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to tempt my palate, I fear a Serpent in that Apple; and would please myself, in a wilful denial.
I rise capable of more; not desirous: not now immediately from my trencher, to my book; but, after some intermission. Moderate speed is a sure help to all proceedings; where those things which are prosecu ed with violence of endeavour or desire, either succeed not, or continue not.
After my larter meal, my thoughts are slight : only my memory may be charged with her task, of recalling what was committed to her custou in the day ; and my heart is busy in examining my hands and mouth and all other senses, of that day's behaviour.
And, now the evening is come, no tradesman doch more carefully take in his wares, clear his shopboard, and shut his wivdows, than I would shut up my thoughts and clear my mind. That student shall live miserably, which, like a camel, lies down under his burden. All this done, calling together my family, we end the day with God. Thus do we rather drive away the time before us, than follow it.
I grant, neither is my practice worthy to be exemplary, neither are our callings proportionable. The lives of a nobleman, of a courtier, of a scholar, of a citizen, of a countryman, differ no less than their dispositions; yet must all conspire in honest labour. Sweat is the destiny of all trades; whether of the brows, or of the mind. God never allowed any man to do nothing. How miserable is the condition of those men, which spend the time, as if it were given them, and not lent! as if hours were waste creatures, and such as should never be accounted for! as if God would take this for a good bill of reckoning; “ Item, spent upon my pleasures, forty years.” These men shall once find, that no blood can privilege idleness; and that nothing is more precious to God, than that which they desire to cast away, Time.
Such are my common days. But God's day calls for another respect. The same sun arises on this day, and enlightens it: yet, because that Sun of Righteousness arose upon it, and gave a new life unto the world in it, and drew the strength of God's moral precept unto it; therefore, justly do we sing, with the Psalmist, This is the day, which the Lord hath made. "Now, I forget the world; and, in a sort, myself: and deal with my wonted thoughts, as great men use, who, at some times of their privacy, forbid the access of all suitors. Prayer, meditation, reading, hearing, preaching, singing, good conference, are the businesses of this day; which I dare not bestow on any work or pleasure, but heavenly. I hate superstition on the one side, and looseness on the other: but I find it hard to offend, in too much devotion ; easy, in profaneness. The whole week is sanctified by this day; and, according to my care of this, is my blessing on the rest.
I shew your Lordship what I would do, and what I ought: 1 commit my desires to the imitation of the weak; my actions, to the censures of the wise and holy; my weaknesses, to the pardon and redress of my merciful God.
TO MR. T. S.
Discoursing how we may Use the World without Danger. How to live out of the danger of the world, is both a great and good care, and that which troubles too few. Some, that the world may not hurt them, run from it; and banish themselves to the tops of solitary mountains : changing the cities for deserts, houses for caves, and the society of men for beasts; and, lest their enemy might insinuate himself into their secrecy, have abridged themselves of diet, clothing, lodging, harbour, fit for reasonable creatures; seeming to have left off themselves, no less than companions. As if the World were not every where: as if we could hide ourselves from the Devil: as if solitariness were privileged from temptations: as if we did not more violently affect restrained delights: as if these Jeromes did not find Rome, in their heart; when they had nothing but rocks and trees, in their eye. Hence, these places of retiredness, founded at first upon necessity mixed with devotion, have proved infamously unclean ; cells of lust, not of piety.
This course is preposterous. If I were worthy to teach you a better way, learn to be a hermit at home. Begin with your own heart : estrange and wean it from the love, not from the use of the world. Christianity hath taught us nothing, if we have not learned this distinction.
It is a great weakness, not to see, but we must be enamoured. Elisha saw the secret state of the Syrian Court; yet, as an enemy: the blessed angels see our earthly affairs; but, as strangers : Moses his body was in the Court of Pharaoh, amongst the delicate Egyptians; his heart was suffering with the afflicted Israelites.: Lot took part of the fair meadows of Sodom; not of their sins : our Blessed Saviour saw the glory of all kingdoms; and contemned them: and cannot the world look upon us Christians, but we are bewitched? We see the sun daily, and warm us at his beams; yet make not an idol of it: doth any man hide his face, lest he should adore it?
All our safety or danger, therefore, is from within. In vain is the body an Anchorite, if the heart be a Ruffian : and, if that be retired in affections, the body is but a cypher. Lo, then the eyes will look carelessly and strangely, on what they see; and the tongue will sometimes answer to that was not asked. We eat and recreate, because we must, not because we would; and, when we are pleased, we are suspicious. Lawful delights, we neither refuse nor dote upon; and all contentments go and come like strangers.
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That all this may be done, take up your heart with better thoughts. Be sure, it will not be empty: if heaven have footstalled all the rooms, the world is disappointed; and either dares not offer, or is repulsed. Fix yourself upon the glory of that eternity, which abides you after this short pilgrimage. You cannot but contemn what you find, in comparison of what you expect. Leave not, till you attain to this, That you are willing to live, because you cannot as yet be dissolved. Be but one half upon earth: let your better part converse above, whence it is; and enjoy that, whereto it was ordained. Think, how little the world can do for you; and what it doth, how deceitfully: what stings there are with this honey; what Farewell succeeds this Welcome. When this Jael brings you milk in the one hand, know she hath a nail in the other. Ask your heart, what it is the better, what the merrier, for all those pleasures, wherewith it hath befriended you: let your own trial teach you contempt. Think, how sincere, how glorious those joys are, which abide you elsewhere, and a thousand times more certain, though future, than present.
And let not these thoughts be flying, but fixed. In vain do we meditate, if we resolve not. When your heart is once thus settled, it shall command all things to advantage. The world shall not betray, but serve it; and that shall be fulfilled, which God promises by his Solomon; When the ways of a man please the Lord, he will make his enemies also at peace with him.
Sir, this advice my poverty afforded long since to a weak friend. I write it not to you, any otherwise, than as scholars are wont to say their part to their masters. The world hath long and justly both noted and honoured you, for eminence in wisdom and learning; and I, above the most. I am ready, with the awe of a learner, to embrace all precepts from you: you shall expect 110thing from me, but testimonies of respect and thankfulness.
TO SIR GEORGE FLEETWOOD.
Of the Remedies of Sin, and Motives to Avoid it. THERE is none, either more common or more troublesome guest, than Sin: troublesome, both in the solicitation of it, and in the remorse. Before the act, it wearies with a wicked importunity: after the act, it torments us with fears, and the painful gnawings of an accusing conscience.
Veither is it more irksome to men, than odious to God; who, indeed, never hated any thing but it; and, for it, any thing.
How happy were we, if we could be rid of it! This must be our desire, but cannot be our hope, so long as we carry this body of sin and death about us : yet, which is our comfort, it shall not carry us, though we carry it: it will dwell with us, but with no command; yea, with no peace: we grudge to give it house-room ; but we hate to give it service. This our Hagar will abide many strokes, ere she be turned out of doors : she shall go, at last; and the seed of promise shall inherit alone.
There is no unquietness good, but this; and, in this case, quietness cannot stand with safety: neither did ever war more truly beget peace, than in this strife of the soul. Resistance is the way to victory; and that, to an eternal peace and happiness.
It is a blessed care then, how to resist sin, how to avoid it; and such, as I am glad to teach and learn.
As there are two grounds of all sin, so of the avoidance of sin; Love and Fear: these, if they be placed amiss, cause us to offend; if right, are the remedies of evil. The love must be of God; fear, of judgment.
As he Loves much, to whom much is forgiven; so he, that loves much, will not dare to do that, which may need forgiveness. The heart, that hath felt the sweetness of God's mercies, will not abide the bitter relish of sin. This is both a stronger motive than fear, and more noble. None, but a good heart, is capable of this grace; which whoso hath received, thus powerfully repels temptations. “ Have I found my God so gracious to me, that he hath denied me nothing, either in earth or heaven; and shall not I so much as deny my own will for his sake? Hath my dear Saviour bought my soul, at such a price; and shall he not have it? Was he crucified for my sins; and shall I, by my sins, crucify him again? Am I his, in so many bonds; and shall I serve the Devil ? o God! is this the fruit of thy beneficence to me, that I should wilfully dishonour thee? Was thy blood so little worth, that I should tread it under my feet ? Doth this become him, that shall be once glorious with thee? Hast thou prepared heaven for me, and do I thus prepare myself for heaven? Shall I thus recompense thy love; in doing that, which thou hatest ?" Satan bath no dart, I speak confidently, that can pierce this shield. Christians are, indeed, too oft surprised, ere they can hold it out: there is no small policy in the suddenness of temptation : but, if they have once settled it before their breast, they are safe, and their enemy hopeless. Under this head, therefore, there is sure remedy against sin, by looking upwards, backwards, into ourselves, forwards : Upwards, at the glorious majesty and infinite goodness of that God, whom our sin would offend, and in whose face we sin ; whose mercies, and whose holiness is such, that if there were no hell, we would not offend: Backwards, at the manifold favours, whereby we are obliged to obedience: Into ourselves, at that honourable vocation, wherewith he hath graced us; that holy profession we have made, of his calling and grace; that solemn vow and covenant, whereby we bave confirmed our profession; the gracious
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beginnings of that Spirit in us, which is grieved by our sips, yea, quenched: Forwards, at the joy, which will follow upon our forbearance; that peace of conscience, that happy expectation of glory, compared with the momentary and unpleasing delight of a present sin. All these, out of love.
Fear is a retentive, as necessary, not so ingenuous. It is better to be won, than to be frighted from sin; to be allured, than drawn: both are little enough, in our proneness to evil. Evil is the only object of fear. Herein, therefore, we must terrify our stubbornness, with both evils ; of Loss, and of Sense; that, if it be possible, the horror of the event may countervail the pleasure of the temptation : of Loss ; remembering, that now we are about to lose a God; to cast away all the comforts and hopes of another world ; to rob ourselves of all those sweet mercies we enjoyed; to thrust his Spirit out of doors, which cannot abide to dwell within the poi. some stench of sin ; to shut the doors of heaven against ourselves : of Sense ; that thus we give Satan a right in us, power over us, advantage against us ; that we make God to frown upon us, in heaven; that we arm all his good creatures against us, on earth; that we do, as it were, take God's hand in ours, and scourge ourselves with all temporal plagues, and force his curses upon us and ours; that we wound our own consciences with sins, that they may wound us with everlasting torments; that we do both make a hell in our breasts beforehand, and open the gates of that bottomless pit to receive us afterwards ; that we do now cast brimstone into the fire ; and, lest we should fail of tortures, make ourselves our own fiends. These, and whatever other terrors of this kind, must be laid to the soul; which if they be thoroughly urged to a heart, not altogether incredulous, well may a man ask himself, bow he dare sin.
But, if neither this sun of mercies, nor the tempestuous winds of judgment, can make him cast off Peter's cloak of wickedness ; he must be clad with confusion, as with a cloak, according to the Psalmist.
I tremble to think, how many live; as if they were neither be. holden to God, nor afraid of him ; neither in bis debt, nor danger: as if their heaven and hell were both upon earth : sinning, not only without shame, but not without malice. It is their least ill, to do evil: behold, they speak for it, joy in it, boast of it, enforce to it; as if they would send challenges into heaven, and make love to destruction. Their lewdness calls for our sorrow and zealous obedience; that our God may have as true servants, as enemies. And, as we see natural qualities increased with the resistance of their contraries; so must our grace with others' sins : we shall redeem somewhat of God's dishonour by sin, if we shall thence grow boly.