« ForrigeFortsæt »
those activities, which afterwards they shall practise upon a true ad. versary: so must we present to ourselves imaginary crosses; and manage them in our mind, before God sends them in event. “ Now I eat, sleep, digest, all soundly, without complaint : what if a languishing disease should bereave me of my appetite and rest ? that I should see dainties, and loath them; surfeiting of the very smell, of the thought of the best dishes ? that I should count the lingering hours, and think Hezekiah's long day returned ; wearying myself with changing sides, and wishing any thing but what I am? how could I take this distemper? Now I have, if not what I would, yet what I need; as not abounding with idle supertluities, so not straitened with penury of necessary things: what if poverty should rush upon me, as an armed man; spoiling me of all my little that I had, and send me to the fountain, for my best cellar ? to the ground, for my bed? for my bread, to another's cupboard? for my clothes, to the broker's shop, or my friend's wardrobe ? how could I brook this want? I am now at home, walking in mine own grounds; looking on my young plants, the hope of posterity ; considering the nature, advantages, or fears of my soil, enjoying the patrimony of my fathers : what if, for my religion, or the malicious sentence of some great one, I should be exiled from my country ; wandering amongst those, whose habit, language, fashion, my ignorance shall make me wonder at; where the solitude of places, and strangeness of persons, shall make my life uncomfortable ? how could I abide the smell of foreigo smoke ? how should I take the contempt and hard usage, that waits upon strangers ?” Thy prosperity is idle and ill spent, if it be not meddled with such fore-casting and wisely suspicious thoughts; if it be wholly bestowed in enjoying, no whit in preventing : like unto a foolish city, which, notwithstanding a dangerous situation, spends all her wealih in rich furnitures of chambers and state-houses; while they bestow not one shovelfull of earth on outward bulwarks, to their defence : this is but to make our enemies the happier, and ourselves the more readily miserable.
If thou wilt not, therefore, be oppressed with evils, EXPECT and EXERCISE : exercise thyself with conceit of evils : expect the evils themselves; yea exercise thyself in expectation : so, while the mind pleaseth itself in thinking, “ Yet I am not thus," it prepareth itself against it may be so. And if some, that have been good at the foils, have proved cowardly at the sharp ; yet, on the contrary, who ever durst point a single combat in the field, that hath not been somewhat trained in the fence-school?
The second remedy of crosses, when they are come : from their
Author. Neither doth it a little blunt the edge of evils, to consider that they come from a Divine Hand, whose Almighty power is guided by a most wise Providence, and tempered with a Fatherly love.
Even the savage creatures will be smitten of their keeper, and repine not: if of a stranger, they tear him in pieces. He strikes me, that made me, that moderates the world : why struggle I with him; why, with myself? Am I a fool, or a rebel? a fool, if I be ignorant whence my crosses come: a rebel, if I know it, and be impatient. My sufferings are from a God; from my God: he hath destined me every dram of sorrow, that I feel : « Thus much thou shalt abide ; and here shall thy miseries be stinted.” All worldly helps cannot abate them: all powers of hell cannot add one scruple to their weight, that he hath allotted me: I must, therefore, either blaspheme God in my heart, detracting from his infinite justice, wisdom, power, mercy, which all stand inviolable, when millions of such worms as I am, are gone to dust; or else confess, that I ought to be patient. And, if I profess I should be that I will not, I befool myself; and bewray miserable impotency. But, as impatience is full of excuse, it was thine own rash improvidence, or the spite of thine enemy, that impoverished, that defamed thee: it was the malignity of some unwholesome dish, or some gross corrupted air, that hath distempered thee. Ah foolish cur, why dost thou bite at the stone, which could never have hurt thee, but from the hand that threw it? If I wound thee, what matters it, whether with mine own sword, or thine, or another's? God strikes some immediately from heaven, with his own arm, or with the arm of angels; others, he buffets, with their own hands : some, by the revenging sword of an enemy; others, with the fist of his dumb creatures : God strikes in all: his hand moves theirs. If thou see it not, blame thy carnal eyes. Why dost thou fault the instrument, while thou knowest the agent ? Even the dying thief pardons the executioner; exclaims on his unjust judge, or his malicious accusers. Either, then, blame the first mover, or discharge the means : which as they could not have touched thee, but as from him; so from him they have afflicted thee justly, wrongfully perhaps as in themselves.
SECT. XIII. The third antidote of crosses : from their Effect. But neither seemeth it enough to be patient in crosses, if we be not thankful also. Good things challenge more than bare contentment. Crosses, unjustly termed evils, as they are sent of him, that is all goodness ; so they are sent for good, and his end cannot be frustrate. What greater good can be to the diseased man, than fit and proper physic to recure him ? Crosses are the only medicines of sick minds." Thy sound body carries within it a sick soul: thou feelest it not, perhaps : so much more art thou sick, and so much more dangerously. Perhaps, thou labourest of some plethory of pride, or of some dropsy of covetousness, or the staggers of inconstancy, or soine fever of luxury, or consumption of envy, or perhaps of the lethargy of idleness, or of the phrensy of anger: it is a rare soul, that hath not some notable disease: only crosses are thy remedies. What if they be unpleasant ? they are physic: it
is enough, if they be wholesome. Not pleasant taste, but the secret virtue commends medicines. If they cure thee, they shall please thee, even in displeasing; or else thou lovest thy palate above thy soul. What madness is this? When thou complainest of a bodily disease, thou sendest to the physician, that he may send thee not savoury, but wholesome potions: thou receivest them in spite of thine abhorring stomach; and, withal, both thankest and rewardest the physician. Thy soul is sick: thy Heavenly Physician sees it, and pities thee, ere thou thyself; and, unsent to, sends thee not a plausible, but a sovereign remedy thou loathest the savour; and rather wilt hazard thy life, than offend thy palate; and, instead of thanks repinest at, revilest the Physician. How comes it, that we love ourselves so little (if at least we count our souls the best or any part) as that we would rather undergo death than pain; chusing rather wilful sickness, than a harsh remedy? Surely, we men are mere fools, in the estimation of our own good like children, our choice is led altogether by shew, no whit by substance. We cry after every well-seeming toy; and put from us solid proffers of good things: the wise Arbitrator of all things sees our folly, and corrects it: withholding our idle desires, and forcing upon us the sound good we refuse it is second folly in us, if we thank him not. The foolish babe cries for his father's bright knife, or gilded pills: the wiser father knows that they can but hurt him; and therefore withholds them after all his tears: the child thinks he is used but unkindly every wise man, and himself at more years, can say, it was but childish folly, in desiring it, in complaining that he missed it. The loss of wealth, friends, health, is sometimes gain to us. Thy body, thy estate is worse: thy soul is better; why complainest thou?
The fourth antidote of crosses: from their Issue.
NAY, it shall not be enough, methinks, if only we be but contented and thankful; if not also cheerful in afflictions; if that, as we feel their pain, so we look not to their End; although indeed this is not more requisite, than rarely found, as being proper only to the good heart. Every bird can sing in a clear heaven, in a temperate spring that one, as most familiar, so is most commended, that sings merry notes in the midst of a shower, or the dead of winter. Every epicure can enlarge his heart to mirth, in the midst of his cups and dalliance: only the three children can sing in the furnace; Paul and Silas, in the stocks; martyrs, at the stake. It is from heaven, that this joy comes, so contrary to all earthly occasions; bred in the faithful heart, through a serious and feeling respect to the issue of what he feels, the quiet and untroubled fruit of his righteousness; glory, the crown after his fight; after his minute of pain, eternity of joy. He never looked over the threshold of heaven, that cannot more rejoice that he shall be glorious, than mourn in present that he is miserable.
Of the importunity and terror of Death.
YEA, this consideration is so powerful, that it alone is able to make a part against the fear or sense of the last and greatest of all terribles, Death itself: which, in the conscience of his own dreadfulness, justly laughs at all the vain human precepts of Tranquillity; appalling the most resolute, and vexing the most cheerful minds. Neither profane Lucretius, with all his epicurean rules of confidence, nor drunken Anacreon, with all his wanton odes, can shift off the importunate and violent horror of this adversary. Seest thou the Chaldean Tyrant beset with the sacred bowls of Jerusalem, the late spoils of God's Temple; and, in contempt of their owner, carousing healths to his queens, concubines, peers; singing, amidst his cups, triumphant carols of praise to his molten and carved gods? Wouldst thou ever suspect that this high courage could be abated? or, that this sumptuous and presumptuous banquet, after so royal and jocund continuance, should have any other conclusion, but pleasure? Stay but one hour longer, and thou shalt see that face, that now shines with a ruddy gloss, according to the colour of his liquor, look pale and ghastly, stained with the colours of fear and death; and that proud hand, which now lifts up his massy goblets, in defiance of God, tremble like a leaf in a storm; and those strong knees, which never stooped to the burden of their laden body, now not able to bear up themselves, but loosened with a sudden palsy of fear, one knocking against the other and all this, for that Death writes him a letter of summons, to appear that night before him; and, accordingly, ere the next sun, sent two eunuchs, for his honourable conveyance into another world, Where now are those delicate morsels, those deep draughts, those merry ditties, wherewith the palate and ear so pleased themselves? What is now become of all those cheerful looks, loose laughters, stately port, revels, triumphs of the feasting court? Why doth none of his gallant nobles revive the fainted courage of their lord, with a new cup? or, with some stirring jest, shake him out of this unseasonable melancholy? O death, how imperious art thou to carnal minds! aggravating their misery, not only by expectation of future pain, but by the remembrance of the wonted causes of their joy; and not suffering them to see ought, but what may torment them! Even that monster of the Caesars, that had been so well acquainted with blood, and never had found better sport than in cutting of throats; when now it came to his own turn, how effeminate, how desperately cowardous did he shew himself! to the wonder of all readers, that he, which was ever so valiant in killing, should be so womanishly heartless in dying.
The grounds of the fear of death,
THERE are, that fear not so much to be dead, as to die; the very act of dissolution frighting them with a tormenting expectation of
a short, but intolerable painfulness. Which let if the wisdom of God had not interposed to timorous nature, there would have been many more Lucrecias, Cleopatras, Ahithophels; and good laws should have found little opportunity of execution, through the wilful funerals of malefactors. For the soul, that comes into the body without any, at least sensible, pleasure, departs not from it, without an extremity of pain: which, varying according to the manner and means of separation; yet, in all violent deaths especially, retaineth a violence not to be avoided, hard to be endured. And, if diseases, which are destined toward death as their end, be so painful, what must the end and perfection of diseases be; since as diseases are the maladies of the body, so death is the malady of diseases?
There are, that fear not so much to die, as to be dead. If the pang be bitter; yet it is but short: the comfortless state of the dead strikes some, that could well resolve for the act of their passage. Not the worst of the heathen emperors made that moanful ditty on his death-bed, wherein he bewrayeth, to all memory, much feeling pity of his soul, for her doubtful and impotent condition after her parture. How doth Plato's worldling bewail the misery of the grave; besides all respect of pain! "Woe is me, that I shall lie alone rotting in the silent earth, amongst the crawling worms, not seeing ought above, not seen."
Very not-being is sufficiently abhorred of nature, if death had no more to make it fearful. But those, that have lived under light enough, to shew them the gates of hell, after their passage through the gates of death; and have learned, that death is not only horrible for our not-being here, but for being infinitely, eternally miserable in a future world, nor so much for the dissolution of life, as the beginning of torment: those cannot, without the certain hope of their immunity, but carnally fear to die, and hellishly fear to be dead. For, if it be such pain to die, what is it to be ever dying? and, if the straining and luxation of one joint can so afflict us, what shall the racking of the whole body, and the torturing of the soul, whose animation alone makes the body to feel and complain of smart? And, if men have devised such exquisite torments, what can spirits, more subtle, more malicious? And, if our momentary sufferings seem long, how long shall that be, that is eternal? And, if the sorrows indifferently incident to God's dear ones upon earth be so extreme, as sometimes to drive them within sight of despairing, what shall those be, that are reserved only for those, that hate him, and that he hateth? None but those, who have heard the desperate complaints of some guilty Spira, or whose souls have been a little scorched with these flames, can enough conceive of the horror of this estate: it being the policy of our common enemy to conceal it so long, that we may see and feel it at once; lest we should fear it, before it be too late to be avoided.