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SECTION II.

Of the First Temptation proper to the State of Sickness — Impatience.

Men that are in health are severe exactors of patience at the hands of them that are sick; and they usually judge it not by terms of relation between God and the suffering man, but between him and the friends that stand by the bed-side. It will be, therefore, necessary that we truly understand to what duties and actions the patience of a sick man ought to extend.

1. Sighs and groans, sorrow and prayers, humble complaints and dolorous6464Ejulatu, questu, gemitu, fremitibus, Resonando multum febiles voces refert.—Cic. Tues. ii. 13. expressions, are the sad accents of a sick man's language; for it is not to be expected that a sick man should act a part of patience with a countenance like an orator, or grave like a dramatic person; it were well if all men could bear an exterior decency in their sickness, and regulate their voice, their face, their discourse, and all their circumstances, by the measures and proportions of comeliness and satisfaction to all the standers by. But this would better please them than assist him; the sick man would do more good to others than he would receive to himself.

2.Therefore silence and still composures, and not complaining, are no parts of a sick man's duty; they are not necessary parts of patience.6565concedendum est gementi. We find that David roared the the very disquietness of his sickness; and he lay chattering like a swallow, and his throat was dry with calling for help upon his God. That is the proper voice of sickness; and certain it is that the proper voices of sickness are expressly vocal and petitory in the ears of God, and call for pity in the same accent as the cries and oppressions of widows and orphans do for vengeance upon their persecutors, though they say no collect against them. For there is the voice of man, and there is the voice of the disease, and God hears both; and the louder the disease speaks, there is the greater need of mercy and pity, and therefore God will the sooner hear it. Abel's blood had a voice, and cried to God; and humility hath a voice, and cries so loud to God that it pierces the clouds; and so hath every sorrow and every sickness; and when a man cries out and complains but according to the sorrows of his pain, it cannot be any part of a culpable impatience, but an argument for pity.

3. Some men's senses are so subtile, and their perceptions so quick and full of relish, and their spirits so active, that the same load is double upon them to what it is to another person; and therefore comparing the expressions of the one to the silence of the other, a different judgment cannot be made concerning their patience. Some natures are querulous and melancholy and soft and nice and tender and weeping and expressive; others are sullen, dull, without apprehension, apt to tolerate and carry burdens; and the crucifixion of our blessed Saviour falling upon a delicate and virgin body, of curious temper, and strict, equal composition, was naturally more full of torment than that of the ruder thieves, whose proportions were courser and uneven.

4. In this case it was no imprudent advice which Cicero gave;6666Omnino si quicquan est decorum, mibil est profecto magis quam acquabilitas univerae vitae, turn singularum actionem; quam autem conservare non possis, si aliorum naturam imitans omittas tuam.—1 Offic. 88. nothing in the world is more amiable than an even temper in our whole life, and in every action; but this evenness cannot be kept unless every man follows his own nature, without striving to imitate the circumstances of another. And what is so in the thing itself ought to be so in our judgments concerning the things. We must not call any one impatient if he be not silent in a fever, as if he were asleep, or as if he were dull as Herod's son of Athens.

5. Nature in some cases hath made cryings out and exclamations to be an entertainment of the spirit, and an abatement or diversion of the pain. For so did the old champions when they threw their fatal nets that they might load their enemy with the snares and weights of death; they groaned aloud, and sent forth the anguish of their spirit into the eyes and heart of the man that stood against them; so it is in the endurance of some sharp pains, the complaints and shriekings, the sharp groans and the tender accents, send forth the afflicted spirits, and force a way that may ease their oppression and their load; that, when they have spent some of their sorrows by a sally forth, they may return better able to fortify the heart. Nothing of this is a certain sign, much less an action or part of impatience; and when our blessed Saviour suffered his last and sharpest pang of sorrow, he cried out with a loud voice, and resolved to die, and did so.


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