In Prose and Verse.
Written by the.
London: Printed by T. H. for R.
Bonwicke, W. Freeman
T. Goodwin, J. Walthoe, M. Wotton,
S. Manſhip, J. Nicholſon, R. Parker, B. Tooke,
and R. Smith. 1710M DCC X.
To Her Royal Highneſs The Princess Sophia, Electreſs and Dutcheſs Dowager of Brunswick.
The Greatneſs of your Birth, the Sublimity of your Station, the vaſt Extent of your Knowledge, and all thoſe other ſhining Qualities which have rais’d you to an elevated Height, and given you an undiſputed Title to the Reſpect and Wonder of Mankind; all this ſtops every Approach to your Royal A2 High- iv A2v Highneſs, and makes you to be view’d only at an awful Diſtance: But juſt Reflections on the inviting Sweetneſs of your Temper, the charming Humility of your Mind, and that condeſcending Goodneſs you are pleas’d to expreſs on all Occaſions, puts a pleaſing Force on all to whom your Fame has reach’d, (and to whom has it not?) powerfully attracts them, and throws your Admirers with a delightful Trembling at your Royal Highneſs’s Feet; where, together with my ſelf, I beg Leave to lay the following Essays. Pardon the Preſumption of this Addreſs, and ſuffer your great Name to be their Protection from the Aſſaults of Malice and Envy, and a ſecure Refuge for their Author; who is, with the profoundeſt Veneration, and faithfulleſt Duty,
To the Reader.
That the Pleaſures of the Mind are infinitely preferable to thoſe of Senſe, intellectual Delights, the Joys of Thought, and the Complacencies ariſing from a bright and inlarg’d Underſtanding, tranſcendently greater and more ſatisfactory than thoſe of the Body, than thoſe that owe their Original to the Animal Life, has, through all Ages, been an acknowledg’d Truth, a Truth that comes attended with all the convincing Evidences that can be deſired, and will ſoon be found to be undeniably ſo by all ſuch as will be at the Pains of making the Experiment.
Such as have been ſo happy as to have had a Taſte of theſe Delights, a pleasing Reliſh of theſe internal Joys, have always been bleſt with an inward Satisfaction, an unexpreſſible Felicity; their Minds have been calm, eaſy, and intrepid, amidst the greatest Storms, the A3 most vi A3v most deafning Hurricanes of Life, never ruffled by Paſſions, nor diſturbed by the most threatning, the melancholiest Circumſtances of Fortune. They have been long the dear, the favourite Companions of my ſolitary Hours, and while they are mine, I cannot only be contentedly, but even chearfully alone; they fill up all the Spaces, all the Intervals of Time, and make my Days ſlide joyfully along.
O what Pleaſures, what tranſporting Joys do rational inſtructive Thoughts afford! What rich Treaſures do they yield the Mind! What unexhauſted Stores of Knowledge may be drawn from them! They leave no Vacancies, no room for dull inſipid Trifles, debaſing Impertinencies, nor any of thoſe troubleſome Reflexions which generally proceed from narrow groveling Souls, from Souls that have not learn’d to uſe their Faculties aright. Though I cannot boast of having mine improv’d, and must with Bluſhes own my Thoughts are infinitely inferior to multitudes of others; yet, mean as they are, to Me they prove delightful, are always welcome, they preſent me with new and uſeful Hints, with ſomething that agreeably, as well as advantageouſly, entertains my Mind; the Notices they give me, I ſtrive to improve by Writing; that firmly fixes what I know, deeply imprints the Truths I’ve learn’d.The vii A4r
The following Eſſays were the Products of my Retirement, ſome of the pleaſing Opiates I made uſe of to lull my Mind to a delightful Rest, the raviſhing Amuſements of my leiſure Hours, of my lonely Moments.
’Tis only to the Ladies I preſume to preſent them; I am not ſo vain as to believe any thing of mine deſerves the Notice of the Men; but perhaps ſome of my own Sex may have occaſion for ſuch Conſiderations as theſe; to them they may prove beneficial; they’ll in ’em be perſwaded to cultivate their Minds, to brighten and refine their Reaſon, and to render all their Paſſions ſubſervient to its Dictates; they’ll there be inſtructed by great Examples, read of ſeveral Men, and ſome Ladies, that have ſtruggled with Pain, Poverty, Infamy, Death, and whatſoever elſe has been accounted dreadful among the Sufferings incident to Humanity, without being overcome, without loſing their Reſolution, or leſſening their Patience; ſee them chearful and ſmiling amidst Misfortunes, ſubmitting themſelves with a decent Contentedneſs, with a becoming Reſignation to the Allwiſe Diſpoſal of their merciful Creator; they will there learn to be eaſy and Miſtreſſes of themſelves amidst Sickneſſes, the Loſs of Friends, Indignities, Calumnies, and all the other Accidents that attend Mortality; will there be told, that the greater the Difficulties A4 are viii A4v are with which they encounter, the greater will be the Glory of the Conquest; and that when Death has put an end to their Conflicts, Virtue will remain victorious, and the Rewards of a Future-ſtate abundantly compenſate for all the Miſeries of this.
I hope they will pardon the Incorrectneſs of my Stile: The Subjects of which I write are worthy of their Attention; ’tis thoſe I recommend to them: Truth is valuable though ſhe appears in a plain Dreſs; and I hope they will not ſlight her becauſe ſhe wants the Ornaments of Language: Politeneſs is not my Talent; it ought not to be expected from a Perſon who has but ſeldom had the Opportunity of converſing with ingenious Company, which I remember Mr. Dryden, in the Preface to one of his Miſcellanies, thinks to be neceſſary toward the gaining a Fineneſs of Stile; this being a Qualification I want, it cannot be ſuppos’d I ſhould underſtand the Delicacies of Language, the Niceties of good writing; thoſe things I leave to happier, more accurate Pens: My whole Deſign is to recommend Virtue, to perſwade my Sex to improve their Underſtandings, to prefer Wiſdom before Beauty, good Senſe before Wealth, and the Sovereignty of their Paſſions before the Empire of the World: I beg them to do me the Favour to believe one that ſpeaks ix A5r ſpeaks it from a long Experience, That a greater Delight, a more tranſporting Satisfaction, reſults from a pure well-regulated Soul, from a Conſciouſneſs of having done Things agreeable to Reaſon, ſuitable to the Dignity of ones Nature, than from the highest Gratifications of Senſe, the most entertaining Gayeties of an unthinking Life.
Mr. Lintott, ſome time ſince, intending to Reprint my Poems, deſir’d me to permit him to add to ’em a Dialogue I had in the Year 17001700, written on a Sermon preach’d by Mr. Sprint, a Non-Conformist, at Sherbourn in Dorſetſhire: I refuſing, for ſeveral Reaſons, to grant his Request, he, without my Knowledge, bought the Copy of the Bookſeller who formerly Printed it, and, without my Conſent, or once acquainting me with his Reſolution, added it to the Second Edition of my Poems: and that which makes the Injury the greater, is, his having omitted both the Epiſtle Dedicatory and the Preface; by which means, he has left the Reader wholly in the Dark, and expos’d me to Cenſure. When ’twas firſt Printed I had Reaſon to complain, but not ſo much as now; then the Dedication was left intire, as I had written it; but the Preface ſo mangl’d, alter’d, and conſiderably ſhortned, that I hardly knew it to be my own: but it being then publiſh’d without a Name, I was the leſs concern’d: but ſince, not- x A5v notwithſtanding the great Care I took to conceal it, ’tis known to be mine, I think my ſelf obliged, in my own Defence, to take ſome notice of it. I had once Thoughts of Printing it again, together with the Dedication and Preface; but not being willing to trouble the World any further with what I always thought an inconſiderable Trifle, I judg’d it adviſable to take this Opportunity to juſtify my ſelf, that it may appear I am not ſo blame-worthy as I’ve been repreſented: ’Twas written with no other Deſign, but that innocent one of diverting ſome of my Friends; who, when they read it, were pleas’d to tell me they lik’d it, and deſir’d me to Print it, which I ſhould never have had the Vanity to have done, but in a Compliment to them. Sir John Brute, one of the chief Characters, was a Name borrow’d from a Play of Mr. Vanbrugh’s, call’d The Provok’d Wife, and deſign’d as a Repreſentative not only of all ill Huſbands, but of all vicious Men in general. I would beg the Favour of all ſuch as are willing to underſtand my Poem, to give themſelves the Trouble of reading the Sermon which occaſion’d it; part of it was anſwer’d in the Preface, and the whole paraphras’d in the Dialogue: Some Expreſſions I thought too harſh to be ſpoken by a Divine; for which Reaſon they are repeated by Sir John Brute, who, as I’ve already obſerv’d, is a complicated Character, a Perſon in whom are ſum’d up all the diſagreeableable xi A6r able Qualities that are to be found among Mankind. I aſſure my Readers, there are no Reflections in it levell’d at any particular Perſons beſides the Author of the Sermon; him I only blame for his being too angry, for his not telling us our Duty in a ſofter, more engaging way: Addreſs and good Manners render Reproofs a Kindneſs; but where they are wanting, Admonitions are always taken ill: As Truths of this ſort ought never to be conceal’d from us, ſo they ought never to be told us with an indecent Warmth; a reſpectful Tenderneſs would be more becoming a Meſſenger of Peace, the Diſciple of a humble, patient, meek, commiſerating Saviour. The whole was deſign’d as a Satyr on Vice, and not, as ſome have maliciouſly reported, for an Invective on Marriage: None can have a higher Veneration for that ſacred Union than my ſelf; but give me leave to ſay, I think it ought to be a Union of Minds as well as of Perſons and Fortunes; where it does not happen to be ſo, there is the greater Trial of Virtue, but never the leſs Obligation to Duty and Reſpect: We ought on all Occaſions to do what becomes us, to have a Regard to the Dignity of our Nature, and the Rules of right Reaſon; and having govern’d our ſelves by the Dictates of Religion and Honour, to be contented with the ſecret Approbation of our own Conſciences, without being made uneaſy at the ill-grounded Reproaches of the talkative part xii A6v part of Mankind, who by their being for the generality unavoidably ignorant of our Circumſtances, cannot be capacitated to become proper Judges of our Actions, and conſequently their Cenſures are too often not only highly uncharitable, but falſe and injurious. I can with Truth affirm, that in whatever I have writ, I have had no other View, but the promoting of Virtue; I would perſwade all my Acquaintance, particularly thoſe of my own Sex, to be obedient to its Commands, and always to do ſuch things as they may be able to reflect on with a rational Pleaſure. If in any thing I’ve written, I’ve been ſo happy as in the least to contribute to the more regular Conduct of their Lives, I am ſatisfied, and ſhall the leſs regret the unkind Reflections of an ill-natur’d Age.
I fear the Clergy will accuſe me of Irreligion for making Sir John Brute talk ſo irreverently of them: but, before they condemn me, I deſire them to be ſo just as to conſider, that ’tis not my own Thoughts I ſpeak, but what it might be rationally ſuppos’d a Man of his vicious Character would ſay on ſuch Occaſions. The Poets are full of Examples of this kind, particularly Milton; he makes ſome of his Apoſtate Angels ſay blaſphemous things of God, and yet the judicious part of Mankind have never blam’d him for it, becauſe what they ſpoke was agreeable to their Nature, and expreſſive of xiii A7r of their implacable Malice: ’Twould have been abſurd in him to have made his Devils perſonate Saints: Characters ought to be exactly ſuited to the Perſons they are deſign’d to repreſent; they are the Images of the Mind, and ought to be drawn to the Life.
In the latter part of the Dialogue I have ſpoken of ſuch of the Clergy as are Perſons of Learning, Good Senſe, and Vtirtue, with all imaginable Reſpesct; the ſame I’ve done in the Eſſay writ on Avarice; for which Reaſon I think it needleſs to make any farther Apology.
Books Printed for R. Bonwick, W. Freeman, T. Goodwin, J. Walthoe, M. Worton, S. Manſhip, J. Nicholſon, R. Parker, B. Tooke, and R. Smith.
Law of Nature and Nations: The ſecond Edition: In Folio.
The Nature of Uncleanneſs conſider’d: Where is diſcours’d of, The Cauſes and Conſequences of this Sin, and the Duties of ſuch as are under the Guilt of it. To which is added, A Diſcourſe concerning the Nature of Chaſtity, and the Means of obtaining it, by J. F. Oſtervald,Miniſter of the Church of Neufchatel, Author of a Treatiſeof the Cauſes of the preſent Corruptions of Chriſtians, &c. octav.
Of Wiſdom; in three Books: Written originally in French by ; with an Account of the Author: Made Engliſh by George Stanhope, D. D. Dean of Canterbury, and Chaplain in ordinary to Her Majeſty. The ſecond Edition. In two Volumes in octav.
Moral Eſſays on ſome of the moſt curious and ſignificant Engliſh, Scotch, and Foreign Proverbs: By , Presbyter of the Church of England.
The Life of Guzman d’Alfarache: To which is added, the celebrated Tragicomedy Celeſtina: In two Volumes. Written in Spaniſh by . Done into Engliſh from the new French Verſion, and compar’d with the Original by ſeveral Hands: Adorn’d with Sculptures. Octav.
Life of Lazarillo de Tormes, in twelves, with twenty Cuts.
Essays Upon Several Subjects.
To the Ladies.
When I look abroad into the World, and take a Survey of the Rational Nature, it grieves me to ſee what a vaſt Diſproportion there is as to intellectual Endowments between the Men and Us: ’Tis a mortifying Proſpect to ſee them exalted to ſuch a tow’ring Height, rais’d ſo infinitely above the generality of our Sex. Some few indeed may vie with them, may ſhine bright in the Firmament of Knowledge: But what are they to the ſurrounding Splendors, to the Multitude of Lights? they are loſt in the glorious B Crowd, 2 B1v 2 Crowd, and cannot be retriev’d without a narrow Inſpection, an attentive View! I wiſh I could perſwade all, at leaſt the greateſt part of my Sex, thoſe whoſe Circumſtances do not neceſſarily oblige them to lower Cares, to put in for a Share, to enter their Claims, and not permit the Men any longer to monopolize the Perfections of the Mind, to ingroſs the Goods of the Underſtanding: I would not have them ſuffer themſelves to be willingly diſpoſſeſs’d of their Reaſon, and ſhut out of the Commonwealth of Learning: Neither would I have them ſo far impos’d on, as to be made to believe, that they are incapable of great Attainments. We have already given noble and undeniable Inſtances of the contrary, and can produce a long Catalogue of illuſtrious Names, can boaſt of Ladies. who have been as famous for their Knowledge as their Vertue.
When ancient Greece was for her Arts renown’d,
Was for her Learning and her Honour crown’d;
The Men alone did not the Glory ſhare,
The Muſes had their Female Votaries there.
Some Women all the Depths of Knowledge trac’d,
And were with ev’ry Science, ev’ry Virtue grac’d,
Their Underſtanding, like a Light Divine,
Did thro’ their Lives with pleaſing Splendor ſhine.
From thence the Roman Emulation grew,
Some Ladies there did the bright Tract purſue,Made 3 B2r 3
Made great Advances in the Paths of Fame,
And, rich in Learning, to her Temple came.
There a Cornelia did her Father grace,
The worthy Daughter of a Conqu’ring Race:
Not he more Glory cou’d from Carthage bring,
Than from her Pen, and from her Tongue did ſpring.
In other Countries we have Trophies rais’d;
The wiſe Zenobia can’t enough be prais’d;
She famous, as her Auguſt Tadmor, grew,
Almoſt as much as its firſt Founder knew.
No guilty Paſſion e’re her Glory ſtain’d,
She ſtill with Juſtice and with Mildneſs reign’d,
And when inſlav’d, ſhe never once complain’d.
Still was the ſame in each Extreme of Fate,
Humble when high, and when depreſs’d ſedate.
In latter Times a great Example’s found,
A Cottage-Virtue for her Merit crown’d;
An Athenais, by her Learning led
To the bright Honours of a Royal Bed!
Admir’d, tho’ poor, both for her Mind and Face,
In both you might ſurprizing Beauties trace:
But ’twas the Firſt wiſe Theodoſius gain’d,
Such Charms he lik’d, as ſtill the ſame remain’d,
Which neither Age, nor Sickneſs, cou’d remove,
Which ſtill would ſhine, ſtill would attract his Love.
Italian Shores with Female Praiſe reſound,
Amalaſuntha there was ſuff’ring found;B2 A 4 B2v 4
A Lady bleſt by Nature and by Art:
She’d all the Treaſures Knowledge could impart,
A Mind well furniſh’d, and a gen’rous Heart.
But theſe, alas! could not a Husband move,
Could not perſwade his barbarous Soul to love.
Her ſhining Qualities glar’d much too bright,
They ſhew’d thoſe Vices he had hid in Night.
Provok’d, and bluſhing at the ſhameful View,
He at the guiltleſs Cauſe invenom’d Arrows threw.
Love fled, affrighted, from his Savage Breaſt,
A Place too cruel for ſo kind a Gueſt.
The gentle God to Paphian Shrines retir’d,
And there his Goddeſs Mother’s Aid requir’d:
They join’d their Skill, their utmoſt Pow’r they try’d;
But he both them, and all their Arts defy’d,
Stood unconcern’d while his fair Princeſs dy’d,
By him deſtroy’d, who ſhou’d have ſav’d her Life:
O Wretch ! unworthy of ſo good a Wife:
Inhuman Prince, her Charms had Tygers mov’d,
She’d been for them, by fierceſt Lions lov’d;
Thro’ wildeſt Deſarts might have ſafely ſtray’d,
And there been by the beſtial World obey’d,
By none, but treacherous Man, have ever been betray’d.
Virtue’s no Shield, it rather does expose;
The Bad are ſtill the Good’s inveterate Foes.
Merit in them does always Envy raiſe,
They hate the Perſons they are forc’d to praiſe.
I could name ſeveral others, were I not afraid of tiring you; as Anna Commena, the Daughter of Alexis, Emperor of Conſtantinople; Margaret of Valois; Jane, Queen of Navarre; Katherine of Portugal, Dutcheſs of Braganza; and the famous Anna-Maria Schuerman: But I think my ſelf obliged to take notice, that our own Iſland has afforded us ſome great Examples; we have had a Queen Jane, a Queen Elizabeth, and a Queen Mary, beſides ſome others of an inferior Degree, who have been admir’d for their Wit and Learning; and are now ſo happy as to be bleſs’d with a Queen, in whom the Graces of the former ſhine with an united Luſtre. I cou’d name others, who move in a lower Sphere, and are, by all who have the Honour to know them, accounted the Living Ornaments of their Country; but I dare not do it, for fear of diſobliging them, and offending that Modeſty which compleats their Character, and adds a heightning Luſtre to their other Virtues, all they deſire is to approve themſelves to their own Conſciences, and the Good and Wiſe, the feweſt, but the beſt Judges. As for Popular Applauſes, they ſhun them as troubleſome Vanities, and chuſe rather to live to themſelves, their Books, and their Thoughts, than to be fatigued with the nauſeous Flatteries and inſipid Impertinences of the Age.B3 Germany 6 B3v 6
Germany has now the Happineſs of being bleſs’d with an illuſtrious Branch of the Brittiſh Line: Hanover can boaſt of a Princeſs who far out-ſhines the moſt celebrated Grecian or Roman Ladies, and is Miſtreſs of more Learning, more admirable Qualities, than all the Zenobia’s, Athenais’s, and Amalaſuntha’s of Antiquity.
In France, the Glory of our Sex diſplays it ſelf afreſh; we ſee our Honour revive in the famous Madam d’Acier: The Ladies there begin to aſſert their Rights, and are reſolv’d the Salic Law ſhall not extend to their Minds, ſhall not obtrude it ſelf on their Intellectuals.
Let us endeavour to improve thoſe Faculties our kind Creator has given us, awaken our Underſtanding, and employ it about Subjects worthy of it. Would we but for ſome time withdraw our Eyes from outward Objects, and turn them inward, reflect ſeriously on our ſelves, pry into the ſecret Labyrinths, the ſhady, the obſcure Receſſes of our Souls, we ſhould there find the Embrio’s of Science, the firſt Rudiments of Virtue, the Beginnings of all uſeful Knowledge; and ſhould hear the ſoft and gentle Whiſpers of Truth, which to every attentive Liſt’ner, every humble Enquirer, will prove a happy Guide, a kind Director; and upon a nice Scrutiny, an exact Review, ſhould find a Stock of our own ſufficient to begin with, which, if well managed, will 7 B4r 7 will not fail of yielding us plentiful Returns. If to theſe Riches of our own we add Foreign Manufactures; if we chuſe the beſt Books, the most inſtructive Converſations, and, by a due Recollection, digeſt and make our own, both what we read and what we hear, we ſhall make wonderful Progreſſes, and prodigiouſly encreaſe our Wealth. ’Tis commendable to be greedy of ſuch Treaſures: Avarice is here a Virtue: It becomes us to be covetous of every Minute, to employ every Moment to Advantage, and not permit our ſelves to be robb’d of any part of a ſhort Life.
If at any time we happen to be unavoidably ingag’d in idle, trifling, unprofitable Company, among ſuch as can talk of nothing but what is not worth the knowing, of the little mean concerns of the Animal Life, their Domeſtick Affairs, their Remarks upon others, their Extolling themſelves, their Complaints, their Murmurs, and all their reſtleſs Inquietudes, or in other Words, with the various Efforts of their Paſſions, the Triumphs of their Vanity, and the numerous Inſtances of their Folly: Let us inſtead of cenſuring and deſpiſing them, retire into our own Breaſts, and ſeriously ask our ſelves whether we are ſo Ignorant, ſo Partial, ſo full of Faults, ſo void of Judgement, and ſo deeply immers’d in Senſe? And let us carefully endeavour to avoid thoſe Rocks on which we ſee them ſplit: Let their B4 Com 8 B4v 8 Complaints make us calm and reſign’d, their Murmurs teach us to acquieſe in the diſpoſal of Providence, and their uneaſineſſes make us reſolve at any rate to purchaſe an inward Serenity and Tranquility of Mind; their expreſſing ſo great a concern about their Houſes, their Dreſſes, their Diverſions, and all other mercileſs devourers of their Time, make us look back with Bluſhes on our own Remiſſneſs, on the ſloathfulneſs of our Tempers, and the deplorable emptineſs of our Minds, on thoſe ſmall Improvements we’ve made in Virtue, our ſlow advances in Knowledge, our inconſiderable progreſs in Learning, and the weak Attacks we have made on our Paſſions: and then with a hearty Sollicitude, a ſerious deſire of being rightly inform’d, inquire of our ſelves and of our Friends, Whether we are not as troubleſome to others as they are to us? Whether our Diſcourſes are not as irrational as inſignificant, and to as little purpoſe as thoſe we blame? This is the Uſe we ought to make of what we ſee amiſs in others. By doing thus, there will accrue ſome Advantage to us from every Occurence of Life; we ſhall be the better for every one we converſe with, and extract Wiſdom out of the greateſt Inſtances of Folly. It will enable us to paſs right Judgments on Things, ſhow us the vaſt Difference there is between Opinion and Reaſon, give us a wonderful Strength and Liberty of Mind, a Vi- 9 B5r 9 a Vivacity and Clearneſs of Thought, and keep us continually on our Guard.
What I would adviſe my ſelf and others in relation to a courſe of Study, ſhould be to indeavour to get an inſight into the uſeful Parts of Learning, and to attend more to Things, than Words. Let Languages be left to the Grammarians, and let the Rhetoricians contend about the niceties of Style; and while they are quarrelling about the Husk, the Shell, the ſuperficial worthleſs Part, let us be ſollicitous only for the Subſtance; be induſtriouſly ſtriving to make ſuch Things ours, as will prove real Accompliſhments to our Minds, true and laſting Ornaments to our Souls. And ſuch are the Knowledge of God, and our Selves: Theſe are large and comprehenſive Subjects: The Firſt takes in the whole Creation, the full extent of Being; and by contemplating the Effects, we ſhall riſe to the Cauſe, and as by conſidering that wonderful, that amazing Power, that inimitable Wiſdom, that admirable Beauty, that tranſporting Harmony, and that immutable Order, which at firſt diſcover’d themſelves in the formation of the Univerſe, and are ſtill every where viſible in it, we ſhall be led to their Divine Original, to the unexhausted Source, the Foundation of all Perfections. So by making a due Reflection on the Operations of our Minds, on the large extent of our intellectual Faculties, their ſeveral Offices,fices, 10 B5v 10 fices, their diſtinct Employments, and their Superiority to each other; the activity of our Souls, the ſeveral Methods by which they move and exert themſelves, and exerciſe their Dominion over our Bodies, we may attain to ſome competent Knowledge of what we are, and by degrees grow acquainted with our ſelves.
In order to the raiſing our Thoughts to ſuch ſublime Speculations, ’tis neceſſary that we ſhould be able to form to our ſelves clear Ideas, ſhould have right conceptions of thoſe Things on which we contemplate, to the Attainment of which Logick will be requiſite; ’twill teach us to think regularly, to reaſon juſtly, to diſtinguiſh between Truth and Falſhood, Things that are Simple, and such as are Compounded; Things that are Contingent, from ſuch as are Neceſſary. And ſomething of Geometry will be uſeful to qualifie and prepare our Minds for the Contemplation of Truth, and for the profitable Reading of any Books: ’Twill enable us to fix our Thoughts, and give a check to that quickneſs of Imagination, which is ſeldom conſiſtent with ſolidity of Judgment. Phyſicks ought to be our next Study, that will ſhow us Nature, as ſhe variouſly diſplays her ſelf, as ſhe manifeſts her ſelf in material Objects, explains to us her ſurprizing Phænomena, inſtruct us heedfully to conſider all her wonderful Productions, and trace 11 B6r 11 trace infinite Wiſdom and Power thro’ the immenſe Space, from the Heights Above, to the Depths Below; from the glorious Orbs which roll over our Heads, to the minuteſt Inſect that crawls under our Feet; diſcover to us Beauties which Art can never imitate, and which common Spectators do not obſerve. From the Conſideration of thoſe Divine Attributes which conſpicuously ſhine in the viſible Creation, we may aſcend to the Metaphyſicks, which is the Nobleſt, the moſt elevated Part of Science, that on which all the reſt depend; it raiſes us above ſenſible Objects, advances us to Things purely Intellectual, and treats of Being, as abſtracted from Matter: ’Twill perfect our Knowledge, and brighten our Reaſon; enable us to proceed in our reſearches after Truth, on ſteady and unerring Principles, and give us clearer and more diſtinct views of the adorable Excellencies of the Divine Nature. Geography will make us acquainted with the Earth we inhabit, will mark out its ſeveral Regions, and ſhow us how one Part is divided from another either by Seas, Rivers, or Mountains; ’twill alſo be of uſe to abate our Pride, by repreſenting to us how little and inconſiderable a Part our Globe is of the mighty Whole, and yet as deſpicably ſmall as ’tis, it appears unmeaſurably Great, if compar’d with that Point, that nothing on which we live.To 12 B6v 12
To theſe let us joyn Moral Philoſophy: That will in ſome meaſure teach us what we owe to God and our ſelves, will inform us how we may reduce our Knowledge into Practice, and live thoſe Truths we have been learning: But theſe things we ſhall be beſt taught from the Sacred Volumes; our Bleſſed Saviour has exalted Ethicks to the ſublimeſt height, and his admirable Sermon on the Mount, is the nobleſt, the exacteſt Model of Perfection. When we are tir’d with more intricate Studies, we may apply our ſelves to Hiſtory, which that we may read with Advantage, we ought to have ſome inſight in Chronology, and to render what we read the more Intelligible, as well as in order to its making a deeper Impreſſion on our Memories, ’twill be beſt to underſtand ſomething of Geography, and to have both the Ancient and Modern Maps before us of thoſe Places to which our Books refer. Hiſtory is a large Field, we ſhall there ſee wonderful turns of Fortune, ſurprizing Occurrences, and an amazing variety of Accidents, fooliſh Mortals labouring for Trifles, contending eagerly for things they would be much happier without; ſome curſt in having their own Wiſhes, rais’d to the utmoſt height of Power and Grandeur, only to be thrown thence with the greater Obloquy and Contempt; others pleaſing themſelves with their Obſcurity, and laughing at the Noiſe and 13 B7r 13 and Buſtle that ſurrounds them. With ſuch Amuſements as theſe Poetry may claim a Place, and we may at our leaſure Hours, be allow’d to entertain our ſelves with thoſe Maſters of Wit and Eloquence. There’s ſomething charming in Verſe, ſomething that ſtrikes the Ear, moves the Soul, and ingages the Affection: ’Twas the firſt way of Writing, and in ſome Countries even older than Letters; It ſeems to be the voice of Infant Nature, of Nature in her early Bloom, in her firſt Native Sweetneſs: In it the Ancients ſpoke their Thoughts, convey’d their Laws, and deliver’d the ſevereſt Precepts of Morality: The People lik’d the Inſtructions which came attended with Delight, and as they heard them with Pleaſure, ſo they retain’d them with Eaſe.
Such Sciences as I’ve been recommending to you, I know only ſo much as to make me bewail the want of them, they are like the Glories of the Sky, things I admire, but cannot reach: Were I to live over my Life again, I would make them my early Study; but I would have you exact in that wherein I’m deficient, Miſtreſſes of thoſe Excellencies to which I han’t ſo much as a Pretence.
I can this Canaan only view,
The Conqueſt is reſerv’d for you:
From thence I’ve Samples only brought;
By you the Wonders muſt be wrought.I’m 14 B7v 14
I’m much too weak for ſuch a Toil,
Your’s be the Glory, your’s the Spoil:
Whilſt I to Piſgah’s Height retire,
See your Succeſs, and pleas’d, expire.
But, notwithſtanding my Ignorance, I will will preſume to ſay, that the Studies I’ve been mentioning, are all uſeful in their ſeveral kinds, and will ſo entirely take up our Time, that we ſhall have no idle Moments to throw away on Romances and Trifles of that Nature, which ſerve only to ſtuff the Memory, to fill it with extravagant Fancies, with falſe Notions of Love and Honour, to excite the Paſſions, ſoften and emaſculate the Soul, and render it at once both vain and effeminate. Believe me, the reading of ingenious Books, and the accuſtoming your ſelves to reflect on what you read, will in a ſhort time recompence all your Pains: Thinking will give you a brightneſs of Thought, a clearneſs and diſtinctneſs of Conception: You’ll find your Minds fill’d with great, noble and delightful Ideas, with ſuch rational and agreeable Sentiments, as will make you eaſie with your ſelves, pleas’d with your own Converſation, and chearful in the moſt retir’d Confinement, at the greateſt diſtance from your Friends and Acquaintance, and render Solitude preferable to the moſt diverting Company. When you are alone, how tranſportingly pleaſant will it be 15 B8r 15 be to take a view of the Univerſe, of the vaſt extent of created Nature, the not-to-be-number’d Emanations of exuberant Goodneſs? To contemplate the Superiour Regions, and their bleſt Inhabitants, thoſe bright Intelligences who make the neareſt approach to abſolute Perfection, and are at the moſt exalted, and the happieſt Parts of the Creation; to ſurvey all thoſe ſolid Globes which ſwim in the fluid Æther, ſee vaſt Maſſes of fiery Matterwhirl’d round their Axis with an amazing, an inconceivable Rapidity, and at the ſame time moving with them their reſpective Vortices, and attending Planets, to conſider their Diſtances, and the ſeveral Circles they deſcribe; and when dazl’d with an almoſt infinity of glorious Objects, to turn your Thought to Proſpects no leſs wonderful, but nearer to you, and more adequate to your Capacities, to the World you inhabit, and revolve in your Minds what you’ve read of it in General, and what of each Country in Particular, in reference to its Situation, People, Religion, Laws, Cuſtoms, Cities, Animals and Plants, whatever is remarkable in it, and peculiar to it: In a Word, all the admirable Productions of Nature, and the delightful Curioſities of Art.
What can be more diverting than this, what more entertaining to Rational Beings? And if ’tis ſo deſirable, ſo improving, ſo unexpreſſibly delectable, why ſhould it be conceal’d,ceal’d, 16 B8v 16 ceal’d, made only the Entertainment of our Thoughts, the Companion of our Solitary Hours? why ſhould it not be introduc’d into general Converſation? why ſhould not an ingonious Diſcourse be more acceptable, than a tedious account of the Faſhions? And why may we not ſpeak with as good a grace of the Pyramids, as of a fine Manteau; of the Mauſoleum, as the trimming of a Petticoat? And why ſhould we be any more laugh’d at for talking of Pagods, than Headdreſſes; or of the Hottantots, than of the Beaux? And would it not be to better purpoſe, to give an account of the ceremonious Behaviour of the Chineſes, and the exact Civility of the Italians, than to entertain the Preſent, at the expence of the Abſent, with the ill Shape of one Lady, the awkard Mien of another, the ungenteel Tone of a Third? And would it not be more Inſtructive, as well as more Innocent, to talk of the Victories of an Alexander, and of a Cæſar, of the Bravery and Courage of a Boadicia, or a Zenobia, than of the mean, pitiful Conqueſts of a Coquet, or the Amours of a Fop? Of the uncorrupted Manners of the Ancient Romans, of the admirable Government of the Spartans, of that happy Equality which was eſtabliſh’d amongſt them; their wonderful Temperance, Wiſdom, contempt of Riches, and all the pompous vanities of Life; their univerſal love of Virtue, and ſolid Knowledge,ledge, 17 C1r 17 ledge, than all the trifling Concerns of our Neighbours, the Management of their Families, the Faultineſs of their Conduct, their Want of Senſe, with a thouſand other little Impertinences, which perhaps none of the Company are concern’d to know, and which, ’tis probable, are as far remov’d from Truth, as they are from Charity?
Would not Time thus employ’d turn to a much better Account, than if it were parcell’d out between the Glaſs and the Table, the Park and the Play-houſe, unneceſſary Viſits and expensive Games, thoſe mercileſs Waſters of our little Stock, our ſmall Pittance of Leiſure? From what I’ve ſaid, I would not have it thought I am an Enemy to any of thoſe things; no, ’tis their Abuſe only I wou’d prevent. Decency requires that we ſhould take ſome Care of our Dreſs, and the Neceſſities of Nature oblige us to eat and drink; but then we muſt do it without a ſtudied Luxury, without an unbecoming Application of Mind, without being Slaves to our Palates, and valuing our ſelves on the number and variety of our Diſhes: Neither do I think it a Fault to go ſometimes to the Play-houſe, or divert our ſelves at Cards, provided they do not engroſs too much of our Time, which is one of the chief Reaſons of my cautioning you againſt the laſt; not but that I think there are others of almoſt an equal Weight, as their augmenting an avaritiousC tious 18 C1v 18 tious Humour, and exciting our Paſſions, which we find by Experience they do in Perſons that are not govern’d by their Reaſon: ſuch as are, will not need to be adviſed by me, they being too fond of their Time to throw it away on Trifles; they know its Worth, and how to employ every Minute to Advantage. I expect to be cenſur’d for uſing this Freedom; but if I am, I ſhall not be concern’d at it any otherwiſe, than as I am miſunderſtood: I would have my Sex as Wiſe, as Knowing, and as Virtuous, as they are by Nature capable of being; and if I can, by my Advice, be ſo fortunate, as in the leaſt to contribute to it, I ſhall think my ſelf happy. To endeavour this is ſome degree of Service, and may deſerve a favourable Interpretation.
Among the numerous Vices incident to Mankind, and in which they are unhappily immers’d, there is none they have a ſtronger Propenſity to, and which they more willingly indulge, than Pride, and none for which they have a leſs Appearance of Reaſon. ’Tis ſtrange that depending Creatures, ſuch as owe whatever they are Maſters of to another, ſhould be ſo vain, as to be proud of what they cannot call their own, and of which ’tis in the Power of Ten thouſand Accidents to deprive them; and (which is yet more conſiderable) of that, which, ſuppoſing they could have a long and full Enjoyment of, yet it would neither add to their Happineſs, nor their Merit, nor entitle them to the Eſteem of Perſons, whoſe Approbation is worth the deſiring.
Beauty cannot beſtow Deſert, nor a great Eſtate Wiſdom. A Man may be born to Honour, and yet a Fool; may be able to boaſt of his being ſprung from illuſtrious Progenitors, from a long Race of Heroes, and yet prove the Diſgrace of his Family; may have the Knack of getting Riches, of amaſſingſing 20 C2v 20 ſing vaſt Treaſures, and yet be hardly able to ſpeak common Senſe; may be Maſter of ſeveral Languages, well read in ancient and modern Authors, and yet be a ridiculous Pedant; a great Politician, and not an honeſt Man; a polite Courtier, and yet a Stranger to Virtue; an accompliſh’d Beau, without having ſo much Underſtanding as his Tailor, or Valet-de-Chambre.
Ladies may be nicely skill’d in Dreſſing, and admirable Managers of their Families, and yet deſpicably impertinent; neither able to ſpeak nor think regularly, and as much unacquainted with the World as with themſelves: They may indeed know the little Arts of Pleaſing, the way of carrying on Intrigues; may be Miſtreſſes of a modiſh Set of Compliments, of the nauſeous Jargon of the Town; may be able to rail with a good Grace, be exactly well inſtructed in all that may tend to the Defamation of thoſe they converſe with, every way qualified for the momentous Buſineſs of a viſiting Day, for making a Tour from one Drawing-Room to another, and yet wretchedly ignorant in all the neceſſary Parts of Knowledge, deſtitute of all the real Ornaments of the Mind, the true Imbelliſhments of the Underſtanding, of all that’s either improving or inſtructing, of all that can render them amiable in the Sight of judicious and diſcerning Judges, of ſuch as are too 21 C3r 21 too wiſe to be led by exterior Appearances, who pay no Reſpect to empty Pretenders, and will be ſo far from miſtaking Clouds for Juno’s, that inſtead of proving their Admirers, they will deſpiſe them for their Folly.
For what can be more childiſh, what a greater Argument of Stupidity, than to be proud of a Face, of that which a Diſeaſe may quickly ſpoil, and over which Time muſt unavoidably triumph? Or, which is much worſe, only perhaps of an adventitious Beauty of borrow’d Charms, a well-dreſs’d Head, and gaudy Cloaths; of Things which, allowing them to be praiſe-worthy, yet the Commendation belongs wholly to the Tirewoman, the Mercer, the Lace-man, and the Manteau-maker; or of having got into the Road of ſaying pretty taking Things, which paſs for Wit with thoſe who are on the ſame Level with themſelves, and for which they expect to be applauded, tho’ perhaps, on a ſtrict Examination, there is nothing in it that deſerves that Name, nothing in which a Parrot might not in a ſhort time be as good a Proficient.
But were Mankind what they vainly fancy themſelves to be, had they all thoſe Perfections in reality, which they only poſſeſs in Dreams, as large Shares of the Goods of Fortune as they could deſire, or their Avarice graſp, and as much Honour and Power as the C3 moſt 22 C3v 22 moſt aſpiring Ambition could wiſh for, yet they ought not on this account to ſet a higher Value on themſelves, or be ſo weak as to expect it from others, nothing of this kind being in it ſelf really eſtimable.
Would not that Man deſerve to be laugh’d at, who ſhould be proud of the Beauty of his Horſe, of the Gilding of his Coach, or the Trimming of his Liveries? And are not all other external Things as foreign to him as theſe? If any thing would juſtify our Vanity, it would be the Indowments of the Mind, our having larger Shares than others of thoſe Perfections which are the Glory of the rational Nature, more adequate Conceptions of Things, clearer and brighter Idea’s, quicker and more penetrating Apprehenſions, truer and more ſolid Judgments, more orderly and better regulated Thoughts. But if, inſtead of admiring our ſelves for being above others in intellectual Accompliſhments, we did with a ſerious Attention reflect on the Narrowneſs of our Faculties, the ſmall, the inconſiderable Proportions we have of thoſe Abilities which are requiſite towards the Attainment of thoſe Sciences which enrich and enoble the Soul, how little (by reaſon of the Shortneſs of our Views) ’tis that we are capable of knowing, and of that little, that almoſt nothing, which lies within our Kenn; how ignorant we are, as being either too ſlothful, or 23 C4r 23 or too much clogg’d with Earth, to raiſe our Eyes, and make farther Diſcoveries, methinks it ſhould give a Check to our tow’ring Imaginations, damp the Wings of our Pride, and much leſſen that good Opinion we are too apt to entertain of our ſelves.
But if, after having made theſe Reflections, we farther conſider, that there being a Scale of Beings, which reaches from the firſt Cauſe to the moſt imperceptible Effect, from the infinite Creator to the smalleſt of his Productions, we have reaſon to believe, that as we ſee an innumerable Company of Beings below us, and each Species to be leſs perfect in its Kind, till they end in a Point, an indiviſible Solid: ſo there are almoſt an infinite Number of Beings above us, who as much exceed us, as we do the minuteſt Inſect, or the ſmalleſt Plant, and, in compariſon of whom, the moſt elevated Genius’s, the greateſt Maſters of Reaſon, the moſt illuminated and unweary’d Enquirers after Knowledge, are but Children, ſuch as hardly deſerve to be of the loweſt Form in the School of Wiſdom, we cannot but have contemptible Thoughts of our ſelves, cannot but bluſh at our own Arrogance, and look back with Shame on the ſeveral Inſtances of our Folly.
Methinks I ſee thoſe bright Intelligences, thoſe exalted Underſtandings, who by the Dignity of their Nature, are raiſed to ſublime C4 Sta- 24 C4v 24 Stations, to the moſt intimate Union that created Minds can have with the Supream Good, viewing us with a ſcornful Smile, but with a Scorn that is mix’d with Pity. It moves them to Compaſſion to ſee poor wretched Mortals chuſing Servitude, and hugging Chains; proud of Toys, and fond of Bubbles; drawing Fairy-Rounds, and courting Shaddows; boaſting of Sight, yet blindly ſtumbling on, and tumbling headlong down from Precipice to Precipice, till they are loſt in a retrieveleſs Depth; they, and their vain Deſigns, for ever hid in endleſs Night. Such is the Farce of Life, and ſuch is the laſt concluding Scene: And can there be anything in Moments thus employ’d to authorize our Pride?
O let us rather ſink into the Earth,
Into that Duſt from whence we came,
And, mindful of our humble Birth,
All unbecoming Thoughts diſclaim.
As well may Flies their Exaltation boaſt,
Becauſe they in the Sun-beams play;
Because they feel the Warmth of each reviving Day,
Extend their Silken Wings, and o’er the flo’wry Meadows ſtray.
As well may Ants with a prepoſt’rous Pride
Their fellow Worms deride,
And fancy they, of all the Reptile Hoſt,
Are the moſt diligent and wiſe;
Becauſe with Toil and Care
They for contingent Wants prepare;As 25 C5r 25
As Man be proud, whom nobler Forms deſpiſe
For that in which his greateſt Glory lies;
His Fame, his Riches, and his pompous Train,
With all thoſe Things which make th’ aſpiring Wretch ſo vain,
They view with Scorn, as being not deſign’d
To conſtitute the Bliſs of humane Kind,
Sure we ſhould much more humble be,
If we our ſelves could ſee:
But few, alas! but few,
Can bear the ſad, the melancholy View,
They with Diſguſt avoid the Sight,
And turn ’em from the ſearching Rays of Light,
More pleas’d to wander in the dusky Shades of Night:
Where only ſeen by Lunar Beams,
Which weakly glimmer on the Streams,
And but a faint Reflection yield
To ev’ry Grove, and ev’ry Field.
By that pale, that feeble Flame,
Which has of Light no more but Name;
They but like fleeting Phantoms ſhow,
And nor themſelves, nor others know;
In Ignorance immers’d, and pleas’d with being ſo.
If Lambent Fires around their Temples blaze,
In Fancy’s flatt’ring Glaſs they gaze,
And, fond of the tranſporting Sight,
Give way to Raptures of Delight.
Too fierce their Joys, too quick their Senſe,
They cannot bear what’s ſo intenſe:
No more they Reaſon’s Laws obey,
No more regard what Truth does ſay:
But when th’enkindled Vapours ceaſe to ſhine,
Then they ſigh, and then repine;
As much they grieve, as they rejoyc’d before,
With Tears their vaniſh’d Splendors they deplore;
Till ſome falſe Fire again they view,
Till Hope bids them ſome diſtant Light purſue.
By it urg’d on, from Place to Place they run;
But ſtill the nimble Flame do’s its Purſuers ſhun:
Yet they th’unequal Chaſe renew,
Till tir’d and panting by deluſive Streams,
They fainting ſink, and only quench their Thirſt in Dreams
’Tis a great Truth which the Son of Syrach tells us, when he ſays, That Pride was not made for Man. Sure nothing can be more unbecoming a Creature, a Creature that had his Original from nothing, and who is every Moment ſuſtain’d by an Almighty Power, and who as at firſt he could not give himſelf Life, nor any of the Enjoyments that attend it; ſo neither can he continue them one 27 C6r 27 one Minute: His Being, and all he falſly calls his own, depends on God, as the Light does on the Sun; and ſhould he withdraw the Irradiations of his infinite Goodneſs, withhold his Divine Influence but for one ſingle Now, he would neceſſarily and immediately ſink into his firſt Nothing; and who, as he has a precarious Being, ſo he has a ſhort and limited Proſpect, is condemn’d to Plato’s Cave, ſees nothing but Shadows, takes Phantoms for Realities, and empty Sounds, reverberated Eccho’s for rational Diſcourſes: The Light is at a vaſt Diſtance behind him, and he is ſo ſtak’d to the Earth, ſo faſten’d down to the animal Life, that he cannot turn to it, can make no Diſcoveries, till he is releas’d by Death, freed by that happy Diſſolvent from the Clog of Mortality, from thoſe thick Miſts in which he’s invelop’d, from every thing that obſcures his View, retards his Flight, and keeps him from aſcending to the Region of Spirits, the intellectual World, the bright Field of Truth and Light.
Dart, O thou eternal Wiſdom, ſome Rays of thy Divine Splendour into my Soul, illuminate my Underſtanding, give me a Sight of my ſelf, of my Imperfections, of all my Frailties, of the Dulneſs of my Apprehenſion, which, by its being too cloſely united to the Body, is fill’d with ſenſible Images, crowded with imaginary Ap- 28 C6v 28 Appearances, like the firſt Matter, dark and full of Confuſion, and hardly receptive of pure Idea’s, of ſimple intellectual Truths; diſcover to me the Errors of my Judgment, the falſe Notions I have of Things, and the early Prejudices with which ’tis fetter’d, the Obſcurity and Weakneſs of my Reaſon, the Incoherence and Diſorder of my Thoughts, the Depravity of my Will, the Strength of my Paſſions, and my too cloſe Adheſion to the Delights of Senſe.
O that thou would’ſt be pleaſed to purifie and brighten my Imagination, make it ſtrong and regular, fit to contemplate thy Divine Eſſence, and form becoming Idea’s of thy adorable Attributes; Pardon the Failures of my Judgment, and give me a clearer View of Things; Inſpire me with a Rectitude of Will, a Love of Order; ſtrengthen my Reaſon, and give it the entire Sovereignty over my Paſſions: Take off my Affections from ſenſible Objects; let me have no Deſires but for thy Self, no Aims but for thy Glory.
O let thy Goodneſs fill the whole Capacity of my Nature, let thy infinite Perfections employ my Thoughts, and exclude the little Concerns of Life, the momentary Pleaſures of a deceitful World; but, above all things, imprint in me a reverential Awe of thy Divine Majeſty, of the vaſt Diſproportion that there is between Being it ſelf and Nothing, between the 29 C7r 29 the Incomprehenſible Creator and a poor weak finite Creature, between Wiſdom and Ignorance.
O make me humble, and when I find any Temptation to Vanity, any Inclination to deſpiſe others, and put too high a Value on my ſelf, to be proud of external Advantages, teach me to retire into my own Breaſt, to ſet a Guard on my Thoughts, to be very careful of my Words, nicely circumſpect in my Actions, that nothing may be ſeen in the remaining Moments of my Life that’s either derogatory to thy Honour, or unbecoming thy Creature.
Accurſed Pride taught Angels to rebel,
Govern’d by That, immortal Spirits fell
From Heav’nly Seats, and Manſions all Divine,
Where they did with a ſpotleſs Brightneſs ſhine;
Where Light, as glorious as Meridian Day,
Did all around its luſtrous Beams diſplay,
And where Delights, for Mortals much too high,
Did them with unexhauſted Joys ſupply,
They ſunk to Realms of Darkneſs and Deſpair.
No Light but that of livid Flames was there;
A pale, a diſmal, melancholy Sight:
All there was Horror, all did there affright,
And there they ſtill muſt live, excluded from Delight.This 30 C7v 30
This dang’rous Miſchief I with Care will ſhun,
Will never be by haughty Thoughts undone.
My ſelf I know, and by that Knowledge taught,
My Soul have to a humble Temper wrought.
Nothing that’s mine ſhall proud Idea’s raiſe;
Weak little Minds ſtill fondeſt are of Praiſe.
’Tis want of Senſe that does Mankind elate,
The Wiſe conſider their dependant State;
How ſhort their Views, how little ’tis they know,
By what ſlow steps thro’ Nature’s Labyrinth go,
Where, like mean worthleſs Worms, they to ſuperior Beings ſhow.
Of all the Virtues which adorn the humane Nature, there is none more amiable than Humility: ’Tis the moſt charming Ornament of the Mind, that which gives the finiſhing Stroke to all its other Perfections; it invites the admiring Spectator, and joins Love with Veneration; while Pride, like the fiery Guardian of Paradiſe, keeps us at a Diſtance, and mixes Fear and Averſion with the Honours we pay the Great.
But ’tis highly advantageous to us on ſeveral other Accounts, beſides that of the Service it does us in giving us a Title to the Affection of thoſe we converſe with: It makes us watchful over our ſelves, fences us againſt Flattery, furniſhes us with a neceſſary Diffidence, a needful Circumſpection, keeps us reſerv’d and ſilent, modeſt and reſpectful, attentive to what is ſaid, and willing to be inſtructed, makes us eaſie in Converſation, not apt to be paſſionate, dogmatical or impoſing, ever ready to ſubmit to the Deciſion of Reaſon, and never better pleas’d, than when we make a Part of the Triumphs of Truth.The 32 C8v 32
The humble Mind is ſtill improving, always employ’d in diſcovering its Defects, and in filling up Vacancies; it ſees its own Worthleſneſs, and bluſhes at it, feels every Malady, and endeavours to cure it; while the Proud are deſpiſing and cenſuring others, this is finding fault with it ſelf. While they are rediculing Mankind, making uncharitable Reflections, malicious Remarks, ruining Reputations, miſconſtruing innocent Actions, making wrong Comments on Words, and magiſterially dictating to all about them: This is nicely examining it ſelf, making a narrow Scrutiny into every Intention, following the Soul into her moſt hidden Receſſes, tracing her through all the Labyrinths of Thought, through all the intricate Mazes of the Underſtanding; and then paſſing an impartial Judgment on whatever it finds amiſs: ’Tis always ready to acknowledge its Errors, to beg Pardon for its Faults, and ſtill places Reproofs among the greateſt Favours; is never tempted to envy the more Deſerving, nor concern’d to ſee others more valued; is neither to be provok’d by Contradictions, nor inrag’d by Affronts; the firſt it can bear with Eaſe, becauſe the Knowledge it has of its own Ignorance keeps it from being tenacious of its Sentiments, or too much bigotted to its own Notions; and the other it can ſuſtain with Patience, ſupport with a becoming Temper, becauſe it aſſumes nothing 33 D1r 33 nothing to it ſelf, lays no Claim to Praiſe. Now ſuch a Diſpoſition cannot but be infinitely deſirable, as being the Source of an uninterrupted Serenity, and the Foundation on which the nobleſt and moſt beautiful Superſtructures imaginable may be raiſed.
The tow’ring ſelf-ſufficient Mind
Haſtily leaves the World behind;
Like Icarus, does ſoar too high,
Too near the melting Heat does fly:
It tempts the Dangers it ſhould ſhun,
And by Preſumption is undone:
While ſuch as with a prudent Care,
By ſmall Eſſays for Flight prepare;
Who raiſe themſelves by ſlow Degrees,
Firſt only perch upon the Trees,
Or on the Summit of ſome Hill,
E’re they their great Deſigns fulfil,
There prune their Wings, and thence with Fear
Explore the dusky Atmoſphere;
Which having done, they higher riſe,
And trembling mount the upper Skies:
Then, more embolden’d, take their Way
Thro’ pureſt Air to brighteſt Day,
May roam at large in Fields of Light,
And ſafely leave both Earth and Night.
Thoſe who riſe by ſuch ſecure Steps, who mount gradually, who frequently try their Strength, often uſe and extend their Wings, and for ſome conſiderable time fly near the Ground, (where ſhould they fail, their Fall would not be very hazardous) before they venture to ſoar aloft, will, by their Prudence and neceſſary Caution, be able to maintain their Station, to live in the Heights to which their Induſtry and Merit have elevated them, and will be ſo happy as to ſee themſelves out of danger of being involv’d in the Misfortunes of the Phaetons of the World, who think themſelves capable of driving the Chariot of the Sun, of ordering the Affairs of the Univerſe, of managing the great Machine of Nature, and were the admirable Frame now to be ſet together, wou’d, with the audacious Alphonſus, be ſo arrogant, as to preſume to adviſe the Almighty Architect, and think themſelves wiſe enough to aſſiſt him in the Government of the World. ’Tis wonderful that Men ſhould be ſo little acquainted with themſelves, be ſuch Strangers to the Narrowneſs of their Faculties, to the Limitedneſs of their Underſtandings ! But that which is moſt amazing is, that ſuch as have the ſmalleſt Share of Senſe, who are but one Remove from Idiots, ſhould have a high Opinion of their Reaſon; that Blockheads ſhould take themſelves to be Wits, and Fools ſet up for Teachers of Wiſdom.They 35 D2r 35
They whoſe Fire does dimly ſhine,
In Smoke hid from themſelves remain;
Their Heat cannot their Droſs refine,
Nor chaſe thick Vapours from their Brain:
They think they ſee, yet ſtill are blind,
Think they alone are bleſt with Sight.
This, for their Good, has Heav’n deſign’d,
That they may ſtill enjoy Delight:
For if it ſhould the Vail remove,
They quickly would themſelves deſpiſe;
From Ignorance proceeds their Love,
In that alone their Dotage lies.
Self-love and Ignorance pleaſe the generality of Mankind; they make the bitter Draught of Life go down; they not only quicken and exhilerate their Spirits, give a Reliſh to all their Enjoyments, but make them eaſie in every State, under every Circumſtance: They ſupport the poor Man, and comfort the Miſerable, make the Great Man exult amidſt ten thouſand Cares, the haughty Courtier fawn and wheedle, the proud affected Fop, the empty tawdry Beau, the fantaſtick noiſy Woman, pleas’d and ſatisfy’d with themſelves; they keep the greateſt part of the World in Humour, and are of as much Uſe to Fools, as Wiſdom is to Men of Senſe: For were their Eyes open, their Underſtandings enlighen’d, could they ſee themſelves diſtinctly,D2 ſtinctly, 36 D2v 36 ſtinctly, view their Faces in Mirrours that would not flatter, they would bluſh at the comical Repreſentation, and fancy they rather ſaw Monkeys playing Tricks, than Men acting rational Parts; rather a Company of Buffoons diverting a ſenſleſs Mob, than intelligent Beings, than Pretenders to Wiſdom. Thus they appear to us, and thus we appear to them: Thoſe we laugh at this Day, perhaps will laugh at us to Morrow; and thoſe very Qualities we admire in our ſelves may render us deſpicable to others. Thus the Frolick goes round, and we ſcorn, and are ſcorn’d by Turns.
Now, ſhould any body be ſo generous, as to endeavour to undeceive us, ſo kind as to tell us, that we have no reaſon to be ſo childiſhly fond of our ſelves, that we fooliſhly view our ſelves at the magnifying End of the Perſpective, that we ſet too high a Value on our Poſſeſſions, on our Perſons, our Acquirements, and the Endowments of our Minds, exalt Mole-hills into Mountains, think our ſelves Giants in Underſtanding, when we are but Pygmies in Senſe; Narciſſus’s for Beauty, when perhaps we have no more Pretence to it than the Therſites’s or the Eſopſ of the Age, we ſhould grow angry, ſo little are we able to bear the Language of Truth. Such obliging Reprovers would meet with Socrates’s Fate they would make Enemies, engage the greateſt part 37 D3r 37 part of Mankind againſt them. Humility is a ſolitary Virtue, few deſire her Society, ſhe palls their Joy, abates their THumor, lowers their tow’ring Imagination, and gives them a mortifying Proſpect of themſelves: They praiſe her becauſe they think it decent to do ſo, becauſe ’tis for their Reputation; but they keep her at a Diſtance, will not make her an Inmate, will not treat her as a Friend, leſt ſhe ſhould grow too familiar, ſhould preſume to unmask them, and by diſcovering them to themſelves, rob them of the Satisfaction of fancying they have ſome Pretence for their Pride.
Had Socrates been unſollicitous about the Reaſon why Apollo pronounc’d him the wiſeſt of Men, he had remain’d ſecure; had he acquieſced in the humble Thoughts he had of himſelf, he had been exempted from the Perſecution of his ungrateful Country-men; but when he reſolv’d to try if he could find any wiſer than himſelf, when he begun the allarming Search, when he pull’d his Athenians out of their belov’d Aſylum, endeavour’d to convince them of their Ignorance, to perſwade them they were not the Perſons they took themſelves to be; that in pretending to know Things, they only render’d their Folly the more conſpicuous; and that they fell infinitely ſhort of him, to whom the God gave ſo deſirable a Title, on no other Account but becauſeD3 cauſe 38 D3v 38 cauſe he humbly diſclaim’d all Knowledge, all Pretences to Wiſdom, he made them his implacable Enemies: Not only the Politicians, the Maſters of Eloquence, and the Poets, but alſo the Tradeſmen, thoſe whoſe Enquiries ought to have been confin’d to their Shops, to the Buſineſs of their reſpective Callings; both the Wits and the Fools, the Nobles and the Peaſants, the Boaſters of Senſe and the brutiſh Multitude, were all inraged againſt him, and he fell the glorious Martyr of Truth. Who would not envy ſuch a Fate? and much rather chuſe to be the humble, patient, dying Socrates, than the haughty, paſſionate, vain-glorious Alexander? Methinks, I ſee him take the Cup, and with a meek, forgiving, chearful Air, a Look that ſpeaks Content, and ſhows a modeſt, a ſubmiſſive Temper, drink off the welcome Draught. O how much happier was he, than his Accuſers!
Give me a lowly Mind, a Mind like his, and take who will the Trifles of the Earth; from them my Soul has long been wean’d. Where- e’er I look, there’s nothing tempting; nothing without deſerves my Notice, and within my ſelf I cannot ſee enough to merit my Regard; my Thoughts are dark, confus’d, and full of Error, and there’s not any thing that I can truly ſay I know; with him I freely own my Ignorance: But O! I fear I have not yet attain’d his 39 D4r 39 his Firmneſs, his calm unalter’d Temper: I could not, like him, without Emotion, bear Reproaches, hear unconcern’d my ſelf expos’d, and made the publick Jeſt: Calumnies like his would grate upon my Spirits, make my Life uneaſie, and prove much worſe to be endur’d, than Poverty, or Pain, or Death it ſelf. But what’s the Source of this? From whence proceeds this Tenderneſs? This Senſe of Ills which have their Being but in Fancy, are Creatures of Opinion: Alas! it muſt proceed from Pride. Were I as humble, my Apprehenſions ſure would be the ſame with his, and I ſhould be as little mov’d at Cenſure as Applauſe, which, till I am, I have no Pretence to Happineſs; my Satisfaction will not be my own, but in the Power of every envious Wretch, of every baſe Detractor; which to prevent, I will ſtrive to learn this needful Leſſon, prepare my ſelf for what may happen, will ſtill encourage depreciating Thoughts, accuſtom my ſelf to Reprehenſion, to be told my Faults; and if it be in Anger, yet to bear it with a mild and gentle Temper.
Reproaches often uſeful prove,
Malice may be as kind as Love;
No matter what the Bad intend,
If I’m the better, I’ve my End:
If that I to my ſelf propoſe,
I ſhall defeat my greateſt Foes.
Would we accuſtom our ſelves to ſpeak the ſtrict Language of Truth, to fix Idea’s to our Words, we ſhould not talk ſo improperly as generally we do, ſhould give Things their true Appellations, call them by their right Names, learn to diſtinguiſh between our ſelves and our Inſtruments of Action, betwixt immortal Souls and periſhing Bodies, betwixt Life and Death, and appropriate each to its proper Subject. We ſhould then know, that to live is eſſential to a rational Soul; and that when we ſpeak of Dying, we do not understand what we mean.
Socrates was much in the right, when he derided Crito for asking him how he would be buried? What can be more pleaſant than to hear him anſwer, Juſt as you pleaſe, if you can but catch me, and if I do not give you the Slip and then to ſee him turn to his lamenting Friends, and, ſmiling, tell them, He fancies this Socrates, who now diſcourſes with you, is the Thing that ſhall ſee Death by and by; he confounds me with my Corps.Life 41 D5r 41
Life is ſtill the ſame, ſtill adheres to its Subject, is not liable to any Alteration: What once truly lives, will live for ever.
Beaſts, and all the ſenſitive Creation, are but Matter variouſly modify’d; the ſame may be affirm’d of Vegetables, of Humane Bodies, and of all corporeal Subſtances in general; and what we call Dying, is only an aſſuming a new Form, an appearing in a new Shape. Matter is in a perpetual Fluctuation; ſome Parts fly off, and others are added: We are not entirely the ſame we were Yeſterday, and we ſhall not have, ſome few Years hence, one of thoſe Particles which are now conſtituent Parts of our Bodies; the Matter remains, but the accidental Figurations alter: The reſtleſs Attoms ſhift Places, and there is nothing perfectly ſolid in corporeal Nature.
None but immaterial Subſtances are fix’d, they are not extended, and therefore not diviſable, and conſequently not capable of being made greater, or render’d leſs, of having any thing added to them, or taken from them; they muſt be ſtill what they are, ſtill poſſeſs the Perfection eſſential to their Nature, ſtill enjoy that Degree of Being, which they derive from Being it ſelf, thoſe Degrees of Life which they at firſt imbib’d from its inexhauſtible Fountain.
Upon the whole, if our Souls are immortal, if by the Purity and Simplicity of their 42 D5v 42 their Nature, they are not liable to the leaſt Mutation, and may as ſoon ceaſe to be, as to be what they now are, and ſhall be for ever, as to their eſſential Properties: And if if theſe are our ſelves, if to theſe alone we owe the diſtinguiſhing Denomination of Rational Creatures, ’tis abſurd for us to talk of Dying, the Body being but the Habit of the Soul, I will not ſay the Ornament, that being too Poetical, too good an Epithet for a Lump of Dirt.
’Tis the Houſe ſhe dwells in during her Probation, in which ſhe continues while it is Tenantable; but when it ceaſes to be ſo, ſhe takes another Lodging; ſometimes, before it decays, ſhe is call’d off by the Great Maſter of the Family, and commanded to go to ſome other Room, to take up her Reſidence in ſome other Apartment.
Would any Perſon in his Wits be afraid of leaving a diſmal melancholy Priſon, for a glorious delightful Palace; a cloſe gloomy Cell for the open balmy Air, the chearful Light and wide Expanſe of Heaven; a corruptible State for the World of Life; and a few walking Shadows, fleeting Dreams, Phantoms, as little known to themſelves as others, for real Subſtances, for ſpiritual Beings, exalted Underſtandings, Divine Forms of the firſt Rank, the ſublimeſt Order?Let 43 D6r 43
Let us be no more concern’d for our Bodies, than for our Cloaths; no more troubled at the wearing out of the one than the other, as looking upon them to be almoſt equally foreign to us, there being indeed this only Difference between them, That our Bodies are the Garments we firſt put on, thoſe that are neareſt to us; the other ſuperadded Habits, Things owing to Decency, to Cuſtom, and too often to Effeminacy, Luxury, and Pride. On both theſe we are allow’d to beſtow ſome Regard; to nouriſh our Bodies, to defend them from Injuries, to keep them as long as tis poſſible in the ſame Degree of Strength and Beauty, in which we receiv’d them from our bounteous Maker, and to prevent their being diſhonour’d and polluted by immoral Actions, to obſerve a Decorum, a Neatneſs in our Dreſs, a Conformity to eſtabliſh’d Modes.
But ’tis our ſelves we ought chiefly to mind; to our Souls we ought to confine our intenteſt Care; thoſe it becomes us to cultivate, to improve and adorn.
The Pains we beſtow on the two firſt are loſt, they turn to no Account; but the Labour we are at about the laſt will bring us in a wonderful Return; thoſe Ornaments they acquire here, will continue their’s for ever; and thoſe neceſſary Truths they learn now will be eternally their’s in that future State, where 44 D6v 44 where Knowledge, in all Probability, will be everlaſtingly progreſſive; and the greater Advances they make in Virtue here, the happier will they be there, where none but the Good, the Juſt, the Wiſe, the conſidering Part of Mankind ſhall find Admittance.
Such only thoſe Delights ſhall ſhare,
Which in Perfection ſtill are there;
Delights too great for us to know,
While we’re thus hood-wink’d here below;
While we to Fleſh are thus confin’d,
To Fleſh, that Darkner of the Mind;
That Medium, which obſcures the Light,
That worſe than an Egyptian Night:
But when we’ve thrown this Veil aſide,
Diſpell’d thoſe Shades, which Day does hide;
When from the Cells in which we lie,
All Thought, to glorious Heights we fly:
We then ſhall Truths with Clearneſs ſee,
Shall then as wiſe as knowing be;
As finite Intellects can prove,
As much poſſeſs, as much ſhall love,
And all our rapt’rous Hours employ
In higheſt Extacies of Joy.
Since I’ve a long time thought, that the Fear of Death is the occaſional Cauſe of the greateſt part of thoſe mean diſhonourable Actions which are done in the World; none will, I believe, think it a Miſemployment of my time, ſeriouſly to conſider, what ’tis renders it ſo formidable, makes it ſo dreadful not only to the Vicious, but alſo to the Pretenders to Virtue, not only to thoſe who by their immoral Lives have conſign’d themſelves over to eternal Puniſhments, but to thoſe who promiſe themſelves glorious Rewards, and talk of Heaven, as of a Place, where they hope to be everlaſtingly happy.
’Tis not to be wonder’d at, that ſuch as are immers’d in the Delights of the Animal Life, who lie wallowing in ſenſual Pleaſures, whoſe Underſtandings are ſo darkned by the Interpoſition of their Paſſions, that they cannot ſee one Ray of intellectual Light, can diſcover nothing beautiful beyond the Kenn of their Senſes, ſhould be unwilling to leave a World they are acquainted with, for an unknown Futurity; a State fitted to their deprav’d Faculties, to their brutiſh Inclinations, for a place of 46 D7v 46 of Horror and unexpreſſible Miſery, or at leaſt where they ſhall ceaſe to Be, and at once loſe both themſelves and their Pleaſures, themſelves and their Hopes, all their Happineſs, all their Expectations: But I cannot ſee how ſuch as have nobler Views, who boaſt of being above ſenſible Allurements, of having their Affections not only diſengag’d from terrene Objects, but fix’d on ſuch as they acknowledge to be tranſcendently, infinitely better, both as to their Magnitude and Duration, can anſwer it to their Reaſon; how can they be ſollicitous for Life, can ſhrink back, grow pale, and tremble, when Death makes its Attack: ’Twould be more conſonant to their Principles to meet it with Smiles, to welcome it with Joy; for if they are really what they are willing to be thought, if they have lov’d Virtue for her ſelf, have ſeen the Charms that are in Truth, endeavour’d to live up to the Dignity of their Nature, to make as near Approaches as ’tis poſſible to the divine Perfections, ’tis contradicting themſelves, making their Actions give the lye to their Words; for their Unwillingneſs to Die cannot then be ſuppos’d to proceed from Fear, there can be no room for that debaſing Paſſion in a purify’d Mind, in a Soul tranſported with the raviſhing Proſpect of approaching Felicity, neither can it be the Reſult of their Fondneſs for preſent Enjoyments, as being things too mean, too deſpicable, to be much 47 D8r 47 much eſteem’d, or parted from with reluctance; therefore may I not be allow’d, without breach of Charity, to ſuſpect that there’s ſome darling Vice within, ſome conceal’d Paſſion, which diſturbs their Conſciences, or ties them, nails them to the World, or that they have not ſuch well-grounded Hopes, ſuch clear diſtinct Views as they would be thought to have?
I know we are told by thoſe who are willing to excuſe themſelves, as being aſham’d to own their Weakneſs, that Death is what Nature abhors, and Self-preſervation cogenial with our Being, a Principle implanted in us by our Creator; from whence they draw this Concluſion, that ’tis their Duty to be tenderly concern’d for their Lives, anxiouſly careful of them, and that they ought to uſe their utmoſt Induſtry to ward off every Blow: Now ſuch a Solicitude as this, I think, betrays an unmanly Imbecility, and plainly diſcovers a Truth they are willing to hide; and that is, that their Paſſions are too ſtrong for their Reaſon, and they more fond of Earth than Heaven, more pleas’d with the Delights they are actually poſſeſs’d of, than thoſe of which they think there is only a remote Poſſibility: Beſides too many, eſpecially thoſe of my own Sex, have from their Infancy imbib’d wrong Notions of Life and Death, have been taught to think the one a real Good, and the other an eſſential 48 D8v 48 eſſential Evil; and to theſe falſe Idea’s all the Diſorders we ſee in the World owe their Original: For what can be more natural, than for ſuch as believe Life to be a neceſſary Good, to endeavour to preſerve it, and render it pleaſant, by ſhunning with the greateſt Abhorrence whatever is diſguſtful and deſtructive to it? This occaſions an effeminate way of Living, an indulging their Humours, a Fear of every little Accident, every ſlight Indiſpoſition, and ſubjects them to the baſeſt, vileſt Actions; there is nothing they will ſtick at, to aſſure themſelves the Continuance of what they are ſo childiſhly fond of: Now the Fear of Death cannot be but the unavoidable Conſequence of ſuch an immoderate Love of Life: They look upon it as the Grave of all their Hopes, the Extinguiſher of all their Joys, as an Out-let into a diſmal melancholy State, a dark unknown Somewhere, a World of Spirits, of Beings they’ve been taught to dread; and therefore ’tis no wonder to ſee them dreſs it up with all the Circumſtances of Horror, and then fly from the frightful Monſter they have made, and ſhun it, tho’ with the Loſs of their Innocency, their Honour, and all they ought to eſteem valuable. This I take to be the true Source of that Treachery, that Covetouſneſs, that Cowardice, and, in a word, of all that Swarm of Vices which overſpread the World, and, like an epidemical Contagion, infeſt all Man- 49 E1r 49 Mankind: But wou’d they with unprejudic’d Minds, and an unclouded Reaſon, view both the one and the other in a proper Light, they would ſee that they are in themſelves neither good nor evil; for were they either neceſſary Goods, or neceſſary Evils, they would be unalterably and eternally ſo, not only to this or that individual Man, but to the whole Species, which Experience tells us they are not; for what one flies from, another courts; and while ſome are ſedulouſly, ſcandalouſly labouring to prolong a precarious Being, others are pleaſing themſelves with the Hopes of a ſpeedy Diſmiſſion, and impatiently wiſhing for a ſudden Exit.
Now, I think both the Extremes are equally faulty: Life ought to be look’d on as a thing indifferent, to be devoted to Virtue, made ſubſervient to the Soul, and carefully employ’d to the nobleſt Purpoſes; enjoy’d without Anxiety while ’tis permitted to be ours, and when the Almighty Donor thinks fit to reſume it, to be parted with without a Murmur, but by no means to be deſpis’d or thrown away; that would be a Reflection on infinite Wiſdom, an unbecoming Return to divine Bounty; as ’tis his Gift, we ought to receive it with Reverence, and reſtore it with Submiſſion, to maintain the Poſt in which he ſets us with Honour, and when he calls us to another Station, we ought to go to it chearfully, but not think of E quitting 50 E1v 50 quitting the firſt till he gives us leave.
Such a Temper of Mind as this is, I think to be indiſpenſably neceſſary in order to both our Living and Dying well; ’twill make us our own, and wholly independent on things without us; keep us calm amidſt Storms, eaſy amidſt Diſappointments, and happy in all the Emergencies of Life.
To get a juſt Concern for things that do not belong to me, ſuch a Concern as they deſerve, and no more, has been the Buſineſs of ſeveral Years; and I hope I have at laſt attain’d, I will not be ſo vain as to ſay the whole of what I’ve been ſtriving for, but ſome few Degrees, ſome ſmall Beginnings of that Fortitude, that equal and uniform Steadineſs of Mind which is ſo neceſſary an Ingredient of Happineſs, and without which we ſhould be continually worry’d with diſmal Apprehenſions, diſcompos’d by every Accident, frighted by every little Pain, every Harbinger of Death, and ſhould ſtand ſhivering on the Bank of that vaſt Abyſs into which we muſt plunge, thro’ which we muſt all paſs.
To Die, is no more than to Sleep; ’tis but a going from one Place to another, a leaving the Round we have been a long time treading, an enlarging our Views, and pleaſing ourſelves with newer, nobler, and more entertaining Proſpects.Theſe 51 E2r 51
Theſe were the Thoughts I lately had of it, theſe my Reaſonings about it, when I had Cauſe to believe my Fate inevitable, when nothing but a wonderful over-ruling Providence, nothing but the peculiar Care of my Guardian Angel, could have ſecur’d my Life. When I ſaw the Precipice, and at the ſame View ſaw my ſelf falling from its Top, tumbling to the Bottom with an impetuous Motion, an amazing Violence, I then found the Advantage of a ſtrong, a firm Reſolution, and of being diſengag’d from the World; I had nothing to pull me back again to the Earth, to make me unwilling to leave it; I cou’d with Joy have taken my Flight to the Upper Regions, there have aſſum’d an Ætherial Vehicle, and made a Tour, thro’ all the ſhining Fields of Light.
Thro’ the pure Æther wing’d my way,
And view’d the Works of Art Divine;
Seen boundleſs Love it ſelf diſplay,
And Wiſdom in Perfection ſhine:
With the bright Natives of the Sky,
And ſuch as once frail Mortals were,
Had rang’d thro’ all the Realms on High,
And trod the liquid Plains of Air,
Where ſomething new would ſtill delight,
Something my Knowledge ſtill improve;
Would me to Songs of Praiſe invite,
To ſoft harmonious Hymns of Love.
But ſince ’tis the Will of God I ſhould live longer, let me exerciſe the ſame Act of Reſignation, be willing to wait a while for thoſe Pleaſures which I then had in view, and to which I pleas’d myſelf with the Hopes of my being ſwiftly haſt’ning; and as it becomes me chearfully to devote to his Service that Life he thinks fit to prolong, and be very thankful for eſcaping thoſe Miſchiefs which are generally the unhappy Conſequences of ſuch dangerous Falls; ſo let me reſolve to employ all my coming Moments in gratefully acknowledging his Favours, and in endeavouring to advance his Glory, and next to that, in the Improvement of my own Mind; in the diligent and unwearied Purſuit of Truth, the Exaltation of my intellectual Powers, and aſſuring to myſelf ſuch Goods as are accommodated to Rational Beings, and perfective of their Nature: ſuch as will contribute to my preſent Happineſs and future Felicity, to my unſpeakable Satisfaction here, and the tranſporting Delights of a bleſſed Eternity:
Where Night her ſable Wings ſhall ne’er diſplay,
Nor riſing Vapours hide refulgent Day;
Where Health, and Peace, and Pleaſures all divine,
Shall mix their Charms, ſhall all in one combine,
Then dart themſelves into each happy Breaſt,
And give them Raptures not to be exprest;Inebriating 53 E3r 53
Inebriating Joys, too great for Senſe,
Which heav’ny Forms can only bear, and God diſpenſe;
Where Hopes ſhall cease, and Wiſhes have an end,
And our Fruitions our Deſires tranſcend;
Where no Diſguſts, no Griefs, ſhall Entrance find,
Nothing diſturb the Quiet of the Mind;
Where Death’s unknown, and Life is only found,
Where with immortal Wreaths the Good are crown’d,
And all together join in Songs of Praiſe,
Together tune their ſweet melodious Lays;
The grateful Tribute of their Voices bring,
And find no other Buſineſs, but to Love and Sing.
Fear is a Paſſion which ſtrangely diſorders and weakens the Mind, breaks all its Meaſures, and unavoidably ſubjects it to a thouſand Inconveniences: ’Tis generally the Effect of a too tender and effeminate Education, of thoſe fatal Impreſſions which are made on us in our Infancy, in the firſt Dawnings of our Reaſon, by the Folly and Miſmanagement of Servants, of ſuch as are unhappily intruſted with us, either by the Lazineſs or Imprudence of our ill-advis’d Parents.
’Tis to Theſe poor Children owe their falſe Notions of Things; they ſtuff their Memories with dreadful Stories of Apparitions, are ſtill frightning them from Evil, when they ſhould be encouraging them to do well, repreſenting Death to them in the most hideous Shape that their Imagination can form, making them tremble to be alone, and afraid of being one Minute in the Dark: ’Tis by ſuch Methods as theſe, that they ſink their Spirits, and render them Cowards from their Cradles. And is it to be wonder’d at, that Children thus us’d ſhould have a Meanneſs in their Tempers? Theſe Beginnings, theſe unregarded Embrio’s of Baſeneſsneſs 55 E4r 55 neſs and Puſillanimity, have too often deplorable Effects, and in their riper Years precipitate them into vile and unworthy Actions: Whereas they ought to make them familiar with Death, ſhould tell them ’tis no more than they do every Night: ’Tis but an undreſſing themſelves, and lying down to Sleep; the only Difference is, that ’tis a longer, ſweeter Reſt; but a Ceſſation from the Hurry and Toil of Life; no more than walking from one Room to another; only changing Places and Company, and looking on new Objects; and aſſure them, that their Graves will prove no more uneaſy to them than their Beds: And to make them the more intimately acquainted with the Truths they would inculcate, they ſhould by degrees accuſtom them to the Sight of the Dead, make them converſant with Objects of Mortality, which they’ll find will in a ſhort time harden them, and make them no more afraid of ſeeing dead human Bodies, than they are of looking on thoſe of brute Animals in that ſtate; it being nothing but Uſe, that renders the one leſs ſhocking than the other: And instead of terrifying them with idle Tales of Spirits in horrid Shapes, Spectres delighting in Miſchief, haunting Houſes, and doing a thouſand improbable ridiculous things, and telling them of Witches metamorphos’d into more Shapes than Proteus ever aſſum’d, or Ovid dream’d of; they ſhould make it their E4 Buſineſs 56 E4v 56 Buſineſs to poſſeſs them with rational and becoming Idea’s, pleaſant and entertaining Notions of ſeparate Beings; tell them ſuch as are good, are bleſt with Beauty, Wiſdom, and Happineſs, are full of Kindneſs and Compaſſion, and ever ready to do friendly Offices to Mankind, and that thoſe which are bad, are by the infinite Goodneſs of God reſtrain’d from doing Miſchief, and not permitted to act according to the Malignity of their Nature; that they are govern’d by Laws peculiar to them, and cannot move beyond their aſſign’d Bounds; and they may aſſure themſelves, that almoſt all thoſe dreadful Stories of Ghoſts, with which the World has been ſo long impos’d on, are Fables, the Creatures of Imagination, Chimera’s form’d in the Brain, and nothing elſe but the Effects of a diſorder’d Fancy; and to convince them that they are really ſo, that they are only the Reſult of Fear, uſe them to be by themſelves, to be as chearful, as eaſy, and well pleas’d in the Night as in the Day, to think themſelves as ſafe in the greateſt Darkneſs as in the cleareſt Light.
Of this we have an Inſtance among the Spartans, who always went from their publick Halls without Lights, the Uſe of them being forbidden by Lycurgus, to the end that they might accuſtom themſelves to walk boldly in the Dark.To 57 E5r 57
To prevent their doing mean and diſhonourable Actions, let them be taught to reverence Truth, to abhor a Lye, to abhor it for it ſelf, from a Senſe of the Baſeneſs and Deformity of it, and not from a ſlavish Dread of Puniſhment; perſwade them, that their abſtaining from what is evil ought to proceed from innate Principles of Virtue, from a noble Diſdain, a native Bravery of Spirit, and a commendable Scorn of being out-done by others; carefully cheriſh every Seed of Honour, blow up every little Spark of Courage into a Flame; inure them to Pain, make them in love with Labour; teach them to ſlight Sickneſs, to laugh at little Uneaſineſſes, at trivial Indiſpoſitions; blame them when they complain; uſe them to Hunger and Thirſt, to bear Heat and Cold; and, as their Reaſon grows ſtronger, and their Judgments more ſolid, inſpire them with contemptible Thoughts of thoſe who ſink beneath the Dignity of their Nature, who forget what is owing to their Character, what it becomes them to do as they are Men, the nobleſt Part of the viſible Creation; give them right Idea’s of Things, inſtruct them in the Method of giving every-thing its proper Place, its juſt Value in their Eſteem; endeavour to raiſe their Thoughts above Riches, Grandeur, the Favour of the Great, nay Life it ſelf; at leaſt, ſtrive to bring them to an Indifference, to a being unconcern’d whether they enjoy them or 58 E5v 58 or not: and when you’ve brought them to a ſtate of Independency, they will have nothing to fear, no Temptation to be Cowards.
This Method which I’ve propos’d, would be of wonderful Uſe towards the Regulation of Manners, and would have an univerſal Influence on the Morals of Mankind: For whatever the World may think to the contrary, ’tis impoſſible to be Good and not Magnanimous: Virtue and Cowardice are incompatible; they cannot ſubſiſt in the ſame Subject. A Man who has a juſt Value for himſelf, will ſcorn to cringe and fawn, or by a Word, an Action, or a Look, belye his Conſcience, or deviate from his Character; he will ſtill be ſteady to himſelf, firm to his Principles, and neither to be ſhaken by Menaces, diſcourag’d by Difficulties, frighted by Dangers, nor yet diſcompos’d by the impending Horrors of an approaching Fate, and at the ſame time equally Proof againſt the more hazardous Attacks of Vice, the inviting Allurements of Senſe, and the importunate Sollicitations of Pleaſure; as great a Stock of Courage, as great a Strength of Reſolution, being requiſite to reſiſt the one as the other, or rather more; the laſt being not to be conquer’d by leſs than an Herculean Strength. Ulyſſes found it much more difficult to eſcape the Syrens, than all the reſt of his Enemies; thoſe fatal Charmers were more powerful, more formidable, than Polyphemus, or 59 E6r 59 or the Leſtrigones; and more carefully to be avoided than Scylla and Charybdis: but the good Man paſſes them by with an equal Aſſurance, an equal Fortitude; his Courage is ſtill the ſame; ’tis univerſal; it meets every Danger, and bravely makes a Stand againſt every Difficulty, againſt whatever dares oppoſe it: He carries all his Treaſure within himſelf; ’tis ſecurely lodg’d within his own Breaſt; he has nothing that another can take from him: And he that has nothing to loſe, has nothing to fear, nothing to ſhake him, or in the leaſt imbitter his Enjoyments: He maintains his Station with Honour; he’s not afraid of Poverty, he can be chearful in a Priſon, pleas’d in Exile; and ſo far from dreading Death, that he dares meet it, dares look it in the Face without a change of Colour, and is ſo far from ſhunning it, that he welcomes it with Smiles, and dies as he liv’d, conſiſtent with himſelf, full of Serenity and Peace.
O how happy ſhou’d I be, could I attain ſuch an unſhaken Steadineſs of Mind, ſuch a firm fearleſs Temper! I ſee its Beauty, feel the Truths I write, have ſtruggled long to diſingage my ſelf from every Clog, from every thing that ties me faſt to Life: I never yet could find a Fondneſs in my Nature for any of thoſe Trifles to which the Moſt confine their Happineſs, for which they labour, ſweat, and toil, condemn themſelves to anxious Days and reſtleſs 60 E6v 60 reſtleſs Nights, and which too many are content to purchaſe at the Expence of Innocence, of Honour, of all they ought to value. Riches to me were never tempting, nor did I ever covet Grandeur; my Wiſhes were contracted to a narrow Space, and my Deſires but few; and now, with Joy, I find, that this Indifferency does every Day encreaſe; my inward View extends, and every outward Object lesſens; and, if I know my ſelf, I could, without a Murmur, relinquiſh my Right to every thing beſides my Friends and Books; they are the whole I value, to me the Joys of Life; and yet even theſe I can give up at my great Maſter’s Call, and all alone enjoy my Solitude, and feaſt upon the ſweet Repaſt of Thoughts, that delicious Banquet of a Mind at Peace and eaſy with it ſelf. This being the preſent Temper of my Soul, the reſign’d and chearful Frame in which I find my ſelf, may I not be allow’d to hope I ſhall in time obtain the Conqueſt I ſo much deſire, ſee every Paſſion ſubject to my Reaſon, and this among the reſt, which I ſhall find the eaſier to ſubdue, becauſe it never yet had much Dominion over me.
Let ſuch as value Life be full of Fear,
It is a Trifle much below my Care:
To diſtant Objects I direct my Sight,
To Proſpects pleaſant, permanent, and bright:Celeſtial 61 E7r 61
Celeſtial Glories I ſtill keep in view,
With eagereſt Haſte the dear Delights purſue.
The Virtuous, cloath’d with Rags, I’ll dare to praiſe
And make the Poor, if Good, the Subject of my Lays;
But will not be to ſervile Flatt’ry brought:
My Tongue ſhall ſpeak the Language of my Thought.
The Great, if vicious, with Contempt I’ll ſhun,
And will not be to baſe Compliance won
By Bribes, or Threats; nor wealthy Fools careſs,
Nor a Reſpect for gawdy Fops expreſs:
True to my Self, and unſubdu’d by Fear,
I’ll meet each Storm, and every Preſſure bear;
Maintain my Poſt until I’m call’d away,
And then the Summons with a chearful Look obey.
Grief is a Paſſion, which moſt People believe it becomes them to indulge: They tell us, ’Tis what the Miſeries incident to the human Nature exacts from us; and that, as not to be concern’d for their own Miſfortunes, would be Stupidity; ſo to be unmov’d at the Afflictions of others would be the Height of Barbarity. The greateſt part of Mankind are led by Opinion, and what they have once taken for Truth, they will never be at the Labour of examining. They are almoſt as much afraid of Innovations in Matters of Reaſon, as in thoſe of Faith. Beſides, ’tis painful to form a new Set of Thoughts, to deviate from the beaten Road, to run counter to eſtabliſh’d Maxims, to wander in unknown Paths, and follow Reaſon to her ſolitary Receſs. They are every Day regal’d by their Senſes, and ſo encompaſs’d by the Pleaſures that attend them, ſo totally abſorb’d in the Delights of the animal Life, that they cannot diſengage themſelves, cannot ſo much as dart one ſingle Glance beyond their thick Atmoſphere, beyond that Region of Vapours, to which they are fatally confin’d. That which afords them a 63 E8r 63 a preſent Satisfaction, they fancy to be good, and by Conſequence that which deprives them of it to be evil. On this Hypotheſis they ground all their Arguments, and from hence draw all their Concluſions. Health, Riches, Relations, Fame, Honours, &c. they take to be conſtituent Parts of Happineſs, and therefore their Contraries muſt neceſſarily bring Miſery. Theſe Miſtakes run them into innumerable Abſurdities, involve them in inextricable Errors, and render them obnoxious to the Inſult of every prevailing Paſſion, liable to the Shock of every croſs Accident, every unexpected Diſappointment; and ’tis no wonder, while they are govern’d by ſuch wrong Notions, to ſee them exceſſively griev’d for the Death of Relations, lamenting the Loſs of Wealth, ſad and dejected when in Diſgrace, add impatient when depriv’d of their Health. This being the natural Reſult of ſuch Principles as their’s, and while they adhere to them, they may as well ceaſe to be, as ceaſe to be unhappy.
Nothing but viewing Things in a due Light, looking on them as they really are, learning to diſtinguiſh between what is and what is not ours; what we may beſtow upon our ſelves, and what is given us by another, and to put a Value on them according to their true Eſtimate; to make a Difference between what will be always our own, and what we muſt part with, 64 E8v 64 with, will exempt us from Uneaſineſſes, and make us Maſters of our ſelves. Now, that we may do this effectually, we ought to conſider, with all imaginable Accuracy and Circumſpection, with all the Nicety and Exactneſs we are capable of, the particular Advantages that will accrue to us from the Poſſeſſion of thoſe Bleſſings which are generally known by the Name of Temporal or Contingent Goods; and that we may be the better acquainted with their Nature, let us ſtrip them from all their artificial Coverings, waſh off their glaring Colours, and view them as they are in themſelves, and then ſee if they will appear the ſame to us as they did to the ancient Philoſophers.
To begin with thoſe that are accounted the moſt valuable, what is that Life, of which we take ſo much Care, for which we are ſo childiſhly ſolicitous? And what real Good does it prove to us? Is it not a vain Repetition of the ſame Acts, a conſtant Combat betwixt Reaſon and Folly, a walking blindfold, and a converſing with Shadows, a dark melancholy Paſſage into a better State, a World of Light and Joy? Is it rational to be fond of our Road, to be willing to continue in our Inn, to think our ſelves wrong’d when we are call’d into the Port, commanded to quit the Ship, and aſſign’d to another, a more honourable Poſt? Is it not ridiculous to call that a Good which 65 F1r 65 which is ſo precarious, and which, if it were in it ſelf eſtimable, would be ſo to all Mankind? But that ’tis not ſo, is evident: Socrates would not ſave his Life when ’twas in his Power to do it; he preferr’d Obedience to the Law, before his own Safety; Regulus had no Concern for it; ſeveral of the ancient Heroes and Heroines deſpiſed it, and the Martyrs took their Leaves of it not only willingly, but with Tranſports. Let us then bluſh at our own Weakneſs, and no longer give it a Name it does not deſerve. Let us put it to that Uſe for which it was given us, employ it to the beſt Advantage while ’tis ours, and, when ’tis call’d for, give it back chearfully; while we have it, ſtrive to poſſeſs it with Indifferency, expreſs neither a Wearineſs of it, nor a Fear to loſe it; neither a Deſire, nor an Unwillingneſs to die.
And let us, in reference to our Friends and Kindred, manage our ſelves with the ſame Equality of Temper: If when we have loſt any of thoſe dear Relatives, we find our ſelves diſcompoſed, if the natural Tenderneſs of our Souls inclines us to melancholy Reflections, let us reſiſt the firſt Beginnings of Sorrow, and reaſon our ſelves into a calm Reſignation: Let us conſider, that they were only lent us, and are not wholly loſt, have but changed their Place, are only gone before us, and it will not be long before we ſhall enjoy them again: F Beſides, 66 F1v 66 Beſides, how can we be thought to love them, if we do not rejoice at their Happineſs? ’Tis a Contradiction to talk of our Affection, and at the ſame time to grieve at their being in Poſſeſſion of an unchangeable Felicity. What Conſtruction would any conſidering Perſon put on ſuch a Sorrow? Would he not be tempted to think it proceeded from a mean narrow Principle, from Self-Intereſt; and that, to gratifie a fooliſh Fondneſs, we would be contented to have them once more Partners with us in the Uneaſineſſes and Impertinences of Life?
Some will perhaps readily grant, that if our Friends and Relations are good, it will be a Fault to mourn immoderately for their Death; But, ſuppoſing they are not ſo, ’twill be barbarous not to grieve for them, becauſe we ſhould then have too much Reaſon to doubt of their eternal Happineſs. To this I anſwer, in the Firſt place, That we cannot, without giving an ill Character of our ſelves, call ſuch Friends as are not virtuous; and, in the Second place, if our Relations are ill, they have no Right to our Affection. Our Pity they may claim, but not our Love; for that we ought not to beſtow on Perſons we have any juſt Cauſe to fear are hated by God. While they are living we muſt uſe our utmoſt Endeavours to reclaim them, muſt tell them of their Faults, repreſent to them the 67 F2r 67 the Dangers into which they are precipitating themſelves, the inexpreſſible Miſeries to which they are haſtening; but if they ſtill continue vicious, and die loaded with Crimes, to grieve much for them would be unbecoming us: We may at their Exit give them a few Sighs, may commiſerate their Condition, and expreſs a Concern for their having made themſelves ſo deplorably unhappy; but, I think, neither Reaſon nor Religion will allow of any more.
Health is another thing from which they cannot part without infinite Regret: ’Tis, I own, a very valuable Bleſſing, and that which gives a Reliſh to the other Enjoyments of Life; but yet I can by no means allow its Deprivation to be a real Evil, ſince it does not impede the Operations of the Mind, nor put the Will under any Confinement, it cannot hinder us from being virtuous, from acting according to the Principles of Honour, nor from proceeding in our Search after Truth; Our Thoughts may be well employ’d amidſt the ſharpeſt Pains, and we may in time overcome them by a Strength of Reſolution: Of the Truth of this, the Lacedæmonian Boys were an undeniable Proof: To what inhuman Diſcipline did they ſubmit! What cruel Scourgings did they endure! What Barbarities did they inflict on each other! And yet with what Conſtancy did they bear them! and all to F2 pur- 68 F2v 68 purchaſe a little Vain-glory, to have the empty Satisfaction of being applauded, of being thought courageous and undaunted. With what a wonderful Patience did Anaxarchus bear his Tortures! With what a Compoſure of Spirits, what a Sedateneſs of Mind, did Poſſidonius talk to Pompey! The Extremity of his Pain occasion’d no Pauſes in his Diſcourſe, no Alteration in his Face, extorted no Complaints from his Tongue! Now, had Pain been an Evil, it would have been ſo to theſe, as well as the reſt of Mankind; but ’tis evident it was not ſo to them, and therefore is not ſo in its own Nature. ’Tis our Effeminacy makes us dread it, ’tis that renders it ſo inſupportable, and makes us yield to every Attack, makes us ſhew an indecent Feebleneſs of Mind: The way not to be guilty of ſuch Follies, not to be ſurpriz’d, is, in the midſt of our Health to prepare for Sickneſs; when we are perfectly eaſie, to reſolve not to be ſhock’d by Pain, to obſerve every Approach it makes, and contend with it, meet it with Courage, conſider that it cannot be avoided, that Lamentations are childiſh, Groans can give no Relief, that Tears and Sighs are Arguments of Weakneſs; and that, as Pity can do us no Good, ſo it is below us to deſire it; and that, if our Pain is violent, ’twill quickly put an End to our Lives, free our Souls from their cumberſome Loads, and reſtore them to their pri- 69 F3r 69 primitive Activity, to that Vivacity and Purity of which they were originally poſſeſs’d. If they are moderate, they are an Exerciſe of Patience, and will not only teach us Temperance, but be of uſe to diſengage us from the World, will make us attend to the Bettering of our Minds, the ſubduing of our Paſſions, and the preparing our ſelves for that State, where, in Bodies compos’d of the pureſt Particles of Matter, and adapted to the nobleſt Purpoſes of Life, we ſhall be bleſſed with perfect Indolence, with everlaſting Eaſe.
Next to theſe, Fame and Riches claim a Share, and ’tis difficult to determine which Mankind are fondeſt of; Indeed ſome ſordid Souls, ſome Sons of Earth, who, like the Brutes, are always looking downward, who love Gold for it ſelf, and have no farther Aims, but thoſe of being rich, may terminate their Happineſs in their Bags, and be capable of grieving for nothing elſe but the Loſs of their idoliz’d Treaſures; But the generality of Men value Wealth for the Reputation that attends it, and are pleas’d with having it ſaid, that they are Owners of great Eſtates, and if they happen to loſe them, they are almoſt as much troubled at their being thought poor, as at their being really ſo: The Contempt which uſually attends Poverty is what they are concern’d at; they cannot bear the Thoughts of being F3 ſlighted 70 F3v 70 ſlighted and neglected; their Pride is rouz’d, their Self-love alarm’d, and they are touch’d in the moſt ſenſible, the tendereſt part of their Souls; That which makes them ſo eager for Fame in general, is their being ſo full of themſelves; they wou’d ingroſs Reſpect, would be look’d on with Honour and Veneration: Now, whatever leſſens them, whatever darkens their Splendor, they think inſupportable; every Aſperſion grieves them, every Slander ſtabs them to the Heart; they are not proof againſt the ſlighteſt Reflection, the weakeſt Attacks of Envy: And what can be vainer, what more irrational than this? What real Good can accrue to us from the Praiſes of others? Or what real Evil can their Cenſures bring on us? Why ſhould we be Slaves to Opinion, and govern our ſelves by the capricious Humours of Perſons as fallable as our ſelves, of Perſons who perhaps will be one Day our Friends, and the next our Enemies; this Day will admire and court us, to Morrow decry and ſhun us? But ſuppoſe they were conſtant, ſteady in their Applauſes, aſſiduous in their Addreſſes, and firm in their Friendſhip, of what Advantage would it be? Would it make us either the better as to our Morals, or the wiſer as to our Intellectuals, add any thing to what is truly ours, augment our Virtue, or give us a ſurer Title to a bliſsful Eternity? And may we not be as eaſie, as 71 F4r 71 as happy without it? As well pleas’d with the Approbations we give our ſelves, with the Plaudits of our own Conſciences, as with the united Acclamations of a Multitude? And is it not infinitely more eligible to approve our ſelves to God, and thoſe glorious Spirits, to whom we are going, and whoſe Society we hope to enjoy for ever, than to leave the World with the vain Hopes of a poſthumous Fame, of a Reputation which can do us no Service, and which we ſhall be either ignorant of, or deſpiſe.
Wealth, if ſeriously conſider’d, is of as little Moment: We know a Zeno, a Crates, a Stilpho a Fabricius, and many others, have been happy without it; nay, they have contemn’d it, look’d on it as a Clog, an Impediment to Virtue; And ſhall we be griev’d for the Loſs of that, which ſome of the beſt, as well as the wiſeſt Men of the Age in which they liv’d, thought a Burden? Epictetus was more throughly eaſie, poſſeſs’d a higher Satisfaction, and taſted more of the true Delights of Life in his little mean Cottage, than his cruel Maſter could boaſt of, tho’ honour’d with the Favour of an Emperor, and enjoying the Effects of his Bounty in the greateſt, the moſt magnificent Court in the World; And are there any amongſt us expos’d to greater Hardſhips than thoſe he chearfully underwent? And after he had his Freedom, and F4 was 72 F4v 72 was eſteem’d by Princes, did he not make the ſame Poverty his Choice? Suppoſe we were ſtripp’d of all the Conveniences of Life, muſt we therefore be neceſſarily miſerable? Will not Nature be eaſily ſatisfy’d? Do not the Springs afford us Liquor, the Earth Roots and Herbs, the Trees and Buſhes Fruit? Is there not ſomething ſhocking in eating Fleſh, ſomething barbarous in the taking away the Lives of harmleſs Creatures? And are there not People that live without it? Don’t the Indian Faquirs and Brahmens live as poorly as the meaneſt of our Beggars, or rather more meanly, they never eating any Fleſh, and drinking nothing but Water; their Houſes are the Galleries of their Temples, and their Beds (as Monſieur Bernier tells us) are three Inches thick ofAſhes, and yet are not they contented? Do not they live as pleaſant Lives as any of their rich Mahometan Neighbours? The ſame may be ſaid in all other Inſtances; and it may with Eaſe be demonſtrated, that Poverty, tho’ in the greateſt Extreme, can be no Evil, can do no real Injury to the Soul, and therefore is not to be dreaded; and if it is our Lot to be expos’d to it, we ought to reſolve not only to bear it with a decent Reſignation, but with Courage, and ſuch an unſhaken Greatneſs of Mind as may make it evident to the World that we are above being diſturb’d at what they think ſo formidable, and deprecate as an Evil.After 73 F5r 73
After theſe things I know nothing that deſerves Conſideration, unleſs it be Baniſhment, or the being confin’d to a Priſon: As for the firſt, it has not, in my Opinion, ſo much as the Shadow of an Affliction; and such as complain of it are rather to be laugh’d at than pity’d: What can be more pleaſant than Liberty? What more deſirable than an Opportunity of enlarging one’s Proſpect? What more delightful than a new Scene of Things, than to gaze on Variety of Objects, to have freſh Subjects of Contemplation, and to be introduced into a different Set of Company? Virtue will everywhere procure Friends; but if it ſhould not, yet the Good cannot fail of being agreeable to themſelves, and every Place they are in, every thing they ſee will afford them Entertainment, and render even Solitude diverting. Impriſonment, I cannot but own, has a much juſter Pretence to be the Object of Grief: ’Tis uneaſie to be confin’d, to be abridg’d of one’s Freedom, to have one’s View ſhorten’d, and to be deny’d the Converſation of one’s Friends: But even this, as uncomfortable as it is, may be ſupported; the Thoughts cannot be immur’d, they enjoy an entire Liberty: All that have the Uſe of their Reaſon may, if they pleaſe, make themſelves eaſie; but ſuch as have the good Fortune to lay in beforehand a large Stock of Knowledge and uſeful Learning, will not only be eaſie, but happy; 74 F5v 74 happy; their Minds will expand themſelves, and reach from the Beginning of Time to the final Conſummation of all things; they’ll take a Survey of the Paſt, the Preſent, and the Future, view Nature in all her Changes, and pleaſe themſelves with the Variety of her Productions, and will conſider, with an attentive Regard, all the Tranſactions of Mankind, what Figures they have made, what mighty Empires they have rais’d, what dreadful Devaſtations they have caus’d, what Miſchiefs their Paſſions have involv’d them in, and what Enemies their Vices have made them to themſelves and the reſt of their Species: And can ſuch as have ſo large a Field to range in be properly ſaid to be Priſoners? Can they want any thing to make them pleaſant? And can there be any room left for Complaints? The Body is but the Inſtrument of the Soul; while the laſt has its Freedom, ’tis no matter for the Confinement of the firſt; its Murmurings are below its Notice. ’Tis not in the Power of our greateſt Enemies to exclude our Virtues; they cannot deprive us of the Pleaſures of a good Conſcience, of the inward Satisfactions of the Mind; and while theſe are ours, ’tis impoſſible to be wretched.
Beſides the things I have mention’d, I know none that deſerve a Place in the Catalogue of Troubles, none of that ought to be rank’d among the Occaſions of Grief, and amidſt them all, I 75 F6r 75 I know none ſo powerful, but that they may be conquer’d; Reaſon is given us for that purpoſe, and we have none to blame but our ſelves, if we do not make that Uſe of it for which it was deſign’d. Let us then reſolve to trouble the World no more with tedious Accounts of our Sufferings, nor indulge our ſelves in making diſmal Reflections on the diſagreeable Circumſtances of our Lives; let us not put it in the Power of every trifling Accident to ruffle our Minds, and diſturb our Peace; let us accuſtom our ſelves to make little Experiments of our Strength, to uſe our ſelves to little Trials, to conſider beforehand what may happen, and then prepare for it. Premeditation will keep our Minds ſedate and cool, firm, and ready for an Aſſault, prevent Surprizes, put us in poſſeſſion of a pleaſing Serenity, a delightful Calmneſs of Soul, and ſuch a Chearfulneſs of Temper, as will diſcover it ſelf in our Faces, and manifeſt it ſelf in all our Actions.
I would not have my Readers think I perſwade ’em to what’s impracticable, to Flights beyond the reach of Nature: The Advice I give, I aſſure them I’ve follow’d; I’ve had Troubles to ſtruggle with, Difficulties to conquer; have met with Uneaſineſſes enough to extort Complaints; a great many of thoſe things which are call’d Afflictions; have paſt a conſiderable part of my Time in Solitude, and divided 76 F6v 76 divided my Hours between my Thoughts and my Books: At firſt I repin’d at my Fate, thought my ſelf hardly dealt with, could not forbear finding fault with the unequal Diſtributions of Providence, the Unkindneſs of Relations, and the too little Regard they often have for the Happineſs of ſuch as it becomes them to be tenderly concern’d for: and when I found my ſelf diſpirited, and ſinking under the Preſſure, good God! with what Pleaſure did I think on that which moſt believe to be the greateſt of temporal Evils! How amiable did Death appear to me! With what Delight could I have retir’d into a dark ſilent Grave, and in that welcome Receſs, that quiet deſirable State, have taken an everlaſting Leave of all my Misfortunes! But O it was thy Will that I ſhould Live: Without thy Permiſſion I durſt not quit my Poſt; the awful Deference that I bore to thee calm’d all my Paſſions, allay’d my Diſcontent, reduc’d me to ſome degree of Acquieſcence, to ſome faint Reſolutions, ſome weak Endeavours; but my Reaſon was not yet ſtrong enough to aſſiſt me; Without thy divine Aid, I’d ſtill been groveling in my melancholy Shades, been ſighing out my Hours, condemn’d to all the Tyrannies of Grief, and left a Prey to my own Thoughts; thou wert pleas’d to illuminate my Mind, to diſſipate its Clouds, to ſpread a chearful, a reviving Warmth, through every part of my deſpondingſponding 77 F7r 77 ſponding Soul, to bid my Paſſions be ſtill, and ſubject to the Laws of Reaſon.
From that auſpicious Moment I begun to get new Strength, my Underſtanding grew brighter, and I’d a clearer View of Things: I found I’d magnify’d Objects, had ſwell’d my Afflictions to a larger ſize than really they were, had created Phantoms of Grief, frighted my ſelf with Monſters of my own forming, and given the Name of Evil to Things which my enlightned Reaſon told me were not ſo; This made me reſolve to make a narrow Scrutiny into my ſelf, to examine by what Principles I was govern’d, what my Sentiments of Good and Evil were; how agreeable to the Dictates of Truth; what thoſe Things were which deſerv’d my Concern, and for the Loſs of which I could juſtify my Complaints; of what kind thoſe Evils were whoſe Preſence made me uneaſy; and whether I could defend my Conduct before the Bar of impartial Reaſon. At length, on a ſevere Enquiry, I found I had proceeded on wrong Grounds, had gone in the common Road, taken up the Notions of the ignorant unthinking Vulgar; had call’d Things by thoſe falſe Names they give them; then acknowledging my Errors, and aſham’d of my Folly, I reſolved to be no longer influenc’d by my Paſſions, no longer diſcontented about Trifles, Things wholly foreign to me, ſuch as were no Appendages of my Happineſs; to 78 F7v 78 to keep a conſtant Guard over my Thoughts; and as ſoon as I found any Diſturbance within, any Tendency to Sorrow, Anger, Fear, or any other Diſquieters of my Repoſe, I made a timely Reſiſtance, never left contending till I’d vanquiſh’d my Oppoſers, and argu’d my ſelf into a patient Submiſſion, a calm Acquieſcence of Temper.
I quickly found this Method to be highly advantageous; the more I made uſe of it, the more Ground I got; every Step was an Advance, a preſſing nearer to that Tranquillity of Mind at which I aim’d. O how beneficial was it to me, when I ſaw the beſt of Mothers, beſt of Friends, rack’d with tormenting Pains, all pale and full of Anguiſh, meekly giving up her Soul, and taking her laſt, her dying Farewel! and at the ſame time an only Daughter, a Daughter worthy of my Love, threatned with impending Death, a Death which ſwiftly came to end the diſmal Tragedy! Had I not then been arm’d with Reſolution, how wretched had I been, how much a Slave to Grief! I conſider’d they were not loſt, were ſtill the ſame to me, full of the ſame Tenderneſs, the ſame affectionate Concern, and would perhaps ’ere long meet me with Ecſtacies of Joy, and be my kind Conductors to thoſe peaceful Seats, thoſe Manſions of Delight, where they are now poſſeſſing everlaſting Pleaſures, and joininging 79 F8r 79 ing with the Celeſtial Choir in grateful Songs of Love and Praiſe.
I’m now fully convinc’d, that the All-wiſe Diſpoſer of Events knows what is fitteſt for me, and has been pleas’d to order all Things for the beſt; Whatever has been diſguſtful, whatever has given me Trouble, has been moſt afflicting among the melancholy Circumſtances of my Life, has had its Uſe, has tended to the Improvement of my Mind, the Exerciſe of Virtue, and the fortifying of my Soul. Proſperity enervates, but Adverſity gives a manly Firmneſs, fences us againſt the Allurements of Senſe, the tempting Blandiſhments of Life, makes us retire into our ſelves, and ſeek Satisfaction where ’tis only to be found.
From what I’ve ſaid, I would not have it thought that ’tis a Stoical Apathy I’ve been recommending, and that in order to the being happy, I would have Perſons inſenſible; no, I deſign no ſuch thing: I allow them to delight in what they poſſeſs, to be thankful for Life, careful of Health, to enjoy Riches, to endeavour to get and preſerve Reputation, to be pleaſ’d with Honours, to love their Friends and Kindred, and to be ſollicitous for them; but then I would have all this done without diſturbing their Minds, and without grieving for ſuch Diſappointments as they may probably meet with in reference to each of them: in 80 F8v 80 in a word, I would have them keep them without Anxiety, and part with them without Murmurs, ſtill remembring, that it becomes them to prefer the Serenity of their own Minds before all other Concerns.
Were we to form Judgments only from outward Appearances, from the general Practice of the World, ſhould we not be inclin’d to think Riches the Summum Bonum the chief, the only Good of Mankind, that without which ’twere impoſſible for them to enjoy the Felicity appropriated to their Nature? What elſe could be a Temptation ſtrong enough to make them ſacrifice their Eaſe, their Quiet, their Health, their Liberty, their Fame, and what ought to be infinitely more dear, their Virtue, their Honour, their Conſcience, and all their future Hopes, to their Avarice? What prevalent enough to make them prize a great Eſtate more than an unſpotted Innocence, a glittering Treaſure more than a bright Underſtanding, and the Reputation of being richer than their Neighbours, more than that of being better and more rational? By what can they demonſtrate a greater degeneracy of Soul, a higher pitch of Frenzy, than in making it the Buſineſs of their Lives, the chief Employment of their few flying Hours, of that ſhort Portion of Time which was given them for much nobler, much more important Purpoſes,G poſes 82 G1v 6682 poſes, to add Acre to Acre, Field to Field, and by all the little, mean, ſordid Arts of Saving, the baſe unworthy Methods of Gain, to accumulate Wealth, and add one heap of Dirt to another.
Such are much more cruel to themſelves than the Poets feign the Harpies were to Phineus; they deny themſelves the Conveniences of Life, languiſh for what’s their own, and ſtarve while they’re ſurrounded with Plenty: Like Midas, they turn all things into Gold, and then, like him, are curs’d with the Fruition of what they paſſionately coveted, and as much unſatisfied with Plenitude, as they were with Want, as voracious and as craving as when they had nothing; always contriving how to get more, and as anxiouſly ſtudious how to keep what they have gotten; reſtleſly buſy by Day, watchful and fearful by Night, ever envying the Rich, and haraſſing the Poor, ſuſpicious of being wrong’d, diſtruſtful of their Neighbours, tyrannical to their Servants, niggardly to their Children, and wretchedly penurious to their Wives, a Curſe to themſelves, and a Plague to all that have the Misfortune to be near them, who loſe all the Pleaſures of Life, entail Infamy on their Names, and run the hazard of being everlaſtingly miſerable only for the Vanity of having it ſaid after their Death, that they have left a great Eſtate, have aggrandiz’d their Family, without conſidering that 83 G2r 6783 that they muſt not only be anſwerable for the Injuſtice they’ve been guilty of in gaining their Riches, and for the little Good they’ve done with them, but for all the Miſchiefs they may do thoſe to whom they leave them; every Crime they occaſion, every Vice they cheriſh, every Paſſion they raiſe, will be charg’d on them, and not only add to the Terrors of their awaken’d Conſciences, but, like a mighty Weight, preſs them down, and ſink them full of dreadful Apprehenſions, of tormenting Remorſes, and unconceivable Horrors, to the loweſt, blackeſt, and more direful part of their infernal Priſon.
And they are equally blame-worthy who employ their Wealth in the Service of their Ambition, their Pride, their Luxury, and their other Vices; who value themſelves upon their Money and what it procures, big ſounding Titles, glorious Equipages, magnificent Houſes, rich Cloaths, and that Train of cumberſom Vanities which a large Eſtate draws after it; or who waſte it in Intemperance, in gratifying their Palats, who place their Happineſs in making the neareſt Approaches they can to the brutal part of the Creation, and are never better pleas’d than when their Underſtandings are clouded, and their Reaſon thrown into a kind of Stupor, who divide their Time between Eating, Drinking, and Sleeping, and are more delighted with a fine-made Diſh than G2 with 84 G2v 6884 with a wiſe Diſcourſe, with the dear Reliſh of their delicious Wines than with the moſt ingenious entertaining Company; and who, were it put to their choice, would rather be the Sardanapalus’s, the Apicius’s, or Vitellius’s of the Age, than the Epaminondas’s, Ariſtides’s, or Antoninus’s; that is, had rather be the very Dregs of Mankind, than ſome of the moſt exalted Parts of the Rational Nature.
Unhappy Wretches! How are they toſt from one Extreme to the other! forc’d to be avaricious in order to be waſtful, extravagant and ſtingy by turns; now flattering, ſoothing, proſtituting their Conſciences, ſtooping to the baſeſt, vileſt, moſt unbecoming Actions, guilty of Perjuries, dip’d in Blood, and loaden with the Imprecations of the Oppreſſed; at other times, ſcornful, inſulting, Pretenders to the higheſt Generoſity, the greateſt Liberality, and the moſt diffuſive Charity, ſtill inconſiſtent with themſelves, a Prey to every ruling Vice, to every domineering Paſſion.
Now all this proceeds from having a wrong Notion of Things, from thinking that to be valuable which really is not ſo, from not knowing how to diſtinguiſh between thoſe Things which contribute to our Happineſs, and ſuch as are no eſſential Parts of it; that is, betwixt what we may call our own, and what does not belong to us: Among which, I reckon Dignities and Riches, together with that Honour,nour, 85 G3r 6985 nour, Reſpect, and Reputation, which reſult from them; Things which, upon a due and ſerious Reflection, all muſt own we may be without, and yet be happy. Felicity conſiſting in the inward Peace and Satisfaction of the Mind, and is the Product of thoſe internal Joys which ſpring from an inlightned Underſtanding, a well-regulated Judgment, a rectified Will, and an unpolluted Conſcience, and not from any thing that is external, what we can neither beſtow on our ſelves, nor keep when ’tis ours.
Of the Truth of this I would, if ’twere poſſible, convince the World, eſpecially thoſe of my own Sex; I would not have them fond of Wealth, or afraid of Poverty, neither look on the one as a real Good, nor on the other as a real Evil; but learn to put a right Eſtimate on Things, to prize them only according to their true Value, to think the Riches of the Mind the only deſirable Poſſeſſion, Virtue and Wiſdom to be more ineſtimable Treaſures than the brighteſt Jewels, Knowledge much better than Gold, and the Government of their Paſſions infinitely preferable to the moſt ambition’d Empire: They would not then be ſo buſy about Trifles, ſo much concern’d about their Dreſſes, the Ornaments of their Houſes, the making a ſplendid Appearance, and raiſing the Envy of each other: Neither would they be under the Temptation of ſelling their Liberty; G3 they 86 G3v 7086 they would, in their Marriages, prefer Virtue before a Title, good Senſe before an Eſtate, and chuſe a Man of Honour in Rags, rather than a vicious Prince, though he were Maſter of the World. If all would imbibe theſe Principles, what Order, what Beauty would there be! what an univerſal Harmony! All would be guided by the nobleſt Maxims, by the unerring Dictates of Truth: Riches, when in ſuch Hands, would be a Bleſſing, and never be beſtow’d but on ſuch as deſerv’d ’em, and knew how to employ ’em to the beſt Advantage: Parents would not then ſacrifice their wretched Children to their Intereſt, and rather chuſe to ſee them live miſerably than poorly, as being more ſollicitous for their being rich than happy: We ſhould ſee no more unſuitable Matches; no Force would be put on Inclinations, Virtue and Vice would not be join’d, the Meek would not then be conſtrain’d to ſigh out their Hours with the Paſſionate, the Humble ſubjected to the inſupportable Humours of the Proud, nor the Liberal chain’d to the Covetous, confin’d to their Reverſe, to what is diametrically oppoſite to their Temper; the Golden Age would be renew’d, and we ſhould fancy our ſelves among the firſt happy Mortals, the innocent Inhabitants of the Anti- Diluvian Earth, the ancient Patriarchs, whom the Holy Scripture ſtiles the Sons of God.O that 87 G4r 7187
O that ’twere in my power to reduce that into practice which I ſo much wiſh! Wou’d I had Eloquence enough to perſwade my Readers to encourage Virtue, by making their Wealth the Reward of juſt, brave, and laudable Actions! If my Heart does not deceive me, I would readily do what I earneſtly recommend; and were I Miſtreſs of a great Eſtate, would much ſooner leave it to a pious Servant than a vicious Son: I own no Relations but what are founded on Virtue, no Friendſhips but what ſpring from a joint Love of Truth; and would rather, were I left to my Choice, live with a Socrates in his Priſon, than be the Companion of an Antony amidſt the Exceſſes of a luxurious Court, much rather have been the Wife of a Crates, or an Epictetus; of a Huſband poor as the firſt, and deform’d as the laſt, than the Partner of a Throne with a Tiberius, a Caligula, a Nero, or a Heliogabalus.
Me ſacred Virtue moves alone;
I will no Rival Paſſion own:
Begone, begone, in vain ye ſue,
I’ll to my firm Reſolves be true:
No more ſhall Riches tempt my Sight
With their falſe, their glaring Light:
Before me when the Phantoms play,
From them, with Scorn, I’ll turn away;
Defy their Power, and ſlight their Art,
And ſtill be Miſtreſs of my Heart.
The only Uſe I know Riches are of, is the having it in one’s Power to help the Needy, to do Good to the Indigent. I aſſure the Reader, were they given to me on condition, I ſhould wholly keep them to my ſelf; I would not accept of a Gift ſo clog’d: But ſuch a Suppoſition ought not to be made; ’tis unfit to imagine ſo much as a remote poſſibility of ſuch a Narrowneſs of Mind in God; in him who is Goodneſs it ſelf, and gives to all his Creatures with an unbounded Munificence, and whom we cannot in any thing pleaſe better, than in imitating the Benignity of his Nature, and in endeavouring to be Bountiful as he is Bountiful; which tho’ we cannot be in effect, yet we may be in deſire; we may wiſh well to all; and thoſe we cannot make Rich, we may by our Advice endeavour to make Eaſie, Patient and Reſign’d; tho’ we cannot give them Gold, yet we may teach them Wiſdom, and by inſpiring them with a Love of Virtue, Probity, and Truth, put them in poſſeſſion of the moſt valuable Treaſures, Treaſures without which all others would be Curſes inſtead of Bleſſings, and conſequently ſhould deſerve to be plac’d among their chiefeſt Benefactors, as having made them the greateſt, the moſt ineſtimable Preſent.
We are born with a ſtrong Deſire of being happy; ’tis a Principle coæval with our Souls, it grows with us, and will prove as laſting as our Beings; ’tis the Centre to which all our Motions tend, it gives a Byaſs to our Actions, a ſort of Fermentation to our Spirits, makes us preſs forward, keeps our Thoughts bent, and always ready, with a precipitous Eagerneſs, a violent Impetuoſity to ruſh on every Appearance of Good, to graſp whatever has but the Reſemblance of Happineſs, or, what is infinitely more deplorable, too often obtrudes upon us real Evils for ſeeming Goods: But this is wholly owing to the Depravity of our Judgments, and the Darkneſs of our Underſtandings; for none, no not the moſt profligate Wretches, chuſe Evil, as Evil: Were it unmask’d, did it appear as it is, they would ſhun it with the greateſt Abhorrency, fly from it with the utmoſt Deteſtation; ’tis the ſpecious Vizard that deludes them, the tempting Caſe that allures them: The beautiful Cover conceals the ugly Face, hides the natural Deformity, and proves pernicious to the unwary Spectators, makes them miſ- 90 G5v 7490 miſtake that for their Intereſt, which is not ſo, and, with the fond Narciſſus, place their Affection on a wrong Object; makes them, like him, pine for Trifles, and fooliſhly addreſs themſelves to charming Nothings, Shadows of Felicity, to Things much below the Notice of Pretenders to Reaſon.
Such as endeavour, by darkening other People’s Reputations, to make their own ſhine the brighter; who baſely cringe and flatter to get Favour, lye and perjure themſelves to ſerve a Cauſe, to ſtrengthen a Party, or promote what they call an Intereſt, who without Scruple make uſe of all the little mean Arts of raiſing an Eſtate, all the vile cheating ways of getting Money, fancy they love themſelves; ’tis that miſtaken Imagination which involves them in all the Injuſtice and Folly with which they are chargeable: Firſt, it blinds their Judgment, and then corrupts their Reaſon; and when that’s done, hurries them impetuouſly on, and on a ſudden plunges them into an Abyſs of Crimes, a Fathomleſs Depth of Guilt: Whereas, were they but ſo happy as to have right Notions of Good and Evil; did they but know wherein their true Intereſt conſiſted, what would give them laſting Reputations, intitle them to the higheſt Honours, and put them in Poſſeſſion of the moſt valuable Treaſures, they would ſoon make uſe of different Methods, fix their Eſteem on nobler 91 G6r 7591 nobler Objects, and love themſelves with a more rational Affection, an Affection which would exert it ſelf in the moſt generous Acts of Kindneſs; they would then be ſenſible that they cannot be Enemies to others, as to themſelves, that every Breach of Juſtice, every Violation of Truth, and every Infringement of Charity, is a Wrong to themſelves; that ’tis impoſſible for them to calumniate, or deceive their Neighbours, without injuring their own Souls; can’t amaſs Treaſures, purchaſe Titles, or raiſe themſelves to Honours by undue Ways, without deeply wounding their own Conſciences, drawing on themſelves unavoidable Miſchiefs, and running the Riſque of being everlaſtingly miſerable. Such Conſiderations as theſe would have a vital Influence on their Lives, and ſoon make them univerſal Bleſſings; the more they lov’d themſelves, the more they would love others, would endeavour to make them feel the ſame Truths, and ſee the ſame Beauties. That glorious Reward, which is always the Recompence of virtuous Actions, would be ſtill in view, and that ſecret Satisfaction, that internal Pleaſure, which ariſes from the Senſe of having done what they ought, would ſweetly lead them on, and make them take an inexpreſſible Delight, an inconceivable Complacency in doing Good. O how happy ſhould we be, were we all equally convinced of this important Truth! 92 G6v 7692 Truth! how ſecurely ſhould we then live, in how much Innocence and Peace! The World would then be one continued Scene of Pleaſure, one great Family of Love.
Love quickly would the World unite,
In ev’ry Breaſt erect its Throne,
Mankind to ſolid Joys invite,
Joys to poor Mortals now unknown.
Friendſhip would then no Traffick prove;
But, by much nobler Precepts taught,
All like th’ Angelick Forms above,
Would be one Soul, one Mind, one Thought:
To them ’twould then uneaſie grow,
To them a Self-denial be,
The ſmalleſt Diſreſpect to ſhow,
Where they ſuperior Merit ſee.
Then, influenc’d by a Law Divine,
They would become each other’s Care,
The general Good would ſtill deſign,
And ſeek their own Advantage there.
But this will never be, while they are impos’d on by their Senſes, while they look on their Paſſions as part of themſelves, and fancy to reſiſt them is to offer Violence to their Nature: If they are blam’d for their Folly, ſo far are they from owning that they are culpable, that they plead for their Faults, turn Advocates for their Crimes, call in their Senſes as 93 G7r 7793 as Auxilaries to aſſiſt them, and would, if it were poſſible, ſubborn their Reaſon to give Evidence for them; they make uſe of all the Artifice and Induſtry imaginable to hide them from themſelves; they put on them the Appearances of Virtue, and repreſent them to their Imagination under wrong Figures, under falſe Names. Avarice they call a Love of Temperance, Moderation, Prudence, and a laudable Concern for Poſterity: Prodigality, a being careful of their Reputation, Generoſity, Liberality and Magnificence: Pride, a ſetting a due Value on themſelves: Fear, a becoming Caution, a putting a true Eſtimate on Life. Thus they turn to themſelves only the wrong Sides of Objects, contribute to their own Deluſion, are acceſſary to their own Captivity, and do as much as in them lies to reduce their Souls to the worſt Slavery. If at any time they ſeem averſe to one Paſſion, ’tis either becauſe it is not agreeable to their Conſtitution, or ſuitable to their preſent Circumſtances, or elſe they abandon it, in order to the indulging ſome other; and if they happen to be allur’d by ſome tranſient Glimpſe of hope of a future Reward (which the worſt of Men have one time or other experimented) or be deterr’d by the terrifying Dread of a future Vengeance from gratifying a Vice, they think it a great piece of Self-denial, a very meritorious Action; Whereas, according to the ſtrict Languageguage 94 G7v 7894 guage of Truth, to act contrary to the Dictates of Reaſon, to ſubject the Soul to the Body, the Intelectual Faculties to the Senſes, and the Underſtanding to the Paſſions, is, properly ſpeaking, the greateſt, the only Self-denial, the moſt convincing Proof of their being their own Enemies. Could they quiet theſe internal Diſturbers, allay the Storms they raiſe in their Breaſts, and reduce their Minds to a peaceful Silence, they would in that happy Calm, that Ceſſation of their Paſſions, be at leiſure to attend to the Calls of their Conſciences, and the Perſwaſions of Reaſon; they would hear the ſoft Whiſpers of Truth, and be no longer deaf to its Remonſtrances; the Divine Light would dart it ſelf into their Underſtandings, give a new Turn to their Thoughts, inform their Judgments, rectify their Wills, and make a through, a wonderful Change, an advantageous Alteration, transform them into ſomething ſo beautiful, ſo worthy of Eſteem, as would at once juſtifie their having a Kindneſs for themſelves, and entitle them to the Love and Veneration of Mankind.
There is no Virtue more talk’d of, and pretended to than Juſtice, and yet perhaps none leſs underſtood, and worſe practiſed.
The greateſt part of Mankind are chain’d to what they call their Intereſt, inceſſantly tugging at the Oar, imploy’d in the tireſome Service of their Vices, or in the no leſs troubleſome Gratification of their Humours: Reaſon has no Superiority over them; her Voice is too ſoft, her Whiſpers too low to be heard amidſt ſo much Hurry and Noiſe. She delights in a calm Mind, chuſes to reſide in the inmoſt Receſs of a ſilent compos’d Soul; ſuch unhappy Wretches, ſuch unthinking Creatures, cannot bear her Reproofs, cannot endure her gentleſt Admonitions, her kindeſt, moſt endearing Perſwaſions. Whatever runs counter to their Vices, gives a Check to their rapacious Deſires, ſets Bounds to their Avarice, or attempts to ſtop them in their impetuous Career, offends them. They think it an Injury to be kept from committing Crimes, from doing Wrong; and, what is moſt to be wonder’dder’d 96 G8v 8096 der’d at, ſo much are they govern’d by their Paſſions, that what they are apt to cenſure in others, to load with the higheſt Imputations, and place in the blackeſt Catalogue of Sins, they not only wink at in themſelves, but are ſo audacious, as to own them publickly, and plead for them as equitable Actions.
The ſordid ſtarving Miſer exclaims againſt Covetouſneſs in others, though at the ſame time he cruelly oppreſſes the Poor, encroaches upon his Neighbours, robs them of their Rights, cheats them in Buying and Selling, injures the Orphan, makes his Children miſerable, his Wife a Servant, and his Servants Slaves; yet he pretends to abhor theſe things, fancies himſelf to be at the remoteſt Diſtance from them, and would be believ’d to have the higheſt Deteſtation for them; none complains more of the Injuſtice of others, tells you longer Stories of the hard Uſage he has met with, the Law-suits he is unhappily involv’d in, the Treſpaſſes that are done him, the Damages he ſuſtains from ill Men; In ſhort, all the Misfortunes that ſurround him, all the Troubles that break in upon him, like an overflowing Torrent.
Now, this would never be, if Men had right Notions of Juſtice, if they knew how to diſtinguiſh between Good and Evil, were attentive to Reaſon, and willing to hearken to the Voice of Truth, ready to permit it, to ſet them 97 H1r 97 them Rules of Living, and then make it the Judge, not only of their Words and Actions, but of their very Thoughts, they being the vital Principles, the Springs, the Maſterwheels that put the reſt in Motion; and, that being done, ſubmit to its deciſive Sentence, and reſolve, after having once choſen it for their Director, to pay it a conſtant uniform Obedience, to give themſelves up entirely to its Conduct, and to do nothing without its Approbation; and whenever they are contriving a Deſign, or about to perform any Action, I would deſire them to view it in the cleareſt Light, to bring it to the ſevereſt Teſt, to examine it before the Bar of Conſcience, and ſeriouſly ask themſelves this neceſſary Queſtion: Is what we are now going to do, what we would willingly have done to our ſelves? Would we be ſo uſed, ſo ſpoken of? And if they find they would not, then they ought carefully to avoid it.
This Method would entitle them to Treaſures infinitely greater, infinitely more valuable than thoſe tranſient ones which they are in purſuit of, would give them the Poſſeſſion of an internal Tranquility, of an inexpreſſible Satisfaction, of thoſe pure and laſting Pleaſures which reſult from Innocence, from the Senſe of having done what they ought. O how happy, how delightful will it render their Days, how eaſie and undiſturb’d their Nights! H1 They 98 H1v 98 They will hear nothing but Praiſe, nothing but Repetitions of their juſt, generous, and honourable Actions; they will have no melancholy upbraiding Thoughts, no black Idea’s obtruded on their Imagination, nothing to interrupt their Reſt, to render their Sleep leſs pleaſant. The ſame may be ſaid of all others; there are none but will find a ſtrict Adherence to the immutable Laws of Truth and Juſtice, very advantageous; they will make them eaſie to themſelves, as well as to thoſe they converſe with, render them univerſal Bleſſings, and beſtow on them the Honour of being Conſervators of the Order of the World, of that admirable, that beautiful Order, which owes its Origin to the Almighty Creator, to that infinite Wiſdom which made the Univerſe.
The Rich will then perceive, that they are under an Obligation of doing all the Good they can with their Wealth; that they are but Stewards, Perſons intruſted by another, by the Proprietor of all things, and by him employ’d to be the Diſtributers of his Bounty, the Beſtowers of his Gifts on the Needy, and the Rewarders of Merit; that the Great, thoſe that are rais’d above the reſt of Mankind, that are incircled with Honours, and poſſeſs’d of Grandeur, are made more powerful than their Fellow-Mortals, with no other Deſign, but that they may protect the Innocent, right the Injur’d, encourage the Virtuous,ous, 99 H2r 99 ous, puniſh the Ill, and by their Menaces fright the Vicious from their execrable Practices. The Lovers of Pleaſure will, by theſe Laws, be taught to regulate their Conduct, to keep within the Bounds of Honour, to do nothing that may deſerve a Reproof, or occaſion a Bluſh, nothing that they can be juſtly reproach’d for, either by their own Conſciences, or the World, will be deterr’d from the barbarous, the ungenteel Cuſtom of diverting themſelves at the Expence of their Neighbours Reputations, will ſcorn to do them Wrong only to make themſelves Sport: They will be acted by better, by nobler Principles, proceed on more becoming Motives, and place their Delight in ſomething much more innocent, as well as more exalted.
How happy would the World be, were Mankind influenc’d by theſe Rules! They would then be induc’d to do good Actions from the Beauty they ſee in them, from their Agreeableneſs to Reaſon, to that Truth which ſpeaks within them, from that Juſtice which dictates to their Souls, becauſe they tend to the Honour of God, and are univerſal Bleſſings, Bleſſings not only to thoſe to whom they are done, but to thoſe who do them; and they would not then be ſo vain, ſo childiſhly proud, as to expect Applauſes for doing what they ought, or be angry for not being thank’d for performing Actions, which if they had left undone,H2 done, 100 H2v 100 done, they would have deſerv’d to have been puniſh’d.
When we talk of Gratitude, of Generoſity, of Retributions, of making Returns for Favours, we do but complement the Perſons to whom we ſpeak, do but ſooth their Vanity, humour their Pride, treat them as we do froward Children, give them Rattles to keep them quiet, our Diſcourſe is not according to the ſtrict Language of Truth. Did we tye our ſelves to that, we ſhould tell People, That ſuch as boaſt of their being highly generous, of their ſhowing a more than ordinary Liberality, are either performing Acts of Juſtice, or giving the World Specimens of their Imprudence. Charities ill beſtow’d are real Miſchiefs to Perſons that receive them, and to thoſe that give them; and if they are conferr’d on the Good, on the Deſerving, they are what they may challenge, Things to which they have a legal Claim, Kindneſs being a Debt due to Humanity; and that they have no other Buſineſs here but to be uſeful and ſerviceable to each other; that they are all parts of one great Community, and obliged by the Laws of their Creation to be aſſiſtant to each other, to do all the friendly Offices they can for every one they are acquainted with, nay, they ought to extend their Regard to the whole Species; ſome they may relieve, others adviſe; to ſome may be beneficial by vindicating101 H3r 101 cating their Fame, to others by defending them from Dangers; to their Inferiours by Acts of Charity, by endeavouring to make them eaſie, to render them as happy as their Condition will bear, as they can be here, and by inſtructing them in neceſſary Truths, to put them in the Way of being ſo for ever; to their Equals, by all the endearing Inſtances of Kindneſs, all the Demonſtrations of a ſincere and hearty Affection, of a zealous and active Eſteem; to their Superiors by paying them all imaginable Services, giving them all the convincing Teſtimonies of a dutiful Concern, of a real and diſintereſs’d Reſpect; and as for ſuch as are not within the Verge of their Acquaintance, the Sphere of their Knowledge, they may wiſh them well, and afford them a Room in their Prayers. If theſe things were univerſally obſerv’d, there would be no Place for Complaints.
If all did what became them in their reſpective Stations, were juſt from an inward Principle, from that internal Delight and Complacency they take in doing good and commendable Actions, a Delight which terminates in it ſelf, has no regard to Praiſe, to sordid Gain, or to any little baſe Deſign, how great would be our Felicity! how much would Earth reſemble Heaven!H3 ’Twould 102 H3v 102
’Twould like the bleſt Millennium prove,
That Prototype of Joys above,
Where Truth th’Aſcendant ſtill ſhall gain,
Juſtice ſhall triumph, Virtue reign:
Where having view’d each other’s Heart,
And found them void of Fraud and Art,
Free from Avarice, free from Hate,
Sincerely good, and firm as Fate,
We ſhall our Souls in one combine,
Shall join them with a Knot Divine,
A Knot ſo cloſely, ſtrongly ty’d,
That nothing ſhall the Bond divide;
And that it may be ſure to laſt,
Love, with a Smile, ſhall bind it faſt:
Where we ſhall equal Plenty have,
None be poor, nor none a Slave;
None ſhall wrong, nor none complain,
A peaceful Temper there ſhall reign.
The tender Lamb and Wolf ſhall play,
The Kids among the Lions ſtray;
The lowing Herds with Bears ſhall feed,
No Guardians, no Protectors need;
So mild, ſo gentle ſhall they prove,
They at a Child’s Command ſhall move;
Their little Leader, pleas’d, obey,
And follow where he leads the Way.
Weak Infants ſhall with Serpents ſport,
Unhurt, ſhall to their Dens reſort.None 103 H4r 103
None there ſhall any Miſchief do,
None there their native Fierceneſs ſhew.
Goodneſs Divine ſhall there abound,
And Mercy ſpread it ſelf around,
Shall every where it ſelf diſplay,
Into each Breaſt it ſelf convey:
Delights ſo pure, intenſe, and ſtrong,
Shall fill their Minds, and ſwell their Song,
That they’ll their Thouſand Years employ,
In one Extatick Now of Joy.
O thou, who art Juſtice it ſelf, make me, I humbly beſeech thee, like thee in this, and all thy other communicable Attributes. Let my whole Life be conformble to that immutable Order which thou haſt eſtabliſh’d in the World, to that univerſal Reaſon which ought to govern all intelligent Beings: Let that Divine Pleaſure it affords imprint it ſelf ſweetly on my Thoughts, diſplay it ſelf in my Words, and powerfully influence all my Actions; Let my Underſtanding clearly ſee that Amiableneſs, that Train of Beauties, that Concatenation of Charms there is in what it loves; and enable my Judgment to form ſtrong and convincing Concluſions of that Truth it embraces, that my Affection may become the Reſult of a deliberate and rational Choice, not the Product only of Chance, or a warm Imagination. Let me act from the higheſt, the moſt exalted Principles, endeavourH4 vour 104 H4v 104 vour to be exactly juſt in all my Tranſactions, my Diſcourſes, and all the various Circumſtances of Life, and this without having a Regard either to Applauſes here, or Recompences hereafter, without being brib’d by Secular Advantages, or frighted by the Threatning of an eternal Vengeance, as much doubting were I ſway’d only by ſuch Motives, I ſhould (ſuppoſing there were no ſuch Inducements) deſiſt from doing what I ought, and become negligent in the Purſuit of Virtue, deficient in Matters of the moſt important Moment: Aſſiſt me in baniſhing from my Mind all falſe Notions, whatever may ſerve to heighten my Pride, encreaſe may Vanity, raiſe my Anger, or augment any uneaſie Reſentment: When I have done good Offices, been kind to the Diſtreſs’d, liberal to the Needy, affectionately concern’d for thoſe with whom I converſe, and ready to ſerve them to the utmoſt Extent of my Power, let me not expect Retributions, nor be troubled if I am not thank’d, nor upbraid thoſe to whom I have been friendly with their Forgetfulneſs, but contentedly retire into my ſelf, and there ſeek that Satisfaction which accrues from having done what becomes me: And on the contrary, if I have done any thing to which the World thinks fit to affix the Epithet of Generous, any thing that attracts Regard, and looks like an Act of uncommon Bounty, let me conſider, that 105 H5r 105 that all I have is thine, that it was given me to be laid out for thy Glory, and that while I detain it from the Indigent, I am incurring thy Diſpleaſure, drawing Guilt on my ſelf, and robbing my Soul of thoſe Joys, which are the inſeparable Companions of a juſt and innocent Life, a benificent and chearful Temper, and depriving my ſelf of thoſe tranſporting Euge’s, thoſe raviſhing Benedictions, which at the final Judgment, the great Day of Retribution, ſhall conſummate the Bliſs of the Righteous.
That Bliſs to which I longing haſte,
Thoſe Joys I even faint to taſte.
Say, ye bright Forms, who once were Men,
Would you aſſume your Fleſh agen,
And leave your Beatifick Sight,
For all the World can call Delight?
O no! You’d all things here decline
But for a Glimpſe of what’s Divine;
And if one Glance ſo dear wou’d prove,
How much muſt full Fruition move?
Anger in the moral World, is the ſame that a Hurricane is in the natural; it raiſes a violent Tempeſt in the Soul, clouds the Judgment, overturns the Reaſon, ſhatters the Underſtanding, puts a reſiſtleſs Force on the Will, crouds the Memory with black Idea’s, with infernal Images, Thunders from the Tongue, Darts pointed Lightning from the Eyes, ſometimes breaks forth into Flouds of Tears, and too often vents its Fury in Deluges of Blood: It throws the Thoughts into the utmoſt Confuſion; they appear like a troubled Sea, where Billow meets with Billow, one Wave with deafning Horrour breaks upon another; ſometimes the mounting Surges almoſt reach the Sky, and then are on a ſudden thrown low as the Center of the Earth: The Mind is furiouſly agitated, the whole Body diſorder’d; there is nothing within but Hurry and Tumult, nothing to be ſeen without but Fierceneſs and Rage, Convulſive Motions, ſtaring Eyes, broken Sentences, frightful Looks, Faces pale as Death, or red as Blood: In a word, a Mixture of Folly and Madneſs, Man and 107 H6r 107 and Beaſt blended together, or rather ſomething more ſavage; ſomething crueller than hungry Lions, than provok’d Tigers.
Would you repreſent the angry Man to your ſelf, would you form a lively Idea of him in your Imagination, fancy you heard Cerberus barking, and at the ſame time ſaw the Furies with their Torches flaming, their Eyes caſting forth malignant Flaſhes, the nauſeous Froth forcing a Paſſage thro’ their diſtorted Lips, and the dreadful Vipers hiſſing round their ghaſtly Heads; yet this, and whatſoever the moſt pregnant Invention can add, to render it more hideous, will not come up to the ugly, the monſtrous, the horrid Original. Could he ſee himſelf, he would be ſo far from falling in Love with his own Reſemblance, that he would do the World a Kindneſs, and at once free Mankind and himſelf of one of the greateſt Plagues, their moſt inſupportable Burdens: But he is too much blinded by his Paſsion, to be able to diſcern his own Deformity, or the Devil that poſſeſſes him. Lucifer himſelf had not more Pride, nor a larger Share of Envy and Malice; and were his Power as great, the Effects would be as deplorably pernicious; he would ſoon ſpoil the beautiful Order of Things, deſtroy the Harmony of Nature, and reduce the World to its original Confuſion, its primitive Chaos, to an Anarchy like that which he has in his own Breaſt.How 108 H6v 108
How unhappy! how unexpreſſibly miſerable are they who condemn themſelves to ſo rigorous, ſo ſhameful a Slavery, who put it in the Power of every trivial Accident, of every little Diſappointment, to harraſs and torture their Minds; and whom, if you would be ſpiteful, if you would give your ſelf the Liberty of gratifying an ill-natur’d Pleaſure, you might with a Glance, a Word, or an Action in it ſelf innocent and well intended, but dexterouſly manag’d, blow into a Flame, and deprive of all their Peace, all their Satisfaction, and make ’em as ragingly impatient as a blind Polyphemus, or a diſappointed Ajax. While the Frenzy laſts, you might have the Diverſion to ſee them, like that Grecian Hero, exerciſing their Valour on Brutes, and miſtaking Hogs for Agamemnons or, like Don Quixote, fighting with Wind-mills, and doing things more ridiculouſly extravagant than any that are to be found in Romances. What greater Puniſhment could their moſt implacable Enemies wiſh them? And what Objects are there in the World that more deſerve our Compaſſion? And what would be more generous, more becoming Chriſtians, the Followers of a meek, tender, patient, and commiſerating Maſter, than to endeavour to reſtore them to the Uſe of their Reaſon, reſettle them in the Poſſeſſion of themſelves, reinſtate them in thoſe Privileges, to which their Humanity gives them an indiſputabletable 109 H7r 109 table Right, and of which ’twas impoſſible for them to have been diſſeiz’d, without their own Conſent.
In order to the compaſſing a Deſign, which will prove ſo univerſal a Good to Mankind, ſo unexpreſſibly beneficial to the whole Community, it will, in the Firſt place, be beſt to enquire, what thoſe things are which generally excite Anger? And when we have exactly weigh’d them, and heedfully conſider’d all their Circumſtances, we will put into the oppoſite Scale that Calmneſs, Eaſineſs, Sedateneſs, Firmneſs, and Tranquility, that inward Complacency and Joy, together with thoſe outward Demonſtrations of Love and Veneration, which are the inſeparable Attendants of a humble, quiet and diſpaſſionate Temper, and ſee which will preponderate.
Anger proceeds from an Opinion of our being injur’d either in our Perſons, Reputations, or Poſſeſſions: Now though all Evils of this kind are imaginary, as having no Exiſtence in Nature, yet to a diſturb’d Fancy they appear real, and will ſenſibly afflict, till we free our ſelves from them by the Uſe of proper Remedies, by having Recourſe to Philoſophy, the Phyſick of the Soul, that Catholicon which will cure all its Maladies, enable it to throw off all its peccant Humours, ſtrengthen and invigorate its Conſtitution, give a Clearneſs and Vivacity to its viſive Faculty, and 110 H7v 110 and render it capable of taking a thorough View of Things, of ſeeing them as they are, of rightly diſtinguiſhing between what is truly ours, and what is anothers; between what has its Dependancy on us, is free, and cannot be hinder’d from being ours, and what has not its Dependance on us, but is ſubject to another, and may be denied us at pleaſure; of diſcerning the Difference betwixt the Things we ought to wiſh for, and thoſe we ought to ſhun; the Objects of our Deſire, and thoſe of our Averſion.
Of the firſt kind are our Inclinations, our Opinions, and all the Operations of our Mind, all that comes within the Verge of our Will, whatever we can give our ſelves, and continue in our own Power: The ſecond are ſuch Things as are without us, ſuch as we receive from another; I mean, all ſuch as are vulgarly known by the Name of the Goods of Fortune, Things which are not within the Sphere of our Activity, within our Reach, or at our Diſpoſal, which no more belong to us than they do to ſeparate Beings, or inanimate Lumps of Matter: Till we can thus revolve them in our Minds, aſſign them their proper Stations, place them in oppoſite Ranks, and are intimately acquainted with their ſpecifick Diſcrimination, we can never be eaſy, never be happy, never be Maſters of our ſelves; cannotnot 111 H8r 111 not know what to have a Repugnance againſt, or on what to fix our Deſires.
Now ſuch as know that their Bodies, their Reputation, their Kindred, their Friends, their Acquaintance, their Servants, their Wealth, their Honours, their Places, or whatever elſe ſerves to ſwell the Catalogue of contingent Goods, are Things foreign to them, Things that do not in the leaſt concern them; ſome of them ſuch as they cannot get without indefatigable Toil, without little mean Compliances, without hazarding their Liberty, their Integrity, their Sincerity, all that ought to be dear to the Lovers of Virtue, to all ſuch as make Truth the Standard of their Actions, the Criterion by which they deſire to be try’d; and that for others, they muſt be obliged to the favourable Concurrence of ſeveral Things to compaſs them, to a propitious Conjunction of lucky Hits, to make them theirs; and if they at the ſame time conſider, that there are as many Ways of loſing them as there are of gaining them, and that they cannot aſſure themſelves of them for the ſhort Duration of a Moment, they will look on them with Indifference, as Things infinitely below the attentive Regard of a rational Soul, much leſs of an affectionate Tenderneſs.
The deeper Impreſſion ſuch Thoughts as theſe make upon them, the farther will they withdraw themſelves from them, the more they 112 H8v 112 they will be upon their Guard, the better prepar’d to encounter every croſs Accident; nothing will be ſurprizing, nothing new, or unexpected; they will, as Epictetus ſays, when they remove an earthen Cup, conſider, that ’tis Brittle, and may eaſily be broken; and they will from ſuch inconſiderable Inſtances, from Things which have the loweſt place in their Eſteem, riſe to ſuch as are higher and more valuable, to ſuch as have a nearer Relation to them: If their Parents, their Kindred, their Friends, thoſe that are oblig’d by the Ties of Blood, of Honour, of all that’s eſtimable among Men, to treat them with Affection and Reſpect, ſhould prove unkind, treacherous, and malicious, they will quiet themſelves by reflecting on the Fickleneſs of Human Nature, by conſidering that Inconſtancy is the Characteriſtick of both Sexes, and ’tis as eaſy to find a Phoenix as a Perſon that is always the ſame: The Philoſopher who made a narrow Scrutiny for an honeſt Man, might with as little hopes of Succeſs have ſearch’d for a faithful Friend, they being equally difficult to be found.
If their Children prove diſobedient, they’ll remember ’tis natural for Youth to be raſh, headſtrong, fond of themſelves, impatient of Reſtraint, and violently hurried on by their Paſſions, and therefore the Follies they are guilty of are not to be wonder’d at, and that ’tis 113 I1r 113 ’tis more diſagreeable to Reaſon for them to be moved at them, than for the others to do them.
If ſuch as are making their Approaches to the Grave, who are taking their Leave of Life, and all its Enjoyments, prove their Enemies, if they oppreſs them, detain their Rights from them, and treat them inhumanly, they will be ſo far from being enrag’d, that they will look with pity on the Infirmities of their Age, and be ready to impute their Failures to their true Cauſe, to the Decays of their Underſtanding, their repeated Acts of Injuſtice, to the miſtaken Love of themſelves, and their inſatiable Thirſt after Riches, which unhappily encreaſes proportionately to their Incapacity to uſe them, to the Boundleſneſs of their Deſires, and the making Wealth the Center to which they direct all their Aims, and for which they hope to be valu’d when they’ve nothing elſe left to recommend them.
If the Great endeavour to injure them, if they inſult over them, they will look with Scorn on their Attempts, will conſider them on the ſame Level with themſelves in reſpect of their Souls, and of thoſe Materials whereof their Bodies are jointly compos’d, as Parts of the ſame Community, of the ſame Order of Beings, and diſtinguiſh’d from one another only by a few adventitious Advantages, Things that have no intrinſick Worth in them, and I conſe- 114 I1v 114 conſequently can confer none on their Poſſeſſors, but derive all their Value from the Opinion of others; they will likewiſe reflect on the Limitedneſs of their Power, that after all their Threatnings, they can extend it to nothing that is truly their own, that they can’t rob them of their Virtue, their Conſtancy, their inward Serenity, the unſpeakable Delights of a well-ſatisfied Conſcience, of a regular, calm, and intrepid Mind.
If their Equals abuſe them, if they make it their Buſineſs to defraud them of their Legal Rights, to injure them either in their Perſons or their Fame, they will, if ’tis poſſible, ſecure themſelves from Violence and Contumelies, will endeavour to juſtify themſelves, will avouch their Innocency, and ſtrive to undeceive thoſe they converſe with; but if the World will ſtill think them culpable, they will deſpiſe the invidious Cenſurers, and quiet themſelves with the Plaudits of their own Breaſt, with the Knowledge of their own Innocency, without once condeſcending to any thing ſo mean, as to expreſs a Diſſatisfaction; no, they will ſtill make a brave Defence, a noble Reſiſtance, will ſtand firm againſt every Attack, and if they muſt loſe the Day, they’ll fall with Honour, die without Complaints, or ſo much as a Change of Countenance, without making indecent Reflections, doing or ſaying any thing that might give the niceſt Obſerver occaſion 115 I2r 115 occaſion to call their Conduct in queſtion.
If they are their Inferiors that diſpleaſe them, they’ll look on them as Perſons below their Anger; and ’twill be alike to them whether the Provocation proceeds from Inſolence or Careleſſneſs, from Contempt or Inadvertency, from Dullneſs or Obſtinacy, from Want of Senſe or Malice: Let the Motive be what it will, they are reſolv’d not to give ’em ſo great an Advantage over them, as to put it in their Power to diſcompoſe their Minds: They know Injuries conſiſt only in Opinion, and that they can’t be wrong’d, can’t be affronted, unleſs they themſelves contribute to it; there muſt be the Concurrence of their own Will to make it an Evil; therefore they prudently fence againſt the firſt Impreſſions, the firſt Ebullitions of Paſſion, and think themſelves ſufficient Gainers if at any Rate they can purchaſe ſo great a Bleſſing as Conſtancy.
And as for Riches, they will conſider, that they are not eſſentially neceſſary, that Nature is contented with a little; that the way to enjoy them, is to keep the Heart looſe from them, to be unconcern’d whether we have them or not, and by little Trials to prepare for greater, to bear ſmall Loſſes unmov’d, always remembring, that Poverty with Contentment, is much more deſirable than a plentiful Eſtate with Uneaſineſs and an anxious Sollicitude, it being better to ſuffer all the Extremities of Hunger, I2 Thirſt, 116 I2v 116 Thirſt, and Cold, and preſerve a compos’d, chearful, and reſigning Temper, a ſteddy, firm, and undaunted Greatneſs of Mind to the laſt Gaſp, than to live amidſt the greateſt Affluence of Wealth, with a Soul full of Diſturbance and inſatiable Deſires, a Soul which neither knows how to keep, nor how to part with what it has, which pierces it ſelf with what it graſps, turns its Bleſſings into Puniſhments, its Joys into Fears, and the Bounties of Heaven into Occaſions of Miſchief both to it ſelf and others.
They farther conſider, That Titles and Places of Truſt, their being advanc’d to honorable Poſts, to dazling Heights, to Stations above the Kenn of vulgar Eyes, will not juſtify their being Proud, Imperious, Paſſionate, Cruel, and Revengeful; no, they’ll rather make them more watchful over themſelves, more vigilant Inſpectors of their own Actions; they will check every peeviſh Humour, ſuppreſs every arrogant Thought, every malicious Suggeſtion, every furious Motion, will arm themſelves with Patience, put favourable Conſtructions on every Occurrence, mild and charitable Interpretations on whatever they ſee or hear, will ſtrive to ſweeten their Minds, to free them from Perturbations, from the dangerous Sallies of an ungovern’d Anger, of an unmanageable Rage, and all the other ill Effects of a brutiſh forbidding Temper; and in order to the 117 I3r 117 the rendring themſelves fit to be belov’d, will aſſume a ſoft engaging Air, a humble and inviting Mein, and, as far as they are able, endeavour to imitate that Goodneſs to which they owe their Exaltation, and make it their Care to become univerſal Bleſſings, as knowing they have no other way of making themſelves valu’d by the rational, the thinking part of Mankind.
None but the Mob, the Dregs of the Creation, will prize the Beaſt for its Trappings, or honour it the more becauſe it carries a Goddeſs; others will know how to diſtinguiſh between the poor worthleſs Bird and its gay borrow’d Plumes; betwixt the gawdy Outſide, and the contemptible Wretch that owns it; will laugh behind the Scenes, to ſee a Pigmy ſtrut in Buskins, now act the fiery Son of Peleus, the mad Oreſtes, the greedy Midas, the enrag’d Cambyſes, the revengeful Coriolanus, the cruel Marius, the bloody Sylla, and the inhumane Nero, perſonating by turns all the Monſters of Antiquity; Such become Phalaris’s and Procruſtes’s to themſelves and others; they ſhare in the Torments they inflict; their Paſſions exerciſing the ſame Barbarities on them, they do on ſuch as have the hard Fate to be ſubjected to their Tyranny.
’Tis unaccountably ſtrange, that while the Bears, the Wolves, the Foxes, the Apes, and all the numerous Individuals of the Beſtial I3 Kingdom, 118 I3v 118 Kingdom, are kind to their own Species, never quarrel among themſelves, nor break the Union made by Nature, when preſs’d by Hunger they fall on different Kinds, or on Man, the Common Enemy, but are never known, though urged by Famine, or the moſt voracious Appetite, to feed upon themſelves, or any of the ſame Denomination; That Men ſhould become fond of ruining each other, ſhould thirſt for each other’s Blood; that a Glance, a Word, a Miſtake, a ſeeming Neglect, a few uſeleſs Trifles, Toys fit only for Children and Fools to fight and cry for, ſhould ſet them together by the Ears, and make them prove Beaſts of Prey to one another: How will they worry each other for a little Dirt! with what Eagerneſs ſnatch the half-chew’d Morſels from each others Mouths! The Shadow of an Injury, the bare Opinion of a Wrong, is enough to make them bite and ſcratch, and murder Reputations, do the vileſt, moſt execrable Actions.
Now if, upon the whole, we would conſult our Reaſon, would with a cool, a ſilent, calm Attention, liſten to the Director that is within us, we ſhould quickly be convinc’d of the Deformity of this Vice, of its Contrariety to the immutable Order of Things, of its fatal Conſequences, the innumerable Miſchiefs it produces, the Irrationality of its Conduct, and the Impetuoſity of its Motions, we ſhould then, 119 I4r 119 then, with the higheſt Deteſtation, behold all thoſe deplorable Effects of Rage with which Hiſtories are crowded, gaze on the angry Man with an inſtructive Horror, view him in every outrageous Tranſport, in every terrifying Fit of Madneſs, and having well conſider’d every monſtrous Feature, turn us from the frightful, the tremendous Image, to its charming Oppoſite, the chearful, patient, mild, forgiving Man; ſee him ſtill conſtant to himſelf, ſtill eaſy, gentle, bountiful, and kind, pleas’d with a little, and ſtill contented, even when that little’s loſt: Unmov’d he ſtands the Shock of Malice and of Envy, by Innocence and Virtue made invulnerable, ſlights the invenom’d Darts of ſpightful Tongues, and goes unalter’d on in the ſame ſteady Courſe.
Such was the good, the much-wrong’d Socrates at Home a peeviſh and ill-humour’d Wife diſturb’d his Peace, Abroad the mercenary Ariſtophanes expos’d him to the Hatred and Deriſion of his ungrateful Country-men: He ſaw himſelf made a publick Jeſt, deſpis’d, ſcorn’d, and pointed-at by every mean Athenian, charg’d with Impiety, accus’d of Crimes to which he was a Stranger, and at length unjuſtly ſentenc’d; yet all this he bore without a Murmur; his Defence was meek, ſedate, unmix’d with ſharp Invectives, yet there was nothing low or whining in it, nothing that look’d like Fear, or an unmanly Love of I4 Life; 120 I4v 120 Life; no, he talk’d of Death as of a Thing he wiſh’d for; and when he might have liv’d, when his Friends had made it eaſy for him to eſcape, he refus’d to owe his Life to what might look like Guilt, and would not break thoſe Chains the Laws had bound him with: When the fatal Cup was given him, he took it with a calm untroubled Look, with ſuch a Look as ſpoke the inward Quiet of his Mind, and drank it with a Soul reſign’d; no Sighs, no Groans, were heard; no indecent Struggles ſeen; all was of a piece, all beautiful, and all inſtructive. His firm Belief of Immortality, of that eternal Joy to which his Soul was haſtning, of that Reward which injur’d Virtue meets with in a Future-ſtate, was his Support, and made his Paſſage eaſy.
Another Inſtance we have in Epictetus that laſt and beſt of all the Stoicks, who, though diſeas’d and lame, and born a Slave, a Slave to an imperious, vicious, humorous Maſter, yet ſtill retain’d his Evenneſs of Temper. When his cruel Lord, to try his Patience, made it his Diverſion to bend his Leg, he calmly bore the Pain, and only told him ſmiling, He would break it; which when the inhuman Beaſt had done, he only meekly ſaid, I told you, you would do it. What a Philoſophick Strength of Mind was here! Methinks I ſee him in his little Houſe, that mean, that deſpicable Cell, that ſomething below a Cottage,tage, 121 I5r 121 tage, that had not ſo much as the weak Defence of a Door, and could boaſt of no other Ornament, but a poor Earthen Lamp, inſtructing his admiring Pupils, and teaching them at once by Precept and Example; they ſaw him ſtill the ſame when bound and free, when a Slave to Epaphroditus, and when the Favourite of Emperors; Poverty was ſtill his Choice, Virtue his only Treaſure, and to do Good his ſole Delight: How does he combate every Vice, contend with every Paſſion! How admirable are thoſe Rules he has preſcrib’d us! As never any knew better how to ſuffer, ſo it muſt be own’d, that never any Philoſopher taught it better: Socrates was the Man he propos’d to himſelf for an Example; and certainly none was ever a more exact Imitator of his Life: He renounc’d all other Pleaſures, but thoſe of the Mind, and preferr’d Tranquility and Indolency of Soul, before all other Poſſeſſions: In order to the attaining of which, he gives his Diſciples very uſeful Leſſons, of which theſe following ones are ſome.
If having conſider’d what things have their Dependance on you, and what have not, you reſolve to look on nothing as yours, but what is truly and really ſo, it will not be in the Power of any Accident to diſturb you, or divert you from what you have propos’d to your ſelf; no body ſhall check or diſappoint you; you ſhall accuſe no body, ſhall complain‘plain 122 I5v 122 plain of nothing, receive no Harm, have no Enemy; for no Man will be able to do you any Prejudice; and certainly a Life ſo totally exempt from all Perturbation, muſt needs be above Anger, Grief, or Fear, abſolutely free, and unexpreſſibly happy.
He farther bids them, in every Action they undertake, conſider firſt with themſelves, and weigh well the Nature and Circumſtances of the Thing; nay, though it be ſo ſlight an one as going to Bathe, he bids them repreſent to themſelves, what Accidents ’tis probable they may meet with; That in a Bath is often rude Behaviour, daſhing of Water, juſtling for Paſſage, ſcurrillous Language and Stealing, and having done this, he ſays, They may the more ſecurely do the thing; and he tells them, after ſuch prudent Preparations as theſe, ſhould any thing that’s diſguſtful intervene, this Reflection will preſently riſe upon it; Well, but this was not the only thing I propos’d; that which I principally intend, is to keep my Mind and my Reaſon undiſturb’d; and this, I’m ſure, can never be effected, if I ſuffer every Accident to diſcompoſe me: He adds, That which gives Men Diſquiet, and makes their Lives miſerable, is not the Nature of the Things as they really are, but the Notions and Opinions which they form to themſelves concerning them; Therefore whenever we meet with Hinderances and Perplexities,ties, 123 I6r 123 ties, or fall into Troubles and Diſorders, let us be juſt, and not lay the Blame where it is not due, but impute it wholly to our ſelves and our prejudicate Opinions.
Next, in order to their keeping themſelves eaſie, he bids them not to trouble themſelves with wiſhing that Things may be juſt as they would have ’em, but be well pleas’d that they ſhould be exactly as they are: Again, on every freſh Accident, he adviſes them to turn their Eyes inward, and examine how they are qualified to encounter it: If Labour and Difficulty come in their Way, they will find a Remedy in Hardineſs and Reſolution; if they lie under the Obloquy of ill Tongues, Patience and Meekneſs are a proper Fence againſt it: And he ſays, If they accuſtom themſelves always to act after this manner, occurrent Objects will have no Prevalence over them.
In the next place, he tells them, They muſt never uſe themſelves to ſay they have loſt any thing, but only reſtor’d it: As for Inſtance, If they loſe their Eſtates, they are not to ſay, They are taken from them, but paid back to the Giver; then he ſuppoſes them to make this Objection, but they were Knaves who defrauded us; to which he replies, What’s that to the purpoſe? Or, how does it concern you by what means, or what Hand, he that gave it, reſumes it to himſelf? Trouble not your ſelves therefore about theſe Matters; but 124 I6v 124 but while he permits the Enjoyment, uſe it as a thing that’s not your own, but another’s, and let your Concern and Affection for it be juſt ſuch as Travellers have for an Inn upon the Road.
If you indeed, ſays he, are willing to improve in Virtue, you muſt never allow your ſelf in ſuch mean Thoughts as theſe; I muſt ſolicitouſly follow the Buſineſs of my Calling, or elſe I and my Family ſhall ſtarve; I muſt take pains with this Son of mine, muſt chide and chaſtiſe him, or he’ll be ruin’d. Theſe are the Miſgivings of an anxious Mind, and unworthy a Philoſopher, whoſe firſt Care ſhould be the Quiet of his own Breaſt. Perhaps ſome will ſay, this has too much of the Stoick in it to be propos’d for an Example; but I think ſuch as diſaprove of it will injure Epictetus, if they ſuppoſe he would not have People follow the Buſineſs of their Calling, or correct their Children; he does not blame the thing, but the manner of doing it; a convenient Proviſion may be made for a Family, and all due Care taken of a Son, and yet the Mind kept quiet and undiſturb’d. In order to the gaining ſuch a calm eaſie Temper, he adviſes us to uſe our ſelves to little Trials; if a Cruſe of Oil be broken, or a Pint of Wine ſtollen, he bids us reflect immediately, that this is the Purchaſe of Conſtancy and a compos’d Mind; and ſince nothing can be had Gratis, he that buys theſe ſo cheap has 125 I7r 125 has a good Bargain: So again, he ſays, When you call your Servant, conſider ’tis poſſible he may not attend; or if he does, he may not obey your Command; however it be, have a care you do not give him ſo great an Advantage over you, as to put it in his Power to ruffle and unſettle your Mind.
Again, that Perſon is properly my Lord and Maſter, who hath it in his Power to gratify my Wiſhes, or make me afraid; to give me what I deſire to have, or to take from me what I’m unwilling to part with: The only way then to preſerve one’s Liberty, is to reſtrain one’s Paſſion, and to have neither Deſire nor Averſion for any thing in the Power of others; for he that does not ſo, is ſure to be a Slave as long as he lives.
Again, let it be your conſtant Care to behave your ſelf in all the Affairs of Humane Life with the ſame Decency that you would at a publick Entertainment; If any thing be offer’d you, receive it with Modeſty; if it paſs by you, and be ſent to another, do not with-hold it from him, or keep what was not intended for you; if it be not yet come down ſo low, ſhow not your ſelf impatient, nor ſnatch at it greedily, but wait contentedly till it comes to your Turn.
Again, remember, that when any Man reviles or ſtrikes you, ’tis not the Tongue that gives you the opprobrious Language, or the Hand that deals the Blow, that injures or affrontsfronts 126 I7v 126 fronts you; but ’tis your own Reſentment of it that makes it ſuch to you; When therefore you are provok’d, ’tis owing entirely to your Apprehenſions of Things; therefore you ought to be very careful that you are not tranſported with Rage; for if you can but ſo far ſubdue your Paſſion, as to get time for cooler Thoughts, you will with Eaſe attain to a good Government of your ſelf.
Again, if you happen to be told, that another Perſon hath ſpoken ill of you, never give your ſelf the Trouble of refuting the Report, or excuſing the thing; but rather put up all with this Reply, That you have ſeveral other Faults; and that if he had known you better, perhaps he would have believ’d he had reaſon to have ſpoken worſe.
If we can chearfully permit each Obſerver to be a Cenſurer of our Actions, can, without the leaſt Emotion, bear Reproof, bear it not only from a Friend, but from an Enemy, can ſatisfie our ſelves with an Appeal to Heaven; and if we have Failures, can be content to have them known, and, full of humble Sorrow, be thankful to ſuch as blame us for ’em, we have got above the World, above the Earth’s magnetick Force, the Whirls of groſſer Matter, and are ſecurely ſettled in that calm, that peaceful Region, where all is bright, ſerene and quiet: Vain-glory then will vaniſh, Ambition be no more, nor will there be room for 127 I8r 127 for Oſtentation left; Anger will be depriv’d of its moſt powerful Aids, its Foundation will be ſtruck at, and when that fails, the Superſtructure ſoon will ſink.
Thus I have epitomiz’d this good Man’s Rules, at leaſt ſuch as concern this Subject. There are others I might recommend for their excellent Precepts on this Topick, as Seneca, Plutarch, and Marcus Aurelius; but I think neither of them equall’d thoſe great Maſters of Morality, Socrates and Epictetus: Their Writings and their Lives had ſomething more agreeable, were more of a Piece; there were no darkening Shadows in their Characters, no Incoherencies or Contradictions, and, if I am not miſtaken, fewer Errors in their Doctrines: As for Seneca, when I read him, I cannot but admire his Flights of Fancy, the Delicacy of his Wit, and the Sharpneſs of his Stile; Satyr ſeems to be his Province, and he, like another Hercules, deſtin’d to encounter Monſters: Who ever reprehended Vice with greater Severity? How much does he blame Avarice, Pride, Ambition, Ingratitude, Cruelty, &c. how pathetically recommend Continency, Temperance, Juſtice, Poverty and every thing that it becomes a good Man to approve of? He carries me away with the Stream of his Eloquence; but when I reflect on the Character that’s given him by ſome Hiſtorians, I’m ſhock’d, I ſtem the Tide, and ſtrive 128 I8v 128 ſtrive to ſwim againſt the Torrent: I am ſtrangely ſtartled to find him revenging himſelf on Claudius, by ridiculing him in the Panegyrick his Royal Pupil ſpoke at his Apotheoſis, amaz’d to ſee ſo ſtrict a Pretender to Virtue, ſuſpected to be a Conſenter to Nero’s Matricide, and a Defender of that horrid Villany, one who too plainly ſhow’d his Approbation, by ſeeking plauſible Reaſons to give it a Colour: To hear him praiſe Poverty, one wou’d have thought he had choſen, with Diogenes, to have liv’d in a Tub, had been a Stranger to the Luxury of Courts, to the Pomps of Life, at leaſt had known them only by Report, and not Experience, and had been ſo great a Deſpiſer of Riches, that he would rather, with Crates, have thrown his Wealth into the Sea, than have been, by his Extortion, the Occaſion of an Inſurrection in Britain: But when I read the Apology Cauſin has made for him, I pleaſe my ſelf with Hopes, that what has been ſaid to his Prejudice is falſe: I conſider, that the Good have been always malign’d, and that Merit has been ever the Object of Envy.
And as for Plutarch, I acknowledge him to have been a great Man; his Lives of illuſtrious Men, is a useful and noble Work: but, in my Opinion, he does not ſeem to have a right Notion of Good and Evil; he praiſes ſeveral Things that are in themſelves blame-worthy, as 129 K1r 129 as ’twill be eaſy for any Perſon to obſerve who reads him attentively, and of which there are numerous Inſtances in his Treatiſe of famous Women, where ſeveral Ladies are applauded for Actions which I ſhould have judg’d to be criminal, and where many things which to me appear Faults, are by him eſteem’d Virtues: When he gives an Account of the Spartan Inſtitutions, how many ſhocking Things are there in them, which he tacitly commends? Now ſuch a Procedure as this may prove of ill Conſequence to an unwary injudicious Reader, who may be apt to be too much ſway’d by ſo great an Authority.
As for the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, he was a Prince who liv’d in the conſtant Practice of all ſorts of Virtues; nothing can be finer than his Writings, nothing more inſtructive; but his leaving ſuch a Succeſſor as Commodus, left an irreparable Blemiſh on his Life, and tarniſh’d a Fame, that would have been otherwiſe eternally glorious: He was not ignorant of the vicious Diſpoſition of his Son; he cou’d not but know that he was unfit for ſo great a Charge: If he had been true to his Principles, he ought to have been led by nothing but Truth, to have own’d no Relation, no Kindred, but what was founded on Virtue; not to have valu’d Commodus the more for being his, but to have look’d on him with the ſame Indifference that K he 130 K1v 130 he would have done on a Stranger; and, without having the leaſt regard to the Character of a Son, look’d with an impartial Eye on the Qualities of his Mind, the natural Propenſities of his Soul; and if, after all the Care he had taken of his Education, he had diſcover’d in him an Inclination to Evil, he ought, in ſpight of all the Reluctancies of Nature, the importuning Tenderneſſes of a Father, to have diſinherited him, and adopted a worthier Man, one of a conſummate Virtue, one in whom he had reaſon to believe the Roman People would be happy: This it became a Philoſopher to have done, as ’tis what all others, in parallel Caſes, ought to do. And I think I may boldly venture to affirm, that nothing would more effectually tend to the Reformation of Manners: Men would then find it their Intereſt to be good, at leaſt to appear ſo; and though it might have no inward Force, might not affect the Heart, yet it would influence the Practice, and prove more prevalent than either Sermons or Laws.
There are in Hiſtory ſeveral other ſhining Examples of Patience and Moderation, of Calmneſs and Evenneſs of Temper: Who can enough commend Lycurgus, for not only pardoning Alcander when he was given up to him by the People, and he had it in his Power fully to revenge himſelf for the Loſs of his Eye, by taking away his Life, but making it his 131 K2r 131 his Buſineſs to cultivate and meliorate his ſavage cholerick Temper, to make him hate thoſe Vices he had formerly indulg’d, and of a wild, debauch’d Youngman, to render him one of the ſobereſt and moſt prudent Citizens of Sparta.
Auguſtus was a greatMaſter of his Paſſion, of which he gave a memorable Inſtance in his pardoning Cinna, who was engag’d in a Conſpiracy againſt him; as the Action was noble, ſo his manner of doing it had ſomething in it peculiarly brave; for after he had convinc’d him that he knew the whole Plot, together with the Certainty he had of his being in it, he reminded him of his Obligation to him, bid him remember, that when he found him in Arms againſt him, he gave him both his Life and Fortune, and then told him, notwithſtanding his Ingratitude, he freely forgave him; adding, that the Life he once beſtow’d on him as an Enemy, he would now give him as a Traitor and a Parricide, and then generouſly promis’d him this ſhould be the laſt Reproach he would ever give him, and that for the future there ſhould be no other Conteſt between them, but which ſhould exceed the other in point of Friendſhip; and to aſſure him of his Sincerity, he made him Conſul: This gentle, kind, and generous Uſage, made him, of an inveterate Foe, become a faithful and an affectionate Friend.K2 ’Twere 132 K2v 132
’Twere eaſy to give many more Inſtances of this kind; Hiſtories are full of them; and ſome may be found in our own Annals, as well as in thoſe of foreign Kingdoms: We can boaſt of a Royal Martyr, who calmly bore ten thouſand Indignities, who without repining, endur’d a long Impriſonment, ſaw himſelf treated by ſome of his inſolent Subjects, as if he had been one of the meaneſt of his People, or the vileſt of Malefactors, heard himſelf reproach’d and wrongfully accus’d, and at laſt ſentenc’d to Die by thoſe to whom he ſtood doubly Related, both as a Father and a Soveraign; and yet all this he ſaw, and heard, without Emotion, was ſtill Maſter of his Temper, ſtill meek, patient, and forgiving; no paſſionate Expreſſions, no opprobrious Language, once eſcap’d him; he loſt his Crown and Life without a Murmur, dy’d the ſame he liv’d, the ſame ſubmiſſive, gentle, mild, Religious Prince.
And now, as if the Doctrine of a Metemphychoſis were true, we ſeem to ſee him animate another Body, to live once more in one of his immortal Line, in that unequal’d Queen who fills his Throne, and is the Glory of her Sex, the Joy of all her Subjects, all they could wiſh to make them happy: She inherits every ſhining Quality that was admir’d in him; like him, ſhe had Misfortunes to conteſt with, was made the common Theme, the Sport 133 K3r 133 Sport of envious Tongues, was blacken’d by invenom’d curſt Detractors, by vicious Wretches, who, like the Birds of Night, cou’d not endure the Luſtre of her Virtue; but ſhe, like ſome firm Rock, bore all the daſhing Surges, they roar’d in vain, in vain they broke themſelves againſt her; ſhe undaunted ſaw each riſing Billow, and ſtood collected in her Self, ſafe in her Innocence, and kept unmov’d by the innate Greatneſs of her Mind: Her Enemies ſhe pitied, but knew not how to hate; that was a Paſſion foreign to her Soul; not one revengeful, diſcontented, one uncharitable Thought, was ever harbour’d there: And when from her Retirement, from her obſcure and humble State, Heav’n call’d her to a Throne, ſhe unalter’d mounted to the height of Power; was ſtill the ſame; obliging, humble, merciful, and ready to forgive; ſo far from reflecting on the Indignities ſhe had ſuffer’d that, like a kind indulgent Parent, that looks with a commiſerating Eye upon the Follies of his Children, ſhe freely pardons every paſt Offence, and, like that infinite Goodneſs whoſe Repreſentative ſhe is, to all extends her Kindneſs, and with a Maternal Tenderneſs, an endearing Sweetneſs, careſſes all her Subjects, and takes them into her Protection: For them are all her Cares, her Toils, while they enjoy their Rights, and Plenty pours her Bleſſings on them: ’Tis her whole Study to keep them K3 ſafe, 134 K3v 134 ſafe, and make ’em happy, and to defend them from thoſe affrighting Ills which ravage all the neighbouring Nations: They ſee no bloody Fields, nor hear the murdering Cannons roar, a ſacred Quiet fills her happy Land.
Our Days are crown’d with ſoft Delights,
With undiſturb’d Repoſe our Nights:
The Golden Age revives again,
Bears Date from her auſpicious Reign:
The Wicked from her Court are fled,
And drooping Truth erects her Head:
See! See! ſhe riſes dazling bright!
The Clouds are fled that hid her Light!
Lo! Juſtice does with Pomp deſcend,
On her each Virtue does attend;
From her, their Rays themſelves diſperse,
And all the wide Circumference bleſs:
With Joy Religion now appears,
And void of Doubts and void of Fears,
Does all her native Charms diſplay,
Is pure as Light, and bright as Day:
Such as ſhe was, when firſt ſhe roſe,
When firſt ſhe did her Beams diſcloſe;
When Conſcience was ſupreme within,
And happy Man was free from Sin:
When Goodneſs for it ſelf was lov’d,
And none by ſervile Fear were mov’d:
When Nature govern’d void of Art,
And Love was regnant in each Heart:When 135 K4r 135
When Merit was eſteem’d alone,
And ſpightful Cenſures were unknown:
Thoſe Times ſhe will again reſtore,
And add new Joys unknown before:
She comes! ſhe comes! ordain’d by Fate,
Both to Reform and Shield her State!
Like favour’d Iſrael’s Guardian Light,
She leads us through the Shades of Night:
In vain Egyptian Foes purſue;
She fearleſs does the Troublers view;
Their Chariots move but ſlowly on,
Their Wheels are off, their Strength is gone:
Surrounding Waves their Fury ſhow,
And they no Place of Safety know:
Aurora does with Pomp ariſe,
Returning Day adorns the Skies:
When it has reach’d Meridian Height,
We from the Shore ſhall pleaſe our Sight
With the fam’d Trophies of the Fair,
And ſay, theſe who our Terror were,
By whom we’ve been ſo long oppreſt,
Depriv’d of Peace, depriv’d of Reſt,
Who did for our Deſtruction wait,
Are made themſelves the Prey of Fate.
But the greateſt, the moſt amazing Inſtance is yet behind, the Original which ſhe has copy’d, and of which her Life has been a beautiful Tranſcript; I mean our kind compaſſionate Redeemer, who as far ſurpaſſes the moſt celebrated Patterns of Antiquity, as K4 the 136 K4v 136 the Sun in his Noon-day Glory does the little Glow-worms, that adorn the Night; who, when in the higheſt Exaltation, when encompaſs’d by adoring Angels, when ſitting at the Right-hand of the Paternal Glory, and rais’d by his Union with the Deity to a Station inconceivably ſublime, infinitely above the brighteſt Intelligences, the firſt and nobleſt Orders of created Beings, left thoſe glorious Regions, thoſe bliſsful Seats of pure unclouded Light, where Peace, and Joy, and Harmony Divine for ever dwell, and in a mean Diſguiſe, a deſpicable Form, a mortal Shape, came humbly down, by wondrous Pity led, to ſave a ſinking World, a World which knew not how to prize ſo vaſt a Favour, which barbarouſly abus’d its Benefactor, return’d Neglect and Scorn for boundleſs Love, with Obloquies repay’d his Kindneſs, and made him ſuffer all the Indignities that Malice could invent, or Rage inflict. Though all was his, the whole Creation the Product of his Word, the Efflux of his All-commanding Fiat, yet he was poorer than the meaneſt of his Vaſſals, had nothing he wou’d call his own; no, not ſo much as Birds or Beaſts poſſeſs: Poverty he made his Choice, Humility and Meekneſs the conſtant Practice of his Life: Yes, He, in whom was every Virtue, every Excellence, all Perfections in the Abſtract, was pleas’d to make theſe his darling Attributes, and they are thoſe he chiefly 137 K5r 137 chiefly recommends to us, as being highly uſeful, indiſpenſably neceſſary for Creatures plac’d in a dependent State, a State of Trial, becoming Creatures which at firſt were rais’d from nothing, and are every Moment tending to the Grave.
O let us heedfully obſerve each Step he made, and keep exactly in the unerring Track. Teach me, O my Saviour, to be lowly, as thou wert; when tow’ring Thoughts ariſe, and ſwell my Soul, remind me of the humbling Wonders of thy Life: O let me view Thee in each condeſcending Act, in each debaſing Circumſtance, attend thee from the Stable to the Priſon, from the Manger to the Croſs, ſee thee reproach’d, revil’d, and ſpit upon; ſcourg’d, crown’d with Thorns, and crucify’d between two Malefactors; and, to compleat thy Sufferings, rail’d on and mock’d by the inſulting Croud, mock’d in thy greateſt, thy moſt poinant Agonies, the laſt and ſharpeſt Pangs of Death; yet ſtill replete with Patience, meek, and full of Love, ſtill offering up thy Self a willing Sacrifice for baſe ungrateful Men, for Enemies, for thoſe who triumph’d in thy Shame, and look’d with Pleaſure on thy Pain. From this ſtupendous Sight! this Miracle of Kindneſs! this unequall’d Inſtance of Forgivenneſs, Mildneſs, and endearing Goodneſs! O let me inward turn my Eyes, and view my ſelf, inſpect the ſecret 138 K5v 138 ſecret Movements of my Soul, the hidden Springs of Thought, and ſee, concern’d, each Deviation, how much I vary from thy Precepts, how far I am from following thy Example.
Alas! ſmall Diſappointments ſhock me, Reproaches damp my Spirits, or ſtir up angry Thoughts; Fame is what I’m too fond of; the ſecret Plaudits of my Conſcience, the Pleaſures of a Mind averſe to Vice, and paſſionately loving Virtue, are not enough to yield me an untroubled Satisfaction; I would by all be thought to be what really I am; but this I fear, my Saviour, is the Effect of Pride. O let me be contented with thy Approbation, delighted with the internal Euge’s of thy Spirit, and wholly unconcern’d for popular Applauſes, the injudicious Praiſes of the Multitude.
Give me, I humbly pray thee, that Poverty of Soul, to which thou haſt annex’d a Bleſſing, a State of Mind remote from Avarice, from eagerly deſiring ſuch things as moſt believe to be conſtituent parts of Bliſs: Whatever I poſſeſs, let me eſteem it but as ’tis thy Gift, value it no more than it deſerves, enjoy it without a childiſh Fondneſs, and be ever ready to part with it without Reluctance, without an unbecoming Murmur; let me be ſtill the ſame, contented with my Lot, ſedate and calm in every Circumſtance of Life; let not my ſmall Attainments, thoſe things which 139 K6r 139 which Vanity is but too apt to magnifie, ſtir up indecent Thoughts, make me greedy of Reſpect, and angry when I’m diſappointed. Alas! that little which I know, I owe to thee; my ſelf, and all I am, are thine; I’m wholly owing to thy Goodneſs, and kept in Being by thy Power; What then have I to boaſt of? to be acquainted with thy Excellencies ſhall be my Study, and to conform my Will to thine the Buſineſs of my Life: Like thee, I’ll ſtrive to bear Indignities and Wrongs, to bear them meekly, to ſupport them with a chearful, free, untroubled Look, to be unmov’d at Calumnies, diſpaſſionate and mild, when treated ill; ſo far from Anger and Revenge, as not to countenance one unkind recriminating Thought: Like thee, I’ll labour to do good, to be compaſſionate and pitiful to all; Cruelty ſhall have no Harbour in my Breaſt; Tenderneſs is connatural to my Soul, it I’ll extend unto my greateſt Enemies; for them I’ll pray, and, if ’tis in my Power, will freely ſerve: None will I purpoſely offend or grieve, no not the pooreſt, meaneſt of Mankind, for them, as well as me, thy Blood was ſhed; Riches and Honours make no eſſential Difference, our Bodies are the ſame, our Souls are equal, and in the future State the virtuous Beggar ſhall be poſſeſs’d of Glories greater far than all the Monarchs of the Earth do now enjoy: Nor ſhall my Mercy be confin’dfin’d 140 K6v 140 fin’d unto the Humane Race, but be extended to the brutal Kind; they ſure are more than Machines, are ſenſible of Pain, and I cannot, without a ſort of Horrour, without ſome Sentiments of Pity, ſee them tortur’d; they are part of thy Creation, and may claim the Good adapted to their Nature, and ought not to be treated cruelly to gratify a ſavage Inclination, or divert a ſanguinary Temper; I could with Pleaſure let them live, and ſatisfy my ſelf with Roots and Herbs, and Fruits, the cheap and wholſome Viands Nature does provide, thoſe, with the milky Treaſure of the Flocks and Herds, would yield me a delicious Feaſt, and more regale my Taſte, than all the ſtudy’d Luxury of Courts.
O let me aim at nothing but doing Good, at imitating, as far as a frail Creature can, thy great Example; give me a comprehenſive Charity, an univerſal Love, a peaceful, quiet, and well-order’d Mind, a Soul not fetter’d with mean, narrow Principles, not tainted with corroding Envy, but gentle, placid, eaſie to forgive, inclin’d to think the beſt, and ever ready to pay a chearful Deference to ſuperior Worth, never more pleas’d than when I can oblige, deſirous where’er I come to encreaſe thoſe mutual Kindneſſes, which are the Bands that knit Mankind, thoſe ſacred Ties which ſhould endear us to each other; and when by theſe previous Diſpoſitions, theſe faint Reſemblances of 141 K7r 141 of thy Perfections, I’m fitted for a happier Life, O take me to thy ſelf, and in that State where nothing is diſturbing, where Anger is unknown, and black Detraction dares not enter, where all paſt Troubles are forgot, are ſwallow’d up in Joy and endleſs Bliſs, let me for ever, ever dwell, and ſing thy Praiſe.
Then I no more ſhall grieve, no more complain,
No more th’ Attacks of angry Tongues ſuſtain:
But with the Wiſe, the Good, Sincere, and Kind,
Shall undiſturb’d enjoy the Pleaſures of the Mind.
’Tis a great, but melancholy Truth, that as this Age encreaſes in Politeneſs, in Fineneſſes of Learning, in Niceties of good Breeding, and in the Punctilio’s of an exact Civility; ſo it proportionbly decreaſes in Juſtice, Sincerity, that affectionate Concern it becomes us to have for each other; and in all thoſe commendable Qualities, thoſe antiquated Virtues, which were the Ornaments of earlier Times. Alas! there are not ſo much as the Footſteps left of that noble Simplicity, native Plainneſs, unartificial Kindneſs, and uncorrupted Integrity, which appear’d in the Infant World, and from thence, as from a pure uncorrupted Fountain, ran for ſome Ages unmix’d with foreign Streams, till an overflowing Deluge of Vice broke down the Banks, and by pouring in its muddy and polluted Waters, robb’d them of their natural Purity. We may trace them in the firſt Hiſtories, ſee them meliorating the Egyptian Soil, affording rich Production in the ancient Perſia, diffuſing themſelves thro’ Greece, and plentifully watering the Roman Commonwealth, till, like the Rivers 143 K8r 143 Rivers of Paradiſe, they were loſt in the Abyſs, and, after the fatal Inundation, remain’d undiſtinguiſh’d from the great Maſs of Liquids, from whence, I fear, nothing leſs than the general Conflagration, the laſt refining Fire, will be able to extract them: We ſee nothing amongſt us but the very Dregs, the nauſeous Sediment of that univerſal Corruption; there’s hardly any thing left that looks like the Work of God, that has the Impreſs of Divine Goodneſs, the Stamp of infinite Juſtice, or any Participation of the Eternal Truth. The generality of Men ſeem to have Treachery interwoven with their Nature, ſomething that’s Diabolical in their Temper: Malice, Pride, Envy, and Uncharitableneſs ſeem to make up the Compoſition of Humanity; they fill their Thoughts, influence their Actions, and diſcover themſelves in their Diſcourſes.
Should any of the Natives of the ſuperior Regions look through our thick Atmoſphere, and take a Survey of Humane Affairs, would they not think this Globe to be rather a Den of inſociable Monſters, than a well regulated World, inhabited by rational Creatures? Wou’d they not be amaz’d to ſee Perſons courting thoſe, whoſe Ruin they are meditating; entertaining thoſe with all the indearing Expreſſions of an engaging Tenderneſs, to whom they are at the ſame time, privately reſolving to do all the ill Offices imaginable, and beſtowing the 144 K8v 144 the higheſt Encomium’s, the moſt luſcious Praiſes, the moſt dawbing nauſeous Flatteries on ſuch as they deſpiſe, not only ſcorn, but hate? ’Twould make them wonder, or rather ſmile, to ſee ’em with a reſpectful Air, a humble Mien, an obliging inviting Aſpect, fawn on the preſent, and even tire them with their Careſſes, and as ſoon as abſent, ſay a thouſand ſcandalous Things of them, and prove buſier than Fame, with all her Tongues, and Eyes, and Ears: If any has a ſhining Character, is remarkably eminent, either for Wit, Virtue, or Learning, ſuch an one is a Butt, againſt which they ſhoot all their Arrows; his Virtues are repreſented as counterfeit, his Wit as borrow’d, and his Learning as Pedantry: Envy comes into their Aſſiſtance, and brings the Furies with her, who, glad of the Employment, convey their favourite Vipers, the dreadful reſtleſs Miſchiefs, into each invenom’d Breaſt; then, poſſeſs’d with helliſh Fury, fraught with more than an infernal Rage, like greedy Bloodhounds, they inceſſantly purſue the Good, and ſtrive to extinguiſh Merit: Virtue is their Averſion, they hate it as the Birds of Night do Day; and ſince by Vice weigh’d down, they cannot riſe to others Excellencies, they ſtrive to ſink them to their own mean deſpicable Level, and by invidious Falſhoods, ſly Inſinuations, cloſely-manag’d Whiſpers, all the ſubtle Arts of dexterous Malice, hope to raiſe darken- 145 L1r 145 darkening Miſts, and cloud their Luſtre, and would if it were feaſable, draw an Egyptian Veil, a thick impenetrable Night, over their dazling Fames.
’Tis ſtrange that they ſhould hate what calls for Love, be made Enemies by that which ſhould excite Reſpect, and kindle Admiration: Methinks, that Pride, to which they owe their baſe detracting Temper, ſhould ſpur them on to generous Emulation; inſtead of railing on them, they ſhou’d endeavour to outvy them, to exceed them in every praiſe-worthy Quality, in every intellectual Grace: This would be a commendable Ambition, a noble glorious Pride; but, alas! they are too lazy to attempt it: To calumniate ſtrongly they think the eaſier Way, and if it does not make them equal, (which is what they aim at) at leaſt it gratifies their Envy. But, as malicious as they are, they dare not tell them, that they hate them; Virtue commands an outward Veneration, extorts an awful Reverence; this makes them flatter, and promiſe everlaſting Friendſhip to thoſe whom they deteſt, cringe to thoſe that they would trample on, and hug the Men that they would ſtab. Thus the Vicious have not only Pride and Folly in their Compoſition, but alſo Sloth and Cowardize: They are a Medly of all that’s ill, of all that’s deteſtable in the whole Creation; and ’tis no wonder they abhor the Good, ſince L they 146 L1v 146 they are ſo diametrically oppoſite; Light and Darkneſs might as well ſubſiſt together.
With as much Eaſe may Fire and Ice combine,
Together in one Subject meet;
As well may Heat condenſe, and Cold refine;
Things be at once both ſoure and ſweet;
As well may Cinthia’s Beams adorn the Day,
Or Phœbus gild the dusky Night,
Weak Babes with hungry Lions play,
Or Lambs in ravenous Wolves delight.
Tho’ I have a great many Follies to bluſh at, numerous Faults to correct, yet I can, with a ſafe Conſcience, ſay, Envy is none of the Number: I can, with a great deal of Pleaſure and Satisfaction, behold ſuperior Merit, and give it the Applauſe it deſerves: I abhor Detraction in others, and will never practiſe it my ſelf. That Golden-Rule, of doing to others, as I would have others do to me, is ever preſent to my Thoughts, and I reſolve to make it the governing Principle of my Life. If our Enemies abuſe us, if they ſtrive to ſully our Reputation, we ought to endeavour to do our ſelves right, by repreſenting Matters as they really are, by ſhewing them in a true Light; but this muſt be done calmly, without an anxious Concern, an indecent Solicitude, without retaliating the Injury,jury 147 L2r 147 jury, returning Calumny for Calumny, or giving ourſelves the liberty of uſing abuſive Language, ſuch mean, baſe, ungenerous Revenges being things we ought to abominate; nothing of that kind being on any account allowable.
We are commanded to forgive the greateſt, the moſt provoking Offences, and to do good to our moſt implacable Enemies; but were it not a Duty, yet methinks it ſhould be agreeable to our Inclinations, to thoſe natural Propenſities we find in our ſelves to Kindneſs: Methinks our Souls ſhould ſhrink at any thing that looks but like Inhumanity: There is a ſecret Pleaſure in doing friendly Offices; we gratify our ſelves in it, and cannot, without delight, look back on all Inſtances of that nature. If at any time, through Inadvertency, we have reported any thing to the Prejudice or Diſreputation of others, we ought to reflect on it with Trouble, and endeavour to make them all imaginable Reparation; and this, not only if we were the firſt Reporters, but if we receiv’d it from others, and were only their Eccho’s; and we ſhould have juſt Cauſe to think our ſelves chargeable both with Injuſtice and Puſillanimity, if we ſhould hear any ſlander’d in our Preſence, without taking their part, and endeavouring to clear their Innocency; and this it becomes us to do, without conſidering whether they are our Friends or L2 our 148 L2v 148 our Enemies, our Kindred or Strangers, it being a Debt we owe to the whole Rational Nature.
’Tis upon the ſame Account I think it highly criminal, or, to give it the ſofteſt Epithet it will bear, very blame-worthy, to ſpeak Ill of the Dead: For Heaven’s ſake let ’em lie quiet in their ſacred Repoſitory; the Grave is an Aſylum none ought to violate; let their Aſhes remain undiſturb’d. There is not a Poſſibility of their vindicating themſelves, and therefore it is unjuſt, as well as cowardly and baſe, to accuſe them: Were it done with a good Deſign, as ’twas among the ancient Egyptians, ’twere not faulty: There, as ſoon as any Perſon was dead, he was brought into publick Judgment; the publick Accuſer was heard, and if he prov’d that his Conduct had been ill, his Memory was condemn’d, and he was depriv’d of Sepulture; this was of admirable Uſe, becauſe it made the People have a Veneration for their Laws, and kept them in perpetual Awe, by letting them ſee that they were capable of reaching them even after Death; and they being a ſerious, conſidering People, had a great Concern for their Reputation, and dreaded nothing more, than the Thoughts of intailing Infamy on their Memories and Families: But if the Deceas’d was not convicted of any Crime, he was then allow’d an honourable Interrment, and they joyfully gave 149 L3r 149 gave him the Praiſes due to his Merit: This Way to them appear’d highly equitable; and it could not but pleaſe the Virtuous, to be aſſur’d that their Names would be tranſmitted with Honour to Poſterity: By this Means the Vicious were aw’d, and the Good ſecur’d from having their Actions miſrepreſented; their Fame continu’d bright, there being none that durſt attempt to obſcure it. But among us they find no Reſpect; with a ſavage Barbarity we pull them out of their ſilent Sanctuary, tear them in pieces, and make them ſuffer a ſort of ſecond Death.
Next to this, nothing can be more inhuman, than to Rail at the Abſent, nothing more ungenerous, ungenteel, and indeed more imprudent: The ſpeaking the Truth to the Diſadvantage of others, can (I think) never be excus’d but in one ſingle Inſtance; and that is, when ’tis done in order to the preventing any of our Acquaintance from confiding in ’em by reaſon of their being Strangers to their Tempers, their Inclinations, and the particular Deſigns they may be carrying on; for it would be very cruel, as well as highly unjuſt, to permit an innocent Perſon to be impos’d on by the Perſwaſions and Inſinuations of another to their prejudice; but this ought to be done in private, and with due Reſpect to their Weakneſs, that is, Care ought to be taken, that it be not divulg’d to their Diſgrace: but in moſt L3 ’tis, 150 L3v 150 ’tis, I fear, either the Effect of Envy, of Malice, or of Folly, a childiſh inconſiderate Talkativeneſs, an Emptineſs of Mind, Barrenneſs of Invention, and a not knowing how elſe to entertain Perſons as ignorant, as ill-natur’d, and as impertinent as themſelves.
After they have talk’d of their Cloaths, of the Affairs of their Kitchen, of the Faults of their Servants, and all their other Domeſtick Trifles, what can the poor dull Creatures ſay next, if they are not permitted to abuſe and ridicule their Neighbours, to make Reflexions on their Conduct, to enquire into their Concerns, the minuteſt Circumſtances of their Families? And provided it keeps up the languiſhing Converſation, ’tis no matter whether what they hear, or what they report, be true or falſe; the one pleaſes ’em as well as the other, or rather, the laſt is more agreeable to their Taſte. O how will they hug a calumniating Story! How dear to them are the Spreaders of Reproaches! After the firſt Compliments are over, they muſt ſacrifice ſomebody’s Reputation to the Lady they viſit, or ſhe will think her Entertainment loſt, her Tea caſt away.
Nor are the Men wholly excuſable; tho’ I muſt own we ought to bear the greateſt part of the Blame, and that they do not wrong us in fixing an Odium on us on this account; yet they are not altogether guiltleſs: Such amongmong 151 L4r 151 mong ’em as are Studious, who divide their Time between Books and Contemplation, cannot find Leiſure for any thing ſo idle, ſo mean, ſo much below the Dignity of their Nature; their Thoughts are employ’d on ſublimer Subjects, and they cannot, without pain, ſtoop to any thing that’s trifling, much leſs to any thing that’s contradictory to their Reaſon, to the immutable Laws of Truth, and thoſe Rules which every intelligent Being preſcribes to it ſelf: But for others, either thoſe who devote themſelves to the Pleaſures and Gayeties of the Town, who know no Happineſs beſides that of Dreſſing, of Sweating beneath a Load of Hair, of Lolling in a fine gilt Coach, eating at a French Ordinary, taking ſome Turns in the Park, and concluding the Farce in a Tavern; or their Antipodes, the plain, frugal, Country Gentlemen, who are too wiſe to value themſelves upon fine Cloaths, nice Breeding, exact Senſe, and polite Language; they take a better, a more diſcreet Method, they leave their ancient venerable Houſes, their long worm-eaten Pedigrees, their Demeans, and their Mannors, together with their noble Coats of Arms, to ſpeak for them, and while they are doing them Right, they ſtrut about among their cringing Tenants, inſult over their trembling Servants, hector their Wives, and pay Viſits to their Sheep and Oxen, or make a Noiſe with their Dogs, and are as L4 much 152 L4v 152 much pleas’d with running down a timerous Hare, as the General of an Army would be with winning a Battle; and as proud of bringing back the poor vanquiſh’d Creature, as Emilius was of leading Perſeus in Triumph: They love their Money too well, are too fond of their Mammon, to throw it away in Ragou’s, in hard-nam’d Diſhes; they are for the old Engliſh way of living, for eating ſuch Meat as will prevent their Spirits from being too volatile, their Imaginations too ſprightly, and their Apprehenſions too quick; they prudently conſider, that the momentous Buſineſs of the Country requires Solidity, that the adminiſtring Juſtice among their noiſy litigious Neighbours, makes it neceſſary for them to have the Wiſdom of Solomon, and the Patience of Job, and they know not where to find either of them, unleſs it be in a Bottle; to that they have Recourſe, with that they ſolace themſelves; and ’tis in thoſe dear Hours which they conſecrate to Bacchus, that they give themſelves the liberty to be witty at the Expence of their Neighbours; then it is they play with Reputations as well as Words, and ſpare neither our Sex, nor their own; but they are the leſs culpable of the Two, becauſe what they ſay is more to divert themſelves, than deſign’d to vent either their Vanity or their Malice, and is rather owing to the Liquor than the Men; whereas the Firſt have 153 L5r 153 have nothing elſe in their view: ’Tis to gratify their Pride, their Spight, their Ill-humour, that they make a Jeſt of all Mankind: They look upon themſelves as the fineſt, the wittieſt, the beautiful’ſt, the moſt accompliſh’d Part of the Creation, and are ſo vain as to fancy, that every one that ſees ’em cannot avoid having the ſame Opinion of them that they have of themſelves; they are their own Idols, and pay Adoration to nothing but themſelves: From ſuch, Juſtice is not to be expected, neither are their Cenſures to be much deprecated.
But theſe are Practices which are not conſiſtent with the Order of Things, and which we muſt by no means allow ourſelves in; the Dead ought to be ſafe where we are, and ſo ſhould the Abſent, whom we are never to make the Subject of our Diverſion: To ridicule them for perſonal Defects, is highly barbarous as well as profane; ’tis not only an abuſing them, but a reflecting on their Maker, who being Almighty as well as Omniſcient, not only ſees, but is able to revenge the Affront: If they are accidental Imperfections, ill Habits, contracted Indecencies, or Failures in the ceremonious Parts of good Breeding, it becomes us not only to pity them, but to conſider, that we may ſometimes do Things as abſurd, Things that as much deſerve to be laugh’d at; beſides, we ought to remember, that 154 L5v 154 that our Ridiculing them intimates that we weakly think them neceſſary, when indeed they are ſo intirely accidental, that they have been reckon’d good Breeding, not only in our Climate, but in other Parts of the World; and the variable Humour of Mankind may in a ſhort time make them ſo again. What is thought to be a Civility in one Country, is accounted a Rudeneſs in another: Cuſtom beſtows a Beauty, a Decorum, on outward Forms, and renders that graceful and becoming in one Place, which is ungenteel and ſhocking in another: ’Tis our Ignorance, and the Narrowneſs of our Minds, makes us apt to be diſguſted at whatever appears ſtrange or unuſual to us.
If any of our Acquaintance have real Faults, we ought in the ſofteſt Language, and the moſt engaging Manner imaginable, to tell them of ’em, and be ſure ſo to manage the Matter, that they may be convinc’d, that what we ſay is the Effect of Kindneſs, of the Affection we have for them; and at the ſame time we make known our Diſlike, let us earneſtly beg them to do us the ſame Favour; for there are none but want Advice, as much as any of thoſe to whom they preſume to give it. If they are Strangers to us, ’tis fit for us to be ſilent, and not ſeem to take notice of what we cannot mend; but we muſt always carefully avoid joining with others in expoſing them, and 155 L6r 155 and never, out of a Vanity of Talking, mention what we have heard to their Diſgrace, nor let it make an Impreſſion on our Minds to their Prejudice; for ’tis highly unjuſt to believe the ill Things we hear of others, till we are well aſſur’d of their being true, till we have undeniable Proofs of it from their own Mouths, or by ocular Demonſtration.
All theſe Things we ought religiouſly and conſtantly to obſerve, without having an Eye either to Applauſe, or private Intereſt; no, they are Things below our Regard, Things too inconſiderable to be made the Motives of our Actions: We ſhould never ſay we love but where we really do ſo; never ſhew Reſpect, but where we think ’tis due; never commend, but where we ſuppoſe they merit it; in a word, our Hearts ſhould ſtill join with our Tongues, and always dictate to ’em, our Faces declare our Thoughts, and every Action prove the Voice of Truth.
How admirably well were theſe Rules practis’d in Sparta! She was never happier, than when there was an Equality among her Citizens, than when Luxury and all effeminate Pleaſures were baniſh’d, when all were oblig’d to live frugally, to eat publickly, to practiſe an univerſal Temperance; they had no Temptation to do or ſay ill Things, nothing to covet, none to envy: Riches, if they had had ’em, would have been of no Uſe, where there was nothing 156 L6v 156 nothing to purchaſe, no Reputation to gain by them, and where all were upon a Level, the Noblemen no wealthier than the meaneſt of the People, the Kings than the moſt inconſiderable of the Citizens; where all were imbark’d in one common Intereſt, all intent on the ſame Deſign, concern’d for nothing but the Honour and Safety of their Country, and their mutual Improvement in Virtue; there could be no room left for Hatred, Malice, Envy, Pride, Ambition, Injuſtice, or any other Vice; no, the wiſe Lycurgus in extirpating Riches, and introducing a happy Equality among his Lacedæmonians, gave them at once all the Virtues: There Love might have been ſeen triumphant; Love, pure, diſintereſs’d, and conſtant; all were Friends, all were for bettering each other, for making one another not only wiſer, but more virtuous, for advancing each other’s Fame, and ſo far from repining at the growing Reputation of their Neighbours, that they were pleas’d with it, and generouſly ſtrove to encreaſe it; and ſo far were they from being angry when others were preferr’d before them, that they rejoyc’d at it; of which we have a memorable Inſtance in Pædaretus, who not being admitted into the Liſt of the Three Hundred, who were choſen to make good the Paſs at Thermopyle in Theſſaly, againſt Xerxes, return’d home full of Joy and Satisfaction, telling his Fellow-Citizens,zens, 157 L7r 157 zens, That he was very glad to find, that there were in Sparta Three Hundred better Men than himſelf. The Saying of Argilconide was as remarkably brave, who asking ſome Strangers who came from Amphipolis, If her Son Braſidas dy’d as it became a Spartan? They gave him the Praiſes due to his Merit; and, to make her the greater Complement, added, That he kadhad not left his Equal in Lacedæmon; She, inſtead of being pleas’d with ſo high an Encomium, interrupted them, and, willing to do Juſtice to her Country-men, told them, That indeed Braſidas was a valiant Man but there were in Sparta many more valiant than he. Where there was ſo much Kindneſs, ſo true, ſo affectionate a Concern for each other, where they would as ſoon wrong themſelves, as their Friends, as ſoon be falſe to their own Souls, as to thoſe to whom they’d promis’d to be faithful, there could be no ſuch thing as Detraction, as ridiculing the Abſent, and endeavouring to leſſen them in the Opinion of others. The Men at their publick Tables both taught and practis’d the Art of Converſation: There was to be learn’d the way of being witty, without reflecting; of being facetious, without injuring Reputations, and of taking a Jeſt, with the ſame Innocence and Temper with which it was given: And they were alſo inſtructed in that prudential neceſſaryſary 158 L7v 158 ſary Leſſon, of not divulging what was talk’d of there; by this means they were accuſtom’d to Secrecy; a childiſh Inquiſitiveneſs was diſcourag’d, and their Diſcourſes kept from being miſrepreſented: The old Men put the Young in Mind of their Duty, and were as much concern’d for them, and as careful of their Education, as if they had been their Fathers, or Tutors: Each had his Lover, who was an Obſerver of his Actions, a faithful Monitor, an Encourager of him in Virtue and every laudable Quality, and an equal Sharer with him in his Honours and Diſgraces, his Rewards and Puniſhments: The Women took the ſame Care of thoſe of their own Sex, and made it their Buſineſs to make the young Beauties, for whom they had a Kindneſs, as good, as ingenious, and as judicious as they were capable of being: And if ſeveral happen’d to love the ſame Perſon, ſo far was it from creating any Reſervedneſs or Jealouſie among them, that it rather ſtrengthen’d their Friendſhip, and made them uſe their utmoſt Endeavours to render the happy Favourite Poſſeſſor of all imaginable Perfections.
How unexpreſſibly great would be our Felicity, did we follow their Example! there would then be no Animoſities, no Slanderings, no ill Offices render’d to thoſe with whom we 159 L8r 159 we converſe; a pure and chaſte Paſſion would be predominant in every Breaſt, a Heavenly Flame warm every Mind, and a diffuſive Charity impregnate every Soul; we ſhould then be ever ready to think the beſt, to put the moſt candid Interpretation on Actions, ſhould be always kind, always juſt, ever ready to pay a Deference to Merit, and conſtantly, induſtriouſly careful either to hide, or at leaſt extenuate the Faults of thoſe with whom we converſe.
Would I could exactly practiſe thoſe Rules I preſume to preſcribe to others, and be my ſelf an Example of thoſe Precepts I would inculcate: If my Heart deceives me not, ’tis what I earneſtly deſire; and though, through the Frailties incident to Humanity, and the want of keeping a ſtrict Guard over my Paſſions, I may ſometimes do thoſe things I blame, may be too eaſily provok’d, too apt to reſent Injuries, to take Appearances for Realities, to cenſure ſuch as my Imagination repreſents to me as Enemies, too much inclin’d to liſten to the diſadvantageous Characters I have heard given of others; yet I can truly ſay, I do not approve of them, they are things for which my Reaſon ſeverely checks me, Nuſances of which I am every hour endeavouring to cleanſe my Soul: I ſee ſomething infinitely amiable in thoſe things I recommend, ſome- 160 L8v 160 ſomething ſuperlatively excellent, ſomething that ingroſſes my Affection, and claims the Preference in my Heart.
Sincerity’s my chief Delight,
The darling Pleaſure of my Mind:
O that I cou’d to her invite
All the whole Race of Humane Kind:
This Beauty, full of tempting Charms,
I freely tender to their Arms.
Take her Mortals, ſhe’s worth more,
Than all your Glory, all your Fame,
Than all your glitt’ring boaſted Store,
Than all the things that you can name:
She’ll with her bring a Joy Divine,
All that’s good, and all that’s fine.
Will ſoon your Hearts in one unite,
No diſagreeing Intereſt leave;
Love ſhall to all things give a Right,
And Men ſhall never more deceive:
Slander and Envy then ſhall ceaſe,
And Friendſhip every where encreaſe.
The World ſhall then as happy be,
As ’twas in Saturn’s bliſsful Reign,
All who the wondrous Change ſhall ſee,
Will think that Age reſtor’d again,
And bleſs their Fate for being born,
Where Truth does ev’ry Breaſt adorn.
Among the numerous Bleſſings which our bountiful Creator has beſtow’d on Humane Kind, there’s none in which a pious and well-regulated Soul takes a greater Complacency, than in the Union ſhe has with ſuch as by their acquir’d Excellencies approach neareſt to Perfection; that is, ſuch as by a conſtant Contemplation of Truth, a ſteady Adherence to the Dictates of Reaſon, and a chearful and unweary’d Exerciſe of Virtue, have enlarg’d their Views, enlighten’d their Underſtandings, freed their Minds from Prejudices, from mean, narrow, and unbecoming Sentiments, from falſe Notions of Things, and who by ſubmitting their Paſſions to the Government of their nobler and more exalted Faculties, have obtain’d a happy, an unſhaken Serenity, an inward Purity, a great, firm and well-grounded Satisfaction, and who, without being byaſs’d by Intereſt, elated by Pride, made reſtleſs by Ambition, cramp’d by Avarice, or ſour’d by Envy, are ſweetly and gently led on to a Degree of Eminence, reſembling, as near as may be, that of the Divine Nature.To 163 M2r 163
To ſuch as theſe, ſhe ſeems to be drawn by a magnetick Force, a pleaſing Violence, by irreſiſtable Charms. At firſt ſhe feels a ſecret Veneration, perceives an awful Reſpect, a growing Eſteem; but the nearer ſhe advances, the more intimately ſhe’s acquainted with the Virtue ſhe admires, the more her Eſteem encreaſes, the more her Affection augments, and the more ardent is her Love; ſhe then inceſſantly preſſes forward, and never reſts till ſhe becomes one with the dear Object of her Choice; one by the holieſt, firmeſt, and moſt indiſſoluble Union; a Union not cemented by Wealth, not founded on Greatneſs, not the Reſult of a fickle Humour, a childiſh Tenderneſs, nor an indecent Fondneſs, nor yet the Product of external Beauty, the Embelliſhments of Art, the Delicacies of Wit, or any of thoſe other Accompliſhments, which make ſo many Votaries among the many, the unthinking part of Mankind, but owing its Original to much nobler Cauſes, ſpringing from ſublimer Motives, more rational Inducements, from the Reſemblance they bear to the eternal Truth, the infinite Wiſdom, the great Examplar of all Perfection.
But, alas! ſuch a Union as this can hardly be hop’d for, till we are freed from our Bodies, from theſe heavy Lumps of Matter, which depreſs the Mind, and hinder its Operations, not only ſink it to the Earth, but M2 faſten 164 M2v 164 faſten it there; till our Souls are fully at Liberty, and can act with their native Vivacity and Fervour, till we are diſengag’d from our Paſſions, and all little ungenerous Deſigns, mean Suſpicions, unkind Reflections, and all the other Frailties of Humanity, and nothing ſhall be left that can hide us from each other’s View, nothing that can hinder our Thoughts from being viſible, our Integrity from being fully known, or keep the Sincerity of our Intentions from being as manifeſt as the Light. Then ſhall we have a Regard for Virtue, abſtracted from all other Conſiderations, and an Affection for each other much greater than Imagination can form, or Words expreſs; ſuch an Affection, as none but the bleſt Poſſeſſors of the Celeſtial Regions have yet experimented.
Such wondrous Friendſhip, wondrous Love,
As conſtitutes their Bliſs Above;
And ſuch a ſtrong refining Fire,
As melts them into one Deſire,
Makes both their Aims, their Thoughts the ſame,
And leaves them different but in Name.
O how happy ſhould we be, could we thus mingle Souls, thus anticipate the State of Bliſs, and taſte a Part of thoſe Pleaſures here, which are to conſummate our Felicity hereafter,after, 165 M3r 165 after, and to be the delightful, the raviſhing Entertainment of a joyful Eternity!
But moſt have wrong Notions of the Bleſſings I am recommending, they proſtitute the ſacred Name, and call that Friendſhip, which is rather a Confederacy in Evil. Whoever eſpouſes their Quarrels, flatters them in their Vices, or ſooth them in their Pride, they think deſerve the Title of Friends; and they alſo fancy the Appellation due to all ſuch as ’tis their Fortune to be related to, either by Affinity, or the cloſer Ties of Blood, without conſidering their Merit, or being concern’d whether they are virtuous, Lovers of Juſtice, and ſuch as act from an internal Principle or not; theſe are things they can diſpenſe with, and which they look on as unneceſſary Qualifications.
As theſe widen the Incloſure, throw down the Mounds, and lay the ſacred Ground in common, ſo ſome on the other Side too much ſtreighten it, confine it to too narrow a Compaſs, are avaricious in their Kindneſs; and while they ſay ’tis impoſſible, according to the ſtrict Senſe of the Word, to be a Friend to ſeveral at once, they betray a Littleneſs of Mind, a Narrowneſs of Soul, a ſtrange Unthoughtfulneſs, never conſidering what are the Attractives, the Motives to Friendſhip; that ’tis Virtue alone which ought to tye the Knot, and that whoever has it, has an indiſputable Right to our Affection; and that the greater, M3 the 166 M3v 166 the more perfect it is, the greater, the more fervent ought to be our Love. The Good find themſelves united by a ſecret Sympathy, by an Agreement of Inclinations, a Conformity of Judgments, and a Reſemblance of Souls; they all purſue the ſame Ends, are buſied in the ſame Search, and tend to the ſame Center.
The Objections which are commonly made againſt ſuch general Friendſhips, are, in my Opinion, very weak. They who are for confining it to one, ſay, That to ſuppoſe more, deſtroys the Notion, and obſtructs all the Operations and Offices of it. For Inſtance, to ſuccour and aſſiſt a Friend in his Diſtreſs, is an indiſputable Duty; but if we put the Caſe of two ſuch ſtanding in need of our Aid at the ſame time, and not only ſo, but deſiring Kindneſſes, which are inconſiſtent and repugnant to each other; which way ſhall we turn our ſelves? How ſhall we diſcharge our Obligations, when our relieving one muſt be a Prejudice to the other?
Again they ſay, Suppoſe a Secret is imparted to us by one of our Friends; if we reveal it, ’tis a baſe diſhonourable Breach of Truſt, and unpardonable Violation of Friendſhip; on the other ſide, if we do not diſcover it to our other Friends, we are unfaithful to them; it being a receiv’d Maxim, that in a true and entire Friendſhip there muſt be no Reſerve.As 167 M4r 167
As for the firſt Objection, ’tis highly improbable that ever any ſuch Caſe will happen: Few, or none, have ever met with Misfortunes exactly alike; ſome Circumſtances have been different, ſomething or other has weigh’d down the Scale, there has been ſome little Diſproportion in their Sufferings, and then a Friend ſo qualified, as I ſuppoſe he ought to be, before he deſerves that Name, will not repine at the Kindneſs ſhewn to another, who needs it more than himſelf; but allowing their Diſtreſs to be equal, yet in that Caſe a generous Perſon, one who knows what it is to love, will not be diſpleas’d at the Aſſiſtance given to another of equal Merit, of equal Virtue with himſelf, but will contentedly wait the Leiſure of his Friend, and believe, that what he did was the Reſult of Reaſon, and proceeded neither from Partiality nor Neglect: Beſides, that Compaſſion, that Commiſeration, which is always a part of his Character, will incline him to intereſt himſelf in the Wellfare of a virtuous Man, and make him rejoice at the Good that’s done him.
In anſwer to the ſecond Objection, give me leave to ſay, That ſuch Friends as I am ſpeaking of have no Secrets, nothing that they would conceal from one another, nothing that they are aſham’d or afraid of having known; they have learn’d to reverence themſelves, to have a Regard for their Conſciences, and are too well M4 ac- 168 M4v 168 acquainted with the Dignity of their Nature, to do any thing below it, any thing that ſhould raiſe a conſcious Bluſh, or cauſe an uneaſy Reflexion: In all other Matters, in what concerns their Families or Fortunes, I ſuppoſe them to have an equal Intereſt; and ’tis irrational to talk of perfect Friendſhips, to believe them to be but one Soul, and at the ſame time to fancy there will not be an entire Communication of Thoughts: Truth is but one, and as that unites them to it ſelf, ſo it will alſo link them to each other, will at once become the Cauſe and the Object of their Love.
If I may preſume to ſpeak my Opinion, I think there is nothing of weight in that Maxim which ſays, There ought to be no Reſerves among Friends; for if my Aſſertion be granted, there can be no ſuch thing: But if I ſhould ſo far comply with the Generality of Mankind as to allow it to be true, and that ſome of my Friends had Matters of moment to impart to me, which they would have conceal’d from the reſt, yet in that caſe it refers only to my ſelf, and to what is properly mine; and in all things of that kind, I’m ready to own, that they have an abſolute and indiſputable Right: But my Friend’s Secrets are not of that number, and ought not to be diſpos’d of without their Leave: ’Twould be Robbery in me, to give that to another which is none of my own; they 169 M5r 169 they are only depoſited in my Breaſt, and are thought to be ſafe there; my Fidelity is confided in, and they are believ’d to be as ſecure in my Cuſtody, as they could have been had they remain’d in their own: What can be baſer, what more ignominiouſly treacherous, more highly diſhonourable, than to betray ſuch a Truſt, to give up ſuch a Treaſure? A good Man would be ſo far from deſiring it, that he would rather abhor me, and ſhun me as a Monſter, if I ſhould but offer to do it: As he would do nothing but what’s exactly equitable himſelf, ſo he would expect that I ſhould govern my ſelf by the ſame Rule: But let all that make this Objection aſſure themſelves, that as the Wiſe and the Virtuous (and ’tis of ſuch alone I’ve been talking) neither ſay nor do any thing they would have hid from the World) ſo they are far from a uſeleſs Curioſity, from having an Inclination to pry into the Concerns of others; their Thoughts and their Time are employ’d in Things much more important, much more neceſſary, in endeavouring to make each other better, in encreaſing their Knowledge, and in preparing themſelves for that eternal Happineſs, that unexpreſſible Felicity to which they are jointly haſtening.
There are other Miſtakes about Friendſhip, which I think deſerve to be taken notice of; as, That in chuſing a Friend, we ought not only 170 M5v 170 only to regard rigid Virtue and Honeſty, but to eſteem Sweetneſs, Liberality, and Obligingneſs of Humour equally neceſſary: This I think to be wrong, the two firſt being only requiſite, or to ſpeak more properly, the whole, that we ought to look after, as including in them all the reſt: For a Man that’s truly vertuous, who acts from a Principle of Juſtice, and ſees a Beauty in it, will always be eaſy to himſelf and others, always pleaſant, and always doing good Offices; and ſure the Converſation of Perſons ſo qualified can never be flat and heavy; where their Virtues are equal, there can be no Diſparity in their Diſpoſitions and Humours, no Diſcontent or Peeviſhneſs, no diſmal Melancholy, or forbidding Sourneſs, no diſtaſteful Haughtineſs, or brutiſh Anger; no, where Reaſon governs there will be no diſorderly Paſſions, no Storms to ruffle the Mind, nor Clouds to overcaſt it; all will be calm and bright, all harmonious and regular; the Soul will be full of Satisfaction, and take a Complacency in her ſelf; her Joys, like the Rays of the Sun, will diffuſe themſelves, and from her, as from their Centre, extend to every part of the Circumference, will give a taking Sprightlineſs to the Actions, a pleaſing Vivacity to the Diſcourſe, and an inviting Chearfulneſs to the Looks.There 171 M6r 171
There is another thing which I think to be a Miſtake; and that is, That whenever we ceaſe to love a Friend, we are in danger of mortally hating him; of this Conſequence I’m no way aſſur’d: According to the Notion I have of Friendſhip, Goodneſs is the proper Object of Love; wherever it appears, it attracts my Eſteem; and thoſe Perſons in whom it ſhines with the greateſt Luſtre, have the largeſt ſhare of my Affection, of which it ſhall not be in the power of any Accident to rob ’em while they continue conſtant to themſelves; but if they deviate from Virtue, if they ceaſe to be what they were when my Kindneſs for them begun, they have no reaſon to be angry with me if I withdraw my Affection; ’tis themſelves they ought to blame, I’m ſtill the ſame, ſtill a Lover of that Virtue which they have forſaken, that Truth which they have abandon’d; to thoſe, and not to them, was I united; and as it would be abſurd in them to lay the Fault on me, and fancy I have juſtly deſerved their Hatred, when they themſelves made the Defection, firſt broke the ſacred Bond, ſo it would be equally irrational in me to hate them, ſince ’tis themſelves they have injur’d, and not me; that being not to be done without the Concurrence of our own Will. For if we ſuppoſe the worſt that can happen, that thoſe who were once our deareſt Friends, ſhould prove our moſt inveterate Enemies,mies, 172 M6v 172 mies, that ſuch as once did us obliging Offices, who had the ſame Care of our Reputation, the ſame Concern for us as for themſelves, and the ſame Solicitude for our Happineſs as for their own, ſhould purſue us with unwearied Malice, load us with Calumnies, and make it their buſineſs to ſhew the utmoſt Efforts of Spight; yet if we ſtill preſerve the inward Calmneſs and Serenity of our Minds, are ſtill meek, humble, patient, and forgiving, they have done us no Prejudice, inflicted no Evil on us, depriv’d us of nothing that was truly our own, nothing that had an intrinſick Value in it: Beſides, all Good Men will conſider, that the Bad, as well as the Miſerable, have a Right to their Pity, and that their greateſt Enemies are to have a ſhare in their Prayers.
There are other Things which deſerve to be animadverted on, but I’ll wave them, to prevent giving the World occaſion to believe, that what I write is only the Reſult of a contentious Humour, an aſſuming Vanity, and an Inclination to find Fault; they are Things foreign to my Temper, and I am too ſenſible of my own Inſufficiency to play the Dictator: ’Tis Truth I would find out; to that all my Reſearches tend: I have no Paſſions to gratify; and as for Applauſe, if I had it I ſhould not be the better for it; ſuch viſionary Satisfactions, are Things I have no Fondneſs for: If my 173 M7r 173 my Sentiments happen to be wrong, yet I am ſure my Aims are right, ſince I have no farther Deſign than that of informing my ſelf and others.
I know moſt People have falſe Idea’s of Things; they think too ſuperficially to think truly; they find it painful to carry on a Train of Thoughts; with this my own Sex are principally chargeable: We are apt to be miſled by Appearances, to be govern’d by Fancy, and the impetuous Sallies of a ſprightly Imagination, and we find it too laborious to fix them; we are too eaſily impos’d on, too credulous, too ready to hearken to every ſoothing Flatterer, every Pretender to Sincerity, and to call ſuch Friends as have not the leaſt Title to that ſacred Name; and therefore to prevent my ſelf, and thoſe for whom it becomes me to have a tender Regard, from being deceiv’d, I have, with all the Attention of Mind I am capable of, ſeriouſly conſider’d what Qualifications are requiſite in order to the conſtituting of a noble, diſingag’d, and laſting Friendſhip, ſuch a Friendſhip as the moſt reſerved, the ſtricteſt Obſervers of the Rules of Virtue, need not bluſh to own, and ſuch an one as nothing can leſſen, nothing can ſhake, and which will prove as immortal as the Soul in which ’tis ſeated.God 174 M7v 174
God is the only deſirable Object, as comprehending in himſelf all the Degrees of Perfection; in him, as in its Source, is whatever we here either love or admire: He is Truth, Goodneſs, Juſtice, Beauty, Wiſdom, &c. In all Created Beings, they are Derivations from him, Streams flowing from him as their Fountain, Irradiations from the inexhauſtible Spring of Light: Now as much as we ſee of theſe divine Excellencies in thoſe with whom we converſe, ſo much we ought to love them, and by a Parity of Reaſon, muſt expect no more Eſteem from them than is the juſt neceſſary Reſult of our having thoſe Attractives in our ſelves, which are the Motives of our Kindneſs to them.
Would we always reſolve to govern our ſelves by this Principle, and in chuſing our Friends act according to the Dictates of right Reaſon, and never ſuffer our ſelves to be guided by Opinion, by the miſtaken Sentiments of the Vulgar, the erroneous Notions of the Moſt, the unconſidering part of Mankind, we ſhould never have occaſion to repent our Choice, there not being ſo much as a poſſibility of our being miſtaken in it. Then external Appearances would not move us; Titles, Grandeur, Wealth, and all thoſe other Trifles which dazzle the Common People, and inſenſibly engage their Affections, would loſe their Force, and prove no Incentives to us.We 175 M8r 175
We ſhould eſteem Things according to their real Worth, to their innate Value, and not admire Perſons for their Learning, but their Wiſdom; not for their Knowledge, but their Virtue; not for being Powerful, but Juſt; not for being Rich, but Good, nor yet becauſe they are in a Capacity of ſerving what we falſly call Intereſt, but becauſe they are Lovers of Truth, and Maſters of their Paſſions: not that I think Learning and Knowledge, and all thoſe other Things which are commonly reckon’d among the Goods of Fortune, ought to be ſlighted; they are uſeful, but not neceſſary Qualifications; the two firſt embelliſh and render Converſation inſtructive as well as agreeable; and when they are join’d with the reſt, very much raiſe and brighten a Character, and place their Poſſeſſors on a greater Height, in a more advantageous Light, and render them capable of making their Virtues appear more conſpicuous; but if they are Owners only of ſuch Things as are generally known by the Name of contingent Goods, and deſtitute of neceſſary ones, they are publick Miſchiefs, Enemies to themſelves and all the World: Their Learning ſerves only to heighten their Pride, and increaſe their Vanity; their Knowledge renders them impertinent, talkative, poſitive, impoſing, impatient of Contradiction, and violent Maintainers of their own Opinions; their Power gives them opportunitiesportunities 176 M8v 176 portunities of wronging the Innocent, of inſulting over the Weak, of oppreſſing the Poor, and of doing whatever their Ambition, their Avarice, their Malice, and Revenge, ſhall ſuggeſt; and Riches will but feed their Luxury, augment their Intemperance, or elſe increaſe their inſatiable Deſire of graſping more, and by creating a ſort of canine Appetite in the Soul, make her miſerable amidſt the greateſt Plenty.
But now if my Friends have Wiſdom, if they ſhould happen to have no very conſiderable ſhare of what the World calls Learning, yet they are capable of adviſing me, of aſſiſting me in the Conduct of my Life, of telling me what to chuſe, and what to avoid; and if they have Virtue, they will diſſwade me from doing what is ill, be as ſollicitouſly careful of me as of themſelves, and keep as conſtant a Guard over my Words and Actions as over their own, and would be as much troubled to ſee me faulty, as if they were ſo themſelves: And I dare appeal to any conſidering Perſon, whether this would not prove of greater Advantage to me, than if they could lead me through the whole Circle of the Sciences, could explain to me all the abſtruſe Phænomena of Nature, and make me thoroughly acquainted with all its ſecret Springs, its inperceptible Movements. If they were juſt, they would think themſelves obliged on all Occaſionsons 177 N1r 177 ons to do that to me which they would have done to themſelves; and as they would not be flatter’d, or dealt inſincerely with, would not willingly be ſlander’d, nor indulge themſelves in any thing that ſhould reflect on their Honour, or blacken their Conſciences, the ſame Method they would obſerve in reference to me: Would no more flatter me than themſelves, no more be unfaithful to me than to their own Souls, as ſoon blaſt their own Reputations as mine, and have as true a Concern for every thing that relates to me, as if the Caſe were their own, and all they had dear in the World were at ſtake, and as they would for every Failure, every Miſmanagement, call themſelves to a ſtrict Account before the impartial Bar of Reaſon, and not allow themſelves in any thing derogatory to their Character, or contradictory to that Virtue of which they think it their Glory to make a Profeſſion, ſo they would act the part of Cenſors to me, and let no Word, no Action of mine, paſs unremark’d, nothing unreprov’d that could not ſtand the ſevereſt Teſt, would make it their Endeavour to brighten my Underſtanding, to inform my Judgment, to rectify my Will, and throughly awaken all my intellectual Powers: And if they have Goodneſs, which is a Word of a large Signification, and comprehends in it Piety, Humility, Sincerity, Integrity, and univerſal Charity, a wiſhing well to all Mankind,N kind, 178 N1v 178 kind, they will endeavour to inſpire me with the ſame Sentiments by which they are govern’d, will labour to make me as pious, as humble, as ſincere, upright, and as much pleas’d with doing kind and friendly Offices as themſelves.
Now are not theſe poſſeſs’d of the moſt valuable Treaſures? And are they not, though they ſhould happen to be cloath’d in Rags, or confin’d to Cottages, or Priſons, to be prefer’d to the greateſt Monarchs on Earth? Such as theſe are the Friends that I would chuſe, and theſe the Things I would expect from them, and what they may promiſe themſelves from me; for I would deſire nothing but what I would return, no Teſtimonies of Eſteem but what I would pay: But alas! where are ſuch Friends to be found. I may pleaſe my ſelf with charming Idea’s, Court Phantoms of my own creating, and from thoſe Inclinations I find in my own Breaſt, thoſe innate Propenſities to Kindneſs, which ſeem to be interwoven with my Being, to be of a piece with my Soul, draw uncommon Schemes of Friendſhip, of ſomething ſo fine, ſo pure, ſo noble, ſo exalted, ſo much beyond whatever the World has yet known of Love, ſo wholly intellectual, ſo entirely abſtracted from Senſe, that I muſt never hope on this ſide Heaven to meet with any that will come up to ſo exact a Model, to ſo Angelick a Perfection, or at leaſt that will think 179 N2r 179 think me worthy of ſo near a Relation, of ſuch a free, generous, and entire Exchange of Thoughts: But if ’twere ever my good Fortune to be bleſt with ſuch Friends as I have been deſcribing, I ſhould be continually afraid of loſing them; and if they would reſolve to make me compleatly happy, they muſt have no ſeparate Intereſt, no Concerns of their own that they would conceal from me, nothing that looks like a Diſtruſt, like a Diſregard, like a not repoſing an entire Confidence in me; and they muſt, by obſerving all the engaging Niceties, all the endearing Punctilio’s of Friendſhip, make it their Buſineſs to convince me, that they are really what they pretend to be, there muſt be no Neglects, no Coldneſſes, nothing that may abate the Fervour of the Flame, nothing that may ſtagger the Belief; Promiſes muſt be exactly performed, Services zealouſly paid, every thing done with an endearing Kindneſs, an Air of Tenderneſs, and in a Manner irreſiſtibly winning.
As there is a Scale of Beings, ſo there are Degrees of Perfection, Beauties continually flowing from their divine Source in various Meaſures and Proportions, and dilating themſelves through the whole Creation: Wherever we caſt our Eyes, we may ſee them diſplaying their Charms; by Day ſhining in the glorious Fountain of Light, by Night glittering in ten thouſand Stars; ſparkling in Gems, pleaſing the Sight in Gold, delighting the Eye in lofty Trees, in the admirable Colours of Fruits and Flowers, in the florid Green of Plants and Graſs, and in the amazing Mechaniſm of Inſects and Reptils, thoſe ſurprizing and inimitable Fineneſſes which by the help of Glaſſes are diſcoverable in their minute Bodies, uſefully entertaining it with the exact Proportion of Parts, and the wonderful Variety of Shapes in Birds, Beaſts, and Fiſhes: in theſe, they appear like little Rivulets; but into Man, the Maſter-piece of the viſible Creation, they diſembogue their ſcatter’d Streams: We may plainly ſee all thoſe Excellencies which have been ſingly Objects of 181 N3r 181 of Admiration, uniting themſelves in the Humane Nature, which, that it may be the more conſiderable, has the Superaddition of Reaſon, which raiſes it as much above the ſenſitive Kingdom, as much above Brutes, as they are ſuperior to thoſe who have only a vegetative Life, and they to the inanimate parts of the Creation, which are generally allow’d to be only accidental Concretions of Matter.
Now all theſe have a Claim to our Regard, according to their reſpective Values; they are all Participations of Being, and conſequently of Beauty; and as they riſe higher and higher, and partake more of each, ſo ought our Eſteem to encreaſe with them: It becomes us awfully to contemplate the Almighty Creator in all his Works, every where to trace his Wiſdom and Power: Where they are leaſt conſpicuous they challenge Wonder; but where they appear in their full Luſtre, they call for both Admiration and Love: The laſt I take to be a Paſſion which ought never to be appropriated but to the nobleſt Objects: To ſay that we love any thing that is below us, that is of a Rank inferiour to us, is to talk amiſs, ’tis a talking without joining Idea’s to our Words; or if ’tis true, that we do ſo, ’tis an irrational Affection.
Indeed God pronounc’d all his Creatures good, as ſuch we ought to look on them, and, as I ſaid before, proportion our Eſteem to their N3 Worth; 182 N3v 182 Worth; but none of them have any pretence to the loweſt degree of our Love but thoſe of our own Species; in them that external Beauty which is ſeated in the Face, diſcovers it ſelf in the Shape, in the Symetry of Parts, the Delicacy of the Complexion, the Vivacity and attracting Sweetneſs of the Eyes, and the Agreeableneſs of the Air, will authorize our having a Kindneſs for them, and juſtify our treating them with Reſpect; but we muſt take care that our Eſteem be adequate to the Subject, and that it do not degenerate into an indecent Fondneſs, an ill-grounded Dotage, a fooliſh Inclination, commonly as tranſient as its Cauſe, as little to be rely’d on as thoſe Perfections from whence it ſprings: We ſhall do well to conſider, that ’tis built on a ſandy Foundation, ten thouſand Accidents may ſhake it; but ſuppoſing they ſhould not, yet in a ſhort time ’twill totter, and fall of it ſelf; thoſe Charms which ſupport it will fail, Youth will vaniſh, Age tarniſh the brighteſt Colours, wrinkle the ſmootheſt Skin; Deformity will ſucceed to Beauty, Weakneſs to Strength, and Dulneſs to the charming Gayety and Sprightlineſs of greener Years; the moſt majeſtick among Mortals, thoſe whoſe awful Miens imprint Veneration, and enforce Reſpect, muſt bend beneath the Load of Years, unavoidably yield to the Infirmities and Decays which neceſſarily attend a long Life; and ſuch as admir’d 183 N4r 183 admir’d them only for thoſe Graces, for thoſe exteriour Beauties, will certainly ceaſe to love them as ſoon as they are loſt, there being nothing left in which their Deſires may centre, therefore they follow the wandring Fugitives to each new Face, are in a cloſe purſuit of Things in their Nature tranſitory, always ſhifting Places, Things made up of Parts that are ever in Motion, ſtill altering their Forms, and aſſuming new Figures.
Now what can be more incongruous to our Pretences, more unworthy of intelligent Beings, than to be too much pleas’d with ſuch fleeting Accompliſhments, ſuch vaniſhing Ornaments, which as they are Impreſſes of that firſt Beauty, of that original Perfection from whence they proceed, may be allow’d to delight us, to create in us a Complacency for their Poſſeſſors, but none of them, ſtrictly ſpeaking, are Objects of Love, that is a Paſſion much too ſpiritual, too pure, too exalted, to be proſtituted to any thing that is corporeal; ’tis ſeated in the Mind, and fitted for the Contemplation of intellectual Beauties, it finds Charms in the Underſtanding, ſees Graces in the Soul, infinitely preferable to any that are to be found in the moſt exquiſite Works of Nature: It likes nothing but what is truly amiable, what is really attracting, and what will never ceaſe to be ſo; ſcorns to unite it ſelf to any thing which Age can alter, and N4 over 184 N4v 184 over which Death can triumph; it chuſes what is as immortal as it ſelf; ’tis Truth to which it adheres; Virtue’s the Centre to which it tends, from that it derives its Original, and to that alone it owes its Nouriſhment.
Now this divine Flame can exert it ſelf no where but in Subjects equally good, in Souls govern’d by the ſame Principles, acting by the ſame unchangeable Rules; there muſt be a joint Inclination to Virtue, a like Senſe of Honour, the ſame Notion of Juſtice, as great an Ardour for Truth, and an exact Conformity of Thoughts; ’twill not reſide where there’s the leaſt Diſparity, where there’s any thing impure, or debaſing, any thing that can in the leaſt abate its Fervour.
But where ſhall we find ſuch a Paſſion, ſuch a happy Agreement! where is that Pair to be found, whoſe Hearts are faſten’d by ſuch a divine, ſuch an indiſſoluble Cement, ſo generous and ſublime an Affection? Such Lovers fear no Rivals, admit of no Diſtruſts, are Strangers to Jealouſy, Inconſtancy, and all the other Perturbations of Senſe: Their Fire burns too bright, is too intenſe to be extinguiſh’d, is too ardent to admit of any Coldneſſes, any Neglects: They are one, and can no more be unkind to each other than to themſelves; are but one Mind, one Soul in different Bodies, and can no more ceaſe to Love, than to Be.Profane 185 N5r 185
Profane Hiſtories pretend to give us ſome Inſtances of perfect Friendſhips; they boaſt of a Pylades, and an Oreſtes, but we ought to look on this as a Fiction, as a Story, dreſt up by the Poets, and as little to be credited as that of Pollux, who, they tell us, was ſo kind as to give his Brother an equal ſhare of his Immortality: The greateſt Example of this ſort that I’ve met with in any of their Records, is that of Damon and Pythias, and next to them Scipio and Lælius, Epaminondas and Pelopidas, Bloſius and Tiberius Gracchus may claim a place: And, for the Honour of my own Sex, give me leave to mention Hipparchia and Crates, Parcia and Brutus, Sulpitia and Lentulus, Arria and Petus, Paulina and Seneca; but theſe are infinitely out-done by two illuſtrious Names, by a Royal Pair, whoſe unpreſidented Friendſhip has the Honour to be recorded in the Sacred Writ; I mean Jonathan and David.
Where was there ever ſeen a nobler, firmer, a more ſacred Union! How admirable was it in its Beginning, its Progreſs, and its Concluſion! Where ſhall we meet with one ſo generous, ſo humble, ſo condeſcending, ſo tenderly affectionate, ſo unalterably conſtant as Jonathan, and ſo reciprocally kind as David! Who, without Wonder, can ſee the Son of a King, the Heir Apparent of a Crown, a Prince bred up amidſt the Flatteries of a Court, amidſtmidſt 186 N5v 186 midſt a Crowd of fawning Sycophants, careſſing a poor deſpicable Shepherd, one hardly known in Iſrael, not only giving him thoſe Praiſes which were due to the Defender of his Country, the Conqueror of the great Goliath, but beſtowing on him his Heart, himſelf; the nobleſt Preſent he could give, or Love cou’d ask!
That which breeds Envy in narrow groveling Minds, begets Reſpect in brave and generous Tempers: When he ſaw that Youth, who was too weak to wear the ponderous Garb of War, who fearleſs went to meet Gigantick Force, arm’d with no other Weapon but a Sling, return Triumphant, and bringing in his Hand the Trophy of his Victory, his Head, who had bid Defiance to a mighty Hoſt, and with his Looks had almoſt gain’d the Day, he felt a ſecret Pleaſure in his Mind, the beginning of a growing Flame; he admir’d his Courage, gaz’d with Wonder on him, with fix’d Attention heard him ſpeak; each Word encreas’d Eſteem, and fan’d the kindling Fire; he found himſelf urg’d ſweetly on, drawn by a delightful Violence to knit his Soul to his; Love firmly ty’d the Knot, and made them one: From that dear moment they had no ſeparate Intereſt, no Reſerves, nothing that they could call their own: David to Jonathan was dearer far than Empire, than Glory, nay than Life; his only Buſineſs was to ſerve him, his Happineſs 187 N6r 187 Happineſs his whole Concern: When his Merit, join’d with the Acclamations of the People, had made the King his Enemy, he, with the intenſeſt Zeal, became his Advocate, defended his Innocency, and, tho’ ’twere with the hazard of his Life, ſpoke what became a Friend; neither the Threatnings of an angry Father, the Jealouſy of Power, nor yet the Slights and Diſregards that conſtantly attend a Man diſgrac’d, and out of Favour with his Soveraign, cou’d make him hide his Thoughts; the Injury done to David, the Diſhonour thrown upon him by his enrag’d ſuſpicious Father, made him unmindful of himſelf; his only Care was to ſecure him, to ſecure the Man whom he had cauſe to think was Heaven’s peculiar Favourite, and deſtin’d to wear the Jewiſh Crown; but with the generous Jonathan theſe Conſiderations had no Force, his Affection made them all invalid. When full of Grief he went to tell him his Life was ſought, and that he muſt by Flight endeavour to preſerve it, how joyful was their Meeting! how loth were they to part! None but ſuch as feel the Agonies of Death, thoſe laſt diſsolving Pangs which ſeparate the Soul and Body, thoſe lov’d Companions, can have a true Idea of their Sorrow: How tenderly did they expreſs their Paſsion, with what Ardour, what Sincerity, renew their Vows! What Proteſtations did they make of everlaſting Kindneſs! But 188 N6v 188 But when the fatal Minute came, the dire diſjoining Moment, how difficult was it to leave each other! how many were the Eſsays they made! Sighs ſtop’d their Words, and they could only look their Thoughts, and by Embraces tell the inward Struggles of their Souls, the Pain they felt in being rent aſunder! And when ’twas done, how ſad were both! What melancholy Thoughts had Jonathan when he reflected on the Sufferings of his Friend, thoſe many Hardſhips, thoſe numerous Dangers, to which he was expos’d! And when he had been purſu’d from place to place by cruel Saul, and forc’d at laſt to make the Wilderneſs of Ziph his Refuge, he found him there; ſo indefatigably kind is Love, ſo buſy, ſo inquiſitive; it fears no Hazard, declines no Toil, dares any thing, is reſtleſs till it can oblige; by it inſpir’d, he viſited the much wrong’d David, the perſecuted Innocent; his Friendſhip ſtill was firm, his Conſtancy unſhaken; the poor, the hated, the forſaken Fugitive, was ſtill as dear to him as if he had been a Monarch, and fill’d the greateſt Throne on Earth. O with what Joy did he again behold him, with what tranſporting Pleaſure! How did he ſtrive to alleviate his Grief, and comfort him in his Diſtreſs! His Words, like Balm, diſtill’d themſelves into thoſe ſmarting Wounds his envious Fate had made; he bid him not to fear; told him the God he ſerv’d would keep him ſafe, would 189 N7r 189 would ſhield him from the Fury of his Father; aſsur’d him the divine Decree would ſtand, and that he ſhould poſseſs the Kingdom, ſhould fill the Jewiſh Throne, and he himſelf be next to him in Power. The promis’d Exaltation of his Friend did not abate his Love; he could well-pleas’d Deſcend to let him Riſe; and look on his Advancement as his own. O with what Satisfaction did they talk of what ſhould be hereafter! with what Delight confirm their ſacred Oaths! How full of Hopes were they the Time would come when they ſhould live together, and undiſturb’d enjoy the Sweets of Converſation, the moſt delicious Banquet of the Mind, that Entertainment which only ſuch a Love as theirs could give, a Paſsion ſo refin’d.
But O how blind are Mortals! how far from being able to pry into the Secrets of Futurity! When they believe they’ve almoſt reach’d the Goal, they’re fartheſt off. Alas! how ſad had been the Parting of Jonathan and David, had they then known that they muſt meet no more! Sure Heaven in Kindneſs to them, conceal’d the fatal Truth; it knew they could not bear the killing News, and kept them ſtill in Hopes of being happy, in expectation of ſucceeding Bliſs, till the retrieveleſs Blow was given, and Jonathan was ſnatch’d away by Death, till he, together with his Royal Father, fell bravely in the Field of Honour,nour, 190 N7v 190 nour, and nobly died the Victims of their Country. But when the diſmal Tidings reach’d the Ears of David, what Tongue can tell his Grief! ’twas great beyond Expreſſion: He had loſt the whole he lov’d, the beſt of Friends, one in whom he durſt confide, to whom he ſafely cou’d impart his Thoughts, who with him always ſhar’d his Joys, and bore an equal Part in every Trouble, or rather took the Burden on himſelf, was ſtill his kind Adviſer, ſtill his Director in every Strait, in every croſs Emergency of Fortune. O! in what pathetick Language does he ſpeak his Grief, how elegantly tell his Sorrow! how generouſly bewail the Death of Saul! He ever paid him the Reſpect due to a Father and a King. The Injuries he did him never rais’d his Paſsion, or made him do an unbecoming Action: No, ſo far was he from being guilty of any thing that look’d but like Revenge, or an ambitious Thirſt of Empire, that when it was in his Power to kill him, he refus’d it, ſhun’d, with the utmoſt Deteſtation, the very Thoughts of Regicide: He knew that God, who promis’d him a Crown, would, in his own due time, beſtow it on him; and as he in his Life rever’d him, ſo after his Death he treated him with Honour, gave him the Praiſes due unto his Character, due to the Father of his deareſt Friend. Full of Concern for both, full of the tendereſt Sentiments that Grief could 191 N8r 191 could cauſe, or Love inſpire, he thus expreſs’d his Thoughts, and paid the nobleſt Tribute to their Fame.
Ah! wretched Iſrael! all thy Beauty’s fled!
Thy darling Sons, thy great Defenders dead!
Upon thy Mountains they, lamented, dy’d,
Who for thy ſake the worſt of Ills defy’d,
Saw Death unmov’d, undaunted met their Fate,
Reſolv’d to ſave, or fall the Victims of the State.
See! low as Earth thy mighty Chiefs are laid,
They who were as ſuperior Pow’rs obey’d;
Who with Majeſtick Miens, and Airs Divine,
So lately did in glitt’ring Armour ſhine,
Led on thy Troops, and, full of martial Fire,
Into each Breaſt did noble Warmth inſpire,
Fearleſs ruſh’d on, and ſtem’d the bloody Tide,
Bravely they fought, and then as bravely dy’d.
Let none in Gath the dreadful News relate:
With Care conceal the conquer’d hero’s Fate.
May none our Loſs in Askelon proclaim;
Be ſilent, all ye buſie Tongues of Fame;
Leſt with a barbarous Joy, a ſavage Pride,
Philiſtine Beauties our juſt Grief deride;
Leſt charming Off-ſprings of polluted Beds,
Shou’d, with an impious Scorn, erect their Heads;
With artful Dances, and triumphant Lays,
Expreſs their Joy, and their curſt Dagon praiſe.
On Gilboa’s Heights let no more Dew be found,
Let no ſoft Rain enrich the Riſing Ground;
Let them no more a florid Verdure know,
No more large Crops of ſpringing Plenty ſhow;
No more let Flocks and Herds there Paſture find,
Nothing be left to feed the feather’d Kind;
Nothing be left that can the Prieſt ſupply,
Nothing that can on ſacred Altars die:
For there the Warriour’s Shield was caſt away;
For there the Shield of Saul neglected lay,
As if no hallow’d Oil had on his lofty Head
Its odorous Drops with Regal Honour ſpread.
Back from the Feaſts of War, the Banquets of the Slain,
The Bow of Jonathan did not return in vain;
Nor thence the Sword of Saul unglutted came;
Where-e’er he fought, it got him Spoils and Fame.
They both were fraught with Graces all Divine,
Attracting Sweetneſs did with Greatneſs join:
The Father laid Authority aſide,
The Son made Filial Duty all his Pride.
They mutual Kindneſs their whole Buſineſs made,
And now they undivided reſt in Death’s calm peaceful Shade.
Not tow’ring Eagles, when by lofty Flights,
They reach’d the Summit of Aerial Heights,Were 193 O1r 193
Were half ſo nimble, half ſo ſwift as they,
Nor did fierce Lions with ſuch Strength ſeize on their trembling Prey.
Ye lovely Daughters of a holy Sire,
Your ſparkling Eyes muſt loſe their native Fire;
Tears muſt obſcure thoſe beauteous Orbs of Light;
Your Sovereign has to all your Grief a Right.
In moving Accents mourn o’er vanquiſh’d Saul,
He do’s for your intenſeſt Sorrow call;
He, who with tenderest Care did you ſupply,
Cloath’d you with Scarlet of the richeſt Dye:
With Gold embroider’d o’er your Garments were,
And glitt’ring Gems adorn’d your flowring Hair.
To theſe he added many Preſents more,
Added Delights to you unknown before.
Amidſt the Scene of War, the Horrors of the Day,
How did the Mighty fall a long conteſted Prey!
Surrounded by their Foes, did full of Wounds expire,
Vaſt Seas of Blood put out their martial Fire.
O Jonathan! thou nobleſt of thy Kind,
Thy Fate was equal to thy Godlike Mind!
Upon thy Heights on ſlaughter’d Bodies laid,
Thou haſt thy own immortal Trophy made!
O what convulſive Pangs for thee I feel!
Love ſtrikes much deeper than the ſharpeſt Steel:O My 194 O1v 194
My Pleaſure’s gone, my Joys are wholly fled,
All, all is loſt, my very Soul is dead:
I’m but the Eccho of my ſelf, a Voice of Woe,
In thee I liv’d, now no Exiſtence know.
While thou wert mine, Heav’n had not ſure in ſtore
One dear Delight, one ſingle Bleſſing more
That I cou’d wiſh, to heighten my Content:
Fancy it ſelf could nothing more invent:
The whole I cou’d deſire in thee I found,
My Life was with continual Raptures crown’d,
And all my Hours but one ſoft bliſsful Round:
The Thoughts that thou wert mine made all my Sorrows ceaſe,
Amidſt my num’rous Toils gave me a Halcyon Peace;
Contemn’d was ev’ry Danger, ev’ry Pain,
Love made me chearfully the greateſt Ills ſuſtain.
When thou wert abſent, then my buſie Mind
Did in thy dear Remembrance Solace find,
Revolv’d thy Words, on each kind Accent ſtay’d,
And thy lov’d Image in my Breaſt ſurvey’d;
Fancy’d thy Eyes each tender Glance return’d,
And with engaging Sweetneſs for thy David mourn’d:
But when thou didſt me with thy Preſence bleſs,
O who th’ Extatick Tranſports can expreſs!
Words are too poor, and Language wants a Name
For such a pure, immortal, fervent Flame!
A while I look’d, a while could only gaze,
My Face, my Eyes, my Heart, betray’d my glad Amaze;My 195 O2r 195
My Soul to thine would force her ſpeedy Way,
Panting ſhe ſtood, and chid her hindring Clay:
Trembling with Joy, I ſnatch’d thee to my Heart,
Did, with tumultuous Haſte, my thronging Thoughts impart:
Troubl’d, thou heard’ſt me my paſt Toils relate,
My Suff’rings did a kind Concern create,
And made thee, ſighing, blame the Rigour of my fate.
O with what Pity, what a moving Air,
Did’ſt thou then vow thou would’ſt my Hazard’s
Promis’d eternal Faith, eternal Love, ſhare,
And kind to me, as my own Soul didſt prove;
Nay, kinder far, no Dangers didſt decline,
Expos’d thy Life to add a longer Date to mine!
Such an Affection to the World is new,
None can ſuch wond’rous Proofs of Friendſhip ſhew!
Not the fair Sex, whom ſofteſt Paſſions move,
Can with ſuch Ardour, ſuch Intenſeneſs love.
But thou art loſt! for ever loſt to me!
And all I ever priz’d is loſt with thee.
Honour, and Fame, and Beauty loſe their Charms,
I’m deaf to the harmonious Sound of Arms;
Deaf to the Calls of Glory and of Praiſe,
I’ll near thy Tomb conclude my wretched Days:
In mournful Strains employ my Voice and Lyre,
And, full of Grief, by thy lov’d Corps expire.
How soon, alas! the mighty are deſtroy’d!
Who can the dreadful Stroke of Fate avoid!
How are they fallen! who but lately ſtood
Like well-fix’d Rocks, and dar’d the raging Floud!
They who diſpers’d their miſſive Terrors round,
From whom their Foes a ſwift Deſtruction found,
Now lie, like common Men, neglected on the Ground.
What can be more amazing than to ſee wiſe and rational Beings, Beings deſign’d for the higheſt and nobleſt Enjoyments, and richly furniſh’d with Faculties fitted for the Contemplation of the greateſt, beſt, and moſt exalted Objects, wilfully withdraw their Regards from things worthy of themſelves, and of that infinite Perfection from whom they derive their Original, and fix them on Earth, on that dull heavy Element, from whence their Bodies, thoſe Priſons of their Souls, thoſe cumberſome Machines in which they act, at firſt were taken, and by indulging a greedy avaricious Humour, be fond of ſinking to the loweſt, the moſt deſpicable Level, ſhould, before they are neceſſitated to it by the indiſputable Laws of their Creation, the irreverſible Decrees of Nature, be in haſte to return to it again, uneaſie till they are reunited to their primitive Duſt! Is it not an unaccountable Madneſs for ſuch as are Maſters of vaſt Treaſures, not to be contented with the bountiful Dividend of Providence? For thoſe that have great Eſtates to O3 be 198 O3v 198 be continually contriving how they ſhall encreaſe them? Who can, without wonder mix’d with the higheſt Deteſtation, ſee the generality of Men ſtick at nothing, though never ſo baſe, ſo injurious, ſo oppreſſing, that may promote their Deſigns? Such as are covetous of Titles, and greedy of Power, what will they not do to gratifie their Deſires, to gain what they ſo eagerly wiſh for? What vile Offices will they boggle at, what ſervile Compliances will they not ſtoop to, what Friend or Kinſman will they not ſacrifice, whom will they ſcruple to ruine, whoſe Reputation will they not murder, to get or ſecure the Grandeur, the Honour, the Power, or the Riches they ſo much prize?
The Poor, whoſe Lives are one continued Toil, and every Bit of Bread they eat the Purchaſe of their Sweat, who, wrap’d in Rags, encounter all the Inclemencies of Air, contend with Winter-Storms and Summer- Heats, and, who when tir’d with the laborious Buſineſs of the Day, muſt either make the Earth their Bed, or creep into low ſquallid Cells, Places as little to be lik’d as Dens of ſavage Beaſts, will play the Villain, flatter, ſteal and lye, do any thing that’s ill to lengthen out a wretched Being, and get a larger Share of thoſe mean things they covet. Such as are rais’d a little higher, can call ſome Fields, ſome Heaps of Dirt their own, are ſtill 199 O4r 199 ſtill converſing with their fellow Brutes, ſtill cultivating every Spot of Earth, conſidering Night and Day how to encreaſe their Store, what Crafts to uſe, what falſe, ſly, undermining Tricks, how to defraud their Neighbours, to treſpaſs on the Rich, and grind the Poor, while thoſe above them make them feel Wrongs as great as thoſe they do, oppreſs them as much as they do others, and by Ways as equally unjuſt, as deſpicably baſe, rob them of what is their Due, and then prophanely call their lawleſs Gains the Gift of Heaven, the juſt Reward of Induſtry and Prudence: If by a lucky Hit, or a continu’d Series of cloſe Penuries, ſordid Methods, by making nuptial Bargains, ſpunging on the Publick, cajoling weak unthinking Princes, by Rapine, Extortion, Uſury, or an exceſſive Thrift, their wretched Anceſtors have damn’d themſelves to leave them great and wealthy; they are proud of the Acqueſt, look big, and value themſelves on what they ought to bluſh at, and ſtrive by ways as altogether ill, as unwarrantably wicked, to add to what they have left them: Wealth thus continued in a Race, they call Gentility, Riches long enjoy’d, they think ennobles Blood, and Gold does make it run more pure: They having nothing properly their own to attract Reſpect, no ſhining Qualities to fix the Attention of the Crowd, and gain their Admiration, are forced to ſeek O4 for 200 O4v 200 for ſomething foreign, ſomething that they know will dazzle common Eyes; which being found, they ſeize it with a voracious Greedineſs, their Souls ſtick to it; the more they have, the more they covet, they love it with an unſatisfy’d Deſire, continue thirſty at the Fountain, and ſtill with wide ſtretched Arms, are graſping all that they can reach.
Good God! in this degenerate Age, where are there any to be found entirely free from this accurſed Vice! the Young are taught betimes to like it, inſtructed from their Cradles to be fond of Trifles, to cry for Baubles, like Apes to ſcamble, ſcratch and fight for ſcatter’d Nuts, for Toys as little worth; As they encreaſe in Years, their Avarice grows with them, their craving Appetite torments them, they ſtill find ſomething to deſire; the Objects indeed are various, but the Paſſion’s ſtill the ſame; that, like their Shadow, grows larger towards the Evening of their Life, gets Ground upon them in their declining Moments, and never leaves them till they are in their Graves, are loſt to all the Joys of Senſe.
And can there be a more prepoſterous Folly, a greater Inſtance of Stupidity, than to be fond of things that cannot long be their’s, and ſlight thoſe real Goods, which, if they pleaſe, they may poſſeſs for ever? That ’tis the higheſt 201 O5r 201 higheſt Frenzy, every one will own; all with one Voice will blame the griping Uſurer, laugh at the meager half-ſtarv’d Wretch, who pines for what’s his own, ſits hugging of thoſe Bags he dares not open, and makes an Idol of that Wealth, which he ſhould uſe: Yet all concur to carry on the Farce, each acts a Madman’s Part in the great Bedlam of the World.
One gets to feed his Pride, another ſpares to gratifie his Vanity, a third loves Money for it ſelf, loves it with an abſtracted Paſſion; and if he had not Wife, nor Children, Kindred, nor Friends, would ſtill dote on his Heaps, and to encreaſe them, deny himſelf all the Conveniences of Life. The Tradeſman will uſe all his Slights, his fineſt Artifices, to cheat his Cuſtomers, will lye and ſwear, and palm ten thouſand Falſhoods on them to vend his Goods; his Profit is his God, and Poverty the only Devil he’s afraid of. The Mariner will venter on the rougheſt Sea, contend with riſing Surges, deaf’ning Winds and complicated Horrors, nay, ſlight even Death it ſelf, when Gain’s in view: For it, will the Phyſician meet the greateſt Danger, endure the moſt offenſive Stenches, look on the uglieſt, the moſt loathſome Objects; and, what is more, will, with the Patience of a Stoick, a ſmiling courtly Air, and a reſpectful Silence, bear with the Impertinence and ſenſeleſs 202 O5v 202 ſenſeleſs Jargon of Children, Women, Fools, and Mad-men: For it, the Lawyer pleads, it gives an oily Smoothneſs to his Tongue, endues him with a powerful Elocution, extends his Lungs, and makes him talk with Fire, heightens his Courage, and prompts him on to undertake the blackeſt Cauſe; for dear bewitching Gold he’ll ſtretch the Statutes, rack the Law, and often make it ſpeak in the Defence of Guilt; the Client who brings moſt Guineas with him is ever welcomeſt, and much more in the right than his Opponent. The Men of Pleaſure will rack their Tenants, miſerably oppreſs their poor Dependants, attend whole Mornings at the great Man’s Levée, become baſe whining Supplicants for a Boon, and do whatever is requir’d, for ſome advantageous Poſt, for ſome ambition’d Favour. The fine Lady will be guilty of ten thouſand ſtingy Actions to make a gay Appearance, to outſhine her Neighbours; will almoſt ſtarve her Family, defraud her Servants, and ſend the Needy curſing from her Doors, rather than want Supplies for her Diverſions, a Fund for Baſſet, Ombra, Pickett, or any other of thoſe Games her Avarice makes her fond of. The Country-Wife will be the Turn-key of her Goal, like Argus, ſtill inſpect her Under- Brutes, watch all their Motions, obſerve each Bit they eat, will talk of nothing but the Arts of Saving, and thinks no Knowledge neceſſary, but 203 O6r 203 but what inſtructs her how to get: She, by a profitable Chymiſtry, turns all things into Gold, her good Houſewifry is the true Elixir, by it ſhe converts Beaſts, Birds, Trees, Plants, Flowers, and all the other Products of her Care into the nobleſt Metal, into that glittering Bullion which ſhe loves ſo well, that, like Veſpaſian, ſhe would not ſcruple to extract it from the meaneſt Things: While ſhe’s thus idly buſie, her Husband applauds his Fortune, thinks himſelf happy in having a Partner, whoſe Intellectuals are commenſurate with his own, and who kindly ſhares with him in the Toil of growing rich: While they are ſordidly employ’d in ſcraping Dirt together, the Soldier takes a more compendious Way of being wealthy; he burns and plunders, wades through Blood for Gain; expoſes his Life for Pay, ruſhes on Cannons, and fearleſs runs on Points of Swords, for Gold: Nor are they only mercenary Wretches, ſuch as fight for Bread, that are thus greedy; the Great are equally blame-worthy; Princes themſelves are as avaricious as the pooreſt of their Subjects: What elſe makes thoſe that are poſſeſs’d of ſpacious Dominions, of large and flouriſhing Kingdoms, to be encroaching on the Territories of their Neighbours, ſtill rendring them and their People miſerable, and carrying Devaſtation and Confuſion with them where-ever they extend their Arms, and by this 204 O6v 204 this means render themſelves publick Miſchiefs, when they were deſign’d for univerſal Bleſſings.
What were the Seſoſtris’s, the Alexanders, the Pompeys, the Cæſars, and all the other celebrated Heroes of Antiquity, together with all the latter Conquerors, the Tamerlanes, the Caliphs, the Attila’s, the Aureng-Zebs, and all the other Diſturbers of the World, but glorious Robbers, illuſtrious Thieves? And wherein did Cæſar differ from the Pirates he executed? He was only mightier, but not leſs criminal, his Power was an Umbrage for his Faults, and his Lawrels became his Protectors.
How happy was Sparta while ſhe deſpis’d Riches! She had the Honour of being the chiefeſt, the moſt valued City of Greece, till, in the Reign of Agis, Gold and Silver again found a Way thither; and Lyſander, by bringing in rich Spoils from the Wars, unhappily fill’d her at once with Covetouſneſs and Luxury.
Unfortunate Conquerors! how much better had it been for you never to have been victorious, than to have prov’d the occaſional Corrupters of your Country! And how cou’d thoſe things you gave them be properly call’d Goods, ſince they only ſerv’d to make their Poſſeſſors wicked?How 205 O7r 205
How infinitely preferable is that Poverty, which is accompany’d with Innocency and Content, to Wealth purchas’d by Rapine and Injuſtice, and kept with Anxiety and Remorſe?
What good, nay, what conſiderate Man would not much rather have choſen to have been the poor juſt Ariſtides, than the rich impious Callias; the Divine Plato, than the ſuſpicious, barbarous Dionyſius; the virtuous Epaminondas, than Alexander the Pherean; the contented Marcus Curius, than the greedy, ſordid Perſeus? But the generality of Men are too apt, like the laſt, to place their Happineſs in Riches, to permit Covetouſneſs to be the governing Paſſion of their Souls, that to which every other Vice muſt ſtrike Sail.
Nor are the Laity alone chargeable with this reigning Vice; ’tis not contented to erect its Throne in the outward Court of the Temple, in the leſs holy part of the ſacred Edifice, but audaciouſly enters the Sanctum Sanctorum, inſolently triumphs over thoſe who by the Dignity of their Function ought to be exempted from its Juriſdiction: Not that all are its Captives; no, there are ſome who, like the good Angels, keep their Station, ſtill fight under the Banner of the Great Meſſias, and are ſo far from yielding the leaſt Subjection to Mammon, that they bravely reſiſt all the Efforts 206 O7v 206 Efforts of Avarice, as ſcorning to have it ſaid, that they are maſter’d by their Money, are Vaſſals to their Wealth, who think it their higheſt Glory to be Almoners to infinite Goodneſs, to be the Diſtributors, and not the Ingroſſers of the Heavenly Bounty; and who, following the Advice of their Bleſſed Saviour, are not ſollicitous about corruptible Riches, but wiſely lay up for themſelves ſuch durable Treaſures, as will be their’s for ever, their’s in a future, an eternal State; can bear Poverty, not with a Stoical Apathy, but a Chriſtian Reſignation, and contentedly truſt Providence with the remaining Moments of their Lives, as not doubting but their kind Benefactor, that God to whom they owe their Being, and who extends his Care to the leaſt, the moſt inconſiderable Parts of his Creation, who gives Food to the Fowls, Beauty to the Flowers of the Field, and a delightful Verdure to the Graſs, will not neglect the Creatures whom he has vouchſafed to form after his own Image, and who have the Honour to be particularly dedicated to his Service, and to be ſeparated from the reſt of Mankind by the diſtinguiſhing Characters of Divinity.
But theſe, alas! are but few, if compar’d with the Multitude; their Number, like that of perfect Animals, being but ſmall, in compariſon of thoſe Swarms of Inſects, which are every 207 O8r 207 every where diſcoverable throughout the vaſt Extent of Nature.
’Tis, I fear, a Truth too evident to be deny’d, that too many of them are as greedy as covetous, and as incroaching as any of their poor ignorant Neighbours, more ſollicitous for their Tithes, than for the Salvation of their Pariſhioners, much more buſily employ’d in manuring their own Glebe, than in improving the Minds of ſuch as are under their Care; in a Word, as much concern’d for Earth, as it becomes them to be for Heaven.
Religion in all Ages has been the ſpecious Bait, and Prieſts the luckieſt Anglers: In the Heathen World, a blind Zeal, a bigotted Devotion, and a ſuperſtitious Dread of Hell, enrich’d their Temples, adorn’d their Shrines, and made their Altars vie with the glittering Canopy of Heaven. Mankind were then imimmers’d in Vice, inſlav’d by their Paſſions, and influenc’d by ſenſible Idea’s; the Love of ſenſual Pleaſure had taken ſo deep Root in their Hearts, that nothing was capable of ſhaking it: They had groſs Notions of Good and Evil, and their having them was almoſt unavoidable, becauſe, the Poets, who were their Præceptors, had given their Divinities not only all the Infirmities incident to the Humane Nature, but all thoſe Paſſions and Vices, to which by a fa- 208 O8v 208 a fatal Depravity, a deplorable Depradation, ’twas unhappily ſubjected.
Who could be more infamous than their Jupiter, guilty of greater Enormities than their Apollo, their Mars, their Bacchus, their Mercury, and the reſt of their Gods? Who more haughty, more paſſionate, more malicious, revengeful, and jealous than their Juno, more ſhamefully laſcivious than their Venus, more fierce and bloody than their Bellona? Their Deities being ſuch profligate Monſters, ’twas hardly poſſible that their Worſhippers ſhould be vertuous; but there being ſtill left in their Souls ſome faint Shadows of Truth, ſome pale Glimmerings of the Celeſtial Light, ſome imperfect Notices of their original Purity, they found an inward Principle, an unſeen Comptroller of their Actions, ſomething that made them uneaſy to themſelves, that pall’d their Joys, and fill’d them with diſturbing Reflexions, which like frightful Spectres ſtar’d them in the Face amidſt their criminal Purſuits; theſe Terrors were exceedingly increas’d by the Poets, their diſmal Deſcription of Hell and thoſe baleful Rivers that ſurrounded it, the tremendous Forms with which ’twas fill’d, the ghaſtly howling Cerberus, the dreadful Chimæra, the horrid Furies, the fatal Siſters, the inexorable Judges, together with the flaming Tartarus, where they were told were to be ſeen the Giants, the Danaides, and with 209 P1r 209 with them Tantalus, Ixion, Syſiphus, and all the other poetical Sufferers; theſe Stories made melancholy Impreſſions on their Imaginations; they were afraid of the Puniſhments their Guilt might render them obnoxious to; they were conſcious to themſelves of their being continually under the ſevere Inſpection of a divine Nemeſis; were willing to eſcape the expected Vengeance, and yet at the ſame time loth to part with their darling Crimes: Of this the Prieſts took Advantage, and propos’d their making an Attonement by Sacrifices, and put them into a method of rendring the Gods propitious, by erecting magnificent Temples; thus they perſwaded them, that they might by external Performances make amends for the Irregularities of their Lives, and complement them into a Connivance at their Faults: By this Artifice, they made themſelves conſiderable, and, like Phidias, ſhar’d in the Honours they had procur’d for them: By their pretended Miracles, their counterfeit Sanctity, and their dubious Oracles, they not only rais’d glorious Structures, and encreas’d their Revenues, but render’d themſelves neceſſary, and made the trembling Multitude obedient to their Precepts: Only a few enlightned Underſtandings, a few elevated Genius’s, ſaw thro’ their Tricks, diſcover’d their Legerdemain: In thoſe dark Ages, none among them, but a Socrates, a Plato, and ſome of their Diſciples, were acquaintedP quainted 210 P1v 210 quainted with the Perfections of the Deity, and knew what would pleaſe him; none but ſuch as they, knew that his Temple ought to be a purify’d Heart, and, that virtuous Thoughts, innocent Intentions, holy Diſcourſes, juſt and charitable Actions, were the only acceptable Sacrifices; but ’twas not in their Power to undeceive the People; Socrates dy’d in the Attempt, and others found it loſt-labour to endeavour to ſtem the Current: Superſtition prevail’d, and every Day made new Conqueſts; to that we owe ſome of the greateſt Edifices of Antiquity; ’twas that which rais’d the ſtately Temple of Belus, that famous one dedicated to Diana at Epheſus, and that of Jupiter at Olympia, together with thoſe ſo much celebrated in Greece and Rome; neither did that coſtly Bigotry expire with thoſe mighty Empires and flouriſhing Commonwealths mention’d in ancient Story, nor bear the ſame Date with their Religion; no, it has ever ſince appear’d on the Stage of the World, and the Prieſts have ſtill made Uſe of the ſame Arts to inrich themſelves, and buoy up their Reputation.
In the new-diſcover’d World, the great Continent of America, the Spaniards found at Cuſco, the Metropolis of Peru, the wonderful Temple of the Sun, together with the four adjoining ones, of which one was dedicated to the Moon, the ſecond to the Planet Venus, the 211 P2r 211 the third to Thunder and Lightning, and the fourth to Iris; all which, if we may credit Hiſtory, were admirably Built, and ſo richly Adorn’d, that they might vie with the fineſt Structures of Antiquity: With theſe the Pagods or Temples of Siam may claim a place; nor ought thoſe many magnificent Moſques to be forgotten, which are the beautiful Ornaments of ſeveral of the Mahometan Cities: All which are undeniable Proofs of the Truth of what I’ve been aſſerting; for among thoſe heated Zealots, there was nothing but Smoak, nothing but exterior Shows, their Fire did not yield a vital Heat, did not burn bright, their Underſtandings were obſcur’d, thick clammy Fogs, impenetrable Veils of ſolid Night were plac’d between them and their Reaſon, they could not diſcern what was good, nor ſhun what was ill; what Vice preſented as eligible, with that they clos’d, and in all Caſes appeal’d to their Senſes, and yielded to their deciſive Sentence; by them were madly hurried on; and if at any time a riſing Doubt check’d their Career, if their Conſciences grew troubleſome, they this way ſtill’d their Clamours, and hop’d to bribe ſuperior Powers by outward Marks of Veneration: Nor were theſe the Sentiments only of the Ignorant, the Idolatrous Part of Mankind; they got Footing alſo among the Jews, among the peculiar Favourites of Heaven, a People preſerv’d by P2 Wonders, 212 P2v 212 Wonders, and converſant with Miracles, inſtructed by the moſt ſublime of Philoſophers, or rather taught by God himſelf; yet this People, this illuminated Nation, when their great Legiſlator had been but a while abſent from them, found themſelves ſo ſtrongly byaſs’d by their natural Inclination to Idolatry (and the numerous Divinities they had ſo lately ſeen worſhip’d in Egypt being preſent to their Minds) that they could not be eaſy without having ſome ſenſible Repreſentation to which they might pay their Adoration; this made them apply themſelves to Aaron, and deſire him, with ſo much Earneſtneſs, to make them Gods. Good Heaven! How quickly did he yield to their Intreaties! What Miſchiefs did he bring on his wretched Nation!
The ſacred Prieſt the ſenſleſs Mob obey’d;
’Twas Aaron who the Golden Folly made:
From Egypt he the lov’d Idea brought,
The Calf was then impreſt upon his Thought,
There, by his Fancy, ſo exactly wrought,
That ev’ry Trace unalter’d did remain,
The Lines were deeply carv’d within his Brain;
Thence, by Traduction, lineally convey’d
On all his Sons the ſpreading Miſchief prey’d:
The tainted Stock did dire Effects produce,
Venom was mix’d with all its vital Juice:Th’ 213 P3r 213
Th’ impoiſon’d Juice with Swiftneſs did aſcend,
As quick as Thought to loftieſt Boughs extend,
And thence, by ſubtile Paths, to lower Branches tend,
Did on each Leaf, each ſlender Fibre ſeiſe:
Moſes himſelf encreas’d the curſtDiſeaſe,
When, by a wondrous Skill, an Art divine,
To Aſhes he their Apis did calcine,
And with their Liquor mix’d the glitt’ring Duſt,
Too much he added to their native Thirſt:
The crouding Atoms throng’d into the Brain,
Too cloſe they ſtuck to be expell’d again:
The ſacred Tribe not only Suff’rers were,
Others had in their Guilt an equal Share;
The painful Hunger all alike oppreſt,
The rav’nous Vultur prey’d on ev’ry Breaſt,
The Love of Gold its Poiſon did dilate,
Diſpers’d it ſelf throughout the wretched State;
From them into the Chriſtian Church it came;
The Chriſtian Church deſerv’d an equal blame,
Too fond it grew of Grandeur, Wealth, & Fame.
For not only the ignorant Pagans, the dull ſtupid Jews, the fooliſh deluded Muſsulmen, but the enlightned Chriſtians, the Pretenders to more Knowledge, clearer Views, and more elevated Underſtandings; not only thoſe of the former, but the preſent Age, have been too much govern’d, too much influenc’d by P3 popular 214 P3v 214 popular Notions, too much ſway’d by Opinion.
What glorious Piles, what vaſt Buildings, did Superſtition raiſe, in both the Eaſtern and Weſtern Empires! both at Conſtantinople and Rome! What was formerly more auguſt than St. Sophia! and what at preſent more magnificent than St. Peter’s!
The Grecian and Roman Clergy took equal Care to provide for themſelves and their Religion; the Honour of the Church, and their own private Advantage, went hand in hand; their Intereſts were too cloſely link’d ever to be ſever’d: they every where had wonderful Harveſts; the Bigotry of paſt Ages pour’d down plentiful Showers of Manna on them, and they gather’d it with an indefatigable Toil; and that it might be ſafe, laid it up in the Ark, put it into a ſacred Repoſitory, where ’twas out of Danger of being profan’d, of being touch’d by unhallow’d Hands. By a ſort of ſpiritual Magick, they drew almoſt all the Wealth of every Country into which they came within their ſacred Circle: By this means the Caloyers of Mount Athos built, and ſo richly endowed their Monaſteries; and by it the ſeveral Orders of the Church have eſtabliſh’d themſelves in almoſt all Parts of Europe, and everywhere amaſs’d vaſt Treaſures: in Spain and Italy they have an unlimited Power; and in thoſe two Kingdoms Poverty is 215 P4r 215 is everywhere to be ſeen, except in the Churches, the Palaces of Princes, thoſe of the Pope, and Cardinals, and the other dignified Clergy, together with the Houſes of the Religious.
How mean, how dejected are the Italians! how much degenerated from their ancient Bravery! How little do they reſemble thoſe warlike Romans who Conquer’d the World, and gave Law to almoſt all Mankind! How much has their Country loſt of its former Fertility, their Cities of their Beauty, and their Towns of their Riches! Their Altars have ingroſs’d their Treaſures, and thoſe who would be thought the Imitators of an humble ſuffering Maſter, of one who while he was here did not think fit to call any thing his own, nay, was ſo far from being rich, that he had not thoſe common Conveniences of Life which the brute Animals enjoy’d, became Competitors with their Princes, and equal to Crown’d Heads for Wealth and Grandeur: Cou’d an unprejudic’d Spectator take them to be the Succeſsors of poor plain Fiſhermen, of thoſe Apoſtles who when they received their ſacred Miſsion, were ſtrictly commanded in all their Journeys, in their long and painful Peregrinations through the World, to take with them neither Silver nor Gold, nor any other Neceſsaries, but to depend entirely on Providence, and to be contented to P4 receive 216 P4v 216 receive their Maintenance from the Charity of well-diſpoſed People, from Perſons powerfully influenc’d by that Spirit of Love, that tender and endearing Affection which in the Infancy of the Church diſtinguiſh’d the Chriſtians from thoſe of all other Religions?
Now ’tis not for ſuch Men as theſe to pretend to Reform Mankind, to aſsume the Chair, and act the Dictators: They muſt firſt begin at home, muſt firſt pull down the Golden Calf which ſtill remains inſhrin’d in their Hearts, muſt ſever the glaring Particles, and diſperſe them among the Needy; ſhew by their Practice how Riches ought to be uſed, to whom they ought to be given, and how they may be made Incentives to Virtue, before they preach it to others. They cannot but know, that Examples have always been more prevalent than Precepts, and that we are ſooner prevail’d on by what we ſee, than by what we hear: A Man who lives the Truths he teaches, cannot fail to inculcate them; they have a reſiſtleſs Force, and carry Convictions with ’em: We cannot avoid believing thoſe whoſe Words and Actions are of a piece, and who by the little Regard they have for Riches, make it evident that they are above ’em who uſe ’em with the ſame Indifferency that a Paſsenger does the Conveniences he meets with on the Road, thinks ’em no more his 217 P5r 217 his own, no more conducing to his Happineſs
I’m afraid what I have ſaid on this Subject will be miſunderſtood by the fiery Bigots of all Parties: Such as are warmly engag’d in the Intereſt of the Eſtabliſh’d Church, will accuſe me of Profaneneſs and Irreligion for ſpeaking againſt the Erecting magnificent Edifices for the Worſhip of God, and both they and the Sectaries will be offended with me for preſuming to find fault with them for endeavouring to enrich themſelves, and improving the Ignorance and Credulity of the Common People to their ſecular Advantage: They are all apt to run away with a thing as ſoon as they have read it, without affording themſelves the leiſure to examine it, and are not, amidſt the Noiſe and Hurry of their Paſſions, capable of diſcerning between Truth and Falſhood, and conſequently can’t make right Judgments: By ſuch I expect to have it ſaid, that what I have writ on this Head is a Satyr on the Clergy in general; they will not allow themſelves time to conſider, that I have put a Diſtinction between ſuch as are good, and ſuch as are not ſo; that to the firſt I have paid all the Deference due to their Character, have given all the Praiſes they deſerve; and that ’tis the laſt, thoſe that are the Blemiſhes of their Order, the Reproaches of their ſacred Function, their Antipodes whom they pretend to 218 P5v 218 to imitate, and the Reverſe of that Maſter whom they would have the World believe they ſerve, I take the Liberty to find fault with; ’tis their Avarice I cenſure, their making Religion a Maſk for their Covetouſneſs what I deplore: As for the Aſperſions which I doubt will be caſt upon me, I aſsure the Readers if they miſinterpret my Words they’ll very much wrong me in it; for I can with much Truth affirm, that I am ſo far from being an Enemy to the worſhipping of God in Churches magnificently built and finely adorn’d, that I think the Places appropriated to his Service cannot be too auguſt, nor too curiouſly embelliſh’d. I conſider, that he who is Beauty it ſelf, Perfection in the Abſtract, and has been pleas’d to impreſs ſome part of his adorable Excellencies on whatever he has made, the whole Univerſe being a charming Tranſcript, a fair and dazling Copy of thoſe beautiful Idea’s which from all Eternity were in the Divine Intellect, cannot be pleas’d with being worſhip’d in mean contemptible Places, in Structures inferior to thoſe we build for our ſelves; this is farther evident to me from the Tabernacle Moſes was commanded to make, and of which he had the Pattern given him by God himſelf while he was with him on the Mount: Every thing in it was admirable; the Utenſils that belong’d to it, and the Sacerdotal Habits, had peculiar Beauties: How rich 219 P6r 219 rich were all the Materials, how lively the Colours, how glorious the Gildings, and how curiouſly wrought, how delicately fine the Embroideries! ’Tis yet more demonſtrable from that ſtupendous Fabrick rais’d by Solomon, that ſurprizing Piece of Architecture, where every thing was exactly Regular, Beautiful, and Magnificent.
There being in the Divine Nature no Viciſsitude, no Change, nothing that has the leaſt Reſemblance to that Inconſtancy of Humour which is to be found among us, ’twere abſurd to ſuppoſe, that what pleas’d him in thoſe Ages ſhould offend him in this: When he commands us to worſhip him in Spirit and in Truth, he does not forbid us to join outward Teſtimonies of Reſpect with inward and rational Services: The Places in which we pay our Adoration ought doubtleſs to bear ſome Analogy to his Nature, to have all the ornamental Graces, all the Fineneſses we are capable of beſtowing on them; it, in my Opinion, arguing a Want of that due Reverence which it becomes us to have for the Divine Majeſty, to let thoſe Edifices which are intended for the Solemnization of his publick Worſhip, be deſtitute of handſom Embelliſhments, of any thing that may be of uſe to excite Devotion, and demonſtrate that profound and awful Veneration which ’tis fit for Creaturestures 220 P6v 220 tures to pay to their infinitely great, and unexpreſsibly bountiful Creator.
I think I have ſaid enough on this Topick to juſtify my ſelf; I ſhall only add, that I could wiſh, that ſuch as have the Honour to attend at the Altar, would give thoſe that are committed to their Charge, great Idea’s of God, endeavour to inſpire them with noble and becoming Notions of his incomprehenſible Perfections, and make it their Buſineſs to baniſh out of their Minds all ſlaviſh Fears, all ſuperſtitious Dreads, and make it their Study to raiſe them from ſenſible Repreſentations to intellectual Views.
Such among them as ſtrive to do Good, who deſire no more than will ſerve to render their Lives tolerably eaſy, and who, if they are bleſt with an Affluence of Wealth, are no farther pleas’d with it than as it puts them in a Capacity of relieving the Indigent, and rewarding the Vertuous, I think I cannot ſufficiently eſteem; but ſuch as make greater Advances, who for the Propagation of the Chriſtian Faith, and out of the tender Regard they have for ſuch as by their Ignorance and Immorality are in Danger of being everlaſtingly miſerable, chearfully expoſe themſelves to the extremeſt Poverty, the ſevereſt Hardſhips, and the greateſt Hazards that Mankind can be obnoxious to, have not only a Title to my Eſteem, but a juſt Claim to my Admiration.I have 221 P7r 221
I have but one thing more to ſay, which I had forgot to mention ſooner, and that is, that I am not againſt their having handſom Revenues, Settlements independant on the capricious Humour of the People; I am ſo far from it, that as I would have Churches not only decent, but magnificent, ſo I would have thoſe who have the Honour to be the Ambaſſadors of Heaven, not only have enough to render their Lives commodious and pleaſant, not only what is ſufficient to ſecure them from Penury and Contempt, but ſuch a Maintenance as may help to ſupport their Character, and which, if they are rais’d to Dignities, may enable them to live ſuitably to them; but then I would not have their Riches employ’d in aggrandizing their Families, made the Fewel of Vice, laid in as a Fund for Luxury, diſtributed with a partial Hand, made the Reward of Flattery, appropriated to a Party, or made uſe of to carry on ambitious Deſigns, but confer’d with a prudent and diſtinguiſhing Bounty.
If I’d a Fortune equal to my Mind,
I like, my bounteous Maker, would be kind,
Wou’d ſpread my Wealth with greedy Pleaſure round,
Near me no needy Wretches ſhou’d be found;
But ſtill the Good ſhou’d have the largeſt Share,
Both of my Love, my Riches, and my Care;For 222 P7v 222
For them I’d ſeek, to their Relief wou’d fly,
Prevent their Prayers, and all their Wants ſupply.
But ſince, O my God, thou haſt not thought fit to intruſt me with ſuch Advantages of being charitable as others are bleſs’d with, let my Deſires ſupply the Defect of Actions, and let the little I’m capable of doing be acceptable; my Mite have a place in the Treaſury, and that Cup of cold Water, which I give with an Eye to thy Honour, and the Order of things, that beautiful Order which thou haſt eſtabliſh’d in the World, receive a joyful Euge at the great Day of Retribution.
That Day, when Clangors all Divine,
Shall be the Harbingers of Fate;
When dazling Glories all around ſhall ſhine,
And God deſcend in State:
Officious Clouds ſhall gladly meet,
Shall croud into one ſolid Maſs beneath his Feet,
That God who here our Fleſh was pleas’d to wear,
For us Contempts and Pains to bear,
And all the Frailties of our Nature ſhare;
That God, who fell a Sacrifice of Love,
Now comes with glorious Terror from Above:
He comes! he comes! to judge Mankind!
To judge that World for which he dy’d!
The Good ſhall ſtill the ſame kind Saviour find,
The Bad be forc’d to own that Juſtice which they have defy’d.
See! in the clear expanded Air,
A Throne for him Angelick Forms prepare:
Angelick Forms, whoſe Number do’s tranſcend
Thoſe ſparkling Orbs of Light,
Which give a pleaſing Luſtre to the Night,
And render even its dusky Horrours bright,
Which far exceed thoſe num’rous Heaps of Sand,
Which check the Sea, and bound the Land,
And betwixt both the laſting Barriers ſtand.
He ſits ſublime, while they attend,
While they their joyful Homage pay,
While they before him humbly bend,
And at his Feet their ſhining Honours lay,
Refulgent Crowns, which if compar’d with thoſe below,
Like radiant Suns to glimmering Glow-worms ſhow.
At his Command they bid the Dead appear,
Th’ affrighted Dead the powerful Mandate hear:
All that have trod the Stage of Life ariſe,
And on the dread Tribunal fix their Eyes;
The Rich, the Poor, the Princes, and their Slaves,
Come trembling up from their deſerted Graves,
From their cloſe Manſions, full of anxious Fear,
They come to breathe ſuperior Air.
Thoſe whoſe paſt Lives have pious been,
Who to their Reaſon calm Submiſsion pay’d,
And ne’er their Paſsions willingly obey’d,With 224 P8v 224
With leſs Concern leave their obſcure Retreat:
But O! what Tongue their Horrors can repeat,
To whom their Crimes relentleſs Furies prove,
Who now are curſs’d with what they once did love!
They can’t the ſad Remembrance ſhun,
But muſt for ever view the Faults which they have done:
And each do’s juſtify their Fear:
Not the leaſt Glimpſe of Hope remains,
No Joy to mitigate their Pains,
Deſpair has bound them faſt with Adamantine Chains.
They wiſh, but wiſh in vain,
They cou’d return to their firſt Source again,
Back to that Nothing whence they roſe,
Or in ſome deep Abyſs cou’d find Repoſe,
Cou’d in the darkeſt Shades of Night
Conceal themſelves from all revealing Light.
Theſe he will ſeparate by his Pow’r Divine,
To each their proper Place aſsign:
And as a Shepherd with the tend’reſt Care
His Sheep do’s from his Goats divide,
Do’s richeſt Paſtures for the firſt provide,
Lets them exulting feed on his Right-hand,
While on his Left the Goats neglected ſtand;
So for the Good the nobleſt Station he’ll prepare,
And then in Accents ſoft as Air,In 225 Q1r 225
In the ſtill Voice of gentleſt Peace and Love,
That Voice which will extatick Raptures move,
Which welcome to their Souls as chearful Light will prove;
To them he’ll with Fraternal Kindneſs ſay,
Come ye, whom my Great Father’s pleas’d to bleſs,
Come, and immortal Joys poſseſs,
With Raptures come to that exalted State,
Long præ-ordain’d for you by Fate,
That Kingdom deſtin’d your’s, e’re ſince that Day
On which he did the World’s Foundation lay.
For me, when hungry, by Compaſsion led,
You readily with wholſome Viands fed;
And when the ſultry Heat had made me dry,
Did with refreſhing Draughts ſupply;
When wand’ring alone, I ſought Relief,
You on my Suff’rings Pity took,
With an endearing Sweetneſs calm’d my Grief,
And with a kind inviting Look,
A gen’rous Hoſpitable Air,
Receiv’d the friendleſs Stranger to your Care.
When I the greateſt Poverty endur’d,
When naked bore the Fervour of the Day,
And in the Night, expos’d to piercing Cold, uncover’d lay,
You me with Cloaths from both Extreams ſecur’d;
And, when in Pain, I languiſh’d void of Reſt,
You kindly came to viſit the Diſtreſs’d.Q When 226 Q1v 226
When to a Priſon I was cloſe confin’d,
You found me out, and with unweary’d Love,
Became the dear Phyſicians of my Mind:
Like ſovereign Balm did your Diſcourſes prove,
Into my Soul they gently were convey’d,
And clos’d thoſe Wounds which cruel Grief had made.
Then ſhall the Righteous, full of Wonder, ſay,
When, our dear Saviour, did we thus to Thee!
O how could Thirſt and Hunger on Thee prey,
Who art from all our Frailties free,
Secure from all the Suff’rings of Humanity!
Or how could’ſt thou, who ev’ry Place doſt fill,
Be any where a Stranger found,
Thou, who with Glory crown’d,
Art Lord of all,
The higher Orbs, and this inferior Ball!
Sickneſs could not its Power to Thee extend,
On whoſe Almighty Will,
Both Cauſes and Effects depend,
In whoſe bleſt Frame, with Harmony Divine,
The diff’rent Particles combine,
No noxious Humours there
Are found to mix with poiſonous Steams, or with malignant Air.
Cou’d Space Infinity confine,
Or what’s immenſe be within Limits brought,
What’s much too vaſt for Place, and ſpreads beyond th’ Extent of Thought!
Then ſhall their God from his reſplendent Throne
Thus to th’ aſtoniſh’d Juſt reply,
Since I for you left my Celeſtial Height,
And to my Self your Nature did unite,
Made it my own by that myſterious Tye:
The ſuff’ring Good as Brethren I eſteem,
To me they’re dear, my Blood did them redeem;
The ſuff’ring Good, tho’ poor, are priz’d by me,
I can thro’ Rags interior Merit ſee.
Whatever Kindneſses to them you do,
All the Regards to them you ſhew,
With an Affection to Mankind unknown,
With an Affection wonderful and new,
I’ll take as if deſign’d for me alone;
And your Reward ſhall prove
Worthy my Self, and my unbounded Love.
Then turning to the Left, with Looks ſevere,
With Looks that a Majeſtick Terror wear,
Depart, he ſays, depart, ye Curs’d, from me,
From Life and Joy, to everlaſting Miſery;
To Fire condemn’d, and never-ceaſing Pains,
To thoſe dire Realms, where, bound in horrid Chains,
Th’ Apoſtate Prince, and his infernal Train,
Devoted to retrieveleſs Woes remain.
When Thirſt and Hunger, with rapacious Haſte,
Upon my fainting Entrails prey’d,
When Sickneſs did my ſinking Spirits waſte,
With me you never ſtay’d:Q2 Not 228 Q2v 228
Not once you ſtrove to leſſen my Diſtreſs,
Show’d no Deſire to make my Suff’rings leſs:
When dying, with a baſe inſulting Pride,
My Groans you laugh’d at, did my Sighs deride:
When in your Streets I wander’d in the Night,
Helpleſs and tir’d, you with a ſcornful Eye,
From me kept off, or turn’d regardleſs by;
While in Diſtreſs you thought you had a Right
To treat me ill, and exerciſe your Spight:
And, when in Fetters, I neglected lay,
You ne’er did one condoling Viſit pay.
Tho’ ſelf-condemn’d, th’ unhappy Wretches ſtrive
To keep a while their dying Hopes alive;
Low as the Duſt their trembling Knees they bend,
And toward Heaven enfeebl’d Arms extend,
With mortal Sadneſs and dejected Eyes,
Looks where Deſpair does viſibly appear,
Joyn’d with a conſcious Shame, and a tormenting Fear;
With fault’ring Lips, and a weak broken Tone,
They to their dreadful Charge reply:
O when, they ſighing cry,
Did we ſo impious prove,
So void of Gratitude and Love?
When did’ſt thou to this Earth deſcend,
And in a mean Diſguiſe,
Thy Creatures into Faults ſurprize?
Since unto us thy Wants were never known,
O let our Ignorance for our Crimes attone:We 229 Q3r 229
We never knew thou hungry wert, or dry,
Nor yet bewilder’d in the Glooms of Night;
Nor cou’d we think that thou couldſt Garments need,
Could’ſt need our poor ſupply,
Who ſit’ſt enthron’d on high,
In Robes of dazling Light,
Robes glorious as the Sun in his Meridian Height:
Or could’ſt be ſick, from whom Health does proceed,
Or made a Priſoner, who doſt Nature ſway,
And whom ſuperior and inferior Pow’rs obey.
Th’ avenging Judge ſhall then to them reply,
In vain you on your weak Defence rely;
What you’ve alledg’d can’t make your Guilt the leſs,
You muſt my Juſtice, and your Crimes confeſs:
You knew my Laws, knew their Obſervers prov’d
My Favourite Care, the Objects that I lov’d:
Yet them you’ve treated with a barbarous Scorn,
As if they were for your Diverſion born,
Left deſtitute of Pow’r to be your Prey,
Deſign’d your Slaves, and form’d but to obey;
But know, miſtaken Wretches, ’twas on me
You threw the Pain, the Shame, the Infamy;
’Twas me you did deſpiſe,
I was the Subject of your Cruelties:
To me th’ Indignity was ſhown,
On me each Obloquy was thrown,
I each Affront reſented as my own:Q3 Then 230 Q3v 230
Then with a Frown that made their Grief compleat,
Made it as piercing, as ’twas great,
He did once more their dreadful Doom repeat;
His Voice, like Thunder, awful Fear impreſt,
It ſtruck a Terrour in each guilty Breaſt;
It ſcatter’d Horrour whereſoe’er it came,
And fill’d with dire Amaze the univerſal Frame:
’Twas heard from Heights above, to Depths below,
None cou’d from it to cloſe Receſſes go;
It was in vain from it to run,
No Place there was where they the dreadful Sound cou’d shun.
Take them, he ſaid, ye Meſſengers of Fate,
Into the flaming Gulph let them be thrown,
Where they ſhall know, when ’tis too late,
Too late ſhall own,
Their Buſineſs lay in being good alone;
In Offices of Love,
In being juſt, compaſſionate, and kind,
And in a Charity ſo unconfin’d,
It ſhould it ſelf to all Mankind extend,
And, like my wond’rous Mercy, know no End.
Paſt Actions ſhall torment them there,
Their Thoughts ſhall Furies prove,
Shall fill their anxious Souls with Fear,
With deep Remorſe and black Deſpair,
Still ſhall they laſh, and ſtill ſhall blame,
Shall ſtill excite an inward Shame;
A Shame, which ſhall for ever preſent be,
And like their other Pains, extend to vaſt Eternity.
But ye, who liberal were and kind,
Who made good Works your chiefeſt Care,
Beſtow’d your Alms with an impartial Mind,
Reſolving all that needy were
Shou’d freely of your gen’rous Bounty ſhare;
Who knew no Parties, but to Virtue true,
Her Vot’ries pity’d in Diſtreſs,
Thought a Concern was to their Suff’rings due,
And ſtrove thoſe Suff’rings to redreſs,
The nobleſt way your Kindneſs did expreſs;
Look’d without Scorn upon their mean Eſtate,
Defended them from Envy, Pride and Hate,
And buoy’d them up amidſt the croſs Events of Fate;
Shall now be for your righteous Deeds repay’d,
And hence with Pomp to Heav’nly Seats convey’d,
Where you, with me, ſhall feaſt on Joys Divine
Like me, ſhall with diſtinguiſh’d Glory ſhine.
Had not Society been that for which we were deſign’d by infinite Wiſdom, there would not have been ſo ſtrong a Byaſs in our Inclinations, ſuch Pleaſures affix’d to Converſation, ſuch irreſiſtible Charms in agreeable Company; ſomething that by a ſecret Sympathy, an internal Force, a pleaſing ſort of Violence, ſeems to link us to each other, and makes us delight in a mutual Communication of Thoughts, a reciprocal Exchange of Sentiments.
Beſides, ’tis not probable that Faculties ſo bright as ours, were given us to be conceal’d, like Sepulchral Lamps intended only to inlighten Urns, and ſpread their uſeleſs Rays around their ſmall Circumference. Doubtleſs they were deſign’d for greater, much nobler Purpoſes; their Splendour was to be more extenſive, like the Sun, to be every where conſpicuous: They were to be the Objects of Eſteem, to attract Reſpect and Veneration, by which their Influence might become more prevalent, and they thereby render’d capable of being univerſal Bleſſings.Such 233 Q5r 233
Such as had exalted Underſtandings, were not to live wholly to themſelves, to ſhine in private, but to be Guides to thoſe of leſs elevated Senſe; the Ignorant, the Novices in Knowledge, to be Scholars to the Maſters of Reaſon; ſuch as had learn’d only the Elements, the firſt Rudiments of Virtue, were to be inſtructed both by the Precepts and Examples of ſuch as had made it their long and conſtant Practice, and who, by continual Conflicts, had got the Maſtery of their Paſsions, the entire Government of themſelves; the Rich were made ſo, that they might reward Merit, and ſupply the Neceſsities of the Poor; the Great were made powerful, that they might become publick Bleſsings, Defenders of the Diſtreſs’d, Protectors of the Innocent, and Revengers of the Injur’d.
From what I’ve ſaid, it ſeems evident, that we were not created wholly for our ſelves, but deſign’d to be ſerviceable to each other, to do Good to all within the Circle of our Acquaintance, and ſome way or other render ourſelves uſeful to thoſe we converſe with; for which reaſon Solitude ought never to be our Choice, an active Life including in it much greater Perfection: But if it is our Fortune to live retir’d, to be ſhut up in a Corner of the World, and deny’d the Pleaſures of Converſation, I mean thoſe Delights which naturally reſult from rational and inſtructive Diſcourſes, we 234 Q5v 234 we ought to endeavour to become good Company to our ſelves, ought to conſider, that if we husband our Time well, improve our Abilities, lay in a rich Stock of Knowledge, and by our Diligence and Induſtry, make a happy Progreſs in the neceſsary, as well as the pleaſant Parts of Learning, we ſhall be always agreeably employ’d, and perfectly eaſie, without calling in auxiliary Aids, be chearful alone, and very entertaining to our ſelves, without being obliged for any part of our Satisfaction to thoſe Diverſions, of which the generality of Mankind are fond.
What can afford a higher, a more maſculine Pleaſure, a purer, a more tranſporting Delight, than to retire into our ſelves, and there curiouſly and attentively inſpect the various Operations of our Souls, compare Idea’s, conſult our Reaſon, and view all the Beauties of our Intellect, the inimitable Stroaks of Divine Wiſdom, which are viſible in our Faculties, and thoſe Participations of infinite Power, which are diſcoverable in our Wills?
Without us there is nothing but what will be a fit Subject for our Contemplation, and prove a conſtant and delectable Entertainment. If we look on our Bodies, the Fineneſs of their Compoſure, the admirable Symmetry and exact Proportion of their Parts, that Majeſty which appears in the Face, that Vivacity which ſparkles in the Eye, together with that noble 235 Q6r 235 noble and commanding Air which accompanies every Motion, will afford ample Matter for Meditation: If we extend our View to the ſenſitive and vegetative Kingdoms, make a ſtrict Scrutiny into the Individuals of each reſpective Kind, conſider their Forms, their Properties, their Uſes, and their peculiar Virtues; and if to theſe we add the inanimate part of the Creation, and obſerve Nature as ſhe’s there luxuriantly exhibiting her Skill in numberleſs Productions, we ſhall find abundant Matter for Thought to work upon; but if we widen our Proſpect, and look beyond the narrow Confines of this Globe, we ſhall be pleaſingly confounded with a charming Variety of Objects, be loſt in a delightful Maze, ſhall stray from one Wonder to another, and always find ſomething new, ſomething great, ſomething ſurprizingly admirable, and every way worthy of that infinite, that incomprehenſible Wiſdom, to whom they owe their Original.
Thus may we delightfully, as well as advantageouſly, employ our ſelves in our Studies, in our Gardens, and in the ſilent lonely Retirement of a ſhady Grove.
By Day, the verdent Fields, the lofty Hills, the winding Rivers, the murmuring Brooks, the bleating Flocks, the lowing Herds, the melodious Birds, the beautiful Inſects, the pretty little Reptiles, together with the vaſt Ex- 236 Q6v 236 Expanſe of Heaven, and that glorious Spring of Light which adorns it, and imprints a pleaſing Luſtre, imparts a delightful Diverſity of Colours to every thing on which it ſhines, will ſuggeſt freſh Hints: At Night ten thouſand lovely Objects will entertain us, unnumber’d Orbs of Light roll over our Heads, and keep our Thoughts agreeably employ’d.
If at any time we find, that too ſtrict an Attention, too great an Intenſeneſs of Soul, brings a Languor on our Spirits, we may have Recourſe to Books; in them (if judiciouſly choſen) we ſhall be ſure to meet with rational Amuſements, ſomething that will inſtruct, as well as pleaſe; will make our Hours ſlide eaſily along, and yet prevent their being loſt.
Dear to the Gods Ambroſia prov’d,
As dear are Books where they’re belov’d;
They’re ſtill the Mind’s delicious Treat,
Its healthful, moſt ſubſtantial Meat;
The Soul’s ennobling, ſprightly Wine,
Like Nectar ſweet, and as Divine:
Caſtalian Springs did ne’er produce
A richer, more ſpiritous Juice.
When by’t inſpir’d, we fearleſs riſe,
And, like the Giants, brave the Skies.
Pelion on Oſsa boldly lay,
From thence both Earth and Sea ſurvey:On 237 Q7r 237
On them the huge Olympus throw,
Then to the tow’ring Summet go,
Thence take a View of Worlds on High,
From Orb to Orb with Pleaſure fly;
Still upward ſoar, until the Mind
Effects do’s in their Cauſes find,
And them purſue till they unite
In the bleſs’d Source of Truth and Light.
But none can be thus happy in Solitude, unleſs they have an inward Purity of Mind, their Deſires contracted, and their Paſsions abſolutely under the Government of their Reaſon. Learning without Virtue will not, cannot beſtow Felicity: Where there is an internal Diſturbance, a Tumult of Thought, a Conſciouſneſs of Guilt, and an Anxiouſneſs of Soul, there can be no eaſie Reflections, no ſatisfying Pleaſures; no, there muſt be Innocency, Calmneſs, and a true Underſtanding of the Value of Things, before the Soul can take a Complacency in herſelf. To render a private Life truly eaſie, there muſt be Piety, as well as humane Knowledge, uncorrupted Morals, as well as an Inſight into Nature, a Regardleſsneſs of Wealth, at leaſt no eager Solicitude for it, a being wean’d from the World, from its Vanity, its Applauſe, its Cenſure, its Pomp, all that it has of inticing or diſturbing, all that it can give, or take away; for withoutout 238 Q7v 238 out an abſolute Independence on all things here, we cannot properly be ſaid to enjoy our ſelves; and without we do ſo, we cannot be happy alone.
Give me, O my God, I humbly pray Thee, ſuch Qualifications of Mind as may render me eaſie in every State, uſeful to others, and agreeable to my ſelf. When I’m in Company, enable me according to my mean Capacity, to do Good both by my Diſcourſe and my Actions; and when I am retir’d from the View of others, and only viſible to thy Divine Majeſty and my ſelf, let my Thoughts be ſtill employ’d either in bettering my own Mind, or in contemplating thy Works, buſy’d in praiſing, admiring and loving Thee, and in making freſh Diſcoveries of thy wonderful Wiſdom, of that amazing ſtupendous Skill, which may every where be obſerv’d throughout the whole Creation, till thou art pleas’d to call me to my Grave, where, while my Body lies, O let my Soul, waſh’d clean in the pure Streams of her dear ſuffering Saviour’s Blood, aſcend to that bleſs’d Place, where happy Ghoſts poſseſs uninterrupted Joys.
Where new and brighter Objects I ſhall ſee,
Objects which with my intellectual Sight agree:
Find Wonders greater than theſe here below,
And what I ſee ſhall with Exactneſs know:Shall 239 Q8r 239
Shall then no more be to my ſelf confin’d,
But live with Crouds of Spirits ever kind,
Cœleſtial Forms from every Paſsion free,
But Love, bleſt Bond of their Society;
That ſacred Bond, which do’s their Hearts unite,
Do’s them to Friendſhip’s pleaſing Sweets invite,
To Sweets which we can never here poſseſs,
To Joys which only ſeparate Souls can bleſs;
When freed from Earth, and all its baſe Alloy,
They taſte ſuch Pleaſures as ſhall never cloy;
Pleaſures, whoſe Guſt is much too high for Senſe,
Too ſtrong, too pure, too laſting, too intenſe;
Joys to exalted Reaſon only known,
Of which not here the ſmalleſt Glimpſe is ſhown:
What we call Friendſhip does from Intereſt riſe,
’Tis mean, ’tis vile, ’tis what the Good deſpiſe;
Is but a Trade, a Trafficking for Gain.
How few are they who little Tricks diſdain,
Scorn wheedling Arts, and uncorrupted Truth maintain?
But thoſe Above, thoſe wiſe, thoſe ſpotleſs Minds,
Are ſtill ſincere, it there the nobleſt welcome finds,
Love reigns ſupreme, and its diffuſive Fire,
Warms every Breaſt, do’s every Heart inſpire;
Its Flames ſtill riſe, till that dear happy Day,
When Heav’nly Glories all their Pomp diſplay;When 240 Q8v 240
When new Delights ſhall bleſs their wond’ring Eyes,
And they in ſhining Bodies mount the Skies,
Shall meet their God in Extaſies Divine,
And to his Love each meaner Bliſs reſign.