Make not the consequences of virtue the ends thereof. Be not beneficent for a name or cymbal of applause; nor exact and punctual in commerce for the advantages of trust and credit, which attend the reputation of just and true dealing: for such rewards, though unsought for, plain virtue will bring with her, whom all men honour, though they pursue not. To have other by-ends in good actions sours laudable performances, which must have deeper roots, motives, and instigations, to give them the stamp of virtues.
Though human infirmity may betray thy heedless days into the popular ways of extravagancy, yet, let not thine own depravity or the torrent of vicious times carry thee into desperate enormities in opinions, manners, or actions. If thou hast dipped thy foot in the river, yet venture not over Rubicon; run not into extremities from whence there is no regression, nor be ever so closely shut up within the holds of vice and iniquity, as not to find some escape by a postern of recipiscency.<17>
Owe not thy humility unto humiliation by adversity, but look humbly down in that state when others look upward upon thee. Be patient in the age of pride, and days of will, and impatiency, when men live but by intervals of reason, under the sovereignty of humour and passion, when it is in the power of every one to trans- form thee out of thyself, and put thee into short mad- ness.* If you cannot imitate Job, yet come not short of Socrates,<18> and those patient Pagans, who tired the
tongues of their enemies, while they perceived they spit their malice at brazen walls and statues.
Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks; be content to be envied, but envy not. Emulation may be plausible, and indignation allowable, but admit no treaty with that passion which no circumstance can make good. A displacency at the good of others, because they enjoy it although we do not want it, is an absurd depravity sticking fast unto nature, from its primitive corruption, which he that can well subdue were a Christian of the first magnitude, and for ought I know may have one foot already in heaven.
While thou so hotly disclaimest the devil, be not guilty of Diabolism. Fall not into one name with that unclean spirit, nor act his nature whom thou so much abhorrest, that is, to accuse, calumniate, backbite, whisper, detract, or sinistrously interpret others. Degen- erous depravities and narrow-minded vices! not only below St Paul's noble Christian, but Aristotle's true gen- tleman.* Trust not with some that the Epistle of St James is apocryphal, and so read with less fear that stabbing truth that in company with this vice, "thy religion is in vain." Moses broke the tables without breaking the law, but where charity is broke the law itself is shattered, which cannot be whole without love that is "the fulfilling of it." Look humbly upon thy virtues, and though thou art rich in some, yet think thyself poor and naked without that crowning grace which "thinketh no evil, which envieth not, which beareth, believeth, hopeth, endureth all things." With these sure graces while busy tongues are crying out for a drop of cold water, mutes may be in happi- ness, and sing the "Trisagium,"+ in heaven.
* See Aristotle's Ethics, chapter Magnanimity. + Holy, holy, holy.
Let not the sun in Capricorn* go down upon thy wrath, but write thy wrongs in water, draw the curtain of night upon injuries, shut them up in the tower of oblivion,+ and let them be as though they had not been. Forgive thine enemies totally, without any reserve of hope that however God will revenge thee.