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Discovery of the secret and amazing Steps of Providence, from the Beginning to the End of Time. Nothing seems to be an Entertainment more adapted to the Nature of Man, if we consider that Curiosity is one of the strongeft and most lasting Appetites implanted in us, and that Admiration is one of our most pleasing Pallions; and what a perpetual Succeslion of Enjoyments will be afforded to both these,in a Scene so large and various as Thall then be laid open to our View in the Society of superior Spirits, who perhaps will join with us in so delightful a Prospect!
IT is not impossible, on the contrary, that Part of the Punishment of such as are excluded from Bliss, may con. fift not only in their being denied this Privilege, but in having their Appetites at the same time vastly increased, without any Satisfaction afforded to them. In these, the vain Pursuit of Knowledge shall, perhaps, add to their Infelicity, and bewilder them into Labyrinths of Error, Darkness, Distraction and Uncertainty of every thing but their own evil State. Milton has thus represented the fallen Angels reasoning together in a kind of Refpíte from their Torments, and creating to themselves a new Dife quiet amidft their very Amusements; he could not properly have described the Sports of condemned Spirits, without that Caft of Horror and Melancholy he has fe judiciously mingled with them."
Others apart sat on a Hill retired,
IN our present Condition, which is a middle State, our Minds are, as it were, chequered with Truth and Falfhood; and as our Faculties are narrow, and our Views imperfect, it is impoffible but our Curiosity muft. meet with many Repulses. The Business of Mankind in this Life being rather to act than to know, their Portion of Knowledge is dealt to them accordingly.
FROM hence it is, that the Reason of the Inquifitive has so long been exercised with Difficulties, in accounting for the promiscuous Distribution of Good and
Evil to the Virtuous and the Wicked in this world. From hence comes all those pathetick Complaints of so many tragical Events,which happen to the Wise and the Good; and of such surprising Prosperity, which is often the Reward of the Guilty and the Foolish ; that Reason is fometimes puzzled, and at a Loss what to pronounce upon so mysterious a Dispensation. : PLATO expresses his Abhorrence of some Fables of the Poets, which seem to reflect on the Gods as the Authors of Injustice; and lays it down as a Principle, That whatever is permitted to befal a juft Man, whether Poverty, Sickness, or any of those Things which seem to be Evils, shall either in Life or Death conduce to his Good. My Reader will observe how agreeable this Maxim is to what we find delivered by a greater Authority. Seneca has written a Discourse purposely on this Subject, in which he takes pains, after the Doctrine of the Stoicks, to shew that Adversity is not in itself an Evil; and mentions a noble Saying of Demetrius, That nothing would be more unhappy than a Man who had never kņown Affliction. He compares Prosperity to the Indulgence of a fond Mother to a Child, which often proves his Ruin ; but the Affection of the Divine Being to that of a wise Father, who would have his Sons exercised with Labour, Disappointment, and Pain, that they may gather Strength, and improve their Fortitude. On this Occasion the Philosopher rises into that celebrated Sentiment, That there is not on Earth a Spectacle more worthy the Regard of a Creator intent on bis Works, than a brave Man superior to his Sufferings; to which he adds, That it must be a Pleasure to Jupiter himself to look down from Heaven, and see Cato amidst the Ruins of his Country preserving his Integrity.
THIS Thought will appear yet more reasonable, if we consider human Life as a State of Probation, and Adversity, as the post of Honour in it, assigned often to the best and most select Spirits...
BUT what I would chiefly insist on here, is, that we are not at present in a proper Situation to judge of the Counsels by which Providence acts, since but little arrives at our Knowledge, and even that little we discern im. perfectly ; or, according to the elegant Figure in Holy Writ, We see but in part, and as in a Glass darkly. It is to
be confidered, that Providence in its Oeconomy regards the whole System of Time, and Things together, so that we cannot discover the beautiful Connections between Incidents which lie widely separate in Time, and by losing so many Links of the Chain, our Reasonings become broken and imperfe&t. Thus those Parts of the moral World which have not an absolute, may yet have a relative Beauty, in respect of fome other parts concealed from us, but open to his Eye before whom Paft, Prefent, and To come, are set together in one Point of View: and those Events, the Permission of which seems now to accuse his Goodness, may in the Consummation of Things both magnify his Goodness, and exalt his Wisdom. And this is enough to check our Prefumption, fince it is in vain to apply our Measures of Regularity to Matters of which we know neither the Antecedents nor the Confequents, the Beginning nor the End.
I Mall relieve my Readers from this abstracted Thought, by relating here a Jewish Tradition concerning Mofes, which seems to be a kind of Parable, illuftrating what í have ląst mentioned. That great Prophet, it is said, was called up by a Voice from Heaven to the top of a Mouncain; where, in a Conference with the Supreme Being, he was permitted to propose to him fome Questions con. cerning his Administration of the Universe. In the midft of this Divine Colloquy he was commanded to look down on the Plain below. At the Foot of the Mountain there issued out a clear Spring of Water, at which a Soldier alighted from his Horse to drink. He was no fooner gone than a little Boy came to the same Place, and finding a Purse of Gold which the Soldier had dropped, took it up and went away with it. Immediately after this came an infirm old Man weary with Age and Travelling, and hav. inz quenched his Thirst, fat down to rest himself by the Side of the Spring. The Soldier missing his Purse returns to search for it, and demands it of the old Man,who affirms he had not seen it, and appeals to Heaven in witness of his Innocence. The Soldier not believing his Proteftations, kills him, Mofes fell on his Face with Horror and Amazement, when the Divine Voice thus prevented his Expoftulation ; · Be not furprifed, Mofes, nor ask why the Judge of the whole Earth has suffer'd this Thing to
• come to pass: The Child is the Occasion that the Blood ..of the old Man is fpilt; but know, that the old Man
whom thou faw'tt, was the Murderer of that Child's Father.
00000000ooooooooooooo No. 238. Monday, December 3.
Nequicquam populo bibulas donaveris Aures ;
Please not thy self the flatt'ring Crowd to bear;
Survey thy Soul, not what thou doft appear,
DRYDIN, A MONG all the Diseases of the Mind, there is not Hi one more epidemical or more pernicious than the Love of Flattery. For as where the Juices of the Body are prepared to receive a malignant Influence, there the Disease rages with moft Violence; fo in this Diftemper of the Mind, where there is ever a Propensity and Inclination to suck in the Poison, it cannot be but that the whole Order of reasonable Action must be overturn'd, for, like Mufick, it ."
So foftens and difarms the Mind, . That not one Arrow can Resistance find. • FIRST we flatter our selves, and then the Flattery of others is sure of Success. It awakeps our Self-love within, a Party which is ever ready to revolt from our better Judgment, and join the Enemy without. Hence it is, that the Profufion of Favours we lo often see poured upon the Parafite, are represented to us, by our Self-Love, as Ju. ftice done to the Man, who fo agreeably reconciles us to our felves. When we are overcome by such foft Insinuations and ensnaring Compliances, we gladly recompense the Artifices that are made use of to blind our Reason, and which triumph over the Weaknesses of our Temper and Inclinations. . BUT were every Man persuaded from how mean and low a Principle this Passion is derived, there can be no
doubt but the Person who should attempt to gratify it; would then be as contemptible as he is now fuccessful, 'Tis the Defire of fome Quality we are not posseffed of, or Inclination to be something we are not, which are the Causes of our giving our selves up to, that Man, who bestows upon us the Characters and Qualities of others; which perhaps suit us as ill and were as little defign’d for our wearing, as their Clothes. Inftead of going out of our own complexional Nature into that of others, 'twere a better and more laudable Industry to improve our own, and instead of a misérable Copy become a good Original; for there is no Temper, no Disposition so rude and untractable, but may in its own peculiar Cast and Turn be brought to some agreeable Ufe in Conversation, or in the Affairs of Life. A Person of a rougher Deportment, and less tied up to the usual Ceremonies of Behaviour, will, like Manly in the Play, please by the Grace which Nature gives to every Action wherein she is complied with; the Brisk and Lively will not want their Admirers, and even a more reserved and melancholy Temper may at fome tiines be agreeable, - WHEN there is not Vanity enough awake in a Man to undo him, the Flatterer stirs up that dormant Weak. ness, and inspires him with Merit enough to be a Coxo comb. But if Flattery be the most fordid A&t that can be complied with, the Art of Praising jutly is as commend. able : For 'tis laudable to praise well; as Poets at one and the same time give Immortality, and receive it themselves for a Reward. Both are pleased, the one whilft he re. ceives the Recompence of Merit, the other whilft he fews he knows how to discern it; but above all, that Man is happy in this Art, who, like a kilful Painter, re. tains the Features and Complexion, but still softens the Pi&ture into the most agreeable Likeness.
THERE can hardly, I believe, be imagin'd a more desirable Pleasure, than that of Praise unmix'd with any Possibility of Flattery. . Such was that which Germanicus enjoyed, when, the Night before a Battle, desirous of fome sincere Mark of the Efteem of his Legions for him, he is described by Tacitus liftening in a Disguise to the Discourse of a Soldier, and wrapt up in the Fruition of his Glory,whilft with an undesigned Sincerity they praised.