By Lewis Bayly
What wast thou, being an infant, but an helpless unconscious creature, having the human form, but without speech or reason? Thou wast born in the stain of original sin, and cast naked upon the earth. What cause then hast thou to boast of thy birth, which was pain and anguish to thy mother, and to thyself the entrance into a troublesome life? the greatness of which miseries, because thou couldst not utter in words, thou didst express as well as thou couldst in weeping tears.
What is youth, but an untamed beast? all whose actions are rash and rude, not capable of good counsel, when it is given; and, ape-like, delighting in nothing but in toys and babies? therefore thou no sooner beganst to have a little strength and discretion, but forthwith thou wast kept under the rod, and fear of parents and masters; as if thou hadst been born to live under the discipline of others, rather than at the disposition of thine own will. No tired horse was ever more willing to be rid of his burden, than thou wast to get out of the servile state of this bondage-a state not worthy the description.
What is man's estate but a sea, wherein, as waves, one trouble arises in the neck of another-the latter worse than the former? No sooner didst thou enter into the affairs of this world, but thou wast enwrapped about with a cloud of miseries. Thy flesh provokes thee to lust, the world allures thee to pleasures, and the devil tempts thee to all kinds of sins; fears of enemies affright thee, suits in law vex thee, wrongs of ill neighbours oppress thee, cares for wife and children consume thee, and disquietness betwixt open foes and false friends do in a manner confound thee; sin stings thee within; Satan lays snares before thee; conscience of sins past doggeth behind thee. Now adversity on the left hand frets thee; anon, prosperity on thy right hand flatters thee; over thy head God's vengeance due to thy sin is ready to fall upon thee; and under thy feet, hell's mouth is ready to swallow thee up. And in this miserable estate whither wilt thou go for rest and comfort? The house is full of cares, the field full of toil, the country of rudeness, the city of factions, the court of envy, the church of sects, the sea of pirates, the land of robbers. Or in what state wilt thou live, seeing wealth is envied and poverty contemned; wit is distrusted, and simplicity is derided; superstition is mocked, and religion is suspected; vice is advanced, and virtue is disgraced? Oh, with what a body of sin art thou compassed about in a world of wickedness! What are thine eyes, but windows to behold vanities? What are thine ears but flood-gates to let in the streams of iniquity? What are thy senses, but matches to give fire to thy lusts? What is thine heart, but the anvil whereon Satan hath forged the ugly shape of all lewd affections? Art thou nobly descended? thou must put thyself in peril of foreign wars to get the reputation of earthly honour; oft-times hazard thy life in a desperate combat to avoid the aspersion of a coward. Art thou born in a mean estate? Lord! what pains and drudgery must thou endure at home and abroad to get maintenance; and all perhaps scarce sufficient to serve thy necessity. And when, after much service and labour, a man has got something, how little certainty is there in that which is gotten? seeing thou seest by daily experience, that he who was rich yesterday, is to-day a beggar; he that yesterday was in health, to-day is sick; he that yesterday was merry and laughed, has cause to-day to mourn and weep; he that yesterday was in favour, to-day is in disgrace; and he who yesterday was alive, to-day is dead; and thou knowest not how soon, nor in what manner thou shalt die thyself. And who can enumerate the losses, crosses, griefs, disgraces, sicknesses, and calamities, which are incident to sinful man? to speak nothing of the death of friends and children, which oft-times seems to us far more bitter than present death itself.
What is old age, but the receptacle of all maladies? For if thy lot be to draw thy days to a long date, in comes old bald-headed age, stooping under dotage, with his wrinkled face, decaying teeth, and offensive breath; testy with choler, withered with dryness, dimmed with blindness, obsurded with deafness, overwhelmed with, sickness, and bowed together with weakness; having no use of any sense, but of the sense of pain, which so racks every member of his body, that it never eases him of grief, till it has thrown him down to his grave.
Thus far of the miseries which accompany the body. Now of the miseries which accompany chiefly the soul in this life.