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the other, good: one serves that we may know our duty; the other, that we may perform it. I will labour in both: but I know ⚫ not in whether more. Men cannot practise, unless they know; and they know in vain, if they practise not.
There be two things, in every good work; honour, and profit: the latter, God bestows upon us; the former, he keeps to himself. The profit of our works redoundeth not to God: My well-doing extendeth not to thee. The honour of our work may not be allowed us: My glory I will not give to another. I will not abridge God of his part, that he may not bereave me of mine.
The proud man hath no God: the envious man hath no neighbour: the angry man hath not himself. What can that man have, that wants himself? What is a man better, if he have himself, and want all others? What is he the nearer, if he have himself, and others, and yet want God? What good is it then to be a man, if he be either wrathful, proud, or envious?
Man, that was once the sovereign lord of all creatures, whom they serviceably attended at all times, is now sent to the very basest of all creatures, to learn good qualities; Go to the pismire, &c. and sees the most contemptible creatures preferred before him; The ass knoweth his owner. Wherein we, like the miserable heir of some great peer, whose house is decayed through the treason of our progenitors, hear and see what honours and lordships we should have had; but now find ourselves below many of the vulgar. We have not so much cause of exaltation, that we are men, and not beasts; as we have of humiliation, in thinking how much we were once better than we are, and that now in many duties we are men inferior to beasts: so as those, whom we contemn, if they had our reason, might more justly contemn us; and, as they are, may teach us by their examples, and do condemn us by their practice.
The idle man is the Devil's cushion, on which he taketh his free ease: who, as he is uncapable of any good, so he is fitly disposed for all evil motions. The standing water soon stinketh: whereas the current ever keeps clear and cleanly; conveying down all noisome matter, that might infect it, by the force of his stream. If I do but little good to others, by my endeavours; yet this is great good to me, that, by my labour, I keep myself from hurt.
There can be no nearer conjunction in nature, than is betwixt the body and the soul: yet these two are of so contrary disposition, that, as it falls out in an ill-matched man and wife, those servants, which the one likes best, are most dispraised of the other; so here, one still takes part against the other in their choice.
What benefits the one, is the hurt of the other: the glutting of the body pines the soul; and the soul thrives best, when the body is pinched. Who can wonder, that there is such faction amongst others, that sees so much in his very self? True wisdom, is, to take, not with the stronger, as the fashion of the world is, but with the better: following herein, not usurped power, but justice. It is not hard to discern, whose the right is; whether the servant should rule, or the mistress. I will labour to make and keep the peace, by giving each part his own indifferently; but, if more be affected with an ambitious contention, I will rather beat Hagar out of doors, than she shall over-rule her mistress,
I see iron, first, heated red-hot in the fire; and, after, beaten and hardened with cold water. Thus will I deal with an offending friend: first, heat him with deserved praise of his virtue; and, then, beat upon him with apprehension: so, good nurses, when their children are fallen, first take them up and speak them fair, chide them afterwards. Gentle speech is a good preparative for rigour. He shall see, that I love him, by my approbation; and that I love not his faults, by my reproof. If he love himself, he will love those that mislike his vices; and if he love not himself, it matters not whether he love me,
The liker we are to God, which is the best and only good, the better and happier we must needs be. All sins make us unlike him, as being contrary to his perfect holiness; but some shew more direct contrariety. Such is envy; for, whereas God bringeth good out of evil, the envious man fetcheth evil out of good; wherein also his sin proves a kind of punishment: for, whereas to good men even evil things work together to their good; contrarily, to the envious good things work together to their evil. The evil, in any man, though never so prosperous, I will not envy; but pity: the good graces, I will not repine at; but holily emulate; rejoicing that they are so good, but grieving that I am no better,
The covetous man is like a spider: as in this, that he doth nothing but lay his nets to catch every fly, gaping only for a booty of gain; so, yet more, in that, while he makes nets for these flies, he consumeth his own bowels: so, that, which is his life, is his death. If there be any creature miserable, it is he; and yet he is least to be pitied, because he makes himself miserable. Such as he is, I will account him; and will, therefore, sweep down his webs, and hate his poison,
In heaven, there is all life, and no dying: in hell, is all death, and no life: in earth, there is both living and dying; which, as it is betwixt both, so it prepares for both. So that he, which here below dies to sin, doth after live in heaven; and, contrarily, he, that lives in sin upon earth, dies in hell afterward. What if I have
no part of joy here below, but still succession of afflictions? The wicked have no part in heaven, and yet they enjoy the earth with pleasure: I would not change portions with them. I rejoice, that, seeing I cannot have both, yet I have the better. O Lord, let me pass both my deaths here upon earth. I care not how I live or die, so I may have nothing but life, to look for in another world.
The conceit of propriety hardens a man against many incon veniences, and addeth much to our pleasure. The mother abides many unquiet nights, many painful throws, and unpleasant savours of her child, upon this thought, "It is my own." The indulgent father magnifies that in his own son, which he would scarce like in a stranger. The want of this to God-ward, makes us so subject to discontentment, and cooleth our delight in him; because we think of him aloof, as one in whom we are not interested. If we could think," It is my God, that cheereth me with his presence and blessings, while I prosper; that afflicteth me in love, when I am dejected: my Saviour is at God's right hand; my angels stand in his presence;" it could not be, but God's favour would be sweeter, his chastisements more easy, his benefits more effectual, I am not mine own, while God is not mine; and, while he is mine, since I do possess him, I will enjoy him.
Nature is, of her own inclination, froward; importunately longing after that which is denied her, and scornful of what she may have. If it were appointed, that we should live always upon earth, how extremely should we exclaim of weariness, and wish rather that we were not! Now it is appointed we shall live here but a while, and then give room to our successors, each one affects a kind of eternity upon earth. I will labour to tame this pee, vish and sullen humour of nature; and will like that best, that must be.
All true earthly pleasure forsook man, when he forsook his Creator. What honest and holy delight he took before, in the dutiful services of the obsequious creatures; in the contemplation of that admirable variety and strangeness of their properties; in seeing their sweet accordance with each other, and all with himself! Now, most of our pleasure is, to set one creature together by the ears with another; sporting ourselves only with that deformity, which was bred through our own fault. Yea, there have been, that have delighted to see one man spill another's blood upon the sand; and have shouted for joy at the sight of that slaughter, which hath fallen out upon no other quarrel, but the pleasure of the beholders. I doubt not, as we solace ourselves in the discord of the inferior creatures, so the evil spirits sport themselves in our dissensions. There are better qualities of the creature, which we pass over without pleasure. În recreations, I will chuse those,
which are of best example, and best use; seeking those, by which I may not only be the merrier, but the better.
There is no want, for which a man may not find a remedy in himself. Do I want Riches? he, that desires but little, cannot want much. Do I want Friends? if I love God enough, and myself but enough, it matters not. Do I want Health? if I want it but a little, and recover; I shall esteem it the more, because Į wanted if I be long sick, and unrecoverably, I shall be the fitter and willinger to die; and my pain is so much less sharp, by how much more it lingereth. Do I want Maintenance? a little, and coarse, will content nature: let my mind be no more ambitious, than my back and belly; I can hardly complain of too little. Do I want Sleep? I am going whither there is no use of sleep; where all rest, and sleep not. Do I want Children? many, that have them, wish they wanted: it is better to be childless, than crossed with their miscarriage. Do I want Learning? he hath none, that saith he hath enough: the next way to get more, is, to find thou wantest. There is remedy for all wants, in ourselves; saving only, for want of Grace: and that, a man cannot so much as see and complain that he wants, but from above.
Every virtuous action, like the sun eclipsed, hath a double shadow; according to the divers aspects of the beholders: one, of glory; the other, of envy: glory follows upon good deserts; envy, upon glory. He, that is envied, may think himself well; for he, that envies him, thinks him more than well. I know no vice in another, whereof a man may make so good and comfortable use to himself. There would be no shadow, if there were no light.
In meddling with the faults of friends, I have observed many wrongful courses; what for fear, or self-love, or indiscretion. Some I have seen, like unmerciful and covetous chirurgeons, keep the wound raw, which they might have seasonably remedied, for their own gain; others, that have laid healing plaisters, to skin it aloft; when there hath been more need of corrosives, to eat out the dead flesh within others, that have galled and drawn; when there hath been nothing but solid flesh, that hath wanted only filling up: others, that have healed the sore; but left an unsightly scar of discredit behind them. He, that would do good this way, must have fidelity, courage, discretion, patience: fidelity, not to bear with; courage, to reprove them; discretion, to reprove them well; pa tience, to abide the leisure of amendment; making much of good beginnings, and putting up many repulses; bearing with many weaknesses; still hoping, still soliciting; as knowing, that those, who have been long used to fetters, cannot but halt a while, when they are taken off,
God hath made all the world, and yet what a little part of it is his! Divide the world into four parts: but one, and the least, containeth all that is worthy the name of Christendom; the rest overwhelmed with Turkism and Paganism: and, of this least part, the greater half, yet holding aright concerning God and their Saviour in some common principles, overthrow the truth in their conclusions; and so leave the lesser part of the least part for God. Yet lower: of those, that hold aright concerning Christ, how few are there, that do otherwise than fashionably profess him! And, of those, that do seriously profess him, how few are there, that in their lives deny him not; living unworthy of so glorious a calling! Wherein, I do not pity God, who will have glory even of those that are not his: I pity miserable men, that do reject their Creator and Redeemer, and themselves in him and I envy Satan, that he ruleth so large. Since God hath so few, I will be more thankful that he hath vouchsafed me one of his; and be the more zealous of glorifying him, because we have but a few fellows.
As those, that have tasted of some delicate dish, find other plain dishes but unpleasant; so it fareth with those, which have once tasted of heavenly things: they cannot but contemn the best worldly pleasures. As, therefore, some dainty guest, knowing there is so pleasant fare to come; I will reserve my appetite for it, and not suffer myself cloyed with the coarse diet of the world.
I find many places, where God hath used the hand of good angels for the punishment of the wicked; but never could yet find one, wherein he employed an evil angel in any direct good to his children: indirect I find many, if not all; through the power of him, that brings light out of darkness, and turns their evil to our good. In this choice, God would and must be imitated. From an evil spirit I dare not receive ought, if never so good: I will receive as little as I may, from a wicked man: if he were as perfectly evil as the other, I durst receive nothing. I would rather hunger, than wilfully dip my hand in a wicked man's dish,
We are ready to condemn others, for that, which is as eminently faulty in ourselves. If one blind man rush upon another in the way, either complains of other's blindness; neither, of his own. I have heard those, which have had most corrupt lungs, complain of the unsavoury breath of others. The reason is, because the mind casteth altogether outward, and reflecteth not into itself, Yet it is more shameful, to be either ignorant of, or favourable to, our own imperfections. I will censure others' vices fearfully; my own confidently, because I know them: and those I know not, I will suspect.