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ever flows in a prosperous and happy course (d), dependent entirely
perfect man, this adept in virtue, never cursed Fortune; was never cast down by any accident, and looking upon himself as a foldier and citizen of the world, underwent all labours as patiently as if they were enjoined him by the command of his superiors. Whatever happened to him he received it, not with discontent, as an accidental evil, but as his destined lot in life. This, saith he, be it what it will, is my portion. It is hard: it is indeed severe ; but we must bear it, and do the best we can.
He necessarily appeared therefore, in all respects, a great man; from whom no disasters could ever distort a sigh or groan; who never complained of his fate: he gave to many a taste of his goodneis, which fhone as a light in a dark place (e); turning the inclinations and affections of every one towards him, being mild and gracious, and alike just in all affairs both human and divine. His mind was perfect, being advanced to that height, above which there is nothing but the mind of God. A part whereof condescended to dwell even in this mortal breast (f); which is never more divine, than when it reflects upon its own mortality; and knows that man was born to this end; that he must one day part with life; and that this body is not a fixed habitation, but an inn; and indeed an inn, where we must make but a short stay; and must certainly leave it, at the pleasure or displeasure of our host.
It is a very strong argument with me, dear Lucilius, that the soul is derived from some higher source, when it looks upon all earthly things, wherewith at present it is conversant, as mean and vile; and is under no dread to leave them. For he knows whither he is going, who recollects from whence he came. See we not how many things incommode and trouble us; and how irksome this body is to us? Sometimes we complain of the bowels, sometimes of the head, sometimes of the breast and throat; at one time the nerves, at another our feet rack us; to-day a lowness of spirit; to-morrow a violent cold; sometimes too much blood; sometimes too little; thus are we tolled about, and at last obliged
off. This is what generally happens to those who live in a tenement not their own. And yet though such a weak and putrid body be our portion, we nevertheless lay schemes for eternity; and as far as human life can possibly be extended, so far do we stretch our hopes; never satisfied with riches or power. But what can be more ridiculous? What more shameful? Nothing contenteth us, who' must die soon, nay, who die every day; for we daily draw near our end; and every hour drives us to the precipice from whence we shall surely fall.
Observe then in what a state of blindness our minds are involved! That which I said must come, is now come, and great part of it already gone: for the time we have lived, is there, where it was before we lived (g). We greatly err in fearing our last day ; fince each of the foregoing contributes as inuch unto death, as this. It is not this last hep that hath tired us when we drop; it only makes us know and confess that we are tired. The last day reacheth death, the former advanced towards it. Death cuts us not off at once, but only crops us continually (5). A great soul therefore, conscious of a better state in reverfion, and a more exalted condition, endeavours indeed, in the station wherein it is placed, to demean itself industriously and honestly; but it looks upon none of those things that surround it, as its own property; but as things lent us for a while, and useth them accordingly, as a stranger, and one that is hastening to another abode (i).
Now when we see a man acting with such constancy and integrity, it cannot but present us with the distinguishing marks of an uncommon understanding ; something, I say, above the common standard of human nature; especially, if as I before observed, this greatness is attended with the manifestation of truth. Truth ever keeps the same steady course. Things false and counterfeit last not, being ever subject to change. Thus some men are at one time Vatinius', at another time Cato's; one while they think Curius not severe; nor Fabricius
poor enough: they will scarcely allow Tubero to be frugal, and fufliciently content with his little : and at another time they challenge Licinius in wealth, Apicius in luxury, and Mecanas in the most clegant delights..
Nothing can be a greater sign of a bad disordered mind, than this restlessness, this continual agitation, between the diffimulation of virtue, and the love of vice :
habebat fæpe ducentos
Sometimes two hundred slaves compose his train,
There are many such as Horace hath here described; so wavering, so unlike to, and inconsistent with themselves. Did I say many ? nay, almost all men have this foible. There is scarce any one but who changeth his opinion, and his wishes : at one time he thinks himself happy in a wife; at another time he prefers a mistress: he will now be master, and soon after stoop to be an officious humble servant; at one time he shews away in the greatest splendour, so as to create envy; at another time he subsides, and lowers himself beneath the most abject of mortals : at one time he is profusely generous; at another time he scrapes together all he can get. Nothing sure can discover a weak and imprudent mind more than such demeanor ; where one action is perpetually thwarting another, and (than which I think nothing can be more vile) the man is altogether inconsistent with himself.
Think it a great virtue, my Lucilius, to act uniformly. Now none but a wise man appears always one and the fame. The rest are daily
putting putting on new shapes. One while you would think us very frugal and grave; at another time, prodigal and vain. We frequently change our masques, and put on a very different one from that we pulled off. Exact this therefore of thyself, having fixed upon a certain rule of life, maintain it to thy last breath. Endeavour to deserve praise, at least to make it known who you are, by an uniformity of action : for it may sometimes be said of the man you saw yesterday, who is this man? so great an alteration hath one day made in him.
(*) Things that come not within the scrutiny of human senses, as the virtue of the loadstone, &c. cannot be examined by them, or be attested by any body; and therefore can appear more or less probable only as they more or less agree to truths that are established in our minds; and as they hold proportion to other parts of our knowledge and approbation. Analogy in these matters is the only help we have, and 'tis from that alone we draw all our grounds of probability. See Locke, p. 285.
(a) See Plutarch, in the Life of Pyrrhus. (6) Id. in the Life of Poplicola.
(c) The like charge is given us by St. Paul, To render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. Rom. xiii. 7. And here I cannot but recommend to the Reader's notice that most excellent sermon of my good and evermemorable matter Dr. Snape on this text.
(d) i. e. the Eupocet of the Stoics.
(e) As St. Peter saith of the most sure word of prophecy, wherewith ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place. ii. Pet. 1. 19. And St. John of our Saviour-In him was life, and this life was the light of men, and the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. John, i. 45.
(f) For who hath known, saith St. Paul, the mind of the Lord, that he may infirue? him? But we have the mind of Christ. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Phil. ii. 5.
The bell strikes one. - If heard aright,
Where are they? With the years beyond the Flood. Young. N. T. (5) Carpit nos illa non corripit] The old translation renders it, Death swallows us indeed, but doth not devour us. Cellu nous avalle, mais ne nous devore pas.
Is Death at dilance ? No: he has been on thee;
Strikes empires from the root : each moment plays
The faireft bloom of sublunary bliss. id. (i) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confefed they were ftrangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things, declare plainly thy seek a country: and truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they defire a better country, i. e. an heavenly. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for be bath prepared for them a city. Heb. ii. 13. 6. Dearly beloved, frith St. Peter, 1 befeech yeu, ar strangers and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lufts, that war against the foul. i. Pet. ii. 11 St. Paul, This I say, brethren, the time is short, it remaineth that ye use this world as not abusing it ; for the fashion of this world passeth away. i. Cor. 7. 31. See Fpp. 58, 74, 98.
“ The Ægyptians in general, according to Deodorus, held the present life to be of small account; but the glory of a life to come hereafter, acquired by virtue, to be the highest object of their ambition. They looked upon our houses here but as inns, where we are to bait but a little while.” Nay, Macrobius assures us, Animarum originem manare de cælo inter rectè philofophantes indubitatæ conftat esse sententiæ. Somn. Scip. 1. 1. It was the undoubted opinion of the bejf philosophers, that our
fouls were derived to us from heaven.
Whether every Creature is fenfible of his own Constitution.
I KNOW you will chide me, Lucilius, when I explain to you
the petty question, which I have been so long musing upon this very day. And again you will cry out, what avails this towards reforming our morals? But exclaim as you please, when I have called to my assistance those eminent Stoics, Posidonius and Archidemus (a); let them argue the point with you: what I would ask is, whether any thing that relates to morality does not tend to create good manners ? When we consider the different engagements and pursuits of man, we find that one thing tends to his nourishment, another to exercise, another to dress, another to instruction, another to pleasure and delight. All these, I say, belong to him, yet not all of them make him a better man. So with regard