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last act of their lives, and in the integrity of their faculties return their spirit unto God that gave it.
Consider whereabout thou art in Cebes his table, or that old philosophical pinax of the life of man; whether thou art still in the road of uncertainties; whether thou hast yet entered the narrow gate, got up the hill and asperous way which leadeth unto the house of sanity, or taken that purifying potion from the hand of sincere erudition, which may send thee clear and pure away unto a virtuous and happy life.
In this virtuous voyage, let not disappointment cause despondency, nor difficulty despair. Think not that you are sailing from Lima* to Manilla, wherein thou mayest tie up the rudder, and sleep before the wind; but expect rough seas, flaws, and contrary blasts; and it is well if by many cross tacks and veerings thou arrivest at thy port. Sit not down in the popular seats and common level of virtues, but endeavour to make them heroical. Offer not only peace-offerings but holocausts unto God. To serve Him singly to serve ourselves were too partial a piece of piety, nor likely to place us in the highest mansions of glory.
Be charitable before wealth makes thee covetous, and lose not the glory of the mitre. If riches increase, let thy mind hold pace with them; and think it not enough to be liberal, but munificent. Though a cup of cold water from some hand may not be without its reward, yet stick not thou for wine and oil for the wounds of the distressed; and treat the poor as our Saviour did the multitude, to the relics of some baskets.
Trust not to the omnipotency of gold, or say unto it, Thou art my confidence; kiss not thy hand when thou beholdest that terrestrial sun, nor bore thy ear unto its servitude. A slave unto Mammon makes no servant unto God; covetousness cracks the sinews of faith, numbs the apprehension of anything above sense, and, only affected with the certainty of Through the Pacific Sea, with a constant gale from the east.
BE NOT SHRUBS, BUT CEDARS.
things present, makes a peradventure of things to come; lives but unto one world, nor hopes but fears another; makes our own death sweet unto others, bitter unto ourselves; gives a dry funeral, scenical mourning, and no wet eyes at the grave.
If avarice be thy vice, yet make it not thy punishment; 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 improvement in madness, and use upon use in folly.
Persons lightly dipped, 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 magnetically upon that axis where prudent simplicity hath fixed thee, and let no temptation invert the poles of thy honesty; and 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 the bad, or the worst of the good, will be no satisfaction unto them.
Let not the law of thy country be the non ultra of thy honesty, nor think that always good enough which 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.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
Sir Thomas Browne died on his birth-day; Sir Matthew Hale died at his birth-place, for he was born at Alderley in Gloucestershire, Nov. 1, 1609, and it was there that, having returned to breathe his native air, he expired on Christmasday 1676.
Of one of the most unimpeachable characters in English history, so many accounts have been written, from the brief but solid life by Burnet to the lively and rather flippant sketch by Lord Campbell, that for our purpose it is enough to remind the reader, that as the leading barrister of his day, he pled the cause alike of Archbishop Laud and Christopher Love; that as a judge under the Protectorate, and as Chief Justice of England in the reign of Charles II., he was equally inaccessible to intimidation or corrupt influence; that as a private Christian he lived on terms of affectionate intimacy with Richard Baxter, as well as with Tillotson and Stillingfleet; and that his pure and impartial memory is now not more precious to the Church which he adorned, than to the Dissenters from it, whose ancestors he protected, as much as in him lay, from the excessive pressure of unjust and cruel laws.
The following letter, addressed by this excellent man, when absent on circuit, to his children, is more interesting than any passage which we can detach from his well-known "Contemplations," and we reprint it with the greater pleasure, inasmuch as it is still a word in season.
Directions for Keeping the Lord's-Bay.
I am now come well to Farringdon, from whence I wrote to you my former instructions, concerning your words and speech;
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
and I now intend to write something to you of another subject, viz., your observation of the Lord's-day, commonly called Sunday; and this I do for these reasons.
1. Because it hath pleased God to cast my lot so that I am to rest at this place upon that day, and the consideration, therefore, of that duty is proper for me and for you; it is opus diei in die suo," the work fit and proper for the day.
2. Because I have, by long and sound experience, found that the due observance of this day, and of the duties of it, has been of singular comfort and advantage to me; and I doubt not but it will prove so to you. God Almighty is the Lord of our time, and lends it to us, and as it is but just we should consecrate this part of that time to Him; so I have found, by a strict and diligent observation, that a due observation of the duty of this day hath ever had joined to it a blessing upon the rest of my time, and the week that hath been so begun hath been blessed and prosperous to me; and, on the other side, when I have been negligent of the duties of this day, the rest of the week hath been unsuccessful and unhappy to my own secular employments; so that I could easily make an estimate of my successes in my own secular employments the week following, by the manner of my passing of this day; and this I do not write lightly or inconsiderately, but upon a long and sound observation and experience.
3. Because I find in the world much looseness and apostasy from this duty. People begin to be cold and careless in it, allowing themselves sports and recreations, and secular employments in it, without any necessity, which is a sad spectacle and an ill presage. It concerns me, therefore (that am your father), as much as I may, to rescue you from that sin which the examples of others, and the inclination and inconsiderateness of youth are otherwise apt to lead you into.
I shall therefore set down unto you particularly these things, 1. What is the reason and ground of your observation of this day; 2. What things ought not to be done upon this day, which possibly may be lawful upon another day; 3. What things may be done upon this day; 4. What things are either fit or necessary to be done in order to the sanctification of this day.
I. Touching the first of these, viz., the reason of the observation and sanctification of this day; and the reasons are these:
1. It is a moral duty, that since the glorious God gives me my time, I should consecrate and set apart some portion of that time in a special manner to His service.
2. And because the glorious God best knows what portion of time is fit to be peculiarly dedicated to His service, that so the morality of that time might be determined unto some certainty, He hath, by His express precept given to His ancient people the Jews, limited one day of seven, to be that special portion of time which He would have peculiarly dedicated to His service, and so to include into it the morality of that duty.
3. This seventh portion of time, under the old law given to the Jews, was determined by the precept and command of God, in the fourth command, and likewise by His own example, confined to the seventh day from the creation, upon which the Lord rested from His works of creation.
4. But our Saviour Christ, who is the Son of God, blessed for ever, and is Lord of the Sabbath, fulfilling the work of our redemption by His resurrection upon the first day of the week, and by His mission of the Holy Ghost miraculously the first day of the week, and by the secret message of His Spirit to the apostles and the primitive Church, hath translated the observation of the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week, which is our Christian Sabbath; that as our Christian baptism succeeds the sacrament of circumcision, and as our Christian