Imatges de pÓgina
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many years, tho you are young: remember, death preys upon youth, as well as upon old-age; and that it's no good inference ; many years are to come, because few are past. Resolve to live well this day, and think not of to-morrow. When the morrow is come, say to yourself: Yesterday, with God's asistance, I complied with my duty: why not to-day? The difficulties are not greater, nor God's assistance less. Thus did the saints by this pious stratagem deceive nature ; which looks upon à restraint, not only as insupportable, but almost as impossible: and by practising christian perfection every day, they confecrated all their life to virtue : without fainting in their way, without relenting in the happy course begun, they crowned their piety with a more happy perseverance.

O Pastor of my soul! suffer me not to faint in the way of thy service. I am one of those, whom thy goodness has called from far. Let thy compassion move thee to fortify the weakness of my foul, as it did to refresh the bodies of the multitude in the defart. In spight of all my resolutions to remain thy servant, I find a strange propensity within me to abandon thee. Nature revolts; pleasures allure, and difficulties fright me. Nothing can keep me constant to my good purposes, but thy grace, that persuaded me to make them.

If we examine the conduct of this multitude, according to the rules of human prudence, their piety carried them too far ; for they remained three days fasting, and the wilderness could afford no provifions; so that nothing but a miracle could justain them: but a true love of God, a sincere concern for the good of their souls, makes faines forget all care of their bodies ; and this neglect is supplied by God's paternal providence, who seldom fails to manage our temporal interest, when we give all our thoughts to the improvement of his. When

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we seek only his glory, he labours for our profit; and not only furnishes us with supernatural blessings, but temporal happiness also : Seek je first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things hall be added unto you, Matth. vi. 33.

But as a fervent zeal for the glory of God makes us presume too much on our strength, fo self-love exaggerates out weakness. Those undertake things above their strength, and chuse rather to be indiscreet than to be less zealous; but these, under a pretext of discretion, foolishly pretend their conftitution is unable to bear any austerity, and thus they exempt themselves from the performance of their duty, and lay those defects on impotence, that are solely owing to lukewarmness. Few, in our age, seem guilty of the multitude's indiscretion (if it may be called one) but many of too excessive a love of their health ; or at least they cover their indevotion, and even greater sins, with this pretext, and transgress the commandments of God, and all the

precepts of his church, because they cannot observe them without inconvenience. Some cannot faft, nor others pray. Abstinence agrees not with the conftitution of those, nor application with the indisposition of these. But in reality, the cause of these neglects lies not in the body, but the mind: we will not check appetite, nor force nature with the least constraint.

O! let my fervour carry my mortification beyond the bounds of discretion, rather than self-love with, hold me from my duty. If I can fast for a wordly interest, why not for an eternal ? does the hope of a transitory reward deaden all the weakning impressions of hunger; and the expectation of a never ending recompence enliven them? or if I dare expose my life, and health, for a sensible fatisfaction į why shall I not hazard it for virtue? is that fo valuable, or this so contemptible ! Oh my

foul !

soul! ftop thy ears to the murmurs of nature, and follow the voice of grace. This cannot mislead you ; That may, and out of a fear of doing too much for God, you do nothing.

The apostles thought it impoflible to nourish such a multitude in the delart: Whence can a man Satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? They had only seven loaves, and a few fishes : a small pittance for four thousand. But they considered not the power of their Master, who was as able to multiply the loaves as to draw the universe from nothing. O! bow happy are we, who have so powerful a Protector to defend us ! so compassionate a Father to assist us! his omnipotence assures me, he can protect me against all the strength of wicked men, and malicious devils ; and his goodness gives me a confidence he will. Let nothing therefore deter thee, my soul, from his service; neither dangers, tribulations, persecutions, nor even death: He will either avert these, or supply me with strength to overcome them. Tho' I am able to do nothing of myself, with his help all things are possible.

They did eat and were filled. All that the world can either promise or give, rather sharpen the appetite, than satisfy it. They may give us a surfeit, but not fatiety. Thy gifts, Ó Lörd, alone can fatiate a reasonable soul. We are made for thee : Thou wilt truly content us in the other world, and virtue alone can satisfy us in this. If therefore we desire to lead a happy life here, let us be truly virtuous. The only content, we can find here, is a firm confidence, we shall be placed among the blessed hereafter ; and this is founded upon God's favourable assistance, and, on our part, on a pious ço-operation with his grace; for, without this, we do not confide, but sinfully presume.

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When the multitude was satiated, the apoftles took up of the broken meat that was left, seven baskets full. Thy favours, O Lord, are precious ; and we must manage the least of them with care and folicitude. Yet why do I say the least ? no grace is little: it is the price of thy blood, and consequently of an infinite value: it is the seed of eternity; the cause efficient of virtue, and of a thousand graces, which thou haft even press’d upon me; but on which my salvation depends, I know not. Seeing therefore I am ignorant on which ; Oh ! let me manage them all to thy glory, and my profit. Let not the least fragment pass my notice, nor Nip by unregarded; much less fall upon the ground, out of disrespect or negligence.

EPISTLE to the Rom. Chap. vi. Verfe

19. I speak after the manner of men, because of the infirmity of your fless : for, as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity, unto iniquity; even so now yield your members fervants to righteousness, unto holiness.

20. For when ye were the servants of fin, ye were free from righteoufness

. 21. What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

22. But now being made free from fin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto boliness, and i he end everlasting life.

23. For the wages of fin is death : but the gift of Gods is eternal life, through Jefus Cbrift our Lord.

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T. Paul does not, at the first, perswade the

Romans to embrace the highest perfection, the christian religion prescribes; but, having tegard to their weakness; I speak after the manner of men, because of the infirmity of your filesh. He exhorts them to apply themselves as seriously to virtue, as, under idolatry, they did to vice ; and to consecrate those members to righteousness, they had defiled with sin: As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity, so now yield your members fervants to righteousness

. Is it possible, o God, that thou wilt be content to be served with the same application, we ferve the flesh, and even thy mortal enemy, and our own,

the devil ? All we have is thine: to thee we owe life and being. Thou hast created the world for our use, and ourselves to poffefs thy glory. Without thy assistance, we cannot move one step. If thou withdrawest thy hand, we fall into our primitive nothing. When, by disobedience, I fell into thy displeasure, thou didst not revenge my ingratitude, but didft facrifice thy innocent Son, ta expiate my crime. But alas! what obligation have I to Aesh or the devil? The one draws me to pleasure, the other to fin, and both conspire my damnation, They therefore deserve aversion, not service; and I am obliged, by all that's dear, to disobey their commands; to refuse their favours; to repress their suggestions, which design my ruin under the colour of happiness. But I am wholly thine, O God, and therefore thou doft deserve every action of my body, every motion of my soul. I should not think but of my baseness, and thy perfection ; of thy goodness, and my ingratitude ; nor even love myself, bụt for thee. Yet ah! did I but serve thee with

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