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and desire the same unchangeable good; and all love one another in the Unity of His Spirit, who is all in all.
4. They are raised far above the influence of unredeemed nature, which is ever tending to the love of self: and are passed into my love, in which they dwell with unutterable peace and joy. This love no power is able to alter or suppress; for it is the inextinguishable fire of their own life, “delivered from the bondage of darkness," and restored to its union with Eternal Truth. Let not, therefore, vain and sensual men, who have no conception of higher good than is found in the selfish enjoyments of their earthly life, presume any longer to dispute concerning the state of the saints, and their different degrees of perfection and glory : their decisions are governed by the heat of animal passions, not directed by the Spirit of Truth; and they give honour to one saint, and take it away from another, in conformity to their predominant humour, or in subserviency to their prevailing interest.
5. There are some, indeed, in whom these mistaken notions and partial attachments proceed from ignorance, without any mixture of interest or design ; who, having attained but an inferior degree of illumination, know not the power of Divine Love. They are determined in the preference both of angels and men, by natural instincts, and those personal singularities which are the foundation of private friendship; and the same distinctions of opinion and affection, are made in the characters of the glorified inhabitants of heaven, as prevail among the inferior characters of imperfect men on earth. But these characters are totally incommensurate; a truth which the unenlightened know not, and which the enlightened only know by the teaching of the Spirit of Truth.
6. Beware then, my son, of being led by vain curiosity to “ search the things that are above thy strength ;" and let all thy faculties be employed in that only needful and important inquiry, how thou thyself mayst be found in the kingdom of heaven, though in the least and lowest place. If it was possible for any one to know, who is the most holy, and who the greatest there, what would that knowledge avail him, unless it made him more humble, and excited in him greater ardour to glorify my name? He, who, in constant attention to the state of his own soul, laments the multitude and enormity of his sins, and the small number and imperfection of his virtues ; and when he thinks on the saints, thinks only how exceedingly remote he is from the perfection which they have attained; is more acceptable to me, than he who employs his time and thoughts in considering and disputing about the different degrees of excellence and glory, that distinguish the particular members of that illustrious assembly. It is infinitely more useful, and more safe, with tears and prayers to implore grace to imitate the great examples they have left upon earth ; than to labour, by fruitless inquiries into their state in heaven, to know what no human understanding is able to comprehend.
7. The saints are highly blest and perfectly content; and men should be content with the imperfect knowledge of their fallen state, and suppress their vain curiosity, and refrain from their vainer disputes. They glory not in any personal excellence ; for they arrogate no good themselves, but ascribe all to me, who with infinite liberality have freely given them
whatever they possess :
and the consummation of their own honour and happiness is found in their boundless love of God, and their joyful celebration of his praise. The more exalted their state is, the more humble is their spirit, and the more conformable and dear to me : and, therefore, it is written, that. " the four and twenty elders,” who were seated round the throne of heaven, “ cast their crowns before the throne ; and fell dowon before him that sat on the throne ; and worshipped him, that liveth forever and ever."
8. Many solicitously inquire, who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven ; that utterly neglect the only important inquiry, whether they themselves shall be thought worthy to be numbered among the least. To be the least, where all are great, is to be great ; and all in heaven are great, for they are the adopted sons and heirs of God: a little one shall become a thousand, and the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner an hundred years old shall be accursed."
9. When the disciples whom I had chosen to attend my ministry upon earth, clamorously inquir, ed, who should be “the greatest in the kingdom of hea. ven;" it was answered, " Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”. Wo be to them, therefore, who, in the pride of human attainments, disdain the spontaneous and meek humility of little children ; for the gate of the kingdom of heaven is too low to give them enfrance ! 6 Wo: unto them that are rich, who say they are increased in mental riches and have need of nothing, for they have received their consolation;" and whilst
the poor enter into the kingdom; they shall stand weeping and wailing without ! But rejoice, ye hum'ble ; and leap for joy, ye poor in spirit! for while ye continue in the truth that has made you what ye are, “ yours is the kingdom of GOD!”
THAT ALL HOPE AND CONFIDENCE IS TO BE
PLACED IN GOD ALONE.
DiscipLE. 1. LORD! what is my confidence in this life, and what my comfort in the possession and enjoyment of all things under heaven? Is it not thee alone, O LORD my God, whose mercies are without number, and without measure? Where hath it been well with me, when thou wert absent ? or where could it be ill, when thou wert present? I had rather be naked, hungry, and despised, with thee; than abound in honour, wealth, and pleasure, without thee : would rather choose, with thee to wander upon the earth, and have no place where to lay my head ;" than, without thee, to possess a throne in heaven. But, where thou art, there is heaven ; and death and hell are only there where thou art not. Thou art the desire of my soul ; and to thee, my sighs and groans, my cries and prayers, shall continually as, cend! There is none that is able to deliver me from my necessities, none in whose power and goodness I can trust, but thee, O my God!. Thou art my refuge and my hope in every distress, my most powerful. comforter, and most faithful friend !
2. Men seek themselves, and their own interest : thou seekest only my redemption from the bondage of evil, and orderest all thy dispensations for its accomplishment. Though thou permittest me to be exposed to the trial of various troubles, yet thou mercifully superintendest the conflict; and directest the event for my supreme and everlasting good : " for whom thou lovest, thou chasi enest ; and scourgest every son whom thou receivest.” And in this awful probation, thou art not less to be loved and praised, than when thou fillest my soul with heavenly consolations.
Thou alone, therefore, O Lord my God! art my hope and sanctuary ; with thee I loave all my tribulation and anguish, and resign the beginning, continuance, and end of every trouble, to thy blessed will.
3. Wherever I look for support and consolation out of thee, I find nothing but weakness and distress : and unless thou revive, strengthen, illuminate, deliver, and preserve me, the friendship of mankind can give no consolation, the strength of the mighty bring no support, the counsel of the wise and the labours of the learned impart no instruction, the treasures of the earth purchase no deliverance, and the most remote and secret places afford no protection. All persons and things that seem to promise peace and happiness, are in themselves vanity and nothing, and subvert the hope that is built upon them: but thou art the supreme, essential, and final good ; the perfection of life, light, and love! and the most powerful support of thy servants is found in an unreserved and absolute dependence upon thee!
4. “Unto thee," therefore, “ do I lift up mine eyes, Othou that dwellest in the heavens !” In thee, my