Thomas Fuller.

Good thoughts in bad times, and other papers online

. (page 1 of 19)
Online LibraryThomas FullerGood thoughts in bad times, and other papers → online text (page 1 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

€ iltrarit xrf



x? JOiSb


~n°^i Oil.

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2009 with funding from

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries

Good Thoughts


Bad Times


Other Papers





SI I su

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863. by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.



University Press:

Welch, Bigelow, and Company,






fuller's good thoughts in bad times



♦ #


HE author of this book lived and
wrote in stirring times. A chaplain
in the army during the great civil
M- war in England, he collected, when
on his marches and countermarches through
the country, materials for his admirable works.
He was born in 1608, and died in 1661, so that
much of his fifty-four years of life was spent
among no very peaceful scenes. He followed
the army with a loyal heart and courageous
spir* and wrought earnestly to mitigate the vi-
olence of hostile parties. Possessed of extraor-
dinary abilities, the king sought him out, and
invited the eloquent minister to preach before
him. One of the wittiest and wisest divines
who have ever ascended the pulpit, he has left
behind him a fame second to none who have
laboured to elevate and make their fellow-crea-
tures better. Those who heard him preach in


his little church in the Strand hung upon his
persuasive lips with eager delight, and it was said
by a contemporary, that even the windows and
sextonry of his small chapel were crowded as if
bees had swarmed to his mellifluous discourse.

Whether he lifted up his voice in the taber-
nacle or in the garrison, he was ever the same
earnest advocate of whatsoever he thought was
just and true. Once during the war he so
animated the troops to a vigorous defence, that
they fought the besiegers to the abandonment
of their enterprise with the loss of more than
a thousand men.

He wrote many books that will always be
read and remembered. "Next to Shakespeare,"
said Coleridge, " I am not certain whether
Thomas Fuller, beyond all other writers, does
not excite in me the sense and emulation of
the marvellous ; the degree in which any given
faculty or combination of faculties is possessed
and manifested, so far surpassing what we would
have thought possible in a single mind, as to
give one's admiration the flavour and quality
of wonder. Fuller was incomparably the most
sensible, the least prejudiced great man, in an
age that boasted of a galaxy of great men.
In all his numerous volumes on so many dif-
ferent subjects, it "is scarcely too much to say
that you will hardly find a page in which some


one sentence out of every three does not de-
serve to be quoted by itself as a motto or as
a maxim."

Fuller's best-known writings are " The His-
tory of the Holy War," " The Holy and Pro-
fane State," " The Church History of Britain,"
" The History of the Worthies of England,"
and " Good Thoughts in Bad Times." His
religion was of a practical kind, and his per-
sonal piety ever commended itself as springing
from a clean heart. Though a warm advocate
of the monarchical form of government, he
held the rights of the people in sacred respect.
"A Commonwealth and a King," said he, "are
no more contrary than the trunk or body of
a tree and the top branch thereof: there is a
republic included in every monarchy."

An anecdote recorded of Fuller, in Basil
Montague's " Selections," illustrates the good-
ness of his heart as well as his ready wit. Dr.
Fuller had an extraordinary memory. He could
name in order the signs on both sides the way
,from the beginning of Paternoster Row at Ave-
Maria Lane to the bottom of Cheapside. He
could dictate to five several amanuenses at the
same time, and each on a different subject.
The Doctor making a visit to the Committee
of Sequestrators sitting at Waltham, in Essex,
they soon fell into a discourse and commenda-


tion of his great memory ; to which he replied,
" 'T is true, gentlemen, that fame has given me
the report of a memorist, and if you please, I
will give you an experiment of it." They all
accepted the motion, and told him they should
look upon it as an obligation, praying him to
begin. " Gentlemen," says he, " I will give
you an instance of my memory in the particu-
lar business in which you are employed. Your
worships have thought fit to sequester an honest
but poor cavalier parson, my neighbour, from his
living, and committed him to prison ; he has
a large family of children, and his circumstances
are but indifferent ; if you will please to release
him out of prison, and restore him to his par-
ish, / w ill never forget the kindness while I live ! *''
Fuller died just as his earthly prospects began
to look brightest. A bishopric was about to
have been granted him, when the chancel of his
church at Cranford was opened to receive his
remains. The Latin inscription over his body
has the rare merit of telling the truth concern-
ing the sleeper below, for he is certainly one of
the most illustrious, as well as one of the most
original, writers of our language. He is never
barren or tedious, and his imagination follows in
rank that of Taylor and others among the great
names in English literature. One of his biog-
raphers says, " He was a kind husband, a tender


father to his children, a good friend and neigh-
bour, and a well-behaved, civilised person in every
respect." He used to call the buzzing polemics
that were rife in his time "insects of a day,"
and he had all the liberal attributes of a great and
noble character. He was, as we learn from sev-
eral authentic accounts, of a joyous temperament
and boundless good-nature ; endowed with that
happy buoyancy of spirit which, next to religion
itself, is the most precious possession of man.
Untiring humour seemed the ruling passion of
his soul. Quaintly and facetiously he thought,
wrote, and spoke, preferring ever a jocose turn
of expression even in his gravest discourses.
With a heart open to all innocent pleasures, and
purged from the " leaven of malice and unchar-
itableness," it was as natural that he should be
full of mirth as it is for the grasshopper to chirp,
or bee to hum, or the birds to warble in the
spring breeze and the bright sunshine. "Some
men," says he, in his Essay on Gravity, " are of
a very cheerful disposition ; and God forbid that
all such should be condemned for lightness. O,
let not any envious eye disinherit men of that
which is their portion in this life, comfortably
to enjoy the blessings thereof! "

He is described as a person whose physiogno-
my was an index to his natural character. He
had a fine robust frame, light flaxen, curling


hair, bright blue smiling eyes, and a frank,
hearty manner. He loved the walks of com-
mon life, and was never weary of gossip with
the country people. His sympathy went out
to meet those who were oppressed, and his large
nature embraced all mankind. He will always
be honoured and loved, for he had cc genuine
veneration for all that is divine, and genuine
sympathy for all that is human."

This volume of Good Thoughts in Bad
Times is reprinted now in this country because
there is much in it of a nature relevant to our
own disturbed state. Fuller wrote and practised
that he might eradicate error and implant the
loftiest virtues in the heart of man. His mission
was incomparably the highest God vouchsafes
to mortals, and in peace and war he wrote and
spoke such wisdom as time treasures for the
benefit of the world. In our own davs of trial


it will be well to remember such words as these,
which he penned when his own land was
plunged in dangers manifold. " Music is sweet-
est near or over rivers, where the echo thereof
is best rebounded by the water. Praise for pen-
siveness, thanks for tears, and blessing God over
the floods of affliction, makes the most melo-
dious music in the ear of Heaven."

Boston, January, 1863.



Personal Meditations . . . . . . 5

Scripture Observations 25

Historical Applications 42

Mixt Contemplations 62


Personal Meditations 85

Scripture Observations 104

Meditations on the Times 123

Meditations on all Kind of Prayers . . 142

Occasional Meditations 161


Mixt Contemplations on these Times . . 185


Dialogue I. — What a wounded Conscience is, where-
with the Godly and Reprobate may be tortured . 299


Dial. II. — What use they are to make thereof, who
neither hitherto were, nor haply hereafter shall be,
visited with a wounded Conscience . . . 303

Dial. III. — Three solemn Seasons when Men are sur-
prised with wounded Consciences . . . 307

Dial. IV. — The great Torment of a wounded Con-
science, proved by Reasons and Examples . .311

Dial. V. — Sovereign Uses to be made of the Torment

of a wounded Conscience . . . . . 317

Dial. VI. — That in some cases more Repentance must

be preached to a wounded Conscience . . . 320

Dial. VII. — Only Christ is to be applied to Souls truly

contrite ........ 325

Dial. VIII. — Answers to the Objections of a wounded
Conscience drawn from the Grievousness of his
Sins 329

Dial. IX. — Answers to the Objections of a wounded
Conscience drawn from the Slightness of his Re-
pentance ........ 334

Dial. X. — Answers to the Objections of a wounded

Conscience drawn from the Feebleness of his Faith 342

Dial. XL — God alone can satisfy all Objections of a

wounded Conscience ...... 345

Dial. XII. — Means to be used by wounded Consciences

for the recovering of Comfort .... 347

Dial. XIII. — Four wholesome Counsels for a wounded

Conscience to practise ...... 356

Dial. XIV. — Comfortable Meditations for wounded

Consciences to muse upon ..... 360

Dial. XV. — That is not always the greatest Sin where-
of a Man is guilty, wherewith his Conscience is most
pained for the present ...... 366

Dial. XVI. — Obstructions hindering the speedy flow-
ing of Comfort into a troubled Soul . . -37o


Dial. XVII. — What is to be conceived of their final
Estate who die in a wounded Conscience without
any visible Comfort 374

Dial. XVIII. — Of the different Time and Manner of
the coming of Comfort to such who are healed of a
wounded Conscience . . - . . -380

Dial. XIX. — How such who are completely cured of

a wounded Conscience are to demean themselves . 384

Dial. XX. — Whether one cured of a wounded Con-
science be subject to a Relapse .... 388

Dial. XXI. — Whether it be lawful to pray for, or to
pray against, or to praise God for, a wounded Con-
science . . _ . . . . . 391

The Conclusion of the Author to the Reader 396

Good Thoughts in
Bad Times.

To the Right Honourable

Lady Governess to her Highness the
Princess Henrietta.

Madam, —

IT is unsafe in these dangerous days for any to go abroad
without a convoy, or, at the least, a pass ; my book hath
both in being dedicated to your Honour. The Apostle saith,
Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof ? 1 Cor.
I am one of your Honour's planting, and could heartily wish
that the fruit I bring forth were worthy to be tasted by your
judicious palate. Howsoever, accept these grapes, if not for
their goodness, for their novelty : though not sweetest rel-
ished, they are soonest ripe, being the first fruits of Exeter
press, presented unto you. And if ever my ingratitude should
forget my obligations to your Honour, these black lines will
turn red, and blush his unworthiness that wrote them. In
this pamphlet your Ladyship shall praise whatsoever you are
pleased but to pardon. But I am tedious, for your Honour
can spare no more minutes from looking on a better book, her
infant Highness, committed to your charge. Was ever more
hope of worth in a less volume? But O ! how excellentiy
will the same, in due time, be set forth, seeing the paper is so
pure, and your Ladyship the overseer to correct the press !
The continuance and increase of whose happiness here, and
hereafter, is desired in his daily devotions, who resteth

Your Honour's in all

Christian service,


Good Thoughts in
Bad Times.



ORD, how near was I to danger, yet
escaped ! I was upon the brink of
the brink of it, yet fell not in ; they
are well kept who are kept by thee.
Excellent archer ! Thou didst hit thy mark in
missing it, as meaning to fright, not hurt me.
Let me not now be such a fool as to pay my
thanks to blind Fortune for a favour which
the eye of Providence hath bestowed upon me.
Rather let the narrowness of my escape make
my thankfulness to thy goodness the larger,
lest my ingratitude justly cause, that, whereas
this arrow but hit my hat, the next pierce my
head. .



LORD, when thou shalt visit me with a
sharp disease, I fear I shall be impatient ;
for I am choleric by my nature, and tender by
my temper, and have not been acquainted with
sickness all my lifetime. I cannot expect any
kind usage from that which hath been a stranger
unto me. I fear I shall rave and rage. O
whither will my mind sail, when distemper shall
steer it ? whither will my fancy run, when dis-
eases shall ride it ? My tongue, which of itself
James j s a gj.^ sure W £Q ^q a wild-fire when, the fur-
nace of my mouth is made seven times hotter
with a burning fever. But, Lord, though I
should talk idly to my own shame, let me not
talk wickedly to thy dishonour. Teach me the
art of patience whilst I am well, and give me
the use of it when I am sick. In that day
either lighten my burden or strengthen my back.
Make me, who so often, in my health, have dis-
covered my weakness presuming on my own
strength, to be strong in sickness when I solely
rely on thy assistance.


LORD, this morning my unseasonable visit-
ing of a friend disturbed him in the midst
of his devotions : unhappy to hinder another


man's goodness. If I myself build not, shall I
snatch the axe and hammer from him that doth ?
Yet I could willingly have wished, that, rather
than he should then have cut off the cable of
his prayers, I had twisted my cord to it, and
had joined with him in his devotions ; however,
to make him the best amends I may, I now re-
quest of thee for him whatsoever he would have
requested for himself. Thus he shall be no
loser, if thou be pleased to hear my prayer for
him, and to hearken to our Saviour's interces-
sion for us both.


LORD, since these woful wars began, one,
formerly mine intimate acquaintance, is
now turned a stranger, yea, an enemy. Teach
me how to behave myself towards him. Must
the new foe quite justle out the old friend?
May I not with him continue some commerce
of kindness ? Though the amity be broken on
his side, may I not preserve my counterpart
entire ? Yet how can I be kind to him, with-
out being cruel to myself and thy cause? O
guide my shaking hand, to draw so small a line
straight; or rather, because I know not how
to carry myself towards him in this controversy,
even be pleased to take away the subject of
the question, and speedily to reconcile these
unnatural differences.



LORD, my voice by nature is harsh and
untamable, and it is vain to lavish any
art to better it. Can my singing of psalms be
pleasing to thy ears, which is unpleasant to
my own ? yet though I cannot chant with the
nightingale, or chirp with the blackbird, I had
isaiah rather chatter with the swallow, yea, rather

xxwiii. 1-4.

croak with the raven, than be altogether silent.
Hadst thou given me a better voice, I would
have praised thee with a better voice. Now
what my music wants in sweetness, let it have

Psaims m sense, singing praises with understanding.
Yea, Lord, create in me a new heart (therein

Ephes. to make melody), and I will be contented
with my old voice, until in thy due time, being
admitted into the choir of heaven, I have an-
other, more harmonious, bestowed upon me.


LORD, within a little time I have heard
the same precept in sundry places, and
by several preachers, pressed upon me. The
doctrine seemeth to haunt my soul ; whither-
soever I turn, it meets me. Surely this is from
thy providence, and should be for my profit.
It is because I am an ill proficient in this point,
that I must not turn over a new leaf, but am

V. 19.

xxi. 17.


still kept to my old lesson : Peter was grieved
because our Saviour said unto him the third
time, Lovest thou me? But I will not be Jo ^ n
offended at thy often inculcating the same pre-
cept: but rather conclude, that I am much
concerned therein, and that it is thy pleasure,
that the nail should be soundly fastened in me,
which thou hast knocked in with so many


LORD, before I commit a sin, it seems to
me so shallow, that I may wade through
it dry-shod from any guiltiness : but when I
have committed it, it often seems so deep that
I cannot escape without drowning. Thus I am
always in the extremities : either my sins are
so small that they need not my repentance, or
so great that they cannot obtain thy pardon.
Lend me, O Lord, a reed out of thy sanctuary,
truly to measure the dimension of my offences.
But O ! as thou revealest to me more of my
misery, reveal also more of thy mercy: lest if
my wounds in my apprehension gape wider
than thy tents, my soul run out at them. If
my badness seem bigger than thy goodness,
but one hair's breadth, but one moment, that
is room and time enough for me to run to
eternal despair.




ORD, I do discover a fallacy, whereby I
have long deceived myself. Which is
this : I have desired to begin my amendment
from my birthday, or from the first day of the
year, or from some eminent festival, that so my
repentance might bear some remarkable date.
But when those days were come, I have ad-
journed my amendment to some other time.
Thus, whilst I could not agree with myself
when to start, I have almost lost the running
of the race. I am resolved thus to befool my-
self no longer. I see no day to to-day, the
instant time is always the fittest time. In

Daniel TsJ" e b U chadnezzar's image, the lower the mem-
bers, the coarser the metal ; the farther off
the time, the more unfit. To-day is the golden
opportunity, to-morrow will be the silver sea-
son, next day but the brazen one, and so long,
till at last I shall come to the toes of clay, and
be turned to dust. Grant, therefore, that to-

Psaim d a y J ma y hear thy voice. And if this day
be obscure in the calendar, and remarkable
in itself for nothing else, give me to make
it memorable in my soul thereupon, by thy
assistance, beginning the reformation of my

xcv. 7.



LORD, I saw one, "whom I knew to be
notoriously bad, in great extremity. It
was hard to say whether his former wickedness
or present want were the greater ; if I could
have made the distinction, I could willingly
have fed his person, and starved his profaneness.
This being impossible, I adventured to relieve
him. For I know that amongst many objects,
all of them being in extreme miseries, charity,
though shooting at random, cannot miss a right
mark. Since, Lord, the party, being recovered,
is become worse than ever before, (thus they
are always impaired with affliction who thereby
are not improved,) Lord, count me not acces-
sary to his badness, because I relieved him.
Let me not suffer harm in myself, for my de-
sire to do good to him. Yea, Lord, be pleased
to clear my credit amongst men, that they may
understand my hands according to the simpli-
city of my heart. I gave to him only in hope
to keep the stock alive, that so afterwards it
might be better grafted. Now, finding myself
deceived, my arms shall return into my own


i± 26.



ORD, thy servants are now praying in
the church, and I am here staying at
home, detained by necessary occasions, such
as are not of my seeking, but of thy sending ;
my care could not prevent them, my power
could not remove them. Wherefore, though
I cannot go to church, there to sit down at
table with the rest of thy guests, be pleased,
Lord, to send me a dish of their meat hither,
Numb. an( j f eec [ m y sou 2 w ith holy thoughts. Eldad

and Medad, though staying still in the camp
(no doubt on just cause), yet prophesied as
well as the other elders. Though they went
not out to the spirit, the spirit came home to
them. Thus never any dutiful child lost his
legacy for being absent at the making of his
father's will, if at the same time he were em-
ployed about his father's business. I fear too
many at church have their bodies there, and
minds at home. Behold, in exchange, my body
here and heart there. Though I cannot pray
with them, I pray for them. Yea, this comforts
me, I am with thy congregation, because I
would be with it.



LORD, I trust thou hast pardoned the had
examples I have set hefore others, he
pleased also to pardon me the sins which they
have committed by my bad examples. (It is
the best manners in thy court to heap requests
upon requests.) If thou hast forgiven my sins,
the children of my corrupt nature, forgive me
my grandchildren also. Let not the transcripts
remain, since thou hast blotted out the original.
And for the time to come, bless me with bar-
renness in bad actions, and my bad actions
with barrenness in procreation, that they may
never beget others according to their likeness.


LORD, what faults I correct in my son,
I commit myself: I beat him for dab-
bling in the dirt, whilst my own soul doth
wallow in sin: I beat him for crying to cut
his own meat, yet am not myself contented
with that state thy providence hath carved unto
me : I beat him for crying when he is to go
to sleep, and yet I fear I myself shall cry when
thou callest me to sleep with my fathers. Alas !
I am more childish than my child, and what
I inflict on him I justly deserve to receive


from thee : only here is the difference : I pray
and desire that my correction on my child may
do him good ; it is in thy power, Lord, to
effect that thy correction on me shall do me



ORD, I perceive my soul deeply guilty
of envy. By my good will I would
Numb. si. jjaye none prophesy but mine own Moses. I
had rather thy work were undone, than done
better by another than by myself: had rather
that thine enemies were all alive, than that I
should kill but my thousand, and others their
ten thousands of them. My corruption repines
at other men's better parts, as if what my soul
wants of them hi substance she would supply
in swelling. Dispossess me, Lord, of this bad
spirit, and turn my envy into holy emulation.
Let me labour to exceed them in pains, who
excel me in parts : and knowing that my sword,
in cutting down sin, hath a duller edge, let
me strike with the greater force ; yea, make
other men's gifts to be mine, by making me
thankful to thee for them. It was some com-
fort to Naomi, that, wanting a son herself, she
Ruth iv. brought up Ruth's child in her bosom. If my
soul be too old to be a mother of goodness,


Lord, make it but a dry-nurse. Let me feed,
and foster, and nourish, and cherish the graces
in others, honouring their persons, praising their
parts, and glorifying thy name, who hath given
such gifts unto them.


LORD, when young, I have almost quar-
relled with that petition in our Liturgy,
Give peace in our time, O Lord ; needless to
wish for light at noonday ; for then peace was
so plentiful, no fear of famine, but suspicion
of a surfeit thereof. And yet how many good
comments was this prayer then capable of!
Give peace, that is, continue and preserve it ;
give peace, that is, give us hearts worthy of it,
and thankful for it. In our time, that is, all
our time : for there is more besides a fair morn-
ing required to make a fair day. Now I see

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryThomas FullerGood thoughts in bad times, and other papers → online text (page 1 of 19)