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Thou art always the same, and no change of Circumstances can change Thee, or abate thy Affection. Happy is the Soul that is built upon the Rock, Chrift; Were this my Case, the Fear of the Malicious would not distract, nor the Calumnies of the Envious di
But who can foresee all future Inconveniences, or prevent all that he may foresee? And, if the Ills we are aware of, and provide against, are so grievous to be born; how much more heavy will be those Wounds, whose Smart and Terror are doubled by Surprize ? We often blame our felves for not being wiser, and have reason to condemn our too easy Credulity; That especially, which greedily assents to the Flatteries and Commendations of Men, and relies upon their mighty Professions of Friendship and Esteem. For, tho' they call and think us Angels, yet we cannot but be conscious to our selves, that we are no better than Men, frail and wretched Men. Whom therefore shall I believe? Whom indeed but Thee, O Lord? For thou art Truth it felf, incapable of deceiving, or of being
deceived. But as for Men, they are all psal. cxvi. Lyars, weak and inconstant, frail and treacherous, especially in what they say, so exceeding fabulous and vain, that it is a Point of Prudence co suspend our Faith, and thou hast wisely taught us to beware of their False Insinuations. Thou hast forewarned us of their Treachery and Malice, told us, that a Man's Enemies shall be those of his own Kindred
and Houshold; and that when Men fay, Lo, Mat. xxiv. Cbrift is here, or lo, he is there, we ought not to believe them. The Truth of these Predictions I have learnt by sad Experience, and wish I may grow wiser at my own Expence.
Be sure, (lays one) you keep this private which I tell you, and
that very Man in the next Company divulges what he had imparted juft before, under
the Seal of Secrefy. From such unsincere Dealers as these I beg to be delivered, and from their treacherous Ways; that I may neither come within their power of betraying and abusing my Confidence, nor injure any who repose the like in Me. Make me then, Lord, a rigid Observer of Truth, and religiously firmi to my Word : For what I cannot but resent, when done to me, it never can become me to put upon any other Person. Silence indeed, and forbearing to concern one's self in the Affairs of our Neighbours, is not only a Virtue, but a Convenience and Benefit. Caution in Crediting, Reserve in Speaking, and Revealing one's self to very few, are the belt Securities both of Peace and a good Understanding with the .World, and of the Inward Peace of our own Minds. Endeavouring to approve our selves to the Knower and Searcher of Hearts, and not suffering every Blast of Idle Report, or Empty Profession to carry us about, but guarding our Conversation carefully, and labouring to conform every Thought, Word and Action to che Divine Will; These are a good Man's Safety, and Satisfaction, and Wisdom. How fure and calm a Retreat does that Man make, who chuses to preserve thy Favour, by making an Escape from Pomp and Noise; preferring thy Approbations before the loudest Fame and Applause; and willingly abandoning those painted Follies, whose glittering Outfides impofe upon our Senses? Who prefers contrite Sorrow, severe Virtue, and solitary Devotion, before the showy Pleasures of the World, or that empty Admiration which Ambition and Vain-glory affect. Praise is indeed the Consequence and Encouragement of Virtue, but it is sometimes so unseasonably applied, as to beconie its Bain and Corruption too. For the whole Life of Man is one continual Temptation, and we have a subtle Adversary to deal with, who flips no advantage of endoing us. Our Praises he improves to his own Pura
poses, by swelling us up with them into Pride and Self-conceit. And many Souls have perished by that Virtue, published and celebrated, which, if unknown and unobferved, had come to mighty Perfection, and been infinitely happy by the advantage of Secresy and Silence.
CHA P. LI.
Of Trusting in God when Men speak Ill of us.
Cbrift.] Tand fast, my Son, and be not terrified
with the Shock of Calumny and Reproach, but let me be thy Refuge and fure Confidence. Alas! What are Words but empty Sounds, that break and scatter in the Air, and make no real Impression ? If not Report alone, but thy own Conscience too reproach thee, bewail thy Guilt, and reform what hath been amiss. But if upon examination thou find no Ground of accusing thy self, strengthen thy Mind in Innocence, look upon this wrongful Judgment, as a Suffering for God's fake, and bear it accordingly with Patience and Contentedness
. He expects that thou Heb. xii. Should'st refift even unto Blood, when called
to it : But how will the Man be able to endure Wounds and Blows, who is not yet a Match for Words and Affronts ? Enquire a little into the true Grounds of such Impatience, and thou shalt find it a Symptom of a Soul fick and indispofed. For how can it be otherwise accounted for, than, that thou art yet Carnal,and retainest a greater Regard for the Opinion of Men,than can be well consistent with a person who hath renounced the World, and professes to dedicate himself entirely to God. Whence is Reproof fo grating
and uneasy? Whence that Solicitous Care to contrive Excuses? Whence that forward Zeal in thy own Vindication, if not from a Dread and Abhorrence of that Contempt, to which thy supposed Miscarriages would expose thee? Fondness of Honour and Reputation lies at the bottom, and an inordinate Desire to recommend thy self to Man's Esteem. Which shews, thou art not yet so humble, so resigned, but that a Principle of Vanity lurks still within; nor is the World yet dead to thee, or thou to the World.
Attend diligently to my Instructions, and the Censures of ten thousand Men will not be able to disturb thee. Let them proceed in their Envy and Malice, and blacken thy Name after the most spiteful manner, that Hell it self can practice or inyent, yet what art thou the worse? Can all this change thy Person? Or hath thy Head one Hair the less for it? Do but compose thy Mind, and resolve to despise it, and all blows over. These Scandals vanish and fly away like Motes in the Sun, and are neither more nor less than what Refentment makes them. To be provoked with every sanderous Word argues a Littleness of Soul, a Want of due regard for God; but the brave generous Mind, whose All is in God, and who refers himself entirely to his Judgment, is above the Terrors and Discouragements of Men, and lays no ftress upon their Notions of Things. For their Notions are frequently rash and false, they feldom do, and some times cannot enter into the real Merits of the Cause ; but to me all Hearts are open, and from my piercing Eyes no Secrets are hid. I know distinctly both in what Manner, and with what Intention every thing is done. The Person who receives, and does the Wrong, are both under my Cognizance; and even the Wrong it self is done by my Permission; that by this Means the Thoughts of many Hearts may be revealed. I shall not fail to make a just and clear Decision
between the Guilty and the Innocent; and call both to account hereafter ; however I may think fit to try them in the mean while, and keep thofe things in the dark at present, which then shall be notorious to all the World. And what Mistakes foever may prevail now, my Judgment will be according to Equity and Truth, and my Sentence, once pronounced, can never be revers'd. Few indeed are capable of discerning the Justice of my Providence, in suffering Innocent Men to be traduced, and their honeft Actions misunderstood. But I do nothing without wise Reafons, and neither am, nor can be mistaken in my Methods, how much foever short-lighted and inconsiderate Men are confounded about them.
Appeal then in all these Cases to my Determination, and let thy Matters rest fo fully there, as not only to difregard what others think concerning thee, but even in fome measure to distrust thy own Judgment concerning thy self
that I think many things fit for my Servants, which they can by no means imagine convenient for themselves. This very Reflection preserves a good Man's Temper, in every Accident of Life ; because he knows that every Accident falls out thus by my direction. This buoys his Spirits up, against the Infults and Injuries of Calumny
and Detraction; and keeps them from swelling into Pride and immoderate Joy, when his Innocence is cleared, and his Virtue commended. He knows, that God fees not as Man sees, for Man judges according to outward and fallible Appearances , but God searches the Reins and the Heart, and judges righteous Judgment.
Disciple.] O Lord, thoa righteous Judge,
strong and patient, who understandest the Frailty and the Wickedness of Men, be thou my strong Rock, my Trust and Defence; For even in myown Conscience I dare not be too confident; since