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pleasures be discerned hence to be only wild fugitive SERM. dreams; out of which being soon roused we shall XLVII. only find bitter regrets to abide; why should not the wanting opportunities of enjoying them be rather accounted a happy advantage, than any part of misery to us? If it seem, that the greatest perfection of curious knowledge, of what use or ornament soever, after it is hardly purchased, must soon be parted with; to be simple or ignorant will be no great matter of lamentation : as those will appear no solid goods, so these consequently must be only umbre malorum, phantasms, or shadows of evil, Sen. Ep. 89. rather than truly or substantially so; (evils created by fancy, and subsisting thereby; which reason should, and time will surely remove;) that in being impatient or disconsolate for them, we are but like children, that fret and wail for the want of petty toys. And for the more real or positive evils, such as violently assault nature, whose impressions no reason can so withstand, as to extinguish all distaste or afflictive sense of them; yet this consideration will aid to abate and assuage them; affording a certain hope and prospect of approaching redress. It is often seen at sea, that men (from unacquaintance with such agitations, or from brackish steams arising from the salt water) are heartily sick, and discover themselves to be so by apparently grievous symptoms; yet no man hardly there doth mind or pity them, because the malady is not supposed dangerous, and within a while will probably of itself pass over; or that however the remedy is not far off; the sight of land, a taste of the fresh air will relieve them: it is near our case: we passing over this troublesome sea of life ; from unexperience,
SERM. joined with the tenderness of our constitution, we XLVII.
cannot well endure the changes and crosses of fortune; to be tossed up and down; to suck in the sharp vapours of penury, disgrace, sickness, and the like, doth beget a qualm in our stomachs; make us nauseate all things, and appear sorely distempered ; yet is not our condition so dismal as it seems; we may grow hardier, and wear out our sense of affliction; however, the land is not far off, and by disembarking hence we shall suddenly be discharged of all our molestations. It is a common solace of grief, approved by wise men, si gravis, brevis est; si longus, levis; if it be very grievous and acute, it cannot continue long without intermission or respite; if it abide long, it is supportablea; intolerable pain is like lightning, it destroys us, or is itself instantly destroyed. However, death at length (which never is far off) will free us; be we never so much tossed with storms of misfortune, that is a sure haven; be we persecuted with never so many enemies, that is a safe refuge; let what pains or diseases soever infest us, that is an assured anodynon, and infallible remedy for them all; however we be wearied with the labours of the day, the night will come and ease us; the grave will become a bed of rest unto us.
b Shall I die? I shall then cease to
Θάρσει" πόνου γάρ άκρον ουκ έχει χρόνον. ΑΕschyl. apud Ρlutarch. de Aud. Poet. sub finem.
Το μεν αφόρητον εξάγει το δε χρονίζον φορητόν. Αnt. vii. 8. 33.
Summi doloris intentio invenit finem: nemo potest valde dolere et diu: sic nos amantissima nostri natura disposuit, ut dolorem aut tolerabilem, aut brevem faceret. Sen. Ep. 74.
b Dolore perculsi mortem imploramus, eamque unam, ut miseriarum malorumque terminum exoptamus. Cic. Consolat.
Moriar? hoc dicis; desinam ægrotare posse, &c. Sen. Ep. 24.
be sick; I shall be exempted from disgrace; I shall SERM.
XLVII. be enlarged from prison; I shall be no more pinched with want; no more tormented with pain. Death is a winter, that as it withers the rose and lily, so it kills the nettle and thistle; as it stifles all worldly joy and pleasure, so it suppresses all care and grief; as it hushes the voice of mirth and melody, so it stills the clamours and the sighs of misery; as it defaces all the world's glory, so it covers all disgrace, wipes off all tears, silences all complaint, buries all disquiet and discontent. King Philip of Macedon once threatened the Spartans to vex them sorely, and bring them into great straits; but, answered they, can he hinder us from dyinge? that indeed is a way of evading which no enemy can obstruct, no tyrant can debar men from; they who can deprive of life, and its conveniences, cannot take away death from them. There is a place, Job Job iii. 17. tells us, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary be at rest: where the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor: the small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master. It is therefore but holding out a while, and a deliverance from the worst this world can molest us with shall of its own accord arrive unto us; in the mean-time it is better “o kinaus
το χρόνο that we at present owe the benefit of our comfort xazilicia, to reason, than afterward to time; by rational con-moyo mapisideration to work patience and contentment in our-su. Plut
ad Apol. selves; and to use the shortness of our life as an p. 195. argument to sustain us in our affliction, than to find
« "Αδην έχων βοηθόν, ου τρέμω σκιάς.
Eripere vitam nemo non homini potest; at nemo mortem. Sen. Trag.
SERM. the end thereof only a natural and necessary means XLVII. of our rescue from it. The contemplation of this
cannot fail to yield something of courage and solace to us in the greatest pressures; these transient and shortlived evils, if we consider them as so, cannot appear such horrid bugbears, as much to affright
or dismay us; if we remember how short they are, Omnia bre- we cannot esteem them so great, or so intolerable. via tolera- There be, I must confess, divers more noble considebent, eti-derations, proper and available to cure discontent
and impatience. The considering, that all these evils proceed from God's just will, and wise providence; unto which it is fit, and we upon all accounts are obliged, readily to submit; that they do ordinarily come from God's goodness and gracious design towards us ; that they are medicines (although ungrateful, yet wholesome) administered by the Divine Wisdom to prevent, remove, or abate our distempers of soul, (to allay the tumours of pride, to cool the fevers of intemperate desire, to rouse us from the lethargy of sloth, to stop the gangrene of bad conscience ;) that they are fatherly corrections, intended to reclaim us from sin, and excite us to duty; that they serve as instruments or occasions to exercise, to try, to refine our virtue; to beget in us the hope, to qualify us for the reception of better rewards: such discourses indeed are of a better nature, and have a more excellent kind of efficacy; yet no fit help, no good art, no just weapon is to be quite neglected in the combat against our spiritual foes. A pebble-stone hath been sometimes found more convenient than a sword or a spear to slay a giant. Baser remedies (by reason of the patient's constitution, or circumstances) do sometime
produce good effect, when others in their own na- SERM.
XLVII. ture more rich and potent want efficacy. And surely frequent reflections upon our mortality, and living under the sense of our lives' frailty, cannot but conduce somewhat to the begetting in us an indifferency of mind toward all these temporal occurrents; to extenuate both the goods and the evils we here meet with; consequently therefore to compose and calm our passions about them.
3. But I proceed to another use of that consideration we speak of emergent from the former, but so as to improve it to higher purposes. For since it is useful to the diminishing our admiration of these worldly things, to the withdrawing our affections from them, to the slackening our endeavours about them; it will follow that it must conduce also to beget an esteem, a desire, a prosecution of things conducing to our future welfare; both by removing the obstacles of doing so, and by engaging us to consider the importance of those things in comparison with these. By removing obstacles, I say; for while our hearts are possessed with regard and passion toward these present things, there can be no room left in them for respect and affection toward things future. It is in our soul as in the rest of nature; there can be no penetration of objects, as it were,
in our hearts, nor any vacuity in them: our mind no more than our body can be in several places, or tend several_ways, or abide in perfect rest; yet somewhere it will always be; somewhither it will always go; somewhat it will ever be doing. If we have a treasure here, (somewhat we greatly like Mat. vi. 21. and much confide in,) our hearts will be here with it; and if here, they cannot be otherwhere; they