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4. Never boast of thy sin, but at least lay a veil upon thy nakedness and shame*, and put thy hand before thine eyes, that thou mayest have this beginning of repentance, to believe thy sin to be thy shame. For he that blushes not at his crime, but adds shamelessness to his shame, hath no instrument left to restore him to the hopes of virtue.
5. Be not confident and affirmative in an uncertain matter, but report things modestly and temperately, according to the degree of that persuasion, which is, or ought to be, begotten in thee by the efficacy of the authority, or the reason inducing thee.
6. Pretend not to more knowledge than thou hast, but be content to seem ignorant where thou art so, lest thou beest either brought to shame, or retirest into shamelessness".
Acts of Modesty as it is opposed to Indecency".
1. In your prayers, in churches, and places of religion, use reverent postures, great attention, grave ceremony, the lowest gestures of humility, remembering that we speak to God, in our reverence to whom we cannot possibly exceed; but that the expression of this reverence be according to law or custom, and the example of the most prudent and pious persons that is, let it be the best in its kind, to the best of
2. In all public meetings, private addresses, in discourses, in journeys, use those forms of salutation, reverence, and decency, which the custom prescribes; and is usual amongst the most sober persons; giving honour to whom honour belongeth, taking place of none of thy betters, and in all cases of question concerning civil precedency giving it to any one, that will take it, if it be only thy own right, that is in question.
3. Observe the proportion of affections in all meetings and to all persons: be not merry at a funeral, nor sad upon a festival; but rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
4. Abstain from wanton and dissolute laughter, petulant and uncomely jests, loud talking, jeering, and all such ac
A Chione saltem, vel ab Helide disce pudorem;
* Ecclus. iii. 25.
tions, which in civil account are called indecencies and incivilities.
5. Towards your parents use all modesty of duty and humble carriage; towards them and all your kindred, be severe in the modesties of chastity; ever fearing, lest the freedoms of natural kindness should enlarge into any neighbourhood of unhandsomeness. For all incestuous mixtures, and all circumstances and degrees towards it, are the highest violations of modesty in the world: for therefore incest is grown to be so high a crime, especially in the last periods of the world, because it breaks that reverence, which the consent of all nations and the severity of human laws hath enjoined towards our parents and nearest kindred, in imitation of that law, which God gave to the Jews in prosecution of modesty in this instance.
6. Be a curious observer of all those things, which are of good report, and are parts of public honesty. For public fame, and the sentence of prudent and public persons, is the measure of good and evil in things indifferent: and charity requires us to comply with those fancies and affections, which are agreeable to nature, or the analogy of virtue, or public laws, or old customs. It is against modesty for a woman to marry a second husband, as long as she bears a burden by the first; or to admit a second love, while her funeral tears are not wiped from her cheeks. It is against public honesty to do some lawful actions of privacy in public theatres, and therefore in such cases retirement is a duty of modesty.
7. Be grave, decent, and modest, in thy clothing and ornament: never let it be above thy condition, not always equal to it, never light or amorous, never discovering a nakedness through a thin veil, which thou pretendest to hide, never to lay a snare for a soul; but remember what becomes a Christian, professing holiness, chastity, and the discipline of the holy Jesus and the first effect of this let your servants feel by your gentleness and aptness to be pleased with their usual diligence, and ordinary conduct. For the man or b Philip. iv. 8.
• At meretrix abigit testem velóque serâque; Raráque Summoni fornice rima patet. Mart. p. 1. 53.
d Tuta sit ornatrix: odi quæ sauciat ora
Devovet, et tangit Dominæ caput illa, simulque
Ovid. A. A. 3. 238.
woman, that is dressed with anger and impatience, wears pride under their robes, and immodesty above.
8. Hither also is to be reduced singular and affected walking, proud, nice, and ridiculous gestures of body, painting and lascivious dressings; all which together God reproves by the prophet, "The Lord saith, Because the daughters of Sion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and make a tinkling with their feet; therefore the Lord will smite her with a scab of the crown of the head, and will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments." And this duty of modesty, in this instance, is expressly enjoined to all Christian women by St. Paul, "That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearl, or costly array, but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good worksf."
9. As those meats are to be avoided, which tempt our stomachs beyond our hunger; so also should prudent persons decline all such spectacles, relations, theatres, loud noises and outcries, which concern us not, and are besides our natural or moral interest. Our senses should not, like petulant and wanton girls, wander into markets and theatres without just employment; but when they are sent abroad by reason, return quickly with their errand, and remain modestly at home under their guide, till they be sent again3.
10. Let all persons be curious in observing modesty towards themselves, in the handsome treating their own body, and such as are in their power, whether living or dead. Against this rule, they offend, who expose to others their own, or pry into others' nakedness beyond the limits of necessity, or where a leave is not made holy by a permission from God. It is also said, that God was pleased to work a miracle about the body of Epiphanius, to reprove the immodest curiosity of an unconcerned person, who pried too near, when charitable people were composing it to the grave. In all these cases and particulars, although they seem little, yet our duty and concernment is not little. Concerning which
e Isa. iii. 16-18.
[ 1 Tim. ii. 9.
Edipum curiositas in extremas conjecit calamitates. Plut.
I use the words of the son of Sirach, "He that despiseth little things, shall perish by little and little."
Of Contentedness in all estates and accidents.
VIRTUES and discourses are, like friends, necessary in all fortunes; but those are the best, which are friends in our sadnesses, and support us in our sorrows and sad accidents: and in this sense, no man that is virtuous, can be friendless; nor hath any man reason to complain of the Divine Providence, or accuse the public disorder of things, or his own felicity, since God hath appointed one remedy for all the evils in the world, and that is a contented spirit: for this alone makes a man pass through fire, and not be scorched; through seas, and not be drowned; through hunger and nakedness, and want nothing. For since all the evil in the world consists in the disagreeing between the object and the appetite, as when a man hath what he desires not, or desires what he hath not, or desires amiss; he that composes his spirit to the present accident, hath variety of instances for his virtue, but none to trouble him; because his desires enlarge not beyond his present fortune: and a wise man is placed in the variety of chances, like the nave or centre of a wheel, in the midst of all the circumvolutions and changes of posture, without violence or change, save that it turns gently in compliance with its changed parts, and is indifferent, which part is up, and which is down; for there is some virtue or other to be exercised, whatever happens, either patience or thanksgiving, love or fear, moderation or humility, charity or contentedness, and they are every one of them equally in order to his great end and immortal felicity: and beauty is not made by white or red, by black eyes and a round face, by a straight body and a smooth skin: but by a proportion to the fancy. No rules can make amiability; our minds and apprehensions make that; and so is our felicity: and we may be reconciled to poverty and a low fortune, if we suffer contentedness and the grace of God to make the proportions. For no man is poor, that does not think himself so: but if, in a full fortune, with impatience he desires
more, he proclaims his wants and his beggarly condition". But because this grace of contentedness was the sum of all the old moral philosophy, and a great duty in Christianity, and of most universal use in the whole course of our lives, and the only instrument to ease the burdens of the world and the enmities of sad chances, it will not be amiss to press it by the proper arguments, by which God hath bound it upon our spirits, it being fastened by reason and religion, by duty and interest, by necessity and conveniency, by example, and by the proposition of excellent rewards, no less than peace and felicity.
1. Contentedness in all estates is a duty of religion; it is the great reasonableness of complying with the Divine Providence, which governs all the world, and hath so ordered us in the administration of his great family. He were a strange fool, that should be angry, because dogs and sheep need no shoes, and yet himself is full of care to get some. God hath supplied those needs to them by natural provisions, and to thee by an artificial: for he hath given thee reason to learn a trade, or some means to make or buy them, so that it only differs in the manner of our provision; and which had you rather want, shoes or reason? And my patron, that hath given me a farm, is freer to me, than if he gives a loaf ready baked. But, however, all these gifts come from him, and therefore it is fit he should dispense them as he pleases; and if we murmur here, we may, at the next melancholy, be troubled, that God did not make us to be angels or stars. For if that, which we are or have, do not content us, we may be troubled for every thing in the world, which is besides our being or our possessions.
God is the master of the scenes; we must not choose which part we shall act; it concerns us only to be careful that we do it well, always saying, "If this please God, let it be as it is i:" and we who pray, that God's will may be done in earth, as it is in heaven, must remember, that the angels do whatsoever is commanded them, and go wherever they are sent, and refuse no circumstances: and if their employment be crossed by a higher decree, they sit down in peace and rejoice in the event; and when the angel of Judea could
h Non facta tibi est, si dissimules, injuria. · Εἰ τοῦτο τῷ Θεῷ φίλον, τοῦτο γενέσθω.