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charity do oblige us to believe) deserve as well, divers of SERM. them much better than ourselves : what reason then can we have to conceive our case fo bard, or to complain thereof? Were we the only persons exposed to trouble, or the single marks of adverse fortune ; could we truly say with the Prophet, Behold, if there be any forrow like my forrow; Lam. i. 12. we might seem a little unhappy: but since we have so much good company in our conceived woe; since it is fo ordinary a thing to be poor and distressed; fince our case is, as the Poet speaketh, not rare, but commonly known, trite, and drawn out from the heap of lots offered to men by fortune P; since pitiful objects do thus environ and enclose us; it is plainly reasonable, humane, and just, that we should without murmuring take and bear our lot: for what privilege have we to allege, that we rather than others should be untouched by the grievances to which mankind is obnoxious ? Whence may we pretend to be the special favourites, minions, privadoes, and darlings of fortune? Why may not God well deal with us, as he doth with other men ? what grounds have we to challenge, or to expect, that he should be partial toward us? why should we imagine, that he must continually do miracles in our behalf, causing all those evils, which fall upon our neighbours all about, to skip over us, bedewing us, like Gideon's fleece, with plenty and joy, while all the earth beside is Judg.vi.37. dry; causing us, like the three children, to walk in this Dan. iii. 25. wide furnace, unscorched and unfinged by the flames encompassing us? Are we not men framed of the same mould, are we not sinners guilty of like offences, with the meanest peasant, the poorest beggar, the most wretched Nave? if so, then a parity of fortune with any men doth become us, and may be due to us; then it is a perverse and unjust frowardness to be displeased with our lot: we may, if we please, pity the common state of men, but we
Nec rara videmus
Juv. Sat. xii. 140.
SERM. cannot reasonably complain of our own; doing so plainly XL. doth argue, that we do unmeasurably overprize and over
love ourselves. When once a great king did excessively and obstinately grieve for the death of his wife, whom he tenderly loved, a philosopher, observing it, told him,"That “ he was ready to comfort him by restoring her to life, “ fupposing only, that he would supply what was needful " toward the performing it.” The king said, “ He was
ready to furnish him with any thing.” The philosopher answered, “ That he was provided with all things necef“ fary, except one thing :" what that was the king demanded; he replied, That if he would upon his wife's tomb inscribe the names of three perfons, who never mourned, she presently would revive : the king, after inquiry, told the philosopher, That he could not find one such man: Why then, O absurdest of all men, said the philosopher smiling, art thou not afnamed to moan as if thou hadft alone fallen into fo grievous a case; whenas thou canst not find one perfon, that ever was free from such domestic affliction 9? So might the naming one person, exempted from inconveniences, like to those we undergo, be safely proposed to us as a certain cure of ours; but if we find the condition
impossible, then is the generality of the case a fufficient Ilæpnyéqurà ground of content to us; then may we, as the wise poet quv zaxáv. adviseth, solace our own evils by the evils of others, so fre
quent and obvious to us.
5. We are indeed very apt to look upward toward those liena respi- few, who, in supposed advantages of life, (in wealth, digplacent, nity, or reputation,) do seem to transcend, or to precede
us, grudging and repining at their fortune ; but feldom do we cast down our eyes on those innumerably many good people, who lie beneath us in all manner of accommodations, pitying their mean or hard condition"; like racers, we look forward, and pursue those who go before
Nulli ad a.
Sen. de Ira, iii. 31.
9 "Ετι ώ πάντων ατοσώτατε θρηνείς αναίδην,ώς μόνος αλγεινών τοσέτο συμπλακείς, ο μηδέ ένα των πώποτε γεγονότων άμοιρον οικείο πάθος έχων ευρείν. Jul. Ep. 38.
Neque se majori pauperiorum
Hor. Sat. 1.
18, but reflect not backward, or consider thofe who come SEŘM. behind us: two or three outfhining us in fome slender XL. piece of prosperity, doth raise difatisfaction in us; while the doleful state of millions doth little affect us with any regard or compassion : hence fo general discontent ipringeth, hence so few are satisfied with their conditions, an epidemical eyesore molesting every man: for there is no man, of whatsoever condition, who is not in soine desirable things outstripped by others; none is so high in fortune, but another, in wit or wisdom, in health, or strength, or beauty, in reputation or esteem of men, may seem to excel bim : he therefore looking with an evil or envious eye on such persons, and with senseless disregard passing over the rest of men, doth easily thereby lose his ease and satisfaction from his own estate : whereas if we would consider the case of most men, we should see abundant reason to be satisfied with our own; if we would a little feel the calamities of our neighbours, we should little resent our own crosses ; a kindly commiseration of others' more grievous disasters would drown the sense of our lesser disappointments.
If with any competent heedfulness we view persons and things before us, we shall easily discern, that what absolutely seemeth great and weighty is indeed comparatively very small and light; that things are not so unequally dispensed, but that we have our full share in good, and no more than our part in evil t; that Socrates had Ei ovveviyreason to suppose, that, if we should bring into one common Love
καιμιν εις το stock all our mishaps, so that each should receive his portion druzíes.äse of them, gladly the most would take up their own, and go toor iraso, their ways; that consequently it is both iniquity and folly acuiws år in us to complain of our lot.
λαβόντας • Inde fit ut nemo, qui se vixiffe beatum
Plur. Apoll. Dicat, &c.
Hor. Sat. 1. Si vis gratus effe adversus Deos, et adversus vitam tuam, cogita quam multos antecefferis. Sen. Ep. 15.
Nunquam erit felix, quem torquebit felicior. Sen. de Ira, iii. 31. Vid. ib.
* That at worst we are, Extremi primorum, extremis usque priores. Hor. Epif. ii. 2.
Sen, ad Po
SERM. 6. If even we would take care diligently to compare XL.
our state with the state of those whom we are apt most to Magna fer- admire and envy, it would afford matter of consolation and content unto us.
What is the state of the greatest tuna,&c. persons, (of the world's princes and grandees,) what but lyb, 26.
a state encompassed with snares and temptations numberless; which, without extreme caution and constancy, force of reason, and command of all appetites and passions, cannot be avoided, and seldom are? What but a state of pompous trouble, and gay servility; of living in continual noise and stir, environed with crowds and throngs; of being subject to the urgency of business and the tediousness of ceremony; of being abused by perfidious servants and mocked by vile flatterers ; of being exposed to common censure and obloquy, to misrepresentation, misconstruction, and flander; having the eyes of all men intent upon their actions, and as many severe judges as watchful spectators of them; of being accountable for many men's faults, and bearing the blame of all miscarriages about them; of being responsible, in conscience, for the miscarriages and mishaps which come from the influence of our counsels, our examples, &c. of being pestered and pursued with pretences, with suits, with complaints, the necessary result whereof is to displease or provoke very many, to oblige or satisfy very few; of being frequently engaged in resentments of ingratitude, of treachery, of neglects, of defeas in duty, and breaches of trust toward them; of being constrained to comply with the humours and opinion of men; of anxious care to keep, and jealous fear of losing all; of danger and being objected to the traitorous attempts of bold malecontents, of fierce zealots, and wild fanatics; of wanting the most solid and savoury comforts of life, true friendship, free conversation, certain leisure, privacy, and retiredness, for enjoying themselves, their time, their thoughts, as they think good; of satiety and being cloyed with all sorts of enjoyments: in fine, of being paid with false coin for all their cares and pains, receiving for them scarce any thing more, but empty shews of respect, and
bollow acclamations of praise'; (whence the Psalmist might SERM, well say, Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of XL. high degree a lie; a lie, for that their state cheateth us, Pfal. Ixii.9. appearing so specious, yet being really so inconvenient and troublesome.) Such is the state of the greatest men; such as hath made wise princes weary of themselves, ready to acknowledge, that if men knew the weight of a crown, none would take it upu; apt to think with Pope Adrian, who made this epitaph for himself: Here lieth Adrian the Sixth, who thought nothing in his life to have befallen him more unhappy, than that he ruled x: such, in fine, their ftate, as upon due confideration we should, were it offered to our choice, never embrace ; such indeed, as in sober Nihil diffijudgment, we cannot prefer before the most narrow and cilius quam inferior fortune : how then can we reasonably be displeased rare. Diowith our condition, when we may even pity emperors
clef. apud and
Vopife, in kings, when, in reality, we are as well, perhaps are much Aureliano. better, than they?
7. Farther, it may induce and engage us to be content, to consider what commonly hath been the lot of good men in the world: we shall, if we survey the histories of all times, find the best men to have sustained most grievous crosses and troubles y; scarce is there in holy Scripture recorded any person eminent and illustrious for goodness, who hath not tasted deeply of wants and distresses. Abraham, the father of the faithful, and especial friend of God, was called out of his country, and from his kindred, to wander in a strange land, and lodge in tents, without any fixed habitation. Jacob spent a great part of his life
Personata felicitas. Sen. Ep. 80.
Adulandi certamen eft, et unum omnium amicorum officium, una contentio quis blandiffime fallat. Sen. de Benef. vi. 30.-Vid. optime differentem.-Vid. et de Clem. i. 19.--Et ad Polyb. 26.
u Antigonus. Nescitis amici, quid mali fit imperare, &c. Saturn, apud Vopife.
* Hic fitus eft Adrianus VI.qui nihil fibi in vita in felicius duxit, quam quod imperavit. Lud. Guicciard. P. Jovius in vit.
y Confider what calamities great, powerful, glorious men have endured ; Cralus, Polycrates, Pompey, &c. Sen. de Ira, iii. 25.
Οι των Ελλήνων άρισοι πενία διέζων παρά πάντα τον βίον. (Αriftides, Phocion, Epaminondas, Pelopidas.) Æl. xi. 9, 11, 43. Lamachus, Socrates, Ephialtes. Abel, Noe, &c. Chryf. tom. vi. p. 107.