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HIS DISPOSITION. 'The Christian is a man, and more; an earthly saint ; an angel clothed in flesh; the only lawful image of his Maker and Redeemer; the abstract of God's Church on earth; a model of heaven, made up in clay; the living temple of the Holy Ghost.
For his DISPOSITION, it hath in it as much of heaven, as his earth may make room for.
He were not a man, if he were quite free from corrupt affections; but these he masters, and keeps in with a strait hand : and if, at any time, they grow testy and headstrong, he breaks them with a severe discipline; and will rather punish himself, than not tame them. He checks his appetite with discreet, but strong denials; and forbears to pamper nature, lest it grow wanton and impetuous.
He walks on earth, but converses in heaven; having his eyes fixed on the Invisible, and enjoying a sweet communion with his God and Saviour. While all the rest of the world sits in darkness, he lives in a perpetual light : the heaven of heavens is open to none but him : thither his eye pierceth; and beholds those beams of inaccessible glory, which shine in no face but his.
The deep mysteries of godliness, which to the great clerks of the world are as a book clasped and sealed up, lie open before him fair and legible; and, while those book-men know whom they have heard of, he knows whom he hath believed.
He will not suffer his Saviour to be ever out of his eye; and if, through some worldly interceptions, he lose the sight of that blessed object for a time, he zealously retrieves him; not without a hungry check of his own miscarriage: and is now so much the more fixed by his former slackening ; so as he will henceforth sooner part with his soul, than his Redeemer.
The terms of entireness, wherein he stands with the Lord of Life, are such, as he can feel; but cannot express, though he should borrow the language of angels : it is enough, that they two are one Spirit.
His reason is willingly captivated to his faith ; his will to his reason; and his affections to both.
He fears nothing, that he sees; in comparison of that, which he sees not ; and displeasure is more dreadful to him, than smart.
Good is the adequate object of his love; which he duly proportions, according to the degrees of its eminence : affecting the chief good, not without a certain ravishment of spirit ; the lesser, with a wise and holy moderation.
Whether he do more hate sin, or the evil spirit that suggests it, is a question.
Earthly contents are too mean grounds, whereon to raise his joy: these, as he balks not when they meet him in his way, so he doth not too eagerly pursue: he may taste of them; but so, as he would rather last, than surfeit.
He is not insensible of those losses, which casualty or enmity may inflict : but that, which lies most heavily upon his heart, is his sin. This makes his sleep short and troublesome; his meals stomachless; his recreations listless; his every thing, tedious; till he find his soul acquitted by his great Surety in heaven : which done, he feels more peace and pleasure in his calm, then he found horror in the tempest.
His heart is the storehouse of most precious graces. That Faith, whereby his soul is established, triumphs over the world, whether it allure or threaten; and bids defiance to all the powers of darkness, not fearing to be foiled by any opposition. His Hope cannot be discouraged with the greatest difficulties; but bears up against natural impossibilities, and knows how to reconcile contradictions. His Charity is both extensive and fervent; barring out no one, that bears the face of a man; but pouring out itself upon the household of faith : that studies good constructions of men and actions; and keeps itself free, both from suspicion and censure.
Grace doth more exalt him, than his humility depresses him. Were it not for that Christ who dwells in him, he could think himself the meanest of all creatures : now, he knows he may not disparage the Deity of him, by whom he is so gloriously inhabited ; in whose only right, he can be as great in his own thoughts, as he is despicable in the eyes of the world.
He is wise to Godward, however it be with him for the world: and, well knowing he cannot serve two masters, he cleaves to the better; making choice of that good part, which cannot be taken from him : not so much regarding to get that, which he cannot keep; as to possess himself of that good, which he cannot lose.
He is just in all his dealings with men ; hating to thrive by injury and oppression : and will rather leave behind something of his own, than filch from another's heap.
He is not closefisted, where there is just occasion of his distribution ; willingly parting with those metals, which he regards only for use; not caring for either their colour or substance: earth is to him no other than itself, in what hue soever it appeareth.
In every good cause, he is bold as a lion ; and can neither fear faces, nor shrink at dangers : and is rather heartened with opposition; pressing so much the more, where he finds a large door open, and many adversaries; and, when he must suffer, doth as resolutely stoop, as he did before valiantly resist.
He is holily temperate in the use of all God's blessings; as knowing, by whom they are given, and to what end : neither dares either to mis-lay them, or to mis-spend them lavishly; as duly weighing upon what terms he receives them, and fore-expecting an account.
Such a hand doth he carry upon his pleasures and delights, that they run not away with him: he knows how to slacken the reins, without a debauched kind of dissoluteness; and how to straiten them, without a sullen rigour.
HIS EXPENCE OF THE DAY.
He lives as a man, that hath borrowed his time, and challenges not to be owner of it; caring to SPEND THE DAY in a gracious and well governed thrift.
His first morning's task, after he hath lifted up his heart to that God who gives his beloved sleep, shall be to put himself in a due posture, wherein to entertain himself and the whole day : which shall be done, if he shall effectually work his thoughts to a right apprehension of his God, of himself, of all that may concern him.
The true posture of a Christian then, is this. He sees still heaven open to him; and beholds and admires the light inaccessible : he sees the all-glorious God ever before bim; the angels of God about him; the evil spirits aloof off, enviously groaning and repining at him; the world under his feet, willing to rebel, but forced to be subject; the good creatures ready to tender their service to him: and is accordingly affected to all these. He sees heaven open, with joy and desire of fruition: he sees God, with an adoring awfulness : he sees the angels, with a thankful acknowledgment, and care not to offend them : he sees the evil spirits, with hatred and watchful indignation : he sees the world, with a holy imperiousness; commanding it for use, and scorning to stoop to it for observance: lastly, he sees the good creatures, with gratulation, and care to improve them to the advantage of him that lent them.
Having thus gathered up his thoughts and found where he is, he may now be fit for his constant devotion; which he falls upon, not without a trembling veneration of that Infinite and Incomprehensible Majesty, before whom he is prostrate : now he climbs up into that heaven, which he before did but behold ; and solemnly pours out his soul, in hearty thanksgivings and humble supplications, into the bosom of the Almighty : wherein his awe is so tempered with his faith, that, while he labours under the sense of his own vileness, he is raised up in the confidence of an infinite mercy. Now he renews his feeling interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, his blessed Re. deemer; and labours to get, in every breath, new pledges of bis
gracious entireness: so seasoning his heart with these early thoughts of piety, as that they stick by him all the day after.
Having thus begun with liis God and begged his blessing, he now finds time to address himself to the works of his calling.
To live without any vocation, to live in an unwarrantable vocation, not to labour in the vocation wherein he lives, are things which his soul hateth. These businesses of his calling therefore, he follows with a willing and contented industry: not as forced to it by the necessity of human laws, or as urged by the law of necessity out of the sense or fear of want, nor yet, contrarily, out of an eager desire of enriching himself in his estate; but in a conscionable obedience to that God, who hath made man to labour as the sparks to fly upward, and hath laid it upon him both as a punishment and charge, In the sweat of thy brows shalt thou eat thy bread.
In an humble alacrity he walks on in the way, wherein his God hath set him: yet not the while so intent upon his hands, as not to tend his heart; which he lifts up in frequent ejaculations to that God, to whom he desires to be approved in all his endeavours; ascribing all the thanks, both of his ability and success, to that omnipotent hand. If he meet with any rubs of difficulty in bis way, he knows who sent them, and who can remove them : not neglecting any prudential means of remedy, he is not to seek for a higher redress.
If he have occasion of trading with others, his will may not be the rule of his gain; but his conscience: neither dares he strive for what he can get; but what he ought. Equity is here the Clerk of the Market; and the measure, which he would have others mete out to himself, is the standard whereby he desires to be tried in his mensurations to all other. He hates to hoist prices, upon occasion of his neighbour's need; and to take the advantage of forfeits, by the clock. He is not such a slave to his trade, as not to spare an hour to his soul: neither dares he be so lavish, as utterly to neglect his charge, upon whatever pretence of pleasure or devotion.
Shortly, he takes his work at the hand of God, and leaves it with him ; humbly offering up his services to his great Master in Heaven; and, after all his labour, sits comfortably down in the conscience of having faithfully done his task, though not without the intervention of many infirmities.
HIS RECREATIONS. HIS RECREATIONS (for even these human frailty will sometimes call for) are such, as may be meet relaxations to a mind over-bent, and a body tired with honest and holy employments; safe, inoffensive, and for time and measure fitly proportioned to the occasion : like unto soft music, betwixt two long and stirring Acts: like unto some quick and savoury sauce, to a listless and cloyed stomach : like unto a sweet nap, after an overwatching.
He is far from those delights, that may effeminate or corrupt the mind; abhorring to sit by those pleasures, from which he shall not rise better.
He hates to turn pastime into trade; not abiding to spend more time in whetting, than till his edge be sharp. In the height of his delectations, he knows to enjoy God; from whom as he fetches his . allowance, so he craves and expects a gracious acceptation, even when he lets himself most loose. And if, at any time, he have gone beyond his measure, he chides himself for the excess; and is. so much the more careful, ever after, to keep within compass.
He can only make a kind of use of those contentments, wherein light minds are transported: and can manage his disports without passion; and leave, a loser, without regret.
A smile, to him, is as much as a loud laughter, to the worldling: neither doth he entertain mirth as his ordinary attendant; but as his retainer, to wait upon his serious occasions : and, finally, se rejoiceth, as if he rejoiced not.
HIS MEALS are such, as nature requires, and grace moderates; not pinching himself with a penurious niggardliness, nor pampering himself with a wauton excess. His plate is the least part of his care: so as his fare may be wholesome, he stands not upon delicacy.
He dares not put his hand to the dish, till he have looked up to the Owner; and hates to put one morsel into his mouth, unblessed; and knows it his duty to give thanks for what he hath paid for: as well considering, that neither the meat that he eats, nor the hand and mouth that receives it, nor the maw that digests it, nor the metal that buys it, is of his own making.
And now, having fed his belly, not his eye, he rises from his board satisfied, not glutted; and so bestirs himself upon liis calling, as a man not more unwieldy by his repast but more cheerful, and as one that would be loth his gut should be any hinderance to his brain or to his hand.
If he shall have occasion to entertain himself and his friends more liberally, he dares not lose himself and his feast. He can be soberly merry, and wisely free: only in this he is willing not to be his own man, in that he gives himself for the time to his guests. His caterer is friendly thrift; and temperance keeps the board's end, and carves to every one the best measure of enough.
As for his own diet when he is juvited to a tempting variety, he puts his knife to his throat: neither dares he feed without fear; as knowing who overlooks him.