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and conversed with them to this effect: “That he had
surveyed most part of the learning that was among “ the sons of men; that he had his study full of books " and papers upon most subjects in the world; yet at " that time he could not recollect any passage, out of “ the multitude of books and manuscripts that he was “ master of, wherein he could rest his soul, except in “ the HOLY SCRIPTURES: and one passage of this “ blessed book lay with most weight upon his spirit, “ taken from the apostle Pauls épistle to Titus : The
grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared “ to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness « and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, “ and godly, in this present world; looking for that " blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great “ God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave him“ self for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, " and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of "good works,"
A COMMON HISTORY.
Re fruere, ut natus mortalis : dilige sed rom,
There was a man, who became rich; and the method he took to become so, was this.
He exercised himself in his calling almost night and day; and he followed this course for many years. And he said within himself, “I will be rich, and I will do thus and thus to get riches." And accordingly he rose early in the morning; and he invited several poor persons, saying; “Work for me, and I will give you that which will buy meat, drink, and cloathing.” And the poor people hearkened to him; and they worked hard on that day, and the day following, and on the day after that, and so on for many days together. And he screwed out of their labor, and the profits of their labor, money upon money, increasing it in time to a heap. And when he had thus gotten one heap, he took the same means to make up another, and another after that, till he had raised many heaps; the poor people wondering all the while when they saw, how fast they made his heaps to grow up, and having no power or skill, though inclination enough, to make one for themselves. When he had thus amused himself and them for about thirty years, he began to say within himself, “ Now will I enjoy the heaps I have raised; and these poor people shall admire how much I will enjoy them.” And he committed the method of making heaps into other hands; but first agreed with them, that the heaps they should raise by his method should be shared between him and them. And they joyfully consented thereto. And upon this he retired into woods and lawns, saying, “ Now will I live a rural life.” And he got men together to build him an house; and he pleased himself extremely to see how the men toiled and sweat to build a house for him. And they wrought hard while he looked upon them, and they played when he did not; and they laughed at him as a fool for building such a house, and for building it when he was old. And he disliked the ground about the house he was building; and he would have it altered; and he ordered one lump of dirt to be laid in one place, that it might be higher, and another taken away from another place, that it might be lower; and that he might see a tree that stood afar off, and that a place he did not like to see might be hidden. And he said, it was all very fine. And he furnished this house with many things; and he called upon all his neighbours to admire them. And they visited him, and admired them all to his face, and reviled both him and them behind his back, as being all without taste or propriety. And they bowed, and smiled, and said compliments, which is supposed to be an ingenious art of speaking any thing and meaning nothing, and he did the same to them; and this, they declared, was being very happy. And when they departed; they did not
spare his method of making heaps, nor his personal defects, nor his vanity, nor his situation, nor his pleasures, nor any thing else that he had. And this envy and spleen they called jocularity and taste. And he also got together a great number of people called servants; and he cloathed them, and fed them, and made them live with him in his house and in his gardens, and distributed some of his heaps among them for so living. And he looked after them diligently, and they after him as they could. And he fancied, that he enjoyed the cloaths he gave them more than they did, and also their victuals, and their drink, and their time; and that he had laboured hard for many years for this very good purpose; and that it was a great satisfaction to see how well they looked, and how readily they lived with him to occupy his thoughts and his cares for his money. And all the people wondered and stared to see so many servants about him, and so many horses and dogs, and other animals; and this he called great felicity; and he did all he could to make them wonder and stare again. And they did so again and again, till he and they were tired of this wondering and staring; and then he began to feel, that he was hungry. And “now (said he) will I enjoy my belly." And he eat, and he drank, so much and of so many things, that he could eat and drink no more. And he repeated this from day to day, and for several years; and his servants, and his horses, and his dogs, and all the animals about his house, did so likewise; and at length by these means he grew sick and diseased; and physicians were sent for, who obliged him to swallow down all manner of nauseous things, which they told him might happen to cure him,
but they did not; and so at length he died, having done all he could to destroy nature, as well as hired others to assist him in doing it. And then he had a sumptuous funeral, with plumes, and horses, and so forth. And his corpse was dressed in the highest style of death, and was wrapped in lead, and carried along from one place to another with great pomp; and all the people admired, how wisely he had contrived to enjoy so many fine things, and to get such a fine funeral, and to be laid at last in a church, and in a fine tomb. And they all resolved to do, if they could, as he had done; and one thought within himself,“ Now, is not all this worth being damned for?” And he said no, with his mouth, but in his heart and life the very contrary; for he went and did likewise, as much as he could driving out all unseasonable thoughts of God (as he considered them) till he could think no longer, and at length departed as the other had done before him. And there are thousands that see all this, and approve it, and say, “ That this is the best way of spending a man's time, and this the chief and great end of his coming into the world.”
Reader; art thou THE MAN, or ONE of the men, above described? And, in that case is not this history, ironical as it may seem, most seriously thine? Is not the anxious bustle of thy life for objects, and only for objects, like these, at once deplorably ridiculous and dreadful? Can word describe, or thought conceive, how ridiculous, and yet how dreadful? And hast thou the shadow of a right, then, under a conduct so certainly tending to ruin, to treat with contempt, or to cast ridicule upon those, who wish to be wise for eternity and cannot be content to murder their time?