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good to search too deeply into the intention of the agent; but, in silence, to make our best benefit of the work: in an evil, it is not safe to regard the quality of the person, or his success; but to consider the action abstracted from all circumstances, in his own kind. So we shall neither neglect good deeds, because they speed not well in some hands; nor affect a prosperous evil.
God doth some singular actions, wherein we cannot imitate him; some, wherein we may not; most, wherein he may and would fain be followed. He fetcheth good out of evil; so may we turn our own and others' sins to private or public good: we may not do evil for a good use; but we must use our evil once done, to good. I hope I shall not offend, to say, That the good use, which is made of sins, is as gainful to God; as that, which arises from good actions. Happy is that man, that can use either his good well, or his evil.
There is no difference betwixt anger and madness, but continuance: for, raging anger is a short madness: what else argues the shaking of the hands and lips: paleness, or redness, or swelling of the face; glaring of the eyes; stammering of the tongue; stamping with the feet; unsteady motions of the whole body; rash actions, which we remember not to have done; distracted and wild speeches? and madness again is nothing but a continued rage; yea, some madness rageth not: such a mild madness is more tolerable, than frequent and furious anger.
Those, that would keep state, must keep aloof off; especially if their qualities be not answerable in height to their place: for many great persons are like a well-wrought picture upon a coarse cloth; which, afar off shews fair, but near-hand the roundness of the thread mars the good workmanship. Concealment of gifts, after some one commended act, is the best way to admiration and secret honour: but he, that would profit, must vent himself oft and liberally; and shew what he is, without all private regard. As, therefore, many times, honour follows modesty unlooked for; so, contrarily, a man may shew no less pride in silence and obscurity, than others, which speak and write for glory. And that other pride is so much the worse, as it is more unprofitable: for, whereas those, which put forth their gifts, benefit others while they seek themselves; these are so wholly devoted to themselves, that their secrecy doth no good to others.
Such as a man's delights and cares are in health, such are both his thoughts and speeches commonly on his death-bed: the proud man talks of his fair suits; the glutton, of his dishes; the wanton, of his beastliness; the religious man, of heavenly things.
The tongue will hardly leave that, to which the heart is inured. If we would have good motions to visit us while we are sick, we must send for them familiarly in our health.
He is a rare man, that hath not some kind of madness reigning in him: one, a dull madness of melancholy; another, a conceited madness of pride; another, a superstitious madness of false devotion; a fourth, of ambition or covetousness; a fifth, the furious madness of anger; a sixth, the laughing madness of extreme mirth; a seventh, a drunken madness; an eighth, of outrageous lust; a ninth, the learned madness of curiosity; a tenth, the worst madness of profaneness and atheism. It is as hard, to reckon up all kinds of madnesses, as of dispositions. Some are more noted and punished than others; so that, the madman in one kind as much condemns another, as the sober man condemns him. Only that man is both good, and wise, and happy, that is free from all kinds of frenzy.
There be some honest errors, wherewith I never found that God was offended: that a husband should think his own wife comely, although ill-favoured in the eyes of others; that a man should think more meanly of his own good parts, than of weaker in others; to give charitable, though mistaken, constructions of doubtful actions and persons; which are the effects of natural affection, humility, love; were never censured by God: herein alone we err, if we err
No marvel, if the worldling escape earthly afflictions. God corrects him not, because he loves him not. He is base born and begot. God will not do him the favour to whip him. The world af Hicts him not, because he loves him: for each man is indulgent to his own. God uses not the rod, where he means to use the sword. The pillory or scourge is for those malefactors, which shall escape execution.
Weak stomachs, which cannot digest large meals, feed oft and little. For our souls, that, which we want in measure, we must supply in frequence. We can never fully enough comprehend in our thoughts the joys of heaven, the meritorious sufferings of Christ, the terrors of the second death: therefore, we must meditate of them often.
The same thoughts do commonly meet us in the same places; as if we had left them there, till our return: for that the mind doth secretly frame to itself memorative heads, whereby it recals easily the same conceits. It is best to employ our mind there, where it is most fixed. Our devotion is so dull, it cannot have too many advantages.
I find but one example in all Scripture, of any bodily cure which our Saviour wrought by degrees: only the blind man, whose weak faith craved help by others, not by himself, saw men first like trees, then in their true shape: all other miraculous cures of Christ were done at once, and perfect at first. Contrarily, I find but one example of a soul fully healed, that is, sanctified and glorified, both in a day; all other, by degrees and leisure. The steps of grace are soft and short. Those external miracles, he wrought immediately by himself; and, therefore, no marvel, if they were absolute, like their Author. The miraculous work of our regeneration, he works together with us: he giveth it efficacy; we give it imperfection.