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short and feeble, to enter into the Reasons of the Di-
Fer. xii. 1.
Ps. xxxvi. 7.
My Methods and Dealings are to be admired and
As little ought they to enquire and dispute concerning the Merits or the Preference of Good Men: Which of the Saints excels in Virtue, or is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. For these are Questions, in which Men are no way concerned, such as engender Strife and Debate, and turn to no good Account. They cherish Arrogance and Pride, Envy and Faction, while Men break into Parties, and each contends for the Preeminence of Him, whose Order and Patronage he is devoted to, or whom his own Vain Imagination inclines him most to honour. The effect of this is very visible, and the Mischiefs, that spring from such an impertinent Zeal, exceeding numerous and lamentable: The Controversy, neither possible to be decided, nor worth deciding, if it were. And, if those Saints have any Knowledge what passes here below, this indiscreet
and partial Zeal cannot but be highly displeasing to them. For I am not a God of Contention and Faction, but of Order, and Peace, and Love. And these are the genuine Products of true Modesty and Humility, such as esteems others better than it felf; but inconfiftent with that bold assuming Temper, which is rest, less and discontented, if any other be preferred before it. It may be, Affection and honest Zeal may dispose some Men to be more liberal in their Respects on this or that side of the differing Parties; but, do not such consider, that such Affection is not the Effect of Grace or Religion, but merely of Human Infirmity? These are fuch Prepossessions as I can never be capable of; for all the Saints are equally mine. My Hand made them Men, my Alifting Grace made them Saints ; I enriched them with Virtues, and crowned them all with Glory. I know what each have done, what Oca casions they had, what Improvements they made. I foreknew them before Time was; they chose not Me, but I them; and singled them out of the Common Crowd. I drew them with the Cords of Love and Mercy, conducted them thro' great Variety of Trials and Amictions ; fustaind them with uncommon Com forts and Recruits, enabled them to persevere, and re« warded the Constancy my self had given. I know the first and last; and my fatherly, my inexpressible Affection extends to them all. For all are Inftruments of my Praise and Glory, so many Monuments and Eternal 'Trophies of my Goodness ; freely advanced to what they are, by my Bounty and Favour, without any Right or antecedent Merit of their own. He therefore, who despises the least of these, is guilty of Disrepect to the greatest; for this Contempt reflects at last on Me, the Author of their Virtues and their Happiness; and therefore in Me alone should all the Honour, pretended to be paid to Them, centre. Their Interests and Properties are no longer separate ; for Charity hath
made them One, and knit them into the fame Mystical, Body,whose Honours and Advantages, and Inclinations, and Joys, are inseparably the same. Nay, which is the utmost Perfection of Charity, they all conspire in loving Me more than themselves, or any Merits or Respects of their own; for, being in that happy State exalted above themselves, they are entirely taken up with the Love and Honour of God. This is their Happiness and utmost End. Nothing can divert them to meaner Prospects, no mixture of Self comes in betwixt, to damp the pure Flames of this everlasting Love.
Away then with these vain Curiosities, these eager Disputes, concerning the Condition of the Blessed; which betray a prevalence of Carnal and Sensual Appetites, such as have no Notions higher than particuiar Gains and separate Interests. Nature and Partiality incline such Dispositions, to Act, and Desire, and Love, and Hate, upon private and personal Considerations ; and then they fondly transfer the fame Idea's and the same Behaviour, from Earthly to Heavenly Objects. Alas ! The difference is the widest in the World, and nothing in Nature fo distant, as the filly Imaginations of such Novices in Matters of another World, from those juster Apprehensions, which Minds, enlightned from above, entertain upon these Occasions. Be not too curious then, my Son, in Matters above thy Capacity; but rather let it be thy care and constant
Thought, how thou may'st be found, though it be but the least, in the Kingdom of Heaven. For couldIt thou understand all: Mysteries and all Knowledge; couldst thou distinctly view the several Orders and Places of each Angel and Spirit above; yet what would this avail, farther than as it excited in thee less for thy Own, and greater Zeal for my Honour? The Man, -who seriously reflects upon the Multitude of his own -Sins, and the Defects and Worthlesness of his own Virgues, how few, how poor, how far fhort they are
of the Perfection of those bright Examples heretofore, employs his Mind upon a Subject, which God likes much better than such empty Speculations, as concern the Preeminence, or the Subordination of them who have set those Examples.
This is a Controversy, which they themselves never trouble themselves about. For they ascribe nothing to any Deserts of their own, but acknowledge the whole of what they have and are, to be the fole Effect of my infinite Liberality and Love. And their Happiness and Honour is compleat, by the Joy they take in the Fruition of God and his Glory. The more exalted any of these are, the more modest they are ; the more dear, and the more like to me. Thus much is intimated by that Vision, where they are faid to cast their Crowns at
the Feet of God, and falling down upon their Rev. x.
Faces before the Throne, and before the Lamb, to worship him that liveth for ever and ever.
How absurd is it to see Men zealously contending who is greatest in the Kingdom of God, who are not folicitous in the mean while to know, what much more nearly concerns them, whether they shall have any place at all there themselves? And yet to be least there is to be great, for even the least are Sons and Heirs of
God. A little one shall become a thousand, Ifa. lx. 22. and the Child sball die an hundred Tears old, lxv. 20.
but the Sinner of an hundred Tears old sball be accursed. When the Disciples enquired who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, this was
the Answer made to that Demand: Except Mattb.xviii.
ye be converted, and become as little Cbil, dren, ye Mall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore whosoever shall humble bimself as this little Child, the same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Wo to them who difdain to imitate the Humility and Meekness of little Children; for strait and low is the Gate of Heaven, such as the towrings of Ambition,
and swellings of bloated Vanity can never stoop to, or enter at. Woto the Rich,who have their Confolation in this World, for while the Poor are admitted into Paradise, they shall stand Weeping and Wailing without. But rejoice, ye Meek, and Humble, and Poor, for Yours is the Kingdom of God; if ye heartily embrace and obey the Truth, and be Rich in Patience and good Dispositions.
God is all the Good Man's Hope and Confidence.
Disciple.] N whom, O Lord, is my Hope, while
here below? or what, of all the Things under Heaven, can minister Peace and Comfort to my Soul ? Truly my Hope is even in Tbee, and my Joy and Trust in thy Mercy alone. When were my Affairs in ill Condition with thee? Or what can prevent my being exquisitely miserable without thee? Poverty forthy fake is infinitely rather to be chosen, than all the Riches and Greatness in the World, in Exchange for thy Favour ; and Earth and Exile with that Favour more blissful,than Heaven without the Fruition of Thee. For Heaven is Heaven by thy blessed Presence; and where that does not refide, all is Death and the Grave, and Hell. Thou art my Desire and my Portion, and therefore to thee my Sighs and Groans, and Cries and Prayers, continually afcend. I have no 0% ther Stay or Refuge, who can fend seafonable and suitable Relief to all my Dangers and Necessities; but thou alone art my Hope and Trust, my effectual Comforter, and faithful Friend.
Others pursue their own private Ends and Advantages, but thou feekeft my Improvement and Hape