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Carefully avoid an argumentative and disputative turn, which too many people have, and some even value themselves upon, in company; and when your opinion differs from others, maintain it only with modesty, calmness, and gentleness; but never be eager, loud, or clamorous; and, when you sind your antagonist beginning to grow warm, put an end to the dispute by some genteel stroke of humour. For, take it for granted, if the two best friends in the world dispute with eagerness upon the most trifling subject imaginable, they will, sor the time, find a momentary alienation from each other. Disputes upon any subject are a sort of trial of the understanding, and must end in the mortisication of one or other of the disputants. On the other hand, I am far from meaning that you should give an univerfal assent to all that you hear faid in company; such an assent would be mean, and in some cases criminal; but blame with indulgence, and correct with gentleness.
Always look people in the face when you speak to them; the not doing it is thought to imply conscious guilt; besides that, you lose the advantage of observing by their countenances, what impression your discourse makes upon them. In order to know people's real Sentiments, I trust much more to my eyes than to my ears; sor they can fay whatever they have a mind I should hear j but they can seldom help looking what they have no intention that I should know.
If you have not command enough over yourself to conquer your humours, as I am sure every ratio' nal creature may have, never go into company while the sit of i 1-humour is upon you. Instead of company's diverting you in those moments, you will displease, and probably shock them; and you will part worse friends than you met: but whenever you find in yourself a disposition to sullenness, contradiction, or testiness, it will be in vain to seek sor a cure abroad. Stay at home, let your humour serment and work itself off. Cheerfulness and gcod-humour are of all qualisications the most amiable in company; for though they do not necessarily imply good-nature and good-breeding, they represent them, at least, very well, and that i» all that is required in mixt company.
I have indeed known fome very ill-nainr'd People, who were very good-humoured in company; but I never knew any one generally ill-humoured: a company, who was not essentially ill-natured. Wbfl there is no malevolence in the heart, there is always a chearfulness and ease in the countenance and manners. By good-humour and chearfulness, I »* far from meaning noisy mirth and loud peals of laughter, which are the distinguishing characteristics of the vulgar and of the ill-bred, whose mirth is a kind oi storm. Observe it, the vulgar often laugh, but never smile; whereas, well-bred people often smile, but seldom laugh, A witty thing never excited laughter; it pleases only the mind, and never distorts the countenance: a glaring absurdity, a blunder, a silly accident, and those things that are generally called comical, w-1 .. » excite excite a laugh, though never a loud nor a long one, among well-bred people.
Sudden passion is called short-lived madness; it is a madness indeed, but the sits of it return so often in choleric people, that it may well be called a continua! madness.. Should you happen to be of this unfortunate disposition, make it your constant study to subdue, or, at least to check it: when you find your choler rising, resolve neither to speak to, nor aniwer the person who excites it; but stay till you sind it subsiding, and then speak deliberately. Endeavour to be cool and steady upon all occasions; the advantages of such a steady calmness are innumerable, and would be too tedious to relate. It may be acquired by care and reflection; if it could not, that reason which distinguishes men from brutes would be given us to very little purpose: as a proof of this, I never faw, and scarcely ever heard of, a Quaker in a passion. In Truth, there is in that sect a decorum and decency, and an amiable simplicity, that I know in no other.
WHAT a number of hillocks of death appear all round us! What are the tomb-stones, but memorials of the inhabitants of that town, to insorm us of the period of all their lives, and to point out the day when it was faid to each of them, "Your time (hall be no longer?" Oh, may I readily learn this important lesson, that my turn is hastening too; such a little hillock sliall shortly arise N 3 sot for me in some unknown spot of ground, it shall cover this flesh and these bones of mine in d.ukneis, and ihall hide them from the light of the fun, and srom the sight of man, till the heavens shall be no more!
Perhaps some kind surviving friend may engrave my name, with the number of my days, upon a plain suneral stone, without ornament, and below envy s there shall my tomb stand among the rest, as a fresh monument of the frailty of nature and the end of time. It is possible some friendly foot may now and then visit the place of my repose, and some tender eye may bedew the cold memorial with a •,tear: one or another of my old accqaintance may possibly attend there to learn the silent lecture of mortality from my grave stone, which my lips are now preaching aloud to the world; and if love and sorrows should reach so far, perhaps, while his fool is melting in his eye-lids, and his voice scarce finds an utterance, he will point with his singer, ani snew his companion the month and the day of my decease. O, that solemn, that awsul day, which shall sinish my appointed time on earth, and put a sinal period to all the designs of my heart, and all the labours of my tongue and pen!
Think, O my soul, that while friends or strangers are engaged on that spot, and reading the date of my departure hence, thou wilt be sixed under a decisive and unchangeable sentence, rejoicing in the 1 rewards of time well-improved, or saltering the
longer sorrows which shall attend the abuse of it, in. an unknown world of happiness or misery.
The Danger os late Repentance.
IT is a wise and just observation among Christians, though it is a very common one, that the scriptures give us one instance of a penitent saved in his dying hour, and that is the thief upon the cross, that so none might utterly despair ; but there is but one such instance given, that none might presume. The work of repentance is too ■ difficult, and too important a thing, to be left to the languors of a dying bed, and the tumults and flutterings of thought, which attend such a late con* viction. There can be hardly any effectual proofs given of the sincerity of such repentings: and I am verily persuaded there are few of them sincere, sor we have often sound these violent emotions of conscience vanish again, if the sinner has happened to recover his health: they seem to be merely the wild perplexities and struggles of nature, averse to misery, rather than averse to sin: their renouncing their sormer lusts, on the very borders of hell and destruction, is more like the vehement efforts of a drowning creature, constrained to let go a most beloved object, and taking eager hold of any plank sor fasety, rather than the calm and reasonable and voluntary designs of a mariner, who forfakes his early joys, ventures himself in a ship that is offered him, and sets fail sor the heavenly country. I never will pronounce such efforts and endeavours desperate, lest I limit the grace of God, which is unbounded;