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When it is the one ruling, never ceasing desire of our hearts, that God may be the beginning and end, the reason and motive, of our doing or not doing, from morning to night; then everywhere, whether speaking or silent, whether inwardly or outwardly employed, we are equally offered up to the eternal Spirit, have our life in him, and from him, and are united to him by that spirit of prayer, which is the comfort, the support, the strength, and security of the soul, travelling, by the help of God, through the vanity of time into the riches of eternity.
My dear friend, have eyes shut and ears stopped, to every thing, that is not a step in that ladder that reaches from earth to heaven.
Reading is good, hearing is good, conversation and meditation are good ; but then they are only good at times and occasions, in a certain degree: and must be used and governed with such caution, as we eat and drink, and refresh ourselves, or they will bring forth in us the fruits of intemperance.
But the spirit of prayer, is for all times, and all occasions; it is a lamp that is to be always burning, a light that is ever shining: every thing calls for it, every thing is to be done in it, and governed by it. Because it is, and means, and wills nothing else, but the totality of the soul, not doing this, or that, but wholly, incessantly given up to God, to be where, and what, and how he pleases.
This state of absolute resignation, naked faith and pure love of God, is the highest perfection and most purified life ; of those who are born again from above, and through the Divine Power, become sons of God. And is neither more nor less, than what our blessed Redeemer has called and qualified us to long and aspire after, in these words, “ Thy kingdom come : thy will be done, on earth as in heaven." Near the conclusion of yours, you say, since
last to me, you have met with a great many trials disagreeable to desh and blood, but that adhering to God, is always your blessed relief.
Yet permit me on this occasion, to transcribe a mem
orandum or two, from an old
paper, wbich has long lain by me for my own use.
1. Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, darkness, temptation, and desolation, with both thy hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion, of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with thy self-denying, suffering Saviour.
2. Look at no inward, or outward trouble, in any other view, reject every other thought about it; and then every kind of trial and distress, will become the blessed day of thy prosperity:
3. Be afraid of seeking or finding comfort in any thing but God alone. For that which gives the comfort, takes 80 much of thy heart from God. " Quid est cor purum ? cui ex toto, et pure sufficit solus Deus, cui nihil sapit, quod nihil delectat, nisi Deus.” That is, What is a pure heart? One to which God alone is totally and purely sufficient; to which nothing relishes or gives delight, but God alone.
4. That state is best, which exerciseth the highest faith in, and fullest resignation to God.
5. What is it that you want and seek, but that God may be all in all in you? But how can this be, unless all creaturely good and evil, become as nothing in you, and to you?
“Oh anima mea, abstrahe te ab omnibus. Quid tibi cum mutabilibus creaturis ? Solum sponsum tuum, qui omnium est author creaturarum, expectans, hoc age, ut cor tuum ille liberum et expeditum semper inveniat, quoties illi ad ipsum venire placuerit.? That is, O my soul! withdraw thyself from all things. What hast thou to do with changeable creatures? Waiting and expecting thy bridegroom, who is the author of all creatures, let it be thy only care, that he may find thy heart free and disengaged, as often as it shall please him to visit thee. I thank
kind offer about the manuscript in the sale, but have no curiosity that way. I have had all that I can have from books. I leave the rest to God. I have formerly given away many of the lives of good Armelle, so can have no dislike to your doing the same. I have often wished for some, or several little things of that kind, though more according to my mind; by which the meanest capacities might, in an easy manner, be led into the heart and spirit of religion.
you for your
DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE .
Concerning the Nature and Extent of Christian Devotion.
DEVOTION is neither private nor public prayer; but prayers, whether private or public, are particular parts or instances of devotion. Devotion signifies a life given or devoted to God.
He therefore is the devout man, who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in every thing, who serves God in every thing, who makes all the parts of his common life, parts of piety, by doing every thing in the name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to his glory.
We readily acknowledge, that God alone is to be the rule and measure of our prayers, that in them we are to look wholly unto him, and act wholly for him, that we are only to pray in such a manner, for such things, and such ends as are suitable to his glory.
Now let any one but find out the reason why he is to be thus strictly pious in his prayers, and he will find the same as strong a reason to be as strictly pious in all the other parts
of his life. For there is not the least shadow of a reason, why we should make God the rule and measure of our prayers, why we should then look wholly unto him, and pray according to his will ; but what equally proves it necessary for us to look wholly unto God, and make him the rule and measure of all the other actions of our life. For any ways of life, any employment of our talents, whether of our parts, our time or money, that is not strictly according to the will of God, that is not for such ends as are suitable to his glory, are as great absurdities and failings, as prayers that are not according to the will of God. For there is no other reason, why our prayers should be according to the will of God, why they should have nothing in them, but what is wise, and holy, and heavenly, there is no other reason for this, but that our lives may be of the same nature, full of the same wisdom, holiness and heavenly tempers, that we may live unto God in the same' spirit that we pray unto him. Were it not our strict duty to live by reason, to devote all the actions of our lives to God, were it not absolutely necessary to walk before him in wisdom and holiness and all heavenly conversation, doing every thing in his name, and for his glory, there would be no excellency or wisdom in the most heavenly prayers. Nay, such prayers would be absurdities, they would be like prayers for wings, when it was no part of our duty to fly.
As sure therefore as there is any wisdom in praying for the spirit of God, so sure is it, that we are to make that Spirit the rule of all our actions; as sure as it is our duty to look wholly unto God in our prayers, so sure is it, that it is our duty to live wholly unto God in our lives. But we can no more be said to live unto God, unless we live unto him in all the ordinary actions of our life, unless he be the rule and measure of all our ways, than we can be said to pray unto God, unless our prayers look wholly unto him. So that unreasonable and absurd ways of life, whether in labour or diversion, whether they consume our time or our money, are like unreasonable and absurd prayers, and are as truly an offence unto God.
It is for want of knowing, or at least considering this, that we see such a mixture of ridicule in the lives of many people. You see them strict as to some times and places of devotion ; but when the service of the church iš over, they are but like those that seldom or never come