« Prev Rules to govern our Hope. Next »

Rules to govern our Hope.

1. Let your hope be moderate; proportioned to your state, person, and condition, whether it be or gifts or graces, or temporal favours. It is an ambitious hope for persons, whose diligence is like them that are least in the kingdom of heaven, to believe themselves endeared to God as the greatest saints; or that they shall have a throne equal to St. Paul, or the blessed Virgin Mary. A stammerer cannot, with moderation, hope for the gift of tongues; or a peasant to become learned as Origen; or if a beggar desires, or hopes, to become a king, or asks for a thousand pounds a year, we call him impudent, not passionate, much less reasonable. Hope that God will crown your endeavours with equal measures of that reward which he indeed freely gives, but yet gives according to our proportions. Hope for good success according to, or not much beyond, the efficacy of the causes and the instrument; and let the husbandman hope for a good harvest, not for a rich kingdom, or a victorious army.

2. Let your hope be well founded, relying upon just confidences; that is, upon God, according to his revelations and promises. For it is possible for a man to have a vain hope upon God; and, in matters of religion, it is presumption to hope that God’s mercies will be poured forth upon lazy persons, that do nothing towards holy and strict walking, nothing (I say) but trust and long for an event besides and against all disposition of the means. Every false principle in religion is a reed of Egypt, false and dangerous. Rely not in temporal things upon uncertain prophecies and astrology, not upon our own wit or industry, not upon gold or friends, not upon armies and princes; expect not health from physicians, that cannot cure their own breath, much less their mortality: use all lawful instruments, but expect nothing from them above their natural or ordinary efficacy, and, in the use of them, from God expect a blessing. A hope that is easy and credulour is an arm of flesh, an ill supporter without a bone.198198Jer. ivii. 5.

3. Let your hope be without vanity, or garishness of spirit; but sober, grave, and silent, fixed in the heart, not borne upon the lip, apt to support our spirits within, but not to provide envy abroad.

4. Let your hope be of things possible, safe, and useful.199199Di cosi fuoro di credenza, Non vuoler far speranza.

He that hopes for an opportunity of acting his revenge, or lust, or rapine, watches to do himself a mischief. All evils of ourselves or brethren are objects of our fear, not hope; and, when it is truly understood, things useless and unsafe can no more be wished for than things impossible can be obtained.

5. Let your hope be patient, without tediousness of spirit, or hastiness of prefixing time. Make no limits or prescriptions to God; but let your prayers and endeavours go on still with a constant attendance on the periods of God’s providence. The men of Bethulia resolved to wait upon God but five days longer; but deliverance stayed seven days, and yet came at last. And take not every accident for an argument of despair; but go on still in hoping; and begin again to work if any ill accident have interrupted you.

« Prev Rules to govern our Hope. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection