« PreviousContinue »
than thy extraordinary. For if they be not regular, but come by chance, they will not last long. But if they be added to your ordinary offices, or made to be daily, thy spirit will, by use and custom, be made tender, and not. willing to go less.
51. He is a truly charitable and good man, who, when he receives injuries, grieves rather for the malice of him that injures him, than for his own suffering; who willingly prays for him that wrongs him, and from his heart forgives all his faults; who stays not, but quickly asks pardon of others for his errors or mistakes; who sooner shows mercy than
anger; who thinks better of others than himself; who offers violence to his appetite, and in all things endeavours to subdue the flesh to the spirit. This is an excellent abbreviature of the whole duty of a Christian.
52. No man can have felicity in two states of things; if he takes it in God here, in him he shall have it hereafter; for God will last for ever. But if he takes felicity in things of this world, where will his felicity be when this world is done? Either here alone, or hereafter, must be thy portion.
53. Avoid those things in thyself, which in others do most displease thee. And remember, that as thine eye observes others, so art thou observed by God, by angels, and by men.
54. He that puts his confidence in God only, is neither overjoyed in any great good thing of this life, nor sorrowful for a little thing. Let God be thy love and thy fear, and he also will be thy salvation and thy refuge.
55. Do not omit thy prayers for want of a good oratory or place to pray in, — nor thy duty, for want of temporal encouragements. For he that does both upon God's account, cares not how or what he suffers, so he suffer well, and be the friend of Christ; nor where nor when he prays, so he may
do it frequently, fervently, and acceptably. 56. Very often remember and meditate upon the wounds and stripes, the shame and the pain, the death and the
burial, of our Lord Jesus; for nothing will more enable us to bear our cross patiently, injuries charitably, the labour of religion comfortably, and censuring words and detractions with meekness and quietness.
57. Esteem not thyself to have profited in religion, unless thou thinkest well of others, and meanly of thyself: therefore, never accuse airy but thyself, and he that diligently watches himself, will be willing enough to be silent concerning others.
58. It is no great matter to live lovingly with goodnatured, with humble, and meek persons : but he that can do so with the froward, with the wilful and the ignorant, with the peevish and perverse, he only hath true charity : always remembering, that our true solid peace, the peace of God, consists rather in complying with others, than in being complied with, in suffering and forbearing, rather than in contention and victory.
59. Simplicity in our intentions, and purity of affections, are the two wings of a soul, investing it with the robes and resemblances of a seraphim. Intend the honour of God principally and sincerely, and mingle not thy affections with any creature, but in just subordination to God, and to religion; and thou shalt have joy, if there be any such thing in this world. For there is no joy but in God, and no sorrow, but in an evil conscience.
60. Take not much care what or who is for thee, or against thee. The judgment of none is to be regarded, if God's judgment be otherwise. Thou art neither better nor worse in thyself, for any account that is made of thee by any but by God alone : secure that to thee, and he will secure all the rest.
The Seventh Decad.
61. BLESSED is he that understands what it is to love Jesus, and contends earnestly to be like him. Nothing else can satisfy or make us perfect. But be thou a bearer of his cross, as well as a lover of his kingdom. Suffer tribulation for him, or from him, with the same spirit thou receivest
consolation : follow him as well for the bitter cup of his passion, as for the loaves; and remember, that if it be a hard saying, “ Take up my cross and follow me,” it is a harder saying, “ Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.”
62. No man can always have the same spiritual pleasure in his prayers : for the greatest saints have sometimes suffered the banishment of the heart; sometimes are fervent, sometimes they feel a barrenness of devotion : for this spirit comes and goes. Rest, therefore, only in God, and in doing thy duty: and know, that if thou beest overjoyed to-day, this hour will pass away, and temptation and sadness will succeed.
63. In all afffictions, seek rather for patience than for comfort. If thou preservest that, this will return. Any man would serve God, if he felt pleasure in it always; but the virtuous does it, when his soul is full of heaviness, and regards not himself, but God, and hates that consolation that lessens his compunction; but loves any thing, whereby he is made more humble.
64. That which thou dost not understand when thou readest, thou shalt understand in the day of thy visitation : for there are many secrets of religion, which are not perceived till they be felt, and are not felt but in the day of a great calamity.
65. He that prays despairs not. But sad is the condition of him that cannot pray. Happy are they that can, and do, and love to do it.
66. He that will be blessed in his prayers, must make his prayers his rule. All our duty is there set down, because in all our duty we beg the divine assistance: and remember, that you are bound to do all those duties, for the doing of which you have prayed for the divine assistance.
67. Be doing actions of religion as often as thou canst, and thy worldly pleasures as seldom; that if thou beest surprised by sudden death, it may be odds but thou mayest be taken at thy prayers.
68. Watch, and resist the devil in all his temptations and snares: his chief designs are these; to hinder thy desire in good; to put thee by from any spiritual employment, from prayers especially, from the meditation of the passion, from the remembrance of thy sins, from humble confession
of them, from speedy repentance, from the custody of thy senses and of thy heart, from firm purposes of growing in grace, from reading good books, and frequent receiving the holy sacrament. It is all one to him, if he deceives thee by a lie or by truth; whether he amaze or trouble thee, by love of the present or fear of the future: watch him but in these things, and there will be no part left unarmed, in which he can wound thee.
69. Remember how the proud have fallen, and they who have presumed upon their own strength, have been disgraced; and that the boldest and greatest talkers in the days of peace, bave been the most dejected and pusillanimous in the day of temptation.
70. No man ought to think he hath found peace, when nothing troubles him; or that God loves him, because he hath no enemy; nor that all is well, because every thing is according to his mind; nor that he is a holy person, because he prays with great sweetness and comfort: but he is at peace who is reconciled to God; and God loves him when he hath overcome himself; and all is well when nothing pleases him but God, being thankful in the midst of his afflictions; and he is holy, who, when he hath lost his comfort, loses nothing of his duty, but is still the same, when God changes his face towards him.
Jubet Delis ut pétas, et si non petis displicet, et non negabit quod petis:
et tu non petes! - S. August.
A form of Prayer, by way of Paraphrase erpounding
the Lord's Prayer.
Our Father. Merciful and gracious ; thou gavest me being, raisedst me from nothing, to be an excellent creation, efforming me after thy own image, tenderly feeding me, and conducting and strengthening me all my days: thou 'art our Father by a more excellent mercy, adopting us in a new birih, to become partakers of the inheritance of Jesus; thou hast given us the portion and the food of sons; O make us to do the duty of sons, that we may never lose our title to so glorious an inheritance.
Let this excellent name and title, by which thou hast vouchsafed to relate to us, be our glory and our confidence, our defence and guard, our ornament and strength, our dignity, and the endearment of obedience, the principle of a holy fear to thee, our Father,-and of love to thee and to our brethren, partakers of the same hope and dignity.
Unite every member of the church to thee in holy bands; let there be no more names of division, nor titles and ensigns of error and partiality; let not us, who are brethren, contend, but in giving honour to each other, and glory to thee, contending earnestly for the faith, but not to the breach of charity, nor the denying each other's hope: but grant, that we may all join in the promotion of the honour of thee our