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cannot do this. Only we must remember, that our portion of temporal things is but food and raiment. God hath not promised us coaches and horses, rich houses and jewels, Tyrian silks and Persian carpets; neither hath he promised to minister to our needs in such circumstances, as we shall appoint, but such as himself shall choose. God will enable either thee to pay thy debt (if thou beggest it of him), or else he will pay it for thee; that is, take thy desire as a discharge of thy duty, and pay it to thy creditor in blessings, or in some secret of his providence. It may be he hath laid up the corn, that shall feed thee, in the granary of thy brother; or will clothe thee with his wool. He enabled St. Peter to pay his gabel by the ministry of a fish; and Elias to be waited on by a crow, who was both his minister and his steward for provisions and his holy Son rode in triumph upon an ass, that grazed in another man's pastures. And if God gives to him the dominion, and reserves the use to thee, thou hast the better half of the two: but the charitable man serves God and serves thy need; and both join to provide for thee, and God blesses both. But if he takes away the flesh-pots from thee, he can also alter the appetite, and he hath given thee power and commandment to restrain it: and if he lessens the revenue, he will also shrink the necessity; or if he gives but a very little, he will make it go a great way; or if he sends thee but a coarse diet, he will bless it and make it healthful, and can cure all the anguish of thy poverty by giving thee patience, and the grace of contentedness. For the grace of God secures you of provisions, and yet the grace of God feeds and supports the spirit in the want of provisions: and if a thin table be apt to enfeeble the spirits of one used to feed better, yet the cheerfulness of a spirit, that is blessed, will make a thin table become a delicacy, if the man was as well taught as he was fed, and learned his duty, when he received the blessing. Poverty, therefore, is in some senses eligible, and to be preferred before riches; but, in all senses, it is very tolerable.
Death of Children, or nearest Relatives and Friends.
There are some persons, who have been noted for excellent in their lives and passions, rarely innocent, and yet
hugely penitent for indiscretions and harmless infirmities; such as was Paulina, one of the ghostly children of St. Jerome; and yet when any of her children died, she was arrested with a sorrow so great, as brought her to the margent of her, grave. And the more tender our spirits are made by religion, the more easy we are to let in grief, if the cause be innocent, and be but in any sense twisted with piety and due affections. To cure which, we may consider, that all the world must die, and therefore to be impatient at the death of a person, concerning whom it was certain and known that he must die, is to mourn, because thy friend or child was not born an angel; and, when thou hast awhile made thyself miserable by an importunate and useless grief, it may be thou shalt die thyself, and leave others to their choice, whether they will mourn for thee or no: but, by that time, it will appear, how impertinent that grief was, which served no end of life, and ended in thy own funeral. But what great matter is it, if sparks fly upward, or a stone falls into a pit; if that, which was combustible, be burned, or that, which was liquid, be melted, or that which is mortal, do die? It is no more than a man does every day: for every night death' hath gotten possession of that day, and we shall never live that day over again; and when the last day is come, there are no more days left for us to die. And what is sleeping and waking, but living and dying? what is spring and autumn,`. youth and old age, morning and evening, but real images of life and death, and really the same to many considerable effects and changes?
But it is not mere dying, that is pretended by some as the cause of their impatient mourning; but that the child died young, before he knew good and evil, his right hand from his left, and so lost all his portion of this world, and they know not, of what excellency his portion in the next shall be. If he died young, he lost but little; for he understood but little, and had not capacities of great pleasures or great cares but yet he died innocent, and before the sweetness of his soul was deflowered and ravished from him by the flames and follies of a froward age: he went out from the dining-room, before he had fallen into error by the in
temperance of his meat, or the deluge of drink and he hath obtained this favour of God, that his soul hath suffered a less imprisonment, and her load was sooner taken off, that he might, with lesser delays, go and converse with immortal spirits and the babe is taken into paradise, before he knows good and evil. (For that knowledge threw our great father out, and this ignorance returns the child thither.) But (as concerning thy own particular) remove thy thoughts back to those days, in which thy child was not born, and you are now, but as then you was, and there is no difference, but that you had a son born and if you reckon that for evil, you are unthankful for the blessing; if it be good, it is better, that you had the blessing for awhile, than not at all; and yet, if he had never been born, this sorrow had not been at all'. But be no more displeased at God for giving you a blessing for awhile, than you would have been, if he had not given it at all; and reckon that intervening blessing for a gain, but account it not an evil; and if it be a good, turn it not into sorrow and sadness. But, if we have great reason to complain of the calamities and evils of our life, then we have the less reason to grieve, that those, whom we loved, have so small a portion of evil assigned to them. And it is no small advantage, that our children dying young receive: for their condition of a blessed immortality is rendered to them secure by being snatched from the dangers of an evil choice, and carried to their little cells of felicity, where they can weep no more. And this the wisest of the gentiles understood well, when they forbade any offerings or libations to be made for dead infants, as was usual for their other dead; as believing they were entered into a secure possession, to which they went with no other condition, but that they passed into it through the way of mortality, and, for a few months, wore an uneasy garment. And let weeping parents say, if they do not think, that the evils, their little babes have suffered, are sufficient. If they be, why are they troubled, that they were taken from those many and greater, which, in succeeding years, are great enough to try all the reason and religion, which art, and nature, and the grace of God, have produced in
r Itidem si puer parvulus occidat, æquo animo ferendum putant; si verò in cunis, ne querendum quidem; atqui hoc acerbius exegit natura quod dederat. At id quidem in cæteris rebus melius putatur, aliquam partem quàm nullam attingere. Senec.
us, to enable us for such sad contentions? And, possibly, we may doubt concerning men and women, but we cannot suspect, that to infants death can be such an evil, but that it brings to them much more good, than it takes from them in this life.
But others can well bear the death of infants: but when they have spent some years of childhood or youth, and are entered into arts and society, when they are hopeful and provided for, when the parents are to reap the comfort of all their fears and cares, then it breaks the spirit to lose them. This is true in many; but this is not love to the dead, but to themselves; for they miss, what they had flattered themselves into by hope and opinion: and if it were kindness to the dead, they may consider, that, since we hope he is gone to God and to rest, it is an ill expression of our love to them, that we weep for their good fortune. For that life is not best, which is longest: and when they are descended into the grave, it shall not be inquired how long they have lived, but how well: and yet this shortening of their days is an evil wholly depending upon opinion. For if men did naturally live but twenty years, then we should be satisfied, if they died about sixteen or eighteen; and yet eighteen years now are as long, as eighteen years would be then: and if a man were but of a day's life, it is well if he lasts till evensong, and then says his compline an hour before the time: and we are pleased, and call not that death immature, if he lives till seventy; and yet this age is as short of the old periods before and since the flood, as this youth's age (for whom you mourn) is of the present fulness. Suppose therefore a decree passed upon this person (as there have been many upon all mankind), and God hath set him a shorter period; and then we may as well bear the immature death of the young man, as the death of the oldest men: for they also are immature and unseasonable in respect of the old periods of many generations. And why are we troubled, that he had arts and sciences before he died? or are we troubled, that he does not live to make use of them? The first is cause of joy, for they
Juvenis relinquit vitam, quem Dii diligunt. Menand. Clerc. p. 46.
are excellent in order to certain ends: and the second cannot be cause of sorrow, because he hath no need to use them, as the case now stands, being provided for with the provisions of an angel, and the manner of eternity. However, the sons and the parents, friends and relatives, are in the world, like hours and minutes to a day. The hour comes, and must pass; and some stay by minutes, and they also pass, and shall never return again. But let it be considered, that from the time in which a man is conceived, from that time forward to eternity he shall never cease to be: and let him die young or old, still he hath an immortal soul, and hath laid down his body only for a time, as that which was the instrument of his trouble and sorrow, and the scene of sicknesses and disease. But he is in a more noble manner of being after death, than he can be here: and the child may, with more reason, be allowed to cry for leaving his mother's womb for this world, than a man can, for changing this world for another.
Sudden Death or violent.
Others are yet troubled at the manner of their child's or friend's death. He was drowned, or lost his head, or died of the plague; and this is a new spring of sorrow. But no man can give a sensible account, how it shall be worse for a child to die with drowning in half an hour, than to endure a fever of one-and-twenty days. And if my friend lost his head, so he did not lose his constancy and his religion, he died with huge advantage.
But, by this means, I am left without an heir. Well, suppose that: thou hast no heir, and I have no inheritance; and there are many kings and emperors that have died childless, many royal lines are extinguished: and Augustus Cæsar was forced to adopt his wife's son to inherit all the Roman greatness. And there are many wise persons that never married and we read no where, that any of the children of the apostles did survive their fathers and all that inherit any thing of Christ's kingdom, come to it by adoption, not by natural inheritance: and to die without a natural heir is