« PreviousContinue »
low him so far, as is either possible or honest: and then, I will leave him, with sorrow.
LVII. True friendship necessarily requires patience: for, there is no man, in whom I shall not mislike somewhat; and who shall not, as justly, mislike somewhat in me. My friends' faults, therefore, if little, I will swallow and digest; if great, I will smother them: however, I will wink at them, to others: but, lovingly notify them to himself.
LVIII. Injuries hurt not more in the receiving, than in the remembrance. A small injury shall go as it comes : a great injury may dine or sup with me: but none at all shall lodge with me. Why should I vex myself, because another hath vexed me?
LIX. It is good dealing with that, over which we have the most power, If my estate will not be framed to my mind, I will labour to frame my mind to my estate.
LX. It is a great misery, to be either always or never alone: society of men hath not so much gain as distraction. In greatest company, I will be alone to myself: in greatest privacy, in company with God.
LXI. Grief for things past that cannot be remedied, and care for things to come that cannot be prevented, may easily hurt, can never benefit me. I will, therefore, commit myself to God in both, and, enjoy the present.
LXII. Let my estate be never so mean, I will ever keep myself rather beneath; than either level, or above it. A man may rise, when he will, with honour; but cannot fall, without shame.
LXIII. Nothing doth so befool a man, as extreme passion. This doth both make them fools, which otherwise are not; and shew them to be fools, that are so. Violent passions, if I cannot tame them, that they may yield, to my ease; I will at least smother them by concealment, that they may not appear, to my shame.
LXIV. The mind of man, though infinite in desire, yet is finite in capacity. Since I cannot hope to know all things, I will labour first to know what I needs must, for their use; next, what I best may, for their convenience.
Though time be precious to me, as all irrevocable good things deserve to be, and of all other things I would not be lavish of it; yet, I will account no time lost, that is either lent to or bestowed upon my friend,
LXVI. The practices of the best men are more subject to error, than their speculations. I will honour good examples; but I will live by good precepts.
LXVII. As charity requires forgetfulness of evil deeds, so patience requires forgetfulness of evil accidents. I will remember evils past, to humble me; not to vex me.
LXVIII. It is both a misery and a shame, for a man to be a bankrupt in love; which he may easily pay, and be never the more impoverished. I will be in no man's debt, for good will: but will, at least, return every man his own measure; if not with usury. It is much better to be a creditor, than a debtor, in any thing; but especially, of this: yet of this I will so be content to be a debtor, that I will always be paying it, where I owe it; and yet never will have so paid it, that I shall not owe it more.
LXIX. The Spanish proverb is too true; “ Dead men and absent find no friends." All mouths are boldly opened, with a conceit of impunity. My ear shall be no grave, to bury my friend's good name. But, as I will be my present friend's self: so will I be my absent friend's deputy; to say for him, what he would, and cannot, speak for himself.
LXX. The loss of my friend, as it shall moderately grieve me; so it shall, another way, much benefit me, in recompence of his want: for it shall make me think more often and seriously, of earth and of heaven: of earth; for his body, which is reposed in it: of heaven; for his soul, which possesseth it before me : of earth; to put me in mind of my like frailty and mortality : of heaven; to make me desire, and, after a sort, emulate his happiness and glory.
LXXI. Variety of objects is wont to cause distraction: when, again, a little one, laid close to the eye, if but of a penny breadth, wholly takes up the sight; which could else see the whole half heaven at once. I will have the eyes of my mind ever forestalled and filled with these two objects; the shortness of my life, eternity after death.
LXXII. I see that he is more happy, that hath nothing to lose; than he, that loseth that which he hath. I will, therefore, neither hope for riches, nor fear poverty.
LXXIII. I care not so much in any thing, for multitude, as for choice. Books and friends I will not have many: I would rather seriously converse with a few, than wander amongst many.
LXXIV. The wicked man is a very coward; and is afraid of every thing: of God; because he is his enemy: of Satan; because he is his tormentor: of God's creatures; because they, joining with their Maker, fight against him: of himself; because he bears, about him, his own accuser and executioner. The godly man, contrarily, is afraid of nothing: not of God; because he knows him his best friend, and therefore will not hurt him: not of Satan; because he cannot hurt him: not of afflictions; because he knows they proceed from a loving God, and end to his own good: not of the creatures; since the very stones of the field are in league with him : not of himself; since his conscience is at peace. A wicked man may be secure, because he knows not what he hath to fear; or desperate, through extremity of fear: but, truly courageous
he cannot be. Faithlessness cannot choose but be false-hearted. I will ever, by my courage, take trial of my faith: by how much more I fear, by so much less I believe.
LXXV. The godly man lives hardly; and, like the ant, toils here, during the summer of his peace; holding himself short of his pleasures, as looking to provide for a hard winter; which, when it comes, he is able to wear it out comfortably: whereas the wicked man doth prodigally lash out all his joys, in the time of his prosperity; and, like the grasshopper, singing merrily all summer, is starved in winter. I will so enjoy the present, that I will lay up more for bereafter.
LXXVI. I have wondered oft, and blushed for shame, to read in mere philosophers, which had no other mistress but nature, such strange resolution, in the contempt of both fortunes, as they call them; such notable precepts for a constant settledness and tranquillity of mind: and to compare it with my own disposition, and practice; whom I have found too much drooping and dejected under small crosses, and easily again carried away with little prosperity: To see such courage and strength to contemn death, in those, which thought they wholly perished in death; and to find such faint-heartedness in myself, at the first conceit of death, who yet am thoroughly persuaded of the future happiness of my soul. I have the benefit of nature, as well as they; besides infinite more helps, that they wanted. Oh the dulness and blindness of us unworthy Christians, that suffer Heathens, by the dim candle-light of Nature, to go further than we by the clear sun of the Gospel; that an inditterent man could not tell by our practice, whether were the Pagan! Let me never, for shame, account myself a Christian, unless my Art of Christianity have imitated and gone beyond Nature, so far, that I can find the best Heathen as far below me in true resolution, as the vulgar sort were below them. Else, I may shame religion: it can neither honest nor help me.
LXXVII. If I would be irreligious and unconscionable, I would make.no doubt to be rich: for, if a man will defraud, dissemble, forswear, bribe, oppress, serve the time, make use of all men for his own turn, make no scruple of any wicked action for his advantage; I cannot see, how he can escape wealth and preferment: but, for an upright man to rise, is difficult; while his conscience straitly curbs him in from every unjust action, and will not allow him to advance himself by indirect means. So, riches come seldom easily, to a good man; seldom hardly, to the conscienceless. Happy is that man, that can be rich with truth, or poor with contentment. I will not envy the gravel, in the unjust man's throat. Of riches, let me never have more, than an honest man can bear away,
LXXVIII. God is the God of order; not of confusion. As, therefore, in natural things, he useth to proceed from one extreme to another, by degrees, through the mean; so doth he, in spiritual. The sun riseth vot at once to his highest, from the darkness of midnight; but first sends forth some feeble glimmering of light, in the dawning: then, looks out with weak and waterish beams; and so, by degrees, ascends to the midst of heaven. So, in the seasons of the year, we are not one day scorched with a summer heat; and, on the next, frozen with a sudden extremity of cold: but winter comes on softly; first by cold dews, then hoar frosts; until at last it descend to the hardest weather of all. Such are God's spiritual proceedings. He never brings any man from the estate of sin to the estate of glory, but through the state of grace. And, as for grace, he seldom brings a man from gross wickedness to any eminence of perfection. I will be charitably jealous of those men, which, from notorious lewdness, leap at once into a sudden forwardness of profession. Holiness doth not, like Jonah's gourd, grow up in a night. I like it better, to go on, soft and sure; than, for a hasty fit, to run myself out of wind; and, after, stand still and breathe me.
LXXIX. It hath been said of old, “ To do well and hear ill, is princely." Which as it is most true, by reason of the enry
which follows upon justice; so is the contrary no less justified, by many experiments, To do ill and to hear weli, is the fashion of many great men: to do ill, because they are borne out with the assurance of impunity; to hear well, because of abundance of parasites, which, as ravens to a carcase, gather about great men, Neither is there any so great misery in greatness as this, that it conceals men from themselves; and, when they will needs have a sight of their own actions, it shews them a false glass to look in. Meanness of state, that I can find, hath none so great inconvenience. I am no whit sorry,
that I am rather subject to contempt, than flattery,
LXXX, There is no earthly blessing so precious, as health of body; without which, all other worldly good things are but troublesome. Neither is there any thing more difficult, than to have a good soul, in a strong and vigorous body; for, it is commonly seen, that the worse part draws away the better; but, to have a healthful and sound soul in a weak sickly body, is no novelty; while the weakness of the body is a help to the soul; playing the part of a perpetual monitor, to incite it to good and check it for evil. I will not be over-glad of health, nor over-fearful of sickness. I will more fear the spiritual hurt, that may follow upon health; than the bodily pain, that accompanies sickness.
LXXXI. There is nothing more troublesome to a good mind, than to do nothing: for, besides the furtherance of our estate, the mind doth both delight and better itself with exercise. There is but this difference, then, betwixt labour and idleness ; that labour is a profitable and pleasant trouble ; idleness, a trouble both unprofitable and comfortless. I will be ever doing something; that either God when he cometh, or Satan when he tempteth, may find me busied. And yet, since, as the old proverb is, “ Better it is to be idle than effect nothing;" I will not more hate doing nothing, than doing something to no purpose. I shall do good, but a while: let me strive to do it, while i
LXXXII. A faithful man hath three eyes : the first, of Sense, common to hiin with brute creatures; the second, of Reason, common to all men; the third, of Faith, proper to his profession : whereof each looketh beyond other; and none of them meddleth with others' objects. For, neither doth the eye of Sense reach to intelligible things, and matters of discourse; nor the eye of Reason to those things, which are supernatural and spiritual ; neither doth Faith look down to things, that may be sensibly seen. If thou discourse to a brute beast of the depths of philosophy, never so plainly, he understands not; because they are beyond the view of his eye, which is only of sense: if to a mere carnal man, of divine things; he perceiveth not the things of God, neither indeed can do; because they are spiritually discerned; and, therefore, no wonder, if those things seem unlikely, incredible, impossible to him, which the faithful man, having a proportionable means of apprehension, doth as plainly see, as his eye doth any sensible thing. Tell a plain countryman, that the sun, or some higher or lesser star, is much bigger than his cartwheel; or, at least so many scores bigger than the whole earth; he laughs thee to scorn, as affecting admiration, with a learned untruth. Yet the scholar, by the eye of reason, doth as plainly see and acknowledge this truth, as that his hand is bigger than his pen. What a thick mist, yea what a palpable and more than Egyptian darkness, doth the natural man live in! What a world is there, that he doth not see at all! and how little doth he see in this, which is his proper element! There is no bodily thing, but the brute creatures see as well as he; and some of them better. As for his eye of reason, how dim is it in those things, which are best fitted to it! What one thing is there in nature, which he doth perfectly know what herb, or flower, or worm that he treads on, is there, whose true essence he knoweth ? No,