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upon the ceasing of which motions, the general law of gravitation that is now thwarted, would shew itself by drawing them all into one mass. After the same manner, in the parallel case of society, private passions and motions of the soul do often obstruct the operation of that benevolent uniting instinct implanted in human nature; which, not. withstanding, doth still exert and will not fail to shew itself when those obstructions are taken away.
The mutual gravitation of bodies cannot be explained any other
way than by resolving it into the immediate operation of God, who never ceases to dispose and actuate his creatures in a manner suitable to their respective beings. So neither can that reciprocal attraction in the minds of men be accounted for by any other cause. It is not the result of education, law, or fashion; but is a principle originally ingrafted in the very first formation of the soul by the Author of our nature.
And as the attractive power in bodies is the most universal principle which produceth innumerable effects, and is a key to explain the various phenomena of nature; so the corresponding social appetite in human souls is the great spring and source of moral actions. This it is that inclines each individual to an intercourse with his species, and models every one to that behaviour which best suits with the common well-being. Hence that sympathy in our nature, whereby we feel the pains and joys of our fellow-creatures. Hence that prevalent love in parents towards their children, which is neither founded on the merit of the object, nor yet on self-interest. It is this that makes us inquisitive concerning the affairs of distant nations, which can have no influence on our own.
It is this that extends our care to future generations, and excites us to acts of beneficence towards those who are not yet in being, and consequently from whom we can expect no recompense. In a word, hence arises that diffusive sense of humanity so unaccountable to the selfish man who is untouched with it, and is indeed a sort of monster, or anomalous production.
These thoughts do naturally suggest the following particulars. First, that as social inclinations are absolutely necessary to the well-being of the world, it is the duty and interest of each individual to cherish and improve them to he benefit of mankind; the duty, because it is agreeable to the intention of the Author of our being, who aims at the common good of his creatures, and, as an indication of his will, hath implanted the seeds of mutual benevolence in our souls; the interest, because the good of the whole is inseparable from that of the parts; in promoting, therefore, the common good, every one doth at the same time promote his own private interest. Another observation I shall draw from the premises is, that it makes a signal proof of the divinity of the Christian religion, that the main duty which it inculcates above all others is charity. Different maxims and precepts have distinguished the different sects of philosophy and religion; our Lord's peculiar precept is, “Love thy neighbour as thyself. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye love one another."
I will not say, that what is a most shining proof of our religion, is not often a reproach to its professors; but this I think very plain, that whether we regard the analogy of nature, as it appears in the mutual attraction or gravitations of the mundane system, in the general frame and constitution of the human soul; or; lastly, in the ends and aptness which are discoverable in all parts of the visible and intellectual world; we shall not doubt but the precept, which is the characteristic of our religion, came from the Author of nature. Some of our modern freethinkers would indeed insinuate the Christian morals to be defective, because, say they, there is no mention made in the gospel of the virtue of friendship. These sagacious men (if I might be allowed the use of that vulgar saying)“ cannot see the wood for trees.” That a religion, whereof the main drift is to inspire its professors with the most noble and disinterested spirit of love, charity, and beneficence, to all mankind; or, in other words, with a friendship to every individual man; should be taxed with the want of that very virtue, is surely a glaring evidence of the blindness and prejudice of its adversaries.
No 127. THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1713.
He sported agreeably.
his performances after my more serious studies, read me yesterday the following translation. In this town, where there are so many women of prostituted charms, I am very glad when I gain so much time of reflection from a youth. of a gay turn, as is taken up in any composition, though the piece he writes is not foreign to that of his natural in, clination. For it is a great step towards gaining upon the passions, that there is a delicacy in the choice of their object: and to turn the imagination towards a bride, rather than a mistress, in getting a great way towards being in the interest of virtue. It is a hopeless manner of reclaiming youth which has been practised by some moralists, to declaim against pleasure in general. No; the way is to shew, that the pleasurable course is that which is limited and governed by reason. In this case virtue is upon equal terms with vice, and has, with all the same indulgences of desire, the advantage of safety in honour and reputation, I have for this reason often thought of exercising my pupils, of whom I have several of admirable talents, upon writing little poems or epigrams, which in a volume I would entitle The Seeing Cupid. These compositions should be written on the little advances made towards a young lady of the strictest virtue, and all the circumstances alluded to in them, should have something that might please her mind in its purest innocence, as well as celebrate her person in its highest beauty. This work would instruct a woman to be a good wife, all the while it is a wooing her to be a bride. Imagination and reason should go hand in hand in a generous amour; for when it is otherwise, real discontent and aversion in marriage succeed the groundless and wild promise of imagination in courtship.
The Court of Venus, from Claudian, being part of the
Epithalamium on Honorius and Maria.
The mountain, when the summit once you gain, '
A sylyan scene, in solemn state display'd,
Steep'd in these springs (if verse belief can gain)
Along the grassy banks in bright array,
Now from afar the palace seems to blaze,
Here spices in parterres promiscuous blow,