[ocr errors]

and partial Zeal cannot but be highly displeasing to them. For I am not a God of Contention and Faction, but of Order and Peace, and Love; and these are the genuine Products of true Modesty and Humility, such as esteems others better than it self ; but inconfiftent with that bold assuming Temper, which is reft. less and discontented, if any other be preferred before it. It may be, Affection and honest Zeal may dispose some Men to be more liberal in their Respects on this or that side of the differing Parties ; but do not such consider, that such Affection is not the Effect of Grace or Religion, but merely of Human Infirmity? These are such Prepossessions as I can never be capable of ; for all the Saints are equally mine. My Hand made them Men, my Affifting Grace made them Saints ; I enriched them with Virtues, and crowned them all with Glory. I know what each have done, what Occasions they had, what Improvements they made. I foreknew them before Time was; they chose not Me, but I them, and singled them out of the Common Croud ; I drew them with the Cords of Love and Mercy, conducted them thro' great variety of Trials and Afflictions; sustain'd them with uncommon Comforts and Recruits, enabled them to persevere, and'rewarded the Constancy my self had given: Iknow the first and last, and my Fatherly, my inexpreslīble Affection extends to them all; for all are Instruments of my Praise and Glory, so many Monuments and Eternal Trophies of my Goodness; freely advanced to what they are by my Bounty and Favour, without any Right or antecedent Merit of their own. He therefore who despises the least of these is guilty of disrespect to the greatest; for this Contempt reflects at last on Me, the Author of their Virtues and their Happiness; and therefore in Me alone should all the Honour pretended to be paid to them center. Their Interests and Properties are no longer separate, for Charity hath


made them One, and knit them into the same Myftical Body, whose Honours and Advantages and Inclinations and Joys are inseparably the fame. Nay, which is the utmost Perfection of Charity, they all conspire in loving me more than themselves, or any Merits or Respects of their own; for, being in that happy State exalted above themselves, they are entirely taken up with the Love and Honour of God. This is their Happiness and utmost End. Nothing can divert them to meaner Prospects, no mixture of Self comes in betwixt, to damp the pure Flames of this everlasting Love.

Away then with these vain Curiosities, these eager Disputes concerning the Condition of the Blefied, which betray a prevalence of Carnal and Sensual Appetites; such as have no Notions higher than particular Gains and separate Interests. Nature and Partiality inclines such Dispositions to Act and Desire, and Love and Hate, upon private and personal Considerations ; and then they fondly transfer the same Idea's and the fame Behaviour from Earthly to Heavenly Objects. Alas! The difference is the widest in the World, and nothing in Nature so diftant as the filly Imaginations of fuch Novices in Matters of another World, from those juster Apprehensions, which Minds enlightned from above entertain upon these Occasions. Be not too curious then, my Son, in Matters above thy Capacity, but rather let it be thy care and constant thought, how thou may'st be found, though it be but the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. For couldīt thou understand all Mysteries and all Knowledge, couldst thou distindiy view the several Orders and Places of each Angel and Spirit above, yet what

would this avail, farther than as it excited in thee less for thy Own, and greater Zeal for my Honour? The Man who seriously reflects upon the Multitude of his own Sins, and the Defects and Worthlesnefs of his own Virtues, how few, how poor, how far short they are

Rev. x.

of the Perfection of those bright Examples heretofore, employs his Mind upon a Subject, which God likes much better than fuch empty Speculations as concern the Preeminence or the Subordination of them, who have set those Examples.

This is a Controversy, which they themselves never trouble themselves about. For they ascribe nothing to any Deserts of their own, but acknowledge the whole of what they have and are, to be the sole Effect of

my infinite Liberality and Love. And their Happiness and Honour is compleat by the Joy they take in the Fruition of God and his Glory. The more exalted any of these are, the more modest they are, the more dear, and the more like to me. Thus much isintimated by that Vision, where they are said to cast their

Crowns at the Feet of God, and falling down

upon their faces before the Throne, and before the Lamb, to worship him that liveth for ever and ever.

How absurd is it to see Men zealously contending who is greatest in the Kingdom of God, who are not solicitous in the mean while to know, what much more nearly concerns them, whether they shall have any place at all there themselves? And yet to be least there is to be great, for even the least are Sons and Heirs of

God. A little one shall become a thousand, and Ifai.lxi.22. the Child shall die an hundred Years old, but the ---20.

Sinner of an hundred Years old shall be accursed. When the Disciples enquired who should be the greateit in the Kingdom of Heaven, this was the Answer

made to that Demand :. Except ye be conAlot. xviii.

verted, and become as little Children, ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore whosoever shall humble himself as this little Child, the same Shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Wo to them, who dildain to imitate the Humility and Meekness of little Children ; for strait and low is the Gate of Heaven, such as tlre towrings of Ambition, and swellings


[ocr errors]

of bloated Vanity can never stoop to, or enter at. Wo to the Rich, who have their Consolation in this World, for while the Poor are admitted into Paradise, they shall stand Weeping and Wailing without. But rejoice, ye Meek and Humble and Poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God, if ye heartily embrace and obey the Truth, and be "Rich in Patience and good Dispositions.


God is All the Good Man's Hope and Confidence.

Discipie.] Inhere below, or what, of all the Things

N whom, O Lord, is my Hope, while under Heaven, can minister Peace and Comfort to my Soul ? Truly my Hope is even in Thee, and my Joy and Trust in thy Mercy alone. When were my Affairs in ill Condition with thee? Or what can prevent my being exquisitely miserable without thee? Poverty for thy fake is infinitely rather to be chosen, than all the Riches and Greatness in the World in Exchange for thy Favour ; and Earth and Exile with that Favour more blissful than Heaven without the Fruition of Thee. For Heaven is Heaven by thy blessed Prefence, and where that does not reside, all is Death and the Grave, and Hell. Thou art my Defire and my Portion, and therefore to thee my Sighs and Groans, and Cries and Prayers continually ascend. I have no other Stay or Refuge, who can send seasonable and suitable Relief to all my Dangers and Neceflities but thou alone art my Hope and Trust, my effectual Comforter, and faithful Friend.

Others pursue their own private Ends and Advantages, but thou seekelt my Improvement and Hap


piness, and ordereft all Things for my Good. Even my Temptations and Aflictions are appointed to do me service: These are the Methods by which the Fidelity of thy Chosen is brought to the Test; and even these harsher Dispensations ought as much to engage my Affections, and excite my Gratitude and Praise, as the brightest Comforts, and most desired Prosperity. In Thee therefore, O my God, I rest my Soul ; Thou art my Sanctuary, where I deposite the Burden of all my Griefs and Troubles. For there alone can They and I be safe ; since all things elfe are feebleand uncertain, neither able, nor always disposed to comfort or protect me. Friends cannot do what they wish; Great Men will not, or cannot help; the Wife without thee, mistake their Measures ; Books are but insignificant Diversion, and yield no solid Consolation, Wealth cannot buy Ease and Peace of Mind; Fortresses and Coverts cannot hide me from Calamity ; unless thou be with those Friends, and strengthen those great Men, and direct those Counsellors, and instruct me by those Books, and alist me in the use of Wealth, and guard that strong Retreat. For Peace and Happiness are entirely in Thee. Thou art the End, the Sum, the Source of all Good; the Perfection of Life, the Depth of Wisdom and Knowledge: And Hope in Thee is the surelt, the most sensible Support thy Seryants can have in the Miseries of this mortal Life.

To Thee therefore life I up my Eyes, O Father of Mercies and Lover of Men: Comfort my Soulin Trouble, and purify it with thy Grace, that it may be a clean and holy Habitation, such as thy glorious Majesty does not disdain to dwell in. Let no Impurity be left in this Temple ; but purge it throughly from every thing which may offend those Eyes, that cannot behold Iniquity or Uncleanness. Look upon me in thy great goodness, and, after the Multitude of thy Mercies, hear the Prayer of thy poor Servant, now


« 前へ次へ »