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he, which Chrysostom observes, equalize the servant with the Master; the saints with God? In a word, the best and the worst that can be said here of Peter is, that which the Psalmist saith of Moses, effutiit labiis, “ he spake unadvisedly with his lips.” Psalm Gyj. 33.
Yet if any earthly place or condition might have given warrant to Peter's motion, this was it. was a hill, the emblem of heaven ; here were two saints, the epitome of heaven ; here was Christ, the God of heaven: and if Peter might not say so of this, how shall we say of any other place, bonum est esse híc, “ It is good to be here.” Will ye say of the country, bonum est esse híc ? There is a melancholy dulness, privacy, toil. Will ye say of the court, bonum est esse hîc ? There dwells ambition, secret undermining, attendance, serving of humours and times. Will ye say of the city, bonum est esse híc ? There you find continual tumult, usury, cozenage in bargains, excess and disorder. , Get you to the wilderness, and say, it is good to be here ; even there evils will find us out. In nemore habitat lupus, saith Bernard, “ in the wood dwells the wolf:' weariness and sorrow dwell every where. The rich man wallows amongst his heaps, and when he is in his counting-house, beset with piles of bags, he can say, bonum est esse híc : he worships these molten images : his gold is his god, his heaven is his chest ; not thinking of that which Tertullian notes, aurum ipsum quibusdam gentibus ad vincula servire, “that some countries make their very fetters of gold:” yea, so doth he, whilst he admires it, making himself the slave to his servant; damnatus ad metalla, as the old Roman punishment
Coacta servitus miserabilior, affectata miserior, "forced bondage is more worthy of pity, affected bondage is more miserable." And if God's hand touch him never so little, can his gold bribe a disease, can his bags keep his head from aching, or the gout from his joints ? Or doth his loathing stomach make a
difference betwixt an earthen and silver dish ? Oh vain desires, and impotent contentments of men, who place happiness in that which doth not only not save them from evils, but help to make them miserable ! Behold their wealth feeds them with famine, recreates them with toil, cheers them with cares, blesses them with torments, and yet they say, bonum est esse híc. How are their sleeps broken with cares! How are their hearts broken with losses ! Either riches have wings, which, in the clipping or pulling, fly away, and take them to heaven; or else their souls have wings, stulte, hac nocte, “thou fool, this night," and fly from their riches to hell. Non dominus, sed colonus, saith Seneca, “not the lord, but the farmer:" so that here are both perishing riches and a perishing soul. Uncertainty of riches (as St. Paul to his Timothy) and certainty of misery: and yet these vain men say, bonum est esse hîc.
The man of honour, that I may use Bernard's phrase, that hath Ahasuerus's proclamation made before him, which knows he is not only tis péyas, a "certain great man," as Simon affected, but o avròs, “the man,” which Demosthenes was proud of, that sees all heads bare, and all knees bent to him, that finds himself out of the reach of envy, on the pitch of admiration, says, Bonum est esse hic. Alas! how little thinks he of that which that good man said to his Eugenius, Non est quòd blandiatur celsitudo, ubi solicitudo major; “What care we for the fawning of that greatness, which is attended with more care ?" King Henry the Seventh's emblem in all his buildings, in the windows was still a crown in a bush of thorns : I know not with what historical allusion; but
sure, I think, to imply, that great places are not free from great cares.
Saul knew what he did when he hid himself among the stuff. No man knoweth the weight of a sceptre, but he that swayeth it. As for subordinate greatness, it hath so much less worth as it hath more dependence. How many sleepless nights
and restless days, and busy shifts, doth their ambition cost them that affect eminence! Certainly, no men are so worthy of pity, as they whose height thinks all other worthy of contempt. High places are slippery; and as it is easy to fall, so the ruin is deep, and the recovery difficult. Altiorem locum sortitus es, non tutiorem ; sublimiorem, sed non securiorem, saith Bernard, “Thou hast got a higher place, but not a safer ; a loftier, but not more secure. Aulce culmen lubricum, “The slippery ridge of the court," was the old title of ho
David's curse was, Fiat via eorum tenebræ et lubricum, “Let their way be made dark and slippery. What difference is there betwixt his curse and the happiness of the ambitious but this, that the
of the one is dark and slippery, the way of the other lightsome and slippery; that dark, that they may fall , this light, that they may see and be seen to fali
. Please yourselves, then, ye great oncs, and let others please you in the admiration of your height; but 1 your goodness do not answer your greatness, Sera querela est, quoniam elevans allisisti me, “ It is a late complaint, Thou hast lift me up to cast me down.' Your ambition hath but set you up a scaffold, that your misery might be more notorious. And yet these clients of honour say, Bonum est esse hic.
The pampered glutton, when he seeth his table spread with full bowls, with costly dishes and curious sauces, the dainties of all three elements, says, Bonum est esse híc. And yet eating hath a satiety, and satiety a weariness : his heart is never more empty of contentment, than when his stomach is fullest of delicacies. When he is empty, he is not well till he be filled; when he is full, he is not well till he have got a stomach ; Et momentanea blandimenta gulæ stercoris fine condemnat, saith Jerome, “And condemns all the momentary pleasures of his maw to the dunghill.” And when he sits at his feasts of marrow and fat things (as the prophet speaks), his table, according to the Psalmist's imprecation, is made his
snare; a true snare every way. His soul is caught in it with excess ; his estate with penury; his body with diseases. Neither doth he more plainly tear his meat in pieces with his teeth, than he doth himself: and yet this vain man says, Bonum est esse híc.
The petulant wanton thinks it the only happiness that he may have his full scope to filthy dalliance. Little would he so do if he could see his strumpet as she is, her eyes the eyes of a cockatrice, her hairs snakes, her painted face the visor of a fury, her heart snares, her hands bands, and her end wormwood: consumption of the flesh, destruction of the soul, and the flames of lust ending in the flames of hell. Since therefore neither pleasures, nor honour, nor wealth, can yield any true contentment to their best favourites, let us not be so unwise as to speak of this vale of misery, as Peter did of the hill of Tabor, Bonum est
And if the best of earth cannot do it, why will ye seek it in the worst ? how dare any of you great ones seek to purchase contentment with oppression, sacrilege, bribery, outfacing innocence and truth with power, damning your own souls for but the humouring of a few miserable days? Filii hominum-usquequo gravi corde ? ad quid diligitis vanitatem, et quæritis mendacium? 0 ye sons of men, how long,” &c. But that which moved Peter's desire (though with imperfection) shows what will perfect our desire and felicity: for if a glimpse of this heavenly glory did so ravish this worthy disciple, that he thought it happiness enough to stand by and gaze upon it, how shall we be affected with the contemplation, yea fruition of the Divine presence ? Here was but Tabor, there is heaven; here were but two saints, there many millions of saints and angels; here was Christ transfigured, there he sits at the right hand of Majesty; here was a representation, there a gift and possession of blessedness. Oh that we could now forget the world, and, fixing our eyes upon this better Tabor, say, Bonum est esse hîc. Alas! this life of ours, if it were not short, yet it is miserable; and if it were not miserable, yet it is short. Tell me, ye that have the greatest command on earth, whether this vile world hath ever afforded you any sincere contentation. The world is your servant: if it were your parasite, yet could it make you heartily merry ? Ye delicatest courtiers, tell me, if pleasure itself have not an unpleasant tediousness hanging upon it, and more sting than honey. And whereas all happiness, even here below, is in the vision of God; how is our spiritual eye hindered, as the body is from his object, by darkness, by false light, by aversion! Darkness; he that doth sin is in darkness : false light; while we measure eternal things by temporary: aversion; while, as weak eyes hate the light, we turn our eyes from the true and immutable good to the fickle and uncertain. We are not on the hill, but in the valley, where we have tabernacles, not of our own making, but of clay ; and such as wherein we are witnesses of Christ, not transfigured in glory, but blemished with dishonour, dishonoured with oaths and blasphemies, re-crucified with our sins; witnesses of God's saints, not shining in Tabor, but mourning in darkness, and instead of that heavenly brightness, clothed with sackcloth and ashes. Then and there we shall have “ tabernacles not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," where we shall see how sweet the Lord is : we shall see the triumphs of Christ; we shall hear and sing the Hallelujahs of saints. Quæ nunc nos angit vesania, vitiorum sitire absinthium, &c., saith that devout Father. Oh how hath our corruption bewitched us, to thirst for this wormwood, to affect the shipwrecks of the world, to doat upon the misery of this fading life ; and not rather to fly up to the felicity of saints, to the society of angels, to that blessed contemplation wherein we shall see God in himself, God in us, ourselves in him! There shall be no sorrow, no pain, no complaint, no fear, no death.