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The prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
IT is a thing partly worth our wonder, partly our compassion, that what the greatest part of men are most passionately desirous of, that they are generally most unfit for: for they look upon things absolutely in themselves, without examining the suitableness of them to their own conditions; and so, at a distance, court that as an enjoyment, which upon experience they find a plague, and a great calamity. And this peculiar ill property has folly, that it widens and enlarges men’s desires, while it lessens their capacities. Like a dropsy, which still calls for drink, but not affording strength to digest it, puts an end to the drinker, but not the thirst.
As for the explication of the text, to tell you, that in the dialect of scripture, but especially of this book of the Proverbs, wicked men are called fools, and wickedness folly, as on the contrary, that piety is still graced with the name of wisdom, would be as superfluous as to attempt the proof of a self-evident and first principle, or to light a candle to the sun. By fools therefore are here represented all wicked 48and vicious persons. Such as turn their backs upon reason and religion, and, wholly devoting themselves to sensuality, follow the sway and career of their corrupt affections.
The misery of which persons is from hence most manifest, that, when God gives them what they most love, they perish in the embraces of it, are crushed to death under heaps of gold, stifled with an over coming plenty: like a ship fetching rich commodities from a far country, but sinking by the weight of them in its return. Since therefore wicked men are so strangely out in the calculating of their own interest, and account nothing happiness, but what brings up death and destruction in the rear of it; and since prosperity is yet, in itself, a real blessing, though to them it becomes a mischief, and determines in a curse; it concerns us to look into the reason of this strange event, and to examine how it comes to pass, that the prosperity of fools destroys them.
The reasons of it, I conceive, may be these three.
I. Because every foolish or vicious person is either ignorant or regardless of the proper ends and uses, for which God designs the prosperity of those to whom he sends it.
II. Because prosperity (as the nature of man now stands) has a peculiar force and fitness to abate men’s virtues, and to heighten their corruptions. And,
III. and lastly, because it directly indisposes them to the proper means of amendment and recovery.
I. And first for the first of these. One reason why vicious persons miscarry by prosperity, is, because 49every such person is either ignorant or regardless of the proper ends and uses for which God ordains and designs it. Which ends are these:
1. To try and discover what is in a man. All trial is properly inquiry, and inquiry is an endeavour after the knowledge of a thing as yet unknown; and consequently, in strictness of speech, God, who knows all things, and can be ignorant of nothing, cannot be said to try, any more than he can be said to inquire. But God, while he speaks to men, is often pleased to speak after the manner of men; and the reason of this is not only his condescension to our capacities, but because in many actions God behaves himself with some analogy and proportion to the actings of men. And therefore, because God sometimes sets those things before men, that have in them a fitness to draw forth and discover what is in their heart, as inquisitive persons do, who have a mind to pry into the thoughts and actions of their neighbour, he is upon this account said to try or to inquire, though, in truth, by so doing, God designs not to inform himself, but the person whom he tries, and to give both him and the world a view of his temper and disposition.
For the world is ignorant of men, till occasion gives them power to turn their inside outward, and to shew themselves. So that what is said of an office, may be also said of prosperity, and a fortune, that it does indicare virum, discover what the man is, and what metal his heart is made of. We see a slave perhaps cringe, and sneak, and humble himself; but do we therefore presently think that we see his nature in his behaviour? No, we may find ourselves much mistaken; for nobody knows, in case 50Providence should think fit to smile upon such an one, and, as it were, to launch him forth into a deep and a wide fortune, how quickly he would be another man, assume another spirit, and grow insolent, imperious, and insufferable.
Nor is this a mystery hid only from the eyes of the world round about a man, but sometimes also even from himself; for he seldom knows his own heart so perfectly, as to be able to give a certain account of the future disposition and inclination of it, when placed under different states and conditions of life. He that has been bred poor, and grown up in a cottage, knows not how his spirits would move, and his blood rise, should he come to handle full bags, to see splendid attendances, and to eat, drink, and sleep in state. Yet no doubt, but by such great unlikely changes, as also by lower degrees of affluence and fruition, Providence designs to sift, and search, and give the world some experience of the make and bent of men’s minds.
But now the vicious person flies only upon the bulk and matter of the gift, and considers not that the giver has a plot and a design upon him; the consideration of which would naturally make men cautious and circumspect in their behaviour: for surely it is not an ordinary degree of intemperance, that would prompt a man to drink in temperately before those, who, he knows, gave him his freedom, only to try whether he would use it to excess or no. God gave Saul a rich booty upon the conquest of Amalek, to try whether he would prefer real obedience before pretended sacrifice, and the performing of a command before flying upon the spoil: but his ignorance of the use to which God designed that 51prosperous event, made him let loose the reins of his folly and his covetousness, even to the blasting of his crown, and the taking the sceptre from his family, 1 Sam. xv. 23. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, said Samuel to him, he hath also rejected thee from being king: so that this was the effect of his misunderstood success; he conquered Amalek, but destroyed himself.
2. The second end and design of God in giving prosperity, and of which all wicked persons are either ignorant or regardless, is to encourage them in a constant, humble expression of their gratitude to the bounty of their Maker, who deals forth such rich and plentiful provisions to his undeserving creatures. God would have every temporal blessing raise that question in the heart; Lord, what is man, that thou visitest him? or the son of man, that thou so regardest him? He never sends the pleasures of the spring nor the plenties of harvest to surfeit, but to oblige the sons of men; and the very fruits of the earth are intended as arguments to carry their thoughts to heaven.
But the wicked and sensual part of the world are only concerned to find scope and room enough to wallow in; if they can but have it, whence they have it troubles not their thoughts; saying grace is no part of their meal; they feed and grovel like swine under an oak, filling themselves with the mast, but never so much as looking up, either to the boughs that bore, or the hands that shook it down. This is their temper and deportment in the midst of all their enjoyments. But it is far from reaching the purposes of the great governor of the world; who makes it not his care to gratify the brutishness and stupidity 52of evil persons. He will not be their purveyor only, but their instructor also, and see them taught, as well as fed by his liberality.
3. The third end that God gives men prosperity for, and of which wicked persons take no notice, is to make them helpful to society. No man holds the abundance of wealth, power, and honour, that Heaven has blessed him with, as a proprietor, but as a steward, as the trustee of Providence to use and dispense it for the good of those whom he converses with. For does any one think, that the divine Providence concerns itself to lift him up to a station of power, only to insult and domineer over those who are round about him; and to shew the world how able he is to do a mischief, or a shrewd turn? No, God deposits (and he does but deposit) a power in his hand to encourage virtue, and to relieve op pressed innocence; and in a word, to act as his deputy, and as God himself would do, should he be pleased to act immediately in affairs here below.
God bids a great and rich person rise and shine, as he bids the sun; that is, not for himself, but for the necessities of the world: and none is so honourable in his own person, as he who is helpful to others. When God makes a man wealthy and potent, he passes a double obligation upon him; one, that he gives him riches; the other, that he gives him an opportunity of exercising a great virtue; for surely, if God shall be pleased to make me his almoner, and the conduit by which his goodness may descend upon my distressed neighbour, though the charity be personally mine, yet both of us have cause to thank God for it, I that I can be virtuous, and he that he is relieved.53
But the wicked, worldly person looks no further than himself; his charity ends at home, where it should only begin. He thinks that Providence fills his purse and his barns only to pamper his own carcass, to invite him to take his ease and his fill, that is, to serve his base appetites with all the occasions of sin. It is not his business to do good, but only to enjoy it, and to enjoy it so, as to lessen it, by monopolizing and confining it. Whereupon being ignorant of the purpose, it is no wonder, if he also abuses the bounty of Providence, and so perverts it to his own destruction.
II. The second general reason, why the prosperity of fools proves destructive to them, is, because prosperity (as the nature of man now stands) has a peculiar force and fitness to abate men’s virtues, and to heighten their corruptions.
1. And first for its abating their virtues. Virtue, of any sort whatsoever, is a plant that grows upon no ground, but such an one as is frequently tilled and cultivated with the severest labour. But what a stranger is toil and labour to a great fortune! Persons possessed of this, judge themselves to have actually all that, for which labour can be rational. For men usually labour to be rich, great, and eminent. And these are born to all this, as to an in heritance. They are at the top of the hill already; so that while others are climbing and panting to get up, they have nothing else to do, but to lie down and sun themselves, and at their own ease be spectators of other men’s labours.
But it is poverty and hardship that has made the most famed commanders, the fittest persons for business, the most expert statesmen, and the greatest 54philosophers. For that has first pushed them on upon the account of necessity, which being satisfied, they have aimed a step higher at convenience; and so being at length inured to a course of virtuous and generous sedulity, pleasure has continued that, which necessity first began; till their endeavours have been crowned with eminence, mastership, and perfection in the way they have been engaged in.
But would the young effeminate gallant, that never knew what it was to want his will, that every day clothes himself with the riches, and swims in the delights of the world; would he, I say, choose to rise out of his soft bed at midnight, to begin an hard and a long march, to engage in a crabbed study, or to follow some tedious perplexed business? No; he will have his servants, and the sun itself rise before him; when his breakfast is ready, he will make himself ready too; unless perhaps sometimes his hounds and his huntsmen break his sleep, and so make him early in order to his being idle.
Hence we observe so many great families to decay and moulder away through the debauchery and sottishness of the heir: the reason of which is, that the possession of an estate does not prompt men to those severe and virtuous practices, by which it was first acquired. The grandchild perhaps comes, and drinks and whores himself out of those fair lands, manors, and mansions, which his glorious ancestors had fought or studied themselves into, which they had got by preserving their country against an invasion, by facing the enemy in the field, hungry and thirsty, early and late, by preferring a brave action before a sound sleep, though nature might never so much require it.55
When the success and courage of the Romans had made them masters of the wealth and pleasures of all the conquered nations round about them, we see how quickly the edge of their valour was dulled, and the rigorous honesty of their morals dissolved and melted away with those delights, which too too easily circumvent and overcome the hearts of men. So that instead of the Camilli, the Fabricii, the Scipio’s, and such like propagators of the growing greatness of the Roman empire, who lived as high things as they performed; as soon as the bulk of it grew vast and unlimited upon the reign of Augustus Caesar, we find a degenerous race of Caligula’s, Nero’s, and Vitellius’s; and of other inferior sycophants and flatterers, who neither knew nor affected any other way of making themselves considerable, but by a servile adoring of the vices and follies of great ones above them, and a base treacherous informing against virtuous and brave persons about them.
The whole business that was carried on with such noise and eagerness in that great city, then the empress of the western world, was nothing else but to build magnificently, to feed luxuriously, to frequent sports and theatres, to run for the sportula, and in a word, to flatter and to be flattered; the effects of a too full and unwieldy prosperity. But surely they could not have had leisure to think upon their sumens, their mullets, their Lucrinian oysters, their phenicopters, and the like; they could not have made a rendezvous of all the elements at their table every day, in such a prodigious variety of meats and drinks; they could not, I say, have thus intended these things, had the Gauls been besieging their 56capitol, or Hannibal in the head of his Carthaginian army rapping at their doors: this would quickly have turned their spits into swords, and whet their teeth too against their enemies. But when peace, ease, and plenty, took away these whetstones of courage and emulation, they insensibly slid into the Asiatic softness, and were intent upon nothing but their cooks and their ragouts, their fine attendants and unusual habits; so that the Roman genius was (as the English seems to be now) even lost and stifled, and the conquerors themselves transformed into the guise and garb of the conquered; till by degrees the empire shrivelled and pined away; and from such a surfeit of immoderate prosperity, passed at length into a final consumption.
Nor is this strange, if we consider man’s nature, and reflect upon the great impotence and difficulty that it finds in advancing into the ways of virtue merely by itself, without some collateral aids and assistances; and such helps as shall smooth the way before it, by removing all hinderances and impediments. For virtue, as it first lies in the heart of man, is but as a little spark; which may indeed be blown into a flame; it has that innate force in it, that, being cherished and furthered in its course, the least particle falling from a candle may climb the top of palaces, waste a city, and consume a neighbourhood. But then the suitableness of the fuel, and the wind and the air must conspire with its endeavours: this is the breath that must enliven and fan, and bear it up, till it becomes mighty and victorious. Otherwise do we think, that that little thing, that, falling upon a thatch, or a stack of corn, prevails so marvellously, could exert its strength and 57its flames, its terror and its rage, falling into the dew or the dust? There it is presently checked, and left to his own little bulk to preserve itself; which meeting with no catching matter, presently expires and dies, and becomes weak and insignificant.
In like manner let us suppose a man, according to his natural frame and temper, addicted to modesty and temperance, to virtuous and sober courses. Here is indeed something improvable into a bright and a noble perfection; nature has kindled the spark, sown the seed, and we see the rude draught and first lineaments of a Joseph, a Cato, or a Fabricius. But now has this little embryo strength enough to thrust itself into the world? to hold up its head, and to maintain its course to a perfect maturity, against all the assaults and batteries of intemperance; all the snares and trepans that common life lays in its way to extinguish and suppress it? Can it abstain, in the midst of all the importunities and opportunities of sensuality, without being confirmed and disciplined by long hardships, severe abridgments, and the rules of virtue, frequently inculcated and carefully pressed? No, we shall quickly find those hopeful beginnings dashed and swallowed up by such ruining delights. Prosperity is but a bad nurse to virtue; a nurse which is like to starve it in its infancy, and to spoil it in its growth.
I come now in the next place to shew, that as it has such an aptness to lessen and abate virtue, so it has a peculiar force also to heighten and inflame men’s corruptions.
Nothing shall more effectually betray the heart into a love of sin, and a loathing of holiness, than an ill managed prosperity. It is like some meats, 58the more luscious, so much the more dangerous. Prosperity and ease upon an unsanctified, impure heart, is like the sunbeams upon a dunghill, it raises many filthy, noisome exhalations. The same soldiers, who in hard service, and in the battle, are in perfect subjection to their leaders, in peace and luxury are apt to mutiny and rebel. That corrupt affection, which has lain, as it were, dead and frozen in the midst of distracting businesses, or under adversity, when the sun of prosperity has shined upon it, then, like a snake, it presently recovers its former strength and venom. Vice must be caressed and smiled upon, that it may thrive and sting. It is starved by poverty: it droops under the frowns of fortune, and pines away upon bread and water. But when the channels of plenty run high, and every appetite is plied with abundance and variety, so that satisfaction is but a mean word to express its enjoyment; then the inbred corruption of the heart shews itself pampered and insolent, too unruly for discipline, and too big for correction.
Which will appear the better, by considering those vices, which more particularly receive improvement by prosperity.
1. And the first is pride. Who almost is there, whose heart does not swell with his bags? and whose thoughts do not follow the proportions of his condition? What difference has been seen in the same man poor and preferred? his mind, like a mushroom, has shot up in a night: his business is first to forget himself, and then his friends. When the sun shines, then the peacock displays his train.
We know when Hezekiah’s treasuries were full, his armories replenished, and the pomp of his court 59rich and splendid, how his heart was lifted up, and what vaunts he made of all to the Babylonish ambassadors, Isaiah xxix. 2. though in the end, as most proud fools do, he smarted for his ostentation. See Nebuchadnezzar also strutting himself upon the survey of that mass of riches and settled grandeur that Providence had blessed his court with. It swelled his heart, till it broke out at his mouth in that rodomontade, Dan. iv. 30. Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the glory of my majesty? Now, that prosperity, by fomenting a man’s pride, lays a certain train for his ruin, will easily be acknowledged by him, who either from scripture or experience shall learn what a spite Providence constantly owes the proud person. He is the very eyesore of Heaven; and God even looks upon his own supremacy as concerned to abase him.
2. Another sin, that is apt to receive increase and growth from prosperity, is luxury and uncleanness. Sodom was a place watered like the garden of God, Gen. xiii. 10. There was in it fulness of bread, Ezek. xvi. 49, and a redundant fruition of all things. This was the condition of Sodom, and what the sin of it was, and the dismal consequence of that sin, is too well known. The Israelites committing fornication with the daughters of Moab, which reaped down so many thousands of them at once, was introduced with feasting and dancing, and all the gayeties and festivities of a prosperous, triumphing people. We read of nothing like adultery in a persecuted David in the wilderness; he fled here and there like a chaste roe upon the mountains; but when the delicacies of the court softened and ungirt his spirit, 60when he drowsed upon his couch, and sunned himself upon the leads of his palace; then it was that this great hero fell by a glance, and buried his glories in his neighbour’s bed: gaining to his name a lasting slur, and to his conscience a fearful wound.
As Solomon says of a man surprised with surfeit and intemperance, we may say of every foolish man immersed in prosperity, that his eyes shall look upon strange women, and his heart shall utter perverse things. It is a tempting thing for the fool to be gadding abroad in a fair day. But Dinah knows not, but the snare may be laid for her, and she return with a rape upon her honour, baffled and defloured, and robbed of the crown of her virginity. Lot’s daughters revelled and banqueted their father into incest.
The unclean devil haunts the families of the rich, the gallant, and the high livers; and there is nothing but the wisdom from above, which descends upon strict, humble, and praying persons, that can preserve the soul pure and sound in the killing neighbourhood of such a contagion.
3. A third sin that prosperity inclines the corrupt heart of man to, is great profaneness, and neglect of God in the duties of religion. Those who lie soft and warm in a rich estate, seldom come to heat themselves at the altar. It is a poor fervour that arises from devotion, in comparison of that which sparkles from the generous draughts, and the festival fare which attend the tables of the wealthy and the great. Such men are, as they think, so happy, that they have no leisure to be holy. They look upon prayer as the work of the poor and the solitary, and such as have nothing to spend but their time 61and themselves. If Jesurun wax fat, it is ten to one but he will kick against him who made him so.
And now, I suppose, a reflection upon the premises cannot but press every serious person with a consideration of the ticklish estate he stands in, while the favours of Providence are pleased to breathe upon him in these gentle gales. No man is wholly out of the danger which we have been discoursing of: for every man has so much of folly in him as he has of sin; and therefore he must know, that his foot is not so steady, but it may slip and slide in the oily paths of prosperity.
The treachery and weakness of his own heart may betray and insensibly bewitch him into the love and liking of a fawning vice. What the prophet says of wine and music may be also said of prosperity, whose intoxications are not at all less, that it steals away the heart. The man shall find that his heart is gone, though he perceives not when it goes.
And the reason of all this is, because it is natural for the soul in time of prosperity to be more careless and unbent; and consequently not keeping so narrow a watch over itself, is more exposed to the invasions and arts of its industrious enemy. Upon which account, the wise and the cautious will look upon the, most promising season of prosperity with a doubtful and a suspicious eye; as bewaring, lest, while it offers a kiss to the lips, it brings a javelin for the side; many hearts have been thus melted, that could never have been broke. This also may be a full, though a sad argument to allay the foolish envy, with which some are apt to look upon men of great and flourishing estates at a distance: for how do they know, that what they make the object of their 62envy, is not a fitter object for their pity? And that this glistering person, so much admired by them, is not now a preparing for his ruin, and fatting for the slaughters of eternity? That he does not eat his bane, and carouse his poison? The poor man perhaps is cursed into all his greatness and prosperity. Providence has put it as a sword into his hand, for the wounding and destroying of his own soul: for he knows not how to use any of these things; and so has only this advantage, that he is damned in state, and goes to hell with more ease, more flourish and magnificence than other men.
And thus much for the second general reason, why the prosperity of fools proves fatal and destructive to them. I come now to the third and last, which is, because prosperity directly indisposes men to the proper means of their amendment and recovery.
1. As first, it renders them utterly averse from receiving counsel and admonition, Jer. xxii. 21. I spake to thee in thy prosperity, and thou saidst, I will not hear. The ear is wanton and ungoverned, and the heart insolent and obdurate, till one is pierced, and the other made tender by affliction. Prosperity leaves a kind of dulness and lethargy upon the spirits; so that the still voice of God will not awaken a man, but he must thunder and lighten about his ears, before he will be brought to take notice that God speaks to him. All the divine threatenings and reprehensions beat upon such an one but as stubble upon a brass wall; the man and his vice stand firm, unshaken, and unconcerned; he presumes that the course of his affairs will proceed always as it does, smoothly, and without interruption; 63that to-morrow will be as to-day, and much more abundant. It is natural for men in a prosperous condition neither to love nor suspect a change.
But besides, prosperity does not only shut the ear against counsel, by reason of the dulness that it leaves upon the senses; but also upon the account of that arrogance and untutored haughtiness that it brings upon the mind; which of all other qualities chiefly stops the entrance of advice, by making a man look upon himself as too great and too wise to admit of the assistances of another’s wisdom. The richest man will still think himself the wisest man. And where there is fortune, there needs no advice.
2. Much prosperity utterly unfits such persons for the sharp trials of adversity: which yet God uses as the most proper and sovereign means to correct and reduce a soul grown vain and extravagant, by a long, uninterrupted felicity. But an unsanctified, unregenerate person, passing into so great an alteration of estate, is like a man in a sweat entering into a river, or throwing himself into the snow; he is presently struck to the heart; he languishes, and meets with certain death in the change. His heart is too effeminate and weak to contest with want and hardship, and the killing misery of having been happy heretofore: for in this condition he certainly misbehaves himself one of these two ways.
1. He either faints and desponds, and parts with his hope together with his possessions. He has neither confidence in Providence, nor substance in himself, to bear him out, and buoy up his sinking spirit, when the storms and showers of an adverse fortune shall descend, and beat upon him, and shake in pieces 64the pitiful fabric of his earthly comforts. The earth he treads upon is his sole joy and inheritance, and that which supports his feet must support his heart also; otherwise he cannot, like Job, rest upon that Providence that places him upon a dunghill.
2. Such a person, if he does not faint and sink in adversity, then on the contrary he will murmur and tumultuate, and blaspheme the God that afflicts him. A bold and a stubborn spirit naturally throws out its malignity this way. It will make a man die cursing and raving, and even breathe his last in a blasphemy. No man knows how high the corruption of some natures will work and foam, being provoked and exasperated by affliction.
Having thus shewn the reasons why prosperity becomes destructive to some persons; surely it is now but rational, in some brief directions, to shew how it may become otherwise; and that is, in one word, by altering the quality of the subject. Prosperity, I shew, was destructive to fools; and therefore, the only way for a man not to find it destructive, is for him not to be a fool; and this he may avoid by a pious observance of these following rules. As,
1. Let him seriously consider upon what weak hinges his prosperity and felicity hangs. Perhaps the cross falling of a little accident, the omission of a ceremony, or the misplacing of a circumstance, may determine all his fortunes for ever. Or perhaps his whole interest, his possessions, and his hopes too, may live by the breath of another, who may breathe his last to-morrow. And shall a man forget God and eternity for that which cannot se cure him the reversion of a day’s happiness? Can 65any favourite bear himself high and insolent upon the stock of the largest fortune imaginable, who has read the story of Wolsey or Sejanus? Not only the death, but the humour of his prince or patron may divest him of all his glories, and send him stripped and naked to his long rest. How quickly is the sun overcast, and how often does he set in a cloud, and that cloud break in a storm! He that well considers this, will account it a surer livelihood to depend upon the sweat of his own brow, than the favour of another man’s. And even while it is his fortune to enjoy it, he will be far from confidence; confidence, which is the downfall of a man’s happiness, and a traitor to him in all his concerns; for still it is the confident person who is deceived.
2. Let a man consider, how little he is bettered by prosperity, as to those perfections which are chiefly valuable. All the wealth of both the Indies cannot add one cubit to the stature either of his body or his mind. It can neither better his health, advance his intellectuals, or refine his morals. We see those languish and die, who command the physic and physicians of a whole kingdom. And some are dunces in the midst of libraries, dull and sottish in the very bosom of Athens; and far from wisdom, though they lord it over the wise.
For does he, who was once both poor and ignorant, find his notions or his manners any thing improved, because perhaps his friend or father died, and left him rich? Did his ignorance expire with the other’s life? Or does he understand one proposition in philosophy, one mystery in his profession at all the more for his keeping a bailiff or a steward? great and as good a landlord as he is, may he 66not for all this have an empty room yet to let? and that such an one as is like to continue empty upon his hands (or rather head) for ever? If so, surely then none has cause to value himself upon that, which is equally incident to the worst and weakest of men.
3dly and lastly, Let a man correct the gayeties and wanderings of his spirit, by the severe duties of mortification. Let him, as David says, mingle his drink with weeping, and dash his wine with such water. Let him effect that upon himself by fasting and abstinence, which God would bring others to by penury and want. And by so doing, he shall disenslave and redeem his soul from a captivity to the things he enjoys, and so make himself lord, as well as possessor of what he has. For repentance supplies the disciplines of adversity; and abstinence makes affliction needless, by really compassing the design of it upon the nobler accounts of choice: the scarceness of some meals will sanctify the plenty of others. And they are the quadragesimal fasts which fit both body and soul for the festivals of Easter.
The wisest persons in the world have often abridged themselves in the midst of their greatest affluence; and given bounds to their appetites, while they felt none in their fortunes. And that prince who wore sackcloth under his purple, wore the livery of virtue, as well as the badge of sovereignty; and was resolved to be good, in spite of all his greatness.
Many other considerations may be added, and these farther improved. But to sum up all in short; since folly is so bound up in the heart of man, and since the fool in his best, that is, in his most prosperous 67condition, stands tottering upon the very brink of destruction, surely the great use of the whole foregoing discourse should be to remind us in all our prayers, not so much to solicit God for any temporal enjoyment, as for an heart that may fit us for it; and that God would be the chooser, as well as the giver of our portion in this world; who alone is able to suit and sanctify our condition to us, and us to our condition.
To whom therefore be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.68
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