Page images
[ocr errors]

prehensive Text, I shall be as brief as possible in my Remarks.

1. PRUDENCE is the humane Effect of divine Wisdom. This comes from God, to die rea Man in that, as the first River of the Fountain of all Duty ; flowing with heavenly Gifts and Graces, into all the virtuous Actions upon Earth: as it is in Ecclef. Chap. i. Ver. 23. Wisdom raineth duwon Knowledge and wife Understanding, and bringetb to Honour, those that popless ber in Truth. Cicero afferts, that a prudent Man cannot but be good of Course. The learned Socrates calls Prudence the Princess of moral Virtues, teaching us the true Knowledge of our supreme Good, the last End of our Be. ing, and the best Means of obtaining that Fe. licity. It does not only give us a perfect Idea of Good, but an exact Distinction of Evil. 10 is a Beam of the Sun ; which not only inlightens our Understandings against Vice, but likewise warms our Affections into a Choice of Virtue, as willing as deliberate. The wise Bins compares it to the Sight among the Five Senses, as the most subtile, piercing, and beautiful among all other Virtues for its Conduct and Direction. It is the best Pilut in á Storm of Pallions. It can command the most boisterous Sea into a Calm. It insures against all Ship-wrecks, by Memory, Understanding and Providence; the Three curious Eyes, by which Prudence views either Times or Things, past, present and to come, with the most mature Deliberation. A prudent Man well remembers the First, injoys the Second, and foresees the Third, accord. ing to Ilocrates's Admonition. There is no, wha would have thought it, with hini, as is affirm'd for a Folly by Demosthenes. Prudence appears




in the Poffesor of it, by the discreet Govern-
ment of his person ; whether of his good Man. .
ners, and Conditions within, as Justice, Honour
and Honesty: or his social Practices and Trans-
a&tions without the Body; as Sobriety of Diet,
comely Entertainment, good House-keeping,
friendly Conversation, or commendable Use of
his Substance and Riches. Thus he may soon
become the wisest. King, Politician, or Oecono-
mist : by discerning good Things from bad;
by neither giving, nor taking ill Counsel ; by
helping Innocency, and correcting Malice, ac-
cording to the best Philosopher's Advice. He
cannot alter his folid Mind through Praise or
Dispraise, Fortune or Misfortune, Honour or
Digrace.” He can never be astonish'd through
Fear, discourag'd through Violence, disturbid
through faise Accusations, press'd down with
Sorrow, or pufft-up with Prosperity. In all
Changes, he abides constant; in all Dangers,
valiant ; and in all Pleasures, abstemious, or
Muster of Himself. His Conversation gives Life
to the Hearers, and charms them into Delight,
as well as Attention. He is always pleasant
in his Sports, facetious in his Discourse, and in-
structive in his Diversions. His very Laughter
has the Power of exhilarating other People's
Hearts. He can weep with Heraclitus, to la-
ment; and laugh with Democritus, to ridicule
the growing Vanities of the World. In short,
this is the King of all Hearts; who can never
be bewitch'd with Vice, nor wedded to such
Witchcraft, as Rebellion against Heaven. Alex-
ander the Great, always had this Saying of
Homer's in his Mouth; In Counsel wife, and va-
liant in the Fight : taking Prowess only for the
Effect of a prince-like Prudence. He only com-

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



puhole Army's of Prudened for that might bee his

pell’d those he conquer'd to Happiness, under the benign Influences of his prosperous Arms, A lawful Monarchy makes all people so; if it was but universal! I leave Cæfar to his own . glorious Comment aries, who wrought more. Exploits by this Virtue, than the Valour of his whole Army; whom his Whig-Enemy, Cicera, calls a Monster of Prudence, or a Prodigy of incredible Diligence: And for that very Reason, as well as other Arguments that might be alleg’d, no monarchical Writer ought to quote his Authority for any Government, but a CommonWealth. But I must not be too prolix, or imprudent in the Application, while I ftudy Breyity.

II. SPEECH is a divine Work of great Admiration; in which Prudence appears almost as much as in any other Action of humane Life. It ought to proceed from the Mouth of Wisdom, as well as the Abundance of an understanding Heart. 'Tis a great Virtue to speak little and well, to the Purpose. 'Tis Sacrilege to polute, or defile so holy a Thing, with prophane, vile, or filthy Talk. St. Matthew puts it upon the Tryal of Life and Death, Chap. xii. Ver. 35, 36, 37. according to the good or bad Treasure of the Heart, condemning, or acquitting the Speaker. Plutarch calls Speech, comparatively, the Nourishment of the Soul, that is easily corrupted, and becomes odious by Wickedness, Immorality, or Prophanation. The holy Scripțure is full of this Truth; as Prav. Chap. xvii. 'Ver. 27, 28. He that bath Knowledge, Spareth his Words: and a Man of Understanding, is of an excellent Spirit. Even a fool when he holdeth his l'ence, is counted 'mise: and have that putteth his Lips, is 'efieemd, a Man of Understanding: And ! Pete Chap. ill. Ver. 10. If any Man loni


after Life, and love to see good Days, let him real frain his Tongue from Evil, and his Lips that they speak no Guile. For every Man shall eat of the Fruit of his Mouth, to Salvation, or to Condemnation. In short, the true Government of the Tongue, is one of the greatest Virtues ; which can never be subverted, but by the grossest Folly, Madness, or Indiscretion. The wonderful Formation of Speech, by the Vibrations

of Air into Sound, should perswade us to the : Admiration of Wisdom. Themistocles compa

red it to rich Tapestry unfolded, displaying the glorious Figures of History to the Eye, as this does the hidden Thoughts of the Mind to the Ear. Democritus callid Words, the Shadow of Works. Socrates said, they were the visible Similitudes, and lively Images of the Soul, in Expression. The Force and Efficacy of fine Speaking, is wonderful in the Hearers. Nothing can be more perswafive than Oratory. Every Word that a Man speaks, ought to be a Lam, not a Lie. Lying is the greatest Difgrace of the Gift. It betrays the Faculty into Discredit and Unbelief. Philosophy is a Profefsion of serious, grave, and weighty Matters ; which excludes all frivolous Tittle-Tattle, trifling Banter, or vain Babbling. Agapet us compares the Tongue to a musical Instrument; which, if well manag’d, will play us a Tune, with all the Concords of a true Harmony of Virtue. Vocally consider'd, it will sing us a Song of Wisdom, directed by a religious Understanding. Speech, like Gold, is best when it has the least Dross. It ought to contain a great Deal of good Doctrine in a little Compass. Laconical Sayings, short and sententious, are the most instructive, without any Bactology. A few

significant Words of Wit, well-contriv'd, are the most agreeably grave, graceful, and com. prehensive of Edification. Philip of Macedonia, threat'ning once verbosely, if he enter'd Laconia, what he would do; was answer'd with an IF. A Monofyllable, sometimes, proves the properest Reply. However, the gravest Discourse mix'd with a little innocent Mirth, delightful Sweetness, and gracious Eloquence, void of all Diffoluteness, is very edifying, as well as agreeable to the Hearing. The Graces and the Muses wisely met together, as Euripides says, make the most harmonious Assembly. Good Examples also fitly apply'd, are very profitable for instru&tion. Likeness is so perswalive, that a great Part of humane Life consists in Imitation. Aristotle condemns Prating among eloquent Pleaders, Phocion told Leofthenes once, for a verbose Ora. tion he made, that his Words were like Cypresso Trees, very big and lofty ; but bear no Fruit. Plato calls Babblers Thieves of Time ; and Plutarch compares them to empty Voffels, that have more Sound than Solidity, more Noise than Nourishment. But the Intemperance of the Tongue is the worst of all, according to Bias. A perpetual Clack is grating to the Ear, and disturbs the Brain. It spoils all well-mix'd Conversation, by ingrossing all the Talk to it self, The Duplicates of our Eyes and Ears, ought to instruct us better ; that we ought to bear and Jee much more than we Speak. Great Men, or Princes, of all others, should speak very little, because their Words are often taken for Laws, Oracles, and Decrées. Nothing ought to escape their Mouths, without good Deliberation, for Fear of being mistaken: which made Tiberius manage all his publick Affairs by Writing. Si


« PreviousContinue »