Imágenes de página

a sickness, or enter into a state of sufferings : whither, when we are entered, we are to practise by the following rules.

The Practice and Acts of Patience, by way of Rule.

1. At the first address and presence of sickness, stand still and arrest thy spirit, that it may, without amazement or affright, consider, that this was that thou lookedst for, and wert always certain should happen; and that now thou art to enter into the actions of a new religion, the agony of a strange constitution ; but at no hand suffer thy spirits to be dispersed with fear, or wildness of thought, but stay their looseness and dispersion by a serious consideration of the present and future employment. For so doth the Libyan lion, spying the fierce huntsman, first beats himself with the strokes of his tail, and curls up his spirits, making them strong with union and recollection, till, being struck with a · Mauritanian spear, he rushes forth into his defence and noblest contention; and either 'scapes into the secrets of his own dwelling, or else dies the bravest of the forest. Every man, when shot with an arrow from God's quiver, must then draw in all the auxiliaries of reason, and know, that then is the time to try his strength, and to reduce the words of his religion into action, and consider, that if he behaves himself weakly and timorously, he suffers nevertheless of sickness ; but if he returns to health, he carries along with him the mark of a coward and a fool;, and if he descends into his grave, he enters into the state of the faithless and unbelievers. Let him set his heart firm upon this resolution; “I must bear it inevitably, and I will, by God's grace, do it nobly.”

2. Bear in thy sickness all along the same thoughts, propositions, and discourses, concerning thy person, thy life and death, thy soul and religion, which thou hadst in the best days of thy health : and when thou didst discourse wisely concerning things spiritual. For it is to be supposed (and if it be not yet done, let this rule remind thee of it, and direct thee) that thou hast cast about in thy health, and considered concerning thy change and the evil day, that thou must be sick and die, that thou must need a comforter, and that it was certain, thou shouldst fall into a state, in which all

the cords of thy anchor should be stretched, and the very rock and foundation of faith should be attempted ; and whatsoever fancies may disturb you, or whatsoever weaknesses may invade you, yet consider, when you were better able to judge and govern the accidents of your life, you concluded it necessary to trust in God, and possess your souls with patience. Think of things, as they think that stand by you, and as you did when you stood by others; that it is a blessed thing to be patient; that a quietness of spirit hath a certain reward; that still there is infinite truth and reality in the promises of the gospel; that still thou art in the care of God, in the condition of a son, and working out thy salvation with labour and pain, with fear and trembling; that now the sun is under a cloud, but it still sends forth the same influence: and be sure to make no new principles upon the stock of a quick and an impatient sense, or too busy an apprehension: keep your old principles, and, upon their stock, discourse and practise on towards your conclusion.

3. Resolve to bear your sickness like a child, that is, without considering the evils and the pains, the sorrows and the danger; but go straight forward, and let thy thoughts cast about for nothing, but how to make advantages of it by the instrument of religion. He that from a high tower looks down upon the precipice, and measures the space through which he must descend, and considers what a huge fall he shall have, shall feel more by the horror of it than by the last dash on the pavement : and he that tells his groans and numbers his sighs, and reckons one for every gripe of his belly, or throb of his distempered pulse, will make an artificial sickness greater than the natural. And if thou beest ashamed that a child should bear an evil better than thou, then take his instrument, and allay thy spirit with it; reflect not upon thy evil, but contrive as much as you can for duty, and, in all the rest, inconsideration will ease your pain. • 4. If then fearest thou shalt need, observe and draw together all such things as are apt to charm thy spirit, and ease thy fancy in the sufferance. It is the counsel of Socrates : It is (said he) a great danger, and you must, by discourse and arts of reasoning, enchant it into slumber and some rest *.” It may be, thou wert moved much to see a person

1 KaA6s 6 xiyouvos, xem ToucDTàu lướt gáòay laury. VOL. IV.

[ocr errors]

of honour to die untimely; or thou didst love the religion of that death-bed, and it was dressed up in circumstances fitted to thy needs, and hit thee on that part, where thou wert most sensible; or some little saying in a sermon or passage of a book was chosen and singled out by a peculiar apprehension, and made consent lodge awhile in thy spirit, even then, when thou didst place death in thy meditation, and didst view it in all its dress of fancy. Whatsoever that was, which, at any time, did please thee in thy most passionate and fantastic part, let not that go, but bring it home at that time especially; because when thou art in thy weakness, such little things will easier move thee than a more severe discourse and a better reason. For a sick man is like a scrupulous : his case is gone beyond the cure of arguments, and it is a trouble, that can only be helped by chance, or a lucky saying: and Ludovico Corbinelli was moved at the death of Henry the Second, more than if he had read the saddest elegy of all the unfortunate princes in Christendom, or all the sad sayings of Scripture, or the threnes of the funeral prophets. I deny not but this course is most proper to weak persons; but it is a state of weakness, for which we are now providing remedies and instruction: a strong man will not need it; but when our sickness hath rendered us weak in all senses, it is not good to refuse a remedy, because it supposes us to be sick. But then, if to the catalogue of weak persons we add all those who are ruled by fancy, we shall find, that many persons in their health, and more in their sickness, are under the dominion of fancy, and apt to be helped by those little things, which themselves have found fitted to their apprehension, and which no other man can minister to their needs, unless by chance, or in a heap of other things. But therefore every man should remember, by what instruments he was at any time much moved, and try them upon his spirit, in the day of his calamity.

5. Do not choose the kind of thy sickness, or the manner of thy death; but let it be what God please, so it be no greater than thy spirit or thy patience : and for that you are to rely upon the promise of God, and to secure thyself by prayer and industry; but in all things else let God be thy chooser, and let it be thy work to submit indifferently, and attend thy duty. It is lawful to beg of God, that thy sick

ness may not be sharp or noisome, infectious or unusual, because these are circumstances of evil, which are also proper instruments of temptation : and though it may well concern the prudence of thy religion to fear thyself, and keep thee from violent temptations, who hast so often fallen in little ones; yet, even in these things, be sure to keep some degrees of indifferency; that is, if God will not be entreated to ease thee, or to change thy trial, then be importunate, that thy spirit and its interest be secured, and let him do what seemeth good in his eyes. But as, in the degrees of sickness thou art to submit to God, so in the kind of it (supposing equal degrees) thou art to be altogether incurious, whether God call thee by a consumption or an asthma, by a dropsy or a palsy, by a fever in thy humours or a fever in thy spirits ; because all such nicety of choice, is nothing but a colour to a legitimate impatience, and to make an excuse to murmur privately, and for circumstances, when in the sum of affairs we durst not own impatience. I have known some persons vehemently wish, that they might die of a consumption, and some of these had a plot upon heaven, and hoped by that means to secure it after a careless life; as thinking a lingering sickness would certainly infer a lingering and a protracted repentance; and, by that means, they thought, they should be safest: others of them dreamed, it would be an easier death ; and have found themselves deceived, and their patience hath been tired with a weary spirit and a useless body, by often conversing with healthful persons and vigorous neighbours, by uneasiness of the flesh and the sharpness of their bones, by want of spirits and a dying life; and, in conclusion, have been directly debauched by peevishness and a fretful sickness : and these men had better have left it to the wisdom and goodness of God; for they both are infinite.

6. Be patient in the desires of religion; and take care that the forwardness of exterior actions do not discompose thy spirit; while thou fearest, that, by less serving God in thy disability, thou runnest backward in the accounts of pardon and the favour of God. Be content, that the time, which was formerly spent in prayer, be now spent in vomiting and carefulness and attendances; since God hath pleased it should be so, it does not become us to think hard thoughts concerning it. Do not think, that God is only to be found in a great prayer, or a solemn office: he is moved by a sigh, by a groan, by an act of love; and therefore, when your pain is great and pụngent, lay all your strength upon it, to bear it patiently : when the evil is something more tolerable, let your mind think some pious, though short, meditation : let it not be very busy, and full of attention ; for that will be but a new temptation to your patience, and render your religion tedious, and hateful. But record your desires, and present yourself to God by general acts of will and understanding, and by habitual remembrances of your former vigorousness, and by verification of the same grace, rather than proper exercises. If you can do more, do it; but if you cannot, let it not become a scruple to thee. We must not think man is tied to the forms of health, or that he who swoons and faints, is obliged to his usual forms and hours of prayer : if we cannot labour, yet let us love. Nothing can hinder us from that, but our own uncharitableness.

7. Be obedient to thy physician in those things that concern him, if he be a person fit to minister unto thee. God is he only, that needs no help y, and God hath created the physician for thine : therefore use him temperately, without violent confidences; and sweetly, without uncivil distrustings, or refusing his prescriptions upon humours or impotent fear. A man may refuse to have his arm or leg cut off, or to suffer the pains of Marius's incision : and if he believes, that to die is the less evil, he may compose himself to it, without hazarding his patience, or introducing that, which he thinks a worse evil; but that, which, in this article, is to be reproved and avoided, is, that some men will choose to die out of fear of death, and send for physicians, and do what themselves list, and call for counsel, and follow none. When there is reason they should decline him, it is not to be accounted to the stock of a sin; but where there is no just cause, there is a direct

Hither is to be reduced, that we be not too confident of the physician, or drain our hopes of recovery from the fountain through so imperfect channels ; laying the wells of God 'dry, and digging to ourselves broken cisterns. Physicians

y Ipsi ceu vi Deo nullo est opus ; apud Senecam. Scaliger rectè emendat, ipsi cen Deo, &c. Ex Græco scilicet, Móvos Osos kysanonns dysydens.

« AnteriorContinuar »