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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE, MY VERY GOOD LORD,
JAMES LORD VISCOUNT DONCASTER.
Finding these papers, amongst others, lying aside in my father's Study, whereof I conceived good use might be made, in regard of that spiritual advantage, which they promised ; I obtained of him good leave to send them abroad : whereto he professed himself the more easily induced, for that his continual and weighty employments in this large and busy Diocese will not yet afford him leisure, to dispatch those his other fixed Meditations on the History of the New Testament.
In the mean time, the expressions of these voluntary and sudden thoughts of his shall testify, how fruitfully he is wont to improve those short ends of time, which are stolen from his more important avocations ; and, unless my hopes fail me, the pattern of them may prove not a little beneficial to others.
Holy minds have been ever wont to look through these bodily objects, at spiritual and heavenly. So Sulpitius reports of St. Martin, that, seeing a sheep newly shorn, he could say, “ Lo, here is one, that hath performed that command in the Gospel ; having two coats, she hath given away one :” and, seeing a hogherd freezing in a thin suit of skins, “Lo,” said he, “there is Adam cast out of paradise:” and seeing a meadow part rooted up ; part whole, but eaten down ; and part flourishing ; he said, “ The first was the state of fornication, the second of marriage, the third of virginity.” But what do I seek any other author, than the Lord of Life himself? who, upon the drawing of water from the well of Shilo on the day of the great Hosanna, took occasion to speak of those living waters, which should flow from every true believer ; John vii. 38: and, upon occasion of a bodily feast, Luke xiv. entered into that divine discourse of God's gracious invitation of us to those spiritual viands of grace and glory.
Thus, methinks, we should still be climbing up in our thoughts, from earth to heaven ; and suffer no object to cross us in our way, without some spiritual use and application. Thus it pleased my Reverend Father, sometimes to recreate himself: whose manner it hath been, when any of these meditations have unsought offered themselves unto him, presently to set them down ; a course, which I wish had been also taken in many more, which might no doubt have been very profitable.
These, as they are, I send forth under your Honourable Name ; out of those many respects, which are, in an hereditary right, due to your Lordship, as being apparent heir to those two singular patrons of my justly-Reverenced Father : the eminent virtue of which your noble parents, in a gracious succession yields to your Lordship a happy example, which to follow is the only way to true honour. For the daily increase whereof here, and the everlasting crown of it hereafter, his prayers to God shall not be wanting, who desires to be accounted
Your Lordship's devoted,
D". JACOBO, COMITI CARLEOLENSI ;
REGIÆ MATI. AB INTIMIORE ET CONSILIO, ET CUBICULO:
QUÆ Anglicè pridem edita, sub auspiciis nobilissimi Doncastrii tui lucem salutârunt, quin modò Latina tuum, Illustris Heros, ambire ament patrocinium ? Juris illa publici fecerat, me parùm refragante, filius : ista non eru. besco me patrem vocent. Nimirùm, hộc ætatis, abi plærique senum non immeritò, veterum studiorum, desuetæque diu linguæ, oblivionem causari solemus ; nemo mihi vitio verterit rejuvenescere quodammodò jam serò animum, Romæque ac Athenarum etiamnùm velle recèns meminisse.
Illud verò cumprimis mihi cordi est, linguas exteras, mea qualiacunque in suos traduxisse idiotismos : nempe, quò meis fruuntur plures, eò me ditiorem fælicioremque sentio. Siquid mihi exciderit boni, omnium esto. Gratulor idcirco mihi, D. Jacomoti, aliorumque fidorum interpretum, calamos benevolos. Fas tamen sit dicere, et Latinè et Gallicè ab aliis aliquibus versa quædam mea, non nimiùm mihi placuisse : qui nativo quidem villo mea prodire mavelim incuriosiùs ; quàm serico alterius haud benè interim concinnato, malè induta.
Ne fortè queri possit hoc idem ista senii mei propages, eò magis chara quò sera magis, ipse Latio donare volui familiares hasce non inutilium cogitationum minutias ; jussique tuo nomine, exteris quibusque jam diu celeberrimo, superbire. Tu, pro eâ, quâ omnes exuperare soles, mirâ comitate suavitateque morum, serenus excipies hanc officii mei observantiæque strenam qualemcunque.
Quidni verò hoc mihi ausim fidenter polliceri? Diu est, ex quo novit orbis hic noster, quàm ego me totum tibi soceroque tuo præclarissimo, Herðum corculo, Comiti Norviccnsi, ab ineunte juventute, debuerim voverimque.
Idem utrique vestrûm splendidissimæque utriusque familiæ, quàmlibet loco dissitissimus, et affectu intimus, et officiis quibusque divinctissimus usque per
E Palatio nostro Exoniensi ;
Novemb, 29, 1634.
I have heedlessly lost, I confess, many good thoughts: these few my paper hath preserved from vanishing; the example whereof may, perhaps, be more useful than the matter.
Our active soul can no more forbear to think, than the eye can chuse but see when it is open. Would we but keep our wholesome notions together, mankind would be too rich. To do well, no object should pass us, without use. Every thing, that we see, reads us new lectures of wisdom and piety. It is a shame for a man, to be ignorant or godless, under so many tutors.
For me, I would not wish to live longer, than I shall be better for my eyes: and have thought it thankworthy, thus to teach weak minds, how to improve their thoughts, upon all like occasions. And, if ever these lines shall come to the public view, I desire and charge my reader, whosoever he be, to make me and himself so happy, as to take out my lesson; and to learn how to read God's great book, by mine.
PROLOQUIUM AD LECTOREM.
OCCURRERUNT mihi ultrò meditatiunculæ istæ: ego illas non solicitavi importuniùs; imò, ne accersivi quidem: sponte oblatas admisi non illibenter, nec morosiùs repuli; admissas excepi familiariter; exceptas, denique, permisi prodire in vulgus, non curâ et studio comptas, non ornatas elegantiùs, sed nativa simplicitate indutas, procul et sordibus et fastu.
Mille mihi, fateor, hujusmodi cogitationes, quæ mea fuit incuria, neglectæ exciderunt evanueruntque: istas ego chartulæ meæ servandas dedi, ne itidem perirent. Meo priùs idiomate editas donavi Latinitate, ut pluribus prodesse possint, quæ meis placuissent. Quarum fortè exemplum, re fuerit ipsâ utilius.
Agilis quippe est hæc anima humana ; neque minùs possibile est ut non cogitet, quàm ut nihil quicquam videat oculus apertus. Si curæ nobis foret notiones quasque salutares adservare studiosiùs, nimis profectò ditesceret genus humanum. Nobis certè si probè consultum voluerimus, nullum quamlibet exile subitumve objectum prætervolaverit, absque suo et usu et beneficio. Quicquid uspiam videmus prælegit nobis nova et prudentiæ documenta et pietatis. Turpe est homini, ut, sub tot præceptoribus, parùm sapiat.
Quod ad me, nollem equidem superesse diutiùs, quàm me oculi mei aliquid doceant: jam verò curæ pretium duxi, exemplo præire aliis, ut infirmiores, si qui sint, animi, inde discant cogitationibus quibusque obviis meliorescere. Lectorem igitur meum, quisquis fuerit, exoratum volo, ut, hâc ratione, et me et seipsum beare velit; perdiscatque, ex hoc meo libellulo, magnum Dei volumen (mundum intelligo) utiliter perlegere.
I. On the sight of the heavens moving. I can see nothing stand still, but the earth: all other things are in motion. Even the water, which makes up one globe with the earth, is ever stirring in ebbs and flowings; the clouds, over my head; the heavens, above the clouds: these, as they are most conspicuous, so are they the greatest patterns of perpetual action.
What should we rather imitate, than this glorious frame? O God, when we pray, that thy will may be done in earth as it is in heaven, though we mean chiefly the inhabitants of that place; yet we do not exclude the very place of those blessed inhabitants, from being an example of our obedience. The motion of this thy heaven is perpetual; so let me ever be acting somewhat of thy will: the motion of thy heaven is regular, never swerving from the due points; so let me ever walk steadily in the ways of thy will, without all diversions or variations from the line of thy Law. In the motion of thy heaven, though some stars have their own peculiar and contrary courses; yet all yield themselves to the sway of the main circumvolution of that first mover: so, though I have a will of mine own; yet let me give myself over, to be ruled and ordered by thy Spirit, in all my ways. Man is a little world: my soul is heaven; my body is earth: if this earth be dull and fixed; yet, O God, let my heaven, like unto thine, move perpetually, regularly, and in a constant subjection to thy Holy Ghost.
II. On the sight of a dial. If the sun did not shine upon this dial, nobody would look at it: in a cloudy day, it stands like an useless post, unheeded, unregarded; but, when once those beams break forth, every passenger runs to it, and gazes on it.
O God, while thou hidest thy countenance from me, me