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published, studies not virtue, but glory. "He is not just5, that will not be just without praise: but he is a righteous man, that does justice, when to do so is made infamous; and he is a wise man, who is delighted with an ill name, that is well gotten." And indeed that man hath a strange' covetousness, or folly, that is not contented with this reward, that he hath pleased God. And see what he gets by it. He that does good works" for praise or secular ends, sells an inestimable jewel for a trifle; and that, which would purchase heaven for him, he parts with for the breath of the people; which, at best, is but air, and that not often wholesome.
4. It is well, also, when we are not solicitous or troubled concerning the effect and event of all our actions; but that being first by prayer recommended to him, is left at his dispose: for then, in case the event be not answerable to our desires or to the efficacy of the instrument, we have nothing left to rest in, but the honesty of our purposes; which it is the more likely we have secured, by how much more we are indifferent concerning the success. St. James converted but eight persons, when he preached in Spain: and our blessed Saviour converted fewer than his own disciples did: and if thy labours prove unprosperous, if thou beest much troubled at that, it is certain thou didst not think thyself secure of a reward for your intention; which you might have done, if it had been pure and just.
5. He loves virtue for God's sake and its own, that loves and honours it wherever it is to be seen; but he that is envious or angry at a virtue, that is not his own, at the perfection or excellency of his neighbour, is not covetous of the virtue, but of its reward and reputation; and then his intentions are polluted. It was a great ingenuity in Moses, that wished all the people might be prophets; but if he had designed his own honour, he would have prophesied alone. But he that desires only, that the work of God and religion shall go on, is pleased with it, whoever is the instrument.
6. He that despises the world and all its appendant vanities, is the best judge, and the most secured of his intentions; because he is the farthest removed from a temptation. Every degree of mortification is a testimony of the purity of our purposes; and in what degree we despise sensual pleasure, or secular honours, or worldly reputation, in the same degree we shall conclude our heart right to religion and spiritual designs.
Seneca, Ep. 113. 'St. Chrys. 1. ii. de Compun. cordis.
u St. Greg. Moral. 8. cap. xxv.
7. When we are not solicitous concerning the instruments and means of our actions; but use those means, which God hath laid before us, with resignation, indifferency, and thankfulness; it is a good sign, that we are rather intent upon the end of God's glory, than our own conveniency, or temporal satisfaction. He that is indifferent, whether he serve God in riches or in poverty, is rather a seeker of God than of himself; and he that will throw away a good book, because it is not curiously gilded, is more curious to please his eye, than to inform his understanding.
8. When a temporal end consisting with a spiritual, and pretended to be subordinate to it, happens to fail and be defeated, if we can rejoice in that, so God's glory may be secured, and the interests of religion; it is a great sign our hearts are right, and our ends prudently designed and ordered.
When our intentions are thus balanced, regulated, and discerned, we may consider, 1. that this exercise is of so universal efficacy in the whole course of a holy life, that it is like the soul to every holy action, and must be provided for in every undertaking; and is, of itself alone, sufficient to make all natural and indifferent actions to be adopted into the family of religion.
2. That there are some actions, which are usually reckoned as parts of our religion, which yet, of themselves, are so relative and imperfect, that, without the purity of intention, they degenerate: and unless they be directed and proceed on to those purposes, which God designed them to, they return into the family of common, secular, or sinful, actions. Thus alms are for charity, fasting for temperance, prayer is for religion, humiliation is for humility, austerity or sufferance is in order to the virtue of patience: and when these actions fail of their several ends, or are not directed to their own purposes, alms are mispent, fasting is an impertinent trouble, prayer is but lip-labour, humiliation is but hypocrisy, sufferance is but vexation; for such were the alms of the pharisee, the fast of Jezabel, the prayer of Judah reproved by the prophet Isaiah, the humiliation of Ahab, the martyrdom of heretics; in which nothing is given to God, but the body, or the forms of religion; but the soul and the power of godliness is wholly wanting.
3. We are to consider, that no intention can sanctify an unholy or unlawful action. Saul, the king, disobeyed God's commandment, and spared the cattle of Amalek to reserve the best for sacrifice: and Saul, the pharisee, persecuted the church of God, with a design to do God service: and they that killed the apostles, had also good purposes, but they had unhallowed actions. When there is both truth in election, and charity in the intention v; when we go to God in ways of his own choosing or approving, then our eye is single, and our hands are clean, and our hearts are pure. But when a man does evil, that good may come of it, or good to an evil purpose, that man does like him, that rolls himself in thorns, that he may sleep easily; he roasts himself in the fire, that he may quench his thirst with his own sweat; he turns his face to the east, that he may go to bed with the sun. I end this with the saying of a wise heathenw: "He is to be called evil, that is good only for his own sake. Regard not, how full hands you bring to God, but how pure. Many cease from sin out of fear alone, not out of innocence or love of virtue;" and they, as yet, are not to be called innocent but timorous.
The third general instrument of holy Living: or the
That God is present in all places, that he sees every action, hears all discourses, and understands every thought, is no strange thing to a Christian ear, who hath been taught this doctrine, not only by right reason, and the consent of all the wise men in the world, but also by God himself in holy Scripture. "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earthx 1" "Neither is there any creature, that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him, with whom we have to do y." "For in him we live, and move, and have our beingz." God is wholly in every place; included in no place; not bound with cords, except those of love; not divided into parts, not changeable into several shapes; filling heaven and earth with his present power, and with his never absent nature. So St. Augustinea expresses this article. So that we may imagine God to be as the air and the sea; and we all enclosed in his circle, wrapped up in the lap of his infinite nature; or as infants in the wombs of their pregnant mothers: and we can no more be removed from the presence of God, than from our own being.
'St. Bern. lib. de Precept. w Publius Mimus.
Several manners of the Divine Presence.
The presence of God is understood by us, in several manners, and to several purposes.
1. God is present by his essence; which, because it is infinite, cannot be contained within the limits of any place; and because he is of an essential purity and spiritual nature, he cannot be undervalued by being supposed present in the places of unnatural uncleanness: because as the sun, reflecting upon the mud of strands and shores, is unpolluted in its beams, so is God not dishonoured, when we suppose him in every of his creatures, and in every part of every one of them; and is still as unmixt with any unhandsome adherence, as is the soul in the bowels of the body.
2. God is every where present by his powerb. He rolls the orbs of heaven with his hand; he fixes the earth with his foot; he guides all the creatures with his eye, and refreshes them with his influence: he makes the powers of hell to shake with his terrors, and binds the devils with his word, and throws them out with his command ; and sends the angels on embassies with his decrees: he hardens the joints of infants, and confirms the bones, when they are fashioned beneath secretly in the earth. He it is, that assists at the numerous productions of fishes; and there is not one hollowness in the bottom of the sea, but he shews himself to be Lord of it, by sustaining there the creatures, that come to dwell in it: and in the wilderness, the bittern and the stork, the dragon and the satyr, the unicorn and the elk, live upon his provisions, and revere his power, and feel the force of his almightiness.
1 Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. y Heb. iv. 13. * Acts, vii. 28.
* Lib. vii. de Civit. c. xxx.
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Resp. ad Orthod.
3. God is more specially present, in some places, by the several and more special manifestations of himself to extraordinary purposes. First, by glory. Thus his seat is in heaven; because, there he sits encircled with all the outward demonstrations of his glory, which he is pleased to shew to all the inhabitants of those his inward and secret courts. And thus they, that " die in the Lord," may be properly said to be "gone to God;" with whom although they were before, yet now they enter into his courts, into the secret of his tabernacle, into the retinue and splendour of his glory. That is called walking with God; but this is dwelling, or being, with him. "I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ;" so said St. Paul. But this manner of Divine presence is reserved for the elect people of God, and for their portion in their country.
4. God is, by grace and benediction, specially present in holy places0, and in the solemn assemblies of his servants. If holy people meet in grots and dens of the earth, when persecution or a public necessity disturbs the public order, circumstance and convenience, God fails not to come thither to them: but God is also, by the same or a greater reason, present there, where they meet ordinarily, by order, and public authority: there God is present ordinarily, that is, at every such meeting. God will go out of his way to meet his saints, when themselves are forced out of their way of order by a sad necessity: but else, God's usual way is to be present in those places where his servants are appointed ordinarily d to meet. But his presence there signifies nothing, but a readiness to hear their prayers, to bless their persons, to accept
• Mat. xviii. 20. Heb. x. 25. d 1 Kings, v. 9. Psalm cxxxviii. 1,2.