December 25

HOW hast thou carried thyself hitherto towards the Gods? towards thy Parents? towards thy Brethren? towards thy Wife? towards thy Children? towards thy Masters? thy foster Fathers? thy Friends? thy Domestics? thy Servants? Is it so with thee, that hitherto thou hast neither by word nor deed wronged any of them? Remember withal through how many things thou hast already passed, and how many thou hast been able to endure; so that now the Legend of thy life is full, and thy charge is accomplished. Again, how many truly good things have certainly by thee been discerned? how many pleasures, how many pains hast thou passed over with contempt? how many things externally glorious hast thou despised? towards how many perverse unreasonable men, hast thou carried thyself kindly, and discreetly?


December 24

CAN death be terrible to him, to whom that only seems good, which in the ordinary course of nature is seasonable? to him, to whom, whether his actions be many or few, so they be all good, is all one; and who whether he behold the things of the world being always the same either for many years, or for few years only, is altogether indifferent? O man! as a Citizen thou hast lived, and conversed in this great City the World. Whether just for so many years, or no, what is it unto thee? Thou hast lived (thou mayest be sure) as long as the Laws, and Orders of the City required; which may be the common comfort of all. Why then should it be grievous unto thee, if (not a Tyrant, nor an unjust Judge, but) the same nature that brought thee in, doth now send thee out of the world? As if the Praetor should fairly dismiss him from the stage, whom he had taken in to act a while. Oh, but the play is not yet at an end, there are but three Acts yet acted of it? Thou hast well said: for in matter of life, three Acts is the whole Play. Now to set a certain time to every man's acting, belongs unto Him only, who as first He was of thy composition, so is now the cause of thy dissolution. As for thyself, thou hast to do with neither. Go thy ways then well pleased and contented: for so is He that dismisseth thee.



December 23

IT were indeed more happy and comfortable, for a man to depart out of this World, having lived all his life long clear from all falsehood, dissimulation, voluptuousness, and pride. But if this cannot be, yet is it some comfort for a man joyfully to depart as weary, and out of love with those; rather than to desire to live, and to continue long in those wicked courses. Hath not yet experience taught thee to fly from the plague? For a far greater plague is the corruption of the mind, than any certain change and distemper of the common air can be. This is a plague of creatures, as they are living creatures; but that of men as they are men or reasonable.


TOYS and fooleries at home; wars abroad; sometimes terror, sometimes torpor, or stupid sloth: this is thy daily slavery.



December 22

SINCE, at all events, one must die, one must necessarily be found doing something, either tilling, or digging, or trading, or serving a consulship, or sick of an indigestion or a flux. At what employment, then, would you have death find you? For my part, I would have it be some humane, beneficent, public-spirited, gallant action. But if I cannot be found doing any such great things, yet, at least, I would be doing what I am incapable of being restrained from, what is given me to do, correcting myself, improving that faculty which makes use of the appearances of things, to procure tranquillity, and render to the several relations of life their due; and, if I am so fortunate, advancing to the third topic, a security of judging right. If death overtakes me in such a situation, it is enough for me if I can stretch out my hands to God and say, "The opportunities which Thou hast given me of comprehending and following the rules of Thy administration I have not neglected. As far as in me lay, I have not dishonoured Thee. See how I have used my perceptions, how my preconceptions. Have I at any time found fault with Thee? Have I been discontented at Thy dispensations, or wished them otherwise? Have I transgressed the relations of life? I thank Thee that Thou hast brought me into being. I am satisfied with the time that I have enjoyed the things whxh Thou hast given me. Receive them back again, and assign them to whatever place Thou wilt; for they were all Thine, and Thou gavest them to me."