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adore thy glorious name, whereby thou hast shut up the abysses, and opened the gates of heaven, restraining the power of hell, and discovering and communicating the treasures of thy Father's mercies. O Jesu, be thou a Jesus unto me, and save me from the precipices and ruins of sin, from the expresses of thy Father's wrath, from the miseries and insufferable torments of accursed spirits, by the power of thy majesty, by the sweetnesses of thy mercy, and sacred influences and miraculous glories of thy name. I adore and worship thee in thy excellent obedience and humility, who hast submitted thy innocent and spotless flesh to the bloody covenant of circumcision. Teach me to practise so blessed and holy a precedent, that I may be humble, and obedient to thy sacred laws, severe and regular in my religion, mortified in my body and spirit, of circumcised heart and tongue ; that what thou didst represent in symbol and mystery, I may really express in the exhibition of an exemplar, pious, and mortified life, cutting off all excrescences of my spirit, and whatsoever may minister to the flesh, or any of its ungodly desires ; that now thy holy name is called upon me, I may do no dishonour to the name, nor scandal to the institution, but may do thee honour and worship, and adorations of a pure religion, O most holy and ever-blessed Jesu. Amen.


Of the Virtue of Obedience.

1. THERE are certain excellencies, either of habit or consideration, which spiritual persons use to call general ways; being a dispersed influence into all the parts of good life, either directing the single actions to the right end, or managing them with right instruments, and adding special excellencies and formalities to them, or morally inviting to the repetition of them. But they are like the general medicaments in physic, or the prime instruments in mathematical disciplines : such as are the consideration of the Divine presence, the example of Jesus, right intention; and such also is the virtue of obedience, which perfectly unites our actions to God, and conforms us to the Divine will, which is the original of goodness; and sanctifies and makes a man an holocaust to God, which contains in it eminently all other graces, but especially those graces, whose essence consists in a conformity of a part or the whole, (such are faith, humility, patience, and charity ;) which gives quietness and tranquillity to the spirit, and is an antepast of Paradise, (where their jubilee is the perpetual joys of obedience, and their doing is the enjoying the Divine pleasure ;) which adds an excellency and lustre to pious actions, and hallows them which are indifferent, and lifts up some actions from their unhallowed nature, to circumstances of good and of acceptation. If a man says

his prayers, or communicates out of custom, or without intuition of the precept and Divine commandment, the act is like a ship returning from her voyage without her venture and her burden, as unprofitable as without stowage. But if God commands us either to eat or to abstain, to sleep or to be waking, to work or to keep a Sabbath ; these actions, which are naturally neither good nor evil, are sanctified by the obedience, and ranked amongst actions of the greatest excellency. And this also was it which made Abraham's offer to kill his son, and the Israelites' spoiling the Egyptians, to become acts laudable, and not unjust : they were acts of obedience, and therefore had the same formality and essence with actions of the most spiritual devotions. God's command is all our rule for practice; and our obedience, united to the obedience of Jesus, is all our title to acceptance.

2. But by obedience, I do not here mean the exterior execution of the work; for so, obedience is no grace, distinct from the acting any or all the commandments : but besides the doing of the thing, (for that also must be presupposed,) it is a sacrifice of our proper will to God, a choosing the duty, because God commands it. For beasts also carry burdens, and do our commands by compulsion; and the fear of slaves, and the rigour of task-masters, made the number of bricks to be completed, when Israel groaned, and cried to God for help. But sons, that labour under the sweet paternal regiment of their fathers, and the influence of love, they love the precept, and do the imposition, with the same purposes and compliant affections, with which the fathers made it. When Christ commanded us to renounce the world, there were some,

that did think it was a hard saying, and do so still; and the young rich man forsook him upon it: but Ananias and Sapphira, upon whom some violences were done by custom, or the excellent sermons of the apostles, sold their possessions too; but it was so against their will, that they retained part of it. But St. Paul did not only forsake all his secular fortunes, but “ counted all to be dross, that he might gain Christ;" he gave his will, made an offertory of that, as well as of his goods, choosing the act which was enjoined. This was the obedience the holy Jesus paid to his heavenly Father, so voluntary, that it was meat to him to do his Father's will."

3. And this was intended always by God, “My son, give me thy heart;” and particularly by the holy Jesus : for, in the saddest instance of all his precepts, even that of suffering persecution, we are commanded to “rejoice, and to be exceeding glad.” And so did those holy martyrs, in the primitive ages, who, upon just grounds, when God's glory, or the edification of the church, had interest in itb, they offered themselves to tyrants, and dared the violence of the most cruel and bowelless hangmen. And this is the best oblation we can present to God. “To offer gold", is a present fit to be made by young beginners in religion, not by men in Christianity; yea, Crates the Theban threw his gold away, and so did Antisthenes : but to offer our will to God, to give ourselves, is the act of an apostle, the proper act of Christians.” And therefore, when the apostles made challenge of a reward for leaving all their possessions, Christ makes no reply to the instance, nor says, “ You who have left all;” but, “ You who have followed me in the regeneration, shall sit upon twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel :" meaning, that the quitting the goods was nothing ; but the obedience to Christ, that they followed Jesus in the regeneration, going themselves in pursuit of him, and giving themselves to him, that was it, which entitled them to a throne.

4. And this, therefore, God enjoins, that our offerings to him may be entire and complete ; that we pay him a holo.

• John, iv. 54.

b S. Hieron. Epist. ad Licin, Hispan. c Idem in xix. Matth. 28.

caust; that we do his work without murmuring; and that his burden may become easy, when it is borne up by the wings of love and alacrity of spirit. For, in effect, this obedience of the will is, in true speaking and strict theology, nothing else but that charity, which gives excellency to alms, and energy to faith, and acceptance to all graces. But I shall reduce this to particular and more minute considerations.

5. First : We shall best know, that our will is in the obedience, by our prompt undertaking“, by our cheerful managing, by our swift execution ; for all degrees of delay are degrees of immorigerousness and unwillingness. And since time is extrinsical to the act, and alike to every part of it, nothing determines an action but the opportunity without, and the desires and willingness within. And therefore he, who deliberates beyond his first opportunity, and exterior determination and appointment of the act, brings fire and wood, but wants a lamb for the sacrifice; and unless he offer up his Isaac, his beloved will, he hath no ministry prepared for God's acceptance. He that does not repent to-day, puts it to the question, whether he will repent at all or no. He that defers restitution, when all the circumstances are fitted, is not yet resolved upon the duty. And when he does it, if he does it against his will, he does but do honorary penance with a paper upon his hat, and a taper in his hand; it may satisfy the law, but not satisfy his conscience; it neither pleases himself, and less pleases God. A sacrifice without a heart was a sad and ominous presage in the superstition of the Roman augurs, and so it is in the service of God; for what the exhibition of the work is to man, that the presentation of the will is to God. It is but a cold charity to a naked beggar to say, “ God help thee,” and do nothing ; give him clothes, and he feels your charity. But God, who is the searcher of the heart, his apprehension of actions relative to him is of the inward motions and addresses of the will; and, without this, our exterior services are like the paying of a piece of money, in which we have defaced the image ; it is not current.

d Fidelis obediens nescit moras, fugit crastinum, ignorat tarditatem, præcipit præcipientem, parat oculos visui, aures auditui, linguam voci, mauns operi, itineri pedes : totum se colligit, ut imperantis colligat voluntatem.-S. Bernard. Serm. de Obedient.

Et barbaris cunctatio servilis, statim exsequi regium. - Tacit. lib. vi. Annal. 32.

6. Secondly: But besides the willingness to do the acts of express command, the readiness to do the intimations and tacit significations of God's pleasure is the best testimony in the world, that our will is in the obedience. Thus did the holy Jesus undertake a nature of infirmity, and suffer a death of shame and sorrow, and became obedient from the circumcision even unto the death of the cross ; not staying for a command, but because it was his Father's pleasure mankind should be redeemed. For, before the susception of it, he was not a person subjicible to a command : it was enough, that he understood the inclinations and designs of his Father's mercies. And therefore God hath furnished us with instances of uncommanded piety to be a touchstone of our obedience. He that does but his endeavour about the express commands, hath a bridle in his mouth, and is restrained by violence; but a willing spirit is like a greedy eye, devours all it sees, and hopes to make some proportionable returns and compensations of duty for his infirmity, by taking in the intimations of God's pleasure. When God commands chastity, he that undertakes a holy celibate, hath great obedience to the command of chastity. God bids us give alms of our increase ; he obeys this with great facility, that “ sells all his goods, and gives them to the poor.” And, provided our hastiness to snatch at too much, does not make us let go our duty, like the indiscreet loads of too forward persons, too big, or too inconvenient and uncombined, there is not in the world a greater probation of our prompt obedience, than when we look farther than the precise duty, swallowing that and more with our ready and hopeful purposes ; nothing being so able to do miracles as love, and yet nothing being so certainly accepted as love, though it could do nothing in productions and exterior ministries.

7. Thirdly: But God requires that our obedience should have another excellency to make it a becoming present to the Divine acceptance; our understanding must be sacrificed too, and become an ingredient of our obedience. We must also believe, that whatsoever God commands, is most fitting to be commanded, is most excellent in itself, and the best for us to do. The first gives our affections and desires to God, and

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