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hope; he, therefore, caught hold of his arm, took away the axe by force, assisted the sailors in getting the boat into the water, persuaded his brother to quit the vessel, and in about four hours they got safe on shore.
If the vessel had weathered the storm, Tom would have been deemed a hero, and Jack a coward: but I hope that none, whom I have led into this train of thought, will, for the future, regard insensibility of danger as an indication of courage : or impute cowardice to those whose fear is not inadequate to its object, or too violent to answer
There is one evil, of which multitudes are in perpetual danger: an evil, to which every other is as the drop of the bucket, and the dust of the balance; and yet of this danger the greater part appear to be totally insensible.
Every man, who wastes in negligence the day of salvation, stands on the brink not only of the
grave, but of hell. That the danger of all is imminent, appears by the terms that Infinite Wisdom has chosen to express the conduct by which alone it can be escaped ; it is called 'a race, a watch, a work to be wrought with fear and trembling, a strife unto blood, and a combat with whatever can seduce or terrify, with the pleasures of sense and the power of angels. The moment in which we shall be snatched from the brink of this gulf, or plunged to the bottom, no power can either avert or retard; it approaches silent, indeed, as the flight of time, but rapid and irresistible as the course of a comet. That dreadful evil, which, with equal force and propriety, is called the Second Death, should not, surely, be disregarded, merely because it has been long impending: and as there is no equivalent for which a man can reasonably determine to suffer it, it cannot be considered as the object of courage. How it may be borne, should not be the inquiry, but how it may be shunned. And if, in this daring age, it is impossible to prepare for eternity, without giving up the character of a hero, no reasonable being, surely, will be deterred by this consideration from the attempt; for who but an infant, or an idiot, would give up his paternal inheritance for a feather, or renounce the acclamations of a triumph for the tinkling of a rattle ?
N° 107. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1753.
Sub judice lis est.
And of their vain disputings find no end. FRANCIS.
It has been sometimes asked by those, who find the appearance of wisdom more easily attained by questions than solutions, how it comes to pass, that the world is divided by such difference of opinion; and why men, equally reasonable, and equally lovers of truth, do not always think in the same manner ?
With regard to simple propositions, where the terms are understood, and the whole subject is comprehended at once, there is such an uniformity of sentiment among all human beings, that, for many ages, a very numerous set of notions were supposed to be innate, or necessarily co-existent with the faculty of reason: it being imagined, that
universal agreement could proceed only from the invariable dictates of the universal parent.
In questions diffuse and compounded, this similarity of determination is no longer to be expected. At our first sally into the intellectual world, we all march together along one straight and open road; but, as we proceed further, and wider prospects open to our view, every eye fixes upon a different scene; we divide into various paths, and, as we move forward, are still at a greater distance from each other. As a question becomes more complicated and involved, and extends to a greater number of relations, disagreement of opinion will always be multiplied ; not because we are irrational, but because we are finite beings, furnished with different kinds of knowledge, exerting different degrees of attention, one discovering consequences which escape another, none taking in the whole concatenation of causes and effects, and most comprehending but a very small part, each comparing what he observes with a different criterion, and each referring it to a different purpose.
Where, then, is the wonder, that they who see only a small part, should judge erroneously of the whole ? or, that they, who see different and dissimilar parts, should judge differently from each other?
Whatever has various respects, must have various appearances of good and evil, beauty or deformity ; thus, the gardener tears up as a weed, the plant which the physician gathers as a medicine; and a general,' says Sir Kenelm Digby, • will look with pleasure over a plain, as a fit place on which the fate of empires might be decided in battle, which the farmer will despise as bleak and barren, neither fruitful of pasturagė, nor fit for tillage.
Two men examining the same question, proceed commonly like the physician and gardener in selecting herbs, or the farmer and hero looking on the plain ; they bring minds impressed with different notions, and direct their inquiries to different ends; they form, therefore, contrary conclusions, and each wonders at the other's absurdity.
We have less reason to be surprised or offended when we find others differ from us in opinion, because we very often differ from ourselves. How often we alter our minds, we do not always remark; because the change is sometimes made imperceptibly and gradually, and the last conviction effaces all memory of the former : yet every man, accustomed from time to time to take a survey of his own notions, will, by a slight retrospection, be able to discover, that his mind has suffered many revolutions; that the same things have, in the several parts of his life, been condemned and approved, pursued and shunned: and that, on many occasions, even when his practice has been steady, his mind has been wavering, and he has persisted in a scheme of action, rather because he feared the censure of inconstancy, than because he was always pleased with his own choice.
Of the different faces shewn by the same objects as they are viewed on opposite sides, and of the different inclinations which they must constantly raise in him that contemplates them, a more striking example cannot easily be found than two Greek epigrammatists will afford us in their accounts of human life, which I shall lay before the reader in
Posidippus, a comic poet, utters this complaint'; • Through which of the paths of life is it eligible to pass? In public assemblies are debates and troublesome affairs; domestic privacies are haunted with
anxieties : in the country is labour; on the sea is terror: in a foreign land, he that has money must live in fear, he that wants it must pine in distress : are you married ? you are troubled with suspicions; are you single? you languish in solitude; children occasion toil, and a childless life is a state of destitution; the time of youth is a time of folly, and grey hairs are loaded with infirmity. This choice only, therefore, can be made, either never to receive being, or immediately to lose it.' Such and so gloomy is the
prospect, which Posidippus has laid before us. But we are not to acquiesce too hastily in his determination against the value of existence: for Metrodorus, a philospher of Athens, has shewn, that life has pleasures as well as pains; and having exhibited the present state of man in brighter colours, draws, with equal appearance of reason, a contrary conclusion.
You may pass well through any of the paths of life. In public assemblies are honours and transactions of wisdom ; in domestic privacy, is stillness and quiet: in the country are the beauties of nature; on the sea is the hope of gain; in a foreign land, he that is rich is honoured, he that is poor may keep his poverty secret: are you married?
you have a cheerful house; are you single? you are unincumbered ; children are objects of affection; to be without children is to be without care; the time of youth is the time of vigour, and grey hairs are made venerable by piety. It will, therefore, never be a wise man's choice, either not to obtain existence, or to lose it; for every state of life has its felicity'
In these epigrams are included most of the questions which have engaged the speculations of the inquirers after happiness; and though they will not much assist our determinations, they may, perhaps,