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CH A P. I.
A of the Contempt of the Vanities of the World.
E that followeth me, shall not walk
himself The Light of the World. The true Importance and Design of which Words is doubtless to instruct us, that the
way to be truly Enlightned, and to deliver our selves from all Blindness of Heart, is to make his Holy Life the Object of our Imitation, and to form our Dispositions and Actions upon the perfect Model of that bright Example. But how shall we follow a Pattern, which we but little think of? The first Step therefore toward thus Copying after him, is the employing our Thoughts, with great Frequency and serious Attention, upon the Perfečtions of this Divine Qriginal.
2. The Doctrine taught by Christ, excels all the Instructions deliver'd to Mankind, by all the holy Men that ever lived. And every Man, endued with a true Christian Spirit, will not fail there to find a hidden Manna, like that of old, fitted both.to nourish, and minister Delight to his Soul. The true Account then why Men hear the Gospel, without any sensible Relish, or eager Desire, is, that they are not endued with the Spirit of Christ. This is a Treasure found of them only who desire to find it; and a Man must resolve and endeavour to form his whole Conversation upon the Principles of that Doctrine, before he can attain to a full Understanding of its Excellence, and feel an inward Satisfaction in the Study of it.
3. And here indeed lies the true Benefit of Meditation and Knowledge. For, without this, how poor and unprofitable a Thing is Speculation? What is a Man the better, for entering into the sublime Mysteries of the Trinity, and being able to dispute nicely upon that adorable Union; if in the mean while he want that Meekness and Humility, without which he must needs lie under the Displeasure of the Trinity? Certain it is, that Distinctions and Notions, tho'never fo subtle or serviceable to the Truth, do not make a Man Just and Holy: But a careful and conscientious Life recommends us to the Favour and Love of God. I had rather be affected with a true penitent Sorrow for Sin, than be able to resolve the most difficult Cafes about it. Suppose you had all the Bible faithfully treasured up in your Memory, and a perfect Comprehension of all the Moral Philosophy in the World ; To what purpose serves this mighty Stock of Rules, if not drawn out into Use by Charity, and seconded by Divine Grace? Va
nity of Vanties, all is Vanity, said the PreachEcclef. i. 2.
er; and his Observation admits of that fingle Exception, taken notice of in the Conclusion of his Book, Love God and keep his Commandments ; for this is the whole of Man. He, who would approve himself wise in good earnest, must Chap,xii.13. first by a juft Contempt of this World, raise himself up to the Desires and Endeavours after the Kingdom of Heaven. --4. Vanity most certainly it is, with great Solicitude to seek, and place our Hope and Confidence in Riches, which are sure to perish. Vanity, to cherith our Ambition, and strive, by all possible means, to attain a high and honourable Station. Vanity, to indulge the Desires of the Flesh, and court those Pleasures, which draw after them grievous and lasting Pains. Vanity most exquisite, to be infinitely concerned for living -long, and perfectly indifferent, or but coldly affected, -concerning living well. Vanity most fatal and stupid, to determine our Thoughts and Cares to this Life present, and never look forward to that which is to come: To doat upon things that fly swiftly from us, and cling fast about imaginary and transitory Delights; while we suffer our selves by these to be detained and diverted from the Pursuit of substantial and eternal Joys. : 5. Oh turn this Vehemence of Desire upon the right Object, and remember, to how little purpose it is placed on that which cannot give Content ; since most true is that Observation, which ought to make us wiser, The Eye is not satisfied with Seeing, nor the Ear filled with Hearing. Use Ecclef. i. 8. then thy utmost Diligence, to wean thy Soul from the Love of the Things that are seen, and set thy Affections on Things that are not seen. For, be assured, that they, who follow their own sensual Appetites, do lose, not only their Labour and Expectation, but also their Innocence and Purity, the Peace of their own Conscience, and the Favour of Almighty God.
Сн А Р. II.
HE Defire of Knowledge is natural to every
Man, but what Advantage is it to be knowing, - if that Knowledge be not seafoned with Virtue and Religion? The vilest Peafánt, and he, whom we in fcorn think least removed from a Brute, if he ferve God according to the best of his mean Capacity, is yet a better and more valuable Man, than the proudest Philosopher, who busies himself in considering the Motions of the Heavens, but bestows no Reflection at all upon those of his own Mind. The certain Consequence of knowing a Man's self truly, is a mean Opinion of himselt, and not being 'exalted with the Commendations of other people. And supposing my Knowledge so vast and extensive, that nothing this -World contains were hid from it; yet what would all this avail me in the Sight of God, who, when he comes to Judgment will try me upon the Issue, not of what I have known, but what I have done ?
2. Restrain that extreme Defire of increasing Learning, which at the same time does but increase Sorrow, by involving the Mind in much Perplexity and false Delusion. For such are fond of being thought Men of Wisdom, and respected as such: And yet this boasted Learning of theirs consists in many Things, which a Man's Mind is very little, if at all, the better for the Knowledge of. And sure, whatever they may think of the Matter, he who bestows his Time and Pains upon Things, that are of no Service for promoting the Happiness of his Soul, ought by no means to be esteemed a wise Man. Words and Notions give no inward Satisfaction ; but a Virtuous Life never fails to comfort and refresh the Mind, and to minister the best Antidote 2