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fins. It destroys the innocence of an indifferent action, and gives an evil action all possible blackness and horror, or in the emphatical language of sacred writ, “ makes “ sin exceeding sinful.”
If, in the lait place, we consider the nature of an indifferent intention, we shall find that it destroys the merit of a good action ; abates, but never takes away, the malignity of an evil action ; and leaves an indifferent action in its natural ttate of indifference.
It is therefore of unspeakable advantage to possess our minds with an habitual good intention, and to aim all cur thoughts, words and actions at some laudable end, whether it be the glory of our Maker, the gocd 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, bụt 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.
There is something very devout, though not folid, in Acofta's answer to Limborch, who objects to him the nultiplicity of ceremonies in the Jewish religion, as washings, dresses, meats, purgations, and the like. The rep!y which the Jew inakes upon this occasion, is, to the best of my remembrance, as follows: 'There are
not duties enough (says he) in the essential parts of 'the law for a zealous and active obedience. Time, place, and person are requisite, before you have an opportunity of putting a moral virtue into practice. We have therefore, says he, enlarged the sphere of our duty; and made many things which are in themselves indifferent, a part of our religion, that we may have more occasions of shewing our love to God, and in all * the circumstances of life be doing something to please • him.'
Monsieur St. Evremond has endeavoured to palliate the superstitions of the Roman-catholic religion with the fame kind of apology, where he pretends to consider the different spirit of the papists and the calvinifts, as to the great points wherein they disagree. He tells uis, that the former are actuated by love, and the other by fearı; and that in their expressions of duty and
devotion tokards the Supreme Being, the former feen" particularly careful to do every thing which may poffibly please him, and the other to abstain from
every thing which may poslibly displease hiin.
But notwithstanding this plausible reason with which both the Jew and the Roman-catholic would excuse their respective superstitions, it is certain there is something in them very pernicious to mankind, and destructive to religion ; because the injunction of superfluous ceremonies makes such actions duties, as were before indifferent, and : by that means renders religion more burthensome and difficult than it is in its own nature, betrays many into fins of omission which they could not otherwise be guilty of, and fixes the minds of the vulgar to the shadowy unessential points, instead of the more weighty and inore important matters of the law.
This zealous and active obedience however takes place 3 in the great point we are recommending ; for if, instead
of prescribing to ourfelves indifferent actions as duties, we apply a good intention to all our most indifferent
actions, we make our very existence one continued act E of obedience, we turn our diversions and amusements to
our eternal advantage, and are pleasing him, whom we are made to please, in all the circumstances and occurrences of life.
It is this excellent frame of mind, this holy officiousness, if I may be allowed to call it such, 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, whe'ther we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do.'
-A person therefore who is possessed 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 bim. He lives in a perpetual sense of the Divine Presence, regards himself as acting, in the whole course of his existence, under the obfervation and inspection of that Being, who is privy to all his motions, and all his thoughts, who knows his.
“ down-fitting and his up-rifing, who is about his path, “ and about his bed, and spieth out all his ways.” In a word, he remembers 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 either reward or punish it. This was the character of those holy men of old, who in that beautiful phrase of bripline are faid to have “ walked with God.
Which I employ myself upon a paper of inorality, I genelly consider how I may recommend the particular virtue which I treat of, by the precepts or examples of the ancient heathens ; by that means, if possible, to shame those who have greater advantages of knowing their duty, and therefore greater obligations to perform it, into a better course of life : belides that many among us are unreasonably disposed to give a fairer hearing to a pagan philofopher, than to a christian writer.
I shall therefore produce an instance of this excellent frame of mind in a speech of Socrates, which is quoted by Erasmus. This great philofopher on the day of his execution, a little before the draught of poison was brought to bim, entertaining his friends with a discourse on the immortality of the foul, has these words: “Whe" ther or no God will approve of my actions, I know not ;
but this I am sure of, that I have at all times “ made it my endeavour to 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 intention which I would here inculcate, and with which that divine philosopher always acted. I shall only add, that Erasmus, who was an unbigoted Roman-catholic, was so much transported with this palfage of Socrates, that he could fcarce forbear looking upon him as a faint, and defiring him to pray for him ; or as that ingenious and learned writer has expressed himself in a much more lively manner : “ When I reflect on
such a speech pronounced by such a person, I can “ scarce forbear crying out, Sancte Socrates, or a pro nobis : “ O holy Socrates, pray for us.
Monday, November 5.
-Perierunt tempora lungi
Juv. Sat. 3. ver. 124. A long dependence in an hour is loft.
DRYDEN. I did some time ago lay before the world the unhappy condition of the trading part of mankind, who suffer by want of punctuality in the dealings of persons above them ; but there is a set of men who are much more the objects of compassion than even those, and these are the dependents on great men, whom they are pleased to take under their protection as such as are to ihare in their friendship and favour. These indeed, as well from the homage that is accepted from them, as the hopes which are given to them, are become a sort of creditors : and thele debts, being debts of honour, ought, according to the accustomed maxim, to be first discharged.
When I speak of dependents, I would not be understood to mean those who are worthless in themselves, or who, without any call, will press into the company of their betters. Nor, when I speak of patrons, do I mean those who either have it not in their power, or have no obligation to afsift their friends ; but I speak of such leagues where there is power and obligation on the one part, and merit and expectation on the other.
The division of patron and client, may, I believe, include a third of our nation ; the want of merit and real worth in the client, will strike out about ninety-nine in an hundred of these ; and the want of ability in patrons, as many of that kind. But however, I'mustbeg leave to say, that he who will take up another's time and fortune in his service, though he has no profpect of rewarding his merit towards him, is as unjust in his dealings as he who takes up goods of a tradeiman without intertion or ability to pay him. Of the ferr
of the class which I think fit to consider, there are not two in ten who succeed, insomuch that I know a man of good sense who put his son to a blacksmith, though an offer was made him of his being received as a page to a man of quality. There are not more cripples come out of the wars than there are from those great services; fome through discontent lose their speech, some their memories, others their senses or their lives; and I feldom see a man thoroughly discontented, but I conclude he has had the favour of some great man. I have known of such as have been for twenty years together within a month of a good employment, but never arrived at the happiness of being possessed of any thing.
There is nothing more ordinary, than that a man who is got into a considerable station, shall immediately alter his manner of treating all his friends, and from that moment he is to deal with you as if he were your fate. You are no longer to be consulted, even in matters which concern yourself; but your patron is of a species above you, and a free communication with
you is not to be expected. This perhaps may be your condition all the while he bears office, and when that is at an end, you are as intimate as ever you were, and he will take it very ill if you keep the distance he prescribed you towards him in his grandeur. One would think this should be a behaviour a man could fall into with the worst grace imaginable ; but they who know the world have seen it more than once. I have often, with secret pity, heard the same man who has professed his abhorrence against all kind of passive behaviour, lose minutes, hours, days, and years in a fruitless attendance on one who had no inclination to befriend him. It is very much to be regretted, that the great have one particular privilege above the rest of the world, of being flow in receiving impressions of kindness, and quick in taking offence. The elevation above the rest of mankind, except in very great minds, makes men so giddy, that they do not see after the same manner they did before : thus they despise their old friends, and strive to extend their interests to new pretenders. By this means it often happens that when you come to know how you loft such an employmert,