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trials come, whether by his superior, his equal, or his inferior ; whether by the good and holy, or by the impious and the wicked : but whatever be the adversity that befals him, however often it is reneued, or by whomsoever it is administered, he receives all with thankfulness, as from the hand of God, and esteems it great gain ; for there is no suffering, be it ever so small, that is patiently endured for the sake of God, which will not be honoured with his acceptance and blessing:
8. If, therefore, thou desirest to obtain victory, make ready for the battle. The crown of patience cannot be received, where there has been no suffering; and if thou refusest to suffer, thou refusest to be crowned : but if thou wishest to be crowned, thou must fight manfully, and suffer patiently ; without labour, none can obtain rest; and without contending, there can be no conquest.
DISCIPLE. 9. O LORD! make that possible to me by grace, which I find impossible by nature. Thou knowest, that I can bear but little, and by the lightest adversity am soon overwhelmed. Grant that every tribulation and chastisement may become lovely and desirable to me, for thy name's sake! for patiently to suffer affliction for thee, will heal the disorders of my soul.
CHAP. XIV. OF PERSONAL INFIRMITY, AND THE MISERIES
OF THE PRESENT LIFE. DISCIPLE. 1. “I WILL confess my transgressions unto the LORD,” and acknowledge my infirmity. How small are the afflictions, by which I am so often cast down, and plunged in sorrow! I resolve to act
with fortitude, and by the slightest evil am confounded and distressed. From the most inconsiderable cvents, the most grievous temptations rise against me ; and whilst I think myself established in securia ty and peace, the smallest blast, if it be sudden, hath power to bear me down.
2. Behold, therefore, O LORD! my abject state, and pity the infirmity which thou knowest infinitely better than myself! Have mercy upon me, that I sink not, that the deep may not swallow me up fora ever! So apt am I to fall, so weak and irresolute in. the resistance of my passions, that I am continually driven back in the path of life, and covered with confusion in thy sight: and though sin does not obtain the full consent of my will, yet the assaults of it are. so frequent, and so violent, that I am even weary of living in perpetual conflict. My corruption and weakness are experimentally known : for the evil thoughts that rush upon me, take an easy possession of my heart ; but are with difficulty driven out again.
3. O that thou, the most mighty God of Israel, the zealous lover of faithful souls, wouldst look down with compassion on the labours and sorrows of thy servant, and perfect and fulfil his desire of re-union with thee! Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude, lest the old man, this miserable flesh, which is not yet brought under subjection to the Spirit, should prevail and triumph over me: against him I am bound to struggle as long as I breathe in this fallen life.
4. Alas! what is this life, which knows no intermission of distress and sorrow! where snares are laid, and enemies rise, both behind and before, on the right hand and on the left ! where, while one tribua lation is departing, another cometh on ; and before. the adversary is withdrawn from one severe conflict, he suddenly sounds a new alarm. And can a life like this, thus embittered with distress, thus filled with corruption, and subject to such a variety of evils, be the object of desire ? Can it even deserve the name of life, when it is continually teeming with plagues and pains that terminate in death ? Yet it is still loved and desired ; and many place their whole confidence in it, and seek their supreme happiness from it.
5. The world, indeed, is frequently reproached for its deceitfulness and vanity ; but while carnal affections govern the heart, it is not easily forsaken. It is both loved and hated by those, who have neither inclination nor power to leave it : “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” being the offspring of the world, love it as their parent ; but as these bring forth pain and misery, they bring forth also in union with them disgust and hatred of the world. But alas ! while the soul is devoted to the delights of sin, the love of the world still prevails ; and because she is a stranger to the joys of the Spirit, and hath neither tasted nor conceived the transcendent sweetness of communion with God, she still adheres to the world, and notwithstanding her manifold disappointments, still hopes to find pleasure hidden under thorns.
6. Those only, who live to God in the continual exercise of faith and love, of patience, humility, resignation, and obedience, obtain the conquest of the world ; and enjoy those Divine comforts, that are promised to every soul that forsakes all to follow CHRIST : and those only truly discern, how grieva ously the lovers of the world are mistaken ; and in how many various ways they are defrauded of happiness, and left destitute and wretched.
*[CHAP. XV.] THAT THE SOUL MUST SEEK HER REPOSE ON.
LY IN GOD. DISCIPLE. 1. WITH all endowments of nature, and all gifts of grace, at all times, and in all places, whether in 'heaven or on earth, thy repose, O my soul, is to be found only in the Supreme God, the everlasting rest and blessedness of the saints !
2. O most lovely, and most loving Jesus! grant me the will and power, above all created being, to rest in thee : above all health and beauty, all glory and honour, all power and dignity, all knowledge and wisdom, all riches and all arts ;. above all promise and hope, all holy desires and actions, all gifts and graces which thou thyself canst bestow, all rapture and transport which the heart is able to receive : above angels and archangels, and all the hosts of hea. ven; above all that is visible and invisible ; and final, ly above every thing, which thou, my God, art not!
3. For thou, O LORD God! art above all, in all perfection! Thou art most high, most powerful, most sufficient and most full! Thou art most sweet, and most abundantly comforting! Thou art most lovely, and most loving ; most noble and most glori. ous! In thee all good centres, from eternity to etere nity! And, therefore, whatever thou bestowest on me, that is not thyself; whatever thou revealest or promisest, while I am not permitted truly to behold and enjoy thee, is insufficient to fill the boundless de
* M. VALART has printed this chapter as a continuation of the preceding ; but if it is not a distinct chapter, it seems to be more naturally connected with the chapter that follows, and with that it stands united in all the editions prior to M. VALART'S.
sires of my soul, which, stretching beyond all creatures, and even beyond all thy gifts, can only be sat. isfied in union with thy all-perfect Spirit.
THAT GOD ALWAYS HEARETH THE PRAYER
OF THE HUMBLE.
DISCIPLE. 1. DEAREST JESUS, most beloved spouse of my soul, supreme source of light and lover and sovereign Lord of universal nature ! O that I had the wings of true liberty, that I might take my flight to thee, and be at rest! When will it be granted
meg in silent and peaceful abstraction from all created being, to“ taste and see how good" thou art, O LORD, my God! When shall I be wholly absorbed in thy fulness! When shall I lose, in the love of thee, all perception of myself; and have no sense of any being but thine !
2. Now I groan continually, and bear with pain the burthen of my wretchedness : for innumerable evils spring up in this vale of sin and sorrow, that darken, deceive, and distress my soul; so that I can have no free access to thee, nor enjoy that ineffable communion with thee, which is the privilege and perfection of beatified spirits. Olet my sighs move thee, and the multiplied desolation which I suffer in this fallen life!
3. Holy Jesus, ineffable splendour of eternal glory, sole comfort of the wandering soul! my heart is lifted up to thee, and without voice speaketh to thee in“ groanings that cannot be uttered !" How long will my LORD delay his coming ? O may be come