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infinitely, and practises easily, and continues longest. And this is more proper for a mother's care'; while the nurse thinks, that giving the child suck, and keeping its body clean, is all her duty. But the mother cannot think herself so easily discharged. And this consideration is material in all cases, be the choice of the nurse never so prudent and curious; and it is not easily apprehended to be the portion of her care to give it spiritual milk, and therefore it intrenches very much upon impiety and positive relinquishing the education of their children, when mothers expose the spirit of the child either to its own weaker inclinations, or the wicked principles of an ungodly nurse, or the carelessness of any less obliged person.
12. And then let me add, that a child sucks the nurse's milk, and digests her conditions, if they be never so bad, but seldom gets any good. For virtue being superaddition to nature, and perfections not radical in the body, but contradictions to, and meliorations of, natural indispositions, does not easily convey itself by ministrations of food, as vice does; which, in most instances, is nothing but mere nature grown to custom, and not mended by grace so that it is probable enough, such natural distemperatures may pass in the rivulets of milk, like evil spirits in a white garment, when virtues are of harder purchase, and dwell so low in the heart, that they but rarely pass through the fountains of generation. And, therefore, let no mother venture her child upon a stranger, whose heart she less knows than her own. And because few of those nicer women think better of others than themselves, (since, out of self-love, they neglect their own bowels,) it is but an act of improvidence to let my child derive imperfections from one, of whom I have not so good an opinion as of myself.
13. And if those many blessings and holy prayers, which the child needs, or his askings or sicknesses, or the mother's fears or joys, respectively, do occasion, should not be cast into this account; yet those principles, which, in all cases wherein the neglect is vicious, are the causes of the exposing the child, are extremely against the piety and charity of
1 ̓́Αλλοτε μητρυιὴ πέλει ἡμέρη, ἄλλοτε μήτηρ.--- Fictum Proverb,
k Hyrcanæque admôrunt ubera tigres.-Virgil. λtalvaç masIòr iJhλage.
Christian religion, which prescribes severity and austere deportment, and the labours of love, and exemplar tenderness of affections, and piety to children, which are the most natural and nearest relations the parents have. That religion, which commands us to visit and to tend sick strangers, and wash the feet of the poor, and dress their ulcers, and sends us upon charitable embassies into unclean prisons, and bids us lay down our lives for one another, is not pleased with a niceness and sensual curiosity (that I may not name the wantonnesses of lusts), which denies suck to our own children. What is more humane and affectionate than Christianity? and what is less natural and charitable than to deny the expresses of a mother's affection? which certainly to good women is the greatest trouble in the world, and the greatest violence to their desires, if they should not express and
14. And it would be considered, whether those mothers, who have neglected their first duties of piety and charity, can expect so prompt and easy returns of duty and piety from their children, whose best foundation is love; and that love strongest, which is most natural; and that most natural, which is conveyed by the first ministries and impresses of nourishment and education. And if love descends more strongly than it ascends, and commonly falls from the parents upon the children in cataracts, and returns back again up to the parents but in gentle dews; if the child's affection keeps the same proportions towards such unkind mothers, it will be as little as atoms in the sun, and never express itself but when the mother needs it not; that is, in the sunshine of a clear fortune.
15. This, then, is amongst those instincts, which are natural, heightened first by reason, and then exalted by grace into the obligation of a law; and, being amongst the sanctions of nature, its prevarication is a crime very near those sins, which divines, in detestation of their malignity, call sins against nature, and is never to be excused but in cases of necessity' or greater charity; as when the mother cannot be a nurse by reason of natural disability, or is afflicted with a
Necessitas, magnum imbecillitatis humanæ patrocinium, quicquid cogit
disease, which might be transmitted in the milk; or, in case of the public necessities of a kingdom, for the securing of succession in the royal family. And yet, concerning this last, Lycurgus made a law, that the noblest amongst the Spartan women, though their kings' wives, should at least nurse their eldest son, and the plebeians should nurse all theirs; and Plutarch reports, that the second son of king Themistes inherited the kingdom in Sparta, only because he was nursed with his mother's milk, and the eldest was therefore rejected, because a stranger was his nurse. And that queens have suckled and nursed their own children, is no very unusual kindness in the simplicity and hearty affections of elder ages, as is to be seen in Herodotus and other historians. I shall only remark one instance, out of the Spanish chronicles, which Henry Stephens, in his apology for Herodotus, reports to have heard from thence related by a noble personage, Monsieur Marillac: That a Spanish lady, married into France, nursed her child with so great a tenderness and jealousy, that, having understood the little prince once to have sucked a stranger, she was unquiet, till she had forced him to vomit it up again. In other cases, the crime lies at their door, who enforce neglect upon the other, and is heightened in proportion to the motive of the omission; as, if wantonness or pride be the parent of the crime, the issue, besides its natural deformity, hath the excrescences of pride or lust to make it more ugly.
16. To such mothers I propound the example of the holy Virgin, who had the honour to be visited by an angel; yet, after the example of the saints in the Old Testament, she gave to the holy Jesus drink from those bottles, which himself had filled for his own drinking; and her paps were as surely blessed for giving him suck, as her womb for bearing him: and reads a lecture of piety and charity, which if we deny to our children, there is then in the world left no argument or relation great enough to kindle it from a cinder to a flame. God gives dry breasts, for a curse to some, for an affliction to others; but those, that invite it to them by voluntary arts, "love not blessing, therefore shall it be far from them." And I remember, that it was said concerning Annius Minutius the censor, that he thought it a prodigy, and extremely
ominous to Rome, that a Roman lady refused to nurse her child, and yet gave suck to a puppy, that her milk might, with more safety, be dried up with artificial applications. Let none, therefore, divide the interests of their own children; for she that appeared before Solomon, and would have the child divided, was not the true mother, and was the more culpable of the two.
O holy and eternal God, Father of the creatures, and King of all the world, who hast imprinted in all the sons of thy creation principles and abilities to serve the end of their own preservation, and to men hast superadded reason, making those first propensities of nature to be reasonable in order to society, and a conversation in communities and bodies politic, and hast, by several laws and revelations, directed our reasons to nearer applications to thee, and performance of thy great end, the glory of our Lord and Father; teach me strictly to observe the order of creation, and the designs of the creatures, that in my order I may do that service, which every creature does in its proper capacity. Lord, let me be as constant in the ways of religion, as the sun in his course; as ready to follow the intimations of thy Spirit, as little birds are to obey the directions of thy providence, and the conduct of thy hand. And let me never, by evil customs, or vain company, or false persuasions, extinguish those principles of morality and right reason, which thou hast imprinted in my understanding, in my creation and education, and which thou hast ennobled by the superadditions of Christian institution; that I may live according to the rules of nature in such things, which she teaches, modestly, temperately, and affectionately, in all the parts of my natural and political relations; and that I, proceeding from nature to grace, may henceforth go on from grace to glory, the crown of all obedience, prudent and holy walking, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Of the great and glorious Accidents, happening about the Birth of Jesus.
1. ALTHOUGH the birth of Christ was destitute of the usual excrescences and less necessary pomps, which used to signify and illustrate the birth of princes; yet his first humility was made glorious with presages, miracles, and significations from heaven, which did not only, like the furniture of a princely bedchamber, speak the riches of the parent, or greatness of the son within its own walls, but did declare to all the world, that their prince was born, publishing it with figures and representments almost as great as its empire.
2. For, when all the world did expect, that in Judæa should be born their prince, and that the incredulous world had, in their observation, slipped by their true prince, because he came not in pompous and secular illustrations; upon that very stock Vespasian was nursed up in hope of the Roman empire, and that hope made him great in designs; and they being prosperous, made his fortunes correspond to his hopes, and he was endeared and engaged upon that fortune by the prophecy, which was never intended him by the prophet. But the fortune of the Roman monarchy was not great enough for this prince designed by the old prophets. And, therefore, it was not without the influence of a Divinity, that his decessor Augustus, about the time of Christ's nativity, refused to be called Lord; possibly it was, to entertain the people with some hopes of restitution of their liberties, till he had griped the monarchy with a stricter and faster hold. But the Christians were apt to believe, that it was upon the prophecy of a sybil foretelling the birth of a greater prince, to whom all the world should pay adoration; and that the prince was about that time born in Judæa, the oracle, which was dumb to Augustus's question, told him unasked, the devil having no tongue permitted him but one to proclaim that "an Hebrew child was his Lord and enemy."
a Sueton. in Vita Vesp. Vide etiam Ciceron. de Divin.