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and learning: “How came I by all this? Turba hæc! This vulgar, that knows not the Law, is accursed :" this was the Pharisee's wonder. Another wonders at his wealth ; “ Soul take thine ease;" as the Epicure in the Gospel. David's wonder is as much above, as against all these: he wonders at his VILENESS: like as the Chosen Vessel would boast of nothing, but his infirmities: Lord, what is man?
How well this hangs together! No sooner had he said, Thou hast subdued my people under me, than he adds, Lord, what is man?
Some vain heart would have been lifted up with a conceit of his own eminence: “ Who I? I am not as other men. ple under me; and people of my own; and people subdued to me:" this is to be more than a man. I know who hath said, I said ye are gods.
Besides Alexander the Great, how many of the Roman Cæsars have been transported with this self-admiration; and have challenged temples, altars, sacrifices ! how have they shared the months of the year among them! April must be Neronius; May, Claudius; June, Germanicus; September, Antoninus ; Domitian will have October; November is for Tiberius, by the same token, that, when it was tendered to him, he asked the Senate wittily, as Xiphiline reports it, what they would do when they should have more than twelve Cæsars. But if there were not months enough for them in the year, there were stars enough in the sky; there was elbowroom enough in their imaginary heaven, for their deification.
What tell I you of these? A sorry Clearchus of Pontus, as Suidas tells us, would be worshipped, and have his son called Lightning. Menecrates, the physician, though not worthy to be Esculapius's apothecary's boy, yet would be Jupiter. Empedocles, the philosopher, if it had not been for his shoe would have gone for immortal
. Sejanus will be sacrificing to himself. I could tire you with these prodigies of pride, I could tell you of a Xerxes, that will be correcting
the Hellespont; and writing letters of threat to the mountain Athos: of one of his proud sultan successors, Sapores, that writ himself “Brother to the Sun and Moon:” of his great neighbour of China, that stiles himself “ Heir apparent to the Living Sun:” and the wise Cham of Tartary, “Son of the Highest God." Caligula would rais Bpovräis vtißgovtāv, as Dio; “ counter-thunder to God;" and will be no less than Jupiter Latialis; and the Scythian Roylus can say, It is easy for him to destroy all that the sun looks
upon, Lord God! how can the vain pride of man befool him, and carry him away to ridiculous affectations!
The man after God's own heart is in another vein: when he looks downward, he sees the people crouching under him, and confesses his own just predominancy, but, when he looks either upward to God, or inward to himself, he says, Lord, what is man?
It should not be, it is not in the power of earthly greatness, to raise the regenerate heart above itself; or to make it forget the true grounds of his own humiliation. Avolet, quantum volet palea; as he
said: “Let the light chaff be hoised into the air, with every wind;" as Psalm i. 4: the solid grain lies close; and falls so much the lower, by how much it is more weighty: It is but the smoke, that mounts up
in the furnace: it is but the dross, that swells up in the lump; the pure metal sinks to the bottom: if there be any part of the crucible lower than other, there you shall find it. The proud mountains shelve off the rain, and are barren: the humble vallies soak it up, and are fruitful.
Set this pattern before you, ye Great Ones, whom God hath raised to the height of worldly honour. Oh, be ye as humble as ye are great: the more high you are in others' eyes, be so much more lowly in your own; as knowing, that he was no less than a King, that said, Lord, what is man The time was, when David made this wonder
upon sion. Psalm viii. 3, 4: When I see the heavens, the moon and the stars that thou hast ordained, Lord, what is man? When, looking over that great night-piece, and turning over the vast volume of the world, as Gerson terms it, he saw in that large folio, amongst those huge capital letters, what a little insensible daghes-point man is, he breaks forth into an amazed exclamation, Lord, what is man? Indeed, how could he do other? To compare such a mite, a mote, a nothing, with that goodly and glorious vault of heaven; and with those worlds of light, so much bigger than so many globes of earth, hanging, and moving regularly in that bright and spacious contignation of the firmament; it must needs astonish human reason, and make it ashamed of its own poorness. Certainly, if there could be any man, that, when he knows the frame of the world, could wonder at any thing in himself, save his own nothingness, Í should as much wonder at him, as at the world itself.
There, David wondered, to compare man with the world: here, he wonders too, to compare man with a world of men; and to see that God had done so much for him above others, in his advancement, deliverances, victories.
But, if any man would rather to take this Psalm as a Sacred Rhapsody, gathered out of the sviiith, and visith, and xxxixth Psalms; and this sentence as universal; I oppose not.
Let this wonder be general; not so much of David, a man selected; as of David, a man.
These two are well joined, Lord, What? For, however man, when he is considered in himself, or compared with his fellow-creatures, may be something; yet, when he comes into mention with his Maker, he is less than nothing. Match him with the beast of the field; yea, of the desert: even there, however, as Chrysostom, every beast hath some one ill quality; but man hath all yet, in regard of rule, what a jolly lord he is! Here is omnia subjecisti; Thou hast put all things in subjection to him. Not the fiercest lion, not the hugest elephant, or the wildest tiger, but, either by forcé or wile, man becomes his master: and, though they have left that original awe which they bare to him, so soon as ever he forsook his loyalty to his King; yet still they do, not without regret, ac
knowledge the impressions of Majesty in that upright face of his. Wherefore are they, but for man? Some for his labour; as the ox: some for his service; as the horse : some for his pleasure; as the dog, or the ape: some for his exercise; as the beasts of the fo. rest: All for man.
But, when we look up at his Infinite Creator, Lord, what is man? O God, thou art an intelligible sphere, whose centre is every where, whose circumference is no where but in thyself: man is a mere centre, without a circumference. Thou, O God, in unå essentiá omnia præhabes ; “in one essence fore-comprisest all things ;” as Aquinas, out of Dionysius: man, in a poor imperfect composition, holds nothing. Thou art light, hast light, dwellest in light inaccessible: man, of himself, is as dark as earth; yea, as hell. Thou art God all-sufficient; the very heathen could say, undevòs deeodai Opīov; “ It is for none but God to want nothing:" man wants all but evil. Shortly, thou art all holiness, power, justice, wisdom, mercy, truth, perfection: man is nothing but defect, error, ignorance, injustice, impotence, corruption. Lord then, what is man to thee, but a fit subject for thy wrath? Yet, let it be rather a mere object of thy commiseration. Behold, we are vile: thou art glorious. Let us adore thine infiniteness: do thou pity our wretchedness. Lord, what is man?
Leave we comparisons. Let us take man as he is himself. It is a rule of our old countryman of Hales, the acute master of Bonaventure, that a man should be rigidus sibi, pius aliis; “rigorous to himself, kind to others.” Surely, as Nazianzen observes, in one kind, that nothing is more pleasing to talk of than other men's businesses; so, there is nothing more easy, than for a man to be wittily bitter in invectives against his own condition. Who hath not brain and gall enough to be a Timon; depreciari carnem hanc, as Tertullian speaks; “to disparage humanity;" and, like an angry lic on, to beat himself to blood with his own stern. Neither is it more rife for dogs to bark at men, than men at themselves. Alas! to what purpose is this currish clamour? We are miserable enough, though we would flatter ourselves. To whose insultation can we be thus exposed, but to our own? I come not hither to sponge you with this vinegar and gall; but, give me leave a little, though not to aggravate, yet to deplore our wretchedness. There can be no ill blood in this. Amaritudo sermonum medicina animarum; “ This bitterness is medicinal;” saith St. Ambrose. I do not fear we shall live so long, as to know ourselves too well: Lord, then, what is man? What, in his being? What, in his deprivation? How miserable in both!
1. What should I fetch the poor wretched infant out of the blind caverns of nature, to shame us with our conceptions; and to make us blush at the substance, nourishment, posture of that, which shall be a man? There he lies senseless for some months, as the heathen orator truly observes, as if he had no soul. When he comes forth into the large womb of the world, his first greeting of his mother is with cries and lamentations; and more he would cry,
he could know into what a world he comes; recompensing her painful throes, with continual unquietness. What sprawling, what wringing, what impotence is here! There lies the poor little Lordling of the World, not able to help himself; while the new-yeaned Lamb rises up on the knees, and seeks for the teats of her dam, knowing where and how to find relief so soon as it begins to be. Alas! what can man do, if he be let alone; but make faces, and noises, and die? Lord, what is man? This is his Ingress into the world.
2. His Progress in it is no better. From an impotent birth, he goes on to a silly childhood. If nobody should teach him to speak, what would he do? Historians may talk of “Bec,” that the untaught infant said: I dare say he learnt it of the goats; not of nature. I shall as soon believe, that Adam spake Dutch in Paradise, according to Goropius Beccanus's idle fancy, as that the child meant to speak an articulate word unbidden. And, if a mother or nurse did not tend him, how soon would he be both noisome, and nothing; where other creatures stand upon their own feet, and are wrapt in their own natural mantles, and tend upon their dams for their sustenance, and find them out among ten thousand ! very spider weaves, so soon as ever it comes out of the
As soon as age and nurture can feoff him in any wit, he falls to shifts. All his ambition is to please himself, in those crude humours of his young vanity. If he can but elude the eyes of a nurse or tutor, how safe he is! Neither is he yet capable of any other care, but how to decline his own good, and to be a safe truant. It is a large time, that our casuists give him, that at seven years he begins to lie. Upon time and tutorage, what devices he hath to feed his appetite! what fetches to live!
And, if now many successions of experiments have furnished him with a thousand helps, yet, as it is in the text, DTN na, What is Adam, and the son of Enosh?
How was it with the first man? how with the next? Could we look so far back as to see Adam and Eve, when they were new turned out of Paradise? in dignam exilio terram, as Nazianzen speaks of his Pontic habitation, Oh that hard-driven and miserable pair! the perfection of their invention and judgment was lost in their sin: their soul was left no less naked than the body. How woefully do we think they did scramble to live? They had water and earth before them; but fire, an active and useful element, was yet unknown. Plants they had; but metals, whereby they might make use of those plants, and redact them to any form for instruments of work, were yet, till Tubal-Cain, to seek.
Here was Adam, delving with a jaw-bone, and harrowing with sticks tied uncouthly together, and paring his nails with his teeth: there, Eve, making a comb of her fingers, and tying her raw-skinned breeches together, with rinds of trees; or pinning them up, with thorns. Here was Adam, tearing off some arm of a tree, to drive in those stakes, which he hath pointed with some sharp fint; there Eve, fetching in her water in a shell: here, Adam the first midwife to his
miserable consort; and Eve wrapping her little one in a skin lately borrowed from some beast, and saying it on a pillow of leaves or grass. Their fist was their hammer; their hand, their dish; their arms and legs, their ladder; heaven, their canopy; and earth, their feather-bed. And now, DIN MD, What is Adam?
In time, art began to improve nature. Every day's experiments brought forth something; and now, man durst affect to dwell, not safe, but fair: to be clad, not warm, but fine; and the palate waxed, by degrees, wanton and wild: the back and the belly strove whether should be more luxurious; and the eye affected to be more prodigal than they both: and, ever since, the ambition of these Three hath spent and wearied the world; so as, in the other extreme, we may well cry out, Lord, what is man?
For, to rise up with his age and the world's, now, wben man is grown ripe in all professions, an exquisite artist, a learned philosopher, a stout champion, a deep politician, whither doth be bend all his powers, but to attain his own ends, to cross another's? to greaten himself; to supplant a rival; to kill an enemy; to embroil a world. Man's heart, as Bernard well, is a mill; ever grinding some grist or other of his own device: and, I may add, if there be no grain to work upon, sets itself on fire.
Lord, what is man, even after the accession of a professed Christianity, but a butcher of his own kind? Seneca told his Lucilius, the same that Job hath, that vivere militare est. It is true now; not morally, but literally. What a woeful shambles is Christendom itself, ever since the last comet be come. Friar Dominic was, according to his mother's dream, a dog with a firebrand in his mouth : sure, ever since, religion hath been fiery and bloody. Homicida cucurbitarum, was the stile, that St. Austin gave to Manicheus: now, every man abroad strives to be homicida Christianorum : as if men were grown to the resolution of the old Tartars, of whom Haytonus; they thought it no sin to kill a man, but not to pull off their horse's bridle when he should feed, this they held mortal. What hills of carcases are here! What rivers of blood! At tu, Domine, usquequo ? How long: Lord, how long shall men play the men in killing; and seek glory in these ambitious murders ? Oh stay, stay, thou Preserver of Men, these impetuous rages of inhuman mankind; and scatter the people, that delight in war.
And, blessings be upon the anointed head of the king of our peace, under whose happy sceptre we enjoy these calm and comfortable times; while all the rest of the world is weltering in blood, and scorching in their mutual flames! May all the blessings of our peace return upon him, who is, under God, the author of these blessings, and upon his seed for ever and ever!
How willingly would I now forget, as an old man easily might, to turn back to the dispositions, studies, courses of man; commonly bent upon the prosecution, whether of his lust or malice. Woe is me! how is his time spent? In hollow visits; in ide courtings; in epicurean pamperings; in fantastic dressings; in lawless disports; in deep plots, crafty conveyances, quarrellous law-suits, spiteful