When God hath sent a sharp disease, as a messenger to bind men to their beds and make an interruption of their sinful pleasures, their mouths are full of promises of a new life, in hope to escape the just vengeance of God: the sense of hell, which strikes strongly upon them, makes them full of such pretended resolutions when they howl upon their beds. But if God be pleased in his patience to give them a respite, to take off the chains wherewith he seemed to be binding them for destruction, and recruit their strength, they are more earnest in their sins than they were in their promises of a reformation, as if they had got the mastery of God, and had outwitted him.
It is a strange and awful sensation, when, after having enjoyed to the full the powers and energies of manhood, we find ourselves suddenly reduced by the unnerving hand of sickness to the feebleness of infancy,when giant strength lies prostrate, and busy activity is chained to the weary bed. It is strange, and it is awful; for it shows us most sensibly how frail a thing is that vigour which, in our boisterous days of health, we madly think an adamantine armour against all adversity. It is strange and awful; for it leads us to the brink of that fatal precipice over which all must fall, and displays, as if from the very verge, the inside of our future grave.
If there be a regal solitude it is a sick bed. How the patient lords it there! what caprices he acts without control! how king-like he sways his pillowtumbling, and tossing, and shifting, and lowering, and thumping, and flatting, and moulding it, to the ever-varying requisitions of his throbbing temples!
While thou art well thou mayest do much good; but when thou art sick thou canst not tell what thou shalt be able to do: it is not very much or very good. Few men mend with sickness, as there are but few who by travel and a wandering life become devout.
Sickness is a kind of adversity which is both a trial and a discipline; but much more of a discipline when short, and of a trial when very long. The kindness of friends during sickness is calculated, when it is newly called forth, to touch the heart, and call forth gratitude; but the confirmed invalid is in danger of becoming absorbed in self, and of taking all kinds of care and of sacrifice as a matter of course.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacons Essay, Of Adversity.