페이지 이미지

Chi bene

content. I know both how to be abafed, and I know how mal non puo to abound: every where and in all things I am inftrugrand honor Eted both how to be full and to be hungry, both to anon puo ve bound and fuffer need.

fuffrir, à


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

We are in the world like men playing at Tables the chance is not in our power, but to play it is; and when it is fallen we must manage it as we can; and let nothing trouble us, but when we do a bafe action, or speak like a fool, or think wickedly: These things God hath put into our powers; but concerning thofe things which are wholly in the choice of another, they cannot fall under our deliberation, and therefore neither are they fit for our paffions. My fear may make me miserable, but it cannot prevent what another hath in his power and purpose: and profperities can only be enjoyed by them who fear not at all to lose them, fince the amazement and paffion concerning the future takes off all the pleafure of the prefent poffeffion. Therefore if thou haft loft thy land, do not alfo lofe thy conftancy: and if thou must die a little fooner, yet do not die impatiently. For no chance is evil to him that is content, and to a man nothing is miferable, unless it be unreasonable. No man can make another man to be his flave unless he hath firit enflaved himself to life and death, to pleasure or pain, to hope or fear: command thefe paffions, and you are freer than the Parthian Kings.

Inftruments or Exercises to procure Contentedness.

Upon the strength of the premiffes we may reduce this virtue to practice by its proper inftruments first, and then by fome more fpecial confiderations or arguments of content.

1. When any thing happens to our displeasure, let us endeavour to take off its trouble by turning it into fpiritual or artificial advantage, and handle it on that fide in which it may be useful to the defigns of Reason. For there is nothing but hath a double handle, or at least we have two hands to apprehend it.


When an enemy reproaches us, let us look on him as an impartial relater of our faults, for he will tell thee truer than thy fondest friend will; and thou mayft call them precious balm though they break thy head, and forgive his anger while thou makeft ufe of the plainnefs of his declamation. The Ox when he is weary treads fureft: and if there be nothing else in the difgrace but that it makes us to walk warily, and tread fure for fear of our enemies, that is better than to be flattered into pride and carelefnefs. This is the charity of Chriftian Philofophy, which expounds the fence of the Divine Providence fairly, and reconciles us to it by a charitable conftruction and we may as well refufe all phyfick, if we confider it only as unpleasant in the tafte; and we may find fault with the rich valleys of Thar fus, because they are circled by fharp mountains; but fo alfo we may be in charity with every unpleasant accident, because though it tafte bitter, it is intended for health and medicine.

If therefore thou falleft from thy employment in publick, take fanctuary in an honeft retirement, being indifferent to thy gain abroad, or thy fafety at home. If thou art out of favour with thy Prince, fecure the favour of the King of Kings, and then there is no harm come to thee. And when Zeno Citienfis loft all his goods in a storm, he retired to the ftudies of Philofophy, to his short cloak, and a fevere life, and gave thanks to fortune for his profperous mifchance. When the North-wind blows hard and it rains fadly, none but fools fit down in it and cry, wife people defend themselves against it with a warm garment or a good fire and a dry roof: When a storm of a fad mifchance beats upon our fpirits, turn it into fome advantage by obferving where it can ferve another end, either of Religion or Prudence, or more fafety or lefs envy: it will turn into fomething that is good, if we lift to make it fo; at least it may make us weary of the world's vanity, and take off our confidence from uncertain riches; and make our fpirits to dwell in thofe regions where content dwells effentially. If it does


any good to our fouls, it hath made more than sufficient recompence for all the temporal affliction. He that threw a stone at a dog, and hit his cruel ftep-mother, faid, that although he intended it otherwife, yet the ftone was not quite loft: and if we fail in the firft defign, if we bring it home to another equally to content us, or more to profit us, then we have put our conditions paft the power of chance; and this was called in the old Greek Comedy, a being revenged on Fortune by becoming Philofophers, and turning the chance into Reason or Religion: for so a wife man fhall over-rule his ftars, and have a greater influence upon his own content than all the conftellations and planets of the firmament.

2. Never compare thy condition with those above thee; but to fecure thy content, look upon those thoufands with whom thou wouldeft not for any interest change thy fortune and condition. A Soldier must not think himself unprofperous, if he be not fuccessful as the Son of Philip, or cannot grafp a fortune as big as the Roman Empire. Be content that thou art not leffened as was Pyrrhus; or if thou beeft, that thou art not routed like Craffus: and when that comes to thee, it is a great profperity that thou art not caged and made a fpectacle like Bajazet, or thy eyes were not pull'd out like Zedekiah's, or that thou wert not flay'd'alive like Valentinian. If thou admireft the greatnefs of Xerxes, look alfo on thofe that digged the mountain Atho, or whofe ears and nofes were cut off, because the Helle Spont carried away the bridge. It is a fine thing (thou thinkeft) to be carried on men's fhoulders: but give God thanks that thou art not forced to carry a rich fool upon thy thoulders, as thofe poor men do whom thou beholdeft. There are but a few Kings in mankind, but many thoufands who are very miferable, if compared to thee: However, it is a huge folly rather to grieve for the good of others, than to rejoyce for that good which God hath given us of our own.

And yet there is no wife or good man that would change perfons or conditions intirely with any man in the world. It may be he would have one man's wealthi added

added to himself, or the power of a fecond, or the learning of a third; but ftill he would receive these into his own perfon, because he loves that beft, and therefore esteems it beft, and therefore over-values all that which he is, before all that which any other man in the world can be. Would any man be Dives to have his Wealth, or Judas for his Office, or Saul for his Kingdom, or Abfolom for his Bounty, or Achitophel for his Policy? It is likely he would wish all these, and yet he would be the fame perfon ftill. For every man hath defires of his own, and objects juft fitted to them, without which he cannot be, unless he were not himself. And let every man that loves himself so well as to love himself before all the world, confider if he have not fomething for which in the whole he values himself far more than he can value any man else. There is therefore no reason to take the finest feathers from all the winged nation to deck that bird that thinks already fhe is more valuable than any of the Inhabitants of the air. Either change all or none. Ceafe to love your felf beft, or be content with that portion of being and bleffing for which you love your self fo well.

3. It conduces much to our content, if we pass by thofe things which happen to our trouble, and confider that which is pleafing and profperous, that by the representation of the better, the worfe may be blotted out: and at the worst you have enough to keep you alive, and to keep up and to improve your hopes of Heaven. If I be overthrown in my fuit at law, yet my houfe is left me ftill and my land; or I have a vertuous wife, or hopeful children, or kind friends, or good hopes. If I have loft one child, it may be I have two or three ftill left me. Or elfe reckon the bleffings which already you have received, and therefore he pleased in the change and variety of affairs to receive evil from the hand of God as well as good. Antipater of Tarfus used this art to fupport his forrows on his death-bed, and reckoned the good things of his paft life, not forgetting to recount it as a bleffing,

[ocr errors]

La feperanza è il pande poveri.

Non fi male nunc, & olim fic erit.


an argument that God took care of him, that he had a profperous journey from Cilicia to Athens. Or else please thy felf with hopes of a future: for we were born with this fadnets upon us; and it was change that brought us into it, and a change may bring us out again. Harvest will come, and then every Farmer is rich, at least for a month or two. It may be thou art entred into the cloud which will bring a gentle thower to refiefh thy forrows.

Δεὶ γεωργὸς εἰς νέωτα πλέσιο.

Now fuppofe thy felf in as great a sadness as ever did load thy fpirit, wouldst thou not bear it chearfully and nobly, if thou wert sure that within a certain space fome ftrange excellent fortune would relieve thee, and enrich thee, and recompence thee fo as to overflow all thy hopes and thy defires and capacities? Now then, when a fadnefs lies heavy upon thee, remember that thou art a Chriftian defigned to the inheritance of Jefus: and what doft thou think concerning thy great fortune, thy lot and portion of eternity? Doft thou think thou thall be faved or damned? Indeed if thou thinkeft thou fhalt perish, I cannot blame thee to be fad, fad till thy heart-ftrings crack: but then why art thou troubled at the lofs of thy money? What thould a damned man do with money, which in fo great a fadnefs it is impoffible for him to enjoy? Did ever any man upon the rack afflict himself because he had received a cross anfwer from his miftrefs? or call for rhe particulars of a purchase upon the gallows? If thou doft really believe thou fhalt be damned, I do not fay it will cure the fadness of thy poverty, but it will swallow it up. But if thou believeft thou fhalt be faved, confider bow great is that joy, how infinite is that change, how unspeakable is the glory, how excellent is the recompence for all the fufferings in the World, if they were all laden upon thy fpirit; fo that let thy condition be what it will, if thou confidereft thy own prefent condition, and compareft it to thy future poffibility, thou canst not feel the prefent finart of

a croft

« 이전계속 »