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RULES and INSTRUCTIONS
L I F E.
OR disposing you the better to observe these following advices:
1. Put all your trust in the special and fingular mercy of God, that he, for his mercy's fake, and of his only goodness, will help and bring you to perfection; not that absolute perfection is attainable here, but the meaning is, to high degrees of that fpiritual and divine life, which is always growing, and tending towards the absolute perfection above ; but in some persons comes nearer to that, and riseth higher, even here, than in the most. If you, with hearty and fervent defires, do continually wish and long for it, and with moft humble devotion, daily pray unto God, and call for it, and with all diligence do busily labour and travel to come to it, undoubtedly it shall be given you; for you must not think it fufficient to use exercises, as though they had such virtues in them, that, of themselves alone, they could make such as do use them perfect; for neither those, nor any other, whatever they be, can of themselves (by their use only) bring unto perfection. But our merciful Lord God, of his own goodness, when you seek with hearty desires and fervent fighings, maketh you to find it: When you ask daily with devout prayer, Vol. II. 3N
then he giveth it to you ; and when you continually, with unwearied labour and travel, knock perseveringly, then he doth mercifully open unto you: And because that those exercises do teach you to feek, ask, and knock; yea, they are none other but very devout petitions, seekings, and spiritual pulsations, for the merciful help of God; therefore they are very profitable means to come to perfection by God's grace.
2. Let no particular exercise hinder your public and standing duties to God and your neighbours ; but for these, rather internrit the other for a time, and then return to it as soon as you can.
3. If, in time of your spiritual exercise, you find yourself drawn to any better, or to as good a contemplation as that is, follow the track of that good motion fo long as it shall last.
4. Always take care to follow such exercifes of devout thoughts, withal putting in practice fuch leffons as they contain and excite to.
5. Though at first ye feel no sweetness in such exercises, yet be not difcouraged, nor induced to leave them, but continue in them faithfully, whatsoever pain or fpiritual trouble ye feel ; for, doing them for God and his honour, and finding none other present fruit, yet you shall have an excellent reward for your diligent labour and your pure intentions : And let not your falling short of these models and rules, nor your daily manifold imperfections and faults, dishearten you ; but continue stedfast in your desires, purposes and endeavours ; and ever ask the beft, aim at the best, and hope the best
, being sorry that you can do no better; and they shall be a most acceptable facrifice in the fight of God, and in due time you fall reap if you faint not : And of all such inftructions, let your rule be to follow them as much as you can; but not too fcrupulously, thinking your labour loft if you do not exactly and frictly answer them in every thing : purpose still better, and by God's grace all shall be well.
Rule 1. Exercise thyself in the knowledge and deep confideration of our Lord God, calling humbly to mind how excellent and incomprehensible he is; and this knowledge shalt thou rather endeavour to obtain by fervent defire and devout prayer, than by high study and outward labour ; It is the singular. gift of God, and certainly very precious. Pray then,
“ Moft gracious Lord, whom to know is the very bliss and felicity of man's foul, and yet none can know thee, unless thou wilt open and shew thyself unto him, vouchsafe, of thy infinite mercy,
now and ever, to enlighten my heart and mind to “ know thee, and thy most holy and perfect'will, to “ the honour and glory of thy name. Amen.'?
3. Then lift up thy heart to consider (not with too great violence, but soberly) the eternal and infinite power of God, who created all things by his excellent wisdom; his unmeasurable goodness, and incomprehensible love ; for he is very and only God, moft excellent, most high, moft glorious, the everlasting and unchangeable goodness, an eternal substance, a charity infinite, so excellent and ineffable in himself, that all dignity, perfection and goodness, that is possible to be spoken or thought of, cannot sufficiently express the smallest part thereof.
4. Consider that he is the natural place, the centre, and rest of thy soul : If thou then think of the most blessed Trinity, muse not too much thereon, but with devout and obedient faith, meekly and lowly adore and worship.
5. Consider Jesus, the Redeemer and Husband of thy soul, and walk with him as becomes a chafte spouse, with reverence and lowly shamefulness, obedience and submission.
6. Then turn to the deep, profound consideration of thyself, thine own nothingness, and thy extreme
defilement and pollution, thy natural aversion from God, and that thou must, by conversion to him again, and union with him, be made happy.
7. Consider thyself and all creatures as nothing, in comparison of thy Lord ; that so thou mayest not only be content, but desirous to be unknown, or, being known, to be contemned and despised of all men, yet without thy faults or deservings, as much as thou canft.
8. “O God, infuse into my heart thy heavenly “ light and blessed charity, that I may know and “ love thee above all things; and above all things “ loath and abhor myself. Grant that I may be fo “ ravished in the wonder and love of thee, that I
may forget myself, and all things ; feel neither “ prosperity nor adversity; may not fear to suffer all “ the pains of this world, rather than to be parted " and pulled away from thee, whose perfections in“ finitely exceed all thought and understanding. “ O! let me find thee more inwardly and verily “ present with me, than I am with myself; and make " me most circumspect how I do use myself in the
presence of thee, my holy Lord.
· Cause me alway to remember how everlasting “ and constant is the love thou bearest towards me, " and such a charity and continual care, as though " thou hadít no more creatures in heaven or earth “ befides me. What am I? A vile worm and filth.”
9. Then aspire to a great contrition for thy fins, and hatred of them, and abhoring of thyself for them; then crave pardon in the blood of Jesus Chrift; and then offer up thyself, foul and body, an oblation or sacrifice, in and through him, as they did of old, laying wood on the altar, and then burning up all; fo this shall be a sacrifice of sweet savour, and very acceptable to God.
10. Offer all that thou hast, to be nothing, to use nothing of all that thou hast about thee, and is called thine, but to his honour and glory : And resolve,
through his grace, to use all the powers of thy soul, and every member of thy body, to his service, as formerly thou hast done to fin.
11. Consider the passion of thy Lord, how he was buffetted, scourged, reviled, stretched with nails on the cross, and hung on it three long hours; suffered all the contempt and shame, and all the inconceivable pain of it, for thy fake.
12: Then turn thy heart to him, humbly saying, “ Lord Jesus, whereas I daily fall, and am ready to “ fin, vouchsafe me grace, as oft as I shall, to rise a“ gain; let me never presume, but always most “ meekly and humbly acknowledge my wretched“ ness and frailty, and repent, with a firm purpose “ to amend ; and let me not despair because of my
great frailty, but ever trust in thy most loving mercy, and readiness to forgive.”
1. Thou shalt have much to do in mortifying of thy five senses, which must be all shut up in the crucified humility of Jesus Christ, and be as they were plainly dead.
2. Thou must now learn to have a continual eye inwardly to thy soul and spiritual life, as thou hast used heretofore to have all thy mind and regard to outward pleasure and worldly things.
3. Thou must submit and give thyself up unto the discipline of Jesus, and become his scholar, resigning and compelling thyself altogether to obey him in all things; so that thy willing and nilling, thou utterly and perfectly do caft away from thee, and do nothing without his license : At every word thou wilt speak, at every morsel thou wilt eat, at every stirring or moving of every article or member of thy body, thou must ask leave of him in thy heart, and ask thyself, whether, having so done, that be accord