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only to perplex and torment me. O that I took no thought for the events of to-morrow, but could every moment unreservedly offer up all I am to thy good pleasure !
CHRIST. 2. Man vehemently labours, my son, for the acquisition of that which he desires : but possession defeats enjoyment, and his desire, which is resto, less and insatiable, is immediately turned to some new object. It is, therefore, of great importance, to suppress desire and forsake self, in the most inconsiderable gratifications.
3. Self-denial is the basis of spiritual perfection ; and he that truly denies himself, is arrived at a state of great freedom and safety. The old enemy, however, whose nature is most repugnant to that which is most good, never remits his diligence ; but night and day forms the most dangerous ambuscades, if peradventure, in some moment of false security, he may surprise and captivate the unwary soul. I have, therefore, cautioned thee, continually to “ watch and firay, that thou enter not into temptation."
THAT, IN MAN, THERE IS NO GOOD; AND
THAT, THEREFORE, HE HAS NOTHING IN WHICH TO GLORY.
DISCIPLE. 1. « LORD, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him 2" What, indeed, is he, and what hath he done, that thou shouldst bestow upon him thy Holy SPIRIT ?
What cause have I to complain, O LORD! when thou withdrawest thy presence, and leavest me to myself; or what can I remonstrate, when my most
importunate requests are not granted ? This only 1 can truly think and say : LORD, I can do nothing, and have nothing; there is no good dwelling in me that I can call my own, but I am poor and destitute in all respects, and always tending to nothing ; and if I was not quickened and formed to life and light by THY SPIRIT, I should immediately become dark and insensible as death."
2. “ Thou, O LORD, art always the same, and shalt endure forever.” Thou art always righteous and good; with righteousness and goodness governing the whole universe, and ordering all its concerns by the counsels of infinite wisdom. But I, who in myself am more inclined to evil than to good, never continue in holiness and peace; I am changeable as the events of time that pass over me, and am tossed upon every wave of affliction, and driven by every gust of passion. Yet, LORD, I shall find stability, when thou reachest forth thy helping hand; for thou canst so firmly strengthen and support me, that my heart shall no longer change with the various changes of this fallen life, but being wholly turned to thee, shall in thee find supreme and everlasting rest.
3. Wherefore, if I could but perfectly abandon all human consolation, either from a purer love and devotion to thee; or from the pressure of some severe distress, which, when all other dependence was found ineffectual, might compel me to seek after thee; then might I hope to receive more abundant measures of confirming grace, and to rejoice in new and inconceivable consolations of thy Holy SPIRIT.
4. But thanks be to thee, O LORD, from whom all good proceeds, whenever my state is better than I have reason to expect. I am an inconstant and feeble man, and vanity and nothing before thee. What have
* I then to glory in ? and why do I desire to be esteemed and admired ? is it not for nothing ? and that, surely, is most vain. Vain glory is not only the vainest of all vanities, but a direful evil, that draws away the soul from true glory, and robs it of the grace of heaven: for while man labours to please himself, he labours to displease thee; while he sighs for the perishing laurels of the world, he loses the unfading crown of thy righteousness.
5. True glory and holy joy are to be found only in thee; and man should rejoice in thy name, not in the splendour of his own imaginary virtues; and delight in no creature, but for thy sake. Praised, therefore, be thy name, not mine! magnified be thy power, not my work! yea, forever blessed be thy holy name; but, to me, let no praise be given ! Thou art my glory, and the joy of my heart! In thee will i glory, and in thee rejoice, all the day long; and “ of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities!" 6. Let
seek glory one of another;" I will seek that " glory, which cometh only from thee," my God. For all human glory, all temporal honour, all worldly grandeur is vanity and folly; and vanishes like darkness before the splendour of thy eternal majesty! 0 my truth, my mercy, my God! O HOLY AND BLESsed TRINITY! fountain of life, light, and love! to thee alone be praise, honour, power, and glory ascribed, through the endless ages of eternity! Amen.
CHAP. XXXII. OF THE CONTEMPT OF ALL TEMPORAL HON.
OUR, AND THE RENUNCIATION OF ALL HU. MAN COMFORT.
CHRIST. 1. GRIEVE not, my son, when others are honoured and exalted, and thou art despised and
debased. Lift up thy heart to me in heaven, and thou wilt not be disturbed by the contempt of men on earth.
DISCIPLE. 2. LORD, I am surrounded with darkness, and easily betrayed into a vain conceit of my own dignity and importance : but when I behold myself by thy light, I know, that no creature has done me wrong ; and, therefore, surely, I have no cause to complain of thee. On the contrary, because 'I have heinously and repeatedly sinned against thee, all creatures may justly treat me as an enemy, and make war against me. To me only shame and confusion of face are due ; but, to thee, praise, and honour, and glory. And till I am perfectly willing to be despised and forsaken of all creatures, as that nothing which in myself I truly am ; I know, that my restless spirit cannot possibly be established in peace, nor illuminated by truth, nor brought into union with thee.
CHRIST. 3. Son, if thou sufferest even a conformity of sentiments and manners, and the reciprocations of friendship, to render thy peace dependent upon any human being, thou wilt always be unsettled and distressed : but if thou continually seekest after me, the ever-living and abiding truth, as the supreme object of thy faith and love, the loss of a friend will be no affliction, whether it happens by falsehood or by death. The affections of friendship must spring from the love of me ; and it is for my sake alone, that any person should be dear in the present life, as there is no goodness in man but what he receives immediately from me. Without me, therefore, friendship has neither worth nor stability ; nor can there be any mutual ardours of pure and genuine love, but what I inspire.
4. As far as the distinct improvement and perfection of thy own spirit is concerned, thou shouldst be so mortified to all these personal affections and attachments, as to be able to live sequestered from human converse : for the soul draws near to God, only in proportion as it withdraws from all earthly comfort ; with so much higher exultation doth it ascend to him, as, with deeper conviction of its inherent darkness and impurity, it descends into itself, and becomes viler and more contemptible in its own sight. But he that challengeth and appropriateth any good to himself, bars the entrance to the grace of God; for the Holy Spirit chooses, for the seat of his inHuence, a contrite and humble heart.
5. If thou wert brought to a true sense of thy own nihility, and emptied of all selfish and earthly affections, I would, surely, “come unto thee,” with the treasures of
grace, “ and make my abode with thee ;" but while thou fondly gazest upon and pursuest the creature, thou turnest from the presence and sight of the Creator. Learn, therefore, for the love of the Creator, to subdue this earth-born love of the creature, and thou wilt be qualified to receive the light of eternal truth. It matters not how inconsiderable the object of pursuit is in itself ; while it is vehemently loved, and continually regarded, it corrupts the soul, and keeps it at an infinite distance from its supreme good.
CHRIST. 1. BE not captivated, my son, by the subtilty and elegance of human compositions ; for " the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power,"