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deration.wbjch spiritual prudence requires; neither exposing nor entangling our selves, nor discouraging others by excesses and extravagancies. 2. That ourself-denial never betrays us into pride or uncharitableness; for if it tempts us to over-rate our selves and to despise others, this is a flat contradiction to one of the main ends of Christian discipline, which is, the bumilia~ tion of the heart. 3. That we ever preserve, nay, increase the Jweetnejs and gentleness of our minds ; for whatever makes us four and morose, or peevish and unsociable, makes us certainly so much worse; and, instead of begetting in us nearer resemblances of the Divine Nature, gives us a very strong tincture of a devilish one. Athanasws therefore, in the life of Anthony the hermite, observes, amongst other his great virtues, that after thirty years spent in a strange kind of retired and solitary
life, ^ y> Hk an opa T^fea x^Ve? yiptov >gi'Cju^u©», uygjiav a'xg in «0(&, a?A<x xj yx
PJLcts vv, x) rnKiixtcoi. He did not appear to his friends with a sullen or savage, but with an obliging sociable air: and there is indeed but little reason, why the look should be louring and contracted, when the heart is filled with joy and charity, goodness and pleasure. A serene open countenance^ and a chearful grave deportXK 3 ment,
ment, does best suit. the. tranquillity, purity, and dignity of a Christian mind.
§. 5. Lastly, Some kinds of life are better suited and accommodated to the great ends of religion and virtue than others. I shall not here enter into an examination of the advantages or disadvantages there; are in the fiver al kinds of life with refe= rence to religion. The fettling this ands several other things relating to it, was one main design of my last book', All therefore that J have here to do, is but to make one plain inference from all that has been advanced in this chapter. If Perfection arid happiness cannot be obtained without a fre» quent and serious application of our selves to the means here insisted on; then 'tis plain that, we ought to cast our lives, if we caiv into such a method, that we may be in a capacity to do this. To speak more particularly and closely; since meditation, prayer' and holy conversation are so necessary to quicken the conscience, excite our- pajjions, and fortify our resolutions; it is evident that it is as neceSary so to model and form, our lives, that- we may have time enough to bestowon these., For they, whose minds and.time are taken up by the world, have verylittle leisure for tilings of this nature, and are very little disposed, to ttjem, and as ill qualified for them. As to conversation, as
the wtirld goes rldWj 'tis not to be expected that it should have In it any relilh of piety, Unless between such as have entered into a close and ttrl& Jriendjhip. But the worldly man is a stranger to xxuzfriendjhip; 'tis too sacred, too delicate a thing, for a mind devoted to the world, to be capable of. A regard to interest, to some outward forms and decencies; the gratification of some natural inclination, the necessity of some kind of diversion and enjoyment, may invite him to more familiarity with some, than others. But 'tis hard to believe, that there should be any thing; in iuch combinations, of that which is the very life and foul of fHtfldfhip, a sincere and un- . designing passion, increased by mutual confidences and obligations, and supported and strengthened by virtue and honour. As to prayer, men of bujinejs do, I doubr, oftener read or say prayers, tbstifrai; for 'tis very hard to imagine, that a foul that grovels perpetually here upon earth, that is, incessantly sollicitous about the things of this world,- and that enters abruptly upon this duty without any preparation, should immediately take fire, be filled Withr heavenly vigour, and be transported with earnest and impatient desire of grace and glory. Ah! how hard is it for him, who hungers and thirsts perpetually after the profits of this world, to hunger and K 4 thirst
thirst after righteousness too! if such minds as these retain the belief of a providence, some awe of God, and some degree of gratitude towards him, 'tis as much as may seasonably be expected from them : ana may this avail them as far as it can! Lastly, as to meditation, how can it' be imagined, that such, whose minds and bodies are fatigued and harrassed by worldly business, should be much inclined to it, or well prepared for it? How should these men form any notion of a perfect and exalted virtue, of devout and heavenly passion? What conceptions can they have of the power and joy of the Holy Ghost, of poverty of spirit, or purity of heart, or the diffusion of the love of God in our souls? What idea's can they entertain of an heaven, or of angelical pleasure and beatitude? In a word, the religion of men intent upon this world, when they pretend to any, which too often they do not, consists especially in two things, in abstaining from wickedness, and doing the works of their civil calling y and how far they may be sensible of higher obligations, I determine not. Good God I what a mercy it is to these poor creatures, that 'tis the fashion of their country, as well as a precept of our religion, to dedicate one-day in[seven to the service of God and their souls! but have I not often taught^ that purity of intention converts the works *f a secular calling into the works of God? I have so/, 'tis universally taught; 'tis the doctrine of the gospel; and therefore I shall never retract \t: but ah! how hard a thing is it for a worldly man to maintain this purity of intention! how hard a thing is it for a mind, eaten up by the love and cares of this world, to do all to the honour of God 1 tho' therefore I cannot retraSi this doctrine, yet the longer I live, the more reason do I see for qualifying and guarding it with this caution; let no man that desires to be. saved, much less that desires to be perfeci, take sanctuary in purity of intention, while he suffers the works of hh Jecular calling to ingrose his foul, and entirely usurp his time. If Jecular works exclude and thrust out of doors such as are properly religious, it will not be easy to conceive, how the power of godliness should be maintained, how any wise thoughts, or heavenly desires should be preserved in such men; orlhow, finally, those who have utterly given up themselves to the wisdom of this world, should retain any true value for those maxims of the gospel, wherein consists the true wisdom that is from above. All that I have said against a life of bufinefs, may, with equal or greater force, be urged against a life of pleasure'-, I mean that which they call innocent pleasure: the