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the physician8; till we tell thee in our sickness we think ourselves whole, till we show our spots, thou appliest no medicine. But since I do that, shall I not, Lord, lift up my face without spot, and be steadfast, and not fear9? Even my spots belong to thy Son's body, and are part of that which he came down to this earth to fetch, and challenge, and assume to himself. When I open my spots, I do but present him with that which is his; and till I do so, I detain and withhold his right. When therefore thou seest them upon me, as his, and seest them by this way of confession, they shall not appear to me as the pinches of death, to decline my fear to hell (for thou hast not left thy holy one in hell, thy Son is not there); but these spots upon my breast, and upon my soul, shall appear to me as the constellations of the firmament, to direct my contemplation to that place where thy Son is, thy right hand.
O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who, as thou givest all for nothing, if we consider any precedent merit in us, so givest nothing for nothing, if we consider the acknowledgment and thankfulness which thou lookest for after, accept my humble thanks, both for thy mercy, and for this particular mercy, that in thy judgment I can discern thy mercy, and find comfort in thy corrections. I know, O Lord, the ordinary discomfort that accompanies that phrase, "that the house is visited," and that, "that thy marks and thy tokens are upon the patient;" but what a wretched and disconsolate hermitage is that house which is not visited by thee, and what a waif and stray is that man that hath not thy marks upon him! These heats, O Lord, which thou hast brought upon
B Matt. ix. 12. 8 Job, xi. 15.
this body, are but thy chafing of the wax, that thou mightst seal me to thee: these spots are but the letters in which thou hast written thine own name, and conveyed thyself to me; whether for a present possession, by taking me now, or for a future reversion, by glorifying thyself in my stay here, I limit not, I condition not, I choose not, I wish not, no more than the house or land that passeth by any civil conveyance. Only be thou ever present to me, O my God, and this bedchamber and thy bedchamber shall be all one room, and the closing of these bodily eyes here, and the opening of the eyes of my soul there, all one act.
XIV. Idque NOTANT CRITICIS MEDICI EVENISSE DIEBUS.
The Physicians observe these Accidents to have fallen upon the critical Days.
I WOULD not make man worse than he is, nor his condition more miserable than it is. But could I though I would? As a man cannot flatter God, nor overpraise him, so a man cannot injure man, nor undervalue him. Thus much must necessarily be presented to his remembrance, that those false happinesses which he hath in this world, have their times, and their seasons, and their critical days; and they are judged and denominated according to the times when they befall us. What poor elements are our happinesses made of, if time, time which we can scarce consider to be any thing, be an essential part of our happiness! All things are done in some place; but if we consider place to be no more but the next hollow superficies of the air, alas! how thin and fluid a thing is air, and how thin a film is a superficies, and a superficies of air! All things are done in time too, but if we consider time to be but the measure of motion, and howsoever it may seem to have three stations, past, present, and future, yet the first and last of these are not (one is not now, and the other is not yet), and that which you call present, is not now the same that it was when you began to call it so in this line (before you sound that word present, or that monosyllable now, the present and the now is past). If this imaginary, half-nothing time, be of the essence of our happinesses, how can they be thought durable? Time is not so; how can they be thought to be? Time is not so; not so considered in any of the parts thereof. If we consider eternity, into that time never entered; eternity is not an everlasting flux of time, but time is a short parenthesis in a long period; and eternity had been the same as it is, though time had never been. If we consider, not eternity, but perpetuity; not that which had no time to begin in, but which shall outlive time, and be when time shall be no more, what a minute is the life of the durablest creature compared to that! and what a minute is man's life in respect of the sun's, or of a tree! and yet how little of our life is occasion, opportunity to receive good in; and how little of that occasion do we apprehend and lay hold of! How busy and perplexed a cobweb is the happiness of man here, that must be made up with a watchfulness to lay hold upon occa-. sion, which is* but a little piece of that which is nothing, time! and yet the best things are nothing without that. Honours, pleasures, possessions, presented to us out of time, in our decrepit and distasted and unapprehensive age, lose their office, and lose their name; they are not honours to us that shall never appear, nor come abroad into the eyes of the people, to receive honour from them who give it; nor G
pleasures to us, who have lost our sense to taste them; nor possessions to us, who are departing from the possession of them. Youth is their critical day, that judges them, that denominates them, that inanimates and informs them, and makes them honours, and pleasures, and possessions; and when they come in an unapprehensive age, they come as a cordial when the bell rings out, as a pardon when the head is off. We rejoice in the comfort of fire, but does any man cleave to it at midsummer? We are glad of the freshness and coolness of a vault, but does any man keep his Christmas there; or are the pleasures of the spring acceptable in autumn? If happiness be in the season, or in the climate, how much happier then are birds than men, who can change the climate, and accompany and enjoy the same season ever!
MY God, my God, wouldst thou call thyself the ancient of days1, if we were not to call ourselves to an account for our days? Wouldst thou chide us for standing idle here all the day1, if we were sure to have more days to make up our harvest? When thou bidst us take no thought for to-morrow, for sufficient unto the day (to every day) is the evil thereof3, is this truly, absolutely, to put off all that concerns the present life? When thou reprehendest the Galatians by thy message to them, That they observed days, and months, and times, and years', when thou sendest by the same messenger to forbid the Colossians all critical days, indicatory days, Let no man judge you in respect of a holy day, or of a new moon, or of a sabbath^, dost thou take away all consideration, all distinction of days? Though thou
1 Dan. vii. 9. • Matt. xx. 6. 3 Matt. vi. 34.
* Gal. iv; 10. * Col. ii. 10.
remove them from being of the essence of our salvation, thou leavest them for assistance, and for the exaltation of our devotion, to fix ourselves, at certain periodical and stationary times, upon the consideration of those things which thou hast done for us, and the crisis, the trial, the judgment, how those things have wrought upon us, and disposed us to a spiritual recovery and convalescence. For there is to every man a day of salvation, Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation6, and there is a great day of thy wrath1, which no man shall be able to stand in; and there are evil days before, and therefore thou warnest us, and armest us, Take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day'. So far then our days must be critical to us, as that by consideration of them, we may make a judgment of our spiritual health, for that is the crisis of our bodily health. Thy beloved servant, St. John, wishes to Gaius, that he may prosper in his health, so as his soul prospers9; for if the soul be lean, the marrow of the body is but water; if the soul wither, the verdure and the good estate of the body is but an illusion, and the goodliest man a fearful ghost. Shall we, O my God, determine our thoughts, and shall we never determine our disputations upon our climacterical years, for particular men and periodical years, for the life of states and kingdoms, and never consider these in our long life, and our interest in the everlasting kingdom? We have exercised our curiosity in observing that Adam, the eldest of the eldest world, died in his climacterical year, and Shem, the eldest son of the next world, in his; Abraham, the father of the faithful, in his, and the blessed Virgin Mary, the garden where the root of faith grew, in hers. But
• 2 Cor. vi. 2. 7 Rev. vi. 17.
8 Eph. vi. 1. s 3 John, 2.