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One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum dæmonum [devils'-wine], because it filleth the imagination; and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt; such as we spake of before. But howsoever these things are thus in men's depraved judgments and affections, yet truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature. The first creature of God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his sabbath work ever since is the illumination of his Spirit. First he breathed light upon the face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light into the face of man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of his chosen. The poet that beautified the sect that was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors and wanderings and mists and tempests in the vale below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride. Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.
To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil business; it will be acknowledged even by those that practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honor of man's nature; and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it. For these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent; which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet. There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious. And therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he inquired the reason why the word of the lie should be such a dis6 Lucretius. 7 Epicureans.
grace and such an odious charge. Saith he, If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much to say, as that he is brave towards God and a coward towards men. For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man. Surely the wickedness of falsehood and breach of faith cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that it shall be the last peal to call the judgments of God upon the generations of men; it being foretold that when Christ cometh, he shall not find faith upon the earth.
MEN fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin and passage to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is weak. Yet in religious meditations there is sometimes mixture of vanity and of superstition. You shall read in some of the friars' books of mortification, that a man should think with himself what the pain is if he have but his finger's end pressed or tortured, and thereby imagine what the pains of death are, when the whole body is corrupted and dissolved; when many times death passeth with less pain than the torture of a limb; for the most vital parts are not the quickest of sense. And by him that spake1 only as a philosopher and natural man, it was well said, Pompa mortis magis terret, quam mors ipsa [It is the accompaniments of death that are frightful rather than death itself]. Groans and convulsions, and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and blacks, and obsequies, and the like, show death terrible. It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak, but it mates3 and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such terrible enemy when a man hath so many attendants about him that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear pre-occupateth* it; nay, we read, after Otho the emperor had slain himself, pity (which is 3 2 Mourning garments. Conquers. Anticipates. 5 In Plutarch's "Lives."
the tenderest of affections) provoked many to die, out of mere compassion to their sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers. Nay, Seneca adds niceness and satiety: Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris; mori velle, non tantum fortis aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest [Think how long thou hast done the same thing; not only a valiant man or a miserable man, but also a fastidious man is able to wish for death]. A man would 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 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,' qui finem vitæ extremum inter munera ponat natura [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 dolers of death. But, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is, Nunc dimittis [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 [The same man that was envied while he lived, shall be loved when he is gone].
6 Fastidiousness. 7 Juvenal.
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. 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 deserto [Lo! in the desert], another saith Ecce in penetralibus [Lo! in the sanctuary]; that is, when some men seek Christ in the conventicles 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 Gentiles2 (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 in the chair of the scorners. It is but a light thing to be vouched in so serious a 1 Matthew xxiv. 26. 2 St. Paul.
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, Jehu? What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. Peace is not the matter, but following and party. Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans and lukewarm persons think they may accommodate points of religion by middle ways, and taking part of both, and witty3 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 thereof soundly and plainly expounded: He that is not with us is against us; and again, He that is not against us ✓✓is 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, 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 6 Zealots. ?2 Kings ix. 18, 19. 9 Commonplace.
3 Rabelais. 4 Politicians.
5 Treatises. Ingenious.