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Upon the Sight of a Tree full-blossomed.
Here is a tree overlaid with blossoms; it is not possible that all these should prosper; one of them must needs rob the other of moisture and growth ; I do not love to see an infancy over-hopeful; in these pregnant beginnings one faculty starves another, and at last leaves the mind sapless and barren ; as therefore we are wont to pull off some of the too frequent blossoms, that the rest may thrive; so, it is good wisdom to moderate the early excess of the parts, or progress of over-forward childhood. Neither is it otherwise in our Christian profession; a sudden and lavish ostentation of grace may fill the eye with wonder, and the mouth with talk, but will not at the last fill the lap with fruit.
Let me not promise too much, nor raise too high expectations of my undertakings ; I had rather men should complain of my small hopes, than of my short performances.
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Upon Occasion of a Red-breast coming into his Chamber.
Pretty bird, how chearfully dost thou sit and sing, and yet knowest not where thou art, nor where thou shalt make thy next meal; and at night must shrowd thyself in a bush for lodging! What a shame is it
for me, that see before me so liberal provisions of my God, and find myself sit warm under my own roof, yet am ready to droop under a distrustful and unthankful dulness. Had I so little certainty of my harbour and purveyance, how heartless should I be, how careful; how little list should I have to make music to thee or myself. Surely thou comest not hither without a Providence. God sent thee not so much to delight, as to shame me, but all in a conviction of my sullen unbelief, who, under more apparent means, am less chearful and confident; reason and faith have not done so much in me, as in thee mere instinct of nature; want of foresight makes thee more merry, if not more happy here, than the foresight of better things maketh me.
O God, thy providence is not impaired by those powers thou hast given me above these brute things ; let not my greater helps hinder me from an holy security, and comfortable reliance on thee.
Upon the kindling of a Charcoal Fire.
There are not many creatures but do naturally affect to diffuse and enlarge themselves; fire and water will neither of them rest contented with their own bounds; those little sparks that I see in those coals, how they spread and enkindle their next brands.
It is thus morally both in good and evil; either of them dilates itself to their neighbourhood; but especially this is so much more apparent in evil, by how much we are more apt to take it. Let bụt some spark of heretical opinion be let fall upon some unstable, proud, busy spirit, it catcheth instantly; and fires the next capable subject; they two have easily inflamed a third; and now the more society the more speed and advantage of a public combustion. When we see the church on a flame, it is too late to complain of the fint and steel ; it is the holy wisdom of superiors to prevent the dangerous attritions of stub-. born and wrangling spirits; or to quench their first sparks in the tinder.
But, why should not grace and truth be as successful in dilating itself to the gaining of many hearts ? Certainly these are in themselves more winning, if our corruption had not made us indisposed to good; O God, out of an holy envy and emulation at the speed of evil, I shall labour to enkindle others with these heavenly flames; it shall not be my fault if they spread not.
Upon the Sight of two Snails.
There is much variety even in creatures of the same kind. See there, two snails; one hath an house, the
other wants it; yet both are snails, and it is a question whether case is the better : that which hath an house hath more shelter, but that which wants it hath more freedom; the privilege of that cover is but a burthen ; you see if it hath but a stone to climb over, with what stress it draws up that beneficial load; and if the passage prove strait, finds no entrance; whereas the empty snail makes no difference of way. Surely, it is always an ease and sometimes an happiness to have nothing; no man is so worthy of enry as he that can be cheerful in want.
Upon hearing of Music by Night.
How sweetly doth this music sound in this dead season! In the day time it would not, it could not so much affect the ear. All harmonious sounds are adyanced by a silent darkness; thus it is with the glad tidings of salvation; the gospel never sounds so sweet as in the night of preservation, or of our own private affliction; it is ever the same, the difference is in our disposition to receive it. O God, whose praise it is to give songs in the night, make my prosperity conscionable, and my crosses cheerful.
When we would take aim or see. most exquisitely, we shut one eye: thus must we do with the
of our soul ;, when we would look most accurately with the eye of faith, we must shut the
of reason; elsc the visual beams of these two apprehensions, will be crossing each other, and hinder our clear discerning; yea, rather let me pull out this right eye of reason, than it shall offend me in the interruptions of mine happy visions of God.
Upon the Sight of an Owl in the Twilight.
What a strange melancholic life doth this creature lead; to hide her head all the day long in an ivy bush, and at night, when all other birds are at rest, to fly abroad, and vent her harsh notes. I know not why the ancients have sacred this bird to wisdom, except it be for her safe closeness, and singular perspicuity; that when other domestical and airy creatures are blind, she only hath inward light, to discern the least objects for her own advantage. Surely thus much wit they have taught us in her ; that he is the wisest man that would have least to do with the multitude ; that no life is so safe as the abscure; that no retiredness, if it have less comfort,