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IMITATION

OF

Jesus Christ.

The first Book.

CH A P. I,

Of the Contempt of the Vanities of the World.

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E that followeth me, shall not walk

John viij.12. in Darkness, but shall bave the Light of Life, says that Christ, who declares

himself The Light of the World. The true Importance and Design of which Words is doubtless to instruct us, that the way to be truly Enlightened, and to deliver our felves from a Blindness of Heart is to make his Holy Life the Object of our Imitation, and to form our Difpofitions and Actions upon the perfect Model of that bright Example. But how shall we follow a Pattern, which we but little think of? The first Step therefore toward thus Copying after him, is the employing our Thoughts, with great Frequency and serious Attention, upon the Perfections of this Divine Original.

2. The Doctrine taught by Chrift, excels all the Initructions deliver'd to Mankind, by all the holy Men that ever lived. And every Man, endued with a true Christian Spirit, will not fail there to find a hide den Manna,like that of nld, fitted both to nourish, and minister Delight to his Soul. The true Account then why Men hear the Gospel, without any sensible Relish, or eager Desire, is, that they are not endued with the Spirit of Christ. This is a Treasure found of them only whodesire to find it; and a Man-muft resolve and endeavour to form his whole Conversation upon the Principles of that Doctrine, before he can attain to a full Understanding of its Excellence, and feel an inward Satisfaction in the Study of it.

3. And here indeed lies the true Benefit of Medication and Knowledge. For, without this, how poor and unprofitable a Thing is Speculation? What is a Man the better, for entering into the sublime Myfteries of the Trinity, and being able to dispute nicely upon that adorable Uņions if in the meap while he want that Meekness and Humility, without which he must needs lie under the Displeasure of the Trinity? Certain is_isg that Distinctions and Notions, tho' never so subtle or serviceable to the Truth, do not make a Man Juft and Holy : But a careful and conscienticas Life recommends us to the Favour and Love of God. I had ther be affected with a true penitenc Sorrow for Sin, than be able to resolve the most difficult Cafes about it. Suppole you had all the Bible faithfully treasured up.in : your Memory, and a pepfect Comprehension of all the Moral, Philofoplıy in the World; To what purpole serves this mighey, Scock of Rules, if not drawn our insi to Ule by Charity, and leconded by Divine Grace? Kas Ecclef. 1. 2:

nity of Vanities, all is Vanity, faid the Preache

er ; and his Observation admits of that fingle Exception, taken notice of in the Conclusion of his Book, Love God and keep his Commandments ; for this

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is the whole of Man. He, who would ap.

Chap.xii. 13. prove himself wise in good earnel, must first by a juft Contempt of this World, raise himself up to the Desires and Endeavours after the Kingdom of Heaven.

-4: Vanity most certainly it is, with great! Solicitade to feek, and place our Hope and Confidence in Riches, which are sure to perish. Vanityy.co cherith our-Ambition, and striye, by all possible means, Ito attain a high and honourable Station. Vanity, to indulge the Desires of the Flesh, and court shole Pleafures, which draw after them grievous and lasting Pains. · Vanity most exquisite, to be infinitely concerned før living long, and perfectly indifferent, or but coldly affected, concerning living well. Vanity, most fatal and Itupid; to determine our Thoughts and Cares to this Life pre fent, and never look forward to chat which is to come. To doat upon things that fly swiftly from us, and cling fast'about imaginary and transpory Delight; while we suffer our felves by thele to be detained and divers. ed from the Pursuit of substancial and eternal Joys.i.is

5., Oh turn chis Vehemence of Defire lupon the right Object, and remember, to how little purpose it is placed on that which cannot give : Contents fmce most true is that Observation, which oughd to make us wiser, The Eye is not satisfied with See in yd ing, nor the Ear filled with Hearing. Use

Ecclef. 1. &. ihy Love of the Things that are seen, and set 'thy Affections on-Things that are not seen. For, be assured, that they, who follow their own fenfual Appecices, do lose; not only their Labour and Expectation, but also theit In: nocence and Purity, the Peace of their own Conscience, and the Favour of Almighty God.

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T

DHE Desire of Knowledge is natural to every

Man, but what Advantage is it to be knowing, if that Knowledge be not seasoned with Virtue and Religion? The vileft Peasant, and he, whom we in scorn think least removed from a Brute, if he serve God according to the best of his mean Capacity, is yet a better and more valuable Man, than the proudelt Philosopher, who busies himself in considering the Motions of the Heavens, but bestows no Reflection at all upon those of his own Mind. The certain Confequence of knowing a Man's self truly, is a mean Opinion of himself, and not being exalted with the Commendations of other People. And supposing my Knowledge to vast and extensive, that nothing this World contains were hid from it'; yet what would all this avail me in the Sight of God, who, when he comes to Judgment will try me upon the Iffue, not of what I have known, but what I have done? :. 2. Restrain that extreme Desire of increasing Learning, which at the same time does but increase Sorrow, by involving the Mind in much Perplexity and falle Delusion. For such are fond of being thought Men of Wisdom, and respected as such : And yet this boafted Learning of theirs confifts in many Things, which a Man's Mind is very little, if at all, the better for the Knowledge of. And sure, whatever they may think of the Matter, he who bestows his Time and Pains upon Things, that are of no Service for promoting the Happiness of his Soul, ought by no means to be esteemed a wise Man. Words and Notions give no inward Satisfaction ; but a Virtuous Life never fails to comfort and refresh the Mind, and to minister the best Antidote

against

2

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