صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

I do not remember to have met with any inftance of Modesty with which I am so well pleased, as that celebrated one of the young prince, whose father, being a tributary king to the Romans, had several complaints laid against him before the senate, as a tyrant and oppressor of his fub. jects. The prince went to Rome to defend his father, but coming into the fenate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved upon him, was so oppressed when it came to his turn to speak, that he was unable to utter a word. The story tells us, that the fathers were more moved at this instance of modesty and ingenuity, than they could have been by the most pathetic oration; and, in short, pardoned the guilty father for this early promise of virtue in the son.

I Take assurance to be, The faculty of posselling a man's self, or of saying and doing indifferent things without any uneafiness or emotion in the mind. That which generally gives a man assurance, is a moderate knowledge of the world, but above all, a mind fixed and determined in itself to do nothing against the rules of honour and decency.

and assured behaviour is the natural consequence of such a resolation. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time misinterpreted, retires within him. self, and from a consciousness of his own integrity, affumes force enough to despise the little censures of ignorance or malice.

Every one ought to cherish and encourage in himself the modesty and assurance I have here mentioned.

A man without assurance is liable to be made uneasy by the folly or ill nature of every one he converses with. A man without modesty is loft to all sense of honour and virtue.

It is more than probable, that the prince above men. tioned poflefled both these qualifications in a very eminent degree. Without assurance he would never have undertaken to speak before the most august assembly in the world; with


An open

out modesty he would have pleaded the cause he had taken upon him, though it had appeared ever so fcandalous.

From what has been said, it is plain, that modesty and assurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the fame person. 'When they are thus mixed and blended together, they compose what we endeavour to express when we say a modest afsurance ; by which we undertand the just mean between bashfulness and impudence.

I SHALL conclude with observing, that as the same man may be both modeft and assured, so it is also possible for the same person to be both impudent and bashful.

We have frequent instances of this odd kind of mixture in people of depraved minds and mean education; who though they are not able to meet a man's eyes, or pronounce a sentence without confusion; can voluntarily commit the greatest villanies or moft indecent actions.

Such a person seems to have made a resolution to do ill even in spite of himself, and in de fiance of all those checks and reftraints his temper and complexion seem to have laid in his

Upon the whole, I would endeavour to establish this maxim, That the practice of virtue is the most proper method to give a man a becoming assurance in his words and actions. Guilt always seek to shelter itself in one of the extremes, and is fometimes attended with both.






HAVE always preferred Cheerfulness to Mirth. The latter I consider as an act, the former as a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient, Cheerfulness fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest transports of mirth, who are subject to the greatest depressions 3


of melancholy; on the contrary, chee, tu jefs, though it does not give the mind such an exquisite gladness, prevents us from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a fah of lightning that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.

Men of austere principles look upon mirth as too wanton and dissolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and insolence of heart, that are inconfiftent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers. Writers of this complexion have observed, that the facred Person, who was the great pattern of perfection, was never seen to laugh.

CHEERFULNESS of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions; it is of a serious and composed nature; it does not throw the mind into a condition improper for the pre. sent state of humanity, and is very conspicuous in the characters of those who are looked upon as the greatest philosophers among the Heathens, as well as among those who have been deservedly esteemed as faints and holy men among Christians.

If we consider cheerfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to those we converse with, and to the great Author of our being, it will not a little recommend itself on each of thefe accounts. The man who is possessed of - this excellent frame of mind, is not only caly in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and facul. ties of his soul : his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed: his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action or in folitude. He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him, tastes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured upon -him, and does not feel the full weight of those accidental evils which may befall him,

If we consider him in relation to the persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and good will

towards him. A cheerful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good humour in Those who come within its influence. A man finds him. self pleased, he does not know why, with the cheerfulness of his companion : it is like a sudden sunshine that awakens a facred delight in the mind, without her attending to it. The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into friendship and benevolence towards the person who has so kindly an effect upon

it. When I consider this cheerful state of mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual gratitude to the Author of nature. An inward cheerful. nefs is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its dispensations. It is a kind of acquiescence in the fate wherein we are placed, and a secret approbation of the Divine will in his conduct towards man.

AMAN, who uses his beft endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two perpetual fources of cheerfulness in the consideration of his o'n n nature, and of that Being on whom he has a dependence. If he looks into himfelf, he cannot but rejoice in that existence, which is fo lately bestowed upon him, and which, after millions of ages, will be still new, and still in its beginning. How many felf-congratulations naturally rise in the mind, when it reflects on this its entrance into eternity, when it takes a view of those improvable faculties, which in a few years, and even at its first fetting out, have made to confi. derable a progress, and which will be still receiving an increase of perfection, and consequently an increase of happiness! The consciousness of fach a being spreads a perpetual diffufion of joy through the foul of a virtuous man, and makes him look upon himself every moment as more happy than he knows how to conceive.


The second source of cheerfulness to a good mind, is its consideration of that Being on whom we have our de. pendence, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint discoveries of his perfections, we see every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves every where upheld by his goodness, and surrounded with an immensity of love and mercy. In fort, we depend upon a Being, whose power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodness and truth engage him to make those happy who defire it of him, and whose unchangeableness will secure us in this happiness to all eternity.

Such confiderations, which every one should perpetually cherish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that fecret heaviness of heart which unthinking men are subject to when they lie under no real affliction ; all that anguish which we may feel from any evil that actually oppresses us : to which I may likewise add thofe little cracklings of mirth and folly that are apter to betray virtue than support it; and establish in us such an even and cheerful temper, as makes us pleasing to ourselves, to those with whom we converse, and to Him whom we were made to please.




RUTH and Sincerity have all the advantages of ap. pearance, and many more. If the low of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure the reality is better; for why does any man diffemble, or seem to be that whick he is not, but because he thinks it good to have the qualities he pretends to ? For to counterfeit and to diffemble, is to put on the appearance of some real excellency. Now the best way for a man to seem to be any thing, is really to be what he


« السابقةمتابعة »