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fully persuaded whether the Scripture speaks true or not, whether they may rely upon the discovery that God makes in his Word of this newfound land, and those mines of spirituals there to be had as certain. God opens the eyes of the unbelieving world (as the Prophet's servants), that they may see these things to be realities, not fictions; 'tis faith only that gives a being to these things in our hearts. By faith Moses saw Him that was invisible.
Thirdly. Earthly things when we have them we are not sure of them ; like birds they hop up and down, now on this hedge and anon upon that, none can call them his own : rich to-day and poor to-morrow; in health when we lie down, and arrested with pangs of death before midnight: joyful parents, one while solacing ourselves with the hopes of our budding posterity, and may be, ere long, knocks one of Job's méssengers at our door to tell us they are all dead now in honour, but who knows whether we shall not live to see that buried in scorn and reproach? The Scripture compares the multitude of people to waters; the great ones of the world sit upon these waters ; as the ship floats upon the waves, so do their honours upon the breath and favour of the multitude; and how long is he like to sit that is carried upon a wave ? One while they are mounted up to heaven (as David speaks of the ship), and then down again they fall into the deep. Unhappy man hé that hath no surer portion than what this variable world will offer him! The time of mourning for the departure of all earthly enjoyments is at hand; we shall see them, as Eglon's servants did their Lord, fallen down dead before us, and weep because they are not. What folly then is it to dandle this vain world in our affections, (whose joy, like the child's laughter on the mother's knee, is sure to end in a cry at last,) and neglect heaven and heavenly things, which endure for ever? I remember Dives stirring up his pillow, and composing himself to rest, how he was called up with the tidings of death before he was warm in his bed of ease, and laid with sorrow on another, which God had made for him in flames, from whence we hear him roaring in the anguish of his conscience. O, soul! couldest thou but get an interest in the heavenly things we are speaking of, these would not thus slip from under thee; heaven is a kingdom that cannot be shaken, Christ an abiding portion, his graces and comforts sure waters that fail not, but spring up into eternal life.
Fourthly. Earthly things are empty and unsatisfying. We may have too much, but never enough of them, they oft breed loathing, but never content; and indeed how should they, being so disproportionate to the vast desires of these immortal spirits that dwell in our bosoms ? A spirit hath not flesh and bones, neither can it be fed with such; and what hath the world, but a few bones covered over with some fleshly delights to give it? The less is blessed of the greater, not the greater of the less. These things, therefore, being so far inferior to the nature of man, he must look higher if he will be blessed, even to God himself, who is the Father of Spirits. God intended these things for our use, not enjoyment; and what folly is it to think we can squeeze that from them which God never put in them? They are breasts that, moderately drawn, yield good milk, sweet, refreshing; but wring them too hard, and you will suck nothing but wind or blood from them. We lose what they have, by expecting to find what they have not: none find less sweetness and more dissatisfaction in these things, than those who strive most to please themselves with them. The cream of the creature floats a-top; and he that is not content to fleet it, but thinks by drinking a deeper draught to find yet more, goes further to speed worse, being sure by the disappointment he shall meet to pierce himself through with many sorrows. But all these fears might happily be escaped, if thou wouldst turn thy back on the creature and face about for heaven ; labour to get Christ, and through him hopes of heaven, and thou takest the right road to content; thou shalt see it before thee, and enjoy the prospect of it as thou goest, yea, find that every step thou drawest nearer and nearer to it.
Earthly things are like some trash which do not only not nourish, but take away the appetite from that which would: heaven and heavenly things are not relished by a soul vitiated with these. Manna, though for deliciousness called angels' food, was yet but light bread to an Egyptian palate. But these spiritual things depend not on thy opinion, O man! whoever thou art, (as earthly things in a great measure do,) that the value of them should rise or fall as the world's exchange doth, and as vain man is pleased to rate them: think gold dirt, and it is so, for all the royal stamp on it; count the swelling titles of worldly honour (that proud dust so brags in) vanity, and they are such ; but have base thoughts of Christ, and he is not the worse : slight heaven as much as you will, it will be heaven still; and when thou comest so far to thy wits with the prodigal, as to know which is best fare, husks or bread; where 's best living, among hogs in the field, or in thy father's house; then thou wilt know how to judge of these heavenly things better: till then go and make the best market thou canst of the world, but look not to find this pearl of price, true satisfaction to thy soul, in any of the creature shops; and were it not better to take it when thou mayest have it, than after thou hast wearied thyself in vain in following the creature, to come back with shame, and may be miss of it here also, because thou wouldst not have it when it was offered ?
219.—COLUMBUS AT BARCELONA.
discovery, had produced the greatest sensation at court. The event it communicated was considered the most extraordinary of their prosperous reign; and, following so close upon the conquest of Granada, was pronounced a signal mark of divine favour for that triumph achieved in the cause of the true faith. The sovereigns themselves were for a time dazzled and bewildered by this sudden and easy acquisition of a new empire, of indefinite extent and apparently boundless wealth; and their first idea was to secure it beyond the reach of question or competition. Shortly after his arrival in Seville, Columbus received a letter from them, expressing their great delight, and requesting him to repair immediately to court, to concert plans for a second and more extensive expedition. As the summer was already advancing, the time favourable for a voyage, they desired him to make any arrangements at Seville, or elsewhere, that might hasten the expedition, and to inform them by the return of the courier what was necessary to be done on their part. This letter was addressed to him by the title of “Don Christopher Columbus, our Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and Viceroy and Governor of the Islands discovered in the Indies;" at the same time he was promised still further rewards. Columbus lost no time in complying with the commands of the sovereigns. He sent a memorandum of the ships, men, and munitions that would be requisite, and having made such dispositions at Seville as circumstances permitted, set out on his journey for Barcelona, taking with him the six Indians and the various curiosities and productions he had brought from the New World.
The fame of his discovery had resounded throughout the nation, and as his route lay through several of the finest and most populous provinces of Spain, his journey appeared like the progress of a sovereign. Wherever he passed, the surrounding country poured forth its inhabitants, who lined the road and thronged the villages. In the large towns, the streets, windows, and balconies were filled with eager spectators, who rent the air with acclamations. His journey was continually impeded by the multitude pressing to gain a sight of him and of the Indians, who were regarded with as much admiration as if they had been natives of another planet. It was impossible to satisfy the craving curiosity which assailed himself and his attendants, at every stage, with innumerable questions; popular rumour as usual had exaggerated the truth, and had filled the newly found country with all kinds of wonders.
It was about the middle of April that Columbus arrived at Barcelona, where every preparation had been made to give him a solemn and magnificent reception. The beauty and serenity of the weather, in that genial season and favoured climate, contributed to give splendour to this memorable ceremony. As he drew near the place, many of the more youthful courtiers and hidalgos of gallant bearing came forth to meet and welcome him. His entrance into this noble city has been compared to one of those triumphs which the Romans were accustomed to decree to conquerors. First, were paraded the Indians, painted according to their savage fashion, and decorated with tropical feathers and with their national ornaments of gold; after these were borne various kinds of live parrots, together with stuffed birds and animals of unknown species, and rare plants supposed to be of precious qualities: while great care was taken to make a conspicuous display of Indian coronets, bracelets, and other decorations of gold, which might give an idea of the wealth of the newly discovered regions. After these followed Columbus, on horseback, surrounded by a brilliant cavalcade of Spanish chivalry. The streets were almost impassable, from the countless multitudo; the windows and balconies were crowded with the fair; the very roofs were covered with spectators. It seemed as if the public eye could not be sated with gazing on these trophies of an unknown world, or on the remarkable man by whom it had been discovered. There was a sublimity in this event that mingled a solemn feeling with the public joy. It was looked upon as a vast and signal dispensation of Providence in reward for the piety of the monarchs; and the majestic and venerable appearance of the discoverer, so different from the youth and buoyancy that are generally expected from roving enterprise, seemed in harmony with the grandeur and dignity of his achievement.
To receive him with suitable pomp and distinction, the sovereigns had ordered their throne to be placed in public, under a rich canopy of brocade of gold, in a vast and splendid saloon. Here the king and queen awaited his arrival, seated in state, with the prince Juan beside them; and attended by the dignitaries of their court and the principal nobility of Castile, Valencia, Catalonia, and Arragon; all impatient to behold the man who had conferred so incalculable a benefit upon the nation. At length Columbus entered the hall, surrounded by a brilliant crowd of cavaliers, among whom, says Las Casas, he was conspicuous for his stately and commanding person, which, with his countenance rendered venerable by his gray hairs, gave him the august appearance of a senator of Rome. A modest smile lighted up his features, showing that he enjoyed the state and glory in which he came; and certainly nothing could be more deeply moving to a mind inflamed by noble ambition, and conscious of having greatly deserved, than these testimonials of the admiration and gratitude of a nation, or rather of a world. As Columbus approached, the sovereigns rose, as if receiving a person of the highest rank. Bending his knees, he requested to kiss their hands; but there was some hesitation on the part of their majesties to permit this act of vassalage. Raising him in the most gracious manner, they ordered him to seat himself in their presence; a rare honour in this proud and punctilious court.
At the request of their majesties, Columbus now gave an account of the most striking events of his voyage, and a description of the islands which he had discovered. He displayed the specimens he had brought of unknown birds and other animals, of rare plants of medicinal and aromatic virtue; of native gold in dust, in crude masses, or laboured into barbaric ornaments; and, above all, the natives of these countries, who were objects of intense and inexhaustible interest; since there is nothing to man so curious as the varieties of his own species.