Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

your thoughts, bind yourself to repeat that

3. When you have observed any considerable wan. Prayer again with actual attention, or else revolve the fäll' sense of it in your fpirit, and repeat it in all the effects and defires ofit: and possibly the tempter may be driven away with his own ars, and may cease to interpose his trifles, when he perceives they do but vex the person into carefulness and piety; and yet he loses nothing of his devotion, but doubles the earnestness of his care.

4. If this be not seasonable or opportune, or apt to any Man's Circumstances, yet be lure with actual attention to say a hearty Amen to the whole Prayer with one united defire, earnestly þegging the Graces mentioned in the Prayer: for that delire does thegreat work of the Prayer, and secures the Blesling, if the wandring Thoughts were against our will, and diff claimed by contending against them. - 5. Avoid multiplicity of Businesses of the World and in thote that are unavoidable, labour for an even ness and tranquility of Spirit, that you may be un troubled and smooth in all tempests of Fortune : for so we shall better tend Religion, when we are not torn in pieces with the Cares of the World, and seized upon with low Affections, Paffions and Interest.

6. It helps much to attention and actual advertisement in our Prayers, if we say our Prayers filently without the Voice, only by the Spirit. -For in mental Prayer, if our Thoughts wander, we only stand still when our mind returns we go on again; there is none of the Prayer loft, as it is if our Mouths speak and our Hearts wander.

9. To incite you to the use of these or any other Counsels you shall meet with, remember that it is a great undecency to defire of God to hear those Prayers, a great part whereof we do not hear ourselves. If they be not worthy of our attention, they are far more unworthy of God's.

is vinnig

[ocr errors]

Signs of tediousness of Spirit in our Prayers and all

Astions of Religion.

The second temptation in our Prayer is a tediousnefs of Spirit, or weariness of the Employment : like that of the Jews, who complained that they were weary of the new Moons, and their Souls loathed the frequent return of their Sabbaths : fo do very many Christians, who first pray without fervour and earneft. ness of Spirit; and secondly meditate but seldom, and that without Fruit, or Sense, or Affection; or thirdly, who feldom examine their Consciences, and when they do it, they do it but sleepily, flightly, without compunction, or hearty purpose, or fruits of Amendment. 4. They enlarge themselves in the Thoughts and fruition of temporal Things,running for comfort to them only in any fadness and misfortune. s. They love not to frequent the Sacraments; nor any the Instruments of Religion, as Sermons, Confessions, Prayers in publick, Fastings: but love ease, and a loose undisciplind Life. 6. They obey not their Superiours, but follow their own judgment, when their judgment. follows their Affections, and their Affections follow sense and worldly Pleasures. 7. They neglect or difsemble, or deferr, or do not attend to the Motions and Inclinations to Vertue which the Spirit of God puts into their Soul. 8. They repent them of their Vows and holy Purposes, not because they discover any indiscretion in them, or intolerable inconvenience, but because they have within them labour, ( as the cafe now stands) to them displeasure. 9. They content themselves with the first degrees and neceffary parts of Vertue ; and when they are arrived thither. they fit down, as if they were come to the mountain of the Lord, and eare not to proceed on toward perfection. 10. They enquire into all cafes in which it may be lawful to omit a duty; and though they will not do less than they are bound to, yet they will do no more than needs muft; for they do out of fear and self-love, not out of the love of God, or the

spirit

[ocr errors]

.

Spirit of Holiness and Zeal. The event of which will be this: He that will do no more than needs must, will soon be brought to omit fomething of his duty, and will be apt to believe lefs to be necessary than is.

Remedies against Tediousness of Spirit. ,
The Remedies against this Temptation are these :

1. Order your private Devotions To, that they become not arguments and causes of tediousness by their indiscreet length; but reduce your words into a narrower compass, still keeping all the matter, and what is cut off in the length of your Prayers, fupply in the earnestness of your Spirit: for fo nothing is loit, while the words are changed into matter, and length of time into fervency of devotion. The forms are made not the less perfect, and the spirit is more, and the fcruple is removed.

2. It is not imprudent if we providě variety of forms of Prayer to the same purposes, that the change by consulting with the appetites of fancy may better entertain the fpirit: and possibly we may be pleased to recite a Hymn; when a Collect seems flat to us and unpleasant; and we are willing to fing rather than to say, or to fing this rather than that: we are certain that variety is delightful: and whether that be natural to us, or an imperfe&tion, yet if it be complied with; it may remove some part of the temptation.

3. Break your office and devotion into fragments, and make frequent returnings by ejaculations and abrupt intercourses with God for so, no lerigth can oppress your tenderness and fickliness of spirit; and by often praying in such manner and in all circumstances, we shall habituate our Souls to Prayer, by making it the bufiness of many lefser Portions of our Time : and by thrusting it in between all our other Employments, it will make every thing relish of Religion, and by degrees turn all into its nature.

4. Learn to abstract your Thoughts and Defires froni Pleafutes and Things of the World. For nothing is a

dire&t cure to this Evil, but cutting off all other loves and adherences. Order your affairs so, that Religion may be propounded to you as a reward, and Prayer as your defence, and holy Actions as your security, and Charity and good Works as your treasure. Confider that all things elfe are fatisfactions but to the brutish part of a Man, and that these are the refreshments and relishes of that noble part of us by which we are better than Beafts : And whatsoever other inftrument, exercise or confideration is of use to take our loves from the World, the fame is apt to place them upon God... 5.

Do not seek for deliciousness and fenfible confo lations in the actions of Religion, but only regard the duty and the Conscience of it. For although in the beginning of Religion most frequently, and at some other times irregularly. God complies with our infirmity and encourages our duty with little overflowings of fpiritual joy, and fenfible pleasure, and delicacies in Prayer, fo as we seem to feel fome little beam of Heaven, and great refreshments from the spirit of confolation; yet this is not always fafe for us to have, neither safe for us to expe&t and look for: And when we do, it is apt to make us cool in our enquiries and waitings upon Chrift when we want them: It is a running after him, ' not for the Miracles, but for the Loaves; not for the wonderful things of God, and the defires of pleafing him, but for the pleasure of pleasing ourselves." And as we must not judge our Devotioni to be barren or unfruitful when we want the overflowings of Joy running over; so neither must we cease for want of them. If our Spirits can serve God chusingly and greedily

, out of pure Conscience of our Duty; it is better in itself, and more safe to us.

6. Let him use to soften his Spirit with frequent Meditation upon fad and dolorous Objects, as of Death, the Terrors of the Day of Judgment, fearful Judgments upon Sinners, ftrange horrid Accidents, Fear of God's Wrath, the Pains of Hell, the unspeakable Amazements of the Damned, the intolerable load of a sad Eternity. For whatsoever creates Fear, or

R

makes

makes the Spirit to dwell in a religious Sadness, is
apt to entender the Spirit, and make it devout and
pliant to any Part of Duty. For a great Fear, when
it is ill managed, is the Parent of Superstition; but a
discreet and well-guided Fear produces Religion,
7. Pray often and

you
shall
pray

oftner; and when you are accustomed to a frequent Devotion, it will fo insensibly unite to your Nature and Affe&tions, that it will become Trouble to omit your usual or appointed Prayers : And what you obtain at first by doing Violence to your Inclinations, at last will not be left without as great Unwillingness as that by which at first it entered. This Rule relies not only upon Reason derived from the Nature of Habits, which turn into a second Nature, and make their Actions easie, frequent and delightful : But it relies upon a Reason depending upon the nature and conftitution of Grace, whose Productions are of the fame Nature with the Parent, and increafes itself naturally growing from Grains to huge Trees, from Minutes to vast Propor, tions, and from Moments to Eternity. But be sure not to omit your usual Prayers without great Reason though without Sin it may be done; because after you have omitted something, in a little while you will be paft the Scruple of that, and begin to be tempted to leave out more. Keep yourself up to your usual Fornis : You may enlarge when you will; but do not contract or leffen them without a very probablo Reason.

8. Let a Man frequently and seriously, by Imagination place himself upon his Death-Bed, and consider what great Joys he shall have for the remembrance of every Day well spent, and what then he would give that he had so ipent all his Days. He may, guess, at.it by Proportions : For it is certain he shall have a joyful and prosperous Night who hath spent his Days: holily; and he resigns his Soul with Peace, into the Hands of God, who hath lived in the Peace of God and the Works of Religion in his Life-time. This Con fideration is of a real Event, it is of a Thing that will certainly come to pass. It is appointed for all Mor once

« ZurückWeiter »