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study more, how to give a good account of my little, than how to make it more,
Many Christians do greatly wrong themselves, with a dull and heavy kind of sullenness; who, not suffering themselves to delight in any worldly thing, are thereupon ofttimes so heartless, that they delight in nothing. These men, like to careless guests, when they are invited to an excellent banquet, lose their dainties, for want of a stomach; and lose their stomach, for want of exercise, A good conscience keeps always good cheer: he cannot chuse but fare well, that hath it; unless he lose his appetite, with neglect and slothfulness. It is a shame for us Christians, not to find as much joy in God, as worldlings do in their forced merriments, and lewd wretches in the practice of their sins.
A wise Christian hath no enemies. Many hate and wrong him; but he loves all, and all pleasure him. Those, that profess love to him, pleasure him with the comfort of their society, and the mutual reflection of friendship: those, that profess hatred, make him more wary of his ways; shew him faults in himself, which his friends would either not have espied or not censured; send him the more willingly to seek favour above: and, as the worst do bestead him, though against their wills; so he again doth voluntarily good to them. To do evil for evil, as Joab to Abner, is a sinful weakness: to do good for good, as Ahasuerus to Mordecai, is but natural justice: to do evil for good, as Judas to Christ, is unthankfulness and villainy: only to do good for evil, agrees with Christian profession. And what greater work of friendship, than to do good? If men will not be my friends in love, I will perforce make them my friends in a good use of their hatred. I will be their friend, that are mine, and would not be.
All temporal things are troublesome: for, if we have good things, it is a trouble to forego them; and, when we see they must be parted from, either we wish they had not been so good, or that we never had enjoyed them, Yea, it is more trouble to lose them, than it was before joy to possess them. If, contrarily, we have evil things, their very presence is troublesome; and still we wish that they were good, or that we were disburdened of them. So, good things are troublesome, in event; evil things, in their use: they, in the future; these, in the present: they, because they shall come to an end; these, because they do continue. Tell me, thy wife or thy child lies dying, and now makes up a loving and dutiful life with a kind and loving parture; whether wouldst thou rather for thy own part, she had been so good or worse? would it have cost thee so many hearty sighs and tears, if she had been perverse and disobedient? Yet, if in her life-time I put thee to this choice, thou thinkest it no choice at all, in such inequality, It is more torment, sayest thou, to live one unquiet month, than it
is pleasure to live an age in love. Or, if thy life be yet dearer: thou hast lived to grey hairs; not hastened with care, but bred with late succession of years: thy table was ever covered with variety of dishes: thy back softly and richly clad: thou never gavest denial to either skin or stomach: thou ever favouredst thyself; and health, thee. Now death is at thy threshold, and unpartially knocks at thy door; dost thou not wish thou hadst lived with crusts, and been clothed with rags? Wouldst not thou have given a better welcome to death, if he had found thee lying upon a pallet of straw, and supping of water-gruel; after many painful nights, and many sides changed in vain? Yet this beggarly estate thou detestest in health, and pitiest in others, as truly miserable. The sum is; A beggar wisheth he might be a monarch, while he lives; and the great potentate wisheth he had lived a beggar, when he comes to die: and, if beggary be to have nothing, he shall be so in death, though he wished it not. Nothing therefore but eternity can make a man truly happy; as nothing can make perfect misery but eternity for, as temporal good things afflict us in their ending, so temporal sorrows afford us joy in the hope of their end. What folly is this in us, to seek for our trouble, to neglect our happiness! I can be but well; and this, That I was well, shall one day be grievous. Nothing shall please me, but that once I shall be happy for ever.
The eldest of our forefathers lived not so much as a day to God, to whom a thousand years is as no more: we live but as an hour to the day of our forefathers; for, if nine hundred and sixty were but their day, our fourscore is but as the twelfth part of it. And yet, of this our hour we live scarce a minute to God: for, take away all that time, that is consumed in sleeping, dressing, feeding, talking, sporting; of that little time, there can remain not much more than nothing: yet the most seek pastimes to hasten it. Those, which seek to mend the pace of Time, spur a running horse. I had more need to redeem it, with double care and labour; than to seek how to sell it, for nothing.
Each day is a new life, and an abridgment of the whole. I will so live, as if I counted every day my first, and my last; as if I began to live but then, and should live no more afterwards.
It was not in vain, that the ancient founders of languages used the same word in many tongues, to signify both. Honour and Charge; meaning therein, to teach us the inseparable connection of these two. For there scarce ever was any charge, without some opinion of honour; neither ever was there honour, without a charge which two, as they are not without reason joined together in name, by human institution; so they are most wisely coupled together by God, in the disposition of these worldly estates. Charge, without honour to make it amends, would be too toilsome;
and must needs discourage and over-lay a man: Honour, without charge, would be too pleasant; and, therefore, both would be too much sought after, and must needs carry away the mind in the enjoying it. Now, many dare not be ambitious, because of the burden; chusing rather to live obscurely and securely: and yet, on the other side, those, that are under it, are refreshed in the Charge with the sweetness of Honour. Seeing they cannot be separated, it is not the worst estate to want both. They, whom thou enviest for honour, perhaps envy thee more for thy quiet
He, that taketh his own cares upon himself, loads himself in vain with an uneasy burden. The fear of what may come, expectation of what will come, desire of what will not come, and inability of redressing all these, must needs breed him continual torment. I will cast my cares upon God: he hath bidden me: they cannot hurt h.m; he can redress them.
Our infancy is full of folly; youth, of disorder and toil; age, of infirmity. Each time hath his burden; and that, which may justly work our weariness: yet infancy longeth after youth; and youth, after more age; and he, that is very old, as he is a child for simplicity, so he would be for years. I account old age the best of the three; partly, for that it hath passed through the folly and disorder of the others; partly, for that the inconveniencies of this are but bodily, with a bettered estate of the mind; and partly, for that it is nearest to dissolution. There is nothing more miserable, than an old man that would be young again. It was an answer worthy the commendations of Petrarch; and that, which argued a mind truly philosophical of him, who, when his friend bemoaned his age appearing in his white temples, telling him he was sorry to see him look so old, replied, "Nay, be sorry rather, that ever I was young, to be a fool,"
There is not the least action or event, whatever the vain Epicures have imagined, which is not overruled and disposed by a Providence: which is so far from detracting ought from the Majesty of God, for that the things are small; as that there can be no greater honour to him, than to extend his providence and decree to them, because they are infinite. Neither doth this hold in natural things only, which are chained one to another by a regular order of succession; but even in those things, which fall out by casualty and imprudence: whence that worthy Father, when as his speech digressed his intention to a confutation of the errors of the Manichees, could presently guess, that, in that unpurposed turning of it, God intended the conversion of some unknown auditor; as the event proved his conjecture true, ere many days. When ought falls out contrary to that I proposed, it shall content me, that God proposed it as it is fallen out: so the thing hath attained his own end, while it missed mine. I know what I would, but God knoweth
what I should will. It is enough, that his will is done, though mine be crossed.
It is the most thankless office in the world, to be a man's pander unto sin. In other wrongs, one man is a wolf to another; but in this, a devil. And, though, at the first, this damnable service carry away reward; yet, in conclusion, it is requited with hatred and curses. For, as the sick man, extremely distasted with a loathsome potion, hateth the very cruse wherein it was brought him; so doth the conscience, once soundly detesting sin, loath the means that induced him to commit it. Contrarily, who withstands a man in his prosecution of a sin, while he doteth upon it, bears away frowns and heart-burnings for a time; but, when the offending party comes to himself and right reason, he recompenseth his former dislike, with so much more love, and so many more thanks. The frantic man, returned to his wits, thinks him his best friend, that bound him, and beat him most. I will do my best to cross any man in his sins: if I have not thanks of him, yet of science I shall.
God must be magnified in his very judgments. He looks for praise; not only for heaven, but for hell also. His justice is himself, as well as his mercy. As heaven, then, is for the praise of his mercy; so hell for the glory of his justice. We must, therefore, be so affected to judgments, as the Author of them is; who delighteth not in blood, as it makes his creature miserable, but as it makes his justice glorious. Every true Christian, then, must learn to sing that compound ditty of the Psalmist; Of mercy, and judgment. It shall not only joy me, to see God gracious and bountiful, in his mercies and deliverances of his own; but also to see him terrible, in vengeance to his enemies. It is no cruelty to rejoice in justice. The foolish mercy of men is cruelty to God.
Rareness causeth wonder, and more than that, incredulity, in those things, which, in themselves, are not more admirable, than the ordinary proceedings of nature. If a blazing star be seen in the sky, every man goes forth to gaze; and spends, every evening, some time in wondering at the beams of it. That any fowl should be bred of corrupted wood resolved into worms; or that the chameleon should ever change his colours, and live by air; that the ostrich should digest iron; that the phoenix should burn herself to ashes, and from thence breed a successor: we wonder, and can scarce credit. Other things more usual, no less miraculous, we know and neglect. That there should be a bird, that knoweth and noteth the hours of day and night, as certainly as any astronomer by the course of heaven; if we knew not, who would believe? Or that the loadstone should, by his secret virtue, so draw iron to itself, as that a whole chain of needles should all hang by insensible points at each other, only by the influence that it sends down from the first; if it were not ordinary, would seem incredible.
Who would believe, when he sees a fowl mounted as high as his sight can descry it, that there were an engine to be framed, which could fetch it down into his fist? Yea, to omit infinite examples, that a little despised creature should weave nets out of her own entrails, and in her platforms of building should observe as just proportions as the best geometrician, we should suspect for an untruth, if we saw it not daily practised in our own windows. If the sun should arise but once to the earth, I doubt, every man would be a Persian, and fall down and worship it: whereas now, it riseth and declineth without any regard. Extraordinary events each man can wonder at. The frequence of God's best works causeth neglect: not that they are ever the worse for commonness; but because we are soon cloyed with the same conceit, and have contempt bred in us through familiarity. I will learn to note God's power and wisdom, and to give him praise of both, in his ordinary works: so those things, which are but trivial to the most ignorant, shall be wonders to me; and that, not for nine days, but for ever.
Those, that affect to tell novelties and wonders, fall into many absurdities; both in busy enquiry after matters impertinent, and in a light credulity to whatever they hear; and in fictions of their own, and additions of circumstances, to make their reports the more admired. I have noted these men, not so much wondered at for their strange stories, while they are telling; as derided afterwards, when the event hath wrought their disproof and shame. I will deal with rumours, as grave men do with strange fashions; take them up, when they are grown into common use before: I may believe, but I will not relate them but under the name of my author; who shall either warrant me with defence, if it be true; or, if false, bear my shame.
It was a witty and true speech of that obscure Heraclitus, That all men, awaking, are in one common world; but, when we sleep, each man goes into a several world by himself; which though it be but a world of fancies, yet is the true image of that little world which is in every man's heart: for the imaginations of our sleep shew us what our disposition is awaking: and, as many in their dreams reveal those their secrets to others, which they would never have done awake; so all may and do disclose to themselves in their sleep those secret inclinations, which, after much searching, they could not have found out waking. I doubt not, therefore, but as God heretofore hath taught future things in dreams, which kind of revelation is now ceased; so still he teacheth the present estate of the heart, this way. Some dreams are from ourselves, vain and idle, like ourselves: others are divine, which teach us good, or move us to good: and others devilish, which solicit us to evil. Such answer, commonly, shall I give to any temptation in the day, as I do by night. I will not lightly pass over my very dreams. They shall teach me somewhat: so neither night nor day shall be