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in a dress of humorous expression; sometimes it lurketh under an odd similitude ; sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in a shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting, or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense : sometimes a scenical representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical look or gesture passeth for it: sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness, giveth it being : sometimes it riseth from a lucky hitting upon what is strange, sometimes from a crafty wresting obvious matter to the purpose : often it consisteth in one knows not what, and springeth up one can hardly tell how. Its ways are unaccountable and inexplicable, being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy and windings of language. It is, in short, a manner of speaking out of the simple and plain way (such as reason teacheth and proveth things by), which by a pretty surprising uncouthness in conceit or expression doth affect and amuse the fancy, stirring in it some wonder, and breeding some delight thereto.*
* Serm. xiv. Against Foolish Talking and Jesting.
Is not all laughter the sign of a sudden agreeable sensa tion, subject, therefore, to an infinite variety, according as our sources of pleasure vary ?
THE BEE AND THE SPIDER.*
An honest and charitable mind disposes us, when we see any man endued with good qualities and pursuing a tenour of good practice, to esteem such a person, to commend him, to interpret what he doeth to the best, not to suspect any ill of him, or to seek any exception against him; it inclineth us, when we see any action materially good, to yield it with simple due approbation and praise, without searching for, or surmising any defect in the cause or principle, whence it cometh, in the design or end to which it tendeth, in the way or manner of performing it. A good man would be sorry to have any good thing spoiled : as to find a crack in a fair building, a flaw in a fine jewel, a canker in a goodly flower, is grievous to any indifferent man; so would it be displeasing to him to observe defects in a worthy person, or commendable action ; he therefore will not easily entertain a suspicion of any such, he never will hunt for any. But on the contrary, 'tis the property of a detractor, when he seeth a worthy person, whom he doth not affect, or whom he is concerned to wrong, to survey him thoroughly, and to sift all his actions, with intent to descry some failing, or any semblance of a fault, by which he may disparage him; when he vieweth any good action, he peereth into
* Serm. xix. Against Detraction, p. 191.
it, labouring to espy some pretence, to derogate from the commendation apparently belonging to it.
As good nature, and ingenuous disposition incline men to observe, like, and commend what appeareth best in our neighbour; so malignity of temper and heart promoteth to espy, and catch at the worst: one, as a bee, gathereth honey out of any herb; the other, as a spider, sucketh poison out of the sweetest flower. *
Is any man fallen into disgrace? Charity doth hold down its head, is abashed and out of countenance, partaking of his shame; is any man disappointed of his hopes or endeavours ? charity crieth out
* Bacon, in his Essay on Goodness of Nature, says, “ Neither is there only a habit of goodness directed by right reason ; but there is in some men, even in nature, a disposition towards it; as, on the other side, there is a malignity; for there be that in their nature do not affect the good of others. The lighter sort of malignity turneth but to a crossness, or forwardness, or aptness to oppose, or difficileness, or the like; but the deeper sort to envy, and mere mischief. Such men in other men's calamities, are, as it were, in season, and are ever on the loading part : not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus’ sores, but like flies that are still buzzing upon any thing that is raw; misanthropi, that make it their practice to bring men to the bough, and yet have never a tree for the purpose in a garden, as Timon had: such dispositions are the very errors of human nature, and yet they are the fittest timber to make great politics of; like to knee timber, that is good for ships that are ordained to be tossed,
Alas, as if it were itself defeated : is any man afflicted with pain or sickness? charity looketh sadly, it sigheth and groaneth, it fainteth and languisheth with him. Is any man pinched with hard want? charity, if it cannot succour, it will condole. Doth ill news arrive ? charity doth hear it with an unwilling ear, and a sad heart, although not particularly concerned in it. The sight of a wreck at sea, of a field spread with carcases, of a country desolated, of houses burnt and cities ruined, and of the like calamities incident to mankind, would touch the bowels of any man; but the very report of them would affect the heart of charity.*
but not for building houses that shall stand firm. The parts and signs of goodness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shews he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them ; if he be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shews that his heart is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm; if he easily pardons and remits offences, it shews that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot; if he be thankful for small benefits, it shews that he weighs men's minds, and not their trash.
Does not detraction originate in the common observation that “the censure of others is a tacit approbation of ourselves?”
Is not the spirit of detraction peculiar to narrow minds, to wisdom in its own conceit?
* Vol. I. Serm. xxvii. Nature, &c. of Charity, p. 257.
CONCORD AND DISCORD.*
How good and pleasant a thing it is (as David saith) for brethren (and so we are all at least by nature) to live together in unity. How that (as Solomon saith) better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife. How delicious that conversation is, which is accompanied with mutual confidence, freedom, courtesy, and complaisance; how calm the mind, how composed the affections, how serene the countenance, how melodious the voice, how sweet the sleep, how contentful the whole life is of him that neither deviseth mischief against others, nor suspects any to be contrived against himself; and contrariwise, how ungrateful and loathsome a thing it is to abide in a state of enmity, wrath, dissension : having the thoughts distracted with solicitous care, anxious suspicion, envious regret; the heart boiling with choler, the face overclouded with discontent, the tongue jarring and out of tune, the ears filled with discordant noises of contradiction, clamour and reproach ; the whole frame of body and soul distempered and disturbed with the worst of passions. How much more comfortable it is to walk in smooth and even paths than to wander in rugged ways, overgrown with briers, obstructed with rubs, and beset with snares, to sail steadily in a quiet, than to be tossed in a tempes
* Vol. 1. Serm. xxx. p. 297-9.