Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

only makes me run faster from the place, till I get, as it were, out of sight-shot. Democritus relates, and in such a manner as if he gloried in the good-fortune and commodity of it, that, when he came to Athens, nobody there did so much as take notice of him ; and Epicurus lived there very well, that is, lay hid many years in his gardens, so famous since that time, with his friend Metrodorus : after whose death, making, in one of his letters, a kind commemoration of the happiness which they two had enjoyed together, he adds at last, that he thought it no disparagement to those great felicities of their life, that, in the midst of the most talked-of and talking country in the world, they had lived so long, not only without fame, but almost without being heard of; and yet, within a very few years afterward, there were no two names of men more known or more generally celebrated. If we engage into a large acquaintance and various familiarities, we set open our gates to the invaders of most of our time; we expose our life to a quotidian ague of frigid impertinences, which would make a wise man tremble to think of. Now, as for being known much by sight, and pointed at, I cannot comprehend the honour that lies in that; whatsoever it be, every mountebank has it more than the best doctor, and the hangman more than the lord chief-justice of a city. Every creature has it, both of nature and art, if it be anyways extraordinary. It was as often said: This is that Bucephalus,' or, “This is that Incitatus,' when they were led prancing through the streets, as, “This is that Alexander,' or, “This is that Domitian ;' and truly, for the latter, I take Incitatus to have been a much more honourable beast than his master, and more deserving the consulship than he the empire.

I love and commend a true good fame, because it is the shadow of virtue : not that it doth any good to the body which it accompanies : but it is an efficacious shadow, and like that of St Peter, cures the diseases of others. The best kind of glory, no doubt, is that which is reflected from honesty, such as was the glory of Cato and Aristides ; but it was harmful to them both, and is seldom beneficial to any man whilst he lives ; what it is to him after his death I cannot say, because I love not philosophy merely notional and conjectural, and no man who has made the experiment has been so kind as to come back to inform us. Upon the whole matter, I account a person who has a moderate mind and fortune, and lives in the conversation of two or three agreeable friends, with little commerce in the world besides, who is esteemed well enough by his few neighbours that know him, and is truly irreproachable by anybody ; and so, after a healthful quiet life, before the great inconveniences of old age, goes more silently out of it than he came in-for I would not have him so much as cry in the exit: this innocent deceiver of the world, as Horace calls him, I take to have been more happy in his part than the greatest actors that fill the stage with show and noise ; nay, even than Augustus himself, who asked, with his last breath, whether he had not played his farce very well.

RICHARD BAXTER: 1615–1691.

Baxter was the most eminent of the nonconformist divines of the period.

His religious works are very numerous. Of these the most read at the present day are The Saints' Everlasting Rest and A Call to the Unconverted.

From The Saints Rest.

Rest! how sweet the sound! It is melody to my ears! It lies as a reviving cordial at my heart, and from thence sends forth lively spirits which beat through all the pulses of my soul! Rest, not as the stone that rests on the earth, nor as this flesh shall rest in the grave, nor such a rest as the carnal world desires. O blessed rest! when we rest not day and night saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty :' when we shall rest from sin, but not from worship; from suffering and sorrow, but not from joy! O blessed day! when I shall rest with God! when I shall rest in the bosom of my Lord! when my perfect soul and body shall together perfectly enjoy the most perfect God! when God, who is love itself, shall perfectly love me, and rest in this love to me, as I shall rest in my love to Him; and rejoice over me with joy, and joy over me with singing, as I shall rejoice in Him!

This is that joy which was procured by sorrow, that crown which was procured by the Cross. My Lord wept that now my tears might be wiped away ; He bled that I might now rejoice; He was forsaken that I might not now be forsook ; He then died that I might now live. O free mercy, that can exalt so vile a wretch ! Free to me, though dear to Christ: free grace that hath chosen

me, when thousands were forsaken. This is not like our cottages of clay, our prisons, our earthly dwellings. This voice of joy is not like our old complaints, our impatient groans and sighs ; nor this melodious praise like the scoffs and revilings, or the oaths and curses which we heard on earth. This body is not like that we had, nor this soul like the soul we had, nor this life like the life we lived. We have changed our place and state, our clothes and thoughts, our looks, language, and company. Before, a saint was weak and despised ; but now, how happy and glorious a thing is a saint! Where is now their body of sin, which wearied themselves and those about them? Where are now our different judgments, reproachful names, divided spirits, exasperated passions, strange looks, uncharitable censures? Now are all of one judgment, of one name, of one heart, house, and glory. O sweet reconciliation ! happy union ! Now the Gospel shall no more be dishonoured through our folly. No more, my soul, shalt thou lament the sufferings of the saints, or the church's ruins, or mouru thy suffering friends, nor weep over their dying beds or their graves. Thou shalt never suffer thy.old temptations from Satan, the world, or thy own flesh. Thy pains and sickness are all cured ; thy body shall no more burden thee with weakness and weariness; thy aching head and heart, thy hunger and thirst, thy sleep and labour, are all gone. O what a mighty change is this. From the dunghill to the throne! From persecuting sinners to praising saints ! From a vile body to this which shines as the brightness of the firmament! From a sense of God's displeasure to the perfect enjoyment of Him in love! From all my fearful thoughts of death to this joyful life! Blessed change! Farewell sin and sorrow for ever ; farewell my rocky, proud, unbelieving heart; my worldly, sensual, carnal heart; and welcome my most holy, heavenly nature. Farewell repentance, faith, and hope; and welcome love, and joy, and praise. I shall now have my harvest without ploughing or sowing: my joy without a preacher or a promise: even all from the face of God Himself. Whatever mixture is in the streams, there is nothing but pure joy in the fountain. Here shall I be encircled with eternity, and ever live, and ever, ever praise the Lord. My face will not wrinkle, nor my hair be gray : for this corruptible shall have put on incorruption; and this mortal, immortality; and death shall be swallowed up in victory. O death where is now thy sting? O grave where is thy victory ? The date of my lease will no more expire, nor shall I trouble myself with thoughts of death, nor lose my joys through fear of losing them. When millions of ages are past, my glory is but beginning; and when millions more are past, it is no nearer ending. Every day is all noon, every month is harvest, every year is a jubilee, every age is a full manhood, and all this is one eternity. O blessed eternity! the glory of my glory, the perfection of my perfection.

JOHN EVELYN: 1620-1706.

Evelyn, a gentleman of easy fortune, and the most amiable personal charac

ter, distinguished himself by several scientific works written in a popular style. His Diary is much valued for the picture it gives of the state of society during the latter part of the seventeenth century.

THE GREAT FIRE IN LONDON. From his Diary.

1666. 2d Sept. This fatal night about ten began that deplorable fire near Fish Streete in London.

3d. The fire continuing, after dinner I took coach with my wife and sonn and went to the Bank side in Southwark, where we beheld that dismal spectacle, the whole citty in dreadful flames near ye water side ; all the houses from the Bridge, all Thames Street, and upwards towards Cheapeside, downe to the Three Cranes, were now consum'd.

The fire having continu'd all this night-if I may call that night which was light as day for 10 miles round about, after a dreadful manner-when conspiring with a fierce eastern wind in a very drie season, I went on foote to the same place, and saw the whole south part of ye citty burning from Cheapeside to ye Thames, and all along Cornehill—for it kindld back against ye wind as well as forward_Tower Streete, Fenchurch Streete, Gracious Streete, and so along to Bainard's Castle, and was now taking hold of St Paule's Church, to which the scaffolds contributed exceedingly. The conflagration was so universal, and the people so astonish'd, that from the beginning, I know not by what despondency or fate, they hardly stirr'd to quench it, so that there was nothing heard or seene but crying out and lamentation, running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempting to save even their goods, such a strange consternation there was upon them, so as it burned both in breadth and length, the churches, publiq halls, exchange, hospitals, monuments, and ornaments, leaping after a prodigious manner from house to house and streete to streete, at greate distances one from ye other ; for ye heate with a long set of faire and warme weather had even ignited the air and prepar'd the materials to conceive the fire, which devour'd, after an incredible manner, houses, furniture, and everything. Here we saw the Thames cover'd with goods floating, all the barges and boates laden with what some had time and courage to save, as, on ye other, ye carts, &c., carrying out to the fields, which for many miles were strew'd with moveables of all sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both people and what goods they could get away. Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle! such as haply the world had not seene the like since the foundation of it, nor be outdone till the universal conflagration. All the skie was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, the light seene above 40 miles round about for many nights. God grant my eyes may never behold the like, now seeing above 10,000 houses all in one flame; the noise, and cracking, and thunder of the impetuous flames, ye shrieking of women and children, the hurry of people, the fall of towers, houses, and churches, was like an hideous storme, and the aire all about so hot and inflam’d, that at last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forc'd to stand still and let ye flames burn on, wch they did for neere two miles in length and one in bredth. The clouds of smoke were dismall, and reach'd upon computation neer 50 miles in length. Thus I left it this afternoone burning, a resemblance of Sodom or the last day. London was, but is no more.

4th. The burning still rages, and it was now gotten as far as the Inner Temple, all Fleete Streete, the Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill, Warwick Lane, Newgate, Paul's Chain, Watling Streete, now flaming, and most of it reduc'd to ashes ; the stones of Paules flew like granados ye mealting lead running downe the streetes in a streame, and the very pavements glowing with fiery rednesse, so as no horse nor man was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopp'd all the passages, so that no help could be applied. The eastern wind still more impetuously drove the flames forward. Nothing but ye almighty power of God was able to stop them, for vaine was ye help of man.

« ZurückWeiter »