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one hundred and twenty, and from thence to threescore and ten; so often halving it, till it is almost come to nothing. But by the sins of men in the several generations of the world, death, that is, misery and disease, is hastened so upon us, that we are of a contemptible age: and because we are to die by suffering evils, and by the daily lessening of our strength and health; this death is so long a doing, that it makes so great a part of our short life useless and unserviceable, that we have not time enough to get the perfection of a single manufacture, but ten or twelve generations of the world must go to the making up of one wise man, or one excellent art: and in the succession of those ages there happen so many changes and interruptions, so many wars and violences, that seven years' fighting sets a whole kingdom back in learning and virtue, to which they were creeping, it may be, a whole age.
And thus also we do evil to our posterity, as Adam did to his, and Cham did to his, and Eli to his, and all they to theirs, who by sins caused God to shorten the life and multiply the evils of mankind: and for this reason it is, the world grows worse and worse, because so many original sins are multiplied, and so many evils from parents descend upon the succeeding generations of men, that they derive nothing from us but original misery.
But he who restored the law of nature, did also restore us to the condition of nature; which, being violated by the introduction of death, Christ then repaired, when he sufFered and overcame death for us; that is, he hath taken away the unhappiness of sickness, and the sting of death, and the dishonours of the grave, of dissolution and weakness, of decay and change, and hath turned them into acts of favour, into instances of comfort, into opportunities of virtue; Christ hath now knit them into rosaries and coronets; he hath put them into promises and rewards; he hath made them part of the portion of his elect: they are instruments, and earnests, and securities, and passages, to the greatest perfection of human nature, and the Divine promises. So that it is possible for us now to be reconciled to sickness; it came in by sin, and therefore is cured, when it is turned into virtue; and although it may have in it the uneasiness of labour, yet it will not be uneasy as sin, or the restlessness of a discomposed
conscience. If, therefore, we can well manage our state of sickness, that we may not fall by pain, as we usually do by pleasure, we need not fear; for no evil shall happen to us.
Of the first Temptation proper to the state of Sickness,
Men, that are in health, are severe exactors of patience at the hands of them, that are sick; and they usually judge it not by terms of relation between God and the suffering man, but between him and the friends, that stand by the bedside. It will be therefore necessary, that we truly understand, to what duties and actions the patience of a sick man ought to extend.
1. Sighs and groans, sorrow and prayers, humble complaints and dolorousr expressions, are the sad accents of a sick man's language: for it is not to be expected, that a sick man should act a part of patience with a countenance like an orator, or grave like a dramatic person: it were well, if all men could bear an exterior decency in their sickness, and regulate their voice, their face, their discourse, and all their circumstances, by the measures and proportions of comeliness, and satisfaction to all the standers by. But this would better please them, than assist him; the sick man would do more good to others than he would receive to himself.
2. Therefore, silence and still composures, and not. complaining, are no parts of a sick man's duty; they are not necessary parts of patiences. We find, that David roared for the very disquietness of his sickness: and he lay chattering like a swallow, and his throat was dry with calling for help upon his God. That's the proper voice of sickness: and certain it is, that the proper voices of sickness are expressly vocal and petitory in the ears of God, and call for pity iri the same accent, as the cries and oppressions of widows and orphans do for vengeance upon their persecutors, though
'Ejulatu, questu, gemitu, fremitibus, resonando multum flebiles voces refert. — Cic. Tusc. ii. 13.
* Concedendum est gementi.
they say no collect against them. For there is the voice of man, and there is the voice of the disease, and God hears both; and the louder the disease speaks, there is the greater need of mercy and pity, and therefore God will the sooner hear it. Abel's blood had a voice, and cried to God; and humility hath a voice, and cries so loud to God, that it pierces the clouds; and so hath every sorrow and every sickness : and when a man cries out, and complains but according to the sorrows of his pain', it cannot be any part of a culpable impatience, but an argument for pity.
3. Some men's senses are so subtile, and their perceptions so quick and full of relish, and their spirits so active, that the same load is double upon them, to what it is to another person: and therefore comparing the expressions of the one to the silence of the other, a different judgment cannot be made concerning their patience. Some natures are querulous, and melancholy, and soft, and nice, and tender, and weeping, and expressive; others are sullen, dull, without apprehension, apt to tolerate and carry burdens: and the crucifixion of our blessed Saviour, falling upon a delicate and virgin body of curious temper, and strict, equal composition, was naturally more full of torment than that of the ruder thieves, whose proportions were coarser and uneven.
4. In this case, it was no imprudent advice, which Cicero gave u: nothing in the world is more amiable than an even temper in our whole life, and in every action: but this evenness cannot be kept, unless every man follows his own nature, without striving to imitate the circumstances of another. And what is so in the thing itself, ought to be so in our judgments concerning the things. We must not call any one impatient, if he be not silent in a fever, as if he were asleep; or as if he were dull, as Herod's son of Athens.
5. Nature, in some cases, hath made cryings out and exclamations to be an entertainment of the spirit, and an abatement or diversion of the pain. For so did the old champions, when they threw their fatal nets, that they might load their enemy with the snares and weights of death; they groaned aloud, and sent forth the anguish of their spirit into the eyes and heart of the man, that stood against them T: so it is in the endurance of some sharp pains, the complaints and'shriekings, the sharp groans and the tender accents, send forth the afflicted spirits, and force a way, that they may ease their oppression and their load; that, when they have spent some of their sorrows by a sally forth, they may return better able to fortify, the heart. Nothing of this is a certain sign, much less an action or part of impatience; and when our blessed Saviour suffered his last and sharpest pang of sorrow, he cried out with a loud voice, and resolved to die, and did so.
1 Flagrantior aequo
Non debet dolor esse viri, necvulnere major. — Juv. Sat. xiii. 11. "Omnino si quicquam est decorum, nihil est profecto magis quam aequabilitas universae vitae, tum singularum actionum; quam autem conscrvare non jxissis, si aliorum naturam imitau*, omittas tuam. — 1 Offic. 88.
Constituent or integral Parts of Patience.
1. That we may secure our patience, we must take care, that our complaints, be without despair. Despair sins against the reputation of God's goodness, and the efficacy of all our old experience. By despair we destroy the greatest comfort of our sorrows, and turn our sickness into the state of devils and perishing souls. No affliction is greater than despair: for that is it, which makes hell-fire, and turns a natural evil into an intolerable; it hinders prayers, and fills up the intervals of sickness with a worse torture; it makes all spiritual arts useless, and the office of spiritual comforters and guides to be impertinent.
Against this, hope is to be opposed: and its proper acts, as it relates to the virtue and exercise of patience, are, 1. Praying to God for help and remedy; 2. Sending for the guides of souls: 3. Using all holy exercises and acts of grace proper to that state: which whoso does, hath not the impatience of despair; every man that is patient, hath hope in God in the day of his sorrows.
2. Our complaints in sickness must be without murmur. Murmur sins against God's providence and government: by it we grow rude, and, like the falling angels, displeased at God's supremacy; and nothing is more unreasonable: it talks against God, for whose glory all speech was made; it is proud and fantastic, hath better opinions of a sinner than of the Divine justice, and would rather accuse God than himself.
r Quia profundenda voce omne corpus intenditur, venitque plaga rebementior. Cie. Pro Muren. 48.
Against this is opposed that part of patience, which resigns the man into the hands of God, saying with old Eli, "It is the Lord; let him do what he will;" and, " Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven :" and so by admiring God's justice and wisdom, does also dispose the sick person for receiving God's mercy, and secures him the rather in the grace of God. The proper acts of this part of patience are, l.To confess our sins and our own demerits: 2. It increases and exercises humility: 3. It loves to sing praises to God, even from the lowest abyss of human misery.
3. Our complaints in sickness must be* without peevishness. This sins against civility, and that necessary decency which must be used towards the ministers and assistants. By peevishness we increase our own sorrows, and are troublesome to them, that stand there to ease ours. It hath in it harshness of nature and ungentleness, wilfulness and fantastic opinions, morosity and incivility.
Against it are opposed obedience, tractability, easiness of persuasion, aptness to take counsel. The acts of this part of patience are, 1. To obey our physicians; 2. To treat our persons with respect to our present necessities; 3. Not to be ungentle and uneasy to the ministers and nurses, that attend usw; but to take their diligent and kind offices, as sweetly as we can, and to bear their indiscretions or unhandsome accidents contentedly and without disquietness within, or evil language or angry words without; 4. Not to use unlawful means for our recovery.
If we secure these particulars, we are not lightly to be judged of by noises and postures, by colours and images of things, by paleness, or tossings from side to side. For it were a hard thing, that those persons, who are loaden with the greatest of human calamities, should be strictly tied to ceremonies and forms of things. He is patient, that calls upon God; that hopes for health or heaven; that believes w Vide ch. iv. sect. i.