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is far fiercer than it is painted. Thus it is easy for one to endure an affliction, as he limns it out in his own fancy, and represents it to himself but in a bare speculation. But when it is brought indeed, and laid home to us, there must be the man, yea, there must be God to assist the man, to undergo it.
The Ape and the Infant.—Some alive will be deposed for the truth of this strange accident, though I forbear the naming of place or persons.
A careless maid, which attended a gentleman's child, fell asleep whilst the rest of the family were at church ; an ape, taking the child out of the cradle, carried it to the roof of the house, and there (according to his rude manner) fell a dancing and dandling thereof, down head, up heels, as it happened.
The father of the child, returning with his family from the church, commented with his own eyes on his child's sad condition. Bemoan he might, help it he could not. Dangerous to shoot the ape where the bullet might hit the babe, all fall to their prayers as their last and best refuge, that the innocent child (whose precipice they suspected) might be preserved.
But when the ape was well wearied with its own activity, he fairly went down, and formally laid the child where he found it, in the cradle.
Fanatics have pleased their fancies these late years with turning and tossing and tumbling of religion, upward and downward, and backward and forward, they have cast and contrived it into a hundred antic postures of their own imagining. However, it is now to be hoped that, after they have tired themselves out with doing of nothing, but only trying and tampering this and that way to no purpose, they may at last return and leave religion in the same condition wherein they found it.
Goods from Rome.-I read how Pope Pius the Fourth had a great ship, richly laden, landed at Sandwich in Kent, where it suddenly sunk, and so, with the sands, choked up the
harbour, that ever since that place hath been deprived of the benefit thereof. I see that happiness doth not always attend the adventures of his holiness. Would he had carried away his ship, and left us our harbour! May his spiritual merchandise never come more into this island, but rather sink in Tiber than sail thus far, bringing so small good and so great annoyance. Sure he is not so happy in opening the doors of heaven, as he is unhappy to obstruct havens on earth.
The Indian and the Letter.— I could both sigh and smile at the simplicity of a native American, sent by a Spaniard, his master, with a basket of figs, and a letter (wherein the figs were mentioned), to carry them both to one of his master's friends. By the way, this messenger eat up the figs, but delivered the letter, whereby his deed was discovered, and he soundly punished. Being sent a second time on the like message, he first took the letter (which he conceived had eyes as well as a tongue) and hid it in the ground, sitting himself on the place where he put it ; and then securely fell to feed on his figs, presuming that that paper which saw nothing could tell nothing. Then, taking it again out of the ground, he delivered it to his master's friend, whereby his fault was perceived, and he worse beaten than before. Men conceive they can manage their sins with secrecy; but they carry about them a letter, or book rather, written by God's finger, their conscience bearing witness to all their actions. But sinners being often detected and accused, hereby grow wary at last, and, to prevent this speaking paper from telling any tales, do smother, stifle, and suppress it, when they go about the committing of any wickedness. Yet conscience (though buried for a time in silence) hath afterwards a resurrection, and discovers all, to their greater shame and heavier punishment.
Rough Wooing. In the days of King Edward the Sixth, the lord protector marched with a powerful army into Scotland, to demand their young queen Mary in marriage to our king, according to their promises. The Scotch refusing to do it, were beaten by the English in Musselburgh fight. One demanding of a Scottish lord (taken prisoner in the battle), “Now, sir, how do you like our king's marriage with your queen ?" "I always," quoth he, "did like the marriage, but I do not like the wooing, that you should fetch a bride with fire and sword." It is not enough for men to propound pious projects to themselves, if they go about by indirect courses to compass them, God's own work must be done by God's own ways. Otherwise we can take no comfort in obtaining the end, if we cannot justify the means used thereunto,
New Shoes.- I have observed that children, when they first put on new shoes, are very curious to keep them clean. Scarce will they set their feet on the ground for fear to dirt the soles of their shoes. Yea, rather they will wipe the leather clean with their coats; and yet, perchance, the next day they will trample with the same shoes in the mire up to the ankles. Alas! children's play is our earnest ! On that day wherein we receive the sacrament, we are often over-precise, scrupling to say or do those things which lawfully we may. But we, who are more than curious that day, are not so much as careful the next; and too often (what shall I say) go on in sin up to the ankles : yea, our sins go over our heads.
The Hour-glass.-Coming hastily into a chamber, I had almost thrown down a crystal hour-glass. Fear, lest I had, made me grieve as if I had broken it. But, alas, how much precious time have I cast away without any regret! The hourglass was but crystal, each hour a pearl ; that but like to be broken, this lost outright; that but casually, this done wilfully. A better hour-glass might be bought; but time lost once, lost ever. Thus we grieve more for toys than for treasure. Lord, give me an hour-glass, not to be by me, but to be in me. Teach me to number my days. An hour-glass to turn me, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom.
Ejaculations take not up any room in the soul. They give liberty of callings, so that at the same instant one may follow his proper vocation. The husbandman may dart forth an ejaculation and not make a balk the more. The seaman nevertheless steer his ship right in the darkest night. Yea, the soldier at the same time may shoot out his prayer to God, and aim his pistol at his enemy, the one better hitting the mark for the other.
The field wherein bees feed is no whit the barer for their biting ; when they have taken their full repast on flowers or grass, the ox may feed, the sheep fat, on their reversions. The reason is because those little chemists distil only the refined part of the flower, leaving the grosser substance thereof. So ejaculations bind not men to any bodily observance, only busy the spiritual half, which maketh them consistent with the prosecution of any other employment.
Eagles' Wings.-God is said to have brought the Israelites out of Egypt on eagles' wings. Now eagles, when removing their young ones, have a different posture from other fowl, proper to themselves (fit it is that there should be a distinction betwixt sovereigns and subjects), carrying their prey in their talons, but young ones on their backs, so interposing their whole bodies betwixt them and harm. The old eagle's body is the young eagle's shield, and must be shot through before her young ones can be hurt.
Thus God, in saving the Jews, put Himself betwixt them and danger. Surely God, so loving under the law, is no less gracious in the gospel : our souls are better secured, not only above His wings, but in His body ; your life is hid with Christ in God. No fear then of harm ; God first must be pierced before we can be prejudiced.
Unwelcome Society.—Lord, this day casually I am fallen into a bad company, and know not how I came hither, or how to get hence. Sure I am, not my improvidence hath run me, but thy providence hath led me into this danger. I was not wandering in any base by-path, but walking in the highway of my vocation; wherefore, Lord, thou that calledst me hither, keep me here. Stop their mouths, that they speak no blasphemy, or stop my ears, that I hear none; or open my mouth soberly to reprove what I hear. Give me to guard myself ; but, Lord, guard my guarding of myself. Let not the smoke of their badness put out mine eyes, but the shining of my innocency lighten theirs. Let me give physic to them, and not take infection from them. Yea, make me the better for their badness.
Dangerous Flexibility.--I perceive there is in the world a good nature, falsely so called, as being nothing but a facile and flexible disposition, wax for every impression. What others are so bold to beg, they are so bashful as not to deny, Such osiers can never make beams to bear stress in church and state. If this be good nature, let me always be a clown; if this be good fellowship, let me always be a churl. Give me to set a sturdy porter before my soul, who may not equally open to every comer. I cannot conceive how he can be a friend to any, who is a friend to all, and the worst foe to himself.
“ If the Lord will." - Lord, when in any writing I have occasion to insert these passages, God willing, God lending me life, &c., I observe, Lord, that I can scarce hold my hand from encircling these words in a parenthesis, as if they were not essential to the sentence, but may as well be left out as put in. Whereas, indeed, they are not only of the commission at large, but so of the quorum, that without them all the rest is nothing ; wherefore hereafter I will write those words fully and fairly, without any enclosure about them. Let critics censure it for bad grammar, I am sure it is good divinity.
Envy.--Lord, I perceive my soul deeply guilty of envy. By my good will I would have none prophesy but mine own