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Disciple.] Lord; I most willingly commit my Concerns to thy Management, for all that little I am capable of is very inlignificant. And therefore I cannot but wish, that this Sense, to how little purpose all my own Pains and Contrivances are, might free me from anxious Thoughts concerning future Contingencies, and dispose me calmly to acquiesce in thy wise and good Pleasure.
Chrift.] Alas! my Son, eager and greedy Men covet they know not what. An Object at a distance engages their Defires, while they see only the fair and glittering side ; but upon closer and more distinct View, Enjoyment undeceives them: and they grow fick, even of their own Desires ; for their Desires are various and mutable, and ever veering about to some fresh Object. It is therefore of some consequence for a Man to forego his own Inclinations, even in Matters of no great Importance; but he who hath attained to the Faculty of doing this in any case whatsoever, is truly free, and great, above the Reach and Envy of Fortune, and at the highest Pitch of Human Perfection. Yet even this Man will find his Virtues called to the Test: For the old Enemy of Souls is ever framing fome Stratagem to undo good Men ; and lies in Ambush Night and Day, to catch an Opportunity of ensnaring unwary Souls. Let then his Diligence provoke yours, and be not less affiduous to save, than he is to destroy you. For this is the Purport of thy Matth. xxvi. Lord's Command ; Watch and Pray, that
ge enter not into Temptation.
CHA P. XLV.
In Man dwelleth no good Thing ] Ord, what is Man, that thou.
Psalm viii art mindful of him, çr the Son of Man, that thou visitest him ? How can he deserve to be assisted by thy Grace or succoured by thy Favour? What right have I, so vile a Wretch, much more, to complain unto my God, if he with
draw his presence, and leave me to my felf? Or if I i beg and pray for Comforts, what have I to alledge in
my own behalf, how can I take it ill if he reject my Petitions ? This I am sensible is all I ought to think, or can pretend to say, That I have Nothing, and am Nothing, and in my own Nature tend to and pursue after Vanity and Nothing. A miserable Creature; faint and feeble, incapable so much as of one good Desire, tillanimated and strengthned by Thee. Fickle and mutable, subject to Inírmities innumerable, and perpetual Decays; but Thou, my God, Heb. xiii: art the same, Yesterday, and to Day, and for ever, ever happy, and just, and wife, and good, and ordering all things for the belt, after the Counsel of thy Divine Will. Well were it, if I were but equal ly disposed to Good and Evil; but the Corruption of my Nature, alas ! preponderates strongly to Vanity and Vice; I easily fall from my own stedfastness, and am carried about with every shifting Wind of Time, and Chance, and Passion,
And yet, thus weak and veering as I am, thy helps ing Hand can Comfort and Confirm me. Thy powerful Grace, without any Human Aids, can work Wonders in me ; strengthen my Resolutions , scatter my Fears, and fill my Soul with Rest and sweet Content. If, when I thirst after higher Degrees of Vir,
tue and Devotion, or if I fly to thee for Succour in Distress, when all other Succours fail me, (and all but thine will and must prove ineffectual ); If then I could but abandon all other Hopes, and repose my whole Confidence in thee alone; then might I entertain fome expectations of thy Favour; and wait with Joy, for the cheerful Returns of Grace and Comfort from above. For all my Successes are thy free Gift, and I my self a despicable Wretch, not able to effect any good, not in a condition to merit the least of all thy Mercies. What therefore can I have to boast of, who, till I
go out of my self, am not so much as qualify'd to receive Allistance from Thee? Or how can I desire the Applause and Admiration of Men? What! Shall I pretend to Glory of Weakness and Inconftancy, and Nothing? This were a Vanity beyond Example, an Extravagance beyond Imagination. How foolish and absurd, nay, how hurtful and destructive a Vice is Ambition, which, by undue pursuit of Honour, robs us of true Honour, and affecting Favour with Men, incurs Punishment and Displeasure from God? For he who labours to please himself, is fure at the same time to offend Thee; and loses true subftancial Virtue, by covering empty Praise. For true Honour and Virtue consists in Glorying, not in our selves, but in Thee, O Lord; in Magnifying, not our own Attainments or Performances, but thy free Grace; and in loving and delighting in nothing, but so far only as may advance thy Honour. Psalm cxv.
Not unto me, therefore , not unto me, but
untothy Name be the Praise ;May Men commend and extol, not my works, but thy Power, which inspired, produced, and perfected them: And may this Commendation devolve so entirely upon thy Grace, that not the least part of it may fall upon my Concurrence with it. 'Far be it from me to arrogate any
thing to my self ; for while I rejoice in thee, I find nothing in my self to glory in but my Infirmities: And in them I will gladly glory ; because the greater my Weakness is, the more visible and eminent is thy Strength, which is so conspicuously perfect in it. Let Unbelieving Jews seek Honour one of another, but I, who profess my self one John V. of the Faithful, will seek the Honour which cometh from God only. For what is all the Fame, and Respect, and Greatness of thisWorld, if put into the Balance of thy Eternal Glory, but exquisite Folly, deceitful Bubble, and altogether lighter than Vanity it self? All Ho nour therefore, and Praise, all Might and Majesty be afcribed to thee, o blessed Trinity, my God, my Light, my Truth, my Succour and Defence, my Refuge and Comfort, for ever and ever.
CHA P. XLVI.
Of Despifing Worldly Honour.
F thou seest others grow great in Reputa
tion and Preferment, while thou art overlooked and despised, let this, my Son, be no Concern to thee. Look up to Me, and set thy Affections and Hopes in Heaven, and then the Neglect and Contempt of Men will give thee little Trouble.
Disciple.] Were it not, Lord, for the Blindness and Corruption of Nature, which makes me fond of Vanities and Joys, I should have juster Notions of these Matters. For he who rightly understands himself, cannot but discern, that it is not in the Power of any thing without to do him real Prejudice ; and confequently, that he can have no reasonable Ground to complain of thy Providence, however it thinks fit to
difpose of such Matters. The Consciousness of my own Sins convinces me, I have deserved that all the Creatures should conspire and make War against me. To me belongs Shame and Confufion, but to Thee only Honour and Praise is due. And thou hast taught me, that to bear Contempt, and Hatred, and Barbarous Treatment with Humility and Patience, is theonly Method of attaining inward Peace, and true Satisfaction; the Virtue which must recommend me to thy Favour ; the best Predisposition for Light and Grace; and the sureft, clofelt Band of Union with
CH A P. XLVII.
Happiness is not to be had by the Favour or Friend
ship of Men.
E that proposes to be Happy by the Af
-fe&ion or Acquaintance of the best, the greatest Man alive, will always find his Mind unsertled and perplexed. For even the Best and Greatest are but Mortals; and the effectual Remedy against immoderate Concern for their being taken away from thee, will be to court the Favour of an Eternal and Immortal Friend. Now the less Confidence any Man reposes in any Earthly Comfort, so much the more he ingratiates himself with God. And the better he acquaints himself with his own Vileness, the less he is in his own Eyes, the higher he rises in God's Esteem. But they who vainly fancy any thing that is good or meritorious in themselves, put an effectual Bar to Divine Grace. For this is given to the Humble, and the Spirit of God chuses the Contrite Heart for the place of his peculiar Residence. Would thou aban