« AnteriorContinuar »
hear him sometimes in more public duties and discourses, 0, thinks he, what an excellent man is this ! what a choice and rare spirit is be of! but follow him home, observe him in his private conversation and retirements, and then you will judge Plutarch's note as applicable to him as the nightingale. (2.). This bird is observed to charm most sweetly, and set her fpirits all on work, when she perceives she hath engaged attention; fo doth the hypocrite, who lives and feeds upon the applause and commendation of his admirers, and cares little for any of those duties wich bring in no returns of praise from men: he is little pleased with a silent melody and private pleasure betwixt God and his own soul. Scire tuum nihil eft nifi te fcire hoc fciat alter.
Alas! his knowledge is not worth a pin,
If he proclaim not what he hath within. He is more for the theatre than the clofet; and of such Chrift faith, “ Verily they have their reward.” (3.) Naturalists observe the nightingale to be an ambitious bird, that cannot endure to be outvied by any: she will rather chuse to die than be excelled ; a notable instance whereof we have in the following pleasant poem, translated out of Starda, concerning the nigh. tingale and a lutanist.
Now the declining sun did downward bend
And wildly raging o'er a thousand keys,
warning of her after-lays :
a prouder strains, and backward as he goes
Doubly divides, and closing up his lays
And even as far are hypocrites driven on by their ambition and pride, which is the spur that provokes them in their relis gious duties.
MEDIT. II. Upon the fight of many small birds chirping about a dead
hawk. H Earing a whole choir of birds chirping and twinkling to
gether, it engaged my curiofity a little to enquire into the occasion of that convocation, which mine eye quickly informed me of; for I perceived a dead hawk in the bush, about which they made such a noise, seeming to triumph at the death
enemy; and I could not blame them to sing his knell, who, like a Canibal, was wont to feed upon their living bodies, tearing them limb from limb, and scaring them with his fright
appearance. This bird, which living was fo. formidable, being dead, the poorest wren or ţitmouse fears not to chirp or
This brings to my thoughts the base and ignoble ends of the greatest tyrants and greedy ingroffers of the world, of whom (whilft living) men were more afraid, than birds of hawk, but dead, became objects of contempt and scorn. The death of such tyrants is both inglorious and unlamented; "When the wicked perish, there is shouting,” Prov. xi. 104 Which was exemplified to the life, at the death of Nero, of whom the poet thus sings;
Eum mors crudelem rapuiffet fæva Neronem,
When cruel Nero dy'd, th' historian tells,
Remarkable for contempt and shame have the ends of many bloody tyrants been. So Pompey the great, of whom Claudian the poet sings,
Nudus pascit aves, jacet en qui poffidet orbem
The like is storied of Alexander the Great, who lay unburied thirty days; and William the Conqueror, with many other such birds of prey: whilft a beneficial and holy life is usually closed up in an honourable and much lamented' death.
For mine own part, I wish I may fo order my converfation in the world, that I may live, when Í am dead, in the affections of the best, and leave an honourable testimony in the conscien. ces of the worst; that I may oppress none, do good to all, and say, when I die, as good Ambrose did, I am neither alhamed to live, nor afraid to die.
MED I T. III. Upon the sight of a blackbird taking sanctuary in a bus from a
pursuing hawk. HEN I saw how hardly the poor bird was put to it to
save herself from her enemy, who hovered just over the bush in which she was fluttering and squeaking, I could not but hasten to relieve her, (pity and fuccour being a due debt to the distrefled ;) which, when I had done, the bird would not depart from the buth, though her enemy were gone ; this act of kindness was abundantiy repaid by this meditation, with which I returned to my walk; my soul, like this bird, was once distressed, pursued, yea, seized by Satan, who had certainly made a prey of it, had not Jesus Christ been a fanctuary to it in that hour of danger. How ready did I find him to receive my poor foul into his protection? Then did he make good that sweet promise to my experience, those that come unto me, I will in no wise cast out, It called to mind that pretty and pertinent story of the philosopher, who walking in the fields, a bird, pursued by a hawk, flew into his bofom; he took her out, and said, Poor bird, I will neither wrong
thee, nor expose thee to thine enemy, fince thou cameft to
te for refuge. So tender, and more than fo, is the Lord Jesus to distressed souls that come unto him. Blessed Jesus ! how should I love and praise thee, glorify and admire thee, for that
great falvation thou hast wrought for me? If this bird had fallen into the claws of her enemy, the had been torn to pieces, indeed, and devoured, but then a few minutes had dispatched
and ended all her pain and misery : but had my soul fal. len into the hand of Satan, there had been no end of its mise
Would not this scared bird be fufhed out of the bush that secured her, though I had chased away her enemy? And wilt thou, O my soul, ever be enticed or scared from Christ thy refuge? O let this for ever engage thee to keep close to Chrift, and make me fay, with Ezra, “ And now, O Lord, since thou « haft given me such a deliverance as this, should I again break “thy commandments !"
M E D IT. IV.
Upon the fight of divers goldfinches intermingling with a flock
of Sparrows. Ethinks these birds do fitly resemble the gaudy courtiers,
and the plain peasants ; how spruce and richly adorned with shining and various coloured feathers (like scarlet, richly laid with gold and silver lace) are those ? How plainly clad, in a home spun country rufset are these? Fine feathers (faith our proverb) make proud birds ; and yet the feathers of the sparrow are as useful and beneficial, both for warmth and flight, though not fo gay and ornamental, as the others ; and if both were stript out of their feathers, the sparrow would prove the better bird of the two: by which I fee, that the greatest worth doth not always lie under the finest cloaths : And besides, God can make mean and homely garments as useful and beneficial to poor and despised Christians, as the ruffling and shining gar ments of wanton gallants are to them: and when God shall strip men out of all external excellencies, these will be found to excel their glittering neighbours in true worth and excellency.
Lktle would a man think such rich treasures of grace, wildom, humility, doc. lay under fome ruflet coats.
Saepe fub attrita latitat fapientia vesle.
be Than under Wilks that whistle, who but he.