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assembly of ours, that whatever we undertake, in obedience to thy will, may be carried to perfection by the aid of thy grace, and tend to the glory of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I am not ignorant, that it is one of the common arts of life to set off our own things with all the pomp we can; and, if there is any worth in them, by no means to depreciate it, but rather to endeavour, with all our might, to enhance their value as much as possible; nay, those of them, which are quite vain and worthless, we use to magnify with pompous expressions, and daub with false colours, and to do otherwise is reckoned a kind of rustic simplicity. But you, young gentlemen, who are acquainted with my manner, will, I imagine, easily forgive this indifference of mine ; and therefore I say, if there are any, that despise these performances of ours, we leave them at full liberty, for we ourselves held them in contempt before; but, to speak freely, together with them we undervalued all worldly things : “ They are all made of the same mean materials *.” O life, short with regard to duration, long in consideration of thy miseries, involved in darkness, beset with snares, still fluctuating between false joys and real torments, groundless hopes, and fears equally imaginary, yet foolishly, and even to distraction loved by most ; we will not die, and yet we know not how to live; our present possessions are loathsome as food to a man in a fever, and we greedily catch at future enjoyments, which, when they come to be present, will be received with the same indifference: for, among the advantages of this fleeting life, nothing is equally agreeable to those, who have it in possession, and those who have it only in desire and hope.
* Πανία μία κόνις.
We are all in general of such a nature, that we are weary of ourselves, and, what we lately preferred to every thing else, upon experience we reject. This inconstancy is undoubtedly a sign of a mind distempered, forcibly drawn away from its centre, and separated from its only durable rest. Nor need you go far, young gentlemen, to look for an instance of this distemper; let
of you descend into himself (which very few do, and even they but rarely) he will find it within him : upon a very slight inquiry, he will surely be sensible of it ; for, passing other considerations, with what fervent wishes have you, in your hearts, longed for this day? yet I forewarn
your pleasure will either die with the day itself, which is now fast drawing to a close, or but for a very short time survive it. And, as commonly happens, it will be succeeded by the anxious cares of beginning life, as it were, anew, or, which is much more grievous and unhappy, and from which, I earnestly pray, you may be all effectually preserved, by those temptations and allurements of vice, which tend to debauch and ruin you; for these allurements, after the manner of some robbers, attack the unwary unexperienced with blandishments and caresses, that thereby they may have an opportunity to undo them. If therefore, as soon as ye enter upon a life of freedom, those deceitful and deadly pleasures of sense tempt you with their delusive smiles, I would put you in mind, how unworthy it is of a free and generous mind, especially that of a Christian, to become an abject slave, and submit to the most shameful bondage ; how disgraceful and wretched a choice it is, to become the slave of a mad distracted master* ? and how much more generous and exalted is the pleasure of despising them all, and trampling them under foot, when they come in competition with the pure and permanent delights of divine love ?
you, that all
As to exalted degrees of honour, and heaps of riches, the idols of all ranks of mankind, which they worship with the rage of enthusiasm and madness, we may not only apply to them what was observed of old concerning Hercules' statue, and say,
they have nothing divine in themt;" but also, that they are entirely void of real goodness. Even those, who have the greatest experience of them, are at last obliged to own this : the force of truth extorts the confession, though they make it with regret and against their will. All the beauty and brightness of these idols resemble the decorations of a stage, that dazzle the eyes of the vulgar, and the enjoyment of them is, in reality, but a splendid kind of slavery, and gilded misery. It is a pathetic expression of St Bernard, “ O ambition, the torture of the ambitious, how happens it, that though thou tormentest all, thou yet makest thyself agreeable to all*.” O how easily does even the least glimpse of eternal and infinite beauty raze out of the mind all the impressions made upon it by the objects we daily converse with on this earth, and turn its ad. miration of them into contempt and disdain.
* Δέλον γινεσθαι παραφρονώντος δεσπότε. ή ως έδεν έισι θειον.
But if any one, having thoroughly examined and despised these shadows, resolves solely to pursue a more complete knowledge of things, and follow the streams of learning, we cannot deny, that he judges more justly; yet, after all, must know, if he is wise, or at least he ought to know, that he may be wise, “ what vanity and superfluity is to be met with even heret;" for often, when one has applied him. self to his books and studies, with the greatest as. siduity, and almost spent his life upon them, all his pains evaporate into smoke, and the labour of years is entirely lost. And, what is most of all to be lamented, this is sometimes the case with respect to theology, which is the chief of all arts and sciences, as so large a portion of that vineyard is still pos
* 0! ambitio, ambientium crux, quomodo omnes torquens omnibus places ?
+ Πολλα έξι κενα και περίεργα.
sessed with briars and thorns. How many are the disputes and controversies, how many the trifling arguments and cavils, which possibly may have something of the sharpness of thorns, but undoubtedly a great deal of their barrenness and their hurtful quality? A philosopher of old severely reproves the sophisters of his time in these words, “ What was formerly the love of wisdom, is now become the love of words*.” We, to be sure, may substitute, in place of this, a complaint still more bitter, that what was theology before, is now become foolish talking; and that many of our divines, though they serve one God, and that the God of peace,“ yet split into parties upon the lightest occasions, and with great impiety divide the whole world into factionst." And I am much afraid, this evil, in a great measure, derives its original from the education of youth in schools and colleges. For the most part of men manage this business, as if disputing was the end of learning, as fighting is the design of going to war; hence the youth, when they enter the school, begin disputing, which never ends but with their life. Death imposes silence, and so, at last, “these fierce passions of their minds, and these inveterate contentions, are composed to rest by the weight of a little dust thrown upon themt."
* Quæ philosophia fuit, facta philogia est.
VIRG. 4. Georg