« 前へ次へ »
turn to no Account; and the only Thing, which can make them amends at last, Religion and the Service of God, that they give themselves no manner of Trouble about, but slight as not worth their Care or Thought. The great Occasion of their Fantastical Opinions, and dangerous Corruptions with which the World is pefter'd, is certainly this, That Men propose no end of their Studies but to be great, and to have other People think as highly of them, as they do of themselves; and because of all things, they deteft Humility, and a Submission to Truth, God gives them the due Reward of their Vanity, and suffers them to
be seduced by their own Absurdities and Rom. i. 21.
Imaginations. But if we would be Great, let us take the proper Course for it : For, None is truly so, but he that abounds in the Love of God, and in Good Works ; none is truly so, but he who thinks modestly of himself, and is got above the Temptations of Ambition and Vain-glory. The Man who is Wise to purpose, is he, who counts all that
this World can boast of, but Drofs and Phil. iii. 8.
Dung, that he may win Cbrift. And he is an expert and learned Man indeed, who hath learnt to give the Preference to God's Will, before his own; who resolutely complies with his Commands, and as resolutely denies his own Inclinations.
CHA P. IV.
Prudence in our Behaviour.
E not too basty in believing every Word, nor the Sug
leisurely, and make a Conscience of giv
Prov.xiv. Is ing your Credit with due Caution. Men
1 Joh. iv. I. are much more prone (the greater is the Pity) both to speak and believe ill than well of their Neighbours. This is our Infirmity and Unhappiness: But a good Man will consider and make Allowances for it : And the effect of this Consideration will be, the suspending his Assent, Ecclus. xix. 4. and neither believing all he hears, nor officiously reporting all he believes.
It is an Argument of great Wisdom, to do nothing rashly; nor to be obstinate and inflexible in our Opinions. And the Cautiousness I fam. iii. 2. just now recommended, in crediting and spreading Reports, is a necessary Branch of the fame Perfection. Advise in your Affairs with wise and good Men; and think it more for your Reputation, to be instructed by those who understand better, than to act upon your own Head. A Virtuous Life makes a Man prudent in God's Efteem, and gives true Conduct and Experience. The more
Ecclus.xix.24. humble and observant we are to His Directions, the better we shall behave our selves, and the greater Sattisfaction and Peace of Mind we shall find relulting from all we do.
CHA P. :: V.
Of Reading the Holy Scriptures. "HE End we should propose to our selves in this
Study, is the discerning and discovery of Truth, not the observing Quaintness and Propriety of Expression. That Book of God indeed should be perused with the same Spirit and Temper by which it was di&tated. And as the Holy Ghost intended the Profit of
Mankind, more than Niceness of Words
and Phrases, so should we aim at growI Cor. Įi. 1,4. ing better Livers, rather than wiser, or more accurate Speakers, by what he hath delivered. To Persons thus disposed, the plainest and most pious Parts of Scripture will minister a Delight, equal to those which are more mysterious and sublime. The Authority and Skill of the Pen-man should be of little weight with us; nor matters it, whether he were one of
great or mean Attainments; for the Love and Defire of Truth is the proper Motive to Study; and the Substance of what is spoken, not the Person who
speaks, ought principally to be consider1 Pet.i.24,25. ed. All flesh is Grass, but the word of the Lord abideth for ever; and this Word speaks to us in different manners, without any partial Respect of Perfons.
One great Inconvenience in Reading the Scriptures, is our own vain Curiosity. We lose much of the Benefit, which might otherwise be gathered from them, by pretending to nice Disquisitions of difficult Points and labouring to bring to the Standard of our own imperfect Reason, what we should be content to receive with the Simplicity of an humble Obedience, and place to the Account of Divine Faith. If you would Read then, and profit by that Reading, you
inust do it withra submissive and humble, a sincere and teachable Disposition of Mind; and accountit a greater Excellence to believe what God hath faid, than to affect the Reputation of Learning, by Singularity of Opinions, and a bold Attempt to bring down all he says to your own Comprehension. If in some things you find occasion to doubt or distrust your own Judgment; consult wife and Holy Perfons, and submit patiently to hear and be inform'd by them. Nor let a vain Conceit of your own Abilities pro- Ecclu. viii. 8, duce Contempt of the Aphorisms and Pa-' 9. rables of the Ancients. For, be well assured, they were not uttered at all Adventures; but they who delivered these Proverbial Sentences, knew them to be the Result of long and Judicious Observation.
Pride and Covetousness never luffer us to reft; but the Poor and Lowly in Heart, the Humble and the Contented, enjoy themselves in a profound and perpetuo al Calm. He that is still in confíict with his Passions, and hath not yet attained a Compleat Victory over them, is easily tempted, and often finds himself over born by things not worth his Concern. For the remains of a Carnal Spirit, and the Itrong Tendencies to Pleasures of Sense, will not suffer a Man, without great Difficulty, to draw his Mind off from Worldly Affections. And therefore, while he is endeavouring to do this, he endeavours it with fore Travel and Pain; commits a Violence upon himself, and is pro
voked to Anger and Indignation against all that opposes him in fo laborious an Undertaking.
But if he indulge those Desires, and succeed in them, the Consequence is worse this way than the other: For then he is ftung with Remorse for his guilty Compliance, and discontented to find, that the Gratifying his Inclination does not yield the Satisfaction he promised himself from it. This convinces him by fad Experience, that true Peace and Content is never to, be had by obeying his Appetites, but by an obftinate Resistance of them. And such Peace cannot be expected in the Breast of any Sensual Man; for it is the Peculiar Portion and Happiness of a Soul raised above the World, a zealous and devout, a mortified and refined, and heavenly Disposition of Spirit.
CHA P. VII.
Directions for avoiding Pride, and Vain Confidences.
To , any ture, is most egregious Vanity. Think it not
below you, to submit to the meanest Fer. xxvii. 5.
good Offices for the Service of your Brethren, and the sake of Jesus Chrift; nor count it any Shame to be thought Poor and Mean in this World: Do your own Endeavour honesty, and faithfully; and never doubt of God's Assistance. Depend not upon
your own Wisdom, and place not any fo. ix. 24. Confidence in the greatest Man living; 1 Pet.iv.5. but let your whole Truft rest entirely upLuke i. 52. on the Favour of God, who bringeth xiv. II. down and refifteth the Proud, but giveth Grace to the Humble, and exalteth those who are content to abase thern/elves.