« 前へ次へ »
own Concerns, and keep your Eyes and Observation at home. Your own Soul is the Thing you ought to look after. This requires your niceft Inspection, and utmost Diligence; and the Censuring and Correcting your self is a Duty, which should take place above the Advising or Reproving the dearest Friend you have. It may be, this Reserve may be interpreted Sullenness, and lose you the Favour and good Esteem of Men; but let not that Loss afflict you. There can be no so just Ground of Diffatisfaction and Remorse, as the not behaving your self with all the strict Virtue and Circumspection, which becomes a Person who hath renounced the World, and devoted himself to the Service of God. 'Tis true, an honourable Opinion of us is a Comfort : But it is sometimes better to want Variety of Comforts, than to have them. This is of ten the Case with Advantages merely human, the External, and the Worldly: And, as for those which are Spiritual, and derived from God, if we be either deprived of these, or not sensible of their sweet Refreshment; the Fault is our own, who neglect to put our selves into a fit Disposition for them, by godly Sorrow for our Sins, and abandoning those vain and outward Comforts, which should make room for the Substantial and Heavenly
Get therefore a true and perfect Knowledge of your self; see and confess, that you deserve not any Divine Consolation, nay, that you do really deserve Desertion, and Sorrow, and much Misery. When a Man's Mind is inflam'd with a truly religious Zeal, this World appears not only flat and insipid, but very bitter and loathsome to him. A good Man can never fail of difcovering just Matter of Grief, and many Occasions that provoke his Tears. For, whether he consider his own Circumstances, or those of other Men, he will find that no Man here is exempted from Calamities. And the more closely he considers his own Condition, the great
er still will be his Concern. But the Misfortunes from without might be born with better Temper, were there not much more grievous from within. For, of all the Miseries that humble our Souls with Sadness, none are so justly lamented as our Sins, and Infirmities; the wretched Load and Incumbrance these are to our Conscience ; and the Indisposition, the Disability they bring us under, of attending without Distraction to Holy Duties and Heavenly Contemplations.
By these we are engaged upon trifling and unprofitable Thoughts, and diverted from weighty and useful Subjects. For would we but turn the Current of our-Thoughts another way, the Effect would be visible and very happy. If we did but seriously reflect, how certainly we must die, as often as we think how long it is likely we may live ; we should be more zealous and diligent to amend our Lives, and provide for that important Change. And would we but set before our Minds a lively Representation of those dreadful Torments which await the Damned in Hell; it were not possible sure to shrink back as we do, from the Austerities and Mortifications of a Religious Life ; or to fuppose any Labour and Pain which we can undergo in the mean while, a Hardship not most willingly to be chosen, for the preventing so dreadful a Condemnation. But now, because these things are but feldom and very slightly thought upon, and we, in tenderness to our own Ease, much rather fubmit to the foothing Impressions of present deceitful Pleasures, than to those harsh and cutting ones of future Misery and Anguish; we still go on in the fame Coldness and Indifference, and indulge our Sloth at the Expence of our Virtue.
I grant indeed, that some Religious Severities are tedious and painful to the Body. But the Fault does not always lie there; for the Body sometimes complains and droops, not so much from its own Suffering, as from the Meannefs and Cowardice of the Soul,
which ought to encourage and support it. Beg therefore Sf God most earnestly that he would kindle in your Hearts a true Christian Courage and fervent Zeal. Dare to entertain your self upon the most ungrateful, when they are profitable and necessary Subjects. Prefer the Mournings of a Pious Penitent before all the vain Jollity of a wicked and unthinking World ; and pray that God would do to thee, what the Pfalmift says he does to his own People, even feed thee with the
Bread of Tears, and give thee PlenteoufPsal. lxxx. go nefs of Tears to drink.
CHA P. XXII.
art, Wretched thou must be, which way foever thou turnest thy self: Beset on all sides with Miseries without Remedy, without any Possibility of Escape by Human Helps; and only to be avoided by taking Sanctuary in God. Why then art thou disquieted at Crosses and Disappointments; when these are the Portion of all Mankind? It is not yours and mine alone, but the greatest, the best Men drink of the bitter Cup: And no Man ever lived in uninterrupted Happiness: None ever succeeded in all his Wishes and Attempts ; None ever was above Calamities, or free from Vexation of Spirit. Since therefore fo ordained it is, that all must suffer and be miferable, are all equally fo? No, there are different Conditions and Degrees of Suffering; and His is certainly the best and most comfortable, who is called and disposed to suffer for the sake of God and a good Conscience.
It is usual for Men, who know no better, to envy and admire the Rich, the Great, the Honourable ; to imagine, that Princes and Persons of plentiful Fortunes are compleatly happy. But this is the Effect of great Weakness and Inconsideration. If therefore we would rectify such mistaken Apprehensions, let us get a right Notion of Spiritual and Heavenly Advantages. These will convince us, of what poor Account all worldly Enjoyments should be in our Esteem : How very little, how mere a Nothing they are ; how hard and hazardous to be attained ; how uncertain the Preservation of them, and how full of Trouble and anxious Care, even while we have them. And who would be fond of that, which can neither be got, nor lost, no, nor kept neither without Fear, and Sorrow, and perpetual Solicitude ? Surely then the Happiness of Man does not consist in the Abundance of the
Luke xii. Things which be porseletb. 'Tis sensless and
19. absurd to think it can. And if no Proportion of worldly Goods, tho' never so large, can exempt us from Misery ; then a competent Measure of them ought to satisfy us. For Miserable we must be with less or more. The very living here upon Earth, without any additional Calamity, would make us inevitably fo. The more a Man desires and labours to be like God, the less agreeable Relish he hath of Life ; because he is so much more sensible, more throughly convinced, of the Frailty and Corruption of Human Nature. For, what is this Vicissitude, this daily Round of Eating and Drinking, Sleeping and Waking, Weariness and Rest, and the Many other Necessities, which the Condition of Mortality enslaves us to ? Doubtless it is a mighty Burthen and Affliction, to Men whose Minds are wholly fixed upon higher Things, and whose only Ambition it is to get above Sin and Infirmity.
For the Distresses and Wants of the Outward-Man are a fore Hindrance and great Oppression to the In
ward; and we shall not perhaps injoré David's Sense, by supposing even these included in that Petition,
where he begs of God to deliver him out Psal. xxv. 17. of his Troubles. But wretched are They indeed, who are not sensible of their Wretchedness And yet more so still are those vain People, who are even in love with it ; Who dote upon this Mortal Life, which exposes them to it ; and cannot think of parting with it at any rate, even when in such uncomfortable Circumstances, that all their Time and Care is scarce fufficient to furnish them with Provisions necessary for the Support of it. And yet thefe infatuated Creatures are content to lay themselves out upon Toil and Trouble ; and, might they but be suffered to continue here for ever, could difpenfe with any Concern for God and Goodness, and willingly forego the Hopes and Everlasting Happiness of a Heavenly Kingdom.
O foolish and flow of Heart to understand and believe your true Interest; How deep are you immerfed in Flesh and Sense ? How sottishly deluded with Dross, and fond of Vanities which cannot profit ? Have you no Notion left of any thing but Body? No Regard for à future enduring Substance ? Raise your Affections up to Nobler Enjoyments, and disengage them from those grofs, those empty Objects, which, if you still persist in the Love and Pursuit of, you will one Day be . taught by fad Experience, how poor and despicable they really are, and how unworthy of all that eager Concern you have thrown away upon them. Bé persuaded then by Reason and Religion, and do not provoke God to convince you by Torments and too late Remorse, of how fatal Consequence the Love of this World is, to all that are immoderately fond of it. View well those Illustrious Patterns of Mortification and Heavenly-mindedness, which the Primitive Saints and Favourites of Christ have fet