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art conscious of imperfections which they cannot know. If thy attention and care were confined to the life of the internal man, thou wouldst not feel the influence of fleeting words that dissolve in air.. In times of ignorance and wickedness like this, it is most wise to hear reproach in silence, and in full conversion of thy heart to me not to regard the judgment of men.
2. Let not thy peace then depend upon the commendation or censure of ignorant and fallible creatures like thyself, for they can make no alteration in thy real character. True peace, and true glory, are to be found only in me ; and hé that seeking them in me loves not the praise of men, nor fears their blame, shall enjoy peace in great abundance : for by such love, and such fear, nothing but disorder and disquietude are produced.
CHAP. XXII. OF SUBMISSION TO GOD IN THE HOUR OF TRIBU. LATION, AND CONFIDENCE IN RETURNING GRACE.
DISCIPLE. 1. BLESSED be thy name, O LORD, forever, who hast permitted this tribulation to come upon me! I am not able to fly from it ; but it is ne. cessary for me to fly to thee, that thou mayst support me under it, and make it instrumental to my good. I am in deep distress, and my heart faints and sinks under the burthen of its sorrows. Dearest Father, encompassed thus with danger, and op-, pressed with fear, what shall I say?-O save me from this hour !-But for this cause came I unto this hour, that after being perfectly humbled, thou mightst have the glory of my deliverance. “Be
pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!" Poor and helpless as I am, what can I do, and whither shall I
without thee ? O fortify me under this new distress ; be thou my strength and my support; and whatever be its weight, whatever its continuance, I will not fear.
2. And now, what doth thy Spirit enable me to say ? LORD," thy will be done !” This tribulation and anguish I must bear as my due : O that I may bear it with patience, till the dark storm be over-past, and light and peace succeed ! Yet thy Omnipotent arm, O God, my mercy! as it hath often done before, can remove even this trial from me; or so graciously mitigate its severity, that I shall not utterly sink under it: the more difficult it seems to me, the more easy to thee is this change “ of thy right hand, O Most High !"
CHRIST. 3. “ I am THE LORD, a strong hold in the day of trouble :" when, therefore, trouble rises up within thee, take sanctuary in me. of heavenly consolation comes slow, because thou art slow in the use of prayer; and, before thou turnest the desire and dependence of thy soul to me, hast recourse to every other comfort, and from the world and thyself seekest that relief which neither can bestow. But thy own experience will convince thee, that no profitable counsel, no effectual help, no lasting remedy is to be found, but in me, When, therefore, I have calmed the violence of the tempest, and restored thy fainting spirit, rise with new strength and confidence in the light of my mercy ; for I, the Lord, declare, that I am always near, to redeem all fallen nature from its evil, and restore it to its first state, with super-abundant communications of life, light, and love.
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