail my Misery, before I be “ swallowed up in Darkness, and go into a $6 Land, Black with the Terrors of the Sha- fob x. "dow of Death. What other Reparation doft thou " expect, what other can indeed be had, from Men “ laden with Guilt and Infirmity, than that they “ Thould seriously bewail, and humble themselves for, “ their mighty and manifold Provocations? Hence © all our Hopes of Remission spring, here the first 6 Seeds of a Reconciliation take root; the Joy of a 6 peaceful Conscience is fown in Tears; the Aca
knowledgment of our Weakness is the first step tos “ wards repairing our Lofs, the first Defence against
the Wrath to come, and in these melancholy So6 litudes the Gracious God and penitent Soul meet,
and embrace each other. A broken and a
. Thou, in marvellous Condescension preferrest it " before the Odours, the sweetest Incense, or whole " Hecatombs of Burnt-Offerings. Of this that pre" cious Ointment, whose Perfumes, when it anointed, “ thy holy Feet, filled the whole House, was an Em“ blem; for Thou, Lord, never didst or wilt, des ci spise a Soul afflicted with a sense of Şin. Contri-, “tion and Humility are our Sanctuary against the
Rage and Malice of our Spiritual Adversary; and © Tears of Penitence are that purifying Stream,
which washes off the Stains and Blemishes of our $ defiled Souls.
CH A P.