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and a truer state of ourselves, both in regard to the grandeur and vileness of our natures.
Fourthly, By shewing us the blackness and deformity of vice, which in the Christian system is so very great, that he who is possessed of all perfection, and the sovereign judge of it, is represented by several of our divines as hating sin to the same degree that he loves the sacred person who was made the propitiation of it.
Fifthly, In being the ordinary and prescribed method of making morality effectual to salvation.
I have only touched on these several heads, which every one who is conversant in discourses of this nature will easily enlarge upon in his own thoughts, and draw conclusions from them which may be useful to him in the conduct of his life. One I am sure is so obvious, that he cannot miss it, namely, that a man cannot be perfect in his scheme of morality, who does not strengthen and support it with that of the Christian faith.
Besides this, I shall lay down two or three other maxims which I think we may deduce from what has been said.
First, that we should be particularly cautious of making any thing an article of faith, which does not contribute to the confirmation or improvement of morality.
Secondly, That no article of faith can be true and authentic, which weakens or subverts the practical part of religion, or what I have hitherto called morality.
Thirdly, That the greatest friend of morality, or natural religion, cannot possibly apprehend any danger from embracing Christianity, as it is preserved pure and uncorrupt in the doctrines of our national church.
There is likewise another maxim which I think may be drawn from the foregoing considerations, which is this, that we should in all dubious points consider any ill consequences that may arise from them, supposing they should be erroneous, before we give up our assent to them.
For example, in that disputable point of persecuting
Disputable point] It had been more exact, as well as more agreeable to the principles of the writer, to say-disputed-than disputable.
men for conscience-sake, besides the imbittering their minds with hatred, indignation, and all the vehemence of resentment, and ensnaring them to profess what they do not believe; we cut them off from the pleasures and advantages of society, afflict their bodies, distress their fortunes, hurt their reputations, ruin their families, make their lives painful, or put an end to them. Sure when I see such dreadful consequences rising from a principle, I would be as fully convinced of the truth of it, as of a mathematical demonstration, before I would venture to act upon it, or make it a part of my religion.
In this case the injury done our neighbour is plain and evident, the principle that puts us upon doing it, of a dubious and disputable nature. Morality seems highly violated by the one, and whether or no a zeal for what a man thinks the true system of faith may justify it, is very uncertain. I cannot but think, if our religion produce charity as well as zeal, it will not be for shewing itself by such cruel instances. But, to conclude with
the words of an excellent author, · We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.'
No. 463. THURSDAY, AUGUST 21.
Omnia quæ sensu volvuntur vota diurno,
Pectore sopito reddit amica quics.
Mens tamen ad sylvas et sua lustra redit.
Vanaque nocturnis meta cavetur equis.
was lately entertaining myself with comparing Homer's balance, in which Jupiter is represented as weighing the fates of Hector and Achilles, with a passage of Virgil, wherein that deity is introduced as weighing the fates of Turnus and Æneas. I then considered how the
same way of thinking prevailed in the eastern parts of the world, as in those noble passages of scripture, where we are told, that the great king of Babylon, the day before his death, had been weighed in the balance, and been found wanting. In other places of the holy writings, the Almighty is described as weighing the mountains in scales, making the weight for the winds, knowing the balancings of the clouds, and, in others, as weighing the actions of men, and laying their calamities together in a balance. Milton, as I have observed in a former paper, had an eye to several of these foregoing instances, in that beautiful description wherein he represents the archangel and the evil spirit as addressing themselves for the combat, but parted by the balance which appeared in the heavens, and weighed the consequences of such a battle.
Th’ Eternal to prevent such horrid fray,
Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine,
These several amusing thoughts having taken possession of my mind some time before I went to sleep, and mingling themselves with my ordinary ideas, raised in my imagination a very odd kind of vision. I was, methought, replaced in my study, and seated in
chair, where I had indulged the foregoing speculations, with my lamp burning by me, as usual. Whilst I was here meditating on several subjects of morality, and considering the nature of many virtues and vices, as materials for those discourses with which I daily entertain the public; I saw, methought, a pair of golden scales hanging by a chain in the same metal over the table that stood before me; when, on a sudden, there were great heaps of weights thrown down on each side of them. I found upon examining these weights, they shewed the value of every thing that is in esteem among men. I made an essay of them, by putting the weight of wisdom in one scale, and that of riches in another, upon which the latter, to shew its comparative lightness, immediately flew up and kick'd the beam.'
But, before I proceed, I must inform my reader, that these weights did not exert their natural gravity, 'till they were laid in the golden balance, insomuch that I could not guess which was light or heavy, whilst I held them in my hand. This I found by several instances, for upon my laying a weight in one of the scales, which was inscribed by the word Eternity; though I threw in that of time, prosperity, affliction, wealth, poverty, interest, success, with many other weights, which in my hand seemed very ponderous, they were not able to stir the opposite balance, nor could they have prevailed, though assisted with the weight of the sun, the stars, and the earth.
Upon emptying the scales, I laid several titles and honours, with pomps, triumphs, and many weights of the like nature, in one of them, and seeing a little glittering weight lie by me, I threw it accidentally into the other scale, when, to my great surprise, it proved so exact a counterpoise, that it kept the balance in an equilibrium. This little glittering weight was inscribed upon the edges of it with the word Vanity. I found there were several other weights which were equally heavy, and exact counterpoises to one another; a few of them I tried, as avarice and poverty, riches and content, with some others.
There were likewise several weights that were of the same figure, and seemed to correspond with each other, but were entirely different when thrown into the scales, as religion and hypocrisy, pedantry and learning, wit and vivacity, superstition and devotion, gravity and wisdom, with many others.
I observed one particular weight lettered on both sides, and upon applying myself to the reading of it, I found on one side written, · In the dialect of men,' and underneath it, ' CALAMITIES;' on the other side was written, • In the language of the gods, and underneath, ‘ BLESSINGS.' I found the intrinsic value of this weight to be much greater than I imagined, for it over-powered health, wealth, good-fortune, and many other weights, which were much more ponderous in my hand than the other.
There is a saying among the Scotch, that ' an ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy;' I was sensible of the truth of this saying, when I saw the difference between the weight of natural parts and that of learning. The observation which I made upon these two weights opened to me a new field of discoveries, for notwithstanding the weight of natural parts was much heavier than that of learning; I observed that it weighed an hundred times heavier than it did before, when I put learning into the same scale with it. I made the same observation upon faith and morality; for notwithstanding the latter outweighed the former separately, it received a thousand times more additional weight from its conjunction with the former, than what it had by itself. This odd phænomenon shewed itself in other particulars, as in wit and judgment, philosophy and religion, justice and humanity, zeal and charity, depth of sense and perspicuity of style, with innumerable other particulars, too long to be mentioned in this paper. .
* Depth of sense and perspicuity of style,] One would think, the author, if his modesty were not so well known, had meant to pay himself a compliment, on the merit of these papers; in which the sense is, generally, excellent, that is, deep; though the perspicuity of his style, like a clear medium, brings it up to the eye, and tempts an ordinary observer to look upon it as shallow and superficial. VOL. IV.