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Practice of Piety 4 - Meditations of the Miseries of Man from Infancy to Old Age.

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.

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See Also:
   Practice of Piety 1 - Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.
   Practice of Piety 2 - A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God
   Practice of Piety 3 - Meditations of the Misery of a Man Not Reconciled to God in Christ.
   Practice of Piety 4 - Meditations of the Miseries of Man from Infancy to Old Age.
   Practice of Piety 5 - Meditations of the Misery of the Soul in this Life.
   Practice of Piety 6 - Meditations of the Misery of the Body and Soul in Death.
   Practice of Piety 7 - Meditations of the Misery of a Man after Death.
   Practice of Piety 8 - Blessedness of the Regenerate
   Practice of Piety 9 - Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man in his Death.
   Practice of Piety 10 - Meditations of the blessed state of the Regenerate Man after Death.
   Practice of Piety 11 - Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man in Heaven.
   Practice of Piety 12 - Of the Prerogatives which the Elect shall enjoy in Heaven.
   Practice of Piety 13 - Of the Effects of those Prerogatives.
   Practice of Piety 14 - Meditations directing a Christian how to apply to himself.
   Practice of Piety 15 - Meditations on the Hindrances which Keep a Sinner from Piety.
   Practice of Piety 16 - How a Private Man Must Begin the Morning with Piety.
   Practice of Piety 17 - Meditations for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 18 - Brief Directions How to Read the Holy Scriptures Once A Year
   Practice of Piety 19 - A Prayer for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 20 - Meditations to stir us up to Morning Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 21 - Another short Morning Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 22 - Farther Meditations to stir up to Prayer in the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 23 - A brief Prayer for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 24 - Meditations Directing a Christian How To Walk All the Day with God
   Practice of Piety 25 - Secondly, for thy Words.
   Practice of Piety 26 - Thirdly, for thy Actions.
   Practice of Piety 27 - Meditations for the Evening.
   Practice of Piety 28 - A Prayer for the Evening.
   Practice of Piety 29 - Another shorter Evening Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 30 - Meditations for Household Piety.
   Practice of Piety 31 - Morning Prayer for a Family.
   Practice of Piety 32 - The Practice of Piety at Meals, and the Manner of Eating.
   Practice of Piety 33 - Grace before Meat.
   Practice of Piety 34 - The Practice of Piety at Evening.
   Practice of Piety 35 - Evening Prayer for a Family.
   Practice of Piety 36 - Meditations of the True Manner of Practising Piety on the Sabbath-Day.
   Practice of Piety 37 - Ten Reasons demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be moral.
   Practice of Piety 38 - The True Manner of Keeping Holy the Lord's Day.
   Practice of Piety 39 - A Morning Prayer for the Sabbath-day.
   Practice of Piety 40 - Duties in the Holy Assembly.
   Practice of Piety 41 - A private Evening Prayer for the Lord's day.
   Practice of Piety 42 - Of the Practice of Piety in Fasting.
   Practice of Piety 43 - Of the Public Fast.
   Practice of Piety 44 - Of the Practice of Piety in Holy Feasting.
   Practice of Piety 45 - Of Preparation.
   Practice of Piety 46 - Of the Worthiness of the Sacrament.
   Practice of Piety 47 - Of the first End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 48 - Of the second End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 49 - Of the third End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 50 - Of the fourth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 51 - The fifth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 52 - The sixth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 53 - Of the seventh End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 54 - A Confession of Sins before the receiving of the Holy Communion.
   Practice of Piety 55 - Of the Means whereby thou mayest become a worthy Receiver.
   Practice of Piety 56 - Of the Second sort of Duties which a worthy Communicant is to perform
   Practice of Piety 57 - A sweet Soliloquy to be said between the Consecration and Sacrament.
   Practice of Piety 58 - Duties After Communion.
   Practice of Piety 59 - The Practice of Piety in Glorifying God in the Time of Sickness or Death
   Practice of Piety 60 - A Prayer when one begins to be sick.
   Practice of Piety 61 - A Prayer before taking of Medicine.
   Practice of Piety 62 - Meditations for the Sick.
   Practice of Piety 63 - Meditations for One That Is Like to Die.
   Practice of Piety 64 - A Prayer to Be Said of One That Is Like to Die.
   Practice of Piety 65 - Meditations against Despair, or doubting of God's Mercy.
   Practice of Piety 66 - An Admonition to them who come to visit the Sick.
   Practice of Piety 67 - A Prayer to be said for the Sick by them who visit him.
   Practice of Piety 68 - Consolations Against Impatience in Sickness.
   Practice of Piety 69 - Consolations Against the Fear of Death
   Practice of Piety 70 - Seven Sanctified Thoughts and Mournful Sighs of a Sick Man Ready to Die.
   Practice of Piety 71 - Of the Comfortable Assurance of God's Forgiveness of Sins.
   Practice of Piety 72 - Meditations of Martyrdom.
   Practice of Piety 73 - A Divine Colloquy Between the Soul and Her Savior
   Practice of Piety 74 - The Soul's Soliloquy, ravished in contemplation of the Passion of our Lord.

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