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As there is nothing sooner dry, than a tear; so there is nothing sooner out of season, than worldly sorrow: which, if it be fresh and still bleeding, finds some to comfort and pity it; if stale and skinned over with time, is rather entertained with smiles than commiseration: But the sorrow of repentance comes never out of time. All times are alike unto that Eternity, whereto we make our spiritual moans: that which is past, that which is future, are both present with him. It is neither weak nor uncomely, for an old man to weep for the sins of his youth. Those tears can never be shed either too soon, or too late.
Some men live to be their own executors for their good name; which they see (not honestly) buried, before themselves die : some other, of great place and ill desert, part with their good name and breath, at once: there is scarce a vicious man, whose name is not rotten before his carcase. Contrarily, the good man's name is ofttimes heir to his life: either born after the death of the parent, for that envy would not suffer it to come forth before; or, perhaps, so well grown up in his life-time, that the hope thereof is the staff of his age and joy of his death. A wicked man's name may be feared a while: soon after, it is either forgotten or cursed. The good man either sleepeth with his body in peace, or waketh (as his soul) in glory.
Ofttimes those, which shew much valour, while there is equal possibility of life; when they see a present necessity of death, are found most shamefully timorous. Their courage was before grounded upon hope: that, cut off, leaves them at once desperate and cowardly whereas, men of feebler spirits meet more cheerfully with death; because, though their courage be less, yet their expectation was more.
I have seldom seen the son of an excellent and famous man, excellent but, that an ill bird hath an ill egg, is not rare; children possessing, as the bodily diseases, so the vices of their parents. Virtue is not propagated: vice is; even in them, which have it not reigning in themselves. The grain is sown pure; but comes up with chaff and husk, Hast thou a good son? he is God's, not
thine. Is he evil? nothing but his sin is thine. Help, by thy prayers and endeavours, to take away that, which thou hast given him; and to obtain from God that, which thou hast, and canst not give : else, thou mayest name him a possession; but thou shalt find him a loss.
These things be comely and pleasant to see, and worthy of honour from the beholder: a young saint; an old martyr; a religious soldier; a conscionable statesman; a great man courteous; a learned man humble; a silent woman; a child understanding. the eye of his parent; a merry companion, without vanity; a friend not changed with honour; a sick man cheerful; a soul departing with comfort and assurance.
I have oft observed, in merry meetings solemnly made, that somewhat hath fallen out cross; either in the time, or immediately upon it; to season, as I think, our immoderation in desiring or enjoying our friends and again, events suspected, have proved ever best; God herein blessing our awful submission with good success. In all these human things, indifferency is safe. Let thy doubts be ever equal to thy desires: so thy disappointment shall not be grievous, because thy expectation was not peremptory.
You shall rarely find a man eminent in sundry faculties of mind, or sundry manuary trades. If his memory be excellent, his fantasy is but dull: if his fancy be busy and quick, his judgment is but shallow if his judgment be deep, his utterance is harsh. Which also holds no less in the activities of the hand. And if it happen, that one man be qualified with skill of divers trades, and practise this variety, you shall seldom find such one thriving in his estate. With spiritual gifts it is otherwise: which are so chained together, that who excels in one, hath some eminency in more; yea, in all. Look upon faith: she is attended with a bevy of Graces: he, that believes, cannot but have hope; if hope, patience: he, that believes and hopes, must needs find joy in God; if joy, love of God: he, that loves God, cannot but love his brother: his love to God breeds piety and care to please, sorrow for offending, fear to offend; his love to men, fidelity and Christian beneficence. Vices are seldom single; but virtues go ever in troops they go so thick, that sometimes some are hid in the crowd; which yet are, but appear not. They may be shut out from sight: they cannot be severed.
The heaven ever moves; and yet is the place of our rest. Earth ever rests; and yet is the place of our trouble. Outward motion can be no enemy to inward rest; as outward rest stand with inward unquietness.
None live so ill, but they content themselves in somewhat. Even the beggar likes the smell of his dish. It is a rare evil, that hath not something to sweeten it; either in sense, or in hope: otherwise, men would grow desperate, mutinous, envious of others, weary of themselves. The better that thing is, wherein we place our comfort, the happier we live; and the more we love good things, the better they are to us. The worldling's comfort, though it be good to him, because he loves it; yet, because it is not absolutely and eternally good, it fails him: wherein the Christian hath just advantage of him, while he hath all the same causes of joy refined and exalted; besides, more and higher, which the other knows not of. The worldling laughs more; but the Christian is more delighted. These two are easily severed. Thou seest a goodly picture, or a heap of thy gold: thou laughest not; yet thy delight is more, than in a jest that shaketh thy spleen. As grief, so joy, is not less, when it is least expressed.
I have seen the worst natures and most depraved minds, not af fecting all sins; but still, some they have condemned in others, and abhorred in themselves. One exclaims on covetousness; yet he can too well abide riotous good-fellowship: another inveighs against drunkenness and excess; not caring how cruel he be in usury and oppression. One cannot endure a rough and quarrellous disposition; yet gives himself over to unclean and lascivious courses: another hates all wrongs, save wrong to God. One is a civil atheist; another, a religious usurer; a third, an honest drunkard; a fourth, an unchaste justicer; a fifth, a chaste quarreller. I know not whether every devil excel in all sins: I am sure some of them have denomination from some sins, more special. Let no man applaud himself, for those sins he wanteth; but condemn himself rather, for that sin he hath. Thou censurest another man's sin; he, thine: God curseth both.
Gold is the heaviest of all metals: it is no wonder, that the rich man is usually carried downward to his place. It is hard for the soul, clogged with many weights, to ascend to heaven. It must be a strong and nimble soul, that can carry up itself, and such a load; yet Adam and Noah flew up thither, with the double monarchy of the world; the Patriarchs, with much wealth; many holy Kings, with massy crowns and sceptres. The burthen of covetous desires is more heavy to an empty soul, than much treasure to the full. Our affections give poise or lightness to earthly things. Either abate of thy load, if thou find it too pressing; whether by having less, or loving less: or add to thy strength and activity, that thou mayest yet ascend. It is more commendable, by how much more hard, to climb into heaven with a burden.
A Christian, in all his ways, must have three guides; truth, charity, wisdom: truth, to go before him; charity and wisdom, on either hand. If any of the three be absent, he walks amiss. I have seen some do hurt, by following a truth uncharitably and others, while they would salve up an error with love, have failed in their wisdom, and offended against justice. A charitable untruth, and an uncharitable truth, an unwise managing of truth or love, are all to be carefully avoided of him, that would go with a right foot in the narrow way.
God brought man forth at first, not into a wilderness, but a garden; yet then he expected the best service of him. I never find that he delights in the misery, but in the prosperity of his servants. Cheerfulness pleases him better, than a dejected and dull heaviness of heart. If we can be good with pleasure, he grudgeth not our joy if not, it is best to stint ourselves; not, for that these comforts are not good, but because our hearts are evil; faulting not their nature, but our use and corruption.
The homeliest service, that we do in an honest calling, though it be but to plough or dig, if done in obedience and conscience of God's commandment, is crowned with an ample reward; whereas, the best works for their kind, (preaching, praying, offering evangelical sacrifices,) if without respect of God's injunction and glory, are loaded with curses. God loveth adverbs; and cares not how good, but how well.
The golden infancy of some hath proceeded to a brazen youth, and ended in a leaden age. All human maturities have their period only grace hath none. I durst never lay too much hope on the forward beginnings of wit and memory, which have been applauded in children: I knew, they could but attain their vigour ; and that, if sooner, no whit the better: for, the earlier is their perfection of wisdom, the longer shall be their witless age. Seasonableness is the best in all these things, which have their ripeness and decay. We can never hope too much of the timely blossoms of grace, whose spring is perpetual, and whose harvest begins with our end.
A man must give thanks for somewhat, which he may not pray for. It hath been said of courtiers, that they must receive injuries, and give thanks. God cannot wrong his; but he will cross them: those crosses are beneficial: all benefits challenge thanks: yet I have read, that God's children have, with condition, prayed against them; never, for them. In good things, we pray both for them, and their good use; in evil, for their good use, not themselves: yet we must give thanks for both. For there is no evil of pain,