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a precipice, but if once we have taken the fatal leap, we muft defcend, whether we will or no. Thus the mind, if duly cautious, may ftand firm upon the rock of tranquillity; but if the rafhly forfakes the fummit, fhe can fcarce recover herfelf, but is hurried away downwards by her own paffion, with increafing violence.
Do not fay that we exhort you to attempt that which is impoffible. Nature has put it in our power to refift the motions of anger. We only plead inability, when we want an excufe for our own negligence. Was a paffionate man to forfeit a hundred pounds, as often as he was angry, or was he fure he muft die the next moment after the first fally of his paffion, we should find, he had a great command of his temper, whenever he could prevail upon himself to exercife a proper attention about it. And shall we not efteem it worthy of equal attention, worthy of our utmost care and pains, to obtain that immoveable tranquillity of mind, without which we cannot relish either life itself, or any of its enjoy-Upon the whole then, we both may and ought, not merely to reftrain, but extirpate anger. It is impatient of rule; in proportion as it prevails, it will difquiet our minds; it has nothing commendable in itself, nor will it answer any valuable purpofe in life.
CHA P. II.
VIRTUE OUR HIGHEST INTEREST.
FIND myself exifting upon a little spot, furrounded every way by an immenfe unknown expanfion.-Where am I? What fort of place do I inhabit? Is it exactly accommodated, in every inftance, to my convenience? Is
there no excefs of cold, none of heat, to offend me? Am I never annoyed by animals, either of my own kind, or a dif ferent? Is every thing fubfervient to me, as though I had order'd all my felf?-No-nothing like it-the farthest from it poffible. -The world appears not then originally made for the private convenience of me alone?—It does not. But is it not poffible so to accommodate it, by my own particular industry ?. -If to accommodate man and beaft, heaven and earth; if this be beyond me, 'tis not poffible-What confequence then follows? Or can there be any other than this-If I feek an intereft of my own, detached from that of others; I feek an intereft which is chimerical, and can never have existence.
How then muft I determine? Have I no intereft at all? -If I have not, I am a fool for ftaying here. 'Tis a fmoaky houfe, and the fooner out of it the better.-But why no intereft ?-Can I be contented with none, but one feparate and detached?-Is a focial intereft joined with others fuch an abfurdity, as not to be admitted? The bee, the beaver, and the tribes of herding animals, are enough to convince me, that the thing is, fomewhere at leaft, poffible. How then am I affured, that 'tis not equally true of man! Admit it; and what follows ?-If fo, then Honour and Juftice are my intereft-then the whole train of Moral Virtues are my intereft; without fome portion of which, not even thieves can maintain fociety.
BUT farther ftill-I ftop not here-I pursue this focial intereft, as far as I can trace my feveral relations. I pafs from my own ftock, my own neighbourhood, my own nation, to the whole race of mankind, as difperfed throughout the earth.-Am I not related to them all, by the mutual aids of commerce; by the general intercourfe of arts and
letters; by that common nature, of which we all participate Again-I muft have food and clothing-Without a proper genial warmth, I inftantly perifh-Am I not related, in this view, to the very earth itself? To the diftant fun, from whofe beams I derive vigour? To that ftupendous courfe and order of the infinite hoft of heaven, by which the times and feafons ever uniformly pafs on ?Were this order once confounded, I could not probably furvive a moment; fo abfolutely do I depend on this common general welfare.
WHAT then have I to do, but to enlarge Virtue into Piety? Not only honour and juftice, and what I owe to man, is my intereft; but gratitude alfo, acquiefcence, refignation, adoration, and all I owe to this great polity, and its greater Governor, our common Parent.
BUT if all thefe moral and divine habits be my intereft, I need not surely feek for a better. I have an intereft compatible with the fpot on which I live-I have an interest which may exift, without altering the plan of Providence ; without mending or marring the general order of events.I can bear whatever happens with manlike magnanimity; can be contented, and fully happy in the good which I poffefs; and can pass through this turbid, this fickle, fleeting period, without bewailings, or envyings, or murmurings, or complaints.
LL men purfue Good, and would be happy, if they knew how; not happy for minutes, and miferable for
hours; but happy, if poffible, through every part of their existence. Either therefore there is a good of this fteady durable kind, or there is none. If none, then all good muft be tranfient and uncertain; and if fo, an object of lowest value, which can little deferve either our attention or inquiry. But if there be a better good, fuch a good as we are feeking; like every other thing, it must be derived from fome caufe; and that caufe must be either external, internal, or mixed, in as much as except these three, there is no other poffible. Now a fteady, durable good, cannot be derived from an external cause, by reason all derived from externals must fluctuate, as they fluctuate. By the fame rule, not from a mixture of the two; because the part which is external will proportionally deftroy its effence. What then remains but the cause internal; the very cause which we have fuppofed, when we place the Sovereign Good in Mind -in Rectitude of Conduct ?
ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
MONG other excellent arguments for the immortality of the Soul, there is one drawn from the perpetual progrefs of the foul to its perfection, without a poffibility of ever arriving at it; which is a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved by others who have written on this fubject, though it feems to me to carry a great weight with it. How can it enter into the thoughts of man, that the foul, which is capable of fuch immenfe perfections, and of receiving new improvements to all eternity, fhall fall away into nothing almoft as foon as it is created! Are fuch L 3 abilities
abilities made for no purpofe? A brute arrives at a point of perfection that he can never pafs; in a few years he has all the endowments he is capable of; and were he to live ten thousand more, would be the fame thing he is at prefent. Were a human foul thus at a ftand in her accomplishments, were her faculties to be full blown, and incapable of farther enlargements, I could imagine it might fall away infenfibly, and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we believe a thinking being, that is in a perpetual progress of improvements, and travelling on from perfection to perfection, after having juft looked abroad into the works of its Creator, and made a few difcoveries of his infinite goodness, wisdom and power, muft perish at her firft fetting out, and in the very beginning of her inquiries?
MAN, confidered in his prefent ftate, feems only sent into the world to propagate his kind. He provides himself with a fucceffor, and immediately quits his poft to make room for him.
He does not feem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This is not furprifing to confider, in animals, which are formed for our use, and can finish their bufinefs in a fhort life. The filk-worm, after having spun her tak, lays her eggs and dies. But in this life man can never take in his full measure of knowledge; nor has he time to fubdue his paffions, establish his foul in virtue, and come up to the perfection of his nature, before he is hurried off the ftage. Would an infinitely wife Being måke fuch glorious creatures for fo mean a purpose? Can he delight in the production of fuch abortive intelligences, fuch fhort-lived reafonable beings? Would he give us talents that are not to be exerted? Capacities that are never to be gratified? How can we find that wisdom which shines through all his works,