Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rob them of all their serenity; and infuse broken and melancholy and irresolute imaginations, which are as grievous and as painful as the sickness itself. It is one of God's kindest messengers, to put us in mind of our folly and incogitance, and excess in health; and how discomposed and disconsolate soever it renders our thoughts, it awakens those which have long slept, and presents many things to our clearest view, which we had laid aside never to be thought of more. Our

memory is much more at our own disposal in our health, when nege ligence, mirth and jollity have introduced such an incogitancy, that we seldom remember any thing that

may trouble us ; and if any thing of that kind intrude into our thoughts we have many sorts of remedies to drive it from thence: but sickness rouses up that faculty; and, above all, suffers us not to forget any thing of that which gives us most trouble in remembering. Every ambitious and every malicious thought of our own, of which nobody can accuse us, every proud and injurious word, of which nobody dares accuse us, and every insolent and unlawful action, which nobody will take upon them to controul, present themselves clearly to our view in their most naked dress, and will not suffer us to sleep when our bodily pain and sickness intermit enough to give us that ease: they are now as importunate and insolent towards us as they

have been heretofore towards others; and take revenge, on the behalf of those towards whom we have been injurious, upon ourselves. And in this excellent perspective, through which we see all our faults and all our follies without varnish or disguise, it is probable we may discern more than our physicians can inform us, the

very

natural cause of that sickness and distemper under which we labour, from some excess long since committed and now punished. And God forbid that these unwille : ing and unwelcome recollections should not make that impression and reformation in us which they ought to do! which were to disappoint God's messenger, Sickness, of the effect for which he was sent ; and which indeed is the only way to recover our health, or a much better and more lasting health than that which we have lost. But yet we may lawfully and piously say, that all these recollections and reflections, which we cannot avoid in sickness, and which in that season may as naturally produce despair as repentance, are much more 'seasonable, much more advantageous in health, when our memory can much more deliberately reproach us, and all our faculties can perform their offices towards such a repentance, as may in some degree repair the ill we have done, as well as acknowledge it, and confirm us in such a firm habit of virtues, as no temptation may have strength

enough to corrupt us. A man may as reasonably expect, by one week's good husbandry, to repair the breaches and wastes which he hath made in his fortune by seven years licence and excess, as to repair and satisfy for the enormities and trans gressions of his life in sickness, that it the forerunner of death, and always most intolerable to them who have put off all thoughts till then, and which at that time crowd in upon him rather to oppress than inform him. The truth is, men ought to have no other business to do in sickness than to die ; which, when the thoughts are least disturbed, sickness only makes them willing to do.

OF PATIENCE.

Montpellier, 1670. PATIENCE is a Christian virtue, a habit of the mind, that doth not only bear and suffer contumelies, reproach, and oppression, but extracts all the venom out of them, and compounds a cordial out of the ingredients, that preserves the health, and eren restores the cheerfulness of the countenance, and works miracles in many respects; and under this notion we have in another place taken a view . of it: we will consider it now, only as it is a moral virtue, a temper of mind that controuls or resists

all the brutish effects of choler, anger, and rage; and in this regard it works miracles too; it prevents the inconveniences and indecencies which anger would produce, and diverts the outrages which choler and rage would commit: if it be not sharp-sighted enough to prevent danger, it is composed and resolute enough to resist and repel the assault; and, by keeping all the faculties awake, is very rarely surprised, and quickly discerns any advantages which are offered, because its reason is never disturbed, much less confounded. There is no question but where this excellent blessed temper is the effect of deliberation, and the observation of the folly and madness of sudden passion, it must constitute the greatest perfection of wisdom; but it hath in itself so much of virtue and advantage, that when it proceeds from the heaviness of the constitution, and from some defect in the faculties, it is not wholly without use and benefit; it may possibly not do so much good as more sprightly and active men use to perform, but then it never does the harm that quick and hasty men are commonly guilty of; and as fire is much easier and sooner kindled than it is extinguished, we frequently find dull and phlegmatic persons sooner attain to a warmth and maturity of judgment, and to a wonderful discerning of what ought or ought not to be done, than men of quicker and more subtle

parts of nature, who seldom bear cogitandi laborem : whereas the other, by continual thinking, repair the defects of nature, and with industry supply themselves with that which nature refused to give them. All men observe, in the litigation of the schools, that the calm and undisturbed disputants maintain their point and pursue their end much more efficaciously than their angry and vehement adversaries, whose passions lead them into absurd concessions and undiscerned contradictions; all the ambitious designs for honour and prefere ment, all the violent pursuits of pleasure and profit, are but disputations and contentions to maintain their theses, to compass that which men have a mind to obtain ; and though the boldest men do sometimes possess themselves of the prize, it is but sometimes, and when it is not warily guarded : the dispassionate candidates are not so often disappointed, nor so easily discouraged; they are intent and advancing, when the others have given over; and then they enjoy what they get with much more satisfaction, because they pursued with less greediness. Angry and choleric men are as ungrateful and unsociable as thunder and lightning, being in themselves all storm and tempests ; but quiet and easy natures are like fair weather, welcome to all, and acceptable to all men ; they gather together what the other disperses, and reconcile

« AnteriorContinuar »