« PrécédentContinuer »
soon over, shameful in their story, bitter in the memory, painful in the effect here, and intolerable hereafter, and for ever; yet in despite of all this, he runs foolishly into his sin and his ruin, merely because he is a fool, and winks hard, and rushes violently like a horse into the battle, or like a madman to his death. He that can think great and good things of such a person, the next step may court the rack for an instrument of pleasure, and admire a swine for wisdom, and go for counsel to the prodigal and trifling grasshopper. After the use of these and such-like instruments and considerations, if you would try, how your soul is grown, you shall know that humility, like the root of a goodly tree, is thrust very far into the ground, by these goodly fruits, which appear above ground.
Signs of Humility.
1. The humble man trusts not to his own discretion, but in matter of concernment relies rather upon the judgment of his friends, counsellors, or spiritual guides. 2. He does not pertinaciously pursue the choice of his own will, but in all things lets God choose for him, and his superiors in those things, which concern them. 3. He does not murmur against commands. 4. He is not inquisitive into the reasonableness of indifferent and innocent commands, but believes their command to be reason enough in such cases to exact his obedience. 5. He lives according to a rule, and with compliance to public customs, without any affectation or singularity. 6. He is meek and indifferent in all accidents and chances. 7. He patiently bears injuries. 8. He is always unsatisfied in his own conduct, resolutions, and counsels. 9. He is a great lover of good men, and a praiser of wise men, and a censurer of no man. 10. He is modest in his speech, and reserved in his laughter. 11. He fears, when he hears himself commended, lest God make another judgment concerning his actions, than men do. 12. He gives no pert or saucy answers, when he is reproved, whether justly or unjustly. 13. He loves to sit down in private, and, if he may, he refuses the temptation of offices and new honours. 14. He is ingenuous, free, and open, in his actions and discourses.
▾ Assai commanda, chi ubbidisce al saggio.
• Verum humilem patientia ostendit. St. Hier.
15. He mends his fault, and gives thanks, when he is admonished. 16. He is ready to do good offices to the murderers of his fame, to his slanderers, backbiters, and detractors, as Christ washed the feet of Judas. 17. And is contented to be suspected of indiscretion, so before God he may be really innocent, and not offensive to his neighbour, nor wanting to his just and prudent interest.
MODESTY is the appendage of sobriety, and is to chastity, to temperance, and to humility, as the fringes are to a garment. It is a grace of God, that moderates the over-activeness and curiosity of the mind, and orders the passions of the body, and external actions, and is directly opposed to curiosity, to boldness, to indecency. The practice of modesty consists in these following rules.
Acts and duties of Modesty, as it is opposed to Curiosity*.
1. Inquire not into the secrets of God", but be content to learn thy duty according to the quality of thy person or employment: that is plainly, if thou beest not concerned in the conduct of others; but if thou beest a teacher, learn it so, as may best enable thee to discharge thy office. God's commandments were proclaimed to all the world; but God's counsels are to himself and to his secret ones, when they are admitted within the veil.
2. Inquire not into the things, which are too hard for thee, but learn modestly to know thy infirmities and abilities; and raise not thy mind up to inquire into mysteries of state, or the secrets of government, or difficulties theological, if thy employment really be, or thy understanding be judged to be, of a lower rank.
3. Let us not inquire into the affairs of others, that concern us not, but be busied within ourselves and our own "Ecclus. iii. 21-23.
▾ Qui scrutator est Majestatis, opprimetur à gloria. Prov. xxv. AvTMn ågxà Toũ 41λοσοφεῖν, αἴσθησις τοῦ ἰδίου ἡγεμονικοῦ, πῶς ἔχει· μετὰ γὰρ τὸ γνῶναι ὅτι ἀσθενῶς, οὐκέτι Beλhoei xeñodai avtậ xpòc tà μéyicta. Arrian. lib. i. cap. 26. Et plus sapere interdum vulgus, quòd, quantum opus est, sapiat. Lactant.
spheres; ever remembering that to pry into the actions or interests of other men, not under our charge, may minister to pride, to tyranny, to uncharitableness, to trouble, but can never consist with modesty; unless where duty, or the mere intentions of charity and relation, do warrant it.
4. Never listen at the doors or windows: for besides that it contains in it danger and a snare, it is also an invading my neighbour's privacy, and a laying that open, which he therefore enclosed, that it might not be open. Never ask, what he carries covered so curiously; for it is enough, that it is covered curiously. Hither also is reducible, that we never open letters without public authority, or reasonable presumed leave, or great necessity, or charity.
Every man hath in his own life sins enough, in his own mind trouble enough, in his own fortune evils enough, and in performance of his offices failings more than enough, to entertain his own inquiry: so that curiosity after the affairs of others cannot be without envy and an evil mind. What is it to me, if my neighbour's grandfather were a Syrian, or his grandmother illegitimate; or that another is indebted five thousand pounds, or whether his wife be expensive? But commonly curious persons, or (as the apostle's phrase is) "busybodies," are not solicitous or inquisitive into the beauty and order of a well-governed family, or after the virtues of an excellent person; but if there be any thing, for which men keep locks and bars and porters, things that blush to see the light, and either are shameful in manners, or private in nature, these things are their care and their business. But if great things will satisfy our inquiry, the course of the sun and moon, the spots in their faces, the firmament of heaven, and the supposed orbs, the ebbing and flowing of the sea, are work enough for us: or if this be not, let him tell me, whether the number of the stars be even or odd, and when they began to be so; since some ages have discovered new stars, which the former knew not, but might have seen, if they had been where now they are fixed. If these be too troublesome, search lower, and tell me, why this turf this year brings forth a daisy, and the next year a plantain; why the apple bears his seed in his heart, and wheat bears it in his head:
Ecclus. vii. 21.-Ne occhi in lettera, ne mano in tasca, ne orecchi in secreti
let him tell, why a graft, taking nourishment from a crabstock, shall have a fruit more noble than its nurse and parent: let him say, why the best of oil is at the top, the best of wine in the middle, and the best of honey at the bottom, otherwise than it is in some liquors, that are thinner, and in some, that are thicker. But these things are not such as please busy-bodies; they must feed upon tragedies, and stories of misfortunes, and crimes: and yet tell them ancient stories of the ravishment of chaste maidens, or the debauchment of nations, or the extreme poverty of learned persons, or the persecutions of the old saints, or the changes of government, and sad accidents happening in royal families amongst the Arsacidæ, the Cæsars, the Ptolemies, these were enough to scratch the itch of knowing sad stories; but unless you tell them something sad and new, something that is done within the bounds of their own knowledge or relation, it seems tedious and unsatisfying; which shews plainly, it is an evil spirit: envy and idleness married together, and begot curiosity. Therefore Plutarch rarely well compares curious and inquisitive ears to the execrable gates of cities, out of which only malefactors and hangmen and tragedies pass, nothing that is chaste or holy. If a physician should go from house to house unsent for, and inquire what woman hath a cancer in her bowels, or what man hath a fistula in his cholic-gut, though he could pretend to cure it, he would be almost as unwelcome as the disease itself: and therefore it is inhuman to inquire after crimes and disasters without pretence of amending them, but only to discover them. We are not angry with searchers and publicans, when they look only on public merchandise; but when they break open trunks, and pierce vessels, and unrip packs, and open sealed letters.
Curiosity is the direct incontinency of the spirit; and adultery itself, in its principle, is many times nothing but a curious inquisition after, and envying of, another man's enclosed pleasures; and there have been many, who refused fairer objects, that they might ravish an enclosed woman from her retirement and single possessor. But these inquisitions are seldom without danger, never without baseness: they are neither just, nor honest, nor delightful, and very often useless to the curious inquirer. For men stand upon their guards against them, as they secure their meat against
harpies and cats, laying all their counsels and secrets out of their way; or as men clap their garments close about them, when the searching and saucy winds would discover their nakedness; as knowing, that what men willingly hear, they do willingly speak of. Knock therefore at the door, before you enter upon your neighbour's privacy; and remember, that there is no difference between entering into his house, and looking into it.
Acts of Modesty as it is opposed to Boldness*.
1. Let us always bear about us such impressions of reverence and fear of God as to tremble at his voice, to express our apprehensions of his greatness in all great accidents, in popular judgments, loud thunders, tempests, earthquakes; not only for fear of being smitten ourselves, or that we are concerned in the accident, but also that we may humble ourselves before his Almightiness, and express that infinite distance between his infiniteness and our weaknesses, at such times especially, when he gives such visible arguments of it. He that is merry and airy at shore, when he sees a sad and a loud tempest on the sea; or dances briskly, when God thunders from heaven, regards not, when God speaks to all the world, but is possessed with a firm immodesty.
2. Be reverent, modest, and reserved, in the presence of thy betters, giving to all according to their quality their titles of honour, keeping distance, speaking little, answering pertinently, not interposing without leave or reason, not answering to a question propounded to another; and ever present to thy superiors the fairest side of thy discourse, of thy temper, of thy ceremony, as being ashamed to serve excellent persons with unhandsome intercourse.
3. Never lie before a king, or a great person, nor stand. in a lie, when thou art accused; nor offer to justify, what is indeed a fault; but modestly be ashamed of it, ask pardon, and make amends'.
Quem Deus tegit verecundiæ pallio, bujus maculas hominibus non ostendit.
Πρῶτον ἀγαθῶν ἀναμάρτητον, δεύτερον δ ̓ αἰσχύναι. Meliss.
Senec. Hip. 140.