Page images
PDF
EPUB

from them, supposing they should be erroneous, before we give up our assent to them.

For example, in that disputable point" of persecuting men for conscience-sake, besides the imbittering their minds with hatred, indignation, and all the vehemence of resentment, and ensnaring them to profess what they do not believe; we cut them off from the pleasures and advantages of society, afflict their bodies, distress their fortunes, hurt their reputations, ruin their families, make their lives painful, or put an end to them. Sure when I see such dreadful consequences rising from a principle, I would be as fully convinced of the truth of it, as of a mathematical demonstration, before I would venture to act upon it, or make it a part of my religion.

In this case the injury done our neighbour is plain and evident, the principle that puts us upon doing it, of a dubious and disputable nature. Morality seems highly violated by the one, and whether or no a zeal for what a man thinks the true system of faith may justify it, is very uncertain. I cannot but think, if our religion produce charity as well as zeal, it will not be for shewing itself by such cruel instances. But, to conclude with the words of an excellent author, We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.'1

C.

1

The conclusion of this paper is a quotation from Archbishop Tillotson or Dr. Whitchcote.-C.

Disputable point. It had been more exact, as well as more agreeable to the principles of the writer, to say—disputed—than~disputable.-H.

No. 463. THURSDAY, AUGUST 21.

Omnia quse sensu volvuntur vota diurno,

Pectore sopito reddit amica quies.
Venator defessa toro cùm membra reponit,

Mens tamen ad sylvas et sua lustra redit.
Judicibus lites, aurigis somnia currus,

Vanaque nocturnis meta cavotur equis.
Me quoque Musarum studium sub nocte silenti
Artibus assuetis sollicitare solet.

CLAUD.
In sleep, when fancy is let loose to play,
Our dreams repeat the wishes of the day.
Though farther toil his tired limbs refuse,
The dreaming hunter still the chase pursues ;
The judge abed dispensed still the laws,
And sleeps again o'er the unfinish'd cause :
The dozing racer hears his chariot roll,
Smacks the vain wbip, and shuns the fancy'd goal.
Me too the muses in the silent night,
With wonted chimes of jingling verse delight.

I was lately entertaining myself with comparing Homer's balance, in which Jupiter is represented as weighing the fates of Hector and Achilles, with a passage of Virgil, wherein that deity is introduced as weighing the fates of Turnus and Æneas. I then considered how the same way of thinking prevailed in the eastern parts of the world, as in those noble passages of scripture, where we are told, that the great king of Babylon, the day before his death, had been weighed in the balance, and been found wanting. In other places of the holy writings, the Almighty is described as weighing the mountains in scales, making the weight for the winds, knowing the balancings of the clouds, and, in others, as weighing the actions of men, and laying their calamities together in a balance. Milton, as I have observed in a former paper,' had an eye to several of these foreguing instances, in that beautiful description wherein he represents the archangel and the evil spirit as addressing themselves for the combat, but

[graphic][merged small]

parted by the balance which appeared in the heavens, and weighed the consequences of such a battle.

Th' Eternal to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in heav'n his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weigh'd
The pendulous round earth with balanc'd air
In counterpoise, now ponders all cvents,
Battles and realms; in these he puts two weights
The sequel each of parting and of fight:
The latter quick up flew, and kickt the beam;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the fiend.

Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine,
Neither our own but given; what folly then
To boast what arms can do, since thine no more
Than Heav'n permits, nor mine, though doubled more
To trample thee as mire: for proof look up
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,
Where thou art weigh'd, and shown, how light, how weak,
If thou resist. The fiend look'd up, and knew
IIis mounted scale aloft; nor more, but filed
Murm'ring, and with him fled the shades of night.

These several amusing thoughts having taken possession of my mind some time before I went to sleep, and mingling themselves with my ordinary ideas, raised in my imagination a very odd kind of vision. I was, methought, replaced in my study, and seated in my elbow chair, where I had indulged the foregoing speculations, with my lamp burning by me, as usual. Whilst I was here meditating on several subjects of morality, and considering the nature of many virtues and vices, as materials for those discourses with which I daily entertain the public; I saw, methought, a pair of golden scales hanging by a chain in the same metal over the table that stood before me; when, on a sudden, there were great heaps of weights thrown down on each side of them. I found upon examining these weights, they shewed the value of every thing that is in esteem among men.

VOL. VI.--19

[graphic]

written, 'In the dialect of men,' and underneath it,'CALAMITIES;' on the other side was written, 'In the language of the gods,' and underneath, BLESSINGS.' I found the intrinsic value of this weight to be much greater than I imagined, for it over-powered health, wealth, good fortune, and many other weights, which were much more ponderous in my hand than the other.

There is a saying among the Scotch, that an ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy;" I was sensible of the truth of this saying, when I saw the difference between the weight of natural parts and that of learning. The observation which I made upon these two weights opened to me a new field of discoveries, for notwithstanding the weight of natural parts was much heavier than that of learning; I observed that it weighed an hundred times heavier than it did before, when I put learning into the same scale with it. I made the same observation upon faith and morality;? for notwithstanding the latter outweighed the former separately, it received a thousand times more additional weight from its conjunction with the former, than what it had by itself. This odd phænomenon shewed itself in other particulars, as in wit and judgment, philosophy and religion, justice and humanity, zeal and charity, depth of sense and perspicuity of style," with innumerable other particulars, too long to be mentioned in this paper.

As a dream seldom fails of dashing seriousness with impertinence, mirth with gravity, methought I made several other ex

See Beattie, on the Nature, &c., of Truth, ch. i. p. 45, second ed., 1771.-C.

* Spect. No. 459.

Depth of sense and perspicuity of style. One would think, the author, if his modesty were not so well known, had meant to pay himself a compliment, on the merit of these papers; in which the sense is, generally, excellent, that is, deep; though the perspicuity of his style, like a clear medium, brings it up to the eye, and tempts an ordinary observer to look upon it as shallow and superficial.-H.

« PreviousContinue »