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listlessness to creep in, incessantly busying all our faculties with earnest contention ; according to that profession of St. Paul, declaring the nature thereof, • Herein always do I exercise myself, to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man. Whence it is called a 'fight,' and a 'race,' implying the continual earnestness of attention and activity which is to be spent thereon.

It is withal a sweet and grateful business ; for it is a pious man's character, that · he delighteth greatly in God's commandments;' that the commandments are not grievous to him;' that it is · his meat and drink to do God's will;' that · God's words (or precepts) are sweeter than honey to his taste;' that

the ways of religious 'wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Whereas all other employments are wearisome, and soon become loathsome; this, the farther we proceed in it, the more pleasant and satisfactory it groweth.* There is perpetual matter of victory over bad inclinations pestering us within, and strong temptations assailing us without: which to combat hath much delight; to master, breedeth unexpressible content. The sense also of God's love, the influences of his grace and comfort communicated in the performances of devotion and all duty, the satisfaction of good conscience, the assured hope of reward, the foretastes of future bliss, do season and sweeten all the labors taken, and all the difficulties undergone therein.

In fine, the bare light of nature hath discerned, that were it not for such matters as these to spend a man's care and pains on, this would be a lamentable world to live in. There was, for instance, an emperor great and mighty as ever did wield sceptre on earth, whose excellent virtue, coupled with wisdom, (inferior, perhaps, to none that any man ever without special inspiration hath been endowed with,) did qualify him with most advantage to examine and rightly to judge of things here; who, notwithstanding all the conveniences which bis royal estate and well settled prosperity might afford, (the which

* Non potest cuiquam semper idem placere, nisi rectum.-Sen. 20.

Dedit hoc providentia hominibus munus, ut honesta magis juvarent.-Quint. i. 12.

surely he had fully tasted and tried,) did yet thus express his thoughts: Τί μοι ξην εν κόσμω κενή θεών, ή προνοίας κενό; • What doth it concern me to live in a world void of God, or void of providence ?** To govern the greatest empire that ever was, in the deepest calm; to enjoy the largest affluences of wealth, of splendor, of respect, of pleasure ; to be loved, to be dreaded, to be served, to be adored by so many nations ; to have the whole civil world obsequious to his will and nod; all these things seemed vain and idle, not worthy of a man's regard, affection, or choice, in case there were no god to worship, no providence to observe, no piety to be exercised. So little worth the while common sense hath adjudged it to live without religion.

V. It is a considerable benefit of piety, that it affordeth the best friendships and sweetest society. Man is framed for society, and cannot live well without it;t many of his faculties would be useless, many of his appetites would rest unsatisfied in solitude. To have a friend wise and able, honest and good, unto whom on all occasions we may have recourse for advice, for assistance, for consolation, is a great convenience of life: and this benefit we owe to religion, which supplieth us with various friendships of the best kind, most beneficial and most sweet unto us. I

It maketh God our friend, a friend infinitely better than all friends, most affectionate and kind, most faithful and sure, most able, most willing, and ever most ready to perform all friendly offices, to yield advice in all our doubts, succor in all our needs, comfort in all our troubles, satisfaction to all our desires. Unto him it ministereth a free address on all occasions; with him it alloweth us continually a most sweet and pleasant intercourse. The pious man hath always the all-wise God to counsel him, to guide his actions and order his steps: he hath the Almighty to protect, support, and relieve him ; he hath the immense Goodness to commiserate and comfort him ; unto

* M. Ant. ii. 11. vi. 10. + Nullius boni sine socio jucunda possessio est.-Sen. Ep. 6. | Ut aliarum rerum nobis innata dulcedo est, sic amicitiæ.-Sen.

him he is not only encouraged, but obliged to resort in need : on him he may, he ought to discharge all his cares and burdens.

It consequently doth engage all creatures in the world to be our friends, or instruments of good to us, according to their several capacities, by the direction and disposal of God. All the servants of our great Friend will, in compliance to him, be serviceable to us, “Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at


with thee :' so Job's friend promiseth him on condition of piety. And God himself confirmeth that promise; · In that day,' saith he in the Prophet, ‘will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground.' And again, : When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle on thee.' And, · The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.' - Thou shalt tread on the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot.' •They shall take up scorpions; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them:' (so our Lord promised to his disciples.). Not only the heavens shall dispense their kindly influences, and the earth yield her plentiful stores, and all the elements discharge their natural and ordinary good offices; not only the tame and sociable creatures shall on this condition faithfully serve us; but even the most wild, most fierce, most ravenous, most venomous creatures shall, if there be need, prove friendly and helpful, or at least harmless to us: as were the ravens to Elias, the lions to Daniel, the viper to St. Paul, the fire to the three children.

But especially piety doth procure the friendship of the good angels, that puissant host of glorious and happy spirits : they all do tenderly love the pious person ; they are ever ready to serve and do him good, to protect him from danger, to aid him in his undertakings, to rescue him from mischiefs. What an honor, what a blessing is this, to have such an innumerable company of noble friends (the courtiers and favorites of heaven) deeply concerned and constantly vigilant for our welfare !

It also engageth the blessed saints in glory, 'the spirits of just men perfected,” the church of the first-born,' to bear dearest affection to us, to further our prosperity with their good wishes and earnest prayers, mightily prevalent with God.

It rendereth all sorts of men our friends. To good men it uniteth us in holy communion; the communion of brotherly charity and hearty good will, attended with all the good offices they are able to perform : to other men it reconcileth and endeareth us; for that innocent and inoffensive, courteous and benign, charitable and beneficent demeanor, (such as piety doth require and produce,) are apt to conciliate respect and affection from the worst men. For, vincit malos pertinax bonitas ;* men hardly can persist enemies to him whom they perceive to be their friend : and such the pious man in disposition of mind, and in effect when occasion serveth, is toward all men;t being sensible of his obligation to love all men, and, as he hath opportunity, to do good to all men.' It assureth and more strictly endeareth our friends to us. For as it maketh us hearty, faithful, constant friends to others; so it reciprocally tieth others to us in the like sincerity and fastness of good-will.I

It reconcileth enemies. · For “when a man's ways do please the Lord, he maketh his enemies to be at peace with him.' It hath a natural efficacy to that purpose, and divine blessing promoteth it.

By it all conversation becometh tolerable, grateful, and useful. For a pious man is not easily disturbed with any crossness or perverseness, any infirmity or impertinency of those he converseth with : he can bear the weaknesses and the failings of his company; he can by wholesome reflexions on all occurrences advantage and please himself. S

In fine, piety rendereth a man a true friend and a good com

* Sen. de Benef. vii. 21.

+ Qui sibi amicus est, scito hunc amicum omnibus esse.-Sen. Ep. 6.

Oi åyabol ydeis åarhaous.—Arist. Eth. viii. 4. και Συνδιάγειν τε ούτος εαυτό βούλεται: ηδέως γάρ αυτό ποιεί.- (Aristot. Eth ix. 4.) των τε γάρ πεπραγμένων επιτερπείς αι μνήμαι, και των μελλόντων ελπίδες αγαθαί. .

panion to himself; satisfied in himself, able to converse freely and pleasantly with his own thoughts. It is for the want of pious inclinations and dispositions, that solitude (a thing which sometimes cannot be avoided, which often should be embraced) is to most men so irksome and tedious, that men do carefully shun themselves, and fly from their own thoughts; that they decline all converse with their own souls, and hardly dare look on their own hearts and consciences : whence they become aliens from home, wholly unacquainted with themselves, most ignorant of their own nearest concernments, no faithful friends or pleasant companions to themselves ; so for refuge and ease they unseasonably run into idle or lewd conversation, where they disorder and defile themselves. But the pious man is, like Scipio, never less alone than when alone :'I his solitude and retirement is not only tolerable, but commonly the most grateful and fruitful part of his life; he can ever with much pleasure and more advantage converse with himself; digesting and marshalling his thoughts, his affections, his purposes into good order; searching and discussing his heart, reflecting on his past ways, enforcing his former good resolutions, and framing new ones ; inquiring after edifying truths; stretching his meditations toward the best and sublimest objects, raising his hopes and warming his affections towards spiritual and heavenly things; asking himself pertinent questions, and resolving incident doubts concerning his practice: in fine, conversing with his best friend in devotion; with admiration and love contemplating the divine perfections displayed in the works of nature, of providence, of grace; praising God for his excellent benefits and mercies; confessing his defects and offences; deprecating wrath and imploring pardon, with grace and ability to amend; praying

* Quæris quid profecerim ? amicus esse mihi coepi.-Sen. Ep. 6.

+ Nemo est, cui non satius sit cum quolibet esse, quam secum.Şen. Ep. 25.

"Ένιοι τον ίδιον βίον, ώς άτερπέστατον θέαμα, προσιδείν ουχ υπομένουσιν, &c.—Plut. Tepl Nolutp. p. 916.

Ζητoύσιν οι μοχθηροί μεθ' ών συνημερεύσουσιν, εαυτούς δε φεύγουσιν.-Arist. ix. 4.

| Nunquam minus solus, quam cum solus.

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