« PredošláPokračovať »
stands open, which to many other parts is barred on the outside with ignorance or misbelief.
And, shall our wantonness contemn all this bounty of God; and carry us to seek that, which we shall find no where but behind us, but within us ? Shall the affection of some frivolous toys draw us away from the fruition of those solid comforts, which are offered us within our own doors?
How many of ours, whom their just offence hath cast out of the bosom of their country, compare their exile with death ; and can scarce abide to bid that breath welcome, which they are forced to draw in a foreign air; and, though freedom of conscience entertain them never so liberally abroad, yet resolve either to live or die at home! And do we suffer our folly to banish us from those contentments, which they are glad to redeem with the hazard of their blood ?
Are we so little in our own books, that we can be content to purchase outlandish superfluities, with the miscarriage of our souls, with the danger of miscarriage, with the likelihood of danger? Are we so foolish, that, while we may sweetly enjoy the settled estate of our primogeniture, we will needs bring upon ourselves the curse of Ruben, to run abroad like water; whose quality it is, not easily to be kept within the proper bounds ? yea, the curse of Cain, to put ourselves from the side of Eden, into the land of Nod, that is, of demigration ? None
of the least imprecations, which David makes against God's enemies, is, Make them like unto a wheel, O Lord. Motion is ever accompanied with unquietness, and both argues and causes imperfection: whereas the happy estate of heaven is described by rest; whose glorious spheres, in the mean time, do so perpetually move, that they are never removed from their places.
It is not the least part either of wisdom or happiness, to know when we are well. Shall we not be shamelessly unthankful, if we cannot sing the note of that great Chorister of God, My lot is fallen to me in a good ground? Hath not the munificence of God made this island as it were an abridgment of his whole earth ; in which he hath contrived, though in a less letter, all the main and material commodities of the greater world, and do we make a prison, where God meant a paradise ?
Enjoy, therefore, happy Countrymen, enjoy freely God and yourselves. Enrich yourselves with your own mines. Improve those blessed opportunities, which God hath given you, to your mutual advantage; and care not to be like any, but yourselves.
AND if at any time, these unworthy papers may fall betwixt the hands of my SOVEREIGN MASTER, or any of his grave and honourable MINISTERS OF STATE, let the meanness of so weak and obscure soli. citors presume to commend this matter to their deepest consideration; and, out of an honest zeal of the common safety, sue to them for a more strict restraint of that dangerous liberty, whereof too many are bold to carve to themselves.
Who can be ignorant of those wise and wholesome laws, which are enacted already to this purpose? or of those careful and just cautions, wherewith the licences of travel are ever limited ? But what are we the better for God's own laws, without execution ? Or what are limits unto the lawless ? Good laws are the hedges of the commonwealth : just dispensations are as gates or stiles in the hedge. If every straggler may, at pleasure, cast open a gap in this fence of the State, what are we the better for this quickset, than if we lay open to the common?
Who sees not how familiarly our young recusants, immediately upon their disclosing, are sent over for their full hatching and making? Italy, Spain, Artois, and now of late France itself provides nests, and perches, and mews for these birds, with the same confidence, wherewith we breed our own at home; which when they are once well acquainted with the Roman lure, are sent back again fit for the prey;
And, as for those of our own feather, whereas the liberty of their travel is bounded chiefly with this double charge: one, that they have no conversation or conference with Jesuits, or other dangerous persons; the other, that they pass not into the dominions of the King's enemies: both these are so commonly neglected, as if they were intended only for a verbal formality; yea, as if the prohibition meant to teach men, what they should do. Every of our novices hath learned to make no difference of men; and dare breathe in the poisonous air of Italy itself, and touch the very pommel of the chair of pestilence.
It is this licentious freedom, which we mis-call Open-Hearted Ingenuity, that undoes us. Do we not see the wary closeness of our adversaries, which will not so much as abide one of our book. (a mute solicitor) to harbour in any of their coasts? How many of the Italian or Spanish Nobles have we known allowed to venture their education in our Courts or Universities? Do they lie thus at the lock, and do we open our breast, and display our arms, and bid an enemy strike where he list?
Since then we have no more wit or care, than to be willingly guilty of our own shame, oh that the hands of Supreme Authority would be pleased to lock us within our own doors, and to keep the keys at their own girdle!
And, to speak truth, to what purpose are those strait and capital inhibitions of the return of our factious fugitives into this kingdom, if, while the wicket is shut upon them, that they should not come to us, the postern be open to us, that we may go to them?
As all intercourse is perilous, so that is most, which is by our own provocation. Here yet they dare but lurk in secret, and take only some sudden snatches at a weak prey; like unto evening wolves, that never walk forth but under the cloak of the night: but, in their own territories, they can shew the sun their spoils, and think this act worthy of garlands and trophies. Here, we have mastiffs to secure our flocks : there, the prey goes straggling alone to the mouth of their dens, without protection, without assistance, and offers to be devoured.
Ye, whom the choice of God hath made the great shepherds of his people, whose charge it is to feed them by government, suffer not their simplicity to betray their lives unto the fangs of these cruel beasts : but chase them home rather, from the wilful search of their own perdition; and shut them up together in your strong and spacious folds, that they may be at once safe, and ye glorious !
LASTLY, for those, whom necessary occasions draw forth of their own coasts, that we may have done with those which like foolish Papists go on pilgrimage to see another block better dressed than that at home, let me say to them, as Simeon that prophetical monk said to the pillars which he whipped before the earthquake, “ Stand fast, for ye shall be shaken.” And, therefore, as the crane, when she is to fly against a high wind, doth balance herself with stones in her bill, that she may cut the air with more steadiness; so let them carefully fore-instruct and poise themselves with the sour:d knowledge of the principles of religion, that they may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine. Whereto if they add but those lessons, which they are taught by the State in their letters of passage, there may be hope they shall bring back the same souls they carried. It was at least an inclination to a fall, that Eve took bold. ness to hold chat with the Serpent.
And, as subtle lawyers desire no more advantage in the quarrel, which they would pick at conveyances, than many words; so neither do our adversaries. While our ears are open and our tongues free, they will hope well of our very denials. Error is crafty; and, out of the power of his rhetorical insinuations, ofttimes carries away probability from truth. I remember in that famous embassy of the three philosophers, which Athens sent to Rome, Critolaus, Diogenes, and Carneades, there falling out many occasions of discourse, wise Cato persuaded the Senate to a speedy dismission of those, otherwise welcome guests: “Because," said he, “while Carneades disputes, scarce any man can discern which is the truth.” There is more danger of these spiritual sophisters, by how much the business is more important, and their subtlety greater. Let our passenger, therefore, as that wise Grecian served his fellows, stop up his ears with wax against these Syrens.
Our Saviour would not give Satan audience, even while he spake
true; because he knew that truth was but to countenance error. There is ever true corn strewed under a pitfall: those ears are full and weighty, which we dress with lime to deceive the poor birds in a snow: no fisher lets down an empty hook, but cloathed with a proper and pleasing bait. These impostors have no other errand but deceit. If he love himself, let him be afraid of their favours; and think their frowns safer than their smiles.
And if, at any time, as no fly is more importunate, they thrust themselves into his conversation, let him, as those which must necessarily pass by a carrion in the wav, hold his breath, and hasten to be out of their air. And, if they yet follow him in his fight, let him turn back to them with the angel's farewell, Increpet te Dominus.