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their well-studied judgments, in all points of question, which I propose! Neither can I cast my eye casually upon any of these silent masters, but I must learn somewhat. It is a wantonness to complain of choice. No law binds us to read all: but the more we can take in and digest, the better-liking must the mind needs be. Blessed be God, that hath set up so many clear lamps in his Church: now, none, but the wilfully blind, can plead darkness. And blessed be the memory of those his faithful servants, that have left their blood, their spirits, their lives, in these precious papers; and have willingly wasted themselves into these during monuments, to give light unto
LXXII. On the red cross on a door.
O SIGN fearfully significant! This sickness is a Cross indeed; and that a bloody one: both the form and colour import death. The Israelites' doors, whose lintels were besprinkled with blood, were passed over by the destroying angel: here, the destroying angel hath smitten; and hath left this mark of his deadly blow. We are wont to fight cheerfully under this ensign abroad, and be victorious: why should we tremble at it at home?
O God, there, thou fightest for us; here, against us. Under that, we have fought for thee; but under this, because our sins have fought against thee, we are fought against by thy judgments. Yet, Lord, it is thy cross, though a heavy one: it is ours, by merit; thine, by imposition. O Lord, sanctify thine affliction; and remove thy vengeance.
LXXIII. On the change of weather.
I KNOW not whether it be worse, that the heavens look upon us always with one face, or eyer varying for, as continual change of weather causes uncertainty of health, so a permanent settledness of one season causeth a certainty of distemper. Perpetual moisture dissolves us: perpetual heat evaporates, or inflames us cold stupifies us: drought obstructs, and withers
Neither is it otherwise, in the state of the mind. If our thoughts should be always volatile, changing, inconstant; we should never attain to any good habit of the soul, whether in matter of judgment or disposition: but, if they should be always fixed, we should run into the danger of some desperate extremity. To be ever thinking, would make us mad: to be ever thinking of our crosses or sins, would make us heartlessly dejected; to be ever thinking of pleasures and contentments, would melt us into a loose wantonness: to be ever doubting
subortis quæstionibus, non temera illa quidem sed maturè digesta laturas, convocare! Neque vel casu oculos conjicere possum in tacitorum istorum præceptorum quempiam, quin aliquid addiscam illico. De copiâ verò conqueri, delicati est nauseantisque animi. Nulla nos lex jubet omnes perlegere: quanto verò plures imbiberimus digesserimusque, tanto certè magis crescat pinguescatque animus necesse est. Benedictus sit Deus, qui tot claras lampades in Ecclesiâ suâ accenderit: nemo nunc, nisi qui cæcutit volens, tenebras causari potest. Benedicta sit etiam fidelium ipsius servorum memoria, qui tantum sudoris, sanguinis, spirituumque, animarum denique, in pretiosissimis hisce chartis reliquerint; seque lubentes in duratura hæc monumenta profuderint, ut aliis prælucerent.
LXXII. Visá cruce rubeâ, pestis insigni, foribus appictâ.
O SIGNUM planè dirum ac horrendum! Morbus iste vera Crux est; eaque profectò sanguinea: et forma et color ipse mortem præ se ferunt. Israelitarum fores, quarum superliminaria sanguine conspersa sunt, ab interfectore angelo tutæ ac immunes erant: ecce istìc, destruens angelus percussit; et tam læthalis plagæ stigma post se reliquit. Sub hoc signo solemus alibi pugnare alacres, victoriamque reportare: quare ita nunc istud horremus domi?
O Deus, tu pro nobis, alibi, pugnas; hìc, contra nos. Sub illo, nos pro te dimicavimus; sub hoc verò, quoniam peccata nostra contra nos dimicârunt, judiciis tuis oppugnamur. Et tamen, O Deus, crux tua est, quantumlibet gravis: nostra quidem, merito; inflictione verò, tua. Domine, afflictionem tuam sanctifica; tolle iram.
LXXIII. Ad cœli mutationem vicissitudinemque.
NESCIO insalubriusne esset, cœlum nos unâ semper facie contueri, an semper variâ: nam, ut continua quædam cœli mutatio valetudinis incertitudinem, sic et permanens unius temperiei constantia certitudinem invaletudinis necessariò producit. Dissolvit nos humiditas perpetua: perpetuus calor exhalat spiritus, inflammatve: stupefacit frigus: siccitas obstruit, arefacitque.
Nec, quoad animi statum, aliter se habet. Si cogitationes nostræ semper volatiles, variæ, ac inconstantes forent; nusquam perfectum aliquem mentis habitum, sive judicium spectemus sive dispositionem, assequeremur: si, è contrà, semper fixæ, certè periculum sine dubio perniciosi alicujus excessûs incurreremus. Semper cogitando, insaniremus planè: semper cogitando sive cruciatus nostros sive peccata, animum penitùs desponderemus; semper cogitando voluptates jucunditatesque, in luxuriosam quandam delicatamque mollitiem dissolveremur: dubitare semper ac metuere, diræ cujusdam et infernalis ser
and fearing, were a hellish servitude; to be ever bold and confident, were a dangerous presumption: but the interchanges of these in a due moderation, keep the soul in health.
O God, howsoever these variations be necessary for my spiritual condition, let me have no weather but sun-shine from thee. Do thou lift up the light of thy countenance upon me; and stablish me ever, with thy free Spirit.
LXXIV. On the sight of a marriage.
WHAT a comfortable and feeling resemblance is here of Christ and his Church! I regard not the persons: I regard the institution. Neither the husband, nor the wife, are now any more their own: they have either of them given over themselves to other: not only the wife, which is the weaker vessel, hath yielded over herself to the stronger protection and participation of an abler head; but the husband hath resigned his right in himself over to his feebler consort, so as now her weakness is his, his strength is hers. Yea, their very flesh hath altered property: hers, is his; his, is hers. Yea, their very soul and spirit may no more be severed, in respect of mutual affection, than from their own several bodies.
It is thus, O Saviour, with Thee and thy Church. We are not our own, but thine; who hast married us to thyself in truth and righteousness: what powers, what endowments have we, but from and in thee? And, as our holy boldness dares interest ourselves in thy graces, so thy wonderfully-compassionate mercy vouchsafes to interest thyself in our infirmities: thy poor Church suffers on earth; thou feelest in heaven; and, as complaining of our stripes, canst say, Why persecutest thou me? Thou, again, art not so thine own, as that thou art not also ours thy sufferings, thy merits, thy obedience, thy life, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, glory, yea thy blessed Humanity, yea thy glorious Deity, by virtue of our right, of our union, are so ours, as that we would not give our part in thee for ten thousand worlds.
O gracious Saviour, as thou canst not but love and cherish this poor and unworthy soul of mine, which thou hast mercifully espoused to thyself: so give me grace to honour and obey thee; and, forsaking all the base and sinful rivalry of the world, to hold me only unto thee while I live here, that I may perfectly enjoy thee hereafter.
LXXV. On the sight of a snake.
I KNOW not what horror we find in ourselves at the sight of a serpent. Other creatures are more loathsome; and some no less deadly, than it: yet there is none, at which our blood
vitutis esset; audere verò semper et fausta quæque certissimè sibi polliceri, periculosissimæ foret præfidentiæ: horum autem omnium probè temperatæ vicissitudines, sanam vividamque animam conservant.
Utcunque tamen, O Deus, variæ mutationes istæ spirituali conditioni meæ apprimè necessariæ sint, faxis ut à te nil nisi sudum ac serenum sentiam. Attolle tu mihi lumen vultus tui; Spirituque tuo libero, animam meam semper stabilito.
LXXIV. Conspecto conjugii ritu publico.
QUAM jucunda quàmque perfecta exhibetur istìc Christi ac Ecclesiæ conjunctionis, similitudo! Personas non moror: institutionem cogito. Neque maritus, neque uxor, jam in propriâ potestate sunt: dediderunt sese mutuò alterutri: non modò uxor, vas fragilius, addixit se totam protectioni ac participationi capitis fortioris potentiorisque; sed et maritus ita se totum infirmiori conjugi resignavit, ut uxoris imbecillitates viro, viri autem vires ac facultates uxori cesserint. Imò, et ipsa illorum caro proprietatem suam commutaverit: uxoris quæ erat, viri est; quæ viri itidem, et uxoris. Imò, ipsorum anima spiritusque, respectu mutui affectûs, non magis à se invicem, quàm à propriis corporibus possunt separari.
Sic se habet, O Servator, inter Te et Ecclesiam tuam. Nostri non sumus, tui sumus; desponsasti tu nos tibi scilicet veritate et justitiâ: quæ nobis facultates, quæ dotes, nisi et à te et in te suppetunt? et, ut audax nostra fiducia sanctaque audacia tuas sibi gratias appropriare præsumit, ita et benignissima misericordia tua dignatur te nostris induere infirmitatibus misella Ecclesia tua patitur in terrâ; tu sentis in cœlo; quasique de plagis ipsius conquestus, exclamas, Quare me persequeris? Itidem, et tu non ita tuus es, quin ut et noster interea sis: tui cruciatus, merita tua, tua obedientia, vita, mors, resurrectio, ascensio, intercessio, gloria, imò et tua beatissima Humanitas, et Divinitas gloriosissima, virtute juris in te nostri, unionisque nobiscum tuæ, ita nostri sunt, ut ne mille quidem mundi nostram in te partem redemptitare possint.
O misericors et beneficentissime Servator, ut tu non potes non amare ac fovere pauperculam hanc indignamque animam, quam tu tibi ipsi desponsasti: ita et indulge mihi reciprocè gratiam hanc, ut te colam, tibi obediam; spretisque vilibus vitiosisque procantis mundi blandimentis, me tibi totum dum hìc superero unicè servem, ut te deinceps æternùm fruar postmodum.
LXXV. Conspecto angue.
NESCIO quis nobis ad conspectum serpentis horror oboriaDeformiora sunt animalia quædam alia; sed et quædam etiam illis, non minùs mortifera : nullum tamen est, quo viso,
riseth so much as at this. Whence should this be, but out of an instinct of our old enmity? We were stung in paradise; and cannot but feel it. But, here is our weakness: it was not the body of the serpent, that could have hurt us, without the suggestion of sin; and yet, we love the sin, while we hate the serpent.
Every day are we wounded with the sting of that old serpent, and complain not: and so much more deadly is that sting, by how much it is less felt. There is a sting of guilt; and there is a sting of remorse: there is mortal venom in the first, whereof we are the least sensible; there is less danger, in the second. The Israelites found themselves stung by those fiery serpents in the desert; and the sense of their pain sent them to seek for cure. The world, is our desert; and, as the sting of death is sin; so the sting of sin, is death. I do not more wish to find ease, than pain. If I complain enough, I cannot fail of cure.
O thou, which art the true Brazen Serpent, lifted up in this wilderness, raise up mine eyes to thee, and fasten them upon thee. Thy mercy shall make my soul whole; my wound, sovereign.
LXXVI. On the ruins of an abbey.
It is not so easy to say, what it was that built up these walls; as what it was, that pulled them down: even the wickedness of the possessors. Every stone hath a tongue, to accuse the superstition, hypocrisy, idleness, luxury of the late owners. Methinks, I see it written all along, in capital letters, upon these heaps, 4 fruitful land maketh he barren, for the iniquity of them that dwell therein. Perhaps, there wanted not some sacrilege in the demolishers. In all the carriage of these businesses, there was a just hand, that knew how to make an wholesome and profitable use of mutual sins. Full little did the builders or the in-dwellers think, that this costly and warm fabric should so soon end violently in a desolate rubbish.
It is not for us to be high-minded, but to fear. No roof is so high, no wall so strong, as that sin cannot level it with the dust. Were any pile so close, that it could keep out air; yet it could not keep out judgment, where sin hath been foreadmitted. In vain shall we promise stability to those houses, which we have made witnesses of and accessaries to our shameful uncleannesses: the firmness of any building, is not so much in the matter, as in the owner. Happy is that cottage, that hath an honest master; and woe be to that palace, that is viciously inhabited.