« PrécédentContinuer »
hath, by all ages of the church, been accounted a good instrument, and of some profit against the spirit of fornication. A spare diet, and a thin coarse table, seldom refreshment, frequent fasts, not violent, and interrupted with returns to ordinary feeding, but constantly little, unpleasant, of wholesome but sparing nourishment: for by such cutting off the provisions of victual, we shall weaken the strengths of our enemy. To which if we add lyings upon the ground, painful postures in prayer, reciting our devotions with our arms extended at full length, like Moses praying against Amalek, or our blessed Saviour hanging upon his painful bed of sorrows, the cross, and (if the lust be upon us, and sharply tempting) by inflicting any smart to overthrow the strongest passion by the most violent pain, we shall find great ease for the present, and the resolution and apt sufferance against the future danger. And this was St. Paul's remedy, "I bring my body under;" he used some rudenesses towards it. But it was a great nobleness of chastity, which St. Jerome reports of a son of the King of Nicomedia', who being tempted upon flowers and a perfumed bed, with a soft violence, but yet tied down to the temptation, and solicited with circumstances of Asian luxury by an impure courtesan, lest the easiness of his posture should abuse him, spit out his tongue into her face: to represent, that no virtue hath cost the saints so much as this of chastity".
5. Fly from all occasions, temptations, loosenesses of company, balls and revellings, indecent mixtures of wanton dancings, idle talk, private society with strange women, starings upon a beauteous face, the company of women that are singers, amorous gestures, garish and wanton dresses, feasts and liberty, banquets and perfumes, wine and strong drinks, which are made to persecute chastity; some of these
* In vita S. Pauli.
y Benedictus in spinis se volutavit; S. Martinianus faciem et manus. S. Johannes, cognomento Bonas, calamos acutos inter ungues et carnem digitorum intrasit, S. Theoctistus in silvis more ferarum vixit, ne inter Arabes pollueretur,
being the very prologues to lust, and the most innocent of them being but like condited or pickled mushrooms, which if carefully corrected, and seldom tasted, may be harmless, but can never do good: ever remembering, that it is easier to die for chastity than to live with it; and the hangman could not extort a consent from some persons, from whom a lover would have entreated it. For the glory of chastity will easily overcome the rudeness of fear and violence; but easiness and softness and smooth temptations creep in, and, like the sun, make a maiden lay by her veil and robe, which persecution, like the northern wind, makes her hold fast and clap close about her.
6. He that will secure his chastity, must first cure his pride and his rage. For oftentimes lust is the punishment of a proud man, to tame the vanity of his pride by the shame and affronts of unchastity: and the same intemperate heat that makes anger, does enkindle lust.
C 7. If thou beest assaulted with an unclean spirit, trust not thyself alone; but run forth into company, whose reve rence and modesty may suppress, or whose society may divert thy thoughts: and a perpetual witness of thy conver sation is of especial use against this vice, which evaporates in the open air, like camphire, being impatient of light and witnesses.
8. Use frequent and earnest prayers to the King of purities, the first of virgins, the eternal God, who is of an essential purity, that he would be pleased to reprove and cast out the unclean spirit. For beside the blessings of prayer by way of reward, it hath a natural virtue to restrain this vice: because a prayer against it is an unwillingness to act it; and so long as we heartily pray against it, our desires are secured, and then this devil hath no power. This was St. Paul's other remedy: "For this cause I besought the Lord thrice." And there is much reason and much advantage in the use of this instrument; because the main thing, that in this affair is
Venus rosam amat propter fabellam, quam recitat. Labanius.
numquid ego à te
Horat. serm. I. i. Sat. 2.
to be secured, is a man's mind. He that goes about to cure lust by bodily exercises alone (as St. Paul's phrase is) or mortifications, shall find them sometimes instrumental to it, and incitations of sudden desires, but always insufficient and of little profit: but he that hath a chaste mind, shall find his body apt enough to take laws; and let it do its worst, it cannot make a sin, and in its greatest violence, can but produce a little natural uneasiness, not so much trouble as a severe fasting-day, or a hard night's lodging upon boards. If a man be hungry, he must eat; and if he be thirsty, he must. drink in some convenient time, or else he dies; but if the body be rebellious, so the mind be chaste, let it do its worst, if you resolve perfectly not to satisfy it, you can receive no great evil by it. Therefore the proper cure is by application to the spirit, and securities of the mind, which can no way so well be secured as by frequent and fervent prayers, and sober resolutions, and severe discourses. Therefore,
9. Hither bring in succour from consideration of the Divine presence, and of his holy angels, meditation of death, and the passions of Christ upon the cross, imitation of his purities, and of the Virgin Mary his unspotted and holy mother, and of such eminent saints, who, in their generations, were burning and shining lights, unmingled with such uncleannesses, which defile the soul, and who now follow the Lamb, whithersoever he goes.
10. These remedies are of universal efficacy in all cases extraordinary and violent; but in ordinary and common, the remedy, which God hath provided, that is, honourable marriage, hath a natural efficacy, besides a virtue by divine blessing, to cure the inconveniences, which otherwise might afflict persons temperate and sober.
HUMILITY is the great ornament and jewel of Christian religion; that, whereby it is distinguished from all the wisdom.
Mens impudicam facere, non corpus solet.
e Danda est opera ut matrimonio devinciantur, quod est tutissimum juventutis vinculum. Plut. de educ. lib.
of the world; it not having been taught by the wise men of the gentiles, but first put into a discipline, and made part of a religion, by our Lord Jesus Christ, who propounded himself imitable by his disciples so signally in nothing, as in the twin-sisters of meekness and humility. Learn of me, for I am meek and humble; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For all the world, all that we are, and all that we have, our bodies and our souls, our actions and our sufferings, our conditions at home, our accidents abroad, our many sins and our seldom virtues, are as so many arguments to make our souls dwell low in the deep vallies of humility.
Arguments against Pride by way of consideration.
1. Our body is weak and impure, sending out more uncleannesses from its several sinks than could be endured, if they were not necessary and natural: and we are forced to pass that through our mouths, which as soon as we see upon the ground, we loathe like rottenness and vomiting.
2. Our strength is inferior to that of many beasts, and our infirmities so many, that we are forced to dress and tend horses and asses, that they may help our needs, and relieve
3. Our beauty is in colour inferior to many flowers, and in proportion of parts it is no better than nothing; for even a dog hath parts as well proportioned and fitted to his purposes, and the designs of his nature, as we have: and when it is most florid and gay, three fits of an ague can change it into yellowness and leanness, and the hollowness and wrinkles of deformity.
4. Our learning is then best, when it teaches most humility but to be proud of learning is the greatest ignorance in the world. For our learning is so long in getting, and so very imperfect, that the greatest clerk knows not the thousandth part of what he is ignorant; and knows so uncertainly what he seems to know, and knows no otherwise than a fool or a child, even what is told him or what he guesses at, that except those things which concern his duty, and which God hath revealed to him, which also every woman knows so far as is necessary, the most learned man hath nothing to be proud of, unless this be a sufficient argument to exalt him,
that he uncertainly guesses at some more unnecessary thing than many others, who yet know all that concerns them, and mind other things more necessary for the needs of life and commonwealths.
5. He that is proud of riches, is a fool. For if he be exalted above his neighbours, because he hath more gold, how much inferior is he to a gold mine? How much is he to give place to a chain of pearl, or a knot of diamonds? For certainly that hath the greatest excellence, from whence he derives all his gallantry and pre-eminence over his neighbours.
6. If a man be exalted by reason of any excellence in his soul, he may please to remember, that all souls are equal; and their differing operations are because their instrument is in better tune, their body is more healthful, or better tempered: which is no more praise to him, than it is that he was born in Italy.
7. He that is proud of his birth, is proud of the blessings of others, not of himself: for if his parents were more eminent in any circumstance than their neighbours, he is to thank God, and to rejoice in them; but still he may be a fool, or unfortunate, or deformed; and when himself was born, it was indifferent to him, whether his father were a king or a peasant, for he knew not any thing, nor chose any thing and most commonly it is true, that he that boasts of his ancestors, who were the founders and raisers of a noble family, doth confess that he hath in himself a less virtue and a less honour, and therefore that he is degenerated.
8. Whatsoever other difference there is between thee and thy neighbour, if it be bad, it is thine own, but thou hast no reason to boast of thy misery and shame: if it be good, thou hast received it from God: and then thou art more obliged to pay duty and tribute, use and principal to him: and it were a strange folly for a man to be proud of being more in debt than another.
9. Remember what thou wert, before thou wert begotten. Nothing. What wert thou in the first regions of thy dwelling, before thy birth? Uncleanness. What wert thou for many years after? Weakness. What in all thy life? A great sinner. What in all thy excellences? A mere debtor to God, to thy parents, to the earth, to all the creatures. But we