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Sufferings? Yes, certainly, they spring up in the Minds- of those that arc thoroughly convinced that their Sufferings come from God, and therefore delight in the Accomplishment of his blessed Will and Pleasure. Like Soldiers they suffer with Joy, who chearfully obey the Orders of their Prince, when his Service exposes them to the greatest Fatigues-. Let not therefore Sorrow and Trouble link your Spirits; preserve a composed Coun* tenance, and let all your Answers be made with Mildii-jss. And still advance farther in the Temper and Disposition of your Mind', to embrace great Sufferings, if the Providence of God thinks tit to exercise you with greater Trials. O Lord, if it be thy Willy lay more upon me: all I beg is i that at the fame Time thou xcouldji be pleased to increase my Patience.
8. Conform yourself to the Will of God in those AJJiiclionsrvhich he sends you. It is agreed, that it is our Duty to submit to what God-in his Wisdom shall lay upon us; and that we should always pray, that his Will may ba clone. However, it is very necessary that I should warn you against an ill Practice, too common among those that are otherwise very devout-: They are apt to declare their ]readiness to suffer, when the Will of God makes it their Duty, to which they desire to conform themselves, but they would fain excuse themselves from the present AiHiction that lies upon F 4 their
them, and think any other would be easy to them; but that which they endure, always appears to them unseasonable: They complain it hinders their Endeavoiir after Christian Perfection; and that instead of improving their Virtue, it increases their Guilt. The Wan who is touched in his Reputation, declares how willingly he would submit to any other Affliction that could befal him; but he is not able to bear such injurious Reflections, that strike too near his Heart. The sick Man that is consined to his Bed, which is irksome and very tiresome, complains that his Distemper makes him impatient and discontented, and prevents the Practice of several good Works he designed, if free from his Sickness. The Woman who meets with a perverse Husband, and with obstinate, disobedient Children, would suffer willingly any other Affliction, except that which lies upon her, which she imagines can only serve to increase her Misery in this Life and the next. In short, there is almost no Body but who would be willing to exchange their present Cross for another, and think themselves unhappy in the particular Sort of their Sufferings; whence it proceeds that their Minds are always unquiet. and that they never perfectly resign themselves to the Will of God.
Now all this Management is very unreasonable; for is it not God that fends or-permits that particular Affliction? Does not the
Manner Manner of your Suffering come from his Hand? Is it for you to determine what He ought to do? And ought you to prescribe to him the particular Cross he mould lay upon you? Banish all such Thoughts from your Mind, and let the Cross which he fends you be received with Resignation and Satisfaction, though it may be it is not what you would have chose for yourself: It is sufficient tomake you contented and quiet, that it comes •from God; and that therefore it is by this Affliction that he designs to make your Calling and Election sure.
Of the Improvement of our Talents, and Cooperation with God's Grace.
How do you think that the blessed Saints arrived at Christian Perfection in this Lifer and at the Happiness of Heaven, which they now enjoy? Why, it was by a faithful Improvement of those Talents God intrusted to their Management; by not receiving his Grace in vain, but by corresponding to it^ F 5 carecarefully endeavouring to make themselves perlcct in that State and Condition which God kad called them to.
1. Be content with that Condition God places you in. Alas! how is it possible for you to arrive at the Happiness ot" the next Life, but hv being faithful and religious in those Circumstances that Providence has determined for you? Be sure instantly to beg of God the Light of his Holy Spirit, when you are about choosmg your Calling, or engaging ki any particular State and Condition of Life; and be not ib much insluenced by Passion, by Interest, or any worldly Consideration, as by Reason, as by its Tendency to promote your Salvation, and as by the Advice of your Parents, or a pious faithful Friend. And above all Things desire of God, that He would teach you to do his Will.
2. Acquit. yourself 'faithfully for the particular Obligations of your Condition. There are Saints in all Callings, and in all Circumstances of Life: Never pretend therefore, that in your Condition the Difficulties are too great to work out your Salvation; for as the Providence of God has placed you in it, He will not tail to supply you with all such Means as are necessary for your Progress in, Piety and Virtue. Be but careful to serve God, and faithfully perform the Duties of your Calling, and you may be sure God will never leave you cor forfake you.
3. Endeavour daily to improve in all Sorts of Virtue. Men whose Minds are bent upon Heaven, are always advancing in those Paths that lead to it. They are not content only to do their Duty, but strive continually to perform H alter a more perfect Manner. They catch at every Opportunity of doing Good to the Bodies and Souls of Men; they are always upon their Guard, to keep their Passions under good Government, and are readyto obey all the Inspirations of God's Holy Spirit. Their Method mult be thy Imitation; for thy Happiness will depend upon thy growing in Grace, upon thy improving in all Christian Virtues.
The Method you ought to take must be this:
I. Possess yourself with the Knowledge of what God requires of you. This is the sirst Step you must take: Like St. Paul, upon his Conversion, you must cry out, Lord, what 'wouldst thou have me to do? The Foundation of a Christian Life must be laid in Knowledge.} our Mind must be rightly informed in the Particulars of our Duty, before it is possible we should practise them: And this must relate not only to our Condition in general, but to all the particular Circumstances of our Life, and to those different Offices the Variety of Relations require from us. Beg of God that he would enlighten your Mind with the Knowledge of his Will,. that when any Diffi- '. F.6 - culty