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THOSE who have fearched into human nature ob
HOSE who have fearched into human nature obferve, that nothing more fhews the nobleness of the foul, than that its felicity consists in action. Every man has fuch an active principle in him, that he will find out something to employ himself upon, in whatever state of life he is posted. I have heard of a gentleman who was under close confinement in the Bofrille feven years; during which time he amused himfelf in scattering pins about his chamber, gathering them up again, and placing them in different figures in the arm of a great chair. He often told his friends afterwards, that unleis he had found out this piece of exercise, he verily believed that he should have Loft his senses.SpecTATOR, Vol. II. No. 116. T.
We should cast all our actions under the division of suc i as are in themselves good, bad, or indifferent; and to direct them in such a manner, that every thing we do, may turn to account at that great day when every thing we have done will be set before us.
A good intention joined to a good action, gives it its proper force and efficacy; joined to an evil action, extenutes its malignity, and in fone cafes may take it wholly away; and joined to an indifferent action, turns it to a virtue, and makes it meritorious, as far as human actions can be fo.
In the next place, to consider in the same manner the influence of an evil intention upon our actions. An evil intention perverts the best of actions, and makes them in reality what the fathers have termed the virtues of the heathen world, so many shining faris. It destroys the innocence of an indifferent action; and gives an evil action all possible blackness and horror ; or, in the emphatical language of Holy Writ, makes fin exceeding finful.
It is then of unspeakable advantage to poffefs our minds with an habitual good intention, and to aim all our thoughts, words, and actions at some laudable end, whether it be the glory of our Maker, the good of mankind, or the benefit of our own souls.
This is a sort of thrift or good husbandry in moral life, which does not throw away any fingle action, but makes
every one go as far as it can, it multiplies the means of salvation, increases the number of our virtues, and diminishes that of our vices.
It is this excellent frame of mind, this holy officiousness, which is recommended to us by the Apostle in that uncommon precept, wherein he directs us to propose to ourselves the glory of our Creator in all our most indifferent actions, whether we eat, or drink, or. whatsoever we do..
A person therefore who is poffefled with such an habitual good intention, as that which I have been here speaking of, .enters upon no. single circumstance of life without considering it as well pleasing to the great Author of his Being, conformable to the dictates of reason, suitable to human nature in general, or to that particular station in which Providence has placed him. He lives in a perpetual sense of the divine presence, regards himself as acting in the whole course of his existence under the observation and in. spection of that Being who is privy to all his motions and all his thoughts, who knows his down-fitting and his uprising, who is about his path, and about his bed, and Spieth out all his ways. In a word, he remembereth that the eye of his Judge is always upon him; and in : every action he reflects that he is doing what is commanded or allowed by him who will hereafter 1eward or punish it: this was the character of those holy men of old, who in that beautiful phrafe in scrip. ture are said to have walked with Gode
There is an excellent speech of Socrates : This great : philosopher,' on the day of his execution, a little before the draught of poison was brought to him, en. tertaining his friends with a discourse on the immortality of the souly has thele words:~Whether.or not : God will approve of my actions, I know not; but this I am fure of, that I have at all times made it my endeavour. 10 please him, and I have a good hope that this my endeavour will be accepted by him. We find in these words of that great man, the habitual good intenion which I would.
here inculcate, and with which that divine philofo. pher always acted. I shall only add, that Erasmus, who was an unbigoted Roman-Catholic, was fó much transported with this passage of Socrates, that he could scarce forbear looking upon him as a Saint, and desiring him to pray for him, or as that learned and ingenious writer has expreffed himself in a much more lively manner : When I reflect on such a speech pronounced by such a person, I can hardly forbear crying out, Sancte Socrates, ora pro nobis : O holy Socrates, pray
SPECTATOR, Vol. III. No. 213. L.
THERE is nothing which we receive with so much
reluctance as advice. We look upon the man who gives it us, as offering an affront to our understanding, and treating us like children or idiots. There is nothing fo difficult as the art of making advice agreeable : the pens of the ancients and moderns have been exercised upon this occasion. How many devices have been made use of to render this bitter potion palatable! Some convey their instruction to us in the best chofen words, others in the most harmonious numbers ; fome in points of wit, and others in short proverbs. But among all the different ways of giving
counsel, that which pleases the most universally, is Fable ; it excels all others, because it is the least shocking, and therefore the most delicate. This will appear, reflect, that upon the reading of a Fable, we are made to believe we advise ourselves : We pérufe the au. thor for the sake of the story, and consider the precepts rather as our own conclusions than his instructions. This is confirmed by the examples of the wise men of old, who chofe to give counsel to their princes in this method; an instance of which we have in a Turkish Tále, which informs us, that the Sultan Mahamoud, by his perpetual wars abroad, and his tyranny at home, had filled his dominions with ruin and desolation, and half unpeopled the Persian Empire. The Vifer to this great Sultan pretended to have learned of a certain Dervise, to understand the language of birds, so that there was not a bird that could open his mouth, but the Visier knew what it said. As he was one evening with the Emperor, in their return from hunting, they saw a couple of owls upon a tree that grew near an old wall out of a heap of rubbish. I would fain know, says the Sultan, what these two owls are saying to one another ;, listen to their discourse, and give me an account of it. The Visier approached the tree, pretending to be very attentive to the two owls. Upon his return to the Sultan-Sir, says he, I have heard part of their con versation, but dare not tell you what it is. The Sultan would not be satisfied with such an answer, but forced him to repeat, word, for word, every thing the owls had said. You must know then, said the Visier, that one of thefe owls has a Son, and the other a Daughter, between whom they are now upon a trea-. ty of marriage. The father of the son said to the father of the daughter, in my hearing, brother I con-. sent to this marriage, provided you will settle upon your daughter fifty ruined Villages for her portion. To which the father of the daughter replied, instead of fifty, I will give her five hundred, if you please. God grant a long life to Sultan Mahamoud; whilft he reigns over us, we shall never want ruined Villages.
The story says, the Sultan was. fo touched with the Fable, that he rebuilt the towns and villages which, had been destroyed, and from that time forward con-. sulted the good of his people.
SPECTATOR, Vol. VII, No. 512. O..
LATO the Poets, which seem to reflect on the gods as the authors of Injustice, and lays it down as a principle, that whatever is permitted to befall a just man, whether poverty, fickneis or any of those things which seem to be evils, shall-cither in life or death conduce to his good. My reader will, observe how agreeable this maxim is to what we find delivered by a greater authority. Seneca has written a discourf purposely on this subject, in which he takes pains, after the doctrine of the Stoicks, to fhew that adversity is not in itself an Evil; and mentions a noble faying of Demetrius, that nothing would be more un. happy than a man who had never known affliction : He compares Prosperity to the indulgence of a fond mother to a child, which often proves its ruin; but the affection of the divine Being, to that of a wise father, who would have his fons, exercised with hard labour, disappointment, and pain, that they may gather strength and improve their fortitude. On this occalion the Philosopher rises into that celebrated fentiment, that there is not on earth a spectacle more worthy the regard of a Creator intent on his works, than a brave man superior to his sufferings ; to which he adds, thar it must be a pleasure to Jupiter himself, to look down from Heaven, and see Cato amid the ruins of his country preserving his integrity.
SPECTATOR, Vol. III. No.: 237: , When the mind has been perplexed with anxious cares and passions, the best method of bringing it to its usual Itate of tranquility, is, as much as we poffibly can, to turn our thoughts to the adversities of perfons of higher consideration in virtue and merit than ourselves. By this means, all the little incidents of our own lives, if they are unfortunate, seem to be the effect of Justice upon our faults and indiscretions. When those whom we know to be excellent and des