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nothing contrary to reason, and the innocent in. clinations of nature : if any of his laws appear harsh and difficult, it is from their opposition to our acquired habits, our prejudices, and corruptions. To forgive injuries, to return good for evil, to live peaceably with all men, to be always mild, obliging, and good humoured, to be kind and patient, charitable and industrious, temperate, sober, and modest--these are no grievous laws to a pure and well-tuned mind; nor can its genuine dictates be better complied with, than by observing them, Still they will be a very grievous restraint on the licentiousness of our corrupted wills, our heightened passions, and indulged imaginations. To be continually attentive to our conduct in every minute instance; to set a watch before our mouth, and keep the door of our lips; to set scourges over our thoughts, and the discipline of wisdom over our hearts--requires a soberness of mind, a diligence, a resolute adherence to duty, that may undoubtedly deserve thc name of self-denial and mortification ; though, in effect, nothing so certainly ensures our happiness, both here and hereafter. To think we can do this by our own strength, would be presumptuous and vain. Tell a man, helpless with the palsy, that perfect health is his natural and eligible state; ronvince him ever so clearly how happy it would be for him to become active and industrious-your eloquence is mockery, and will not help him to the use of a single limb. But though we daily confess that we have “no health in us,” he who did actually say to the sick of the palsy, “ Arise, take up
thy bed, and walk,” and was immediately obeyed, can effectually relieve our still more helpless state. To this sovereign Physician we can apply for help, and by the aid he imparts, are enabled to follow the regimen he enjoins; and thus to “ go on from strength to strength, till unto the God of Gods shall appear every one in Sion."
Though our comfortable passage through this life, and the attainment of unspeakable blessedness in another, are the allowed, the necessary, the enjoined objects of our pursuit, yet still, in a great degree, we are to renounce ourselves. By sincere humility we are to consider the vileness and wretchedness of our natural state; we are to acknowledge, that of ourselves we are able to do nothing as we ought; and, far from indulging any thoughts of vanity or self-complacence, we are, when we have done our very best, to confess, with unfeigned lowliness, that we are unprofitable servants : we are to trust and hope alone in the merits and intercession of our blessed Redeemer; and to own ourselves “ less than the least of God's mercies.” As his creatures, we are to direct all our thoughts and actions to his honour and service. “ Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we are to do all to the glory of God.” In every thing we are to consider carefully the rule of duty; not scrupulously or superstitiously, for that tends to the dishonour of God and religion, as well as our own discomfort: we are never to do any thing for so low an end, as merely to gratify our own childish
humour; but in all cases, to moderate and guide ourselves by the rules of reason and religion. Thus, even in using the necessary refreshments, the easy amusements, and innocent pleasures of life, we are to behave with a due sense of that God who is every where present: we are to look up to him with thankfulness, as the bountiful Bestower of all good, and cheerfully accept these indulgences for the ends to which he has appointed them ; food, to restore our strength, wasted in active service, to preserye our health and ease; sleep, to renew our wearied spirits ; pleasure, to gladden our hearts, and fill them with pious gratitude and filial love. This cuts off at once all that intemperance, that crosses those good purposes, destroys our health, distresses our hearts, makes our lives sluggish and useless, and dissipates or corrupts our minds. Riches and honours, also, are to be received with thanksgiving by whomsoever Providence allots them to; but then they are to be diligeutly, and carefully, and generously employed in the best purposes: and even the richest and the greatest ought to deny themselves all indulgences of mere humour and fancy, how well soever they may seem able to afford it, and kindly and faithfully consider the more pressing wants of their distressed fellowcreatures. To answer the purposes of charity, the rich must be frugal, and the poor industrious; and all give freely and discreetly, as proper calls require. Every body, in their turns, to maintain the peace of society and Christian concord, must repress the little risings of temper, and fretfulness of humour;
must be ready to forgive and forget, to indulge and overlook.
It is endless to go on enumerating instances, in which the just, the necessary adherence to our duty, requires us to deny our sipful selves. Our cowardice, our false shame, our vanity, our weak. ness and irresolution, our fondness and partial affection, our indolence and love of ease-these, and numberless infirmities more, must be struggled with, and conquered, when we are called out to encounter dangers : to confess our Saviour before men; to withstand the strong torrent of custom and fashion, of importunity and ill example; to turn a deaf ear to flattery, or candidly acknowledge our errors; to resist solicitations; to give righteous judgment; to forget all our private relations and attachments, where justice or public good are concerned; to resign our dearest enjoyments, when it is the will of God we should; to check our sorrows in their fullest flow; and to go on indefatigably improving ourselves, and doing good to others, till the night overtakes us,“ in which no man can work.”
The sufferings which it shall please Almighty God to ipflict upon us, we are to accept with humble resignation, acknowledging his justice, and submitting to it without a murmur. Thus patiently also we are to receive all the lesser crosses he sees fit to lay upon us; nor ever suffer ourselves to fret or repine at the various infirmities of human nature in ourselves or others. All these we must look upon as parts of that penalty justly inflicted on our first parents' guilt; and heartily thank him, that he does vot, according to the terrifying notions of popery, either expect us to inflict them on ourselves, or give us the dreadful alternative of a porgatory after death. Uncommanded severities, that are of no apparent use, but to torment ourselves, and sour our natures, and shorten our lives, can never be acceptable to our gracious Maker. Our blessed Saviour, when he mentions fasting as a duty, along with prayer and almsgiving, leaves the frequency and strictness of it to our own discretion; and only insists upon one circumstance, which is, that we should avoid in it all hypocrisy and ostentation, and be careful to keep up all ease, good humour, and agreeableness of behaviour. There are very proper occasions for exercising this duty, without the least superstition or moroseness, and where it may tend to the best purposes. Public calamities, private distresses or temptations, perplexities and difficulties, times of peculiarly solemn devotion, and of resolutely endeavouring to conquer such obstinate faults and ill habits, as, like the dumb spirit in the Gospel, can “ come out only by prayer and fasting." But where it makes us appear stiff and disagreeable, interferes with the innocent cheerfulness of society, or may influence our health or temper in any wrong way, in such cases it becomes a hurtful superstition, and as such unallow. able. To observe the public fasts appointed by authority, in a manner suited to every person's