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Lastly, that Jesus is a Deed
As wearied Pilgrims, once possest
SIR THOMAS BROWNE
OW for my life, it is a miracle of thirty years,
which to relate were not a history, but a piece of poetry, and would sound to common ears like a fable. For the world, I count it not an inn but an hospital, and a place not to live but to die in. The world that I regard is myself; it is a microcosm of my own frame that I cast mine eye on; for the other, I use it but like my globe, and turn it round sometimes for my recreation. Men that look upon my outside, perusing only my condition and fortunes, do err in my altitude ; for I am above Atlas his shoulders. The earth is a point not only in respect of the heavens above us, but of that heavenly and celestial part within us. That mass of flesh that circumscribes me limits not my mind. That surface that tells the heavens it hath an end cannot persuade me I have any. I take my circle to be above 360. Though the number of the ark do measure my body, 1 “ His Creed.”
2 - His Own Epitaph.”
it comprehendeth not my mind. Whilst I study to find how I am a microcosm, or little world, I find myself something more than the great. There is surely a piece of divinity in us; something that was before the elements, and owes no homage to the sun. Nature tells me I am the image of God, as well as Scripture. He that understands not thus much hath not his introduction or first lesson, and is yet to begin the alphabet of man. Let me not injure the felicity of others if I say I am as happy as any. Ruat coelum, fiat voluntas Tua, salveth all; so that whatsoever happens, it is but what our daily prayers desire. . In brief, I am content; and what should providence add more? Surely this is it we call happiness, and this do I enjoy; with this I am happy in a dream, and as content to enjoy a happiness in a fancy as others in a more apparent truth and reality.1
We term sleep a death. . . . In fine, so like death, I dare not trust it without my prayers and a half adieu unto the world, and take my farewell in a colloquy with God :
Sleep is a death; O make me try,
1 From Religio Medici, Part II. sect. xi.
I do now wake to sleep again ;
Sleep again, but wake for ever! This is the dormative I take to bedward ; I need no other laudanum than this to make me sleep; after which I close mine eyes in security, content to take my leave of the sun, and sleep unto the resurrection.
Our hard entrance into the world, our miserable going out of it, our sicknesses, disturbances, and sad rencounters in it, do clamorously tell us we come not into the world to run a race of delight, but to perform the sober acts and serious purposes of man; which to omit were foully to miscarry in the advantage of humanity, to play away an uniterable life, and to have lived in vain. Forget not the capital end, and frustrate not the opportunity of once living. Dream not of any kind of metempsychosis or transanimation, but into thine own body, and that after a long time; and then also unto wail or bliss, according to thy first and fundamental life. Upon a curricle in this world depends a long course of the next, and upon a narrow scene here an endless expansion hereafter. In vain some think to have an end of their beings with their lives. Things cannot get out of their natures, or be or not be in despite of their constitutions. Rational existences in heaven perish not at all, and but partially on earth; that which is thus once, will in some way be always ; the first living human soul is still alive, and all Adam hath found no period.?
1 From Religio Medici, Part II. sect. xii.
EDMUND WALLER (1605–1687)
So, calm are we when passions are no more!
The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed, Lets in new light through chinks that time has made; Stronger by weakness, wiser men become As they draw near to their eternal home. Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view That stand upon the threshold of the new.1
JOHN MILTON (1608–1674)
HUS with the year THUS
Seasons return; but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn, Or sight of vernal bloom or summer's rose, Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine; But cloud instead, and ever-during dark Surrounds me; from the cheerful
1 From “Of the Last Verses in the Book,” composed when he was over eighty years of age.
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide ;
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed, And
post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.” 2
THE immortality of the soul is a matter of so great
moment to us, it touches us so deeply, that we must have lost all feeling if we are careless of the truth about it. Our every action and our every thought
1 From Paradise Lost, Bk. iii.