Page images

themselves out upon Subtilties and Curiofities, which turn to no Account; and the only Thing which can make them amends at laft, Religion and the Service of God, That they give themselves no manner of Trouble about, but flight, as not worth their Care or Thought. The great Occafion of the Fantastical Opinions and dangerous Corruptions, with which the World is pefter'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 deteft Humility, and a Submiffion to Truth; God gives them the due Reward of their Vanity, and fuffers them to be feduced by their own Abfurdities and Imaginations. If then we would be Great, let us take the proper Course for it: For none is truly fo, but he that abounds in the Love of God, and in Good Works; None is truly fo, but he, who thinks modeftly 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 Drofs and Dung, that he may win Chrift. And he is an expert and learned Man indeed, who hath learnt to give the Preference to God's Will, before his own; who refolutely complies with His Commands, and as refolutely denies his own Inclinations,

Rom. i. 21.

Phil. iii. 8.



Prudence in our Behaviour.


E not too hafty in believing every Word, nor the Suggeftions of every Spirit; but confider coolly and leifurely, and make a Confcience of giving your Credit with due Caution. Men are much more prone (the greater is the Pity) both to fpeak and believe Ill, than Well, of their Neighbours. This is our Infirmity and Unhappinefs: But a good Man will confider and make Allowances for it. And the Effect of this Ecclus xix. 5: Confideration 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 rafhly; nor to be obftinate and inflexible in our Opinions. And the Cautiousness I just now recommended, in crediting and fpreading Reports, is a neceffary Branch of the fame Perfection. Advife in your Affairs with wife and good Men and think it more for your Reputation, to be inftructed by thofe who understand better, than to act upon your own Head. A Virtuous Life makes a Man prudent in God's Efteem, and gives true Conduct and Experience. The more Eccl. xix. 24. humble and obfervant we are to His Directions, the better we shall behave our felves, and the greater Satisfaction and Peace of Mind we fhall find refulting from all we do.

B 4

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Prov. xiv. 1 15. 1 John iv. 1.



Of Reading the Holy Scriptures.


HE End we fhould propose to our felves in this Study, is the difcerning and discovery of Truth, not the obferving Quaintnefs and Propriety of Expreffion. That Book of God indeed fhould be perused with the fame Spirit and Temper by which it was di&tated. And as the Holy Ghoft intended the Profit of Mankind more than Nicenefs of Words Rom. xv. 4. and Phrafes, fo fhould we aim at grow1 Cor. ii. 1, 4. ing better Livers, rather than wifer, or more accurate Speakers, by what he hath delivered, To Perfons thus difpofed, the plainest and most pious Parts of Scripture will minifter a Delight equal to those which are more myfterious and fublime. 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 Defire of Truth is the proper Motive to Study; and the Substance of what is fpoken, not the Perfon whọ 1Pet.xxiv. 25. dered. All flesh is grafs, but the word of fpeaks, ought principally to be confithe Lord abideth for ever; and this Word fpeaks to us in different Manners, without any partial Refpect of Perfons.

One great Inconvenience in Reading the Scriptures, is our own vain Curiofity. We lofe much of the Benefit which might otherwise be gathered from them, by pretending to nice Difquifitions of difficult Points, and labouring to bring to the Standard of our own imperfect Reafon, what we fhould 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


[ocr errors]

muft do it with a fubmiffive and humble, a fincere and teachable Difpofition of Mind; and account it a greater Excellence to believe what God hath faid, than to affect the Reputation of Learning, by Singularity of Opinions, and a bold Attempt to bring down all he fays to your own Comprehenfion. If in fome things you find occafion to doubt or diftruft your own Judgment, confult Wife and Holy Perfons, and fubmit patiently to hear and be inform'd by them. Nor let a vain Conceit of your own Abilities produce Contempt of the Aphorifms and Parables of the Ancients. For, be well affured, they were not uttered at all Adventures; but they, who delivered these Proverbial Sentences, knew them to be the Refult of long and judicious Obfervation,


Of Inordinate Affections.

Ecclus. viii,

8, 9.


THE Moment a Man cherishes any immoderate Defire, he feels a Tempest rifing in his Soul. Pride and Covetousness never fuffer us to reft; 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 Paffions, and hath not yet attained a Compleat Victory over them, is eafily tempted, and often finds himfelf overborn by things not worth his Concern. For the Remains of a Carnal Spirit, and the strong Tendencies to Pleafures of Senfe, will not fuffer a Man, without great Difficulty, to draw his Mind off 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

voked to Anger and Indignation against all that oppofes him in fo laborious an Undertaking.

But if he indulge thofe Defires, and fucceed in them; the Confequence is worse this way, than the other. For then he is stung with Remorse for his guilty Compliance, and difcontented to find, that the Gratifying his Inclination does not yield the Satisfaction he promifed 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 Refiftance of them. And fuch Peace cannot be expected in the Breaft of any Senfual 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.



Directions for avoiding Pride, and Vain Confidences.


O put our Trust in Man, or in any other Creature, is most egregious Vanity. Think it not below you, to submit to the meaneft good Jer. xvii. 5. Offices for the Service of your Brethren, and the fake of Jefus Chrift; nor count it any Shame to be thought Poor and Mean in this World. Do your own Endeavour honeftly, and faithfully; and never doubt of God's Affiftance. Depend not upon your own Wisdom, and place not any Confidence in the greateft Man living; but let your whole Truft reft entirely upon the Favour of God, who bringeth down and refiftetb the Proud, but giveth Grace to the Humble, and exalteth those who are content to abafe themfelves.


1 Pet. iv. 5. Luke i. 52. xiv. II.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »