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The fira Book.
CH A P. I.
Of the Contempt of the Vanities of the World.
E that followeth me, shall not walk in Darkness, but shall have the Light of Life, Joh.viii.12. says that Christ,who declares him
self the Light of the World. The true Importance and Design of which Words is doubtless to instruct us, that the way to be truly Enlightned, and to deliver our selves from all Blindness of Heart, is to make his Holy Life the Object of our Imitation and to form our Dispositions and Actions upon the perfect Model of that bright Example. But how shall we follow a pattern, which we but little think of? And therefore the first step toward thus Copying after him, is the employing our Thoughts, with
great Frequency and serious Attention , upon the Perfections of this Divine Original.
2. The Doctrine taught by Christ, excells all the Instructions deliver'd to Mankind by all the Holy Men that ever lived; and every Man, endued with a true Christian Spirit, will not fail there to find a hidden Manna, like that of old , fitted both to nourish, and minister Delight to his Soul. The true Account then of Mens hearing the Gospel, without any sensible Relish, or eager Desire, is, that they are not endued with the Spirit of Christ. This is a Treasure found of them only who desire to find it; and a Man must resolve and endeavour to form his whole Conversation upon the Principles of that Doctrine, before he can attain to a full Understanding of its Excellence, and feel an inward Satisfaction in the Study of it.
3. And here indeed lies the true benefit of Medication and Knowledge. For, without this, how poor and unprofitable a thing is Speculation? What is a Man the better for entring into the Sublime Mysteries of the Trinity, and being able to dispute nicely upon that adorable Union, if in the mean while he want that Meekness and Humility, without which he must needs lie under the Displeasure of the Trinity ? Certain it is, that Distinctions and Notions, tho' never so subtle or serviceable to the Truth, do not make a Man Just and Holy: But a careful and conscientious Life mends us to the Favour and Love of God. I had rather be affected with a true penitent Sorrow for Sin, than be able to resolve the most difficult Cases about it. Suppose you had all the Bible faithfully treasured up in your Memory, and a perfect Comprehension of all the Moral Philosophy in the World ; To what purpose serves this mighty. Stock of Rules, if not drawn out into Use by Charity, and seconded by Divine Grace
i Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity, said the PreachEcclef. 1.2. er; and his Observation admits of that single Exception only, taken nocice of in the Conclusion of his Book, Love God, and keep bis Commandments, for this
is the whole of Man. He who would approve himself wise in good earnest, must Chap.xii. 13. first by a juft Contempt of this World, raise himself up to the Desires and Endeavours after the Kingdom of Heaven.
4: Vanity most certainly it is, with great Solicitude to seek and place our Hope and Confidence in Riches, which are sure to perish. Vanity, to cherish our Am, bition, and strive, by all possible means, to attain a high and honourable Station. Vanity, to indulge the
Defires of the Flesh, and court those Pleasures, which e
draw after them grievous and lasting Pains. Vanity 11
most exquisite, to be infinitely concerned for living long, and perfe&ly indifferent, or but coldly affected, concerning living well. Vanity most fatal and stupid, to determine our Thoughts and Cares to this Life pre
sent, and never look forward to that which is to come: I Todote
e upon things that fiy swiftly from us, and cling fast about imaginary and transitory Delights; while we suffer our selves by these to be detained and diverted from the Pursuit of substantial and eternal Joys.
s. Oh! turn this Vehemence of Desire upon the right Object, and remember, to how little purpose it is placed on that which cannot give Content ; since most true is that Observation, which ought to make us wiser, The Eye is not satisfied with Seeing, nor the Ear filled with Hearing. Use then thy Ecclef. i. 8. utmost Diligence to wean thy Soul from the Love of the Things that are seen, and set thy Affections on Things that are not seen. For, be assured, that they who follow their own sensual Appetites, do lose, not only cheir Labour and Expectation, but their Innocence and Purity, the Peace of their own Conscience, and the Favour of Almighty God.
С НА Р.
CH À P. II.
HE Desire of Knowledge is natural to every Man
but what Advantage is it to be knowing, if that Knowledge be not feasoried with Virtue and Religi on? The vilest Peasant, and he, whom we in scorn think least removed from a Brute, if he serve God according to the best of his mean Capacity, is yet a beti ter and more valuable Man, than the proudest Philo. sopher, who busies himself in considering the Motions of the Heavens, but bestows no Reflection at all upon those of his own Mind. Thé certain Consequence of knowing a Man's self truly, is a mean Opinion of himTelf
, and not being exalted with the Commendations of other People. And, supposing my Knowledge fo yaft and extensive, that nothing this World contains were hid from it, yet what would all this avail me in the sight of God, who when he comes to Judgment, will try me upon the Issue, not of what I have known, but what I have done?
Restrain that extream Desire of increasing Learning, which at the same time does but increase Sorrow, by involving the Mind in much Perplexity and false Delusion. For such are fond of being thought Men of Wisdom, and respected as such: And yet this boasted Learning of theirs consists in many things, which a Man's Mind is very little, if at all, the berter for the knowledge of. And sure, whatever they may think of the matter, he who bestows his Time and Pains upon t'lings, that are of no service for promoting the Happiness of his Soul, ought by no means to be esteemed a wise Man. Words and Nocions give no inward Satisfaction; but a Virtuous Life never fails to comfort and refresh the Mind, and to minifter the best Antidote