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formity to the ceremonials of external worship. They have also assumed the character of Protestantsán honourable character, if formed upon Christian principles, and supported with a Christian spirit and when motives to the attainment of a divine life, urged by a Roman Catholic, are offered to their consideration, their displeasure is heightened; and the offer is rejected, not only with indignation, but with a dread of all the evils which they have been used to associate with the idea of a Roman Catholic. Like those of old, who asked “if any thing good could come out of Nazareth;" they are ready to exclaim, “ Can precepts of truth and holiness proceed from the cell of a monk ?” And no less danger is apprehended, than that of being artfully betrayed into the trammels of a spiritual director; or artfully worked up to such a rage of illhumour with themselves and the world, as to be driven into the irremeable gate of a cloister.
The author of this book has no design that terminates in any of the changeable forms and perishing interests of the present life. As a Roman Catholic, he has himself performed the office of a spiritual di. rector; and it is to bring and leave his disciple, where he leaves himself, under the conduct of THE Only Guide to life, light, holiness, and peace, THE SPIRIT OF God. In his own person he makes this address : “ O God, who art The Truth, make me one with Thee in everlasting love! I am often weary of reading, and weary of hearing in thee alone, is the sum of all my desires! Let all teachers be silent; let the whole creation be dumb before thee; and do Thou only speak unto my soul !” Book I. chapter üi. 9. 3. And in another place, in the character of that disciple of whom he has been the director, he says:
u Speak, LORD, for thy servant heareth. Let not Moses speak to me, nor any of the Prophets ; but do Thou, O LORD my God, ETERNAL TRUTH ! speak to my soul; lest, being only outwardly warned, but not inwardly quickened, I die, and be found unfruitful; lest the word heard, and not obeyed, known and not loved, professed and not kept, turn to my condemnation ! Speak, therefore, LORD, for thy servant heareth: Thou, only, hast the words of Eternal Life! O speak to the comfort of my soul, to the renovation of my heavenly nature, and to the eternal praise and glory of Thy own Holy Name !" Book III. chapter ii. s. 2, 3.
As a Roman Catholic also, he had renounced the world, and devoted his time and attention to the purification of his spirit in the retirement of a cloister: and even in a cloister, he frequently deplores the worldly and sensual life of many that were immured with him; and directs man to a more, sacred retirement, his own heart, to discover the evil of his fallen nature, and the manifestations of that Divine POWER which is his only redemption from it. It is the renunciation of the spirit of the world, and a continual dependence upon THE SPIRIT OF-God as the principle of all truth and goodness, that are the duties he enjoins, and the perfection he requires; and if this perfection is attained in the midst of the tumultuous scenes of life, it can suffer no abatement, because it was not attained in the retirement of a cloister. What he sought himself in a state of retirement, he tells us in these words: “It is not the peculiar habit, the tonsure, or any alteration merely external, but a change of heart, and an entire mortification of the passions, that are the indispensable qualifications for such a 'state; and he that seeks any thing in it, but the gloTy of God in the purification of his own soul, will meet only with disappointment and trouble, anxiety and remorse." Book Ichap. xvii. 2.
Retirement into a cloister is not a precept of the Christian Faith : but the renunciation of the world is one of its essential duties; and universally enjoin-. ed, as an indispensable condition of becoming faithful followers of HIŃ, who, as our Exemplar, as well as our Redeemer, had himself renounced and over. come the world ; and if this duty had been uniyersally fulfilled by those who have assumed the sacred character of his faithful followers, retirement into a cloister would never have been known.
But we are to consider, what has been the state of Christianity since it became national; and how deplorably all Christian nations have fallen from The SPIRIT AND POWER OF THE GOSPEL OF, CHRIST. What has any Christian nation ever aimed at, but an emulation of the wealth and splendour, the policy, the luxury, the refined vanity, the pride, pomp and power, of pagan Greece and Rome? What does any Christian nation now seek, but even to outdo pagan Greece and Romie, in all the frantic excesses of a worldly spirit ; devoting all the faculties of an immortal soul, and all the short time of its probation for eternity, to the diversification of the scenes of sensual pleasure, or to the accumulation of poisonous riches, which become proportionably more deadly the more they are collected and engrossed; violating the sacred obligations of justice, and charity,, to seize each other's possessions; and calling in the aid of hell, to secure the plunder: with every-murdering engine of war? Now he, who, in such a state of
Christianity, labours to fulfil the precept, and follow the 'example of his REDEEMER, in the renunciation and conquest of the world, will find, that he must labour in an abstraction, not less painful in itself, nor ; less unfriendly to worldly interests, than retirement into a cloister, in whatever formidable light his imagination may have painted it.
If we did not know what men may do and say, with the Gospel in their hands, and THE SUN OR RIGHTEOUSNESS still shedding his vital beams upon them; we should wonder that those, who, at their baptism, have a solemnly renounced the world, the flesh, and the devil ;" and who, in the public service. of the church, hear the precepts of their REDEEMER, “ to overcome the world, deny themselves, take up their daily cross, and folow Him ;' and, in the use of its liturgy, repeat the most earnest prayers. for " the continual influences of THE HOLY SPIRIT, to enable them to fulfil those precepts, because they cannot do it by their own strength,”- we should wonder, that such persons should be the most violent, in exclaiming against books like this, as the ravings of enthusiasm, or the dreams of monkish ignorance, because they call men to “the renunciation of the world, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer, and to a continual unreserved dependence upon the illumi"nating and sanctifying influences of THE HOLY SPIRIT."
The author had a profound knowledge of the Spiritual Life ; such as is not to be acquired, but by a mind truly devoted, and long inured, to spiritual exercises. He stops not at calling men to the renunciation of the world, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer; but leads them on to that naked faith, abso.
Tute resignation, and pure love, which are the strength and beauty of TĦE REGENERATE NATURE
the nature that can alone enter into heaven, because it comes out of heaven : that can alone love, desire, and unite with God, because it is born of God! His instructions therefore are founded upon this great principle, which is also the foundation of the precepts of the Gospel.that " man has lost the Divine Life born of God, and is fallen into an earthly, animal, and sensual life of this world; a life of darkness, impurity, impotence and misery; which must be abandoned, that his First Divine Life may be reco generated in him by the operation of THE HOLY Ghost." And as it would be in vain to offer such instructions to those, who think they do not want them; so it is in vain, that Curist once preached to men himself, and has continued preaching to them by his HOLY SPIRIT, while they shun, or disguise, or mis. apply every thing, that would bring them to a sense of the darkness, impurity, impotence, and misery, of their life in this world.
Men, in their fallen state, are destitute of happiness, restless and insatiable in their desires of it, and always seeking it, where it cannot possibly be found, in themselves and their earthly life: and men, in these days of Fallen Christianity, are only in a better state, because some real, though alienated goodness is produced, by the efforts of that DiviNE LIFE which is struggling for redemption within them. They know, their MASTER has declared, that “.there is but ONE'WHO IS GOOD, and that is GOD ;" and yet, they know not, or will not know, that whatever GOODNESS lives in intelligent natures, from the highest angel to the lowest of mankind, is solely the manifestation of