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between business and religion. If the pulpits and the exchange will not agree, we must live, and there is an end of it.
To proceed ; if his cure lye among the lawyers, let there nothing be said against entangling property, spinning out of causes, squeezing of clients, and making the laws a greater grievance, than those, who break them. No rhetoric must be spent against defending a known injustice, against crossbiting a country evidence, and frighting him out of truth and his senses. It is granted, that touching sometimes upon these heads is the only way to improve the audience. Such plain dealing would either recover, or disarm them; reform the men, or expose the practice. But then you will say, this method goes too much to the quick. This divinity may bring the benchers upon the preacher, and make him fall under censure and discountenance. Now a person of discretion will take care not to embarrass his life, nor expose himself to calumny, nor let his conscience grow too strong for his interest upon any account.
To speak generally, a popular man always swims down the stream ; he never crosses upon the prevailing mistake, nor opposes any mischief, that has numbers and prescription on its side. His point is to steal upon the blind side, and apply to the affections ; to flatter the vanity, and play upon the weakness of those in power or interest; and to make his fortune out of the folly of his neighbours.
Not that it is a commendation to be of a morose and cynical behaviour ; to run counter to the innocent humors and customs of mankind ; to be coarse or unseasonable in admonition ; or to avoid the good opinion of people by rustic incompliance, by peevishness, or singularity. But then neither ought a man to please another to his prejudice, to fortify him in an error by overofficiousness, and to caress him out of his safety and discretion.
. And after all the success is no such mighty matter. If one considers, he will find as little credit, as conscience in the purchase.
For what sort of reputation must that be, which is gained
by methods of infamy? To debauch men’s- understanding, in order to procure their good word is a most admirable tes. timony of our worth. A blind man must needs be a fit judge of proportions and color. These patents of honor, which are granted thus by surprize, are always recalled, when the party is better advised. The esteem, gained this way, like a love potion, works more by the strength of charm, than nature ; and, if ever the person recover, the hatred will be much greater, than the affection.
The truth is, if there were no foul play used, or the artifice undiscovered, there would not be much to brag of ; for an universal applause is seldom little less, than two thirds of a scandal. A man may almost swear he is in the wrong, when he is generally cried up. Either incapacity or prejudice, negligence or imposture, disorders the judgment of the multitude. Their understandings are often too weak, or their passions too strong to distinguish truth, or pronounce upon the right of the case. If a great man happen to make a false step, and strike out into a sudden irregularity, he needs not question the respect of a retinue. How is an exploit of this nature celebrated by the crowd, and shouted home with the pomp of a Roman triumph ? In fine ; to en deavor not to please is ill nature ; altogether to neglect it folly ; and to overstrain for it vanity and design,
ON THE VALUE OF LIFE.
1 O quarrel with the present state of mankind is an ungrateful reflection upon Providence. What if the offices of life are not so fine and great, as we can fancy; they are certainly much better, than we can challenge? What pretence could nothing have to insist upon articles ? As long as the conveniences of being may, if we please, exceed the inconveniences, we ought to be thankful ; for the overplus of advantage is pure, unmerited favor. He, that repines, be
bds, are in Binn of an Krah Hoont
cause he is not more, than a man, deserves to be less. In-
Aposent humor. The very uneasiness of taking leave is a fair excuse to stay, when it may be done handsomely ; for nobody is bound to put himself to pain to no purpose. Now it is odds but that there will be a pang at parting ; for, though a man be born into this world with his mother's labor, yet it is his own, that must carry him to the other. Besides, he, that does not go off with a good conscience, must expect a very bad reception. This consideration was overlooked by most of the heathen philosophers. They thought annihilation was the hardest of the case ; that death would make a man Cesar aut nullus, happy or nothing. This mistake made their arguments bear up with a more negligent, romantic sort of bravery, than otherwise they would have done. But religion, which gives us a prospect of horror beyond the grave, should make us careful how we go thither. Life was given for noe ble purposes, and therefore we must not part with it foolish ? ly. It must not be thrown up in a pet, nor sacrificed to a quarrel, nor whined away in love. Pride and passion and discontent are dangerous diseases to die of. We are listed under Providence, and must wait, till the discharge comes. To desert our colors will be of more than mortal consequence. He, that goes into the other world, before he is sent for, will meet with no good welcome. On the other side a man may be too backward as well, as too forward, in resigning. Life may be overvalued as well, as other things ; and he, that buys it at the expense of duty, purchase es too dear. Some people seem resolved to spin out life as long, as they can. They are for going to the utmost exo
tent of nature ; and will not venture a single pulse upon any consideration. But to dote upon breathing, for it is little more, at this rate is to turn slave to all sorts of meanness and vice. Fright such an one but with the fear of death, and you may make him say or do what you please, though never so infamous or ridiculous. And, if his cowardice be not trie ed thus far, yet this lean principle will be sure to keep him servile and insignificant. He will never touch at a great proposal, nor run any generous hazards for his friends or country. And is it worth one's while thus to value life above the ends and purposes of living ? The resolution of Pompey was much more becoming ; who, when he was dissuaded from embarking, because the weather was tempestuous, replied very handsomely, “ gentlemen, make no more words of “ it ; my voyage is necessary, my life is not so."
The true estimate of being is not to be taken from age, but action. A man, as he manages himself, may die old at thirty, and a child at fourscore. To nurse up the vital flame as long, as the matter will last, is not always good husbandry. It is much better to cover it with an extinguisher of honor, than let it consume, till it burns blue, and lies agonising within the socket, and at length goes out in no perfume. If the sun were not to rise again, methinks it would look bigger for him to tumble from the sky at noon with all his light and heat about him, than to gain a course of four or five hours only to languish and decline in.
When a noble occasion presents ; an occasion, that will bear a cool debate, and stand the test of reason, and may be pleaded to advantage in the other world ; when a man is called upon to offer up himself to his conscience, and to resign to justice and truth ; in such a case one would think, "he should be so far from avoiding the lists, that he should rather enter with inclination, and thank God for the honor of the opportunity. He should then be more solicitous about his behavior, than his life. Then,
Fortem posce animum et mortis terrore carentem. Let him pray for resolution to act up to the height of the Ocm sasion ; that he may discover nothing of meanness or disa order ; nothing, that may discredit the cause, tarnish the glory, and weaken the example of the suffering. There are some opportunities of going out of the world, which are very well worth one's while to come in for. The last act of life is sometimes, like the last number in a sum, ten times greater, than all the rest. To slip the market, when we are thus fairly offered, is great imprudence, especially considering we must part with the thing afterward for less. But is it not a sad thing to fall thus plum into the grave ? To be well one minute and dead the next ? Not at all ; if we are prepared, the shorter the voyage is, the better. Is it not more eligible to come in with a smooth gale, than to be tossed at sea with a storm, and then thrown ashore, when the vessel is wrecked? Is it so desirable a condition to run through a long course of pain, to consume by inches, and lose one's blood by drops ? A deathbed figure is certainly the most humbling sight in the world. To set in so dark a cloud, and to go off with languor, convulsions, and deformity, is a terrible rebuke to the dignity of human nature. Besides people are frighted by phantoms of their own raising, and imposed on by words and
things illjoined together. A natural death is generally the · most violent. An executioner does the business more gen
tly, than a disease. He, that can conquer his imagination, may possibly die easier of a faggot, than of a fever ; and had better choose to have the fire kindled without, than within him.
To say flesh and blood cannot be reconciled to this is a mistake. People have sometimes too much courage this way. How often do revenge, and poverty, and disappointment make men force their passage into the other state ? A slave has stomach enough to kill himself ; and he, that is not master of his liberty, will be master of his life. There is no age nor sex, no passion nor condition, so dispirited and low, but affords instances of the contempt of death. The old Goths, from whence the Saxons are probably descended, were to hardy, that it was part of their discipline and religion to