Page images
PDF
EPUB

endeavour to have one drop added to the rest : so my last day shall fill up my vessel to the brim.

v. Satan would seem to be mannerly and reasonable ; making, as if he would be content with one half of the heart, whereas God challengeth all or none: as, indeed, He hath most reason to claim all, that made all. But this is nothing, but a crafty fetch of Satan; for he knows, that if he have any part, God will have none: so the whole falleth to his share alone. My heart, when it is both whole and at the best, is but a strait and unworthy lodging for God. If it were bigger and better, I would reserve it all for him. Satan may look in at my doors by a temptation; but he shall not have so much as one chamber-room set apart, for him to sojourn in.

VI. I see, that, in natural motions, the nearer anything comes to his end, the swifter it moveth. I have seen great rivers, which, at their first rising out of some hill's side, might be covered with a bushel ; which, after many miles, fill a very broad channel; and, drawing near to the sea, do even make a little sea in their own banks : so, the wind, at the first rising, is a little vapour from the crannies of the earth; and, passing forward about the earth, the further it goes, the more blustering and violent it waxeth. A Christian's motion, after he is regenerate, is made natural to God-ward ; and therefore, the nearer he comes to heaven, the more zealous he is. A good man must be like the sun : not like Hezekiah's sun, that went backward; nor like Joshua's sun, that stood still; but David's sun, that, like a bridegroom, comes out of his chamber, and, as a champion, rejoiceth to run his race: only herein is the difference, that, when he comes to his high noon, he declineth not. However, therefore, the mind, in ker natural faculties, follows the temperature of the body ; yet, in these supernatural things, she quite crosses it: for, with the coldest complexion of age is joined, in those that are truly religious, the ferventest zeal and affection to good things; which is therefore the more reverenced and better acknowledged, because it cannot be ascribed to the hot spirits of youth. The Devil himself devised that old slander of early holiness; “A young Saint, an old Devil.” Sometimes, young Devils have proved old Saints; never the contrary : but true Saints in youth, do always prove Angels in their age. I will strive to be ever good; but if I should not find myself best at last, I should fear I was never good at all.

VII. Consent hearteneth sin; which a little dislike would have daunted, at first. As we say, “ There would be no thieves, if no receivers ;" so would there not be so many open mouths to detract and slander, if there were not as many open ears to entertain them. If I cannot stop other men's mouths from speaking ill, I will either open my mouth to reprove it, or else I will stop mine ears from

hearing it; and let him see in my face, that he hath no room in my heart.

VIII. I have oft wondered, how fishes can retain their fresh taste, and yet live in salt waters; since I see that every other thing participates of the nature of the place, wherein it abides : so, the waters, passing through the channels of the earth, vary their savour with the veins of soil, through which they slide: so, brute creatures, transported from one region to another, alter their former quality, and degenerate by little and little. The like danger have I seen in the manners of men, conversing with evil companions in corrupt places : for, besides that it blemisheth our reputation and makes us thought ill though we be good, it breeds in us an insensible declination to ill; and works in us, if not an approbation, yet a less dislike of those sins, to which our ears and eyes are so continually inured. I may have a bad acquaintance: I will never have a wicked companion,

rate by litzfegion to anothy Slide: so, bri

les Theater their brute cr

[ocr errors]

Espectation, in a weak mind, makes an evil, greater; and a good, less : but, in a resolved mind, it digests an evil, before it come; and makes a future good, long before, present. I will ex, pect the worst, because it may come; the best, because I know it will come.

[ocr errors]

Some promise what they cannot do; as Satan to Christ: some, what they could, but mean not to do; as the sons of Jacob to the Shechemites: some, what they meant for the time, and after retreat; as Laban to Jacob : some, what they do also give, but unwillingly; as Herod : some, what they willingly give and after repent them; as Joshua to the Gibeonites, So great distrust is there in man, whether from his impotency or faithlessness, As in other things, so in this, I see God is not like man : but, in whatever he promises, he approves himself most faithful, both in his ability and performances, I will therefore ever trust God on his bare word; even with hope, besides hope, above hope, against hope; and onwards, I will rely on him for small matters of this life: for how shall I hope to trust him in impossibilities, if I may not in likelihoods? How shall I depend on him, for raising 'my body from dust, and saving my soul; if I mistrust him for a crust of bread, towards my preservation ?

[ocr errors]

If the world would make me his minion, he could give me but what he hath : and what hath he to give, but a smoke of honour, a shadow of riches, a sound of pleasures, a blast of fame ; which when I have had in the best measure, I may be worse, I cannot be better? I can live no whit longer, no whit merrier, no whit happier. If he profess to hate me, what can he do, but disgrace me in my name, impoverish me in my estate, afflict me in my body ? in all which, it is easy, not to be ever the more miserable. I have been too long beguiled with the vain semblances of it: now, henceforth, accounting myself born to a better world, I will, in a holy lofti. ness, bear myself as one too good to be enamoured of the best pleasures, to be daunted with the greatest miseries, of this life.

XII. I see there is no man so happy, as to have all things; and no man so miserable, as not to have some. Why should I look for a better condition, than all others? If I have somewhat, and that of the best things; I will in thankfulness enjoy them, and want the rest with contentment.

XIII. Constraint makes an easy thing toilsome; whereas, again, love makes the greatest toil pleasant. How many miles do we ride and run, to see one silly beast follow another, with pleasure ; which if we were commanded to measure, upon the charge of a superior, we should complain of weariness! I see the folly of the most men; that make their lives miserable, and their actions tedious, for want of love to that, they must do. I will first labour to settle in my heart a good affection to heavenly things: so, Lord, thy yoke shall be easy, and thy burden light.

XIV. I am a stranger even at home : therefore, if the dogs of the world bark at me, I neither care, nor wonder.

XV. It is the greatest madness in the world, to be a hypocrite in religious profession. Men hate thee, because thou art a Christian, so much as in appearance: God hates thee double, because thou art but in appearance: so, while thou hast the hatred of both, thou hast no comfort in thyself. Yet, if thou wilt not be good, as thou seemest; I hold it better, to seem ill, as thou art. An open wicked man doth much hurt, with notorious sins; but a hypocrite doth at last more shame goodness, by seeming good. I would rather be an open wicked man, than a hypocrite; but I would rather be no man, than either of them.

XVI. When I cast down mine eyes upon my wants, upon my sins, upon my miseries; methinks no man should be worse, no man so · ill as I, my means so many, so forcible, and almost violent; my

progress so small, and insensible; my corruptions so strong; my infirinities so frequent, and remediless ; my body so unanswerable to my mind : But, when I look up to the blessings that God hath enriched me withal, methinks I should soon be induced to think none more happy than myself: God is my Friend, and my Father; the world, not my master, but my slave: I have friends, not many, but so tried, that I dare trust them; an estate, not superfluous, not needy, yet nearer to defect luan abundance; a calling, if despised of men, yet honourable with God; a body, not so strong as to

admit security, but often checking me in occasion of pleasure, nor yet so weak as to afflict me continually; a mind, not so furnished with knowledge that I may boast of it, nor yet so naked that I should despair of obtaining it: my miseries afford me joy; mine enemies, advantage: my account is cast up for another world, And, if thou think I have said too much good of myself, either I am thus, or I would be.

XVII. The worldling's life is, of all other, most discomfortable : for, that, which is his God, doth not alway favour him ; that, which should be, never.

XVIII. There are three messengers of death; Casualty, Sickness, Age. The two first are doubtful; since many have recovered them both: the last is certain. The two first are sudden : the last leisurely and deliberate. As for all men, upon so many summons, so especially for an old man, it is a shame to be unprepared for death : for, where others see they may die, he sees he must die, I was long ago old enough to die: but if I live till age, I will think myself too old to live longer.

XIX. I will not care what I have; whether much, or little. If little, my account shall be the less; if more, I shall do the more good, and receive the more glory.

XX. I care not for any companion, but such as may teach me somewhat, or learn somewhat of me. Both these shall much pleasure me; one as an agent, the other as a subject to work upon : neither know I, whether more; for, though it be an excellent thing to learn, yet I learn but to teach others.

XXI. If Earth, that is provided for mortality and is possessed by the Maker's enemies, have so much pleasure in it, that worldlings think it worth the account of their heaven; such a sun to enlighten it, such a heaven to wall it about, such sweet fruits and flowers to adorn it, such variety of creatures for the commodious use of it; what must Heaven needs be, that is provided for God himself, and his friends ? How can it be less in worth, than God is above his creatures, and God's friends better than his enemies? I will not only be content, but desirous, to be dissolved.

XXII. It is commonly seen, that boldness puts men forth before their time, before their ability. Wherein, we have seen many, that, like lapwings and partridges, have run away with some part of their shell on their heads : whence it follows, that, as they began boldly, so they proceed unprofitably, and conclude not without shame. "Í would rather be haled by force of others to great duties, than rush

upon them unbidden. It were better a man should want work, than that great works should want a man answerable to their weight.

XXIII. I will use my friends, as Moses did his rod: while it was a rod, he held it familiarly in his hand; when once a serpent, he ran away from it.

XXIV. I have seldom seen much ostentation, and much learning, met together. The sun, rising, and declining, makes long shadows; at midday when he is at highest, none at all. Besides that, skill, when it is too much shown, loseth the grace: as fresh coloured wares, if they be often opened, lose their brightness, and are soiled with much handling. I would rather applaud myself, for having much, that I shew not; than that others should applaud me, for shewing more than I have.

XXV. An ambitious man is the greatest enemy to himself, of any in the world besides : for he still torments himself with hopes, and desires, and cares; which he might avoid, if he would remit of the height of his thoughts, and live quietly. My only ambition shall be, to rest in God's favour on earth, and to be a Saint in heaven.

XXVI. There was never good thing easily come by. The heathen man could say, “ God sells knowledge for sweat;" and so he doth honour for jeopardy. Never any man hath got either wealth or learning, with ease. Therefore, the greatest good must needs be most dilficult. How shall I hope to get Christ, if I take no pains for him? And if, in all other things, the difficulty of obtaining whets the mind so much the more to seek, why should it in this alone daunt me? I will not care what I do, what I suffer, so I may win Christ. If men can endure such cutting, such laricing, and searing of their bodies, to protract a miserable life yet a while longer, what pain should I refuse for eternity?

XXVII. If I die, the world shall miss me but a little : I shall miss it less, Not it me; because it hath such store of better men : not I it; because it hath so much ill, and I shall have so much happiness,

XXVIII. Two things make a man set by ; Dignity, and Desert. Amongst fools, the first without the second is sufficient : amongst wise men, the second without the first. Let me deserve well; though I be not advanced. The conscience of my worth shall cheer me more in others' contempt, than the approbation of others can comfort me against the secret check of my own unworthiness,

« PreviousContinue »