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humble ignorant man is better than a proud seholar, who studies natural things, and knows not himself. The more thou knowest, the more grievously thou shalt be judged: many get no profit by their labour, because they contend for knowledge, rather than for holy life; and the time shall come, when it shall more avail thee to have subdued one lust, than to have known all mysteries.
6. No man truly knows himself, but he groweth daily more contemptible in his own eyes; desire, not to be known, and to be little esteemed of by men.
7. If all be well within, nothing can hurt us from without: for from inordinate love and vain fear, comes all unquietness of spirit, and distraction of our senses.
8. He to whom all things are one, who draweth all things to one, and seeth all things in one, may enjoy true peace and rest of spirit.
9. It is not much business that distracts any man, but the want of purity, constancy, and tendency towards God. Who hinders thee more than the unmortified desires of thine own heart ? As soon as ever a man desires any thing inordinately, he is presently disquieted in himself. He that hath not wholly subdued himself, is quickly tempted and overcome in small and trifling things. The weak in spirit is he that is in a manner subject to his appetite, and he quickly falls into indignation, and contention, and envy.
10. He is truly great, that is great in charity, and little in himself.
The Second Decad.
11. We rather often believe and speak evil of others, than good. But they that are truly virtuous, do not easily credit evil that is told them of their neighbours. For if others may do amiss, then may these also speak amiss.
these also speak amiss. Man is frail and prone to evil, and, therefore, may soon fail in words.
12. Be not rash in thy proceedings, nor confident and pertinacious in thy conceits. But consult with him that is wise, and seek to be instructed by a better than thyself.
13. The more humble and resigned we are to God, the
more prudent we are in our affairs to men, and peaceable in ourselves.
14. The proud and the covetous can never rest.
15. Be not ashamed to be, or to be esteemed, poor in this world: for he that hears God teaching him, will find that it is the best wisdom to withdraw all our affections from secular honour, and troublesome riches, and to place them upon eternal treasures; and by patience, by humility, by suffering scorn and contempt, and all the will of God, to get the true riches.
16. Be not proud of well-doing; for the judgment of God is far differing from the judgment of men.
17. Lay not thine heart open to every one, but with the wise and them that fear God. Converse not much with
young people and strangers. Flatter not the rich, neither do thou willingly or lightly appear before great personages.
Never be partaker with the persecutors.
18. It is easier, and safer, and more pleasant to live in obedience, than to be at our own disposing.
19. Always yield to others when there is cause; for that is no shame, but honour: but it is shame to stand stiff in a foolish or weak argument or resolution.
20. The talk of worldly affairs hindereth much, although recounted with a fair intention : we speak willingly, but seldom return to silence.
The Third Decad. 21. WATCH and
and pray, lest your time pass without profit or fruit. But devout discourses do greatly further our spiritual progress, if persons of one mind and spirit be gathered together in God.
22. We should enjoy more peace, if we did not busy ourselves with the words and deeds of other men, which appertain not to our charge.
23. He that esteems his progress in religion to consist in exterior observances, his devotion will quickly be at an end. But to free ourselves of passions, is to lay the ax at the root of the tree, and the true way of peace.
24. It is good that we sometimes be contradicted, and ill thought of, and that we always bear it well, even when we deserve to be well spoken of: perfect peace and security cannot be had in this world.
25. All the saints have profited by tribulations; and they that could not bear temptations, became reprobates, and fell from God.
26. Think not all is well within, when all is well without ; or that thy being pleased is a sign that God is pleased : but suspect every thing that is prosperous, unless it promotes piety, and charity, and humility.
27. Do no evil, for no interest, and to please no man, for no friendship, and for no fear.
28. God regards not how much we do, but from how much it proceeds. He does much, that loves much.
29. Patiently suffer that from others, which thou canst not mend in them, until God please to do it for thee; and remember that thou mend thyself, since thou art so willing others should not offend in any thing.
30. Every man's virtue is best seen in adversity and temptation.
The Fourth Decad.
31. Begin every day to repent, not that thou shouldst at all defer it, or stand at the door, but because all that is past ought to seem little to thee; because it is so in itself: begin the next day with the same zeal and the same fear, and the same humility, as if thou hadst never begun before.
32. A little omission of any usual exercise of piety, cannot happen to thee without some loss and considerable detriment, even though it be upon a considerable cause.
33. Be not slow in common and usual acts of piety and devotion, and quick and prompt at singularities : but having first done what thou art bound to, proceed to counsels and perfections, and the extraordinaries of religion, as you see cause.
34. He that desires much to hear news, is never 'void of passions, and secular desires, and adherences to the world.
35. Complain not too much of hinderances of devotion : if thou let men alone, they will let you alone: and if you desire not to converse with them, let them know it, and they will not desire to converse with thee.
36. Draw not to thyself the affairs of others, neither involve thyself in the suits and parties of great personages.
37. Know that if any trouble happen to thee, it is what thou hast deserved, and, therefore, brought upon thyself. But if any comfort come to thee, it is a gift of God, and what thou didst not deserve. And remember, that oftentimes when thy body complains of trouble, it is not so much the greatness of trouble, as littleness of thy spirit, that makes thee to complain.
38. He that knows how to suffer any thing for God; that desires heartily the will of God may be done in him : that studies to please others rather than himself; to do the will of his superior, not his own; that chooses the least portion, and is not greedy for the biggest ; that takes the lowest place, and does not murmur secretly: he is in the best condition and state of things.
39. Let no man despair of mercy or success, so long as he hath life and health.
40. Every man must pass through fire and water, before he can come to refreshment.
The Fifth Decad. 41. Soon may a man lose that by negligence, which hath, by much labour, and a long time, and a mighty grace, scarcely been obtained. And what shall become of us before night, who are weary so early in the morning? Woe be to that man who would be at rest, even when he hath scarcely a footstep of holiness appearing in his conversation !
42. So think, and so do, as if thou wert to die to-day, and at night to give an account of thy whole life.
43. Beg not a long life, but a good one: for length of days oftentimes prolongs the evil, and augments the guilt. It were well if that little time we live, we would live well.
44. Entertain the same opinions and thoughts of thy sin and of thy present state, as thou wilt in the days of sorrow. Thou wilt then think thyself very miserable and very foolish, for neglecting one hour, and one day of thy salvation : think so now, and thou wilt be more provident of thy time and of thy talent. For there will a time come, when every careless man shall desire the respite of one hour for prayer and repentance, and I know not who will grant it. Happy is he that so lives, that in the day of death he rejoices, and is not amazed !
45. He thåt would die comfortably, may serve his ends by first procuring to bimself a contempt of the world, a fervent desire of growing in grace, love of discipline, a laborious repentance, a prompt obedience, self-denial, and toleration of every cross accident for the love of Christ, and a tender charity.
46. While thou art well, thou mayest do much good, if thou wilt; but when thou art sick, neither thou nor I can tell what thou shalt be able to do. It is not very much, nor very good : few men mend with sickness, as there are but few who, by travel, and a wandering life, become devout.
47. Be not troubled, nor faint in the labours of mortification, and the austerities of repentance: for in hell one hour is more intolerable than a hundred years in the house of repentance: and try : for if thou canst not endure God punishing thy follies gently, for a while, to amend thee, how wilt thou endure his vengeance for ever to undo thee?
48. In thy prayers wait for God, and think not every hearty prayer can procure every thing thou askest. These things which the saints did not obtain without many prayers, and much labour, and a shower of tears, and a long protracted watchfulness and industry, do thou expect also in its own time, and by its usual measures. Do thou valiantly, and hope confidently, and wait patiently, and thou shalt find thou wilt not be deceived.
49. Be careful thou dost not speak a lie in thy prayers, which, though not observed, is frequently practised by careless persons, especially in the forms of confession; affirming things which they have not thought, professing sorrow which is not, making a vow they mean not.
50. If thou meanest to be devout, and to enlarge thy religion, do it rather by increasing thy ordinary devotions,