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does the body live, as does the spirit? or can the body of Christ be like to common food? indeed the sun shines upon the good and bad; and the vines give wine to the drunkard, as well as to the sober man; pirates have fair winds, and a calm sea, at the same time when the just and peaceful merchant-man hath them. But although the things of this world are common to good and bad, yet sacraments and spiritual joys, the food of the soul, and the blessing of Christ, are the peculiar right of saints.
I HAVE seen a harmless dove made dark with an artificial night, and her eyes sealed and locked up with a little quill, soaring upward and flying with amazement, fear, and an undiscerning wing; she made towards heaven, but knew not that she was made a train and an instrument, to teach her enemy to prevail upon her and all her defenceless kindred. So is a superstitious man, jealous and blind, forward and mistaken; he runs towards heaven as he thinks, but he chooses foolish paths, and out of fear takes any thing that he is told; or fancies and guesses concerning God, by measures taken from his own diseases and imperfections.*
* Sermon on Godly Fear: Serm. ix. part 3.
ALL is well as long as the sun shines, and the fair breath of heaven gently wafts us to our own purposes. But if you will try the excellency, and feel the work of faith, place the man in a persecution; let him ride in a storm, let his bones be broken with sorrow, and his eyelids loosed with sickness, let his bread be dipped with tears, and all the daughters of music be brought low; let us come to sit upon the margent of our grave, and let a tyrant lean hard upon our fortunes, and dwell upon our wrong; let the storm arise, and the keels toss till the cordage crack, or that all our hopes bulge under us, and descend into the hollowness of sad misfortunes.
In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men. The sea being smooth,
Upon her patient breast, making their way
With those of nobler bulk!
But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
The gentle Thetis, and anon, behold
The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cuts,
Like Perseus' horse; where's then the saucy boat,
Co-rival'd greatness? TROILUS AND CRESSIDA. See Bacon's beautiful Essay on Adversity, where he says—"But to speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, Adversity is the blessing of the new, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols."
ON THE MISERIES OF MAN'S LIFE.
How few men in the world are prosperous ! What an infinite number of slaves and beggars, of persecuted and oppressed people, fill all corners of the earth with groans, and heaven itself with weeping, prayers, and sad remembrances! How many provinces and kingdoms are afflicted by a violent war, or made desolate by popular diseases ! Some whole countries are remarked with fatal evils, or periodical sicknesses. Grand Cairo in Egypt feels the plague every three years returning like a quartan ague, and destroying many thousand of persons. All the inhabitants of Arabia the desart are in continual fear of being buried in huge heaps of sand, and therefore dwell in tents and ambulatory houses, or retire to unfruitful mountains, to prolong an uneasy and wilder life. And all the countries round about the Adriatic sea feel such violent convulsions, by tempests and intolerable earthquakes, that sometimes whole cities find a tomb, and every man sinks with his own house, made ready to become his monument, and his bed is crushed into the disorders of a grave.
It were too sad if I should tell how many persons are afflicted with evil spirits, with spectres and illusions of the night.
He that is 'no fool, but can consider wisely, if he be in love with this world, we need not despair but that a witty man might reconcile him with tor
tures, and make him think charitably of the rack, and be brought to dwell with vipers and dragons, and entertain his guests with the shrieks of mandrakes, cats, and screech-owls, with the filing of iron and the harshness of rending of silk, or to admire the harmony that is made by a herd of evening wolves, when they miss their draught of blood in their midnight revels. The groans of a man in a fit of the stone are worse than all these; and the distractions of a troubled conscience are worse than those groans; and yet a merry careless sinner is worse than all that. But if we could, from one of the battlements of heaven, espy how many men and women at this time lie fainting and dying for want of bread; how many young men are hewn down by the sword of war; how many poor orphans are now weeping over the graves of their father, by whose life they were enabled to eat; if we could but hear how mariners and passengers are at this present in a storm, and shriek out because their keel dashes against a rock or bulges under them; how many people there are that weep with want, and are mad with oppression, or are desperate by too quick a sense of a constant infelicity; in all reason we should be glad to be out of the noise and participation of so many evils. This is a place of sorrows and tears, of so great evils and a constant calamity: let us remove from hence, at least, in affections and preparation of mind.*
Holy Dying, ch. 1.
From the place of my birth I shall only desire to remem
ON IDLE CURIOSITY.
COMMONLY Curious persons, or (as the apostle's phrase is is) busy-bodies, are not solicitous or
ber the goodness of the Lord who hath caused my lot to fall in a good ground; who hath fed me in a pleasant pasture, where the well springs of life flow to all that desire to drink them. And this is no small favour if I consider how many poor people perish among the heathen, where they never hear the name of Christ; how many poor christians spring up in countries enslaved by Turkish and Anti-christian tyrants, whose souls and bodies languish under miserable slavery. None knows what mercy 'tis to live under a good and wholesome law, that have not considered the sad condition of being subject to the will of an unlimited man.
Nor is the place only but the time of my coming into the world a considerable mercy to me. It was not in the midnight of popery, nor in the dawn of the gospel restored day, when light and shades were blended and almost undistinguished, but when the sun of truth was exalted in his progress and hastening towards a meridian glory.
The next blessing I have to consider in my nativity is my parents, both of them pious and virtuous in their own conversation, and careful instructors of my youth, not only by precept, but example, &c.-Hutchinson's Memoirs.
Such are Mrs. Hutchinson's effusions of gratitude. The same sentiment is expressed by Gibbon, who says, “My lot might have been that of a slave, a savage, or a peasant; nor can I reflect without pleasure on the bounty of nature, which cast my birth in a free and civilized country, in an age of science and philosophy, in a family of honourable rank, and decently endowed with the gifts of fortune."
Coleridge in the introduction to his Lay Sermons, page x. says, Few are sufficiently aware how much reason most of us have, even as common moral livers, to thank God for being