« AnteriorContinuar »
accounted a happy advantage, than any part of mifery S E R M. to us? If it seem, that the greatest perfection of curious knowledge (of what use or ornament foever) after it is hardly purchased, must soon be parted with ; to be simple or ignorant will be no great matter of lamentation : as those will appear no folid goods, so these consequently must be only umbræ malorum, phantasms, or shadows of evil, rather than truly or substantially so; (evils created by fancy, and fubfisting thereby ; which reason should, and time will surely remove) that in being impatient or disconfolate for them, we are but like children, that fret and wail for the want of petty toys. And for the more real or positive Sen. Ep. 89. evils such as violently assault nature, whose impresfions no reason can do withstand, as to extinguish all distaste or afflictive sense of them; yet this consideration will aid to abate and assuage them ; affording a certain hope and prospect of approaching redress. It is often seen at sea, that men (from unacquaintance with such agitations, or from brackish steams arising from the salt water) are heartily sick, and discover themselves to be so by apparently grievous symptoms; yet no man hardly there doth mind or pity them, because the malady is not supposed dangerous, and within a while will probably of itself pass over ; or that however the remedy is not far off; the fight of land, a taste of the fresh air will relieve them : it is near our case: we passing over this troublesome sea of life ; from unexperience, joined with the tenderness of our constitution, we cannot well endure the changes and crosses of fortune; to be tossed up and down; to suck in the sharp vapours of penury, disgrace, sickness, and the like, doth beget a qualm in our stomachs; make us nauseate all things, and appear sorely distempered; yet is not our condition fo dismal as it seems; we may grow hardier, and wear out our sense of affliction : however, the land is not far off, and by disembarking hence we shall suddenly be discharged
SER M. of all our moleftations *. It is a common folace of XI. grief, approved by wise men, si gravis, brevis eft; fi
longus, levis ; if it be very grievous and acute it cannot continue long, without intermission or respite ; if it abide long, it is supportable ; intolerable pain is like lightening, it destroys us, or is itself instantly destroyed. However, death at length (which never is far off) will free us; be we never so much toffed with storms of misfortune, that is a sure haven; be we persecuted with never so many enemies, that is a safe refuge ; let what pains or diseases foever infest us, that is an assured anodynon, and infallible reniedy for them all; however we be wearied with the labours of the day, the night will come and ease us ; the grave will become a bed of rest unto us. * Shall I die? I shall then cease to be fick; I shall be exempted from disgrace ; I shall be enlarged from prison ; I shall be no more pinched with want; no more tormented with pain. Death is a winter, that as it withers the rose and lily, so it kills the nettle and thistle; as it stifles all worldly joy and pleafure, so it suppresses all care and grief; as it hulhes the voice of mirth and melody, so it stills the clamours and the fighs of misery; as it defaces all the world's glory, so it covers all disgrace, wipes off all tears, filences all complaint, buries all disquiet and discontent. King Philip of Macedon once threatened the Spartans to vex them forely, and bring them into great ftraits ; but, answered they, can he binder us from dying * ? that indeed is a way of evading
Θάρσει' πόνε γαρ άκρον έκ έχει χρόνον. Achyl. apud Ρlutarch. de Aud. Poet. sub finem.
Το μεν αφόρητον εξάγει το δε χρονίζον φορητόν. Αnt. VII. Sect. 33.
Summi doloris intentio invenit finem : nemo poteft valde dolere et diu : fic nos amantissima noftri natura dispofuit, ut dolorem aut tolerabilem, aut brevem faceret. Sen. Ep. 77.
.* Dolore perculfi mortem imploramus, eamque unam, ut miseriarum malorumque terininum, exoptamus. Cic. Confolat.
Moriar? hoc dicis ; definam ægrotare pofle, &c. Sen. Ep. 24.
ή “Αδην έχων βοηθόν, ου τρέμω σκιάς. Eripere vitam nemo non homini potest; at nemo mortem. Sen. Trag.
which no enemy can obstruct, no tyrant can debar $ E R M. men from ; they who can deprive of life, and its conveniences, cannot take away death from them. There is a place Job tells us, where the wicked cease from Job ül. 17. troubling, and where the weary be at rest ; where the prisoners rejt together ; they bear not the voice of the oppressor; the small and great are there ; and the servant is free from his master. It is therefore but holding out a while, and a deliverance from the worst this world can molest us with, shall of its own accord arrive unto us; in the mean time it is better that we at present owe the benefit of our comfort to reason, than afterward to time *; by rational consideration to work patience and contentment in ourselves; and to use the shortness of our life as an argument to sustain us in our affliction, than to find the end thereof only a natural and necefsary means of our rescue from it. The contemplation of this cannot fail to yield something of courage and solace to us in the greatest pressures; these tranfient, and short-lived evils, if we consider them as so, cannot appear such horrid bugbears, as much to affright or dismay us; if we remember how short they are, we cannot esteem them so great, or so intolerable f. There be, I must confess, divers more noble considerations, proper and available to cure discontent and impatience. The considering, that all these evils proceed from God's just will, and wise providence ; unto which it is fit, and we upon all accounts are obliged readily to submit; that they do ordinarily come from God's goodness, and gracious design toward us; that they are medicines (although ungrateful, yet wholesome) administred by the Divine Wisdom to prevent, remove, or abate our dirtempers of foul (to allạy the tumors of pride, to cool
* “ο μέλλεις τω χρόνω χαρίζεσθαι, τέτο τω λόγω χαρίσαι. Ρlut. ad Apol. p. 195.
+ Omnia brevia tolerabilia effe debent, etiamfi magna fint. Cic. Læl. ad fin.
SER M. the fevers of intemperate desire, to rouse us from the
lethargy of Noth, to stop the gangrene of bad conscience) that they are fatherly corrections intended to reclaim us from sin, and excite us to duty; that they serve as instruments or occasions to exercise, to try, to refine our virtue ; to beget in us the hope, to qualify us for the reception of better rewards : such discourses indeed are of a better nature, and have a more excellent kind of efficacy ; yet no fit help, no good art, no just weapon is to be quite neglected in the combat against our spiritual foes. A pebblestone hath been sometimes found more convenient than a sword or a spear to play a giant. Baser remedies (by reason of the patient's constitution, or circumstances) do sometime produce good effect, when others in their own nature inore rich and potent want efficacy. And surely frequent reflections upon our mortality, and living under the sense of our lives' frailty, cannot but conduce somewhat to the begetting in us an indifferency of mind toward all these temporal occurrents ; to extenuate both the goods and the evils we here meet with ; consequently therefore to compose and calm our passions about them.
3. But I proceed to another use of that consideration we speak of emergent from the former, but fo as to improve it to higher purposes. For fince it is useful to the diminishing our admiration of these worldly things, to the withdrawing our affections from them, to the Nackening our endeavours about them; it will follow that it must conduce also to beget an esteem, a desire, a prosecution of things conducing to our future welfare; both by remoying the obstacles of doing so, and by engaging us to consider the importance of those things in comparison with these. By removing obstacles, I say; for while our hearts are possessed with regard and passion toward these present things, there can be no room left in them for respect and affection toward things future. It is in
our soul as in the rest of nature; there can be nos E R M. penetration of objects, as it were, in our hearts, nor any vacuity in them ; our mind no more than our body can be in several places, or tend several ways, or abide in perfect rest; yet somewhere it will always be; somewhither it will always go; somewhat it will ever be doing. If we have a treasure here (somewhat Mat. vi. 21. we greatly like and much confide in), our hearts will be here with it ; and if here, they cannot be otherwhere ; they will be taken up; they will rest satisfied; they will not care to seek farther. If we affect worldly glory, and delight in the applause of men, we shall not be so careful to pleale God, and seek his favour. If we admire and repose confidence in riches, it will John v. 44 make us neglectful of God, and distrustful of his providence : if our mind thirsts after, and fucks in gree- Mat. vi. 24. dily sensual pleasures, we shall not relish spiritual delights, attending the practice of virtue and piety, or Rom. viii.g. arising from good conscience : adhering to, attending upon masters of so different, fo opposite a quality is inconsistent ; they cannot abide peaceably together, they cannot both rule in our narrow breasts; we shall love and hold to the one, hate and despise the other. If any man love the world, tbe love of the Father is not , John ii. in him ; the love of the world, as the present guest, is. so occupies and fills the room, that it will not admit, cannot hold the love of God. But when the heart is discharged and emptied of these things; when we begin to defpise them as base and vain ; to diftalte them as insipid and unsavoury ; then naturally will succeed a desire after other things promis-, ing a more solid content; and desire will breed endeavour; and endeavour (furthered by God's assistance always ready to back it) will yield such a glimpse and taste of things, as will so comfort and satirfy our minds, that thereby they will be drawn and engaged into a more earnest prosecution of them. When, I say, driving on ambitious projects, heaping up wealth, providing for the flesh (by reflecting