Page images
PDF
EPUB

mon might be as easily saved as those who condemn him.

The number of those who pretend unto salvation, and those infinite swarms who think to pass through the eye of this needle, have much amazed me. That name and compellation of " little flock," doth not comfort but deject my devotion, especially when I reflect upon mine own unworthiness, wherein, according to my humble apprehensions, I am below them all. (3) I believe there shall never be an anarchy in heaven; but as there are hierarchies amongst the angels, so shall there be degrees of priority amongst the saints. Yet it is, I protest, beyond my ambition to aspire unto the first ranks; my desires only are, and I shall be happy therein, to be but the last man, and bring up the rear in heaven.

Again, I am confident, and fully persuaded, yet dare not take my oath, of my salvation. I am as it were sure, and do believe without all doubt, that there is such a city as Constantinople; yet for me to take my oath thereon were a kind of perjury,

(113) That this is mere mock humility a hundred passages in the "Religio Medici" would prove to demonstration. Vanity is no unpardonable sin; and, for my own part, I resemble Montaigne, in loving a vain man, for no one is half so amusing as he commonly proves. Yet humility, where it is unfeigned, pleases too: still more, indeed, than vanity. For example, the remark of Bunyan, in his "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners," that his father's house was of that rank which is meanest and most despised of all the families in the land! recommends him to our love, and raises him to our admiration.-See the Memoir I have prefixed to Mr. Rickerby's new edition of the " Pilgrim's Progress."-ED.

because I hold no infallible warrant from my own sense to confirm me in the certainty thereof. And truly, though many pretend an absolute certainty of their salvation, yet when a humble soul shall contemplate our own unworthiness, she shall meet with many doubts, and suddenly find how little we stand in need of the precept of St. Paul, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." That which is the cause of my election, I hold to be the cause of my salvation, which was the mercy and beneplacet of God, before I was, or the foundation of the world. "Before Abraham was, I am," is the saying of Christ; yet is it true in some sense, if I say it of myself; for I was not only before myself, but Adam, that is, in the idea of God, and the decree of that synod held from all eternity. And in this sense, I say, the world was before the creation,

and at the end before it had a beginning; and thus was I dead before I was alive; though my grave be England, my dying place was paradise: and Eve miscarried of me before she conceived of Cain.

Insolent zeals that do decry good works, and rely only upon faith, take not away merit: for depending upon the efficacy of their faith, they enforce the condition of God, and in a more sophistical way do seem to challenge heaven. It was decreed by God, that only those that lapped in the water like dogs, should have the honour to destroy the Midianites; yet could none of those justly challenge or imagine he deserved that honour thereupon. I do not deny but that true faith, and such as God requires, is not only a mark or token, but also a

means of our salvation; but where to find this is as obscure to me, as my last end. And if our Saviour could object unto his own disciples and favourites, a faith that, to the quantity of a grain of mustardseed is able to remove mountains; surely that which we boast of, is not any thing, or at the most, but a remove from nothing. This is the tenor of my belief; wherein, though there be many things singular, and to the humour of my irregular self; yet if they square not with maturer judgments I disclaim them, and do no further favour them, than the learned and best judgments shall authorize them.

109

PART II.

Now for that other virtue of charity, without which faith is a mere notion, and of no existence. I have ever endeavoured to nourish the merciful disposition and humane inclination I borrowed from my parents, and regulate it to the written and prescribed laws of charity; and if I hold the true anatomy of myself, I am delineated and naturally framed to such a piece of virtue. For I am of a constitution so general that it comports and sympathizeth with all things; I have no antipathy, or rather idiosyncrasy, in diet, humour, air, any thing. I wonder not at the French for their dishes of frogs, (114) snails, and toad-stools; nor at the Jews for locusts and grasshoppers; but being amongst them, make them my common viands; and I find them

(14) My own stomach is by no means so tolerant as Sir Thomas Browne's. Living in Burgundy, where frogs are habitually eaten, I procured some to be cooked, and brought to table, where my whole family were at dinner. I tasted the frogs, but could not proceed-my loathing, generated by fancy, was not to be restrained. The same effect was produced on a friend or two, who happened to be present, and on several of my children; while others, less fastidious, appeared to relish the dish amazingly, and in a few days would have become confirmed frog-eaters. I never could venture on snails.-ED.

agree with my stomach as well as theirs. I could digest a salad gathered in a church-yard, as well as in a garden. I cannot start at the presence of a serpent, scorpion, lizard, or salamander: at the sight of a toad or viper I find in me no desire to take up a stone to destroy them. I feel not in myself those common antipathies that I can discover in others. Those national repugnances do not touch me, nor do I behold with prejudice the French, Italian, Spaniard, and Dutch:(15) but where I find their actions in balance with my countrymen's, I honour, love, and embrace them in some degree. I was born in the eighth climate, but seem to be framed and constellated unto all. I am no plant that will not prosper out of a garden: all places, all airs make unto me one country-I am in England everywhere, and under any meridian. I have been shipwrecked, yet am not enemy with the sea or winds. I can study, play, or sleep in a tempest. In brief, I am averse from nothing my conscience would give me the lie if I should absolutely detest or hate any essence but the devil; or so at least abhor any thing, but that we might come to composition. If there be any among those common objects of hatred I do contemn and laugh at, it is that great enemy of reason, virtue, and religion, the multitude; (116) that

(15) In this respect I can predicate no less of myself, who am as much attached to foreigners, when deserving, as to my own countrymen; and have found equal return of affection.-ED.

(6) It is probably a mark of superior greatness of mind to abhor the multitude,

"Odi profanum vulgus Et arceo,"

« PreviousContinue »