Page images
PDF
EPUB

and then be stocked, or whipped, or branded, or forced to fourfold restitution, or put to any other shameful or painful punishment. But he saith, Lest I steal, and take the name of my God in vain ; that is, lest professing to serve thee, I confute a good profession with a bad conversation. Thus thy children count sin to be the greatest smart in sin, as being more sensible of the wound they therein give to the glory of God, than of all the stripes that man may lay upon them for punishment Strange and True.—I read, in the Revelation (xiii

. 3), of a beast, one of whose heads was, as it were, wounded to death. I expected in the next verse that the beast should die, as the most probable consequence, considering :

1. It was not a scratch, but a wound.

2. Not a wound in a fleshy part, or out-limbs of the body, but in the very head, the throne of reason.

3. No light wound, but in outward apparition (having no other probe but St John's eyes to search it), it seemed deadly.

But mark what immediately follows: And his deadly wound was healed. Who would have suspected this inference from these premises ? But is not this the lively emblem of my natural corruption ? Sometimes I conceived that, by God's grace, I have conquered and killed, subdued and slain, maimed and mortified, the deeds of the flesh : never more shall I be molested or buffeted with such a bosom sin : when, alas! by the next return, the news is, it is revived and recovered. Thus tenches, though previously gashed, presently plaster themselves whole by that slimy and unctuous humour they have in them; and thus the inherent balsam of badness quickly cures my corruption, not a scar to be seen. I perceive I shall never finally kill it, till first I be dead myself.

Blushing to be blushed for.--A person of great quality was pleased to lodge a night in my house. I durst not invite him

[blocks in formation]

to my family prayer; and therefore for that time omitted it : thereby making a breach in a good custom, and giving Satan advantage to assault it.

Yea, the loosening of such a link might have endangered the scattering of the chain.

Bold bashfulness, which durst offend God whilst it did fear man ! Especially considering, that though my guest was never so high, yet by the laws of hospitality, I was above him whilst he was under my roof. Hereafter, whosoever cometh within the doors, shall be requested to come within the discipline of my house ; if accepting my homely diet, he will not refuse my home devotion ; and sitting at my table, will be entreated to kneel down by it.

Always seen, never minded. - In the most healthful times, two hundred and upwards was the constant weekly tribute paid to mortality in London. A large bill, but it must be discharged. Can one city spend according to this weekly rate and not be bankrupt of people ? At leastwise, must not my shot be called for to make ир the reckoning ?

When only seven young men, and those chosen by lot, were but yearly taken out of Athens to be devoured by the monster Minotaur, the whole city was in a constant fright-children for themselves, and parents for their children.

Yea, their escaping of the first was but an introduction to the next year's lottery.

Were the dwellers and lodgers in London weekly to cast lots who should make up this two hundred, how would every one be affrighted ? Now none regard it. My security concludes the aforesaid number will amount of infants and old folk. Few men of the middle age, and amongst them surely not myself. But, oh! is not this putting the evil day far from me, the ready way to bring it the nearest to me? The lot is weekly drawn (though not by me) for me, I am therefore concerned seriously to provide, lest that death's prize prove my blank.

A Formidable Antagonist.-A duel was to be fought, by consent of both kings, betwixt an English and a French lord. The aforesaid John Courcy, Earl of Ulster, was chosen champion for the English ; a man of great stomach and strength, but lately much weakened by long imprisonment. Wherefore, to prepare himself beforehand, the king allowed him what plenty and variety of meat he was pleased to eat. But the monsieur (who was to encounter him) hearing what great quantity of victuals Courcy did daily devour, and thence collecting his unusual strength, out of fear refused to fight with him. If by the standard of their cups, and measure of their drinking, one might truly infer soldiers' strength by rules of proportion, most vast and valiant achievements may justly be expected from some gallants of these times.

Ambiguous Arguments.—I have heard that the brook near Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, into which the ashes of the burnt bones of Wickliffe were cast, never since doth drown the meadow about it. Papists expound this to be, because God was well pleased with the sacrifice of the ashes of such a heretic. Protestants ascribe it rather to proceed from the virtue of the dust of such a reverend martyr. I see it is a case for a friend. Such accidents signify nothing in themselves but according to the pleasure of interpreters. Give me such solid reasons, whereon I may rest and rely. Solomon saith, “The words of the wise are like nails, fastened by the masters of the assembly.” A nail is firm, and will hold driving in, and will hold driven in.

Send me such arguments. As for these waxen topical devices, I shall never think worse or better of any religion for their sake.

Sow plentifully.--Alexander the Great, when a child, was checked by his governor Leonidas for being overprofuse in spending perfumes : because on a day, being to sacrifice to the gods, he took both his hands full of frankincense, and cast it into the fire : but afterwards, being a man, he conquered the

AHAZ, AND THE STEPS OF HIS ALTAR.

379

Our eyes,

country of Judæa (the fountain whence such spices did flow), and sent Leonidas a present of five hundred talents' weight of frankincense, to shew him how his former prodigality made him thrive the better in success, and to advise him to be no more niggardly in Divine service. Thus they that sow plentifully shall reap plentifully. I see there is no such way to have a large harvest as to have a large heart. The free giving of the branches of our present estate to God, is the readiest means to have the root increased for the future.

By Degrees.-See by what stairs wicked Ahaz (2 Kings xvi. did climb up to the height of profaneness.

First, he saw an idolatrous altar at Damascus. when gazing on sinful objects, are out of their calling and God's keeping

Secondly, he liked it. There is a secret fascination in superstition, and our souls are soon bewitched with the gaudiness of false service from the simplicity of God's worship.

Thirdly, he made the like to it. And herein Uriah the priest (patron and chaplain well met) was the midwife to deliver the mother altar of Damascus of a babe, like unto it, at Jerusalem.

Fourthly, he sacrificed on it. What else could be expected, but that, when he had tuned this new instrument of idolatry, he would play upon it.

Fifthly, he commanded the people to do the like. Not content to confine it to his personal impiety.

Lastly, he removed God's altar away. That venerable altar, by Divine appointment peaceably possessed of the place for two hundred years and upwards, must now be violently ejected by a usurping upstart.

No man can be stark naught at once. Let us stop the progress of sin in our soul at the first stage, for the farther it goes the faster it will increase.

Love and Anger:--I saw two children fighting together in

the street. The father of the one passing by, fetched his son away and corrected him ; the other lad was left without any check, though both were equally faulty in the fray. I was half offended, that being guilty alike, they were not punished alike; but the parent would only meddle with him over whom he had an undoubted dominion, to whom he bare an unfeigned affection.

The wicked sin, the godly smart most in this world. God singleth out His own sons, and beateth them by themselves : whom He loveth He chasteneth. Whilst the ungodly, preserved from affliction, are reserved for destruction.

Upwards, upwards.--How large houses do they build in London on little ground ! revenging themselves on the narrowness of their room with store of storeys. Excellent arithmetic! from the root of one floor to multiply so many chambers. And though painful the climbing up, pleasant the staying there, the higher the healthfuller, with clearer light and sweeter air.

Small are my means on earth. May I mount my soul the higher in heavenly meditations, relying on Divine providence ; He that fed many thousands with five loaves, may feed me and mine with the fifth part of that one loaf, that once all mine. Higher, my soul ! higher! In bodily buildings, commonly the garrets are most empty ; but my mind, the higher mounted, will be the better furnished. Let perseverance to death be my uppermost chamber, the roof of which grace is the pavement of glory.

Beware, wanton wit.--I saw an indenture too fairly engrossed; for the writer (better scrivener than clerk) had so filled it with flourishes that it hindered my reading thereof; the wantonness of his pen made a new alphabet, and I was subject to mistake his dashes for real letters.

What damage hath unwary rhetoric done to religion ! Many an innocent reader hath taken Damascene and Theophylact at their word, counting their eloquent hyperboles of

« PreviousContinue »