EPISTLE TO MUSEUS.
"Thou, O, Museus! whose mind is high,
"Observe my words, and read them with thine eye
"These secrets in thy sacred breast repone,
"And in thy journey think of God alone;
"The Author of all things, that cannot die
"Of whom we now shall speak----------"
I TELL thee here, Museus, to observe our words, and read them with thine eye, that is, the eye of thine understanding; for, know, there are many that hear us speak, that read not the meaning of our words. Wherefore shouldst thou contemplate these mysteries with so much constancy of mind, if thou didst not perceive in them some great good most desirable?--Listen, then, O, young man, and hear our words! We will shew thee the dangerous precipice of vanity and head-long desire--we will describe to thee the stubborn and fatal will of our passions, even with tears of contrition, and heartfelt compassion for thy inexperience--we will lead thee, as it were, by the hand, through those labyrinths of vice, wherewith thou art daily surrounded; and, however prejudiced thou mightest be against the receiving of our doctrine, yet, be assured, we have in our possession the magical virtue and power of binding thee to our principles, and making thee happy, in spite of thyself. Here is a great secret! thou shalt say--every man wishes to be happy--which I grant; but my answer is--most men prevent their own happiness; they destroy it, by suffering themselves to be governed by the outward principle of the flesh, thinking the greatest good to be in the satisfying of their carnal appetites, or in the amassing together heaps of wealth, whereby they thrust down the meek and poor, raising up the standards of Pride, Envy, and Oppression. These things every day's experience confirms; nay, there are some so blind, that, in the possession of much wealth, they think there is nothing
beyond it; insomuch, that they triumph in lust, oppression, revenge, and contumely. But how is it, thou wilt say, that, seeing man is a reasonable being, he can possibly give up his government so easily?--I say, when man suffers the unreasonable and bestial part to deprave him, then he immediately becomes a slave, (and the vilest of slavery is that which deprives man of his social virtues;) for then, although in the possession of great worldy things, such as houses, estates, and all other temporal gifts, yet he becomes an immediate instrument to the Prince of this World and the Powers of Darkness, seeing that those riches he inherits are merely given him in this life, to bestow upon others those necessaries and comforts which he himself does not feel the want of, and by which he might, if not blinded by his passions and lusts, secure himself an eternal and incorruptible treasure. But he who possesses treasures without mercy, liberality, bounty, charity, &c., robs the Eternal Author of all good, of the honour due unto him, and, in short, is working destruction to his own soul; his riches, instead of benefitting himself and others, eventually and finally terminates as a curse: while he lives here he is a scourge to society; and, after he leaves this, it is plain enough pointed out in the New Testament what will he his situation and condition.
Therefore, thou young man, that hast but a few years to live, study how to attain the stone we teach of: it will protract the beauty of thy youth, though thou shouldst live for centuries--it will ever supply thee with the means of comforting the afflicted; insomuch, that when thou hast attained this truly desirable and most perfect talisman, thy life will become soft and pleasant; no cares, nor corroding pangs--no self-torment will ever invade thy mind; neither shalt thou want the means to be happy, in respect of the possession of the goods of this life, but shalt have abundantly. But how, and from what source, all this is to proceed--out of what thing, or matter thou shalt attain thy wished-for end--the studying of the ensuing Treatise will sufficiently shew.