« PreviousContinue »
charity there is a shadow and image, even in noble beasts; for of lions, it is a received opinion that their fury and fierceness ceaseth towards any thing that yieldeth and prostrateth itself, The second degree is, to pardon our enemies, though they persist, and without satisfactions and submissions, The third degree is, not only to pardon and forgive, and forbear our enemies, but to deserve well of them and to do them good : but all these three degrees either have or may have in them a certain bravery and greatness of the mind rather than pure charity; for when a man perceiveth virtue to proceed and flow from himself, it is possible that he is puffed up and takes contentment rather in the fruit of his own virtue than in the good of his neighbours; but if any evil overtake the enemy from any other coast than from thyself, and thou in the inwardest motions of thy heart be grieved and compassionate, and dost no ways insult, as if thy days of right and revenge were at the last come; this I interpret to be the height and exaltation of Charity.
OF THE MODERATION OF CARES.
"Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof."
There ought to be a measure in worldly cares otherwise they are both unprofitable, as those which oppress the mind and astonish the judgment, and prophane, as those which savour of a mind which promiseth to itself a certain perpetuity in the things of this world; for we ought to be day's men and not to-morrow's men, considering the shortness of our time; and as he saith," Laying hold on the present
day;" for future things shall in their turns become presents, therefore the care of the present sufficeth; and yet moderate cares (whether they concern our particular, or the commonwealth, or our friends) are not blamed. But herein is a twofold excess; the one when the chain or thread of our cares, extended and spun out to an over great length, and unto times too far off, as if we could bind the divine providence by our provisions, which even with the heathen, was always found to be a thing insolent and unlucky; for those which did attribute much to fortune, and were ready at hand to apprehend with alacrity the present occasions, have for the most part in their actions been happy; but they who in a compass, wisdom, have entered into a confidence that they had belayed all events, have for the most part encountered misfortune. The second excess is, when we dwell longer in our cares than is requisite for due deliberating or firm resolving; for who is there amongst us that careth no more than sufficeth either to resolve of a course or to conclude upon an impossibility, and doth not still chew over the same things, and tread a maze in the same thoughts, and vanisheth in them without issue or conclusion: which kind of cares are most contrary to all divine and human respects.
OF EARTHLY HOPE.
"Better is the sight of the eye, than the apprehension of the mind."
Pure sense receiving every thing according to the natural impression, makes a better state and govern
ment of the mind, than these same imaginations and apprehensions of the mind; for the mind of man hath this nature and property even in the gravest and most settled wits, that from the sense of every particular, it doth as it were bound and spring forward, and take hold of other matters, foretelling unto itself that all shall prove like unto that which beateth upon the present sense; if the sense be of good, it easily runs into an unlimited hope, and into a like fear, when the sense is of evil, according as is sajd
"The oracles of hopes doth oft abuse,"
And that contrary,
"A froward soothsayer is fear in doubts."
But yet of fear there may be made some use; for it prepareth patience and awaketh industry,
"No shape of ill, comes new or strange to me,
But hope seemeth a thing altogether unprofitable; for to what end serveth this conceit of good. Consider and note a little if the good fall out less than thou hopest; good though it be, yet less because it is, it seemeth rather loss than benefit through thy excess of hope; if the good prove equal and proportionable in event to thy hope, yet the flower thereof by thy hope is gathered; so as when it comes grace of it is gone, and it seems used, and therefore sooner draweth on satiety; admit thy success prove better than thy hope, it is true a gain seems to be made but had it not been better to have gained the principal by hoping for nothing, than the increase by hoping for less; and this is the operation of hope
in good fortunes, but in misfortunes it weakeneth all force and vigour of the mind; for neither is there always matter of hope, and if there be, yet if it fail but in part, it doth wholly overthrow the constancy and resolution of the mind; and besides, though it doth carry us through, yet it is a greater dignity of mind to bear evils by fortitude and judgment, than by a kind of absenting and alienation of the mind from things present to things future, for that it is to hope. And therefore it was much lightness in the poets to fain hope to be as a counter-poison of human diseases, as to mitigate and assuage the fury and anger of them, whereas indeed it doth kindle and enrage them, and causeth both doubling of them and relapses. Notwithstanding we see that the greatest number of men give themselves over to their imaginations of hope and apprehensions of the mind in such sort, that ungrateful towards things past, and in a manner unmindful of things present, as if they were ever children and beginners, they are still in longing for things to come. "I saw all men walk
ing under the sun, resort and gather to the second 66 person, which was afterwards to succeed: this is an " evil disease, and a great idleness of the mind."
But perhaps you will ask the question, whether it be not better, when things stand in doubtful terms, to presume the best, and rather hope well than distrust; specially seeing that hope doth cause a greater tranquillity of mind?
Surely I do judge a state of mind which in all doubtful expectations is settled and floateth not; and
phesy, as is delivered unto us by Jude, and did endow the church with the fruit of his prophesy which he left and John Baptist, unto whom they did refer as to the author of a monastical life, travelled and exercised much in the ministry both of prophesy and baptizing; for as to these others, who are so officious towards God, to them belongeth that question, “If thou do justly what is that to God, or "what profit doth he take by thy hands?" Wherefore the works of mercy are they which are the works of distinction, whereby to find out hypocrites. But with heretics it is contrary; for as hypocrites, with their dissembling holiness towards God, do palliate and cover their injuries towards men; so heretics, by their morality and honest carriage towards men, insinuate and make a way with their blasphemies against God.
"Whether we be transported in mind it is to Godward;
This is the true image and true temper of a man, and of him that is God's faithful workman; his carriage and conversation towards God is full of passion, of zeal, and of tramisses; thence proceed groans unspeakable, and exultings likewise in comfort, ravishment of spirit and agonies; but contrariwise, his carriage and conversation towards men is full of mildness, sobriety, and appliable demeanour. Hence is that saying, "I am become all things to all men," and such like. Contrary it is with hypocrites and