Obrazy na stronie


a deadly sin. For that government cannot be very honourable, that makes us slaves to the worst of tyrants ; and all those princes and great personages, who, by injury and usurpation, possess and invade others' rights, would do well to consider, that a kingdom is too dearly paid for, if the condition be first to worship the devil.

16. When the devil could do no good, “ he departed for a time.” If he could ever have spied a time of returning, he wanted not will nor malice to observe and use it: and although Jesus was a person without danger, yet I doubt not but the Holy Ghost described that circumstance, that we should not have the securities of a deep peace, when we have had the success of conquerors, for a surprise is most full of horror and of more certain ruin; so that we have no security, but a perpetual observation ; that, together with the grace of God, (who takes care of all his servants, and will drive


the tempter when he pleases, and help us always when we need) is as great an argument for our confidence, and encouragement to our prayers and address to God, as it is safety to our person, and honour to our victory. And let us account it our honour, that the trials of temptation, which is the greatest sadness of our condition, are hallowed by the temptation of Jesus, and our condition assured by his assistances, and the assistances procured by our prayers most easily upon the advantage of his sufferings and compassion. And we may observe, that poverty, predestination, and ambition, are the three quivers, from which the devil drew his arrows, which (as the most likely to prevail) he shot against Christ : but now he shot in vain, and gave probation that he might be overcome ; our Captain hath conquered for himself and us. By these instances we see our danger, and how we are provided of a remedy.


O holy Jesus, who didst fulfil all righteousness, and didst live

a life of evenness, and obedience, and community, submitting thyself to all rites and sanctions of Divine ordinance; give me grace to live, in the fellowship of thy holy church, a life of piety, and without singularity, receiving the sweet influence of thy sacraments and rites, and living in the

purities and innocencies of my first sanctification. I adore thy goodness infinite, that thou hast been pleased to wash my soul in the laver of regeneration, that thou hast consigned me to the participation of thy favours by the holy eucharist. Let me not return to the infirmities of the old man, whom thou hast crucified on thy cross, and who was buried with thee in baptism; nor renew the crimes of my sinful years, which were so many recessions from baptismal purities : but let me ever receive the emissions of thy Divine Spirit, and be a son of God, a partner of thine immortal inheritance; and, when thou seest it needful, I

may receive testimony from heaven, that I am thy servant and thy child. And grant that I may so walk, that I neither disrepute the honour of the Christian institution, nor stain the whitenesses of that innocence, which thou didst invest my soul withal, when I put on the baptismal robe, nor break my holy vow, nor lose my right of inheritance, which thou hast given me by promise and grace; but that thou mayest love me with the love of a father, and a brother, and a husband, and a lord, and I serve thee in the communion of saints, in the susception of sacraments, in the actions of a holy life, and in a never-failing love or uninterrupted devotion; to the glory of thy name, and the promotion of all those ends of religion, which thou hast designed in the excellent economy of Christianity. Grant this, holy Jesus, for thy mercy's sake, and for the honour of thy name, which is, and shall be, adored for ever and




Of Temptation.

1. God, who is the fountain of good, did choose rather to bring good out of evil, than not to suffer any evil to be; not only because variety of accidents and natures do better entertain our affections, and move our spirits, who are transported, and suffer great impressions by a circumstance, by the very opposition, and accidental lustre and eminency, of contraries;

but also that the glory of the Divine providence, in turning the nature of things into the designs of God, might be illustrious, and that we may, in a mixed condition, have more observation, and, after our danger and our labour, may obtain a greater reward : for temptation is the opportunity of virtue and a crown; God having disposed us in such a condition, that our virtues must be difficult, our inclinations averse and corrigible, our avocations many, our hostilities bitter, our dangers proportionable, that our labour might be great, our inclinations suppressed and corrected, our intentions be made actual, our enemies be resisted, and our dangers pass into security and honour, after a contestation, and a victory, and a perseverance. It is every man's case; troublea is as certainly the lot of our nature and inheritance, and we are so sure to be tempted, that in the deepest peace and silence of spirit oftentimes is our greatest danger; not to be tempted, is sometimes our most subtle temptation. It is certain, then, we cannot be secure when our security is our enemy; 'but therefore we must do, as God himself does, make the best of it, and not be sad at that, which is the public portion and the case of all men, but order it according to the intention, place it in the eye of virtue, that all its actions and motions may tend thither, there to be changed into felicities. But certain it is, unless we first be cut and hewn in the mountains, we shall not be fixed in the temple of God; but, by incision and contusions, our roughnesses may become plain, or our sparks kindled, and we may be, either for the temple or the altar, spiritual building or holy fire, something, that God shall delight in, and then the temptation was not amiss.

2. And therefore we must not wonder, that oftentimes it so happens, that nothing will remove a temptation, no diligence, no advices, no labour, no prayers; not because these are ineffectual, but because it is most fit the temptation should abide, for ends of God's designing: and although St. Paul was a person, whose prayers were likely to be prevalent, and his industry of much prudence and efficacy toward the drawing out of his thorn ; yet God would not do it, but continued his war, only promising to send him succour, My grace is sufficient for thee b;" meaning, he should have an enemy to try his spirit and improve it, and he should also have God's Spirit to comfort and support it; but as, without God's grace,

a Erras, mi frater, erras, si putas unquam Christianom persecutionem non pati. Tunc maximè oppugnaris, si te oppugnari nescis.--S. Hier. ad Heliod,


would spoil him, so without an enemy God's grace would never swell

up into glory and crown him. For the caresses of a pleasant fortune are apt to swell into extravagances of spirit, and burst into the dissolution of manners; and unmixed joy is dangerous : but if, in our fairest flowers, we spy a locust, or feel the uneasiness of a sack-cloth under our fine linen, or our purple be tied with an uneven and a rude cord; any little trouble, but to correct our wildnesses, though it be but a death's head served up at our feasts, it will make our tables fuller of health and freer from snare, it will allay our spirits, making them to retire from the weakness of dispersion, to the union and strength of a sober recollection.

3. Since, therefore, it is no part of our employment or our care, to be free from all the attempts of an enemy, but to be safe in despite of his hostility; it now will concern us to inform ourselves of the state of the war in general, and then to make provisions, and to put on armour accordingly.

4. First: St. Cypriano often observes, and makes much of the discourse, that the devil, when he intends a battery, first views the strength and situation of the place. His sense, drawn out of the cloud of an allegory, is this: The devil first considers the constitution and temper of the person he is to tempt, and where he observes his natural inclination apt for a vice, he presents him with objects, and opportunity, and arguments fitting to his caitive disposition; from which he is likely to receive the smaller opposition, since there is a party within, that desires his intromission. Thus, to lustful natures, he represents the softer whispers of the spirit of fornication; to the angry and revengeful, he offers to consideration the satisfactions and content of a full revenge, and the emissions of anger; to the envious he makes panegyrics of our rivals, and swells our fancies to opinion, our opinion to self-love, self-love to arrogance, and these are supported by contempt of others, and all determine upon envy, and expire in malice. Now, in these cases, when our natures are caitive and unhandsome, it were good we were conscious of our own weaknesses, and, by special arts and strengths of mortification, fortify that part, where we are apt and exposed to danger: we are sure enough to meet a storm there, and we also are likely to perish in it, unless we correct those aversenesses and natural indispositions, and reduce them to the evennesses of virtue, or the affections and moderation of a good nature. Let us be sure, that the devil take not a helve from our own branches to fix his axe, that so he may

b 2 Cor. xii. 9.

c Serm. de Zelo.

cut the tree down : and certainly he that does violence to his nature, will not be easy to the entertainment of affections preternatural and violent.

5. Secondly: But the devil also observes all our exterior accidents, occasions, and opportunities of action; he sees what company we keep, he observes what degrees of love we have to our wives, what looseness of affection towards children, how prevalent their persuasions, how inconvenient their discourses, how trifling their interests, and to what degrees of determination they move us by their importunity or their power. The devil tempted Adam by his wife, because he saw his affections too pliant, and encircling her with the entertainment of fondness, joy, wonder, and amorous fancy: it was her hand, that made the fruit beauteous to Adam ;

“she saw it fair” of itself, “ and so she ate ;” but Adam was not moved by that argument, but, “ The woman gave it me, and I did eat:" she gave vivacity to the temptation, and efficacy to the argument. And the severity of the man's understanding would have given a reasonable answer to the insinuations of the serpent: that was an ugly beast, and his arguments not being of themselves convincing to a wise person, either must put on advantages of a fair insinuation and representment, or they are returned with scorn. But when the beauteous hands of his young virgin-mistress d. became the orators, the temptation was an amorevolezza; he kisses the presenter, and hugs the ruin. Here, therefore, it is our safest course, to make a retrenchment of all those excrescences of affections, which, like wild and irregular suckers, draw away nourishment from the trunk, making it as sterile

0 Habet namque voluptatem quandam admonitio uxoria, quum plurimùm ametur quod consulit.- S, Chrysost.

« PoprzedniaDalej »