« VorigeDoorgaan »
of honour to die untimely; or thou didst love the religion of that death-bed, and it was dressed up in circumstances fitted to thy needs, and hit thee on that part, where thou wert most sensible; or some little saying in a sermon or passage of a book was chosen and singled out by a peculiar apprehension, and made consent lodge awhile in thy spirit, even then, when thou didst place death in thy meditation, and didst view it in all its dress of fancy. Whatsoever that was, which, at any time, did please thee in thy most passionate and fantastic part, let not that go, but bring it home at that time especially; because when thou art in thy weakness, such little things will easier move thee than a more severe discourse and a better reason. For a sick man is like a scrupulous: his case is gone beyond the cure of arguments, and it is a trouble, that can only be helped by chance, or a lucky saying: and Ludovico Corbinelli was moved at the death of Henry the Second, more than if he had read the saddest elegy of all the unfortunate princes in Christendom, or all the sad sayings of Scripture, or the threnes of the funeral prophets. I deny not but this course is most proper to weak persons; but it is a state of weakness, for which we are now providing remedies and instruction: a strong man will not need it; but when our sickness hath rendered us weak in all senses, it is not good to refuse a remedy, because it supposes us to be sick. But then, if to the catalogue of weak persons we add all those, who are ruled by fancy, we shall find, that many persons in their health, and more in their sickness, are under the dominion of fancy, and apt to be helped by those little things, which themselves have found fitted to their apprehension, and which no other man can minister to their needs, unless by chance, or in a heap of other things. But therefore every man should remember, by what instruments he was at any time much moved, and try them upon his spirit, in the day of his calamity.
5. Do not choose the kind of thy sickness, or the manner of thy death; but let it be, what God please, so it be no greater than thy spirit or thy patience: and for that you are to rely upon the promise of God, and to secure thyself by prayer and industry; but in all things else let God be thy chooser, and let it be thy work to submit indifferently, and attend thy duty. It is lawful to beg of God, that thy sick
ness may not be sharp or noisome, infectious or unusual, because these are circumstances of evil, which are also proper instruments of temptation: and though it may well concern the prudence of thy religion to fear thyself, and keep thee from violent temptations, who hast so often fallen in little ones; yet, even in these things, be sure to keep some degrees of indifferency; that is, if God will not be entreated to ease thee, or to change thy trial, then be importunate, that thy spirit and its interest be secured, and let him do, what seemeth good in his eyes. But as, in the degrees of sickness, thou art to submit to God, so in the kind of it (supposing equal degrees) thou art to be altogether incurious, whether God call thee by a consumption or an asthma, by a dropsy or a palsy, by a fever in thy humours, or a fever in thy spirits; because all such nicety of choice, is nothing but a colour to a legitimate impatience, and to make an excuse to murmur privately, and for circumstances, when in the sum of affairs we durst not own impatience. I have known some persons vehemently wish, that they might die of a consumption, and some of these had a plot upon heaven, and hoped by that means to secure it after a careless life; as thinking a lingering sickness would certainly infer a lingering and a protracted repentance; and, by that means, they thought, they should be safest: others of them dreamed, it would be an easier death; and have found themselves deceived, and their patience hath been tired with a weary spirit and a useless body, by often conversing with healthful persons and vigorous neighbours, by uneasiness of the flesh and the sharpness of their bones, by want of spirits and a dying life; and, in conclusion, have been directly debauched by peevishness and a fretful sickness: and these men had better have left it to the wisdom and goodness of God; for they both are infinite.
6. Be patient in the desires of religion; and take care that the forwardness of exterior actions do not discompose thy spirit; while thou fearest, that, by less serving God in thy disability, thou runnest backward in the accounts of pardon and the favour of God. Be content, that the time, which was formerly spent in prayer, be now spent in vomiting and carefulness and attendances; since God hath pleased it should be so, it does not become us to think hard thoughts
concerning it. Do not think, that God is only to be found in a great prayer, or a solemn office: he is moved by a sigh, by a groan, by an act of love; and therefore, when your pain is great and pungent, lay all your strength upon it, to bear it patiently: when the evil is something more tolerable, let your mind think some pious, though short, meditation: let it not be very busy, and full of attention; for that will be but a new temptation to your patience, and render your religion tedious and hateful. But record your desires, and present yourself to God by general acts of will and understanding, and by habitual remembrances of your former vigorousness, and by verification of the same grace, rather than proper exercises. If you can do more, do it; but if you cannot, let it not become a scruple to thee. We must not think, man is tied to the forms of health, or that he who swoons and faints, is obliged to his usual forms and hours of prayer: if we cannot labour, yet let us love. Nothing can hinder us from that, but our own uncharitableness..
7. Be obedient to thy physician in those things, that concern him, if he be a person fit to minister unto thee. God is he only, that needs no help', and God hath created the physician for thine: therefore use him temperately, without violent confidences; and sweetly, without uncivil distrustings, or refusing his prescriptions upon humours or impotent fear. A man may refuse to have his arm or leg cut off, or to suffer the pains of Marius's incision: and if he believes, that to die is the less evil, he may compose himself to it, without hazarding his patience, or introducing that, which he thinks a worse evil; but that, which, in this article, is to be reproved and avoided, is, that some men will choose to die out of fear of death, and send for physicians, and do what themselves list, and call for counsel, and follow none. When there is reason they should decline him, it is not to be accounted to the stock of a sin; but where there is no just cause, there is a direct impatience.
Hither is to be reduced, that we be not too confident of the physician, or drain our hopes of recovery from the fountain through so imperfect channels; laying the wells of God dry, and digging to ourselves broken cisterns. Physicians
Ipsi ceu vi Deo nullo est opus; apud Senecam. Scaliger rectè emendat, ipai ceu Deo, &c. Ex Græco scilicet, Μόνος Θεὸς ἀνελλιπὺς καὶ ἀνενδεής.
are the ministers of God's mercies and providence, in the matter of health and ease, of restitution or death; and when God shall enable their judgments, and direct their counsels, and prosper their medicines, they shall do thee good, for which you must give God thanks, and to the physician the honour of a blessed instrument. But this cannot always be done and Lucius Cornelius, the lieutenant in Portugal under Fabius the consul, boasted in the inscription of his. monument, that he had lived a healthful and vegete age till. his last sickness, but then complained he was forsaken by his physician, and railed upon Æsculapius, for not accepting his vow and passionate desire of preserving his life longer; and all the effect of that impatience and folly was, that it is recorded to following ages, that he died without reason and without religion. But it was a sad sight to see the favour of all France confined to a physician and a barber, and the king (Louis XI.) to be so much their servant, that he should acknowledge and own his life from them, and all his ease to their gentle dressing of his gout and friendly ministries; for the king thought himself undone and robbed, if he should die his portion here was fair; and he was loath to exchange his possession for the interest of a bigger hope.
8. Treat thy nurses and servants sweetly, and as it becomes an obliged and a necessitous person. Remember, that thou art very troublesome to them; that they trouble not thee willingly; that they strive to do thee ease and benefit, that they wish it, and sigh and pray for it, and are glad, if thou likest their attendance: that whatsoever is amiss, is thy disease, and the uneasiness of thy head or thy side, thy distemper or thy disaffections; and it will be an unhandsome injustice to be troublesome to them, because thou art so to thyself; to make them feel a part of thy sorrows, that thou mayest not bear them alone; evilly to requite their care by thy too curious and impatient wrangling and
2 L. Cornel. Legatus sub Fabio Consule vividam naturam et virilem animum seryavi, quoad animam efflavi; et tandem desertus ope medicorum et Æsculapii Dei ingrati, cui me voveram sodalem perpetuò futurum, si fila aliquantulùm optata protulisset. Vetus Inscriptio in Lusitania.
Nunc omnibus anxius aris
Illacrymat, signátque fores, et pectore tergit
Limina; nunc frustra vocat exorabile numen.-Pupin. lib, v.
fretful spirit. That tenderness is vicious and unnatural, that shrieks out under the weight of a gentle cataplasm; and he will ill comply with God's rod, that cannot endure his friend's greatest kindness; and he will be very angry (if he durst) with God's smiting him, that is peevish with his servants that go about to ease him.
9. Let not the smart of your sickness make you to call violently for death: you are not patient, unless you be content to live, God hath wisely ordered that we may be the better reconciled with death, because it is the period of many calamities; but wherever the general hath placed thee, stir not from thy station, until thou beest called off, but abide so, that death may come to thee by the design of him, who intends it to be thy advantage. God hath made sufferance to be thy work; and do not impatiently long for evening, lest, at night, thou findest the reward of him, that was weary of his work: for he that is weary before his time, is an unprofitable servant, and is either idle or diseased.
10. That which remains in the practice of this grace, is, that the sick man should do acts of patience by way of prayer and ejaculations: in which he may serve himself of the following collection.
Acts of Patience by way of Prayer and Ejaculation.
I WILL seek unto God, unto God will I commit my cause, which doth great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without number. Job, v. 8, 9. 11. 16—20.
To set up on high those that be low, that those which mourn, may be exalted to safety.
So the poor have hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth. Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.
For he maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.