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works which thy hands had made, beheldest that every thing was very good, and thou didst rest with complacency in them. But man, reflecting on the works which he had made, saw that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and could by no means acquiesce in them. Wherefore, if we labour in thy works with the sweat of our brows, thou wilt make us partakers of thy vision and thy sabbath. We humbly beg that this mind may be stedfastly in us; and that thou, by our hands, and also by the hands of others, on whom thou shalt bestow the same spirit, wilt please to convey a largess of new alms to thy family of mankind. These things we commend to thy everlasting love, by our Jesus, thy Christ, God
THE CHARACTERS OF A BELIEVING
IN PARADOXES AND SEEMING CONTRADICTIONS.
1. A CHRISTIAN is one that believes things his reason cannot comprehend; he hopes for things which neither he nor any man alive ever saw : he labours for that which he knoweth he shall never obtain; yet in the issue, his belief appears not to be false; his hope makes him not ashamed; his labour is not in vain.
2. He believes three to be one, and one to be three; a father not to be elder than his son; a son to be equal with his father; and one proceeding from both to be equal with both; he believing three persons in one nature, and two natures in one person.
3. He believes a virgin to be a mother of a son; and that very son of her's to be her maker. He believes him to have been shut up in a narrow room, whom heaven and earth could not contain. He be lieves him to have been born in time, who was and is from everlasting. He believes him to have been a weak child, carried in arms, who is the Almighty ; and him once to have died, who only hath life and immortality in himself.
4. He believes the God of all grace to have been angry with one that hath never offended him; and that God, that hates sin, to be reconciled to himself, though sinning continually, and never making, or being able to make him satisfaction. He believes a most just God to have punished a most just person, and to have justified himself though a most ungodly sinner. He believes himself freely pardoned, and yet a sufficient satisfaction was made for him.
5. He believes himself to be precious in God's sight, and yet lothes himself in his own. He dares not justify himself even in those things wherein he can find no fault with himself, and yet believes God accepts him in those services wherein he is able to find many faults.
6. HE praises God for his justice, and yet fears him for his mercy. He is so ashamed as that he dares not open
his mouth before God; and yet he comes with boldness to God, and asks him any thing he needs. He is so humble as to acknowledge himself to deserve nothing but evil; and yet believes that God means him all good. He is one that fears always, yet is as bold as a lion. He is often sorrowful, yet always rejoicing ; many times complaining, yet always giving of thanks. He is the most lowly-minded, yet the greatest aspirer; most contented, yet ever craving.
7. He bears a lofty spirit in a mean condition; when he is ablest, he thinks meanest of himself. He is rich in poverty, and poor in the midst of riches. He believes all the world to be his, yet he dares take nothing without special leave from God. He covenants with God for nothing, yet looks for a great reward. He loseth his life and gains by it; and whilst he loseth it, he saveth it. ? 8. HE lives not to himself, yet of all others he is most wise for himself. He denieth himself often, yet no man loveth himself so well as he. He is most re-: proached, yet most honoured. He hath most afflictions, and most comforts.
9. The more injury his enemies do him, the more advantages he gains by them.
he gains by them. The more he forsakes: worldly things, the more he enjoys them.
10. He is the most temperate of all men, yet fares most deliciously; he lends and gives most freely, yet he is the greatest usurer; he is meek towards all men, yet inexorable by men. He is the best child, husband, brother, friend; yet hates father and mother, brother and sister. He loves all men as himself, yet hates some men with a perfect hatred.
11. HE desires to have more grace than any man hath in the world, yet is truly sorrowful when he seeth any man have less than himself; he knoweth no man after the flesh, yet gives all men their due respects; he knoweth if he please man he cannot be the servant of Christ; yet for Christ's sake he pleaseth all men in all things. He is a peace-maker, yet is a continual fighter, and is an irreconcileable enemy.
12. He believes him to be worse than an infidel that provides not for his family, yet himself lives and dies without care. He accounts all his superiors, yet stands stiffly upon authority. He is severe to his children, because he loveth them ; and by being favourable unto his enemy, he revengeth himself upon him.
13. He believes the angels to be more excellent creatures than himself, and yet accounts them his servants. He believes that he receives many good things by their means, and yet he neither prays for their assistance, nor offers them thanks, which he doth not disdain to do to the meanest Christian.
14. He believes himself to be a king, how mean soever he be: and how great soever he be, yet he thinks himself not too good to be a servant to the poorest saint.
15. He is often in prison, yet always at liberty; a freeman, though a servant. He loves not honour amongst men, yet highly prizeth a good name.
16. He believes that God hath bidden every man
that doth him good to do so; he yet of any man is the most thankful to them that do aught for him. He would lay down his life to save the soul of his enemy, yet will not adventure upon one sin to save the life of him who saved his.
17. He swears to his own hindrance, and changeth not; yet knoweth that his oath cannot 'tie him to sin.
18. He believes Christ to have no need of any thing he doth, yet maketh account that he doth relieve Christ in all his acts of charity. He knoweth he can do nothing of himself, yet labours to work out his own salvation. He professeth he can do nothing, yet as truly professeth he can do all things : he knoweth that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, yet believeth he shall go to heaven both body and soul.
19. He trembles at God's word, yet counts it sweeter to him than honey and the honey-comb, and dearer than thousands of gold and silver.
20. He believes that God will never damn him, and yet fears God for being able to cast him into hell. He knoweth he shall not be saved by nor for his good works, yet he doth all the good works he can.
21. He knoweth God's providence is in all things, yet is so diligent in his calling and business, as if he were to cut out the thread of his happiness. He believes before-hand that God hath purposed what he shall be, and that nothing can make him to alter his purpose; yet prays and endeavours, as if he would force God to save him for ever.
22. He prays and labours for that which he is confident God means to give; and the more assured he is, the more earnest he prays for that he knows he shall never obtain, and yet gives not over. and labours for that which he knows he shall be no less happy without; he prays with all his heart not to be led into temptation, yet rejoiceth when he is fallen into it; he believes his prayers are heard, even when they are, denied, and gives thanks for that which he prays against. VOL. II.
He prays 23. He hath within him both flesh and spirit, yet he is not a double-minded man; he is often led captive by the law of sin, yet it never gets dominion over him; he cannot sin, yet can do nothing without sin. He doth nothing against his will, yet maintains he doth what he would not. He wavers and doubt. eth, yet obtains.
24. HE is often tossed and shaken, yet is as mount Sion; he is a serpent and a dove; a lamb and a lion; a reed and a cedar. He is sometimes so troubled, that he thinks nothing to be true in religion ; yet if he did think so, he could not at all be troubled. He thinks sometimes that God hath no mercy for him, yet resolves to die in the pursuit of it. He believes, like Abraham, against hope, and though he cannot answer God's logic, yet, with the woman of Canaan, he hopes to prevail with the rhetoric of importunity.
25. He wrestles, and yet prevails; and though yielding himself unworthy of the least blessing he end joys, yet, Jacob-like, he will not let him go without a new blessing. He sometimes thinks himself to have no grace at all, and yet how poor and afflicted soever he be besides, he would not change conditions with the most prosperous man under heaven, that is a manifest worldling.
26. He thinks sometimes that the ordinances of God do him no good, yet he would rather part with his life than be deprived of them.
27. He was born dead; yet so that it had been murder for any to have taken his life away. After he began to live, he was ever dying.
28. AND though he hath an eternal life begun in him, yet he makes account he hath a death to pass through.
29. HE counts self-murder a heinous sin, yet is ever busied in crucifying the flesh, and in putting to death his earthly members; not doubting but there will come a time of glory, when he shall be esteemed precious in the sight of the great God of heaven and earth, appearing with boldness at his throne, and asking any thing he needs ; being endued with humility,