« EelmineJätka »
Obscenity, detraction, scurrility are barred from his table: neie ther do any words sound there, that are less savoury than the dishes.
Lastly, he so feeds, as if he sought for health in those viands, and not pleasure; as if he did eat, to live: and rises, not more re. plenished with food, than with thankfulness.
HIS NIGHT'S REST. In a due season he betakes himself to his Rest. He presumes not to alter the ordinance of day and night; nor dares confound, where distinction is made by his Maker.
It is not with him as with the brute creatures, that have nothing to look after, but the mere obedience of nature. He doth not, there. fore, lay himself down, as the swine in the sty, or a dog in the kennel, without any further preface to his desired sleep; but improves those faculties, which he is now closing up, to a meet preparation for a holy repose.
For which purpose, he, first, casts back his eye to the now-expired day, and seriously, considers how he hath spent it; and will be sure to make his reckonings even with his God, before he part. Then, he lifts up his eyes and his heart to that God, who hath made the night for man to rest in, and recommends himself earnestly to his blessed protection; and then closeth his eyes in peace, not without a serious meditation of his last rest: his bed represents to him his grave; his linen, bis winding-sheet; his sleep, death; the night, the many days of darkness : and, shortly, be so composeth his soul, as if he looked not to wake till the morning of the Resurrection.
After which, if he sleep, he is thankfully cheerful; if he sleep not, his reins chasten and instruct him in the night season; and, if sleep be out of his eyes, yet God and his angels are not : whensoever be awakes, in those hands he finds himself; and therefore rests sweetly, even when he sleeps not. His very dreams, however vain or troublesome, are not to him altogether unprofitable, for they serve to bewray, not only his bodily temper, but his spiritual weaknesses, which his waking resolutions shall endeavour to correct.
He so applies himself to his pillow, as a man that meant not to be drowned in sleep, but refreshed: not limiting his rest, by the insatiable lust of a sluggish and drowzy stupidness; but by the exigence of his health, and habilitation to his calling: and rises from it, not too late, with more appetite to his work, than to a second slumber; cheerfully devoting the strength renewed by his late rest, to the honour and service of the Giver.
HIS CARRIAGE, HIS CARRIAGE is not strange, insolent, surly, and overly contemptuous; but familiarly meek, humble, courteous : as knowing what mould he is made of; and not knowing any worse man, than himself,
He hath a hand ready upon every occasion to be helpful to his neighbour; as if he thought himself made to do good. He hates to sell his breath to his friend, where his advice may be useful: neither is more ambitious of any thing under heaven, than of doing good offices.
It is his happiness, if he can reconcile quarrels, and make peace between dissenting friends.
When he is chosen an Umpire, he will be sure to cut even be, twixt both parties; and commonly displeaseth both, that he may wrong neither,
If he be called forth to Magistracy, he puts off all private inte. rests; and commands friendship to give place to justice. Now he knows no cousins, no enemies; neither cousins for favour, nor enemies for revenge: but looks right forward to the cause, without squinting aside to the persons. No fattery can keep him from browbeating of vice; no fear can work him to discourage virtue. Where severity is requisite, he hates to enjoy another's punishment; and where mercy may be more prevalent, he hates to use severity, Power doth not render him imperious and oppressive; but rather humbles him, in the awful expectation of his account.
If he be called to the honour of God's Embassy to his people, he dares not but be faithful in delivering that sacred message. He cannot now, either fear faces, or respect persons. It is equally odious to him, to hide and smother any of God's counsel, and to foist in any of his own; to suppress truth, and to adulterate it. He speaks not himself, but Christ; and labours, not to tickle the ear, but to save souls. So doth he go before his flock, as one, that means to feed them no less by his example, than by his doctrine; and would condemn himself, if he did not live the Gospel, as well as preach it. He is neither too austere in his retiredness, nor too good-cheap in his sociableness : but carries so even a hand, that his discreet affableness may be free from contempt; and that he may win his people, with a loving conversation. If any of his charge be miscarried into an error of opinjon, he labours to reclaim him, by the spirit of meekness; so as the mis-guided may read nothing but love, in his zealous conviction. If any be drawn into a vicious course of life, he fetches him back with a gentle, yet powerful hand: by a holy importunity, working the offender to a sense of his own danger, and to a saving penitence,
Is he the Master of a Family ? he dares not be a lion in his own house; cruelly tyrannizing over his meanest drudge: but, so moderately exercises his power, as knowing himself to be his appren,
tice's fellow-servant. He is the mouth of his meiny to God, in bis daily devotions; offering up for them the calves of his lips, in his morning and evening sacrifice; and the mouth of God unto them, in his wholesome instructions, and all holy admonitions. He goes before them, in good examples of piety and holy conversation; and so governs, as one, that hath more than mere bodies committed to his charge.
Is he the Husband of a wife? he carres his yoke even : not laying too much weight upon the weaker neck, His helper argues him the principai; and he so knows it, that he makes a wise use of his just inequality : so remembering himself to be the superior, as that he can be no other than one flesh. He maintains, therefore, his moderate authority, with a conjugal love: so holding up the right of his sex, that, in the mean time, he doth not violently clash with the brittler vessel. As his choice was not made by weight, or by the voice, or by the hue of the hide; but for pure affection grounded upon virtue: so the same regards hold him close to a constant continuance of his chaste love; which can never yield, either to change or intermission.
Is he a Father of children? he looks upon them as more God's, than his own; and governs them accordingly. He knows it is only their worse part, which they have received from his loins : their diviner half is from the Father of Lights, and is now become the main part of his charge. As God gave them to him, and to the world by him: so his chief care is, that they may be begotten again to God; that they may put off that corrupt nature which they took from him, and be made partakers of that divine nature which is given them in their regeneration. For this cause, he trains them up in all virtuous and religious education : he sets them in their way, corrects their exorbitances, restrains their wild desires, and labours to frame them to all holy dispositions; and so bestows his fatherly care upon and for them, as one, that would rather they should be good than rich, and would wish them rather dead than debauched. He neglects not all honest means of their provision, but the highest point he aims at, is to leave God their patrimony. In the choice of their calling or match, he propounds, but forces not; as knowing they have also wills of their own, which it is fitter for him to bow, then to break.
Is he a Son ? he is such as may be fit to proceed from such loins.
Is he a Servant ? he cannot but be officious; for he must please two masters, though one under, not against the other : when his visible master sees him not, he knows he cannot be out of the eye of the Invisible; and therefore dares not be either negligent, or unfaithful. The work, that he undertakes, he goes through, not out of fear, but out of conscience; and would do his business no otherwise than well, though he served a blind master, He is no blab of the defects at home; and, where he cannot defend, is ready to excuse. He yields patiently to a just reproof; and answers with an humble silence: and is more careful not to deserve, than to avoid stripes.
Is he a Subject ? He is awfully affected to sovereignty; as knowing by whom the powers are ordained. He dares not curse the king; no, not in his thought; nor revile the ruler of his people, though justly faulty : much less dare he slander the footsteps of God's anointed. He submits, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake, to every ordinance of God; yea, to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake: not daring to disobey, in regard of the oath of God. If he have reached forth his hand to cut off but the skirt of the royal robe, his heart smites him. He is a true paymaster; and willingly renders tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, honour to whom honour is due; and justly divides his duties, betwist God and Cxsar.
Finally, in whatever relation he stands, he is diligent, faithful, conscionable; observant of his rule; and careful to be approved such, both to God and men,
HIS RESOLUTION IN MATTER OF RELIGION. He hath fully informed himself of all the necessary points of reliGION; and is so firmly grounded in those fundamental and saving truths, that he cannot be carried about with every wind of doctrine. As for collateral and unmaterial verities, he neither despiseth, nor yet doth too eagerly pursue them.
He lists not to take opinions upon trust: neither dares absolutely follow any guide ; but those, who he knows could not err.
He is ever suspicious of new faces of theological truths; and cannot think it safe, to walk in untrodden paths.
Matters of speculation are not unwelcome to him; but his chief care is to reduce his knowledge to practice: and, therefore, he holds nothing his own, but what his heart hath appropriated, and his life acted.
He dares not be too much wedded to his own conceit; and hath so much humility, as to think the who'e Church of Christ . upon earth wiser than himself.
However he be a great lover of constancy, yet, upon better rea-, son, he can change his mind, in some litigious and unimporting truths; and can be silent, where he must dissent.
HIS DISCOURSE. His discourse is grave, discreet, pertinent; free from vanity, free from offence.
In secular occasions, nothing falls from him but seasonable and
well-advised truths ; in spiritual, his speech is such, as both argues grace and works it.
No foul and unsavoury breath proceeds out of his lips; which he abides not to be tainted with any rotten communication, with any slanderous detraction. If, in a friendly merriment, he let his tongue loose to a harmless urbanity, that is the furthest he dares go; scorning to come within the verge of a base scurrility.
He is not apt to spend himself in censures; but, as for revilings and cursed speakings against God or men, those his soul abhorreth.
He knows to reserve his thoughts, by locking them up in his bosom, under a safe silence: and, when he must speak, dares not be too free of his tongue; as well knowing, that, in the multitude of words, there wanteth not sin.
His speeches are no other than seasonable; and well fitted, both to the person and occasion. Jiggs at a funeral, lamentations at a feast, holy counsel to scorners, discouragements to the dejected, and applauses to the profane, are hateful to him.
He meddles not with other men's matters, much less with affairs of state: but keeps himself wisely within his own compass; not thinking his breath well spent, where he doth not either teach or learn.
HIS DEVOTION. He is so perpetually resident in heaven, that he is, often in every day, before the Throne of Grace; and he never comes there, with. out supplication in his hand : wherein also he loves to be importunate: and he speeds accordingly ; for he never departs empty ; while other cold suitors, that come thither but in some good fits of DEVOTION, obtain nothing but denials.
He dares not press to God's footstool in his own name: he is conscious enough of his own unworthiness : but he comes in the gracious and powerful Name of his Righteous Mediator, in whom he knows he cannot but be accepted; and, in an humble boldness, for his only sake craves mercy.
No man is either more awful or more confident.
When he hath put up his petition to the King of Heaven, he presumes not to stint the time or manner of God's condescent; but patiently and faithfully waits for the good hour, and leaves himself upon that Infinite Wisdom and Goodness.
He doth not affect length so much, as fervor: neither so much minds his tongue, as his heart.
His prayers are suited according to the degrees of the benefits sued for. He, therefore, begs grace absolutely, and temporal blessings with limitation; and is accordingly affected in the grant.
Neither is he more earnest in craving mercies, than he is zea. lously desirous to be retributory to God wher he hath received them;