« PreviousContinue »
God's Word; to endeavor to find the true sense of it; and to live according to it.
This is the religion which I have chosen, after a long deliberation; and I am verily persuaded that I have chosen wisely, much more wise. y, than if I had guided myself according to your Church's authority.
114. SIR THOMAS BROWNE. 1605-1682 (Manual, p. 178.) THOUGHTS On Death and IMMORTALITY.
From the "Hydriotaphia."
In a field of Old Walsingham, not many months past, were digged up between forty and fifty urns, deposited in a dry and sandy soil, not a yard deep, not far from one another: not all strictly of one figure, but most answering these described; some containing two pounds of bones, distinguishable in skulls, ribs, jaws, thigh-bones, and teeth, with fresh impressions of their combustion; besides, the extraneous substances, like pieces of small boxes, or combs handsomely wrought, handles of small brass instruments, brazen nippers, and in one some kind of opal.
That these were the urns of Romans, from the common custom and place where they were found, is no obscure conjecture; not far from a Roman garrison, and but five miles from Brancaster, set down by ancient record under the name of Brannodunum; and where the adjoining town, containing seven parishes, in no very different sound, but Saxon termination, still retains the name of Burnham; which being an early station, it is not improbable the neighbor parts were filled with habitations, either of Romans themselves, or Britons Romanized, which observed the Roman customs. What song the sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture. What time the persons of these ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead, and slept with princes and counsellors, might admit a wide solution. But who were the proprietaries of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made up, were a question above antiquarianism; not to be resolved by man, not easily perhaps by spirits, except we consult the provincial guardians, or tutela y obser vators. Had they made as good provision for their names, as they nave done for their relics, they had not so grossly erred in the art of perpetuation. But to subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant. is a fallacy in duration.
But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founder of the pyramids? Herostratus lives, that burnt the temple of Diana! he is almost lost that built it. Time hath spared the epitaph of Adrian's horse, confounded that of himself. It vain we compute our felicities by the advantage of our good names,
since bad have equal durations; and Thersites is like to live as long as Agamemnon, without the favor of the everlasting register. Who knows whether the best of men be known, or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot, than any that stand remembered in the known account of time? The first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methuselah's long life had been his only chronicle.
There is nothing strictly immortal but immortality. Whatever hath no beginning, may be confident of no end. All others have a depen deat being, and within the reach of destruction, which is the peculiar cl that necessary essence that cannot destroy itself, and the highest strain of omnipotency, to be so powerfully constituted, as not to suffer even from the power of itself. But the sufficiency of Christian immortality frustrates all earthly glory, and the quality of either state after death makes a folly of posthumous memory.
Man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave; solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal lustre.
115. THOMAS FULLER. 160S-1661. (Manual, p. 179.) THE GOOD SCHOOLMASTER.
From the "Holy State."
There is scarce any profession in the commonwealth more necessary, which is so slightly performed. The reasons whereof I conceive to be these: First, young scholars make this calling their refuge; yea, perchance, before they have taken any degree in the university, commence schoolmasters in the country, as if nothing else were required to set up this profession but only a rod and a ferula. Secondly, others who are able, use it only as a passage to better preferment, to patch the rents in their present fortune, till they can provide a new one, and betake themselves to some more gainful calling. Thirdly, they are disheartened from doing their best with the miserable reward which in some places they receive, being masters to their children and slaves to their parents. Fourthly, being grown rich they grow negli.. gent, and scorn to touch the school but by the proxy of the usher. But see how well our schoolmaster behaves himself.
His genius inclines him with delight to his profession. God, of his goodness, hath fitted several men for several callings, that the neces sity of Church and State, in all cor ditions, inay be provided for. And thus God mouldeth some for a schoolmaster's life, undertaking it with desire and delight, and discharging it with dexterity and happy
He studieth his scholars' natures as carefully as they their books; and ranks their dispositions into several forms. And though it may seem difficult for him in a great school to descend to all particulars, yet experienced schoolmasters may quickly make a grammar of boys'
He is able, diligent, and methodical in his teaching; not leading them rather in a circle than forwards. He minces his precepts for chil dien to swallow, hanging clogs on the nimbleness of his own soul, that his scholars may go along with him.
lle is moderate in inflicting deserved correction. Many a schoolmaster better answereth the name paidotribe' than paidagogos,1 rather tearing his scholars' flesh with whipping, than giving them good education. No wonder if his scholars hate the Muses, being presented unto them in the shapes of fiends and furies.
Such an Orbilius mars more scholars than he makes. Their tyranny hath caused many tongues to stammer which spake plain by nature, and whose stuttering at first was nothing else but fears quavering on their speech at their master's presence, and whose mauling them about their heads hath dulled those who in quickness exceeded their master. To conclude, let this, amongst other motives, make schoolmasters careful in their place that the eminences of their scholars have commended the memories of their schoolmasters to posterity.
116. JEREMY TAYLOR. 1613-1667. (Manual, p. 181.)
The dominion of a man over his wife is no other than as the soul rules the body; for which it takes a mighty care, and uses it with a delicate tenderness, and cares for it in all contingencies, and watches to keep it from all evils, and studies to make for it fair provisions, and very often is led by its inclinations and desires, and does never con tradict its appetites, but when they are evil, and then also not without some trouble and sorrow; and its government comes only to this, it furnishes the body with light and understanding, and the body furnishes the soul with hands and feet; the soul governs, because the body cannot else be happy, but the government is no other than provisio'; as a nurse governs a child, when she causes him to eat, and to be warm, and dry, and quiet. And yet even the very government itself is divided; for man and wife in the family, are as the sun and moɔn in the firmament of heaven; he rules by day, and she by night, that is, in the lesser and more proper circles of her affairs, in the con duct of domestic provisions and necessary offices, and shines only by his light, and rules by his authority. And as the moon in opposition to the sun shines brightest; that is, then, when she is in her own cir cies and separate regions; so is the authority of the wife then mosi conspicuous, when she is separate and in her proper sphere; “in gynæceo," in the nursery and offices of domestic employment. But when she is in conjunction with the sun, her brother, that is, in that place and employment in which his care and proper offices are employed, her light is not seen, her authority hath no proper business.
But else there is no difference, for they were barbarcus people, among whom wives were instead of servants; and it is a sign of weakness, to force the camels to kneel for their load because thou hast not strength and spirit enough to climb; to make the affections and evenneɛs of ♪ wife bend by the flexures of a servant, is a sign the man is not wise enough to govern when another is by. And as amongst men and women humility is the way to be preferred, so it is in husbands, they shall prevail by cession, by sweetness and counsel, and charity and compliance. So that we cannot discourse of the man's right, without describing the measures of his duty.
Prayer is an action of likeness to the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of gen tleness and dove-like simplicity; an imitation of the holy Jesus, whose spirit is meek, up to the greatness of the biggest example; and a conformity to God, whose anger is always just, and marches slowly, and is without transportation, and often hindered, and never hasty, and is full of mercy. Prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our tempest; prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts, it is the daughter of charity, and the sister of meekness; and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention, which presents our prayers in a right line to God For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upwards, singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and climb above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconstant, descending more at every breath of the tempest than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of his wings; till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing as if it had learned music and motion from an angel, as he passed sometimes through the air about his ministries here below: so is the prayer of a good man: when his affairs have required business, and his business was matter of discipline, and his discipline was to pass upon a sinning person, or had a design of charity, his duty met with the infirmities of a man, and anger was its instrument, and the instru ment became stronger than the prime agent, and raised a tempest, and overruled the man; and then his prayer was broken, and his thoughts were troubled, and his words went up towards a cloud, and his thoughts pulled them back again, and made them without inten. tion, and the good man sighs for his infirmity, but must be content
to lose the prayer, and he must recover it, wher, his anger is removed, and his spirit is becalmed, made even as the brow of Jesus, and smooth like the heart of God; and then it ascends to heaven upon the wings of the holy dove, and dwells with God, till it returns, like the useful hee, loaden with a blessing and the dew of heaven.
Since all the evil in the world consists in the disagreeing between the object and the appetite, as when a man hath what he desires not, or desires what he hath not, or desires amiss, he that composes his spirit to the present accident hath variety of instances for his virtue, but none to trouble him, because his desires enlarge not beyond his present fortune: and a wise man is placed in the variety of chances, like the nave or centre of a wheel in the midst of all the circumvolutions and changes of posture, without violence or change, save that it turns gently in compliance with its changed parts, and is indifferent which part is up, and which is down; for there is some virtue or other to be exercised whatever happens — either patience or thanksgiving, love or fear, moderation or humility, charity or contented
It conduces much to our content, if we pass by those things which. happen to our trouble, and consider that which is pleasing and pros perous; that, by the representation of the better, the worse may be blotted out.
It may be thou art entered into the cloud which will bring a gentle shower to refresh thy sorrows.
I am fallen into the hands of publicans and sequestrators, and they have taken all from me: what now? let me look about me. They nave left me the sun and moon, fire and water, a loving wife, and nany friends to pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still discourse; and, unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance, and my cheerful spirit, and a good conscience; they still have left me the providence of God, and all the promises of the Gospel, and my religion, and my hopes of heaven, and my charity to them too: and still I sleep and digest, I eat and drink, I read and meditate, I can walk in my neighbor's pleasant fields, and see the Varieties of natural beauties, and delight in all that in which God delights, that is, in virtue and wisdom, in the whole creation, and in God himself.
1. Consider that anger is a professed enemy to counsel; it is a direct storm, in which no man can be heard to speak or call from without for if you counsel gently, you are despised; if you unge it and be vehement, you provoke it more. Be careful, therefore, to lay