« PreviousContinue »
occasions permitted ; and, at last, in a retirement where an attendance on my
gave me leisure, it was brought into that order thou seest it.
DUTY OF PRESERVING HEALTH. If by gaining knowledge we destroy our health, we labor for a thing that will be useless in our hands; and if, by harassing our bodies, though with a design to render ourselves more useful, we deprive ourselves of the abilities and opportunities of doing that good we might have done with a meaner talent, which God thought sufficient for us, by having denied us the strength to improve it to that pitch which men of stronger constitutions can attain to, we rob God of so much service, and our neighbors of all that help, which, in a state of health, with moderate knowledge, we might have been able to perform. He that sinks his vessel by over-loading it, though it be with gold, and silver, and precious stones, will give his owner but an ill account of
OPPOSITION TO NEW DOCTRINES. The imputation of novelty is a terrible charge amongst those who judge of men's heads, as they do of their perukes, by the fashion, and can allow none to be right but the received doctrines. Truth scarce ever yet carried it by vote anywhere, at its first appearance; new opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common. But truth, like gold, is not the less so for being newly brought out of the mine. It is trial and examination must give it price, and not any antique fashion; and though it be not yet current by the public stamp, yet it may, for all than, be as old as nature, and is certainly not the less genuine.
EDWARD STILLINGFLEET. 16 35-1699. Stillingfileet was distinguished for his writings in defence of the doctrines of the church. He engaged in a controversy with Locke upon the resurrection of the body and the soul's iinmateriality, in which the latter had greatly the advantage, and the mortification Stillingfleet felt at the result is thought to have hastened his death. His sermons are esteemed for their sound sense, and the knowledge of human nature they evince.
(E.ctract from a Sermon.) IMMODERATE SELF-LOVE.
THERE is a love of ourselves which is founded in nature and reason, and is made the measure of our love to our neighbor : for we are to love our neighbors as ourselves; and if there were no due love of ourselves, there could be none of our neighbor. But this love of ourselves, which is so consistent with the love of our neighbor, can be no enemy to our peace ; for none can live more quietly and peacefully than those who love their neighbors as themselves. But there is a self-love which the Scripture condemns, because it makes men peevish and froward, uneasy to themselves and to their neighbors, filling them with jealousies, and suspicions of others with respect to themselves, making them apt to mistrust the intentions and designs of others towards them, and so producing ill-will towards them; and when that hath once got into men's hearts, there can be no long peace with those they bear a secret grudge and ill-will to. The bottom of all is, they have a wonderful value of themselves, and those opinions, and notions, and parties, and factions, they happen to be engaged in ; and these they make the measure of their esteem and love of others. As far as they comply and suit with them, so far they love them; but no further. If we ask, cannot good men differ about some things, and yet be good still ? Yes. Cannot such love one another, notwithstanding such difference ? No doubt they ought. Whence comes it, then, that a small difference in opinion is so apt to make a breach in affection? In plain truth, it is, every - one would be thought to be infallible, if for shame they durst to pretend to it; and they have so good an opinion of themselves, that they cannot bear such as do not submit to them. From hence arise quarrellings and disputings, and ill language, not becoming men or Christians. But all this comes from their setting up themselves, and their own notions and practices, which they would make a rule to the rest of the world ; and if others
have the same opinions of themselves, it is impossible but there must be everlasting clashings and disputings, and from thence falling into different parties and factions; which can never be prevented till they come to more reasonable opinions of themselves, and are more charitable and kind towards others.
GILBERT BURNET. 1643-1715. Burnet was born at Edinburgh, and for some years was professor of divinity at Glasgow. He removed to London. In consequence of taking part against Charles II., he found it desirable to retire to Holland. He accompanied the expedition which placed William on the throne, and was rewarded with the bishopric of Salisbury. His History of the Reformation in England procured him the thanks of both houses of Parliament, and it is now considered the best existing account of the affairs of which it treats. He left in manuscript his famous History of My Own Times, in which he gives an account of the civil war, the Commonwealth, and the Restoration. In this, he gives his opinions concerning men of all ranks and parties with so much freedom, and exposes injustice and corruption, wherever found, so fully, that he considered it prudent, in his will, to order that the publication should be suspended six years. When it did appear, it called forth a great deal of ridicule and invective.
[From the “ History of My Own Times."]
CHARACTER OF CHARLES II. CHARLES II. was the greatest instance in history of the various revolutions of which any one man seemed capable. He was bred up, the first twelve years of his life, with the splendor that
, became the heir of so great a crown.
After that, he passed through eighteen years of great inequalities; unhappy in the war, in the loss of his father, and in the crown of England. Scotland did not only receive him, though upon terms hard of digestion, but made an attempt upon England for him, though a feeble one. He lost the battle of Worcester with too much indifference. And then he showed more care of his person
than became one who had so much at stake. He wandered about England for top weeks after that, hiding from place to place. But, under all the apprehensions he had then upon him, he showed a temper so careless, and so much turned to levity, that he was then diverting himself with little household sports, in as
unconcerned a manner as if he had made no loss, and had been in no danger at all. He got, at last, out of England. But he had been obliged to so many, who had been faithful to him, and careful of him, that he seemed afterwards to resolve to make an equal return to them all; and finding it not easy to reward them all as they deserved, he forgot them all alike.
He pursued all his diversions and irregular pleasures in a free career, and seemed to be as serene under the loss of a crown as the greatest philosopher could have been. That in which he seemed most concerned was, to find money for supporting his éxpense. He delivered himself up to a most enormous course of vice, without any sort of restraint, even from the considera- ' tion of the nearest relations. The most studied extravagances that way seemed, to the very last, to be much delighted in and pursued by him. He had the art of making all people grow fond of him at first, by a softness in his whole way of conversation, as he was certainly the best bred man of the age. But when it appeared how little could be built on his promise, they were cured of the fondness that he was apt to raise in them. When he saw young men of quality, who had something more than ordinary in them, he drew them about him, and set himself to corrupt them, both in religion and morality; in which he proved so unhappily successful, that he left England much changed, at his death, from what he had found it at his restoration. He loved to talk over all the stories of his life to every new man that came about him.
He went over them in a very graceful manner, but so often and so copiously, that all those who had been long accustomed to them grew weary of them; and when he entered on these stories, they usually withdrew.
His not showing any remorse for his ill-led life, or any tenderness, either for his subjects in general, or for the queen and his servants, and his recommending only his mistresses and their children to his brother's care, would have been a strange conclusion to another's life, but was well enough suited to all the other parts of his.
THE CZAR PETER IN ENGLAND, IN 1698. I MENTIONED, in the relation of the former year, the Czar's coming out of his own country, on which I will now enlarge. He came, this winter, over to England, and stayed some months among us. I waited often on him, and was ordered, both by the king and the archbishop and bishops, to attend upon him, and to offer him such informations of our religion and constitution as he was willing to receive. I had good interpreters, so I had much free discourse with him. He is a man of very hot temper, soon inflamed, and very brutal in his passion. He raises his natural heat by drinking great quantities of brandy, which he rectifies himself, with great application ; he is subject to convulsive motions all over his body, and his head seems to be affected by these. He wants not capacity, and has a larger measure of knowledge than might be expected from his education, which was very indifferent; a want of judgment, with an instability of temper, appear in him too often and too evidently; he is mechanically turned, and seems designed by nature rather to be a ship-carpenter than a great prince. This was his chief study and exercise while he stayed here; he wrought much with his own hands, and made all about him work at the models of ships. He told me he designed a great fleet at Azoph, and with it to attack the Turkish empire; but he did not seem capable of conducting so great a design, though his conduct in his wars since this has discovered a greater genius in him than appeared at that time. He was desirous to understand our doctrine, but he did not seem inclined to mend matters in Muscovy. He was, indeed, resolved to encourage learning, and to polish his people, by sending some of them to travel in other countries, and to draw strangers to come and live among them. He seemed apprehensive still of his sister's intrigues. There was a mixture both of passion and severity in his temper. He is resolute, but understands little of war, and seemed not at all inquisitive that way. After I had seen him often, and had conversed much with him, I could not but adore the depths of the providence of God, that had raised up such a furious man to so absolute an authority over so great a part of the world,