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THE FIRST CENTURY
MEDITATIONS AND VOWS;
DIVINE AND MOR A L.
TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFUL
SIR ROBERT DRURY, KNIGHT;
ALL INCREASE OF TRUE HONOUR AND VIRTUE.
THAT I have made these my homely Aphorisms public, needs no other reason, but that, though the world is furnished with other writings, even to satiety and surfeit, yet of those which reduce Christianity to practice, there is, at least, scarce enough: wherein, yet, I must needs confess, I had some eye to myself ; for, having after a sort vowed this austere course of judgment and practice to myself, I thought it best to acquaint the world with it, that it may either witness my answerable proceeding, or check me in my straying therefrom. By which means, so many men as I live amongst, so many monitors I shall have ; which shall point me to my own rules, and upbraid me with my aberrations. Why I have dedicated them to your name cannot be strange to any,
that knows you my
Patron and me your Pastor. The regard of which bond easily drew me on to consider, that, whereas my body, which was ever weak, began of late to languish more, it would not be inexpedient, at the worst, to leave behind me this little monument of that great respect which I deservedly bear you. And, if it shall please God to reprieve me until a longer day; yet, it shall not repent me to have sent this un. worthy scrowl, to wait upon you in your necessary absence : neither shall it be, I hope, bootless for you, to adjoin these my mean speculations unto those grounds of virtue you have so happily laid ; to which if they shall add but one scruple, it shall be to me sufficient joy, contentment, recompence.
From your Worship’s humbly devoted, Halstead, Dec. 4.
MEDITATIONS AND VOWS.
In Meditation, those, which begin heavenly thoughts and prosecute them not, are like those, which kindle a fire under green wood, and leave it so soon as it but begins to fame; losing the hope of a good beginning, for want of seconding it with a suitable proceeding. When I set myself to meditate, I will not give over, till I come to an issue. It hath been said by some, that the beginning is as much as the midst; yea, more than all : but I say,
ending is more than the beginning.
II. There is nothing, but man, that respecteth greatness : not God, hot Nature, not Disease, not Death, not Judgment. Not God: he is no excepter of persons. Not Nature : we see the sons of princes born as naked, as the poorest; and the poor child as fair, well-favoured, strong, witty, as the heir of nobles. Not Disease, Death, Judgment: they sicken alike, die alike, fare alike after death. There is nothing, besides natural men, of whom goodness is not respected. I will honour greatness in others; but, for myself, I will esteem a dram of goodness worth a whole world of greatness.
III. As there is a foolish wisdom, so there is a wise ignorance; in not prying into God's ark, not enquiring into things not revealed. I would fain know all that I need, and all that I may: I leave God's secrets to himself. It is happyf or me, that God niakes me of his Court, though not of his Cat, oil
IV As there is no vacuity in nature, no more is there spiritually. Every vessel is full, if not of liquor, yet of air: so is the heart of man; though, by nature, it is empty of grace, yet it is full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Now, as it filleth with grace, so it is emptied. of his evil qualities; as in a vessel, so much water as goes in, so much air goes out : but man's heart is a narrow-mouthed vessel, and receives grace but by drops; and therefore asks a long time to empty and fill. Now, as there be differences in degrees, and one heart is nearer to fulness than another; so the best vessel is not quite full, while it is in the body, because there are still remainders of corruption. I will neither be content with that measure of grace I have, nor impatient of God's delay; but every day I will