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give riches in abundance to the poor and needy. Our emptiness only serves to lay us open to, and attract the fulness of Him “ who fills all things, and is over all; who gives wisdom to the mind, and prevents its irregular sallies.”

Under His auspices, therefore, young gentlemen, we are to aspire to true and saving wisdom, and to try to raise ourselves above this sublunary world. For it is not my intention to perplex you with curious questions, and lead you through the thorny paths of disputation ; but, if I had any share of that excellent art, it would be my delight to direct your way, through the easy and pleasant paths of righteousness, to a life of endless felicity, and be myself your companion in that blessed pursuit. I would take pleasure to kindle in your souls the most ardent desires, and fervent love of heavenly things; and to use the expression of a great divine, add “ wings to your souls, to snatch them away from this world, and restore them to God.” For, if I may be allowed to speak with freedom, most part of the notions that are treated of in theological schools, that are taught with great pomp and ostentation, and disputed with vast bustle and noise, may possibly have the sharpness of thorns; but they have also their barrenness: they may prick and tear, but they can afford no solid nourishment to the minds of men. No man ever gathered grapes off thorns, nor figs off thistles. “ To what purpose,” saith A Kempis, “ dost thou reason profoundly concerning the Trinity, if thou art without humility, and thereby displeasest that Trinity* ?” And St. Augustine, upon the words of Isaiah, I am the Lord that teacheth thee to profit, observes with great propriety, that the Prophet here mentions utility in opposition to subtilty t. Such are the principles I would wish to communicate to you ; and it is my earnest desire and fervent prayer, that while I, according to my measure of strength, propose them to your understanding, He who sits in Heaven, yet condescends to

* Quorsum alta de Trinitate disputare, si careas humilitate, et sic Trinitate displiceas ?

of Utilia non subtilia.

instruct the hearts of men on this earth, may effectually impress them upon your minds.

But that you may be capable of this supernatural light and heavenly instruction, it is, first of all, absolutely necessary, that your minds be called off from foreign objects, and turned in upon themselves; for, as long as your thoughts are dispersed and scattered in pursuit of vanity and insignificant trifles, he that would lay before them the principles and precepts of this spiritual wisdom, would commit them, like the sibyl's prophecies, that were written on loose leaves of trees, to the mercy of the inconstant winds, and thereby render them entirely useless. It is certainly a matter of great difficulty, and requires uncommon art, to fix the thoughts of men, especially young men and boys, and turn them in upon themselves. We read in the parable of the Gospel concerning the prodigal son, that, first of all, he came to himself, and then returned to his father. It is certainly a very considerable step towards conversion to God, to have the mind fixed upon itself, and disposed to think seriously of its own immediate concerns; which the pious St. Bernard excellently expresses in this prayer, “ May 1,” says he, “ return from external objects to my own inward concerns, and from inferior objects rise to those of a superior nature*.” I should look upon it as no small happiness, if, out of this whole society, I could but gain one, but wish earnestly I could prevail with many, and still more ardently that I could send you all away, fully determined to entertain more serious and secret thoughts than ever you had before, with regard to your immortal state and eternal concerns. But how vain are the thoughts of men ! What a darkness overclouds their mindst! It is the great complaint of God concerning His people, that they have not a heart to understand. It is at once the great disgrace and misery of mankind, that they live without forethought. That brutish

* Ab exterioribus ad interiora redeam, et ab inferioribus ad superiora ascendam.

por O vanas hominum mentes! O pectora cæca !

thoughtlessness, pardon the expression, or, to speak more intelligibly, want of consideration, is the death and ruin of souls. And the ancients observe, with great truth and justice, “ that a thoughtful mind is the spring and source of every good

thing *."

that you

It is the advice of the Psalmist, that we should converse much with ourselves: an advice, indeed, which is regarded by few; for the greatest part of mankind are no where greater strangers than at home. But it is my earnest request to you, would be intimately acquainted with yourselves, and as becomes persons devoted to a studious life, be much at home, much in your own company, and very often engaged in serious conversation with yourselves. Think gravely, To what purpose do I live? Whither am I going? Ask, thyself, hast thou any fixed and determined purpose, any end that thou pursuest with steadfastness t. The principles I have embraced under the name of the Christian Religion, the things I have so often heard about a future state and life, and death eternal, are they true or false ? If they are true, as we all absolutely profess to believe they are, then, to be sure, the greatest and most important matters of this world are vain, and even less than vanity itself: all our knowledge is but ignorance, our riches poverty, our pleasure bitterness, and our honours vile and dishonourable. How little do those men know, who are ambitious of glory, what it really is, and how to be attained. Nay, they eagerly catch at the empty shadow of it, while they avoid and turn their backs upon that glory which is real, substantial, and everlasting. The happiness of good men in the life to come, is not only infinitely above all our expressions, but even beyond our most enlarged thoughts. By comparing, however, great things with small, we attain some faint notion of these exalted and invisible blessings, from the earthly and visible enjoyments of this world. In this respect, even the Holy Scriptures descend to the weakness of our capacities, and as the Hebrews express it,

Intellectus cogitabundus principium omnis boni. * Est aliquid quo tendis, et in quid dirigis arcum ?

“ The law of God speaks the language of the children of

." They speak of this celestial life, under the representations of an heritage, of riches, of a kingdom, and a crown, but with uncommon epithets, and such as are by no means applicable to any earthly glory or opulence, however great. It is an inheritance, but one that is uncorrupted, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; a kingdom, but one that can never be shaken, much less ruined ; which can never be said of the thrones of this sublunary world, as evidently appears from the histories of all nations, and our own recent experience. Here, ye sons of Adam, a covetous and ambitious


here is room for a laudable avarice; here are motives to excite your ambition, and, at the same time, the means of satisfying it to the full. But it must be acknowledged, that the belief of these things is far from being common. What a rare attainment is faith, seeing that among the prodigious crowds of those who who profess to believe, in this world, one might justly cry out, Where is a true believer to be found ? That man shall never persuade me, that he believes the truth and certainty of heavenly enjoyments, who cleaves to this earth, nay, who does, not scorn and despise it, with all its baits and allurements, and employ all his powers, as well as his utmost industry, to obtain these immense and eternal blessings.

Nor is there any thing in the way to these enjoyments that can deter you from it, unless holiness in heart and life appear to be a heavy and troublesome task to you: whereas, on the contrary, nothing surely can be named, that is either more suited to the dignity of human nature, more beautiful and becoming, or attended with greater pleasure. I therefore beseech and entreat you, by the bowels of Divine mercy, and by your own most precious souls, that you would seriously consider these things, and make them your principal study. Try an ment, attended with no danger or expense; make a trial of the ways of this wisdom, and I doubt not but you will be so charmed


* Lex Dei loquitur linguam filiorum hominum.

with the pleasantness thereof, that you will never thenceforward depart from them. For this purpose, I earnestly recommend to you, to be constant and assiduous in prayer. Nay, it is St. Paul's exhortation, that you pray without ceasing. 1 Thes. v. 17. So that prayer may be, not only, according to the old saying, Clavis diei, et sera noctis, The key that opens the day, and the lock that shuts up the night; but also, so to speak, a staff for support in the day-time, and a bed for rest and comfort in the night; two conveniences which are commonly expressed by one single Hebrew word. And be assured, that the more frequently you pray, with so much the greater ease and pleasure will your prayers be attended, not only from the common and necessary connexion between acts and habits, but also from the nature of this duty. For prayer, being a kind of conversation with God, gradually purifies the soul, and makes it continually more and more like unto Him. Our love to God is also very much improved by this frequent intercourse with Him; and by His love, on the other hand, the soul is effectually disposed to fervency, as well as frequency in prayer, and can, by no means, subsist without it.


Of Happiness, its Name aud Nature, and the Desire of it implanted in

the Human Heart.

How deep and dark is that abyss of misery, into which man is precipitated by his deplorable fall; since he has thereby lost, not only the possession, but also the knowledge of his chief or principal good! He has no distinct notion of what it is, of the means of recovering it, or the way he has to take in pursuit of it. Yet the human mind, however stunned and weakened by so dreadful a fall, still retains some faint idea, some confused and obscure notions of the good it has lost, and some remaining seeds of its heavenly original *. It has also still remaining, a

Cognati semina coeli.

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