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real sons, in every climate, nation, and language, have subdued the flesh to the spirit, and brought both body and soul into willing obedience to the law of God. They thought this discipline necessary as an expression and instrument of repentance, as a memorial of their Saviour, to “refrain their souls and keep them low,” to teach them to “ trust in the Lord,” and to seek communion with Him. To this system our own Church during all her happier times adhered. The value of this remedy for sin has come down to us attested by the experience and sealed by the blood of martyrs; who having learnt thus to endure hardships, like good soldiers of Christ, at last resisted unto blood, striving against sin. we, untried, pronounce that to be needless for ourselves which the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of Prophets, the noble army of Martyrs, the holy Church throughout the world found needful ?
All fasting, for whatsoever end it be undertaken, must be done without any opinion of the necessity of the thing itself, without censuring others, with all humility, in order to the proper end; and just as a man takes physic ; of which no man hath reason to be proud, and no man thinks it necessary but because he is in danger and disposition to it.
Bp. Jeremy Taylor. Let not intemperance be the prologue or epilogue of your fast.
Fasting from pleasant meats, rather than from all, as it would answer the ends of mortification, in not gratifying the palate, nor ministering to luxury; so it would agree with every constitution, and answer the objection, “ That my
health will not suffer me to fast.”
Mortification and humiliation of the body tend to the refreshing and exaltation of the soul. How rarely do we see men endeavour to bring the body into such a state of purity and submission as to make it entirely subservient to the interest of the soul ! How rarely is the body so managed as to favour that state of holiness and humility, that forbearing temper and heavenly-mindedness, which Christians should arrive at !
The distinguishing privilege, the prerogative of riches, is that they increase our power of doing good. This is their proper use. In proportion as men make this use of them they imitate Almighty God, and co-operate together with Him in promoting the happiness of the world ; and may expect the most favourable judgment which their case will admit of at the last day, upon the general, reputed maxim of the Gospel, that we shall then be treated ourselves as we now treat others. They have, moreover,
prayers of all good men, those of them particularly whom they have befriended ; and by such exercise of charity they improve within themselves the temper of it, which is the very temper of heaven.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Matt. v. 8.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing ; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things Phil. iv. 4-8.
When evil arises in your mind, turn your
attention to some good object.
The man who has persuaded himself of, or persuaded another of God's abiding presence, has done life's greatest work. On one so persuaded the true sun of life has risen.
So long as purity of heart, delicacy of feeling, chastity of life, are found in a nation, so long that nation is great, no longer. Personal purity is the divinest thing in man or woman. It is the most sacred truth which the Church of Christ is commissioned to exhibit and proclaim.
Little reading and much thinking, little speaking and much hearing, frequent and short prayers and great devotion, is the best way to be wise, holy, and devout.
Bp. Jeremy Taylor.
Inure yourself to form a plan of proper meditation, to pursue it steadily, and with severe authority to keep the door shut against the intrusion of wandering fancy.
Let us consider that far more important portion of our existence which is passed in the presence only of our Maker and ourselves; in communing with our own hearts; in purifying their aspirations and correcting their infirmities; in cherishing the awful conviction of our religious responsibility; and in improving all those manifold sensations and faculties which, while they are nothing to the busy world around us, are to ourselves of the most incalculable value.
If there be another life after the present; if the active scene of this life is to pass away as though it had never been ; whilst our spiritual nature is to continue through all eternity, rising in infinite progression from strength to strength, from excellence to excellence, in proportion to the pains we shall have bestowed upon its cultivation, to the trials it shall have undergone, and to the victories it shall have achieved; then every moment of retired religious contemplation, when the still small voice of conscience speaks most forcibly, and when we commune with God as it were face to face, must assuredly be of paramount import
Yet of these occupations the man of this world takes no account; they have no bearing upon what he lays down as his infallible rule of conduct, the immediate demands of society; and therefore he considers them as the ravings of enthusiasm.
The only remedy we can apply to an increasing indifference to the subject of religion, is that calculating and systematic counteraction produced by habitual meditation and discipline. If our hearts grow sluggish, (and what human hearts will not?) we must strive to awaken them by prayer; if the world and its occupations demand a large portion of our time, we must at least regulate these occupations by the Christian standard, and interrupt their continuance by stated returns of devotion; if the warmth of our religious zeal abates as the novelty wears off, we must lodge its natural and only substitute, habit, in its room.
Let him retire to his closet; let him then throw himself on his knees before his Maker, and pray that his heart may be softened ; let him think much and deeply upon those conceptions of the infinitely good and holy, which will be found