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for use. Take these, therefore, for more; which as I would fain practise, so am I willing to commend.
Let us begin with Him, who is the First and Last. Inform yourself aright concerning God; without whom, in vain do we know all things. Be acquainted with that Saviour of yours, which paid so much for you on earth, and now sues for you in heaven; without whom, we have nothing to do with God, nor he with us : adore him, in your thoughts; trust him with yourself: renew your sight of him every day, and bis of you. Overlook these earthly things; and, when you do at any time cast your eyes upon heaven, think, There, dwells my Saviour: there, I shall be. Call yourself to often reckonings: cast up your debts, payments, graces, wants, expences, employments: yield not to think your set devotions troublesome. Take not easy denials from yourself; yea, give peremptory denials to yourself: he can never be good, that flatters himself: hold nature to her allowance; and let your will stand at courtesy: happy is that man, which hath obtained to be the master of his own heart. Think all God's outward favours and provisions the best for you; your own ability and actions, the meanest. Suffer not your mind to be either a drudge, or a wanton: exercise it, ever; but over-lay it not. In all your businesses, look through the world, at God: whatsoever is your level, let him be your scope. Every day, take a view of your last; and think, Either it is this, or may be. Offer not yourself either to honour or labour: let them both seek you: care you only to be worthy, and you cannot hide you from God. So frame yourself to the time and company, that you may neither serve it, nor sullenly neglect it; and yield so far, as you may neither betray goodness, nor countenance evil. Let your words be few,, and digested: it is a shame for the tongue to cry the heart mercy; much more, to cast itself upon the uncertain pardon of others' ears. There are but two things, which a Christian is charged to buy, and not to sell, Time and Truth; both so precious, that we must purchase them at any rate. So use your friends, as those, which should be perpetual, may be changeable. While you are within yours danger; but thoughts, once uttered, must stand to hazard. Do not hear from yourself, what you would be loth to hear from others. In all good things, give the eye and ear the full of scope; for they let into the mind : restrain the tongue; for it is a spender: few men have repented them of silence. In all serious matters, take counsel of days, and nights, and friends; and let leisure ripen your purposes : neither hope to gain ought by suddenness: the first thoughts may be confident; the second are wiser. Serve honesty ever, though without apparent wages: she will pay sure, if slow. As in apparel, so in actions, know 110t what is good, but what becomes you: how many warrantable acts have misshapen the authors! Excuse not your own ill : aggravate not others’: and, if you love peace, avoid censures, comparisons, contradictions. Out of good men, chuse acquaintance; of acquaintance, friends ; of friends, familiars : after probation, admit them; and, after ad
mittance, change them not: age commendeth friendship. Do not always your best : it is neither wise nor safe, for a man ever to stand upon the top of his strength. If you would be above the expectation of others, be ever below yourself. Expend after your purse; not after your mind. Take not, where you may deny ; except upon conscience of desert, or hope to requite. Either frequent suits, or complaints, are wearisome to a friend: rather smother your griefs and wants, as you may; than be either querulous or importunate. Let not your face belie your heart; 'nor always tell tales out of it: he is fit to live amongst friends or enemies, that can be ingenuously close. Give freely; sell thriftily. Change seldom your place; never, your state. Either amend inconveniences, or swallow them, rather than you should run from yourself to avoid them. In all your reckonings for the world, cast up soine crosses that appear not: either those will come, or may. Let your suspicions be charitable; your trust, fearful; your censures, sure.
Give way to the anger of the great: the thunder and cannon will abide no fence. As in throngs, we are afraid of loss; so, while the world comes upon you, look well to your soul: there is more danger in good, than in evil.
I fear the number of these my rules : for precepts are wont, as nails, to drive out one another'; but these, I intended to scatter amongst many: and I was loth that any guest should complain of a niggardly hand. Dainty dishes are wont to be sparingly served out: homely ones supply, in their bigness, what they want in their worth.
It is not for me, to examine the grounds of your affliction : which, as they shall come to be scanned by greater judgments; so, in the mean time, have doubtless received both a verdict and sentence from your own heart. And, if this act were in my power, I can much better suffer with my friend, than judge him. But, however either partial or rigorous the conceits of others may be, be sure, I beseech
you receive from your own bosom a free and just doom on all your actions : after all the censures of others, thence must proceed either your peace or torment.
But what do I undertake to teach him, that is already in the school of God; and, under that divine ferule, hath learned more than by all the theorical counsels of prosperity ? Surely, I cannot but profess, that I know not, whether I were more sorry
for the desert of your durance, or glad of such fruit thereof as mine eyes and ears witnessed froin you.
But one sabbath is past, since my meditations were occasioned to fix themselves upon the gain, which God's children make of their sins: the practice whereof I rejoiced to see concur in you with my speculation.
And, indeed, it is one of the wonders of God's mercy and providence, that those wounds, wherewith Satan hopes to kill the soul, through the wise and gracious ordination of God, serve to heal it. We, faint soldiers, should never fight so valiantly, if it were not for the indignation at our foil. There are corruptions, that may lurk secretly in a corner of the soul, unknown, unseen; till the shame of a notorious evil send us to search and ransack. If but a spot light upon our cloak, we regard it not; but if, through our neglect or the violence of a blast, it fall into the mire, then we wash and scour it.
As we use, therefore, to say, there cannot be better physic to a choleric body, than a seasonable ague; so may I say safely, there can be nothing so advantageous to a secure heart, as to be sin-sick: gument of his
for, hereby, he, who before fell in overpleasing himself, begins to displease himself at his fall. Fire never ascends so high, as when it is beaten back with a cool blast. Water, that runs in a smooth level with an insensible declination, though a heavy body; yet, if it fall low, it rises high again. Much forgiven causeth much love: neither had the penitent made an ewer of her eyes, and a towel of her hair for Christ's feet, if she had not found herself more faulty than her neighbours. Had not Peter thrice denied, he had not been graced with that threefold question of his Saviour's love.
It is a harsh, but a true word, God's children have cause to bless him for nothing, more than for their sins.
If that all-wise providence have thought good to raise up even your forgotten sins, in your face, to shame
you before men,
there cannot be a greater armercy This blushing shall avoid eternal confusion. Envy not at the felicity of the closely or gloriously guilty ; who have, at once, firm foreheads and foul bosoms : vaunting therefore of their innocence, because they can have no accusers; like wicked harlots, who, because they were delivered without a midwife, and have made away their stolen birth, go current still for maids. Nothing can be more miserable, than a sinner's prosperity : this argues him bound over, in God's just decree, to an everlasting vengeance: Woe be to them, that laugh here ; for they shall weep and gnash: Happy is that shame, that shall end in glory.
And, if the wisdom of that Just Judge of the World shall think fit to strip you of your worldly wealth and outward estate, acknow
your gain in this loss. He saw this camel's bunch kept you out of the needle's
He saw these bells too heavy for that high flight, to which he intended you. Now shall you begin to be truly rich, when you can enjoy the Possessor of Heaven and Earth : when these base rivals are shut out of doors, God shall have your whole heart; who were not himself, if he were not all-sufficient.
Neither let it lie too heavy upon your heart, that your hopeful sons shall inberit nothing from you, but shame and dishonour. Why are you injurious to yourself, and those you love: your repentance shall feoff upon them, more blessings than your sin hath lost. Let posterity say they were the sons of a penitent father; this stain is washed off with your tears and their virtue. And, for their provision, if the worst fall, The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, imagine them born to nothing: We, that are more rich in children than estate, hope well of those vessels, whom we can put forth well rigged and well ballasted, though not wealthily laden. How sensibly do you now find, that wealth doth not consist in getting much, but well; and that contentment doth not lie in the cof. fer, but in the breast; lastly, that all treasures are dross, to a good conscience !
For yourself; if you be pent up within four walls, and barred both of sun and men; make God yours, and you cannot com
plain of restraint or solitude. No prison is too strait for his presence. Heaven itself would be a prison without him. Your serious repentance may win that society, which makes the very angels blessed. This is the way to make Him your comforter, your companion, in whose presence is the fulness of joy.
Shortly, let your thoughts be altogether such as may beseem a man, not unwillingly weaned from this world; and careful only, to speed happily in another. We, your poor friends, can answer the kind respects of your prosperity, no otherwise, than with our prayers, for the best use of your affliction ; which shall not be wanting, from your true and sorrowful well-willer,