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Practical Discourses translated from the Latin of Thomas
a Kempis. By Bishop HORNE.
DISCOURSE I. Of Self Denial and Contempt of Worldly Pleasures. 1. Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot
be my Disciple. Luke xiv. 33. Y these words the blessed Jesus reproves those who,
having begun well, go not on unto perfection. For some are able to despise and relinquish many outward things, and cannot yet sufficiently master themselves, or reduce their own wilts to the obedience of Christ. And therefore it is that they are subject to frequent relapses, while those of the enemy's party that remain behind, like the remnant of the Canaanites of old, still continue to vex and ensnare them.
Let every disciple of the Holy Jesus, therefore, who through the power of grace has learned to overcome the world, learn, through the power of the same grace, to deny himself, that so he may have nothing to hinder him in his journey. Happy the soul who, for the love of Jesus, daily endeavours to renounce the fantastic enjoyments and illusive shadows of this transitory world!
2. He may be said to renounce them, who goes not a begging to the creatures for his joys and comforts. So , long as any temporal good is inordinately sought after, there is no true self-denial. And he who cannot reject carnal for spiritual delights, is not worthy of them. The love of God soon waxes cold in a heart set upon the world. Let such an one reflect, how soon all that is called great and valuable in man, or in the creature, passeth away. The world itself subsists only by change and succession, and nothing continueth in one stay. There let him, then, seek his comforts, where is the fulness of truth and eternity, quenching the thirst of his soul after happiness at the fountain of life and immortality. For better is one drop of heavenly consolation than an ocean of earthly delights. Miserably deceived is he who looks for durable joys in a land of sorrows, and expects to find Canaan on this side Jordan, He who. grasps at the shadow of sensual gratifications, loses the substance of spiritual pleasures.
Vol. VIII. Churchm. Mag. Jan. 1895. E 3. Happy
3. Happy and holy is the soul that feedeth in the pa tures of truth and the love of God, drawn after her b loved Redeemer by the odour of his graces; who desir only, by renouncing things temporal, to be satisfied wit those that are eternal. Here is her true wisdom, to ex change small things for great, transient for eternal, past for diamonds, deformity, for beauty, pain for pleasure gall for honey, nothing for all things. She lives, indeed upon the earth, but her thoughts are in heavens when her Saviour is; for love of whom she despises what is present, and looks after the future, and waits for his advent, that so she may hear, at the hour of death, that which was said unto the wise virgins in the parable-Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out' to meet him. She labours to preserve herself free from temporal attachments, that she may be presented as a chaste virgin unto Christ. She chuses to deny herself in worldly enjoyments, that she may receive a fuller measure of heavenly
She bewails the follies she has been betrayed into, and rejects the offers of sense with scorn. And why? Lest there should not be room in the heart for the love of Jesus, when it is cumbered with earthly desires. Therefore said St. Agnes" For him I reserve myself, to him I give myself wholly"
4. Yet is not the soul which renounces the world without her comforts in this. her state of banishment upon the earth, although she attaineth not unto the fulness of joy, until the days of her pilgrimage are ended: she hath received a pledge of the Redeemer's
, love, but hath not seen him as he is. She reads the epistte he hath written concerning the marriage, bat the hour is not yet come for the solemnization of it. When that hour is arrived, she shall forthwith be introduced to him, arrayed in those robes and ornaments which he hath already sent her by the hands of his ambassadors. All her present comfort is in the remembrance of Christ, and the thought that yet a little while, and she shall depart hence. Her beloved shall stand at the door and knock, saying unto her, Arise, and come away. At the sound of his voice she will awake, and being certified that it is he, she will open unto him immediately in the - words of Samuel to old Eli, “ Here I am, for thou callest
If thou seekest me, O Lord, I am ready. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks unto thy name. Suffer me not any longer to be separated froin
thee, but receive me into the arms of thy mercy.”. And how greatly will she rejoice, if she shall then be accounted worthy to hear from him these, or the like words." Follow me, for the hour iş come, in which thou shalt eat bread with me in the kingdom of God. Let us go forth, not to dress the vines, but to drink the new wine; let us go, not into Judea, but into my country above; let us ascend to keep the feast in the heavenly Jerusalem, and celebrate the great jubilee of men and angels."
5. But what dost thou, O my soul, who sojournest in the body, waiting for the Redeemer; and saying daily in thy prayers, " Thy kingdom come! When shall I see thee Will God indeed be merciful to me a signer; or hath he forgotten to be gracious? When will he appear? When, Oh when will he come? But, perhaps, as once in the ship with his disciples, he sleepeth," Do not thou, then, sleep, but go to him by, prayer, and awake him, saying-Awake, for ever?
6. But rather thou art to conclude, that, in his infinite wisdom, the Lord deferreth, as yet, what thou art too eager after. Rest, therefore, for a little season, under the shadow of his wings, from the heat of temptations. Better is it for thee to die, than to live to the world; better is it for thee to mourn, than to rejoice in evil. While the Christian soul is in the body, she is absent from the Lord; but kñowing it is his will, she suffereth her pilgrimage gladly. In the mean time, she must watch dili, gently, and contend earnestly, that her affections are not captivated by another; for many lie in wait to deceive. While, therefore, the bridegroom tarries, let her, as a widow, mourn and pray, until he shall come, and take her into everlasting habitations. There the souls of the righteous are in joy and felicity, beholding evermore the gracious countenance of him whom they loved upon earth, and for whose love, in the days of their flesh, they renounced all things.
E. P, TO MR. EVANSON,
pers suaded myself to believe, that I have a greater re
gard for truth than for my own reputation, I am always ready, or think myself ready, to retract my errors; nor can I indeed think it any disgrace to receive correction from a.man, whom the author of the Confessional has styled, and so far as my reading and judgment enable me to decide, has justly styled, " one of the ablest writers among the Unitarians, ancient or modern.” Did it appear to me, therefore, that you had satisfactorily replied to my strictures on your late publication, I should have had no temptation to deny it. As this is not the case, at least with respect to any material point, and as I have already given the reasons of my opinion pretty inuch at length, I might content myself with a simple assertion to that purpose. I wish, however, to make a few remarks on your address to me, which is inserted in the last number of the Orthodox Churchman's Magazine, partly for the sake of courtesy, but principally in justice to my own reasoning, and because so many are apt to think, that what is suffered to remain unanswered, is admitted to be unanswerable. Besides, though neither of us will probably indulge the hope of converting his opponent, we may both of us, by contributing to elicit truth, be serviceable to others.
Whether your being so singular in your religious opi, nions, as you' state yourself to be, that is, as I understand you, so singular, as to be hindered from joining with any sect of Christians in'worship, be not in itself á presumption against the truth of them, I will not undertake to determine. When I consider, however, that social worship is a duty required of Christians, I cannot but think this a circumstance which ought to awaken all your caution, as obliging you to a peculiarly 'strict examination of the grounds, on which your opinions rest. With respect to the term Anti-trinitarian, you are, I think, right in objecting, that it is of too general a nature to discriminate the modern Unitarians from Arians, Sabellians, &c. 1 further propose, therefore, what certainly is nothing new, that Unitarians following the example of Arians, Sabellians, &c. take their name from Socinus, or some other eminent person, whose distinguishing tenets were the same; unless indeed, agreeably to your suggestion, to which I see no reason to object, the term Personal Unitarians be adopted.
In calling the Athanasian creed an "unintelligible, contradictory definition of the Catholic faith,” You do
not seem to be quite consistent with yourself. It is not easy to conceive how the same definition can be both unintelligible and contradictory; since its being contradictory can only be judged of from its being intelligble. If you mean, that it is unintelligible in some parts, and contradictory in others, you ought to have made this distinction. I have, however, elsewhere endeavoured to show, and trust I have shown, that the Athanasian creed is neither unintelligible nor contradictory.
I have stated it as my opinion, that, whether Trinitarians are right in their notions, or not, Anti-trinitarians are wrong in accusing them of blasphemy; and in order to justify my opinion, I gave instances of blasphemy, by which it appeared, that blasphemy implies a fault in the disposition, and not merely an error in the judgment. This you attempt to repel by observing, that the only two instances of blasphemy which I give, are instances of blasphemy against men, and not against God. This observation, however, can affect only the degree of the guilt charged, and not the nature of it; and surely, if it be wrong to accuse Trinitarians of the high crime of blasphemy against men, it is still more wrong to accuse them of a higher crime of the same nature, i. e. of blasphemy against God. Your observation, therefore, on this head, according to my apprehension of it, strengthens my argument, instead of weakening it. You say, that “God, by his prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, has pronounced all idolatrous worship to be blaspheming him.” You ought, however, to distinguish between the idolatry of heathens, and the idolatry which you attribute to Christians. Even the idolatry of the Church of Rome, censurable as it is, cannot properly be considered in the same light as that worship, which, independently of any
reference to the true and only God, was paid to .wood and stone." Ezek. xx. 32. This is the idolatry, which is spoken of by Isaiah and Ezekiel. This too is the idolatry, which is referred to by St. Paul, when he charges the heathens, who," though they knew God, gloritied him not as God,” with “ changing the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” Rom. i. 23. All the idolatrous practices of the Church of Rome may be considered, without any great stretch of charity, as so many mistaken modes of seeking intercession; for they have all, at least in their original institution, an ultimate referenee to the Supreme