Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

raises us above vulgar spirits, nothing that so plainly declares an heroic greatness of mind, as great devotion.. When you suppose a man to be a saint, or all devotion, you have raised him as much above all other conditions of life, as a philosopher is above an animal.

Lastly, courage and bravery are words of a great sound, and seem to signify a heroic spirit: but yet humility, which seems to be the lowest, meanest part of devotion, is a more certain argument of a noble and courageous mind. For humility contends with greater enemies, is more constantly engaged, more violently assaulted, bears more, suffers more, and requires greater courage to support itself, than any instances of worldly bravery. A man who dares be poor and contemptible in the eyes of the world, to approve himself to God; who resists and rejects all human glory, who opposes the clamour of his passions, who meekly puts up all injuries and wrongs, and dares stay for his rewards till the invisible hand of God gives to every one their proper places, endures a much greater trial, and exerts a nobler fortitude, than he who is bold and daring in the fire of battle. For the boldness of a soldier, if he is a stranger to the spirit of devotion, is rather weakness than fortitude ; is at best but mad passion, and heated spirits, and has no more true valour in it than the fury of a tiger. For as we cannot lift up a hand, or stir a foot, but by a power that is lent us from God, so bold actions that ase not directed by the laws of God, or so many executions of his will, are no more true bravery, than sedate malice is Christian patience.

Reason is our universal law, that obliges us in all pla. ces, and at all times ; and no actions have any honour, but so far as they are instances of our obedience to reason. And it is as base and cowardly, to be bold and daring against the principle of reason and justice, as to be bold and daring in lying and perjury.

Would we therefore exercise a true fortitude, we must do all in the spirit of devotion, be valiant against the corruptions of the world, and the lusts of the Aesh, and the temptations of the devil; for to be daring and courageous against these enemies, is the noblest bravery that it human mind is capable of.

I have made this digression, for the sake of those, who think a great devotion to be bigotry and poorness of spirit; that by these considerations they may see, how poor and mean all other tempers are, if compared to it. That they may see, that all worldly attainments, whether of greatness, wisdom, or bravery, are but empty sounds; and there is nothing wise or great, or noble, in a human spirit, but rightly to know, and heartily to worship and adore the great God, wbo is the support and life of all spirits, whether in heaven or on earth.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM THE REV. WILLIAM LAW, DB

ANSWER TO ONE, REQUESTING A CONVERSATION ON THE
SPIRITUAL LIFE.

AS to your intention of a visit here, I can say nothing to encourage it; and though my countenance would have no forbidding airs put on by myself

, yet as old age has given me her own complexion, I might perhaps bear the blame of it. But my chief objection against a visit of this kind, is the reason you give for it, viz.: For my instructive conversation on the spiritual life. An appointment for religious conversation has a taking sound; and passeth for a sign of great progress in goodness. But with regard to myself, such a meeting would rather make me silent, than a speaker in it: first, because I hurt myself, and am only acting a part, if I speak to persons on spiritual matters, either sooner or further than the Spirit of God (which bloweth when and where it listeth) would be resisted in me, if I held my tongue : secondly, because it is deluding the persons I speak to, and helping them to be content with an imaginary falsehood, if, as a spiritual assistant, I speak to them of any thing, but that which is their own evil, or their own good; for true edification arises only from such knowledge, and not from

[ocr errors]

devout harangues on the spiritual life in general, though set forth in the most enlivened words. The spiritual life is nothing else but the working of the Spirit of God within us; and, therefore, our own silenee must be a great part of our preparation for it; and much speaking, or a delight in it, will be often no small hindrance of that good, which we can only bave from hearing what the Spirit and Voice of God speaketh within us. This is not enough known by religious persons; they rejoice in kindling a fire of their own, and delight too much in hearing their own voice, and so lose that inward unction from above, which alone can new create their hearts. To speak with the tongues of men or angels on religious matters, is a much less thing, than to know how to stay the mind upon God, and abide with him in the closet of our hearts, observing, loving, adoring and obeying bis holy power within us.

Rhetoric and fine language about the things of the Spirit, is a rainer babble than in other matters; and he who thinks to grow in true goodness by hearing or speaking flaming words or striking expressions, as is now much the way of the world, may have a great deal of talk, but will have but little of his conversation in heaven."

I have written very largely of the spiritual life ; and he who has read it and likes it, has of all men the least reason to ask me any questions, or make any visit on that subject.

He understands not my writings, nor the end of them, who does not see, that their whole drift is to call all Christians to a God and Christ within them, as the only possible life, light and power of all goodness they can ever have ; and, therefore, they turn my readers as much from myself, as from any other 46 Lo here ! or Lo there!"

I invite all people to “ The marriage of the Lamb," but no one to myself

.
Your humble. Servant,

W. L.

FINIS.

[graphic]
« EdellinenJatka »