« AnteriorContinuar »
authorize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword into the people's hands, and the like, tending to the subversion of all government, which is the ordinance of God: for this is but to dash the first table against the second ; and so to consider men as Christians, as we forget that they are men. Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Agamemnon, that could endure the sacrificing of his own daughter, exclaimed,
“ Tantum relligio potuit suadere malorum."
What would he have said if he had known of the massacre in France, or the powder treason of England? He would have been seven times more epicure and atheist than he was: for as the temporal sword is to be drawn with great circumspection in cases of religion, so it is a thing monstrous to put it into the hands of the common people ; let that be left unto the anabaptists, and other furies. · It was great blasphemy when the devil said, “I will as“cend and be like the Highest ;” but it is greater blasphemy to personate God, and bring him in saying, “ I will descend, and be like the “ prince of darkness :" and what is it better
to make the cause of religion to descend to the cruel and execrable actions of murdering princes, butchery of people, and subversion of states and governments ? Surely this is to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in the shape of a vulture or raven ; and to set out of the bark of a Christian church a flag of a bark of pirates and assassins: therefore it is most necessary, that the church by doctrine and decree; princes by their sword; and all learnings, both christian and moral, as by their mercury rod to damn, and send to hell for ever those facts and opinions tending to the support of the same, as hath been already in good part done. Surely in councils concerning religion, that counsel of the Apostle would be prefixed, “ Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei :" and it was a notable observation of a wise father, and no less ingenuously confessed, that those, which held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interested therein themselves for their own ends.
Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out; for as for the first
it doth but offend the law, but the revenge
of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly in taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon : and Solomon, I am sure, saith, “ It is the
glory of a man to pass by an offence.” That which is past is gone and irrecoverable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that labour in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's sake, but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like; therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those
wrongs which there is no law to remedy: but, then, let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish, else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and it is two for
Some when they take revenge are desirous the party should know when it cometh: this is the more generous; for the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent: but base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that fieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable. “You shall read," saith he, “ that we are “ commanded to forgive our enemies, but you
never read that we are commanded to forgive “ our friends.” But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: “Shall we,” saith he, " take good “ at God's hands, and not be content to take “ evil also?" and so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Cæsar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the third of France; and
many more. But in private revenges it is not so; nay, rather vindicative persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.
It was an high speech of Seneca, (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired : “ Bona rerum secundarum “ optabilia, adversarum mirabilia.” Certainly if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his than the other, (much too high for a heathen), “ It is true greatness to have in “ one the frailty of a man, and the security of “ a God:” “Vere magnum habere fragilitatem o hominis, securitatem Dei,” This would have done better in poesy, where transcendencies are more allowed; and the poets, indeed, have been busy with it: for it is in effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be with