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18. Nature is fond of deep researches, and with eager curiosity listens to that which is new and strange; she affects to be busy about the rectitude of public opinions, and pretends to demonstrate truth by sensible experiment; she desires to be known as the guardian of men's minds from the imposition of religious error; and pursues those inquiries most, that most attract admiration and applause. But grace does not follow the cry of novelty, nor suffer herself to be captivated by subjects of curious and refined speculation: she knows, that the lust of vain wisdom is derived from the old stock of human corruption; and that all that is new in this sublunary world, is no more than the varied forms of its own vanity and misery; she, therefore, restrains the busy activity of the senses; suppresses the rain complacence, and shuns the vainer ostentation of human learning; conceals, under the veil of humility, the gifts and graces of the - Holy Spirit; and, in every observation and discovery, seeks only the fruits of holiness, and the praise and honour of God. She desires not that herself, and her own wisdom and goodness, may be proclaimed and celebrated; but that God may be blest and glorified in all his gifts, who with pure love bestoweth all that is possessed both by angels and men.
19. Such is the transcendency of grace to nature ! She is the offspring of the light of heaven, the immediate gift of God, the peculiar distinction of the elect, and the pledge of eternal happiness; by whose power, the soul is raised from earth to heaven, and from carnal transformed to spiritual. The more, therefore, nature is suppressed and subdued, the more grace lives and triumphs; and by super-added communications of light and strength, “the inward man
is, day by day," more and more “ renewed after the IMAGE OF God."
DISCIPLE.' 20. O LORD, my God, who didst create me after thy own Divine Image, from which I am now fallen; mercifully bestow upon me the grace which thou hast represented as so necessary to my restoration, that my most depraved nature, which is always tending to sin and to perdition, may be totally subdued! I feel in myself “ a law of sin warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into cap. tivity" to sensual and malignant passions, which I cannot resist, till thy HOLY SPIRIT kindles in my heart another fire.
21. I have need of the continual operation of his sanctifying power, to overcome all the workings of revolted nature, which is disposed to evil from its birth. It fell in Adam; and fallen descended from him to all mankind, who have increased its obliquity by voluntary and habitual sin: so that nature, which came forth from thee pure and blessed, and in union, with the light of heaven, is now spoken of, to express the impurity, darkness, and misery of man; for, left to its own motions, it is ever seeking itself, and tending to the enjoyments of that animal and earthly state into which it is fallen. The small portion of that Divine breath which panteth after thee, is like a spark of fire buried under a heap of ashes. This is the new nature born of the seed of the ETERNAL WORD, mercifully reserved in the human soul as the only principle of its redemption; which, though surrounded with darkness, and repressed by animal passions, has yet some real discernment of the essential and immutable difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood; but not having received the full irradi. ation of Divine light, nor recovered the strength and
purity of its affections, it is feeble in its purposes of duty, and unable to fulfil even that which it approveth.
22. From this ground it is, O my God! that “I delight in thy law after the inward man," convinced that " the commandnient is holy, just, and good;" condemping all evil, and warning against the practice of it; “ but with the fiesh I serve the law of sin," and submit to the rigorous tyranny of sensual appetite, instead of the mild government of thy Spirit: from this it is, that “to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not :" from this it is, that I form many purposes of holiness; but upon the trial of my strength to accomplish them, am driven back by the least difficulty: and from this, that though I know the path that leads to the summit of perfection, and clearly discern by what steps it is to be cended; yet laden and oppressed with the burthen of my corruption, I am unable to make any progress in it. How indispensably necessary, therefore, is thy grace, O LORD! by whose power alone every good work must be begun, continued, and perfected! Without that power, I can do nothing that is acceptable to thee; but, with it, I can do all things.
23. O Grace essentially Divine ! 'thou hast all merit within thyself, and givest to the endowments of nature all their value: for what is beauty or strength, or wit, or learning, or eloquence, in the sight of God, where grace does not dwell? The endowments of nature are common to the evil and the good ; but the ornaments of grace are the peculiar marks of the elect, and all that are distinguished by them shall inherit eternal life. The chief ornament of grace is CHARITY; without which, neither the gift of prophecy, nor the power of working miracles, nor the knowledge of the profoundest mysteries, are of any
profit: not even faith, and hope, and that zeal which bestoweth all its possessions to feed the poor, and giveth the body to be burned, are acceptable to thee, O GOD! without CHARITY.
Come then, O MEEKNESS OF THE LAMB OF God! thou, who makest the poor in spirit rich in goodness, and the rich in goodness poor in spirit; O come, descend into my soul, and fill it with the light and comfort of thy blessed presence, lest it faint and perish in the darkness and barrenness of its fallen state !
24. O God of all grace and consolation ! that I may
hnd grace in thy sight, is the sum of my requests; for thy grace is abundantly sufficient to sup. ply all my wants, if I were even destitute of every thing that nature loves and covets to obtain. Though I am tempted and troubled on every side; "yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;" yet, while thy grace is with me, “ I will fear, no evil.” She is my strength, my council, and my defence; mightier than all enemies, and wiser than all the wise! She is the revealer of truth, the mistress of holy discipline, the sanctifier of the heart, the comforter of affliction, the banisher of fear and sorrow, the nurse of devotion, the parent of contrition; without whose quickening power, I should soon become an unfruitful and withered branch upon the tree of life, fit only to be cast away, or thrown into the fire. Grant, therefore, () most merciful LORD, that thy grace may abide with me continually; and produce in me an earnest desire and longing after the renovation of thy Divine IMAGE, which is almost ef-, faced by sin
CHAP. XLII. THAT WE MUST DENY OURSELVES, TAKE UP THE CROSS OF CHRIST, AND FOLLOW HIM.
CHRIST. 1. THE more the forsakest thyself, my son, the nearer wilt thou approach to me. To abandon the desire of earthly good, is the only way to obtain inward peace; and to abandon thy own will, is the only way to become 'united to God: I would have thee, therefore, without the least reluctance or murmur, make an unreserved sacrifice of thyself to my will. Follow me; I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Without the way which I have opened, thou canst not return to paradise; without the truth which I communicate, thou canst not know the way ; and without the life which I quicken, obey the truth. I am the way which the truth thou must believe, and the Kife thou must
canst not desire and hope for : I am the invariable and perfect way; the supreme and infallible truth; the blessed, the uncreated, and endless life, If thou continue in my way, “ thou shalt know the truth, and the truth shall make thee free,” and fit thee for the possession of eternal life.
2. This I have already declared in the sacred records of my precepts: and have also told thee that, “ if thou wilt enter into life, thou must keep the commandments;" if thou wilt know the truth, thou must " continue in my word; if thou wilt be perfect, thou must sell all that thou hast;" if thou wilt be my disciple, thou must "deny thyself;" if thou wilt keep thyself for eternal life, thou must hate thy temporal life; if thou wouldst be exalted in heaven, thou must humble thyself on earth; and if thou wilt reign with me, thou must take up thy cross, and suffer with me: for