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the event to providence, without being transported at good, or dejected at bad success. How many in sickness
pray for health, and, as they think, out of a motive of serving God? But it is ten to one self-love lies at the bottom covered with the ap pearance of piety; and a desire of ease has a greater fhare in our prayers than God's service. For did we regard merely his honour, we should receive, with an equal fubmiffion, good and evil, fickness and health. We should conform our wills to his, which is the height of perfection.
To disabuse the apostles, who thought their love not only reasonable but disinterested, our Saviour told them, If a man love me, he will keep my word. The test of that love I require, is not an eager desire of my presence, but an entire submission to my Father's will; an exact observance of my conmands, and a strict practice of my
counsels. By this we prefer God before all creatures ; his love to our own fatisfaction ; and his favour to our lives. Hence, whosoever chooses poverty before an estate purchased at the price of injustice; who embraces pain rather than an unlawful pleasure, and rather forfeits his liberty by confinement, than to live abroad a Nave to fin, possesses that love Christ exacted of his disciples : If a man love me, he will keep my word. This is the touchstone that distinguishes true love from counterfeit, That of our felves, from That we owe to God.
Would you therefore know whether you love God sincerely ? examine not how often you frequent the church ; how many hours you spend in prayer and recollection ; how largely you supply the necessities of the poor : these are no infallible marks, and may be visible in those, who doat on the world, as well as in those who love God: you must bring your conscience to our Saviour's rule ; if any man love me, be will keep my words. Dive to the bottom; search the most secret receffes of your soul, and see, if no monster of rebellion against God's commandments, no neglect, no contempt of his counsels, start up against you: if you stand clear of any trespass upon God's commands; if you have neither offended his person by oaths, nor his servants by raillery ; if
your neighbour, honour your parents, and pay obedience to your prince; if you abuse not your neighbour's person, nor wound his reputation, nor invade his goods; if your thoughts are chaste, your words decent, and your body untainted with lewdness, if
neither omit what is commanded, nor do what is prohibited: you then have that love God absolutely requires.
And, in return of this love, our Saviour assures his apostles: That be, and bis Father, will come unto them, and abide with them. The holy fathers explain this visit of the Father and the Son, this abode, to be the infusion of fanctifying grace into the souls of those that love him. By this God visits us ; by this he lives in us ; by this, to use St. Paul's expression, we become the temple of the Holy Ghoft. What a favour this is, we shall only conceive, when, in the next life, we suffer eternal torments, for having forfeited it in this by fin; or rejoyce in heaven, for having preserved it by the practice of virtue.
But the gift is not less, because ignorant man comprehends not its value : and indeed, it is our misfortune, that we seldom esteem those things that come not within the reach of fenfe ; so that it is hard to raise any lively idea of those goods that are supernatural ; because they touch not fense, and make no impression upon its organs. However, we must not only bid adieu to faith, but also to reason, not to rate it above all created things, if we consider the strangeness of its effects. This
divine quality raises us to the dignity of children of God; it intitles us to the kingdom of heaven ; it adopts us brothers to Christ, and gives us a right to all the benefits of his passion; it makes us amiable in the sight of God: whilst we preserve it, he cannot hate us ; when we lose it, he will not love us. Had the damned fanétifying grace in the midst of Aames, they could not be miserable ; and were the saints without it, even in heaven, they would not be happy. Those unfortu. nate wretches now understand perfectly the price of this jewel. They will eternally deplore the loss of it, and wish eternally, but in vain, once more to find it. They lost it by their crimes in time; and a too late repentance of the loss, and an unprofitable desire to recover it, will make one part of their torment for all eternity. Seeing therefore the possession of it gives us an undoubted title to the most transcendent good, and the privation of it, to the utmost extreme of evils ; we must conclude, its value rises in proportion. With what care then, with what vigilance, ought we to preserve this treasure, which fo highly concerns us ? God has not trusted it with our dearest friend, but with our felves : so that all our enemies are unable to wrest it from us without our consent.
And yet we part with this jewel, not only without trouble, but often without resistance, and look upon our misfortune without concern.
The scripture tells us, Efau was inconsolable, when he reflected at how low a price he had sold his birthright: he complained of circumvention and treachery, and shewed his regret by all the marks of complaints and expoftulations. Notwithstanding he only forfeited some fuperiority in the family, some temporal blessings, which might make him more wealthy and powerful, but not better.
But the loss of fanctifying grace divests us of all title to heaven, to the felicity of saints. It exposes us to the anger of God, who cannot but hate us: who threatens to revenge the affront, and has power to execute his resolution. It deadens our virtuous actions, and renders all our past mortifications, and all our merits, unprofitable. Nocwithstanding this, we often pawn it for a trifle, and never think of redeeming it by a sincere repentance. Christians may pretend some excuse for falling into sin; they may throw their miscarriage upon the violence of the temptation, the heat of passion, or the solicitation of occasions, but what colour of an excuse can we cast upon our neglect to recover, by repentance, that grace we have lost by sin ? has sin such agreeable charms, when once it is committed, when nothing remains of it but shame and remorse? how often do we confess, that the pain of sin surpasses the pleasure ; and that the iting, it leaves behind, takes off all the impressions of the delight ? should not this plain confeffion, founded on experience, awaken our industry, and set all the powers of our soul to work, to recover this nuptial garment, without which, we shall be excluded from that feast God has prepared for his elect, and be condemned to the eternal torments of weeping and gnashing of teeth ?
Our blessed Saviour has taught us, with what earneftness we should endeavour to find this treasure, by the parable of a poor woman: The loft but a drachma, yet immediately removed the lumber of her house, swept it clean, look'd into every corner, and when she found it, called in her neighbours to testify her joy, and to receive their congratulations. And yet, good God! what comparison between the loss of a piece of money, and that of grace ? Christ bought this at the price of his facred blood ; and no body, but God made man,
was able to make the purchase. Shew then you esteem it, by your care and solicitude to preserve it; and, if you lose it, either by surprise or passion, sit not down quietly with the loss, but employ sighs and tears, and all the requisites of a true repentance, to recover it.
Come, Holy Spirit ! visit thy unworthy servant, and fill with thy holy grace my heart created for thy service: pour into my soul a true love of thee, and an aversion for all below thee ; ftrengthen the frailty of nature by the force of thy grace; and bring peace to my soul alarmed with fear, certain she has offended, and doubtful of pardon: keep my enemies so at a distance, that, under thy protection and conduct, I may conquer them, and praise thy holy name for ever.
I. EPISTLE of St. John, Chap. iv. Verse
7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God.
8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love,
9. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our fins.
11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one anotber.
12. No man harb feen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleih in us, and his love is perfected in us.