Page images
PDF
EPUB

engaged too deeply by his service. The ambition of spiritual well-doing breeds no danger. He, that doth best, and may worst be spared, is happiest.

XL. It was a fit comparison of worldly cares, to thorns; for, as they choke the word, so they prick our souls: neither the word can grow up amongst them, nor the heart can rest upon them: neither body nor soul can find ease, while they are within or close to us. Spiritual cares are as sharp; but more profitable: they pain us, but leave the soul better. They break our sleep, but for a sweeter rest: we are not well, but either while we have them, or after we had them. It is as impossible to have spiritual health without these, as to have bodily strength with the other.

XLI. In temporal good things, it is best to live in doubt; not making full account of that, which we hold in so weak a tenure: in spiritual, with confidence; not fearing that, which is warranted to us by an infallible promise and sure earnest. He lives most contentedly, that is most secure for this world; most resolute for the other.

XLII. God hath, in nature, given every man inclinations to some one particular calling; which if he follow, he excels; if he cross, he proves a non-proficient and changeable: but all men's natures are equally indisposed to grace, and to the common vocation of Christianity; we are all born Heathens. To do well, nature must, in the first, be observed and followed; in the other, crossed and overcome.

XLIII. Good-man is a title given to the lowest: whereas, all titles of Greatness, Worship, Honour, are observed and attributed with choice. The speech of the world bewrays their mind; and shews the common estimation of goodness, compared with other qualities. The world, therefore, is an ill herald; and unskilful in the true stiles. It were happy, that goodness were so common; and pity, that it either should not stand with greatness, or not be preferred to it.

XLIV. Amongst all actions, Satan is ever busiest in the best, and most in the best part of the best: as in the end of prayer; when the heart should close up itself with most comfort. He never fears us, but when we are well employed: and, the more likelihood he sees of our profit, the more is his envy, and labour, to distract us. We should love ourselves as much as he hates us; and therefore strive so much the more towards our good, as his malice striveth to interrupt it. We do nothing, if we contend not, when we are resisted, The good soul is ever in contradiction; denying what is granted, and contending for that which is denied; suspecting when it is gainsaid, and fearing liberty.

foil us.

XLV. God forewarns, ere he try; because he would be prevented: Satan steals upon us suddenly by temptations; because he would

If we relent not upon God's premonition, and meet not the lingering pace of his punishments, to forestal them; he punisheth more, by how much his warning was more evident and more large. God's trials must be met, when they come: Satan's must be seen, before they coine; and, if we be not armed ere we be assaulted, we shall be foiled ere we can be armed.

XLVI. It is not good to be continual in denunciation of judgment: the noise, to which we are accustomed, though loud, wakes us not; whereas a less, if unusual, stirreth us. The next way to make threatenings contemned, is, to make them common. It is a profitable rod, that strikes sparingly; and frights somewhat oftener than it smiteth.

XLVII. Want of use causeth disability; and custom, perfection. Those, that have not used to pray in their closet, cannot pray in public, but coldly and in form. He, that discontinues meditation, shall be long in recovering: whereas the man inured to these exercises, who is not dressed till he have prayed nor hath supped till he have meditated, doth both these well, and with ease. He, that intermits good duties, incurs a double loss: of the blessing, that followeth good; of the faculty of doing it.

XLVIII. Christianity is both an easy yoke and a hard : hard, to take up; easy to bear, when once taken. The heart requires much labour, ere it can be induced to stoop under it; and finds as much contentment, when it hath stooped. The worldling thinks religion servility: but the Christian knows whose slave he was, till he entered into this service; and that no bondage can be so evil, as freedom from these bonds.

XLIX. It is a wonder, how full of shifts nature is; ready to turn over all good purposes. If we think of death, she suggests secretly; “Tush, it shall not come yet:" if of judgment for sin; “This concerns not thee; it shall not come at all:" if of heaven, and our la. bour to reach it; “ Trouble not thyself; it will come soon enough alone.” Address thyself to pray; It is yet unseasonable; stay for a better opportunity:" to give alms; “Thou knowest not thine own future wants :" to reprove;

" What needest thou thrust thyself into wilful hatred ?” Every good action hath his let. He can never be good, that is not resolute.

L. All Arts are Maids to Divinity: therefore, they both vail to her, and do her service; and she, like a grave Mistress, controls them at pleasure. Natural Philosophy teacheth, that of nothing can be nothing made; and, that from the privation to the habit is no returu: Divinity takes her up for these; and, upon supernatural principles, teaches her a creation, a resurrection. Philosophy teaches us to follow sense, as an infallible guide: Divinity tells her, that faith is of things not seen. Logic teaches us first to discourse, then to resolve; Divinity, to assent without arguing. Civil Law teacheth, that long custom prescribeth ; Divinity, that old things are passed: Moral Philosophy, that tallying of injuries is justice; Divinity, that good must be returned for ill : Policy, that better is a mischief than an inconvenience; Divinity, that we may not do evil, that good may ensue. The School is well ordered, while Divinity keeps the Chair: but, if any other skill usurp it, and check their Mistress, there can follow nothing, but confusion and atheism.

LI. Much difference is to be made, betwixt a revolter and a man trained up in error: a Jew and an Arian both deny Christ's Deity; yet this opinion is not, in both, punished with bodily death. Yea, a revolt to a less error, is more punishable than education in a capital heresy: errors of judgment, though less regarded than errors of practice, yet are more pernicious: but none so deadly as theirs, that once were in the truth. If truth be not sued to, it is dangerous; but if forsaken, desperate.

LII. It is an ill argument of a good action not well done, when we are glad that it is done: to be affected with the comfort of the conscience of well performing it, is good: but, merely to rejoice that the act is over, is carnal. He never can begin cheerfully, that is glad he hath ended.

LIII. He, that doth not secret service to God with some delight, doth but counterfeit in public. The truth of any act or passion is then best tried, when it is without witness. Openly, many sinister respects may draw from us a form of religious duties; secretly, nothing but the power of a good conscience. It is to be feared, God hath more true and devout service in Closets, than in Churches,

LIV. Words and diseases grow upon us with years. In age, we talk much, because we have seen much, and soon after shall cease talking for ever: we are most diseased, because nature is weakest; and death, which is near, must have harbingers. Such is the old age of the world: no marvel, if this last time be full of writing and weak discourse, full of sects and heresies, which are the sicknesses of this great and decayed body.

LV. The best ground untilled, soonest runs out into rank weeds. Such are God's children: overgrown with security, ere they are aware;

foil us.

XLV. God forewarns, ere he try; because he would be prevented: Satan steals upon us suddenly by temptations; because he would

If we relent not upon God's premonition, and meet not the lingering pace of his punishments, to forestal them; he punisheth more, by how much his warning was more evident and more large. God's trials must be met, when they come: Satan's must be seen, before they come; and, if we be not armed ere we be assaulted, we shall be foiled ere we can be armed.

XLVI. It is not good to be continual in denunciation of judgment: the noise, to which we are accustomed, though loud, wakes us not; whereas a less, if unusual, stirreth us. The next way to make threatenings contemned, is, to make them common. It is a profitable rod, that strikes sparingly; and frights somewhat oftener than it smiteth.

XLVII. Want of use causeth disability; and custom, perfection. Those, that have not used to pray in their closet, cannot pray in public, but coldly and in form. "He, that discontinues meditation, shall be long in recovering: whereas the man inured to these exercises, who is not dressed till he have prayed nor hath supped till he have meditated, doth both these well, and with ease. He, that intermits good duties, incurs a double loss: of the blessing, that followeth good; of the faculty of doing it.

XLVIII. Christianity is both an easy yoke and a hard : hard, to take up; easy to bear, when once taken. The heart requires much labour, ere it can be induced to stoop under it; and finds as much contentment, when it hath stooped. The worldling thinks religion servility: but the Christian knows whose slave he was, till he entered into this service; and that no bondage can be so evil, as freedom from these bonds.

XLIX. It is a wonder, how full of shifts nature is; ready to turn over all good purposes. If we think of death, she suggests secretly; «Tush, it shall not come yet:" if of judgment for sin; “This concerns not thee; it shall not come at all:" if of heaven, and our labour to reach it; “ Trouble not thyself; it will come soon enough alone." Address thyself to pray; It is yet unseasonable; stay for a better opportunity:” to give alms; “ Thou knowest not thine own future wants :" to reprove;

" What needest thou thrust thyself into wilful hatred ?” Every good action hath his let. He can never be good, that is not resolute.

L. All Arts are Maids to Divinity: therefore, they both vail to her, and do her service, and she, like a grave Mistress, controls them at pleasure. Natural Philosophy teacheth, that of nothing can be

[ocr errors]

nothing made; and, that from the privation to the habit is no return: Divinity takes her up for these; and, upon supernatural principles, teaches her a creation, a resurrection. Philosophy teaches us to follow sense, as an infallible guide: Divinity tells her, that faith is of things not seen. Logic teaches us first to discourse, then to resolve; Divinity, to assent without arguing. Civil Law teacheth, that long custom prescribeth ; Divinity, that old things are passed: Moral Philosophy, that tallying of injuries is justice; Divinity, that good must be returned for ill : Policy, that better is a mischief than an inconvenience; Divinity, that we may not do evil, that good may ensue. The School is well ordered, while Divinity keeps the Chair: but, if any other skill usurp it, and check their Mistress, there can follow nothing, but confusion and atheism.

LI. Much difference is to be made, betwixt a revolter and a man trained up in error: a Jew and an Arian both deny Christ's Deity; yet this opinion is not, in both, punished with bodily death. Yea, a revolt to a less error, is more punishable than education in a capital heresy: errors of judgment, though less regarded than errors of practice, yet are more pernicious: but none so deadly as theirs, that once were in the truth. If truth be not sued to, it is dangerous; but if forsaken, desperate.

LII. It is an ill argument of a good action not well done, when we are glad that it is done: to be affected with the comfort of the conscience of well performing it, is good: but, merely to rejoice that the act is over, is carnal. He never can begin cheerfully, that is glad he hath ended.

LIII. He, that doth not secret service to God with some delight, doth but counterfeit in public. The truth of any act or passion is then best tried, when it is without witness. Openly, many sinister respects may draw from us a form of religious duties; secretly, nothing but the power of a good conscience. It is to be feared, God hath more true and devout service in Closets, than in Churches,

LIV. Words and diseases grow upon us with years. In age, we talk much, because we have seen much, and soon after shall cease talking for ever: we are most diseased, because nature is weakest; and death, which is near, must have harbingers. Such is the old age of the world: no marvel, if this last time be full of writing and weak discourse, full of sects and heresies, which are the sicknesses of this great and decayed body.

LV. The best ground untilled, soonest runs out into rank weeds. Such are God's children: overgrown with security, ere they are aware;

« PreviousContinue »