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Nature is easily provoked to Discontent, by hard Circumstances : Grace bears Want and Poverty with Meekness and much Patience. Nature's Ends and Designs constantly centre in her self : But Grace considers her Original, and thinks, that all should return thither from whence at first it came; arrogates nothing to it felf; is not affuming, does not contend for Praise or Preference; is not dogmatical and peremptory in her own Opinions, but, in all Searches after Truth, submits her own Reason and Judgment, to the Incomprehensible Wisdom of God. Nature affects to be knowing, to understand and penetrate the profoundest and darkest Mysteries, makes Ostentation of all her new Discoveries, and pretends to Experiment and Demonstration ; labours to distinguish her self, to be thought wiser than the rest of the World, and would be extolled and admired for all that is spoken or written, or done: Gráce thinks it not advisable, to lay out Time or Thought upon new or unprofitable Curiosities; but considers, that the Ruin of Mankind is owing to that busy Desire of knowing what God thought fit to conceal from them; that this inquisitive pretending Temper is a Sprout from that old Root of Bitterness; that Established Truths may be depended upon, but new and fanciful Notions are almost no sooner entertained, than they are disproved and exploded again; That Men should therefore check that vain Pleasure, which tickles their itching Minds upon these Occasions ; abandon Vain-glory, labour rather to conceal, than to publish their Advantages; and make Usefulness; and Virtue, and God's Honour, the only End of all their knowledge and Studies. For to Him alone all Thanks and Praise must of necessity be due, who gives Men all they have, of his own mere Motion and free Mercy.
And such is Grace: A Light fuperior to Nature; which should direct and preside over it; the peculiar
Gift of God; the distinguishing Character of his Chofen; the sure Pledge of everlasting Salvation ; for it raises a Man's Affections from Earth to Heaven, and changes him from Flesh to Spirit. And, because these two Principles are acted by such different Motives, proceed in such different Methods, and pursue such differing Ends; therefore, in Proportion as Nature is weakned and subdued ; the larger Meafures of Grace are imparted, the more Mens Virtues are improved, and the glorious Image of God renew'd in their Hearts, by holy and heavenly Dispositions.
C H A P. LX.
The Weakness of Corrupt Nature, and Efficacy
of Divine Grace.
"Hou haft indeed, my God, created me
in thy own Image, after thy Likeness, Gen. i. 24. and commanded me to be boly, as thou thy self 1 Pet. i.
art boly. O grant me, I befeech thee, that Favour and Assistance, which, thy own Word hath taught me, is so important, fo abfolutely necessary to Salvation ; that I may vanquish my own Nature, whose Inclinations are now fo degenerate, fo corrupt, that they have a strong and constant Tendency to Sin
and Death. For I feel and lament a Law Rom. vii.
of Sin in my Body, warring continually against the Law of my Mind, drawing me to Compliance with the fleshly and fensual Appetite, and difabling me from any refolute Resistance against its fatal Motions; except thy Divine Grace pour in fresh Succours, and help me to ftand in the Day of Battel. Lord,
I have need, not only of thy Grace, but of very plentiful and powerful Communications of it, to
turn the Biafs of Nature, which from my very Infancy, preponderates to Evil. For this Infection is derived from the first Parent of Mankind, and is the Punishment of his Offence diffused upon his whole Posterity; so that the Human Nature, which came pure and good out of thy creating Hand, is tainted and perverted, and all the Motions, now remaining, draw the wrong way, and bend to Sin and Earth.
The little Power left in us to do good, is like a very small Spark, covered with a huge Heap of Embers: Light of Reason clouded with a thick noisome Mist of Darkness and Error. And, though by this all the Distinctions of Good and Evil, of Truth and False hood are not utterly lost, yet the Power of performing what our better Sense approves, is gone; the Light of Truth is dim and feeble, and the Integrity of our Minds and Affections is blemished, and diverted from attending to it impartially. Hence it comes to pass, that, though sometimes I am delighted with thy Law in the inner Man ; and fully convinced, that the Commandment is boly, and juft, and good, condemning Wickedness, and warning me of the Rocks and Precipices, which, in steering my Course through the Waves of this troublesome World, I must be watchful to avoid; yet still with the Flesh I serve the Law of
Rom. vii. Sin, and find a greater Dispofition to follow Luft and Sense, than to be governed by Reason and Religion. Hence I so often feel the Will to do well ; but how to perform what I thus will, I find not. Hence I often make and repeat good Resolutions with great Sincerity; but, for want of thy Affiftance to counterpoise my Infirmities, quickly fall from my
Stedfastness, and am beaten off with the very Api proach of Difficulty and Opposition. Hence I discern
the Way I should walk in; but when I am inform'd of Penting my Duty, and endeavour to raise my felf above the World and its Temptations ; a fatal innate Weight
draws me down again, and checks my Soul in its intended Flights to Heaven and Thee.
How absolutely needful then, my God, is thy Grace to help me in beginning, in carrying on, in accomplishing every good Work; since without it I can do nothing, and yet with it can do even all Things? Yet not I, Lord, but Thou, who art in me, and strengthenest me. O Gift truly Divine! without which no Desert of Man, no Endowments or Qualifications of Nature, are of any Worth or Significance at all! Sciences and Arts, Riches and Power, Beauty and Strength, Wit and Eloquence, What are they, Lord, or what to be accounted of, if not feconded, aflifted, exalted, perfected by Grace? These are Accomplishments distributed promiscuously to Good and Bad ; but Grace is a Gift peculiar to thy Children and Chofen, and such as renders the happy Men that have it worthy of Eternal Life and Happiness. A Gift fo singularly excellent, that neither the Gift of Prophecy, nor the Power of working Miracles, nor the Understanding of sublimest and most abstruse Mysteries, nor Faith, nor Hope, nor any other Virtue or Privilege, can recommend us to God without it. i obl'effed Efficacy of Grace, which makes the Poor in Spirit, Rich in Virtue and good Works; and that Man so enriched, humble and poor in Spirit ! Come, heavenly Gift, descend from above, shed thy self into my Soul, and fill every dark Corner there with Light and Comfort; rouze and shake off my Sloth, moisten the dry Soil, and command Fruitfulness out of that barren Ground Vouchsafe me, Lord, this Blessing; for this alone is fufficient for me, though thou should'st think fit to deny or withdraw all, that Nacure can either bestow, or is most fond of acquiring. Give me but this Defence, and no Temptation fhall confound me, no Calamity dismay or make me afraid. Por this alone is Strength and Courage, Wisdom and
Protection; stronger than all my Enemies, and wifer than all Human Counsels, and Contrivances; the Teacher of Truth, the Mistress of holy Discipline, the Light of the Soul, the Solace of Troubles, the Resolver of Doubts; the Balm of my Wounds, the Dispeller of Melancholy, the Banisher of Fear, the Cherisher of Devotion, the Parent of Contrition, the Spring of holy Tears, and of all those Streams that wash and purge Polluted Consciences. What am I without this, but dry Stubble, a rotten Trunk, dead to good Works, useless and unprofitable, and fit for nothing but to be trodden under Foot, and cast into the Fire? Let therefore, O my God, I most humbly and heartily intreat, let this Grace and Favour of thine always prevent and follow, and make me con
Colle&t for tinually to be given to all good Works; that xvii: Sunday in all my Actions begun, continued and ended after Trinitý. in Thee; I may glorify thy Holy
. Name ; and Colleét after finally by thy Mercy obtain Everlasting Life. Communion, Amen, Amen, 1 1
CH A P. LXI,
Chrift.] HE more, my Son, thou forfakest thy kest toward Me. As the Desires and intemperate Love of Things without, must be discarded, in order to the Peace of one's own Breast; so even the Love of one's own Self must be laid aside, in order to a perfect Union with God. Learn therefore absolutely to deny thy own Will for mine, without Contradiction or
Complaint. Follow Me; I am the Way, the Truth, and 133 the Life, Without the Way can be no Walking ; with