« PrécédentContinuer »
sweet herbs to the baths, but was never washed or perfumed himself: he heaped up sweets for others, while himself was filthy with smoke and ashes. And yet it is considerable; if the man can be content to feed hardly, and labour extremely, and watch carefully, and suffer affronts and disgrace, that he may get money more, than he uses in his temperate and just needs, with how much ease might this man be happy? and with how great uneasiness and trouble does he make himself miserable? For he takes pains to get content, and, when he might have it, he lets it go. He might better be content with a virtuous and quiet poverty, than with an artificial, troublesome, and vicious. The same diet and a less labour would, at first, make him happy, and, for ever after, rewardable.
6. The sum of all is that, which the apostle says, "Covetousness is idolatry;" that is, it is an admiring money for itself, not for its use; it relies upon money, and loves it more, than it loves God and religion: and it is "the root of all evil;" it teaches men to be cruel and crafty, industrious in evil, full of care and malice; it devours young heirs, and grinds the face of the poor, and undoes those, who specially belong to God's protection, helpless, craftless, and innocent people; it inquires into our parents' age, and longs for the death of our friends; it makes friendship an art of rapine, and changes a partner into a vulture, and a companion into a thief; and, after all this, it is for no good to itself; for it dares not spend those heaps of treasure, which it snatched: and men hate serpents and basilisks worse than lions and bears; for these kill, because they need the prey, but they sting to death and eat not". And if they pretend all this care and heap for their heirs (like the mice of Africa, hiding the golden ore in their bowels, and refusing to give back the indigested gold, till their guts be out) they may remember, that what was unnecessary for themselves, is as unnecessary for their sons; and why cannot they be without it, as well as their fathers, who did not use it? And it often happens, that to the sons, it becomes an instrument to serve some lust or other; that, as * Η φιλοχρημοσύνη μήτηρ κακότητος ἁπάσης. Χρυσὸς ἀεὶ δόλος ἐστὶ καὶ ἄργυρος ἀνθρώποισιν. Χρυσὲ κακῶν ἀρχηγέ, βιοφθόρε, πάντα χαλέπτων, Εἴθέ σε μὴ θνητοῖσι γενέσθαι πῆμα ποθεινόν
Σοῦ γὰρ ἕκητι μάχαι τε, λεηλασία: τε, φόνοι τε,
Εχθρὰ δὲ τέκνα γονεῦσιν, ἀδελφειοί τε συναίμοις. Phocylid, 38.
the gold was useless to their fathers, so may the sons be to the public, fools or prodigals, loads to their country, and the curse and punishment of their father's avarice: and yet all that wealth is short of one blessing; but it is a load, coming with a curse, and descending from the family of a long-derived sin. However the father transmits it to the son, and it may be the son to one more; till a tyrant, or an oppressor, or a war, or change of government, or the usurer, or folly, or an expensive vice, makes holes in the bottom of the bag, and the wealth runs out like water, and flies away, like a bird from the hand of a child.
7. Add to these the consideration of the advantages of poverty; that it is a state freer from temptation, secure in dangers, but of one trouble, safe under the Divine Providence, cared for in heaven by a daily ministration, and for whose support God makes every day a new decree; a state, of which Christ was pleased to make open profession, and many wise men daily make vows: that a rich man is but like a pool, to whom the poor run, and first trouble it, and then draw it dry that he enjoys no more of it, than according to the few and limited needs of a man; he cannot eat like a wolf or an elephant: that variety of dainty fare ministers, but to sin and sicknesses: that the poor man feasts oftener than the rich, because every little enlargement is a feast to the poor, but he, that feasts every day, feasts no day, there being nothing left, to which he may, beyond his ordinary, extend his appetite: that the rich man sleeps not so soundly as the poor labourer; that his fears are more, and his needs are greater (for who is poorer, he that needs 51. or he that needs 5000?); the poor man hath enough to fill his belly; and the rich hath not enough to fill his eye; that the poor man's wants are easy to be relieved by a common charity, but the
• Provocet ut segnes animos, rerúmque remotas
Ingeniosa vias paulatim exploret egestas.-Claudian. 36. 31.
Prodigio par est in nobilitate Senectus.
Hortulus hic, puteúsque brevis, nec reste movendus,
In tenues plantas facili diffunditur haustu.
Vive bidentis amans, et culti villicus horti :
Unde epulum possis centum dare Pythagoreis.
Est aliquid, quocunque loco, quocunque recessu,
Unius dominum sese fecisse lacertæ.-Juven. Sat, iii, 226.
needs of rich men cannot be supplied but by princes; and they are left to the temptation of great vices to make repara+ tion of their needs; and the ambitious labours of men to get great estates, is but like the selling of a fountain to buy a fever, a parting with content to buy necessity, a purchase of an unhandsome condition at the price of infelicity: that princes, and they that enjoy most of the world, have most of it but in title, and supreme rights, and reserved privileges, peppercorns, homages, trifling services and acknowledg ments, the real use descending to others, to more substantial purposes. These considerations may be useful to the curing of covetousness; that, the grace of mercifulness enlarging the heart of a man, his hand may not be contracted; but reached out to the poor in alms.
REPENTANCE, of all things in the world, makes the greatest change: it changes things in heaven and earth; for it changes the whole man from sin to grace, from vicious habits to holy customs, from unchaste bodies to angelical souls, from swine to philosophers, from drunkenness to sober counsels and God himself, "with whom is no variableness or shadow of change," is pleased, by descending to our weak understandings, to say, that he changes also upon man's repentance, that he alters his decrees, revokes his sentence, cancels the bills of accusation, throws the records of shame and sorrow from the court of heaven, and lifts up the sinner from the grave to life, from his prison to a throne, from hell and the guilt of eternal torture, to heaven and to a title to never-ceasing felicities. If we be bound on earth, we shall be bound in heaven: if we be absolved here, we shall be loosed there: if we repent, God will repent, and not send the evil upon us, which we had deserved.
But repentance is a conjugation and society of many duties; and it contains in it all the parts of a holy life, from the time of our return to the day of our death inclusively; and it hath in it some things specially relating to the sins of our
former days, which are now to be abolished by special arts, and have obliged us to special labours, and brought in many new necessities, and put us into a very great deal of danger. And, because it is a duty consisting of so many parts and so much employment, it also requires much time, and leaves a man in the same degree of hope of pardon, as is his restitution to the state of righteousness and holy living, for which we covenanted in baptism. For we must know, that there is but one repentance in a man's whole life, if repentance be taken in the proper and strict evangelical covenant sense, and not after the ordinary understanding of the world; that is, we are but once to change our whole state of life, from the power of the devil and his entire possession, from the state of sin and death, from the body of corruption, to the life of grace, to the possession of Jesus, to the kingdom of the Gospel; and this is done in the baptism of water, or in the baptism of the Spirit, when the first rite comes to be verified by God's grace coming upon us, and by our obedience to the heavenly calling, we working together with God. After this change, if ever we fall into the contrary state, and be wholly estranged from God and religion, and profess ourselves servants of unrighteousness, God hath made no more covenant of restitution to us; there is no place left for any more repentance, or entire change of condition, or new birth: a man can be regenerated but once; and such are voluntary malicious apostates, witches, obstinate impenitent persons, and the like. But if we be overtaken by infirmity, or enter into the marches or borders of this estate, and commit a grievous sin, or ten, or twenty, so we be not in the entire possession of the devil, we are, for the present, in a damnable condition, if we die; but if we live, we are in a recoverable condition; for so we may repent often. We repent or rise from death but once, but from sickness many times; and, by the grace of God, we shall be pardoned, if so we repent. But our hopes of pardon are, just as is the repentance; which, if it be timely, hearty, industrious, and effective, God accepts; not by weighing grains or scruples, but by estimating the great proportions of our life. A hearty endeavour, and an effectual general change shall get the pardon; the unavoidable infirmities, and past evils, and present imperfections, and short interruptions, against which we watch,
and pray, and strive, being put upon the accounts of the cross, and paid for by the holy Jesus. This is the state and condition of repentance: its parts and actions must be valued, according to the following rules.
Acts and parts of Repentance.
1. He, that repents truly, is greatly sorrowful for his past sins not with a superficial sigh or tear, but a pungent afflictive sorrow; such a sorrow as hates the sin so much, that the man would choose to die rather than act it any more. This sorrow is called in Scripture "a weeping sorely; a weeping with bitterness of heart; a weeping day and night; a sorrow of heart; a breaking of the spirit; mourning like a dove, and chattering like a swallow :" and we may read the degree and manner of it by the lamentations and sad accents of the prophet Jeremy, when he wept for the sins of the nation; by the heart-breaking of David, when he mourned for his murder and adultery: and the bitter weeping of St. Peter, after the shameful denying of his master. The expression of this sorrow differs according to the temper of the body, the sex, the age, and circumstance of action, and the motive of sorrow, and by many accidental tendernesses, or masculine hardnesses; and the repentance is not to be estimated by the tears, but by the grief; and the grief is to be valued not by the sensitive trouble, but by the cordial hatred of the sin, and ready actual dereliction of it, and a resolution and real resisting its consequent temptations. Some people can shed tears for nothing, some for any thing; but the proper and true effects of a godly sorrow are, fear of the Divine judgments, apprehension of God's displeasure, watchings and strivings against sin, patiently enduring the cross of sorrow (which God sends as their punishment), in accusation of ourselves, in perpetually begging pardon, in mean and base opinions of ourselves, and in all the natural productions from these, according to our temper and constitution. For if we be apt to weep in other accidents, it is ill, if we weep, not also in the sorrows of repentance: not, that weeping is of itself a duty, but that the sorrow, if it be as great, will be still expressed in as great a manner.
9 Jer. xiii. 17. Joel, ii. 13. Ezek. xxvii. 31. James, iv. 9. VOL. IV.