« 上一頁繼續 »
certain triumph and insolence of heart that is inconsistent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers. Writers of this complexion have observed, that the sacred Person who was the great pattern of perfection, was never seen to laugh.
Cheerfulness of niind 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 present 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 saints and holy mex 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 these accounts. The man who is possessed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculțies of his soul : his insagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed : his temper is even and unruMed, whether in action or in solitude. 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 biin, 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 himself pleased, he does not know why, with the cheerfulness of his companion ; it is like a sudden sunshine that awakens a sacred delight in the mind, without hier attending to it. The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flow? out into friendship and benevolence toward 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 cheeriui. bess is an implicit praise and thank giving to Providence
urder all its dispensations. It is a kind of acquiescence in the state wherein we are placed, and a secret approba. tion of the Divine will in his conduct towards man.
A man, who uses his best endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two perpetual sources of cheer fulness in the consideration of his
ere, and of that Being on whom he has a depende
If he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that existence, which is so lately bestowed upon him, and which, after millions of ages, will be still new, and still in its beginning. How many self-congratulations naturally rise in the mind, when it reflects on this its entrance ije to eternity, when it takes a view of those improvable faculties, which in a few years, and even at its first setting out have made so considerable a progress, and which will be still receiving an increase of perfection, and consequently an increase of happiness! The consciousness of such a Being spreads a perpetual diffusion of joy through the soul of a virtuous man, and makes him look upon him. self every mum lit as more happy than he knows how to conceive.
The second source of cheerfulness to a good mind, is its consideration of ibat Being on whom we have our dependence, 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 immensiiy of love and mercy. In short, we depend u; on a Being, whose power qualfie's him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodness and truh engage him to make those happy, who tiesire it of him, and whose unchangeableness will secure us in this happiness to all eternity.
Such considerations, which every one should perpetually "hurish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that secret htaviness of heart which unthinking men are subjeci to when they lie under no real aflliit on; all that anguish which we may feel from any evil that actually oppresses us; 10 which I
may likewise add those little cr.cklings of mirtli and folly that are apter 10 betray virtue than support it; and establish in us such an even and cheerful temper, as.
makes us pleasing to onrselves, to those with whom we conveise, and to him whom we were made to please.
Truth and sincerity have all the advantages of appearance, and many more. If the show of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure the reality is better; for why does any man dissenble, or seem to be that which he is Bot, but because he thinks it good to have the qualities he pretends to . For tı) counterfeit and iv dissemble, is
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 would seem to be. Besides, it is often astroublesome to support the pretence of a good quality, as to have it; and if a man bave it not, it is most likely he will be discovered to want it, and then all his labour to seem to have it is lost. There is samething unnatural in painting, which a skilful eye will easily discern from native beauty and coniplexion.
It is hard to personate and act a pari long; for where truth' is not at the bortom, nature will always be endeavouring to return, and will beiray herself at one time or other. Therefore if any man think it convenient 10 seem good, let him be s indeed, and then his goodness will appear to every one's satisfaction; for truth is convincing, and carries its own light and evidence along with it, and wiil not only. commend us te every man's conscience, but, which is much more, tr, Gom, who searcheth our hearts. So that upon all accounts, sincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hash many advantages. over all the artificial modes of dissimularion and deceit. It is much the plainer and easier; much the sater and more secure way of dealing in the world; it has less of trouble and difficulty, of entangleinent and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it; it is the shortest
and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line, and will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and cunning continually grow weaker and less effectual and serviceable to those that practise them whereas integrity gains strength by use, and the more and longer any man practiseth it, the greater service it does him, by confirming his reputation, and encouraging those with whom he hath to do, to repose the greatest confidence in hin, which is an unspeakable advantage in business and the affairs of life.
A dissembler must always be upon bis guard, and watch himself carefully, that he do not contradict his own pretensions; for he acts an unnatural part, and therefore must put a continual force and restraint upon himself. Whereas he that acts sincerely hath the easiest task in the world ; because he follows nature, and so is put to no trouble and care about his words and actions; he needs not invent any pretences before-hand, nor make excuses afterwards, for any thing he hath said or done.
But insincerity is very troublesome to manage ; a hypocrite hath so many things to attend to, as make his life a very perplexed and intricate thing. A liar hath need of a good memory, lest he contradict at one time what he said at another; but truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips; whereas a lie is troublesome, and needs a great many more to make it good.
Add to all this, that sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speedy des. patch of business. It creates confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in few words. It is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey's end, than by bye-ways, in which men often Jose theniselves. In a word, whatsoever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissintulation, it is soon over; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor irusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man hath once
forfeited the reputation of his integrity, nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.
Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with mankind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (as far as respects the affairs of this world) it he spent his reputation all at once, and ventured
at one throw. But if he be to continue in the world, and would have the advantage of reputation whilst he is in it, let him make use of truth and sincerity in all his words aud acțions, for nothing but this will hold out to the end. All other arts may fail, but truth and integrity will carry a man through, and bear him out to the last.
Every principle that is a motive to good actions ought to be encouraged, since men are of so different a make, that the same principle does not work equally upon all minds. What some men are prompted to by conscience, duty, or religion, which are only different names for the same thing, others are prompted io by honour.
The sense of honour is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by great examples, or a refined education. This essay therefore is chiefly designed for those who, by means of any of these advantages, are, or ought to be, actuated by this glorious principle.
But as nothing is more pernicious than a principle of action, when it is misunderstood, I shall consider honour with respect to three soris of nien. First of all, with regard to those who have a right notion of it. Secondl; with regard to those who have a mistaken notion of it. And, thirdly, with regard to those who treat it as chimesical, and turn it into ridicule,