網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

is, what it can afford, and what 'tis to have been a Man. Such a latitude of years may hold a considerable corner in the general Map of Time; and a Man may have a curt Epitome of the whole course thereof in the days of his own Life, may clearly see he hath but acted over his Fore-fathers, what it was to live in Ages past, and what living will be in all ages to come.

He is like to be the best judge of Time who hath lived to see about the sixtieth part thereof. Persons of short times may Know what 'tis to live, but not the life of Man, who, having little behind them, are but Januses of one Face, and Know not singularities enough to raise Axioms of this World : but such a compass of Years will show new Examples of old Things, Parallelisms of occurrences through the whole course of Time, and nothing be monstrous unto him; who may in that time understand not only the varieties of men, but the variation of himself, and how many Men he hath been in that extent of time.

He may have a close apprehension what is to be forgotten, while he hath lived to find none who could remember his Father, or scarce the friends of his youth, and may sensibly see with what a face in no long time oblivion will look upon himself. His Progeny may never be his Posterity; he may go out of the World less related than he came into it, and considering the frequent mortality in Friends and Relations, in such a Term of Time, he may pass away divers years in sorrow and black habits, and leave none to mourn for himself; Orbity may be his inheritance, and Riches his Repentance.

In such a thred of Time, and long observation of Men, he may acquire a Physiognomical intuitive Knowledge, Judge the interiors by the outside, and raise conjectures at first sight; and knowing what Men have been, what they are, what Children probably will be, may in the present Age behold a good part, and the temper of the next; and since so many live by the Rules of Constitution, and so few overcome

their temperamental Inclinatiofs, make no improbable predictions.

Such a portion of Time will afford a large prospect backward, and Authentic Reflections how far he hath performed the great intention of his Being, in the Honour of his Maker ; whether he hath made good the Principles of his Nature, and what he was made to be; what Characteristick and special Mark he hath left, to be observable in his Generation; whether he hath Lived to purpose or in vain, and what he hath added, acted, or performed, that might considerably speak him a Man.

In such an Age Delights will be undelightful and Pleasures grow stale unto him ; antiquated Theorems will revive, and Solomon's Maxims be Demonstrations unto him ; Hopes or presumptions be over, and despair grow up of any satisfaction below. And having been long tossed in the Ocean of this World, he will by that time feel the In-draught of another, unto which this seems but preparatory, and without it of no high value. He will experimentally find the Emptiness of all things, and the nothing of what is past; and wisely grounding upon true Christian Expectations, finding so much past, will wholly fix upon what is to come. He will long for Perpetuity, and live as though he made haste to be happy. The last may prove the prime part of his life, and those his best days which he lived nearest Heaven.

Sect. XXIII.-Live happy in the Elizium of a virtuously composed Mind, and let Intellectual Contents exceed the Delights wherein mere Pleasurists place their Paradise. Bear not too slack reins upon Pleasure, nor let complexion or contagion betray thee unto the exorbitancy of Delight. Make pleasure thy Recreation or intermissive Relaxation, not thy Diana, Life, and Profession. Voluptuousness is as insatiable as Covetousness. Tranquillity is better than jollity, and to appease pain than to invent pleasure. Our hard entrance into the World, our miserable going out of it, our sicknesses, disturbances, and sad Rencounters in it, do clamorously tell us we come not into the World to run a Race of Delight, but to perform the sober Acts and serious purposes of Man ; which to omit were foully to miscarry in the advantage of humanity, to play away an uniterable Life, and to have lived in vain. Forget not the capital end, and frustrate not the opportunity of once Living. Dream not of any kind of Metempsychosis or transanimation, but into thine own body, and that after a long time, and then also unto wail or bliss, according to thy first and fundamental Life. Upon a Curricle in this World depends a long course of the next, and upon a narrow Scene here an endless expansion hereafter. In vain some think to have an end of their Beings with their Lives. Things cannot get out of their natures, or be or not be in despite of their constitutions. Rational existences in Heaven perish not at all, and but partially on Earth: That which is thus once will in some way be always : the first Living human Soul is still alive, and all Adam bath found no Period.

Sect. XXIV.-Since the Stars of Heaven do differ in glory; since it hath pleased the Almighty hand to honour the North Pole with Lights above the South; since there are some Stars so bright that they can hardly be looked on, some so dim that they can scarce be seen, and vast numbers not to be seen at all even by Artificial Eyes; Read thou the Earth in Heaven, and things below from above. Look contentedly upon the scattered difference of things, and expect not equality in lustre, dignity, or perfection, in Regions or Persons below; where numerous numbers must be content to stand like Lacteous or Nebulous Stars, little taken notice of, or dim in their generations. All which may be contentedly allowable in the affairs and ends of this World, and in suspension unto what will be in the order of things hereafter, and the new Systeme of Mankind which will be in the World to come; when the last may be the first and the first the last; when Lazarus may sit above Cæsar, and the just obscure on Earth shall shine like the Sun in Heaven; when personations shall cease, and Histrionism of happiness be over; when Reality shall rule, and all shall be as they shall be for ever.

Sect. XXV.—When the Stoick said that life would not be accepted, if it were offered unto such as knew it,' he spoke too meanly of that state of being which placeth us in the form of Men. It more depreciates the value of this life, that Men would not live it over again; for although they would still live on, yet few or none can endure to think of being twice the same Men upon Earth, and some had rather never have lived than to tread over their days once more. Cicero in a prosperous state had not the patience to think of beginning in a cradle again. Job would not only curse the day of his Nativity, but also of his Renascency, if he were to act over his Disasters, and the miseries of the dung-hil. But the greatest underweening of this life is to undervalue that, unto which this is but Exordial or a Passage leading unto it. The great advantage of this mean life is thereby to stand in a capacity of a better ; for the Colonies of Heaven must be drawn from Earth, and the Sons of the first Adam are only heirs unto the second. Thus Adam came into this World with the power also of another; not only to replenish the Earth, but the everlasting Mansions of Heaven. Where we were when the foundations of the Earth were layd, when the morning Stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for Joy, He must answer who asked it; who understands Entities of preordination, and beings yet unbeing; who hath in his Intellect the Ideal Existences of things, and Entities before their Extances. Though it looks but like an imaginary kind of existency to be before we are; yet since we are under the decree or prescience of a sure and Omnipotent Power, it may be somewhat more than a non-entity to be in that mind, unto which all things are present. Sect. XXVI.-If the end of the World shall have the

1 Vitam nemo acciperet si daretur scientibus.-Seneca.
9 Job xxxviii,

same foregoing Signs, as the period of Empires, States, and Dominions in it, that is, Corruption of Manners, inbuman degenerations, and deluge of iniquities; it may be doubted whether that final time be so far off, of whose day and hour there can be no prescience, But while all men doubt and none can determine how long the World shall last, some may wonder that it hath spun out so long and unto our days. For if the Almighty had not determin'd a fixed duration unto it, according to his mighty and merciful designments in it, if he had not said unto it, as he did unto a part of it, hitherto shalt thou go and no farther; if we consider the incessant and cutting provocations from the Earth, it is not without amazement how his patience hath permitted so long a continuance unto it, how he, who cursed the Earth in the first days of the first Man, and drowned it in the tenth Generation after, should thus lastingly contend with Flesh and yet defer the last flames. For since he is sharply provoked every . moment, yet punisheth to pardon, and forgives to forgive again; what patience could be content to act over such vicissitudes, or accept of repentances which must have after penitences, his goodness can only tell us.. And surely if the Patience of Heaven were not proportionable unto the provocations from Earth; there needed an Intercessor not only for the sins, but the duration of this World, and to lead it up unto the present computation. Without such a merciful Longanimity, the Heavens would never be so aged as to grow old like a Garment; it were in vain to infer from the Doctrine of the Sphere, that the time might come, when Capella, a noble Northern Star, would have its motion in the Æquator, that the northern Zodiacal Signs would at length be the Southern, the Southern the Northern, and Capricorn become our Cancer. However therefore the Wisdom of the Creator hath ordered the duration of the World, yet since the end thereof brings the accomplishment of our happiness, since some would be content that it should have no end, since Evil Men and Spirits do fear it may be too short,

« 上一頁繼續 »