« PredošláPokračovať »
men, we do but outlive those perfections in this world, to be recalled unto them by a greater miracle in the next, and run on here but to be retrograde hereafter. Were there any hopes to outlive vice, or a point to be superannuated from sin, it were worthy our knees to implore the days of Methuselah. But age doth not rectify, but incurvate our natures, turning bad dispositions into worser habits, and (like diseases) bringing on incurable vices; for every day as we grow weaker in age, we grow stronger in sin; and the number of our days doth but make our sins innumerable. The same vice committed at sixteen, is not the same, though it agrees in all other circumstances, as at forty, but swells and doubles from that circumstance of our ages, wherein, besides the constant and inexcusable habit of transgressing, the maturity of our judgment cuts off pretence unto excuse or pardon; every sin the oftener it is committed, the more it acquireth in the quality of evil; as it succeeds in time, so it proceeds in degrees of badness; for as they proceed they ever multiply, and, like figures in arithmetic, the last stands for more than all that went before it. And though I think no man can live well once, but he that could live twice, yet for my own part I would not live over my hours past, or begin again the thread of my days: not upon Cicero's ground, because I have lived them well, but for fear I should live them worse. I find my growing judgment daily instruct me how to be better, but my untamed affections and confirmed vitiosity makes me daily do worse.
I find in my confirmed age the same sins I discovered in my youth ; I committed many then because I was a child, and because I commit them still, I am yet an infant. Therefore I perceive a man may be twice a child before the days of dotage, and stand in need of Æson's bath before threescore.
And truly there goes a great deal of providence to produce a man's life unto threescore; there is more required than an able temper for those years; though the radical humour contain in it sufficient oil for seventy, yet I perceive in some it gives no light past thirty : men assign not all the causes of long life, that write whole books thereof.(98) They
(98) Perhaps not; yet in Lord Bacon's “ History of Life and Death,” the reader will find a tolerably long list of causes, together with numerous examples of men who have attained to a very great old age. An instance has just occurred in Scotland, where a poor man, by name John Gordon, died in the beginning of this winter at the age of one hundred and thirty-two, having, up to the last year of his life, been able to work in the garden, while his sons and grandson, who dwelt with him, had been reduced to stocking-knitting, and other in-door occupations. In England itself we have had extraordinary instances of longevity ; Henry Jenkins, a Welshman lived to the age of one hundred and sixty-nine; and it is clear to me that old Parr, who died at the age of one hundred and fifty-two, would have lived much longer, had he not been brought to London, and induced to change his manner of life. See the account of his circumstances and death in Harvey's works. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, a May game, or Morris-dance, was performed, at some village in Herefordshire, by eight men, whose united ages amounted to eight hundred years, though among them some were more than a hundred and others less. Northern countries have generally been supposed most favourable to long life, though among the Yoghis of Hindustan many attain an age that found themselves on the radical balsam, or vital sulphur of the parts, determine not why Abel lived not so long as Adam. There is therefore a secret glome or bottom of our days; it was His wisdom to determine them, but his perpetual and waking providence that fulfils and accomplishes them; wherein the spirits, ourselves, and all the creatures of God in a secret and disputed way do execute his will. Let them not therefore complain of immaturity that die about thirty: they fall but like the whole world, whose solid and wellcomposed substance must not expect the duration and period of its constitution : when all things are completed in it, its age is accomplished; and the last and general fever may as naturally destroy it before six thousand, as me before forty. There is therefore some other hand that twines the thread of life than that of nature: we are not only ignorant in antipathies and occult qualities; our ends are as obscure as our beginnings; the line of our days not exceeded by any Hyperborean whatever. Instances have there been said to occur of men two hundred years old. Aristotle, to whom similar facts were probably known, concluded accordingly, that southern countries enjoyed in this respect the advantage ; and the example of the Ethiopians has been adduced by other writers. Upon the whole, however, the greater number of testimonies are in favour of the north. This was the opinion of Hippocrates (De Aëre et Locis, &c. . 19.); and his able and learned commentator, Coray, brings forward numerous facts in support of the Coan's views. (tom. II. p. 56. ff.) Buffon speaks of a Swede who lived to be one hundred and sixtyone ; (Hist. Nat. III. 443.) and Peter Czartin, the Hungarian, towards the close of the eighteenth century, reached the truly patriarchal age of one hundred and eighty-five. (Com. de Reb. in Scient. Nat. et Med. Gestis. V. 147.)-ED.
is drawn by night, and the various effects therein by a pencil that is invisible; wherein, though we confess our ignorance, I am sure we do not err if we say it is the hand of God.
I am much taken with two verses of Lucan, since I have been able, not only as we do at school, to construe, but understand.
Victurosque Dei celant ut vivere durent,
There be many excellent strains in that poet, wherewith his stoical genius hath liberally supplied him : and truly there are singular pieces in the philosophy of Zeno, and doctrine of the stoics, which I perceive, delivered in a pulpit, pass for current divinity.(99) Yet herein are they in extremes, that can allow a man to be his own assassin, and so highly extol the end and suicide of Cato : this is indeed not to fear death, but yet to afraid of life. It is a brave act of valour to contemn death; but where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valour to dare to live; and herein religion hath taught us a noble example. For all the valiant acts of Curtius, Scævola, or Codrus, do not parallel or match that one of Job; and sure there is no torture to the rack of a disease, nor any poni
(99) And why not? Truth is not the less true, for having been taught by Zeno.-ED.
ards in death itself, like those in the way or prologue to it. Emori nolo, sed me esse mortuum nihil curo; I would not die, but care not to be dead. Were I of Cæsar's religion, I should be of his desires, and wish rather to go off at one blow, than to be sawed in pieces by the grating torture of a dis
Men that look no further than their outsides, think health an appurtenance unto life, and quarrel with their constitutions for being sick; but I that have examined the parts of man, and know upon what tender filaments that fabric hangs, do wonder that we are not always so; and considering the thousand doors that lead to death, do thank my God that we can die but once. (100) It is not only the mischief of diseases, and villany of poisons, that make an end of us : we vainly accuse the fury of guns, and the new inventions of death; it is in the power
every hand to destroy us, and we are beholden unto every one we meet he doth not kill
There is, therefore, but one comfort left, that though it be in the power of the weakest arm to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death : God would not exempt himself from that, the misery of immortality in the flesh; he undertook not that was immortal. Certainly there is no happiness within this circle of flesh, nor is it in the optics of these eyes to behold felicity; the first day of our jubilee is death; the devil hath
(100) So evidently did the Psalmist, when, in the verse already quoted, he exclaimed, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” -ED.