« PredošláPokračovať »
The simplicity of manners, which I have heard you so often speak of, and which appears here in perfection, charms me wonderfully. As an instance of it I must acquaint you, and by your means the whole club, that I have lately married one of my tenant's daughters. She is born of honest parents; and though she has no portion, she has a great deal of virtue. The natural sweetness and innocence of her behaviour, the freshness of her complexion, the unaffected turn of her shape and person, shot me through and through every time that I saw her, and did more execution upon me in grogram than the greatest beauty in town or court had ever done in brocade. In short, she is such an one as promises me a good heir to my estate; and if by her means I cannot leave to my children what are falsely called the gifts of birth, high titles, and alliances, I hope to convey to them the more real and valuable gifts of birth, strong bodies, and healthy constitutions. As for your fine women, I need not tell thee that I know them. I have had my share in their graces; but no more of that. It shall be
business here. after to live the life of an honest inan, and to act as becomes the master of a family. I question not but I shall draw upon ine the raillery of the town, and be treated to the tune of · The Marriage-hater Matched; but I am prepared for it. I have been as witty upon others in my time. To tell thee truly, I saw such a tribe of fashionable young fluttering coxcombs shot up that I did not think my post of an homme de ruelle any longer tenable. I felt a certain stiffness in my limbs, which entirely destroyed the jantiness of air I was once master of. Besides, for I may now confess my age to thee, I have been eight-and-forty above these twelve years. Since my retirement into the country will make a vacancy in the club, I could wish you would fill up my place with my friend Tom Dapperwit. He has an infinite deal of fire, and knows the town. For my own part, as I have said before, I shall endeavour to live hereafter suitable to a man in my station, as a prudent head of a family, a good husband, a careful father (when it shall so happen), and as
Your most sincere friend, 0.
N° 531. SATURDAY, NOV. 8, 1712.
Qui mare et terras, variisque mundum
Temperat boris :
HOR. 1. Od. xii. 15.
That can be, is, or was;
SIMONIDES being asked by Dionysius the tyrant what God was, desired a day's time to consider of it before he made his reply. When the day was expired he desired two days; and afterwards, instead of returning his answer, demanded still double the time to consider of it. This great poet and philosopher, the more he contemplated the nature of the Deity, found that he waded but the more out of his depth; and that he lost himself in the thought, instead of finding an end of it.
If we consider the idea which wise men, by the
light of reason, have framed of the Divine Being, it amounts to this: that he has in him all the perfection of a spiritual nature. And, since we have no notion of any kind of spiritual perfection but what we discover in our own souls, we join infinitude to each kind of these perfections, and what is a faculty in an human soul becomes an attribute in God. We exist in place and time; the Divine Being fills the immensity of space with his presence, and inhabits eternity. We are possessed of a little power and a little knowledge; the Divine Being is almighty and omniscient. In short, by adding infinity to any kind of perfection we enjoy, and by joining all these different kinds of perfection in one being, we form our idea of the great Sovereign of Nature.
Though every one who thinks must have made this observation, I shall produce Mr. Lock's authority to the same purpose, out of his Essay on Human Understanding. If we examine the idea we have of the incomprehensible Supreme Being, we shall find that we come by it the same way; and that the complex ideas we have both of God and separate spirits, are made up of the simple ideas we receive from reflexion : v. g. having, from what we experience in ourselves, got the ideas of existence and duration, of knowledge and power, of pleasure and happiness, and of several other qualities and powers, which it is better to have than to be without; when we would frame an idea the most suitable we can to the Supreme Being, we enlarge every one of these with our own idea of infinity; and so putting them together make our complex idea of God.'
It is not impossible that there may be many kinds of spiritual perfection, besides those which are lodged in an human soul; but it is impossible that we should have the ideas of any kinds of perfection, except those of which we have some small rays and short imperfect strokes in ourselves. It would therefore be very high presumption to determine whether the Supreme Being has not many more attributes than those which enter into our conceptions of him. This is certain, that if there be any kind of spiritual perfection which is not marked out in an human soul, it belongs in its fulness to the divine nature.
Several eminent philosophers have imagined that the soul, in her separate state, may have new facul. ties springing up in her, which she is not capable of exerting during her present union with the body; and whether these faculties may not correspond with other attributes in the divine nature, and open to us hereafter new matter of wonder and adoration, we are altogether ignorant. This, as I have said before, we ought to acquiesce in, that the Sovereign Being, the great Author of nature, has in him all possible perfection, as well in kind as in degree; to speak according to our methods of conceiving, I shall only add under this head, that when we have raised our notion of this Infinite Being as high as it is possible for the mind of man to go, it will fall infinitely short of what he really is. * There is no end of his greatness. The most exalted creature he has made is only capable of adoring it, none but himself can comprehend it.
The advice of the son of Sirach is very just and sublime in this light. By his word all things consist. We may speak much, and yet come short: wherefore in sum he is all. How shall we be able to magnify him? for he is great above all his works. The Lord is terrible and very great ; and marvellous in his power. When you glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as you can; for even yet will he far exceed. And when you exalt him, put forth all your strength, and be not weary; for you can never go far enough. Who hath seen him, that he might
tell us? and who can magnify him as he is? There are yet hid greater things than these be, for we have seen but a few of his works.'
I have here only considered the Supreme Being by the light of reason and philosophy. If we would see him in all the wonders of his mercy, we must have recourse to revelation, which represents him to us not only as infinitely great and glorious, but as infinitely good and just in his dispensations towards man. But as this is a theory which falls under every one's consideration, though indeed it can never be sufficiently considered, I shall here only take notice of that habitual worship and veneration which we ought to pay to this Almighty Being. We should often refresh our minds with the thought of him, and annihilate ourselves before bin, in the contemplation of our own worthlessness, and of his transcendent excellency and perfection. This would imprintin our minds such a constant and uninterrupted awe and veneration as that which I am here recommending, and which is in reality a kind of incessant prayer, and reasonable humiliation of the soul before him who made it.
This would effectually kill in us all the little seeds of pride, vanity, and self conceit, which are apt to shoot
in the minds of such whose thoughts turn more on those con parative advantages which they enjoy over some of their fellow-creatures, than on that infinite distance which is placed between them and the supreme model of all perfection. It would likewise quicken our desires and endeavours of uniting ourselves to him by all the acts of religion and virtue.
Such an habitual homage to the Supreme Being would, in a particular manner, banish from among us that prevailing impiety of using his name on the most trivial occasions.