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sin, I might have hoped for entire health; but, since I have interspersed my obedience with many sinful failings and enormities, why do I think much, to interchange health with sickness? What I now feel, I know: I am not worthy to know what I must feel. As my times, so my measures, are in the hands of a wise and good God. My comfort is, he, that sends these evils, proportions them. If they be sharp, I am sure they are just the most, that I am capable to endure, is the least part, of what I have deserved to suffer. Nature would fain be at ease; but, Lord, whatever become of this carcase, thou hast reason to have respect to thine own glory. I have sinned; and must smart. It is the glory of thy mercy, to beat my body, for the safety of my soul. The worst of sickness, is pain; and the worst of pain, is but death. As for pain, if it be extreme, it cannot be long; and if it be long, such is the difference of earthly and hellish torments, it cannot be extreme. As for death, it is both unavoidable and beneficial: there ends my misery, and begins my glory: a few groans are well bestowed, for a preface to an immortal joy.
Howsoever, O God, thy messenger is worthy to be welcome. It is the Lord: let him do, whatsoever he will.
C. On the challenge of a promise.
It is true, an honest man's word must be his master. When I have promised, I am indebted; and debts may be claimed, must be paid. But yet, there is a great deal of difference, in our engagements: some things we promise, because they are due; some things are only due, because they are promised. These latter, which are but the mere engagements of courtesy, cannot so absolutely bind us, that, notwithstanding any intervention of unworthiness or misbehaviour in the person expectant, we are tied to make our word good, though to the cutting of our own throats. All favourable promises presuppose a capacity in the receiver: where that palpably faileth, common equity sets us free. I promised to send a fair sword to my friend: he is, since that time, turned frantic: must I send it; or be charged with unfaithfulness, if I send it not?
O God, thy title is The God of Truth. Thou canst no more cease to be faithful, than to be. How oft hast thou promised, that no good thing shall be wanting to thine; and yet we know, thy dearest children have complained of want! Is thy word therefore challengeable? Far, far be this wicked presumption. from our thoughts. No: these, thy promises of outward
agere, absque omni peccati misturâ, perfectam fortè sanitatem meritò sperassem; sed, cùm obedientiam meam multis defectibus vitiosis enormibusque delictis intersperserim, cur mihi ægrè est, misceri morbum valetudini? Quid nunc sentiam, novi: quid deinceps perpessurus sim, non dignus sum qui sciam. Ut tempora mea, ita rerum mearum mensuræ, penes sapientissimum benignissimumque Deum sunt. Illud me solatur unicè, qui mihi immisit mala hæc, modum etiam iisdem malis præstituisse. Si gravia sint, scio esse justa: maximum eorum, quæ ego ferre possum, minimum est eorum, quæ perpeti meruerim. Quieti indulgere vellet natura; sed, O Deus, quicquid fiat de cadavere hoc meo, jure bono tu gloriam tuam respicis. Ego peccavi; necesse est vapulem. Miserecordiæ tuæ ingens gloria est, corpus meum verberare, ut animam serves. Pessimum morbi, dolor est; pessimum doloris, mors est. Dolorem quod spectat, si gravis is sit, diuturnus esse nequit ; si diuturnus, illud nempe discriminis est inter terrenum hunc et infernum cruciatum, gravis esse non potest. Mortem verò quod attinet, et inevitabilis illa est, et haud parùm benefica: ibi desinit miseria mea, incipit gloria. Benè locantur pauci gemitus, ubi præludio sunt immortalis gloriæ.
Quicquid sit, nuntius tuus, O Deus, dignus est qui summâ gratulatione excipiatur. Dominus est ilicet: quid vult, faciat.
C. Promisso quodam vehementiùs postulato.
VERUM est illud quidem, honestum quemque verbi sui semel emissi servum esse. Ubi promiserim, debitor sum; debita autem, et postulari possunt, et solvi necesse habent. Multum tamen est, in obligationum nostrarum generibus, discrimen : quædam pollicemur, quòd debita sint; quædam verò, eo solo nomine debentur, quòd ultrò promiserimus. Posteriora hæc, quæ mera sunt favoris et beneficentiæ spontaneæ vincula, nos absolutè quidem ita ligare, ut, quicquid interveniat in expectante mali, necessariò teneamur, quanquam maximo cum nostro incommodo, præstare promissum, planè nequeunt. Pollicita quæque gratuita capacitatem quandam in recipiente semper præsupponunt: quâ demptâ, ipsa nos communis æquitas liberat et absolvit. Gladium quendam accuratè sculptum amico cuidam meo promiseram: is, interea temporis, in phrenesin incidit: quid? nunquid hunc aut mittere teneor; aut statim arguor violatæ fidei, qui non miserim?
O Deus, meritò quidem audis tu Deus Veritatis. Neque minùs impossibile est ut tu fidelis non sis, quàm ut esse desinas. Quoties pollicitus es tu, nihil quicquam boni tuis defuturum; quoties tamen audivimus, filios tuos charissimos fame et inediâ laborâsse! Quid? vacillatnè ergo verbum tuum, nostrisque cavillis obnoxium erit? Absit, absit, ut cogitationes nobis occurrant ita audacter impiæ. Minimè verò: quæ gra
favours, are never but with a subintelligence of a condition of our capableness, of our expedience. Thou seest, that plenty, or ease, would be our bane: thy love forbears to satisfy us, with a harmful blessing. We are worthy to be plagued with prejudicial kindnesses, if we do not acknowledge thy wisdom and care in our want. It is enough for us, that thy best mercies are our dues, because thy promises: we cannot too much claim that, which thou hast absolutely engaged thyself to give; and, in giving, shalt make us eternally happy.
CI. On the sight of flies.
WHEN I look upon these flies, and gnats, and worms, I have reason to think, what am I to my Infinite Creator, more than these? And, if these had my reason, why might they not expostulate with their Maker, why they are but such; why they live to so little purpose, and die without either notice or use? And, if I had no more reason than they, I should be, as they, content with any condition. That reason, which I have, is not of my own giving: he, that hath given me reason, might as well have given it to them; or have made me, as reasonless, as they. There is no cause, why his greater gift should make me mutinous and malecontent. I will thank my God, for what I am, for what I have; and never quarrel with him, for what I
CII. On the sight of a fantastical zealot.
It is not the intent of grace, to mould our bodies anew; but to make use of them, as it finds us. The disposition of men much follows the temper of their bodily humours. This mixture of humours, wrought upon by grace, causeth that strange variety, which we see in professions pretendedly religious. When grace lights upon a sad, melancholic spirit; nothing is affected, but sullenness, and extreme mortification, and dislike even of lawful freedom; nothing, but positions and practices of severe austerity: when, contrarily, upon the cheerful and lively, all draws towards liberty and joy; those thoughts do now please best, which enlarge the heart to mirth and contentation. It is the greatest improvement of Christian wisdom, to distinguish, in all professions, betwixt grace and humour; to give God his own glory, and men their own infirmities.
CIII. On the sight of a scavenger working in the kennel. THE wise providence of God hath fitted men with spirits
tiam externam spectant promissa, nunquam non cum certâ quâdam conditionis sive capacitatis nostræ, sive expedientiæ subintelligentiâ, proponuntur. Vides tu scilicet, rerum omnium affluentiam, quietemque, exitio nobis fore: amor tuus noxio nos beneficio cumulare detrectat. Digni sumus qui infestis perniciosisque favoribus puniamur, si prudentiam tuam curamque eximiam in nostrâ hâc indigentiâ grato animo non agnoscamus. Sufficit nobis abundè, miserationum tuarum optimas quasque debitas nobis esse, quia à te promissas: non possumus nimis confidenter poscere, quod tu certissimè largiri promiseris; largiendoque, nos æternùm beatos præstiturus es.
CI. Muscis quibusdam conspectis.
QUOTIES muscas istas, culices, ac vermiculos intuero, est sanè quòd cogitem, Quid sum ego Infinito Creatori meo, plus quàm isti? Quòd, si hi rationis meæ participes essent, quidni conditorem suum compellarent, cur tales facti sint; cur tam inutiles vivant, tantoque cum neglectu moriantur? Et, si mihi æquè ac illis deesset ratio, sorte ego quâvis, quemadmodum et illi, sat benè contentus forem. Ratio, quâ præditus sum, non à meipso profluit: illam qui mihi solus indidit, potuit et istis non minùs dedisse; meve, si visum fuisset, non minùs quam istos, rationis expertem condidisse. Non est, quòd me morosum ingratumque reddat major illius benignitas. Quicquid sim, quicquid habeam, Deo meo acceptum referam; quicquid defuerit, absit ut cum ipso expostulem.
CII. Viso zelote quodam fanatico.
CORPORA nostra de novo formare, gratiæ propositum non est; sed iis uti potiùs, prout disposita invenerit. Ingenia moresque hominum sequuntur, ut plurimùm, humorum in corpore qualemcunque temperiem. Ista humorum mixtio, gratiâ insuper operante, efficit stupendam illam varietatem, quæ in religiosâ quâque professione elucet. Cùm in animum tristem, mæstumque, gratia inciderit; nihil heic affectatur, nisi morositas quædam, et singularis vitæ austeritas, licitæque et probate libertatis tetrica repudiatio; nihil denique, præter durissimæ severitatis et theses et praxin assiduam: cum verò, è contrà, hilarem ac jucundum beârit gratia, ad libertatem lætitiamque tendunt omnia; eæ cogitationes nunc maximè arrident, quibus ad lepores et festivitatem quandam cor dilatari possit. Maximum arguit in sapientiâ Christianâ profectum, posse inter simplicem gratiam et nativum cujusque ingenium, quæcunque demum professio sit, discrimen statuere; debitam Deo gloriam tribuere, propriasque hominibus infirmitates.
CIII. Conspecto sordido quodam canalium expurgatore. HOMINUM animos accommodavit infinita Dei providentia ip
answerable to their condition. If mean men should bear the minds of great lords, no servile works would be done: all would be commanders; and none could live. If, contrarily, great persons had the low spirits of drudges, there could be no order, no obedience; because there should be none to command. Now, out of this discord of dispositions, God hath contrived an excellent harmony of government and peace: since, the use, which each sort must needs have of other, binds them to maintain the quality of their own ranks: and to do those offices, which are requisite for the preservation of themselves and the public. As inferiors then, must bless God, for the graces and authority of their betters; so must superiors no less bless him, for the humility and serviceableness of the meaner; and those, which are of the mid rank, must bless him for both.
CIV. On a pair of spectacles.
I LOOK upon these, not as objects, but as helps: as not meaning, that my sight should rest in them, but pass through them; and, by their aid, discern some other things which I desire to
Many such glasses my soul hath, and useth. I look through the glass of the Creatures, at the power and wisdom of their Maker: I look through the glass of the Scriptures, at the great mystery of redemption, and the glory of a heavenly inheritance: I look through God's Favours, at his infinite mercy; through his Judgments, at his incomprehensible justice. But, as these spectacles of mine presuppose a faculty in the eye, and cannot give me sight when I want it, but only clear that sight which I have; no more can these glasses of the Creatures, of Scriptures, of Favours, and Judgments, enable me to apprehend those blessed objects, except I have an eye of faith, whereto they may be presented. These helps to an unbelieving man, are but as spectacles to the blind. As the natural eyes, so the spiritual, have their degrees of dimness. But I have ill improved my age, if, as my natural eyes decay, my spiritual eye be not cleared and confirmed: but, at my best, I shall never but need spectacles, till I come to see, as I am seen.
CV. On motes in the sun.
How these little motes move up and down in the sun, and never rest; whereas the great mountains stand ever still, and move not, but with an earthquake!
Even so light and busy spirits are in continual agitation, to little purpose; while great deep wits sit still, and stir not but