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which very naturally result from them. For, as Colours appear to our Minds as they are painted in the Eye, so the Judgment Men make of all outward Objects, depends upon the Condition of the Mind. And we argue and pronounce of them differently, as we happen to be differently affected before-hand.
If there be such a Thing as true Pleasure in this World, the Pure in Heart enjoy it. And if there be a Hell upon Earth, it dwells in that Man's Breast, who hath a guilty and polluted Conscience. As Iron is scoured from the Rust by Fire, and becomes bright and new; so that Zeal, by which we renounce the World, and turn entirely to God, takes off our Filth, and changes us into new Men. The lukewarm and indifferent Christian grudges every thing he does, boggles at every Difficulty, and seeks his Satisfaction in worldly and outward Comforts. But if he warmly apply himself to subdue his Passions, and resolutely attempt the following God in his own Way, the Hardships which at Srst discouraged him, grow familiar,
and lessen upon his Hands. All that God Matt. xi. 29, appoints him to do or fuffer, becomes 30.
sensibly to him an easy Toke, and a light Burthen, and he finds Peace and Rest to bis Soul.
CHA P. V.
T is a very usual thing with us, to have a mighty
Confidence in our felves; when alas ! the want both of Abilities and Performance reproves our Vanity and Folly. For how small is the Proportion of our Gifts, in comparison of our own Imaginations concerning them ? And how defective our Wisdom and Care
to use and improve even that Proportion we have ? The Light that is in us shines but dimly, and by our Neglect we suffer it to go quite out. We are often blind, and not sensible of our Infirmities; we stumble and fall, and still pretend we see ; commit horrible Sins ; aggravate our Guilt by. defending what we have done ; nay, are sometimes so wretchedly deluded, as even to sanctify our Wickedness by a Pretence of Zeal. The smallest Faults of others feldom escape our Censure ; and the much greater of our own as seldom fall under our Observation. The Burthens and Hardships we put upon them, seem reasonable, easy, and light ; but the least and most trivial Uneasiness they create to Us, we have a quick and painful Sense of, and cry out, Who can bear it? Whereas, would we but take a right Estimate of our felves, and judge our own Actions impartially, we should find little Leisure, and less Provocation, to pronounce severely concerning our Brethren.
Now this is the wife and truly Spiritual Man's Me thod : He employs his Thoughts at home, confiders that there lies his proper Business and Care ; and is tender of other People's Failings, from a due and humble Consciousness of his own. And whatever fond Opinions we may cherish of our own Virtue, Religious and Perfect we are not, nor ever can be, till we examine our own Consciences diligently, and leave all the rest of the World to stand and fall by the Judgment of their own Mafter. Cenforiousness and Christian Piety can never dwell together. For this would work us to a neglect of all things without us, and make us both forbear and despise all Judging, but those of God and our own Consciences. The Mind, which does not converse with it self, is an idle Wanderer : and all the Learning in the World is fruitless and misa employed, whilst in the midst of his boasted Know. ledge, a Man continues in profound Ignorance of that,
which in point both of Duty and Advantage he is most concerned to know. True Peace and Satisfaction of Mind can only be acquired by doing our own Business; and Friendship and Charity are best preserved, by leaving off all impertinent and busy Curiosity, concerning the Conduct and Reputation of our Neighbours.
The abandoning all worldly Care, is a true Argument of greater Proficience in Goodness. For, by esteeming highly of any thing here below, our Value for God and Heaven is unavoidably lessened and impaired. Let nothing therefore but God, and the things that be of God, seem great or grateful to thee, worthy desiring, or rejoicing in: And all that imaginary Comfort, which the Creatures pretend to administer, treat with the generous Neglect and Contempt that it deserves. For a Soul entirely devoted to the Love of God, will naturally despise every thing in comparison of Him. And Reason good there is why it should do fo, when we consider, that every thing else is frail and of short Continuance, empty and unsatisfactory.; but God alone Eternal, Omnipresent, Infinite in every Excellence; and therefore he is the best, he the only Comfort and true Joy of the Soul, who alone can fill and exceed its largest Desires.
C H A P. VI.
THE Glory and Privilege of a good Man consists
in the Testimony of his own Mind ; For this is a perpetual Feast and Triumph. It sets him above the Power of Fortune, and makes the sharpest Afictions not only an Exercise of his invincible Patience, but a
Matter of undisturbed Joy to him. Whereas even Prosperity it self cannot procure Ease and Content to a guilty and self-condenning Breast. Would'st thou then enjoy a sweet and uninterrupted Tranquility? Keep all at Peace within, and give thy own Thoughts no Caufe to reproach thee. All the Satisfaction we take or promise our selves, is vain and dangerous, except that only which proceeds from a Sense of having done our Duty. The Men thou seest so gay, so seemingly full of Delight, are galled and stung within ; they have no inward, no true Contentment, and notwithstanding their most industrious Pursuits of Pleasure, that Sentence of God is irreversible, and the fad Effects of it hang over their Hearts, that
Ifa. lvii. 21. there is no Peace to the Wicked. They may perhaps make mighty Boasts of their Enjoyments, put ; on an Air of Happiness, give out, that their Pomp and Greatness secures them from the Affaults of Mifery; but these are all Delusions, and ought not to incline our Affent, or provoke our Envy. We see not their inward Tortures ; nor are Witnesses of those Checks and Terrors, which make Retirement bitter and insupportable, and haunt their Closets and their Beds: We see not yet, but there is a Time coming when we shall see an angry God breaking out upon them in Fury; their mighty Projects quashed and baffled, and all the Happiness they vainly boasted of, vanish like a Dream.
While therefore these Men take a Pride in their Successes and outward Enjoyments, do. Thou with equal Satisfaction entertain thy Amictions. This is not indeed to Flesh and Blood an easy. Undertaking ; but to a Soul filled with Grace and Love, which knows and proposes to it self no other Happiness but God, nothing is impracticable, nothing difficult. For what is this, but to rejoice in the Fatherly Care and Affection of Him, whose Providence ordèreth these Suf:
ferings for thy Good? The Glory which we give or receive from one another, is very fickle and perishing; it cannot last long, and while it does, fome Alloy of Sorrows will ever attend and damp it. The Good Man's Glory stands upon stronger Foundations; it rises from within, and must endure so long as that Innocence which creates it : Nay, it must last as long as God himself; for his Will carefully performed, his Favour and Approbation which follows that Performance, are the folid Bases on which it stands : And these can never fail, so long as Truth and Justice continue impregnable. To him who aspires after Eternal Glory and Honour, that of this World is of very little Confideration. And these are so very different, fo inconsistent, that the Love and sincere Desires of the One are best proved by a Neglect and Disesteem of the Other. Nay, not only the future, but the prefent Happiness is best secured, by seeking the Approbation of God alone: For nothing contributes more to an easy and quiet Mind, than a Disregard of the Praise, and despising the Cenfures and Reproaches of Men.
A pure and quiet Conscience does above all things dispose a Man to rest contented with his Condition: And particularly, with regard to the Opinion of the World, it is highly reasonable he should do so. For what is any one really the better, or the worse, for what other People say of him? Their Commendations add nothing to his Virtue, nor does their Dispraise and Scandal take one whit from it. The Man is still the same; what his own Actions and the Judgment of God make him. This is the Standard of our Worth and Happiness; neither more nor less belongs to us, than will be found to do so at the last great Account ; and that will depend, not upon what we were said or supposed to be, but upon what in very deed we were in this world. The more Refpect therefore we bear to