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blasphemy to personate God, and bring him in, saying, “ I will descend, and be like the prince of darkness :” and what is it better to make the cause of Religion to descend to the cruel and execrable actions of murdering princes, butchery of people, and subversion of states and governments ? Surely this is to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a Dove, in the shape of a vulture or raven; and to set out of the bark of a Christian church, a flag of a bark of pirates and assassins. Therefore it is most necessary, that the Church by doctrine and decree, princes by their sword, and all learnings, both Christian and moral, as by their Mercury rod, do damn and send to Hell for ever those facts and opinions, tending to the support of the same, as hath been already in good part done. Surely in councils concerning Religion, that counsel of the Apostle would be prefixed, “ The wrath of man does not fill up the justice of God.” And it was a notable observation of a wise Father, and no less ingenuously confessed, “ that those which
" held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interested therein themselves for their own ends."
Of Revenge. REVENGE is a kind of wild justice ; which the more man's nature runs tò, the more ought law to
weed it out. For as to the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking Revenge, a man is but even with his in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure, saith: " It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.” That which is past, is gone, and irrecoverable; and wise men have enough to do with things present, and to come: therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why? yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of Revenge, is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy: but then let a man take heed, that the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh: this is the more generous. For the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt, as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards are
like the arrow that fieth in the dark. Cosmus Duke of Florence had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable: “ You shall read," saith he, " that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we are commanded to forgive our friends.” But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune; “Shall we,” saith he,“ take good at God's hand, and not be content to take evil also ?” And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal, and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate, as that for the death of Cæsar, for the death of Pertinax, for the death of Henry the Third of France, and many more.
But in private revenges it is not so. Nay, rather vindicative persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.
Of Adversity. IT
was a high speech of Seneca, (after the manner of the Stoics) " that the good things which belong to Prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to Adversity are to be admired :" “ Bona rerum secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia." Certainly, if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in Adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other, (much too high for a heathen) “ It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God: “ Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei.” This would have done better in poesy, where transcendencies are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy with it'; for it is in effect the thing, which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian: that“ Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus, (by whom human nature is represented) sailed the length of the great ocean in an earthen pot or pitcher;" lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the world. But to speak in a mean: the virtue of Prosperity is temperance; the virtue of Adversity is fortitude, which in morals the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, Adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you
listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs, as carols. And the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of Solomon.
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and Adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle-works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground. Judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart, by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed : for Prosperity doth best discover vice, but Adversity doth best discover virtue.
Of Simulation and Dissimulation. DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of policy or wisdom; for it asketh a strong wit and a strong heart, to know when to tell truth, and to do it. Therefore it is the weaker sort of politics, that are the great Dissemblers.
Tacitus saith, “ Livia sorted well with the arts of her Husband, and Dissimulation of her Son;" attributing arts or policy to Augustus, and Dissimulation to Tiberius. And again, when Mucianus encourageth Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, “ We rise not against the piercing judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or closeness of Tiberius.” These properties of arts or policy, and Dissimulation, or closeness, are indeed