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THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ARRAS
LOOKED upon the wrong or back side of a piece of arras; it | seemed to me as a continued nonsense, there was neither
head nor foot therein; confusion itself had as much method in it: a company of thrums and threads, with many pieces and patches of several sorts, sizes, and colors, all which signified nothing to my understanding.
But then looking on the reverse or right side thereof, all put together did spell excellent proportions and figures of men and cities. So that, indeed, it was a history, not wrote with a pen, but wrought with a needle.
If men look upon our late times with a mere eye of reason, they will hardly find any sense therein, such their huddle and disorder. But, alas! the wrong side is objected to our eyes, whilst the right side is presented to the high God of Heaven, who knoweth that an admirable order doth result out of this confusion, and what is presented to him at present may hereafter be so showed to us as to convince our judgments in the truth thereof. Number XLIII. complete. Second Series of «Mixed Contemplations on These
CHARITY, CHARITY IN My father's time, there was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cam. I bridge, a native of Carlton, in Leicestershire, where the peo
ple (through some occult cause) are troubled with a wharling in their throats, so that they cannot plainly pronounce the letter R. This scholar, being conscious of his infirmity, made a Latin oration of the usual expected length, without an R therein; and yet did he not only select words fit for his mouth, easy for pronunciation, but also as pure and expressive for signification, to show that men might speak without being beholden to the dog's letter.
Our English pulpits, for these last eighteen years, have had in them too much caninal anger, vented by snapping and snarling spirits on both sides. But if you bite and devour one another (saith the Apostle, Gal. v. 15), take heed ye be not devoured one of another.
other (saith the oth sides. But if you bite Snapping and snarl
Think not that our sermons must be silent if not satirical, as if divinity did not afford smooth subjects enough to be seasonably insisted on in this juncture of time; let us try our skill whether we cannot preach without any dog letter or biting word: the art is half learned by intending, and wholly by serious endeavoring it.
I am sure that such soft sermons will be more easy for the tongue of the preacher in pronouncing them, less grating to the ears of pious people that hear them, and more edifying to the heart of both speaker and hearers of them.
Number XX. complete. «Mixed Contemplations
on These Times.)
THE HARVEST OF A LARGE HEART
LEXANDER THE GREAT when a child was checked by his gov. A ernor Leonidas for being overprofuse in spending per
fumes: because on a day, being to sacrifice to the gods, he took both his hands full of frankincense, and cast it into the fire; but afterwards, being a man, he conquered the country of Judæa (the fountain whence such spices did flow), and sent Leonidas a present of five hundred talents weight of frankincense, to show him how his former prodigality made him thrive the better in success, and to advise him to be no more niggardly in Divine service. Thus they that sow plentifully shall reap plentifully. I see there is no such way to have a large harvest as to have a large heart. The free giving of the branches of our present estate to God is the readiest means to have the root increased for the future. Number XIX. complete. Historical applications in “Good Thoughts in Bad
«UPWARDS, UPWARDS » I row large houses do they build in London on little ground! U Revenging themselves on the narrowness of their room with
store of stories. Excellent arithmetic! from the root of one floor to multiply so many chambers. And though painful the climbing up, pleasant the staying there, the higher the healthfuller, with clearer light and sweeter air.
Small are my means on earth. May I mount my soul the higher in heavenly meditations, relying on Divine Providence; he that fed many thousands with five loaves may feed me and mine with the fifth part of that one loaf, that once all mine. Higher, my soul! higher! In bodily buildings, commonly the garrets are most empty, but my mind, the higher mounted, will be the better furnished. Let perseverance to death be my uppermost chamber, the roof of which grace is the pavement of glory. Number II. complete. Occasional Meditations in Good Thoughts in Worse
«BEWARE, WANTON WIT » SAW an indenture too fairly engrossed; for the writer (better I scrivener than clerk) had so filled it with flourishes that it hin
dered my reading thereof; the wantonness of his pen made a new alphabet, and I was subject to mistake his dashes for real letters.
What damage hath unwary rhetoric done to religion! Many an innocent reader hath taken Damascene and Theophilact at their word, counting their eloquent hyperboles of Christ's presence in the sacrament, the exact standards of their judgment, whence after ages brought in transubstantiation. Yea, from the Father's elegant apostrophes to the dead (lively pictures by hasty eyes may be taken for living persons), prayers to saints took their original. I see that truth's secretary must use a set hand in writing important points of divinity. Ill dancing for nimble wits on the precipices of dangerous doctrines. For though they escape by their agility, others (encouraged by their examples) may be brought to destruction. Number III. complete. Occasional Meditations in «Good Thoughts in Worse
ILL DONE, UNDONE
| saw one, whether out of haste or want of skill, put up his sword
the wrong way; it cut even when it was sheathed, the edge
being transposed where the back should have been; so that, perceiving his error, he was fain to draw it out, that he might put it up again.
Wearied and wasted with civil war, we that formerly loathed the manna of peace, because common, could now be content to feed on it, though full of worms and putrefied: some so desirous thereof that they care not on what terms the war be ended, so it be ended; but such a peace would be but a truce, and the conditions thereof would no longer be in force than whilst they are in force. Let us pray that the sword be sheathed the right way, with God's glory; and without the dangerous dislocation of prince and people's right: otherwise it may justly be suspected that the sword put up will be drawn out again, and the articles of an ill agreement, though engrossed in parchment, not take effect so long as paper would continue. Number IV. complete. Occasional Meditations in «Good Thoughts in Worse
MUSIC AND MUSICIANS usic is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and M tune. Such the extensiveness thereof, that it stoopeth as
low as brute beasts, yet mounteth as high as angels; for horses will do more for a whistle than for a whip, and by hearing their bells jingle away their weariness. The angels in heaven employ themselves in music, and one ingeniously expresseth it to this effect:
«We know no more what they do do above,
Save only that they sing and that they love." And although we know not the notes of their music, we know what their ditty is, namely, Hallelujah.
Such as cavil at music, because Jubal, a descendant from wicked Cain, was the first founder thereof, may as well be content to lie out of doors, and refuse all cover to shelter them, because Jabal, of the same extraction, being his own brother, first invented to dwell in tents.
I confess there is a company of pretenders to music, who are commonly called crowders, and that justly too, because they crowd into the company of gentlemen both unsent for, and unwelcome; but these are no more a disgrace to the true professors of that faculty than monkeys are a disparagement to mankind.
Now right ancient is the use of music in England, especially if it be true what I read in a worthy Father; and I know not which more to admire, either that so memorable a passage should escape Master Camden's, or that it should fall under my observation:
« They say, even those which compose histories, that in the island of Brittany there is a certain cave, lying under a mountain, in the top thereof gaping. The wind therefore falling into the cave, and dashing into the bosom of a hollow place, there is heard a tinkling of cymbals, beating in tune and time.”
Where this musical place should be in Britain, I could never find, yet have been informed that Dr. Miles Smith, bishop of Hereford, found something tending that way, by the help of an active fancy, in Herefordshire. But, waiving this natural, the antiquity of artificial music in this island is proved by the practice of the bards, thereby communicating religion, learning, and civil. ity, to the Britons.
Right glad I am, that when music was lately shut out of our churches, on what default of hers I dare not to inquire, it hath since been harbored and welcomed in the halls, parlors, and chambers of the primest persons of this nation. Sure I am, it could not enter into my head to surmise that music would have been so much discouraged by such who turned our kingdom into a commonwealth, seeing they prided themselves in the arms thereof, an impaled harp being moiety of the same. When it was asked, “What made a good musician ?» one answered, a good voice; another, that it was skill. But he said the truth who said it was encouragement. It was therefore my constant wish, that, seeing most of our musicians were men of maturity, and arrived at their full age and skill, before these distracted times began, and seeing what the historian wrote in another sense is true here in our acceptation and application thereof, Res est unius seculi populus virorum; I say, I did constantly wish that there might have been some seminary of youth set up, to be bred in the faculty of music, to supply succession when this set of masters in that science had served their generation.
Yet although I missed of what I did then desire, yet, thanks be to God, I have lived to see music come into request, since our nation came into right tune, and begin to flourish in our churches and elsewhere; so that now no fear but we shall have a new generation skillful in that science, to succeed such whose age shall call upon them to pay their debt to nature.