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is most expedient for my advancement in holiness, and how effectually tribulation contributeth to wear away the rust of corruption. Do with me, therefore, O LORD, according to thy own will; only despise me not for my sinful life, which thou alone perfectly understandest, and thou alone canst effectually change.
7. Grant, O LORD, that, from this hour, I may know only that, which is worthy to be known ; that I may love only that, which is truly lovely ; that I may praise only that, which chiefly pleaseth thee; and
may esteem what thou esteemest, and despise that'which is contemptible in thy sight. Suffer me no longer to judge by the imperfect perception either of my own senses, or the senses of men ignorant like myself; but enable me to judge both of visible and invisible things, by the Spirit of truth ; and, above all, to know and to obey thy will; for those who form their judgment only upon what they hear and see, are often mistaken; and the lovers of the world also err and are deceived, through their continual adherence to the objects of sense. How great an instance of this fallibility of judgment, is the glory that is given and received among men ! for none is made great by the voice of human praise. When men extol each other, the cheat imposes upon the cheat, the vain flatters the vain, the blind leads the blind, the weak supports the weak ; and such commendation produces not honour, but shame : for, as it is said by that holy servant, St. Francis, “ Such as every man is in thy sight, O LORD, such, and no greater, is he in himself.”
CHAP. XXXIX. THAT WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES INCAPABLE OF THE HIGHER EXERCISES OF DEVOTION, WE SHOULD WITH HUMILITY PRACTISE THE LOWER; AND ACCOUNT OURSELVES RATHER WORTHY OF AFFLICTION THAN COMFORT.
Christ. 1. IT is not possible for thee, my song to continue in the uninterrupted enjoyment of spiritual fervour, nor always to stand upon the heights of pure contemplation ; but, through the influence of that evil nature into which thou art failen, thou must sometimes feel thy poverty and weakness, and, though with weariness and regret, be compelled to drag the burthen of thy corruptible life. As long as thou art united to an earthly body, thy days will often be full of heaviness, and thy heart of sorrow; and unable to escape from thy prison of flesh and blood, thou must still feel the severity of its restraints, and groan under the power of those carnal appetites that interrupt the exercises of the Spirit, and of those dark passions that intercept thy views of heaven.
2. In such seasons of weakness and sorrow, it is necessary for thee to take refuge in external exercises, and seek relief from the diligent practice of common duties ; with assured confidence expecting my return, and with meek patience bearing this state of banishment to darkness and desolation, till I visit thee again, and deliver thee from all thy distress : for I will then make thee forget thy past sufferings, in the enjoyment of profound peace ; I will so fully open to thy mind the Divine truths contained in my written word, that with an enlarged heari" thou shalt begin to “ run the way of my commandments,” and in the joyful anticipation of the heavenly
life, thou shalt feel and confess, that “ the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in thee.”
DISCIPLE. 3. LORD, I am unworthy, not only of the superior comforts, but of the least visitations of thy Spirit ; and therefore, thou dealest righteously with me, whenever thou leavest me to the poverty and wretchedness of my fallen life. Though, from the anguish of my soul, “ rivers of tears” were to “ flow day and night ;" still thou wouldst deal righteously with me, if thou still shouldst withdraw thy consolations ; for I am worthy only of stripes and afflictions, because I have frequently and obstinately resisted thy will, and in many things have heinously
d. From a faithful retrospection on my past life, I cannot plead the least title to thy smallest fa.
But “thou, O LORD, who art a God full of compassion, and plenteous in mercy," and "not willing that any” of thy creatures should perish,” to make known the riches of thy goodness in the vessels of mercy, notwithstanding the unworthiness of thy servant, hast often vouchsafed to comfort him beyond all human measure or conception ; for thy consolations infinitely surpass the consolations of men.
4. What, indeed, am I, O LORD! and what have I done, that thou shouldst bestow upon me any consolation ? So far from being able to recollect the least goodness proceeding from myself, I have been always prone to evil, and insensible and sluggish under the sanctifying influences of thy grace. Should I say otherwise, thou wouldst stand in judgment against. me, and there is none that would be able to support my cause. My sins arė, indeed, so numerous and aggravated, that they have even exposed me to ever
lasting wrath ; much more have they rendered me unworthy of the society of thy faithful servants, from which I ought to be driven as an object of universal scorn and contempt. Painful as it is to pride, thus to plead my iniquities against myself, yet truth compels me to it, and I can only implore forgiveness from thy infinite mercy.
5. But oppressed with guilt, and filled with confusion as I am, what shall I say? I have no power to utter more than this I have sinned, 0 LORD,
against thee only I have sinned. Have mercy upon me, according to thy loving-kindness; and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out all my transgressions." Bear with me a little while, that I may truly bewail my corruption and misery," before I go to the land of darkness," that is covered with the shadow of death. And from a sinner, laden with such aggravated guilt, what other reparation dost thou desire for his transgressions, and what other is he capable of, but a heart broken with holy sorrow, and humbled to the dust ?
6. In true contrition and humiliation, the hope of pardon hath its birth : there the troubled conscience is set at rest; the grace that was lost, is found again ; man is delivered from the wrath to come ; and God and the penitent soul meet together with a holy kiss. The humble sorrow of a broken and a contrite heart is thy chosen sacrifice, O LORD! infinitely more fragrant than clouds of burning incense, it is the precious ointment, with which thou desirest to have thy holy feet anointed. A broken and a contrite heart thou never didst, nor ever wilt despise. That is the place of refuge from the wrath of the enemy; and there all impurity, both of the flesh and of the spirit, is cleansed and washed away.
CHAP. XL. THAT THE GRACE OF GOD DWELLS NOT WITH
THOJE THAT LOVE THE WORLD, CHRIST. 1. SON, my grace, which is infinitely pure, like the fountain from whence it flows, cannot unite with the love of sensual pleasure, and the enjoyment of the world. If, therefore, thou desirest to receive this heavenly gift, thou must banish from thy heart every affection that obstructs its entrance.
2. Choose a place of undisturbed privacy for thy resort ; delight in retirement and solitude ; and, instead of wasting thy invaluable moments in the vain and unprofitable conversations of men, devote them to prayer and holy intercourse with God, which will increase compunction, and purify thy conscience. That thou mayst live to me in purity and peace, rate the whole world at nothing, and abstract thy thoughts and desires from its cares and pleasures ; for thou canst not live to me, while thou seekest delight in the transitory enjoyments of time and sense. Thou must wean thy heart from all human consolation and dependence; and be able to forsake even thy most intimate associates and dearest friends. This duty, and the ground of it, I have already taught thee by my apostle Peter, who earnestly beseeches my faithful followers to consider themselves as, what they truly are, strangers and pilgrims” in the world ; and, in that character, to abstain from the indulgence of earthly and carnal affections, “ which war against the soul."
3. With what confidence and peace shall that man, in the hour of his dissolution, look on death, whom no personal affection or worldly interest binds down to the present life! But the sensual and sickly soul is not capable of such abstraction ; nor can the natural man conceive the power of this heaven-born liberty