Page images

other wants it; yet both are snails, and it is a question whether case is the better: that which hath an house hath more shelter, but that which wants it hath more freedom; the privilege of that cover is but a burthen; you see if it hath but a stone to climb over, with what stress it draws up that beneficial load; and if the passage prove strait, finds no entrance; whereas the empty snail makes no differway. Surely, it is always an ease and sometimes an happiness to have nothing; no man is so worthy of envy as he that can be cheerful in want,

ence of

Upon hearing of Music by Night.

How sweetly doth this music sound in this dead season! In the day time it would not, it could not so much affect the ear. All harmonious sounds are advanced by a silent darkness; thus it is with the glad tidings of salvation; the gospel never sounds so sweet as in the night of preservation, or of our own private affliction; it is ever the same, the difference is in our disposition to receive it. O God, whose praise it is to give songs in the night, make my prosperity conscionable, and my crosses cheerful.

Upon the shutting of One Eye.


When we would take aim or see most exquisitely, we shut one eye: thus must we do with the eyes our soul; when we would look most accurately with the eye of faith, we must shut the eye of reason; else the visual beams of these two apprehensions, will be crossing each other, and hinder our clear discerning; yea, rather let me pull out this right eye of reason, than it shall offend me in the interruptions of mine happy visions of God.

Upon the Sight of an Owl in the Twilight.

What a strange melancholic life doth this creature lead; to hide her head all the day long in an ivy bush, and at night, when all other birds are at rest, to fly abroad, and vent her harsh notes. I know not why the ancients have sacred this bird to wisdom, except it be for her safe closeness, and singular perspicuity; that when other domestical and airy creatures are blind, she only hath inward light, to discern the least objects for her own advantage. Surely thus much wit they have taught us in her; that he is the wisest man that would have least to do with the multitude; that no life is so safe as the abscure; that no retiredness, if it have less comfort,

yet less danger and vexation; lastly, that he is truly wise who sees by a light of his own, when the rest of the world sit in an ignorant and confused darkness, unable to apprehend any truth, save by the helps of an outward illumination.

Had this fowl come forth in the day time, how had all the little birds flocked wondering about her, to see her uncouth visage, to hear her untuned notes; she likes her estate never the worse, but pleaseth herself in her own quiet reservedness; it is not for a wise man to be much affected with the censures of the rude and unskilful vulgar, but to hold fast unto his own well-chosen and well-fixed resolutions; every fool knows what is wont to be done; but what is best to be done, is known only to the wise.

Upon the Sight of a Great Library.

What a world of wit is here packed up together! I know not whether this sight doth more dismay or comfort me; it dismays me to think, that here is so much that I cannot know; it comforts me to think that this variety yields so good helps to know what I should. There is no truer word than that of Solomon-there is no end of making many books; this sight verifies it; there is no end; indeed, it were pity there should; God hath given to man a busy


soul; the agitation whereof cannot but through time and experience work out many hidden truths; to suppress these would be no other than injurious to mankind; whose minds, like unto so many candles,' should be kindled by each other: the thoughts of our deliberation are most accurate; these we vent into our papers; what an happiness is it, that, without all offence of necromancy, I may here call up any of the ancient worthies of learning, whether human or divine, and confer with them of all my doubts! that I can at pleasure summon whole synods of reverend fathers, and acute doctors from all the coasts of the earth, to give their well-studied judgments in all points of question which I propose! Neither can I cast my eye casually upon any of these silent masters, but I must learn somewhat it is a wantonness to complain of choice.

No law binds me to read all; but the more we can take in and digest, the better-liking must the mind's needs be ;' blessed be God that hath set up so many clear lamps in his church.

Now none but the wilfully blind can plead darkness; and blessed be the memory of those his faithful servants, that have left their blood, their spirits, their lives in these precious papers; and have willingly wasted themselves into these during monu→ ments, to give light unto others.

Upon Moats in the Sun,

How these little moats move up and down in the sun, and never rest, whereas the great mountains stand ever still, and move not but with an earthquake; even so light and busy spirits are in continual agitation, to little purpose; while great deep wits sit still, and stir not, but upon extreme occasions were the motion of these little atoms as useful as it is restless, I had rather be a moat than a mountain.

Upon a Man sleeping.

I do not more wonder at any man's art than at his, who professes to think of nothing to do nothing: and I do not a little marvel at that man who says he can sleep without a dream; for the mind of man is a restless thing; and though it give the body leave to repose itself, as knowing it is a mortal and earthly piece, yet itself being a spirit, and therefore active, and indefatigable, is ever in motion: give me a sea that moves not, a sun that shines not, an open eye that sees not; and I shall yield there may be a reasonable soul that works not. It is possible that through a natural or accidental stupidity, a man may not perceive his own thoughts; (as sometimes the

« PreviousContinue »