Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

declining of every one of which is j ustly reckoned amongst those good things, which alleviate the sickness and make it tolerable. Never account that sickness intolerable, in which thou hadst rather remain than die: and yet if thou hadst rather die than suffer it, the worst of it that can be said is this, that this sickness is worse than death; that is, it is worse than that, which is the best of all evils, and the end of all troubles; and then you have said no great harm against it.

6. Remember, that thou art under a supervening necessity. Nothing is intolerable, that is necessary: and therefore when men are to suffer a sharp incision, or what they are pleased to call intolerable, tie the man down to it, and he endures itb. Now God hath bound this sickness upon thee by the condition of nature; for every flower must wither and droop; it is also bound upon thee by special providence, and with a design to try thee, and with purposes to reward and to crown thee. These cords thou canst not break; and therefore lie thou down gently, and suffer the hand of God to do what he please, that at least thou mayest swallow an advantage, which the care and severe mercies of God force down thy throat.

7. Remember, that all men have passed this wayc, the bravest, the wisest and the best men have been subject to sickness and sad diseases; and it is esteemed a prodigy, that a man should live to a long age and not be sick: and it is recorded for a wonder concerning Xenophilus the musician, that he lived to one hundred and six years of age in a perfect and continual health. No story tells the like of a prince, or a great or a wise person11; unless we have a mind to believe the tales concerning Nestor and the Euboean Sibyl, or reckon Cyrus of Persia, or Masinissa the Mauritanian to be rivals of old age, or that Argantonius the Tartesian king did really outstrip that age, according as his story tells, reporting him to have reigned eighty years6, and to have lived one hundred and twenty. Old age and healthful bodies are seldom made the appendages to great fortunes: and under so great and so universal precedentsf, so common fate of men, he that will not suffer his portion, deserves to be something else than a man, but nothing that is better.

b Improbseque Tigres indulgent patientiam flagello. Impiger et fortis virtute coactus.

o Cerno equidem gemina constratos morte Philippos, ThessalisBque rogos, et funera gentis Iberse. d Rara est in nobilitate senectus. * Cicero de Senect. f Ferre quam sortem patiuntur omnes, nemo recusat. « Tusc. 1. Yt. Ciim faces doloris admoverentur.

8. We find in story, that many Gentiles, who walked by no light but that of reason, opinion, and human examples, did bear their sickness nobly, and with great contempt of pain, and with huge interests of virtue. When Pompey came from Syria, and called at Rhodes, to see Posidonius the philosopher, he found him hugely afflicted with the gout, and expressed his sorrow, that he could not hear his lectures, from which by this pain he must needs be hindered. Posidonius told him, " But you may hear me for all this:" and he discoursed excellently in the midst of his tortures, even then, when the torches were put to his feet8, " That nothing was good, but what was honest;" and therefore " nothing could be an evil, if it were not criminal:" and summed up his lectures with this saying, " O pain, in vain dost thou attempt me; for I will never confess thee to be an evil, as long as I can honestly bear thee." And when Pompey himself was desperately sick at Naples, the Neapolitans wore crowns and triumphed, and the men of Puteoli came to congratulate his sickness, not because they loved him not, but because it was the custom of their country to have better opinions of sickness than we have. The boys of Sparta would, at their altars, endure whipping, till their very entrails saw the light through their torn flesh; and some of them to death, without crying or complaint. Caesar would drink his portions of rhubarb rudely mixed, and unfitly allayed, with little sippings, and taking the horror of the medicine, spreading the loathsomeness of his physic so, that all the parts of his tongue and palate might have an entire share: and when C. Marius suffered the veins of his leg to be cut out for the curing his gout, and yet shrunk not, he declared not only the rudeness of their physic, but the strength of a man's spirit, if it be contracted and united by the aids of reason or religion, by resolution or any accidental harshness, against a violent disease.

9. All impatience, howsoever expressed, is perfectly use

less to all purposes of ease, but hugely affective to the multiplying the trouble: and the impatience and vexation is another, but the sharper disease of the two : it does mischief by itself, and mischief by the disease. For men grieve themselves, as much as they please11; and when, by impatience, they put themselves into the retinue of sorrows, they become solemn mourners. For so I have seen the rays of the sun or moon dash upon a brazen vessel, whose lips kissed the face of those waters, that lodged within its bosom; but being turned back, and sent off with its smooth pretences or rougher waftings, it wandered about the room, and beat upon the roof, and still doubled its heat and motion. So is a sickness and a sorrow, entertained by an unquiet and a discontented man, turned back either with anger or with excuses; but then the pain passes from the stomach to the liver, and from the liver to the heart, and from the heart to the head, and from feeling to consideration, from thence to sorrow, and at last ends in impatience and useless murmur; and all the way the man was impotent and weak, but the sickness was doubled, and grew imperious and tyrannical over the soul and body. Masurius Sabinus tells, that the image of the goddess Angerona was, with a muffler upon her mouth, placed upon the altar of Volupia, to represent, that those persons, who bear their sicknesses and sorrows without murmurs', shall certainly pass from sorrow to pleasure, and the ease and honours of felicity; but they, that with spite and indignation bite the burning coal, or shake the yoke upon their necks, gall their spirits, and fret the skin, and hurt nothing but themselves.

10. Remember, that this sickness is but for a short time: if it be sharp, it will not last long; if it be long, it will be easy and very tolerable. And although St. Eadsine, archbishop of Canterbury, had twelve years of sickness, yet, all that while, he ruled his church prudently, gave example of many virtues, and, after his death, was enrolled in the calendar of saints, who had finished their course prosperously. Nothing is more unreasonable than to entangle our spirits in wildness and amazement, like a partridge fluttering in a net, which she breaks not, though she breaks her wings.

h Tantum doluerunt, quantum doloribus se iujeruerunt St. Augutt.

V\rg. X viii. v. 4.

Ceu rore seges viret,
Sic crescunt riguis tristia fletibus;

Urget lacryma lacrymam,
Fcecundusque sui se numerat dolor.

Quem fortuna semel virum
Udo degenerum lumine viderit,
Ilium ssepe ferit——

Levins fit patientia

Quicquid corrigere est nefae.—Horat.

SECTION V.

Remedies against Impatience, by Way of Exercise.

1. The fittest instrument of esteeming sickness easily tolerable is, to remember that, which indeed makes it so; and that is, that God doth minister proper aids and supports to every of his servants, whom he visits with his rod. He knows our needs, he pities our sorrows, he relieves our miseries, he supports our weakness, he bids us ask for help, and he promises to give us all that, and he usually gives us more: and indeed it is observable, that no story tells of any godly man, who, living in the fear of God, fell into a violent and unpardoned impatience in his natural sickness, if he used those means, which God and his holy church have appointed. We see almost all men bear their last sickness with sorrows indeed, but without violent passions; and unless they fear death violently, they suffer the sickness with some indifFerency: and it is a rare thing to see a man who enjoys his reason in his sickness, to express the proper signs of a direct and solemn impatience. For when God lays a sickness upon us, he seizes commonly on a man's spirits, which are the instruments of action and business; and when they are secured from being tumultuous, the sufferance is much the easier: and therefore sickness secures all that, which can do the man mischief; it makes him tame and passive, apt for suffering, and confines him to an unactive condition. To which if we add, that God then commonly produces fear, and all those passions, which naturally tend to humility and poverty of spirit, we shall soon perceive by what instruments God verifies his promise to us (which is the great security for our patience, and the easiness of our condition), that God will lay no more upon us than he will make us able to bear, but, together with the affliction, he will find a way to escape11. Nay, if any thing can be more than this, we have two or three promises, in which we may safely lodge ourselves, and roll from off our thorns, and find ease and rest: God hath promised to be with us in our trouble, and to be with us in our prayers, and to be with us in our hope and confidence1.

2. Prevent the violence and trouble of thy spirit by an act of thanksgiving; for which in the worst of sicknesses thou canst not want cause, especially if thou rememberest, that this pain is not an eternal pain. Bless God for that: but take heed also, lest you so order your affairs, that you pass from hence to an eternal sorrow. If that be hard, this will be intolerable: but as for the present evil, a few days will end it.

3. Remember that thou art a man, and a Christian: as the covenant of nature hath made it necessary, so the covenant of grace hath made it to be chosen by thee, to be a suffering person: either you must renounce your religion, or submit to the impositions of God, and thy portion of sufferings. So that here we see our advantages, and let us use them accordingly. The barbarous and warlike nations of old could fight well and willingly, but could not bear sickness manfully. The Greeks were cowardly in their fights, as most wise men are; but because they were learned and well taught, they bore their sickness with patience and severity. The Cimbrians and Celtiberians rejoice in battle, like giants; but, in their diseases, they weep like women. These according to their institutions and designs had unequal courages, and accidental fortitude. But since our religion hath made a covenant of sufferings, and the great business of our lives is sufferings, and most of the virtues of a Christian are passive graces, and all the promises of the gospel are passed upon us through Christ's cross, we have a necessity upon us to have an equal courage in all the variety of our sufferings: for, without an universal fortitude, we can do nothing of our duty.

* 1 Cor. x. 13.

• Psalm ix. 9. Matt. vii. 7. Jam. v. 13. Psalm xxxi. 19, 24; xxxiv. 22.

« AnteriorContinuar »