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ordinary, lest your fasting day end in an intemperate evening
4. Let the actions of all the day be proportionable to it; abstain from your usual recreations on that day, and from greater mirth.
5. Be sure to design beforehand the purposes of your fast, either for repentance, or for mortification, or for the advantages of prayer; and let your devotions be accordingly. But be sure, not to think fasting, or eating fish, or eating nothing, of itself to be pleasing to God, but as it serves to one of these purposes.
6. Let some part of that day extraordinary be set apart for prayer, for the actions of repentance, for confession of sins, and for begging of those graces for whose sake you set apart that day.
7. Be sure that on that day you set apart something for the poor; for fasting and alms are the wings
8. It is best to choose that day for your fast, which is used generally by all Christians, as Friday and Saturday; but do not call it a fasting day, unless also it be
a day of extraordinary devotion and of alms. 29. From observation of all the days of your life, gather out the four extraordinaries.
1. All the great and shameful sins you have committed.
2. All the excellent or greater acts of piety, which by God's grace you have performed.
3. All the great blessings you have received.
4. All the dangers and great sicknesses you have escaped; and upon all the days of your extraordinary devotions, let them be brought forth, and produce their acts of virtue:
1. Repentance and prayers for pardon.
2. Resolutions to proceed and increase in good works.
3. Thanksgiving to God.
4. Fear and watchfulness, lest we fall into worse, as a punishment for our sin. 30. Keep a little catalogue of these; and at the foot of them set down what promises and vows you have made, and kept or broken, and do according as you are obliged.
-.31. Receive the blessed sacrament as often as you can: endeavour to have it once a month, besides the solemn and great festivals of the year.
32. Confess your sins often, hear the word of God, make religion the business of your life, your study, and chiefest care; and be sure that in all things a spiritual guide take you by the hand.
Thou shalt always rejoice in the evening, if thou doest spend thy day virtuously.
A SHORT METHOD OF PEACE AND HOLINESS,
A MANUAL OF DAILY PRAYERS, FITTED TO THE
DAYS OF THE WEEK.
The First Decad. 1. It is the highest wisdom, by despising the world, to arrive at heaven: for they are blessed whose daily exercise it is to converse with God by prayer and obedience, by love and patience.
2. It is the extremest folly to labour for that which will bring torment in the end, and no satisfaction in the little enjoyment of it: to be unwearied in the pursuit of the world, and to be soon tired in whatsoever we begin to do for Christ.
3. Watch over thyself, counsel thyself, reprove thyself, censure thyself, and judge thyself impartially: whatever thou dost to others, do not neglect thyself; for every man profits so much as he does violence to himself.
4. They that follow their own sensuality, stain their consciences, and lose the grace of God: but he that endeavours to please God, whatever he suffers, is beloved of God. For it is not a question, Whether we shall or shall not suffer ? but, Whether we shall suffer for God, or for the world? whether we shall take pains in religion, or in sin, — to get heaven, or to get riches?
5. What availeth knowledge without the fear of God? An
humble ignorant man is better than a proud scholar, who studies natural things, and knows not himself. The more thou knowest, the more grievously thou shalt be judged : many get no profit by their labour, because they contend for knowledge, rather than for holy life; and the time shall come, when it shall more avail thee to have subdued one lust, than to have known all mysteries.
6. No man truly knows himself, but he groweth daily more contemptible in his own eyes; desire, not to be known, and to be little esteemed of by men.
7. If all be well within, nothing can hurt us from without: for from inordinate love and vain fear, comes all unquietness of spirit, and distraction of our senses.
8. He to whom all things are one, who draweth all things to one, and seeth all things in one, may enjoy true peace and rest of spirit.
9. It is not much business that distracts any man, but the want of purity, constancy, and tendency towards God. Who hinders thee more than the unmortified desires of thine own heart? As soon as ever a man desires any thing inordinately, he is presently disquieted in himself. He that hath not wholly subdued himself, is quickly tempted and overcome in small and trifling things. The weak in spirit is he that is in a manner subject to his appetite, and he quickly falls into indignation, and contention, and envy.
10. He is truly great, that is great in charity, and little in himself.
The Second Decad.
11. We rather often believe and speak evil of others, than good. But they that are truly virtuous, do not easily credit evil that is told them of their neighbours. For if others may do amiss, then may these also speak amiss. Man is frail and prone to evil, and, therefore, may soon fail in words.
12. Be not rash in thy proceedings, nor confident and pertinacious in thy conceits. But consult with him that is wise, and seek to be instructed by a better than thyself.
13. The more humble and resigned we are to God, the
more prudent we are in our affairs to men, and peaceable in ourselves.
14. The proud and the covetous can never rest.
15. Be not ashamed to be, or to be esteemed, poor in this world : for he that hears God teaching him, will find that it is the best wisdom to withdraw all our affections from secular honour, and troublesome riches, and to place them upon eternal treasures; and by patience, by humility, by suffering scorn and contempt, and all the will of God, to get the true riches.
16. Be not proud of well-doing; for the judgment of God is far differing from the judgment of men.
17. Lay not thine heart open to every one, but with the wise and them that fear God. Converse not much with young people and strangers. Flatter not the rich, neither do thou willingly or lightly appear before great personages. Never be partaker with the persecutors.
18. It is easier, and safer, and more pleasant to live in obedience, than to be at our own disposing.
19. Always yield to others when there is cause ; for that is no shame, but honour : but it is shame to stand stiff in a foolish or weak argument or resolution,
20. The talk of worldly affairs hindereth much, although recounted with a fair intention: we speak willingly, but seldom return to silence.
The Third Decad. 21. Watch and pray, lest your time pass without profit or fruit. But devout discourses do greatly further our spiritual progress, if persons of one mind and spirit be gathered together in God.
22. We should enjoy more peace, if we did not busy ourselves with the words and deeds of other men, which appertain not to our charge.
23. He that esteems his progress in religion to consist in exterior observances, his devotion will quickly be at an end. But to free ourselves of passions, is to lay the ax at the root of the tree, and the true way of peace.
24. It is good that we sometimes be contradicted, and ill thought of, and that we always bear it well, even when we deserve to be well spoken of: perfect peace and security cannot be had in this world.
25. All the saints have profited by tribulations; and they that could not bear temptations, became reprobates, and fell from God.
26. Think not all is well within, when all is well without; or that thy being pleased is a sign that God is pleased : but suspect every thing that is prosperous, unless it promotes piety, and charity, and humility.
27. Do no evil, for no interest, and to please no man, for no friendship, and for no fear.
28. God regards not how much we do, but from how much it proceeds. He does much, that loves much.
29. Patiently suffer that from others, which thou canst not mend in them, until God please to do it for thee; and remember that thou mend thyself, since thou art so willing others should not offend in any thing:
30. Every man's virtue is best seen in adversity and temptation.
The Fourth Decad.
31. Begin every day to repent, not that thou shouldst at all defer it, or stand at the door, but because all that is past ought to seem little to thee; because it is so in itself: begin the next day with the same zeal and the same fear, and the same humility, as if thou hadst never begun before.
32. A little omission of any, usual exercise of piety, cannot happen to thee without some loss and considerable detriment, even though it be upon a considerable cause.
33. Be not slow in common and usual acts of piety and devotion, and quick and prompt at singularities : but having first done what thou art bound to, proceed to counsels and perfections, and the extraordinaries of religion, as you see cause.
34. He that desires much to hear news, is never void of passions, and secular desires, and adherences to the world.