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and their power, could persuade her. But a soldier that watched seven dead bodies hanging upon trees just over against this monument, crept in, and a while stared upon the silent and comely disorders of the sorrow: and having let the wonder awhile breathe out at each other's eyes, at last he fetched his supper and a bottle of wine, with purpose to eat and drink, and still to feed himself with that sad prettiness. His pity and first draught of wine made him bold and curious to try if the maid would drink; who, having many hours since felt her resolution faint as her wearied body, took his kindness, and the light returned into her eyes, and danced like boys in a festival : and fearing lest the pertinaciousness of her mistress' sorrows should cause her evil to revert, or her shame to approach, assayed whether she would endure to hear an argument to persuade her to drink and live. The violent passion had laid all her spirits in wildness and dissolution, and the maid found them willing to be gathered into order at the arrest of any new object, being weary of the first, of which like leeches they had sucked their fill till they fell down and burst. The weeping woman took her cordial, and was not angry with her maid, and heard the soldier talk. And he was so pleased with the change, that he, who at first loved the silence of the sorrow, was more in love with the musick of her returning voice, especially which himself had strung and put in tune : and the man began to talk amorously, and the woman's weak head and heart were soon possessed with a little wine, and grew gay, and talked, and fell in love ; and that very night, in the morning of her passion, in the grave of her husband, in the pomps of mourning, and in her funeral garments, married her new and stranger guest.*
THE POWER OF PRAYER.
Prayer can obtain every thing, it can open the windows of heaven, and shut the gates of hell; it can put a holy constraint upon God, and detain an angel till he leave a blessing; it can open the treasures of rain, and soften the iron ribs of rocks, till they melt into tears and a flowing river: prayer can unclasp the girdles of the north, saying to a mountain of ice, Be thou removed hence, and cast into the bottom of the sea ; it can arrest the sun in the midst of his course, and send the swiftwinged winds upon our errand; and all those strange things, and secret decrees, and unrevealed transactions which are above the clouds, and far beyond the regions of the stars, shall combine in ministry and advantages for the praying man.t
ON THE GOODNESS OF THE ALMIGHTY.
As the sun sends forth a benign and gentle influence on the seed of plants, that it may
invite forth the active and plastick power from its recess
+ Worthy Communicant.
and secrecy, that by rising into the tallness and dimensions of a tree it may still receive a greater and more refreshing influence from its foster father, the prince of all the bodies of light; and in all these emanations the sun itself receives no advantage but the honour of doing benefits : so doth the Almighty father of all the creatures; he at first sends forth his blessings upon us, that we by using them aright should make ourselves capable of greater; while the giving glory to God, and doing homage to him, are nothing for his advantage, but only for ours; our duties towards him being like vapours ascending from the earth, not at all to refresh the region of the clouds, but to return back in a fruitful and refreshing shower; and God created us, not that we can increase his felicity, but that he might have a subject receptive of felicity from him.
Does not God send his angels to keep thee in all thy ways ? are not they ministering spirits sent forth to wait upon thee as thy guard ? art not thou kept from drowning, from fracture of bones, from madness, from deformities, by the riches of the divine goodness ? Tell the joints of thy body, doest thou want a finger? and if thou doest not understand how great a blessing that is, do but remember how ill thou canst spare the use of it when thou hast but a thorn in it. The very privative blessings, the blessings of immunity, safeguard, and integrity which we all enjoy, deserve a thanksgiving of a whole life. If God should send a cancer upon thy face, or a wolf into thy breast, if he should spread a crust of leprosy upon thy skin, what wouldest thou give to be but as now thou art ?*
LUKEWARMNESS AND ZEAL.
He that is warm to-day and cold to-morrow, zealous in his resolution and weary in his practices, fierce in the beginning, and slack and easy in his progress, hath not yet well chosen what side he will be of. For religion cannot change, though we do; and, if we do, we have left God; and whither he can go that goes from God, his own sorrows will soon enough instruct him. This fire must never go out; but it must be like the fire of heaven; it must shine like the stars, though sometimes covered with a cloud, or obscured by a greater light; yet they dwell for ever in their orbs, and walk in their circles, and observe their circumstances; but go not out by day nor night, and set not when kings die, nor are extinguished when nations change their government.
So must the zeal of a Christian be, a constant incentive of his duty; and though sometimes his hand is drawn back by violence or need, and his prayers shortened by the importunity of business, and some parts omitted by necessities and just compliances; yet still the fire is kept alive, it burns within when the light breaks not forth, and is eternal as the orb of fire, or the embers of the altar of incense.
Mercy of the Divine Judgments. Serm. xii. p. 286. 8. 95.
In every action of religion God expects such a warmth, and a holy fire to go along, that it may be able to enkindle the wood upon the altar, and consume the sacrifice; but God hates an indifferent spirit. Earnestness and vivacity ; quickness and delight, perfect choice of the service, and a delight in the prosecution, is all that the spirit of a man can yield towards his religion : the outward work is the effect of the body; but if a man does it heartily and with all his mind, then religion hath wings, and moves upon wheels of fire,
However it be very easy to have our thoughts wander, yet it is our indifferency and lukewarmness that makes it so natural; and you may observe it, that so long as the light shines bright, and the fires of devotion and desires flame out, so long the mind of a man stands close to the altar and waits upon the sacrifice ; but as the fires die and desires decay, so the mind steals away and walks abroad, to see the little images of beauty and pleasure which it beholds in the falling stars and little glowworms of the world. The river that runs slow and creeps by the banks, and begs leave of every turf to let it pass, is drawn into little hollownesses, and spends itself in smaller portions, and dies with diversion; but when it runs with vigorousness and a full stream, and breaks down every obstacle, making it even as its own brow, it stays not to be tempted with little avocations, and to creep into holes, but runs into the sea through full and useful channels : so is