Upon a Pearl in the Eye
What specious names have physicians put upon diseases: Who call a plague sore a carbuncle, and the white film which takes away the delightful sight, “a pearl in the eye.”
Do they gild over diseases as they do their pills or bolus that so there their patients may less fear and feel the evil of the one — as they less taste the bitterness of the other? And are any by such slender artifices brought into an opinion that a carbuncle [the name of a red gem stone and a red skin sore] is less mortal or loathsome than any other swelling than has not so gay a name?
Or that blindness which is caused by a pearl in the eye is more comfortable than the loss of sight that comes by other accidents?
Methinks reason should not run as so low an ebb in any as to please themselves in such fancies. May not a poison have a name that sounds better to the ear, a color more pleasing to the eye and a taste that is more grateful to the palate than the antidote which expels it?
May not alchemy glitter when gold looks pale?
And yet, alas! in spiritual maladies, in which the danger is so much the greater by how much the soul is of more value than the body; with what strange delusions are many transported. Who when their minds are poisoned with error and blasphemy, do then put upon their corrupt opinions and tenets, the glorious names of revelations, visions, raptures, refined notions and what not, that may confirm themselves in their own dotages, and win others into an admiration of the persons.
Thus, Montanus [a heretic of the 2nd & 3rd centuries] gave out himself to be the Comforter that Christ had sent into the world. Aries proudly boasted that God had revealed something to him, which he hid from his apostles. End Ennoriaus fondly [like a fool] imaged that he was taken up into heaven, as Elijah was, and had seen God’s face, as had Moses, and was wrapt up to the third heaven as was Paul.
But what other things are these follies or rather frenzies than as if an Israelite infected with the botch of Egypt and overspread with it from the sole of the foot to the crown of the hear, should boast that he had robed the Egyptians of their most precious jewels and had decked themselves with them? Would not men pity his distemper, rather than believe his confidence? Would not they offer medicines to heal him, rather than suffer him to perish under his miserable delusion of possessing great riches?
How is then that in matters of faith, in which there is both clear evidence and certainty that heretics -that are no other than ulcerous persons fitter for dogs to lick than Christians to love- should throughout all ages so easily gain themselves with such a great multitude of proselytes only by putting fair names upon foul errors? It is because men for their lusts’ sake will not see, but willing corrupt themselves in those things which they know? Or is it because God has smitten them with a spirit of blindness that they shall not see, for their not receiving of the truth in love of it?
Surely whatever the cause be, such is the infatuation as that I need both to tremble and pray:
To tremble at the same woe which is denounced by God himself against that call evil good and good evil;
That put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter
And to pray, As David did
Teach my thy ways O Lord
I will walk in thy truth
Unite my heart to fear thy name