« AnteriorContinuar »
longs unto thy peace! Call like a tender compaffi. onate Father, How ofien would I have gathered you, its a Hen doth gather her Chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! That he should bear affronts, and in the midst of those injuries, entreat Men to be reconcild to him, and seek for. a Pardon! That he should make nothing of being ílander'd, so he might but win them to Repentance; be content to undergo Reproaches, so he might but allure them to God's Ways; luf fer himself to be abused, so he might but undeceive them in their strong delusions ; bear with their peevishness and frowardness, so he might but persuade them to mind their eternal interest: That like his Apostle afterward, though free from all Men, he should yet make himself a Servánt to all, that he might gain the more ; unto the Jews become as a few, that he might gain the Jews ; to them that are under the Law as under the Law ; that he might gain them that are under the Law; to them that are without Law, as without Law, being not without law to God, that he might gain them that are without Law; to the weak become as weak, that he might gain the weak; and be made all things to all Men, that he might by all means save some ; that he should conjure Mankind by Tears, and Wounds, and his own Blood, by those very Torments and Agonies he endured for them, to have mercy on themfelves, to take a view of the burning Lake beneath, and run away, to look upon the Joys above, and be
ravish'd with the light! That he should court them by the sweetest invitations, and the kindest Ćalls ; by the greatest offers, and the softest promises; promiles of assistance, and of his Holy Spirit, of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and seal his strong desires and longings after their holiness with his own death ; ad after his death, being risen again, send Apostles; and whole Armies of Confessors and Martyrs, to establish those desires, ordain a Function of Men, that might preach those Desires in Mens ears to the Worlds end ; this indeed is a condescension, which the great Ministring Spirits in Heaven stand amaz'd at, and may justly be look'd upon to be one of those things, the Angels defire to pry into. . .. i
By such astonishing means háth the great immortal God endeavour'd to effect that Holiness in men, that Seriousness, that Piety; that Heavenly-mindedness, which he hath appointed to be the only way to endless bliss. Glorious means indeed! But then they are no more but Pearls thrown before Swine, where Men conlider not how far they are concern'd in the heavenly Call, and what can be the meaning of all these arts and stratagems of Divine Compassion, and what should make God chus sollicitous and careful to procure Man's happiness, and how dreadful it must be to neglect so great a salvation, whac God can design by all this, and what the intent of these unusual endeavours must be, whether things are fo, or no, and if they be so, what mon
strous stupidity it must be to lie still, and sleep under such strong and powerful invitations. TO lay all this labour, and industry, and indefatigable pains of God before their eyes, when they will not fix their contemplations on the Remedies intended for their recovery ; what is it, but to make a learned Oration to a Flock of Sheep, and with the Popish St. Francis to address our selves to Falcons, and Pheasants, and other Birds, or with him in Sulpitius Severus to speak to Wolves, to talk to a blind Man of Colours, to discourse Mathematicks to one in a Fever, and to prepare Elixirs and Cordials for Men depriv'd of life and sense? Without Consideration, we have little but shape and speech left us to distinguilh us from Beasts; and God clearly loses the virtue of his Exhortations and Entreaties, except Consideration sets them home, digests and applies them to the Soul and the inward thoughts, like Sun-Beams in a BurningGlass, unite and continue so long upon these spiritual Objects, till they set the heart on fire.
CHAP. IL CHAP. II.
Confideration no transitory view of Spiritual
Íhings, imports laying the heart and mind close unto Spiritual Concerns ; resembles Magnifying Glasses, which discover things imperceptible' by the naked Ege. The great Ingredients of it, Self-Examination, Expostulation, and strong Resolution. I TOW Consideration, Thinking, Ponder
d ing, Meditation, Contemplation do dif· fer, is not material to enquire. Contideration
includes all these, and is nothing, but exercifing and improving that rational Faculty, the great Architect hath bestowed on us, to the glory of God, and the felicity of our immortal Souls. The Character St Bernard gives of it, may help to illustrate this description: It distinguishes, faith he, things confus’d, collecteth such as lie dispers'd, searches and dives into fuch as are conceald and hid, examines probabilities, reflects upon what is done, resolves what to do, and presses towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The School-men are in the right when thev call it, Employing the whole understanding about : a thing; for indeed, a flash of Thinking is no more Confideration, than a few wandring sparks
cin be said to warm a spacious Room : As well may a Man hope to set a Mill a going by sprinkling some drops upon the Wheels, as imagine that a few transient thoughts will reform the Soul : and as in cold weather men do not get themselves a heat by a step or two, but by such exercises as put the Body into violent motion ; fo neither will a careless thought now and then, heat the heart within, but Consideration, which puts the Soul into a strong and vigorous motion or agitation, is that which must kindle the holy fire, and shed abroad life in all the faculties of the inward Man. . ... Not to mention here, that the word was originally usd to express the industry of Astronomers, who by diligent contemplation, and oblervation of the Stars, their Motion, Polition, Conjunction, Influences, buc. gave a judgment of the several Phänomena, or appearances they met withal, from whence it was afterwards applied to Men, who serioully and attentively pon
der things of moment, whether 227 2 Civil or Sacred ; The Scripture Hagg. 1. s; .? usually exprefles it, by laying our
hearts close to our ways, as if it were with Consideration, as it is with Mens liftening to a confus'd noise, and laying their ears close to a Wall, with design to get a more distinct knowledge of it.
And indeed, without Consideration, Eternal Life, and our Duties, in order to it, appear no very great attractives. Consideration clears up