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the altar and waits upon the sacrifice; but as the fires die and desires decay, so the mind steals away and walks abroad, to see the little images of beauty and pleasure which it beholds in the falling stars and little glowworms of the world. The river that runs slow and creeps by the banks, and begs leave of every turf to let it pass, is drawn into little hollowness, and spends itself into smaller portions, and dies with diversion: but when it runs with vigorousness and a full stream, and breaks down every obstacle, making it even as its own brow, it stays not to be tempted with little avocations, and to creep into holes, but runs into the sea through full and useful channels. So is a man's prayer: if it moves upon the feet of an abated appetite, it wanders into the society of every trifling accident, and stays at the corners of the fancy, and talks with every object it meets, and cannot arrive at heaven; but when it is carried upon the wings of passion and strong desires, a swift motion and a hungry appetite, it passes on through all the intermedial regions of clouds, and stays not till it dwells at the foot of the throne, where Mercy sits, and thence sends holy showers of refreshments.Bishop Taylor.
In this lies the difference between the Christian and the moral virtue : the same object appears not in the same light to both. Nature melts at the sight of misery, and by a secret sympathy feels what it sees, and relieves itself, by administering comfort and support to the afflicted: but grace looks on the sufferings of Christ in all His members, and gives that assistance to the miserable for His sake, which nature gives only for its own. For this reason we find Christ charging Himself with all the kindnesses and acts of mercy shown to His brethren and disciples. “I was an hungered,” says He, “and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me ; I was sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me." This regard to Christ is the very
life and soul of Christian Charity, and that only which can entitle our good works to reward at the last day; for our good works themselves have neither merit nor righteousness, but as they begin and end in Christ: the love of Christ is the fountain of Christian Charity, and Christ in His members is the object of it.--Sherlock.
A DISSIPATION of thought is the natural and unavoidable effect of our conversing much in the world, where we cannot help squandering away a great deal of our time upon useless objects, of no true worth in themselves, and of no real concern to us. We roll on in a circle of vain empty pleasures, and are delivered over continually from one slight amusement to another; ever seemingly very busy, and ever really very idle ; applying ourselves with. out respite to that which it becomes us most to neglect, and utterly neglectful of that one thing necessary, which it becomes and behoves us most to pursue. This gives us by degrees such a levity and wantonness of spirit, as refuses admittance to all serious thoughts, and renders us incapable of reflection, makes our closet a terrible place to us, and solitude a burthen, To retrieve ourselves from this vain, uncertain, roving, distracted way of thinking and living, it is requisite to retire frequently, and to converse much with (what we above all things love, and yet above all things hate to converse with) ourselves; to inure our minds to recollection, to fix them on the greatest and most concerning objects, those which religion suggests, and which will, by their importance, deserve, and engage, and command our attention; till the busy swarm of vain images that beset us be thoroughly dispersed, and the several scattered rays of thought, by being thus collected together, do by little and little warm our frozen hearts, and at last produce an holy flame.
The expedience of retirement is yet greater, as it removes us out of the way of the most pressing and powerful temptations that are incident to human nature. He all know by experience, that these meet us most frequently, and affect us most strongly in society, where our senses, the great inlets of temptation, are most awakened, and tempting objects, by their number and nearness, make the most vivid and lasting impressions upon us. Indeed, there is no place, no state, or scene of life, that hath not its proper and peculiar temptations; even solitude itself is not without them: but they are few, and faint, in comparison with those to which our appearance on the great stage of the world exposes us; and when. ever they attack us in our recesses, they do, or may find us prepared, and upon our guard ; we are then at leisure to encounter them, and have helps near at hand, which, if made use of, will enable us to decline or baffle them. Whereas, in public, we are merely passive to such impressions, which strike our minds so violently, and succeed each other so fast, that we have no opportunity, no strength, no inclination almost to withstand them.
The great risk which virtue runs in company, is from the neighbourhood of ill examples, which are of so contagious a nature, that, if we live much amongst them, we shall as surely be corrupted by them, as he that often breathes in ill air will at last partake of the infection. 'Tis dangerous for the most innocent person in the world to be too frequently and nearly a witness to the commission of vice and folly. Such views lessen the natural horror we have for such actions, and render the thoughts of them more familiar and less displeasing to us; especially when we are used to see ill things practised by persons whom we regard, the favourable opinion we have of the doer extends itself to the action done, and leads us insensibly from seeing to approving, and from approving to imitating. And thus, being (the very best of us) prone to do evil, and living in the midst of evil; being attacked thus from without, and betrayed from within; we are not capable of making an effectual resistance : the only refuge we have is in retreat, where we may at leisure correct the ill impressions that have been made upon us; and by disuse and distance, weaken the force of those ill influences which we could not wholly avoid.-Bishop Atterbury.
RICH AND POOR.
God could have ordained that all should have been rich. But He has not so ordained. Poverty, with every other evil, came in, upon man's trangression. The alteration
which then took place in the earth rendered labour neces. sary. If none were poor, none would labour; and if some did not labour, none could eat. Difference there must be in rank and order ; and the rich are not of more service to the poor, than the poor to them. Equality of condition could not subsist by the constitution of nature, as the case has stood since the fall. It must be effected by a new way; by the dispensation of love and charity. The indigence of some must be helped by the superfluity of others. “ The poor shall never cease out of thy land,” says the God of Israel to his favoured people ; "therefore, I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thy hand wide to thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” An opportunity of being blessed is offered to the wealthy, and they should take particular care not to let it pass them unregarded; for, “ Blessed is the man that considereth the poor and needy.”. In the sight of God we are all poor. " He openeth his hand," and from it we receive, both for: our bodies and our souls, food and raiment, medicine, liberty, and joy. Our Saviour him. self, rich in the possession of all things visible and invisible, yet for our: sakes become poor. He has directed us, in the persons of the poor, to behold Him, as present, and, when they solicit:our charity, to bestow it accordingly. - Horne.
THE FRUITS OF HUMILITY.
HUMILITY eludes: and mocks the stratagems of the prince of darkness, and how God rewards and crowns it, the blessed Virgin hath told us. “He hath showed strength with his arm, He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts; He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and hath exalted the humble and meek.”
Indeed, we see how meadows and valleys are laden with fruit, and corn, and enamelled with flowers, while the higher mountains remain barren and unfruitful. O Christians ! did you but know what treasures lie hid in this exercise, you would be so far from counting it troublesome, that you would be ambitious of it. In this exercise consisteth the mystery of religion ; the richest influences of heaven come down upon the soul, that looks upon
herself as nothing; to her the Almighty reveals Himself, and here He is ready to build tabernacles. The sweetest communications of grace are vouchsafed to him that is acquainted with this lowliness; into such a heart the joys of the Holy Ghost flow with a spring tide ; and he that would understand the secrets of the Lord, this is the school where he may learn them; and if he become a great proficient here, he may promise himself a more than ordinary intercourse between God and his soul. The humble shepherds are honoured with the first news of Christ's nativity, while the lofty Pharisees at Jerusalem are kept ignorant of these glad tidings; and that which moved God to send Nathan the prophet to David, to tell him of His singular love and compassion towards him, was the voice of that great humble man, “I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own eyes.”
I will conclude this exercise with a passage out of a learned Jew. The advantages of humility, saith he, consist in six particulars, three. whereof do respect this present, and three the next life. First, it makes a man contented in all conditions : for he that is proud and arrogant, the whole world, and all that is in it, is not able to satisfy his lofty and rising thoughts, much less that which God hath appointed him for his portion; but he that is humble, lives .contentedly, and is satisfied with what Providence hath allotted him. Secondly, the humble man bears adversity patiently, whereas the proud man's fear is great, and his patience inconsiderable, when troubles come upon him. Thirdly, the man is grateful and acceptable to men, and men love him and esteem him. And to this purpose, I must tell you a story of a king, that being asked how he came to be so great? answered, that he never saw any man, whom he did not esteem wiser than himself; and those that he looked upon to be wiser than himself, them he ever thought to fear God more than himself. And if he met with any that was manifestly more foolish than himself, he presently reflected, that this man would have a less account to give unto God in the last day, than himself. If he met with any that were older than himself, he humbly thought that their merits must needs be greater than his own, and if those he met with were younger than himself, he considered that their