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3. Indeed, to be wholly exempt from trouble, and suffer no distress either of mind or body, belongs not to thy present life, in which is much evil ; but is the prerogative of that perfect state, where evil is not known. Think not, therefore, that thou hast found true peace, when thou hap penest to feel no burthen of sin or sorrow; that all is well, when thou meetest with no adversary; and that perfection is then attained, when thy life regularly corresponds with thy own inclinations : neither exalt thyself in thy own esteem as the peculiar favourite of heaven, because thou hast felt the raptures of devotion, and tasted the ineffable sweetness of spiritual fervour : for by these marks the lover of perfection is not known ; nor doth perfection itself, and man's progress towards it, consist in such exemptions and enjoyments.
DISCIPLE. In what then, O LORD?
CHRIST. 4. In offering up himself, with his whole heart, to the will of God : never seeking his own will either in small or great respects, either in time or in eternity; but with an equal' mind weighing all events in the balance of the sanctuary, and receive ing both prosperity and adversity with continual thanksgiving
5. If thou wert 'so courageous, so patient and persevering, that when deprived of spiritual comfort, thou couldst prepare thy heart for severer trials, not justifying thyself, and extolling thy own holiness as that which ought to have exempted thee from such sufferings, but justifying me in all my appointments; then wouldst thou walk in the direct path to true peace, and mightst support thy spirit with the sure hope of seeing my face again in unutterable joy. The ground of this high attainment, is an absolute contempt and forgetfulness of self; and when that is cs
tablished, know that thou wilt enjoy peace in as full abundance, as it can possibly be enjoyed in this state of exile from thy native heaven!
DISCIPLE. 6. Lord! it is the prerogative of a regenerate man, never to relax in his desire after his first state in thee; and in the midst of the innumerable cares and dangers that surround him, to pass on without solicitude, not from insensibility, but by a power of liberty peculiar to the mind, that is delivered from inordinate affection to the creatures.
7. I beseech thee, therefore, O my most merciful God! to preserve me from the cares of this fallen life, that my thoughts may not be darkened and perplexed; from the importunate wants and necessities of the body, that I may not be ensnared by the love of sensu, al pleasure ; and from all the impediments of the regenerate life, that I may not be subdued, and utterly cast down by trouble and despair. I mean not from those things only, which the vain men of this vain world pursue with all the energy of desire ; but from those awful miseries, which, as the consequence of the penal sentence of mortality, so encumber and depress the soul of thy servant, that she cannot enter into the liberty of the Spirit.
8. O my God! benignity and sweetness inexpressible ! turn into bitterness all carnal consolation, which is perpetually drawing my mind from the desire of eternity, and by the intuitive communication of delight from some good of this present life, alluring me more and more, and binding me faster to herself. Let not, O my God! let not flesh and blood subdue me ; let not the world, and the transient glory of it, deceive me; let not the devil, and his subtil reasoning, supplant me. Give me courage to resist, patience to
suffer, and constancy to persevere ! Give me, instead of all worldly comfort, the Divine unction of thy Hole SPIRIT ; and for all carnal love, pour into
heart the love of thy blessed name !
9. Behold, the care of food and raiment, which it is difficult to separate from vain decoration, and the indulgence of the sensual appetite, is grievous and burthensome to a fervent spirit ! Grant me grace, therefore, to use all things pertaining to the body with moderation ; and not anxiously to desire the possession of them, nor bitterly lament the want. To cast all away, the law of nature does not permit; for nam ture must be sustained : but to desire superfluity, and that which ministers to delight more than to use, thy holy law forbids, lest the flesh should grow insolent, and rebel against the spirit. In all these difficult and dangerous paths, let thy wisdom and power govern and direct me, that I may not deviate to the right hand nor to the left. :
CHAP. XX. THAT SELF-LOVE IS THE CHIEF OBSTRUCTION TO THE ATTAINMENT OF THE SUPREME GOOD.
CHRIST. 1. MY son, thou must give all for all, and make an absolute surrender of self-possession and self-enjoyment. The love of self is more hurtful to the soul, than the united power of the world : for the creatures of the world have no dominion over thee, but in proportion to the affection and desire with which thou adherest to them for thy own sake ; and if thy love was pure and simple, and fixed only upon me, no creature would have power to enslave thee. Covet not that which thou art not permitted to enjoy ; retain not the possession of that which will ob
struct thee in the pursuit of true good, and rob thee of inward liberty. How wonderful is it, that from the depth of thy heart thou dost not resign thyself, and all thou canst desire and possess, to my will !
2. Why dost thou pine away in useless sorrow : why is thy strength consumed by superfluous cares? Establish thyself in absolute resignation to my good pleasure, and thou canst suffer no evil. But if, for thy own appropriate good, and the gratification of thy own will, thou desirest change of enjoyment, and seekest change of place, thou wilt always be tormented with anxiety, and made more restless by disappointment ; for in all earthly good thou wilt find a mixture of evil to embitter its possession, and in eye ery place meet with some adversary to oppose thy will.
3. It is not, therefore, the acquisition nor the increase of external good, that will help thee to repose
and peace ; but rather the contempt of it, and rooting the very desire of it out of thy heart : and this is true, not only of the luxury of wealth, but of the pomp of glory, and the enjoyment of empty honour and delusive praise, which suddenly pass away with the fleeting world where they are sought.
4. Neither can change of place avail, if there is wanting that fervent spirit devoted to me, which makes all places alike. Peace sought for abroad cannot be found ; and it will never be found by the heart, that while it is destitute of me, wants the very foundation upon which alone peace can be established. Thou mayst change thy situation, but canst not mend it: the evils which thou hast fed from, will still be found, and more may soon arise ; for thou hast taken with thee, the fruitful root of every evil, thy own unsubdued selfish will.
DISCIPLE. 5. “ Uphold me, O God! with thy free Spirit.” “Strengthen me with might in the inner man," that being emptied of all selfish solicitude, I may no longer be the slave of restless and tormenting desires ; but with holy indifference may consider all earthly good, of whatever kind, as continually passing away, and my own fallen life as passing with it : for there is nothing permanent under the sun, where “ all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
· 6. But what wisdom, O LORD! can consider this truly, but that which “ was present with thee, when thou madest the world; and knew what was acceptable in thy sight ?" O send me this wisdom “ from the throne of thy glory, that I may learn to know and seek thee alone, and thus seeking find thee; that I may love thee, and delight in thee, above all beings; and that I may understand all that thou hast made, as it is in itself; and regard its various forms only according to that order, in which thy infinite mind hath disposed them.
7. Grant that I may carefully shun flattery, and patiently bear contradiction ; that neither disturbed by the rude breath of impotent rage, nor captivated by the softness of delusive praise, I may securely pass on in the path of life, which, by thy grace, I have be| gun to treada
CHAP. XXI. THAT THE PERVERSE JUDGMENTS AND CRUEL CENSURES OF MEN ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED,
Christ. 1. BE not impatient, my son, when men think evil of thee, and speak that which thou art not willing to hear. Thy own opinion of thyself should be much lower than others can form, because thou