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THE ADVENT TO JUDGMENT.
mustered, all that world that Augustus Cæsar taxed, all those hundreds of millions that were slain in all the Roman wars, from Numa's time till Italy was broken into principalities and small exarchates : all these, and all that can come into numbers, and that did descend from the loins of Adam, shall at once be represented ; to which account, if we add the armies of heaven, the nine orders of blessed spirits, and the infinite numbers in every order, we may suppose the numbers fit to express the majesty of that God, and the terror of that Judge, who is the Lord and Father of all that unimaginable multitude !
In this great multitude we shall meet all those who, by their example and their holy precepts, have, like tapers enkindled with a beam of the Sun of Righteousness, enlightened us, and taught us to walk in the paths of justice. There we shall see all those good men whom God sent to preach to us, and recall us from human follies and inhuman practices; and when we espy the good man that chid us for our last drunkenness or adulteries, it shall then also be remembered how we mocked at counsel, and were civilly modest at the reproof, but laughed when the man was gone, and accepted it for a religious compliment, and took our leave, and went and did the same again. But then, things shall put on another face; and that we smiled at here and slighted fondly, shall be the greatest terror in the world; men shall feel that they once laughed at their own destruction, and rejected health when it was offered by a man of God upon no other condition, but that they would be wise and not be in love with death.
But there is a worse sight than this yet, which, in that great assembly, shall distract our sight and amaze our spirits. There men shall meet the partners of their sins, and them that drank the round, when they crowned their heads with folly and forgetfulness, and their cups with wine and noises. There shall ye see that poor, perishing soul, whom thou didst tempt to adultery and wantonness, to drunkenness or perjury, to VOL. II.
rebellion or an evil interest, by power or craft, by witty discourses or deep dissembling, by scandal or a snare, by evil example or pernicious counsel, by malice or unwariness: and when all this is summed up, and from the variety of its particulars is drawn into an uneasy load and a formidable sum, possibly we may find sights enough to scare all our confidences, and arguments enough to press our evil souls into the sorrows of a most intolerable death. For, however, we make now but light accents and evil proportions concerning it, yet it will be a fearful circumstance of appearing to see one, or two, or ten, or twenty accursed souls, despairing, miserable, infinitely miserable, roaring and blaspheming, and fearfully accursing thee as the cause of its eternal sorrows.
Thy lust betrayed her weak, unguarded innocence; thy example made thy servant confident to lie, or to be perjured ; thy society brought a third into intemperance, or the disguises of a beast; and when thou seest that soul, with whom thou didst sin, dragged into hell, well mayest thou fear to drink the dregs of thy intolerable potion. .
The majesty of the Judge, and the terrors of the judgment, shall be spoken aloud by the immediate fore-running accidents, which shall be so great violences to the old constitutions of nature, that it shall break her very bones, and disorder her till she be destroyed. St Jerome relates out of the Jews' books, that their doctors used to account fifteen days of prodigy immediately before Christ's coming, and to every day assign a wonder, any one of which, if we should chance to see in the days of our flesh, it would affright us into the like thoughts which the old world had, when they saw the countries round about them covered with water and the Divine vengeance ; or as these poor people near Adria and the Mediterranean Sea, when their houses and cities were entering into graves, and the bowels of the earth rent with convulsions and horrid tremblings. The sea, they say, shall rise fifteen cubits above the highest
mountains, and thence descend into hollowness and a prodigious drought; and when they are reduced again to their usual proportions, then all the beasts and creeping things, the monsters and the usual inhabitants of the sea, shall be gathered together, and make fearful noises to distract mankind: the birds shall mourn and change their song into threnes and sad accents : rivers of fire shall rise from east to west, and the stars shall be rent into threads of light, and scatter like the beards of comets; then shall be fearful earthquakes, and the rocks shall rend in pieces, the trees shall distil blood, and the mountains and fairest structures shall return into their primitive dust; the wild beasts shall leave their dens, and shall come into the companies of men, so that you shall hardly tell how to call them, herds of men or congregations of beasts; then shall the graves open and give up their dead, and those which are alive in nature and dead in fear shall be forced from the rocks whither they went to hide them, and from caverns of the earth where they would fain have been concealed ; because their retirements are dismantled, and their rocks are broken into wider ruptures, and admit a strange light into their secret bowels; and the men being forced abroad into the theatre of mighty horrors, shall run up and down distracted, and at their wits' end; and then some shall die, and some shall be changed; and by this time the elect shall be gathered together from the four quarters of the world, and Christ shall come along with them to judgment.
The House of Feasting.
Said Epicurus, “I feed sweetly upon bread and water, those sweet and easy provisions of the body, and I defy the pleasures of costly provisions;” and the man was so confident that he had the advantage over wealthy tables, that he thought himself happy as the immortal gods; for these provisions are easy, they are to be gotten without amazing cares; no man needs to flatter, if he can live as nature did intend: he need not swell his accounts, and intricate his spirit with arts of subtlety and contrivance; he can be free from fears, and the chances of the world cannot concern him. And this is true, not only in those severe and anchoretical and philosophical persons, who lived meanly as a sheep, and without variety as the Baptist; but, in the same proportion, it is also true in every man that can be contented with that which is honestly sufficient. All our trouble is from within us; and if a dish of lettuce and a clear fountain can cool all my heats, so that I shall have neither thirst nor pride, lust por revenge, envy nor ambition, I am lodged in the bosom of felicity; and indeed no men sleep so soundly as they that lay their head upon nature's lap. For a single dish and a clean chalice, lifted from the springs, can cure my hunger and thirst; but the meat of Ahasuerus's feast cannot satisfy my ambition and my pride. He, therefore, that hath the fewest desires and the most quiet passions, whose wants are soon provided for, and whose possessions cannot be disturbed with violent fears—he that dwells next door to satisfaction, and can carry his needs and lay them down where he pleases—this man is the happy man; and this is not to be done in great designs and swelling fortunes.
For as it is in plants, nature makes regular provisions, and dresses them with strength and ornament, with easiness and full stature; but if you thrust a jessamine there, where she would have had a daisy grow, or bring the tall fir from dwelling in his own country, and transport the orange or the almond tree near the fringes of the north star, nature is displeased, and becomes unnatural, and starves her sucklings, and renders you a return less than your charge and expectation : so it is in all our appetites ; when they are natural and proper, nature feeds them and makes them healthful and lusty, as the coarse offspring of the Scythian clown; she feeds them and makes
them easy without cares and costly passion : but if you
thrust an appetite into her, which she intended not, she gives you sickly and uneasy banquets; you must struggle with her for every drop of milk she gives beyond her own needs ; you may get gold from her entrails, and, at a great charge, provide ornaments for your queens and princely women : but our lives are spent in the purchase ; and when you have got them, you must have more : for these cannot content you, nor nourish the spirit. A man must labour infinitely to get more than he needs; but, to drive away thirst and hunger, a man needs not sit in the fields of the oppressed poor, nor lead armies, nor break his sleep, and to suffer shame and danger, and envy
and affront, and all the retinue of infelicity.
If men did but know what felicity dwells in the cottage of a virtuous poor man, how sound he sleeps, how quiet his breast, how composed his mind, how free from care, how easy his provision, how healthful his morning, how sober his night, how moist his mouth, how joyful his heart, they would never admire the noises, and the diseases, the throng of passions, and the violence of unnatural appetites, that fill the houses of the luxurious, and the heart of the ambitious. These which you call pleasures are but the imagery and fantastic appearances, and such appearances even poor men may have. It is like felicity that the king of Persia should come to Babylon in the winter, and to Susa in the summer; and be attended with all the servants of one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, and with all the princes of Asia. It is like this, that Diogenes went to Corinth in the time of vintage, and to Athens when winter came; and instead of courts, visited the temples and the schools, and was pleased in the society of scholars and learned men, and conversed with the students of all Asia and Europe. If a man loves privacy, the poor in fortune can have that when princes cannot; if he loves noises, he can go to markets and to courts, and may glut himself with