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many, besides want of rest, are tortured with intolerable torments in all the parts of their body; who would think themselves happy, if they might be put into thy condition! might they but have ease, how gladly would they forbear rest! Be not, therefore, so much troubled, that it is no better with thee; but rather be thankful, that it is no worse.
The favour of health without sleep. Thou lackest sleep :-A thing, that we desire not so much for its own sake, as in a way to health. What if God be pleased so to dispose of thee, as to give thee health without it?
So he hath done to some. It is a small matter, that Goulart * reports out of Gasper Wolfius, of a woman in Padua, that continued fifteen days and nights without sleep. That is very memorable, which Seneca tells us of great Mecænas; that, in three years, he slept not ne horæ momento ; so much as the space of an hour:” which, however, Lipsius thinks good to mitigate with a favourable construction, as conceiving an impossibility of an absolute sleeplessness ; yet if we shall compare it with other instances of the same kind, we shall find no reason to scruple the utmost rigour of that relation. That a frantic man, of whom Fernelius writes t, should continue a year and two months without any sleep at all, is no wonder, in comparison of that, which learned Heurnius tells us I, upon good assurance given him, when he was a student in Padua; that Nizolius, the famous Ciceronian, lived ten whole years without sleep. And, even in our time and climate, I have been informed by credible testimony, that Monsieur L'Angles, a French Physician at London, lived no fewer years altogether sleepless. But that exceeds all example, which Monsieur Goulart reports § out of an author of good reputation, of a certain Gentlewoman, who, for thirty-five years, remained without any sleep, and found no inconvenience or distemper thereby; as was witnessed by her husband and servants.
Lo, the hand of God is not shortened. He, who, in our time, miraculously protracted the life of the Maid of Meures so many years without meat, hath sustained the lives of these fore-named persons thus long without sleep, that it might appear, Man lives not by meat or sleep only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; Matt. iv. 4. Deut. viii. 3. If he should please to bless thee with a sleepless health, the favour is far greater, than if he allowed thee to snort out thy time, in a dull unprofitable rest.
* Histoires Memorables: c. Veilles. † Patholog. l. v. c. 2. de morbis capitis : c. 16. § Goulart : ibidem.
Lib. * Sozomen. I. vi, c. 39.
Sleep but a symptom of mortality. THOU wantest sleep :- Behold, he, that keepeth Israel, doth neither slumber nor sleep; and those blessed spirits, that do continually see the face of God, never sleep.
Sleep is but a symptom of frail mortality, whereof the less we do or can partake, we come so much the nearer to those spiritual natures, whose perfection makes them uncapable of sleep.
Hereupon it was, that those retired Christians in the primitive times, which affected to come nearest to an angelical life, wilfully repelled sleep; neither would ever admit it, till it necessarily forced itself upon
them *. Lo, then, thou sufferest no more, out of the distemper of humours or unnatural obstructions, than better men have willingly drawn upon themselves, out of holy resolutions. It is but our construction, that makes those things tedious to us, which have been well taken by others.
No use of sleep whither we are going. Thou wantest sleep :-Have patience, my son, for a while. Thou art going, where there shall be no need, no use of sleep: and, in the mean time, thy better part would not, cannot rest. Though the
gates be shut, that it cannot shew itself abroad, it is ever and ever will be active. As for this earthly piece, it shall ere long sleep its fill, where no noise can wake it, till the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God shall call it up, in the morning of the Resurrection ; 1 Thess. iv. 16.
COMFORTS AGAINST THE INCONVENIENCES OF OLD AGE.
The illimitation of age; and the miseries that attend it. OLD
age is that, which we all desire to aspire unto ; and when we have attained, are as ready to complain of, as our greatest misery :
verifying, in part, that old observation, That wedlock and age are things, which we desire and repent of.
Is this our ingratitude, or inconstancy, that we are weary of what we wished?
Perhaps, this accusation may not be universal. There is much difference in constitutions, and much latitude in old age. Infancy and youth have their limits : age admits of no certain determination.
At seventy years, David was old, and stricken in years; and they covered hiin with clothes, but he gat no heat ; 1 Kings i. 1: whereas Caleb can profess, Now, lo, I am fourscore and five years old : as yet I am as strong this day, as I was in the day that Xtoses sent me to spy out the land : as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out and come in ; Josh. xiv. 10, 11. And, beyond him, Moses was a hundred and twenty years old, when his eye was not dim, nor his natural strength abated ; Deut. xxxiv. 7. Methuselah was but old, when he was nine hundred sixty five; Gen. v. 27.
But as for the generality of mankind, the same Moses, who lived to see a hundred and twenty years, hath set man's ordinary period at half his own term : The days of our years are threescore
years and ten; and, if by reason of strength, they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow ; Ps. xc. 10. Lo, fourscore years alone are load enough for the strength, much more for the weakness, of age: but, when labour and sorrow are added to the weight, how can we but double under the burthen ?
He was both old and wise, that said *, out of experience, that our last days are the dregs of our life: the clearer part is gone, and all drawn out; the lees sink down to the bottom. Who can express the miserable inconveniences, that attend old age? wherein our cares must needs be multiplied, according to the manifold occasions of our affairs : for the world is a net, wherein the more we stir, the more we are entangled. And, for our bodily grievances, what varieties do we here meet withal! What aches of the bones! what belking of the joints ! what convulsions of sinews! what torments of the bowels, stone, cholic, strangury! what distillations of rheum! what hollow coughs! what weaknesses of retention, expulsion, digestion ! what decay of senses ! 'as age is no other than the common sewer, into which all diseases of our life are wont to empty themselves. Well, therefore, might Sarah say, After I am waxed old, shall I have pleasure ? Gen. xviii. 12. And good Barzillai justly excuses himself, for not accepting the gracious invitation of David: I am this day fourscore years old, and can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat, or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing-men and singing-women? Wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king ? 2 Sam. xix. 35.
Lo, these are they, which the Preacher calls the evil days, and the years wherein a man shall say, I have no pleasure ; wherein the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain : when the keepers of the house shall tremble ; and the strong men shall bow themselves; and the grinders cease, because they are few; and those, that look out of the windows, be darkened ; Eccl. xii
* Sen. Ep. 58.
. 1, 2, 3. Shortly, what is our old age, but the winter of our life? How can we then expect any other, than gloomy weather, chilling frosts, storms and tempests?
Old age a blessing. But, while we do thus querulously aggravate the incommodities of age, we must beware lest we derogate from the bounty of our Maker, and disparage those blessings which he accounts precious : amongst which, old
age is none of the meanest. Had he not put that value upon it, would he have honoured it with his own style, calling himself, The Ancient of Days? Dan. vii. 9, 13, 22. Would he else have set out this mercy as a reward of obedience to himself; I will fulfil the number of thy days? Exod. xxiii. 26. and of obedience to our parents, To live long in the land ? Exod. xx. 12. Would he have promised it as a marvellous favour to restored Jerusalem, now become a City of Truth, that there shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age ? Zech. viii. 4. Would he else have denounced it as a judgment to over-indulgent Eli, There shall not be an old man in thy house for ever ? 1 Sam. ii. 32. Far be it from us, to despise that, which God doth honour; and to turn his blessing into a curse.
Yea, the same God, who knows best the price of his own favours, as he makes no small estimation of age himself; so he hath thought fit to call for a high respect to be given to it, out of a holy awe to himself: Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord; Lev.
Hence it is, that he hath pleased to put together the ancient and the honourable ; Isa. ix. 15: and hath told us, that a hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in a way of righteousness; Prov. xvi. 31. xx. 29 : and, lastly, makes it an argument of the deplored estate of Jerusalem, that they favoured not the elders; Lam. iv. 16.
As, therefore, we too sensibly feel what to complain of; so we well know what privileges we may challenge as due to our age : even such, as nature itself hath taught those heathens, which have been in the next degree to savage. If pride and skill have made the Athenians uncivil, yet a young Lacedemonian will rise up, and yield his place in the theatre to neglected age.
The advantages of old-age : (1.) Fearlessness :-(2.) Freedom from
Passions :-(3.) Experimental Knowledge :-(4.) Near Approach to our end.
It is not a little injurious, so to fasten our eyes upon the discomą modities of any condition, as not to take in the Advantages that belong to it; which carefully laid together, may perhaps sway the balance to an equal poise. Let it be true, that old age is oppressed with many bodily griefs; but what if it yield other. immunities, which may keep the scales even ?
(1.) Whereof it is not the least, that it gives us firm Resolution and bold Security, against dangers and death itself: for the old man knows how little of his clew is left in the winding; and, therefore, when just occasion is offered, sticks not so much upon so inconsiderable a remainder.
Old age and orbity, as Cesellius professed, were those two things, that emboldened him: and, when Castritius refused to deliver the hostages of Placentia to Carbo the consul, and was threatened with many swords, he answered those menaces with his many years.
And, that we may not disdain homebred instances, and may see that brave spirits may lodge in cottages, in my time a plain villager in the rude Peak, when thieves, taking advantage of the absence of his family, breaking into his solitary dwelling, and, finding him sitting alone by his fire side, fell violently upon him; and one of them, setting his dagger to his heart, swore that he would presently kill him, if he did not instantly deliver to them that money, which they knew he had lately received; the old man looks boldly in the face of that stout villain, and, with an undaunted courage, returns him this answer in his Peakish dialect : “ Nay, even put fro thee, son: I have lived long enough ; but I tell thee, unless thou mend thy manners, thou wilt never live to see half my days : put fro thee, if thou wilt."
What young man would have been so easily induced to part with his life; and have been so ready to give entertainment to an unexpected death? Surely, the hope, and love, of life commonly softens the spirits of vigorous youth ; and dissuades it from those enterprises, which are attended with manifest peril: whereas extreme age teacheth us to contemn dangers.
(2.) Yet a greater privilege of age is, a Freedom from those impetuous Passions, wherewith youth is commonly overswayed : for, together with our natural heat, is also abated the heat of our inordinate lusts; so as now our weaker appetite may easily be subdued to reason. The temperate old man in the Story, when one shewed him a beautiful face, could answer, “ I have long since left