Consider whereabouts thou art in Cebe's<14> table, or that old philosophical pinax<15> of the life of man; whether thou art still in the road of uncertainties; whether thou hast yet entered the narrow gate, got up the hill and asperous way which leadeth unto the house of sanity; or taken that purifying potion from the hand of sincere erudition, which may send thee clear and pure away unto a virtuous and happy life.
In this virtuous voyage let no disappointment cause despondency, nor difficulty despair. Think not that you are sailing from Lima to Manilla,* <16> wherein thou mayest tie up the rudder, and sleep before the wind, but expect rough seas, flaws and contrary blasts;
* Through the Pacifick Sea with a constant gale from the east.
and 'tis well if by many cross tacks and veerings thou arrivest at the port. Sit not down in the popular seats and common level of virtues, but endeavour to make them heroical. Offer not only peace-offerings but holocausts unto God. To serve him singly to serve our- selves were too partial a piece of piety, not like to place us in the highest mansions of glory.
He that is chaste and continent not to impair his strength or terrified by contagion will hardly be heroically virtuous. Adjourn not that virtue until those years when Cato could lend out his wife, and impotent satyrs write satires against lust, but be chaste in thy flaming days when Alexander dared not trust his eyes upon the fair sisters of Darius, and when so many think that there is no other way but Origen's.*
Be charitable before wealth make thee covetous, and lose not the glory of the mitre. If riches increase, let thy mind hold pace with them, and think it is not enough to be liberal but munificent. Though a cup of cold water from some hand may not be without its reward, yet stick not thou for wine and oil for the wounds of the distressed, and treat the poor as our Saviour did the multitude to the reliques of some baskets.
Trust not unto the omnipotency of gold, or say not unto it, thou art my confidence. Kiss not thy hand when thou beholdest that terrestrial sun, nor bore thy ear unto its servitude. A slave unto Mammon makes no servant unto God. Covetousness cracks the sinews of faith, numbs the apprehension of anything above sense; and only affected with the certainty of things present, makes a peradventure of things to come; lives but unto one world, nor hopes but fears another: makes
* Who is said to have castrated himself.