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Divine counsel, and could have seen the event of Joseph's being sold to the merchants of Amalek, he might, with much reason, have dried up the young man's tears: and when God's purposes are opened in the events of things, as it was in the case of Joseph, when he sustained his father's family and became lord of Egypt, then we see, what ill judgment we made of things, and that we were passionate as children, and transported with sense and mistaken interest. The case of Themistocles was almost like that of Joseph; for being banished into Egypt, he also grew in favour with the king, and told his wife, “ he had been undone, unless he had been undone.” For God esteems it one of his glories, that he brings good out of evil; and therefore it were but reason, we should trust God to govern his own world as he pleases ; and that we should patiently wait till the change cometh, or the reason be discovered.
And this consideration is also of great use to them, who envy at the prosperity of the wicked, and the success of persecutors, and the baits of fishes, and the bread of dogs. God fails not to sow blessings in the long furrows, which the ploughers plough upon the back of the church: and this success, which troubles us, will be a great glory to God, and a great benefit to his saints and servants, and a great ruin to the persecutors, who shall have but the fortune of Theramenes, one of the thirty tyrants of Athens, who escaped, when his house fell upon him, and was shortly after put to death with torments by his colleagues in the tyranny.
To which also may be added, that the great evils, which happen to the best and wisest men, are one of the great arguments upon the strength of which we can expect felicity to our souls and the joys of another world. And certainly they are then very tolerable and eligible, when, with so great advantages, they minister to the faith and hope of a Christian. But if we consider what unspeakable tortures are provided for the wicked to all eternity, we should not be troubled to see them prosperous here, but rather wonder, that their portion in this life is not bigger, and that ever they should be sick, or crossed, or affronted, or troubled with the contradiction and disease of their own vices, since, if they were fortunate beyond their own ambition, it could not make them
recompense for one hour's torment in hell, which yet they shall have for their eternal portion.
After all these considerations deriving from sense and experience, grace and reason, there are two remedies still remaining, and they are necessity and time.
6. For it is but reasonable to bear that accident patiently which God sends, since impatience does but entangle us, like the fluttering of a bird in a net, but cannot at all ease our trouble, or prevent the accidente : it must be run through, and therefore it were better we compose ourselves to a patient, than to a troubled and miserable suffering.
7. But however, if you will not otherwise be cured, time at last will do it alone; and then consider, do you mean to mourn always, or but for a time? If always, you are miserable and foolish. If for a time, then why will you not apply those reasons to your grief at first, with which you will cure it at last? or if you will not cure it with reason, see how little of a man there is in you, that you suffer time to do more with you than reason or religion! You suffer yourself to be cured, just as a beast or a tree is ; let it alone, and the thing will heal itself; but this is neither honourable to thy person, nor of reputation to thy religion. However, be content to bear thy calamity, because thou art sure, in a little time, it will sit down gentle and easy : for to a mortal man no evil is immortal. And here let the worst thing happen that can, it will end in death, and we commonly think that to be near enough.
8. Lastly, of those things which are reckoned amongst evils, some are better than their contraries; and to a good man, the very worst is tolerable.
Poverty or a low fortune. 1. Poverty is better than riches, and a mean fortune to be chosen before a great and splendid one. It is indeed despised, and makes men contemptible: it exposes a man to the insolence of evil persons, and leaves a man defenceless : it is always suspected : its stories are accounted lies, and all its counsels follies : it puts a man from all employment: it makes a man's discourses tedious, and his society trouble
• Nemo recusat ferre, quod necesse est pati.
some. This is the worst of it: and yet all this, and far worse than this, the apostles suffered for being Christians : and Christianity itself may be esteemed an affliction as well as poverty, if this be all that can be said against it; for the apostles and the most eminent Christians were really poor, and were used contemptuously : and yet, that poverty is despised may be an argument to commend it, if it be despised by none but persons vicious and ignorant*. However, certain it is, that a great fortune is a great vanity, and riches is nothing but danger, trouble, and temptation ; like a garment that is too long, and bears a train; not so useful to one, but it is troublesome to two, to him that bears the one part upon his shoulders, and to him that bears the other part in his hand. But poverty is the sister of a good mind, the parent of sober counsels, and the nurse of all virtue.
For what is it that you admire in the fortune of a great king? Is it, that he always goes in a great company? You may thrust yourself into the same crowd, or go often to church, and then you have as great a company as he hath ; and that may, upon as good grounds, please you as him, that is, justly neither : for so impertinent and useless pomp, and the other circumstances of his distance, are not made for him, but for his subjects, that they may learn to separate him from common usages, and be taught to be governed 6. But if you look upon them as fine things in themselves, you may quickly alter your opinion, when you shall consider, that they cannot cure the toothache, nor make one wise, or fill the belly, or give one night's sleep (though they help to break many), not satisfying any appetite of nature, or reason, or religion : but they are states of greatness, which only make it possible for a man to be made extremely miserable. And it was long ago observed by the Greek tragedians, and from them by Arrianus ", saying, “ That all our tragedies are of kings and princes, and rich or ambitious personages; but you never
see a poor man have a part, unless it be as a chorus, or to fill up the scenes, to dance or to be derided; but the kings and the great generals. First (says he), they begin with joy, OTéluTe dómara, crown the houses : but about the third or fourth act they cry out, O Citheron! why didst thou spare my life to reserve me for this more sad calamity ?” And this is really true in the great accidents of the world : for a great estate hath great crosses, and a mean fortune hath but small ones. It may be, the poor man loses a cow; for if his child dies, he is quit of his biggest care; but such an accident in a rich and splendid family doubles upon the spirits of the parents. Or, it may be, the poor man is troubled to pay his rent, and that is his biggest trouble: but it is a bigger care to secure a great fortune in a troubled estate, or with equal greatness, or with the circumstances of honour, and the niceness of reputation to defend a law-suit; and that, which will secure a common man's whole estate, is not enough to defend a great man's honour.
And therefore it was not without mystery observed among the ancients, that they, who made gods of gold and silver, of hope and fear, peace and fortune, garlic and onions, beasts and serpents, and a quartan ague, yet never deified money i : meaning, that however wealth was admired by common or abused understandings; yet from riches, that is, from that proportion of good things which is beyond the necessities of nature, no moment could be added to a man's real content or happiness. Corn from Sardinia, herds of Calabrian cattle, meadows through which pleasant Liris glides, silks from Tyrus, and golden chalices to drown my health in, are nothing but instruments of vanity or sin, and suppose a disease in the soul of him, that longs for them, or admires them. And this I have otherwhere represented more largely; to which I here add, that riches have very great dangers to their souls, not only who covet them, but to all that have them k. For if a great personage undertakes an action passionately and upon great interest, let him manage it indiscreetly, let the whole design be unjust, let it be acted with
i- funesta Peounia, templo
Juv. i. 113. * Chap. iv. Sect. 8. Title, of Covetousness.
all the malice and impotency in the world, he shall have enough to flatter him, but not enough to reprove him. He had need be a bold man, that shall tell his patron, he is going to hell; and that prince had need be a good man, that shall suffer such a monitor; and though it be a strange kind of civility, and an evil dutifulness in friends and relatives to suffer him to perish without reproof or medicine, rather than to seem unmannerly to a great sinner; yet it is none of their least infelicities, that their wealth and greatness shall put them into sin, and yet put them past reproof. I need not instance in the habitual inteni perance of rich tables, nor the evil accidents and effects of fulness, pride and lust, wantonness and softness of disposition, huge talking and an imperious spirit, despite of religion, and contempt of poor persons; at the best, “ it is a great temptation for a man to have in his power whatsoever he can have in his sensual desires ?." and therefore riches is a blessing, like to a present made of a whole vintage to a man in a hectic fever; he will be much tempted to drink of it; and if he does, he is inflamed, and may chance to die with the kindness.
Now besides what hath been already noted in the state of poverty, there is nothing to be accounted for but the fear of wanting necessaries; of which if a man could be secured, that he might live free from care, all the other parts of it might be reckoned amongst the advantages of wise and sober persons, rather than objections against that state of fortune.
But concerning this I consider, that there must needs be great security to all Christians, since Christ not only made express promises, that we should have sufficient for this life, but also took great pains and used many arguments to create confidence in us : and such they were, which by their own strength were sufficient, though you abate the authority of the speaker. The Son of God told us, his Father takes care of us : he that knew all his father's counsels and his whole kindness towards mankind, told us so. How great is that truth, how certain, how necessary, which Christ himself proved by arguments! The excellent words and most comfortable sentences, which are our bills of exchange, upon the credit of which we lay our cares down, and receive provisions