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die, though he were neither valiant nor miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft over and over. It is no less worthy to observe, how. little alteration in good spirits the approaches of death make; for they appear to be the same men till the last instant. Augustus Cæsar died in a compliment; Livia, conjugii nostri memor, vive et vale [Farewell, Livia; and forget not the days of our marriage]. Tiberius in dissimulation; as Tacitus saith of him, Jam Tiberium vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant [His powers of body were gone, but his power of dissimulation still remained]. Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool; Ut puto deus fio [As I think, I am becoming a god]. Galba with a sentence; Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani [Strike, if it be for the good of Rome]; holding forth his neck. Septimius Severus 10 in despatch; Adeste si quid mihi restat agendum [Be at hand, if there is anything more for me to do]. And the like. Certainly the Stoics" bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations made it appear more fearful. Better saith he,12 qui finem vitæ extremum inter munera ponat naturæ [who accounts the close of life as one of the benefits of nature]. It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolors of death. But, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is, Nunc dimittis 13 [Now lettest thou . . . depart]; when a man hath obtained worthy ends and expectations. Death hath this also; that it openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy. Extinctus amabitur idem 14 [The
same man that was envied while he lived, shall be loved when he is gone].
OF UNITY IN RELIGION
RELIGION being the chief band of human society, it is a happy thing when itself is well contained within the true band of unity. The quarrels and divisions about religion were evils unknown to the heathen. The reason was because the religion of the heathen consisted rather in rites and ceremonies than in any constant belief. For you may imagine what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief doctors and fathers of their church were the poets.1 But the true God hath this attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore his worship and religion will endure no mixture nor partner. We shall therefore speak a few words concerning the unity of the church; what are the fruits thereof; what the bounds; and what the means.
The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing of God, which is all in all) are two: the one towards those that are without the church, the other towards those that are within. For the former; it is certain that heresies and schisms are of all others the greatest scandals; yea, more than corruption of manners. For as in the natural body a wound or solution of continuity is worse than a corrupt humor; so in the spiritual. So that nothing doth so much keep men out of the church, and drive men out of the church, as breach of unity. And therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that one saith Ecce in deserto3 [Lo! in the desert], another saith Ecce in penetralibus [Lo! in the sanctuary]; that is, when some men seek Christ in the con
venticles of heretics, and others in an outward face of a church, that voice had need continually to sound in men's ears, Nolite exire, Go not out. The doctor of the Gentiles (the propriety of whose vocation drew him to have a special care of those without) saith, If an heathen come in, and hear you speak with several tongues, will he not say that you are mad? And certainly it is little better, when atheists and profane persons do hear of so many discordant and contrary opinions in religion; it doth avert them from the church, and maketh them to sit down 5 in the chair of the scorners. It is but a light thing to be vouched in so serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the deformity. There is a master of scoffing, that in his catalogue of books of a feigned library sets down this title of a book, The Morris-Dance of Heretics. For indeed every sect of them hath a diverse posture or cringe by themselves, which cannot but move derision in worldlings and depraved politics,' who are apt to contemn holy things.
As for the fruit towards those that are within; it is peace; which containeth infinite blessings. It establisheth faith; it kindleth charity; the outward peace of the church distilleth into peace of conscience; and it turneth the labors of writing and reading of controversies into treaties of mortification and devotion.
Concerning the bounds of unity; the true placing of them importeth exceedingly. There appear to be two extremes. For to certain zealants all speech of pacification is odious. Is it peace,10 Jehu? What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. Peace is not the matter, but following and party. Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans 11 and lukewarm persons think they may accommodate points of religion by middle ways,
and taking part of both, and witty reconcilements; as if they would make an arbitrament between God and man. Both these extremes are to be avoided; which will be done, if the league of Christians penned by our Savior himself were in the two cross clauses 12 thereof soundly and plainly expounded: He that is not with us is against us; and again, He that is not against us is with us; that is, if the points fundamental and of substance in religion were truly discerned and distinguished from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good intention. This is a thing may seem to many a matter trivial, and done already. But if it were done less partially, it would be embraced more generally.
Of this I may give only this advice, according to my small model. Men ought to take heed of rending God's church by two kinds of controversies. The one is, when the matter of the point controverted is too small and light, not worth the heat and strife about it, kindled only by contradiction. For as it is noted by one of the fathers, 13 Christ's coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture was of divers colors; whereupon he saith, In veste varietas sit, scissura non sit [Let there be variety in the garment, but let there be no division]; they be two things, unity and uniformity. The other is, when the matter of the point controverted is great, but it is driven to an over-great subtilty and obscurity; so that it becometh a thing rather ingenious than substantial. A man that is of judgment and understanding shall sometimes hear ignorant men differ, and know. well within himself that those which so differ mean one thing, and yet they themselves would never agree. And if it come so to pass in that distance of judgment which is between man and man, shall we not think 14
that God above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that frail men in some of their contradictions intend the same thing; and accepteth of both? The nature of such controversies is excellently expressed by St. Paul in the warning and precept that he giveth concerning the same, Devita 15 profanas vocum novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiæ [Avoid profane novelties of terms, and oppositions of science falsely so called]. Men create oppositions which are not; and put them into new terms so fixed, as whereas the meaning ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the meaning. 16 There be also two false peaces or unities: the one, when the peace is grounded but upon an implicit 17 ignorance; for all colors will agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up upon a direct admission of contraries in fundamental points. For truth and falsehood, in such things, are like the iron and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image; 18 they may cleave, but they will not incorporate.
Concerning the means of procuring unity; men must beware, that in the procuring or muniting of religious unity they do not dissolve and deface the laws of charity and of human society. There be two swords 19 amongst Christians, the spiritual and temporal; and both have their due office and place in the maintenance of religion. But we may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion by wars or by sanguinary persecutions to force consciences; except it be in cases of overt scandal, blasphemy, or intermixture of practice against the state; much less to nourish seditions; to authorize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword into the people's hands; and the like; tending to the