Such facetiousness is not unreasonable or unlawful which ministereth harmless divertisement and delight to conversation; harmless, I say, that is, not intrenching upon piety, nor infringing charity or justice, not disturbing peace. For Christianity is not so tetrical, so harsh, so envious, as to bar us continually from innocent, much less from wholesome and useful, pleasure, such as human life doth need or require. And if jocular discourse may serve to good purposes of this kind; if it may be apt to raise our drooping spirits, to allay our irksome cares, to whet our blunted industry, to recreate our minds, being tired and cloyed with graver occupations; if it may breed alacrity, or maintain good humour among us; if it may conduce to sweeten conversation and endear society, then it is not inconvenient or unprofitable. If for these ends we may use other recreations, employing on them our ears and eyes, our hands and feet, our other instruments of sense and motion, why may we not so well accommodate our organs of speech and interior sense? Why should those gomes which excite our wit and fancies be less reasonable, since they are performed in a manly way, and have in them a smack of reason; seeing, also, they may be so managed as not only to divert and please, but to improve and profit the mind, rousing and quickening it, yea, sometimes enlightening and instructing it, by good sense, conveyed in jocular expression?
The fruits of the earth do not more obviously require labour and cultivation to prepare them for our use and subsistence, than our faculties demand instruction and regulation in order to qualify us to become upright and valuable members of society, useful to others, or happy in ourselves.
The histories of ages past, or relations concerning foreign countries, wherein the manners of men are described, and their actions reported, afford us useful pleasure and pastime: thereby we may learn as much, and understand the world as well, as by the most curious inquiry into the present actions of men; there we may observe, we may scan, we may tax the proceedings of whom we please, without any danger or offence. There are extant numberless books, wherein the wisest and most ingenious of men have laid open their hearts and exposed their most secret cogitations unto us: in pursuing them we may sufficiently busy ourselves, and let our idle hours pass gratefully: we may meddle with ourselves, studying our own dispositions, examining our own principles and purposes, reflecting on our thoughts, words, and actions, striving thoroughly to understand ourselves: to do this we have an unquestionable right, and by it we shall obtain vast benefit.
The mind of man is able to discern universal propositions by its native force, without any previous notion or applied reasoning, which method of attaining truth is by a peculiar name styled intellection.
When we contemplate the wonderful works of Nature, and, walking about at leisure, gaze upon this ample theatre of the world, considering the stately beauty, constant order, and sumptuous furniture thereof; the glorious splendour and uniform motion of the heavens; the pleasant fertility of the earth; the curious figure and fragrant sweetness of plants; the exquisite frame of animals; and all other amazing miracles of nature, wherein the glorious attributes of God, especially His transcendent goodness, are more conspicuously displayed: so that by them, not only large acknowledgments, but even gratulatory hymns, as it were, of praise have been extorted from the mouths of Aristotle, Pliny, Galen, and such like men, never suspected guilty of an excessive devotion: then should our hearts be affected with thankful sense, and our lips break forth in praise.
Wisdom makes all the troubles, griefs, and pains incident to life, whether casual adversities or natural afflictions, easy and supportable, by rightly valuing the importance and moderating the influence of them.
Sometimes [wit] lieth in pat allusion to a known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial saying, or in forging an apposite tale; sometimes it playeth in words and phrases, taking advantage from the ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of their sound; sometimes it is wrapped up in a dress of humorous expression; sometimes it lurketh under an odd similitude; sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quickish reason, in a shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection; sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense; sometimes a scenical representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical look or gesture, passeth for it; sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness, giveth it being; sometimes it riseth only from a lucky hitting upon what is strange; sometimes from a crafty wresting obvious matter to the purpose. Often it consisteth in one knows not what, and springeth up one can hardly tell how. Its ways are unaccountable and inexplicable, being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy and windings of language.