« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
which God doth not : nothing, that God doth, is not good : no good thing, but is worthy of thanks.
XVII. One half of the world knows not how the other lives : and, therefore, the better sort pity not the distressed ; and the miserable envy not those which fare better; because they know it not. Each man judges of others' conditions, by his own. The worst sort would be too much discontented, if they saw how far more pleasant the life of others is : and, if the better sort, such we call those which are greater, could look down to the infinite miseries of inferiors, it would make them either miserable in compassion, or proud in conceit. It is good, sometimes, for the delicate rich man to look into the poor man's cupboard ; and, seeing God in mercy gives him not to know their sorrow by experience, to know it yet in speculation: this shall teach him more thanks to God, more mercy to men, more contentment in himself.
XVIII. Such as a man's prayer is for another, it shall be, in time of his extremity, for himself: for, though he love himself more than others, yet his apprehension of God is alike for both. Such as his prayer is in a former extremity, it shall be also in death : this way we may have experience even of a thing future: if God have been far off from thee in a fit of thine ordinary sickness, fear lest he will not be nearer thee in thy last : what differs that from this, but in time? Correct thy dulness upon former proofs; or else, at last, thy devotion shall want life before thy body.
XIX. Those, that come to their meat as to a medicine, as Augustin reports of himself, live in an austere and Christian temper; and shall be sure not to joy too much in the creature, nor to abuse themselves : those, that come to their medicine as to meat, shall be sure to live miserably and die soon. To come to meat, if without a gluttonous appetite and palate, is allowed to Christians : to come to meat as to a sacrifice unto the belly, is a most base and brutish idolatry.
XX. The worst that ever were, even Cain and Judas, have had some fautors, that have honoured them for saints : and the Serpent, that beguiled our first parents, hath, in that name, had divine honour and thanks. Never any man trod so perilous and deep steps, but some have followed, and admired him. Each master of heresy hath found some clients; even he, that taught all men's vpinions were true. Again, no man hath been so exquisite, but some have detracted from hini; even in those qualities, which have seemed most worthy of wonder to others. A man shall be sure to be backed by some, either in good or evil; and, by some shouldered in both. It is good for a man not to stand upon his abettors, but his quarrel ; and not to depend upon others, but himself,
XXI. We see thousands of creatures die for our use, and never do so much as pity them: why do we think much to die once for God? They are not ours, so much as we are his; nor our pleasure so much to us, as his glory to him: their lives are lost to us; ours, but changed to him.
XXII. Much ornament is no good sign: painting of the face argues an ill complexion of body, a worse mind. Truth hath a face both honest and comely, and looks best in her own colours. But, above all, Divine Truth is most fair; and most scorneth to borrow beauty of man's wit or tongue: she loveth to come forth in her native
grace, like a princely matron; and counts it the greatest indignity, to be dallied with as a wanton strumpet: she looks to command reverence; not pleasure : she would be kneeled to; not laughed at. To prank her up in vain dresses and fashions, or to sport with her in a light and youthful manner, is most abhorring from her nature: they know her not, that give her such entertainment; and shall first know her angry, when they do know her. Again, she would be plain; but not base, not sluttish: she would be clad, not garishly; yet, not in rags: she likes as little to be set out by a base soil, as to seem credited with gay colours. It is no small wisdom, to know her just guise; but more, to follow it; and so to keep the mean, that, while we please her, we discontent not the beholders.
XXIII. In worldly carriage, so much is a man made of, as he takes upon himself: but such is God's blessing upon true humility, that it still procureth reverence. I never saw Christian less honoured, for a wise neglect of himself. If our dejection proceed from the conscience of our want, it is possible we should be as little esteemed of others, as of ourselves: but if we have true graces, and prize them not at the highest, others shall value both them in us, and us for them; and, with usury, give us that honour, we withheld modestly from ourselves.
XXIV. He, that takes his full liberty in what he may, shall repent him: how much more in what he should not! I never read of Christian, that repented him of too little worldly delight. The surest course I have still found in all earthly pleasures, To rise with an appetite, and to be satisfied with a little,
XXV. There is a time, when kings go not forth to warfare: our spiritual war admits no intermission: it knows no night, no winter; abides no peace, no truce. This calls us not into garrison, where we may have ease and respite; but into pitched fields continually: we see our enemies in the face always, and are always seen and assaulted; ever resisting, ever defending; receiving and returning blows. If either we be negligent or weary, we die: what other hope is there while one fights, and the other stands still? We can never have safety and peace, but in victory. There must our resistance be courageous and constant, where both yielding is death, and all treaties of peace mortal.
XXVI. Neutrality in things good or evil, is both odious and prejudicial; but in matters of an indifferent nature, is safe and commendable. Herein, taking of parts maketh sides, and breaketh unity. In an unjust cause of separation, he, that favoureth both parts, may, perhaps, have least love of either side; but hath most charity in himself.
XXVII. Nothing is more absurd, than that epicurean resolution, Let us eut and drink ; to-morrow we shall die : as if we were made only for the paunch, and lived that we might live; yet there was never any natural man found savour in that meat, which he knew should be his last: whereas they should say, “ Let us fast and pray ; tomorrow we shall die:” for, to what purpose is the body strengthened, that it may perish; whose greater strength makes our death more violent? No man bestows a costly root on a ruinous tenement: that man's end is easy and happy, whom death finds with a weak body and a strong soul.
XXVIII. Sometime, even things, in themselves naturally good, are to be refused for those, which, being evil, may be an occasion to a greater good. Life is in itself good, and death evil: else David, Elijah, and many excellent Martyrs would not have fled, to hold life and avoid death; nor Hezekiah have prayed for it, nor our Saviour have bidden us to flee for it, nor God promised' it to his for a reward : yet, if, in some cases, we hate not life, we love not God, nor our souls. Herein, as much as in any thing, the perverseness of our nature appears, that we wish death or love life, upon wrong causes: we would live for pleasure, or we would die for pain. Job, for his sores; Elijah, for his persecution; Jonah, for his gourd, would presently die, and will needs outface God that it is better for him to die than to live: wherein, we are like to garrison soldiers, that, while they live within safe walls and shew themselves once a day rather for ceremony and pomp than need or danger, like warfare well enough; but, if once called forth to the field, they wish themselves at home.
XXIX. Not only the least, but the worst is ever in the bottom. What should God do with the dregs of our age? When sin will admit thee his client no longer, then God shall be beholden to thee for thy service. Thus is God dealt with in all other offerings : the worst and least sheaf must be God's tenth: the deformedest or simplest of our children must be God's ministers: the uncleanliest and most careless house must be God's temple: the idlest and sleepiest bours of the day must be reserved for our prayers: the worst part of our age, for devotion. We would have God give us still of the best; and are ready to murmur, at every little evil he sends us : yet nothing is bad enough for him, of whom we receive all. Nature condemns this inequality; and tells us, that he, which is the Author of Good, should have the best; and he, which gives all, should have his choice.
XXX. When we go about an evil business, it is strange, how ready the Devil is to set us forward; how careful, that we should want no furtherances: so that, if a man would be lewdly witty, he shall be sure to be furnished with store of profane jests; wherein a loose heart hath double advantage of the conscionable: if he would be voluptuous, he shall want neither objects nor opportunities. The current passage of ill enterprises is so far from giving cause of encouragement, that it should justly fright a man to look back to the author; and to consider, that he therefore goes fast, because the Devil drives him.
XXXI. In the choice of companions for our conversation, it is good dealing with men of good natures: for, though grace exerciseth her power in bridling nature, yet, since we are still men at the best, some swinge she will have in the most mortified. Austerity, sul. lenness, or strangeness of disposition, and whatsoever qualities may make a man unsociable, cleave faster to our nature, than those, which are morally evil. True Christian love may be separated from acquaintance, and acquaintance from entireness: these are not qualities to hinder our love, but our familiarity.
XXXII. Ignorance, as it makes bold, intruding men carelessly into unknown dangers; so also it makes men ofttimes causelessly fearful. Herod feared Christ's coming, because he mistook it: if that tyrant had known the manner of his spiritual regiment, he had spared both his own fright and the blood of other. And, hence it is, that we fear death; because we are not acquainted with the virtue of it. Nothing, but innocency and knowledge, can give sound confidence to the heart.
XXXIII. Where are divers opinions, they may be all false : there can be but one true: and that one truth ofttimes must be fetched by piece-meal out of divers branches of contrary opinions. For, it falls out not seldom, that truth is, through ignorance or rash vehemency, scattered into sundry parts; and, like to a little silver melted amongst the ruins of a burut house, must be tried out from heaps of much superfluous ashes. There is much pains in the search of it; much skill in finding it: the value of it once found, requites the cost of both.
XXXIV. Affectation of superfluity is, in all things, a sign of weakness : as, in words, he, that useth circumlocutions to express himself, shews want of memory and want of proper speech; and much talk argues a brain feeble and distempered. What good can any earthly thing yield us, beside his use? and what is it, but vanity; to affect that, which doth us no good? and what use is in that, which is superfluous ? It is a great skill, to know what is enough; and great wisdom, to care for no more.
XXXV. Good things, which in absence were desired, now offering themselves to our presence, are scarce entertained; or, at least, not with our purposed cheerfulness. Christ's coming to us, and our going to him, are, in our profession, well esteemed, much wished: but, when he singleth us out by a direct message of death, or by some fearful sign giveth likelihood of a present return, we are as much affected with fear, as before with desire. All changes, although to the better, are troublesome for the time, until our settling. There is no remedy hereof, but inward prevention: our mind must change, before our estate be changed.
XXXVI. Those are greatest enemies to religion, that are not most irreligious. Atheists, though in themselves they be the worst, yet are seldom found hot persecutors of others : whereas those, which in some one fundamental point be heretical, are commonly most violent in oppositions. One hurts by secret infection; the other, by open resistance: one is careless of all truth; the other, vehement for some untrath. An Atheist is worthy of more hatred; a Heretic, of more fear: both, of avoidance.
XXXVII. Ways, if never used, cannot but be fair; if much used, are made commodiously passable; if before oft used and now seldom, they become deep and dangerous. If the heart be not at all inured to meditation, it findeth no fault with itself; not for that it is innocent, but secure: if often, it findeth comfortable passage for his thoughts: if rarely and with intermission, tedious and troublesome. In things of this nature, we only escape complaint, if we use them either always or never.
XXXVIII Our sensual hand holds fast whatsoever delight it apprehendeth: our spiritual hand easily remitteth; because appetite is stronger in us than grace: whence it is, that we so hardly deliver ourselves of earthly pleasures, which we have once entertained; and with such difficulty draw ourselves to a constant course of faith, hope, and spiritual joy, or to the renewed acts of them once intermitted. Age is naturally weak, and youth vigorous: but, in us, the old man is strong; the new, faint and feeble: the fault is not in grace; but in us: faith doth not want strength; but we want faith.
XXXIX. It is not good in worldly estates, for a man to make himself ne. cessary; for, hereupon, he is both more toiled and more suspected: but in the sacred Commonwealth of the Church, a man cannot be