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and free; our Joys resulting from them undisturbed ; and our Contemplations of Heaven and Heavenly Things full of Rapture and Transport.
CH A P. II.
E not extremely sollicitous what Friends thou haft
to appear in thy Behalf, nor what Foes employ their Malice in creating thee Difficulty and Trouble ; But let it be thy great Care to keep God thy Friend and Helper, and be sure to preserve a Good Conscience; for, so long as thy own Heart condemns thee not, God will not fail to plead thy Cause, and allit and bless thy Righteous Undertakings. And those whom he receives into his peculiar Protection, no Wickedness or Spite shall be able to hurt. Suffer thou may'st indeed, but provided thou learn to suffer without Murmuring and Impatience, thou shalt certainly see the Salvation of God. And if this seem to tarry, yet wait for it; for He best knows the proper Season of Deliverance, and therefore you ought entirely to rest upon his Wife Disposal. Deliver no doubt he will: The relieving Men in Distress, and wiping off the Shame and Reproach of his Servants, being Acts by which God delights to signalize his Providence. But there is often Reason, why the doing it should be deferred ; since the Discovery of our Failings by other People, and the Reproofs we meet with upon their Account, have frequently a very happy Effect upon our Minds, and render them more modest and humble in their own Esteem of themselves.
And Humility is a Virtue of fo general, so exceeding good Influence, that we can scarce purchase it too
dear. For he, who is lowly in his own Eyes, and sensible of his own Failings, makes no difficulty to acknowledge his Offences against his Neighbour, and gives all reasonable Satisfaction to any who have cause to be angry at him. Nor does this Forwardnefs to Reconciliation expose him to the Insults of Injurious Men; for God charges his Providence with a peculiar Protection of the Humble, and delivers such as are of a contrite Spirit. He condescends to dwell with the Humble, and hath engaged to comfort their holy Sorrows. To these he promises large Portions of his
Grace, and that, they who abase themselves Luke xiv.
fall afterwards be exalted : To thefe he Pfal. xxv.
reveals his Secrets, and draws them to himself with the Cords of Love and Kindness. The Humble suffers no Disturbance of Mind, but receives the Reproaches and Affronts of Men without any great Impression. For he considers, that God, and not the World, is his Hope ; and if his Favour be but secured, the rest cannot be of any very great Impor
In short, this Virtue is fo necessary, fo fundamental a one, that no Man ought to esteem himself a Proficient in Goodness, who is not yet arrived to that Pitch of it, which teaches him to think himself the least of all Saints, and last of all Men.
CHA P. III.
Ecure Pesce at Home in the first place; and, when
it will then be proper to Reconcile and make Peace among thy Neighbours. And this indeed is a very worthy and reputable Action ; it brings greater and juster Com
mendation to a Man, and more Benefit to those with whom he converses, than Wit, or Learning, or any of those other so much admired Accomplishments. And as every thing is set off by its Contrary, so here, the Mischief of a contentious Disposition is unconceivable. For nothing can be fo innocent, nothing so well or kindly meant, but such a Man will be sure to fix fome ill Interpretation upon it : But the good Temper will be as careful, on the other hand, to take every thing in the best Sense it is capable of. For a peaceable Man is not apt to suspect Ill of any s but the Peevish and Discontented are rack'd and tormented with a thousand jealous Whimsies, and neither are quiet themselves, nor content to let other People be so. They are very liberal in saying what they should not ; and as backward in doing what they should. Diligent Observers of their Neighbour's Duty, and scandalously negligent of their own. Whereas, in truth, our Saviour's Rule should always be our Measures for no Man is fit to Cenfure or Correct his Brother, by pulling the Mote out of bis Eye, till he have first exercised a due Severity upon himself, and be effectually reformed, by casting the Beam out of bis own Eye. And oh! how happy should we be, how eased of Detraction, and Calumny, and Cenforiousness, if none would take upon thern to Condemn or Censure others, till they were first qualified for the Authority they usurp, by a thorough Amendment of their own Manners, and being Proof against any just Reprehension themselves ?
Who can forbear the observing, how manifestly unequal we are in our Dealings ? Every one is ingenious at framing Excuses, and making large Allowances for what he doth himself; and yet scarce any Body admits the Apologies alledged by others in their own Vindication. How much more just and reasonable were our Proceedings, would we but pass a favoura
ble Construction upon the Actions of others, and turn the Severity of our Censure upon our own ? If you · expect to be born with, you must first learn to bear with your Brethren, and exercise the good Nature you expect, as oft as Occasion offers. For Men are beit taught by Examples, and the Measure we mete gives us a Right to receive the fame again. But is this Cha- ' rity ? Is this Humility ? Nothing more distant from it. For these dispose us to condemn, and be angry with no body but our selves. To keep up a good Understanding with Men of Goodness and Temper, is but a very vulgar Virtue. This is easy and delightful, for every Man naturally desires Quiet and good Usage, and cannot help being well affected to Persons who love, and please, and are like him. The Difficulty is, to carry Matters smooth and inoffensively with Men of rugged, intractable, and fierce Dispositions ; with those who make little Conscience of what they do or say, and stick at nothing unjust or unfair in their Dealings.
And he who can do this, is a truly great Soul, and fets a noble and commendable Pattern of Philofophical, or which is more, of Christian Fortitude.
There are a fort of Men, who cherish Peace and Quiet, with themselves and all the World ; and another very vile sort of Wretches, the very Reverse of these, who delight to fish in troubled Waters, and are neither easy, nor will suffer any body else to be so ; 'eternally troublesome to others, but much more tormenting and vexatious to themselves. And there are yet a Third fort, who are not satisfy'd with giving no Offence, but make it their Business to reconcile others, where it hath been given ; and to restore that Peace, which they were never instrumental in disturbing. But when all is done, our Life here is exposed to perpetual Misery and Contention ; and the utmost Degree of Peace we must expect to arrive at, does not consist in being free from Injuries and Croffes,
but in bearing them with Humility, and not being provoked to Impatience, and uneasy Resentments. And therefore, the more any Man hath brought himself to suffer, and the better he entertains Amictions and Wrongs, the more serene his Mind will be. For this Person hath gained a Conquest over himself, is above the Reach of Fortune, hath the World at his Command, is a Friend of Christ, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.
CH A P. IV.
Here are two Wings by which a Man foars above
the World, Sincerity and Purity. The former regards the Intention, the latter the Affections; That aspires and aims at a Likeness to God; This makes us really like him. We fould find no Difficulty in any good Action were but our Minds free from all intemperate Passion and Desire. And this Perfection of Freedom we should not fail to attain, did we, in all our Designs and Undertakings, propose no other Ends, than Obedience to the Will of God, and promoting the Good of our Neighbour. Were but our Minds thus fixed, and our Intentions regulated, every thing would strangely contribute to our Edification. We should study the Volume of Nature with Profit, and every Line in that large Book would tend to our Instruetion. The very smallest, and, in common Esteem, most despicable Creature would represent, as in a Glass, the Goodness of God to us. And the Reason why these things are seen with so useless Speculation, is, because our Minds are not rightly disposed, to draw those Profitable and Practical Inferences, G2