« ForrigeFortsæt »
temper the sufferings of thy saints, by the grace of thine only Son; and hereafter, thou wilt crown thy saints with a beatitude, perfectly pure, in thy Son's eternal glory. These are the marvellous degrees through which thou dost carry thy works. Thou hast withdrawn me from the first; cause me to pass through the second ; that I may reach the third. This, Lord, is the mercy that I ask.
12. Suffer me not to be so far alienated from thee, as to be able to contemplate thy soul, sorrowful even unto death, and thy body laid low by death for my sins, without rejoicing to suffer also both in my body and my mind. For there is nothing more disgraceful, and yet nothing usual
among Christians, than that while thou didst sweat blood for the expiation of our offences, we should be living luxuriously at ease ; and that Christians, who make a profession of being devoted to thee; that those who, in their baptism, have renounced the world to follow thee; that those who have vowed solemnly, before the church, to live and die for thee; that those who profess to believe that the world persecuted and crucified thee; that those who believe that thou didst give thyself up
to the wrath of God, and to the cruelty of men, to redeem them from all iniquity ; that those, I say, who believe all these truths, who consider thy body as the sacrifice offered for their salvation ; who consider the indulgences, and the sins of this world, as the only cause of thy sufferings, and the world itself as thy executioner; that they should seek to indulge their own bodies with these same delights, and in this same world; and that they who could not, without horror, see a man caress and cherish the murderer of his own father, who had surrendered himself to secure his life, should live as I have done ; should live joyously amidst that world, which I know unquestionably to have been the murderer of him whom I recognize as my Father and my God, who gave himself up for my
salvation, and who has borne in his own body the punishment of my transgressions. It is right, O Lord, that thou hast interrupted a joyousness so criminal as that in which I have indulged amidst the shadows of death.
13. Take from me then, O Lord, the grief that selflove may feel on account of my own sufferings, and on account of those human events which do not fall out precisely according to the wishes of my heart, and which do not make for thy glory. But awaken within me a sorrow assimilated to thine own. Let my sufferings mollify thine anger. Make them the means of my safety and my conversion. Let me wish no more for health and life, but to employ and expend them for thee, with thee, and in thee. I do not ask of thee health or sickness, life or death; but merely that thou wouldst dispose of my health or sickness, of my life or death, for thy glory, for
salvation, and for the benefit of thy church, and of thy saints, among whom I would hope, by thy grace, to be found. Thou only knowest what is needful for me: thou art the sovereign Lord ; do with me what thou wilt. Give or take; only conform my will to thine; and grant, that in humble and entire submission, I may accept the ordinances of thy eternal providence, and that I may regard with equal reverence, whatever comes from thee.
14. Grant, O my God, that in uniform equanimity of mind, I may receive whatever happens; since we know
not what we should ask, and since I cannot wish for one thing more than another without presumption, and without setting up myself as a judge, and making myself responsible for those consequences which thy wisdom has determined properly to conceal from me. O Lord, I know that I know but one thing ; and that is, that it is good to follow thee, and evil to offend thee. After that, I know not what is better or worse in any thing. I know not which is more profitable for me, sickness or health, wealth or poverty, nor any other of the things of this world. This were a discovery beyond the power of men or angels, and which is veiled in the secrets of thy providence which I adore, and which I do not desire to fathom.
15. Grant then, O Lord, that such as I am, I may be conformed to thy will; and that, diseased as I am, I may glorify thee in my sufferings. Without these, I cannot reach thy glory; and even thou, my Saviour, wouldst not attain to glory but by this means. It was by the scars of thy sufferings that thy disciples knew thee; and it is by their sufferings that thou wilt recognize those who are thy disciples. Recognize me, O Lord, amidst the evils that I suffer, both in body and mind, for the sins that I have committed ; and because nothing is acceptable to God, that is not offered by thee, unite my will to thine, and my agonies to those which thou hast endured. Let mine become thine. Unite me to thyself; and fill me with thyself, and with thy Holy Spirit. Dwell in my heart and soul, to endure within me my sufferings, and to continue to endure in me, all that remains yet unsuffered of thy passion, which thou completest in all thy members, even to the entire perfection of thy mystical body; that being thus at length full of thee, it may be no more I that live and suffer, but that it may be thou who livest and sufferest in me, O my Saviour; and that thus, having some little part in thy sufferings, thou mayest fill me abuna dantly with the glory which they have purchased; in which thou livest with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
A COMPARISON OF ANCIENT AND MODERN CHRISTIANS.
IN the infancy of the Christian church, we see no Christians but those who were thoroughly instructed in all matters necessary to salvation; but, in these days, we see on every side an ignorance so gross, that it agonizes all those who have a tender regard for the interests of the church. Then, no one entered the church, but after serious difficulties, and long cherished wishes ; now, we find ourselves associated with it, without care or difficulty. Formerly, no one was admitted but after a most rigid examination; now, every one is admitted before he is capable of being examined. Formerly, no one was admitted but after repentance of his former life, and a renunciation of the world, the flesh, and the devil; now, they enter the church before they are in a state to do any of these things. In fact, formerly it was necessary to come out from the world, in order to be received into the church; whilst, in these days, we enter the church almost at the same time that we enter the world. Then there was distinctly recognized by those earlier proceedings, an essential difference between the world and the
church. They were regarded as two things, in direct opposition, as two irreconcileable enemies; of which the one persecutes the other perpetually, and of which, that which seems the weakest, will one day triumph over the strongest ; and between these two contending parties, it became necessary to abandon the one, in order to enter the other; to renounce the maxims of the one, in order to follow those of the other; each one must disencumber himself of the sentiments of the one, in order to put on the sentiments of the other; and finally, must be prepared to quit, to renounce, and to abjure the world where he had his former birth, and to devote himself entirely to the church in which he receives his second birth. And thus a wide distinction was habitually drawn between the one and the other. But now, we find ourselves almost at the same moment introduced into both ; and, at the same time, we are born into the world, and born anew into the church.* So that, dawning reason now no longer perceives the broad line of distinction between these two opposing worlds, but matures and strengthens, at the same time, under the combined influence of both. The sacraments are partaken of, in conjunction with the pleasures of the world ; and hence, instead of there being an essential distinction between the one and the other, they are now so mingled and confounded, that the disa tinction is almost entirely lost.
* It is quite evident by the tenor of the whole passage, that M. Pascal means here only a formal initiation by baptism, and not a spiritual birth real regeneration. At the same time, the error which his words appear in some degree to countenance, was held by the unenlightened part of the Romish Church; and it is still held by some members of the Church of England, who do not understand either her doctrines or her services; whilst some men among us, like M. Pascal, give an improper countenance to the error, by the adoption of the inexplicable notion of Baptismal Regeneration.