페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

8. Remember that Defpair belongs only to paffionate Fools or Villains, (fuch as were Achitophel and Judas) or elfe to Devils and danmed Perfons: And as the Hope of Salvation is a good Difpofition towards it; fo is Defpair a certain Confignation to eternal Ruin. A Man may be damned for defpairing to be faved. Defpair is the proper Paffion of Damnation. Y. Bade. God hath placed Truth and Felicity in Heaven; Curiofity and Repentance upon Earth: But Mifery and Defpair are the Portions of Hell.

9. Gather together into your Spirit and its Treafure-Houfe (the Memory) not only all the Promifes of God, but alfo the Remembrances of Experience, and the former Senfes of the Divine Favours, that from thence you may argue from Times past to the prefent, and enlarge to the future, and to greater Bleffings. For although the Conjectures and Expectations of Hope are not like the Conclufions of Faith, yet they are a Helmet against the Scorchings of De1pair in temporal things, and an Anchor of the Soul fure and ftedfaft against the Fluctuations of the Spirit in Matters of the Soul. S. Bernard reckons divers Principles of Hope by enumerating the Inftances of the Divine Mercy; and we may by them reduce this Rule to Practice in the following Manner. I. God hath preferved me from many Sins: His Mercies are infinite: I hope he will still preferve me from more, and for ever. * 2. I have finned, and God finote me not: His Mercies are ftill over the Penitent: I hope he will deliver me from all the Evils I have deserved. He hath forgiven me many Sins of Malice, and therefore furely he will pity my Infirmities. *3. God vifited my Heart and changed it: He loves the Work of his own Hands, and fo my Heart is now become: I hope he will love this too. * 4. When I repented he received me gracioufly; and therefore I hope if I do my Endeavour he will totally forgive me. * 5. He helped my flow and beginning Endeavours; and therefore I hope he will lead me to Perfection. * 6. When he had given me fomething firft, then he gave me more: I hope therefore he will keep me from falling, and

[ocr errors]

give me the Grace of Perfeverance. * 7. He hath chofen me to be a Difciple of Christ's Inftitution he hath elected me to his Kingdom of Grace; and therefore I hope alfo to the Kingdom of his Glory. *8. He died for me when I was his Enemy; and therefore I hope he will fave me when he hath reconciled me to him, and is become my Friend. 9. * God hath given us his Son; how should not be with him. give us all Things elfe? All thefe S. Bernard reduces to thefe Three Heads, as the Inftruments of all our Hopes: 1. The Charity of God adopting us; 2. The Truth of his Promifes; 3. The Power of his Performance Which if any truly weighs, no Infirmity or Accident can break his Hopes into undifcernible Fragments, but fome good Planks will remain after the greatest Storni and Shipwreck. This was St. Paul's Inftrument: Experience begets Hope, and Hope maketh not ashamed.

10. Do thou take Care only of thy Duty, of the Means and proper Inftruments of thy Purpose, and leave the End to God: Lay that up with him, and he will take Care of all that is intrufted to him And this being an Act of Confidence in God, is alfo a Means of Security to thee.

11. By fpecial Arts of Spiritual Prudence and Ar guments fecure the confident Belief of the Refurrection, and thou canst not but hope for every thing elfe which you may reasonably expect, or lawfully defire upon the Stock of the Divine Mercies and Promises.

[ocr errors]

12. If a Defpair feizes you in a particular temporal Inftance, let it not defile thy Spirit with impure Mixture, or mingle in Spiritual Confiderations; but rather let it make thee fortifie thy Soul in Matters of Religion, that by being thrown out of your earthly Dwelling and Confidence, you may retire into the Strengths of Grace, and hope the more ftrongly in that, by how much you are the more defeated in this, that Defpair of a Fortune or a Success may come the Neceffity of all Vertue.

0 4

be

SECT.

SECT. III.

Of Charity, or the Love of God.

Ove is the greatest thing that God can give us, for him elf is Love; and it is the greatest thing we can give to God, for it will also give ourselves, and carry with it all that is ours. The Apostle calls it, the Band of Perfection; it is the Old, and it is the New, and it is the Great Commandment, and it is all the Commandments, for it is the fulfilling of the Law. It does the Work of all other Graces, without any Inftrument but its own immediate Virtue. For as the Love to Sin makes aMan fin against all his ownReason, and all the Difcourfes of Wildom,and all the Advices of his Friends,and without Temptation,and without Opportunity: So does the Love of God; it makes a Man chaft without the laborious Arts of Fafting and exteriour Difciplines, temperate in the midst of Feasts, and is active enough to chufe it without any intermedial Appetites, and reaches at Glory through the very Heart of Grace, without any other Arms but thofe of Love. It is a Grace,without Grace that loves God for himself, and our Neighbours for God. The confideration of God's Goodness and Bounty, the Experience of thofe profitable and excellent Emanations from him, may be, and moft commonly are, the first Motive of our Love: But when we are once entred, and have tafted the Goodness of God, we love the Spring for its own Excellency, paffing from Paffion to Reafon, from Thanking to Adoring, from Senfe to Spirit, from confidering ourselves to an Union with God: And this is the Image and little Reprefentation of Heaven; it is Beatitude, in Picture, or rather the Infancy and Beginnings of Glory.

We need no Incentives by way of fpecial Enumeration to move us to the Love of God, for we cannot love any thing for any Reafon real or imaginary, but that Excellence is infinitely more eminent in God. There can but two things create Love, Perfection and Ufe

fulness;

Sect. 3 fulness; to which answer on our Part, 1. Admiration; and, 2. Defire; and both these are centred in Love. For the Entertainment of the firft, there is in God an infinite Nature, Immenfity or Vaftness without Extenfion or Limit, Immutability, Eternity, Omnipotence, Omnifcience, Holinefs, Dominion, Providence, Bounty, Mercy, Juftice, Perfection in himself, and the End to which all Things and all Actions must be directed, and will at last arrive. The Confideration of which may be heightned, if we confider our diftance from all these Glories: Our Smallness and limited Nature, our Nothing, our Inconftancy, our Age like a Span, our Weakness and Ignorance, our Poverty, our Inadvertency and Inconfideration, our Difabilities and Difaffections to do Good, our harfh Natures and unmerciful Inclinations, our univerfal Iniquity, and our Neceffities and Dependencies, not only on God originally and effentially, but even our Need of the meaneft of God's Creatures, and our being obnoxious to the weakest and moft contemptible. But for the Entertainment of the fecond, we may confider that in him is a Torrent of Pleasure for the Voluptuous, he is the Fountain of Honour for the Ambitious, an inexhaustible Treasure for the Covetous. Our Vices are in Love with phantaftick Pleafures and Images of Perfection, which are truly and really to be found no where but in God. And therefore our Vertues have fuch proper Objects, that it is but reasonable they fhould all turn into Love: For certain it is that this Love will turn all into Vertue. For in the Scrutinies for Righteoufnefs and Judgment, when it is en- S. Aug. 1. 2. quired whether fuch a Perfon be a good Man or no, the Confef, c. 6. Meaning is not, What does he believe? or, What does he hope? but, what he loves.

The Acts of Love to God are,

1. Love does all things which may please the beloved Perfon; it performs all his Commandments and this is one of the greatest Inftances and Arguments of our Love that God requires of us, [This is

Love that we keep his Commandments. [Love is obedient.]

2. It does all the Intimations and fecret Significations of his Pleafure whom we love: And this is an Argument of a great Degree of it. The firft Inftance is it that makes the Love accepted: But this gives a Greatness and Singularity to it. The first is the leaft, and lefs than it cannot do our Duty: But without this fecond we cannot come to Perfection. Great Love is alfo pliant and inquifitive in the In hances of its Expreffion.

3. Love gives away all things, that fo he may advance the Intereft of the beloved Perfon: It relieves all that he would have relieved, and spends itself in fuch real Significations as it is enabled withal. He never loved God that will quit any thing of his Religion to fave his Money. Love is always liberal and communicative.

44. It fuffers all things that are imposed by its Beloved, or that can happen for his Sake, or that intervene in his Service, cheerfully, fweetly, willingly, expecting that God fhould turn them into Good, and 1 Cor. 13. Inftruments of Felicity: Charity hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love is patient and content with any thing, fo it be together with its Beloved.

5. Love is alfo impatient of any thing that may difpleafe the beloved Perfon, hating all Sin as the Enemy of its Friend; for Love contracts all the fame Relations, and marries the fame Friendships and the fame Hatreds ; and all Affection to a Sin is perfectly inconfiftent with the Love of God. Love is not divided between God and God's Enemy: We must love God with all our Heart, that is, give him a whole and undivided Affection, having Love for nothing else but fuch things which he allows, and which he commands or loves himfelf.

6. Love endeavours for ever to be prefent, to converse with, to enjoy, to be united with its Object, loves to be talking of him, reciting his Praises, telling his Stories, repeating his Words, imitating his Gestures, tranfcribing his Copy in every thing; and every De

gree

[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »