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variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground for strife and contention: or a shop for profit or sale; and not a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of man's estate.
King Charles's Return. IF human force and preparation could have determined the event of things, and Providence had proceeded by the same measures which men judge, the business of this day, I am sure, had been desperate, and as impossible in the event, as it was once in the opinion and discourse of some, who, having done their utmost to prevent it, had the good luck to get too much by it, when it came to pass. For were not the usurpers just before the king's restoration as strong as ever ? Did they not sit lording it in the head of victorious fleets and armies, with their feet upon the neck of three conquered enslaved kingdoms ? and striking such an awe and terror into all about them, that the boldest of their adversaries durst not so much as stir or open their mouths either against their persons or proceedings? And now in this state of things, who would have imagined, that any thing could have recovered the lost sceptre, but a triumphant sword? Or that the crown, being once fought off from the royal owner's head, could have ever returned to it, but by being fought on again? These and no other methods of restoring the king did either his friends or his enemies think of; but so infinitely unlikely and unfeasible were they, that his enemies feared them as little as his friends had grounds to hope for them.
When, behold! on a sudden, and in the height of all their pride, policy, and power, Providence gives them a turn, and they see the whole web, which with so much pains, cost, and cunning, they had been so long a weaving, unravelled before their eyes in a moment, and themselves clear off the stage, without having settled any one of those innovations either in church or state, which they had been swearing and lying, whining and praying, plundering and fighting, and cutting throats for, (all in the Lord, for near twenty years together; but instead thereof, the ancient government restored, and happily set upon its former bottom, (could it have kept itself there ;) and all this (to phrase it in the words of a late historian) so easily and with so little noise, that the wresting of that usurped power out of their hands cost not so much as a broken head or a bloody nose; for the getting of which they had wasted so many millions of treasure, and more than one hundred thousand lives, not to mention the loss of souls: by such unlikely and unforseeable ways does Providence sometimes bring about its great designs, in opposition to the shrewdest conjectures and contrivances of men. And thus much for the other general argument, proving the inability of any human wisdom to comprehend the designs of Providence, taking from those false rates and grounds, by which men generally forejudge of the issue or event of actions.
XXII. Pragmatical meddling with other men's matters. THERE are some, whose restless, insinuating, searching humour will never suffer them to be quiet, unless they dive into the concerns of all about them; they are always outward bound, but homeward never; they are perpetually looking about them, but never within them; they can hardly relish or digest what they eat at their own table, unless they know what and how much is served up to another man's; they cannot sleep quietly themselves, unless they know when their neighbour rises and goes to bed; they must know who visits him, and who is visited by him ; what company he keeps; what revenues he has, and what he spends; how much he owes, and how much is owed to him. And this, in the judgment of some, is to be a man of business; that is, in other words, to be a plague and a spy, a treacherous supplanter and underminer of the peace of all families and societies. This being a maxim of an unfailing truth, that nobody ever pries into another man's concerns, but with a design to do, or to be able to do him a mischief. A most detestable humour doubtless, and yet, as bad as it is, since there is nothing so base, barbarous, and dishonourable, but power joined with malice will sometimes make use of it, it may, and often does, raise a man a pitch higher in this world, though (it is to be feared) it may send him a large step lower in the next.
XXIII. The Pleasure of Study and Contemplation. I CAN wonder at nothing more than how a man can be idle; but of all others, a scholar; in so many improvements of reasons, in such sweetness of knowledge, in such variety of studies, in such importunity of thoughts : other artizans do but practise, we still learn; others run still in the same gyre to weariness, to satiety; our choice is infinite; other labours require recreations; our very labour recreates our sports; we can never want either somewhat to do, or somewhat that we would do. What an heaven lives a scholar in, that at once in one close room can daily converse with all the glorious martyrs and fathers ? that can single out at pleasure, either sententious Tertullian, or grave Cyprian, or resolute Hierome, or flowing Chrysostome, or divine Ambrose, or devout Bernard, or, (who alone is all these) heavenly Augustine, and talk with them and hear their wise and holy counsels, verdicts, resolutions. Let the world contemn us; while we have these delights we cannot envy them; we cannot wish ourselves other than we are. Besides, the way to all other contentments is troublesome; the only recompence is in the end. To delve in the mines, to scorch in the fire for the getting, for the fining of gold is a slavish toil; the comfort is in the wedge to the owner, not the labourers; where our very search of knowledge is delightsome. Study itself is our life; from which we would not be barred for a world. How much sweeter then is the fruit of study, the conscience of knowledge? In comparison whereof the soul that hath once tasted it, easily contemns all human comforts.
XXIV. cuisdom selects true pleasures. WISDOM is exceedingly pleasant and peaceable; in general, by disposing us to acquire and to enjoy all the good delight and happiness we are capable of; and by freeing us from all the inconveniences, mischiefs, and infelicities our condition is subject to. For whatever good
from clear understanding, deliberate advice, sagacious foresight, stable resolution, dextrous address, right intention, and orderly proceeding doth naturally result, wisdom confers : whatever evil blind ignorance, false presumption, unwary credulity, precipitate rashness, unsteady purpose, ill contrivances, backwardness, inability, unwieldiness and confusion of thought beget, wisdom prevents. From a thousand snares and treacherous allurements, from innumerable rocks and dangerous surprises, from exceedingly many needless incumbrances and vexatious toils of fruitless endeavours she redeems and secures us.
Wisdom instructs us to examine, compare, and rightly to value the objects that court our affections and challenge our care; and thereby regulates our passions and moderates our endeavours, which begets a pleasant serenity and peaceable tranquillity of mind. For when being deluded with false shews, and relying upon illgrounded presumptions, we highly esteem, passionately affect, and eagerly pursue things of little worth in themselves or concernment to us; as we unhandsomely prostitute our affections, and prodigally mis-spend our time, and vainly lose our labour, so the event not answering our expectation, our minds thereby are confounded, disturbed and distempered. But, when guided by right reason, we conceive great esteem of, and zealously are enamoured with, and vigorously strive to attain things of excellent worth and weighty consequence, the conscience of having well placed our affections and well employed our pains, and the experience of fruits corresponding to our hopes, ravishes our minds with unexpressible content.