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XXIII. MEDITATION.

IT is not in man’s body, as it is in the city, that when the bell hath rung, to cover your fire, and rake up the embers, you may lie down and sleep without fear. Though you have by physic and diet raked up the embers of your disease, still there is a fear of a relapse; and the greater danger is in that. Even in pleasures and in pains, there is a proprietary, a meum et tuum, and a man is most affected with that pleasure which is his, his by former enjoying and experience, and most intimidated with those pains which are his, his by a woful sense of them, in former afflictions. A covetous person, who hath preoccupated all his senses, filled all his capacities with the delight of gathering, wonders how any man can have any taste of any pleasure in any openness or liberality; so also in bodily pains, in a fit of the stone, the patient wonders why any man should call the gout a pain; and he that hath felt neither, but the toothache, is as much afraid of a fit of that as either of the other of either of the other. Diseases which we never felt in ourselves come but to a compassion of others that have endured them; nay, compassion itself comes to no great degree if we have not felt in some proportion in ourselves that which we lament and condole in another. But when we have had those torments in their exaltation ourselves, we tremble at relapse. When we must pant through all those fiery heats, and sail through all those overflowing sweats, when we must watch through all those long nights, and mourn through all those long days (days and nights, so long as that Nature herself shall seem to be perverted, and to have put the longest day, and the longest night, which should be six months asunder, into one natural, unnatural day), when we must stand at the same bar, expect the return of physicians from their consultations, and not be sure of the same verdict, in any good indications, when we must go the same way over again, and not see the same issue, that is a state, a condition, a calamity, in respect of which any other sickness were a convalescence, and any greater, less. It adds to the affliction, that relapses are (and for the most part justly) imputed to ourselves, as occasioned by some disorder in us; and so we are not only passive but active in our own ruin; we do not only stand under a falling house, but pull it down upon us; and we are not only executed (that implies guiltiness), but we are executioners (that implies dishonour), and executioners of ourselves (and that implies impiety). And we fall from that comfort which we might have in our first sickness, from that meditation, “Alas, how generally miserable is man, and how subject to diseases” (for in that it is some degree of comfort that we are but in the state common to all), we fall, I say, to this discomfort, and self-accusing, and self-condemning: “Alas, how improvident, and in that how unthankful to God and his instruments, am I in making so ill use of so great benefits, in destroying so soon so long a work, in relapsing, by my disorder, to that from which they had delivered me”: and so my meditation is fearfully transferred from the body to the mind, and from the consideration of the sickness to that sin, that sinful carelessness, by which I have occasioned my relapse. And amongst the many weights that aggravate a relapse, this also is one, that a relapse proceeds with a more violent dispatch, and more irremediably, because it finds the country weakened, and depopulated before.

Upon a sickness, which as yet appears not, we can scarce fix a fear, because we know not what to fear; but as fear is the busiest and irksomest affection, so is a relapse (which is still ready to come) into that which is but newly gone, the nearest object, the most immediate exercise of that affection of fear.

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