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north; and then the waters break from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance awhile in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter; he breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters and chains of sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning; for to be miserable is death, but nothing is life but to be comforted; and God is pleased with no music from below so much as in the thanksgiving songs of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing, and comforted, and thankful persons.


THE canes of Egypt, when they newly arise from their bed of mud and slime of Nilus, start up into an equal and continual length, and are interrupted but with few knots, and are strong and beauteous, with great distances and intervals; but when they are grown to their full length they lessen into the point of a pyramis, and multiply their knots and joints, interrupting the fineness and smoothness of its body. So are the steps and declensions of him that does not grow in grace: at first when he springs up from his impu


rity, by the waters of baptism and repentance, he grows straight and strong, and suffers but few interruptions of piety, and his constant courses of religion are but rarely intermitted, till they ascend up to a full age, or towards the ends of their life; then they are weak, and their devotions often intermitted, and their breaches are frequent, and they seek excuses, and labour for dispensations, and love God and religion less and less, till their old age, instead of a crown of their virtue and perseverance, ends in levity and unprofitable courses; light and useless as the tufted feathers upon the cane, every wind can play with it and abuse it, but no man can make it useful. When, therefore, our piety interrupts its greater and more solemn expressions, and upon the return of the greater offices and bigger solemnities we find them to come upon our spirits like the wave of a tide, which retired only because it was natural so to do, and yet came farther upon the strand at the next rolling; when every new confession every succeeding communion --- every time of separation, far more solemn and intense prayer is better spent, and more affectionate, leaving a greater relish upon the spirit, and possessing greater portions of our affections, our reason, and our choice; then we may give God thanks, who hath given us more grace to use that grace, and a blessing to endeavour our duty, and a blessing upon our endeavour.*

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*Of Growth in Grace; serm. xiv. p. 305.

Every man hath his indiscretions and infirmities, his arrests and sudden incursions, his neighbourhoods and semblances of sin, his little violences to reason, and peevish melancholy, and humorous fantastic discourses; unaptness to a devout prayer, his fondness to judge favourably in his own cases, little deceptions, and voluntary and involuntary cozenages, ignorances and inadvertences, careless hours, and unwatchful seasons. This happens more frequently in persons of an infant-piety, when the virtue is not corroborated by a long abode, and a confirmed resolution, and an usual victory, and a triumphant grace; and the longer we are accustomed to piety, the more unfrequent will be the little breaches of folly, and a returning to sin. But as the needle of a compass, when it is directed to its beloved star, at the first addresses waves on either side, and seems indifferent in his courtship of the rising or declining sun, and when it seems first determined to the north, stands awhile trembling, as if it suffered inconvenience in the first fruition of its desires, and stands not still in full enjoyment till after first a great variety of motion, and then an undisturbed posture; so is the piety, and so is the conversion of a man, wrought by degrees and several steps of imperfection; and at first our choices are wavering, convinced by the grace of God, and yet not persuaded; and then persuaded, but not resolved; and then resolved, but deferring to begin; and then beginning, but, as all beginnings are, in weakness and uncertainty;

and we fly out often into huge indiscretions, and look back to Sodom and long to return to Egypt: and when the storm is quite over, we find little bubblings and unevennesses upon the face of the waters, we often weaken our own purposes by the returns of sin; and we do not call ourselves conquerors, till by the long possession of virtues it is a strange and unusual, and therefore an uneasy and unpleasant thing, to act a crime *


I HAVE read of a fair young German gentleman, who living, often refused to be pictured, but put off the importunity of his friends' desire by giving way that after a few days' burial, they might send a painter to his vault, and, if they saw cause for it, draw the image of his death unto the life. They did so, and found his face half eaten, and his midriff and back bone full of serpents; and so he stands pictured among his armed ancestors. So does the fairest beauty change, and it will be as bad with you and me; and then, what servants shall we have to wait upon us in the grave? what friends to visit us? what officious people to cleanse away the moist and unwholesome cloud reflected upon our faces from the sides of the weeping vaults, which are the longest weepers for our funeral.

St. Austin with his mother Monica was led one

* Of Growth of Sin; part ii. serm. xvii.

day by a Roman Prætor to see the tomb of Cæsar. Himself thus describes the corpse, "It looked of a blue mould, the bone of the nose laid bare, the flesh of the nether lip quite fallen off, his mouth full of worms, and in his eye pit a hungry toad feasting upon the remanent portion of flesh and moisture: and so he dwelt in his house of darkness." *

See Tucker's Light of Nature, vol. v. chap. 9, where there is an interesting enquiry upon the distinction between the love of excelling and the love of excellence: where, with his usual ingenuity, he examines the question.

"Nevertheless it will probably be asked, would I then extinguish every spark of vanity in the world? every thirst of fame, of splendor, of magnificence, of show? every desire of excelling or distinguishing one's self above the common herd ? what must become of the public services, of sciences, arts, commerce, manufactures? the business of life must stagnate. Nobody would spend his youth in fatigues and dangers to qualify himself for a general or an admiral. Nobody would study, and toil, and struggle, and roar out liberty to be a minister."

If Tucker is right, and he generally is right, in his opinions, the love of excelling, although the common motive of action does not influence the noblest minds; is only a temporary motive, and generates bad passion: but the love of excellence is a powerful motive: is a permanent motive, and generates good feeling is always ready to forward those abilities which overpower its own. If Tucker's reasoning is not satisfactory, let him consider the words of Lord Bacon.

“We enter into a desire of knowledge sometimes from a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain our minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; sometimes to enable us to victory of wit and contradiction, and most times for lucre and profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of our gift of reason, for the benefit and use of man:-as if there

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