« ZurückWeiter »
the following passage, with its subdued pathos and stately eloquence, is admirably impressive :
“Darkness and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and the smartest strokes of affliction have but short smart upon us. Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves. To creep into stones are fables. Afflictions induce callosities; miseries are slippery, or fall like snow upon upon us, which, notwithstanding, is no unhappy stupidity. To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetful of evils past, is a merciful provision in nature whereby we digest the mixture of our few and evil days; and our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrances, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions. A great part of antiquity contented their hopes of subsisting with a transmigration of their souls—a good way to continue their memories, while, having the advantage of plural successions, they could not but act something remarkable in such variety of beings; and, enjoying the fame of their passed selves, make accumulation of glories unto their last durations. Others, rather than be lost in the uncomfortable night of nothing, were content to recede into the common being, and make one particle of the public soul of all things, which was no more than to return into their unknown and divine original again. Egyptian ingenuity was more unsatisfied, contriving their bodies in sweet consistencies to attend the return of their souls. But all was vanity, feeding the wind ; and folly. The Egyptian mummies which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth. Memory is become merchandise; Myzraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams.”
A beautiful thought upon Light:
“Light, that makes things seen, makes some things invisible. Were it not for darkness, and the shadow of the earth, the noblest part of creation had remained unseen, and the stars of heaven as invisible as on the fourth day, when they were created above the horizon with the sun, and there was not an eye to behold them. The greatest mystery of religion is expressed by adum. bration, and in the noblest part of Jewish types we find the cherubim shadowing the mercy-seat.
Life itself is but the shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living. All things fall under this name. The sun itself is but the dark Simulacrum; and life but the shadow of God.”
Art and Nature :
“Nature is not at variance with art, nor Art with Nature --they being both the servants of His providence. Art is the perfection of Nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world and Art another. In belief, all things are artificial, for Nature is the Art of God.”
Study of Nature :
“The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man; it is the debt of our reason we owe unto God, and the homage we pay for not being beasts; without this, the world is still as though it had not been, or as it was before the sixth day, when as yet there was not a creature that could conceive or say there was a world. The wisdom of God receives small honour from those vulgar heads that rudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity admire His works ; those highly magnify Him whose judicious inquiry into His acts,
and deliberate research into His creatures, return the duty of a devout and learned admiration."
In a wise largeness of soul he writes of Charity :
“I hold not so narrow a conceit of this virtue as to conceive that to give alms is only to be .charitable, or think a piece of liberality can comprehend the total of charity. Divinity hath wisely divided the acts thereof into many branches, and hath taught us in this narrow way many paths unto goodness : as many ways as we may do good, so many ways we may be charitable; there are infirmities, not only of body, but of soul and fortunes, which do require the merciful hand of our abilities. I cannot contemn a man for ignorance, but behold him with as much pity as I do Lazarus. It is no greater charity to clothe his body, than apparel the nakedness of his soul. It is an honourable object to see the reasons of other men wear our liveries, and their borrowed understandings do homage to the bounty of ours. It is the cheapest way of beneficence; and, like the natural charity of the sun, illuminates another without obscuring itself. To be reserved and caitiff in this part of goodness, is the sordidest piece of covetousness, and more contemptible than pecuniary avarice. To this, as calling myself a scholar, I am obliged by the duty of my condition: I make not, therefore, my head a grave, but a treasure of knowledge: I intend no monopoly, but a community in learning; I study not for my own sake only, but for theirs that study not for themselves. I envy no man that knows more than myself, but pity them that know less."