« AnteriorContinuar »
SERM. thyself, than to swell with disdain in regard to his XXXIX. injury.
Thou shouldst improve this dealing, and make it wholesome to thee, by taking occasion thence to correct thy real faults, and endeavouring to become truly more worthy; that so thy conscience may be a firm bulwark against all detraction and obloquy : in fine, satisfy thyself by committing thy soul with patience in well-doing unto thy Judge, who assuredly will do thee right, will protect thy reputaTheodor. tion, and clear thy innocence: his judgment is only Ep. 83. worth regarding, be little concerned with any other.
Again, being disappointed and crossed in the success of their projects, or undertakings, is wont to put men, as they conceive, into a woful case: but why so? why, let me ask thee, who art discontented upon this score, didst thou build much expectation upon uncertainties? didst thou not foresee a possibility that thy design might miscarry? and if so, why art thou not prepared to receive what happeneth? was it not an adventure? why then art thou troubled with thy chance? Is he not a silly gamester, that will fret and fume at a bad cast, or at the loss of a game? Didst thou refer the business to God's disposal and arbitrement? if not, thou deservedst to be crossed, and rather confess thy fault, than complain of thy fortune: if thou didst so, then be consistent with thyself, and acquiesce in his determination in fine, what is thy loss, is it of thy care and pain? would it have been much better, that thou hadst been careless or idle? but hast thou not in lieu of them got some wisdom and experience? hast thou not (if thy attempt was reasonable and worthy) exercised thy wit, thy courage,
thy industry? hast thou not (by thy defeat) got an SERM. opportunity to express equanimity and patience? if XXXIX. thou so improvest thy disappointment, thou art a gainer by thy loss, thou dost more than conquer by thy defeat: however, since the gain, the credit, the preferment thou didst aim at, and hast missed, are things in themselves of no great value, and such as thou mayest well live without, as other good men have done, thou canst not have much reason to be displeased upon this account, or to reckon thy condition very disastrous.
But friends, will some men say, have been unkind, have been ungrateful, have been fickle and false, have neglected, have deserted, have betrayed me; It was not an enemy that reproached me, then Psal. lv. 12. I could have borne it, &c. this is indeed commonly most grievous; yet being scanned will not render a man's condition so lamentable: for such misbeha-Jam sibi viour of friends is more their calamity than ours: dit qui pecpœnas dethe loss of bad friends is no damage, but an ad- de Gr. ii. vantage; it is but the loss of a mischief, and a trou-30. ble: the fewer we come to have of such, the more time we save, the less trouble we meet with, the greater security we enjoy. The kindness we have shewed, the obligations we have put on such, are not quite lost, they will bring the reward due to humanity and fidelity; it will yield satisfaction to us, that, however, we have been kind and faithful to them. The fidelity of remaining true friends may satisfy us however if all other friendships should fail, there is one remains, worth millions of other friends, who can never prove unfaithful or inconstant, who never will be unmindful of us, or deficient in kindness toward us.
The death of friends doth, it may be, oppress thee with sorrow.
But canst thou lose thy best friend? canst thou lose the presence, the conversation, the protection, the advice, the succour of God? is he not immortal? is he not immutable? is he not inseparable from thee? canst thou be destitute of friends, whilst he stands by thee? Is it not an affront, an heinous indignity to him, to behave thyself, as if thy happiness, thy welfare, thy comfort had dépendance on any Vid. Greg. other but him? is it not a great fault to be unwillNaz. Ep. ing to part with any thing, when he calleth for it?
Neither is it a loss of thy friend, but a separation for a small time: he is only parted from thee as taking a little journey, or going for a small time to reposed: within a while we shall be sure to meet again, and joyfully to congratulate, if we are fit, in a better place, and more happy state; præmisimus, non amisimus; we have sent him thither before, not quite lost him from us.
Thy friend, if he be a good man, (and in such friendships only we can have true satisfaction,) is himself in no bad condition, and doth not want thee; thou canst not therefore reasonably grieve for him; and to grieve only for thyself is perverse selfishness and fondness f.
d Οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν ὁ πάντα ἄριστος ἐκεῖνος ἀνὴρ, κατὰ τὴν τοῦ Κυρίου φωνὴν, ἀλλὰ καθεύδει ὕπνον τοῦ συνήθους μακρότερον. Theod. Ep. 68. ̓Αποδημίαν τοίνυν παρακαλῶ μακρὰν τὴν τελευτὴν, &c. Theod. Ep. 14. e Cur doles si periisse non credis? cur impatienter feras subductum interim quem credis reversurum? profectio est quam putas mortem. Tert. de Pat. 9. Sen. Ep. 63.
f Impatientia in ejusmodi et spei nostræ male ominatur, et fidem prævaricatur, &c. Tert. ibid.
Ποῦ τὸ τῆς ἀγάπης ἀγαθὸν, ἑαυτῷ τὰ ῥᾴω διδόντα τῷ πλησίον ἀπονέμεια τὰ προσαντέστερα; Naz. Or. 19.
But thou hast lost a great comfort of thy life, and SERM. advantage to thy affairs here; is it truly so? is it indeed an irreparable loss, even secluding the consideration of God, whose friendship repaireth all possible loss? What is it, I pray, that was pleasant, convenient, or useful to thee in thy friend, which may not in good measure be supplied here? was it a sense of hearty good-will, was it a sweet freedom of conversation, was it sound advice or kind assistance in thy affairs? and mayest thou not find those left, which are alike able and willing to minister those benefits? may not the same means, which knit Vid. Sen. Ep. 63. him to thee, conciliate others also to be thy friends? He did not alone surely possess all the good-nature, all the fidelity, all the wisdom in the world, nor hath carried them all away with him: other friends therefore thou mayest find to supply his room: all good men will be ready, if thou art good, to be thy friends; they will heartily love thee; they will be ready to cheer thee with their sweet and wholesome society, to yield thee their best counsel and help upon any occasion: is it not therefore a fond and unaccountable affection to a kind of personality, rather than want of a real convenience, that disturbeth thee?
In fine, the same reasons, which in any other loss may comfort us, should do it also in this: neither a friend nor any other good thing we can enjoy under any security of not soon losing it; our welfare is not annexed to one man no more than to any other inferior thing: this is the condition of all good things here to be transient and separable from us; and accordingly we should be affected toward them, Fragile fractum est, mortale mortuum est,
SERM. But further, it perhaps displeaseth us, that the XXXIX. course of the world doth not go right, or according to our mind; that justice is not well dispensed, that virtue is under hatches, that worth is not considered, that industry is not rewarded, that innocence and modesty are trampled upon; that favour, partiality, corruption, flattery, craft, impudence do carry all before them; devouring all the encouragements due to honest industry: this may be observed, but why should it displease? art thou guilty of contributing to this? then mend; if not, then bear; especially seeing thou canst not help it; for so it hath always been and ever will be in the world, that things never have gone there as the wisest judge, or the best men desire there have never been good men enough to sway the world; nor will the few good men that are, be so active in promoting public good, as bad are in driving on their private designs. Doth not this course of things necessarily spring from the nature of men, which therefore we should no more be vexed at, than for that a serpent hath poison, or that a wasp hath a sting? we cannot wonder at it, why then should we be strangely affected by it? could any man ever have been pleased, if this were a sufficient cause of displeasure? However the world goes, we may yet make a tolerable shift; God is engaged competently to provide for us; that should satisfy us. God observeth these things no less than we, and he can easily hinder them, yet he thinketh good to suffer them; and shall not we do so likewise? There is in fine appointed a judgment hereafter, when all these things shall be redressed and set straight; when justice and virtue shall triumph, when integrity and industry shall find their due recompense: it is