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This Discourse furnishes a childish Mind with pious Instructions of Religion, in what it consists. What is to be done in the Morning in Bed, at getting up, at Home, at School, before Meat, after Meat, before going to Sleep. Of beginning the Day, of praying, of behaving themselves studiously at School, Thriftiness of Time: Age flies. What is to be done after Supper. How we ought to sleep. Of Behaviour at holy Worship. All Things to be applied to ourselves. The Meditation of a pious Soul at Church. What Preachers are chiefly to be heard. Fasting is prejudicial to Children. Confession is to be made to Christ. The Society of wicked Persons is to be avoided. Of the prudent chusing a Way of Living. Holy Orders and Matrimony are not to be entred into before the Age of Twenty-two. What Poets are fit to be read, and how.


ERASMUS. Whence came you from? Out of some Alehouse?

Ga. No, indeed.

Er. What from a Bowling Green?

Ga. No, nor from thence neither.

Er. What from the Tavern then?

Ga. No.

Er. Well, since I can't guess, tell me.

Ga. From St. Mary's Church.

Er. What Business had you there?

Ga. I saluted some Persons.

Er. Who?

Ga. Christ, and some of the Saints.

Er. You have more Religion than is common to one of your Age.

Ga. Religion is becoming to every Age.

Er. If I had a Mind to be religious, I'd become a Monk.

Ga. And so would I too, if a Monk's Hood carried in it as much Piety as it does Warmth.

Er. There is an old Saying, a young Saint and an old Devil.

Ga. But I believe that old Saying came from old Satan: I can hardly think an old Man to be truly religious, that has not been so in his young Days. Nothing is learn'd to greater Advantage, than what we learn in our youngest Years.

Er. What is that which is call'd Religion?

Ga. It is the pure Worship of God, and Observation of his Commandments.

Er. What are they?

Ga. It is too long to relate all; but I'll tell you in short, it consists in four Things.

Er. What are they?

Ga. In the first Place, that we have a true and pious Apprehension of God himself, and the Holy Scriptures; and that we not only stand in Awe of him as a Lord, but that we love him with all our Heart, as a most beneficent Father. 2. That we take the greatest Care to keep ourselves blameless; that is, that we do no Injury to any one. 3. That we exercise Charity, i.e. to deserve well of all Persons (as much as in us lyes). 4. That we practise Patience, i.e. to bear patiently Injuries that are offered us, when we can't prevent them, not revenging them, nor requiting Evil for Evil.

Er. You hold forth finely; but do you practise what you teach?

Ga. I endeavour it manfully.

Er. How can you do it like a Man, when you are but a Boy?

Ga. I meditate according to my Ability, and call myself to an Account every Day; and correct myself for what I have done amiss: That was unhandsomely done this saucily said, this was uncautiously acted; in that it were better to have held my Peace, that was neglected.

Er. When do you come to this Reckoning?

Ga. Most commonly at Night; or at any Time that I am most at Leisure.

Er. But tell me, in what Studies do you spend the Day?

Ga. I will hide nothing from so intimate a Companion: In the Morning, as soon as I am awake, (and that is commonly about six a Clock, or sometimes at five) I sign myself with my Finger in the Forehead and Breast with the Sign of the Cross.

Er. What then?

Ga. I begin the Day in the Name of the Father, Son, and holy Spirit.

Er. Indeed that is very piously done.

Ga. By and by I put up a short Ejaculation to Christ.

Er. What dost thou say to him?

Ga. I give him Thanks that he has been pleased to bless me that Night; and I pray him that he would in like Manner prosper me the whole of that Day, so as may be for his Glory, and my Soul's Good; and that he who is the true Light that never sets, the eternal Sun, that enlivens, nourishes and exhilarates all Things, would vouchsafe to enlighten my Soul, that I mayn't fall into Sin; but by his Guidance, may attain everlasting Life.

Er. A very good Beginning of the Day indeed.

Ga. And then having bid my Parents good Morrow, to whom next to God, I owe the greatest Reverence, when it is Time I go to School; but so that I may pass by some Church, if I can conveniently.

Er. What do you do there?

Ga. I salute Jesus again in three Words, and all the Saints, either Men or Women; but the Virgin Mary by Name, and especially that I account most peculiarly my own.

Er. Indeed you seem to have read that Sentence of Cato, Saluta libenter, to good Purpose; was it not enough to have saluted Christ in the Morning, without saluting him again presently? Are you not afraid lest you should be troublesome by your over Officiousness?

Ga. Christ loves to be often called upon.

Er. But it seems to be ridiculous to speak to one you don't see.

Ga. No more do I see that Part of me that speaks to him.

Er. What Part is that?

Ga. My Mind.

Er. But it seems to be Labour lost, to salute one that does not salute you again.

Ga. He frequently salutes again by his secret Inspiration; and he answers sufficiently that gives what is ask'd of him.

Er. What is it you ask of him? For I perceive your Salutations are petitionary, like those of Beggars.

Ga. Indeed you are very right; for I pray that he, who, when he was a
Boy of about twelve Years of Age, sitting in the Temple, taught the
Doctors themselves, and to whom the heavenly Father, by a Voice from
Heaven, gave Authority to teach Mankind, saying, This is my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him
; and who is the eternal
Wisdom of the most high Father, would vouchsafe to enlighten my
Understanding, to receive wholesome Learning, that I may use it to his

Er. Who are those Saints that you call peculiarly yours?

Ga. Of the Apostles, St. Paul; of the Martyrs, St. Cyprian; of the Doctors, St. Jerome; of the Virgins, St. Agnes.

Er. How came these to be yours, more than the rest. Was it by Choice or by Chance?

Ga. They fell to me by Lot.

Er. But you only salute them I suppose; do you beg any Thing of them?

Ga. I pray, that by their Suffrages they would recommend me to Christ, and procure that by his Assistance it may in Time come to pass that I be made one of their Company.

Er. Indeed what you ask for is no ordinary Thing: But what do you do then?

Ga. I go to School, and do what is to be done there with my utmost Endeavour; I so implore Christ's Assistance, as if my Study without it would signify nothing; and I study as if he offered no Help but to him that labours industriously; and I do my utmost not to deserve to be beaten, nor to offend my Master either in Word or Deed, nor any of my Companions.

Er. You are a good Boy to mind these Things.

Ga. When School is done I make haste Home, and if I can I take a Church in my Way, and in three Words, I salute Jesus again; and I pay my Respects to my Parents; and if I have any Time, I repeat, either by myself, or with one of my School-fellows, what was dictated in School.

Er. Indeed you are a very good Husband of Time.

Ga. No wonder I am of that, which is the most precious Thing in the World, and when past is irrecoverable.

Er. And Hesiod teaches, that good Husbandry ought to be in the Middle, it is too soon in the Beginning, and too late in the End.

Ga. Hesiod spoke right enough concerning Wine, but of Time no good Husbandry is unseasonable. If you let a Hogshead of Wine alone it won't empty itself; but Time is always a flying, sleeping or waking.

Er. I confess so, but what do you do after that?

Ga. When my Parents sit down to Dinner I say Grace, and then wait at Table till I am bid to take my own Dinner; and having returned Thanks, if I have any Time left I divert myself with my Companions with some lawful Recreation till the Time comes to go to School again.

Er. Do you salute Jesus again?

Ga. Yes, if I have an Opportunity; but if it so happen that I have not an Opportunity, or it be not seasonable, as I pass by the Church I salute him mentally; and then I do what is to be done at School with all my Might; and when I go Home again I do what I did before Dinner: After Supper I divert myself with some pleasant Stories; and afterwards bidding my Parents and the Family good Night, I go to Bed betimes, and there kneeling down by the Bedside, as I have said, I say over those Things I have been learning that Day at School; if I have committed any great Fault, I implore Christ's Clemency, that he would pardon me, and I promise Amendment: and if I have committed no Fault, I thank him for his Goodness in preserving me from all Vice, and then I recommend myself to him with all my Soul, that he would preserve me from the Attempts of my evil Genius and filthy Dreams. When this is done, and I am got into Bed, I cross my Forehead and Breast, and compose myself to Rest.

Er. In what Posture do you compose yourself?

Ga. I don't lye upon my Face or my Back, but first leaning upon my Right-Side, I fold my Arms a-cross, so that they may defend my Breast, as it were with the Figure of a Cross, with my Right-hand upon my Left Shoulder, and my Left upon my Right, and so I sleep sweetly, either till I awake of myself, or am called up.

Er. You are a little Saint that can do thus.

Ga. You are a little Fool for saying so.

Er. I praise your Method, and I would I could practise it.

Ga. Give your Mind to it and you will do it, for when once you have accustom'd yourself to it for a few Months, these Things will be pleasant, and become natural.

Er. But I want to hear concerning divine Service.

Ga. I don't neglect that, especially upon holy Days.

Er. How do you manage yourself on holy Days?

Ga. In the first place I examine myself if my Mind be Polluted by any Stain of Sin.

Er. And if you find it is, what do you do then? Do you refrain from the Altar?

Ga. Not by my bodily Presence, but I withdraw myself, as to my Mind, and standing as it were afar off, as tho' not daring to lift up my Eyes to God the Father, whom I have offended, I strike upon my Breast, crying out with the Publican in the Gospel, Lord, be merciful to me a Sinner. And then if I know I have offended any Man, I take Care to make him Satisfaction if I can presently; but if I cannot do that, I resolve in my Mind to reconcile my Neighbour as soon as possible. If any Body has offended me, I forbear Revenge, and endeavour to bring it about, that he that has offended me may be made sensible of his Fault, and be sorry for it; but if there be no Hope of that, I leave all Vengeance to God.

Er. That's a hard Task.

Ga. Is it hard to forgive a small Offence to your Brother, whose mutual Forgiveness thou wilt stand in frequent need of, when Christ has at once forgiven us all our Offences, and is every Day forgiving us? Nay, this seems to me not to be Liberality to our Neighbour, but putting to Interest to God; just as tho' one Fellow-Servant should agree with another to forgive him three Groats, that his Lord might forgive him ten Talents.

Er. You indeed argue very rationally, if what you say be true.

Ga. Can you desire any Thing truer than the Gospel?

Er. That is unreasonable; but there are some who can't believe themselves to be Christians unless they hear Mass (as they call it) every Day.

Ga. Indeed I don't condemn the Practise in those that have Time enough, and spend whole Days in profane Exercises; but I only disapprove of those who superstitiously fancy that that Day must needs be unfortunate to them that they have not begun with the Mass; and presently after divine Service is over they go either to Trading, Gaming, or the Court, where whatsoever succeeds, though done justly or unjustly, they attribute to the Mass.

Er. Are there any Persons that are so absurd?

Ga. The greatest part of Mankind.

Er. But return to divine Service.

Ga. If I can, I get to stand so close by the Holy Altar, that I can hear what the Priest reads, especially the Epistle and the Gospel; from these I endeavour to pick something, which I fix in my Mind, and this I ruminate upon for some Time.

Er. Don't you pray at all in the mean Time?

Ga. I do pray, but rather mentally than vocally. From the Things the Priest reads I take occasion of Prayer.

Er. Explain that a little more, I don't well take in what you mean.

Ga. I'll tell you; suppose this Epistle was read, Purge out the old Leaven, that ye may be a new Lump, as ye are unleavened. On occasion of these Words I thus address myself to Christ, "I wish I were the unleavened Bread, pure from all Leaven of Malice; but do thou, O Lord Jesus, who alone art pure, and free from all Malice, grant that I may every Day more and more purge out the old Leaven." Again, if the Gospel chance to be read concerning the Sower sowing his Seed, I thus pray with my self, "Happy is he that deserves to be that good Ground, and I pray that of barren Ground, he of his great Goodness would make me good Ground, without whose Blessing nothing at all is good." These for Example Sake, for it would be tedious to mention every Thing. But if I happen to meet with a dumb Priest, (such as there are many in Germany) or that I can't get near the Altar, I commonly get a little Book that has the Gospel of that Day and Epistle, and this I either say out aloud, or run it over with my Eye.

Er. I understand; but with what Contemplations chiefly dost thou pass away the Time?

Ga. I give Thanks to Jesus Christ for his unspeakable Love, in condescending to redeem Mankind by his Death; I pray that he would not suffer his most holy Blood to be shed in vain for me, but that with his Body he would always feed my Soul, and that with his Blood he would quicken my Spirit, that growing by little and little in the Increase of Graces, I may be made a fit Member of his mystical Body, which is the Church; nor may ever fall from that holy Covenant that he made with his elect Disciples at the last Supper, when he distributed the Bread, and gave the Cup; and through these, with all who are engraffed into his Society by Baptism. And if I find my Thoughts to wander, I read some Psalms, or some pious Matter, that may keep my Mind from wandring.

Er. Have you any particular Psalms for this Purpose?

Ga. I have; but I have not so tyed myself up to them, but that I can omit them, if any Meditation comes into my Mind that is more refreshing, than the Recitation of those Psalms.

Er. What do you do as to Fasting?

Ga. I have nothing to do with Fasting, for so Jerome has taught me; that Health is not to be impair'd by fasting, until the Body is arrived at its full Strength. I am not quite 17 Years old; but yet if I find Occasion, I dine and sup sparingly, that I may be more lively for Spiritual Exercises on holy Days.

Er. Since I have begun, I will go through with my Enquiries. How do you find yourself affected towards Sermons?

Ga. Very well, I go to them as devoutly as if I was a going to a holy Assembly; and yet I pick and chuse whom to hear, for there are some, one had better not hear than hear; and if such an one happens to preach, or if it happen that no Body preaches, I pass this Time in reading the Scriptures, I read the Gospel or Epistle with Chrysostom's or Jerome's Interpretation, or any other pious and learned Interpreter that I meet with.

Er. But Word of Mouth is more affecting.

Ga. I confess it is. I had rather hear if I can but meet with a tolerable Preacher; but I don't seem to be wholly destitute of a Sermon if I hear Chrysostom or Jerome speaking by their Writings.

Er. I am of your Mind; but how do you stand affected as to Confession?

Ga. Very well; for I confess daily.

Er. Every Day?

Ga. Yes.

Er. Then you ought to keep a Priest to yourself.

Ga. But I confess to him who only truly remits Sins, to whom all the Power is given.

Er. To whom?

Ga. To Christ.

Er. And do you think that's sufficient?

Ga. It would be enough for me, if it were enough for the Rulers of the Church, and receiv'd Custom.

Er. Who do you call the Rulers of the Church?

Ga. The Popes, Bishops and Apostles.

Er. And do you put Christ into this Number?

Ga. He is without Controversy the chief Head of e'm all.

Er. And was he the Author of this Confession in use?

Ga. He is indeed the Author of all good; but whether he appointed Confession as it is now us'd in the Church, I leave to be disputed by Divines. The Authority of my Betters is enough for me that am but a Lad and a private Person. This is certainly the principal Confession; nor is it an easy Matter to confess to Christ; no Body confesses to him, but he that is angry with his Sin. If I have committed any great Offence, I lay it open, and bewail it to him, and implore his Mercy; I cry out, weep and lament, nor do I give over before I feel the Love of Sin throughly purged from the Bottom of my Heart, and some Tranquility and Chearfulness of Mind follow upon it, which is an Argument of the Sin being pardoned. And when the Time requires to go to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ; then I make Confession to a Priest too, but in few Words, and nothing but what I am well satisfy'd are Faults, or such that carry in them a very great Suspicion that they are such; neither do I always take it to be a capital or enormous Crime, every Thing that is done contrary to human Constitutions, unless a wicked Contemptuousness shall go along with it: Nay, I scarce believe any Crime to be Capital, that has not Malice join'd with it, that is, a perverse Will.

Er. I commend you, that you are so religious, and yet not superstitious: Here I think the old Proverb takes place: Nec omnia, nec passim, nec quibuslibet, That a Person should neither speak all, nor every where, nor to all Persons.

Ga. I chuse me a Priest, that I can trust with the Secrets of my Heart.

Er. That's wisely done: For there are a great many, as is found by Experience, do blab out what in Confessions is discovered to them. And there are some vile impudent Fellows that enquire of the Person confessing, those Things, that it were better if they were conceal'd; and there are some unlearned and foolish Fellows, who for the Sake of filthy Gain, lend their Ear, but apply not their Mind, who can't distinguish between a Fault and a good Deed, nor can neither teach, comfort nor advise. These Things I have heard from many, and in Part have experienced my self.

Ga. And I too much; therefore I chuse me one that is learn'd, grave, of approv'd Integrity, and one that keeps his Tongue within his Teeth.

Er. Truly you are happy that can make a Judgment of Things so early.

Ga. But above all, I take Care of doing any Thing that I can't safely trust a Priest with.

Er. That's the best Thing in the World, if you can but do so.

Ga. Indeed it is hard to us of ourselves, but by the Help of Christ it is easy; the greatest Matter is, that there be a Will to it. I often renew my Resolution, especially upon Sundays: And besides that, I endeavour as much as I can to keep out of evil Company, and associate myself with good Company, by whose Conversation I may be better'd.

Er. Indeed you manage yourself rightly: For evil Conversations corrupt good Manners.

Ga. I shun Idleness as the Plague.

Er. You are very right, for Idleness is the Root of all Evil; but as the World goes now, he must live by himself that would keep out of bad Company.

Ga. What you say is very true, for as the Greek wise Men said the bad are the greatest Number. But I chuse the best out of a few, and sometimes a good Companion makes his Companion better. I avoid those Diversions that incite to Naughtiness, and use those that are innocent. I behave myself courteous to all; but familiarly with none but those that are good. If I happen at any Time to fall into bad Company, I either correct them by a soft Admonition, or wink at and bear with them, if I can do them no good; but I be sure to get out of their Company as soon as I can.

Er. Had you never an itching Mind to become a Monk?

Ga. Never; but I have been often solicited to it by some, that call you into a Monastery, as into a Port from a Shipwreck.

Er. Say you so? Were they in Hopes of a Prey?

Ga. They set upon both me and my Parents with a great many crafty Persuasions; but I have taken a Resolution not to give my Mind either to Matrimony or Priesthood, nor to be a Monk, nor to any Kind of Life out of which I can't extricate myself, before I know myself very well.

Er. When will that be?

Ga. Perhaps never. But before the 28th Year of ones Age, nothing should be resolved on.

Er. Why so?

Ga. Because I hear every where, so many Priests, Monks and married Men lamenting that they hurried themselves rashly into Servitude.

Er. You are very cautious not to be catch'd.

Ga. In the mean Time I take a special Care of three Things.

Er. What are they?

Ga. First of all to make a good Progress in Morality, and if I can't do that, I am resolv'd to maintain an unspotted Innocence and good Name; and last of all I furnish myself with Languages and Sciences that will be of Use in any Kind of Life.

Er. But do you neglect the Poets?

Ga. Not wholly, but I read generally the chastest of them, and if I meet with any Thing that is not modest, I pass that by, as Ulysses passed by the Sirens, stopping his Ears.

Er. To what Kind of Study do you chiefly addict your self? To Physic, the Common or Civil Law, or to Divinity? For Languages, the Sciences and Philosophy are all conducive to any Profession whatsoever.

Ga. I have not yet thoroughly betaken myself to any one particularly, but I take a Taste of all, that I be not wholly ignorant of any; and the rather, that having tasted of all I may the better chuse that I am fittest for. Medicine is a certain Portion in whatsoever Land a Man is; the Law is the Way to Preferment: But I like Divinity the best, saving that the Manners of some of the Professors of it, and the bitter Contentions that are among them, displease me.

Er. He won't be very apt to fall that goes so warily along. Many in these Days are frighted from Divinity, because they are afraid they should not be found in the Catholick Faith, because they see no Principle of Religion, but what is called in Question.

Ga. I believe firmly what I read in the holy Scriptures, and the Creed, called the Apostles, and I don't trouble my Head any farther: I leave the rest to be disputed and defined by the Clergy, if they please; and if any Thing is in common Use with Christians that is not repugnant to the holy Scriptures, I observe it for this Reason, that I may not offend other People.

Er. What Thales taught you that Philosophy?

Ga. When I was a Boy and very young, I happen'd to live in the House with that honestest of Men, John Colet, do you know him?

Er. Know him, ay, as well as I do you.

Ga. He instructed me when I was young in these Precepts.

Er. You won't envy me, I hope, if I endeavour to imitate you?

Ga. Nay, by that Means you will be much dearer to me. For you know, Familiarity and good Will, are closer ty'd by Similitude of Manners.

Er. True, but not among Candidates for the same Office, when they are both sick of the same Disease.

Ga. No, nor between two Sweet-hearts of the same Mistress, when they are both sick of the same Love.

Er. But without jesting, I'll try to imitate that Course of Life.

Ga. I wish you as good Success as may be.

Er. It may be I shall overtake thee.

Ga. I wish you might get before me; but in the mean Time I won't stay for you; but I will every Day endeavour to out-go myself, and do you endeavour to out-go me if you can.

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