« PoprzedniaDalej »
the faithful: thy origin is from above, and thou derivest thy pedigree from the angels before the throne: thou art the daughter of the heavenly Jerusalem, and thy kindred are the citizens of Zion: thy children are meditation, and devotion, and sanctity, and peace, and joy, and thy reward an unfading crown of glory.
2. No sooner doth the christian soul hear of those honours and delights which are reserved for the pure in heart, but she resolveth to use her utmost endeavours in securing to herself a share of them. And for this purpose, she is especially careful to keep a constant watch against assaults from without, that she may hear nothing, read nothing, and gaze upon nothing, which ministreth matter for temptation; because she considereth, that by neglecting to guard the outward senses, many mighty have been surprized and fallen. The poison having found an avenue open to the heart, and gained an entrance, hath shot its fatal influences through the frame, and death hath been the consequence.
9. Nor is it less needful to watch the imagination within; than it is to guard the senses without, lest the images of a long time there deposited, and seemingly gone and forgotten, should suddenly return to disturb the peace and endanger the purity of the soul. The mirror soon becomes sullied, tranquillity and joy depart, and their places are occupied by bitterness of spirit and sorrow of heart. And righteous is the judgment of God, which delivers over to the tormentors the soul that hath been faithless to him, who betrothed her to himself in righteousness. The merciful Jesus ever avert this-sentence from us his servants, and grant unto us such aids of his noble and princely spirit, as may enable us to fight a good fight against this enemy of our salvation, and to come off conquerors in the day of battle! Let us instantly request of the great Physician such a supply of salutary medicines, as may cause the fever to de part from us, and assuage the thirst of the fallen and deceased soul after transitory pleasures, that so our bodies may be holy temples; for holiness, O Lord, becometh thy house for ever.
4. Whoever would be pure in heart, must first learn to be exactly temperate in meat and drink, thereby cutting off supplies from the enemy, and not by faring sumptuously every day making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. The general who destroys his adversary's ma
gazines, often enjoys the fruits of a victory, without the trouble and hazard of a battle. Let industry and labour be joined to temperance, as her constant companions; for no luxurious and idle person ever was chaste. Watch, and fast, and pray, that ye enter not into this temptation, and be always occupied in the work of God, or the business of your calling. Wisely doth chastity admonish her votaries to renounce, earth that they may obtain heaven, and be judged worthy the fellowship of the saints. I am the mother of fair love, and fear, and knowledge, and holy hope.---Come unto me all ye that be desirous of me, and fill yourselves with my fruit, Ecclus. xxiv. 18. As she is, it is her desire that we should be pure and undefiled, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh, through the fear of our Creator; letting the inward purity of our hearts shine forth before men in every word and every action ; guarding every avenue of temptation, and delighting only in the company of wise and holy persons; above all things, preserving the sacred fire of heavenly love ever bright and burning on the altar of a heart dedicated to the service of the boly Jesus. Whoso doth these things, shall have strength given him from above to fight manfully, and at length triumph gloriously over his enemy.
5. The weapons of this warfare are spiritual, and the victory is gained by patience, prayer, and humility, which obtain this gift of God. And verily a great gift it is, that a man who carries fire in his bosom should not be burnt. This is the grace of God, and not the merit of man. Moses, the servant of the Lord, much wondered why the bush was not consumed by the flame of fire which appeared in it-I will turn aside, saith he, and see this great sight. Nor less was the surprize of the Babylonian Monarch, when he beheld the three children walking unhurt in the midst of the furnace. Equally wonderful is God in his saints, whom his grace preserveth from being overcome by those temptations, in the midst of which they daily live and walk. Not unto us, therefore, hut unto him be ascribed all the praise and the glory, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. -6. There is one circumstance peculiar to this warfare, viz. that conquest is best secured by flight, which in this case is no sign of cowardice, but a sure token of magnanimity and presence of mind. The scripture precepts are; resist the devil; overcome the world.; Fly fornication,
So triumphed the great hero of purity. Joseph Fled, and got him out. He who would preserve his vessel in sanctification and honour, must live with the circumspection that a good General does when encamped in an enemy's country, and in continual expectation of being attacked by the natives. The contest will be obstinate, the issue doubtful, the consequences of a defeat terrible.
7. Nor let any promise theinselves an immunity from the dangers of this temptation. Sampson himself, who burst the bands of the Philistines from his arms, and carried away the gates of Gaza upon his shoulders, laid his head in the lap of Dalilah, was shorn of all his strength, and delivered up to his enemies, who put out his eyes, and brought him bound in triumph into their city, to be a laughing-stock amongst them. Concupiscence indulged spoils the soul of all its spiritual strength, making it base, feeble, and effeminate; puts out the eyes of the understanding; and delivers it up, bound in the chains of sin, to be the sport of the world and the devil; and, without repentance, to enter the sad mansions of the infernal prison-house. Who can presume himself to be secure, who must not rather mourn and fear, when he beholds David falling from the height of heaven, which in his holy hymns he seemed to have reached, into the mire of impurity, and pursued by the judgments of God on him and his house, that others may lake warning? Behold also king Solomon, the wisest of men, beloved of God, and exalted by him above all the kings of Israel in glory and majesty, behold him giving himself up to women, and seduced from his allegiance to his God. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! Be humble then, O man, who art as yet in the flesh, and walkest in the vain shadow of this unstable world: for thou knowest not what temptations a day may bring forth, or how far they may prevail over thee. Many are called, but few chosen. Let him, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall by this temptation more especially.
8. But let not any the weakest of the soldiers of Christ be dismayed at the prospect of the labours he is to undergo, or the dangers he is to encounter. The sharper the conflict, the more glorious the triumph; nor would purity stand so high in the estimation of heaven, but for the difficulty of preserving it. The promise of everlasting felicity should confort us concerning our toil; and we should be animated to the battle by the hope of those unfading crowns which adorn the souls of the righteous, and recompense the sorrows of time with the joys of eternity.
9. But if neither the consideration of the amiableness of this virtue, nor that of the glory which is to follow, be found sufficiently powerful to remove the disorder of the soul, it remains only that a caustic be applied, by meditation on the wrath which shall be revealed in the last day against all uncleanness. Think then, O thou whom concupiscence still holdeth in bondage, think on that hour when heaven and earth shall arise up in the judgment against thy brutish life and conversation; when the saints once encompassed with the same infirmities, and tempted like thyself, but victorious through faith, shall be assessors with their Lord at thy trial; when angels and archangels, and all the multitude of the heavenly host shall be witnesses of thy condemnation; when the judge shall pass the irrevocable sentence, and make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enèmies. In that day the heavens shall reveal their iniquity, for they always obeyed the law set them by their Creator, whereas thou hast broken the commandment of thy God, and defaced his image, thereby rendering thyself unworthy of a place in the celestial mansions. The earth, which is the last and lowest of the elements, will lift up her voice against thee, for she constantly bringeth forth herbs for the use of man, but thou hast not produced the fruits of righteousness acceptable to him who made thee. With horrible pangs, and convulsions shail she, at the sound of the last trump, cast forth thy wretched carcase from the bed of dust' and worms, to receive, in partnership with the soul, the recompence of uncleanness, in the burning lake. The sun and moon, those bright and shining luminaries of the visible world, as well as the angels and archángels, who make up the splendor of that-world which to us as yet is invisible, all these are ashamed and confounded because of thee; for they have preserved their light pure and undefiled, while thou art changed into the image of the prince of dark
And now, thy portion is to be with him for ever! O dear price to pay for the illusive pleasures of sin! O dismal habitations to pass into, from the scenes of riot and wantonness! Abstain, therefore, from fleshly lusts, if thou wouldest ayoid everlasting burnings. Destroy
not thy precious soul redeemed by the blood of Christ. Grieve not the holy angels: dishonour not God. Fear the Lord, and incur not damnation to gratify the body. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; and if ye by the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. How soon is the pleasure passed away; how long shalt the pain continue ! How soon wilt thou repent of thy folly: how bitter, and how fruitless will that repentance be!
10. On the contrary, how great will be their joy, wha have not consented to the works of darkness? How great their confidence, who have not defiled their garments ? Then shall they who have lived in piety, temperanee, and chastity, stand with great boldness before the face of such as have in vain solicited them to offend; while the intemperate and incontivent, finding themselves on the left hand, shall tremble very exceedingly at the dreadful thunder of the sentence, which is to drive them for ever from the sweet face of Jesus-Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. What will then be their reflections! " How in a moment have we destroyed ourselves for ever? Damnation is our portion. Better liad it been for us that we bad never been born. The time for repentance is no more. It is too late to cry for mercy.' The irrevocable sentence is past. We sink into endless night, and eternal oblivion?
11. Meditate, therefore, O ye sons of men, on the shame and pain which are to be the lot of the unclean; lest death cut you off in an hour when you look not for it, and there be none to deliver you from going down to the pit of destruction. Repent and be converted, ye who have made a covenant with death. Be strong, Oye young men, and overcome the wicked one.
Yield not your members servants unto iniquity; for sin when it is finished bringeth forth death. Think on the flames of hell, and those of concupiscence will go out. Who
among you can dwell with everlasting burnings? Think on the rewards laid up for the followers of the spotless Lamb, and you will treat the offers made you in lieu of them with the contempt they deserve. Above all things, pray continually and fervently to God, that he would enable you so to use these directions, and to persevere in the using them, that ye may be blessed among those, who, having not known the sinful bed, shall hure fruit in the visitation of souls.
Vol. VIII. Churchm. Mag. March 1805. Z ON