« ПредишнаНапред »
ing well what he hath been, and what he must be, is not confounded in himself, by observing the pride of his own life and the great disorder of his passions. The end of all other creatures is less deform'd than that of man. Plants in their death retain some pleasing smell of their bodies : the little rose buries itself in her natural sweetness and carnation colour. Many creatures at their death leave us their teeth, horns, feathers, skins; of which we make great use : others, after death, are served up in silver and golden dishes, to feed the greatest persons of the world. Only man's dead carcase is good for nothing but to feed worms; and yet he often retains the presumptuous pride of a giant, by the exorbitance of his heart; and the cruel nature of a murderer, by the furious rage of his revenge. Surely that man must either be ftupid by nature, or most wicked by his own election, who will not correct and amend himself, having still before his eyes ashes for his glass and death for his mistress.
2. This confideration of duft is an excele, lent remedy to curevice, and an affured rampart against temptation. St. Paulinus faith excellently well, that holy Job was free from all temptations when he was placed upon the (moke and dust of his humility. He that lies
upon the ground can fall no lower ; but may contemplate all above him, and meditate how to raise himself by the hand of God, which pulls down the proud and exalts the humble. Is a man tempted with pride ? the consideration of ashes will humble him. Is a man burnt with wanton love? (which is a direct fire) fire cannot consume ashes. Is he persecuted with covetousness ? alhes make the greatest leeches and bloodsuckers cast their gorges. Every thing gives way to this unvalued thing, because God is pleased to draw the instruments of his power out of the objects of our infirmities.
3. If we knew how to use rightly the meditation of death, we should there find the streams of life. All the world together is of no estimation to him that rightly knows the true value of a just man's death. It. would be necessary that they who are taken with the curiosity of tulips, should set in their gardens.a plant, call’d Naple, which carries a flower that perfectly resembles a death's head : and if the other tulips please their senses, that will instruct their reason. Before our last death we should die many other deaths, by forsaking all those creatures and affections which lead us to fin. We hould resemble those creatures, facred to
the Ægyptians, calld Cynocephales, that died piece-meal, and were buried long before their death : so should we bury all our concupiscences before we go to the grave, and strive to live so that when death comes he should find very little business with us.
ASPIRATION. O Father of all effences, who giveft be
ginning to all things and art without end, this day I take ashes upon my head, thereby profefling, before thee, my being nothing, and to do thee homage for that which I am, and for that I ought to be, by thy great bounties. Alafs ! O Lord, my poor foul is confounded to see so many sparkles of pride and covetousness arise from this caitiff duft, which I am ; fo little do I yet learn how to live, and so late do I know how to die. O God of my life and death, I most humbly beseech thee fo to govern the first in me, and so to sweeten the last for me, that, if I live, I may live only for thee; and if I must die, that I may enter into everlasting bliss, by dying in thy bleffed love and favour.
The Gospel for Afh-Wednesday, St.
Of hypocritical fasting. WHEN you faft, be not, as the hypocrites,
sad: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.' Amen, I say unto you, that they have received their reward.
But thou, when thou doft faft, anoint thy head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy father which is in "secret : and thy father which seeth in secret will repay thee.
Heap not up to yourselves treasures on the earth; where the rust and moth do corrupt, and where thieves dig through and steal: but heap up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither ruft nor moth doth corrupt, and where thieves do not dig through nor
steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
MORALITIES. *HAT man goes to hell by the way
of Paradise who fasts and afflicts his body to draw the praise of men. Sorrow and vanity together are not able to make one christian act. He deserves everlasting hun
ger who starves himself that he may swell and burst with vain-glory. He stands for a Spectacle for others, being the murderer of himself; and by fowing vanity, reaps nothing but the wind. Our intentions muft be wholly directed to God, and our examples for our neighbour. The father of all virtues is not to be served with counterfeit devotions, such lies are abominable in his fight; and Tertullian faith, they are as many adulteries.
2. It imports us much to begin Lent well, entering those lifts in which so many Souls have run their course with so great strictness ; having been glorious before God, and honourable before men. The difficulty of it is apprehended only by those who have their understandings obscured by a violent affection to kitchen-stuff. It is no more burdensome to a couragious spirit, than feathers are to a bird. The chearfulness which a man brings to a good action in the beginning, does half the work. wash our faces by confeffion; let us perfume our head, who is Jesus Christ, by alms deeds. Fasting is a most delicious feast to the conscience, when it is accompanied with purenefs and charity; but it