Imperial mission, came face to face with Belisarius, and

time:2023-11-29 04:01:56 source:Heartbreaker author:data

If avarice be thy vice, yet make it not thy punish- ment. Miserable men commiserate not themselves, bowelless unto themselves, and merciless unto their own bowels. Let the fruition of things bless the possession of them, and take no satisfaction in dying but living rich. For since thy good works, not thy goods will follow thee; since riches are an appurtenance of life, and no dead man is rich, to famish in plenty, and live poorly to die rich, were a multiplying im- provement in madness and use upon use in folly.

Imperial mission, came face to face with Belisarius, and

Persons lightly dipt, not grained, in generous honesty are but pale in goodness and faint-hued in sincerity. But be thou what thou virtuously art, and let not the ocean wash away thy tincture. Stand majestically upon that axis where prudent simplicity hath fixed thee; and at no temptation invert the poles of thy honesty that vice may be uneasy and even monstrous unto thee; let iterated good acts and long confirmed habits make virtue natural or a second nature in thee; and since few or none prove eminently virtuous but from some advantageous foundations in their temper and natural inclinations, study thyself betimes, and early find what nature bids thee to be or tells thee what thou mayest be. They who thus timely descend into themselves, cultivating the good seeds which nature hath set in them, and improving their prevalent inclinations to perfection, become not shrubs but cedars in their generation. And to be in the form of the best of bad, or the worst of the good, will be no satisfaction unto them.

Imperial mission, came face to face with Belisarius, and

Let not the law of thy country be the non ultra of thy honesty, nor think that always good enough that the law will make good. Narrow not the law of charity, equity, mercy. Join gospel righteousness with legal right. Be not a mere Gamaliel in the faith, but let the Sermon on the Mount be thy Targum unto the law of Sinai.

Imperial mission, came face to face with Belisarius, and

Make not the consequences of virtue the ends thereof. Be not beneficent for a name or cymbal of applause; nor exact and punctual in commerce for the advantages of trust and credit, which attend the reputation of just and true dealing: for such rewards, though unsought for, plain virtue will bring with her, whom all men honour, though they pursue not. To have other by-ends in good actions sours laudable performances, which must have deeper roots, motives, and instigations, to give them the stamp of virtues.

Though human infirmity may betray thy heedless days into the popular ways of extravagancy, yet, let not thine own depravity or the torrent of vicious times carry thee into desperate enormities in opinions, manners, or actions. If thou hast dipped thy foot in the river, yet venture not over Rubicon; run not into extremities from whence there is no regression, nor be ever so closely shut up within the holds of vice and iniquity, as not to find some escape by a postern of recipiscency.<17>

Owe not thy humility unto humiliation by adversity, but look humbly down in that state when others look upward upon thee. Be patient in the age of pride, and days of will, and impatiency, when men live but by intervals of reason, under the sovereignty of humour and passion, when it is in the power of every one to trans- form thee out of thyself, and put thee into short mad- ness.* If you cannot imitate Job, yet come not short of Socrates,<18> and those patient Pagans, who tired the

tongues of their enemies, while they perceived they spit their malice at brazen walls and statues.

Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks; be content to be envied, but envy not. Emulation may be plausible, and indignation allowable, but admit no treaty with that passion which no circumstance can make good. A displacency at the good of others, because they enjoy it although we do not want it, is an absurd depravity sticking fast unto nature, from its primitive corruption, which he that can well subdue were a Christian of the first magnitude, and for ought I know may have one foot already in heaven.


recommended content