Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

pleasure in eating and drinking; if it comes, make it do drudgery, let it serve other ends, and minister to necessities, and to caution, lest, by pride, you lose your just praise, which you have deserved; or else, by being praised unjustly, you receive shame into yourself with God and wise men.

10. Use no stratagems and devices to get praise. Some use to inquire into the faults of their own actions or discourses, on purpose to hear, that it was well done or spoken, and without fault b: others bring the matter into talk, or thrust themselves into company, and intimate and give occasion to be thought or spoke of. These men make a bait to persuade themselves to swallow the hook, till by drinking the waters of vanity they swell and burst.

11. Make no suppletories to thyself, when thou art disgraced or slighted, by pleasing thyself with supposing thou didst deserve praise, though they understood thee not, or enviously detracted from thee: neither do thou get to thyself a private theatre and flatterers', in whose vain noises and fantastic praises thou mayest keep up thine own good opinion of thyself.

12. Entertain no fancies of vanity and private whispers of this devil of pride : such as was that of Nebuchadnezzar; Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the honour of my name, and the might of my majesty, and the power of my kingdom ?” some fantastic spirits will walk alone, and dream waking of greatnesses, of palaces, of excellent orations, full theatres, loud applauses, sudden advancement, great fortunes, and so will spend an hour with imaginative pleasure ; all their employment being nothing but fumes of pride, and secret indefinite desires and significations of what their heart wishes. In this, although there is nothing of its own nature directly vicious, yet it is either an ill mother or an ill daughter, an ill sign or an ill effect; and therefore at no hand consisting with the safety and interests of humility.

13. Suffer others to be praised in thy presence, and entertain their good and glory with delight; but at no hand disparage them, or lessen the report, or make an objection; and

h Τί ούν ημίν οβελίσκον κατασιών περιπατείς και ήθελον ένα με και οι απαντώντες θαυμάζωσι, και επακολουθούντες επικραυγάζωσιν, ώ μεγάλου φιλοσόφου. Arrian. Epist. c. 21. 1.1.

| Alter alteri satis amplum theatrum sumus; satis unus, satis nullus. Sen.

think not the advancement of thy brother is a lessening of thy worth. But this act is also to extend further.

14. Be content that he should be employed, and thou laid by as unprofitable; his sentence approved, thine rejected ; he be preferred, and thou fixed in a low employment.

-15. Never compare thyself with others, unless it be to advance them and to depress thyself. To which purpose, we must be sure in some sense or other to think ourselves the worst in every company, where we come: one is more learned than I am, another is more prudent, a third more honourable, a fourth more chaste, or he is more charitable, or less proud. For the humble man observes their good, and reflects only upon his own vileness; or considers the many evils of himself certainly known to himself, and the ill of others but by uncertain report: or he considers, that the evils, done by another, are out of much infirmity or ignorance, but his own sins are against a clearer light; and if the other had so great helps, he would have done more good and less evil: or he remembers, that his old sins before his conversion were greater in the nature of the thing, or in certain circumstances, than the sins of other men. So St. Paul reckoned himself the chiefest of sinners, because formerly he had acted the chiefest sin of persecuting the church of God. But this rule is to be used with this caution ; that though it be good always to think meanest of ourselves, yet it is not ever safe to speak it; because those circumstances and considerations, which determine thy thoughts, are not known to others as to thyself; and it may concern others, that they hear thee give God thanks for the graces he hath given thee. But if thou preservest thy thoughts and opinions of thyself truly humble, you may with more safety give God thanks in public for that good which cannot, or ought not to, be concealed.

16. Be not always ready to excuse every oversight, or indiscretion, or ill action : but if thou beest guilty of it, confess it plainly; for virtue scorns a lie for its cover: but to hide a sin with it, is like a crust of leprosy drawn upon an ulcer. If thou beest not guilty (unless it be scandalous), be not overearnest to remove it: but rather use it as an argument to chastise all greatness of fancy and opinion in thyself; and accustom thyself to bear reproof patiently and contentedly, and the harsh words of thy enemies, as knowing that the

[ocr errors]

anger of an enemy is a better monitor, and represents our faults, or admonishes, us, of our duty with more heartiness, than the kindness does, or precious balms of a friend.

17. Give God thanks for every weakness, deformity and imperfection, and accept it as a favour and grace of God, and an instrument to resist pride, and nurse humility ; ever remembering, that when God, by giving thee a crooked back, hath also made thy spirit stoop or less vain, thou art more ready to enter the narrow gate of heaven, than by being straight, and standing upright, and thinking highly. Thus the apostles rejoiced in their infirmities, not moral, but natural and accidental, in their being beaten and whipt like slaves, in their nakedness and poverty.

18. Upbraid no man's weakness to him to discomfort him, neither report it to disparage him, neither delight to remember it to lessen him, or to set thyself above him. Be sure never to praise thyself, or to dispraise any man else, unless God's glory or some holy end do hallow it. And it was noted to the praise of Cyrus, that, amongst his equals in age, he would never play at any sport, or use any exercise, in which he knew himself more excellent than they : but in such, in which he was unskilful, he would make his challenges, lest he should shame them by his victory, and that himself might learn something of their skill, and do them civilities.

19. Besides the foregoing parts and actions, humility teaches us to submit ourselves and all our faculties to God,

to believe all things, to do all things, to suffer all things,” which his will enjoins us : to be content in every state or change, knowing we have deserved worse than the worst we feel; and (as Anytus said to Alcibiades) he hath taken but half, when he might have taken all : to adore his goodness, to fear his greatness, to worship his eternal and infinite excellences, and to submit ourselves to all our superiors, in all things, according to godliness, and to be meek and gentle in our conversation towards others!.

* Ama l'amico tuo con il difetto suo. In colloquiis, pueri invisi aliis non fient, și non omnino in disputationibus victoriam semper obtinere laborent. Non tan. tùm egregium est scire vincere, sed etiam posse vinci pulchrum est, ubi victoria

Plut. de educ. liber. Nihil ita dignum est odio, ut eorum mores, qui compellantibus se difficiles præbent. Plut

est damnosa.

Now although, according to the nature of every grace, this begins as a gift, and is increased like a habit, that is, best by its own acts ; yet besides the former acts and offices of humility, there are certain other exercises and considerations, which are good helps and instruments for the procuring and increasing this grace, and the curing of pride. ,

Means and exercises for obtaining and increasing

the grace of Humility. 1. Make confession of thy sins often to God; and consider what all that evil amounts to, which you then charge upon yourself. Look not upon them as scattered in the course of a long life; now, an intemperate anger, then, too full a meal ; now, idle talking, and another time, impatience: but unite them into one continued representation, and remember, that he whose life seems fair, by reason that his faults are scattered at large distances in the several parts of his life, yet, if all his errors and follies were articled against him, the man would seem vicious and miserable : and possibly this exercise, really applied upon thy spirit, may be useful.

2. Remember, that we usually disparage others upon slight grounds and little instances; and towards them one fly is enough to spoil a whole box of ointment: and if a man be highly commended, we think him sufficiently lessened, if we clap one sin or folly or infirmity into his account. Let us, therefore, be just to ourselves, since we are so severe to others, and consider, that whatsoever good any one can think or say of us, we can tell him of hundreds of base and unworthy, and foolish actions, any one of which were enough (we hope) to destroy another's reputation : therefore, let so many be sufficient to destroy our over-high thoughts of ourselves.

3. When thy neighbour is cried up by public fame and popular noises, that we may disparage and lessen him, we cry out that the people is a herd of unlearned and ignorant persons, ill judges, loud trumpets, but which never give certain sound : let us use the same art to humble ourselves, and never take delight and pleasure in public reports, and acclamations of assemblies, and please ourselves with their judgment", of whom, in other the like cases, we affirm that they are mad.

4. We change our opinion of others, by their kindness or unkindness towards us. If he be my patron, and bounteous, he is wise, he is noble, his faults are but warts, his virtues are mountainous; but if he proves unkind, or rejects our importunate suit, then he is illnatured, covetous, and his free meal is called gluttony; that which before we called civility, is now very drunkenness; and all he speaks is flat and dull, and ignorant as a swine. This, indeed, is unjust towards others; but a good instrument, if we turn the edge of it upon ourselves. We use ourselves ill, abusing ourselves with false principles, cheating ourselves with lies and pretences, stealing the choice and election from our wills, placing voluntary ignorance in our understandings, denying the desires of the spirit, setting up a faction against every noble and just desire ; the least of which, because we should resent up to reviling the injurious person, it is but reason we should at least not flatter ourselves with fond and too kind opinions.

5. Every day call to mind some one of thy foulest sins, or the most shameful of thy disgraces, or the indiscreetest of thy actions, or any thing that did then most trouble thee, and apply it to the present swelling of thy spirit and opinion, and it may help to allay it.

6. Pray often for his grace, with all humility of gesture and passion of desire; and in thy devotion interpose many acts of humility, by way of confession and address to God, and reflection upon thyself.

7. Avoid great offices and employments, and the noises of worldly honour". For in those states, many times so many ceremonies and circumstances will seem necessary, as will destroy the sobriety of thy thoughts. If the number of thy servants be fewer, and their observances less, and their reverences less solemn, possibly they will seem less than thy dignity; and if they be so much and so many, it is likely they will be too big for thy spirit. And here be thou very


Ούχ ούτοι εισι, περί ών ειωθός λέγειν ότι μαίνονται και τί ούν υπό των μαινομένων θέλεις Juvázsoda; Arrian.

n Fabis abstine, dixit Pythagoras. Olim nam Magistratus per suffragia fabis lata creabantur. Plut.

« ZurückWeiter »