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Apathy is the Limbo of the mind-an intermediate state, equi-distant from the two opposites, happiness and misery. As they who have no care but for themselves, have at the same time very little comfort but from themselves, their lot, in a comparative view, is not to be envied.

CHAP. LXXXI.

Of a restless desire to know what others say of us.

« Take no heed to all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee."

SOLOMON. PERHAPS no weakness of our fallen, feeble, and erring nature, is more disquieting to ourselves, or more troublesome to our acquaintances, than an eager curiosity to know what is said of us.

A person of this turn is never at his ease. Jealousy is, in him, an ever-waking sentinel. Even his familiars, he fears, will slander or undervalue him; and if he happens to hear that any one of them has spoken of him disrespectfully, he instantly regards that one as his foe, and thenceforward is the more jealous of all the rest.

In company, he views every look with a suspicious eye.

He reads a plot against himself even in a nod, or a whisper. If what he finds to have been said of him can admit of a double meaning, he gives it the worse meaning of the two. If he finds himself commended as to his general character, but censured in some particular instance, he is wounded, just as though the whole of his character had fallen under reprobation.

This restless curiosity to know what is said of him, keeps his mind perpetually as upon the rack. Day by day he is anxiously inquisitive upon this point. If he fail of the object of his inquiries, and can hear of little or nothing said about him, either one way or the other; then he is stung at the heart with imagined neglect. And, on the contrary, if he chance to find that which he so anxiously inquires after, he often finds it to his own cost and discomfort. He will have gained an article of

intelligence which he had better been without. His experience, peradventure, will have accorded with what we are plainly advertised of in the above cited pithy admonition of the Wise Man.

The distemper of mind here spoken of, may arise from an ardent desire of esteem and the consequent dread of contempt, and it may be found in persons possessed of some very estimable qualities of heart. But whatever be its origin, or in whomsoever to be found, it is the cause of a great deal of useless disquietude, and ever exposes one to wanton sport and ridicule. To indulge in busy and anxious conjecture upon the thoughts that others entertain of us, is weaving for ourselves the web of wo.

Now, it being a great pity, that persons who are estimable in some respects, and yet labor under this infirmity, should not reason themselves out of it; I crave leave to lay before them the following considerations:

1. Those even, whose characters are good in the main, must be sensible, if they have any competent measure of self-knowledge, that they are not quite perfect. And why then should they be angry that others, toe, are sensible of it, and that their imperfections are sometimes spoken of? It is by no means certain that there is in this thing any enmity or real ill will.

2. Persons possessed of this morbid or excessive sensibility with regard to their own reputations, cannot but remember that themselves, one time or other, and in free conversation, have remarked on the foibles and faults of those whom they highly esteemed upon the whole, and for whom they had at the same time a sin. cere friendship. And assuredly it is unreasonable for one to be angry for receiving the same measure which one metes. If a person you thought your friend, hath spoken slightingly of you in some one single respect; what then? Have you not yourself, sometimes, and in some particulars, spoken slightingly of those whom you were inclined to rank in the number of your friends? If you have done it, you should not be angry when the same is done to yourself.

3. In a fit of levity, or of ill humor, it is not uncommon for some folks to speak with partial disrespect

of the self-same persons, whom, at other times, they mention with expressions of high esteem and affectionate regard. So that a great part of people's ill sayings of one another, are attributable to peevishness or thoughtlessness, and not to malignity alone. Hence the author of the admirable book of Ecclesiasticus observes" There is one that slippeth in his speech, but not from his heart.

4. Even the ill natured remarks of an enemy might be turned to a profitable use, by carefully correcting, in one's self, the fault or foible that occasioned them. It is told of the Prince of Conde, who was the most eminent hero of his day, that his domestics observing with what great attention he was reading a certain pamphlet, one of them said to him, “this must be a very fine piece, since you take so much pleasure in reading it." To which the Prince replied, “it is very true that I read this with great pleasure, because it tells me my faults, which no man dares venture to do.”—The pamphlet was in the strain of severe invective upon the errors, faults, and foibles, of the same Prince of Conde.

5. We seldom miss it more than in imagining that all about us take an interest in our ordinary concerns. If we think the world spends much attention about us one way or the other, we have a mistaken notion of our own consequence. For, with a few exceptions, the individuals of the community are very little the subjects of each others' thoughts and conversation; the generality being too busy in thinking of themselves, to employ many of their thoughts elsewhere. Had one, by the help of magic, the power of rendering himself invisible, and should he, in using the privilege of invisibility, go, from house to house, over his whole neighborhood and town, he would probably find himself spoken of by his neighbors and acquaintance, more seldom than he had expected; and, in all probability, too, he would hear the very same persons speak quite differently of him, at different times.

In few words; universal and unqualified approbation it is folly to expect. And although we should by no means be regardless of what others think or say of us, yet the best way, or rather the only good way, is to be more solicitous to deserve esteem than to win itmore solicitous to do well than to obtain the credit of doing well; and thus, to proceed on in the straight line, without angling for praise, or being too fearful of reproach. Whoso acteth in this manner, and upon pure evangelieal principles, enjoys a consciousness of feelings far more delightful, than any thing that can spring from the unmerited applause of ten thousand tongues.

CHAP. LXXXII.

Of the necessity of seasonable precaution.

That " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is an old and true proverb, which is applicable alike to a multitude of cases: the ills we suffer in life being, in a large proportion, either of our own procuring, or such as might have been prevented by timely care and precaution.

It seems to have been a standing custom of the Asiatics, in their epistolary correspondence, to conclude a letter with this sage advice, Take care of your

health : a precept which, were it generally put in practice, would save the lives of multitudes in every country.

The grave is peopled with myriads, who might still have enjoyed the light of life but for the intemperate manner of their living; and with other myriads whose deaths were occasioned by unnecessarily exposing their health.

The lovely Belinda, falls into a hectic in the flower of her age. The life-spring within her fails; the arı of medicine is unavailing; 6 the worm of death is in her bloom.” Yet, what a pound of cure cannot remove, an ounce of prudence might have prevented.

There was a time, and a very long time, when, in the christianized world, it was thought a merit to torment and waste the corporeal part of our nature; when the body was considered as at utter enmity with the soul; when this grovelling inmate was voluntarily subjected to cold and nakedness and to unmerciful scourging, in order to curb and break its rebellious propensities. We live, however, in a more rational age. Blessed be the

day of Martin Luther's birth, and blessed the work achieved by him! He gave the death-blow to this mummery, and brought the body again into favor with its superior in the partnership. But whether it be a relic of the old popish superstition, or to whatever cause it may be attributable, there are said to be ladies at this day, even protestant ladies, who mortify, distress, and consume their own precious bodies, by keeping them in irons ! But this by the bye.

It is no uncommon thing to anticipate the stroke of time. Often, very often, the vigorous and robust squander their health and hasten the blow that levels them, while the feeble, by temperance and assiduous care, spin out life to an advanced age.

Many of our misfortunes, as we call them, spring from imprudence or neglect. Through the neglect of a small leak a ship is sunk, and its crew perhaps lost. The neglect of a few feet of fence may destroy a crop, and so may a few days of negligence and sloth in seed time or harvest. Angry law-suits, and heavy pecuniary losses, not unfrequently might have been prevented by a seasonable attention that would have required very, little of time or labor. Some plunge themselves into inextricable embarassment, which might have been avoided had a portion of their leisure been devoted to the devising of a reasonable plan of living ; and others again are impoverished by artificial wants, of which they might easily have prevented the intrusion. Indeed, of instances there is no end.

But that which is of the most importance by many degrees, is yet behind. There are means preventional of moral, as well of natural evil. Nlost of the vices that infest society, and bring utter ruin upon individuals, are more easy of prevention than of cure: and it is to be hoped that the time is coming when civil governments, blending christian morals with state policy, will employ their power and influence fully as much to prevent crime as to punish it. That would be an era niore happy than language can describe. But passing over what is remote and contingent, I will mention, and but mention, the actual and practical powers of two kinds of government-Domestic and Personal.

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