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Meditation 2

Upon a Piece of Battred Plate[1]

Nikon 5400 Digital Capture

It is methinks a meet [appropriate] emblem of a suffering saint, who by afflicting strokes may lose somewhat of his accidental beauty; but nothing of his real worth. In the plate, the fashion is only marred; but the substance is neither diminished or embased.[2] If you bring it to the scale, it weighs as much as it did; if you try it by the touchstone, it is as good silver as it was.

And is it not thus with a saint, when bruised and broken by many pressures? His luster and repute with men may be prejudiced and eclipsed by them, but not his person or his worth with God. If he be weighed in the unerring balance, he will not be found the lighter; if examined by his test, he will not be esteemed the less precious.

It is not the Cross that makes us vile, but sin; not passive evils we suffer, but active evils we do. The one may render us unamiable to men, but the other makes us unholy before God. The one raze the casket; the other makes a flaw in the jewel.

Happy and wise therefore is that man who makes Moses his choice pattern in choosing affliction rather than sin; esteeming it better to be an oppressed Hebrew that builds houses and palaces of brick rather than an uncircumcised Egyptian to dwell in them. For when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love him.

[1] Note: There are a few uncommon words in this meditation. First, he speaks of “accidental” and “substance”. Consider a car: there are things which make a car a car; that which makes a car a car is its substance. The differences between a van and a race car are “accidents” [this is a wildly simplified version of the philosophical concepts. If you would like to read precise explanations of substance and accident, go here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-metaphysics/%5D

The “plate” is a flat sheet of silver or gold; or a coin made of silver or gold.

A “touchstone” is a means of testing whether an item which appears to be gold or silver is actually gold or silver.

A “casket” is the setting for a precious stone.

[2] If you nick a silver coin, it is still worth the same.