Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

But now I find myself too bold and too busy, in thus looking to particularities. God shall direct you; and, if you follow him, shall crown you. Howsoever, if good be done, and that betimes; he hath what he desired, and your soul shall have more than you can desire. The success of my weak, yet hearty counsel, shall make me as rich, as God hath made you, with all your abundance. That God bless it to you, and make both our reckonings cheerful in the day of our common audit.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Remedies against Dulness and Heartlessness in our Callings; and

Encouragements to Cheerfulness in Labour. It falls out not seldom, if we may measure all by one, that the mind, overlaid with work, grows dull and heavy, and now doth nothing, because it hath done too much. Over-lavish expence of spirits hath left it heartless : as the best vessel, with much motion and vent, becomes flat and dreggish.

And not fewer, of more weak temper, discourage themselves with the difficulty of what they must do. Some travellers have more shrunk at the map, than at the way.

Betwixt both, how many sit still with their hands folded, and wish they knew how to be rid of time! If this evil be not cured, we become miserable losers, both of good hours and of good parts.

In these mental diseases, empyrics are the best physicians. I prescribe you nothing, but out of feeling.

If you will avoid the first, moderate your own vehemency. Suffer not yourself to do all you could do. Rise ever from your desk, not without an appetite. The best horse will tire soonest, if the reins lie ever loose in his neck. Restraints, in these cases, are encouragements : obtain therefore of yourself to defer, and take new days. How much better is it, to refresh yourself with many competent meals, than to buy one day's gluttony, with the fast of many! And, if it be hard to call off the mind in the midst of a fair and likely fight, know, that all our ease and safety begins at the command of ourselves: he can never task himself well, that cannot favour himself. Persuade your heart, that perfection comes by leisure; and no excellent thing is done at once : the rising and setting of many suns, which you think slackens your work, in truth ripens it, That gourd, which came up in a night, withered in a day; whereas those plants, which abide age, rise slowly. Indeed, where the heart is

unwilling, prorogation binders : what I list not to do this day, I loath the next; but where is no want of desire, delay doth but sharpen the stomach. That, which we do unwillingly leave, we long to undertake: and the more our affecțion is, the greater our intention, and the better our performance. To take occasion by the foretop, is no small point of wisdom; but, to make time, which is wild and fugitive, tame and pliable to our purposes, is the greatest improvement of a man. All times serve him, which hath the rule of himself.

If the second, think seriously of the condition of your being. It is that, we were made for: the bird, to fly; and man, to labour. What do we here, if we repine at our work? We had not been, but that we might be still busy: if not in this task we dislike; yet, in some other, of no less toil. There is no act, that hath not his labour; which varies in measure, according to the will of the doer. This, which you complain of, hath been undertaken by others, not with facility only, but with pleasure; and what you choose for ease, hath been abhorred of others, as tedious. All difficulty is not so much in the work, as in the agent. To set the mind on the rack of a long meditation, you say, is a torment: to follow the swift foot of your hound all day long, hath no weariness: what would you say of him, that finds better game in his study, than you in the field; and would account your disport, his punishment ? Such there are, though you doubt and wonder. Never think to detract from

your business, but add to your will. It is the policy of our great enemy, to drive us with these fears, from that he foresees would grow profitable: like as some inhospitable savages make fearful delusions by sorcery upon the shore, to frighten strangers from landing. Where you find, therefore, motions of resistance, awaken your courage the more; and know, there is some good that appears not. Vain endeavours find no opposition. All crosses imply a secret commodity : resolve then to will, because you begin not to will; and either oppose yourself, as Satan opposes you, or else you do nothing. We pay no price to God for any good thing, but labour: if we higgle in that, we are worthy to lose our bargain. It is an invaluable gain, that we may make in this traffic: for God is bountiful, as well as just; and, when he sees true endeavour, doth not only sell, but give; whereas idleness neither gets nor saves: nothing is either more fruitless of good, or more fruitful of evil; for we do ill while we do nothing, and lose while we gain not. The sluggard is senseless; and so much more desperate, because he cannot complain. But, though he feel it not, nothing is more precious than time, or that shall abide a reckoning more strict and fearful: yea, this is the measure of all our actions, which if it were not abused, our accounts could not be but even with God: so God esteems it, whatever our price be, that he plagues the loss of a short time, with a revenge beyond all times. Hours have wings, and every moment fly up to the Author of Time, and carry news of our usage: all our prayers cannot entreat one of them, either to return, or slacken bis pace: the mis-spence of every minute is a new record against us in heaveu. Sure, if we thought thus, we would dismiss them with better reports; and not suffer them, either to go away empty, or laden with dangerous intelligence. How happy is it, that every hour should convey up, not only the message, but the fruits of good; and stay with the Ancient of Days, to speak for us before his glorious throne! Know this, and I shall take no care for your pains, nor you for pastime. None of our profitable labours shall be transient; but, even when we have forgotten them, shall welcome us, into joy: we think we have left them behind us; but they are forwarder than our souls, and expect us where we should be. And, if there were no crown for these toils ; yet, without future respects, there is a tediousness in doing nothing. To man especially, motion is natural: there is neither mind, nor eye, nor joint which moveth not; and, as company makes a way short, hours never go away so merrily, as in the fellowship of work. How did that industrious heathen draw out water by night, and knowledge by day; and thought both short: ever labouring, only that he might labour! Certainly, if idleness were enacted by authority, there would not want some, which would pay their mulct, that they might work : and those spirits are likest to heaven, which move always; and the freest from those corruptions, which are incident to nature. The running stream cleanseth itself; whereas, standing ponds breed weeds and mud. These meditations must hearten us to that we must do. While we are cheerful, our labours shall strive, whether to yield us more comfort, or others more profit.

EPISTLE IX.

TO SIR JOHN HARRINGTOV.

DISCUSSING THIS QUESTION: Whether a Man and Wife, after some Years mutual and loving frui

tion of each other, may, upon consent, whether for secular or religious causes, vow and perform a perpetual separation from each other's bed, and absolutely renounce all carnal knowledge of each

other for ever. I wish not myself any other advocate, nor you any other adversary, than St. Paul'; who never gave, I speak boldly, a direct precept, , if not in this.

His express charge, whereupon I insisted, is, Defraud not one another; except with consent, for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer: and then again come together, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Every word, if you weigh it well, opposes your part, and pleads for mine. By consent of all

[ocr errors]

divines, ancient and modern, defrauding is refraining from matrimonial conversation : see what a word the Spirit of God hath cho. sen for this abstinence; never but taken in ill part. " But there is no fraud in consent; as Chrysostom, Athanasius, Theophylact, expound it :” true; therefore St. Paul adds, unless with conserit , that I may omit to say, that, in saying unless with consent, he implies, both that there may be a defrauding without it, and with consent a defrauding but not unlawful. But see what he adds, for a time: consent cannot make this defrauding lawful, except it be temporary: no defrauding, without consent; no consent, for a perpetuity. “How long then, and wherefore?” not for every cause; not for any length of time: but only for a while, and for devotion, ut vacetis, &c. Not that you may pray only, as Chrysostom notes justly; but that you might give yourselves to prayer. In our marriage society, saith he against that paradox of Jerome, we may pray; and woe to us, if we do not : but we cannot vacare orationi. * But we are bidden to pray continually:" yet not, I hope, ever to fast and pray. Mark how the Apostle adds, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer. It is solemn exercise, which the Apostle here intends : such as is joined with fasting and external humiliation; wherein all earthly comforts must be forborne. what if a man list to task himself continually, and will be always painfully devout; may he then ever abstain" No: Let them meet together again, saith the Apostle; not as a toleration, but as a charge. “But what if they both can live safely, thus severed ?" This is more than they can undertake: there is danger, saith our Apostle, in this abstinence, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency. What can be more plain? Neither may the married refrain this conversation, without consent; neither may they, with consent, refrain it for ever.

What can you now urge us with, but the examples and sentences of some ancients?

Let this stand evicted for the true and necessary sense of the Apostle; and what is this, but to lay men in the balance with God? I see and confess, how much some of the Fathers admired Virginity; so far, that there wanted not some, which both detested marriage as vicious, and would force a single life upon marriage, as commendable: whose authority should move me, if I saw not some of them opposite to others, and others no less to St. Paul himself. How oft doth St. Austin redouble that rule, and importunately urge it to his Ecdicia, in that serious Epistle; That, without consent, the continence of the married cannot be warrantable! teaching her, (from these words of St. Paul, which he charges her, in the contrary practice, not to have read, heard, or marked) that if her husband should contain, and she would not, he were bound to pay her the debt of marriage benevolence; and that God would impute it to him for continence notwithstanding. Hence is that of Chrysostom *, that the wife is both the servant and the mistress of her husband : a servant, to yield her body; a mistress, to have power of his. Who also, in the same place, determines it forbidden fraud, for the husband or wife to contain alone, according to that of the Paraphrast, “ Let either both contain, or neither.” Jerome, contrarily, defines thus: “But if one of the two,” saith he, “considering the reward of chastity, will contain, he ought not to assent to the other which contains not, &c. because lust ought rather to come to continency, than continency decline to Just :” concluding, that a brother or a sister is not subject in such a case; and that God hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. A strange gloss to fall from the pen of a Father! which yet I durst not say, if it were more boldness for me to dissent from him, than for him to dissent from all others. He, that censures St. Paul to argue grossly to his Galatians, may as well tax him with an unfit direction to his Corinthians. It shall be no presumption, to say, that, in this point, all his writings betray more zeal than truth : whether the conscience of his former slip caused him to abhor that sex; or his admiration of virginity transported him to a contempt of marriage. Antiquity will afford you many examples of holy men voluntarily sequestered from their wives. Precepts must be our guides, and not patterns. You may tell me of Sozomen's Ammon, that famous monk; who, having persuaded his bride the first day to continuance of virginity, lived with her eighteen years in a seve. ral bed; and, in a several habitation, upon the mountain Nitria, twenty two years: you may tell me of Jerume's Malchus, Austin's Ecdicia, and ten thousand others: I care not for their number, and suspect their example. Do but reconcile their practice with St. Paul's rule, I shall both magnify and imitate them. I profess before God and men, nothing should hinder me but this law of the Apostle: whereto consider, I beseech you, what can be more opposite than this opinion, than this course of life.

* Hom, in 1 Cor, vii.

The Apostle says, Refrain not, but with consent, for a time: your words, and their practice saith, “ Refrain, with consent, for ever.” He saith, meet together again: you say, “never more.” He saith, meet, lest you be tempted : you say, “ meet not, though you be tempted.” I willingly grant, with Athanasius, that, for some set time; especially, as Anselm interprets it, for some holy time; we may, and, in this latter case, we must forbear all matrimonial acts and thoughts: not for that they are sinful, but unseasonable. As marriage must be always used chastely and moderately; so, sometimes, it must be forgotten. How many are drunk with their own vines, and surfeit of their own fruits ! either immodesty or immoderation in man or wife, is adulterous. If yet I shall further yield, that they may conditionally agree, to refrain from each other, so long till they be perplexed with temptations on either part, I shall go as far as the reach of my warrant, at least; perhaps, beyond it: since the Apostle chargeth, Meet again, lest you be templed; not," meet, when you are tempted.” But, to say absolutely and for ever renounce, by consent, the conversation of each other, what tempta

« FöregåendeFortsätt »