True Christianity

A Treatise

On Sincere Repentance, True Faith, The Holy Walk of the True Christian.

By the Venerable

Johann Arndt

General Superintendant of Ecclesiastical Affairs in the Principality of Lüneberg

Originally Translated Into English By Rev. A. W. Boehm, German Chaplain at the Court of St. James, and Published in London, A.D. 1712.

A New American Edition,

Revised, Corrected, and Furnished with Additional Matter From The Original German,


Brought to you by


  • Book 1

  • Book 2

  • Book 3

  • Book 4

  • Contents - Book Three

  • Book III.
  • Preface To The Third Book.

  • Ch 1. The Treasure Of An Enlightened Believer
  • Ch 2. The Only Means Of Attaining This Treasure
  • Ch 3. What The Treasure Of The Inner Man Depends On
  • Ch 4. The Believing Soul Seeks God Internally
  • Ch 5. Showing How A Man May Be Drawn To God
  • Ch 6. The Seat Of God In The Soul
  • Ch 7. The Dignity Of The Soul
  • Ch 8. The Calling Of God
  • Ch 9. The Purifying Influence Of True Faith
  • Ch 10. The Natural Light In Us Must Disappear
  • Ch 11. Not To Judge Our Neighbors
  • Ch 12. Daily Retire Into Your Soul
  • Ch 13. How The Love Of God Enters Into The Soul
  • Ch 14. The Exercise Of Patience And Love
  • Ch 15. How Christ Perfects His Work In Our Hearts
  • Ch 16. How The Holy Spirit Operates In Our Souls
  • Ch 17. Signs Of The Holy Spirit In Us
  • Ch 18. How Worldly Pleasures Drive Away The Holy Spirit
  • Ch 19. The True Use Of The Lord's Prayer
  • Ch 20. Humility Must Be In The Heart
  • Ch 2I. Rest In God Alone
  • Ch 22. How Our Works May Be Acceptable To God
  • Ch 23. The Mystery Of The Cross

  • [pg 375]

    Book III.

    Preface To The Third Book.

    As there are different degrees of age and maturity in the natural life; so are there also in the spiritual. This life has its first foundation in sincere repentance, by which a man sets himself heartily to amend his life. This is succeeded by an increase of light, when by contemplation, prayer, and bearing the cross, a man is daily improving in grace, and growing up to perfection. The last and most perfect state is that which consists in firm union, which is founded in, and cemented by, pure love. This is the state which St. Paul calls the “perfect man,” and “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Eph. 4:13.

    2. To explain these three different states, is the design of these three books; so that I think that (with my Book of Prayer), the whole body of Christianity is contained and explained in them, as far as is essentially necessary; though, perhaps, not so perfectly as might be wished. As for the Fourth Book, I thought fit to add it to the rest, to show how harmoniously the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ, human nature, and the whole creation agree together; and how all things centre in the one Eternal, which is God!

    3. That the reader may not mistake the design of this Third Book, I would remark that it proposes to instruct him how to seek and find the kingdom of heaven within himself (Luke 17:21); and that, in order to this, he must devote and consecrate his whole heart and soul to God; that is, not only his understanding, but his will and affections also. It is a notion too prevalent at this day, that men are very good Christians, if by reading or discourse they have attained to some kind of intellectual knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is that which generally passes under the name of Divinity, which the generality take to be nothing but a science, or a set of doctrines or opinions to be learned only in theory, not regarding the other most noble powers of the soul, namely, the will and the affections. But all these must be consecrated to God in Christ; and when thou hast done this, thou mayest assure thyself that thou art entirely dedicated to him. For there is a wide difference betwixt the understanding by which we know, and the will or affections by which we love the Lord Jesus. Our love may be perfect, though our knowledge be not so. To know Christ with our understanding, and yet not to love him, is nothing worth; on the other hand, it is infinitely better to love him, than merely to be able to dispute and discourse about him. Eph. 3:19. Let us learn, therefore, so to seek Christ with our understanding, that we may also love him with the entire strength of our will. By this we may be assured that we know him truly, if our knowledge be productive of love. Otherwise, we may be said, indeed, to find him and [pg 376] know him, but it will be to our condemnation. So our blessed Lord tells us, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 7:21. Moreover, there are two ways of obtaining wisdom and knowledge. The one consists in reading and discussion; the other in prayer and charity. The one makes us learned, the other holy. And between these there is a great difference. If men be learned, and not lovers of God, they breathe nothing but pride and arrogance; but if holy, they are humble, and think meanly of themselves. If thou take the first method, thou wilt never find thy internal treasure; if thou take the latter, thou canst not be disappointed. Such is the argument of the Third Book.

    4. And now, how glorious, how noble, and happy a thing is it, that our chief and most valuable treasure, that is, the kingdom of God, is not to be sought without, but to be found within us, that we continually carry it about with us, hidden from the world, and that neither the world nor the devil can rob us of it; and that this is not to be obtained by profound learning, skill in languages, or variety of books, but by a devout and humble spirit. Here then let us exercise our greatest care and diligence, and turn our thoughts inward to that hidden, celestial, and eternal good, that divine, that incomparable treasure. Why do we spend our time and pains in the pursuit of external comforts, whilst so great a treasure as the kingdom of God, with all its blessings, lies within us? For in our heart and soul is the true school of the Holy Spirit, the true habitation of the Holy Trinity, the very temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19), the true house of prayer, wherein he desires to be worshipped “in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23, 24. For though God by his universal presence is in all things, though not included in them (Isa. 66:1), but after an incomprehensible manner filling heaven and earth; yet in a particular and proper sense, he dwells in the soul of the enlightened Christian, taking up his seat and habitation there, as it were in his own image and similitude. Here he operates in a way suitable to himself, answering and aiding every groan and sigh of the devout soul. For how is it possible that He should deny anything to him with whom, and in whom he lives? In a word, there is nothing more pleasant and agreeable to divine love, than to communicate itself to all that unfeignedly seek it.

    5. In order to this, however, the soul must be at rest, which it never can be till disengaged from the world. This even some heathens were sensible of, and accordingly one of them tells us, “that the soul is incapable of wisdom till it is composed and at rest.” There is a fine passage in St. Cyprian to this purpose. “This,” says he, “is the true rest and security of the soul, when the man, being delivered from the storms and tempests of the world, raises his heart and eyes unto God, and endeavors to be like him. By this he comes to understand, that all which the world calls beautiful and valuable, is truly hidden in his own soul, so that he neither expects nor desires anything from without. O celestial treasure, to be delivered from the chains and fetters of this world! O chief and boundless good, not to be obtained by any labor of ours, nor by our interest with the great men of this world; in short, not to be gained by our industry and study; but solely and entirely, by the grace and favor of God. For as [pg 377] the light of the sun proceeds from itself, the day breaks from itself, the fountain flows from itself, the rain falls from itself, and waters the earth; so the Holy Spirit descends freely into that soul, which has raised itself from the world unto God.”

    6. These words of St. Cyprian express a great truth, and are a sort of epitome of this Book. In a word, this turning inwards of the soul, very often gives us a view of the inward treasure of our souls, though but for a moment. And one such moment is better than heaven and earth, and all the creatures. Hence St. Bernard truly observed, “that he who has once learned to descend into himself, to seek the face of God, and taste the sweetness of his presence in the inmost recesses of the heart, will think it more tolerable to suffer even the pains of hell for a season, than, after having tasted the sweetness of this divine exercise, to return again to the pleasures, or rather, to the lusts and wearisome gratifications of the world and the flesh, arising from the insatiable cravings of the inferior appetites.” In short, such a soul not only feels the highest happiness, by finding in itself the presence of God; but also the deepest misery, in being deprived of it. By this the true Christian is fully instructed, that by dying to the world, he lives in God, as the fountain of life; and, on the other hand, that the more he lives to the world, the more he dies unto God: that the soul which is dead to the world, truly lives unto God, and is his joy, or, as the Song of Solomon expresses it, is better than the taste of wine, or the smell of all spices (Cant. 4:10); while on the other hand, the hearts of worldly men are but sour grapes, as the grapes of Sodom, which are as gall, and their clusters are bitter. Deut. 32:32. The soul that is dead to the world, may be discovered by these tokens. It resigns its own will to the will of God in all things; it suppresses self-love; it mortifies the desires of the flesh; it avoids worldly pleasures; it esteems itself as the meanest of all, and is not apt to judge or censure a neighbor. Such a one refers all his injuries and wrongs to the God of righteousness, to whom vengeance belongeth; he is not puffed up with the applause of men, nor grieved by their revilings; in a word, he bears everything with patience and without repining. A noble instance of this resigned temper we have in king David (2 Sam. 23:15-17), when he poured out before the Lord the water of the well of Bethlehem, after which he had so earnestly longed, and which three mighty men of his host had brought for him at the hazard of their lives. This was an action of great self-denial; for he would not gratify his desires by tasting that for which three men had ventured their lives.

    7. Herein consists the true perfection of the Christian life. For perfection is not, as some suppose, a sublime, spiritual kind of relish for heavenly enjoyments; but it is the denying our own will, the contempt of the pleasures and profits of this life, the acknowledging our own vileness, constant resignation to the will of God, and unwearied love and unfeigned compassion for our neighbor. In a word, it is that degree of love, which, allowing for human infirmities, thinks of nothing, seeks nothing, desires nothing but God. This is that true Christian virtue, true liberty, and true peace, which consists in overcoming the flesh and fleshly desires, as will appear in this Third Book, and as thou wilt learn from thine own experience, [pg 378] if thou wilt apply the truth. For which great end, I pray that divine grace may descend both upon the reader and writer, that it may please God to begin, strengthen, and perfect his good work in us, to the praise and glory of himself. Amen.

    Chapter I.

    Of The Great Internal Treasure Of An Enlightened Believer.

    Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God? 1 Cor. 6:19.

    That the hearts of believers are the habitation of the Holy Trinity, is largely attested in Scripture, as Lev. 26:11; Isa. 44:3; 57:15; Joel 2:27; John 14:23; 17:23; Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 2:11, 12; 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Gal. 2:20; Ephes. 3:17; 4:24; Col. 3:10; 1 John 4:13. But who is there among Christians that understands, values, or inquires after this immense and hidden treasure? I thought it desirable, therefore, to explain at large the spiritual and heavenly dignity of the true Christian, and to show every one how to seek and find this sublime treasure in himself. The foundation of this doctrine has been already laid down in Book I, proving how the Word of God, through faith, exerts its power in the heart of man. And in Book II, it has been shown how God discovers himself to the devout soul, as the highest love, goodness, beauty, holiness, and wisdom.

    2. But as this high treasure cannot be worthily perceived or understood, except in the still and quiet sabbath of the soul, in which the Holy Spirit teaches us inwardly by meditation on the Word, in which he enlightens us, and “searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10); upon this account, we must first of all learn, how to bring the soul to that quiet state of internal rest. Something has been said by way of foundation upon this head, in the chapters treating of Prayer, inserted in Book II; which comes now more fully and perfectly to be handled in this Third Book: namely, how this hidden treasure, this pearl in the field of our hearts (Matt. 13:44, 45), is to be sought for by entering into ourselves, or rather into God. And this is the inward sabbath of a heart cleansed and purified by faith (Acts 15:9), and enlightened by the Holy Ghost. From this treasure of the Spirit and kingdom of God, hidden in the believing soul, sprang the wisdom of all the enlightened, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and other men of God that have ever existed. This pearl, then, is worth looking after, this field is worth tilling, and this gift of the [pg 379] Spirit and divine grace must be stirred up in us; even as a spark of fire, which by continual application of breath, is blown up into a bright flame. 2 Tim. 1:6.

    3. But that thou mayest more fully and distinctly apprehend in the commencement of this Third Book, which relates entirely to the inward man, how the children of God are to be drawn from the exterior to the interior man, or the ground of the heart; that they may search, know, purify, and change it, and keep their spiritual eyes fixed upon God, and his kingdom in the inmost recesses of the soul; that the reader, I say, may more fully understand this, I shall first of all more generally in this chapter, and then more particularly, touch upon and explain the several heads of this doctrine, referring occasionally to the Theology of Dr. John Tauler, and quoting him as often as possible in his own words. And here I may remark, that as the Holy Scripture, great and sacred as it is, regards the heart of man; so likewise, the whole divinity of Tauler aims at the inward man, the ground of the heart, and deepest recesses of the soul. Hence it is, that he again and again inculcates, “that God and the kingdom of God, are purely to be enjoyed, sought for, and found in the ground of the heart:” that is, whatsoever the Holy Scripture and its true interpretation, discover outwardly, all that ought to be really, spiritually, and truly felt and experienced in the ground of the soul. This cannot be without a frequent entering into the centre of the heart; so that the more deeply a man retires from the world, so much the more closely he is united to God; and the oftener the devout Christian practises this exercise, the more clearly will the kingdom of God, and this hidden treasure, be manifested in his soul. He that does not perceive in himself these fruits of the Spirit, or the new man, will never be one jot more acceptable in the sight of God for all his great knowledge and science; but shall be reckoned among those of whom Christ says, that they shall say in the last day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” Matt. 7:21. For it is not the external appearance, but the internal reality, that will avail in the sight of God; not that which consists in the letter, but that which flows from the Spirit, and consists in the Spirit. This is the true ground of the distinction mentioned in the Preface, betwixt one taught by the world, and him that is taught of God; that is, betwixt a learned man, and a holy man. The learned man is instructed outwardly by the letter; but the holy man by God, inwardly by the Holy Ghost, by the “anointing” which teacheth all things. 1 John 2:27. The wisdom of the learned consists in words; the wisdom of the holy man, in power. For “the kingdom of God is not in words, but in power.” 1 Cor. 4:20.

    4. But as a general account of this will not be sufficient for the simple and unlearned, to bring them to this fundamental knowledge of themselves, I shall therefore descend to a more particular explication, asking them, at the same time, to attend to the “Five Parts” of their Catechism, and to understand how these are not to remain without them, but must be within them. First, therefore, thou believest that God delivered his law upon Mount Sinai, written upon two tables of stone; and that this law is the will of God, which thou art obliged to obey. You do well to believe this. But this faith profiteth not, unless [pg 380] God himself write his law in your heart (Jer. 31:33), and accomplish his will in you. Now this can never be effected, unless, having now become a Christian, you dedicate your whole heart to God, and offer up your will to him, that His will may be fulfilled in you. The royal prophet David, who well knew the dignity and necessity of this divine operation, employs especially the whole 119th Psalm in earnest prayers to God, that he would vouchsafe to guide and govern him according to his law and testimonies, that so this heavenly work might not by any means be hindered in him. Further, you believe that Christ is your righteousness, your life and salvation. 1 Cor. 1:30. You do well to believe this, “for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11): “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Yet, remember that you must have Christ within you; that is, you must lay hold on him inwardly by faith, and make him, both as to his Person and office, your own. For if Christ be thine, it follows that all things which are God's are also yours; and that if he had ten thousand worlds and kingdoms full of righteousness and blessedness, yet by faith all are thine. For the righteousness of Christ is greater than all these. So in like manner, though the guilt of ten thousand worlds lay upon thee, yet should it not be able to hurt thee. This then is the treasure which thou must have within thee, as our Lord tells us, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21): that is, “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 14:17.—Thou believest that Christ is the eternal Word of the Father; that he is the true life and light of man. John 1:4. Thou believest aright. But then, thou must take care, that this Word speak in thee, that this light shine in thee, that this life live in thee. For unless thou hast this inward treasure in thy soul, and art united to Christ by a living faith, everything else shall avail thee nothing. Again, thou thinkest thyself obliged by duty and interest, to pray to God, to give him thanks, and to praise his name (Psalm 92:1, 2), and in this thou judgest right. But take care that Christ himself pray within thee, and the Holy Spirit groan within thee (Rom. 8:26); for as he is “the Spirit of grace and of supplications” (Zech. 12:10), so, in order to make thy prayers effectual, it is necessary that he also pray in thy heart, the temple of spirit and truth. John 4:23. If this be not done, thy prayers are all of little avail.—Thou believest that in Baptism thou receivest remission of sins, the new birth, and adoption as a child of God. Thou believest aright. But unless thou find in thyself the fruit of baptism, the new birth, the unction of the Spirit, and divine illumination, thy baptism shall avail thee nothing.—Thou believest, according to the words of St. Matthew (Matt. 26:26), that in the external Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, thou receivest the true, essential body and the blood of Christ. Thou believest aright. But if thou dost not also eat it inwardly and spiritually, thou wilt not only lose all the benefits of that institution, but dost also eat and drink condemnation to thyself. 1 Cor. 11:29.—Thou believest that Christ was the true Lamb of God offered for us upon the cross. John 1:29. Yet consider: What good can this do thee, unless the same [pg 381] Lamb of God become the daily food and nourishment of thy inward man? 1 Cor. 5:7. It appears, therefore, that thy treasure ought to be within thee, and that unless thou seek it there, thou shalt never find it.

    Chapter II.

    True Faith, And Converse With The Soul, The Only Means Of Attaining To This Inward Treasure.

    Bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.Isa. 46:8

    The true way of attaining this divine inward treasure is, by a true and living faith. Though we have already in Books I and II treated largely of faith, with all its powers and properties, how it cleaves unto Christ, rests and depends upon him; yet we must here return to it, and show of what use and advantage it is, in the matter before us. The property of a true and living faith is, to cleave unto God with our whole heart; to put our whole trust in him; to depend upon him; to dedicate and resign ourselves entirely to his mercy and goodness; to be united to God; and to enjoy him in the internal rest of the soul. True faith prefers nothing to God; it makes him the true object of all its desires, by unfeigned abstraction from all earthly comforts. In a word, it places its chief, eternal, infinite, and perfect good in Him alone, who is the true fountain of all good, whether in heaven or earth, in time or eternity, and all through Jesus Christ, who is “the author and finisher of our faith.” Heb. 12:2. This is that faith which leads us to our inward treasure, which is our chief good. Of this the Psalmist was an instance: he was full of this faith: “Whom,” says he, “have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Ps. 73:25. Such was the faith of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, when she sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word with eagerness. Luke 10:39. For faith, as has been observed, brings the soul into the true sabbath of the heart, into a state of divine quiet and heavenly rest, in which God delights to manifest himself. Therefore the Lord said to Martha: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41, 42. What is “that good part” but God in Jesus Christ? For by this faith which opens the heart, in order to receive God alone is that better part chosen. By this faith it is, that the ever-blessed Trinity enters into the heart, and takes possession of it. Eph. 3:17; John 14:23. This is “that good part” which we ought all to choose; namely, eternal life and blessedness.

    2. In this one article is contained the whole sum of the Christian religion; it is the fountain of charity and of all virtues. For faith produceth love; love produceth hope; hope, patience; patience worketh meekness; [pg 382] meekness, humility; humility produceth the fear of God; and the fear of God teacheth us to pray to him, to “crucify the flesh” (Gal. 5:24), to deny ourselves, to hate our own life, and to despise the world. Matt. 16:24. Upon this account St. John calls faith, “the victory that overcometh the world.” 1 John 5:4. This was that one thing to which our Lord directed the attention of the rich young man in the Gospel (Luke 18:18), when he asked him, saying, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When he had commanded him to keep the commandments of God, he answered, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” Jesus, hearing him, said, “Yet lackest thou one thing; sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” In these words the Lord directs him to choose that one thing, that better part, by faith; and, by forsaking himself and his worldly possessions, to turn to God, the true fountain and centre of his being and happiness. From this one thing proceeds the whole Christian life, and all the commandments, as a stream from its fountain, not by compulsion or law, but from love and freedom of the spirit. “For it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13); neither will he own anything in us as his, which he himself has not wrought. Here, then, is no need of laws, no need of commands or prohibitions. For faith, by its free motion and spirit, does everything in us which is necessary to be done: that is, it surrenders itself freely and entirely to God, and to the operations of his grace. And this is what the prophet Isaiah means, when he invites us to come unto God, to “buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isa. 55:1.

    3. Faith, then, is the means of attaining to this inward treasure, whilst it keeps a sabbath of rest unto God in every soul that is collected into itself. For as the motion of the heavens is therefore the most perfect, because it terminates in itself, and returns to its beginning; so the life of man may then be accounted most excellent and perfect when it returns to its original, which is God. And this a man does, when he enters deeply into himself, having collected all the powers of his understanding, will, and memory, and emptied them of the world, and all the lusts of the flesh; offering up his soul, with all its affections, to God, by the Holy Ghost, and celebrating an eternal sabbath in his presence. Then God begins to operate in him. He waits for such a frame of spirit, and rejoices to finish his work within us. For so great is the love of God towards us, so ardent is his affection, that it is as if his divinity itself could not consist without us; as if he should himself cease to be, unless he could discover the abyss of his divinity in us, and transfuse the overflowing fulness of his essence into us. So that the most acceptable service a man can do unto God, is to keep his heart so quiet and still that God may rest and manifest himself in it. All that God requires, in order to accomplish this work in us, is an humble and quiet spirit. Whenever he finds such a habitation, he dwells there with a high manifestation of his wisdom and power. The eternal wisdom of God cannot unite with the wisdom of man; but when the human soul is entirely submitted to God, then God entirely rests in her. But if thou wilt engage thy will, thy [pg 383] understanding, memory, and affections in the service of thy own mind, then they are no longer proper instruments for the work of God. For in every union of two beings as one, the one must of necessity be active and the other passive. But God is an infinite and eternally active power, an essential pure motion; perpetually operating in thee, unless hindered by thee. This may be illustrated by the following similitude: as the eye cannot fix upon any object, nor receive any impressions from it, unless it be free from all other images (for otherwise one will hinder the other); so the soul, with all her powers, understanding, will, and memory, can receive no impressions or influences from God, if it be not empty of, and disengaged from, the world. The ear cannot receive or enjoy the sweetest music, whilst employed and filled with other sounds: so neither can the soul receive the divine sweetness whilst it listens to the voice of the world. The more, therefore, a soul withdraws itself from the world, the nearer it approaches to God. The more it renounces the pleasures of the flesh, the nearer it comes to the participation of “the divine nature.” 2 Pet. 1:4.

    4. Nature cannot admit a vacuum. So if a man will empty himself of the love of the world and himself, with all his passions and affections for worldly things, God will infallibly fill his soul with divine grace, love, wisdom, and knowledge. But if thou art full of worldly things, thou canst not at the same time be full of heavenly things. When Abraham, at the command of God, went from his own country and kindred, then was he enlightened from above. Gen. 12:1; 13:1. Our carnal affections, self-love, self-will, and self-conceit, with all our inclinations to the profits and pleasures of the world, are to us as so many near friends and relations; and it is hard to flesh and blood to part with them. But how hard soever it be, this is the first step that conducts to this hidden treasure, this pearl of great price; of which our Lord says, that the merchant having “found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Matt. 13:46. This is what the Lord says: “Verily, I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, but shall receive a hundredfold, and eternal life.” Mark 10:29, 30. What are our brethren and sisters but our carnal lusts and corrupt inclinations, of which we must be emptied, if we expect to be filled with the fulness of God. As the Virgin Mary was a pure, immaculate virgin (so remaining eternally), when she conceived our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:27); so must every soul be like a pure, immaculate virgin; that is, be unspotted, free from all the pollutions of the world, in order to this spiritual conception of him. A soul thus pure and unspotted is, “as the king's daughter, all glorious within” (Psalm 45:13); enriched with hidden treasure. But how can the soul be betrothed to God, that is betrothed to the world? “I come,” saith our blessed Lord, “to send fire on the earth.” Luke 12:49. Oh, that such a fire of divine love would so burn in us as to consume all our dross of worldly affections, that nothing might live and move in us but the pure and holy love of God! He adds, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Luke 12:51; Matt. 10:34. And would to God that the Holy Spirit might so mortify and destroy all our carnal concupiscence, that God alone [pg 384] might move and operate in us! But if you will say, that you are so much taken up with the business of the world, that you cannot be so collected as you ought, then set apart some corner of your house, and some little portion of your time, either by day or night, to retire into yourself, and to pour out your soul to God, in the words of St. Augustine: “Lord, my God, be pleased to enter into covenant with me, that I may die entirely to myself, and that thou mayest live in me; let me keep silence in myself, and do thou speak within me; let me rest from all things, that thou mayest operate in me.”

    Chapter III.

    The Whole Treasure Of The Inner Man Depends On Faith, Namely, God, Christ, The Holy Spirit, And The Kingdom Of God.

    God grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, etc.Eph. 3:16, 17.

    A Christian ought to employ his greatest care and diligence, in learning the true nature and practice of faith. It is faith that unites us to Christ, and admits us into all the blessedness of the kingdom of God. Upon this account it is called, “a substance;—the substance of things hoped for.” Heb. 11. For our whole Christian life consists in a living and operative faith, not in mere knowledge, not in a shadow or pretext, but in a living, active power. In a word, it is faith alone that can deliver us from our bondage of corruption and misery, and bring us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Whence, at our first admission into the Christian Church by holy Baptism, through which, as through a gate, we enter into the fold of Christ's sheep, faith stands at the head. “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” Mark 16:16. And St. Paul says, “This is the word of faith which we preach, that if thou believe in thine heart, etc., thou shalt be saved, etc.” Rom. 10:8-10. But as the nature of faith may be better known by its properties, I shall briefly speak of eight of them in this chapter.

    2. The first of these is, spiritual freedom or a release from sin and death, from the devil, from hell, the curse of the law, the Mosaic typical ceremonies, and from all the commands and traditions of men. For as nothing can cause greater agony to the soul, than to be compelled to bear the fiery darts of Satan, and the tyranny of Antichrist, by which the conscience is fettered and entangled with traditional precepts of men, as with cords and chains: so nothing can give it greater quiet, peace, and comfort, than to be delivered from this servitude of sin, Satan, and human traditions, into a true freedom and liberty of conscience; which liberty is nothing but a true and saving faith. For by [pg 385] this faith we apprehend Jesus Christ, and all the treasures of his grace, particularly reconciliation with God, remission of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. He that has this faith cannot be hurt by sin, death, the devil, or the world; for he has Christ dwelling in him, who is his righteousness against sin; his life against death; his strength against the devil; his heaven against hell; his victory over the world; his blessing against the curse of all the world; his blessedness against all the miseries of this world; his liberty, from all the vain traditions of men. This our blessed Lord has briefly summed up in one sentence, “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36. Whence Christ is all in all unto faith, and the sum and completion of all our hopes and all our blessedness. So that faith gives quietness to the soul; peace and plenty to the conscience; freeing it from all fears and terrors, and causing the heart to rest joyfully and quietly in God.

    3. Secondly, by faith the soul is united to Christ, as a bride with her bridegroom—“I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness.” Hosea 2:19. The consequence of this espousal, is a communication of all good things, yea, and of the cross itself, so that all that Christ has, belongs to the soul, and all that the soul has, belongs to Christ. Now as Christ has all heavenly and eternal gifts, such as wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, blessedness, and eternal life (1 Cor. 1:30): yea, is himself all these; the soul therefore receives them all. And, on the other hand, as our soul has nothing but sin, uncleanness, calamity, misery, sin and death, Christ has taken to him all these; bestowing his good things upon us, and taking our sins and miseries upon himself. But as the good things of Christ are eternal and omnipotent, so they root out, swallow up, and destroy all sin, death, and misery that are in us. For the eternal and invincible righteousness of Christ, is so superior to the power of sin in us, that it utterly destroys it; and by this means, the soul is delivered from its own sins, and clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Isa. 61:10. And surely this is a blessed exchange, when a man changes sin for righteousness, death for life, a curse for a blessing, and eternal misery for eternal blessedness. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1); for their sins are swallowed up in his righteousness. For if, as St. Paul says, “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54), it follows that sin also must be swallowed up.

    4. Hence, thirdly, it follows, that by faith our souls are assured of everlasting happiness. “I am persuaded,” saith St. Paul, “that no creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God.” Rom. 8:38. “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a tried stone; he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isa. 28:16. And “I will make with you an everlasting covenant.” Isa. 55:3. “My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee.” Isa. 54:10.

    5. Hence, fourthly, arises the victory of faith over sin, death, hell, and the world. “Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world:—who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5, 4. In these words, the original of faith is discovered; that [pg 386] it proceeds not from the powers of man, but that it is the work and gift of God (John 6:29); and that regeneration is a divine, and supernatural work. And as this new birth is in all respects superior to nature, therefore it cannot be hurt by any assaults from the world; for though a Christian be ever so much despised and abused by the world, yet is he in Christ a glorious and triumphant conqueror. “In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.” Rom. 8:37.

    6. Hence also arises, fifthly, the glory of faith, which is twofold: the one spiritual and hidden; the other, future, visible, and glorious in the world to come. Now faith makes us partakers of both kinds of Christ's glory. So then, as the majesty of Christ consists in his kingdom and high-priesthood; so also he makes us kings and priests unto God; an honor which, when St. Peter speaks of, he can hardly find words to express. “But ye,” says he, “are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” 1 Peter 2:9. Moreover, the glory of Christ's kingdom consists in this, that it is eternal, and all the blessings and benefits of it are eternal: eternal grace, everlasting righteousness, unfading consolation, endless life, joy, peace, and blessedness. What good could we expect from a temporal prince? All the world itself, and all its glories decay and perish; and there is no trust to be put in princes, nor in any child of man. But Christ is our Eternal King; and all his favors and blessings endure to eternity. The spiritual kingdom, then, of a Christian consists in this, that by faith he is spiritually exalted above all things; that nothing can hurt or hinder him, in the great affair of his salvation. Yea, all things are subject to him, and work together for his good, as we are told (Rom. 8:28): even life and death, the world, hell, and the devil himself. Hence it appears how glorious, how extensive this spiritual dominion of a Christian is, since all things, whether good or evil, are forced to contribute to his spiritual good, so soon as he is possessed of Christ, and Christ of him. For the whole treasure and hope of a Christian is—Christ apprehended by faith; Christ is all-sufficient. O the precious liberty of a Christian! O the mighty power of the inward man! As the liberty, righteousness, and blessedness of a Christian, as also his slavery, sin and misery, are not external things; so it follows, that no external thing, nothing but the mere grace and command of God, can justify, sanctify, or glorify a man. What though the body enjoy liberty, health, and strength, and eat and drink well, will the soul be the better for this? If the body be imprisoned, sick, weak, hungry, and thirsty, will the soul be the worse? Not at all. These things cannot make the soul either happy or miserable, whilst she preserves her inward treasure, and is true to her spiritual liberty. So also in respect of her spiritual priesthood, the soul is out of danger from anything that may happen without. Its sacrifices, prayers, and devotions, are spiritually performed by faith, without any necessary dependence upon external things; as time, place, food, garments, or temples. Again, the soul is not at all the better for any external circumstance; such as images, saints' robes, churches, external fasts, oral prayers, and other outward works. These are not efficacious enough to lead the soul into the paths of righteousness and liberty. All these things a hypocrite may do, without [pg 387] any benefit to his soul. For there is nothing either in heaven or earth in which the soul can live, nothing that can bestow upon her righteousness and liberty, nothing in which she can rest with comfort, and joy, but Christ alone, on whom by faith she comfortably and joyfully depends. This is what our Lord himself tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6. And, “Come unto me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt. 11:28. The soul that is by faith united unto Christ, stands in need of nothing (John 10:11); for in Christ she possesses all things: food, joy, peace, light, knowledge, righteousness, truth, wisdom, liberty, comfort, blessedness, life, answers to prayer, and all things. So that “Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11), as the Apostle tells us. And whatsoever external ceremonies we may conform to for the sake of peace, order, and uniformity, we may be satisfied that “unto the pure, all things are pure.” Tit. 1:15. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3. So that nothing can defile the soul, but unbelief, and its fruits.

    7. The sixth property of faith is, that it renews the whole man. It kindles in him the fire of divine love, and furnishes him with all Christian graces and works of mercy; not as if he merited thereby anything from God, but only as it renders the soul grateful to Him. “Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High.” Ps. 50:14. So that faith immediately begins a new life in man, and quickens him through the Word of God: for all the Holy Scripture is contained in faith. As therefore the Word of God is holy, true, just, living, spiritual, free, and full of all good; so also it makes all those who receive it in faith, holy, just, true, the children of God, “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim. 3:17.

    8. Seventhly, though true and saving faith triumphs over the world and the devil; yet is it of such a nature, that, in pure love, it makes itself servant unto all. He who has it, considers seriously with himself, that Jesus Christ and all the heavenly graces are freely given him by God, so that he stands in need of no worldly thing in the concern of salvation: and withal, that “nothing can separate him from the love of God” (Rom. 8:38), and that nothing in this world can hurt him. When a man, endued with a lively faith, considers all this, he cannot but acknowledge, that in mere gratitude to God, he is obliged to do for his neighbor, as Christ hath done for him. He will say, “All my gifts and graces, my wisdom, my understanding, my riches, my comfort, are all my neighbor's, as freely as Jesus Christ, by his infinite mercy, has bestowed them on me.”

    9. The eighth property of faith is, that it conquers and triumphs over every cross, yea, glories in the cross. For we find more comforts in Christ by faith, than we leave in forsaking the world for his sake; more honor, than the united malice of the world can take from us. In him we meet with so much love, that we shall not regard the hatred and enmities of men; such blessings, that all the curses in the world cannot impair them; so much joy, that all the world cannot make us sad. If it were possible for us to be slain and murdered ten thousand times over, yet Christ remains, and will forever continue to be our Lord, and our everlasting Life, infinitely to be preferred before this short and fleeting life.

    [pg 388]

    Chapter IV.

    The Believing Soul Seeks God Internally, In Itself; Its Beauty And Blessedness When It Is United With God.

    I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:26.

    There are two ways of seeking after God, the one external, and the other internal. The first is the active way, when man seeks after God; the second is the passive, when God seeks after man. In the outward way, we seek God by various exercises of a Christian life; as fasting, prayer, retirement, meekness, accordingly as we are moved by God, or led by devout people. In the inward, we enter into the ground of our hearts, attending upon the revelation of the kingdom of God which is within us. Luke 17:21. For if the kingdom of God be in us, then God himself is in us, and more intimately united to the soul than she is to herself: and such a treasure as this within us, ought carefully to be attended to. The soul that desires to enter into this inward way, must entirely resign and submit itself to all the dispensations of Providence, both inward and outward; must perfectly rest in God, and be content to be, as God shall appoint, poor or rich, cheerful or sad, peaceful or joyless. For thus the soul is cleansed from all created images that may crowd into it from without; and when thus stripped of all rational, sensible, and created things, and everything which is not God, she comes at last into her own ground and centre, and there with a pure eye discovers the essential light and presence of God. But before this treasure can be obtained, everything else must be forsaken. Blessed and truly happy are they that find it: for being entirely divested of all worldly affections, they live in a constant union with God.

    2. And now, if a man could with his bodily eyes take a view of such a soul as this, he would see the most beautiful creature in the world, shining forth in all the transcendent beauties of holiness; for such a soul is united to God, and by consequence is a partaker of His glory, not by nature, but by grace. It desires nothing either in time or eternity but God alone, seeking nothing for its own sake, either spiritually or naturally. On the other hand, could we but see with our bodily eyes a soul sunk in the love of itself and the creatures, wholly polluted with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; and all its corrupt thoughts and imaginations externally figured by visible characters and impressions; neither earth nor hell could furnish a more dreadful monster than this. But in the last great day, when the hearts and consciences of all men shall be laid open (1 Cor. 4:5), and the inward eye shall be unclosed, so that every one shall have a full view of himself, then shall such an impure soul see its secret abominations, and find in itself an eternal source of sorrow, misery, and torment. On the other hand, the pure and divine soul shall forever contemplate in itself the presence and kingdom of God, whom it shall forever see as He is, and by [pg 389] virtue of its union with him, possess and enjoy him as its own forever. He that rightly considers this union of the soul with God, shall experimentally understand that expression of St. Paul, that “neither height nor depth can separate us from the love of God.” Rom. 8:39. For if it were possible that such a soul should be in hell, yet could it not be separated from the presence and kingdom of God, to which it is most intimately united. On the other hand, should a damned spirit, or the devil himself, be admitted into Paradise and heaven, yet could they not be exempt from the torments of hell, which they continually carry about in themselves.

    Chapter V.

    Showing How A Man May Be Drawn To God; Also, Wherein Spiritual Poverty Consists; And, What The Degrees Of Humility Are.

    He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.Luke 18:14.

    Many are the means which men make use of to come to a union with God; such as reading, and other external exercises of religion. But in truth, next to that true, living faith which purifies the soul from the love of the creatures (as has already been shown, and will be further explained below, chap. ix), there is no better or easier method than that of true humility. This, however, does not consist in words, or in any external behavior; but is seated in the bottom of the soul, so that the man upon all accounts, both natural and spiritual, reckons and esteems himself as nothing; and being thus truly poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3), he values neither wealth nor honor, body nor soul, peace nor joy, nor anything in the world, in comparison with his duty and the glory of God. Yea, should it please God to inflict even the agony of hell upon him, he would acknowledge that he deserved it; and he would most cheerfully and contentedly submit, esteeming the will of God as the only measure and standard of his duty and happiness, and continuing to offer praise. This is that true poverty of spirit which disposes a man cheerfully to part with, or submit to, anything, according to the will of God; after the example of our blessed Saviour, who not only did, but also suffered the will of his Father (Matt. 26:39), and voluntarily chose the accursed death of the cross, and therefore was highly exalted by God. Phil. 2:9. Whosoever has this humility, is truly poor in spirit; and though he possessed the greatest temporal riches, yet would they be no hindrance to his union with God. This is that “poor man” of whom the Psalmist speaks: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Ps. 34:6. And if we could suppose such a one to be at ever so great a distance from God, yet would the most merciful Father, out of his abundant mercy and goodness, infallibly draw him to himself. For the fulness of divine grace chooses to discover [pg 390] itself in the depth of human misery, and can no more forsake it, than a tender father could leave his beloved son under the agonies of a dangerous sickness. Of this we have an instance in the woman of Canaan, who, looking upon herself as no more worthy than a dog, immediately obtained help of Jesus. Matt. 15:27, 28. For no man ever yet came to the fountain of living truth, but by the way of humility and poverty of spirit, arising from a knowledge of his utter unworthiness. He that understands this, will never think contempt, reproaches, poverty, or the cross, either bitter or irksome to him. Yea, rather with the holy apostles, he rejoices that God has thought him worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41), so that God in his glory may enter into his soul in his misery. Hence the truest and safest way of coming to a union with God, is that of deep humility and true poverty of spirit.

    2. There are six steps or degrees of humility, by which we may arrive at the perfection of spiritual joy and peace. The first step is, that a man reckon himself as inferior to all men, and have no desire for the honor and esteem of men. The second is, to despise and judge no man, but have a constant eye upon himself. The third is, to refuse and avoid honors that are offered; and if they cannot be avoided, to receive them with regret. The fourth, to bear reproaches with joy. The fifth, to converse willingly with men of inferior condition, and be so far from thinking ourselves better than they, as rather to think ourselves the most miserable of all men, and the chief of sinners. The sixth is, to submit readily and cheerfully, not only to our superiors, but even to the least and meanest. By these steps we ascend to the last and highest of all, where is the throne of peace. “The way is humble,” says Augustine, “but the country to which it leadeth is on high.” King Solomon's throne had six steps conducting to it (1 Kings 10: 19); on the top Solomon (that is, Peaceable, 1 Chron. 22:9) sat enthroned. So when we have ascended the six steps, we shall find the heavenly Prince of Peace—true peace of heart. There is no coming to the exalted felicity of the kingdom of God, but by the low valley of humility and self-denial.

    Chapter VI.

    The Seat Of God In The Soul.

    Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women?—Cant. 6:1.

    Though our “beloved” is always with us, yet he never discovers himself but when the heart is quiet and composed, and all the senses are collected in God. When nothing earthly appears in the understanding, but all its animal and worldly wisdom is swallowed up in faith; then the divine light arises, darting light and glory through the benighted soul. This is [pg 391] that darkness which is the habitation of God; that night, in which the will rests in union with the will of God; and in which the memory forgets all the impressions of the creatures. Then, in a moment, the divine light strikes the understanding, heavenly desires inflame the will, and eternal joys possess and fill the memory; yet neither the understanding, the will, nor the memory, can comprehend or retain the transcendent joys with which they are visited of God. For this perception is not lodged in the faculties of the soul, but lies hid in the very centre of it. Yea, it may sometimes be awakened through the Word, and break forth in words, so that we may cry out with St. Augustine's mother Monica, “Let us fly away, let us fly away to the eternal joy.”

    2. From this fountain spring all the unutterable groanings of holy souls. This was the sweetness that St. Paul tasted, when he uttered these words, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8:38): meaning that love of God to us, which he had tasted in his own soul. Thus St. Augustine witnesses of himself, “that he sometimes felt such exalted joy in his inward soul, that if it were but lasting, it could be nothing else but eternal life.” This is that divine pleasure which would fill our souls, and draw them to itself: and by these foretastes we know what eternal life is; that it is a state in which our souls shall be fully satisfied with heavenly joy and sweetness. Hence the devout soul says, “I am sick of love.” Cant. 5:8. That is: “This is the height of my wishes, this is what I long and sigh after: that I may find my beloved, and be satisfied with his love, and recover my heavenly nobility, which consists in union with Christ; that I may nevermore delight in any worldly or transitory things, much less in sins, or sinful pleasures.”

    3. This nobility of the soul is but little known to the men of this world, even those that are accounted wise and learned: and they that have written volumes about the soul and its faculties, have never come to the fundamental point. For Christ is the true strength of the soul, its understanding, will, and memory; that is, light in its understanding; pleasure in its will; and joy in its memory. So Christ is the true sanctification, glory, and ornament of the soul; so that a man, for the love of Christ, which he experiences in himself, does not desire to sin. Thus we are told, “Whoso abideth in him, sinneth not. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin.” 1 John 3:6, 9. Yea, from this love of Christ arises often joy so great as to make crosses and afflictions not only tolerable, but even desirable for Christ's sake (Acts 5:41); so that the cross is turned into joy, which is continually springing up from its eternal fountain in the centre of the soul. There God has sanctified a place for himself, and made it so peculiarly his own, that neither angel, nor man, nor any other creature, can enter there. Here it is that God delights to dwell, and he suffers no other being to dwell with him. God's delight is to dwell in a pure soul. So he tells us, “My delights are with the sons of men.” Prov. 8:31. But what this happiness is, or how great this delight is, no man knows but he who has experienced it; nor can even he explain it fully in words.

    [pg 392]

    Chapter VII.

    Of The Dignity Of The Soul; Of True Repentance; And, Of Divine Mercy.

    My house is the house of prayer.Luke 19:46; Matt. 21:13; Isa. 56:7.

    The dignity of the soul consists in this, that it is the habitation and temple of God, in which he takes more delight than in the whole compass of heaven and earth. So the believing soul has more of the divine presence than heaven, than all the temples made with hands, yea, than all the creatures in the world. For God communicates his whole treasures of love to such a soul; he rejoices and delights in it; yea, through all creatures he seeks to make the soul of man happy and glorious. Wherefore, as God shows so much love, and takes so much pleasure in the soul of man, he may more properly be said to dwell in it than in any material buildings, yea, than in heaven itself. Here he displays all the wonders of his providence and love; yea, for this very end has he created it with nobler faculties than he has given to the rest of his creatures, that it might be capable of these exalted communications of the divine grace. And if God should bestow upon the soul anything less than himself, she would reject it as being too little. Now St. Paul tells us, “God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” Eph. 1:4. Let this then be our labor, this our highest endeavor, to be really what we have been from the beginning of the world. And as the soul ought to be the spouse of the Son of God, it follows that it is beloved by God above other creatures. It was this love that brought the blessed Jesus down from heaven to be united to the beloved soul which the Father had betrothed to him from all eternity, and to bring it back to the great original from which it at first proceeded.

    2. Now as God has discovered this transcendent love to the soul, it follows that the soul ought to rest in God alone, and not to waste its love on any creature, at which it knows that God will be offended. So great is the loveliness, so great the beauty that is in God, that if the soul could take ever so remote, ever so obscure a view of it, she would not be separated from him to gain the whole world. The soul, then, which is so beloved of God, should be ashamed to fix its love upon any creature which is offensive to God. She ought to be heartily ashamed and afflicted if she has not preferred God before all creatures, proposed his glory in all things, and loved him above all things; this is the true contrition which is acceptable to God. The whole creation naturally loves God more than itself, and spends itself in the execution of his commands; but the miserable sinner loves himself better than his God. If thy sorrow, therefore, proceed merely from a sense of thy own loss, and not of thy sins and offences against God, thy contrition is not true, thy sorrow is not acceptable before God. Though there were no heaven to reward thee, nor hell to punish thee, yet thou oughtest to be grieved that thou hast offended and provoked thy God. For the love [pg 393] of God is very heaven, and his anger is hell. But if thou hast in thy heart that contrition which is here described, and true faith in Christ, thy sins shall freely be forgiven thee. For it is more agreeable to him to forgive sins, than to punish them: not to mention, that as he is our Father, and we are his children, he is obliged in justice to show mercy to us. For if he be our Father, it follows that he has a fatherly affection towards us, which will upon all occasions rejoice and triumph against the severity of his justice. To this fatherly affection of God, let us perfectly resign ourselves. Whosoever rests in this, will be well pleased both with the justice and the mercy of God. For he that truly loves God, will bear patiently all the determinations of His will, either towards himself or towards any other creature. Let his will be thine; remember the saying of one of old: “I would rather be in hell with God, than in heaven without him.”

    Chapter VIII.

    The Calling Of God Is Earnest And Sincere, And Directs Us To Come To Him.

    He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.Ps. 50:4. He hath called us with a holy calling.—2 Tim. 1:9.

    God, our heavenly Father, by all the methods and arguments of love, is continually calling and drawing us to himself. So great is his love towards us, that it is as if his own essence and blessedness were affected by our wandering from him. Hence, all his works of creation, both in heaven and earth, all the wonders of his providence, tend to this one great end, namely, to recall and bring back fallen man to himself. All his words and all his actions, call to the soul to return to the love of God from which it fell, by hearkening to the tempting insinuations of Satan.

    2. God invites us to believe in his Son, and to follow the steps of his meekness and patience, and by this means, to be reunited to himself, our chief Good. For as when God called to Elijah, and the fire passed by, and the strong wind that rent the mountains; yet God was not in them, but came at last in the still small voice (1 Kings 19:11, 12); so at this day he descends and manifests himself in humble, quiet, and peaceable souls. And as Ahasuerus sustained Esther when she fell down at his feet, for fear of his majesty (Esther 5:2; 8:3, 4); so God comforts and supports the humble man, who has a true sense of his own nothingness, and trusts not in his own strength. And were not God to support him with the everlasting arm of his omnipotence, he would sink under the apprehensions of his own unworthiness. Such a man is so humbled in his own eyes, that he would seem to sink below the vilest of all creatures. But no sooner does the mighty King of heaven cast a look upon such an humble soul, but it is strengthened and [pg 394] refreshed with the divine consolation. This is the consequence of true humility, when deeply rooted in the soul; the lower the soul sinks in its own esteem, the higher it rises in the sight of God. If to this there be added, external contempt and reproaches, they sink the soul yet more deeply into self-abasement, and by consequence bring her so much the nearer to God. This is the soil most fit to produce that peace of spirit “which passeth all understanding.” Phil. 4:7. This is the fruit of trials, injuries, and afflictions. By these God prepares and purifies thee for himself, that at length thou mayest return to him, and he return to thee, and dwell in thee. And this consummation is not to be obtained by fine words and airy speculations, but by manifold afflictions. It is not talking or thinking of humility, that makes a man humble; but bearing the cross with patience; without which thou hast only the appearance, and not the reality of virtue. Upon this account the man that treats thee with reproach and contempt, ought to be regarded as in truth thy benefactor. For these two virtues, meekness and patience, are not to be gained except by various conflicts and severe trials, which are very great and grievous to human nature. For how canst thou exercise these virtues, unless in the time of suffering? Meekness regards the ground of the soul, which is best tried in the hour of adversity. And patience respects the inner man, who is to go out with Christ, bearing his reproach. Heb. 13:13. And thus the man is conformed to the most holy and innocent life of Christ; and Christ, with his death and passion, lives and governs in him.

    3. There is also another, namely, an inward calling of God: when he kindles in the devout soul the fire of his love. By this means he conveys himself to the soul, for he himself is love. For it is as impossible to possess God without a true perception of his love, as for a man to live without a soul. For that Christ doth “dwell in our hearts by faith” (Ephes. 3:17), is only to be discovered by love ruling in us. 1 John 4:16. And this divine love cannot rest in our hearts, until they are emptied of the love of the world (1 John 2:15), and entirely and absolutely fixed upon God. It will be, therefore, a very useful exercise for a man often to examine his own heart, and see what is uppermost in his affections, God, or himself, or any creature: whether he loves life or death: what it is that principally engages his affections, and engrosses his thoughts. If upon inquiry thou findest thy heart set upon anything but God, that thou hast any affection that does not ultimately centre and terminate in him, then God cannot enter into thy soul, though thou shed as many tears as there are drops in the ocean, and thou must abide forever without him. Unhappy mortals, what are you doing? Why do you suffer a deceitful world to impose upon you by the love of the creatures, and insinuate itself into the centre of your souls, which God requires to be consecrated to his own use? It was for this end that we came into the world, that by mortification of our own will, and contempt of the world and creatures, we should return to God, and be reconciled to him; so that as the body is to return to the earth again, the spirit should also return to God that gave it. Eccl. 12:7. If thou returnest not in this life, thou art undone to all eternity. By that in which thou hast placed thy joy and thy delight here, shalt thou be judged hereafter. Let then this conviction [pg 395] be deeply fixed in thy heart: Whensoever thy heart is emptied of the world and the creatures, it shall forthwith be filled with all the fulness of God; yea, assure thyself, that were it necessary to leave heaven and earth, God would certainly do it, in order to take possession of a soul thus emptied of the world, and prepared to receive him. On the other hand, if thou be full of the world, God cannot enter. The more delight any man takes in the creatures, the farther is he removed from God. How lamentable a case this is, I need not stay to explain. This then is a certain conclusion, that not through worldly joys and pleasures, but through many tribulations, we must enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Chapter IX.

    The Purifying Influence Of True Faith.

    God purifies their hearts by faith.Acts 15:9.

    The property of true faith, is to purify the heart from the world, and all earthly, vain, and perishing desires; in a word, from all things in which corrupt nature delights itself, whether riches, honors, or pleasures. Faith fixes its eye upon those things only, that are invisible and eternal; and when all impediments are removed, a union quickly follows; and there can be no union of things, except they be alike. God is pure action, and wheresoever he finds a soul empty of the world, there he delights to operate, and manifest himself, as the spring of life and comfort to the afflicted longing soul. Therefore the usual language of Christ in the Gospel to the sick, whom he healed, was, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” Matt. 9:22; 15:28. His meaning was not, that this was the effect of the mere act of faith; but that faith had so cleansed, purified, and humbled the soul, that it was now fit for the more exalted manifestations of the divine power and presence. Hence, when our blessed Lord could find no souls so qualified in Nazareth, he could do no mighty works there. Mark 6:5. For where the creature is, God cannot enter; one hinders the other. No man can more heartily desire the assistance of God, than He desires to communicate it to a devout and well-disposed soul. For as God fills such a soul with his light, consolation, and gracious presence; so the longing soul rises as naturally towards God, as the fire burns. When God has once taken possession of such a habitation, he operates in it all the wonders of his grace, in which he rejoices as once he did in our Lord Jesus Christ; because in him he accomplished his own will, without any impediment. For no work or action can please him, which does not begin and end in him. And as God delights thus to operate in man, so he continually waits to see when we are fit to receive him; being more ready to give, than we are either to ask or to receive. Take heed, therefore, that thou neglect not the present opportunity. For [pg 396] after this life is over, we shall all receive according to our works, and according to the principle of love that ruled in our hearts, whether it be good or bad, God or the creature. And this is so certain, that should all the saints of God intercede with tears of blood for any one man, it would be lost labor. For that which has possessed thy heart, and engrossed thy affections here, shall be thy lot and portion to eternity.

    2. And as true faith purifies the heart from worldly love; so it does also from inordinate affections, as anger and impatience; planting meekness and patience in respect to our neighbor in their stead. For God works nothing in the souls of believers, but that which is agreeable to his own nature. Now what is He, but mere love, patience, and gentleness itself, as he has manifested himself in our blessed Lord Jesus Christ? As then the love of God overflows towards all men, having mercy upon all; so it produces the same love in every Christian soul, a love free and universal; making no difference either of friend or foe, but being equally united to God, and to the whole race of mankind. Moreover, this love rejoices in all the good things that God bestows upon man, and is pleased with that variety of gifts which are bestowed upon the several members of Christ's body; to each of which it pays a proper and proportionable respect. For as there is a mutual agreement between the several members of the natural body, in which the more ignoble parts, as the hands and feet, serve the more noble, as the head, the eyes, and the heart; so ought there to be the same agreement between the members of the spiritual body of Christ. Wherefore, if we meet with any member of Christ, who is more worthy than ourselves, we ought proportionably to love and esteem him more than ourselves. And the greater the portion of divine grace and favor which he has received from Jesus Christ, our supreme Head, is, the greater respect and love we ought to pay him. For this good is common to all, as being derived from our universal Head, Christ Jesus. But we cannot enjoy it without charity, which makes all our neighbor's blessing our own; and whatsoever we love in God, and for his sake, considered as a universal good, is properly ours. And as by charity, all our neighbor's blessings are made our own, therefore, how many, or how great favors soever God bestows upon a good man, they are no less mine than his, if I love them as the gifts of God, and for His sake. Yea, if any man receive the blessings of God with fear and humility, not being exalted with pride and arrogance; and if I can behold them in him, and love them for God's sake, and as proceeding from Him, they are as properly mine as his. This is the way by which we become spiritually rich in God, and are made partakers of all the blessings of heaven and earth; yea, and of all the happiness that is laid up in store for the children of God, by the mediation of our spiritual Head, Christ Jesus. So deep, so close is this union, that I am actually and properly possessed of all the blessings which our head Christ Jesus has diffused through all his members, whether men, or angels, in heaven and earth. And the effect of this inward love is patience, by which a man readily and willingly takes up his cross, as a preparation for very exalted gifts of God. For no cross comes without its special grace. This made one of the holy men of old exclaim: “Hail, bitter cross, full [pg 397] of grace and glory.” And St. Peter says: “This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief.” 1 Pet. 2:19.

    3. And they, who from love to the cross of Christ, willingly bear their own, are thereby made partakers of an eminent pleasure and of peace of mind. He, then, that labors under any cross, external or internal, and yet, although his heart may bleed, without complaining bears it patiently, for the sake of his suffering Redeemer, may rest assured, that his sufferings shall end in glory, and his sorrow shall be turned into joy. The divine consolations are ever at hand to the resigned and patient soul; which peace is that inestimable pearl, the riches of the inward man, which no man can explain or comprehend but he that has it. In a word, this is that “peace which passeth all understanding,” of which St. Paul speaks in Phil. 4:7.

    Chapter X.

    Showing How The Natural Light In Us Must Disappear, And The Light Of Grace Shine Forth.

    God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts.—2 Cor. 4:6.

    Whosoever would have a just notion of the light of nature, and the light of grace, must nicely distinguish between the faculties of the soul; that is to say, the reason, the will, and the senses, and the pure essence of the soul. (See below, Chap. XXI.) The light of nature resides in the reason, will, and senses. These faculties, as long as they keep the soul in subjection to them, hinder the divine light of grace from displaying itself in the pure essence of the soul; so that before this can rise, the other must set. For the light of grace is above all sense and reason; yea, is hindered by them. Thou seest, then, how little the natural man can do in divine things—even nothing at all.

    2. Let us now consider how the light of grace generally arises in the soul. God has the word of grace, which he has commanded to be preached, and by which he operates; and this word is spirit and life. John 6:63. And though God by his power and providence is everywhere present, yet his proper habitation, in which he peculiarly operates and kindles his divine light, is the soul of man. So that the divine light in the soul proceeds not from the senses, nor from reason, nor any natural faculty; but merely and entirely from the operation of divine grace in the soul. And this is the eternal fountain of comfort, peace, truth, wisdom, and life, the chief and everlasting happiness of the soul. Thus the only happiness of the soul is its union with God, and the operation of his grace: and of this, no creature that has not the image of God, can partake. For nothing but God's own image is capable of his light, his grace, and his wisdom.

    3. By this light the soul truly recovers its spiritual strength; that is, understanding, wisdom, and knowledge [pg 398] in the hidden mysteries of God. Hereby also is produced in the soul such a high relish of divine love, so sweet and pleasant, that she has, as it were, an aversion and dislike of everything that is not divine. Hence arise holy desires after goodness, flowing from that inward spring in the soul, without the concurrence of any creature. The creatures indeed can excite in us admiration and joy, but all by external images and impressions; so that we ought carefully to distinguish between these different motions. The light of grace affects the very centre of the soul, beyond the comprehension of sense or reason. So then, the more thou art purified from, and emptied of, the creatures, the more frequently and plenteously shalt thou be refreshed with the visits of divine light and truth. Now from this light arises the knowledge of truth, from which, so soon as a man turns himself, he falls into error. For the region of truth is not without the soul, but within it; and from this light, are darted sometimes such flashes and streams of wisdom as show a man more in an instant than all the men in the world could teach him. Yea, the perception of this light but for a moment, will give the attentive soul more joy, comfort, and happiness than all the creatures in the world can afford. And this is transacted in the inmost recesses of the soul. This is the fountain at which the royal prophet David drank, as he tells us: “Thou, through thy commandments, hast made me wiser than mine enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.” Ps. 119:98-101. Thus speaks David, who, through that whole Psalm, makes it his prayer and request to God that he would let the divine light shine, and the divine Word speak, within him; that so, by the fear of God, and the diligent keeping of his commandments, he might securely preserve this great internal treasure. Upon which account he says that “the law of God was better unto him than thousands of gold and silver.” Ps. 119:72. In short, the soul that is sensible of the value and sweetness of this inward and heavenly treasure, can have no relish or esteem for the pomps and pleasures of this world; but will say with Solomon, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Eccles. 1:2.

    4. But as this light cannot shine in a wicked soul (for “what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Cor. 6:14), and yet is the greatest blessing of the soul, therefore holy David prays (so ardently (Ps. 119), so devoutly, yea, he falls into eloquence so copious as to astonish the reader), that it would please God to protect him from the darkness of sin, and keep him in his fear. Indeed, so exceedingly plentiful is this light, so wonderful is its charity, that, like a flash of lightning, it often strikes the hearts of wicked men, warning them of approaching ruin, and, as it were, snatching them from the jaws of destruction; which is undoubtedly the effect of this illumination. And in this sense, “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” John 1:5. Now this divine light is hindered from displaying itself in the bottom of the soul by the restless activity of the external senses. For as the ear is perpetually longing to hear, the eye always employed in seeing, and the heart constantly taken up with external [pg 399] objects, this scatters and distracts the powers of the soul. Whereas, the light of grace cannot shine except in the most settled and composed frame of spirit; so that from this inward principle of light, the senses, the reason, the understanding, the will, and the memory, might be replenished with light and wisdom. For the enlightened soul neither sees, nor hears, nor speaks as before. It speaks no more the superficial language of the natural man, but words full of spirit and life. And now the enlightened soul begins in spirit to contemplate the glory of God, sighing after Him, and saying: “O God, who art most beautiful to my eyes, most sweet to my mouth, most charming to my ears, most dear to my heart!” The works that such a soul performs, are no longer her own, but the works of God; and so much the more noble than her own, as God is more noble than all creatures. Then also she comes to understand, that blessedness cannot be the reward of her own works, but is the gift of the grace of God. So likewise she finds more contentment when she suffers God to act in her, than when she works and labors herself; for by this means she has joy and comfort in all her actions, as knowing that they are all wrought in God. John 3:21.

    Chapter XI.

    God, The Light Of The Soul, Directing Us Not To Judge Our Neighbors.

    God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.—1 John 1:5.

    God is the supreme, most pure, and beauteous light; flaming with an ardent desire of enlightening the souls of men, and uniting himself to them, if not hindered by the darkness which men “love rather than light.” John 1:5; 3:19. But the darkness of the soul is the love of itself, and the love of the world, which obstruct the operations of God in us. Wherefore, if the soul would be a partaker of this divine light, let her take care not to be overcome by the love of the creatures, by covetousness, anger, self-love, ambition, and the lust of the flesh; for all these are the darkness of the world, in which the god of this world ruleth. 2 Cor. 4:4. A man must then forsake himself and all creatures, yea, everything that is not God; this is called the forsaking “all that he hath.” Luke 14:33. Such a soul is fixed entirely upon God, and is enlightened by his truth; and if by the will of Providence he be required to engage in worldly affairs, he does it with humility and fear, still keeping the centre of his soul free from the creature and the world; so that the emanations of divine light are not obstructed, but flow in perpetual streams from their fountain, which is God.

    2. This inward light breaks forth into external actions, so that whatsoever a man says, or does, or suffers, is no longer an act of his own, but of God, to whom he has surrendered and [pg 400] dedicated himself. For how can he act, who is merely passive? So then, whatsoever impression or impulse thou findest in thyself, whether it be a devout desire, a good intention, an inclination to prayer or thanksgiving, all is from God, and not from thyself. Submit thyself, therefore, to the mighty hand of God, and suffer him to accomplish his will in thee; for so whatsoever thou doest, is in him, and through him, and he worketh in thee. For it is a necessary condition of all good works that they ultimately regard God, and be wrought in him. John 3:21. Hence we should live in him, pray in him, and do everything in him. One such work wrought in God, however insignificant it may be in the eye of the world, is of more value in the sight of God, than all the actions wrought in human strength. This is the spring of true virtue, the essence of which is, that it should begin and end in God. But in proportion as the love of the world and the creature prevails in thee, thou art farther removed from God: whilst the nearer God is to the ground of thy heart, the more deeply and plentifully will he shine forth, and manifest himself by works of charity and compassion towards thy neighbor. For our blessed Saviour tells us, “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12. In him, therefore, let us act. Let us cleave to the love of this our Head, that we may be enlightened in Christ.

    3. For of all our actions those only may be called “light,” which proceed from God and diffuse themselves through the darkness and miseries of our neighbors, in patience, in meekness, in humility, in consolation, in compassion, in gentle reproofs, and charitable censures. Whereas from an arrogant love of censuring others arise self-esteem, a high mind, contempt, and insolence toward our neighbors. This is the root of innumerable sins. But as the light of the Holy Spirit cannot enter into such souls, so where he inhabits, these vices have no place. The man of God judges not his neighbor, unless compelled by necessity; and even then he does it with great gentleness, and in the proper time and place; lest while he attempt to cure one wound, he should make ten, by an unseasonable and improper application. One thing ought carefully to be observed in reproving our neighbor, namely, that we should not publish such uncharitable reflections upon him, as may in any way injure his reputation, either in his spiritual or temporal concerns; but on the contrary, every one should keep himself within the bounds of meekness and charity, lest he endanger his own humility and poverty of spirit. They that delight in uncharitable censures and railing accusations, are like the old serpent; their very breath is infected with his poison, whilst, like him, they delight in being accusers of the brethren. Whilst they know not themselves, they will dare to censure and judge their neighbors. Consider, O man, thy perverse heart, and judge thyself, but no one else. Luke 6:37. The false light of nature misleads thee, and draws thee blindly into pride, self-love, and rash censures of others. But know that this is not the light of God, but the very darkness of Satan.

    4. But the true and divine light always discovers itself in modesty and humility. It hunts not after the empty applause of men, but seeks after God, from whom it proceeded, and into whom it longs and labors to [pg 401] return. Such a man thinks himself the weakest, vilest, and most ignorant of all men; being fully persuaded that whatever good there is in him, it is not his but God's. Above all things, therefore, endeavor to know thyself, and trouble not thyself about thy neighbor, particularly his faults; lest in the bitterness of thine heart thou be tempted to condemn him; for thereby thou canst do great harm to thine own soul. Turn away, then, thy eyes, for God's sake, from any vices of thy neighbor, and turn into thyself, and see whether thou art not, or hast not been as deep in the mire as he. And if this appear to be the case, consider it in the order of Providence as an opportunity of reading thy own defects in the life of thy neighbor, and as a means of bringing thee to the knowledge of thyself, to true repentance and amendment of life. Then turn thine eyes upon thy neighbor, and pray to God for him, that He would be pleased, of his fatherly compassion, to grant unto him also the same knowledge and amendment of life. The man that is thus disposed, profits by his neighbor's faults, and is preserved from the sin of rashly judging or condemning him.

    Chapter XII.

    The Christian Ought Daily, Once At Least, Wholly To Abstract Himself From All External Objects, And Retire Into His Own Soul; The Advantages Of This Course.

    Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.Ps. 116:7.

    The soul of man, flowing out into worldly things, and cleaving entirely to the creatures, is like a wandering sheep. Now, the great Shepherd of souls tries, by all the methods of his mercy and wisdom, to bring him back to the fold, by emptying him of the creatures, and filling him with all the fulness of God. Thus the royal Psalmist concludes the 119th Psalm: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant.” This expression, how oddly soever it may sound to carnal ears, discovers, nevertheless, to the spiritual man, the whole work of illumination and divine wisdom. For as the soul of man is placed between time and eternity, so soon as ever it turns to time, it forgets eternity, and withdraws every day further and further from divine things. But if it returns to eternity, then it forgets the creatures, recovers its liberty, draws nearer to God, and is thoroughly drawn unto him. For there is nothing dearer to God, than a soul abstracted from the creatures, and resigned to him. Then, and not till then, the soul enjoys true peace, tastes the food of life, and feels in herself the true fruits of that divine anointing, which denominates us truly Christians (the name “Christ” signifying: “The Anointed One.”)

    2. And if these things are so, who can doubt that it is the duty of every true Christian, if not oftener, yet once a day at least, to taste this divine food of the soul, which is God himself, that [pg 402] thereby he may be refreshed with true peace, and be replenished with the fulness of divine life and grace? Wouldest thou, O man, but thoroughly consider this, thou wouldest be much more in love with heaven, than with earth! Wert thou but thus disposed, though the burden of a whole kingdom lay upon thy shoulders, as it did upon David's, yet it should be no hindrance to thy holy exercises. For the creatures are not in themselves hurtful, but are only so to him whose soul is in captivity to them; or, as it is said, “who sets his heart upon them” (Ps. 62:10), which ought to be entirely consecrated and devoted to God. Upon this foundation stood the Psalmist, when he cried out, “Lord, whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Ps. 73:25. For so great is the sweetness of divine love, that the soul that has once tasted it, despises sufferings, and looks upon the love or hatred of this world with indifference. They that are admitted to these joys, have perpetual peace in God with all creatures, whether friends or enemies. To these “the yoke of Christ is easy” (Matt. 11:30); for they are in Christ, and Christ is in them; and his presence makes their burden light, whilst he bears it in them, and they bear it in him. Therefore, such a believer says with St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. 4:13.

    3. From what has been said, it appears plainly, how necessary and profitable an exercise it is for every Christian, once a day at least, to retire into his own heart, into God, and into Christ, to draw thence true peace of soul, and to learn there the true use of temporal blessings. For God does not forbid us the use of these, provided we walk in humility, and in his fear, and continue faithful in our attendance upon him. Our misery requires this of us, which in such a soul God will not suffer to last long; and so does, lastly, our daily cross, which Christ by this means makes light and easy to us. Not to say, that thou, O Christian, art continually admonished by the Spirit of God within thee, to sigh and pray for the love of God, and of God alone, and to grieve within thyself, when any worldly impediments draw and separate thee from it. This is the true and inward calling of the Holy Ghost, this is the well-beloved's knocking at the door of thy heart (Cant. 1:13; Rev. 3:20), as a living testimony that our hearts ought to be the chamber of our heavenly bridegroom.

    Chapter XIII.

    Showing How The Love Of God Enters Into The Soul, When It Is Empty Of The Love Of The Creatures.

    If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.—1 John 2:15.

    He that desires to become the habitation of God, must first divest himself of the love of the world, and then exercise himself in the love of God. No man can receive the one, without quitting the other; or be [pg 403] filled with the Spirit of God, before he be emptied of the spirit of the world. As the magnet by a touch draws iron to it; so God first touches, with his divine love, the soul which he intends to draw and unite to himself.

    2. Now this divine love is so great, that, like the sun, it shines upon all; yea, it shines more universally than the sun itself, displaying itself equally upon all men. So that it is not the fault of God, who is pure light, and pure love, but of men, if they do not perceive or enjoy it. For when God approaches men with the highest love, and most ardent affection, he generally finds their hearts full of the love of the world, and all uncleanness, that is, of covetousness, pride, lust, hatred, envy, and evil thoughts, which force him to retire and to withdraw his graces from them. Whence it appears, that since God is ready, like the sun in the firmament, to communicate the rays of his light freely to every purified soul, it is not His fault, but theirs, if they are not enlightened by it. As, therefore, we know these things, let us keep ourselves from the love of the world, and turn to the living God, watching diligently unto prayer; let us labor earnestly for the love of God in Christ, by which we are united to him. Let us knock at the door of his holy wounds, and from thence expect salvation. If we do this, God will open to us, and give us admission into that high state of uniting love, in which we shall be refreshed with all the treasures of God. And who can doubt that the God of mercy, the fountain of happiness, will fill the heart of man with greater and more substantial joys, than any which this perishing world can afford?

    3. Whosoever, therefore, loves God, shall be loved by all the saints and holy angels. If I love God, then I share in the love of all the inhabitants of the city of God, a love that far surpasses the highest degree of worldly affection. And as all the heavenly host have the highest love of God, and rejoice in his honor, so is their joy proportionably great at every step of our conversion, and their happiness is enhanced by every advance which we make in the love of God.

    4. Now one evidence of divine love is this, that we use the creatures with fear and humility. He that is endued with a habit of divine love, whether he eat or drink, or whatever he doth, doth everything like a dutiful son, with reverence and fear, having his eye constantly fixed upon the glory of his Heavenly Father. 1 Cor. 10:31. From this fear of God flow the many deep sighs and passionate groans of the devout soul, which, by degrees, raise him from earth to heaven. For he discovers so many corruptions and impurities in himself, obstructing the light and quenching the flames of the Holy Spirit, that he is forced to cry out with St. Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. 7:24. And truly, these sighs and groanings must frequently ascend to the mercy-seat of God, that by the assistance of divine grace we may bear up, and not faint under the manifold miseries of this wretched state, and the pressure of a vile earthly body. Thus did all the holy men of old time when they labored under the sense of spiritual infirmities: they raised their broken spirits unto God by devout sighs, penitential tears, and humble acknowledgments of their misery, which reverted into their own bosoms with a large increase of grace and spiritual strength. He that does not sincerely [pg 404] seek after God, but has his soul intent on something else besides him, shall never find him. On the other hand, he that seeks him alone, in the integrity of his heart, shall surely find him, and be admitted to all the blessings and happiness that are to be found in the presence of God. He that seeks God in truth, finds God, and all things that are God's; and whosoever seeks for nothing else, and looks for nothing else but God only, unto him God manifests himself, and confers upon him all whatsoever is laid up in his divine heart, that the same may as properly be said to belong to man, as to God.

    Chapter XIV.

    Of The Exercise Of Patience And Love.

    He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.Isa. 53:7.

    Whosoever would rightly prepare his soul for union with Jesus Christ, must, like him, be clothed with the meekness and patience of the lamb. Yea, he must have the very same mind that was in Christ, and become a lamb even as he was. Let this be thy rule and thy guide in all thy actions. He tells us himself, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Matt. 10:16. This is truly thy case; and whatever way thou turnest thyself, remember that thou art in the midst of wolves, to whose violence thou art continually exposed; and against this thou hast no other remedy but patience, meekness, and submission, according to the example of the Lamb of God, thy Saviour, Jesus Christ. And as this meekness of the blessed Jesus was acceptable to his Heavenly Father, so also is thine, when by patience thou dost triumph over persecution. So that it is thy business to submit cheerfully to his will, whensoever he shall be pleased to lay his afflicting hand upon thee, either more immediately from heaven, or by any suffering which may fall upon thee by means of any creature. It must all be borne with patience, as coming from the hand of God; and assure thyself that the faithful Shepherd is at hand to seek and save the lost sheep, and bring it home “upon his shoulders, rejoicing.” Luke 15:5. Thus the patient soul is, by every impetuous wave of affliction, wafted nearer to God. But if thy blind carnal reason suggest to thee any excuses or objections against thy submission, hearken not to them; but fix thine eyes upon the exemplary patience of thy Redeemer; look steadfastly to thy crucified Saviour, who did no evil, yet suffered all injuries without thoughts of revenge.

    2. Endeavor to acquire more and more the meekness of the Lamb, and, above all things, preserve the love of God, which cannot abide in a wrathful soul. And here consider well with thyself what that love is. Do not [pg 405] fancy it to be that inward joy, that unspeakable pleasure, which sometimes elevates devout souls; that is not the essence of love, but the brightness of it, differing from its root and cause as much as the light does from the fire whence it proceeds. But the true essence of love to God is, to be resigned to the will of God, to depend entirely upon him, and to submit to every affliction as coming immediately from his hand. Thus did Job, who, taking the loss of his children, his goods, his health, and his honor, as coming from the hand of God, still “blessed the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. So, too, David humbly submitted to the curses of Shimei, as being ordered by the Lord. 2 Sam. 16:10. By this means the essence, the root, and spring of love, are preserved pure and unshaken; and by love we rest in God, and rejoice in all his dispensations. So that if it should please God to sink such a man with Christ to hell, he would not open his mouth, but rest satisfied with the will of God, in which only he finds happiness and rest. In this love true peace is to be found, when in God, and for God's sake, we love everything, crosses and tribulations not excepted. True love unites us to God, and to all the world: and the happiness of such a state is inexpressibly great.

    Chapter XV.

    Showing How Christ, The Eternal Word Of The Father, Perfects His Work In The Hearts Of The Faithful, By Love And Humility.

    Examine yourselves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you?—2 Cor. 13:5.

    As the faithful soul is often obliged to bear the temptations and suggestions of the Evil Spirit; so, on the other hand, it receives the divine consolations from the mouth of the eternal Word speaking in it. Of this Tauler speaks: “We know,” says he, “that the eternal Word is so very near the ground of the human soul, that its own nature and being are not more essential and familiar to it, than that Word is. This eternal Word is continually speaking in man, though his perverse heart, deluded by the devil, neither hearkens nor attends to it. For the great adversary makes him deaf by his wicked insinuations, the love of the world, and carnal inclinations.” For the devil to this day tempts all men, as he did Eve (Gen. 3:4), by those things which he knows to be most agreeable to our tempers and inclinations,—by riches, honors, friendships, our own nature, the love of the creatures, and infinite other ways, in which he influences and affects our imaginations. For as he is industriously busy about us for our destruction, so he narrowly observes the particular bias of our affections, and knows all the secret arts of raising our passions; and when by thus striking our imaginations, he has discomposed our spirits, we immediately [pg 406] become deaf to the calls of the Holy Spirit and the Word. These suggestions of Satan we must oppose; for so far as we attend to them, we are the nearer to our ruin; but if thou stop thine ears to his insinuations, and turn thyself unto God in the centre of thy soul, thou hast already conquered him. And as true friends, united in affection, are particularly delighted in mutual conversation; so if thou sincerely love God, thou shalt frequently hear his voice within thee. “If a man love me,” saith Christ, “he will keep my words” (John 14:23): not only those which he hears in the outward and visible temple and congregation of the faithful; but those also which are heard in the true temple of the soul, without which the outward hearing availeth little. And this inward voice of God thou canst not hear, unless the love of God be in thee.

    2. “The most certain token of love to God,” saith St. Gregory, “is this, that we receive all the adversities which God shall think fit to lay upon us, without any impatience in thought, word, or actions. If we do this, without doubt we truly love God; if not, it is certain that we do not love him sincerely, but prefer ourselves and our own things to him; though nothing can be properly said to be a man's own but sin; everything else is God's.” Take heed, therefore, that thou prefer not even the gifts of God before Himself; whom if thou love purely and above all things, then thou shalt continually hear him speaking peace to thy soul, according to that saying of our blessed Lord, “He that loveth me, to him will I manifest myself.” John 14:21. This manifestation is made by the opening of the understanding, by the illumination of the heart, by the spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of might, and of fear (Isa. 11:2), and especially by the purifying and enlightening of the inward eyes (Eph. 1:18), to see and know Jesus Christ.

    3. But as the devil is wont to stop the inward ears of men by his suggestions; so he also blinds their eyes by self-love, by the love of the world and the creatures, and by inward and outward pride. For as by true and genuine love, we hear Christ; so by faith and profound humility, we must see him; for that only can purify our hearts from vain pride. For it is not without reason that our blessed Lord tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” Matt. 5:8. And for this cause it is that God sends us so many crosses and afflictions, that we may thereby be brought into the depths of profound humility, which is an exercise more profitable to us than all the delights and glories of this world. And now, though heaven, and earth, and hell itself, should unite their forces against thee, yet bear up with constancy and patience, remembering that all shall work together for thy good; as it serves to produce in thee true humility, by which thou shalt see Christ. Look at him, O man, and consider how he that is God (John 1:1; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5), most high and omnipotent, by whom were made the heavens and the earth, and who could easily again have reduced all things into nothing; yet for the sake of this wretched creature man, submitted himself to the most bitter sufferings. Phil. 2:5-8. Be thou, therefore, O sinful and wretched creature, ashamed of that pride, vainglory, and self-love, which have taken possession of thy heart. Learn to submit thyself to every cross that shall be laid upon thee, of what sort soever it be, whether [pg 407] inward or outward; and so subject thy proud, swelling spirit to the thorny crown of Christ, that thou mayest imitate thy humble and crucified Lord by a true contempt of thyself; making this the great end and design of all thy actions, to be conformed to the meek and suffering life of the blessed Jesus, that so thou mayest come to an experimental knowledge of him. For what avail a few cold, formal reflections upon the sufferings of our Lord, whilst we are destitute of that meek and patient spirit with which he bore them? Of what benefit is it to entertain our fancies with a few dead speculations about his passion, whilst our hearts are full of pride, ambition, and worldly love? This, surely, is not the way to the true vision and experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Jesus operates most deeply in the valley of humility. And in this consists the essence of humility, that a man look upon himself and all that he ever has, or ever can do, as nothing. For if there be any good in thee, it is not of thyself; it is the gift of God.

    4. And this humility thou must practise, if ever thou expect to see Christ. For the hidden mysteries and wisdom of God are revealed to the meek and humble, but are hidden from the wise men of this world. Ps. 51:6; Matt. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:20, 26. For in this humility alone consist the knowledge and understanding of pure and divine truth, in which is the essence of eternal blessedness. In this the greatness of the divine majesty manifests itself, which the more clearly we discern, the deeper root humility takes in our souls. And the most certain sign of divine illumination is, that a man grow daily more and more humble, and be less fond of himself. For self-love and pride are the fountains of all the darkness, error, and iniquity that are in us. On the other hand, they that are truly enlightened by God, glory in contempt and sufferings, and rejoice to imitate their suffering Redeemer. This is the groundwork and spirit of Psalm 119. The royal prophet well knew that without such a thirst after godliness, no divine light and wisdom would enter the soul, and no divine answer be given to it. And this is the real purport of that long Psalm.

    5. In a word, this humble and resigned state of soul, is that in which God particularly delights to operate. And he that has this, carries in his soul the comfortable presence, and in his body the suffering marks of the Lord Jesus; and considering himself as unworthy of the least of God's mercies, he uses them all with reverence and fear, having his eye, like a good servant, fixed on his Master; and therefore he is honored with His more immediate conversation, and grace.

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    Chapter XVI.

    Showing How The Holy Spirit Operates In Our Souls.

    I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.Isa. 44:3.

    If after a drought and dearth of three years and a half (such as happened in the time of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1; 18:45), it should please God to send rain upon all the earth, one man's field only excepted; he would truly have reason to think that God was angry with him, and that his case was most deplorably miserable. But how much more miserable and unhappy is he, who, though hungering and thirsting, like a parched ground, after faith, charity, and all Christian graces, yet cannot receive one drop of spiritual consolation in the inward ground of his soul!

    2. But if this ever happen, it is not God's fault, for he is ready “to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28), but man's, who prepareth not his heart to receive it. The best preparation to receive this holy guest, is to turn our hearts by faith and prayer from the world unto God, as the Apostles did at Pentecost (Acts 2:4); and whensoever God shall find us thus prepared, he will forthwith visit us with all the fulness of spiritual blessings. On the other hand, if the heart be full of the world, there will be no room for the Spirit of God to enter; for where the one is, the other cannot be. As in nature there is no vacuum, so it is in the spiritual world. Let this then be thy care, and this thy chief concern, not to fix thy heart upon any creature, either inwardly or outwardly, not on the love of thyself, nor upon thine own will, but upon God alone; assuring thyself, that this is the most noble and useful exercise for thee. As the finest work of the most skilful workman may be broken and destroyed by a heedless child; so it often happens with the works and gifts of God, which men destroy by their rash and unadvised management. Thus they break and deface the most noble designs and operations of the Spirit of God within them; they attribute that to themselves which is the work of God, and patch their own vile rags upon the fine linen of Christ's righteousness. For it is most certain that we are “unprofitable servants” (Luke 17:10), and by consequence can do nothing but what is unprofitable. And, in the same degree, as God is more noble than man, so the works of the Divine Spirit are more noble and precious than those of the human spirit. Hence it follows, that if thou wouldest have God to operate more eminently in thee, thou must surrender all the passions, affections, and powers of thy soul, to be possessed, governed, and directed by Him. For unless the creature be entirely still, thou canst not hear the voice of God. Think not then that every inward motion which thou perceivest, is the work of God; whereas some are merely the product of thy own flesh and blood. Take heed therefore to thyself, and learn to distinguish well, lest thou ascribe to God the very operations of the devil.

    3. But in order to the more perfect operation of the Holy Ghost in thee, there are two rules proper to be observed: first, that thou turn away [pg 409] thine heart from the world, the creatures, thyself, and thine own will and affections, that so this Holy Spirit may have room to act freely; secondly, to receive all crosses and afflictions as coming from the hand of God, without any respect or reference to the creatures, and to embrace them as preparations for receiving more plentiful communications of divine grace and blessing. Suppose, for instance, thou wert engaged in some good work or act of devotion, and some intimate friend should break in upon thee with abusive and reproachful language; if thou couldest bear this with silence and patience, thou mightest be assured that that was the work of the Holy Spirit, in order to prepare thee for greater blessings. But if wicked thoughts be suggested to thee, by the devil, yet satisfy thyself that they do thee no harm, because they are involuntary. Lastly, if thou art engaged in any worldly calling or profession, see that thou perform thy duty in it with thine eye fixed upon the glory of God, and the good of thy neighbor. By this means all thy works shall be wrought in God, and his Spirit.

    Chapter XVII.

    Signs Of The Presence Of The Holy Spirit In Us.

    The Comforter will reprove the world.John 16:8.

    When the Holy Spirit enters into our soul; that is to say, manifests his presence by his operations, in the first place, he forthwith reproves in us everything that is not divine, such as the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16), giving us a sort of loathing and abhorrence of them. Whosoever, therefore, lives a carnal life, without such inward admonition of the Holy Spirit, may assure himself that that Spirit is not in him; inasmuch as it is peculiarly his office and character, at all times, to persuade, draw, and invite every one that will give him room to act freely, to the duties of a Christian life. Thus the Holy Spirit reproves sin. But everything is sin, that opposes our obedience to the will of God. And every such act of disobedience, or inclination to it, the Holy Spirit reproves wherever he enters.

    2. Hence, in the second place, arise spiritual sadness, grief, and inward terrors of mind. Of this the children of this world have little experience, though it is one of the surest signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul. But they that are utter strangers to this godly sorrow, who run on with delight and satisfaction in the way of the world, upon whom all things smile, and who find here their enjoyment, and never meet with any cross; these men, I say, are in a very dangerous state, and, being destitute of God's Spirit, are without God in the world. On the contrary, they that are afflicted of God, and are reproved in their consciences by the [pg 410] Spirit of God for every act of disobedience to his will; and are led in the way of the cross, being brought under the discipline and correction of wisdom, are those in whom the Spirit of God prepareth himself an habitation. And this is the second sign of the presence in us, of the Holy Spirit.

    3. The third sign is, that the Divine Spirit takes away from us all the glory of our own merit and righteousness, so that before the righteousness of God it falls as a flower of the field, and withers as grass, when the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it. Isa. 40:6, 7. For the Spirit of Christ shows us that we have no other solid and stable foundation upon which to rest, but the merits and righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Woe to our own righteousness,” saith St. Augustine, “if it were to be tried and judged without mercy by God.” For this reason Isaiah compares it to “filthy rags.” Isa. 64:6.

    4. The fourth token of the presence of God's Spirit, is when a man looks upon his neighbor's faults with compassion, not rudely censuring or condemning him. For a haughty desire to judge others is diabolical, proceeding from nothing but pride, contempt of our neighbor, and admiration of ourselves. And where these reign the Holy Spirit cannot abide; but wheresoever He is, there a man is careful—1. Not to reprove his neighbor but upon urgent necessity. 2. To do it in the proper time and place, after the example of our blessed Lord. 3. Not to do it in severe terms, but with meekness and humanity. 4. Not to despise his neighbor, nor expose him to the scorn and contempt of others, but to do all from a pure principle of charity. Let these things sink deeply into thy heart, that thou mayest abide in humility, and in the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that he may dwell in thee.

    Chapter XVIII.

    Showing How Worldly Pleasures Drive Away The Holy Spirit.

    Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.—1 Peter 2:11.

    The children of this world earnestly follow the joys and pleasures of it, which the children of God avoid with all diligence, as so many snares and temptations of the devil, designed to draw them from God, their sovereign Good. If thou, O Christian, resolve to preserve this most valuable treasure, be careful to avoid all occasions of losing it. Of this sort are all so-called sports, pastimes, and recreations, or those actions which do not in some way tend to the glory of God, and the good of our neighbor. And though thou art sometimes forced to be present at them, yet be then careful to turn thy thoughts inward, by an elevation of thy heart to God; and so thou shalt never lose the comfort and peace of the divine presence wheresoever thou art. And whilst thou art faithful in [pg 411] this exercise, the world and all its vanities shall not hurt thee. This was queen Esther's case, who, though outwardly clothed with royal ornaments, yet was inwardly clothed with profound humility. Thus David, in the midst of his glory and riches, had nevertheless, humble thoughts of himself. 2 Sam. 6:22. And Joseph, in his master's house, which was full of luxury, yet preserved a chaste heart. Gen. 39:9. And this is that true fear of God which keeps his faithful servants from the world and all its vanities, that they lose not their inward joy and peace of conscience. This “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Ps. 111:10. He that is endued with it will not turn himself to the world, but from the world to God, seeking contentment, joy, and peace in Him. This, in short, is the fruit of true contrition; to turn us away from all things which are not God, or do not tend to him; and to turn us to that chief and true Good, which is God. If we are inwardly conscious that we have hitherto neglected this useful exercise, and have been immersed in the vanities of the world, let the remainder of our lives be spent in bewailing and lamenting our past transgressions, and in forsaking and guarding against every approach towards them. If we do this, God will not remember how great sinners we have been, but will rejoice at our repentance, not regarding our former iniquities, but our present faith and earnest desires of serving God more faithfully than hitherto we have done. But though God so earnestly desires our salvation, yet too many, by turning from him to the world, resist his grace and force him out of their hearts, notwithstanding all his gracious endeavors to continue there.

    2. Therefore it is necessary that every man should die to the world, that would live to God; whence it appears that the major part of mankind are at enmity with God. Alas! how many mortifications of the flesh must we undergo before our corrupt nature, both externally and internally, is perfectly slain in us, and the life of God succeed in its place. Now crosses and trials are as so many remedies applied to our corruption, in order to drive out of us the poison of sin, and restore us to the life of God. Whence it appears, that the benefit of afflictions is very great, and that we ought to meet them with contentment and joy, as the means of purifying our corrupt nature, and bringing us to a participation of the divine nature. This it is which brings us to the noblest exercise of Christian duty, namely, dying to the world, in prosperity and adversity, in silence and hope, secretly and inwardly, without the least murmur or complaint. They who fret, repine, or complain, discover plainly that they are unwilling to die to the world, and that they have but little of the divine light in their souls. God cannot live in the soul which is not dead to the world; for the more we live after the lusts of corrupt nature, the less we live unto God and his holy will. On the other hand, the less we live to the flesh, so much the more we live unto God. Let this, then, be our certain rule, that he that would live to the Spirit, must die to the flesh. Rom. 8:13.

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    Chapter XIX.

    Of Inward Prayer, And Of The True Use Of The Lord's Prayer.

    Ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.Rom. 8:15.

    As God operates eminently in humble souls; so the Holy Spirit particularly works in them the gift of filial prayer. Without the Spirit of God there is no true prayer; for he it is that cries and groans in the soul, being, as it were, its life. Rom. 8:26; Gal. 4:6. For as the soul is the life of our body, so is the Spirit of God the life of the soul, being the source of all its spiritual life and strength. This Holy Spirit is also the witness of our adoption and regeneration; and he who knows how to use these as he ought, relying, by faith in Christ and love of the Holy Spirit, upon the eternal love of his heavenly Father, will ask for, and receive great and heavenly gifts. For so great is the love, so abundant the goodness of God, that he can deny nothing to his children, who ask in faith. But as even faith and prayer are the work and gift of God, so we must daily apply ourselves to Him for the same. Hence arises the true internal prayer of the heart, from a true conversion and inclination of our souls and affections to God. This inward prayer pierces the heavens, whilst a man walking in the steps of his Saviour, freely and cheerfully takes up his cross and follows him; not like Simon the Cyrenian, who bore, indeed, the cross, but it was because he was compelled to do it. Matt. 27:32. So great is the love of God, that he does not stay for our prayers; but comes forth freely to meet us, and courts our friendship, entreating us to ask pardon for our sins, and to practise the same love towards our neighbors which he shows towards us. Happy is he, who truly knows, understands, and meditates on this boundless love of God in Jesus Christ. Such a man prays more effectually in his heart, than if he used the most perfect form of words. One single meditation or devout sigh offered up to God by Jesus Christ, in faith, love, and devotion, is more acceptable to God, than all the parade of external worship.

    2. The whole life of a Christian ought to be spent in the exercise of love, and in the imitation of his crucified Lord. He properly is a Christian, who does all things from a principle of divine charity, and is transformed by it into the nature of Christ. And can God deny anything to so dutiful, loving, and obedient a child when he prays? No, surely. But that we might know how and for what we ought to ask, Christ has taught us the Lord's Prayer, a prayer full of petitions for the most exalted blessings. Can there be a greater good than the kingdom of God? For he himself is his own kingdom, extending to all rational creatures. So that when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we pray that God would please to bestow Himself upon us, with all the riches and blessings of his presence. In this kingdom, therefore, God is our Father, manifesting his paternal love and faithfulness to his children, by erecting his kingdom in us, that therein he may perfect his [pg 413] most noble work in us, expressed in this petition, “Hallowed be thy name;” which is done when the dignity and excellency of the divine name and nature are more deeply discovered in the soul.

    3. In this kingdom, which is within us, he works his own will, without any impediment. And so his “will is done in earth,” namely, in us, “as it is in heaven,” that is, in God himself. Hence we understand, that what God desires to bestow, and has commanded us to pray for, is nothing less than Himself. This was the promise that he made to Abraham, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Gen. 15:1. Moreover, our Heavenly Father gives us “our daily bread;” that is, he appropriates all his creatures to our use, testifying thereby the greatness of his love towards us. For the heart that is truly devoted to God, and in which he freely executes his own will, is capable of receiving the fulness of his grace and blessings. So great are the goodness, love, and mercy of God, that he can deny us nothing that is necessary either for the body or the soul; and he best knows our necessities. For this end he is daily setting our sins and miseries before our eyes, teaching us to abase ourselves before him, and to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” For so compassionate is God, that he freely offers us forgiveness of sins, and teaches us how to ask it from the heart; that thereby we may be assured, that he is more ready to forgive, than we are to ask it; and that we may thence learn to exercise the same kindness towards our neighbor, that He exercises towards us. For they that are truly the children of God, exclude no man from their charity, or from the love of God. They have nothing more at heart, than the glory of God, the increase of his kingdom, and the salvation of all men. By this acknowledgment of sin, and petition for pardon, the Christian is taught, that in his natural state he is without God and his kingdom; void of comfort, poor and miserable. And, therefore, he is taught to pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” by which the devil endeavors to draw us from the will and kingdom of God; but that he would “deliver us from evil,” that is, from our own evil will and corrupt nature, which hinder the accomplishment of God's will, and the erecting of his kingdom in us, and deprive him of the honor due unto his name. “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.” Whilst we receive these as coming from him alone, they still continue to be his. But if we do not ascribe them to Him alone, we exclude ourselves from his kingdom, his power, and his glory, not worthily sanctifying his name, nor obeying his will. And hence it follows, that we also are out of his kingdom, and so have no title to remission of sins and deliverance from evil.

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    Chapter XX.

    Showing That Humility Must First Be Laid As A Foundation In The Heart, And All Our Works Must Rest On It; Its Blessed Influences.

    Be clothed with humility.—1 Peter 5:5.

    If thou wouldst build for eternity, let thy foundation be humility; for no man can of himself do anything. Wherefore, in all thine undertakings, humble thyself before God, the overflowing fountain of grace and mercy, and pray devoutly for his direction and assistance, that all thy labors may be entirely directed to the praise, and honor, and glory of God; and remember this, that whatsoever thou doest without the grace of God, can tend to nothing but sin and destruction. He that carefully attends to this, submitting himself entirely to the divine will, silently and humbly deploring his own weakness and vileness, and by ardent love devoting himself to God, shall experience in all the powers of his soul the wonderful works of God; while, on the contrary, pride is that vice which makes all our works vile and abominable in the sight of God.

    2. And alas! why are dust and ashes proud? If we look into our original, we were created out of nothing; of ourselves we are nothing, more fleeting than a vain shadow; so corrupt that nothing but the grace of God restrains us from falling into the grossest sins, and sinking into the lowest pit of destruction. We are perpetually exposed to the assaults of the devil, against whom we have no security but in humility. For this evil spirit, puffed up with pride, has all imaginable advantages over the proud man; but flies from the meek and humble. Pride has its root in Satan; but so long as thou canst preserve thy humility, turning thyself to God from all thine iniquities, so long he can have no power over thee. How lamentable a thing is it then, to see a Christian, furnished with the Word and Spirit of God, so tamely give himself up to the devil. Such a one is like a cowardly soldier, who, though armed from head to foot, should suffer himself to be stung to death by a wasp. So powerful is the grace of God in humble souls, that if they will be true to themselves the devil can have no power over them. And if thou suffer thyself to be thus shamefully foiled, notwithstanding all the assistance offered to thee, what canst thou expect at the last day but the insults of those very evil spirits to whom thou hast given so cheap a victory. Consider well, therefore, what a grace and blessing humility is.

    3. There is, moreover, in humble souls, a perpetual hungering and thirsting after the grace of God, which God never fails to reward by the fulness of his blessings, that is, of Himself: for he alone can satisfy the cravings of a thirsty soul. And on this humility is founded true repentance; for when a man sees the vast impurity, the secret malice, the deep corruption of his sinful heart, and bewails all this with sincere sorrow, he gladly lays hold of the free grace of [pg 415] Christ by faith, and entirely resigns and devotes himself to the will of God. Such a man's sins God freely pardons, and, as it were, blots them out at once. For when a man turns himself from his sins unto God, God immediately turns unto him and remembers his transgressions no more.

    4. Another property of humility is, that it cheerfully receives every cross sent from God as a preparation for greater gifts; it regards not the immediate agents by which the man is afflicted, but looks up to God from whom afflictions come. The humble man rejoices in the cross, saying: “Hail, blessed cross, unexpected indeed, but not unwelcome. I know that it is the will of God by thee to sanctify and consecrate me to Himself.” And, lastly, humility keeps a man in peace of mind, as well in adversity as in prosperity, as well under the want, as in the abundance of the gifts and blessings of God. So that the truly humble man is always easy, whether it please God to give or take away, and nothing can happen to him, to exalt or deject him above measure. In him the wonders of divine grace manifest themselves. And whereas he before lived and acted by his own strength, he is now supported by God, and in and through Him produces fruit abundantly.

    Chapter XXI.

    Showing That A Man Ought To Rest In God Alone, And Not In His Gifts; And That He Must Deny Himself.

    Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous.Ps. 32:11.

    The genuine love of God proposes God alone for its end. It delights not in the creatures, but in that supreme, eternal, and uncreated Good, whence they proceeded; and this not only outwardly, but even in the very bottom of the soul. For the soul, besides its natural powers, by which it gives life and motion to the body, has a deep and central essence, having no relation to the creature. This is the seat and city of God, abstracted from all external and earthly things; here the Holy Spirit pours out his gifts through all the faculties of the soul, in the different manifestations of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. But when corrupt nature begins to delight itself inordinately with these visitations, loving the gifts more than the Giver, it immediately pollutes them by corrupt mixtures of self-love. All the love and joy which result thence, are blind, vicious, and deceitful. For as the gifts of God are not God himself, so we must not place the same love upon both. Most men rest in the gifts of God, and upon the least perception of divine light in the understanding, or warmth in the affections, imagine themselves at the summit of perfection; not considering that they are yet far short of it. Man was made for greater things, even to receive God into the soul; and God is displeased if we stop short of this. There is nothing [pg 416] he so much desires as to bestow himself upon us, and that after the most exalted and glorious way; and certainly the least we can do in return is thankfully to accept this divine love, and to delight in God alone.

    2. But so corrupt is human nature, and so addicted to self-love, that it catches greedily at everything that may gratify its passions, placing its happiness in those delights, which, like Jonah's gourd, perish in the enjoyment. This satisfaction, though in the gifts of God, defiles them, and hinders His operations in us. So great, and so deep, is the corruption of our nature, introduced by Original Sin, that scarce one in a thousand can know his secret faults. Ps. 19:12. Hence proceeds that inordinate love which men have for themselves more than for God. This abyss of corruption, the most learned men could never fully fathom nor explain: and yet much more difficult is it to root it out of human nature. This rooting it out is the denying of ourselves, required by our blessed Lord, if we will be his disciples. Matt. 16:24. And yet it is much easier to forsake all earthly things, gold, silver, houses, and estates, than to forsake one's self: so deeply is this poison rooted in our nature! But as this self-denial is absolutely necessary, so God disposes and prepares us for it by various tribulations. This is the only end of all the crosses and afflictions, inward or outward, spiritual or bodily, with which he is pleased to visit us; namely, to bring us to the practice of self-denial.

    Chapter XXII.

    Showing How Our Works May Be Rendered Acceptable To God.

    Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.Ps. 37:4.

    As man in his natural state is obnoxious to the wrath of God (Eph. 2:3), it follows, that all his natural works, how great and good soever they may appear in the eye of the world, are subject to it likewise. For, without the grace of God, we can do nothing that is acceptable in his sight; but if a man be in a state of grace, then all his works are acceptable to God; because it is the grace of God which works them in him.

    2. Whence it appears, that all manner of gifts whatsoever, as St. Paul assures us, are to be ascribed to the grace of God, not to ourselves (1 Cor. 15:10), and that by our own works we can never be justified or saved. For though a man should suffer all the pains of martyrdom; though he should perform all the good actions that were ever done by all the saints from the beginning of the world, or that ever shall be done; though he should feed upon nothing but thorns, and suffer death, not once, but every day; yet could he not thereby, of himself, be able to procure the least grace. Depend not then upon thine own works, but upon the infinite mercies of God in Jesus Christ, with a resigned and humble spirit: and then be confident, [pg 417] that the same Jesus will, of his free love and mercy, give thee whatever he shall see expedient for thee. This is the meaning of the saying of our Lord, “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.” Luke 17:10. O merciful God! how poor, how worthless in thy sight is our righteousness; it is no better than “filthy rags.” Isa. 64:6. For all the works of good men would be of no value for our justification. Enter then into thy purchased inheritance by the surest gate, even the meritorious work of thy blessed Saviour. Offer up to God his passion, for the punishments which thou hast deserved; his holy thoughts, for thy polluted imaginations; his many divine words, for thy vain speeches; in a word, all his works, his poverty, his patience, his meekness and charity, for all thy defects and omissions. Keep thine eyes fixed on the blessed Jesus, and thou shalt obtain grace and favor with God. With the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:20), return to thy offended Father, and he will receive and embrace thee. His mercies are unchangeably the same, ready to be communicated to every sincere penitent. This he freely offers to all, and nothing is more agreeable to him, than to show mercy to him that asks it in faith. For “his hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” Isa. 59:1. And the more wretched and miserable thou appearest in his sight, the more welcome shalt thou be to Him, who is desirous to enrich thee out of his own treasures. The sins of the whole world, bear no more proportion to his infinite mercies, than a single drop of water does to the vast ocean. But as soon as thou art in a state of grace, all thy works wrought hence in thee, shall be made acceptable to God, through his only begotten Son, by whom alone we have access to his mercies. In this faith, in this union with the Son of God, thou shalt live. He is that living fountain that purifies all our uncleanness, and makes all our works acceptable in his sight. Zech. 13:1.

    3. But still take heed to thyself, and remember that thou rest not even in thy spiritual privileges, which, as a child of God, are bestowed upon thee, but in God alone, the author and giver of them. Hence we are commanded, “to delight in the Lord” (Ps. 37:4); not in his gifts, but in his glory; that his will may be perfected in us. We must then refer all our gifts and graces to their munificent donor, even God. In order to use them aright, let this rule be deeply fixed in our minds. If thou hadst all the gifts and graces which God has bestowed, either in heaven, or on earth, with the good works of all the saints that have ever lived; as soon as thou beginnest to take an inordinate pleasure in them, and to delight in them as a property of thine own, they are immediately defiled with the stain and guilt of idolatry. For there is nothing either in heaven or earth, in which we ought to rest, but God alone. And when we do this, then God himself is our joy, our delight, our rest, our fulness, our treasure, and our refuge; and in this consists the fulness of blessing; we then become proper vessels of divine grace. For in proud spirits, which are the organs of the devil, God cannot operate; but “he giveth grace to the humble,” as St. Peter tells us (1 Pet. 5:5), and filleth their souls with his treasures. Inward pride is the fruitful root of all vices. By this the devil keeps his strongholds in the soul, which God alone has a right to inhabit. The vine, [pg 418] as to its outward form, seems to be but a useless plant, fit for nothing but the fire; and yet, under that mean outside, conceals veins of most generous juice. So it is with all those godly persons, through whom the Spirit of God operates: they appear in the sight of men as vile and contemptible persons; their appearance is humble, and void of external grandeur; but within, they are full of invaluable treasures, even living streams of blessing flowing incessantly from the throne and presence of God. But they who are puffed up with their gifts, who make a show of their alms, who build altars in churches at their own cost, adorning them with their own names, arms, and titles of honor; these, by displaying so industriously their good deeds to the world, have indeed received their reward. In the same unhappy state also are they, whose mouths are full of their own wants and unworthiness, continually desiring others to pray for them; not considering that other alms, proceeding from an humble, sincere, and devout heart, are a more effectual prayer to God, than are all the intercessions of persons who know that these alms are given only for display.

    4. If, then, thou wouldest have thy works to be sincere and acceptable before God, observe carefully these four general rules: 1. Think humbly of all thine actions, not respecting thyself, but God alone. 2. Let this humility be deeply rooted in thy soul, humbling thyself not only under the hand of God, but under every man, whether small or great, from a hearty sense of thine own unworthiness. 3. Look upon all that thou doest as unprofitable and worthless. 4. Have a profound dread of the secret judgment of God, not, indeed, as proceeding from any doubts about the mercies of God; but, regarding him as thy best friend, be careful to avoid everything that may disoblige or offend him. He that despises these four rules, renders even his best actions impure in the sight of God. But he that carefully attends to them as the rules of action, shall be like a green olive tree in the house of his God, bearing good fruit abundantly. Ps. 52:8.

    5. And we must observe that even the most inconsiderable thing thou doest, if it promote the good of thy neighbor, is acceptable to God; whilst he that employs not his talent to that end, shall have a serious account to give at the last day. This is the only use and end of God's gifts, that we should readily and industriously employ them for the benefit of others. Every action, art, employment, and profession, were given by God for this only end. And these are the works which, as our Lord tells us, “are wrought in God” (John 3:21); that is, in faith and charity, directed solely to the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbor, without any prospect of honor or advantage to ourselves, of which every man's own conscience is the proper judge. Consider then carefully with thyself the spring and motives of all thy actions, remembering that if thou neglect or refuse to employ the blessings of God for thy neighbor's benefit, thou must have the same punishment with the slothful servant, who was deprived of his talent which he had hid in the ground, and not employed, and saw it given to another that better knew how to use it. Matt. 25:26. Thus thou losest both the gift and the grace. No less foolish are they who pretend to things above their strength, who talk eloquently and fluently of what they neither practise nor understand. [pg 419] Though these should confidently pretend to speak by the authority of the blessed Trinity, yet is all this nothing but empty boasting, unless they demonstrate that they experimentally know what they so magisterially inculcate.

    6. Remember also, that no actions, how great and glorious soever in appearance, which proceed only from ostentation and vainglory, can be well pleasing to God. For as is the principle of our actions, such are also the actions proceeding from it. Whence it follows, that such as regard themselves only, are no better than impostors and hypocrites. Their best works are no better than painted sepulchres, which appear beautiful without, but within are full of nothing but corruption. There is in them no pure love of God, no desire to promote his glory; but only a certain carnal self-love and an insatiable thirst of vainglory.

    7. The sum of all is this, that all our works, how specious soever they may appear, if they be directed to any other end but God, are nothing but vanity and idolatry. For he is truly an idolater, who proposes to himself any other end or aim but God. Wherefore, if thou hast any gifts, use them, but take heed that thy heart rest not in them; if it so rest, thou art guilty of idolatry.

    Chapter XXIII.

    Of The Mystery Of The Cross, By Which We Are Drawn To God.

    He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.Matt. 10:38.

    Let all that desire to be the true disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, bear their cross in this world, be it what it may; for if thou flee from one, another will meet thee; and do what thou wilt, thou must bear it. But under every cross the hand of God is with us, to lighten it and make it easy, and by his assistance we may bear it with pleasure. But when God withdraws his hand, then, indeed, it is a heavy burden. Now the Son of God bore a very heavy burden, and in the most afflicting circumstances; of which, in their proportion, all his true friends and followers have been partakers. Words cannot express the many and great advantages that are in the cross; forasmuch as God lays it upon us in mere love, that he may thereby draw us to himself, and make us “conformable to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), and partakers of eternal happiness. The wounds in Christ's sacred feet, should teach us abstinence and patience: abstinence from carnal lusts and fleshly pleasures; and patience under all afflictions and oppositions, whether from within or without. The wounds in his sacred hands, should teach us silence and contempt of worldly things. The wound in his side, should teach us to deny ourselves, and seek for rest and joy in Christ alone. His naked body stretched on the cross, [pg 420] should continually put us in mind, that we must be stripped and bare of all created comforts. For as Christ was fixed naked to the cross, and his garments were parted by lot before his blessed eyes (Ps. 22:18; Matt. 27:35), so, be assured, that if thou art desirous of perfection, thou must be stripped of everything which is not of God. And as every cross, however small, is laid upon thee by the particular order and direction of Providence, so thou oughtest to receive it with thankfulness. For the beloved friends of God have always the greatest share of afflictions. The devil always makes use of our prosperity, as the best season and occasion of our ruin; to prevent which, it pleases God, in mere compassion, to visit his children with a variety of crosses and afflictions, thereby withdrawing us from the love of the world, and disappointing the malicious designs of the tempter. Did we but know how efficacious the cross is in bringing us to God, driving away the devil from us, and entitling us to future glories, we should not only expect it with patience, but run out vigorously to meet it. For so great is the dignity, so transcendent are the benefits of the cross, that God has allotted it as the inseparable companion of all his chosen servants.

    2. Did we thoroughly consider the benefits and honor of the cross, we should think ourselves unworthy of so great a blessing; for great is the honor of being made like unto the Son of God! He was never acceptable to the world, but was its scorn and derision. But now, scarcely one Christian in a thousand is come to that perfection, as not to desire to please the world. He that pleaseth the world, cannot, however, please God: and he that is full of the world, is empty of God. But so far as a man dies to himself and the world, so far is Christ, the true life, advanced in him. No man can please God better than by fully submitting to his will. If my prince should like to see me in one suit of clothes rather than in any other, I should certainly esteem it better than the most gaudy dress. And since my God is better pleased to see me under the cross, I ought certainly to prefer it to all the affluence and glories of the world. But perhaps thou art in doubt with thyself, whether the cross which thou bearest, has come from God; if so, let this be the test: Whatsoever thou sufferest for thine own sake, will be grievous and tedious, but if thou suffer for God's sake, thy cross will be easy, for God himself will lighten it. What matters it then, whether thy load be of the weight of a hundred or of a thousand pounds, if He but lend a helping hand, and make thy yoke easy and thy burden light. Matt. 11:30. Wherefore, O Lord, lay upon me what burden thou pleasest; only assist me in my weakness with the everlasting arms of thy omnipotence!—Observe, in the next place, that the choicest blessings of God are bestowed upon us whilst we are under the cross; and though they are sometimes bestowed beforehand, yet it is the cross that confirms them in the soul; and as it is so very useful and necessary to the soul, God has given a large share of it to his faithful friends and servants, and particularly to his only begotten Son Jesus Christ; the advantage it brings with it, making it tolerable and easy to be borne. Devout men submit themselves entirely to God, keeping their minds easy and cheerful under all the vicissitudes of life. Particularly, they take care to preserve humility, [pg 421] as the best guard against the assaults of their spiritual adversaries. Though God sent his only Son into the world, in order to suffer in his human nature, yet we expect an exemption from sufferings. But, be assured that if you would walk in the same way, and rest upon a firm foundation, you must expect to suffer with Christ, and in some degree at least, to have your lives conformable to his. Every affliction, how small soever, is a token of divine love, commissioned to visit us for our good. And the united malice of earth and hell cannot do the least hurt to a devout man trained up in sufferings, and in obedience to the discipline of the cross. The more his enemies assault, the higher is he exalted by God. And though he should be thrust down into hell, yet even there would he meet his God, and hell itself should be a heaven and blessedness to him.

    3. When God sees a man too weak for a temptation, he refreshes him a little with his consolations, that he may not entirely sink under it: but he should know, that these intermissions are only allowed him in order to recover his strength, that he may the better bear up against a fresh assault. So it pleases the divine love to exercise men, that by various trials and temptations, they may be brought to despise all worldly enjoyments, and, like the panting hart (Ps. 42:1), may long for the fountains of divine peace and joy, the refreshing streams of life and glory. There the weary soul may drink and be satisfied, and quench its thirst in those rivers of pleasure which are ever flowing from the tender and paternal love of God. This is what the wise men of this world neither know nor understand. For the natural man cannot discern the things of the Spirit of God. If the children of a family should plunder the wine-cellar, and be intoxicated, whilst the father is asleep in his bed, how would he bear it when informed of the matter? Would he not correct their extravagance by wholesome severities? Thus God deals with his children. He allows them plentiful draughts of spiritual comfort, and refreshes them with his mercies, as with new wine; but when he sees that they are immoderately fond of it, he withdraws it from them, and corrects their extravagant joy, by mixtures of gall and wormwood, bringing them thereby to a sense of their fault, and of their necessary dependence upon him. They then begin to think meanly of themselves, and to bewail their vain presumption, which made them fancy that they could do and suffer anything for God's sake, whereas now they are ready to sink under a very small burden. We know that Christ led the way for us in misery, poverty, and contempt, even unto death; and we must follow him in the same way if we desire to enter into heaven with him. So great is our pride, that God sometimes cannot break it, but by some exemplary shame, which quickly brings us to our senses, and shows us our own unworthiness. This is the only means of bringing us to a true knowledge of ourselves. Many a man has gone astray for want of these wholesome trials. He that considers this as he ought, will certainly rejoice in shame and reproaches for God's sake. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth in this manner, in order to cure him of his arrogance and pride, and bring him to humble thoughts of himself.

    4. Whosoever will follow the blessed Jesus, must “deny himself, and take [pg 422] up his cross.” Many would freely follow him, if they could do it without difficulties and sufferings; but these, aiming chiefly at their own ease, whilst they pretend to follow Christ, will find themselves deceived at the last. For it behooved Christ to die, and to suffer, and to enter into his kingdom (Luke 24:26, 46): and if we intend to share with him in the glories of his kingdom, we must also be content to share in his sufferings; for unless we suffer with him here, we shall never reign with him hereafter. So, then, if we intend to follow him, we must cheerfully and contentedly submit to every cross, whether inward or outward, and by this means we shall at length arrive at the glories which he himself attained by the cross. How many do we see every day drudging in the service of the world; they venture body and soul; go into foreign countries; rush through fire and sword; and all for the sake of a little uncertain honor; and shall not we do as much to purchase the everlasting glories of heaven, as they do for the trifling riches and glories of this world? God manifests himself to us under the cross, as much as in the most cheerful spiritual visitations; yea, we then receive greater communications of heavenly joy, when we are most empty of worldly comforts. For as salt preserves flesh from putrefaction; so afflictions and temptations keep the soul from falling into sin and misery. And the deeper a man sinks into the centre of humility by the cross, the deeper does he penetrate into the heart of God, which is always open to receive and embrace the mortified and humble soul. This is the great end proposed by God, in all his various methods of humbling us; that, being sensible of our own great corruption, we may die to ourselves, and live entirely unto him. The saints of old, when under heavy tribulations, could no otherwise possess their souls in patience and liberty, than by a total abandonment and denial of themselves, being ready to submit to every cross which God should lay upon them, even though it should last during their whole life. By this humility, obedience, and self-denial, they were at last delivered. For the end designed by God in sending crosses upon them, being answered, he was pleased immediately to release them.

    5. The last comfort under the cross is, that thou canst not be hurt by it, unless it be by thine own fault, by being fretful and impatient under it. Thou art very much in the wrong, if thou thinkest thyself injured by this or that man; they cannot hurt thee if thou keep thy mind steady and even under its burden. Be assured, that so long as thou art master of thyself and thy passions, the whole world can do thee no harm. If thou wouldst be safe, then, against the assaults of thine enemy, answer not again; be silent, even as a dead man, in his grave. Every calumny and reproach which the world shall cast upon thee, shall be as rays of light, encircling thy head with a crown of glory. How glorious are the three degrees of patience, in which true victory consists! The first is, to suffer without murmuring. The second is, not only to suffer patiently, but even to wish for suffering for Christ's sake, from a pure love of him. The third is, to rejoice in suffering; and this is the most powerful and the greatest victory of all.