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read that the elected saints of God have wished themselves anathematized and razed out of the book of life, in an ecstacy of charity, and infinite feeling of communion.
This being set down and strongly planted, doth judge and determine most of the controversies wherein moral philosophy is conversant. For first, it decideth the question touching the preferment of the contemplative or active life, and decideth it against Aristotle: for all the reasons which he bringeth for the contemplative, are private, and respecting the pleasure and dignity of a man's self, in which respects, no ques-, tion, the contemplative life hath the pre-eminence; not much unlike to that comparison, which Pythagoras made for the gracing and magnifying of philosophy and contemplation; who being asked what he was, answered, “That if Hiero were ever at the “Olympian games, he knew the manner, that some “ came to try their fortune for the prizes, and some
came as merchants to utter their commodities, and some came to make good cheer and meet their “ friends, and some came to look on, and that he
was one of them that came to look on.” But men must know, that in this theatre of man's life, it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on: neither could the like question ever have been received in the Church, notwithstanding their Pretiosa in oculis Domini mors sanctorum ejus; by which place they would exalt their civil death and regular professions, but upon this defence, that the monastical life is not simply contemplative, but performeth the duty either of incessant prayers and supplications, which hath been truly esteemed as an office in the Church, or else of writing or taking instructions for writing concerning the law of God; as Moses did when he abode so long in the mount. And so we see Enoch the seventh from Adam, who was the first contemplative, and walked with God; yet did also endow the Church with prophecy, which St. Jude citeth. But for contemplation which should be finished in
itself, without casting beams upon society, assuredly divinity knoweth it not.
It decideth also the controversies between Zeno and Socrates, and their schools and successions on the one side, who placed felicity in virtue simply or attended; the actions and exercises whereof do chiefly embrace and concern society; and on the other side, the Cyrenaics and Epicureans, who placed it in pleasure, and made virtue, as it is used in some comedies of errors, wherein the mistress and the maid change habits, to be but as a servant, without which pleasure cannot be served and attended : and the reformed school of the Epicureans, which placed it in serenity of mind and freedom from perturbation; as if they would have deposed Jupiter again, and restored Saturn and the first age, when there was no summer nor winter, spring nor autumn, but all after one air and season; and Herillus, which placed felicity in extinguishment of the disputes of the mind, making no fixed nature of good and evil, esteeming things according to the clearness of the desires, or the reluctation; which opinion was revived in the heresy of the Anabaptists, measuring things according to the motions of the spirit, and the constancy or wavering of belief: all which are manifest to tend to private repose and contentment, and not to point of society.
It censureth also the philosophy of Epictetus, which presupposeth that felicity must be placed in those things which are in our power, lest we be liable to fortune and disturbance; as if it were not a thing much more happy to fail in good and virtuous ends for the public, than to obtain all that we can wish to ourselves in our proper fortune; as Consalvo said to his soldiers, shewing them Naples, and protesting, “He had rather die one foot forwards, than to have “his life secured for long, by one foot of retreat. Whereunto the wisdom of that heavenly leader hath signed, who hath affirmed that a good conscience is a continual feast; shewing plainly, that the conscience of good intentions, howsoever succeeding, is a more continual joy to nature, than all the provision which can be made for security and repose.
It censureth likewise that abuse of philosophy, which grew general about the time of Epictetus, in converting it into an occupation or profession; as if the purpose had been not to resist and extinguish perturbations, but to fly and avoid the causes of them, and to shape a particular, kind and course of life to that end, introducing such a health of mind, as was that health of body, of which Aristotle speaketh of Herodicus, who did nothing all his life long but intend his health ; whereas if men refer themselves to duties of society; as that health of body is best, which is ablest to endure all alterations and extremities; so likewise that health of mind is most proper, which can go through the greatest temptations and perturbations. So as Diogenes's opinion is to be accepted, who commended not them which abstained, but them which sustained, and could refrain their mind in præcipitio, and could give unto the mind, as is used in horsemanship, the shortest stop or turn.
Lastly, it censureth the tenderness and want of application in some of the most ancient and reverend philosophers and philosophical men, that did retire too easily from civil business, for avoiding of indignities and perturbations; whereas the resolution of men truly moral, ought to be such as the same Consalvo said the honour of a soldier should be, e tela crassiore, and not so fine, as that every thing should catch in it and endanger it.
To resume private or particular good, it falleth into the division of good active and passive : for this difference of good, not unlike to that which amongst the Romans was expressed in the familiar or household terms of Promus and Condus, is formed also in all things, and is best disclosed in the two several
appetites in creatures; the one to preserve orcontinue themselves, and the other to dilate or multiply themselves; whereof the latter seemeth to be the worthier; for
in nature the heavens, which are the more worthy, are the agent; and the earth, which is the less worthy, is the patient : in the pleasures of living creatures, that of generation is greater than that of food; in divine doctrine, Beatius est dare, quam accipere : and in life there is no man's spirit so soft, but esteemeth the effecting of somewhat that he hath fixed in his desire, more than sensuality. Which priority of the active good is much upheld by the consideration of our estate to be mortal and exposed to fortune: for if we might have a perpetuity and certainty in our pleasures, the state of them would advance their price; but when we see it is but Magni æstimamus mori tardius, and Ne glorieris de crastino, nescis partum diei, it maketh us to desire to have somewhat secured and exempted from time, which are only our deeds and works; as it said, Opera eorum sequuntur eos. The pre-eminence likewise of this activegood is upheld by the affection which is natural in man towards variety and proceeding, which in the pleasures of the sense, which is the principal part of passive good, can have no great latitude. Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris ; cibus, somnus, ludus per hunc circulum curritur; mori velle non tantum fortis, aut miser, aut prudens, sed etiam fastidiosus potest. But in enterprises, pursuits, and purposes of life, there is much variety, whereof men are sensible with pleasure in their inceptions, progressions, recoils, re-integrations, approaches and attainings to their ends. So as it was well said, Vita sine proposito languida et vaga est. Neither hath this active good any identity with the yood of society, though in some case it hath an incidence into it: for although it do many times bring forth acts of beneficence, yet it is with a respect private to a man's own power, glory, amplification, continuance; as appeareth plainly, when it findeth a contrary subject. For that gigantine state of mind which possesseth the troublers of the world, such as was Lucius Sylla, and infinite other in smaller model, who would have all men happy or unhappy as they were their friends or enemies, and would give form to the world according to their own humours, which is the true theomachy, pretendeth and aspireth to active good, though it recedeth farthest from good of society, which we have determined to be the greater.
To resume passive good, it receiveth a subdivision of conservative and perfective. For let us take a brief review of that which we have said ; we have spoken first of the good of society, the intention whereof embraceth the form of human nature, whereof we are members and portions, and not our own proper and individual form; we have spoken of active good, and supposed it as a part of private and particular good. And rightly, for there is impressed upon all things a triple desire or appetite proceeding from love to themselves; one of preserving and continuing their form; another of advancing and perfecting their form ; and a third of multiplying and extending their form upon other things; whereof the multiplying or signature of it upon other things, is that which we handled by the name of active good. So as there remaineth the conserving of it, and perfecting or raising of it; which latter is the highest degree of passive good. For to preserve in state is the less, to preserve with advancement is the greater. So in man,
Igneus est ollis vigor, et coelestis origo. His approach or assumption to divine or angelical nature is the perfection of his form ; the error or false imitation of which good, is that which is the tempest of human life, while man, upon the instinct of an advancement formal and essential, is carried to seek an advancement local. For as those which are sick, and find no remedy, do tumble up and down and change place, as if by a remove local they could obtain a remove internal: so is it with men in ambition, when failing of the means to exalt their nature, they are in a perpetual estuation to exalt their place. So then passive good is, as was said, either conservative or perfective.
To resume the good of conservation or comfort, which consisteth in the fruition of that which is agreeable to our natures; it seemeth to be the most pure