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my miracles with blasphemy, and my heavenly doctrine with misrepresentation and reproof.
DISCIPLE. 2. O LORD! since thou, in whom was no sin, hast by a life of patience and obedience fulfilled thy Father's will ; it is meet that I, a most wretched sinner, should patiently fulfil thy will, and bear the evils of my fallen state, till the purposes of thy redeeming love are accomplished.
3. Though the present life be in itself a grievous burthen, yet, through the power of thy grace, and the influence of thy holy example, and of the saints who have followed thy steps, it is made supportable and light even to the weak. It is also enriched with comforts that were not experienced under the law, when the gate of paradise remained shut, and the way to it was obscured with shadows, and so few desired to seek after the kingdom of God. Nor could even those whom thou hadst chosen to salvation, and numbered among the just, “enter into the holiest," till, by thy stupendous passion and bitter death, “ a new and liv. ing way was consecrated” for them.
4. O what thankfulness and praise are we bound to render thee, who hast thus condescended to open for every faithful soul a good and sure way to thy eternal kingdom! Thy life, O LORD! is our true way; and in the exercise of that holy patience which thy Spirit inspires, we approach nearer to thee, who art our righteousness and crown of glory. If thou hadst not shewn us the path to life, and, led us on by the united aid of thy example and thy grace, who could have found it, or who would have desired or been able to walk in it? If, blest as we are, not only with the splendour of thy miracles and precepts, but with the irradiations of thy own Spirit, we are still
cold and sluggish, and indisposed to follow thee; what should we be, if we were left in the darkness of fallen nature?
CHRIST. 5. What hast thou said, my son? In the contemplation of my passion, and of the sufferings of those who have "followed me in the regeneration," suppress thy complaints: "thou hast not yet resisted unto blood." What are thy labours compared with those of the saints, who have been so powerfully tempted, so grievously afflicted, so variously tried and exercised? in the remembrance of theirs which were so heavy, thou shouldst forget thy own which are so light. That thou thinkest thy own sufferings not light, is owing to the impatience of self-love: but whether they are light or heavy, thou must endeavour to bear all with patient submission.
6. The more truly thou disposest thyself to suffer, the more wisely dost thou act, and the greater will be thy recompence: by fortitude and habitual suffering, the severest evils are disarmed of their sting. Say not, "I cannot brook this injury from such a man; and the injury itself is what I ought not to bear; for he has done me irreparable wrong, and reproached me for evil that never entered my thoughts. From any other person I could have borne it without emotion; and there are many things that it is fit I should suffer." These are foolish distinctions, founded only on the nature of the offence, and the relation of the person that commits it; but regard not the virtue of patience, nor by whom it will finally be crowned.
7. He is not patient, who will suffer but a certain degree of evil, and only from particular persons. The truly patient man considers not by whom his
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 renewed, 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 disi orders of my soul.
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 security 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 éven 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 tribulation 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 grievously the lovers of the world are mistaken ; and in how many various ways they are defrauded of happiness, and left destitute and wretched.