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causes above our power, and circumstances beyond our pros-
of obedience to the divine commands, and to reduce them from their idolatrous and wicked courses; yet without correspondent effect. Our Saviour, by the example of his holy life, continual instruction, and vehement exhortations, assayed to procure a belief of, and submission to, his most excellent doctrine; yet how few • believed his report, and complied with his discipline! Yea, Almighty God himself often complains how in a manner his designs were defeated, his desires thwarted, his offers refused, his counsels rejected, his
expectations deceived. Wherefore,' (saith he concerning his vineyard,) when I looked it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? Isa. v. 4. And again, 'I have spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people:' Isa. Ixv. 2. And again, I have even sent unto you all my prophets, daily rising up early, and sending them: yet they hearkened not unto me:' Jer. vii. 25. 26. Wherefore there is no good cause we should be disheartened, or vexed, when success is wanting to well-advised purposes. It is foolish and ill-grounded intentions, and practices unwarrantable by good reason, that make the undertakers solicitous of success, and being defeated leave them disconsolate. Y ea farther,
VI. Wisdom makes all the troubles, griefs, and pains incident to life, whether casual adversities, or natural afflictions, easy and supportable; by rightly valuing the importance, and moderating the influence of them. It suffers not busy fancy to alter the nature, amplify the degree, or extend the duration of them, by representing them more sad, heavy, and remediless than they truly are. It allows them no force beyond what naturally and necessarily they have, nor contributes nourishment to their increase. It keeps them at a due distance, not permitting them to encroach on the soul, or to propagate their influence beyond their proper sphere. It will not let external mischances, as poverty and disgrace, to produce an inward sense which is beyond their natural efficacy; nor corporeal affections of sickness and pain to disturb the mind, with which they have nothing to do. The region of these malignant distempers being at most but the habit of the body, wisdom by effectual antidotes repels them from the heart and inward parts of the soul. If any thing, sin, and our unworthy miscarriages toward God, should vex and discompose us; yet this trouble wisdom, by representing the divine goodness, and his tender mercies in our ever blessed Redeemer, doth perfectly allay. And as for all other adversities, it abates their noxious power by showing us they are either merely imaginary, or very short and temporary; that they admit of remedy, or at most do not exclude comfort, not wholly hindering the operations of the mind, nor extinguishing its joys; that they may have a profitable
use and pleasant end ; and, however, neither imply bad conscience, nor induce obligation to punishment. For,
VII. Wisdom hath always a good conscience attending it, that purest delight and richest cordial of the soul; that brazen wall, and impregnable fortress against both external assaults and internal commotions; that continual feast,' whereon the mind, destitute of all other repast, with a never languishing appetite may entertain itself; that faithful witness and impartial judge, whoever accuses, always acquitting the innocent soul; that certain friend, in no strait failing, in no adversity deserting; that sure refuge in all storms of fortune and persecutions of disgrace; which, as Solomon here notes, renders a man's 'sleep sweet,' and undisturbed with fearful phantasms, his heart light, and his steps secure; and, if any thing, can make the Stoical paradox good, and cause the wise man to smile in extremity of torment; arming his mind with an invincible courage, and infusing a due confidence into it, whereby he bears up cheerfully against malicious reproach, undauntedly sustains adversity, and triumphs over bad fortune. And this invaluable treasure the wise man is only capable of possessing ; who certainly knows, and heartily approves the grounds on which he proceeds ; whereas the fool, building his choice on blind chance, or violent passion, or giddy fancy, or uncertain example, not on the steady warrant of good reason, cannot avoid being perplexed with suspicion of mistake, and so necessarily is deprived of the comfort of a good conscience.
VIII. Wisdom confers a facility, expert readiness, and dexterity in action; which is a very pleasant and commodious quality, and exceedingly sweetens activity. To do things with difficulty, struggling, and immoderate contention, disheartens a man, quells his courage, blunts the edge of his resolution, renders him sluggish and averse from business, though apprehended never so necessary, and of great moment. These obstructions wisdom removes, facilitating operations by directing the intention to ends possible and attainable, by suggesting fit means and instruments to work by, by contriving right methods and courses of process; the mind by it being stored with variety of good principles, sure rules, and happy expedients, reposed in the
memory, and ready on all occasions to be produced and employed in practice.
IX. Wisdom begets a sound, healthful, and harmonious complexion of the soul, disposing us with judgment to distinguish, and with pleasure to relish savory and wholesome things, but
nauseate and reject such as are ingrateful and noxious to us; thereby capacifying us to enjoy pleasantly and innocently all those good things the divine goodness bath provided for and consigned to us; whence to the soul proceeds all that comfort, joy, and vigor, which results to the body from a good constitution and perfect health.
X. Wisdom acquaints us with ourselves, our own temper and constitution, our propensions and passions, our habitudes and capacities ; a thing not only of mighty advantage, but of infinite pleasure and content to us. No man in the world less knows a fool than himself; nay, he is more than ignorant, for he constantly errs in the point, taking himself for, and demeaning himself as toward another, a better, a wiser, and abler man than he is. He hath wonderful conceits of his own qualities and faculties; he affects commendations incompetent to him; he soars at employment surpassing his ability to manage. No comedy can represent a mistake more odd and ridiculous than his; for he wanders, and stares, and hunts after, but never can find nor discern himself; but always encounters with a false shadow instead thereof, which he passionately hugs and admires. But a wise man, by constant observation and impartial reflexion on himself, grows very familiar with himself: he perceives his own inclinations, which, if bad, he strives to alter and correct; if good, he cherishes and corroborates them: he apprehends the matters he is fitting for and capable to manage, neither too mean and unworthy of him, nor too high and difficult for him; and those applying his care to, he transacts easily, cheerfully, and successfully. So being neither puffed up with vain and overweening opinion, nor dejected with heartless diffidence of himself; neither admiring, nor despising ; neither irksomely hating, nor fondly loving himself; he continues in good humor, maintains a sure friendship and fair correspondence with himself, and rejoices in the retirement and private conversation
with his own thoughts : whence flows a pleasure and satisfaction
preserves a constant favor and fair respect of men, purchases a good name, and upholds reputation in the world : which things are naturally desirable, commodious for life, encouragements to good, and preventive of many inconveniences. The composed frame of mind, uniform and comely demeanor, compliant and inoffensive conversation, fair and punctual dealing, considerate motions, and dexterous addresses of wise men naturally beget esteem and affection in those that observe them. Neither than these things is there any thing more commendable to human regard. As symmetry and harmony to the animal senses, so delectable is an even temper of soul and orderly tenor of actions to rational apprehensions. Folly is freakish and humorous, impertinent and obstreperous, inconstant and inconsistent, peevish and exceptious; and consequently fastidious to society, and productive of aversation and disrespect. But the wise man is stable in his ways, consonant to himself, suiting his actions to his words, and those to his principles, and all to the rule of right reason ; so that you may
know where to find him, and how to deal with him, and may easily please him, which makes his acquaintance acceptable, and his person valuable : beside that real worth of itself commands respect, and extorts veneration from men, and usually prosperity waits on his well-advised attempts, which exceedingly adorn and advance the credit of the undertaker : however, if he fail sometime, his usual deportment salves his repute, and easily makes it credible it was no fault of his, but of his fortune. If a fool
the honor is attributed to propitious chance; if he miscarry, to his own ill management: but the intire glory of happy undertakings crowns the head of wisdom ; while the disgrace of unlucky events falls otherwhere. His light, like that of the sun, cannot totally be eclipsed; it may be dimmed, but never extinguished, and always maintains a day, though overclouded with misfortune. Who less esteems the famous African captain for being overthrown in that last fatal battle, wherein he is said to have shown the best skill, endured the worst of success? Who contemns Cato and other