Saturday, April 16, 2016

Meditation VIII: 'Upon a crumb going down the wrong way', 1666.

Meditation VIII. Upon a Crum going the wrong way.

What more mean and contemptible thing can there be then a single Crum, either in regard of its doing the least hurt, or effecting the least good; and yet, like the Tongue, which St. James saith, is a little Member, ex ollit sese, it boasteth great Matters: in the Mouth (it is true) it hath scarce substance enough to be felt; but, in the Throat, it is such as can hardly be endured. If it descend into the Stomach, it can contribute nothing to the support of Life; but, if it miss the due passage to it, how often doth it threaten Death? and sometimes also effect it: O, how frail and mutable is the Life of Man; which is not only Jeopardised by Instruments of War and Slaughter, which are made to destroy, but by an Hair, a Raisin Stone, a Feather, a Crum, and a thousand such inconsiderable things, which have a power to extinguish Life, but none to preserve it? How necessary then is it to get Grace into the Heart, when the Life that we have hangs thus continually in suspence before us? and, how circumspect should we be of small sins, which create as great dangers to the Soul, as the other things can to the Body? They that live in the Pale of the Church perish more by silent and Whispering Sins, then by Crying and Loud Sins, in which, though there be less Infamie, there is ofttimes the greater danger, in regard they are most easily fallen into, and most hardly repented of; like knots in fine Silk, which are sooner made then in a Cord or Cable, but with far more difficulty are unloosed again. Let us therefore (who often say that a Man may live of a little) think also of how much less a Man may Die, and miscarry, not in his Body only but in his Soul also.

From the Preface:

William Spurstow, who as he lived beloved of his friends, so he died of all his friends much lamented

First, His profound, and real humility, and that is a root-grace that hath many in it; and this is the true ascension of the soul:

…especially in that humbleness of mind he shewed after any large receits, or performances, wherein he shewed himself like Moses, though his face shone he knew it not.

Secondly, His Charity both in giving and forgiving, the latter of which, as it is most noble, so it is the most difficult, and that which is peculiar to Christ Disciples. …

Thirdly, To this may be added his Meekness, and Patience, the natural result of Humility, in which graces he was eminent, being seldom or never transported by passion, or if at any time those passions which do repugn that grace did arise, they soon had a counterbuff from the divine principle was in him. He alwaies had an innocent, and grateful chearfulness in his Converse, that rendred it very acceptable, being very free from that morosity of spirit which many times is like a cloud in a Diamond, and like a Curtain before a Picture. And yet as the sweetest Rose hath its prickles, and the industrious Bee (that makes the healing and mollifying Honey and Wax) her sting: So he had a sting of holy Zeal, which wisdom had the conduct of, that it was not put forth upon every trivial provocation;he knew when, and where, and how far to shew it; and in Gods Cause his Zeal was better tempered, than, like a brittle blade, to fly in shivers, and wound by-standers; but it was true mettal, and would cut deep, so as to leave impressions behind it ...

Fourthly, Add to this his peaceable disposition,

But I remember I am to write a Preface, not a Narrative of his life. He was a lover of goodmen. Loving and faithful in his Relations; a good Child, a good Father, a good Husband, a good Brother, a good Master, a good neighbour, a good Friend, a good Governor, a good Subject, a good minister: and all because he was a good Christian...

(But not, I would venture, a very good writer.)

There are more in his posthumous volume:

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