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distinguish wisely, betwixt a Stoical dulness and a Christian contempt; and have long made the world, not your god, but your slave.
And, in truth, that I may loose myself into a bold and free discourse, what other respect is it worthy of? I would adore it on my face, if I could see any majesty, that might command veneration. Perhaps, it loves me not so much, as to shew me his best. I have sought it enough : and have seen what others have doted on; and wondered at their madness. So may I look to see better things above, as I never could see ought here, but vanity and vileness.
What is fame, but smoke? and metal, but dross ? and pleasure, but a pill in sugar? Let some gallants condemn this, as the voice of a melancholic scholar: I speak that, which they shall feel, and shall confess. Though I never was so, I have seen some as bappy as the world could make them; and yet I never saw any more discontented: their life hath been neither longer nor sweeter, nor their heart lighter, nor their meals heartier, nor their nights quieter, nor their cares fewer, nor their complaints. Yea, we have known some, that have lost their mirth, when they have found wealth ; and, at once, have ceased to be merry and poor. All these earthly delights, if they were sound, yet how short they are ! and, if they could be long, yet how unsound! If they were sound, they are but as a good day between two agues, or å sun-shine betwixt two tempests: and, if they were long, their honey is exceeded by their gall. This ground bears none but maples, hollow and fruitless; or, like the banks of the dead sea, a fair apple, which, under a red side, contains nothing but dust. Every flower in this garden either pricks, or smells ill: if it be sweet, it hath thorns; and, if it have no thorns, it annoys us with an ill scent.
Go then, ye wise idolatrous Parasites, and erect shrines, and offer sacrifices to your god, the world; and seek to please him, with your base and servile devotions : it shall be long enough, ere such religion shall make you happy : you shall, at last, forsake those altars, empty and sorrowful.
How easy is it for us Christians, thus to insult over the worldling, that thinks himself worthy of envy! how easy, to turn off the world with a scornful repulse; and, when it makes us the Devil's proffer, All these will I give thee, to return Peter's answer, Thy silver and thy gold perish with thee! how easy, to account none so miserable, as those, that are rich with injury; and grow great, by being conscious of secret evils! Wealth and honour, when it comes upon the best terms, is but vain ; but, when upon ill conditions, burdensome: when they are at the best, they are scarce friends; but, when at the worst, tormentors. Alas! how ill agrees a gay coat, and a festered heart! what avails a high title, with a hell in the soul? I admire the faith of Moses; but, presupposing his faith, I wonder not at his choice. He preferred the afflictions of Israel, to the pleasures of Egypt; and chose rather to eat the lamb, with sour herbs, than all their flesh pots. For, how much bete ter is it to be miserable than guilty ! and what comparison is there, betwixt sorrow and sin? If it were possible, let me be rather in hell without sin, than on earth wickedly glorious. But, how much are we bound to God, that allows us earthly favours, without this opposition! That God hath made you at once honourable and just, and your life pleasant and holy, and bath given you a high staté with a good heart; are favours, that look for thanks. These must be acknowledged, not rested in. They are yet higher thoughts, that must perfect your contentment.
What God hath given you, is nothing to that he means to give: he hath been liberal; but he will be munificent: this is not so much as the taste of a full cup. Fasten your eyes upon your future glory, and see how meanly you shall esteem these earthly graces: here, you command but a little pittance of mould, great indeed to us, little to the whole; there, whole heaven shall be yours: here, you command, but as a subject; there, you shall reigu as a king: here, you are observed, but sometimes with your just distaste; there, you shall reign with peace and joy: here, you are noble among men; there, glorious amongst angels : here, you want not honour, but you want not crosses, there, is nothing but felicity: here, you have some short joys; there, is nothing but eternity : you are a stranger, here; there, at home: here, Satan tempts you, and men vex you; there, saints and angels shall applaud you, and God shall fill you with himself: in a word, you are only blessed here, for that you shall be.
These are thoughts worthy of greatness: which, if we suffer either employments or pleasures to thrust out of our doors, we do wilfully make ourselves comfortless. Let these still season your mirth, and sweeten your sorrows; and ever interpose themselves, betwixt you and the world. These only can make your life happy, and your death welcome.
TO MY LORD HAY, H. and P
Of True Honour.
MY LORD :
It is safe to complain of nature, where grace is; and to magnify grace, where it is at once had and affected. It is a fault of nature, and not the least, that as she hath dim eyes, so they are misplaced: she looks still, either forward, or downward; forward to the object she desires, or downward to the means : never turns her eyes, either backward, to see what she was; or upward, to the cause of her good; whence, it is just with God, to withhold what he would give, or to curse that which he bestows; and to besot carnal minds with outward things, in their value, in their desire, in their use. Whereas, true wisdom hath clear eyes, and right set; and therefore sees an invisible hand in all sensible events, effecting all things, directing all things to their due end; sees on whom to depend, whom to thank. Earth is too low, and too base, to give bounds unto a spiritual sight. No man, then, can truly know what belongs to wealth or honour, but the gracious; either how to compass them, or how to prize them, or how to use them.
I care not how many thousand ways there are to seeming honour, besides this of virtue ; they all, if more, still lead to shame: or, what plots are devised to improve it; if they were as deep as hell, yet their end is loss. As there is no counsel against God; so there is no honour without him. He inclines the hearts of princes, to favour; the hearts of inferiors, to applause. Without him, the hand cannot move to success; nor the tongue to praise : and what is honour, without these? In vain doth the world frown upon the man, whom he means to honour; or smile, where he would disgrace.
Let me then tell your Lordship, who are favourites in the Court of Heaven; even while they wander on earth: yea, let the Great King himself tell you, Those, that honour me, I will honour. That men have the grace to give honour to God, is a high favour : but, because men give honour to God, as their duty; that, therefore, God should give honour to men, is to give because he hath given. It is a favour of God, that man is honoured of man like himself; but, that God alloweth of our endeavours as honour to himself, is a greater favour than that, wherewith he requites it. This is the goodness of our God : the man, that serves him, honours him ; and whosoever honours him with his service, is crowned with honour.
I challenge all times, places, persons : who ever honoured God, and was neglected? who wilfully dishonoured him, and prospered? Turn over all records, and see how success ever blessed the just, after many dangers, after many storms of resistance; and left their conclusion glorious : how all godless plots, in their loose, have at once deceived, shamed, punished their author. I go no further : your own breast knows, that your happy experience can herein justify God. The world hath noted you for a follower of virtue; and hath seen how fast honour followed you: while you sought favour with the God of Heaven, he hath given you favour with his deputy on earth.
God's former actions are patterns of his future: he teaches you what he will do, by what he hath done. Unless your hand be weary of offering service, he cannot either pull in his band from rewarding, or hold it out empty. Honour him still, and God pawns his honour, on not failing you. You cannot distrust him, whom your proof hath found faithful. And, while you settle your heart in this right course of true glory; laugh, in secret scorn, at the idle endeavours of those men, whose policies would out-reach God, and seize upon honour without his leave: God laughs at them, in heaven: it is a safe and holy laughter, that follows his. And, pity the preposterous courses of them, which make religion but a footstool to the seat of advancement; which care for all things, but heaven ; which make the world their standing mark, and do not so much as rove at God. Many had sped well, if they had begun well, and proceeded orderly.
A false method is the bane of many hopeful endeavours. God bids us seek, first, bis kingdom; and earthly things shall find us, unsought. Foolish nature first seeks the world : and, if she light on God by the way, it is more than she expects, desires, cares for; and therefore fails of both, because she seeks neither aright. Many had been great, if they had cared to be good; which now are crossed in what they would, because they willed not what they ought. If Solomon had made wealth his first suit, I doubt he had been both poor and foolish: now, he asked wisdom, and gained greatness : because he chose well, he received what he asked not. O the bounty and fidelity of our God! because we would have the best, he gives us all : earth shall wait upon us, because we attend upon heaven.
Go on then, my Lord, go on happily to love religion, to practise it: let God alone with the rest. Be you a Pattern of Virtue; he shall make you a Precedent of Glory. Never man lost ought, by giving it to God: that liberal hand returns our gifts, with advantage. Let men, let God see, that you honour him; and they shall hear him proclaim before you, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the King will honour.
TO MR. NEWTON,
TUTOR TO THE PRINCE.
Of Gratulation, for the Hopes of our Prince; with an advising
God hath called you to a great and happy charge : you have the custody of our common treasure. Neither is there any service comparable to this of yours; whether we regard God, or the world. Our labours, ofttimes, bestowed upon many, scarce profit one : yours, bestowed upon one, redounds to the profit of many millions. This is a summary way of obliging all the world to you.
I encourage you not in your care: you have more comfort in the success of it, than all words can give you. The very subject of your pains would give a heart to him that hath none. I rather congratulate, with you, our common happiness, and the hopes of posterity, in that royal and blessed issue. You have best cause to be the best witness, of the rare forwardness of our gracious master: and I have seen enough, to make me think I can never be enough thankful to God for him.
That princes are fruitful, is a great blessing; but, that their children are fruitful in grace, and not more eminent in place than virtue, is the greatest favour God can do to a state. The goodness of a private man is his own; of a prince, the whole world's. Their words are maxims; their actions, examples; their examples, rules.
When I compare them with their royal father, as I do oft and cheerfully, I cannot say whether he be more happy in himself, or in them. I see, both in him and them, I see and wonder, that God distributes to natural princes gifts, proportionable to their greatness. That wise Moderator of the World knows, what use is of their parts: he knows, that the head must have all the senses, that pertain to the whole body: and how necessary it is, that inferiors should admire them no less for the excellency of their graces, than for the sway of their authority. Whereupon it is, that he gives heroical qualities to princes: and, as he hath bestowed upon them his own name; so also he gives them special stamps of his own glorious image.
Amongst all other virtues, what a comfort is it, to see those years and those spirits stoop so willingly to devotion! Religion is grown too severe a mistress, for young and high courages to attend. Very rare is that nobility of blood, that doth not challenge liberty; and that liberty, that ends not in looseness. Lo, this example teacheth our gallants, how well even majesty can stand with homage ; majesty to men, with homage to God.
Far be it from me, to do that, which my next clause shall condemn: but, I think it safe to say, that seldom ever those years have promised, seldom have performed so much. Only, God keep two mischiefs ever from within the smoke of his court; Flattery, and Treachery : the iniquity of times may make us fear these; not his inclination: for, whether as English or as Men, it hath been ever familiar to us, to fawn upon princes. Though, what do I bestow two names upon one vice, but attired in two sundry suits of evil? for, Flattery is no other, than gilded Treason; nothing else, but poison in gold. This evil is more tame; not less dangerous. It had been better for many great ones, not to have been, than to have been in their conceits more than men. This, Flattery hath done : and what can it not ? that other, Treachery, spills the blood; this, the virtues of princes: that takes them from others; this bereaves them of themselves : that, in spite of the actors, doth but change their crown; this steals it from them for ever.
Who can but wonder, that reads of some, not unwise, princes, so bewitched with the enchantments of their parasites, that they have thought themselves gods immortal ; and have suffered them