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To return, therefore, to my first thought. I could not but look upon myself with secret horror, as a being that was not worth the smallest regard of One who had so great a work under his care and superintendency. I was afraid of being overlooked amidst the immensity of nature, and lost among that infinite variety of creatures which in all probability swarm through all these imineasurable regions of matter.
In order to recover myself from this mortifying thought, I considered that it took its rise from those narrow conceptions which we are apt to entertain of the divine nature. We ourselves cannot attend to many different objects at the same time. If we are careful to inspect some things, we must of course neglect others. This imperfection which we observe in ourselves, is an imperfection that cleaves in some degree to creatures of the highest capacities, as they are creatures, that is, beings of finite and limited natures. The presence of every created being is confined to a certain measure of space, and consequently his observation is stinted to a certain number of objects. The sphere in which we move, and act, and understand, is a wider circumference to one creature than another, according as we rise one above another in the scale of existence. But the widest of these our spheres has its circumference. When, therefore, we reflect on the divine nature, we are so used and accustomed to this imperfection in ourselves, that we cannot forbear in some measure ascribing it to him in whom there is no shadow of imperfection. Our reason indeed assures us that his attributes are infinite; but the poorness of our conceptions is such that it cannot forbear setting bounds to everything it contemplates, until our reason comes again to our succour, and throws down all those little prejudices which rise in us unawares, and are natural to the mind of man.
We shall, therefore, utterly extinguish this melancholy thought of our being overlooked by our Maker in the multiplicity of his works, and the infinity of those objects among which he seems to be incessantly employed, if we consider in the first place, that he is omnipresent; and, in the second, that he is omniscient.
If we consider him in his omnipresence, his being passes through, actuates, and supports the whole frame of nature. His creation, and every part of it, is full of him. There is nothing he has made that is either so distant, so little, or so inconsiderable, which he does not essentially inhabit. His substance is within the substance of every being, whether material or immaterial, and as intimately present to it as that being is to itself. It would be an imperfection in
him were he able to remove out of one place into another, or to withdraw himself from any thing he has created, or from any part of that space which is diffused and spread abroad to infinity. In short, to speak of him in the language of the old philosopher, he is a being whose centre is every where, and his circumference no where.
In the second place, he is omniscient as well as omnipresent. This omniscience indeed necessarily and naturally flows from his omnipresence: he cannot but be conscious of every motion that arises in the whole material world, which he thus essentially pervades, and of every thought that is stirring in the intellectual world, to every part of which he is thus intimately united. Several moralists have considered the creation as the temple of God, which he has built with his own hands, and which is filled with his presence. Others have considered infinite space as the receptacle, or rather the habitation, of the Almighty; but the most noble and exalted way of considering this infinite space is that of Sir Isaac Newton, who calls it the sensorium of the Godhead. Brutes and men have their sensoriola, or little sensoriums, by which they apprehend the presence and perceive the actions of a few objects that lie contiguous to them. Their knowledge and observation turn within a very narrow circle. But as God Almighty cannot but perceive and know every thing in which he resides, infinite space gives room to infinite knowledge, and is, as it were, an organ to omniscience.
Were the soul separate from the body, and with one glance of thought should start beyond the bounds of the creation, should it for millions of years continue its progress through infinite space with the same activity, it would still find itself within the embrace of its Creator, and encompassed round with the immensity of the Godhead. Whilst we are in the body he is not the less present with us because he is concealed from us. "Oh that I knew where I might find him!" says Job. "Behold I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand where he does work, but I cannot behold him he hideth himself on the right hand that I cannot see him." In short, reason as well as revelation assures us that he cannot be absent from us, notwithstanding he is undiscovered by us. In this consideration of God Almighty's omnipresence and omniscience every uncomfortable thought vanishes. He cannot but regard every thing that has being, especially such of his creatures who fear they are not regarded by him. He is privy to all their thoughts, and to that anxiety of heart in particular which is apt to trouble
ANTHONY BLACKWALL, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Lecturer of All Hallows, Derby, born 1674, died 1730, was the author of The Sacred Classics Defended and Illustrated, or, An Essay Humbly Offered towards Proving the Purity, Propriety, and true Eloquence of the Writers of the New Testament, Lond., 1725-27-31, 3 vols. 8vo; 2d edit., 1737, 2 vols. 8vo; in Latin, by Wollius, Lips., 1736, 4to; and of an Introduction to the Classics, Lond., 1740, 12mo.
"Blackwall was a strenuous advocate for the purity of the Greek style of the New Testament, which he vindicates in his first volume."-T. H.
"Tis no romantic commendation of Homer to say, that no man understood persons and things better than he; or had a deeper insight into the humours and passions of human nature. He represents great things with such sublimity, and little ones with such propriety, that he always makes the one admirable and the other pleasant.
that the ancients esteemed and admired him as the great High Priest of nature, who was admitted into her inmost choir, and acquainted with her most solemn mysteries.
The great men of former ages, with one voice, celebrate the praises of Homer; and old Zoilus has only a few followers in these later times who detract from him either for want of Greek, or from a spirit of conceit and contradiction.
These gentlemen tell us that the divine Plato himself banished him out of his commonwealth; which, say they, must be granted to be a blemish upon the poet's reputation. The reason why Plato would not let Homer's poems be in the hands of the subjects of that government, was because he did not esteem ordinary men capable readers of them. They would be apt to pervert his meaning, and have wrong notions of God and religion, by taking his bold and beautiful allegories in too literal a sense. Plato frequently declares that he loves and admires him as the best, the most pleasant, and the divinest of all the poets; and studiously imitates his figurative and mystical way of writing. Though he forbad his works to be read in public, yet he would never be without them in his own closet. Though the philosopher pretends that for reasons of state he must he would treat him with all possible respect remove him out of his city, yet he declares while he staid; and dismiss him laden with presents, and adorned with garlands (as the priests and supplicants of their gods used to be); by which marks of honour all people wherever he came might be warned and induced to esteem his person sacred, and re
ceive him with due veneration.
Introduction to the Classics.
He is a perfect master of all the lofty graces of the figurative style and all the purity and easiness of the plain. Strabo, the excellent geographer and historian, assures us that Homer has described the places and countries of which he gives account with that accuracy that no man can imagine who has not seen them; and no man but must admire and be astonished who has. His poems may justly be compared with that shield of divine workmanship so inimitably represented in the eighteenth book of the Iliad. You have there exact images of all the actions of war, and employments of peace; and are entertained with the delight-sure ful view of the universe.
Homer has all the beauties of every dialect and style scattered through his writings: he is scarce inferior to any other poet in the poet's own way and excellency, but excels all others in force and comprehension of genius, elevation of fancy, and immense copiousness of invention." Such a sovereignty of genius reigns over all his works
THE GREEK AND ROMAN AUTHORS.
It was among the advantages which the chief classics enjoyed that most of them were placed in prosperous and plentiful circumstances of life, raised above anxious cares, want, and abject dependence. They were persons of quality and fortune, courtiers and statesmen, great travellers, and generals of armies, possessed of the highest dignities and posts of peace and war. Their riches and plenty furnished them with leiand means of study; and their employments improved them in knowledge and experience. How lively must they describe those countries and remarkable places which they had attentively viewed with their own eyes! What faithful and emphatical relations were they enabled to make of those councils in which they presided; of those actions in which they were present and commanded!
Herodotus, the father of history, besides the advantage of his travels and general knowledge, was so considerable in power and interest that he bore a chief part in expelling the tyrant Lygdamis, who had usurped upon the liberties of his native country.
Thucydides and Xenophon were of distinguished eminence and abilities both in civil and military affairs; were rich and noble; had strong parts, and a careful education in their youth, completed by severe study in their advanced years: in short, they had all the advantages and accomplishments both of the retired and active life.
Sophocles bore great offices in Athens; led their armies, and in strength of parts, and nobleness of thought and expression, was not unequal to his colleague Pericles, who, by his commanding wisdom and eloquence, influenced all Greece, and was said to thunder and lighten in his harangues.
Euripides, famous for the purity of the Attic style, and his power in moving the passions, especially the softer ones of grief and pity, was invited to, and generously entertained in, the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon. The smoothness of his composition, his excellency in dramatic poetry, the soundness of his morals, conveyed in the sweetest numbers, were so universally admired, and his glory so far spread, that the Athenians, who were taken prisoners in the fatal overthrow under Nicias, were preserved from perpetual exile and ruin by the astonishing respect that the Sicilians, enemies and strangers, paid to the wit and fame of their illustrious countryman. As many as could repeat any of Euripides's verses were rewarded with their liberty, and generously sent home with marks of honour.
Plato, by his father's side, sprung from Codrus, the celebrated king of Athens; and by his mother's from Solon, the no less celebrated law-giver. To gain experience and enlarge his knowledge, he travelled into Italy, Sicily, and Egypt. He was courted and honoured by the greatest men of the age wherein he lived; and will be studied and admired by men of taste and judgment in all succeeding ages. In his works are inestimable treasures of the best learning. In short, as a learned gentleman says, he writ with all the strength of human reason and all the charm of human eloquence.
Anacreon lived familiarly with Polycrates, king of Samos: and his sprightly muse, naturally flowing with innumerable pleasures and graces, must improve in delicacy and sweetness by the gaiety and refined conversation of that flourishing court.
The bold and exalted genius of Pindar was
encouraged and heightened by the honours he received from the champions and princes of his age; and his conversation with the heroes qualified him to sing their praises with more advantage. The conquerors at the Olympic games scarce valued their garlands of honour, and wreaths of victory, if they were not crowned with his never-fading laurels, and immortalized by his celestial song. The noble Hiero of Syracuse was his generous friend and patron; and the most powerful and polite state of all Greece esteemed a line of his in praise of their glorious city worth public acknowledgments and a statue. Most of the genuine and valuable Latin Classics had the same advantages of fortune, and improving conversation, the same encouragements with these and the other celebrated Grecians.
Terence gained such a wonderful insight into the characters and manners of mankind, such an elegant choice of words, and fluency of style, such judgment in the conduct of his plot, and such delicate and charming terms, chiefly by the conversation of Scipio and Lælius, the greatest men, and most refined wits, of their age. So much does this judicious writer and clean scholar improve by his diligent application to study, and their genteel and learned conversation, that it was charged upon him by those who envied his superior excellency, that he published their compositions under his own name. His enemies had a mind that the world should believe those noblemen wrote his plays, but scarce believed it themselves; and the poet very prudently and genteelly slighted their malice, and made his great patrons the finest compliment in the world, by esteeming the accusation as an honour, rather than making any formal defence against it.
Sallust, so famous for his neat expressive brevity, and quick turns, for truth of fact and clearness of style, for the accuracy of his characters, and his piercing view into the mysteries of policy and motives of action, cultivated his rich abilities, and made his acquired learning so useful to the world, and so honourable to himself, by bearing the chief offices in the Roman government, and sharing in the important councils and debates of the senate.
Cæsar had a prodigious wit and universal learning; was noble by birth, a consummate statesman, a brave and wise general, and a most heroic prince. His prudence and modesty in speaking of himself, the truth and clearness of his descriptions, the inimitable purity and perspicuity of his style, distinguish him with advantage from all other writers. None bears a nearer resemblance to him in more instances than the admirable
Xenophon. What useful and entertaining accounts might reasonably be expected from such a writer, who gives you the geography and history of those countries and nations which he himself conquered, and the description of those military engines, bridges, and encampments which he himself contrived and marked out!
The best authors in the reign of Augustus, as Horace, Virgil, Tibullus, Propertius, &c., enjoyed happy times and plentiful circumstances. This was the golden age of learning. They flourished under the favours and bounty of the richest and most generous court of the world; and the beams of majesty shone bright and propitious on them.
What could be too great to expect from such poets as Horace and Virgil, beloved and munificently rewarded by such patrons as Mæcenas and Augustus?
A chief reason why Tacitus writes with such skill and authority, that he makes such deep searches into the nature of things and designs of men, that he so exquisitely understands the secrets and intrigues of courts, was that he himself was admitted into the highest places of trust, and employed in the most public and important affairs. The statesman brightens the scholar, and the consul improves and elevates the historian. Introduction to the Classics.
ISAAC WATTS, D.D., born 1674, became assistant to Dr. Isaac Chauncy, pastor of the Independent Congregation then meeting in Mark Lane, London, 1698, and was minister of the same from 1702 until his death, 1748. For the last thirty-six years of his life he was paying a visit to the family of Sir Thomas Abney. He was the author of some theological and metaphysical works, but is best known by Divine and Moral Songs for Children, Hymns, and other poetical productions. Works, Lond., 1753, 6 vols. 4to, 1810, 6 vols. 4to, 1824, 6 vols. 4to, and other editions.
"Dr. Watts's style is harmonious, florid, poetical, and pathetic; yet too diffuse, too many words, especially in his latter works; and his former ones are too much loaded with epithets; yet on the whole
All that he has written is well worth reading."-DR. DODdridge.
"Few books have been perused by me with greater pleasure than his 'Improvement of the Mind.' Whoever has the care of instructing others, may be charged with deficience in his duty if this book is not commended."-DR. JOHNSON: Life of Watts.
OF IMPROVING THE MEMORY. When you would remember new things or words, endeavour to associate and connect
them with some words or things which you have well known before, and which are fixed and established in your memory. This association of ideas is of great importance and force, and may be of excellent use in many instances of human life. One idea which is familiar to the mind, and connected with others which are new and strange, will bring those new ideas into easy remembrance. Maronides had got the first hundred lines of Virgil's Eneid printed upon his memory so perfectly, that he knew not only the order and number of every verse from one to a hundred in perfection, but the order and number of every word in each verse also; and by this means he would undertake to remember two or three hundred names of persons or things by some rational or fantastic connection between some word in the verse and some letter, syllable, property, or accident of the name or thing to be remembered, even though they had been repeated but once or twice at most in his hearing. Animanto practised much the same art of memory by getting the Latin names of twenty-two animals into his head according to the alphabet, viz., asinus, basiliscus, canis, draco, elephas, felis, gryphus, hircus, juvencus, leo, mulus, noctua, ovis, panthera, quadrupes, rhinoceros, simia, taurus, ursus, xiphias, hyana, or yana, zibetta. Most of these he divided also into four parts, viz., head and body, feet, fins, or wings, and tail, and by some arbitrary or chimerical attachment of each of these to a word or thing which he desired to remember, he committed them to the care of his memory, and that with good success.
It is also by this association of ideas that we may better imprint any new idea upon the memory by joining with it some circumstance of the time, place, company, &c., wherein we first observed, heard, or learned it. If we would recover an absent idea, it is useful to recollect those circumstances of time, place, &c. The substance will many times be recovered and brought to the thoughts by recollecting the shadow: a man recurs to our fancy by remembering his garment, his size or stature, his office, or employment, &c. A beast, bird, or fish by its colour, figure, or motion, by the cage, or court-yard, or cistern, wherein it was kept, &c.
To this head also we may refer that remembrance of names and things which may be derived from our recollection of their likeness to other things which we know; either their resemblance in name, character, form, accident, or any thing that belongs to them. An idea or word which has been lost or forgotten has been often recovered by hitting upon some other kindred word or
idea which has the nearest resemblance to it, and that in the letters, syllables, or sound of the name, as well as properties of the thing.
If we would remember Hippocrates, or Galen, or Paracelsus, think of a physician's name beginning with II, G, or P. If we will remember Ovidius Naso, we may represent a man with a great nose; if Plato, we may think upon a person with large shoulders; if Crispus, we shall fancy another with curled hair; and so of other things. And sometimes a new or strange idea may be fixed in the memory by considering its contrary or opposite. So if we cannot hit on the word Goliath, the remembrance of David may recover it: Or the name of a Trojan may be recovered by thinking of a Greek, &c.
On Improving the Mind, Part. I. ch. 17.
BOOKS AND READING.
Enter into the sense and argument of the authors you read, examine all their proofs, and then judge of the truth or falsehood of their opinions; and thereby you shall not only gain a rich increase of your understandings by those truths which the author teaches, when you see them well supported, but you shall acquire also by degrees a habit of judging justly and reasoning well, in imitation of the good author whose works you peruse.
This is laborious indeed, and the mind is backward to undergo the fatigue of weighing every argument and tracing every thing to its original. It is much less labour to take all things upon trust; believing is much easier than arguing. But when Studentio had once persuaded his mind to tie itself down to this method which I have prescribed, he sensibly gained an admirable facility to read, and judge of what he read, by his daily practice of it, and made large advances in the pursuit of truth; while Plumbinus and Plumeo made less progress in knowledge, though they had read over more folios. Plumeo skimmed over the pages like a swallow over the flowery meads in May. Plumbinus read every line and syllable, but did not give himself the trouble of thinking and judging about them. They both could boast in company of their great reading, for they | knew more titles and pages than Studentio, but were far less acquainted with science.
I confess, those whose reading is designed only to fit them for much talk and little knowledge may content themselves to run over their authors in such a sudden and trifling way; they may devour libraries in this manner yet be poor reasoners at last, and have no solid wisdom or true learning. The traveller who walks on fair and softly
in a course that points right, and examines every turning before he ventures upon it, will come sooner and safer to his journey's end than he who runs through every lane he meets, though he gallop full speed through the day. The man of much reading and a large retentive memory, but without meditation, may become, in the sense of the world, a knowing man; and if he converses much with the ancients he may attain the fame of learning too: But he spends his days afar off from wisdom and true judg ment, and possesses very little of the substantial riches of the mind.
Never apply yourselves to read any human author with a determination beforehand either for him or against him, or with a settled resolution to believe or disbelieve, to confirm or oppose, whatsoever he saith ; but always read it with a design to lay your mind open to truth, and to embrace it wheresoever you find it, as well as to reject every falsehood, though it appear under never so fair a disguise. How unhappy are those men who seldom take an author into their hands but they have determined before they begin whether they will like or dislike him! They have got some notion of his name, his character, his party, or his principles, by general conversation, or perhaps by some slight view of a few pages: And having all their own opinions adjusted beforehand, they read all that he writes with a prepossession either for or against him. Unhappy those who hunt and purvey for a party, and scrape together, out of every author all those things, and those only, which favour their own tenets, while they despise and neglect all the rest! Yet take this caution, I would not be understood here as though I persuaded a person to live without any settled principles at all by which to judge of men and books and things; or that I would keep a man always doubting about his foundations.
On Improving the Mind, Part I. chap. 4.
JOHN ARBUTHNOT, M.D.,
born 1675, died 1735, was associated with Pope, Gray, Swift, Harley, Atterbury, and Congreve, in the Scriblerus Club, and was sole or joint author of Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus, which were pub lished in Pope's Works. Among his other productions were a treatise on the Usefulness of Mathematical Learning, 1700, The History of John Bull, 1712, and Tables of Ancient Coins, Weights, and Measures, Lond., 1727, 4to.