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they are in: it is a very hard thing to believe, that the worst men can do the worst things without some sense and inward compunction, which is the voice of their conscience; but it is easy to think that they may still and drown that voice, and that by a custom of sinning they may grow so deaf as not to hear that weak voice; that wine may drive away that heaviness that indisposed them to mirth, and ill company may shut out those thoughts which would interrupt it: and yet, alas ! conscience is not by this subdued, they have only made an unlucky truce, that it shall not beat up their quarters for some time, till they have surfeited upon the pleasure and the plenty of men; it will disturb and terrify them the more for the repose it hath suffered them to take. If the strength of nature, and the custom of excesses, hath given the debauched person the privilege of not finding any sickness or indisposition from his daily surfeits, after a few years he wonders to find the faculties of his mind and understanding so decayed that he is become a fool, and so much more a fool if he does not find it before he comes to that age that usually resists all decay ; and then every body sees, if he does not, the unhappiness of his constitution, that it was no sooner disturbed by those excesses. If the lustful and voluptuous person, who sacrifices the strength and vigour of his body to the rage
and temptation of his blood, and spends his nights in unchaste embraces, does not in the instant discover how much his health is impaired by those caresses, he will in a short time, by weakness and diseases, have good cause to remember those distempers: and so that conscience that is laid asleep by a long licentious life, and reprehends not the foulest transgressions, doth at last start up in sickDess or in age, and plays the tyrant in those seasons when men most need comfort, and makes them pay
dear interest for their hours of riot, and for the charms they used, to keep it in that lethargy that it might not awaken then. And since it cannot be a feast, because it is not a good conscience; being an evil one, it must be famine, and torment, and hell itself. In a word, no man hath a good conscience, but he who leads a good life:
ON AN ACTIVE AND ON A CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE,
AND WHEN AND WHY THE ONE OUGHT TO BE
PREFERRED BEFORE THE OTHER.
It hath been the business, or rather the vanity and want of business in many persons of wit and fancy, especially of the Italian nation, to discover and find out, whether an active and practical condition of life, or whether a speculative repose, and
a life dedicated wholly to contemplation, be to be elected and preferred by a prudent man, in order to his own content and happiness ; and they have taken great pains to determine, from the consideration of the nature of mankind, from his constitution, appetites, and affections, and from the accidents of human life, and the instability of fortune in the transactions thereof, and even from the end of the creation of man, and his own most justifiable end in life, which of the two he should dedi. cate himself unto and set his heart upon; when they might as profitably have spent their time in the disquisition, whether a man who is obliged to make a long journey, should choose to undertake it upon a black or a bay horse, and take his lodging always in a public inn, or at a friend's house : to which the resolution, after how long a time soever of considering, must be, that the black horse is to be made use of, if he be better than the bay; and that the inn is to be preferred, if the entertainment be better there than it is like to be at the friend's house. And how light and ridicu. lous soever this instance may seem to be, it is very worthy to accompany the other debate, which must be resolved by the same medium. That a man of a vigorous and active spirit, of perspicacity of judgment, and high thoughts, cannot enter too soon into the large field of action; and to confine
him to retirement, and to spend his life in contemplation, were to take his life from him. On the other hand, a dull, dis-spirited fellow, who hath no faculties of soul to exercise and improve, or such as no exercise or conversation can improve, may withdraw himself as far as he can from the world, and spend his life in sleep, that never was awake; but what kind of fruit this dry trunk will yield by his speculation or contemplation, can no more be comprehended, than that he will have a better and more useful understanding after he is dead and buried.
For the better going through this disquisition, let us first examine what these men mean by a contemplative life (for the definition of an active life will be easily comprehended) which ought to be embraced with so much greediness; and we shall find that for the most part they suppose or require such preparations towards it, and such qualifications in it, that are no more the natural effects or productof contemplation, than the thoughts and affections are the same which carry a man to a horse-match and which accompany
him to a funeral. They who are the strict admirers and commenders of contemplation, and would have the whole life to be dedicated to contemplation, have exercised themselves in very little of it, but have taken their model out of the lives of some few
pious men, whose lives have been written long after their deaths, by men who had heard much of their praises, without knowing their persons; and so their actions are transmitted to posterity according to the fancy of the writer, not the true image of the liver. They annex a severe solitude, for the innocence of it, as necessary to contemplation, since conversation interrupts it; nor will they allow studious men, who use indefatigable industry in the reading and revolving the writings and labours of learned men in the several sciences of knowledge, to be in the number of contemplators; supposing that the variety of their reading, and their continual consultation with learned men, hath too much stirred up their fancies, and provoked their curiosities to a farther acquaintance with the world, and the temptations thereof, which have dazzled and corrupted the integrity of their natural judgments; and these men would have a solitude and contemplation to be always together, without other books than what serve for the help and exercise of their private devotions, spending all their thoughts upon the contempt of the world, and the love and admiration of the goodness of God and of the joys of heaven, and such other excellent speculations of virtue and piety, as never were or can be the effect or companion of an original and affected solitude, but hath its rise from observa