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FROM THE WRITINGS OF
THE RIGHT REV.
JOSEPH HALL, D.D.
LORD BISHOP OF EXETER AND OF NORWICH.
EDITED BY THE REV. C. BRADLEY,
PRINTED FOR L. B. SEELEY AND SON,
HEAVEN UPON EARTH,
OF TRUE PEACE OF MIND.
Censure of Philosophers.
WHEN I had studiously read over the moral writings of some wise heathen, especially those of the Stoical profession, I must confess, I found a little envy and pity striving together within me: I envied nature in them, to see her so witty in devising such plausible refuges for doubting and troubled minds; I pitied them, to see that their careful disquisition of true rest led them, in the end, but to mere unquietness. Wherein, methought, they were as hounds swift of foot, but not exquisite.in scent; which, in a hasty pursuit, take a wrong way; spending their mouths and courses in vain. Their praise of guessing wittily they shall not lose their hopes, both they lost, and whosoever follows them.
If Seneca could have had grace to his wit, what wonders would he have done in this kind! what divine might not have yielded him the chair, for Precepts of Tranquillity, without any disparagement? As he was, this he hath gained-never any heathen wrote more divinely; never any philosopher more probably.
Neither would I ever desire better master, if, to this purpose, I needed no other mistress than nature. But this, in truth, is a task, which nature hath never, without Div.-NO. XXXVII.
presumption, undertaken; and never performed, without much imperfection: like to those vain and wandering empirics, which, in tables and pictures, make great ostentation of cures; never approving their skill to their credulous patients. And, if she could have truly effected it alone, I know not what employment in this life she should have left for grace to busy herself about, nor what privilege it should have been here below to be a Christian since this, that we seek, is the noblest work of the soul; and in which alone, consists the only heaven of this world: this is the sum of all human desires; which when we have attained, then only we begin to live, and are sure we cannot thenceforth live miserably. No marvel then, if all the heathen have diligently sought after it; many wrote of it; none attained it. Not Athens must teach this, lesson, but Jerusalem.
What Tranquillity is, and wherein it consists.
YET Something grace scorneth not to learn of nature; as Moses may take good counsel of a Midianite.
Nature hath ever had more skill in the end, than in the way to it; and, whether she have discoursed of the good estate of the mind, which we call Tranquillity, or the best, which is Happiness; hath more happily guessed at the general definition of them, than of the means to compass them.
She teacheth us therefore, without controulment, that the tranquillity of the mind is, as of the sea and weather, when no wind stirreth, when the waves do not tumultuously rise and fall upon each other; but when the face, both of the heaven and waters, is still, fair, and equable; that it is such an even disposition of the heart, wherein the scales of the mind neither rise up towards the beam, through their own lightness, or the over-weening opinion of prosperity, nor are too much depressed with any load of sorrow; but, hanging equal and unmoved betwixt