« AnteriorContinua »
ftet his Paffion, avoided moreover as much, as the concerns of Life will suffer him, all unnecessary Discourse, especially Disputes, with wrathful, loud, cross, or scornful Persons ; has he watched over himself daily at such times, and places, and in such Business and Company, wherein he was like to meet with Provocations, and particularly resolv'd within himself, not only long before
; but at those very times, that he will not be transported by them ? And above all Lastly, has he made this a constant Law to himself to forbear speaking, or acting any thing suddenly, when he feels a Passion stirr'd in him; but to turn alide, and say over the Lord's Prayer, or some devout Ejaculation to himself, which will both gain him time for Consideration, and likewise call God and Goodness into his mind, which will be the most effectual means of all to restrain him? If these or such like mieans have not been used, he has not taken the best ways he can; and if he will set himself to bridle his Nature in this way, I doubt not, but God will bless him in it, and then let him complain he cannot restrain himself, if he find reason.
Again, another who has accustomed himself to Oaths, complains that he is convinced he ought, and endeavours to do it, but that he is not able to refrain swearing. But besides his fervent Prayers to God, has such a Complainer labour'd withal to poffefs his Conscience, with a great sense and dread of it? Has he particularly call’d to mind, and refolved against it, not only when it was at a distance, but when he was expecting any Disappointment, or coming in. to the way of any Provocation, which would tempt him to it? And because men subject to this Vice, swear oft in eagerness of Spirit, and do not know it, has he desired some true Friend, to be his Monitor, to warn him of it before, or tell him when 'tis, past; that afterwards he may be more careful to prevent it, or to punish himself for it? And in regard men who fhun it at other times, are generally pulh'd on to swear in haste, thro the surprize of a Provocation, in the ca. gerness of Sport, or thro' the suddenness of some cross Accident and Disappointment : Has he taken Care lastly to speak nothing rafhly, especially whilst he is in heat and eagerness of Spirit, but to bridle his Tongue, and consider what he
is aboût to say before he utter it, that so if, it prove to be ill he may forbear it? These and such like ways, are the proper method for curing this Sin; and if a man has labour'd against it, without them, he has fought the end without the means, and pursued the cure without the right Prescriptions. And there fore, if he will correct that Errour, and begin again to labour in right ways, I question not, but, that he will succeed well, and find the effect thro’God's blessing
Thus do men, who endeavour in vain for these, or for any other Vertües, plainly miscarry, for want of chusing right ways; the Duties are not impossible to be attain'd, if the right Course were used to attain them; but it is their own neglect of means, or mistaken Choice of bad ones, which makes the Disappointment. And therefore, if they would labour to effect, let them be careful to pursue good things, by wise and proper methods. When they are resolved to endeavour after any Vertue, let them learn from good Books, or from their spiritual Guides, or the advice of any wise or judicious Persons, what Rules serve most to compass it: And if they
carefully and diligently follow them, the Duty which seem'd before impossible, will prove a very possible thing. And this again would rid us of the greatest part of those Complainers who fail at last, but yet endeavour fomething: for most of them, when they endeavour to obey, do not endeavour wisely, or in the use of such proper and discreet Methods, a sure fit to work Obedience in them.
But if any complain still, that they have taken advice about the best Course and follow'd it; but yet all their labour has been without the desired effect : Yet are they always,
3. Such, as when they use right means, endeavour but by halves, and do not go throo with them.
A faint Endeavourer, will never go thro' with any work, which requires either length of time, or strength of Labour. If he put little strength to it, that will not conquer the difficulty of the Task; and if he is soon wearied, he will give over before it comes to an end. So that a man must apply himself to the fame, both earneftly and long, if he would succeed when he has begun, and go on to finish and compleat it.
Now our obeying God, and amending of our Lives, is a work of this kind. For our sins being many in number, they will require a considerable space of time, before they are all amended ; and our hindrances in leaving them being great, and the Temptations strong that daily assault and draw us to them, and our own Lusts, and a treacherous Enemy in our own Bosoms, being always ready to take their parts and strike in with them, it requires a great Watchfulness, and a constant Care, and an earnest vigorous endeavour to overcome them. And this the Scripture tells us plainly we must use, if ever we expect to prevail against them ; St. Peter tells us, we must give al diligence, 2 Pet. 1.5,10. St. Paul that we must be circumfpect, Eph. 5.15. Our Blessed Saviour that we must watch always,
and be ever standing upon our Guard, Mark 13–37. and strive to enter in at the strait gate, Luk. 13. 24. which striving is calld a warfare, 2 Cor. 10.4. and a fight, 1 Tim. 6. 12. All which show the Greatness of that care, and both the Earnestness and Constancy of that endeavour, which we must lay out upon it.
And this now is the fault of all those Strivers, who, pursuing Obedience by