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rejoicing in the Lord,' and 'greatly delighting in his law,' that continual feast of a good conscience, that serving the Lord with gladness,' that 'exceeding gladness with God's countenance,' that 'comfort of the Holy Spirit,' that joy unspeakable and full of glory;' the satisfaction resulting from the contemplation of heavenly truth, from the sense of God's favor, and the pardon of his sins, from the influence of God's grace, from the hopes and anticipation of everlasting bliss; these are pleasures indeed, in comparison whereto all other pleasures are no more than brutish sensualities, sordid impurities, superficial touches, transient flashes of delight; such as should be insipid and unsavory to a rational appetite; such as are tinctured with sourness and bitterness, have painful remorses or qualms consequent.* All the pious man's performances of duty and of devotion are full of pure satisfaction and delight here, they shall be rewarded with perfect and endless joy hereafter.
As for safety, the pious man hath it most absolute and sure ; he being guarded by Almighty power and wisdom; resting under the shadow of God's wings;' God upholding him with his hand, ordering his steps, so that none of them shall slide, holding his soul in life, and suffering not his feet to be moved ;' he being, by the grace and mercy of God, secured from the assaults and impressions of all enemies, from sin and guilt, from the devil, world, and flesh, from death and hell, which are our most formidable, and in effect only dangerous enemies.
As for liberty, the pious man most intirely and truly doth enjoy that; he alone is free from captivity to that cruel tyrant Satan, from the miserable slavery to sin, from the grievous dominion of lust and passion. He can do what he pleaseth, having a mind to do only what is good and fit. The law he observeth is worthily called the perfect law of liberty :' the Lord he serveth pretendeth only to command freemen and friends:
* Quid enim jucundins, quam Dei Patris et Domini reconciliatio, quam veritatis revelatio, qnam errorum recognitio, quam tot retro criminum venia ? quæ major voluptas, quam fastidium ipsius voluptatis, quam sæculi totius contemptus, quam vera libertas, quam conscientia integra, quam vita sufficiens, quam mortis timor nullus, &c.? -Tert. de Spectac. 29.
Ye are my friends,' said he, if ye do whatever I command you :' and · if the Son set you free, then are ye free indeed.'*
And for ease, it is he only that knoweth it; having his mind exempted from the distraction of care, from disorder of passion, from anguish of conscience, from the drudgeries and troubles of the world, from the vexations and disquiets which sin produceth. He findeth made good to him, which our Lord inviting him did promise, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest:' he feeleth the truth of those divine assertions, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee :' and 'great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.'
As for knowlege, the pious man alone doth attain it considerably, so as to become truly wise and learned to purpose.
Evil men,' said the wise man himself, who knew well, derstand not judgment; but they that seek the Lord understand all things.' It is the pious man that employeth his mind on the most proper and worthy objects, that knoweth things which certainly best deserve to be known, that hath his soul enriched with the choicest notions; he skilleth to aim at the best ends, and to compass them by the fittest ineans; he can assign to each thing its due worth and value; he can prosecute things by the best methods, and order his affairs in the best manner; so that he is sure not to be defeated or disappointed in his endeavors, nor to misspend his care and pains without answerable fruit. He hath the best master to instruct him in his studies, and the best rules to direct him in his proceedings : he cannot be mistaken, seeing in his judgment and choice of things he conspireth with infallible wisdom. Therefore ο ευσεβών άκρως φιλοσοφεί, • the pious man is the exquisite philosopher. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. The fear of the Lord' (as is said again and again in Scripture) is the head (or top) of wisdom.' A good understanding have all they that keep his commandments.'
Farther : the pious man is enabled and disposed (hath the
* ου γάρ έστιν, ουκ έστιν ελεύθερος, αλλ' και μόνος και Χριστώ ζών.-Chrysost. ad Theod.
power and the heart) most to benefit and oblige others. He doth it by his succor and assistance, by his instruction and advice, which he is ever ready to yield to any man on fit occasion : he doth it by the direction and encouragement of his good example: he doth it by his constant and earnest prayers for all men : he doth it by drawing down blessings from heaven on the place where he resideth. He is on all accounts the most true, the most common benefactor to mankind; all his neighbors, his country, the world, are in some way or other obliged to him: at least he doth all the good he can, and in wish doth benefit all men.
Thus all the fruits and consequences of profit, the which engage men so eagerly to pursue it, do in the best kind and highest degree result from piety, and indeed only from it. All the philosophical bravados concerning a wise man being only rich, only honorable, only happy, only above fortune, are verified in the pious man: to him alone, as such, with a sure foundation, without vanity with evident reason, those aphorisms may be applied. They are paradoxes and fictions abstracting from religion, or considering men only under the light and power of nature : but supposing our religion true, a good Christian soberly, without arrogance, in proportion and according to the measure of his piety, may assume them to himself as the holy Apostles did: 'I possess all things, I can do all things, he may in a sort say after St. Paul.
As for all other profits, secluding it, they are but imaginary and counterfeit, mere shadows and illusions, yielding only painted shows instead of substantial fruit.
If from bare worldly wealth (that which usurpeth the name of profit here) a man seeketh honor, he is deluded, for he is not thereby truly honorable; he is but a shining earth-worm, a well-trapped ass, a gaudy statue, a theatrical grandee : with God, who judgeth most rightly, he is mean and despicable : no intelligent person can inwardly respect him. Even here, in this world of fallacy and dotage, the wisest and soberest men, whose judgment usually doth sway that of others, cannot but contemn him, as master of no real good, nor fit for any good purpose ; as seeing that in the end he will prove most beggarly and wretched.
If a man affecteth power thence, he is grievously mistaken: for, instead thereof, he proveth exceedingly feeble and impotent, able to perform nothing worthy a man, subject to fond humors and passions, servant to divers lusts and pleasures, captivated by the Devil at his pleasure, overborne by temptation, hurried by the stream of the world, and liable to the strokes of fortune.
If he propoundeth to himself thence the enjoyment of pleasyre, he will also much fail therein : for in lieu thereof he shall find care and trouble, surfeiting and disease, wearisome satiety and bitter regret; being void of all true delight in his mind, satisfaction in his conscience; nothing here being able to furnish solid and stable pleasure.
If he fancieth safety, he deludeth himself: for how can he be safe, who is destitute of God's protection and succor ; who is the object of divine wrath and vengeance; who is assailed by many fierce and powerful enemies; whom the roaring lion is ready to devour; whom death and sudden destruction are coming to seize on ; whom guilt threateneth, and hell gapeth for ; who without any guard or fence standeth exposed to such imminent, such horrid and ghastly dangers ?
If he thirst for liberty, he will be frustrated; for he can be no otherwise than a slave, while he continueth impious; servus tot dominorum, quot vitiorum, a slave to so many masters as he keepeth vices: a slave to himself and his own lusts : carrying about with him the fetters of unsatiable desire, being hampered with inconsistent and irregular affections.
Ease he cannot obtain, being oppressed with unwieldy burdens of sin, of care, of trouble ; being tossed with restless agitations of lust and passion; being · like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.'
If he meaneth to get wisdom, he is out; for wisdom and impiety are incompatible things. All his knowlege is vain, all bis speculations are no better than dreams, seeing he erreth in the main point, and is ' not wise to salvation.'
He is, in fine, extremely mistaken, and in all his projects will be lamentably disappointed, whoever fancieth any true profit without piety: he never can attain to be so much as wealthy; but drudge and plod what he can, must be a beggar
and å forlorn wretch. For how can he be any wise rich, who doth want all the best things, the only valuable things in the world, which any man may have, which any good man doth possess? How can he be rich, who is destitute of the most needful accommodations of life ; who constantly feedeth on the coarsest and most sordid fare, (the dust of pelf, the dung of sensuality ;) who hath no faithful or constant friends, (nothing earthly can be such ;) who is master of nothing but dirt, or chaff, or smoke? Whereas also riches do consist, not in what one enjoyeth at present, (for that can be little,) but in a presumed ability to enjoy afterward what he may come to need or desire; or in well-grounded hopes that he shall never fall into want or distress. How can that man be rich, who hath not any confidence in God, any interest in him, any reason to expect his blessing ? yea, who hath much ground to fear the displeasure of him, in whose hand all things are, and who arbitrarily disposeth of all? Piety therefore is the only profitable thing according to just esteem. “She is more precious than rubies, and all the things we can desire are not to be compared to her. On this account it is most true, what the Psalmist affirmeth, ' a little that the righteous hath is better than great riches of the ungodly.'
IV. That commendation is not to be omitted which is nearest at hand, and suggested by St. Paul himself to back this assertion concerning the universal profitableness of piety; For,' saith he, “it hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come:' that is, God hath promised to reward it with blessings appertaining to this mortal life, and with those which concern the future eternal state.
As for the blessings of this life, although God hath not promised to load the godly man with affluence of worldly things, not to put him into a splendid and pompous garb, not to dispense to him that which may serve for pampering the flesh, or gratifying wanton fancy, not to exempt him from all the inconveniences to which human nature and this worldly state are subject; yet hath he promised to furnish him with whatever is needful or convenient for him, in due measure and season, the which he doth best understand. There is no good thing which a man naturally desireth or reasonably can wish for, which