Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

custom doth entitle them to, or which upon the common score of humanity they may be reasonably deemed to expect from us; respective gestures, civil salutations, free access, affable demeanour, cheerful looks, and courteous discourse. These, as they betoken good-will in them that use them, so they beget, cherish, and increase it in those whom they refer to: and the necessary fruit of mutual good-will is peace.

But the contrary carriages, contemptuous or disregardful behaviour, difficulty of admission to converse, a tetrical or sullen aspect, rough and fastidious language, as they discover a mind averse from friendly commerce, so they beget a more potent disdain in others : men generally (especially those of generous and hearty temper) valuing their due respect beyond all other interests, and more contentedly brooking injury than neglect.

He that would effectually observe the apostolic rule, must be disposed to overlook such lesser faults committed against him, as make no great breach upon his interest or credit, yea, to forget or forgive the greatest and most grievous injuries : to excuse the mistakes, and connive at the neglects, and bear patiently the hasty passions of his neighbour, and to embrace readily any seasonable overture, and accept any tolerable conditions of reconcilement. For even in common life that observation of our Saviour most exactly holds, It is impossible that offences should not come ; the air may sooner become wholly fixed, and the sea continue in a perfect rest, without waves or undulations, than human conversation be altogether free from occasions of distaste, which he that cannot either prudently dissemble, or patiently digest, must renounce all hopes of living peaceably here. He that like tinder is inflammable by the least spark, and is enraged by every angry word, and resents deeply every petty affront, and cannot endure the memory of a past unkindness should upon any terms be defaced, resolves surely to live in eternal tumult and combustion, to multiply daily upon himself fresh quarrels, and to perpetuate all enmity already begun. Whereas by total passing by those little causes of disgust the present contention is altogether avoided, or instantly appeased, our neighbour's passion suddenly evaporates and consumes itself; no remarkable footsteps of dissension remain; our neighbour, reflecting upon what is past, sees himself obliged by our discreet forbearance.

If we desire to live peaceably, we must restrain our pragmatical curiosity within the bounds of our proper business and concernment, not (being curiosi in aliena republica) invading other men's provinces, and without leave or commission intermeddling with their affairs; not rushing into their closets, prying into their concealed designs, or dictating counsel to them withcut due invitation thereto.

If we would live peaceably with all men, it behoves us not to engage ourselves so deeply in any singular friendship, or in devotion to any one party of men, as to be entirely partial to their interests, and prejudiced in their behalf, without distinct consideration of the truth and equity of their pretences in the particular matters of difference; not to approve, favour, or applaud that which is bad in some; to dislike, discountenance, or disparage that which is good in others : not, out of excessive kindness to some, to give just cause of distaste to others : not, for the sake of a fortuitous agreement in disposition, opinion, interest, or relation, to violate the duties of justice or humanity. For he that upon such terms is a friend to any one man, or party of men, as to be resolved, with an implicit faith or blind obedience, to maintain whatever he or they shall do to be good, doth in a manner undertake enmity against all men beside, and as it may happen, doth oblige himself to contradict plain truth, to deviate from the rules of virtue, and to offend Almighty God himself. This unlimited partiality we owe only to truth and goodness, and to God (the fountain of them), in no case to swerve from their dictates and prescriptions. He that followed Tiberius Gracchus in his seditious practices, upon the bare account of friendship, and alleged in his excuse, that, if his friend had required it of him, he should as readily have put fire to the Capitol, was much more abominable for his disloyalty to his country, and horrible impiety against God, than commendable for his constant fidelity to his friend.

-1000x

XVIII.
JOHN TILLOTSON.

1630—1694.

JOHN TILLOTSON was the son of a clothier at Sowerby in Yorkshire. He was born in October, 1630, and educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge. At the Restoration he became Chaplain to Charles II, and in 1672 Dean of Canterbury. After the Revolution of 1688 he was admitted to a high degree of confidence in the counsels of William III.

The circumstances of his education, and his marriage with a niece of Cromwell's, had connected him first with the Presbyterians, and then with the Latitudinarian party, and when he succeeded Sancroft as Archbishop of Canterbury, he became the object of the attacks of the nonjurors. But the discretion of his conduct, and his exemplary life, gained him general esteem and confidence. His indifference to money was such that, on his death in 1694, his debts could not have been paid by his widow, had not the King forgiven his first-fruits.

His reputation as a preacher was very high among his contemporaries. He left three folio volumes of sermons, but his general style, though highly commended both by Dryden and Addison, seems to us in the present day frigid, and familiar, in comparison with the luxuriant style of the preachers of the preceding generation, or even with South and Barrow. He was, if not the first, the best example of the perspicuous and popular preaching which came in after the Restoration, in contradistinction to the style of learned allusion which stamps the Caroline divines.

1.

The Uncertainty of Earthly Happiness.

But, setting aside these, and the like melancholy considerations, when we are in the health and vigour of our age, when our blood is warm, and our spirits quick, and the humours of our body not yet turned and soured by great disappointments, and grievous losses of our estates, or nearest friends and relations, by a long course of afflictions, by many cross events and calamitous accidents; yet we are continually liable to all these, and the perpetual fear and danger of them is no small trouble and uneasiness to our minds, and does, in a great measure, robus of the comfort, and eat out the pleasure and sweetness of all our enjoyments; and, by degrees, the evils we fear overtake us; and as one affliction and trouble goes off, another succeeds in the place of it, like Job's messengers, whose bad tidings and reports of calamitous accidents came so thick upon him, that they overtook one another.

If we have a plentiful fortune, we are apt to abuse it to intemperance and luxury, and this naturally breeds bodily pains and diseases, which take away all the comfort and enjoyment of a great estate. If we have health, it may be we are afflicted with losses or deprived of friends, or crossed in our interests and designs, and one thing or other happens to impede or interrupt the contentment and happiness of our lives. Sometimes an unexpected storm, or some other sudden calamity, sweepeth away, in an instant, all that which with so much industry and care we have been gathering many years. Or if an estate stand firm, our children are taken away, to whose comfort and advantage all the pains and endeavours of our lives were devoted. Or if none of these happen (as it is very rare to escape

« AnteriorContinuar »