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4. Dost thou think, that “ there is any thing too hard for me ?” or that I am like vain man, who promiseth and performeth not? where, then, and what is thy faith? O believe and persevere ! Possess thy: soul in patience, and comfort will follow in its proper
Wait for me ; and, if I come not, wait ; for I will at length come, and heal thee. That which afflicts thee, is a trial for thy good; and that which terrifies thee, is a false and groundless fear : and what other effect doth thy extreme anxiety about the events of to-morrow produce, than the accumulation of anguish upon anguish ? Remember my words,
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It is unprofitable and vain, to be dejected or elevated by the anticipation of that which may never come to pass. Such disorders of imagination are, indeed, incident to fallen man : but it is an evidence of a mind that has yet recovered no strength, to be so easily led away by every suggestion of the enemy; who cares not, whether it is by realities or fictions, that he tempts and betrays thee; whether it is by the love of present good, or the fear of future evil, that he destroys thy soul.
5. “ Let not," therefore, “thy heart be troubled," neither let it be afraid. “ Believe in me,” whose redeeming power
has overcome the world," and place all thy confidence in my mercy.
I am often nearest thee, when thou thinkest me at the greatest distance ; and when thou hast given up all as lost in darkness, the light of life and peace is ready to break upon thee. All is not lost, when thy situation happens to be contrary to thy own partial judgment and selfish will. It is sinful in itself, and injurious to thy peace, to determine what will be thy future condition, by arguing from the present perceptions ; to inhere in
trouble, whatever be its cause, as if it was thy'state of existence; and to suffer thy spirit to be so overs whelmed by it, as if all hope of emerging from it was utterly taken away.
6. Think not thyself, therefore, condemned to total dereliction, when I permit tribulation to come upon thee for a season, 'or suspend the consolations which thou art always fondly desiring ; for this is the narrow way to the kingdom of heaven ; and it is more expedient for my servants to be exercised with many sufferings, than to enjoy that perpetual rest and delight which they would choose for themselves. I, who know the hidden thoughts of thy heart, and the depth of the evil that is in it, know, that thy salvation depends upon thy being sometimes left in the full perception of thy own impotence and wretchedness; lest, in the undisturbed prosperity of the spiritual Jife, thou shouldst exalt thyself for what is not thy own, and take complacence in a vain conceit of per fection to which man of himself cannot attain.
7. The good I bestow, I can both take away, and Testore again. When I have bestowed it, it is still mine, and when I resume it, I take not away that which is thine ; for there is no good ef which I am not the principle and centre. When, therefore, I visit thee with adversity, murmur not, neither let thy heart be troubled ; for I can soon restore thee to light and peace, and change thy heaviness in to joy : but in all my dispensations, acknowledge, that I, the LORD, am righteous, and greatly to be praised.
8. If thou wert wise, and didst behold thyself and thy fallen state, by that light, with which I, who am the truth, enlightened thee; instead of grieving and murmuring at the adversities which befal thee, thou
wouldst rejoice and give thanks : nay, thou wouldst “count it all joy," that I thus visit thee with affliction, and spare thee not. I once said to the disciples whom I chose to attend my ministry upon earth, “ As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you :" and I sent them forth into the world, not to luxury, but to conflict; not to honour, but to contempt; not to amusement, but to labour; not to take repose, but to“ bring forth much fruit with patience.” My song remember my words !
CHAP. XXIII. THAT THE CREATOR IS TO BE FOUND IN AB
STRACTION FROM THE CREATURES. DISCIPLE. 1. O MY GOD, what a superior portion of grace do I still want, to be able continually to turn to thee without adherence to the creatures ; who, while they retain the least possession of my heart, keep me at a tremendous distance from thee. He truly desired this liberty, who said, “O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest .!” And what can be more at rest, than the heart that in singleness and simplicity regardeth only thee? what more free, than the soul that hath no earthly desires ? To be able, therefore, in peaceful vacancy, and with all the energy of my mind, to contemplate thee, and know that thou infinitely transcendest the most perfect of thy works! it is necessary that I should rise above all created beings, and utterly forsake myself; for while I am bound with the chains of earthly and selfish affections, I find it impossible to turn and adhere to thee.
CHRIST. 2. Few, my son, attain to the blessed privilege of contemplating the infinite and un
changeable good, because few totally abandon that which is finite and continually perishing. For this a high degree of grace is necessary, such as will raise the soul from its fallen life, and transport it above itself. And unless man, by this elevation of spirit, is delivered from all adherence to the creatures, and united to God; whatever be his knowbedge, and whatever his virtue, they are of little value : he must remain in an infant state, grovelling upon earth, while he esteems any thing great and good but One alone, the eternal and immutable God; for whatever is not God, is nothing, and should be held as “ less than vanity and nothing." The difference, therefore, - between the meek wisdom of an illuminated mind devoted to me, and the pompous wisdom of a critical and classical divine, is as incommensurate, as between the knowledge that “is from above, and cometh down from the Father of light," and that which is laboriously acquired by the efforts of human understanding.
3. Many are solicitous to attain to contemplation as an exalted state, who take no care to practise that abstraction, which is necessary to qualify them for the enjoyment of it: for while they adhere to the objects of sense, to external services, and the signs of true wisdom instead of the substance, rejecting the mortification of self as of no value, they adhere to that which principally obstructs the progress to perfection.
DISCIPLE. 4. Alas, Lord ! I know not at what our purposes aim, nor by what spirit we are led, we who have assumed the profession and character of spiritual men, that we exert so much labour, and feel so much solicitude, about that which is external and perishing, but scarce ever retire to the sacred solici
tude of the heart, to know what passes within us. Irresolute and impatient as we are, after a slight recollection, we rush into the world again, unacquainted with the nature and end of the actions which we pretended to examine : we heed not by what our affections are excited, nor in what they terminate ; but like those of old, “when all flesh had corrupted his way,” an universal deluge overwhelms us, and we are lost in folly, impurity, and darkness. Our inward principle, therefore, being corrupt, it cannot but be, that our actions, which, as the symptoms of the want of spiritual health, flow from it, must be corrupt also; for it is only out of a pure heart, that the Divine fruits of a pure life can be brought forth.
5. We busily inquire what such a man hath done, but not from what principle he did it: we ask whether this or that man be valiant, rich, beautiful, or ingenious; whether he be a profound scholar, an elegant writer, or a fine singer; but how poor in spirit he is, how patient, how meek, how holy and resigned, we disregard as questions of no importance. Nature looks at the outward man, but grace only at the inward; nature dependeth wholly upon itself, and always errs; grace trusts wholly in God, and is never deceived.
OF SELF-DENIAL, AND THE RENUNCIATION OF
ANIMAL DESIRE. CHRIST. 1. WITHOUT a total denial of self, my son, thou canst not attain the possession of perfect liberty. All self-lovers and self-seekers are bound in chains of adamant; full of desires, full of cares; restless Wanderers in the narrow circle of sensual