תמונות בעמוד

tuation, Wavering, and Inconstancy of Mind, when a Man is off and on, hot and cold, uneasy and undetermined; but in the mean time, continues a fast Slave to his Vices and evil Habits ; by this Description likewise it is distinguished from a bare Determination of the Judgment, without engaging the Will, Affections, and executive Powers: for it is one Thing for a Man by an Act of the Judgment to conclude that such a Thing is best in itself, or even best for him; and another Thing, by a resolute Determination of the Will and the Affections, to disentangle himself from all Indispositions and Impediments

, and courageously to set about it. This Description doth likewise distinguish this holy Chriftian Resolution from a suspended Determination of the Will, which is not to take place at present, but is to be put off to some future Time; of which Nature are the faint Purposes of too many, being indeed rather Delays of the Thing at present, than any determinate Resolutions of putting it in Practice hereafter.

(2.) The second Thing I mentioned in the practical Part, is Christian Vigilance; now this is of two Sorts. A Vigilance against Temptations to Sin ; and a Vigilance for Occasions and Opportunities to do good. Both must be carefully minded, by every good Christian. First, A Vigilance against Temptations ; it requires a great Knowledge, both of the World and of our own Temper and Circumstances, so much as to know or foresee the Temptations, to which we shall be exposed. There is such an infinite Number of them from the Devil, the World, and the Flesh; our corrupt Natures, and our evil Habits, and


vicious Custom and Education, and our Age and Complexion, and Weakness and Inclination, that it is not so much as possible to foresee them all, far less to be well fortified against them. Yet it is certain that Christian Vigilance is a great Help both to foresee and to prevent the Danger. And if we would take due Pains to study cur own Infirmities, and to observe the usual Temptations, to which we are exposed, we should be infinitely better furnished against Satan's Devices, than we commonly are; especially, if our Resolution should extend to the Means, as well as to the End: that is, if we do in good Earnest design to conquer such and such Vices, then let us resolve to decline, cut off, or avoid all the Causes, Occasions, Inducements, Inlets, Helps, and Instruments, by Means whereof we are usually led into Temptation. The same Christian Vigilance we must use, to find out Occasions and Opportunities to do good. For God has so ordered it in his wise Providence, that as a Man cannot build up a material House without a great deal of Pains, Charge, Skill, and.Contrivance, it is much more so in this spiritual Building, where, with the Help of God's Grace, we muit build all ourselves, and cannot hire Workmen and Labourers to do it for us. We must then carefully consider our own Abilities, Talents, and Opportunities, and improve them all to the best Advantage of doing good. Especially let us not forget to add to the Study of every Virtue, the Study of the Helps, Occasions, Means, and Inducements to the Practice of those Virtues ; e. g. Do we know in general, that the reading of the holy Scriptures, the hearing them read and explained, VOL. IV.



Meditation, publick and secret Prayer, Selfexamination, Preparation for the holy Sacrament, and the devout receiving of it, frequenting good Company, and the like, are great Helps towards the attaining of all Virtue ? then let us resolve diligently to make use of all such Helps and Means of Grace. And so in every particular Virtue, if we know any Thing which is a great Help for attaining or preserving it, let us have a particular Regard to that, and reduce it to Practice.

(3.) A third Thing I mentioned, as absolutely necessary to the putting in Practice our Saviour's Doctrine, is fervent Prayer. And this follows well after Vigilance; watch and pray. For God's Blessing and our own Endeavours must


hand in hand together, if we intend to labour with Success in this spiritual Building : For as the Apostle says in another simile, but to the same Purpose, Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but it is God who gives the Increase. Christian Virtues are an Exercise too exalted for any bare human Endeavour. It must be nothing less than the Grace of God which must qualify us for this noble Employment. And if a Man should refolve ever so fincerely to apply himself to the Study of Christian Duties, without betaking himself first to God, by continual Application to the Throne of Grace, he will quickly find all his other Endeavours to be in vain, and to no Purpose. Let Prayer then begin, and let Prayer end all our own Endeavours; and let Prayer be ever intermixed in our religious Duties, to oil the Wheels of Action. It will not only contribute mightily towards the Virtues we aim at,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

as one great Means in itself ; but it will derive down a Blessing on all the other Means and Inftruments of Religion. And therefore where this is well plied, I take it for granted this great Work will go well on; and that although now and then we are surprized with a Temptation, we shall not be abandoned, but by God's Grace re

new the Combat against our Lusts and Corrupitions, and come off victorious at last. For,

(4.) There is continual Occasion, and an absolute Necessity to exercise Repentance for our daily Lapses and Infirmities. It is a fad Cafe, in this imperfect State, that we are continually kept so

low with frequent Lapses into either greater or į leffer Sins; which is enough to make every good - Man utterly to distaste this wretched Life. But

we must submit to it, and not be out of Heart, but apply ourselves daily to Repentance, and to begging of God Forgiveness ; the great Danger is,

that being so frequently foiled, we at last deispond, and give over the Use of Means. No,

we must ftir up ourselves so much more vigoroully to the Combat, and put on the whole Armour of God, Eph. vi. 11. considering that it is in some Sense a nobler Courage, when weak and beaten, to renew the Battle, than to hold on if we were still flushed with fresh Victories.

(5.) A fifth Thing I mentioned as necessary in order to the reducing of our Saviour's Precepts into Pradice, is Courage against evil Examples. For fo universal and so prevalent is the Corruption of the World, that if we are to be shaken with either Shame or Fear, it will be impossible for us to preserve our Innocency. How hard a Thing it is to overcome Shame, we may observe Y 2


[ocr errors]

by the univerfal Prevalency of Custom or Fashion, which, if an exact Calculation were to be made, would be found to carry more after it than either Law or Religion. How few Persons are there of Foshua's Resolution, that whatever others did, as for him and his House they would serve the Lord ? The many State Revolutions in Matters of Religion, and the many particular Changes they have carried along with them, are sufficient to convince us, that Custom, backed with Authority, and legal Rewards and Punishments, is much more universally followed, than the Scripture and good Conscience. Then as for Fear, we see the fatal Effects of Persecutions for Religion; how many are scared from their Principles with any light sudden Fright? Peter, for all his Courage, was surprized into a Denial of his Master, upon the sudden Accusation of a poor Servant Maid ; and all the Apostles ran away

for Fear, upon the apprehending of their Máster. If any Man has the Boldness to act out of Conscience against his Interest, where one speaks well of him for it, there is an infinite Number that shall impute it to an unreasonable Stiffness or Opiniatrete, if not to some schismatical, rebellious, turbulent Principle. It requires then a very stayed, resolute Courage, far above the Opinions and Censures of Men, and all worldly Interest whatsoever, with a pure Eye to Christ, to adhere resolutely to our Duty, though we should be singular in it, and exposed, ridiculed, or to all Intents and Purposes ruined, as to this World, on Account thereof.

(6.) The

« הקודםהמשך »