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She faints, she dies, falls on his instrument
And even as far are hypocrites driven on by their ambition and pride, which is the spur that provokes them in their religious duties.
Upon the Sight of many small Birds chirping about a dead HaivL
HEARING a whole choir of birds chirping and twinkling together, it engaged my curiosity a little to enquire into the occasion of that convocation, which mine eye quickly informed me of; for I perceived a dead hawk in the bush, about which they made such a noise, seeming to triumph at the death of their enemy; and I could not blame them to sing his knell, who, like a Canibal, was wont to feed upon their living bodies, tearing them limb from limb, and scaring them with his frightful appearance. This bird, which living was so formidable, being dead, the poorest wren or titmouse fears not to chirp, or hop over. This brings to my thoughts the base and ignoble ends of the greatest tyrants, and greedy ingrossers of the world, of whom, (whilst living) men were more afraid, than birds of a hawk, but dead, became objects of contempt and scorn. The death of such tyrants is both inglorious and unlamented; '«When the wicked pe"rish, there is shouting," Prov. xi. 10. Which was exemplified to the life, at the death of Nero, of whom the poet thus sings;
Cum mors crudelem rapuiffittseva Neronem,
When cruel Nero dy'd, th' historian tells,
How Rome did mourn with bonfires, plays, and bells.
Remarkable for contempt and shame have the ends of many bloody tyrants been. So Pompey the great, of whom Claudian the poet sings,
Nudus pasrit aves, Jarrtne qui poffidet orbem
Exiguæ ielluris inops
Birds eat his flesh. Lo, now he cannot have
The like is storied of Alexander the Great, who lay unburied thirty days; and William the Conqueror, with many other such birds of prey : whilst a beneficial and holy life is usually closed up in an honourable and much lamented death.
For mine own part, I wish I may so order my conversation in the world, that I may live, when I am dead, in the affections of the best, and leave an honourable testimony in the consciences of the worst; that I may oppress none, do good to all, and fay when I die, as good Ambrose did,—I am neither ashamed to live, nor afraid to die.
Upon the Sight of a Blackbird taking SanHuary in, a Bujbfrom a pursuing
WHEN I saw how hardly the poor bird was put to it to save herself from her enemy, who hovered just over the bush in which she was fluttering and squeaking, I could not but hasten to relieve her, (pity and succour being a due debt to the distressed ;) which, when I had done, the bird would not depart from the bath, though her enemy were gone; this act of kindness was abundantly repaid by this meditation, with which I returned to my walk: my foul, like this bird, was once distressed, pursued, yea, seized by Satan, who had certainly made a prey of it, had not Jesus Christ been a sanctuary to it in that hour of danger. How readily did I find him to receive my poor soul into his protection ? Then did he make good that sweet promise to my experience, Those that come unto me I will in no wise cast out. It called to mind that pretty and pertinent story of the philosopher, who walking in the fields, a bird, pursued by a hawk, flew into his bosom j he took her out, and said, 'Poor bird, 'I will neither wrong thee, nor expose thee to thine enemy, since c thou earnest to me for refuge' So tender, and more than so, is the Lord Jesus to distressed souls that come unto him. Blessed Jesus! how should I love and praise thee, glorify and admire thee, for that-great salvation thou hast wrought for me? If this bird had fallen into the claws of her enemy, she had been torn to pieces indeed, and devoured, but then a few minutes had dispatched her; and ended all her pain and misery: but had my soul fallen into the hands of Satan, there had been no end of its misery.
Would not this scared bird be flushed out of the bush that secured her, though I had chased away her enemy? And wilt thou, O my soul, ever be enticed or scared from Christ thy refuge? O let this for ever engage thee to keep close to Christ, and make me say, with Ezra, " And now, O Lord, since thou hast given me such a deliver"ance as this, should I again break thy commandments!"
Upon the sight of divers goldfinches intermingling il-ith a flock of sparrows.
METHINKS these birds do fitly resemble the gaudy courtiers, and the plain peasants; how spruce and richly adorned with shining and various coloured feathers (like scarlet, richly laid with gold and silver lace) are those? How plainly clad, in a home-spun country russet are these? Fine feathers (faith our proverb) make proud birds i and yet the feathers of the sparrow are as useful and beneficial, both for warmth and flight, though not so gay and ornamental, as the others; and if both were stript out of their feathers, the sparrow would prove the better bird of the two: by which I see, that the greatest worth doth not always lie under the finest clothes: And besides, God can make mean and homely garments as useful and beneficial to poor and despised Christians, as the ruffling and shining garments of wanton gallants are to them: and when God shall strip men out of all external excellencies, these will be found to excel their glittering neighbours in true worth and excellency.
Little would a man think such rich treasures of grace, wisdom, humility, C5*s. lay under some russet coats.
Sitpe sub attrita lat it at sapientia vcsle.
Under poor garments more true worth may be
Whilst, on the otherside, "the heart of the wicked (as Solomon hath "observed) is little worth," how much soever his clothes be worth. Alas! it falls out too frequently among us, as it doth with men in the Indies, who walk over the rich veins of gold and ore, which lie hid under a ragged and barren surface, and know it not. For my own part, I desire not to value any man by what is extrinsical and worldly, but by that true internal excellency of grace, which makes the face to shine in the eyes of God and good men: I would contemn a vile person, though never so glorious in the eye of the world; but honour such as fear the Lord, how sordid and despicable soever to appearance.
Uptn the sight os a Robin-red-breasl picking up a Worm from a mole-hill',
OBSERVING the mole working industriously beneath, and the bird watching so intently above, I made a stand to observe the issue; when in a little time the bird descends, and seizes upon a Worm, which I perceived was crawling apace from the enemy below that hunted her, but fell to the share of another which from above waited for her. My thoughts presently suggested these meditations from that occasion : methought this poor worm seemed to be the emblem of my poor soul, which is more endangered by its own lusts of pride and covetousness, than this worm was by the mole and bird; Vol. V. B b
my pride, like the aspiring bird, watches for it above; my covetous ness, like the subterranean mole, digging for it beneath. Poor soul! What a sad dilemma art thou brought to? If thou go down into the caverns of this earth, there thou art a prey to thy covetousness that hunts thee; and if thou aspire, or but creep upward, there thy pride waits to ensnare thee. Distressed soul! whither wilt thou go? Ascend thou mayest, not by vain elation, but by a heavenly conversation, beside which there is no way for thy preservation; "the way •' of life is above to the wife," &c.
Again, I could not but observe the accidental benefit this poor harmless bird obtained by the labour of the mole, who hunting intentionally for herself, unburroughed and ferreted out this worm for the bird, who, possibly, was hungry enough; and could not have been relieved for this time, but by the mole, the fruit of whose labour she now feeds upon. Even thus the Lord oft-times makes good his word to his people: "The wealth of the wicked is laid up for the «« just." And again, " The earth shall help the woman." This was fully exemplified in David, to whom Nabal, that churlish muckworm, speaks all in possessives: "Shall I take my bread," &c. "and u give it to one I know not whom?" And yet David reaps the fruits of all the pains and toils of Nabal at last. Let it never encourage me to idleness, that God sometimes gives his people the fruit of others sweat, but if providence reduce me to necessity, and disable me from helping myself, I doubt not then, but it will provide instruments to do it. The bird was an hungry, and could not dig.
HOW soon hath death ended the quarrel betwixt these two little combatants! had they agreed better, they might have lived longer; it was their own contention that gave both the opportunity and the provocation of their death; and though living they could not, yet, being dead, they can lie quietly together in my hand.
FooKsh birds, was it not enough that birds of prey watched to devour them, but they must peck and scratch one another? Thus have I seen the birds of paradise (saints I mean) tearing and wounding each other, like so many birds of prey, and by their unchristian contests giving the occasion of their common ruin; yea, and that not only when at liberty, as these were, but when engaged also; and yet, as one well observes, if ever Christians will agree, it will either be in a prison, or in heaven; for in prison their quarrelsome lusts lie low, and in heaven they shall be utterly done away.
But O what pity is it, that those who shall agree so perfectly in heaven, should bite and devour each other upon earth? That it should be said of them, as one ingeniously observed, who saw their carcasses lie together, as if they had lovingly embraced each other, who fell together by a duel; Quanta amicitia f invicem ampkHutttur, qui mutua et implacabili inimicitia perierunt!
Embracing one another, noiu they lie, Who by each others bloody hands did die. Or, as he said, who observed how quietly and peaceably the dust and bones, even of enemies, did lie together in the grave; Nontanta vivi pace conjuntli ejsetis ,• you did not live together so peaceably. If conscience of Christ's command will not, yet the consideration of common safety should powerfully persuade to unity and amity.
Upon the singing of a blind Finch fa night.
A DEAR friend, who was a great observer of the works of God in nature, told me, that being entertained with a sight of many rarities at a friend's house in London; among other things, his friends shewed him a finch, whose eyes being put out, would frequently sing, even at midnight. This bird, in my opinion, is the lively emblem of such careless and unconcerned persons as the prophet describes, Amos vi. 4, 5, 6. who chant to the viol, when a dismal night of trouble and affliction hath overshadowed the church. You would have thought it strange to haveJieard this bird sing in the night, when all others are in a deep silence except the owl, an unclean bird, and the nightingale, which before we made the emblem of the hypocrite. And as strange it is, that any, except the prophaneand hypocritical, should so unseasonably express their mirth and jollity; that any of Sion's children should live in pleasure, whilst she herself lies in tears. The people of God, in Psalm cxxxvii. tell us in what postures of sorrow they sat; even like birds, with their heads under their wings, during the night of their captivity. "How shall "we sing the Lord's songs in a strange land?" It is like enough, such as can sing and chant in the night of the church's trouble, have well feathered their nests in the days of her prosperity; however, let them know, that God will turn their unseasonable mirth into a sadder note; and those that now sit sad and silent shall shortly sing for joy of heart, when •« the winter is past, the rain over and gone, the "flowers appear again upon the earth, and the time of the singing of "birds is come."
Upon the comparing of two Birds Nests.
T is pretty to observe the structure and commodiousoess of the habitations of these little architects, who, though they act not by