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danger to be misled by the general current and business of his. tory; and, looking on Alexander and Cæsar, and such-like heroes, as the highest instances of human greatness, because they each of them caused the death of several hundred thousand men, and the ruin of a much greater number, overran a great part of the earth, and killed the inhabitants to possess themselves of their countries--we are apt to make butchery and rapine the chief marks and very essence of human greatness. And if civil history be a great dealer of it, and to many readers thus useless, curious and difficult inquirings in antiquity are much more so; and the exact dimensions of the Colossus, or figure of the Capitol, the ceremonies of the Greek and Roman marriages, or who it was that first coined money ; these, I confess, set a man well off in the world, especially amongst the learned, but set him very little on in
I shall only add one word, and then conclude: and that is, that whereas in the beginning. I cut off history from our study as a useless part, as certainly it is where it is read only as a tale that is told ; here, on the other side, I recommend it to one who hath well settled in his mind the principles of morality, and knows how to make a judgment on the actions of men, as one of the most useful studies he can apply himself to. There he shall see a picture of the world and the nature of mankind, and so learn to think of men as they are. There he shall see the rise of opinions, and find from what slight and sometimes shameful occasions some of them have taken their rise, which yet afterwards have had great authority, and passed almost for sacred in the world, and borne down all before them. There, also, one may learn great and useful instructions of prudence, and be warned against the cheats and rogueries of the world, with many more advantages which I shall not here enumerate.
ORTHODOXY AND HERESY.
The great division among Christians is about opinions. Every sect has its set of them, and that is called Orthodoxy; and he that professes his assent to them, though with an implicit faith, and without examining, is orthodox, and in the way to salvation. But if he examines, and thereupon questions any one of them, he is presently suspected of heresy; and if he oppose them or hold the contrary, he is presently condemned as in a damnable error, and in the sure way to perdition. Of this, one may say, that there is nor can be nothing more wrong. For he that examines, and upon a fair examination embraces an error for a truth, has done his duty more than he who embraces the profession (for the truths themselves he does not embrace) of the truth, without having examined whether it be true or no. And he that has done his duty accord
ing to the best of his ability, is certainly more in the way to heaven than he who has done nothing of it. For if it be our duty to search after truth, he certainly that has searched after it, though he has not found it, in some points has paid a more acceptable obedience to the will of his Maker, than he that has not searched at all, but professes to have found th, when he has neither searched nor found it. For he that takes up the opinions of any church in the lump, without examining them, has truly neither searched after nor found truth, but has only found those that he thinks have found truth, and so receives what they say with an implicit faith, and so pays them the homage that is due only to God, who cannot be deceived, nor deceive. In this way ral churches in which, as one may observe, opinions are prea ferred to life, and orthodoxy is that which they are concerned for, and not morals) put the terms of salvation on that which the Author of our salvation does not put them in. The believing of a collection of certain propositions, which are called and esteemed fundamental articles, because it has pleased the compilers to put them into their confession of faith, is made the condition of salvation.
DUTY OF PRESERVING HEALTH. If by gaining knowledge we destroy our health, we labor for a thing that will be useless in our hands; and if, by harassing our bodies, (though with a design to render ourselves more useful,) we deprive ourselves of the abilities and opportunities of doing that good we might have done with a meaner talent, which God thought sufficient for us, by having denied us the strength to improve it to that pitch which men of stronger constitutions can attain to, we rob God of so much service, and our neighbor of all that help which, in a state of health, with moderate knowledge, we might have been able to perform. He that sinks his vessel by overload
. ing it, though it be with gold, and silver, and precious stones, will give his owner but an ill account of his voyage.
ROBERT SOUTH. 1633-1716.
DR. ROBERT SOUTA, a divine celebrated for his wit as well as his learning, was born at Hackney, in Middlesex, in 1633, being the son of a London mer. chant. He entered Westminster school, under Dr. Busby, in 1647, and on the day of the execution of Charles I., (January 20, 1649,) he read the Latin prayers in the school, and prayed for his majesty by name; apparently an indication that even then he had embraced those principles of attachment to the established form of government, in church and state, of which he was through all his life a most strenuous and able champion. In one of his sermons, for instance, he maintains that “kings are endowed with more than ordinary sagacity and quickness of understanding; they have a singular courage and presence of mind in cases of difficulty; and their hearts are disposed to virtuous courses.” One is astonished that a man of learning and sense could be so blinded by party feeling as to utter such sentiments. But he was exceed. ingly violent in his feelings, continuing through life to pour forth upon all sects that dissented from the church of England, as well as upon all who doubted the “divine right” of kings to rule their subjects with unrestricted sway, his inexhaustible sarcasm, ridicule, and contempt. He died in 1716.
As a writer, Dr. South is conspicuous for good practical sense, for a deep insight into human character, for liveliness of imagination, and exuberant invention, and for a wit that knew not always the limit of propriety. In perspicuity, copiousness, and force of expression, he has few superiors among English writers; which qualities fully compensate for the “ forced conceits, unnatural metaphors, and turgid and verbose language which occasionally disfigure his pages.'
THE WILL FOR THE DEED.
The third instance in which men used to plead the will instead of the deed, shall be in duties of cost and expense.
Let a business of expensive charity be proposed ; and then, as I showed before, that, in matters of labor, the lazy person could find no hands wherewith to work; so neither, in this case, can the religious miser find any hands wherewith to give. It is wonderful to consider how a command or call to be liberal, either upon a civil or religious account, all of a sudden impoverishes the rich, breaks the merchant, shuts up every private man's exchequer, and makes those men in a minute have nothing, who, at the very same instant, want nothing to spend. So that, instead of relieving the poor, such a command strangely increases their number, and transforms rich men into beggars presently. For, let the danger of their prince and country knock at their purses, and call upon them to contribute against a public enemy or calamity, then immediately they have nothing, and their riches upon such occasions (as Solomon expresses it) never fail to make themselves wings, and fly away.
But do men in good earnest think that God will be put off so? or can they imagine that the law of God will be baffled with a lie clothed in a scoff?
For such pretences are no better, as appears from that notable account given us by the apostle of this windy, insignificant charity of the will, and of the worthlessness of it, not enlivened by deeds: “If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit ?" Profit, does he say? Why, it profits just as much as fair words command the market, as good wishes buy food and raiment, and pass for current payment in the shops.
1 Read-an article in “Retrospective Review,” ix. 291.
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Come we now to a rich old pretender to godliness, and tell him that there is such a one, a man of good family, good education, and who has lost all his estate for the king, now ready to rot in prison for debt; come, what will you give towards his release ? Why, then answers the will instead of the deed, as much the readier speaker of the two, “ The truth is, I always had a respect for such men; I love them with all my heart; and it is a thousand pities that any that had served the king so faithfully should be in such want.” So say I too, and the more shame is it for the whole nation that they should be so. But still, what will you give ? Why, then, answers the man of mouth-charity again, and tells
"you could not come in a worse time; that now-a-days money is very scarce with him, and that therefore he can give nothing; but he will be sure to pray for the poor gentleman.'
Ah, thou hypocrite ! when thy brother has lost all that ever he had, and lies languishing, and even gasping under the utmost extremities of poverty and distress, dost thou think thus to lick him up again only with thy tongue ? Just like that old formal hocus, who denied a beggar á farthing, and put him off with his blessing.
Why, what are the prayers of a covetous wretch worth? what will thy blessing go for? what will it buy? Is this the charity that the apostle here, in the text, presses upon the Corinthians ?1 This the case in which God accepts the willingness of the mind instead of the liberality of the purse ? No, assuredly; but the measures that God marks out to thy charity are these: thy superfluities must give place to thy neighbor's great convenience; thy convenience must veil thy neighbor's necessity; and, lastly, thy very necessities must yield to thy neighbor's extremity.
Of covetousness we may truly say, that it makes both the Alpha and Omega in the devil's alphabet, and that it is the first vice in corrupt nature which moves, and the last which dies. For look upon any infant, and as soon as it can but move a hand, we shall see it reaching out after something or other which it should not have; and he who does not know it to be the proper and peculiar sin of old age, seems himself to have the dotage of that age upon him, whether he has the years or no.
The covetous person lives as if the world were made altogether for him, and not he for the world, to take in every thing, and to part with nothing. Charity is accounted no grace with him, nor gratitude any virtue. The cries of the poor never enter into his ears; or if they do, he has always one ear readier to let them out than the other to take them in. In a word, by his rapines and extortions, he is always for making as many poor as he can, but for relieving none whom he either finds or makes so. So that it is a question, whether his heart be harder, or his fist closer. In a word, he is a pest and a monster: greedier than the sea, and barrener than the shore.
1 " For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath and not accordIng to that he hath not.”--2 Cor. viii. 12.
THE GLORY OF THE CLERGY.
God is the fountain of honor; and the conduit by which he conveys
it to the sons of men are virtues and generous practices. Some, indeed, may please and promise themselves high matters from full revenues, stately palaces, court interests, and great dependences. But that which makes the clergy glorious, is to be knowing in their profession, unspotted in their lives, active and laborious in their charges, bold and resolute in opposing seducers, and daring to look vice in the face, though never so potent and illustrious. And, lastly, to be gentle, courteous, and compassionate to all. These are our robes and our maces, our escutcheons and highest titles of honor.
THE PLEASURES OF AMUSEMENT AND INDUSTRY COMPARED. Nor is that man less deceived that thinks to maintain a constant tenure of pleasure by a continual pursuit of sports and recreations. The most voluptuous and loose person breathing, were he but tied to follow his hawks and his hounds, his dice and his courtships every day, would find it the greatest torment and calamity that could befall him; he would fly to the mines and galleys for his recreation, and to the spade and the mattock for a diversion from the misery of a continual unintermitted pleasure. But, on the contrary, the providence of God has so ordered the course of things, that there is no action, the usefulness of which has made it the matter of duty and of a profession, but a man may bear the continual pursuit of it without loathing and satiety. The same shop and trade that employs a man in his youth, employs him also in his age. Every morning he rises fresh to his hammer and anvil; he passes the day singing; custom has naturalized his labor to him ; his shop is his element, and he cannot with any enjoyment of himself live out of it.
THE EYE OF CONSCIENCE.
That the eye of conscience may be always quick and lively, let constant use be sure to keep it constantly open, and thereby ready
1 This is in accordance with Ezekiel xxxiii. 1-6. The ancient prophets, faithful and fearless men, thinking more of "the heathen” at home than “the heathen” abroad, did not reprove the Jews for the sins of the people of Kamtschatka; but it was, “wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings; seek justice; break every yoke; loose the bands of wickedness, and let the oppressed go free,” &c. Whenever and wherever the pulpit is silent on great national sins, ít 18 false to its high and holy trust. Even bad men will respect faithfulness more than a time-serving silence.