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are only visible to the great Searcher of hearts. What actions can express the intire purity of thought which refines and sanctifies a virtuous man? That secret rest and contentedness of mind, which gives him a perfect enjoyment of his present condition? That inward pleasure and complacency which he feels in doing good? That delight and satisfaction which he takes in the prosperity and happiness of another ? These and the like virtues are the hidden beauties of a soul, the secret graces which cannot be discovered by a mortal eye, but make the soul lovely and precious in his sight, from whom no secrets are concealed. Again, there are many virtues which want an opportunity of exerting and shewing themselves in actions. Every virtue requires time and place, a proper object and a fit conjuncture of circumstances, for the due exercise of it. A state of poverty obscures all the virtues of liberality and munificence. The patience and fortitude of a martyr or confessor lie concealed in the flourishing times of Christianity. Some virtues are only seen in affliction, and some in prosperity; some in a private, and others in a public capacity. But the great Sovereign of the world beholds every perfection in its obscurity, and not only sees what we do, but what we would do. He views our behaviour in every concurrence of affairs, and sees us engaged in all the possibilities of action. He discovers the martyr and confessor without the trial of flames and tortures, and will hereafter intitle many to the reward of actions, which they had never the opportunity of performing. Another reason why men cannot form a right judgment of us is, because the same actions may be aimed at different ends, and arise from quite contrary principles. Actions are of so mixt a nature, and so full of circumstances, that as men pry into them more or less, or observe some parts more than others, they take different hints, and put contrary interpretations on them; so that the same actions may represent a man as hypocritical and designing to one, which make him appear a saint or hero to another. He therefore who looks upon the soul through its outward actions, often sees it through a deceitful medium, which is apt to discolour and pervert the object : so that on this account also, he is the only proper judge of our perfections, who does not guess at the sincerity of our intentions from the goodness of our actions, but weighs the goodness of our actions by the sincerity of our intentions.
But further, it is impossible for outward actions to represent the perfections of the soul, because they can never shew the strength of those principles from whence they proceed. They are not adequate expressions of our virtues, and can only shew us what habits are in the soul, without discovering the degree and perfection of such habits. They are at best but weak resemblances of our intentions, faint and imperfect copies, that may acquaint us with the general design, but can never express the beauty and life of the original. But the great Judge of all the earth knows every different state and degree of human improvement, from those weak stirrings and tendencies of the will which have not yet formed themselves into regular purposes and designs, to the last intire finishing and consummation of a good habit. He beholds the first imperfect rudiments of a virtue in the soul, and keeps a watchful eye over it in all its progress, till it has received every grace it is capable of, and appears in its full beauty and perfection. Thus we see, that none but the Supreme Being can esteem us according to our proper merits, since all VOL. IV.
others must judge of us from our outward actions ; which can never give them a just estimate of us, since there are many perfections of a man which are not capable of appearing in actions; many which, allowing no natural incapacity of shewing themselves, want an opportunity of doing it; or should they all meet with an opportunity of appearing by actions, yet those actions may be misinterpreted, and applied to wrong principles: or though they plainly discovered the principles from whence they proceeded, they could never shew the degree, strength, and perfection of those principles.
And as the Supreme Being is the only proper judge of our perfections, so is he the only fit rewarder of them. This is a consideration that comes home to our interest, as the other adapts itself to our ambition. And what could the most aspiring, or the most selfish man desire more, were he to form the notion of a Being to whom he would recommend himself, than such a knowledge as can discover the least appearance of perfection in him, and such a goodness as will proportion a reward to it?
Let the ambitious man therefore turn all his desire of fame this way; and that he may propose to himself a fame worthy of his ambition, let him consider, that if he employs his abilities to the best advantage, the time will come when the Supreme Governor of the world, the great Judge of mankind, who seés every degree of perfection in others, and possesses all possible perfection in himself, shall proclaim his worth before men and angels, and pronounce to him in the presence of the whole creation that best and most significant of applauses, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into thy Master's joy.'
N° 258. WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1711.
Divide et impera.
PLEASURE and recreation of one kind or other are absolutely necessary to relieve our minds and bodies from too constant attention and labour: where therefore public diversions are tolerated, it behoves persons of distinction, with their power and example, to preside over them in such a manner, as to check any thing that tends to the corruption of manners, or which is too mean or trivial for the entertainment of reasonable creatures. As to the diversions of this kind in this town, we owe them to the arts of poetry and music. My own private opinion, with relation to such recreations, I have heretofore given with all the frankness imaginable ; what concerns those arts at present the reader shall have from my correspondents. The first of the letters with which I acquit myself for this day, is written by one who proposes to improve our entertainments of dramatic poetry, and the other comes from three persons, who as soon as named, will be thought capable of advancing the present state of music.
MR. SPECTATOR, • I am considerably obliged to you for your speedy publication of my last in yours of the 18th instant, and am in no small hopes of being settled in the post of Comptroller of the Cries. Of all the objections I have hearkened after in public coffee-houses, there is but one that seems to carry any weight with it, viz, that such a post would come too near the nature of a monopoly. Now, Sir, because I would have all sorts of people made easy, and being willing to have more strings than one to my bow; in case that of comptroller should fail me, I have since formed another project, which being grounded on the dividing a present monopoly, I hope will give the public an equivalent to their full content. You know, Sir, it is allowed, that the business of the stage is, as the Latin has it, jucunda et idonea dicere vitæ. Now there being but one dramatic theatre licensed for the delight and profit of this extensive metropolis,I do humbly propose, for the convenience of such of its inhabitants as are too distant from Covent-garden, that another theatre of ease may be erected in some spacious part of the city; and that the direction thereof may be made a franchise in fee to me and my heirs for ever. And that the town may have no jealousy of my ever coming into an union with the set of actors now in being, I do further propose to constitute for my deputy my near kinsman and adventurer, Kit Crotchet', whose long experience and improvements in those affairs need no recommendation. It was obvious to every Spectator, what a quite different foot the stage was upon during his government; and had he not been bolted out of his trap-doors, his garrison might have held out for ever ; he having by long pains and perseverance arrived at the art of making his army fight without pay or provisions. I must confess it, with a melancholy amazement I see so wonderful a genius laid aside, and the late slaves of the stage now become its masters, dunces that will be sure to suppress all theatrical entertainments and activities that they are not able themselves to shine in!