Page images
PDF
EPUB

His con

there is neither laughter in their meeting, nor in their shaking hands, tears. He keeps ever the best company, the God of spirits, and the spirits of that God, whom he entertains continually in an awful familiarity, not being hindered either with too much light, or with none at all. science and his hands are friends, and (what devil soever tempt him) will not fall out. That divine part goes ever uprightly and freely, not stooping under the burthen of a willing sin, not fettered with the gyves of unjust scruples; he would not, if he could, run away from himself, or from God; not caring from whom he is hid so he may look these two in the face. Censures and applauses are passengers to him, not guests: his ear is their thoroughfare, not their harbour; he hath learned to fetch both his counsel and his sentence from his own breast. He doth not lay weight upon his own shoulders, as one that loves to torment himself with the honour of much employment; but as he makes work his game, so doth he not list to make himself work. His strife is ever to redeem and not to spend time. It is his trade to do good, and to think of it his recreation. He hath hands enough for himself and others, which are ever stretched forth for beneficence, not for need. He walks cheerfully the way that God hath chalked, and never wishes it more wide, or more smooth. Those very temptations whereby he is foiled, strengthen him; he comes forth crowned, and triumphing out of the spiritual battles, and those scars that he hath, make him beautiful. His soul is every day dilated to receive that God in whom he is, and hath attained to love himself for God, and God for his own sake. His

eyes

stick so fast in heaven, that no earthly object can remove them; yea, his whole self is there before his time; and sees with Stephen, and hears with Paul, and enjoys with Lazarus, the glory that he shall have; and takes possession before hand of his room amongst the saints; and these heavenly contentments have so taken him up, that now he looks down displeasedly upon the earth, as the regions of his sorrow and banishment; yet joying more in hope than troubled with the sense of evil, he holds it no great matter to live, and greatest business to die: and is so well acquainted with his last guest, that he fears no unkindness from him; neither makes he any other of dying, than of walking home when he is abroad, or of going to bed when he is weary of the day. He is well provided for both worlds, and is sure of peace here, of glory hereafter; and therefore hath a light heart, and a cheerful face. All his fellow-creatures rejoice to serve him; his betters, the angels, love to observe him; God himself takes pleasure to converse with him; and hath sainted him before his death, and in his death crowned him.

THE HYPOCRITE.

An hypocrite is the worst kind of player, by so much that he acts the better part; which hath always two faces, ofttimes two hearts; that can

[ocr errors]

compose his forehead to sadness and gravity, while he bids his heart be wanton and careless within, and (in the mean time) laughs within himself to think how smoothly he hath cozened the beholder. In whose silent face are written the characters of religion, which his tongue and gestures pronounce, but his hands recant. That hath a clean face and garment, with a foul soul; whose mouth belies his heart, and his fingers bely his mouth. Walking early up into the city he turns into the great church, and salutes one of the pillars on one knee, worshipping that God which at home he cares not for, while his eye is fixed on some window or some passenger, and his heart knows not whither his lips go. He rises, and, looking about with admiration, complains of our frozen charity, commends the ancient. At church he will ever sit where he may be seen best, and in the midst of the sermon pulls out his tables in haste, as if he feared to lose that note, when he writes either his forgotten errand, or nothing. Then he turns his Bible with a noise, to seek an omitted quotation, and folds the leaf as if he had found it, and asks aloud the name of the preacher, and repeats it, whom he publicly salutes, thinks, praises in an honest mouth. He can command tears when he speaks of his youth, indeed, because it is past, not because it was sinful; himself is now better, but the times are worse. All other sins he reckons up with detestation, while he loves and hides his darling in his bosom ; all his speech returns to himself, and every occurrent draws in a story to his own praise. When he

should give, he looks about him, and

says,

Who sees me? no alms nor prayers fall from him without a witness; belike lest God should deny that he hath received them; and when he hath done (lest the world should not know it) his own mouth is his trumpet to proclaim it. With the superfluity of his usury he builds an hospital, and harbours them whom his extortion hath spoiled; so when he makes many beggars, he keeps some. He turneth all gnats into camels, and cares not to undo the world for a circumstance.

Flesh on a Friday is more abominable to him than his neighbour's bed; he abhors more not to uncover at the name of Jesus than to swear by the name of God. When a rhymer reads his poem to him, he begs a copy, and persuades the press. There is nothing that he dislikes in presence, that in absence he censures not. He comes to the sick bed of his stepmother and weeps, when he secretly fears her recovery. He greets his friend in the street with a clear countenance, so fast a closure, that the other thinks he reads his heart in his face; and shakes hands with an indefinite invitation of When will you come ? and when his back is turned, joys that he is so well rid of a guest; yet if that guest visit him unfeared, he counterfeits a smiling welcome and excuses his cheer, when closely he frowns on his wife for too much. He shows well, and says well, and himself is the worst thing he hath. In brief, he is the stranger's saint, the neighbour's disease, the blot of goodness, a rotten stick in a dark night, the poppy in a corn field, an ill-tem

pered candle with a great snuff, that in going out smells ill; an angel abroad, a devil at home; and worse when an angel, than when a devil.

DAVID.*

David had lived obscurely in his father's house ; his only care and ambition was the welfare of the

[ocr errors]

* In the preface to an edition of Horne on the Psalms by the Rev. Edward Irving, there is a character of David, from which the following is extracted

Now, as the apostle, in writing to the Hebrews, concerning the priesthood of Christ, calls upon them to consider Melchizedek his solitary majesty, and singular condition and remarkable honour; so call we upon the church to consider David, the son of Jesse, his unexampled accumulation of gifts, his wonderful variety of conditions, his spiritual riches and his spiritual desolation, and the multifarious contingencies of his life ; with his faculty, his unrivalled faculty, of expres. sing the emotions of his soul, under all the days of brightness and days of darkness which passed over his head. For thereby shall the church understand how this the law-giver of her devotion was prepared by God for the work which he accomplished, and how it hath happened that one man should have brought forth that vast variety of experience, in which every soul rejoiceth to find itself reflected. There never was a specimen of manhood, so rich and ennobled as David, the son of Jesse, whom other saints haply may have equalled in single features of his character, but such a combination of manly, heroic qualities, such a flush of generous godlike excellencies, hath never yet been seen embodied in a single

His psalms, to speak as a man, do place him in the highest rank of lyrical poets, as they set him above all the inspired writers of the old Testament,--equalling in sublimity the flights of Isaiah himself, and revealing the cloudy mystery of Ezekiel ; but in love of country, and glorying in its hea

man.

1

« PreviousContinue »