« AnteriorContinuar »
WE all make complaint of the iniquity of our times, not unjustly, for the days are evil, but compare them with those times when there were no civil societies; with those times wherein there were not above eight righteous persons living upon the face of the earth, and we have surely good cause to think that God hath blessed us exceedingly, and hath made us behold most happy days.
A FRUGAL man will live comfortably and plentifully upon a little, and a profuse man will live beggarly, necessitously, and in continual want, whatever his supplies be.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
THE texture and frame of the world is such, that it is absolutely necessary, that if some be rich and powerful, or great or honourable, others must be poor, and subject, and ignoble. If all were equally powerful, there would be no power nor government, because all would be equal; if all were equally rich, it would be but only nominally; indeed, none would be rich, but all would be poor, there could be no artificers, no labourers, no servants. Since therefore it is necessary, in the order of the world, that some must be poor, or less rich or powerful than others, why should I be so unreasonable, or unjust, to desire that lot of poverty, or lowness of condition, should
be another's and not mine? or why should not I be contented to be of the lower sort of men, since the order of the world requires that such some must be?
Let any man observe it whiles he will, he shall find that whatsoever of worldly advantages any man doth most plentifully enjoy, and most men most greedily desire, of necessity he must thereby have more crosses and afflictions. A man desires many children, friends, relations; the more he hath of these, the more mortal dying comforts he hath; the more he hath that must be sick, and suffer affliction, and die: and every one of these afflic tions or losses in a man's relations, are so many renewed afflictions, and crosses, and troubles to himself. A man desires wealth, and hath it, the more cares he hath; and the more he hath, the more he hath to lose, and of necessity he must have more losses the more he hath; as he that hath a thousand sheep, must in probability lose more in a year, than he that hath but forty. And, besides, wealth is the common mark that every man shoots at, and every man will be pulling somewhat from him that hath much, because every man thinks he hath enough for others as well as himself. A man desires honour, power, grandeur, and he hath it, but every man envies him, and is ready to unhorse him; and a small neglect, reproach, or misfortune, sits closer to such a man than to a meaner man; and the more of honour or power he hath, the more of such
breaches he shall be sure to meet with. A man desires long life, and accordingly enjoys it: but in the tract of long life, a man is sure to meet with more sickness, more crosses, more loss of friends and relations, and overlives the greater part of his external comforts, and in old age, becomes his own burthen.
If a man desires much wealth or power, and enjoys it, yet it is certain, so much the more thereof he hath, so much the less others have; for he hath that which might otherwise be divided among many. Why therefore should a man desire it, or discontent himself if he have it not, since what he thus enjoys, is with another's detriment and loss, who would have a share in it if he had it not alone? And why should I covet that, or be discontented if I have it not, since, if I have it, I shall procure the like discontent in others?
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
IF we do but seriously believe the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the life to come, the best external things of this world will seem but of small moment to take up the choicest of our desires or hopes, and the worst things this world can inflict, will appear too light to provoke us to He that hath but impatience or discontent. heaven and everlasting glory in prospect, and a firm expectation, will have a mind full of contentation in the midst of the lowest and darkest condition here on earth. Impatience and discon
tent never can stay long with us, if we awake our minds, and summon up our faith, and hope in that life and happiness to come. Sudden passions of impatience and discontent, may, like clouds, arise and trouble us for a while, but this faith and this hope, rooted in the heart, if stirred up, will, like the sun, scatter and dispel them, and cause the light of patience, contentation, and comfort, to shine through them.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
I HAVE before said, that our home, our country, is heaven and everlasting happiness, where there are no sorrows, nor fears, nor troubles; that this world is the place of our travel and pilgrimage, and, at the best, our inn. Now when I am in my journey, I meet with several inconveniences; it may be the way is bad and foul, the weather tempestuous and stormy; it may be I meet with some rough companions, that either turn me out of my way, or all dash and dirt me in it; yet I content myself, for all will be mended when I come home: but if I chance to lodge at my inn, where, it may be, I meet with bad entertainment; the inn is full of guests, and I am thrust into an inconvenient lodging, or ill diet, yet I content myself, and consider it is no other than what I have reason to expect, it is but according to the common condi tion of things in that place; neither am I soli. citous to furnish my lodgings with better accommodations, for I must not expect to make long
stay there, it is but my inn, my place of repose for a night, and not my home; and therefore I content myself with it as I find it; all will be amended when I come home. In the same manner it is with this world; perchance I meet with an ill and uncomfortable passage through it; I have a sickly body, a narrow estate, meet with affronts and disgraces, lose my friends, companions, and relations; my best entertainment is but troublesome and uneasy, but yet I do content myself, I consider it is but my pilgrimage, my passage, my inn; it is not my country, nor the place of my rest; this kind of usage or condition, is but according to the law and custom of the place, it will be amended when I come home, for in my Father's house there are mansions, many mansions instead of my inn, and my Saviour himself hath not disdained to be my harbinger; he is gone thither before me, and gone to prepare a place for me; I will therefore quiet and content myself with the inconveniences of my short journey, for my accommodations will be admirable when I come to my home, that heavenly Jerusalem, which is the place of my rest and happiness.
SIR MATTHEW HALZ.