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made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing as if it had learned music and motion from an angel, as he passed sometimes through the air about his ministries here below : so is the prayer of a good man : when his affairs have required business, and his business was matter of discipline, and his discipline was to pass upon a sinning person, or had a design of charity, his duty met with the infirmities of a man, and anger was its instrument, and the instrument became stronger than the prime agent, and raised a tempest, and overruled the man; and then his prayer was broken, and his thoughts were troubled, and his words went up towards a cloud, and his thoughts pulled them back again, and made them without intention, and the good man sighs for his infirmity, but must be content to lose the prayer, and he must recover it when his anger is removed, and his spirit is becalmed, made even as the brow of Jesus, and smooth like the heart of God; and then it ascends to heaven upon the wings of the holy dove, and dwells with God, till it returns, like the useful bee, loaden with a blessing and the dew of heaven.
Since all the evil in the world consists in the disagreeing between the object and the appetite, as when a man hath what he desires not, or desires what he hath not, or desires amiss, he that composes his spirit to the present accident hath variety of instances for his virtue, but none to trouble him, because his desires enlarge not beyond his present fortune: and a wise man is placed in the variety of chances, like the nave or centre of a wheel in the midst of all the circumvolutions and changes of posture, without violence or change, save that it turns gently in compliance with its changed parts, and is indifferent which part is up, and which is down ; for there is some virtue or other to be exercised whatever happens—either patience or thanksgiving, love or fear, moderation or humility, charity or contentedness.
It conduces much to our content, if we pass by those things which happen to our trouble, and consider that which is pleasing and prosperous ; that, by the representation of the better, the worse may be blotted out.
It may be, thou art entered into the cloud which will bring a gentle shower to refresh thy sorrows.
I am fallen into the hands of publicans and sequestrators, and they have taken all from me : what now ? let me look about me. They have left me the sun and moon, fire and water, a loving wife, and many friends to pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still discourse ; and, unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance, and my cheerful spirit, and a good conscience ; they still have left me the providence of God, and all the promises of the Gospel, and my religion, and my hopes of heaven, and my charity to them too: and still I sleep and digest, I eat and drink, I read and meditate, I can walk in my neighbour's pleasant fields, and see the varieties of natural beauties, and delight in all that in which God delights, that is, in virtue and wisdom, in the whole creation, and in God himself.
1. Consider that anger is a professed enemy to counsel ; it is a direct storm, in which no man can be heard to speak or call from without: for if you counsel gently, you are despised ; if you urge it and be vehement, you provoke it more. Be careful, therefore, to lay ap beforehand a great stock of reason and prudent consideration, that, like a besieged town, you may be provided for, and be defensible from within, since you are not likely to be relieved from without. Anger is not to be suppressed but by something which is as inward as itself, and more habitual. To which purpose add that, 2. Of all passions it endeavours most to make reason useless. 3. That it is a universal passion, of an infinite object; for no man was ever so amorous as to love a toad; none so envious, as to repine at the condition of the miserable ; no man so timorous as to fear a dead bee; but anger is troubled at every thing, and every man, and every accident: and therefore, unless it be suppressed, it will make a man's condition restless. 4. If it proceeds from a great cause, it turns to fury; if from a small cause, it is peevishness : and so is always either terrible or ridiculous. õ. It makes a man's body monstrous, deformed, and contemptible ; the voice horrid ; the eyes cruel ; the face pale or fiery; the gait fierce; the speech clamorous and loud. 6. It is neither manly nor ingenuous. 7. It proceeds from softness of spirit and pusillanimity; which makes, that women are more angry than men, sick persons more than the healthful, old men more than young, unprosperous and calamitous people than the blessed and for.. tunate. 8. It is a passion fitter for flies and insects, than for persons professing nobleness and bounty. 9. It is troublesome, not only to those that suffer it, but to them that behold it; there being no greater incivility of entertainment, than, for the cook’s fault or the negligence of the servants, to be cruel or outragcous, or unpleasant in the presence of guests. 10. It makes marriage to be a necessary and unavoidable trouble; friendships, and societies, and familiarities to be intolerable. 11. It multiplies the evils of drunkenness, and makes the levities of wine to run into madness. 12. It makes innocent
jesting to be the beginning of tragedies. 13. It turns friendship into hatred; it makes a man lose himself, and his reason, and his argument in disputations. It turns the desires of knowledge into an itch of wrangling. It adds insolency to power. It turns justice into cruelty, and judgment into oppression. It changes discipline into tediousness and hatred of liberal institutions. It makes a prosperous man to be envied, and the unfortunate to be unpitied. It fluence of all the irregular passions: there is in it envy and sorrow, fear and scorn, pride and prejudice, rashness and inconsideration, rejoicing in evil and a desire to inflict it, self love, impatience and curiosity. And, lastly, though it be very troublesome to others, yet it is most troublesome to him that hath it.
COMFORTING THE AFFLICTED.
Certain it is, that as nothing can better do it, so there is nothing greater, for which God made our tongues, next to reciting His praises, than to minister comfort to a weary soul. And what greater measure can we have, than that we should bring joy to our brother, who with his dreary eyes looks to heaven and round about, and cannot find so much rest as to lay his eyelids close together —than that thy tongue should be tuned with heavenly accents, and make the weary soul to listen for light and ease; and when he perceives that there is such a thing in the world, and in the order of things, as comfort and joy, to begin to break out from the prison of his sorrows at the door of sighs and tears, and by little and little melt into showers and refreshment? This is glory to thy voice, and employment fit for the brightest angel. But so have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death, and the colder breath of the north ; and then the waters break from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in the walls, and dance a while in the air, to tell that their joy is within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter; he breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters and chains of sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning ; for to be miserable is death, but nothing is life but to be comforted; and God is pleased with no music from below so much as in the thanksgiving songs of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing, and comforted, and thankful persons.
121. Richard Baxter. 1615-1691. (Manual, p. 195.)
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 mourn 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 fesh. 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 roc 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.
122. Joseph Hall. 1574-1656. (Manual, p. 197.)
(For his Poetry see p. 57.)
THE PLEASURE OF STUDY. I can wonder at nothing more than how a man can be idle, but of all others, a scholar; in so many improvements of reason, in such sweetness of knowledge, in such variety of studies, in such importunity of thoughts : other artisans do but practise, we still learn ; others run still in the same gyre to weariness, to satiety; our choice is infinite; other labours require recreation ; our very labour recreates our sports; we can never want either somewhat to do, or somewhat that we would do. How numberless are the volumes which men have written of arts, of tongues! How endless is that volume which God hath written of the world! wherein every creature is a letter, every day a new page. Who can be weary of either of these? To find wit in poetry ; in philosophy, profoundness; in mathematics, acuteness ; in history, wonder of events; in oratory, sweet eloquence; in divinity, supernatural light and holy devotion ;