Imágenes de páginas

his proper sphere, where, if it be his fate, he perishes more decently than he can avoid it : besides, · no man can tell how far the particular and remarkable virtue and discretion of a single man can contribute in some article of time towards the reformation of a general disorder; there being naturally such a prerogative in doing well, that puts guilt out of countenance when it is most prevalent; and the worst men are often found not to be so bad as they were thought to be, and are weary of their follies, and desire to undo the mischief they have done. If it proves to be otherwise, and that iniquity prospers in its rage and obstinacy, the retired man is in as much danger in his vault, as the most active is upon the stage; and we shall find as many who were assassinated in the time of Cinna, Sylla, and Marius, as likewise in that of the triumvirate, of those, who, by absenting and concealing themselves, thought to have escaped the general misery, as of those who walked the streets. In those black seasons, men are more obnoxious by their virtues than in their persons :

6 He is grievous unto us even to behold, for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion," was charge enough in Solomon's time, and hath continued ever since to be so. Since then no providence of our own can direct us to make choice of our condition of life, that may not be sub

ject to many infelicities, we shall do most wisely so to dispose of ourselves, that, if it be possible, our lives may be useful and beneficial to the public, or our deaths comfortable to ourselves.


Montpellier, 1670. As the plague in the body drives all persons away but such who live by it, searchers, and those who are to bury the corps, who are as ready to strangle those who do not die soon enough, as to bury them; and they who recover are very long tired with the malignity, and remain longer deserted by their neighbours and friends out of fear of infection; so war in a state makes all men abandon it but those who are to live by the blood of it, and who have the pillaging of the living as well as of the dead ; and if it recover, and the war be extinguished, there remains such a weakness and paleness, so many ghastly marks of the distemper, that men remain long frighted from their old familiarity, from the confidence they formerly had of their own security, and of the justice of that state, the war leaving still an ill odour behind it, and much infection in the nature and manners of those who are delighted with it. Of all the punishments and judg

ments that the provoked anger of the Divine Providence can pour out upon a nation full of transgressions, there is none so terrible and destroying as that of war. David knew he did wisely when he preferred and chose the plague before either of the other judgments that he was to undergo for numbering the people, though it cost him no less than seventy thousand subjects; so vast a number that three months progress of the most victorious and triumphant enemy could hardly have consumed; and the one had been as much the hand of the Lord as the other, and could as easily have been restrained, or bound by his power: the arrow of pestilence was shot out of his own bow, and did all its execution without making the pride or malice of man instrumental in it; the insolence whereof is a great aggravation of any judgment that is laid upon us, and health is restored in the same moment the contagion ceaseth; whereas in war, the confidence and the courage which a victorious army contracts by notable successes, and the dejection of spirit and the consternation which a subdued party undergoes by frequent defeats, is not at an end when the war is determined, but hath its effects very long after; and the tenderness of na. ture, and the integrity of manners, which are driven away, or powerfully discountenanced by the corruption of war, are not quickly recovered; but

instead thereof a roughness, jealousy, and distrust introduced, that makes conversation unpleasant and uneasy; and the weeds which grow up in the shortest war can hardly be pulled up and extirpated without a long and unsuspected peace. When God pleases to send this heavy calamity upon us, we cannot avoid it; but why we should be solicitous to embark ourselves in this leaky vessel, why our own anger, and ambition, and emulation, should engage us in unreasonable and unjust wars, nay, why, without any of these provocations, we should be disposed to run to war, and periclitari periculi causa, will require better reason to justify us, than most that are concerned in it are furnished with. Jugulantur homines ne nihil agatur, was the complaint and amazement of a philosopher, who knew of none of those restraints which Christianity hath laid upon mankind. That men should kill one another for want of somewhat else to do (which is the case of all volunteers in war) seems to be so horrible to humanity, that there needs no divinity to control it. It was a divine.contemplation of the same philosopher, that when Providence had so well provided for, and secured the peace between nations, by putting the sea between, that it might not be in their power to be ill neighbours, mankind should be so mad as to devise shipping, to affect death so much sine spe sepulturæ ; and when they are safe

on land, to commit themselves to the waves and the fierce winds, quorum felicitas est ad bella perferri; and that those winds which God had created, ad custodiendam cæli terrarumque temperiem, and to cherish the fruits and the trees of the earth, should be made use of so contrary to his intentions, ut legiones, equitemque gestarent, and bring people (whom he had placed at that distance) together, to imbrue their hands in each other's blood; indeed it must be a very savage appetite, that engages men to take so much pains, and to run so many and great hazards, only to be cruel to those whom they are able to oppress.

They who allow no war at all to be lawful, have consulted both nature and religion much better than they who think it may be entered into to comply with the ambition, covetousness, or revenge of the greatest princes and monarchs upon earth; as if God had only inhibited single murders, and left mankind to be massacred according to the humour and appetite of unjust and unreasonable men, of what degree or quality soever. They who think it most unlawful, know well that force

may pelled with force; and that no man makes war who doth only defend what is his own from an attempt of violence; he who kills another that he may not be killed himself by him who attempts it, is not guilty of murder by the law of God or man. And truly,

be re

« AnteriorContinuar »