« AnteriorContinua »
And as, in my low estate of ability and fortune, I can serve you in nothing great, D. George Spaltinus, who is one of your Highness's private council, gave me a timely word of advice to draw up something by way of a spiritual consolation, and send it to your Highness: adding, that your Highness would gratefully receive such an attention. Being therefore unwilling to refuse altogether to listen to the advice of my friend, I drew up these fourteen heads, and set them forth as it were on a tablet, and gave them the name of TESSERADECAD; that they may serve instead of the fourteen saints, whom our superstition has made and called the defenders against all evil.
This, however, is not a silver tablet but a spiritual one; designed, not to adorn the walls of the churches, but to raise up and confirm the godly mind; and I hope it will be very useful to your Highness in your present trouble. It consists of two parts. The former contains seven views of evil, by the consideration of which our present troubles may be lightened. The latter sets forth seven views of good, drawn up for the same purpose. May your Highness therefore favourably receive this my service, (such as it is), and so profit by it, that, after an attentive reading and consideration of the views set forth, you may find some small part of it to suit your case. I commend myself to your Highness with all submission.
"WEARY AND HEAVY LADEN."
THE Apostle Paul, Rom. xv., when about to set forth the consolations of Christians, says, "Brethren, whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." Wherein, he plainly shows, that our consolations are to be derived from the holy scriptures.
The holy scriptures administer consolation in a twofold way, by setting before us two views of things, that is, of evil and of good, tempered together with a most wholesome intermingling: as the wise Preacher saith, "In the day of evil be mindful of the good, and in the day of good be mindful of the evil."For the Holy Spirit knows, that every thing is such and so great to a man, as it appears to be in his opinion; and that, that which he considers to be trifling and a thing of nought little affects him, either with love when it comes, or with grief when it is taken away. Therefore, the great design of the Holy Spirit, is, to call men away from the opinion and sense of things. And, as this calling away is more especially wrought by the Word; by which, the opinion is drawn off from that which now affects, to that which is either not present or does not now affect; it is in all things right, that we should have no consolation but by the scriptures; which, in the day of evil, call us away to contemplate the good that is either present or to come; and, in the day of good, to contemplate the evil. But, that we may the better understand these Two VIEWS, OF SIGHTS, we will give to EACH its parts,
making them SEVEN. The FIRST VIEW shall contain the EVILS which we may be we may be contemplating-I. Within us-II. Before us-III. Behind us-IV. From beneath-V. Near us on our left hand-VI. On our right hand-VII. From above.
VIEWS OF EVIL.
THE EVILS WITHIN US.
THIS is a fixed and most certain truth, whether a man believe it or not, That a man can suffer no torture which can be the worst of the evils that are in him. And therefore, there are far more and greater evils in him than he can feel. For, if he should feel all his own evil, he would feel hell, for he has a hell in himself. himself. Do you ask how this can be? the Prophet tells "All men you, are liars," Ps. cxvi. And again, "Every man living is altogether vanity," Ps. xxxix. And to be a liar and vanity, is to be destitute of truth and reality; and, to be destitute of truth and reality, is to be without God and to be nothing and to be thus, is to be in hell and damned!
God, therefore, when he chastens us, discovers unto us and lays upon us only a small part of our evils; knowing, that if he should lead a man into a knowledge of his whole evil, he would sink in a moment. But he has given some to taste this also: concerning whom it is said, "He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up," 1 Sam. ii. Therefore, they speak rightly, who call bodily sufferings certain monitors of the evil within and the Apostle, Heb. xii. calls them the fatherly chastisements of God, saying, "he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth:" which he does, that, by these rods and small evils; he may drive out those great evils, that we may have no necessity for feeling them: as it is written Proverbs xxii., " Foolishness is bound in the heart of a
child, but the rod of correction shall drive it out." And do not pious parents grieve more over their children if they be thieves or vicious, than if they be wounded; yea, they themselves chasten and bruise them that they may not be vicious.
What is it then that prevents our real evil from being felt? This, I say, is so ordered of God; that the man may not wholly sink under a sight of all the depths of his evil. For God keeps them hidden, and wills them to be known only by faith, while he gives a taste of them in the evil that is felt.-Therefore, "In the day of evil be mindful of the good:" that is, consider what a good it is not to know all thy evil: be mindful of this good, and thy evil will not so much distress thee. And so again, "in the day of good be mindful of the evil:" that is, whilst thou art free from distress arising from thy real evil, be grateful for this freedom, and be mindful of the real evil: then it will be, that thou wilt the less feel the sensible evil. It is evident, therefore, that man always has in this life, more freedom from distress than distress; not because the whole evil is not present with him, but because there is not the opinion and feeling of it, through the goodness of God who keeps it hidden.
Hence we see, how dreadfully they treat themselves who are brought to see their true evil, and how careless they are of what they suffer throughout their whole life, so that they feel not the hell within them. And so every one would do, if he felt or truly believed the real evil that is in him :—he would voluntarily seek all external evils, and would find relief in them: and would never feel himself more miserable, than when not surrounded with such evils; in which state we know many saints to have been as David was, Ps. vi.
Therefore, the first view is consolatory for a man to say to himself, 'O man, thou dost not feel all thy evil: be glad, therefore, and give thanks, that thou art not compelled to feel it: and then, thy present evil, compared with the great and infinite evil that is in thee, will be light that is, thou mayest say, as some say, 'I deserve far worse than this, yea, hell itself!' This is, however, easy to be said. but is intolerable to be borne.