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sider, how he endured the contradiction of sinners in his ministry, how, pride, malice, avarice, and absurdity, were for ever working against him, to pervert his sayings, confound his reasonings, and turn the hearts of the people away
from him. This we should think of, when our reasonings, however right and true, are neglected by the pride of false science, or overborn by the importunity and impudence of
If, when we have laboured to do wisely, we are reported to have done foolishly; or to have done wrong, when we have done right, it must occasion a struggle in the passions : but a little patience will keep things from growing worse, and a little time may set them all to rights. Thus did our Blessed Master commit himself to the righteous judgment, of God: and we have a promise, that if we commit our way to him, he will “ make our righteousness as clear as the light, and our just dealing as the noon-day.”. Truth shall dispel the clouds which envy raises. The Priests and Rulers of the Jews prevailed for a time against Jesus Christ; but their imaginations were vain ; he was soon settled on the holy hill of Sion, and received the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. The lot of every pious man is after the same pattern. He may
seem to fall, but he shall not be cast away, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. The life of a Christian is a kind of paradox, in which apparent evil is real good. So the Apostle describes the state of himself and his fellow Christians, as of men who were living and dying at the same time, as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. We are impatient, 'till evil is removed ; but if it is turned into good, that is better for us : and the time of retribution will come, when all things that offend shall be cast out; all the seeming errors of the present time shall be rectified.
This consideration will be sufficient, if every other should fail us. It was this which
supported the martyrs of Jesus Christ under all the scorn and cruelty of their Jewish and Heathen enemies. They had the earnest of their hope from the case of the first martyr Stephen; to whose
prospect of glory was presented, which is prepared for all those who suffer for the sake of truth and righteous
2dly. When we have laid up these considerations in our minds, we must also be careful to follow such rules of prudence, as the Scripgure hath given, and experience hath justified.
Peace of mind is not a speculation, but a practical art; the result of proper information and prudent attention.
First then, it is necessary we should be possessed and penetrated by a true sense of our own unworthiness in the sight of God and
When any person over-rates himself, he expects honours which are not due to him, , and is disappointed and vexed if he does not receive them. The lunatic, who has made himself a king in his own imagination, raves if he is not treated as such by people in their senses. Lighter cases, but the same in kind, occur to us every day; and men make such mistakes about themselves, as bring them into great trouble: whereas an humble mind is not easily hurt. When we have abased ourselves, we cannot be thrown down : but he that has placed himself aloft in his own estimation, is exposed to many a downfall. Humanity will be tender to a vain man, and the religious will pity him ; but the inconsiderate always take a delight in pulling him down.
The order and regularity of a methodical life hath great effect in keeping the mind recollected and undisturbed. When people live, as too many do, not by rule, but Nothfully and by chance, their affairs are perplexed ; and when they are out of temper with themselves, they are less able to bear with the perverseness of others. While everything about them is wrong, their minds can never be right; but great inconveniences are avoided by economical attention, and the regularity of an industrious spirit'; which is one of the greatest blessings in life.
Moderation and contentment are absolutely necessary to our peace ; for when our ways and means are exceeded by our wants, we must either fall into distress, or be forced upon mean and base expedients; to the loss of our honour, and the wounding of our consciences. Ungoverned appetite is either sick or poor : often both at once ; and poverty, which we have brought upon ourselves, is always vexatious. We never see people happy who outlive their fortunes ; but generally fretful, restless and quarrelsome; or dejected and melancholy; and this may serve to shew us, what a large share of the evil we complain of, is of our own making
Moderation, as it signifies temperance in meat and drink, hath a great effect
the temper. It keeps the mind cool as well as the body; and the influence of the one upon the other is undisputed. The sick man is careful of his diet, and lives sparingly in a fever, lest he should inflame his distemper. We are all sick of sin ; and fretfulness is the hectic of the mind'; which must be corrected by the same regimen as reduces a feverish heat in the body. Christianity gives us knowledge for the correcting of every error; but it bids us add temperance. Devils go not out without fasting ; and it is as true, that evil passions cannot be kept under, but by habits of self-denial. He who can deny himself not only reduces his mind to a temperate state, but disarms the malice of his enemies ; because he does that voluntarily, for his own good, which another would do maliciously to his hurt; he mortifies himself.
In the next place let us beware of being hurt by little offences and slight accidents. Great calamities work upon the rational and manly affections of the mind. Small affronts have nothing to work upon but our pride ; a tender and irritable principle. We are so apt to be surprized by light occasions of vexation, that they often give us more trouble than heavy causes of affliction, against which we are better provided. We arm ourselves against lions and tygers, or keep out of their way; while we are often tormented with sleepless nights from rats and insignificant noises.