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but more active for his glory; and the thoughts of sin should not only damp my affection to it, but likewise deter and restrain me from the commission of it.

And thus, every good thought that God puts into my heart, instead of slipping out, as it does with some others, without regard, will be cherished and improved to the producing of good actions. These actions will entitle me to the blessings of God, and that to the kingdom of glory.


I am resolved, by the grace of God, to improve every affliction God lays upon me, as an earnest or token of his affection towards me.

EVERY thing that flows from God to his servants, coming under the notion of talents, to be improved for himself, I am sure, afflictions as well as other mercies, must needs be reckoned amongst those talents God is pleased to vouchsafe. Indeed, it is a talent, without which I should be apt to forget the improvement of all the rest; and which, if well improved, itself will work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 7. It is the non-improvement of an afflic tion that makes it a curse; whereas, if improved, it is as great a blessing as any God is pleased to scatter amongst the children of men. And therefore it is that God most frequently entrusteth this precious talent with his own peculiar people; You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore will I punish you for your iniquities, Amos iii. 2. Those that God knows the best, with them will he entrust the most, if not of other talents, yet, be sure, of this, which is so useful and necessary to bring us to the knowledge of ourselves and our Creator, that without it we should be apt to forget both.

It is this that shews us the folly and pride of pre

sumption, as well as the vanity and emptiness of all worldly enjoyments; and deters us from incensing and provoking him, from whom all our happiness as well as our afflictions flow. Let, therefore, what crosses or calamities soever befall me, I am still resolved to bear them all, not only with a patient resignation to the divine will, but even to comfort and rejoice myself in them, as the greatest blessings. For instance, am I seized with pain and sickness? I shall look upon it as a message from God, sent on purpose to put me in mind of death, and to convince me of the necessity of being always prepared for it, by a good life, which a state of uninterrupted health is apt to make us unmindful of. Do I sustain any losses or crosses? The true use of these is to make me sensible of the fickleness and inconstancy of this world's blessings, which we can no sooner cast our eye upon, but they immediately take to themselves wings, and fly away from us. And so all other afflictions God sees fit to lay upon me may, in like manner, be some way or other improved for my happiness.

But, besides the particular improvements of particular chastisements, the general improvement of all is the increasing of my love and affection to that God, who brings these afflictions upon me. For how runs the mittimus, whereby he is pleased to send me to the dungeon of afflictions? Deliver such an one to Satan to be buffetted in the flesh, that the Spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, 1 Cor. v. 5. By this it appears, that the furnace of afflictions, which God is pleased, at any time, to throw me into, is not heated at the fire of his wrath, but at the flames of his affection to me. The consideration whereof, as it should more inflame my love to him, so shall it likewise engage me to express a greater degree of gratitude towards him, when he singles me out not only to suffer from him, but for him too. For this is an honour, indeed, peculiar to the saints of God, which if he shall be pleased ever to prefer me to,

I shall look upon it as upon other afflictions, to be improved for his glory, the good of others, and the everlasting comfort of my own soul.

Thus have I reckoned up the talents God hath, or may, put into my hands, to be improved for his glory. May the same divine Being that entrusted me with them, and inspired me with these good resolutions concerning them, enable me, by his grace, to make a due use of them, and carefully to put in practice what I have thus religiously resolved upon!

There are some other mercies, which might be set down in the catalogue of talents; as the graces and motions of God's holy Spirit, and the use of his holy ordinances, under the ministry of the Gospel; but these being included and insisted on under several of the foregoing heads, will not require a distinct consideration.












Written by him in his Riper Years, and printed from his original Manuscripts.


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