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W HAT is Truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Certainly there be, that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as in acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them, as was in those of the ancients. But it is not only the difficulty and labour, which men take in finding out of Truth; nor again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon men's thoughts, that doth bring lies in favour; but a natural, though corrupt love, of the lie itself. One of the later schools of the Grecians examineth the matter, and is at a stand, to think what should be in it, that men should love lies; where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advantage, as with the merchant, but for the lie's sake. But I cannot tell. This same Truth is a naked and open day-light, that doth not shew the masks, and mummeries, and triumphs of the
world, half so stately and daintily as candle-lights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that sheweth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men's minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like; but it would leave the minds of a number of men, poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves? One of the Fathers in great severity called Poesy, “ the wine of Dæmons,” because it filleth the imagination, and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth the hurt, such as we spake of before. But howsoever these things are thus in men’s depraved judgments and affections; yet Truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth, that the inquiry of Truth, which is the love-making, or wooing of it; the knowledge of Truth, which is the presence of it; and the belief of Truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature. The first creature of God in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his Sabbath-work ever since, is the illumination of his spirit. First, he breathed light upon the face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light into the face of man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of his chosen. The poet that beautified the sect, that was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: “It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea ; a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage-ground of Truth (an hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene); and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below :” so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride. Certainly it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of Truth.
To pass from theological and philosophical Truth, to the Truth of civil business, it will be acknowledged, even by those who practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honour of man's nature, and that mixture of falsehood is like allay in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it. For these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent, which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet. There is no vice that doth
so cover a man with shame, as to be found false and perfidious. And therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he inquired the reason why the · word of the lie should be such a disgrace, and
such an odious charge-saith he, “ If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much as to say, that he is brave towards God, and a coward towards men.” For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man. Surely the wickedness of falsehood, and breach of faith, cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that it shall be the last peal, to call the judgments of God upon the generations of men ; it being foretold, that when Christ cometh, “ he shall not find faith upon the earth.”
M EN fear Death, as children fear to go in the dark: and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly the contemplation of Death, as“ the wages of sin,” and passage to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is weak. Yet in religious meditations, there is sometimes mixture of vanity and superstition. You shall read in some of the friars' books of mortification, that a man should think with himself, what the pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed or tortured,
and thereby imagine what the pains of Death are, when the whole body is corrupted and dissolved; when many times Death passeth with less pain, than the torture of a limb; for the most vital parts are not the quickest of sense. And by him that spake only as a philosopher, and natural man, it was well said: “ The preparation of Death terrifies more than Death itself.” Groans, and convulsions, and a discoloured face, and friends weeping, and blacks, and obsequies, and the like, shew Death terrible. It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak, but it mates and masters the fear of Death: and therefore Death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over Death ; Love slights it; Honour aspireth to it; Grief flyeth to it; Fear pre-occupateth it. Nay we read, after Otho the Emperor had slain himself, Pity (which is the tenderest of affections) provoked many to die, out of mere compassion to their Sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers. Nay, Seneca adds Niceness and Satiety: “ Think how long you could bear to be doing the same things over and over again; not only a brave or a wretched man, but also a fastidious one, may be very willing to die.” A man would die, though he were neither valiant nor miserable, only upon a wea