Man's Excellency.] MAN, the most excellent and noble creature of the world, "the principal and mighty work of God, wonder of nature," as Zoroaster calls him; audacis naturæ miraculum, "the marvel of marvels," as Plato; the "abridgment and epitome of the world," as Pliny; Microcosmus, a little world, a model of the world, sovereign lord of the earth, viceroy of the world, sole commander and governor of all the creatures in it; to whose empire they are subject in particular, and yield obedience; far surpassing all the rest, not in body only, but in soul; Imaginis Imago, created to God's own image, to that immortal and incorporeal substance, with all the faculties and powers belonging unto it; was at first pure, divine, perfect, happy, "created after God in true holiness and righteousness;" Deo congruens, free from all manner of infirmities, and put in Paradise to know God, to praise and glorify him, to do his will, Ut diis consimiles parturiat deos (as an old poet saith) to propagate the church.
Man's Fall and Misery.] But this most noble creature, Heu tristis, et lachrymosa commutatio (one exclaims) O pitiful change! is fallen from that he was, and forfeited his estate, become miserabilis homuncio, a cast-away, a caitiff, one of the most miserable creatures of the world, if he be considered in his own nature, an unregenerate man, and so much obscured by his fall that (some few reliques excepted) he is inferior to a beast, "Man in honour that understandeth not, is like unto beasts that perish," so David esteems him: a monster by stupend metamorphosis, a fox, a dog, a hog, what not? Quantum mutatus ab illo? How much altered from that he was; before blessed and happy, now miserable and accursed; "He must eat his meat in sorrow," subject to death and all manner of infirmities, all kind of calamities.
A Description of Melancholy.] "Great travail is created for all men, and an heavy yoke on the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother's womb, unto that day they return to the mother of all things. Namely, their thoughts, and fear of their hearts, and their imagination of things they wait for, and the day of death. From him that sitteth in the glorious throne, to him that sitteth beneath in the earth and ashes; from him that is clothed in blue silk and weareth a crown, to him that is clothed in simple linen. Wrath, envy, trouble, and unquietness, and fear of death, and rigour, and strife, and such things come to both man and beast, but sevenfold to the ungodly." All this befalls him in this life, and peradventure eternal misery in the life to come.
Impulsive Cause of Man's Misery and Infirmities.] The impulsive cause of these miseries in Man, this privation of destruction of God's image, the cause of death and diseases, of all temporal and eternal punishments, was the sin of our first parent Adam, eating of the forbidden fruit, by the devil's instigation and allurement. His disobedience, pride, ambition, intemperance, incredulity, curiosity; from whence proceeded original sin, and that general corruption of mankind, as from a fountain flowed all bad inclinations and actual transgressions which cause our several calamities inflicted upon us for our sins. And this belike is that which our fabulous poets have shadowed unto us in the tale of Pandora's box, which being opened through her curiosity, filled the world full of all manner of diseases. It is not curiosity alone, but those other crying sins of ours, which pull these several plagues and miseries upon our heads. For Ubi peccatum, ibi procella, as Chrysostom well observes. "Fools by reason of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Fear cometh like sudden desolation, and destruction like a whirlwind, affliction and anguish, "because they did not fear God, "Are you shaken with wars?" as Cyprian well urgeth to Demetrius, "are you molested with dearth and famine? is your health crushed with raging diseases? is mankind generally tormented with epidemical maladies? 'tis all for your sins," Hag. i. 9, 10; Amos i.; Jer. vii. God is angry, punisheth and threateneth, because of their obstinacy and stubbornness, they will not turn unto him. "If the earth be barren then for want of rain, if dry and squalid, it yield no fruit, if your fountains be dried up, your wine, corn, and oil blasted, if the air be corrupted, and men troubled with diseases, 'tis by reason of their sins:" which like the blood of Abel cry loud to heaven for vengeance, Lam. v. 15. "That we have sinned, therefore our hearts are heavy," Isa. lix. 11, 12. "We roar like bears, and mourn like doves, and want health, &c. for our sins and trespasses." But this we cannot endure to hear or to take notice of; Jer. ii. 30. "We are smitten in vain and receive no correction;" and cap. v. 3. "Thou hast stricken them, but they have not sorrowed; they have refused to receive correction; they have not returned. Pestilence he hath sent, but they have not turned to him," Amos iv. Herod could not abide John Baptist, nor Domitian endure Apollonius to tell the causes of the plague at Ephesus, his injustice, incest, adultery, and the like.
To punish therefore this blindness and obstinacy of ours as a concomitant cause and principal agent, is God's just judgment in bringing these calamities upon us, to chastise us, I say, for our sins, and to satisfy God's wrath. For the law requires obedience or punishment, as you may read at large, Deut. xxviii. 15. "If they will not obey the Lord, and keep his commandments and ordinances, then all these curses shall come upon them. Cursed in the town and in the field. &c. Cursed in the fruit of the body, &c. The Lord shall send thee trouble and shame, because of thy wickedness." And a little after, "The Lord shall smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with emrods, and scab, and itch, and thou canst not be healed. With madness, blindness, and astonishing of heart." This Paul seconds, Rom. ii. 9, "Tribulation and anguish on the soul of every man that doth evil." Or else these chastisements are inflicted upon us for our humiliation, to exercise and try our patience here in this life, to bring us home, to make us to know God ourselves, to inform and teach us wisdom. "Therefore is my people gone into captivity, because they had no knowledge; therefore is the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched out his hand upon them." He is desirous of our salvation. Nostræ salutis avidus, saith Lemnius, and for that cause pulls us by the ear many times, to put us in mind of our duties: "That they which erred might have understanding, (as Isaiah speaks xxix. 24) and so to be reformed. I am afflicted, and at the point of death," so David confesseth of himself; Psalm lxxxviii. v. 15, v. 9. "Mine eyes are sorrowful through mine affliction:" and that made him turn unto God. Great Alexander in the midst of all his prosperity, by a company of parasites deified, and now made a god, when he saw one of his wounds bleed, remembered that he was but a man, and remitted of his pride. In morbo recolligit se animus, as Pliny well perceived; "In sickness the mind reflects upon itself; with judgment surveys itself; and abhors its former courses;" insomuch that he concludes to his friend Marius, "that it were the period of all philosophy, if we could so continue, sound, or perform but a part of that which we promised to do, being sick." Whoso is wise then, will consider these things, as David did (Psal. cxliv., verse last); and whatsoever fortune befall him, make use of it. If he be in sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity, seriously to recount with himself; why this or that malady, misery, this or that incurable disease is inflicted upon him; it may be for his good, sic expedit, as Peter said of his daughter's ague. Bodily sickness is for his soul's health, periisset nisi periisset, had he not been visited, he had utterly perished; for "the Lord correcteth him whom he loveth, even as a father doth his child in whom he delighteth." If he be safe and sound on the other side, and free from all manner of infirmity; et cui
"Gratia, forma, valetudo contingat abunde
Et mundus victus, non deficiente crumena."
"And that he have grace, beauty, favour, health,
A cleanly diet, and abound in wealth."
Yet in the midst of his prosperity, let him remember that caveat of Moses, "Beware that he do not forget the Lord his God;" that he be not puffed up, but acknowledge them to be his good gifts and benefits, and "the more he hath, to be more thankful," (as Agapetianus adviseth) and use them aright.
Instrumental Causes of our Infirmities.] Now the instrumental causes of these our infirmities, are as diverse as the infirmities themselves; stars, heavens, elements, &c. And all those creatures which God hath made, are armed against sinners. They were indeed once good in themselves, and that they are now many of them pernicious unto us, is not in their nature, but our corruption, which hath caused it. For from the fall of our first parent Adam, they have been changed, the earth accursed, the influence of stars altered, the four elements, beasts, birds, plants, are now ready to offend us. "The principal things for the use of man, are water, fire, iron, salt, meal, wheat, honey, milk, oil, wine, clothing, good to the godly, to the sinners turned to evil," Ecclus. xxxix. 26. "Fire, and hail, and famine, and dearth, all these are created for vengeance," Ecclus. xxxix. 29. The heavens threaten us with their comets, stars, planets, with their great conjunctions, eclipses, oppositions, quartiles, and such unfriendly aspects. The air with his meteors, thunder and lightning, intemperate heat and cold, mighty winds, tempests, unseasonable weather; from which proceed dearth, famine, plague, and all sorts of epidemical diseases, consuming infinite myriads of men. At Cairo in Egypt, every third year, (as it is related by Boterus, and others) 300,000 die of the plague; and 200,000, in Constantinople, every fifth or seventh at the utmost. How doth the earth terrify and oppress us with terrible earthquakes, which are most frequent in China, Japan, and those eastern climes, swallowing up sometimes six cities at once? How doth the water rage with his inundations, irruptions, flinging down towns, cities, villages, bridges, &c, besides shipwrecks; whole islands are sometimes suddenly overwhelmed with all their inhabitants in Holland, and many parts of the continent drowned, as the lake Erne in Ireland? Nihilque præter arcium cadavera patenti cernimus freto. In the fens of Friesland, 1230, by reason of tempests, the sea drowned multa hominum millia, et jumenta sine numero, (and we percieve nothing, except the dead bodies of cities in the open sea) all the country almost, men aud cattle in it. How doth the fire rage, that merciless element, consuming in an instant whole cities? What town of any antiquity or note hath not been once, again and again, by the fury of this merciless element, defaced, ruinated, and left desolate? In a word,
"Ignis pepercit, unda mergit, aeris
Vis pestilentis æquori ereptum necat,
Bello superstes, tabidus morbo perit"
"Whom fire spares, sea doth drown; whom sea,
Pestilent air doth send to clay;
Whom war 'scapes, sickness takes away."
To descend to more particulars, how many creatures are at deadly feud with men? Lions, wolves, bears, &c., Some with hoofs, horns, tusks, teeth, nails: How many noxious serpents and venomous creatures, ready to offend us with stings, breath, sight, or quite kill us? How many pernicious fishes, plants, gums, fruits, seeds, flowers, &c., could I reckon up on a sudden, which by their very smell many of them, touch, taste, cause some grievous malady, if not death itself? Some make mention of a thousand several poisons: but these are but trifles in respect. The greatest enemy to man, is man, who by the devil's instigation is still ready to do mischief; his own executioner, a wolf, a devil to himself, and others. We are all brethren in Christ, or at least should be, members of one body, servants of one Lord, and yet no fiend can so torment, insult over, tyrannize, vex, as one man doth another. Let me not fall therefore (saith David, when wars, plague, famine were offered) into the hands of men, merciless and wicked men:
Vix sunt homines hoc nomine digni,
Quamque lupi, sævæ plus feritatis habent."
We can most part foresee these epidemical diseases, and likely avoid them; Dearths, tempests, plagues, our astrologers foretel us; Earthquakes, inundations, ruins of houses, consuming fires, come by little and little, or make some noise beforehand; but the knaveries, impostures, injuries and villanies of men no art can avoid. We can keep our professed enemies from our cities, by gates, walls, and towers, defend ourselves from thieves and robbers by watchfulness and weapons; but this malice of men, and their pernicious endeavours, no caution can divert, no vigilancy foresee, we have so many secret plots and devices to mischief one another.
Sometimes by the devil's help as magicians, witches: sometimes by impostures, mixtures, poisons, stratagems, single combats, wars, we hack and hew as if we were ad internecionem nati, like Cadmus' soldiers born to consume one another. 'Tis an ordinary thing to read of a hundred and two hundred thousand men slain in a battle. Besides all manner of tortures, brazen bulls, racks, wheels, strapadoes, guns, engines, &c. Ad unum corpus humanum supplicia plura, quam membra: We have invented more torturing instruments, than there be several members in a man's body, as Cyprian well observes. To come nearer yet, our own parents by their offences, indiscretion and intemperance, are our mortal enemies. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." They cause our grief many times, and put upon us hereditary diseases, inevitable infirmities: they torment us, and we are ready to injure our posterity;
-- "mox daturi progeniem vitiosiorem."
"And yet with crimes to us unknown,
Our sons shall mark the coming age their own."
and the latter end of the world, as Paul foretold, is still like to be the worst. We are thus bad by nature, bad by kind, but far worse by art, every man the greatest enemy unto himself. We study many times to undo ourselves, abusing those good gifts which God hath bestowed upon us, health, wealth, strength, wit, learning, art, memory to our own destruction, Perditio tua ex te. As Judas Maccabeus killed Apollonius with his own weapons, we arm ourselves to our own overthrows; and use reason, art, judgment, all that should help us, as so many instruments to undo us. Hector gave Ajax a sword, which so long as he fought against enemies, served for his help and defence; but after he began to hurt harmless creatures with it, turned to his own hurtless bowels. Those excellent means God hath bestowed on us, well employed, cannot but much avail us; but if otherwise perverted, they ruin and confound us: and so by reason of our indiscretion and weakness they commonly do, we have too many instances. This St. Austin acknowledgeth of himself in his humble confessions, "promptness of wit, memory, eloquence, they were God's good gifts, but he did not use them to his glory." If you will particularly know how, and by what means, consult physicians, and they will tell you, that it is in offending in some of those six non-natural things, of which I shall dilate more at large; they are the causes of our infirmities, our surfeiting, and drunkenness, our immoderate insatiable lust, and prodigious riot. Plures crapula, quam gladius, is a true saying, the board consumes more than the sword. Our intemperance it is, that pulls so many several incurable diseases upon our heads, that hastens old age, perverts our temperature, and brings upon us sudden death. And last of all, that which crucifies us most, is our own folly, madness, (quos Jupiter perdit, dementat; by subtraction of his assisting grace God permits it) weakness, want of government, our facility and proneness in yielding to several lusts, in giving way to every passion and perturbation of the mind: by which means we metamorphose ourselves and degenerate into beasts. All which that prince of poets observed of Agamemnon, that when he was well pleased, and could moderate his passion, he was -- os oculosque Jove par: like Jupiter in feature, Mars in valour. Pallas in wisdom, another god; but when he became angry, he was a lion, a tiger, a dog, &c., there appeared no sign or likeness of Jupiter in him; so we, as long as we are ruled by reason, correct our inordinate appetite, and conform ourselves to God's word, are as so many saints: but if we give reins to lust, anger, ambition, pride, and follow our own way; we degenerate into beasts, transform ourselves, overthrow our constitutions, provoke God to anger, and heap upon us this of melancholy, and all kinds of incurable diseases, as a just and deserved punishment of our sins.