Page images

themselves out upon Subtilties and Curiosities, which turn to no Account; and the only Thing which can make them amends at last, Religion and the Service of God, That they give themselves no manner of Trouble about, but night, as not worth their Care or Thought. The great Occasion of the Fantastical Opinions and dangerous Corruptions, with which the World is pester'd, is certainly this, That Men propose no End of their Studies but to be Great, and to have other People think as highly of them, as they do of themselves. And, because of all things, they detest Humility, and a Submission to Truth; God gives them the due Reward of their Vanity, and suffers them to

be feduced by their own Absurdities and Rom. i. 21.

Imaginations. If then we would be Great, let us take the proper Course for it: For none is truly so, but he that abounds in the Love of God, and in Good Works ; None is truly so, but he, who thinks modestly of himself, and is got above the Temptations of Ambition and Vain-glory. The Man, who is wife to purpose, counts all that this World can boast of,

but Dross and Dung, that he may win Phil. iii. 8.

Christ. And he is an expert and learned Man indeed, who hath learnt to give the Preference to God's Will, before his own ; who resolutely complies with His Commands, and as resolutely denies his own Inclinations.



[blocks in formation]

E not too hasty in believing every Word, nor the Sug

gestions of every Spirit; but consider coolly and leisurely, and make a Conscience of gi

Prov. xiv. 15 ving your Credit with due Caution. Men

1 obn iv. 1. are much more prone (the greater is the Pity) both to speak and believe III, than Well, of their Neighbours. This is our Infirmity and Unhappiness: But a good Man will consider and make Allowances for it. And the Effect of this

Ecclas xix. 5: Consideration will be, the fufpending his Affent, and neither believing all he hears, nor officiously reporting all he believes.

It is an Argument of great Wisdom, to do nothing rashly; nor to be obstinate and inflexible in our Opinions. And the Cautiousness I just now recommended, in crediting and spreading Reports, is a necessary Branch of the same Perfection. Advise in

your Affairs with wife and good Men and think it more for your Reputation, to be instructed by those who understand better, than to act upon your own Head. A Virtuous Life makes a Man prudent in God's Esteem, and gives true Conduct and Experience. The more

Eccl. xix. 24. humble and observant we are to His Directions, the better we shall behave our felves, and the greater Satisfaction and Peace of Mind we shall find resulting from all we do.

[blocks in formation]

CA P. V.
Of Reading the Holy Scriptures,


Rom. XV. 4.

Study, is the discerning and discovery of Truth, not the observing Quaintness and Propriety of Expression. That Book of God indeed should be perused with the same Spirit and Temper by which it was dictated. And as the Holy Ghost intended the Profit of

Mankind more than Niceness of Words

and Phrases, fo should we aim at growCor. ii. Į, 4.

ing better Livers, rather than wiser, or more accurate Speakers, by what he hath delivered, To Persons thus disposed, the plainest and most pious Parts of Scripture will minister a Delight equal to those which are more mysterious and sublime. The Authority and Skill of the Penman should be of little weight with us. Nor matters it, whether he were one of great or mean Attainments; for the Love and Desire of Truth is the proper Motive to Study; and the Substance of what is spokeri, not the Person whọ

speaks, ought principally to be consi1 Pet.xxiv.25. dered. All flesh is grass, but the word of the Lord abideth for ever ; and this Word speaks to us in different Manners, without any partial Respect of Persons.

One great Inconvenience in Reading the Scriptures, is our own vain Curiosity. We lose much of the Benefit which might otherwise be gathered from them, by pretending to nice Disquisitions of difficult Points, and labouring to bring to the Standard of our own imperfect Reason, what we should be content to receive with the Simplicity of an humble Obedience, and place to the Account of Divine Faith. If you would Read them, and profit by that Reading; you


must do it with a submissive and humble, a sincere and teachable Disposition of Mind; and account it a greater Excellence to believe what God hath said, than to affect the Reputation of Learning, by Singularity of Opinions, and a bold Attempt to bring down all he says to your own Comprehension. If in some things you find occasion to doubt or distrust your own Judgment, consult Wise and Holy Persons, and submit patiently to hear and be inform’d by them. Nor let

Ecclus. viii. a vain Conceit of your own Abilities produce Contempt of the Aphorisms and Parạbles of the Ancients. For, be well assured, they were not uttered at all Adventures; but they, who delivered these Proverbial Sentences, knew them to be the Result of long and judicious Obfervation,

8, 9.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

HE Moment a Man cherishes any immoderate

Desire, he feels a Tempest rising in his Soul. Pride and Covetousness never suffer us to rest; but the Poor and Lowly in Heart, the Humble and the Contented, enjoy themselves in a profound and perpetual Calm. He that is still in Conflict with his Passions, and hath not yet attained a Compleat Victory over them, is easily tempted, and often finds himself overborn by things not worth his Concern. For the Remains of a Carnal Spirit, and the strong Tendencies to Pleasures of Sense, will not suffer a Man, without great Difficulty, to draw his Mind oil from Worldly Affections. And therefore, while he is endeavouring to do this, he endeavours it with fore Travel and Pain; commits a Violence upon himself, and is pro

[ocr errors]

voked to Anger and Indignation against all that opposes him in so laborious an Undertaking.

But if he indulge those Desires, and succeed in them; the Consequence is worse this way, than the other. For then he is ftung with Remorse for his guilty Compliance, and discontented to find, that the Gratifying his Inclination does not yield the Satisfaction he promised himself from it. This convinces him by fad Experience, that true Peace and Content is never to be had by obeying his Appetites, but by an obftinate Resistance of them. And such Peace cannot be expected in the Breait of any Sensual Man; for it is the peculiar Portion and Happiness of a Soul raised above the World, a zealous and devout, a mortified and refined, and heavenly Disposition of Spirit.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Directions for avoiding Pride, and Vain Confidences.

O put our Trust in Man, or in any other CreaT. ture, is most egregious Vanity. Think it not

below you, to submit to the meanest good er. xvii. 5. Offices for the Service of


Brethren, and the sake of Jesus Chrift; nor count it any Shame to be thought Poor and Mean in this World, Do your own Endeavour honestly, and faithfully; and never doubt of God's Affiftance. Depend not upon your own Wisdom, and place not any Confidence in the

greatest Man living ; but let your whole 1 Pet. iv. 5.

Trust rest entirely upon the Favour of
God, who bringeth down and resisteth

the Proud, but giveth Grace to the Humble, and exalteth those who are content to abase themselves.


Luke i. 52. xiv. II.

« PreviousContinue »