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dew-drop on the grass. Is it inherent in the structure of the human frame? No :-Strip off the scarf-skin to the thickness of a filh's scale; and the charming fair grows hideous to behold. A sudden fright alarms her; a fit of sickness attacks her; the roses fly from her cheeks ; her eyes lose their fire; she looks haggard, pale, and ghastly. Even in all the blooming pride of beauty, what is the human frame? A mass of corruption, and disease covered over with a fair skin. When the animating spirit flies, and leaves the lovely tabernacle behind, how foon does horror fucceed to admiration! How do we hasten to hide out of fight the loathsome remains of beauty! Open the charnel- house in which, a very little while ago, the celebrated toast was laid. Whocan now bear to look on that face, shrivelled, and black, and loathsome, which used to be the delight of every youthful gazer? Who could now touch, with one finger, her, whose very steps the enamoured youth would have killed ? Can the lover himself go near, without stopping his nose at her, who used to breathe all the perfumes of the spring ? If beauty is a subject for boasting, what is matter of mortification ?
The accomplishments of the mind are likewise two, knowledge and virtue. Is there any reason to be proud of the poor attainments we can in the present state gain in knowledge, of which the perfection is, To know our own weakness ? Is that an accomplishment to be boafted of, which a blow on the head, or a week's illness will destroy? As to our attainments in virtue, or religion, to be proud on those accounts, would be to be proud of what we did not possess : for pride would annihilate all our virtues, and render our religion vain. If our virtue and religion be not founded in humility, they are false and sophisticate; consequently of no value, And who would be proud of what is of no value ?
The pride of riches is yet more monstrous than any of the others. To turn the good gift of Providence into vanity and wantonness; to value one's self upon what is altogether foreign and accidental, and makes no part of merit, as not being the inherent qualification either of body or mind, nor any way valuable or
honourable, but according as we use it : What can be conceived more remote from common sense, unless we reflect on the folly of those who take occasion to value themselves on their birth, and are proud that tiey can trace back a great many fathers, grand fathers, and great-grandfathers, whose virtues and vices belonged wholly to themselves, and are gone with them? It is amazing to think how poor a pretence is thought sufficient to support human folly. The family of the cottager is as ancient as that of the lord of the manor, if it could be traced. And in every family there have been scoundrels, as well as heroes, and more of the former than the latter.
As pride was the introduâion to all the evil that we know of in the moral world, so humility is the only foundation, upon which the structure of virtue can be raised. A submissive, tractable temper is alone capable of being formed to obedience. A mind puffed up with self-opinion, cannot bring itself to listen to advice, or to yield to just authority. The wife man endeavours to attain such a knowledge of himself, that he may neither, on one hand, act a part unworthy of himself, nor, on the other, forget his present humble station, and presume on any thought or action unsuitable to it.
Before we can hope to go any great length in the due regulation of our paflions or inclinations, we must tesolve carefully to study, and thoroughly to master, that most useful of all sciences, self-knowledge.
It is not in schools, in universities, or in the voluminous works of the learned, that we must search for this most important branch of knowledge. He, who would know himself, must search carefully his own heart, must study diligently his own character. He must above all things study the peculiar weaknesses of his nature. In order to find out these, he ought to recollect often what particular follies have most frequently drawn him into difficulties and distresses. If he finds, that he has been often engaged in quarrels, and disputes, he may conclude, that the passion of anger is too powerful in him, and wants to be brought under subjection. Įf he recollects various instances of his behaving in a lewd, an intemperate, an envious, or a malicious manner, and that he has often had occasion to blame himself for a behaviour which has brought upon him the reflections of the sober and regular part of people; it is evident, where the fault lies, and what is to be corrected. But conscience, and the sacred rule of life contained in holy scripture, are more certain tests by which to try one's character, than the general opinion of mankind.
Nothing is more common, than for a person's weakness to be known to every body but himself. Let a man therefore fet his own conduct at a distance from himself, and view it with the same eye as he may suppose a stranger regards it; or with the same as he himself views that of another person. Let one endeavour to find out some person, whose behaviour and character comes the nearest to his own; and in that view himself as in a mirror. And as there is generally some resemblance between the characters of those, who keep up a long friendship, a man may, generally speaking, see his own likeness in that of his friend.
It will be of great consequence to you to know what character is drawn of you by your enemy, especially if you find several agree in the fame. Enemies will help you, more than friends, in discovering your faults ; for they will aggravate what your friends will leffen.
Attend carefully to the general strain of your thoughts. Observe what subjects rise oftenert, and abide longest in your mind, and what you dwell upon with the greatest delight. You will by that find out what parfion, or appetite, has the ascendant, and ought to be fubdued. It is from the fulness of the heart that the mouth speaks. And from a man's eager manner of talking on certain favourite subjects, every one, who spends an hour in his company, finds out his prevailing passion, while he himself perhaps is, all his life, wholly ignorant of it. Lastly, whoever means in earneft to come at the true knowledge of his own weaknesses, let him listen, with the most facred attention, to every motion of conscience. There is more meaning in her softest whisper, than in the loudest applause of the unthinking multitude.
Another direction of the utmost consequence to our setting about the due regulation of our paflions, and indeed to our behaving in general in a manner suitable to the true digoity of our nature, is, That we reverence ourselves.
The effect, which a justand habitual sense of the grandeur and importance of our nature, and the high elevation we are formed capable of, would have upon us, is, To inspire us with sentiments worthy of ourselves, and suitable to the gracious designs of the Author of our being. This is very consistent with that humility which becomes us so well in our present condition. Humility is commendable: Baseness odious. Did men habitually consider themselves as formed for immortality, they would not so generally set their whole hearts upon the present life. Did they constantly keep in mind their heavenly Original, and the end of their creation, they could not thus fink their very fouls into earth. Did they often reflect upon the worth of immortal minds, they would not think of fatisfying them with the gross and sordid objects of sense. Did they confider themselves as intended for companions of angels and archangels, they would not, by indulging carnal appetite, debase themselves to the level of the brutes.
Did they duly reverence themselves as beings formed for the contemplation and fruition of infinite Perfection, they would think ic beneath them to place their happiness in the enjoyment of any thing created.
One general rule carefully attended to, and the judgment of our own consciences according to it faithfully followed, would make the whole conduct of the passions and appetites clear, and would prevent our falling into any error in indulging or fuppresling them. The rule is, To confider what good purpose is to be gained by the exertion of every active power of the mind; and to take care, that in the conduct of every palfion and appetite, we have that end fingly, and nothing else in view.
I will therefore proceed to shew, in a particular manner, how this rule is to be applied in the regulation of
those of our passions and appetites, which have important eflects upon our moral characters.
That motion of the mind, which we call Love, or Defire, tends naturally to draw and engage us to whatever is either in its own nature truly amiable and excellent, or which our present state renders it necessary that the should be engaged to. There is no danger of our loving God, or virtue, or desiring our own real happiness too much. For these are proper and worthy objects of the best affections of every rational being throughout the whole of its existence. The inclination we find in ourselves toward such objects, is the pure effect of our having clear and rational apprehensions of their real, internal excellence; not of any factitious or arbitrary taste implanted in our minds, or any arbitrary fitness in such objects to gain our affections. No ravonal unprejudiced mind in the universe ever had, or can have, just apprehensions of the Divine perfections, and of the excellence of virtue, that has not admired and loved them. And the clearer the apprehenfions, the stronger must be the affection.
To mix and confound together all the motions of the mind, and to range them all indiscriminately under one head, is reducing the whole philofophy of Human Nature to a mere jumble. Hunger or thirst, for example, are no more to be considered under the head of selflove, than anatomy under that of astronomy. The pure disioteretted love of virtue is no more to be called a factitious or arbitrary inclination, as the mutual defires of the fexes undoubtedly is, than gravitation is to be called folidity or extension. The bodily appetites, improperly so called, are plainly factitious and temporary: for we can conceive of a living, conscious, rational being, who has not so much as an idea of them; nay, the time will comie, when they will be wholly forgot by at least some of our own species. But is it possible to conceive of a living, conscious, rational being, who, if left to itself free and uncorrupted, should be able to avoid loving virtue, or could be indifferent to goodness, as foon as it became an object of its perception ? Again, the fitness between the appetite and the object is in some 2