EPICTETƲS HIS MORALS, WITH SIMPLICIƲS HIS COMMENT.

Made English from the Greek.

BY GEORGE STANHOPE, Late Fellow of King's-College in Cambridge.

LONDON: Printed for Richard Sare, at Gray's-Inn-Gate in Holborn, and Ioseph Hindmarsh, against the Exchange in Cornhil, 1694.

IMPRIMATUR,

C. ALSTON.

To the Worthily Honoured WILLIAM GORE, of Tewing, in the County of Hert­ford, Esq.

SIR,

TO omit the many trifling Pretences commonly made use of upon these Occasions, I shall think this Dedication abundantly justified, by only alledging one thing in its Excuse, That every Man is by no means duly pre­pared to Read, or Relish; much less is every Man of Quality, a proper Patron for Epictetus.

So Exquisite a Piece of Mora­lity, requires not only a Good Un­derstanding, but a Virtuous and Well Disposed Mind, a Serious Sense of the Dignity of a Reason­ing [Page] Soul, and a due Care to keep up its Character; Affections raised above the Sordid Enjoyments of the World, and a fix'd Opinion, that the Trouble we are at about these things, ought not to be e­steemed the Business, but the Great Misfortune and Incumbrance of Humane Life; a steddy Govern­ment of the Passions, and a Temper Even and Easie, Affable and Ob­liging. Without these Qualifica­tions, or some good Advances to­ward them, a Man's Palate can never stand to the following Re­flections; and the most excellent Rules of Living, would be enter­tain'd with coldness and contempt.

Whether I have done this Au­thor Reason in the following [Page] Translation, is neither possible nor proper for me to determine: But though that performance were al­lowed to be never so perfect, it is yet a very necessary Advantage, and indeed a Right due both to him and my self, to take Sanctuary in the Goodness of a Person who knows the better how to Pardon, because he knows how to Judge; and whose Virtues have already not only approved, but transcri­bed, and by the best, the Chri­stian Morality have even Correct­ed and Refined upon all the most valuable Parts of this Book.

How far this is your case, I will not, I need not take upon me to determine; all Sir, that have the Happiness to know you, will do it [Page] for me: Permit me only to close this Address, with my most sin­cere Wishes, that you may long continue an Ornament to Learn­ing, Religion, and your own Fa­mily, a publick Blessing to your Country and your Friends, and that I may have the honour of be­ing ever acknowledged in that Number. One Testimony where­of, will be the accepting these Pro­fessions which I am now desirous to make to the World, of my being with all possible Respect,

Sir,
Your most Obliged,
And most Humble Servant,
GEORGE STANHOPE.

THE PREFACE.

I Do not give the Reader this Trou­ble out of any Intent to make an Apo­logy for shewing the following Book in English; for sure the rendring such admirable Instructions as diffusive as it is possible, cannot need an Excuse. Nor do I intend to give him a tedious Account of the Performance it self; but shall only say, that it hath been my Endeavour to express the Author's Sense with all the Easiness and Freedom I could, so as to decline both the Slavery of a Literal, and the Licentiousness of a Loose and Luxu­riant Interpretation.

My Design at present, is only to make some necessary Reflections upon those Parts [Page] of the Stoical Philosophy which are apt to prejudice Men against it, and tempt some Persons from these extravagant Sy­stems of Moral Perfections to think, (at least to plead in Vindication of their own Excesses) that the Generality of Rules prescribed for the Reforming our Manners, are Things too nicely thought, sublime, airy, and impracticable Speculations.

It is not my Purpose, nor ought it to be any Man's, to vindicate these, or any other Masters of Heathen Morality, in every particular Notion they advanced. But I must beg Leave to put my Reader in mind, what is the proper Advantage to be made of these Errors; and that sure is not to run down Morality as an empty Name, (which they must be allowed, in despight of all the Aggravations their Failings are capable of, to have done ex­cellent Service to,) but to discern in this the Wisdom of Almighty God, who in the midst of his most liberal Endowments, never suffered the greatest Heathens to [Page] be without some notable Defect of Judg­ment, but ever debased their Knowledge with an Alloy of Ignorance and Folly; And that, no doubt, to create in us a more just Esteem and Veneration for his own Christian Philosophy, to which alone this Perfection was reserved, of Truth with­out Error, and Light without Darkness.

I think it therefore my Duty, so far to comply with the Objector in condemning these Schemes of Ethicks, as to shew upon this Occasion, That the Principles of Religion have exalted our Virtues, and adjusted the measures of them infi­nitely better than any Humane Institutions were ever able to do. For, though the Stoicks are most deservedly admired for their Noble Notions in these Matters above any other Sect, and the brave At­tempts they made towards the reducing Nature to its Primitive Purity and Per­fection; yet, I think it cannot fairly be denied, that in their Way of Treating the Passions and Powers of the Soul, they [Page] much overshot the Mark, and have quite mistaken the Case. How far it is possible to go, in subduing the Passions absolutely, I shall not now Dispute; but take it for granted, that the generality of People might do a great deal more in it, than they either do, or imagine they can do: And that Sloath, which is the prevailing Vice, and the most fatal Obstruction to a good and happy Life, affrights us with many Difficulties and Discouragements, by no means of Nature's, but entirely of our own making. Yet to deliver our selves from those inward Commotions, which are visible Ocoasions of so much Mischief, we must not presently pass a rash and rigorous Sentence of utter Ex­cision upon them, but try some gentler and more prudent Method, because the same things are equally capable of producing a great deal of good.

These are indeed the secret Springs that move and actuate us; and all the Care incumbent upon the Governing Part [Page] of the Mind, is to set them right, and at a true Pitch, that so every Motion which flows from thence, may be Just and Regular. They are like the Acid in our Stomachs, that constantly provokes and renews our Appetites, and prevents the most necessary functions of Life, from becoming flat and nauseous to us. And ac­cordingly, he who contrived, and conse­quently must be best acquainted with our Frame, found them necessary to inspire and invigorate this heavy Mass; He saw, that thus to ease us of all our Pains, would be to rob us at the same time, of all our Pleasures; and for this reason he hath made Promises and Threat­nings, Rewards and Punishments, the Gayeties and Anxieties of Heart, (all which are but so many different ways of working upon our Passions,) the most proper and powerful Inducements to the best Religion in the World. So that in truth, the main, I might say the whole of our Duty and Happiness, consists not [Page] in stifling these Affections, and condemn­ing them to a State of utter Inactivity, but in moderating and regulating them: And no Degree of Love, or Hatred, or Desire, or Fear, or Anger, or Grief, or any other simple Passion, can be too intense when placed upon worthy Objects, and di­rected to worthy Ends.

The same Difficulty lies against Sto­icism, with regard to Civil Society, and the mutual Concern we feel for one ano­ther. For some Rules given here, if li­terally and strictly followed, may seem to threaten the Destruction of all Natural Affection and Charity among Men; which therefore Christianity hath taken into its peculiar Care and Protection. It repre­sents Temporal Afflictions as Chastise­ments, and expects we should feel the Smart, in Order to be amended by the Rod. It remits us for Comfort to higher and better Considerations, and does not amuse us with vain Notions, that these Things neither touch nor ought to affect [Page] us; but tells us, That the more sensibly they do so, the more glorious the Improve­ment and the Reward is capable of being made. It inspires Compassion and good Nature, and the tenderest Resentments of other Peoples Misfortunes. It commands no Man to attend the Funeral Obsequies of his Friend or Dearest Relation, with a gay or perfectly composed Countenance, as knowing very well, that this Behaviour is Barbarous and Brutish; and that what some have called Philosophy and Constan­cy in such Cases, may seem rather the Effect of Stupidity, or Sullenness, or Pride; that this is an imaginary Perfe­ction, which Few ever did, and None ought to attain to: And, in a word, that the Excess and Inordinacy of our Passions is the only Thing blameable in them. Against which therefore it makes ample Provision; such as offers no Violence to the Original Softnesses of Humane Nature, but preserves all those Respects entire which we owe to our selves and to one [Page] another; such as may be used with a ve­ry good Grace, and such as will be most effectual, when rightly applied.

This Censure is no more than what appeared to me highly seasonable and expedient to convince the most partial Admirers of Heathen Philosophy, that wherein soever those Systems of Morality differ from the Christian, they are mani­festly inferiour to them. In other Points we can scarce give them greater Commen­dation than they really deserve: And among them all, I know none that chal­lenges more Esteem than this Book. The Instructions are so wise, the Allusions so lively, the Exhortations so moving, and the Arguments so strong, that they may well be allowed not only to convince our Reason, but to excite our greatest Admi­ration. The Application is so easie, by a light Change of Philosophy into Religi­on, and the Plurality of Divine Beings into the one only True God, that any considering Christian may here find a [Page] Scheme of what Himself ought to be. And except some particular Subtleties in the First, Thirteenth, Thirty Fourth, and Thirty Eighth Chapters, (which I men­tion here particularly, that the more un­learned Readers may, if they please, pass them over, without suffering them­selves to be prejudiced against the rest of the Book) the Arguments are so plain and substantial, as to recommend them­selves to the Sense, and to Sute the Ca­pacity of every Common Man. But it must be remembred again, what is the proper Benefit of such Writings, and that, no doubt, must be, to let us see what a Reproach the Perfection of these Ancients is to us at this Day. And I heartily wish, that the present Treatise may have its due Influence upon every One who shall peruse it; by provoking them to a holy Emulation and generous Disdain, that Epictetus his Proficient should out­do any Professor of the Gospel, who walks by a clearer Light, and excels in [Page] every Advantage of Goodness, except such as he wilfully denies to himself, those of Consideration and Resolution, and an active Zeal.

G. S.

EPICTETƲS HIS ENCHIRIDION, With SIMPLICIƲS HIS COMMENTARY, Made English.

IF the Reader be curious to know Epictetus's Character, he may find it at large in an Account of his Life and Death, written by Arrian, who also compiled the Discourses of Epictetus, and digested them into seve­ral distinct Tracts. The same Arrian composed this very Book too, which goes by the Name of Enchiridion, being a Collection out of Epicte­tus's Discourses, of such Remarks and Rules as he thought most seasonable and necessary, and most likely to affect Mens Minds. For thus [Page 2] much Arrian himself declares in his Epistle De­dicatory to Messalinus, to whom he addressed this Book, as being both a particular Friend of his, and an exceeding Admirer of Epictetus. (Though the same Things indeed, and deli­vered in almost the same Expressions, lye scat­tered up and down in those Writings of Arrian which are called Epictetus's Discourses.)

The principal Design of this Book (if Men would but suffer themselves to be wrought up­on by it, and not think it sufficient to give him the Hearing only, but let it seriously affect their Minds, and would reduce what they read into Practice) is, To set our Souls as Free, as when their Great Father and Creator first gave them to us, to disengage them from all those slavish Fears and confounding Troubles, and other Corruptions of Humane Nature, which are wont to subdue and tyrannize over them.

It is called an Enchiridion, or Manual, be­cause all Persons, who are desirous to live as they ought, should be perfect in this Book, and have it always ready at hand: A Book of as constant and necessary use as the Sword (which commonly went by this Name, and from whence the Metaphor seems to be taken) is to a Soldier.

The Discourses are lively and moving; and all but the Stupid and Sottish must needs be af­fected with them: And, though not all equally, yet all in some degree: And it is to be hoped, they will be so affected, as to be made sensible of their own Failings, and Infirmities; and 1 [Page 3] awakened into serious Thoughts and Endeavours of Reformation. In short, That Man that can read these Reflections, without any Impression or Concern at all, is lost to all the Methods of Amendment in this World, and can only be made wiser by the Fiery Discipline of the Next.

The Instructions he gives, are built upon Humane Nature, and the Foundation of them all is Man, considered as a Rational Soul, ma­king use of the Body as its Instrument of Ope­ration. Upon this Account, he allows all those innocent Pleasures which Nature requires, and such as are necessary to keep up a Successi­on of Mankind in the World; and so he does likewise the Enjoyment of such other Things, as the Condition of the present Life makes de­sirable to us: But then it is constantly with this Reserve, that the Reasoning Faculty pre­serve its own Liberty, so as not to be enslaved to the Body, or any of its sensual Inclinations, but be constantly raising it self up above these, and aspiring to the Enjoyment of its own pro­per Happiness. So that of all Outward Things [Page 4] which are commonly esteemed good, those that can any way conduce to the promoting our real Happiness, we may take the Advantage of, pro­vided it be done with due Temper, and Mode­ration. But, as for such as are wholly incon­sistent with that True Good, we are absolutely forbidden the having any thing at all to do with them.

One very remarkable Excellency these Wri­tings have, That they render all, who govern themselves by them, truly happy in present, and do not content themselves with turning Men over to a long Payment, by distant Promi­ses of their Virtues being rewarded in a Future State. Not but that there most certainly shall be such a State, and such Rewards. For it is impossible, that that Being, which serves it self of the Body, and its Appetites and Affections as so many Instruments to act by, should not have a distinct Nature of its own; a Nature, that continues entire, after these are lost and destroyed; and consequently, must needs have a Perfection of its own too, peculiar and agree­able to its Essence and Nature. Now, though we should suppose the Soul to be mortal, and that It and the Body perish both together; yet he that lives according to these Directions, will be sure to find his Account in them; for he cannot fail of being a truly happy Man, because he attains to the Perfection of his Nature, and the Enjoyment of that Good which is accom­modated to a Rational Soul. And thus the Bo­dy of a Man, which is confessedly mortal, en­joys its own proper Happiness, and can ask no­thing farther, when it attains to all that Vigor [Page 5] and Perfection that the Nature of a Body is ca­pable of.

The Discourses themselves are short and sententious; much after the manner of those Precepts which the Pythagoreans call their Me­morandums or Moral Institutions: Though among these indeed, there is some sort of Method and Connexion, and a mutual Relation almost all through; as will appear hereafter, when we come to consider them particularly. And these Observations and Maxims, though they be put into distinct Chapters, are yet all upon one Subject, and belong to the same Science; viz. That of Amending the Life of Man. They are all directed to one and the same End; which is, To rouze and invigorate the Reasonable Soul, that it may maintain its own Dignity, and exert all its Powers in such Operations as are agreeable to uncorrupt Nature.

The Expressions are perspicuous and easie▪ but yet it may not be amiss, a little to explain and enlarge upon them: and that, as well for the Writer's own sake, who by this means will be more sensibly affected, and carried to a clo­ser and deeper Consideration of the Truths con­tained in them; as for the Reader's Benefit, who, perhaps, not being very conversant in such kind of Writings, will be led into a more perfect Understanding of them by these Expla­nations.

Now the first Thing to be cleared upon this Occasion is, What sort of Persons these Instru­ctions were designed for; and what Virtues especially they are capable of cultivating in the Men that submit to be directed by them.

[Page 6] And first, it is plain they are not proper for the Man of Consummate Virtue, who hath ab­solutely purged away all the Dregs of Humane Nature: for he (so far as his mortal State will admit of such Perfection) makes it his Business to divest himself of Flesh and Sense, and all the Appetites and Passions that attend and serve the Body; and is entirely taken up with the Improvement of his own Mind. Much less can they sute the Circumstances of a specula­tive Virtue, which is a Degree still higher than the former. For such a Person is exalted even above the Rational Life, and attains to a sort of God-like Contemplation. They are adapted then more peculiarly to an inferiour Rank, who lead their Lives according to the Dictates of Reason, and look upon the Body as an Instru­ment of Action, contrived for the Use of the Soul: That do not confound these two, nor make Either a part of the Other; nor the Body and Soul both as equally constituent parts of Humane Nature. For he that supposes the Man, strictly speaking, to consist of Body as well as Soul, hath a Vulgar Notion of Things; is deprest and sunk down into Matter; hath no more Pretensions to Reason, than a Brute; and scarce deserves the Name of Man. He that would answer that Character in good earnest, and assert the Dignity and Prerogative of his Nature, by which God hath distinguished him from Beasts, must take care to preserve his Soul, as Nature requires it should be, in a State of Superiority over the Body; so as to use and manage it, not as a part of the same common Nature, out as an Instrument wholly at its [Page 7] Government and Disposal. And such a Person as this, is the proper Object of those Moral and Political Vertues which the following Dis­courses are intended to excite Men to.

That the Real Essence of a Man, is his Ra­tional Soul, Socrates hath undertaken to demon­strate, in that Dialogue which Plato gives us, between him and his beloved Alcibiades. And E­pictetus, proceeding upon this Foundation, directs his Scholars what sort of Practices and Conver­sation are proper to make a Man thus framed by Nature perfect. For as the Body gathers Strength by Exercise, and frequently repeating such Motions as are natural to it; so the Soul too, by exerting its Powers, and the Practice of such things as are agreeable to Nature, con­firms it self in Habits, and strengthens its own natural Constitution.

I would not have the Reader take it ill to be detained a little longer from the following Discourses only, whilst I present him with so necessary an Introduction to them, as the ex­plaining a little this Notion, which Epictetus all along takes for a granted Truth, viz. That the Real Essence of the Man is his Rational Soul, which makes use of the Body as its Instrument of Action. For Epictetus sets before us the Operations pe­culiar to such a Person, and becoming his Cha­racter; and then makes it his Business to excite all his Scholars to get a perfect-Knowledge, and employ themselves in the constant Practice of them: That by such daily Exercise we may, as I said, give the finishing Stroke to Nature, and be as perfect as our Condition is capable of be­ing. This is the Ground Epictetus goes upon, [Page 8] which he does not at all attempt to prove, but takes it, (as I said,) for a Fundamental Truth, sufficiently plain, and acknowledged be­fore.

But the Method in which Socrates proceeds, is this: He makes use of clear and familiar Exam­ples, and tells us, That a Man in Cutting▪ (for instance) uses his Knife, and he uses his Hand too: Then, inferring from hence, that the Thing used, considered as an Instrument, is different from that which employs it; he con­cludes, that it is the Man which employs the Body as an Instrument. Now in truth, it is the Rational Soul, and nothing else, that im­ploys this Body in the Exercise of Arts and Trades, and all manner of Operations. From hence again he draws this farther Inference, That that which employs the Body, hath the Government and Di [...]posal of what it so em­ploys. And then he forms his Argument into this Disjunctive Syllogism, Either the Soul a­lone, or the Body alone, or both together, must needs be the Man. Now if the Man have the command of the Body, and the Body can­not command nor dispose of it self; then it is evident, that the Body alone cannot be the Man. It is evident again, that Body and Soul together cannot be the Man, for the very same reason; for if the Man have the Government of the Body, and the Body it self have no part of that Government; then it is plain this pre­rogative does not extend to Soul and Body both, and therefore both cannot be the Man. But, in short, if the Body in its own Nature be void of all Life and Motion, and if it be the [Page 9] Soul which animates and moves it, (as we see in Handicraft Trades, the Work-man is the Principle of Motion, and the Tools have none but what they derive from him,) then it fol­lows that the Body is to the Soul, what a Tool is to the Artificer: And consequently, that the Soul being the Original of all Operation, is truly and properly the Man.

So then, whoever would make the Man his Care, must consult the advantage and improve­ment of the Soul, and pursue the Happiness peculiar to this: For he that bestows his pains upon the Body, does not (it seems) advance himself, and his own Good, (properly speaking) but only that of his Instrument. Much more extravagant and absurd is it then to lay him­self out upon Riches, or any External Advan­tages of that kind; because in so doing, he pur­sues a very Foreign Interest, one much more distant than the former: For he neither makes the Man, nor the Man's Instrument, the Object of his Care; but all terminates in those things which make for the Convenience of this Instru­ment only.

Epictet. Enchiridion.
CHAP. I.

All things whatsoever may be divided into Two Sorts; those that are, and those that are not within our own Power: Of the former sort are our Opinions and Notions of Things, * Our Affections, our Desires, and our Aversions. And in short, all our Actions of every kind are in our own power.

COMMENT.

HE calls those Things in our own power, which we our selves are Masters of, and which depend purely upon our own Disposal and Choice; as we commonly say, any thing is a Man's own, which he is not beholden to any body else for, so as that it should fall within the compass of a Second Person to grant or deny [Page 11] it, to permit or debar, or any way hinder him in the Enjoyment of it. Now such are the Mo­tions and Operations of the Soul; They are born and bred within us, and owing solely to our own Judgment, and our own Choice; for indeed, it is not possible for any thing without us to determine our Choice: The Object of our Choice, 'tis confest, is very often something without us; but the Act of it, and the Motions toward it, are entirely our own, and within us. Such, for instance, are the particular Opinions we entertain, and the Judgments we make of Things; as, that Riches or Death, or the like, are things in their own Nature, Good or Evil, or Indifferent. And though we are often in­duced to take up this or that particular Opi­nion upon Trust, and the Credit we give to what we hear other People say upon it; yet is not their Authority or their Perswasion of such absolute efficacy, as that the Opinion should not still be our own. For at this rate, we should make our selves as senseless Creatures as Parrots, who when they call for a Cup of Sack, know not what they say. If we be allowed then to think at all, the Opinion must be our own Act and Deed; occasion'd, 'tis true, some­times by things without us, and recommended and conveyed to us by the Instructions and Ar­guments of others; but not infused so Mecha­nically, as that we should be purely passive in the case.

Thus again; The Object that moves our Affection, is without us, but the Affection it­self is excited, and arises within us. For there is a great difference observable between the In­ternal [Page 12] Motion of the Mind, and the External Motive or Inducement to it. This Motion is not like that of Men, thrust forward by ano­ther, forcibly and against their Wills, but such an one as when we move our own Bodies by our own Strength, and of our own Accord.

The Case is the same with our Desires; by which the Soul does (as it were) put her self forward, and go in pursuit of the thing de­sired; and so likewise with our Aversions too, which are but a kind of turning aside, or run­ning away, to avoid the Object that provokes them.

Now it is sufficiently manifest, that of all these, the First in order of Nature must be O­pinion; by which I understand such a Know­ledge or Judgment of things, as is grounded upon Reason, and worthy the Character of a Man. When this Opinion relates to any real or seeming Good or Evil, which we apprehend our selves to be concern'd in, then it presently excites either Desire or Averson; and pursuant to either of these, the proper Affections or Mo­tions of the Soul. For the Good must needs be desired, before the Soul be affected with it, or move towards it; and the Evil must be dis­approved, before she flee from it Though in­deed, the Stoicks have advanced a contrary Me­thod, and represented the Affections by which the Soul is carried to or from its Object, as if they were antecedent to Desire and Aversion, thus considering these Affections as the begin­nings and immediate Causes of those Desires and Aversions in the Soul.

[Page 13] But after all, the brutish Inclinations, such particularly as Anger and Sensual Appetite, are so much of a piece with the Body, so closely and manifestly interwoven with the Blood and Animal Spirits, that they seem to grow from the particular Complexions and Constitutions of Men. So that these must of necessity derive their Motion from an External Cause in great measure, and cannot be perfectly at their own disposal, nor under the absolute mastery of the Persons thus desiring, &c. though they are begun too, and proceed Originally from with­in. And not only so, but the Rational Soul it­self when subdued by the Body, and the bru­tish impulses of Sense, does in a great degree degenerate into Machine, is violently agitated, drawn and managed at pleasure, and loses much of its native liberty and power. But when it acts in agreement with Nature and Reason, it maintains an absolute freedom, and moves only by an Internal Principle of its own. In a Mind thus regularly disposed, it is very easie to discern how much we have in our own Power; though in the former instance of a disorderly Mind, the case be somewhat intricate and perplexed. But however, in order to a more exact understanding of the whole Matter, both what this Liberty and Power is, and what Objects it extends to; as also, to shew, that all the Happiness and Misery of a Man's Life, depends upon the use or the abuse of this Liberty; I will trace the thing up to its first Cause, and examine the whole matter particularly.

The Sourse and Original of all things is Good; for indeed, that must needs be both the [Page 14] Cause and Beginning; and the End and Con­summate Perfection of all, in which all Desires Center, and to which all things naturally tend. Now this Good forms and produces all things out of its own fullness, both the most excellent, the middle sor [...], and the last and lowest rank of Beings. The First and most excellent, bear the closest affinity to it self, are of a piece with it, (as it were) and express Images of it. Thus one Good Being produces many Good Beings; one simple and uncompounded Being, Independent and Supream, produces many other simple Beings like it self; one Principle produces many Prin­ciples: And this One, this Simple Being, this Principle, and this Good, are but so many se­veral Names for God, who is before all things, and the cause of all things.

Now whatever is First, must of necessity be the Purest and most Simple Being; for all com­pounded Things and Numbers, are after the Simple, and unite in order of Nature, and in­ferior to them in Dignity. And all Compounds and Things not Good, do desire the Good, as something above, and better than themselves. And whatever is not Self-existent, must have received its Being from something else. So that the First Principle and Original Cause, must have all Absolute and Infinite Power; the Ex­cellence of which consists, and its Exuberance is seen in the Production of all things from it self, and giving to those that resemble its own Perfections, the Precedence, before o­thers that bear no such Resemblance to it. And hence it is, that one common Principle, produces many Principles, many Simple Beings, [Page 15] many Goodnesses, immediately from it self, and its own fulness.

Thus all Beings, which are distinguished from one another, by their own peculiar Differences, and multiplied into several Species, according to the particular Forms and Circumstances in which they differ, are yet each of them redu­cible to one Principle, more properly their own. All things Beautiful and Lovely (for in­stance) of what kind soever that Loveliness and Beauty be, or what Object soever it belong to, whether Bodies or Souls, are yet derived from one common Sourse of Beauty and Graceful­ness.

The case is the same with all manner of Con­gruities, and all Truths, and all Principles; for these, so far forth as they are Principles and Originals to other things, do exactly agree, and are of the same Nature with that primary Goodness, and original Truth, and first Prin­ciple of all, allowing only for some Abate­ments, and taking that Agreement in such Pro­portions, as the capacity of these derived and secondary Causes will admit. For the same re­lation that that first Universal Principle bears to all Beings in general, the same does each of these Subordinate Principles bear to the several Species and Individuals contained under it, and partaking of the Property peculiar to it. For every Species which is distinguished from the rest by a peculiar difference of its own, must needs have a tendency to, and terminate in its proper Principle, from whence one and the same Form is reflected down upon all the particular Kinds and Creatures comprehended under it:

[Page 16] Thus an Unit is the Foundation of all Num­bers, and a single Cause is the Original of all Properties in this vast Variety of Beings. So that all partial and subordinate Causes do real­ly subsist, and are contained in the first and universal one; and this, not locally or nume­rically, but essentially and virtually; as the Parts in the Whole, as Generals in a Singular, and as Numbers in an Unit. For this indeed, is it self All, Above and Before All; and out of one Principle many Principles grow, and in one Common Good many Goodnesses subsist and dwell.

Nor is this Principle a limited or particular one (as for instance, a Principle of Beauty, or Gracefulness, or Goodness, or Truth) as each of the rest are; but simply and universally a Principle or Cause; a Principle not only of Spe­cies and Beings, but even of all other Princi­ples too. For, the Property of a Principle can­not take its Rise from Particulars, and from many, but must center at last in an Unit; and that One is the great Original of All, the first Beginning, and Cause of Causes.

Now the first and immediate Productions of this first Original Good, are of the same Kind and Nature with it self. They retain their Na­tive Goodness, and, like that from whence they spring, are fixed and unchangeable, rooted and confirmed in the same Happiness; they stand in need of no additional Good from abroad, but are themselves naturally and essentially Good and Happy. Now all other Beings, whose Descent from that one original Good is more remote, and who derive themselves from that [Page 17] First, and these Secondary Causes in Conjunction, lose that Perfection of being Essentially Good, and enjoy what they have by participation on­ly: Fixed indeed they are in God's Essential Goodness, and therefore he continually commu­nicates it to them. But the last and lowest sort which have no power of acting or moving themselves, (as Bodies for Example) as to their Existence and Motion, is something without, and what themselves are purely passive in; so likewise is all their Good owing to something without them too. And that their Motion and Existence is from without, is plain, because they have no discerning or governing Faculty; they are subject to perpetual change and divi­sion, and consequently cannot be present to themselves in every part, so as to be all in all, or produce themselves entire at once: Nor have they any power of moving themselves, as being in their own Nature void of Spirit and Life. But now there is a middle state between these Extremes, a sort of Beings inferior to that fixed immutable nature which is always consistent with it self, and yet superior to the Lowest and Mechanical sort. And these are mo­ved, yet not in the same manner with Bodies, by a Motion impressed upon them from some­thing else, but by one internal and purely theirs. And in this capacity are Souls, Masters of their own, and the Bodies motion to which they are united. For which reason we call all those Bodies that are set into motion by a principle from within, Animate; and those that have none, but what proceed from something without, Inanimate Bodies.

[Page 18] So then the Soul gives motion both to it­self, and to the Body; for if it received its own motion from something without, and af­ter that put the Body into motion, this motion of the Body could not without any propriety of Speech be imputed to the Soul, but would be wholly owing to that which first moved the Soul. Now this free Being is beneath the fix'd and unchangeable Goodness, and enjoys its Good by participation only, and so is carried to­wards it; but this by no Foreign Force, but by its own Spontaneous Act, its own Incli­nations and Desires. For Inclinations, and Desires, and Affections and Choice, are Mo­tions proper to Souls, and entirely their own.

Now of these, the first and best being the immediate production of things Essentially and in their own nature good, though with this abatement, that they are not so themselves, but only are desirous of Good; yet they bear so near a Relation to them, that they desire it with a natural and unchangeable Affection; their Choice is ever uniform and consistent, determined to the good part, and never per­verted to the worse. And if by Choice, we mean the preferring of one thing before ano­ther, they can scarce be allowed to have any, unless you will call it so, because they ever take the chiesest and most perfect Good. But the Souls of Men are so contrived, as to link to­gether into one Person, a Heavenly and an Earthly Nature, and consequently must be ca­pable of inclining to both sides, of soaring up­wards, or sinking downwards. When they [Page 19] make the former their constant care, their De­sires and their Determinations are uniform and free, and above Contradiction; but when they lose this power, all is inverted and out of course, because they employ themselves wholly upon pursuing mean ends, and only affect low Actions; whereas Nature hath qualified them for the animating and moving of Bodies inani­mate and purely passive, and for governing those things which are incapable of procuring or par­taking of any Good by their own Act, and gi­ving them a power not only of acting to please themselves, but of putting other things into action at pleasure too, which otherwise are not capable of any such thing.

Now when the Soul hath conversed too fa­miliarly, and addicted her self too much to Temporal and Corruptible things, such as have but a perishing and transitory Good in them; her Choice is no longer above Contradiction, but attended with many Struggles and strong Oppositions, directed still indeed to Objects e­ligible and good; but then this is sometimes a real Good, and sometimes a treacherous and deceitful one, which upon the account of some Pleasure attending it, prevails upon us. And because this is most certain, that true Good is always attended with true Pleasure, hence it is, that wherever the Soul discovers the least sha­dow of this, she catches at it greedily, with­out staying to consider of what kind the Plea­sure is; whether real and agreeable to that Good which is truly so, or whether it be false, and only carries a counterfeit face of Good; never recollecting neither, that it is necessarily [Page 20] attended with many Troubles, and great Un­easinesses, and would not be Pleasure, without these to introduce and recommend it to us. For he that takes pleasure in eating, would have none, if he had not first been Hungry; nor would Drinking give a Man any, but for the Thirst that afflicted him before. Thus Un­asiness and Pain, is the constant Attendant of Pleasure, and ever mingled with it: So that if you suppose any Pleasure in Drinking, you shall find that it comes from some remains of Thirst; for the Pleasure lasts no longer than while the pain continues with it. So long as we are Hun­gry, or Dry, or Cold, or the like, the Meat, and Drink and Fire that allays these uneasinesses, are agreeable to us; but when once the Sense of those Pains ceases, we quickly grow weary, and have too much of them. And what before gave satisfaction and relief, soon becomes our loathing and aversion, and is it self a pain to us. Thus also the Men who suffer themselves to be carried away into inordinate and extra­vagant Enjoyments, and make Pleasure the on­ly End and Business of their Lives, generally undergo a great deal of trouble and uneasiness along with it.

Now the Choice of this pleasant treacherous Good, is the cause of all our Faults; as on the contrary, the Choice of true substantial Good, is the Foundation of all our Vertues. And in­deed all the Good and Evil of our whole Lives, the Happiness and Misery of them, depend up­on this freedom of Will, and power of Choice in us For when the Will is disingaged, when it proceeds from a free principle, and its de­terminations [Page 21] are properly the acts of that Ra­tional Soul, of which our very Essence and Na­ture consists, then it is directed to Objects truly Eligible and Good. And for this reason, Ver­tue, which is the proper Happiness and Perfe­ction, is called in Greek, [...]. [...], &c. a Name which hath great affinity to a Word that signifies Eligible, not only because Vertue is properly the Object, but also, because it is the effect of our own Choice. But when the Will acts in compliance with the brutish Appetites and Inclinations, and proposes their Enjoyments to it self as its own Happi­ness; then it makes an ill Choice, and fixes upon counterfeit Good instead of true: So that all this Freedom and Choice is in our own dis­posal. For the Opinions and Affections of the Soul, its Inclinations and Aversions, are but so many Steps towards Choice; and all terminate in that at last; and these are properly the mo­tions of the Mind arising from within, and not from any violent impulses from without us. So that we our selves are Masters of all these things.

This is the very Reason why the Laws of God and Man, and the Judgment of all Wise Men, make our own Freedom and Choice, the Stan­dard to measure our Actions by. They look upon the Intention, as a thing absolutely in our own power, and pronounce of our Vices and our Vertues, according to this, and not ac­cording to the quality of our Actions them­selves. For they are not absolutely ours, but are specified and distinguished, become formal­ly good or evil, by our own Will, and our own [Page 22] Choice. The action of Killing, is always the same, considered strictly in it self; but when this action is involuntary, it is excused and pardoned, because in such cases it is not pro­perly ours, nor in our own power: Nay, when done in a just Cause, or in a legal way, it is not only excused, but applauded and highly commendable. So that the formal Good or E­vil of our Actions, does not depend upon the Actions themselves, but upon the Intention, the Choice, the Freedom and Power that we have in them, and which give them their moral Qua­lities accordingly.

By all this it appears, that Epictetus took the right Method, when he began his Instructions with this consideration of things within our own power; and advised us to make it the general rule of all our Conduct; since all the Excellen­cy, and all the Dishonesty of our Actions, all the Happiness and Misery of our Lives, depends upon it. But, when he says in general Terms, That all things may be distinguished into Two sorts, some that are, and some that are not in our own power; we must not so understand him, as if all things whatsoever were meant by it, but only such as are within us, or any way con­cern us. For at that rate, there would be no proportion at all betwixt the Two Opposite Parts, which ought to be observed, and is ne­cessary to make a just Division. And this Pro­portion, I say, would be quite lost, if all things whatsoever, both those that are contained in the World, and those that are above, and out of the World, were set in opposition to the few in comparison, that are within our own power

[Page 23] But now, in regard some People quarrel with this Distinction, even when limited in the most cautious manner that can be, and will allow us to have nothing at all in our own power: And among these, some assert, that all our Actions, Appetites and Passions proceed from Necessity, and not from Choice; and others make us like Stones put into motion, that act mechanically, by chance, and without any purpose or design at all; though what hath been said already, up­on our natural Power, and the Place which our Choice and Free-Will hath, and the Necessity that so it must be, might suffice; yet perhaps it may not be amiss to consider the Objections of those Men, who would rob us of this Li­berty and Power, and to refute them particu­larly.

Now if by this mechanical and forced sort of Action, without purpose, and by pure chance, they intend to say, that we propose to our selves no end at all in what we do, it is by no means true; or if it would hold in some cases, yet it is evident there are very many instances in which it will not. For all Arts and Sciences, nay, all Natures and Beings, have constantly some par­ticular aim and end fixed to them; to which they direct their Endeavours perpetually, and make every action in some degree subservient. And it may be said in general, That there is no one Act, no one Motion, of any Living Crea­ture in the whole World, but is performed out of a prospect of some real, or at least some seeming Good: Even where the Object is Evil, this Observation holds; for the avoiding of that Evil, is for the attaining some Good, and [Page 24] the advantag [...] we may find in escaping from it.

But if this acting by Chance, and without any Purpose, be so understood, that what we desire, may prove impossible to be compassed, or incapable of answering our end, or hurtful when we have attained it, (as we say sometimes that a Man took a Medicine without any thought, or to no purpose, which did him no good, or perhaps did him harm:) Neither does this Sense destroy our Free-Will, for we maintain that those Desires and Aversions, are in our Power, which concern not only things that may be attained, and turn to our Benefit when they are so; but those too which cannot, and which are prejudicial to us when we have them. And for this Reason we affirm, that our Errors and our Vices, are as truly the effects of this Li­berty and Choice, as our greatest Vertues them­selves are.

Those who pretend that our Opinions and Desires, and in general speaking, all our Choices and Intentions, are necessary, and not at our own Disposals, as proceeding from Motives without us, and not beginning of our own accord within us, argue for their Opinion seve­ral ways.

Some of them make the Wants of Humane Nature, the ground of this Necessity; for we all know, that a Man in extremity of Hunger, or Thirst, or Cold, desires Meat, and Drink, and Warmth, whether he will or no; and a Person upon a Sick Bed, cannot help desiring Health and Ease.

[Page 25] Some lay all upon the nature of the thing it self, which is the Object of our Opinion, or Desire, or Aversion; and contend, that this ex­cites our Passions, and affects our Minds by its own Power and Evidence, whether we are con­senting to it, or not. Who is there, for in­stance, that hath attained to the least know­ledge in Arithmetick, and does not readily allow, and firmly believe, that twice Two make Four? And which way shall we call such an Opinion as this, the effect of Freedom and Choice, and not rather of absolute Constraint, arising from the evidence of the thing assented to, and the im­possibility of its being otherwise? So again, when a Man hath entertain'd a Notion of any Goodness or Excellence, when he apprehends a thing to be Lovely or Prositable, or the direct contrary; does he not presently naturally de­sire the one sort, and decline the other? For the best Philosophers are agreed, that the Ob­ject of our Desire, and the final cause, are the first Motives, and that which sets all the rest on work: And if this be true, how shall we chal­lenge that as our own Act and Deed, which is so absolutely the effect of Constraint and Ne­cessity, imposed by the nature and quality of things without us, that stir our Affections ac­cordingly, without any Disposal or Consent of ours?

Others rather think, that the Disposition of the Person designing, is the cause of all this ne­cessity; for this, say they, must needs be wrought upon, according as it stands inclined, nor is it in ones own Choice, whether he will desire those things or not, which his own Nature, and [...] [Page 24] [...] [Page 25] [Page 26] Temper, and Custom, strongly determine him to. Thus the Temperate Person finds in himself, [...]n habitual desire of such Actions, and such Con­versation, as are agreeable to the Vertue of Temperance; and the Intemperate is no less fond of all occasions to exercise his Extrava­gance Thus the Designs of them both are fixed, and it is not in their power to alter them. For some we see plainly, who are angry at themselves, condemn their own Desires, and wish with all their Souls, that they could re­strain and subdue them, yet find their Habits and Customs so violent and prevailing, that they are hurried on, and thrust forward, like so many Engines, and feel and lament the force which they cannot resist, when Objects which are agreeable to their Inclinations, and such as by frequently gratifying before, are become familiar and natural to them, offer themselves. By the same Reason, a Skilful and Judicious Man, will give a right Judgment of things, and entertain true Opinions of them; and the Ignorant and Unlearned, will have false and mistaken Notions. For it cannot agree with the Character of a Wise Man, to take up with an Error, nor with that of an Ignorant one, to find out the Truth: But it stands to great Rea­son, that the Ignorant one should assent to a Falshood, and the Skilful and Learned should reject it. And yet if these things were entire­ly at ones one disposal, this would not be, for the Ignorant Man would never prefer Falshood before Truth, if he could help it; and the Wise Man, if we should allow him to assent to Truth, meerly by virtue of his own Free-will, [Page 27] might also be allowed to take up false O­pinions, if you do but suppose his Will to in­cline him that way too. But this, they tell you, cannot be, for it is with the Understanding, and the Objects about which it is employed, as we find it with the Senses of the Body, and sensible Objects; where it is impossible to have things apprehended otherwise than they repre­sent themselves, unless we suppose some weak­ness or defect in the Organs, which should ap­prehend and represent them to us.

These are the Cavils commonly made use of against Free-will, though indeed a great many Men insist upon one more, and fancy that there is a Fatality in the Motion and Position of the Heavens, that influences not only all other things, but even our very Desires and Inclina­tions too, determines us in the Opinions we shall espouse, and the Choices we shall make. And in confirmation of this Argument, they produce the Predictions of Astrologers, who upon calculating Men's Nativity, and finding what Planet each Person is born under, take up­on them to pronounce very peremptorily, that such a one shall be a Voluptuous Person, a Se­cond, Covetous, a Third, a Lover of Learning and Wisdom; and thus declare beforehand, the Inclinations and Desires which in the whole course of their Lives shall afterwards be disco­vered by their Behaviour and Conversation. Now these Men could never say true, nor describe such Tempers and Practices so exactly as they do, if there were not some Constellation, some fatal over-ruling Influence, that infuses these particular Inclinations and Appetites, and puts [Page 28] it past Men's power to change or conquer them. And if any such Fatality there be, how absurd is it to pretend to a power of regulating and determining our own Desires, and fixing them upon what Objects we please, when we are ab­solutely and irrevocably staked down to this or that particular Object beforehand, and must de­sire and pursue it, whether we will or no? This I think, is the Sum of all those Objections that use to be urged against that Liberty we profess to assert, and the power of disposing our De­sires and our Aversions, the Resolutions we take, and the Actions we do, as we see fit our selves.

Now in answer to the first of these, which made our Wants the Foundation of that Ne­cessity and Constraint they pretend; we may reply, that if this were true, then Want would always create Desire: But this it does not do. For there are many things, and particularly In­animate Creatures, that are oftentimes in great want of some Quality or other; Heat, or Cold, or Drought, or Moisture, and yet they never desire what they stand so much in need of; and the reason is plain, because their Nature is not capable of Desire: For in order to Desi­ring, it is necessary both to have a Sense of the thing desired, and to be moved by that Sense: From whence it is plain, that Want does not always infuse, nor infer De­sire.

But the Creatures which are endued with a faculty of designing, when they feel them­selves in want, do then exert Desire, in order to the Relief of the Wants they feel.

[Page 29] Thus (to illustrate the Thing by a familiar Instance) Itching disposes us to Scratch, and upon a Sense of the Uneasiness it gives us, the Hands apply themselves to the Relief we want, but yet this Itching does not give us the Hands we scratch with: Nor is it true, that the Ne­cessities of Humane Life have invented the Arts and Trades that are made use of for the Sup­port of it; for it is the Mind of Man, which invented them, saw the Need there was of them, and took Occasion from thence to seek out this Relief. For all Desire is a Motion of the Soul desiring, born and begun within, and exerted by the Soul, when called out by any desirable Object; but it is by no means infused into the Soul from without. Now the Irrational Life of Brute Beasts being wholly corporeal, and having, in truth, little or nothing but what is Matter and Body belonging to them, is troubled with no difference or distraction of Desires, hath no Wants, except those relating to the Body, to supply; and consequently, but one sort of Desires to exert. And this constant Uniformity in their case, makes us think them the Effect not of Liberty, but Necessity.

But now, the rational Soul of Man, being placed, as I said before, in a middle Station, may be considered in a threefold Capacity and Disposition; One, that inclines it to the worst part, that is, the Bodily and Brutish; a Second, that regards its own self; and a Third, that better and more excellent part above it: so that here may be a threefold Conversation, a threefold Want, and a threefold Desire. Now when it gives it self tamely up to the Body, and [Page 30] consults the Brutish Appetites and Wants of that part only, then, of necessity, it complies and concurs with all the Bodily Desires. And this is that sort of Desire, which captivates the Will, and hath brought the Freedom of it to be a Matter of so much Controversie. But when it pursues the Inclinations, and lives agree­ably to the Nature either of its own self, or the excellent Beings above it, then it exerts its Faculties freely, and desires the Good peculiar to these Conditions, without Difficulty or Op­position. Now the Power and Liberty of the Soul consists in this; that, whereas Nature hath made her capable of Desires of several Qualities, some of a better and more excellent kind, and others of a worse and more vile, she can so far dispose of her self, as to fix upon either the one or the other of these sorts; which yet is done with this Difference, that by pursuing the worse her Faculties are enfeebled and debased, and by following the better they are exalted and con­firmed; for the Choice of these is indeed truly and properly Choice. And hence we see it of­ten happens, that when the Body finds it self low and empty, and requires Meat, or some other Sustenance, the Mind steps in and coun­termands this Desire with another over-ruling one of Fasting or Abstemiousness; and this too taken up possibly upon some Religious Account, or in Obedience to some Law, or possibly, mere­ly in point of Prudence, as thinking it better upon its own Account, or more conducing to the Health of the Body. Now I think no body can say, but the Mind, in such a Case, might, if it had so pleased, have complied with those first [Page 31] Desires, as indeed we sind the Generality of People do upon these Occasions; but you see it exerted another opposite Desire, and prosecu­ted that as the greater Good, and so more eli­gible of the two: So that Epictetus, looking upon the Soul as endued with Reason, might upon this Account very justly say, that she had it in her Power to qualifie her Desires, and to place them upon such or such Objects, as she saw Cause.

The next Objection, that tells us, The Object of Desire necessarily excites the Soul to a Desire of it, must be acknowledg'd to have a great deal of Truth in it, but yet not so much as the Persons who urge it imagine: For, the Object does not move the Soul to Desire forcibly and mechanically, but by proposing it self, as some­thing fit to be embraced, and thus calling forth those Powers of the Soul into Action which Nature hath qualified to meet and to receive it. Just as the sensible Object does not infuse the Faculty of Sensation into the Person who re­ceives its Impressions, nor draws him by vio­lence to it self; but only presents it self to the Eye, in such Proportions as are proper for uniting with that Organ of Sense which was ordained by Nature, and fitted for that Union. And so the Object of Desire presents its Conve­nience and Fitness to the Soul, and this invites such Motions as Nature hath provided proper for this Purpose. Thus it must needs be, be­cause we see, that when desirable Objects offer themselves, some People are, and others are not affected with them; whereas, if the Object were enduced with such Efficacy and Power as [Page 32] perfectly to constrain the Person desiring, and the Motion of the Mind were necessarily im­pressed by it, it must needs follow, that upon such Occasions every one must be affected with it, though perhaps not every one in the same Degree. And, in truth, such an Operation up­on the Mind, would not be Desire, but a vio­lent Impulse, or forcible Attraction, such as we see when one Body is thrust forward, or drag­ged along by another. For Desire is a kind of Expansion in the Mind, a moving forwards to­ward the Thing desired, without any local Motion in the Person desiring; such as we may resemble to a Man's stretching out his Hands to meet or embrace one, while the rest of his Body is in no Motion. So that Desire is a Mo­tion begun originally, and proceeding from within; as are also our Opinions, and the other Things mentioned here by Epictetus.

This Motion, indeed, is sometimes what it ought to be, and is duely proportioned to the Nature of the Thing which we desire or con­ceive of: And sometimes it is mistaken and ve­ry different from it, when we are inclined to something which to us appears very desirable, but is really what should rather provoke our Aversion. When it shews us a gaudy Out-side to invite our Desire, and hath a great deal of hidden Evil within, which all the while lies concealed, under some Advantage, which the Idea of this Object flatters us with. Thus the Thief is carried away with an Idea of Gain and Riches, as a desirable Thing; and this keeps him from considering, or having any dread at all, of that horrible Evil, which lies sheltered [Page 33] under this Gain, that defiles his Soul, and taints it with Injustice. And then, as for any Apprehensions of Discovery, and Imprisonment, and Punishment, which are the only Calamities so wicked a Wretch fears, the excessive Eager­ness of his Desire utterly overlooks and stifles all these; for he presently represents to him­self, what a World of Men do such Things, and yet are never found out. Now thus much is plainly in our Power, to examine this Object of our Desire more nicely; and to inform our selves well, whether it be a real Good, and worth our pursuing; or whether it only cheat us with a fair Out-side and counterfeit Appear­ance of Good; as, particularly, in the Instance of Gain just now mentioned. Nay, we may go something farther yet; for, we may correct and regulate our Desires, may bring them to fix upon such Objects only as are truly desira­ble, and teach them not to be imposed upon with false Appearances.

We are told again, That our Desires and our Opinions are carried to their proper Object with as invincible a Necessity as a Stone or Clod of Earth is carried downwards; and con­sequently, that Nature hath left us nothing in our own Power: Nor have we any more reason to conclude, that we are free to think, or to desire, after this or that manner, when we see our Assent and Appetite always moved by the Credibility or the Desirableness of their Objects, than we have to suppose that a Stone can ascend, when we never see it do so.

Now to this it may be replied, that there is a twofold Necessity, the one absolutely destru­ctive [Page 34] of Free-Will, the other very consistent with it. That kind of Necessity which pro­ceeds from any Things without us, does in­deed take away all Liberty and Choice; for no Man can be said to act freely, when he is com­pelled by any other external Cause, to do a Thing, or to leave it undone. But then there is another sort of Necessity from within our Selves, which keeps every thing within its due Bounds, and obliges each Faculty and Part to act agreeably to its own Nature and original Constitution. And this is so far from destroy­ing Free-Will, that it rather preserves and supports it. For by this means it comes to pass, that a Free-Agent can be wrought upon by no other ways, but such as are consistent with the Nature of a Free-Agent, which is, from a Principle of Motion within its self. And this Necessity is by no means a Mechani­cal Necessity, because it is not imposed by any Thing from without us; but is what the Na­ture of such an Agent admits and requires; what is necessary for its Preservation, and for exerting the Operations proper to a Creature endued with such a Faculty as Self-Motion.

Besides, if the Soul can bring it self to such Ha­bits and Dispositions as are Vertuous or Vicious, can grow better by Wisdom and Sobriety, and worse by Perverseness and a Dissolute Behaviour; and can confirm it self in each of these Courses, by the frequent Repetition of Acts suitable to them; then the Soul is the true Cause of all this. Though, in truth, it must not be admit­ted for a general Rule neither, That the Liber­ty and Power of the Will is to be judged of by [Page 35] Mens being able to do Things contrary to one another. For those Souls that are immediately united to the Original Good, prefer that con­stantly, and yet the Freedom of their Choice is still the same; for that Preference is no more constrained and necessary, than if they took Evil instead of it. But it is their Excellence and Perfection, that they continue stedfast in their own Good, and never suffer themselves to be drawn off to the contrary. But as for our Souls, which are more remotely descended from that great Original, their Desires are ac­cording to their Tempers and Dispositions: those of them that are well disposed have good Desires, and those that are ill have evil ones: But still these Souls of ours are capable of great Alterations; they frequently recover them­selves from Vice to Virtue, by Reformation and better Care, they decline too, and sink down from Virtue to Vice, by Supineness and a fool­ish Neglect; and both these Changes are wrought in them by their own voluntary Choice, and not by any Force or Necessity that compels them to it. So that there can be no manner of Pretence for charging any part of our Wicked­ness upon God. He created the Soul after such a manner indeed, as to leave it capable of be­ing corrupted, because its Essence is not of the first and best sort of Natures, but hath a Mix­ture of the middle and the lowest; and this Mixture was fit, that so all might remain in its Perfection; and the first and best continue still such, without degenerating into Barrenness and Imperfection, and Matter. God therefore, who is infinitely good himself, made the Soul in a [Page 36] Condition that might be perverted; and it is an Argument of his Mercy, and the exceeding Riches of his Goodness that he did so: For he hath set it above the reach of all external Vio­lence and Necessity, and made it impossible for it to be corrupted without its own Consent.

There is one Argument more still behind; which pretends, That a fatal Revolution of the Heavens hath so strong and absolute a Power upon us, as not only to influence our Actions, but even to determine our Choice and all our Inclinationss, and leave us no Liberty at all to dispose of our selves, but only the empty Name of such a Liberty. Now to these we may an­swer, That if the Rational Soul be Eternal and Immortal, (which I shall not go about to prove, that being foreign to this Subject, but desire at present to take for granted, though it must be confest, not in all Points agreeable to the Do­ctrin of the Stoicks in this particular, but) If the Soul, I say, be Eternal and Immortal, it cannot be allowed to receive its Being, or to have its Dependance, upon Matter and Motion. Its Instrument indeed, that is, the Animal taken in the gross, by which I mean, the Body ani­mated by the Soul, may owe its Nature and its Changes to such Causes: For, material Cau­ses produce material Effects, and these may differ, according as those Causes are differently disposed with regard to Things here below. And the Instrument is formed so, as to be pro­per and serviceable to the Soul, whose Business it is to make use of it now; as the difference of Tools teaches us to distinguish the several Professions that use them, so as to say, These [Page 37] belong to the Carpenter's, those to the Mason's, and others to the Smith's Trade; and not only to distinguish the Trades themselves, but the Skill and Capacity of the Artificers themselves, to judge of their Designs and Intentions, and the Perfection of the Work it self; for, those who are Masters of their Trade, have better Tools, and use them with greater Dexterity, than others: In like manner, they who have attained to the Knowledge of Astrology, find out the Nature and Temper of the Instrument (the Body) from the different Constitution of Material Causes, and from hence make their Conjectures of the Disposition of the Soul; and this is the Reason why they often guess aright. For indeed, the Generality of Souls, when falling under ill Management, and the Conver­sation of naughty Men, (a sort of Degradati­on inflicted upon them by way of Punishment for the loss of their primitive Purity) addict themselves too much to the Body, and are go­vern'd and subdu'd by it; so as to use it no longer as their Instrument of Action, but to look upon it as a part and piece of their own Essence, and conform their Desires to its bru­tish Appetites and Inclinations.

Besides, this Position, and fatal Revolution of the Heavens, carries some sort of Agreement to the Production of the Souls united to Bodies under it, yet not so, as to impose any absolute Necessity upon their Appetites and Inclinations, but only to infer a Resemblance of their Tem­per: For, as in Cities there are some particular solemn Seasons and Places that give us good Grounds to distinguish the Persons assembled in [Page 38] them, as the Days and Places of Publick Wor­ship commonly call those that are wise, and religious, and well-disposed, together; and those that are set apart for Pomp and publick Sports, gather the Rabble, and the Idle, and the Dissolute; so that the observing these So­lemnities gives us a clear Knowledge of the People that attend upon them: By the same Reason, the particular Seasons and Places, (the Houses and Conjunctions of the Planets) may be able to give us some Light into the Tem­per of the Souls united to Bodies under them, as carrying some Affinity to the Conjunctions under which Men are born. For, when God in his Justice hath ordained such a particular Position, and all the Fatalities consequent to it, then those Souls which have deserved his Ven­geance are brought under that Position. For Likeness, and Affinity of Tempers, hath a strange Power of bringing all that agree in it together. This fatal Revolution then, does by no means constrain or bind up the Soul, nor take away its native Freedom; but the Soul only bears some Resemblance to the Temper of this Revolution, and is framed agreeably to such a Body as it self hath deserved to be given it for its Use; and by this means gives Men an Opportunity of learning its particular Desires and Inclinations, from the considering of the Consteilations that People are born under.

Again, the Souls chuse their particular Ways of living, according to their former Dignity and Disposition; but still, the behaving them­selves well or ill in each of these Ways, is left in their own Power. And upon this Account, [Page 39] we see many, who have chosen a Way of Trade, and Business, and great Temptation, yet conti­nue very honest and good Men in it; and ma­ny that profess Philosophy, and the Improve­ment of Wisdom and Virtue, are yet of very loose Conversation, notwithstanding all the Ad­vantages of such an Employment. For the dif­ferent Methods of Life, as that of Husbandry or Merchandise, or Musick, or the like, are chosen by the Soul, according to her former Disposition; and Mens Station in the World is assigned them suitable to their Dignity and Deserts: But the Management of themselves in any of these Callings is the Choice and Work of the Soul afterwards; and we do not so much blame or commend Men for their Callings them­selves, as for their different Behaviour in them.

Farther yet; This fatal Position or Revoluti­on does never (as some Men too boldly affirm it does) cause any thing of Wickedness in us, so as to make it necessary, that Men born un­der it should be Knaves and Cheats, adulterous, or addicted to beastly and unnatural Lusts. For though the Casters of Nativities sometimes say true when they foretell these Things; yet this only happens, according as we receive particu­lar Qualities or Impressions; which is done sometimes in a moderate, and sometimes in an immoderate Degree. And it is not the Inslu­ence of the Stars, but the Corruption of the Mind, that makes Men Knavish, or Lascivious, or Unnatural and Brutish. Those that receive these Insluences moderately, and do not assist them by their own Depravity, are Cautious and Wary, correct the Heats of Youth, and [Page 40] use it vertuously; but those that receive them immoderately, that is, give way to them, and promote them, debase and prostitute themselves to all manner of Wickedness. And what a Re­flection upon Nature is this? For even that which is most beneficial to us, may turn to our Prejudice by a perverse Use of it. The Sun gives us Light; it both makes Things visible, and enables us to see them; And yet, if a Man will be so foolish as to take too much of it, to gaze upon his Rays when they shine in their full Strength, he may lose his Eye-sight by his Folly: But then that Folly, and not the Bright­ness of the Sun, is to be blamed, if that which is the Author of Light to all the World, be the Occasion of Blindness and Darkness to him. Now when the Astrologers have (as they think) formed to themselves certain Marks and Rules whereby to know who will receive these Impres­sions in a due measure, and who in a vicious Excess; then they pronounce some Men Wise, and others Subtle and Knavish accordingly. Though, after all, I very much doubt, Whe­ther the erecting of any Schemes can furnish them with such Marks of Distinction, or no. Some Things indeed are so manifest, that all the World must allow them; as, that when the Sun is in Cancer, our Bodies feel excessive Heat; but some again are exceeding dark and doubtful, and such as none but those who have made themselves Masters of Astrology can make any thing of.

Now, that those Things which act constant­ly according to the Design and Directions of [Page 41] Nature, that preserve the Original Constitu­tion given them at first by their Great Creator, and are endued with the greatest Power and Strength; that such Things, I say, always act upon a good Design, and properly speaking, are never the Cause of any Evil, seems to me very plain: For all Evil is occasioned, not by the Excess, but by the Want of Power; and if it were not so, Power ought not to be reckoned among those Things that are Good: And yet it is as plain, that even Good Things in Excess, oftentimes prove hurtful to us; but then, that Hurt is not owing to the Things, but to our Selves. And thus much may suffice in Answer to them who deny the Freedom of the Will, upon the Pretence of any Fatality from the Motion or Position of the Heavens.

[Page 42] But indeed, to all who deny this Liberty, up­on any Argument whatsoever, it may be repli­ed in general, That those who go about to de­stroy it, do by no means consider or understand the Nature of the Soul, but overthrow its very Original Constitution, without seeming to be sensible of it. For they take away all Principle of Internal and Self-Motion, in which the Es­sence of the Soul chiefly consists. For it must be either moved of its own Accord, and then it is excited by a Cause within its self to its Ap­petites and Affections, and not thrust forward and dragg'd along as Bodies are; or else it is moved by an External Force, and then it is purely Mechanical.

Again, They that will not allow us to have our Actions at our own Disposal, do not attend to, nor are able to account for the Vital Ener­gy of the Soul, and its Assenting and Dissent­ing, Accepting or Rejecting Power. Now this is what Experience and Common Sense teaches every Man, that he hath a Power of Consent­ing and Refusing, Embracing and Declining, Agreeing to or Denying; and it is to no pur­pose to argue against that which we feel and find every Moment: But all these are internal Motions, begun in the Soul it self; and not vio­lent Impulses and Attractions from Things without us, such as Inanimate Creatures must be moved by: For this is the Difference be­tween Animate and Inanimate Bodies, that the one Sort are moved by an Internal Principle, and the other are not. Now according to this Distinction, that which puts the Inanimate into Motion must have a Principle of Motion of its [Page 43] own, and cannot it self be moved Mechanical­ly. For if this derived its Motion from some­thing else too, then, (as was urged before) the Body is not moved by this, but by that other cause from whence the Motion is first imparted to this; and so the Body being moved no longer from within, but by some forcible impression from without, as all other Inanimate Crea­tures are, must it self be concluded Inani­mate.

Once more, By denying that we have power over our Actions, and a liberty of Willing or not Willing, of Considering, Comparing, Choosing, Defining, Declining, and the like, all Moral Distinctions are lost and gone, and Virtue and Vice utterly confounded; there is no longer any such ground left for Praise or Dispraise, Applause or Reproach, Rewards or Punishments, the Laws of God and Man insti­tuted for those Purposes, and enforced by these Sanctions are evacuated, and the very Founda­tions of them all torn up, and quite overturn'd. And then do but consider how dismal the Con­sequences must be; for when once we are come to this pass, all Order and Society must needs be lost, and nothing left us but a Life of Ra­pine and Violence, of Misery and Confusion, a Life not of Civilized Men, but of Ravenous and Wild Beasts.

But I expect, that the Adversaries of this O­pinion, will appeal back again to our own Ex­perience, and urge afresh. What, do we not often find our selves by the Tyranny of Ill Men, and the over-bearing Torrent of our own Pas­sions, and the strong event of Natural Sympa­thies [Page 44] and Antipathies? Do not these compel us to do and suffer many things against our Wills, and such as no Man in his Senses would choose, if it were in his power to avoid? To this my Answer is still the same, That notwithstanding all this, our Liberty is not destroyed, but the Choice upon these Occasions is still free, and our own. For here are Two things proposed; and though the side we take be not eligible for its own sake, and when considered absolutely; yet it is so with regard to the present streights we are in, and when compared with something which we avoid by this means; and for this Reason it is, that we make choice of it. And it is utterly impossible that a Man should be carried to do any thing without the consent of his own Mind; for he that seems to do a thing without his own Choice, is like a Man that is thrust down a Precipice by some stronger Hand, which he cannot resist; and this Person is at that time under the circumstance of an Inani­mate Creature; he does not act at all, but is purely passive in the case. So that when we really do act, though with never so great unwilling­ness and reluctancy, yet still we choose to act after such and such a manner.

This is further evident from Men's own pra­ctice; for we find that several Persons take se­veral ways, when yet the necessity that lies up­on them is the same. Some choose to comply with what is imposed upon them, for fear of enduring some greater Evil if they refuse it; and others again are peremptory in the refusing it, as looking upon such compliance to be a greater Evil, than any Punishment they can [Page 45] possibly undergo, upon the account of their re­fusal. So that even in those Actions that seem most involuntary, there is still a place for Li­berty and Choice. For we must distinguish be­tween what is Voluntary, and what is Free. That only is Voluntary, which would be chosen for its own sake; but that is Free, when we have power to choose, not only for its own sake, but for the sake of avoiding some greater Mischief. And indeed there are some cases in which we find both something Voluntary, and something Involuntary meet, for which Reason those are properly called Mix'd Actions; that is, when what is Eligible upon these Occasions, 'tis not simply and absolutely so, but carries something along with it, which we should ne­ver choose if we could help it. And Homer very elegantly described this perplexity of Thought, and this mixture of Voluntariness and Involuntariness in the Soul, when he says to this purpose,

Great Strife in my divided Breast I find,
A Will consenting, yet unwilling Mind.

These things I thought fit the rather to en­large upon, because almost all the following Pook depends upon this distinction of the things in our own power: For the Design of it being wholly Moral and Instructive, he lays the true Foundation here at first, and shews us what we ought to place all our Happiness and all our Un­happiness in; and that being at our own Dis­posal, and endued with a Principle of Motion from within, we are to expect it all from our [Page 46] own Actions. For things that move Mechani­cally and necessarily, as they derive their Being from, so they owe all their Good and Evil they are capable of, to something else, and depend upon the Impressions made upon them from without, both for the thing it self, and for the degree of it. But those Creatures that act freely, and are themselves the cause of their own Motions and Operations, receive all their Good and Evil from these Operations. Now these Operations properly speaking, with re­gard to Knowledge and Speculative Matters, are their Opinions and Apprehensions of things; but with regard to Desirable Objects, and Mat­ters of Practice, they are the Appetites, and A­versions, and the Affections of the Soul. When therefore we have just Ideas, and our Notions agree with the things themselves, and when we apply our Desires and our Aversions to such Objects, and in such measures as we ought to do, then we are properly happy, and attain to that Perfection which Nature hath designed us for, and made peculiar to us; but when we fail in these Matters, then we fail of that Happi­ness and Perfection too.

Now by our own Works, I mean such as are wrought by our selves only, and need nothing more to effect them, but our own Choice. For as to our Actions that concern things without us, such as Sciences and Trades, and supplying the Necessities of Humane Life, and the making our selves Masters of Knowledge, and the in­structing others in it, or any other Employ­ments and Professions that give us Credit and Reputation in the World, these are not en­tirely [Page 47] in our own power, but require many Helps and external Advantages in order to the com­passing of them. But the regulating of our O­pinions, and our own Choices, are properly and entirely our own Works, and stand in need of no Foreign Assistances. So that our Good and Evil depends upon our selves; for this we may be sure of, that no Man is accountable for those things that do not come within the compass of his own power.

But our Bodies, Possessions, Reputations, Prefer­ments, and Places of Honour and Authority, and in short, every thing besides our own Actions, are things out of our own power.

The Reason why these are said to be out of our own Power and Disposal, is not because the Mind hath no part in them, or contributes nothing towards them; for it is plain that both our Bodies and our Estates are put into a bet­ter or a worse Condition, in proportion to that provident Care the Soul takes of them, or the Neglect she is guilty of with regard to them. The Soul does also furnish Occasions for the acquiring Credit and Fame, and by her Dili­gence and Wisdom it is, that w [...] attain to Posts of Greatness and Government. For indeed there could be no such thing as the exercise of Au­thority, especially as the World goes now, without the Choice and Consent of the Soul: But because these things are not totally at her Disposal, and she is not the sole and abso­lute Mistress of them, but must be beholding to the favourable concurrence of several other [Page 48] things, to compass them, therefore they are said not to be in our own power. Thus the Body requires sound Seminal Principles, and a strong Constitution, convenient Diet, and mo­derate Exercise, a wholsom Dwelling, a good Air, and sweet Water, and its Strength and A­bility to perform the functions of Nature, will depend upon all these. And yet these are all of them things so far out of our own reach, that we can neither bestow them upon our selves, nor keep off the contrary Inconveniences when we would. When a more Potent Enemy rushes in, and assaults us, we would be glad to lye undiscovered, but cannot make our selves Invi­sible. When we are Sick, we desire a speedy Recovery, and yet our Wishes do not bring it to pass.

The cafe is the same with our Wealth and Possessions too; for they are owing to a World of fortunate Accidents that contribute to our getting them, and to as many unfortunate Ac­cidents that conspire to deprive us of them; Accidents too mighty for us to struggle with, or prevent.

Reputation and Fame, is no more in our power than Riches: For though by the manage­ment of our selves, we give the Occasions of Esteem or Dis-esteem, yet still the Opinion is not ours but theirs that entertain it; and when we have done all we can, we lye at their mercy, to think what they please of us. Hence it comes to pass, that some who are profane and irreli­gious Men at the bottom, gain the Character of Piety and Vertue, and impose not upon o­thers only, but sometimes upon themselves too, [Page 49] with a false appearance of Religion. And yet on the other hand, others who have no Notions of a Deity, but what are highly reverent and becoming, that never charge God with any of our Frailties or Imperfections, or behave them­selves like Men that think so of him, are mi­staken by some People for Insidels and Atheists. And thus the Reserved and Temperate Conver­sation, is despised and traduced by some, for meer Senselesness and Stupidity. So that the being well esteemed of, is by no means in our own power, but depends upon the pleasure of those that think well or ill of us.

Posts of Authority and Government, cannot subsist without Inferiors to be governed, and subordinate Officers to assist in the governing of them: And particularly in such States as allow Places to be bought and sold, and make Preferment the price, not of Merit but Money. There a Man that wants a Purse, cannot rise, though he would never so fain: From whence we conclude, that all things of this Nature, are not in our own power, because they are not our Works, nor such as follow upon our Choice of them.

I only add one Remark more here, which is, That of all the things said to be out of our power, the Body is first mentioned; and that for this very good Reason, because the Wants of this, expose us to all the rest. For Money is at the bottom of all Wars and Contentions, and this we cannot be without, but must seek it, in order to the providing convenient Food and Raiment, and supplying the Necessities of the Body.

CHAP. II.

The things in our own power, are in their own Nature Free, not capable of being coun­termanded, or hindered; but those that are not in our power, are Feeble, Servile, liable to Opposition, and not ours, but anothers.

COMMENT.

AFter having distinguished between those things that are, and those that are not in our own power, he proceeds in the next place, to describe the Qualities proper to each of them. The former sort he tells us, are Free, because it is not in the power of any other Thing or Person, either to compel us to them, or to keep us back from them. Nor is the ma­nagement, and the enjoyment of them at any Bodies Disposal but our own; for this is the true notion of Freedom, to govern ones self as one pleases, and be under the command and di­rection of no other whatsoever. But the things out of our power, that are subject to be given or withheld, we are not Masters of, but they in whose power it is to communicate them to us, or keep them from us; and therefore these are not Free, but Servile, and at the pleasure of others.

So again, those things are Self-sufficient, and consequently firm and strong; but these that de­pend upon the assistance of another, are weak and indigent.

[Page 51] Again, Those cannot be countermanded, [as being in a Man's own Power;] For who can pretend to correct my Opinions, and compel me to such or such particular Notions? Who is able to put a restraint upon my Desires or my Aversions? But now the things that are not in our power, are so contrived, as to depend upon the Inclinations of other People, and may have them, or lose them as they please: And accor­dingly these are subject to many Hindrances and Disappointments, so as either never to be at all, or to be destroyed again when they have been, never to be put into my Hands, or to be snatched away from me, after that I am pos­sessed of them.

Once more, It is evident, that the things in our power, are our own, because they are our Actions; and this Consideration gives us the greatest propriety in them that can be: But those that depend upon the pleasure of any Bo­dy else, are properly anothers. From whence we must infer, that every kind of Good or E­vil, which respects the things in our power, is properly ours; as for instance, True or False Apprehensions and Opinions, Regular or Irre­gular Desires, and the like: These are the things that make a Man happy or unhappy. But for the things out of our power, they are none of ours: Those that relate to the Body, belong not to the Man, strictly speaking, but only to our Shell, and our Instrument of Action. But if we talk of a little Reputation, an empty and popular Applause, alas! this is something much more remote, and consequently of little or no concern at all to us.

CHAP. III.

Remember then, that if you mistake those things for Free, which Nature hath made Servile, and fancy That your own, which is indeed another's; you shall be sure to meet with many Hindrances and Disappointments, much Trouble, and great Distractions, and be continually finding fault both with God and Man. But if you take things right, as they really are, look upon no more to be your own, than indeed is so; and all that to be anothers, which really belongs to him; no body shall ever be able to put any constraint upon you, no body shall check or disappoint you; you shall accuse no body, shall complain of nothing, shall never do any thing unwil­lingly, shall receive harm from no body, shall have no Enemy; for no Man will be able to do you any prejudice.

COMMENT.

HE had told us before, what was, and what was not in our own power, and described the Qualities peculiar to both sorts, and what re­lation they bear to us: That the things in our power are properly ours; that those out of our power, are anothers. And now he advises that Men would manage themselves suitably to the Nature of these things, and not be guilty of [Page 53] perverse and ridiculous Absurdities, with regard to them: For this is the true [...]oundation of all the Happiness or the Wretchedness of our Lives. The succeeding well in our Attempts, attaining to the Good we aim at, and restraining all the Mischief that could befal us, makes us happy. The being disappointed in our Hopes, missing our Ends and Advantages, or the falling into Mischiefs and Inconveniences, are the things that make us Miserable. But now, if our Hap­piness consists in regular Desires, and just Aver­sions, and these Desires and Aversions are in our own power; we must seek our Happiness here, that we may be sure to find it, and to find that Happiness which is properly ours, and peculiar to us. (And we shall be sure to find it; for how is it possible we should not, when the Regulation of our Desires and Aversions, depends entirely upon our selves?)

Now if we place our Affections and Desires upon things not in our power, and expect to find our Happiness in them, this double Misfor­tune must needs follow upon it: One way the Disappointment is unavoidable, that though we should prove successful, and obtain what we are so fond of, yet still these things are not what we take them for, nor can we meet with that which is properly our Happiness in them. But besides, it is agreeable to all the Reason in the World, to believe, that generally we must needs be disappointed of the things themselves; for how should it be otherwise, when a Man sets his Heart upon that which is anothers, as if it were his own; and when he must depend upon [Page 54] other Persons and Accidents, whether he shall ever obtain it or no?

Now the natural Consequences of such Dis­appointments, are, the being interrupted, and having all our Measures broken, and a World of Grief and Remorse, when we find our Pains have been employed to no purpose, and that we are engaged in wrong Courses. For, as Pleasure and Joy are the Effects of Good Suc­cess, the accomplishing what we wish, and be­ing delivered from what we dread; so when we are overtaken by the Mischiefs we feared, and defeated in our Endeavours after what we desired, we presently fall into Trouble and Dis­content, and complain of every one that we think contributed to our Misfortune, and spare neither Men, nor sometimes Providence, and God himself.

Besides, There is another Mischief comes of this; for by being so tenderly affected for things that are not in our power, we lose sometimes those that are; and he that deprives us of what he could take away, robs us of what he hath no power to take from us; Regular and Mode­rate Desires and Aversions. But if we be dis­posed and affected as we ought, and make a true Distinction between what is ours, and what is not; if we settle our Affections, and bestow our Care, not upon things which belong to an­other, but upon our own, our proper Happiness, and what salls within the compass of our own Power; that is, upon the entertaining such De­sires and Aversions, as are agreeable to Reason and Nature; then we may rest secure, that we shall never be annoyed by any Constraint or Com­pulsion, [Page 55] any Disappointment or Hindrance, but shall have the sole Government, and entire Dis­posal of such Desires and Aversions. And if so, then we shall have no occasion of Grief or Remorse; for that can happen but in Two cases, either the missing of what we wish'd, or the falling into what we fear'd, and would fain have avoided. And we can never be frustrated in our Desires, never be endamaged by any incon­venience we fear, provided we will but make those things our care, which are in our own power. Consequently we can never live in awe and dread of any Man; for the reason why we fear any body, is because they may do us some prejudice, or some way obstruct our Advan­tage. But there is no Man alive that hath it in his power, to offer Violence to our Desires and Aversions; and these are the things in which the Man that lives according to the Dictates of right Reason, places his Happiness. So that at this rate, we can have no Enemy neither, for he is accounted our Enemy, that does us mis­chief; but no body can do this to a Man who is out of the power of all Mankind to hurt him. By the same Reason, such a Person will accuse no Man, complain of nothing, nor ever do any thing against his Will. So that the Life of a Man thus untainted with Perturbation and Sensual Pleasure, must needs be above all Grief, and all Fear, absolutely Free, and exquisitely Happy.

And here we may observe farther, how ex­cellently well he proves the Life of a Wise and Good Man, to be not only best and most for ones advantage, but the pleasantest and most [Page 56] for ones satisfaction too. For, as Plato tells us, Every Creature does by natural Instinct, endea­vour after Pleasure, and run away from Pain. Now some Pleasures attend those things that are truly good and advantagious to us; and others those that are prejudicial and hurtful. And this makes it necessary to take good heed what Choice we make, that so we may embrace and pursue, and accustom our selves to the En­joyment of such Pleasures as may be beneficial to us. For that Temperance, (for Example,) is really more delightful to a Vertuous Man, than Extravagance and Licentiousness are to the Dis­solute, there needs no other proof than this, that many Debauches leave their loose way of Living, and turn Sober, when they consider and come to a better Sense of things. But there are no instances to be produced of any Tem­perate Persons, who proceed upon wise and rea­sonable Considerations that ever abandoned themselves to Debauchery and Excess. Now if this way of Living, had not more than or­dinary Pleasure in it, Men would never choose it with so much eagerness and satisfaction. And that such a Virtuous Life as this, must needs be more easie and pleasant, Epictetus demonstrates from its being Free and Uncontrouled, above Checks and Contradictions, above Hindrances and Disappointments, but depending and doing all upon the Dictates of one's own Mind: And thus they live, who place all their Good and E­vil in their own Actions, and the use of that Liberty and Power that Nature hath given them.

CHAP. IV.

Since therefore the Advantages you propose to your self, are so valuable, remember that you ought not to content your self with a cold and moderate pursuit of them; but that some things must be wholly laid aside, and o­thers you must be content to suspend for a while. But if you will needs be grasping at both, and expect to compass these, and at the same time attain unto Honours and Ri­ches too, there will be great hazard of your losing the latter, by pursuing the former; but if not so; you will be sure to find your self frustrated in all that can make you Free and Happy, while you pursue the latter.

COMMENT.

HAving directed us what it is we are to ex­pect Happiness from, and how desirable the Life of such Persons must needs be, who de­pend not only upon External Enjoyments, and things out of their power for it, but place it in their own natural Liberty, and what falls within the compass of that: That such a Life is above all Molestation and Controul, safe from the Assaults of any ill Accidents, not only ad­vantagious, but easie and delightful too, the Good it desires never deceiving, the Evil it de­clines never overtaking, but in one Word, ex­quisitely [Page 58] Happy, and divinely Blest; he now proceeds to excite in his Reader, a Zeal wor­thy of such mighty Expectations; and tells him, that he must not look upon this as a Business by the by, while his main Design and Care is for something else; but that his Pains and his Affection must be so entirely devoted to this one thing, as not to admit of any thing besides, in­to a partnership with it.

The External Enjoyments of the World then, must sit so loose about his Heart, that as many of them as are inconsistent with a Virtuous Con­versation, and the Rules of right Reason, such as Excess, and Sensual Pleasure, and sordid Wealth, and Power, and Ambition, must be absolutely discarded; it being impossible that any Man who makes these his Concern, should at the same time preserve his own Freedom and Innocence, and Wisdom. But as for such others of them, as may be no Obstructions to the Souls Good, provided they be managed with Discre­tion, such as a Decent Dwelling, a competent Equipage, the satisfactions of Marriage, the care of continuing a good Family, the Exer­cise of just Authority, and some degree of Sol­licitude and Pains for the providing all neces­sary Supports: These, and all the rest of the like nature, he advises his Scholars to super­sede for some convenient time at least, and that for very good reason; for it is necessary, that they who would be truly and eminently Good, should make the Exercise of Virtue, their whole Business and constant study, and suffer no other thing whatsoever to divert them from it.

[Page 59] Whoever proposes to himself, not merely to be popular, and impose upon the World with a dissembled Virtue, but to answer the Character of a Sincere and Truly Good Man, must take care of two Things; first, He must attain to such a Degree of Wisdom, as may enable him to distinguish between what will really make for his Advantage, and what will turn to his Preju­dice; and then he must keep under his brutish Appetites, that they may never revolt, nor re­bel against Reason; but may be so ready and observant to it, as to move only at such Times, and in such Proportions, and toward such Ob­jects, as the Soul shall limit, and prescribe to them. For Men are betrayed into Vice two ways; either for want of the Understanding's being sufficiently enlightned, when we do not discern what is good and proper to be done; or else, through the Ungovernableness of the Affections and Sensual Appetites, when though the Mind hath a Notion, though but a weak and imperfect one, of what ought to be done, yet the Passions mutiny and make head, usurp a Power that belongs not to them, and over­rule the calm Judgment of sober Reason. Thus the Tragaedian introduces Medea complaining of the Impotence of her Mind, when about to murder her Children;

Remorse and Sense of Guilt draw back my Soul,
But stronger Passion does her Powers controul;
With Rage transported, I push boldly on,
And see the Precipice I cannot shun.

It is necessary then, in order to the enjoying of the World, so as to maintain ones own [Page 60] Virtue and Innocence, that a Man provide him­self with a competent Degree of Knowledge and Prudence, and reduce his Appetites to Mo­deration and Obedience. And when he engages in Business and Conversation, that he be sure to do it cautiously and seasonably, and to put on this impenetrable Armour. For this Rea­son Epictetus is urgent with his young Beginners to suspend even those Things that are consi­stent with Virtue, for a while, till Time and Practice have confirmed their good Habits, and qualified them to use the World with Safety and Discretion. For, as it is Rashness and Folly to go into the Field unarm'd, so is it to engage with the World, till a Man hath forti­fied himself with Temper and Prudence.

But he acquaints us farther, that for those that are but raw and unexperienced in Virtue, to employ themselves in Business and Worldly Care, is not only inconvenient and hazardous, but ridiculous and vain, and to no manner of purpose. They that place their Desires and their Aversions upon such Things as are out of a Man's Power, must needs fail of Prudence and Moderation, and cannot have Inclinations and Aversions grounded upon, and govern'd by right Reason, which are the only Things that make Men free, and easie, and happy. For they must of Necessity live in Subjection to their wild and brutish Passions, which Lord it over them, like so many cruel Masters or enraged Ty­rants. They must live perpetually too in a sla­vish Fear of all those Men, in whose Power it is either to gratifie their Hopes, or to obstruct and defeat them; who can intercept the Good [Page 61] they wish, or inflict the Ills they fear, lest they should exert this Power to their Prejudice.

Besides all this, When our Care and Concern is laid out upon the seeming good Things with­out us, it exposes us to Disappointments in our true Happiness, by taking off our Care from those Things that are more properly Ours. For they who divide their Desires and Endeavours between both, do neither make a just Distincti­on between those Things that are, and those that are not, really good; nor do they express a becoming Concern for that which is their own peculiar Happiness; nor bestow the Pains about it that it deserves: and till they do so, it is impossible they should attain to it. For the most part therefore, they fall short of those ex­ternal Advantages they propose to themselves too, because they do not apply their Minds to these entirely, but now and then are diverted by Desires and Endeavours after their true and proper Happinesses, and out of a secret Shame and Consciousness that this requires their Care, fall into such Perplexities and Distractions as restrains and stops their Ca­reer, and will not suffer them to do nor to en­dure every Thing that is necessary for obtain­ing the false Good they chiefly pursue.

Now, though such a divided Life as this must be acknowledg'd to be less vicious than that which addicts it self wholly to the World with­out any Check or Interruption at all; yet it cannot but be exceeding troublesome and unea­sie, much more so indeed, than that of the Worldling. For it is one continual Labour in vain, ever striving to reconcile Contradictions, [Page 62] full of perpetual Inconsistencies and Remorses, Dislike of one's own Actions, and eternal Self-Condemnation. So that it must needs be infi­nitely painful and detestable.

But it is worth our taking Notice, that Epi­ctetus, upon these Occasions, does frequently in the following Discourses admonish and awaken us with a Remember. The Reason of which is, that he addresses himself to the Rational Soul; which, though it be naturally and essentially endued with just Idea's of Things, and hath an inbred Faculty of discerning and adhering to Truth, yet finds, but too often, that this Eye of Reason is darkned, hath dim and confused Representations of Things imposed upon it by the material Principle, to which it is united; and by this means is betrayed into Ignorance and Forgetfulness, the true Cause of all its Mis­carriages and all its Miseries. So that, consi­dered in these Circumstances, it stands in need of a continual Monitor, to rouze it into Thought and Remembrance.

But when he says, that A Man who proposes to himself Advantages so valuable, ought not to be content with a moderate Prosecution of them; This Expression is not to be understood, as we take it, when used to distinguish between Moderation and Excess, but is intended here of the Defect, and signifies a supine Neglect and cold Indiffe­rence. For where our Happiness and our All is at stake, there, as Pindar expresses himself,

Distress and Danger should our Courage fire,
Move Generous Thoughts, and brave Resolves inspire.

CHAP. V.

When therefore any frightful and discouraging Imagination assaults you, harden your self and meet it boldly, with this Reflection, That it is only your Apprehension of Things, and not the real Nature of the Things them­selves. Then bring it to the Test, and exa­mine it by such Rules of Morality as you are Master of; but especially by this most mate­rial Distinction, Of Things that are, or are not, in our Power. And if upon Enquiry it be found one of the latter sort, remember that it is what you are not at all concerned in, and slight it accordingly.

COMMENT.

HE had told us, That the Man who proposed to himself the Attainment of Virtue and Happiness, must be constant and indefatigable, and not suffer the World, or any of its Tem­ptations, to seduce or draw him off from the pursuit of it. But since, even they who do make these Things their Study and Care, are yet subject to frequent Fancies and Apprehensi­ons, some that put them upon desiring some of those external Advantages, and others that ter­rifie them with Calamities of that kind; he informs us here how to manage such Apprehen­sions so as to receive no Inconvenience from them. And these Apprehensions he calls fright­ful [Page 64] and discouraging, because they are extrava­gant and unreasonable, and embitter ones Life with a World of Terrors and Troubles, by the Excess and Irregularity of their Motions.

In the following Discourses he advises more at large not to be hurried away, and immedi­ately transported with any Imagination, whe­ther it tend to Hope or Fear: And here he says much the same Thing in fewer Words; That a Man ought to harden and set himself against it, and disarm it of all its Force by this Consideration, That it is but a Fancy of our own, and no more. Now our Fancies, we know, do sometimes give us the Representations of Things as they really are, as Things that are really Pleasant and Beneficial; and some­times they delude us with wild Inconsistencies, gaudy Vanities, and empty Dreams. But the Strength of these Representations depends upon the Impressions which they make in our Minds; and this is exceedingly weakned, by making that single Consideration habitual to us, That there is very often a wide Difference between the Things themselves and the Representations of them to us: For, when once we are thus fixed, no Violence they can use will be able to justle out our Reason, nor pervert our Judg­ment; which, he tells us, assoon as we have al­layed the Heat of the Imagination, and made our Minds quiet and calm, should be presently employed in a nice Examination of the Idea re­presented to us.

Now there are several Rules to try it by: Some taken from the Nature of these Idea's themselves, and the Things they represent; as, [Page 65] Whether they be such Objects as tend to the Good of the Mind, or whether they only con­cern our Bodies, or our Fortunes; Whether they contribute to any real Advantage, or whe­ther Pleasure is the only Thing they can pre­tend to; Whether what they propose be feasi­ble, or not. There is likewise another Method, which proceeds upon the Judgment of Wise and Unwise Men, and the Concern they express for them, but especially upon the Judgment and Determination of Almighty God. For that which God himself and Wise and Good Men have approved of, every one that consults the Safety and Happiness of his Soul, must needs be convinced, will challenge his greatest Care and Concern; as on the contrary, Whatever they dislike and condemn, ought by all means to be detested and avoided. And no Man yet ever arrived to that Degree of Folly, or was so far blinded by Passion and Lust, as to per­suade himself that Injustice, and Luxury, and Excess, were Things well-pleasing to God.

But though there are many Rules which may be serviceable to us, in distinguishing between the several Idea's and the Things they represent, yet there is one peculiar to Men, considered as Men; and which is of general use upon all Oc­casions. And this depends upon that Distincti­on of Things that Are, and Things that are Not in our own Power. For if the Object that presents its self as a Thing inviting our Desire, or pro­voking our Aversion, be out of our own Dispo­sal, the ready Course to be taken, is, to satis­fie our Selves, and to dismiss it with this An­swer, That this is no part of our Concern. For it [Page 66] is impossible for any Thing to be strictly Good or Evil to us, which is not within our own Power; for the Freedom of the Will is the true specifick Difference of Humane Nature. The very Being of a Creature thus qualified necessarily infers this Prerogative, That all its Good and all its Evil should depend merely up­on its own Choice.

CHAP. VI.

Remember, That the Thing which recommends any Desire, is a Promise and Prospect of obtaining the Object you are in pursuit of; as on the contrary, the Thing which your Aversion aims at, and proposes to you, is the escaping the Evil you fear. And in these Ca­ses, he that is balked of his Desires, is an un­fortunate, and he that is overtaken by the Mis­chief he declines, is a miserable Man. But now, if you confine your Aversions to those Evils only which are at the Disposal of your own Will, you can never be overtaken by any Calamity you would decline; but if you extend them to such Things as Sickness, or Poverty, or Death, you will of Necessity be miserable.

CHAP. VII.

Let your Aversions then be taken off from all Things out of your own Power, and trans­ferred to such Things as are contrary to Na­ture within your own Power. And as for Desires, lay them, for the present, wholly aside: for if you fix them upon Things out of your Power, you are sure to be unsuccess­ful; and if you would restrain them to fit and proper Objects, such as come within it, yet this is not come to your turn yet. Let your Mind therefore go no farther than to mere Tendencies and Propensions, to mode­rate and use these gently, gradually, and cautiously.

COMMENT.

THIS now follows in a direct Method from what went before, and is, as it were, a Demonstration of the Truth of the last Chap­ter, where we were told, that our Apprehensi­ons and Idea's of Things desirable, must be re­gulated by that necessary Distinction of What is and what is not within our own Power. That the Observation of this Rule would be sure to make us successful and happy, and the Neglect of it unfortunate and wretched. To this purpose, his first business is, to explain, What sort of Persons we use to esteem lucky or unlucky; and tells us, that the End our Aversions propose to [Page 68] themselves, is not to fall into the Mischief we endeavour to decline; so that in this case, the missing our Object is fortunate, as on the con­trary, it is unfortunate in cases of Desire, when we do not get our Object. And the Misfortune opposite to good Success is, when the Thing we would avoid does happen to us; for here we get our Object indeed, but then this getting is to our Prejudice, and what we might much bet­ter have been without.

When he hath set these Matters in a true Light, then he proceeds thus. If you take care to make those Things only the Objects of your Aversion, which are contrary to Nature, and within the compass of your own choice, as In­temperance for Example, and Injustice, and the like; you can never be overtaken by any Thing you fear, because in these Matters you may be sure to escape if you please; and consequently, you are sure never to be unfortunate. But if instead of these, you pitch upon Sickness or Poverty, or any of those Things that are out of your own Disposal, you must needs fall into ca­lamitous Circumstances sometimes, because it cannot depend upon your self, whether you shall be delivered from these or no. So again for Desire, That Man cannot secure himself against frequent Disappointments, that fixes upon Ob­jects out of his own Power. But if our Desires and our Aversions be confined to Matters with­in our own Power and Choice, then it will not be possible for us to be balked in our Hopes or overtaken by our Fears, but Happiness and Success will attend us continually. The Sub­stance and Connexion of all which, in short, [Page 69] lies here. He that extends his Desires and his Aversions to Things out of the Disposal of our own Wills, very frequently misses his Aim, falls short in his Hopes, and is overtaken by his Fears; and must needs do so, because these Things depend not on himself, but others; now such a one is confessed to be an unsuccessful and unfortunate Person, and therefore wretched and miserable.

But it is worth our notice, how Epictetus imi­tates Socrates's way of arguing upon this Occa­sion, and accommodates himself to his Hearers, so as by descending to their Notions, to raise them up higher to something better and more perfect. For that Happiness consists in obtain­ing Mens Wishes and Desires, and in escaping the Mischiefs and Dangers they fear, is the ge­neral Notion Men have of it; and thus far Men of all Persuasions, and the most distant Tempers and Conversations agree. But in this they differ, that they do not employ their De­sires and Aversions alike. For the Wise and Vertuous pursue such Objects only as are really and sincerely profitable and good, and avoid on­ly the truly mischievous and substantial Evils; and this they do by the free Guidance of their Reason, and the due Government of their Passi­ons; for the brutish Appetites in them are so subdued and so exercised by Acts of Obedience to the Judgment, that they do not so much as think any thing pleasant, but what Reason hath approved, and found to be so. But the Ge­nerality of Mankind, partly for want of duly improving their Judgments, and partly from their brutish Affections, being kept in perpetu­al [Page 70] Commotion and Disorder, distinguish the Objects of their Desire by no other Mark than Pleasure; without examining whether this Plea­sure be such as makes for their true Advantage or not: And these Men often hit upon very im­pure and unsincere Pleasures; such as carry a Mixture and Allay of Pain along with them. For, in truth, they are not really and properly Pleasures, but only the empty Shadows and false Resemblances of them. But still, as was said before, all Mankind are agreed in the general, that Prosperity and Success consists in the ob­taining of the good Things we wish, and keep­ing off the Evils we fear. So that even the Sensual and most Vicious Men may convince themselves from this Discourse, that the true way never to be disappointed in their Desires, nor overtaken by their Fears, is, to agree, that those Things which are within our Power are the only good and proper Objects of Desire; and that the Evils in our own Power are the only noxious and dest [...]uctive, and proper Ob­jects of Fear and Hatred. Since it is plain, that they who fix upon Things without their Power, must needs fall short very frequently of their Hopes, and lose what they desire, and endure what they fear: And this is what even Vi­cious Persons acknowledge to be a great Mis­fortune.

Let then, says he, your Aversions be taken off from all Things out of your own Power, and trans­served to such Things as are contrary to Nature, within your Power. For if you place them upon Sickness, or Poverty, or the like, you must un­avoidably be unfortunate, because these are [Page 71] Things not in your Power to escape. For, though we can contribute considerably towards the avoiding of them, yet the Thing is not wholly and absolutely in our Selves, but it will depend upon sundry other Circumstances and Accidents, whether our Endeavours shall suc­ceed, or no. But, if we would follow his Ad­vice, take off our Fears from those Things, and put them upon those within our own Choice, that are prejudicial and against Nature: If, for Instance, we would make it our Care to avoid Erroneous Opinions and False Appre­hensions of Things, and whatever else can be any Obstruction to a good Conversation, and such a Life, as Reason and Nature have made suitable to our Character, we should never be oppressed with any of the Calamities we fear, because it is in our own Power absolutely to avoid these Things. For nothing else but our own Aversions and Resolutions are requisite to the doing it effectually.

All this is sufficiently plain, and needs no Enlargement; but what follows hath something of difficulty in it. For what can be his mean­ing in that Advice, that All Desire should for the present be wholly laid aside? There is a manifest Reason why we should discharge all those De­sires that concern Things without our Power; for this evidently makes for our Advantage, both in regard of the Disappointments and per­petual Uneasinesses that this Course delivers us from; and also in Consideration of the Things themselves, which, though we should suppose no such Troubles and Disappointments attend­ing them, are not yet capable of bringing us [Page 72] any real Advantage, nor that which is the pro­per Happiness of a Man.

But what shall we say to his forbidding the Desire even of those good Things which come within the Disposal of our own Wills? The Reason he gives is this, Because you are not yet come to this. But if you were come to it, there would then be no farther Occasion for Desire; for this is no other than a Motion of the Mind desiring, by which it reaches forward to what it is not yet come to. And this seems to cut off all Desire in general; for how is it possible to obtain any Good without first desiring it? And especially, if (as hath been formerly shewn) the Good and Happiness of a Man consist, not so much in Actions, and the effecting what we would, as in the entertaining such Desires and Aversions as are agreeable to Nature and Rea­son; what Ground can there be for suspending all our Desires, and utterly forbidding us for a while to entertain any at all? Or how can we imagine it possible for a Man to live vold of all Desire? I add, that this looks like a direct Contradiction to what went before, when in the 4th Chapter he gave this Advice, Since therefore the Advantages you propose [...]o your self are so exceed­ing valuable, Remember that you ought not to content your self with a cold and moderate pursuit of them. For by that Pursuit he did not understand any Bodily Motion, but the Eagerness of the Soul, by which, in the Act of Desiring, she moves to­wards, and makes after the Object. And again, How can we suppose any Affections and Propen­sions without Desire? For the Order of Things insers a Necessity of Desire, before there can be [Page 73] any such Affections and Propensions of the Soul.

In Answer to these Objections, it may be re­plied, that Epictetus here addresses himself to Young Beginners in Philosophy, for whom it cannot be safe to indulge any Desires at all, till they be first competently informed what are the Objects which they ought to fix upon. And so that these Affections and Propensions of the Soul are only to be understood of those first Motions to or from its Object, which the Stoicks contend are always antecedent to Desire and Aversion.

Or if he direct his Discourse to Men already instructed, then we must not interpret the Words as they seem to sound; nor suppose, that he intends to cut off all Desire of the good Things in our Power, absolutely speaking; but only to restrain the Vehemence and Eagerness of that Aversion and Desire, which in a mo­derate Degree he is content to allow. For you see, that he advises in the very same Place, to make use of our Propensions and Affections of the Soul gently, coolly, and cautiously. For we must necessarily move towards the Object in our Desires, and from it in our Aversions; our Desires and Aversions being antecedent to such Motions, and producing them, as Causes do their proper Effects.

Again, When he advised before, that Men would not content themselves with a cold and moderate pursuit of such valuable Advantages, it was no part of his Intention to recommend an eager and violent Desire, but rather, that we should be so fixed and resolved in this pro­secution, [Page 74] as to satisfy our selves in doing what he adds immediately after, the abandoning some Enjoyments for all together, and the suspending of others for some convenient time.

Now a Vehement Degree in any of these things, either the Propensities of the Mind, or the Desires and Aversions of it, is with great reason condemned, because of the ill Conse­quences it is apt to have, when Men shoot be­yond the Mark, through an Excess of Desire, and attempt things above their Strength. For this usually tends to the weakning of the Soul, as much as overstraining injures the Body. And this is an Inconvenience which many have found experimentally, from that immoderate Violence and heat of Action, which Men that are fond of Exercise, and eager in it, are most unseaso­nably guilty of. For there are but very few Persons of such a Constitution, either in Body or Mind, as to be able all on the sudden, to change from a bad State to a sound and good one. Diogenes indeed, and Crates, and Zeno, and such eminent Lights as these, might be so happy; but for the generality of People, their Alterations are gradual and slow; they fall by little and little, and they recover themselves so too; and this is such a Condition as Nature hath appointed for us, with regard to the Soul, as well as the Body. For gentle Methods are commonly more likely to hold, and a more safe way of proceeding. These keep the Soul from spending its strength too fast, and put some Checks upon its Forwardness; which is the true way both of preserving, and by degrees, though but [...]ow ones, of consirming and increasing the vigour [Page 75] of it. This is the true Reason, why we are advised to put a Restraint upon the Affections of the Soul, to move leisurely and gradually, and with much coolness and caution. That is, to slacken the Reins by little and little; and not to let loose our Desires and our Aversions, nor give them their full range immediately. For the Man that from a dissolute and headstrong course of Life, would bring himself to the contrary Habits of Sobriety and strict Discipline, must not pre­sently leap to the distant Extream, from Luxu­ry and Excess, to Abstemiousness and Fasting; but he must advance by Steps, and be satisfied at first, with abating somewhat of his former Extravagance. For what the Author of the Golden Verses hath observed, is very conside­rable upon these Occasions.

The Rash use Force, and with soft Pleasures Fight;
The Wise Retreat, and save themselves by Flight.

Thus it is in Matters of Learning and Know­ledge; Young Students must admit the Ideas of things warily, and not take every Appea­rance of Truth, for an uncontestable Axiom; that so, if upon a Second view, there be occasion to alter their Judgments, it may be done with greater Readiness and Ease, when their Minds are not too strongly possess'd with their first Notions.

Once more, Epictetus advises his Scholars to move leisurely and gradually to Objects of both kinds; but now, if so much Caution and Cold­ness be necessary, why does he allow our Aver­sions any more than our Desires? for he bids [Page 76] us take off our Aversions from those Prejudicial things that are not in our power, and bend them a­gainst those that are; but at the same time he prohibits all manner of Desire, and for some time, will not permit us to indulge that at all.

One probable account of this, may be taken from the nature and Condition of Men, who are beginning to reform; for the first step to be taken toward a good Life, is to throw off all the Venom and Corruption of a bad one; and till the Breast have discharged it self of this, no Nourishment can be had from any Prin­ciples of Virtue infused into it. For what the great Hippocrates has most excellently observed concerning our Bodies, is much more truly ap­plicable to our Souls, That so long as a Man continues full of gross and noxious Humours, the Nourishment he receives, does not feed him, so much as his Distemper. For the Vicious Prin­ciples that had taken Possession, corrupt all the Good ones that are put to them. Sometimes they make us disrelish them, as unpleasant; sometimes dread and avoid them, as hurtful and injurious to us; sometimes condemn them as Evil, and reject them as impossible to be com­plied with. And all this while, the Disease ga­thers more strength, and grows upon us, by bringing us to a Contempt of better Principles, after a pretence of having tried, and found them defective. And thus at last it becomes Incurable, and will not so much as suffer us to admit of any Arguments or Actions that might advance us in Vertue, but produces [Page 77] in us a Loathing of all those Remedies that might contribute to our Recovery. Just as in the Jaundies, when the Vitiated Palat thinks Honey bitter, a Man nauseates it present­ly, and will never endure to taste Honey af­ter, in order to the removing that Prejudice. Thus the Aversions are allowed in Young Be­ginners, because the Method of their Cures re­quire it; and the first step towards a Reforma­tion, is by growing into a Dislike of Vice, to put themselves into a Condition of receiving Vertuous Principles and Good Instructions.

This Discourse is also excellently well suited to such Persons, as it shews them the right way to Liberty and Security, and an easie Mind, that so their Lives may be pleasant and sweet to them; which indeed is the very thing that all Creatures aim at. Now, though an absolute freedom from Passion, and a Conversation in all points agreeable to the Rules of Decency and Nature, be the proper Excellency which we ought to desire and pursue; yet Beginners must satisfy themselves with less, and think they do very well, when they can abate of their Pas­sions, and reduce them within some reasonable bounds, though they cannot gain an absolute Mastery over them: And they must expect to relapse sometimes, and are not to be condemned so much for falling, as encouraged and com­mended when they rise again. Such as these therefore are not yet arrived to the perfection of those things that should be the Object of their Desires: And this I take to be the mean­ing of that Expression, This is not come to your turn yet; i. e. the imperfect State you are in, [Page 78] hath not qualified you for such Desires: For when we aim at something that exceeds our Ca­pacity, and find we cannot reach it, then Trou­bles and Disappointments, and a sinking of our Spirits, and sometimes a desponding Mind fol­low upon it. They that are violently bent up­on things above their Strength, slight such as are proportionable to it, and think them vile and despicable, because they judge of them by way of comparison with greater. And yet it is by small beginnings only, that we can ever arrive at great Perfections; and before we can cope with things above us, we must practise up­on less, and make our selves Masters of such as we are a Match for.

CHAP. VIII.

Remember upon all occasions, to reslect with your self, of what Nature and Condition those things are, that minister Delight, or are useful and beneficial to you, or that you have a natural tenderness for: And these Reflections may answer their End, make them familiar, by beginning at the slightest and most inconsiderable things, and so rising to the higher and more valuable. For in­stance; if you are fond of an Earthen Cup, consider it is but Earthen Ware, and you can­not be much troubled or surprised, when ever it happens to be broke. And if you be fond of a Child or a Wife, consider that these are of Humane, that is, of a Frail and Mortal Nature; and thus your Surprise and Concern will be the less, when Death takes either of them away from you.

COMMENT.

AFter the distinction between things within, and things out of our own power, and an Advertisement how we ought to esteem each of them: That the former sort only must be look'd upon as our own, the latter as Foreign, and in the Disposal of others; he had told us how we ought to be affected with regard to those that fall within our power, to make such of them [...] [Page 78] [...] [Page 79] [Page 80] as are contrary to Reason and Nature, the Ob­ject of our Aversion, and to suspend all manner of Desire, for some convenient time: (Which Advice in all probability, is grounded upon the Arguments already mentioned.) But since it is impossible to live without having something of Interest in, and much Dealings with those things that are not at the Disposal of our own Will; he now informs us how to converse with them, and tells us, that though they be not at our own pleasure, yet they shall not be able to create to us any manner of Disquiet and Confu­sion.

And here he takes notice of Three sorts of these External Things; First, Such as can only pretend to please, without profiting us at all; for these are they that minister to our Enter­tainment and Delight. The Second are such as are beneficial and convenient for use. And the Third, such as we have a particular Affection for, by reason of some natural Relation they bear to us, and what we are tender of, without any regard to our own Benefit and Convenience. And this is a ve­ry just and true Distinction; for Pleasure and Pro­fit, and Natural Affection, are the Three things that engage our Hearts; and it is always upon one or other of these Accounts, that we are fond of this Mortal State, and reconciled to all the Hardships and Miseries that attend it.

Now the Entertainments and Diversions that Men are delighted with, differ according to their several Tempers and Inclinations: Some find their pleasure in Plays, and others in Sports and Exercises, in Races, or Tilting, or the like. O­thers in Dancings, or Tricks of Legerdemain, [Page 81] in Jugglers, or Zany's, or Buffoons. Some a­gain in curious Sights, either the Beauties of Na­ture, as the Colours of Peacocks, and other fine Birds, pleasant Flowers, and Gardens, and Mea­dows and Groves: Or in the perfections of Art, as Pictures, and Statues, and Buildings; or the exquisite Workmanship of other Professions. Some value those of the Eye less, and find greater satisfaction in the Entertainment of the Ear, as the Harmony of Vocal and Instrumental Musick; and which is a Pleasure more gene­rous and improving, in Eloquence or History, and sometimes in Fables and Romances. For that these contribute much to our Delight, is plain from that fondness which all of us natu­rally have to Stories, from our very Child­hood.

The Second sort which tend to our Use and Benefit, are likewise various: Some contribute to the improvement of the Mind, as a Skil­ful Master, Virtuons Conversation, Instructive Books, and the like: Some are serviceable to the Body, as Meats and Cloathes, and Exercise: Some regard only our Fortune, as Places of Au­thority, Lands and Tenements, Money and Goods, and the like.

But the Third sort we have a natural ten­derness for, without any prospect of Advantage from them; and these are recommended to our Affection by some common tye of Nature and Affinity between us; and in this relation stand our Wives and Children, our Kindred, our Friends, and our Country-men.

Now the Advice given, with respect to every one of these, is, that we would sit down, and [Page 82] seriously consider, what the Nature and Condi­tion of each of them is; what Hazards and Uncertainties they are liable to; that they are subject to Corruption and Decay; that the En­joyment of them is short, and not to be de­pended upon; and that none of them are ab­solutely at our own Pleasure and Disposal. For such a Reflection as this, that suggests to us continually what their Nature and Circumstances are, is no other, than a Meditating upon the Loss of them. And such a Meditation would render the thing easie and familiar to us, and when any Accident of this kind befalls us, would prevent all that Surprise, and Confusion, and extravagant Concern, which the Unthink­ing part of the World are oppress'd with upon such Occasions. And indeed the case here, is the very same with several other Instances, wherein we find, that the Troubles and Pains of Body and Mind both, though very grievous at first and in themselves, yet grow much more supportable by Custom and Use.

To this purpose, the next Words give us ve­ry good Council; to begin at first with little matters; nay, not only with little, but with the least and most inconsiderable: for according to the old Greek Proverb, [...]. Eras. Adag. Pag. 227. The Potter must try a Cup, before he can make a Jar. He that undertakes the biggest first is presently worsted, proves unsuccessful, spends his Strength to no purpose, and gives out in utter Despair. But he that sets out leisurely, and begins with small and easie Trials, grows stronger and bolder with his good Success, and [Page 83] by gaining Ground upon what was a Match for him before, advances more surely, and conquers still greater and greater Difficulties. Thus a Man that hath been used to Four Meals a day, if he attempt all on the sudden to fast a whole Day together, will find the change too violent for his Body to bear, and never get through the trouble and pain of it. And this force upon Nature, is the Reason why such warm Under­takings, are generally of dangerous consequence, and just only for a spurt and a way. But if such a one abate of his former indulgence by de­grees, first take himself down to Three Meals, and when this Proportion is grown habitual and easie, then allow himself but Two: Thus it will be very feasible; and afterwards he may without any great trouble, come to content himself with one; and such a Change will be infinitely more safe, and more likely to con­tinue.

To apply this now by the instance before us: If we consider those things that are dear to us upon the account of their Usefulness and Con­venience; and from such among them as are of least Consequence and Value, acquaint our selves with the Condition of all the rest; that their Nature is corruptible, the Enjoyment of them uncertain, and the Loss of them what we have reason to expect every Moment: As in an Earthen Pot, which can have nothing but its Usefulness to incline us to value it; we are to remember that it is of a brittle substance, and dashed to pieces with the least Accident. And what can be a poorer and more contemptible instance than this, to begin with? Yet mean [Page 84] and trifling as it is, a Man that lays a good Foundation here, and rises by degrees to Matters of greater concern, shall be able at last to en­counter his Affection for a Child; and not on­ly in meer speculation, and empty formal Words to say it, but to make his whole Be­haviour speak, and all the Dispositions of his Mind shall carry the impression of this wise and seasonable Reflection, That what he thus dotes upon, is but a Man; if a Man, conse­buently a brittle and frail Creature, and what he is in a continual possibility of losing. And when his Mind is once throughly possess'd with this Consideration, and confirmed with an ha­bitual recollection of it, whenever that Child is snatch'd away from him, he is prepared for the Stroke, and cannot be surprised and confounded with Passion, as if some strange or new thing had happened to him.

And here it is very well worth a Remark, what abundance of Wisdom and Artifice there is in this Management of things; for by it we get a Mastery over those that are not by Nature within our Power, and deal with them as though they were: For the saving my Child from Death, is a thing not in my power; but a due Consideration of his being liable to it, the ren­dring this Consideration familiar and easie to me, and living in expectation of it, as a thing no less natural and likely than his Life; the not being disturbed if he do Die, and the be­having my self with such evenness of Temper, as if he were not dead: These are in our power: And which is a great deal more, they do in ef­fect bring the very Accident of his Death, which [Page 85] is of it self not so, within it too. For a Man thus composed, may say, My Child is not Dead to me; or, to speak more truly and properly, Though he be Dead, yet I am still the same Man, as if he were still alive.

I only observe farther, That the Instances produced here by Epictetus, are fetched from the Two latter sorts of Things; such as are useful and beneficial to us, and such as Nature and Affinity gives us a more than ordinary tender­ness for: And these were prudently chosen, with an intent, I presume, to intimate, that those things which are for Entertainment and Diversion, and can only pretend to please with­out profiting us, are so very mean and despi­cable, as to deserve no consideration at all, from Persons that have made any tolerable advances in the study of Wisdom and Virtue.

CHAP. IX.

In every Action you undertake, consider first with your self, and weigh well the Nature and Circumstances of the thing: Nay, though it be so flight a one, as going to Bathe; re­present to your self beforehand, what Acci­dents you may probably meet with. That in a Bath is often Rude Behaviour, Dash­ing of Water, Justling for Passage, Scurri­lous Language, and Stealing. And when you have done thus, you may with more Se­curity go about the thing. To which purpose you will do well to say thus to your self; My Design is to Bathe, but so it is too, to preserve my Mind and Reason undisturbed, while I do so. For after such wise prepara­tion as this, if any thing intervene to obstruct your Washing, this Reflection will presently rise upon it: Well, but this was not the on­ly thing I proposed; that which I chiefly in­tended, is to keep my Mind and Reason un­disturbed; and this I am sure can never be done, if I suffer every Accident to discom­pose me.

COMMENT.

AFter giving Instructions concerning our Be­haviour, with regard to the things of the World, that use to engage our Affections, [Page 87] either upon the account of the Delight they give us, the Convenience they are of, or the Relation they bear to us; the next Step in or­der, is to consider our Actions; for these too, have a great many Circumstances that lie out of our power, and must therefore be undertaken with great Prudence, and much Preparation. The Rule then that he lays down is this, That you take a just account of the nature of each Action, and fairly compute the several Accidents, which though they do not necessarily, yet may possibly attend it, and to expect that these are very like to happen in your own case par­ticularly. And the Fruit of this will be, either not to be surprised, if such Difficulties do en­counter you; or, if the thing be not of abso­lute necessity, to decline the hazard, by letting it alone. For the Great Cato reckons this for one of the Errors of his Life, that he chose to take a Voyage once by Sea, to a Place whither he might have travell'd by Land. Now in such a case, though no misfortune should actually happen, yet if there be a likelihood of any such Accident, and if it do frequently happen to o­thers, it is an act of Imprudence to make choice of such a Course, without being driven to it by necessity: And this Answer, that many Peo­ple do the same, and come off safe, will not bear us out, in choosing a more dangerous, when it is left to our own Liberty to take a safer Passage.

But now, where there is absolute occasion for our running some Risque, as if we have neces­sary Affairs to dispatch, which require a Voy­age to or from some Island; or if we are obli­ged [Page 88] to stand by a Father, or a Friend, in some hazardous or unlucky Business; or if we are called upon to take up Arms in defence of our Country: Then there is no thought of decli­ning the Matter wholly, and our Method must be to undertake it upon due deliberation; and after having first laid together the several ac­cidental Obstructions that use to arise in such a case: That so by this timely Recollection, we may render them easie and samiliar, and not be disturbed when any of them come upon us. For a Man thus prepared, hath this double Advan­tage; if they do not happen, his Joy is the greater, because he had so fully possest himself with an expectation that they would, that it is almost a Deliverance to him. And if they do, then he hath the advantage of being provi­ded against them, and so can encounter them, without much danger or disorder.

Now against this Counsel I expect it will be urged, First, That if any one should take such Pains to represent all the Crosses and Disap­pointments that may probably happen to them in every Undertaking, the Effect of this would be Cowardice and Idleness; for Men would find themselves utterly discouraged from at­tempting any thing at all. Besides, that no­thing can be more grievous to any Man, than to have the Image of his Troubles and Misfor­tunes constantly before his Eyes; and especial­ly if the Affair he be engaged in, continue any time, to converse all that while with this gast­ly Apparition. Therefore that Demosthenes his Advice seems much more Prudent and Eligible; To be sure that what you attend, be Good [Page 89] and Vertuous; then to hope well, and whatever the Success be, to bear it generously and de­cently.

But by the Objector's good leave, if by ho­ping well, Demosthenes mean a good Confidence grounded upon our undertaking what is Vertuous and Commendable, and a resting satisfied in this Consideration, whatever the Event be, he says the very same thing with Epictetus; only indeed he gives us no Direction which way we shall at­tain to this generous Temper of Mind, that may enable us to entertain the Dispensations of Providence decently, though they should hap­pen to be harsh and severe. But Epictetus de­clares himself of Opinion, that the Method to qualify our selves for so doing, is to take a true Prospect of the whole Affair, and repre­sent to our selves, that it is what is fit for us to undertake, and that there may be several Circumstances attending it, which though they may not be agreeable to us, are yet very tole­rable, and such as we may reconcile our selves to, upon these Two Accounts. First, Because the Action it self which brings them upon us, is Vertuous and Becoming; and then, because whenever they happen, they are no more than what are expected, and were provided against before.

But, if by hoping well, Demosthenes intend a firm perswasion of Safety and Success, then I think it is very difficult, nay, I may venture to say, it is impossible to conceive how a Man thus perswaded, can ever bear Disappointments and Crosses with Moderation and Temper. For when a Man falls from what he was in imagination, [Page 90] the shock is the same, as if he were so in rea­lity. And neither the Body, nor the Mind, are of a Constitution to bear sudden and violent Alterations, without great Disturbance. You see that the very Weather, and Seasons of the Year, though they change gently and by de­grees, yet put our Humours into a great fer­ment, and generally occasion many Distempers among us; and the more Violent this Change at any time is, the Greater in Proportion the Disorders that follow upon it, must needs be.

For it is true, that a just Computation of all the Difficulties and Dangers that are used to attend our Actions, must needs condemn Men to Slavish Fears, and an Unactive Life: For if our Reason convince us, that what we attempt, is good for the advantage of the Soul, or (which is all one) of the Man, (for that Soul is the Man,) the Desire of that Good must needs in­spire us with Courage and Vigour, notwith­standing all the discouraging Dangers that at­tend it. And the consideration of this danger, will be very much softened by this most Ratio­nal and Vertuous Perswasion, that we ought to persevere in such an Undertaking, though at the expence of some Hazard and Inconvenience. For all Danger and Detriment, that concerns either our Body or our Fortunes, is not pro­perly an Evil to us; nor shall we think it ours, if we be wise. But the Benefit of choosing a Vertuous Action, and persisting in it, in de­spight of all Dangers and Discouragements, is our own Good; for it is the Good of our Souls, which are truly and properly our selves. And [Page 91] this Advantage is considerable enough to be set against many Troubles, and Losses, and Ba­nishments, and Disgraces; nay, it is sufficient, not only to be set against, but to over-balance them all; because the Good of this, does so very much exceed the Evil that seems to be in them. For if a Man think himself obliged to choose a Greater Good, when attended only with a Less Evil, how is it possible that he should be discouraged and uneasie, under the expectation of some cross Accidents that sometimes follow upon Vertuous Actions, when the Good of these Actions is truly and properly his own, but the Evil of those Accidents, is only something re­mote, and not His? Especially too, when this is by no means a superficial and notional Di­stinction, but such a real Difference, as his whole Practice and Behaviour shews him sensible of. This is the very Reason, that Men of Virtue and Wisdom have made it their Glory to choose Good with the greatest Dangers; that they have done it chearfully, and sacrificed their very Lives for it; and accounted their Suffer­ings upon such an Account, matter of the greatest Joy to them. So did * Menoeceus particularly, and all those other Heroes, famed in Story, who have voluntarily devoted themselves, and [Page 92] died for the Service and Sake of their Coun­try.

Now Epictetus couches his Advice here, under one of the Meanest and most Insignificant In­stances that can be; partly to illustrate what he says, by an Example taken from common Conversation, and so to gain the Assent of his Hearers, to the truth of what he would infer from it; and partly too, as himself hath told us before, to put his Scholars upon exercising their Virtue in Lesser Trials; that so from Tri­vial Matters, they may rise by degrees to o­thers of greater Difficulty and Consequence. And the Success of this Method, hath been already shewn, to depend upon Reasons which need not be repeated here. But his Design is also, that we should be careful to apply these things to Affairs of Moment, in proportion as the Hazards of them are more discouraging; and in those Occasions, always to take our Mea­sures from the Nature of the thing, whether it be what is agreeable to Decency and our Du­ty, and what those Hardships are that usually accompany it: And after such Prospect taken, to settle our Minds in this Resolution, that if the worst happen, yet we will bear it with Temper and Moderation. For this is the way to maintain the Character of Vertuous and Ra­tional Men; this must let us into all the Ad­vantages of doing well, and defend us from all that Perplexity that unexpected Events com­monly betray Men to. For he that is troubled and Discomposed, and fancies himself unhap­py in what he suffers, it is plain, either had not sufficiently considered what he went about, [Page 93] before he engaged in it; or if he did foresee all this, then his Disorder is the Effect of Effe­minacy and Cowardice, which makes him give out, and repent his Undertaking. And both these Failings are highly Criminal, and con­trary to the Rules of Nature, and Right Rea­son.

CHAP. X.

That which gives Men Disquiet, and makes their Lives Miserable, is not the Nature of things as they really are, but the Notions and Opinions which they form to themselves concerning them. Thus even Death, which we look upon as the most perplexing and dreadfu, hath in truth, nothing of Terror in it: For if it had, Socrates must needs have feared it as much as we. But our O­pinion that it is Evil, is the only thing that makes it so. Therefore, whenever we meet with Obstructions and Perplexities, or fall into Troubles and Disorders, let us be Just, and not lay the blame where it is not due; but impute it all to our own Selves, and our prejudicate Opinions.

COMMENT.

WE were told before, what Means would be Proper and Effectual for the preser­ving an Even and Composed Temper of Mind, [Page 94] in the midst of all those Hardships that fre­quently attend our best Actions. That this might be accomplished by the Power of Pre­meditation; by representing these Inconveni­ences, as sure to happen; and when we had made the worst of it, convincing our Selves that such Notions were worth our Undertaking, even with all those Incumbrances. Now that Rule proceeded upon the Work of our own Minds, but there is another here, fetch'd from the Nature of the Things themselves, and the Consideration of those Difficulties and Dangers that use to give us Disturbance. And here he changes his Method, and confirms what he says, not by some slight and trivial Instances, as he did before, but by Death, the greatest and most confounding one to Humane Nature that can be. For if the Argument hold good in this case, it must needs be a great deal stronger with re­gard to all the rest, which are, by our own Confession, less dismal and affrighting.

To this purpose then he tells us, That those Things which we apprehend to be Evil, and which for that Reason discompose our Spirits, because we think our Selves miserable under them, are really neither Evil themselves, nor the true Causes of any Evil to us: But that all our Troubles and Perplexities are entirely ow­ing to the Opinions which we our Selves have entertained concerning them.

For proof of this Determination, he produ­ces that, which of all the Things that we ap­prehend as Evil, is confessedly the greatest and most terrible; and shews, that even Death, nay a violent and untimely Death, is yet no Evil [Page 95] The Argument he uses is short indeed, but very full and conclusive; the Method and Conse­quence whereof lies thus. Whatever is Evil in its own Nature, must needs appear so to all Mankind, and especially to those whose Appre­hensions are most improved, and most suitable to the real Nature of Things. Thus all Things that are naturally hot, or cold, or beautiful, or the like, appear to all People in their right Senses. But Death does not appear evil to all People, nor are they universally agreed in this Notion of it. (For Socrates did not think it so; He chose to undergo it, when it was in his Power to have declined it; He endured it with all the Calmness and Composure imaginable: He spent that whole Day in which he died, with his Friends, demonstrating to them the Existence and Immortality of the Soul, and the Efficacy of a Philosophical Life in order to Vir­tue and Reformation.) From all which Premi­ses, this Conclusion evidently follows; That Death is not in its own Nature evil: And con­sequently, That our Fears and Troubles con­cerning it do not come from the Thing it self, but from a disquieting Persuasion of its being evil, with which we possess and disorder our own Minds.

And such a Persuasion there may very well he, though there be no Ground for it in the Na­ture of the Thing. For Honey is not bitter, and yet Men in the Jaundice, that have their Palates vitiated, from a constant Bitterness oc­casioned by the overflowing of the Gall, are prejudiced against it, as if it were so. Now, as the only way to bring these Persons to dis­cern [Page 96] Tastes as they really are, is to carry off that Redundancy of Choler which corrupts their Palate; so in this Case, we must remove the Distemper of the Mind, correct our Notions of Things, and make a right Judgment of what is really Good and Evil to us, by just Distinctions between Things that Are and Things that Are Not in our own Power; what is properly ours, and what belongs not to us. For according to this Rule, if Death be none of the Things in our Power, it cannot be evil; and though it should be granted such, with regard to the Bo­dy; yet if it do not extend to the Soul, nor do that any Harm, it cannot be evil to us.

Plato indeed, or Socrates as he is introduced by Plato, goes a great deal farther, and boldly affirms, that it is Good, and much to be pre­ferred before this Life that we lead in the Bo­dy; and this, not only to some Persons, and in some Circumstances, as Men may be better or worse; but in general, and without Excepti­on, to all. For thus Socrates expresses himself in his Phoedon; It may possibly surprize you, and seem a strange Paradox, That this should be the on­ly Accident, that is good at all Times, and without any Reserve; but yet so it is. In all other Cases, nothing happens to a Man, which, as his Circum­stances may alter, he might not at another time bet­ter be without: But no Time, no Circumstance, whatsoever, can render it more for a Man's Advan­tage to Live than to Dye. And Plato, in his Book concerning Laws, speaking in his own Person, delivers himself to this purpose: If I may be allowed to speak my Opinion freely, it is real­ly my Judgment, that the Continuation of Soul and [Page 97] Body together, upon no Consideration, ought rather to be chosen than the Separation and Dissolution of them.

Now Epictetus, 'tis true, hath drawn his Ar­gument from that, which is generally esteemed the most formidable Evil that we are capable of suffering: But however, since most of us, when we lye under the present Smart of any Calamity, straitway imagine it worse than Death (for what can be more usual, than for Peo­ple in Pain, and very often in no great Ex­tremity of it neither, to wish for Death to de­liver them from it, and when reduced to Po­verty, to tell us they had much rather be Dead than Live in Want,) upon this Account, we may apply Epictetus's Argument to these Instan­ces also.

As to Pain, What Degree of it is there so violent, that Men, nay even those of low and vulgar Spirits, are not content to go through, to cure a dangerous Disease? They do not only Endure, but Chuse and Pray for it: They thank their Physicians for putting them to Torture, and look upon Cutting and Burning as Acts of the greatest Tenderness and Friendship. Now, though this makes it pretty plain, that Men who are well pleased to purchase Life so dear, must needs be of Opinion, that no Pain is so terrible to Humane Nature as Death; yet the principal Use I would make of this Observation is, to shew, that Men can really suffer with great Patience and Resolution; can harden them­selves against what they count very dreadful, and meet it with a composed Countenance, when once they are persuaded, that the enduring it [Page 98] will be for their Advantage. What prodigious Instances of Patience were the Lacedemonian Youths, who endured Scourgings so barbarous, as almost to expire under the Rod, and all this, merely for a little Ostentation and Vain­glory? Now this, it is evident, they did not out of any Compulsion, but freely and cheer­fully; for they offer'd themselves to the Tryal, of their own Accord. And the Reason why they held out so obstinately, was, not that their Sense of Pain was less quick and tender than other Peoples, (though more hard'ned too than People that indulge themselves in Effeminacy and Ease) but because they thought it their Glory and their Virtue to suffer manfully and resolutely.

For the same Reason, Epictetus would tell you, that Poverty is no such formidable Thing neither, because he can produce the Example of Crates the Theban to the contrary; who, when he disposed of all he was worth to the Publick, and said,

Let others keep or mourn lost store,
Crates own Hands make Crates poor,

That Moment put an End to his Slavery, and that his Freedom commenced from the time he had disburdened himself of his Wealth, Now the manifest Consequence of all this is, That nothing of this kind is terrible and insup­portable in its own Nature, as we fondly ima­gine; so far from it, that there may be some Cases, when they are much more eligible, and better for us: I mean, when they are convert­ed [Page 99] to higher and more excellent Purposes for our own Selves; by tending to the Advantage and Improvement of the Reasonable Soul.

The only Expedient to retain an Even Tem­per in the midst of these Accidents, is, to pos­sess our Minds with just Notions of them; and the regulating of these Notions is in our own Power: consequently, the preventing those Dis­orders that proceed from the Want of such a Regulation is in our own Power too. And one great Advantage to Persons thus disposed will be, The Learning how to manage those Things that are not at our Disposal, as though they were. For if it be not in my Power to prevent Defamation or Disgrace, the Loss of my Goods or my Estate, Affronts and violent Insults upon my Person; yet thus much is in my Power, to possess my self with right Apprehensions of these Things; to consider them, not only not as Evils, but sometimes the Instruments and Occasions of great Good. Now such an Opinion as this, makes it almost the same Thing to a Man, as if they did not happen at all; or, which is all one, makes him think himself never the Worse, but sometimes the Better for them, when they do. And I take it for granted, that every Wise Man will allow it more for Our, that is, for the Souls Honour and Advantage, to have beha­ved our Selves gallantly under Afflictions, than never to have been afflicted at all: And the greater these Afflictions were, the greater, in proportion, still is the Honour and Advantage gained by them. For, as to Bodies that are able to bear it, the violentest Motions exercise them best, and make greatest Improvements of [Page 100] Health, and Strength, and Activity; so the Mind too, must be put upon sharp Tryals some­times, to qualifie it for suffering gallantly whe [...] any Accident gives us an Occasion. And this may be accomplish'd these two Ways: By get­ting a right Notion of them; and, By being well prepared against them: which is to be done partly, by accustoming the Body to Hard­ship, which indeed is of general use, and hath enabled even Ignorant and Ill Men to slight Blows, and other Pains, which we commonly think intolerable; and partly too, by fixing the Mind in a provident Forecast; and distan [...] Expectation of them. And all these Things we may certainly do, if we please.

Now, if neither Death, nor any of those Things we dread most, have any Thing that is formidable in their own Nature; it is plain, neither they, nor the Persons that inslict them, are the Cause of our Trouble, but we our Selves, and our own Opinions bring this upon our Selves. When therefore the Mind feels it self perplexed with Grief or Fear, or any other Passion, the Blame is our own; and nothing but our Opinions are accountable for such Dis­orders.

None but ignorant and undisciplin'd People tax others with their Misfortunes. The Young Proficient blames himself; but the Philosoph [...]r indeed blames neither others nor himself.

The Connection of this with what went be­fore, is so close, that if a Conjunction were added, and we [...]ad it thus, For none but igno­rant [Page 101] and undisciplin'd People tax others with their Misfortunes, it had given a very good Reason why we should never lay our Troubles, or Fears, or Disorders, or any other Calamity we fancy our Selves in, to any Thing or any Bodies Charge, but our own. Since this Way of pro­ceeding, he says, comes from want of being taught better. And then to this Character of the Ignorant and Undisciplin'd, he adds that of One who is a Beginner only in Philosophy, and one who hath attained to a Mastery in it.

The Perfect Philosopher never thinks any Thing that befalls him, Evil, nor charges any Body with being the Occasion of his Misfor­tunes, because he lives up to the Dictates of Nature and Reason, and is never disappointed in his Pursuits and Desires, nor ever overta­ken with his Fears.

He that is but Raw and unfinish'd, does in­deed sometimes miss of his Desires, and falls into the Mischiefs he would flec from, because the brutish Inclinations move too strongly in him at such Times. And when this happens, the first Elements he learn'd, which taught him to distinguish Things In and Out of our Power, teach him too, That he himself, and none but he, is the true Cause of all his Disappoint­ments, and all his Disasters. And the Occasion of them all was his mistaking the Things with­out us, and placing a Man's proper Good and Evil in them.

But you will say, perhaps, Since this Young Philosopher knows, That our own proper Good and Evil depends upon our own Power and Choice, (and the accusing himself implies that [Page 102] he knows thus much) how comes it to pass, that he takes wrong Measures, and renders himself liable to this Blame? Probably, because the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the first step to be made toward Virtue; this being the pro­per Act of Reason: But the brutish Appetites do not always presently submit to Reason, nor suffer themselves to be easily reduced and tem­pered by it: and especially where it happens, as it does very often, that Reason is Negligent and Sluggish; and the Irrational Part active, and perpetually in Motion; by which means the Passions gather Strength, and usurp an ab­solute Dominion. This was the Case of her in the Play;

Remorse and Sense of Guilt draw back my Soul,
But stronger Passion does her Powers controul.
With Rage transported, I push boldly on,
And see the Precipice I cannot shun.

So that for some time it is pretty tolerable, if Reason can work upon the Passions, and either draw them by Force, or charm and win them over some soster way: For, when this is done, then the Knowledge of the Intelligent Part is more clear and instructive, and proceeds with­out any Distraction at all. No wonder there­fore, if Men but little trained in Philosophy make some false Steps, while their Passions are not yet totally subdued, and their Reason does not operate in its full Strength. And when they do so, they accuse Themselves only, as having admitted that Distinction of Things in and out of our own Power, though as yet they [Page 103] seem to have but an imperfect Notion of it.

But they that are Ignorant, and absolutely untaught, must needs commit a World of Er­rors, both because of that violent Agitation which their Passions are continually in, and of the Ignorance of their rational Part, which hath not yet learn'd to distinguish real Good and Evil, from what is so in appearance only: Nor does it take them off from Brutality, not so much as in Thought only. By Brutality I mean such low and mean Notions, as persuade us, that our Body is properly our Selves, and our Nature; or, which is yet worse, when we think our Riches so as the Covetous do. Now while we continue thus ignorant, there are several Accounts to be given for our doing amiss: We do it, because we think all our Good and Evil consists in Things without us; and, not being at all sensible, what is properly the Happiness or Unhappiness of Humane Nature, or whence it proceeds, we fall foul upon other People; and fancy, that they who obstruct or deprive us of those External Advantages we so eagerly pursue; or that bring upon us any of the Ca­lamities we would avoid, are the real Causes of all our Misery. Though in truth, neither those External Advantages which we call Good, nor those Calamities we call Evil, are what we take them for; but as Circumstances are sometimes ordered, may prove the direct contrary. For our Folly in this case, is just like that of silly Boys, that cannot endure their Masters, but think them their worst Enemies, and the Cause of a World of Misery; but value and love those as their Friends indeed, that invite them to Play and Pleasure.

[Page 104] Thus Epictetus hath given a short, but exact Character of these three sorts of Persons. The Perfect Philosophers are guilty of no Miscar­riages, for their Understanding is sufficiently accomplished to direct them, and the Irrational Part readily submits to those Directions. So that here is nothing but Harmony and Compli­ance, and consequently, they have no Body to lay any Misery to the Charge of; for indeed, they cannot labour under any Thing that is truly and properly Misery. They cause none to themselves; for this were a Contradiction to the Perfection of their Wisdom and Virtue; and nothing else causes them any, for they do not suppose any External Causes capable of do­ing it.

The Ignorant and Untaught err in both these Respects. Neither their Reason, nor their Passions are rightly disposed. And they lay all their Unhappiness to others, upon an Er­roneous Imagination, that it proceeds from Things without us. And indeed, it is easie and pleasant, and fit for ignorant Wretches, to shuffle off their own Faults from themselves, and throw them upon other People.

The Young Prosicient, who hath attained to the first Principles of Wisdom, though he be guilty of some Miscarriages, and fall now and then into Evil, yet he understands wherein it consists, and from whence it is derived, and what it was that first gave Birth to it; and therefore he lays it at the right Door. And these Marks are so distinguishing, that no Man, who makes a wise use of them, can be in dan­ger of confounding these three Classes of Men, [Page 105] the Accomplish'd Philosopher, the Rude and Un­taught, and the Young Proficient.

This Metaphor is so much the more warrant­able and pertinent, from the Resemblance which Education bears to the Management of our Selves: For this is properly the Training up of a Child under the Care and Correction of a Master, Our Sensual Part is the Child in us, and, like all other Children, does not know its own Good, and is violently bent upon Pleasure and Pastime. The Master that has the Care of it, is our Reason; this fashions our Desires, prescribes them their Bounds, reduces and re­strains them, and directs them to that which is best for them. So that the Ignorant and Untaught live the Life of a Child left to him­self, run giddily on, are perpetually in Fault, as being heady and heedless, and minding no­thing, but the gratifying their own Inclinations; and so these Men never think themselves to blame. The Young Proficients have their Ma­ster at hand, Correcting and Instructing them; and the Child in them is pretty towardly, and begins to submit to Rules. So that if these Men are at any time in the wrong, they are presently sensible who hath been to blame, and accuse no body but the Offender himself. But the Perfect and Accomplish'd Philosophers are such, whose Master keeps a constant Eye upon them, and hath conquered the Child's stubborn and perverse Spirit. So that now he is cor­rected, and improved, and hath attained to the Perfection he was intended for; that is, the being observant to the Master, and absolutely at his Direction. For the proper Virtue of a [Page 106] Child is this, Readiness to receive and to obey Instructions.

CHAP. XI.

Suffer not your self to be exalted with any Ex­cellence that is not properly your own. If your Horse should be transported with his Beauty, and boast of it, this were tolerable in him: But when you value your self, and brag of his Beauty, consider, That you are not proud of any Excellence in your self, but in your Horse. You will say then, What is a Man's own? I answer, A right Ʋse of his Idea's. And when you manage these as you ought, then you may be allow­ed to please your self. For this is being exalted with some Excellence that is pro­perly yours.

COMMENT.

THE foregoing Chapters acquainted us, what Method must be taken to deliver our selves from Grief, and Fear, and Confusion, when any calamitous Circumstances from without threaten our Peace: This directs us how to pre­serve an Even and Composed Mind when any External Advantages would shake our Modera­tion. Now these Advantages he calls None of Ours, in Agreement with what he said at the [Page 107] Beginning of his Book, That the Things out of our Power are Feeble, and Servile, and liable to Oppo­sition, and not Ours, but Another's. And upon the being conscious to our Selves of any such seeming Advantages, he forbids us to be ex­alted.

By this Exaltation, I understand here, not any Insolence or Haughtiness, or Arrogance of Hu­mour, as the Word is sometimes used in an ill Sense; (for sure we are not allowed to be ex­alted in such a manner as this, upon the account of any Advantage whatsoever, though never so real a Good, though never so truly our own,) but, as I apprehend, this Exaltation signifies, the being satisfied with our selves, and imagi­ning, that we are Better or Happier upon the account of some additional Good, which now we have, but had not formerly. So that he says, we must not think our selves ever the bet­ter for that Good which belongs not to us, nor imagine that anothers Excellence, adds any thing to ours. For every Good belongs to its own proper Subject in which it subsists, and whose Quality it is, and no other can pretend to any right in it. The Goodness, for instance of a Horse, belongs to the Horse himself, and not to us; for if he be bold and fleet, and ma­nageable, he hath indeed the proper Excel­lences of a Horse; but which way does this make for our Commendation? How is this the Excel­lence of a Man? Or what augmentation can the Virtue or the Happiness of his Owner receive from it?

Yes, you'll say, the Excellence of any Pos­sessions, redounds to the Possessor, and the [Page 108] Goodness of the Instruments, to the benefit of the Artificers that use them. According to the common Opinion of the World, 'tis acknow­ledged they do. But pray, is the Excellency of an Ax, suppose, able to make him a good Carpenter, who was not one before? In this case therefore we should distinguish between the Excellencies peculiar to the Tool, and those peculiar to the Work-man, with relation to the Trade he professes. The proper Excellence of an Ax, is to carry a good Edge, and to be made neat and true; this renders it fit for Service, and for the Work to be cut out by it: For e­very Instrument is commended by its Work. But this contributes nothing to the perfection of the Carpenter; for his Excellence and pro­per Commendation, consists in observing Pro­portions, and Rules of Art; and he is judged by this, and not by the Work done by him, because that may happen to fail, from some Defect either in the Stuff he wrought upon, or the Tools he wrought with, or Twenty other accidental Obstructions.

Well, But what is properly our own Excel­lence, upon the account of which we may be admitted to look upon our selves as better and happier than we were before? At the beginning of his Book, the first thing he mentioned of this kind, was a just and true Opinion; but here he c [...]lls it a right Ʋse and Management of Ideas; so that Opinion in that place, and Ideas in this, signify o [...]e and the same thing. For we judge of things by the different Representations of them to our Minds, and those Judgments are sometime [...] true, and sometimes false. Now the [Page 109] right Management of Ideas, is, when what ap­pears to us, agrees exactly with the nature of things themselves, and when we proceed upon these Appearances so, that the Judgments we form upon them, carry nothing in them that is false and inconsistent; as it would be, if we should affirm, that Intemperance is Good, and Temperance Evil.

But the most proper Sense of this Use of I­deas, as Nature and Reason direct, I look upon to be a Desire of those things that are Good, and an Aversion and Detestation of those that are Evil, when we have not only a bare spe­culative Notion, what is Good, and what is E­vil; but desire and pursue that which we think to be Good, and decline and abhor that which we think to be Evil. And this may very well be called our own proper Excellence; because the Regulation of our Desires and Aversions, according to Reason and Nature, is always in our own power, though the Exerting these, and making them effectual by outward acts, is not always so.

And yet it is highly probable, that Epictetus may intend something farther still, by this right use of Ideas; which is, That our Practice and Behaviour should express a constant Conformi­ty to these True Opinions, and Regular De­sires. That we should not think it sufficient to declare it our Sense, that Temperance is a Vir­tue, but should be actually Temperate, and make all our Actions speak the Conceptions of our Mind, and the regul [...]rity of our Desires upon this occasion: Not to satisfy our selves with the empty Commendations of Justice, no [Page 110] nor with a few faint and feeble Desires of this Vertue; (for this is what follows of course, and whatever we apprehend as Good, we can­not but apprehend as Desirable too at the same time,) and yet allow our selves in Acts of In­justice. This is the Case of Impotent and In­continent Persons; they desire Vertue, but that Desire is overborn by a stronger, that inclines to Pleasure. Their Reason discerns what should be done, though not so clearly and powerfully as it might and ought, and for a while stands up in its Vindication; and the Vertuous De­sires and Aversions which are rightly disposed, but weak and confused, strike in, and take its part; but presently the Brutish Inclinations, like an Impetuous Torrent, bear down all be­fore them, distract and divert the Man from his cooler purposes, and drive him to do what is most agreeable to his present heat. This is just the Description I gave before of Me­dea, when the Tragedian brings her in with these Words, which I have so oft had occasion to repeat.

Remorse and sense of Guilt pull back my Soul,
But stronger Passion does her Powers controul.
With Rage transported, I rush boldly on,
And see the Precipice I cannot shun.

So then it is by no means sufficient, that a Man's Judgment is rightly informed, and that his Desires are vertuously inclined in many in­stances, unless he be all of a piece; and take care, that the Commendableness of his Practice, hold correspondence with the truth of his O­pinions. [Page 111] This is the right and best use of our Ideas, and this we may think our own peculiar Excellence, but no External Advantage can ever be so. For, as the particular Commendation of a Carpenter, considered as a Carpenter, is his working according to the Rules of Art and Proportion, so the peculiar Excellence of a Phi­losopher, depends upon the Ideas and Affections of his Mind, being Just and Good; and the Exerting this Excellence, is the calling these out into act, and demonstrating them to the World by a Vertuous Conversation.

CHAP. XII.

As when a Ship lies in Port, and you go out for Fresh Water, you happen to meet with Shell-Fish, or Sallads upon the Coast; this is an accidental Advantage, and beside your main purpose; but still your Thoughts must be fixed upon the Ship, and it should be your great care to attend the Masters Call; that so when he gives you the Signal, you may quit all readily, and not be bound, and car­ried away by Violence, as Sheep must be ser­ved. So here in the Affairs of the World, if it be your Fortune, instead of Fish or Sallad, to light upon a Beloved Wife or Child, which give an agreeable relish to Life, none of these Matters must be suffered to detain you. But when the Master gives you the Signal, all must be left, and the best of your Way made to the Ship. But if you are in Years, be sure you never stir far from the Ship, for fear you be out of the way when the Master calls.

COMMENT.

HE hath by a Short, but Ingenious Discourse, endeavoured to draw us off from the pur­suit of those External Advantages, upon which we are used to set so great a value, by shew­ing us, that all these things are neither in our [Page 113] Disposal, nor any such Happiness, as can be properly called ours. But now, lest this Ar­gument of his should be so far mistaken, or wrested beyond its true purpose, as to be thought to debar us of Marriage, and other innocent Enjoyments and Satisfactions, and absolutely to forbid us the having any thing at all to do with the World and its Advantages; he acquaints us in the next place, what things those are which he allows the Enjoyment of, and with what Limitations we ought to enjoy them; viz. That we should leave our Selves and them at the Dis­posal of God, and resign all to his Providence, without Reserve; and then in such an Humble Dependence as this is, to use and value them moderately, and as they deserve. That our Concern is due in the greatest Measure, to the Necessities of Life, and such as Humane Nature cannot subsist without; which Epictetus here hath expressed, by a Ship's Watering, meaning by this, Food, and Raiment, and Dwelling, and such other things, as they who look no farther than just needful Supplies, satisfy themselves withal. These things therefore are allowed to be a part of our Care, provided it be but in the Second place, and with subordination to a Higher Good.

As for such things as are not absolutely neces­sary, but only the Conveniences of Life, as a Wife, Children, Estate, and the like, these he calls Accidental Advantages, and besides our main purpose; and therefore they are allowed the Third Place in our Esteem. When a Bounti­ful Providence bestows these upon us, we are to receive and use them seasonably; and be [Page 114] sure to keep our Mind ever fixed upon our Chief and most Desirable Good. But as for Pleasures, and Riches, and Honours, and Pre­ferments, and such other Impertinencies, he will not so much as admit these into the number of his Accidental Advantages, but supposes them inconsistent with a strictly Rational and Virtuous Conversation. For these are what he told us before, must be wholly laid aside: But the En­joyments of Marriage, and such other Conve­niences of Humane Nature, he advised to have suspended for a time only, while Men were Young and Unexperienced in the Study of Vir­tue, that so their first Beginnings might meet with no Interruption, but take good Root, and fasten upon the Mind. And for this Reason, when Men have made some progress, and are arrived to such a degree of Perfection, as may qualify them to use these with safety, then he allows them to enjoy them, provided still it be in the quality of an Additional Advantage, and not a Principal Design.

Now the Allusion he hath made use of for this purpose, seems to be exceeding proper and pertinent; for the old Moralists in their Fables, have commonly chosen the Sea to represent this Mortal State; the Roughness of its Waves, its frequent Ebbs and Floods, the Tempestuous Weather to which it lies exposed, and the suf­focating all that sink into it, do abundantly justify the Metaphor. By the Ship, may be meant, that which unites the Soul to the Body, and brings her into this Mortal State, whe­ther it be Fate or Fortune, or whatever else you will please to call it. The Master of this [Page 115] Ship is God, who governs and disposes all things, and commands the Souls into their re­spective Bodies, according as his own infinite Wisdom, and tender Care sees fit, and in pro­portion to their own Deserts. The bringing this Ship into Port, is the assigning to these Souls their proper Station, and Country, and Family; by vertue whereof, some are born in one Climate and Nation, and some in another. Some are descended from Great and Noble Fa­milies, and others meanly born; some of Vir­tuous or Healthful Parents, and others of Vi­cious and Diseased ones. The going out for fresh Water, is the Care we take for supplying the Necessities of Nature, without which, it is impossible that Life should be supported: And indeed, what is there in this state of Mortali­ty of such general use? what that we can so little want, both for the making of our Meat and Drink, as Water? What is intended by gathering Sallads or Shelfish by the by, himself hath very elegantly informed us, by instancing in a Wife, and an Estate; and acquainting us withal, that when Providence is pleased to be­stow them upon us, we are not to refuse them; but so neither are we to receive or value them, as either the principal and most desirable Goods, or indeed such as are properly ours. For the First and Chief Good, is that Disposition of Mind that is ever obedient to the Master of the Ship, ever attentive to his Call. Nor must we lay our selves out upon these Matters, as we were allowed to do upon Water, or neces­sary things; but look upon them as additional Comforts, and such as help to make Life easie [Page 116] and convenient. Now if this Master call us to the Ship, and give order for our returning back to himself, and to that which is our True, our Native Country, make the best of your way, (says he) to the Ship; leave every thing that relates to this Mortal Life, be ready to obey his first Orders, and do not loiter, or hanker upon any thing behind, for fear when Nature cuts the Cable, your Inclinations still be left on Shore. Go you must, that's most certain, and therefore it is that he tells you, if you do not follow rea­dily and chearfully, and quit all of your own accord, you shall be tied Neck and Heels, like Sheep, and thrown under Hatches; that is, you shall be forced, and torn away, and thrust out of the World, like those Foolish and Sheepish Wretches, that dye with Cowardice and Reluctan­cy, and Unmanly Lamentations of themselves and their Friends.

But there is yet another Caution observable here, which is, That the Person to whom the Enjoyment of Marriage, and such others, as are the additional Advantages of Life, are al­lowed, must be sure to indulge himself in such Enjoyment of them only, as is seasonable; that so when he hath taken as much of these as is fit for him, he may remove without any delay, and readily comply with the Master's First Call. But if a Man be Old, and draws near his End, he will do best to keep himself wholly disinga­ged, and entertain himself with nothing so much as the constant Thought and Expectation of the Ships Sailing, and his quitting the Shore, for fear, when the time of his Return comes, and the Master calls, he be retarded by his Burden, [Page 117] and fastned down to the Land, and be forced with a great deal of unbecoming Concern, to leave a Young Wife, and Pretty Children be­hind. And surely an Old Man upon all Ac­counts, hath much greater reason to prepare for leaving the World, than to entertain him­self with vain Projects of setling in it.

CHAP. XIII.

Trouble not your self with wishing that things may be just as you would have them; but be well pleased they should be, just as they are, and then you will live easie.

COMMENT.

THE last Chapter instructed us, what Ex­ternal Advantages those are, which we are allowed to partake of, and how we must govern our selves with regard to them; that those which are necessary for the Support of Humane Na­ture, must be used and valued accordingly; those which are convenient, as Additional Comforts, and only things by the by; but that neither the one, nor the other, must be made our chief aim. Now after the Enjoyment of these things allowed under such Limitations, he proceeds here to direct us by what means we may use and enjoy them, without any Prejudice or Passion, so as to avoid Disquiet, and live always free and easie. The great Obstruction to this, is a perpe­tual [Page 118] Fretfulness of Temper, and repining at whatever happens to us; and this can never be cured, but by one of these Two ways, either that Providence should order all things agreeably to our Humour, or that we should bring our own Humour to be satisfied with whatever Providence thinks fit to order. The former of these, that Pro­vidence should appoint every thing just as we would have it, is neither possible for us to bring about, nor would it at all times be for our Ad­vantage, if we could; for it often happens, that we are most eager and fond of those things which are prejudicial to us, either upon the ac­count of our Ignorance, because we do not see the Nature and Consequence of them; or through the predominancy of our Passions, which puts a Biass upon the Judgment, and inclines Reason to comply with the Sensual and Brutish part. So that in effect; there is but one way left to be easie; and that is, to be of so equal, so resigned a Disposition, as to sit down well content with whatever Providence sees good to appoint.

Now this may possibly be censured by some, as an exceeding hard, and indeed an Impracti­cable Precept, and that no Man can be in good earnest, when he pretends to perswade People, that they ought to be well pleased, things should be just as they are: For what Man of Common Sense can be so, when he observes the publick and general Calamities of Mankind? Is it possible, that such dire effects of Providence, as Earth­quakes, and Inundations, and Fires, and Fa­mines, and Pestilences, and Murrains of Cattel, and Blastings of Fruit; or that the Wicked [Page 119] and Barbarous Insolencies Men are guilty of, to one another, the Ravaging whole Countries, Burning and Sacking of Cities, the Imprison­ments and Slaveries, the Murders and Robbe­ries, the Rapine and Violence, and unbounded Lust, that have driven them past all Sense of God and Religion, and utterly destroyed Mo­rality, and Vertue, and Friendship, and Mu­tual Faith; and have so utterly ruined several Arts and Sciences, which it hath cost many A­ges to contrive and bring to maturity, that we have nothing left of some, but the empty Names; and of others, which ought to be look'd upon as the especial Gifts, and immediate Discove­ries of Heaven, for the benefit and support of Mankind, such as Physick, and Architecture, and the like, we have no more than some faint Sha­dows, and imperfect Images remaining; How, I say, is it possible, that these, and many other Calamities, and monstrous Wickednesses, which the present Age is perfectly overrun with, should be matter of Pleasure or Contentment? And who is there that can take Satisfaction, I do not say in seeing, or bearing a part in them, but so much as to endure the very hearing them named, except he be first forsaken of all Hu­manity, and all Goodness?

Such Doubts as these, which give sometimes great Perplexity, not only to the Weak and Common Man, but to the Thinking and more Accomplished Persons, will receive satisfaction, if either Epictetus be allowed to have any Autho­rity in what he says, or the great Governor of all things, be granted to order the World in Wisdom and Justice. For our Piety and our Ad­vantage, [Page 120] will be sure to terminate in the same Object, as Epictetus himself will assure us more fully hereafter.

In answer therefore to the Objection, I say, That if all these deplorable Accidents which the Objector hath given so Tragical an Account of, be really Evil, and such as they are generally esteemed to be, it is not possible, that either any Good Man should, without forfeiting that Character, be pleased to have them so; nor could the Providence of Almighty God be ac­quitted from the Imputation of being the cause of Evil to us; nor could Men ever prevail with themselves, to Honour, or Love, or pay Adoration to such a Deity. For let Men pre­tend what they will, no Arguments in the World are able to produce these Affections for the Author of Misery and Mischief. It is a Principle rooted in every Creature, as Epi­ctetus will shew you, to hate, and decline, and run away from all things that are prejudicial to it themselves, or the cause of other things be­ing so to it. But whatever is for its Benefit, and productive of its Happiness, these things it naturally courts and admires.

Thus much is certain, upon supposition that these Accidents are really Evil; but now, if notwithstanding our dreadful Apprehensions of them, they be in truth no such matter, but ra­ther Good, as conducing very much to some mighty Benefit, and directed to excellent Pur­poses; and that if any Evil do indeed attend these Dispensations, this is what the Nature of the things is no way concern'd in, but is wholly owing to the Desires and strong Impulses of [Page 121] our own Minds: In this case, it will by no means follow, that he, who is well enough pleased all things should be just as they are, is either a Vicious or a Barbarous Man; nor can we with any colour, charge the Evil we find in the World upon these Occasions, to Almigh­ty God, but must acquit his Providence, and ac­knowledge it to be infinitely Wise and Good.

Now the Things in which all these seeming Evils are, and from whence they spring, must be considered in this Condition of Mortality; and undergoing the vicissitudes of Generation and Corruption, either as Bodies or Souls. And of these Souls again, some are Irrational, of the same Date and Duration with the Body; and having none, or but very little peculiar Ex­cellence of their own, their Office and Power extends no farther, than meerly the animating those Bodies to which they belong; and there­fore all their Motions depend upon, and pro­ceed in Conjunction with the Bodies. But o­ther Souls are Rational: These have an inward principle of Motion, and an Essence and Excel­lence distinct from their Bodies; they move by their own Choice, and are absolute in the dis­posing their own Desires and Inclinations. Now the Bodies belonging to these, being in their own Nature purely Mechanical, and deriving their Essence from External Causes, are subject to the Motions of Heavenly Bodies, which in­fluence their Generation and Corruption, and the various Alterations through which they pass.

But if we come nearer, and descend to the Immediate and Material Causes, then they are [Page 122] moved and affected by a mutual Operation up­on one another. For this is agreeable to all the Reason in the World, that Temporary and Corruptible things, should depend upon the E­ternal for their Subsistence, and be obedient to their Influences; Mechanical Beings, upon such as are endued with a Faculty of Self-Motion; and those that are contained within others, up­on the Ambients that contain them. This is the constant Method and Rule of Nature, that these should follow the others Superiour to them, as having no Principle of Motion in themselves, no Faculty of Choosing, no Power of Determining their De [...]ires, or Affections of their Nature; no Merit or Demerit from Choice or Actions, but are only Good or Evil, in respect and proportion to their Causes: Just as the Shadows of Bodies, do not choose their Sides or Shapes as they please, but are necessa­rily determined by their Causes and their Cir­cumstances, and are never the worse or the bet­ter for those Determinations.

Now as to Bodies, whatever Changes they undergo, this Variety can be no Ill to them, whether they be Compound or Simple Bodies: First of all, because it is what the Condition of their Nature hath made them liable to. They are bound in Laws irrevocable, which they may neither controul nor resist, and consequently can receive no Harm by whatever they impose, as having no Power to do otherwise. For Ig­norance would be no Evil, nor the most brutish and extravagant Conversation, nor would the Rational Soul be one whit the worse for either had not Nature endued her with a Faculty of [Page 123] Discerning and Understanding the Truth; and given her a Power over the brutish Appetites, by which she is enabled to subdue and over­rule them.

Secondly, Because the Compound Bodies, which consist of simple Ingredients, that are of contrary Qualities, such as are perpetually strug­ling with, and usurping upon one another, by Diseases, and Excess of Humours, are sometimes strengthned by throwing off the corrupt Parts; and sometimes by Decay and Death are deliver­ed from all that Trouble and Pain, and mutual Strife of contrary Qualities in them. And in this Case, each of the Simples is restored to its primitive Mass, and recovers it self from that Weakness which was occasioned by this Oppo­sition of contrary Humours. For as each of the Ingredients in Composition made some Impres­sion upon its Opposite, so it likewise continu­ally received some from it, and suffered by it. But now, when the Simples are changed, accor­ding to the Changes of the contrary Qualities, they return again to their own primitive Being. Thus Water evaporates into the Air from whence it came, and Air is turned into Fire, from whence it originally was. And I cannot suppose any Evil in Things of this kind, though Inundations, or Fires, or any the most violent Changes in Nature, should be the Effect of these Inequalities, in the Elements that compose the Universe; or though Pestilences and Earth­quakes should destroy and dash in pieces the Bo­dies compounded of those Elements.

But farther, If these Things contribute to some good Effect; if by the infinite Revoluti­ons [Page 124] of Matter and Motion, the Corruption of one Thing produces the Generation of another; how then can the Corruption of any single part be Evil, when at the same time it conduces to the Benefit of the whole? This is a Rule which Nature it self hath made evident to us, and every particular Creature practises it, in slight­ing the Advantage of its Parts, in Comparison of the Good of the Whole.

Thus when any Noxious Humours are re­dundant in the Body, Nature throws them off from the Heart, or Bowels, or Lungs, or Brain, and all the parts that are principally concern'd in the functions of Life, into the Hands, the Feet, the Skin, or any of the Extream Parts; she raises Blisters, and causes Putrefactions, to remove the Humour, and is content to corrupt some parts, for the preservation of the whole. This is sometimes, I say, the work of Nature, and when it is not so, we endeavour to supply it by art. For when Physicians and Chyrurgeons draw Sores, and Cup, and Scarify, and Sear, and cut off Limbs to save our Lives, they only imitate Nature, and do that by Medicines, which she was able to do without them. And yet there is no Wise Man that blames these Methods, nor thinks those Pains Evil, which he suffers upon such good Accounts.

From hence it appears, that if Bodies sub­sisted by themselves alone, and whatever they endured, had no relation at all to the Souls of Men, none of the different Changes they un­dergo, would be esteemed Evil: So that if there be any real Cause for this Complaint, it must be upon the account of the Souls in those Bodies.

[Page 125] Now some of these are Irrational, perfectly of a piece with the Bodies, and no more than the animating part of them. Their Essence, their Power and their Operations subsist in, and depend entirely upon, and are in insepa­rable Conjunction with the Body. But others are Rational, of a Nature superiour to the Bo­dy and distinct from it, acting upon a free Principle of Motion and Choice, a Principle of their own, by which they dispose their own Inclinations and Desires, as they see fit them­selves, (all which hath been abundantly proved already.)

Now the Irrational Souls, have not the least Sign or Footstep of Free-Agency, no manner of Tendency or Appetite from within, but are only the principle of Life and Activity to the Body; and Consequently their Being was ordained by the same Fate, and is subject to the same Ca­sualties with the Body: They have no Dignity, no Merit or Demerit of their own, but are more or less valuable, according to the Digni­ty of their respective Bodies, and are as irresisti­bly disposed to their Motions, as Shadows are to their Substances.

It is true indeed, This is more peculiarly the Condition of Plants, which have only a Vegeta­tive Soul, and want the Sensitive one, and are not exercised with those Motions that accompany the Desires, and vehement Impulses of the Soul. But Beasts are in a higher Form, and are endued with this also. And therefore the Souls of Brutes, being considered in a middle State, in a Capaci­ty Superiour to Vegetables, and yet inferiour to such as Nature hath made free Agents, must [Page 126] in all Reason have some Resemblance; some Footsteps at least of Appetites and Affections arising from within; and such, as shall be mo­ved sometimes in Agreement to the Nature of its particular Species, and sometimes contrary to it: As, when a Lion hath that Courage and Fury agreeable to its kind; and this is some­times more, and sometimes less than it ought to be. And in this respect, the Dignities and Degrees of such Souls are different; and their Lives are so too, according to the Disposition which Fate and Nature hath given them; which is such, that they are still moved mechanically, and by external Impressions. For it is necessa­ry, that whatever is placed between two Ex­tremes, should in some measure partake of each of these Extremes.

But now the Rational Soul, which is a Free Agent, and hath an absolute Dominion over her own Desires and Propensions, derives its Digni­ty from Choice; she uses the Body indeed, but hath all its Appetites and Passions at her Devo­tion. This Soul therefore, when she makes use of the Body only as an Instrument of Action, and maintains her own Superiority over it, is obstructed in all those Operations in which the Body bears a part, by the Sufferings and Disea­ses of the Body, but is not it self at all affect­ed with those Pains. From whence it was, that the great Socrates used to say, the Anguish was in the Leg, but not in the Mind. But if the Soul contract too intimate a Familiarity with the Body, and grow fond of it, as if it were no longer its Instrument, but a part of its self, or rather its very self, then it communicates in [Page 127] all its Afflictions, degenerates into Brute, and esteems all the Extravagancies of Anger and De­sire its own; is enslaved to them, descends to little Trickings, and is eternally contriving how to compass those Objects; and being thus corrupted and diseased in such manner as a Soul is capable of being so, stands in need of Physick and strong Remedies to cure these Distempers. For it is a Rule in Application, that one Con­trary is cured by another. And thus, when the Desire is depraved by Lusciousness and Pleasure, and hath conformed it self to the Body too much, by the Love of Sensual Enjoyments, and Riches, and Honours, and Preserments, and Posts of Authority, and the like; there is a ne­cessity of meeting with Crosses and Disappoint­ments, that so the subsequent Pain, in the ve­ry same Instances, may correct and chastise the Excess of Pleasure we formerly took in them. And this is no where more requisite than in Bo­dily Pains and Pleasures: For this is nearest to the Soul, and its Torments are received with a quicker and more tender Sense than any other. When therefore the Soul hath revolted from her Supreme Commander, and forsakes her own Reason, abandoning her self to the Body and the World; and thinking their Enjoyments and their Happiness her own; and by this means grows vitiated and distempered; there seems no other way to be left of putting her out of Conceit with these Things, and poising the Byass that carried her to them, (that so she may de­spise them, and condemn her self, and return to God and right Reason again, and expect all her Happiness from an Obedience to these) but [Page 128] by making her sensible both of the Evil of her former Courses, and of the Smart that follows them. This only can take off the Propensity to that Pleasure which she hath felt in and by them. For so long as she continues to find this, she continues fond of, and fastened down to these Enjoyments. And no Nail takes faster hold, or fixes Things closer, than Pleasure and the Allurements it brings, do the Soul to the Objects that occasion it. And this is the Rea­son why our skilful and tender Physician min­gles Bitter with our Sweets, and makes what we are fondest of, to become nauseous and painful to us; he deals with us as Nurses do with suck­ing Children, and puts Wormwood and Mu­stard upon the Breast, to wean our Affections, and make us loath Things that are no longer convenient for us.

In such Cases then, the first Choices of our Minds are determined to the less of two Evils; they prefer Death before Bodily Pain and Af­flictions, and had rather be quite out of the Body, than miserable in it; a Wish, which no Man would ever make if he were always ea­sie and prosperous. And thus, by Degrees, we are wrought up to an Hatred and Aversion of present Pleasure, by a Prospect and Dread of a much greater, and more complicated Misery that attends it: As Children are brought off from what is hurtful to them at first by a Prin­ciple of Fear: Or a Man, that loves any Meat or Drink prejudicial to his Health, and hath found by Experience, that it gives him Gri­pings, or is offensive to his Stomach, is content afterwards to forbear the gratifying his Palate, [Page 129] provided that Abstinence will but secure his Ease, and prevent the much more lasting Pains which that short Pleasure uses to bring after it. This is the Case of most of us: For alas! How very few are there that will be content to forego even those Pleasures which they are satisfied ought not to be indulged, so long as they find no Trouble or Inconvenience from them?

Now the Truth is, this abstaining from Plea­sure for fear of some greater Pain, is not so properly the subduing or destroying our Passion, as the exchanging of one Passion for another: For, we are willing to make a saving Bargain, and barter the Pleasure of Enjoyment away for the Pleasure of Ease and Security: And thus one Passion rises up in Succession to another. But yet this is a very good Method to begin with, while we retain our silly Childish Dispositions, that we may grow jealous and fearful of those Things to which our Inclinations lead us most; and when this Distaste is once given, then by considering their Nature, and observing, that besides their being vicious, the very Uneasiness and Troubles that attend them, are more ex­quisite, and more various, than the Pleasures they afford; and so returning to Reason, and finding that our Happiness is really within our own selves, and expected in vain from the De­lights of the Body, or the Advantages of the World; and thus by degrees growing consci­ous of some Resemblance between Us and God, and reverencing his Image in our Souls, we thuse a wise and good Life; now no longer out of Fear, but from the more generous Prin­ciples of a vertuous and well-instructed Mind. [Page 130] For even Children, when they grow wiser, come at last to decline, and to do those Things out of Judgment and Inclination, which at first no­thing but Fear, and the Rod, could have driven them to.

And this is the Design of our good God, and his tender Care over us, That the Soul should neither cling too fast to the Body and its Plea­sures, and the Enjoyments of the World, nor yet abstain from them, when driven only by a Principle of Fear, but from its own free gene­rous Choice, as considering, that all our Good and all our Evil consists in our own Choice, and our own Aversions. So that all the healing Methods of his Providence are directed to no other purpose than this, to restore the Soul to Reason and Prudence, and the preferring a Ver­tuous Life. Just as the most eminent Physici­ans, when they proceed to such smarting Seve­rities as Cutting and Burning, and the like, do it only with a Design to reduce the Body to its natural and healthful Temper, and to enable the Parts that were before obstructed, to per­form their proper Functions again. Now pu­nishment is the best Cure for Wickedness; and this is the peculiar Use and Benefit of those Calamities, which we account Evils. And, as we are commonly very angry at our Physicians when they torture and put us to Pain; so do Men likewise generally take it ill to have these sharper Remedies of Providence applied to them. But they are only the Childish and Effeminate, the Foolish and Unthinking Part of the World that do so. For whoever will give himself the Trouble of making a diligent Observation of [Page 131] himself and others, upon Occasion of the se­veral Accidents that befall him; and takes Notice of the Dispositions of his Soul, by what Springs they're moved, and how they're correct­ed and changed, I make no question will readi­ly acknowledge, That Afflictions are generally the first Occasion of Mens conquering their In­clinations, and coming up to a due Contempt of the Body, and the World, or (as our great Author expresses himself) of all those Things that are out of our own Power.

But, as the Physick applied to our Bodies is of two sores, the one Restorative, the other Preservative; one to purge off our Diseases, and correct the Noxious Humours by Drugs of contrary Qualities; the other to continue and confirm Health, by convenient Diet, due Regi­men, and moderate Exercise: And as some Ex­ercises require great Labour and Activity, and are fit only for hardy and robust Bodies; so this excellent Physician of our Souls, does not only administer to the Sick and Diseased, and recover them by Sufferings and Misfortunes; but he exercises the Sound and Healthful, and by so doing adds to their Strength and Vigour, and renders their Virtue more conspicuous; a Pattern to others, and a Provocation to be good. And this is but necessary; for, the Souls of Men, even the Good and Vertuous, stand in need of Exercise to confirm them, no less than healthful Bodies do. And Hippocrates's Maxim will hold good upon this Occasion too, That Motion gives Strength, but Sloth and Inactivi­ty wastes it. And the Reason is plain; for, those Things which are so ordered, that they [Page 132] are continually as perfect as Nature intended them, and are continually employed in such Operations as Nature appointed for them; per­form these Operations with great Readiness and Dexterity. But those that are not thus conti­nually, must imitate and supply the Want of that perpetual Motion, by their own Practice, that so they may not forget by Disuse, and find themselves at a Loss when any urgent Oc­casion calls for the exerting their Powers. For whatever is sometimes in, and at other Times out of Motion, confesses its own Weakness, of which this Vicissitude is the Effect, and that Weakness must be worn off, and Strength ac­quired by Action. Now all Exercise consists in the same Acts frequently repeated; the very same, I say, with that principal Act, for the sake of which we use this Exercise. Thus in the Olympick Sports, the Exercise used to per­fect them in Wrestling, is Wrestling very of­ten; and that in order to the Caestus and Cuf­fing, is the inuring themselves to Blows. Thus Men learn the Art of War by imitating Acti­on, and engaging one Party with another, when they train together: And the more lusty and strong the Persons are, that perform these Ex­ercises, the more effectually does this Practice attain its End. So that if any Man would get a Mastery over Pleasure, it is necessary, when­ever any entertaining Objects offer themselves, to learn and practise the Contempt of them; and they that would conquer Pain, must use themselves to endure it; and to master our Fears, we must make Danger familiar to us; and to slight Torments, we must imitate the [Page 133] Patience of the Noble Lacedemonian Youths, who plaid Prizes of Scourging, and exercised them­selves in every Thing that was painful, to qua­lifie them for it: Or do as Salust in our Times did, that laid a red-hot Coal upon his Thigh, and blow'd the Fire, to try how long he was able to undergo the Smart. For these Tryals, and the principal Actions they are intended to perfect us in, do not differ in Nature and Kind, but in Degree and Duration only, as these are easier and lighter, and may be desisted from at Pleasure.

Since therefore Almighty God, when he dis­posed of Mens Souls in mortal Bodies, and as­signed them to the Condition in which we live at present, endued them with Faculties capable of managing every Accident, (so as to receive no Injury either from the enticing Pleasures, or from the Terrors and Disasters of the World) and of setting the Mind above them all; the same infinite Wisdom keeps those Faculties in Exercise, that they should not grow sluggish, and consequently feeble, and slack for want of Action; and puts the Soul upon many sharp Conflicts, that when there is Occasion for exert­ing her Powers, she may not be found Unex­pert and Defective. This is it which hath made so many illustrious Heroes: This made Hercules, and Theseus, and Diogenes, and Socra­tes, to become Persons of such eminent Virtue and Renown. Their Characters would have been little, and their Excellencies lost, nor would Mankind ever have known to what won­derful Perfection an exalted Virtue can carry them, if there had been no such Things as [Page 134] Wild Beasts and Monsters, Tyrants and wick­ed Oppressors, Mortification, and severe Absti­nence, to perpetuate these Mens Memory, and provoke the Proofs of their Courage and Reso­lution, and recommend their Examples to Po­sterity.

Now, I think, no Man that considers the Matter well, will doubt whether Afflictions do not better those that have supported them as they ought, and add infinitely to their Forti­tude and Patience. For since we see by the In­stances of Gladiators and the like, that Use reconciles Men to the most for midable Dangers, and makes them a perfect Sport and Diversion, insomuch that they enter the List cheerfully, and play their Prizes for a very small Conside­ration; how can we imagine, that Exercise should fail in Matters of less Difficulty, and en­able Men to disdain those Calamities, which only they esteem insupportable, who have not hardned themselves by Practice? From all which we may conclude, that when we consider Affli­ctions, either in the Quality of Remedies to cure our Distempers, or as Tryals and Exerci­ses to confirm our Health and Strength, they cannot be Evil with respect to the Soul, which receives such mighty Benefit both these ways, how harsh and unpalatable soever the Applica­tion may seem. For at this rate we must run into another intolerable Absurdity, and con­demn all those Medicines and Exercises as Evil in respect of the Body; to which, though they be grievous for the present, all our Recovery and all the Continuance of our Health is owing.

[Page 135] Again, Whatever is done in such Proportion and Manner as Nature and Choice both require, cannot be Evil; for a due regard to this is just; and whatever is Just, is Good: Nay, even Cutting and Burning is not Evil to our Bodies; for these considered absolutely and by them­selves, are insensible, and the Resolution of a Compound into its Simples, is not in Nature Evil to that Compound. Since then we allow, that Physick and Exercise, Burning, and Bind­ing, and Lopping off of Limbs, and all the Tor­tures that Men use, when they turn their own Executioners, are not Evil, but Good; since we think the Persons who put us to these Pains for our Advantage, deserve to be thanked and rewarded for it, why do we find Fault with Almighty God when he proceeds in the same Method? For alas, It is not Anger, nor Re­venge, nor Injustice, or Cruelty, nor any De­sign of Tormenting us, that puts him upon these Courses; but he acts with all the Skill and prudent Care of a Physician, with the Faithfulness and Tenderness of a Friend, with the Bowels of a Father, with the kindest Intenti­ons of our greater Benefit, and, to say all in one Word, with all that incomprehensible Love and Goodness which is any way agreeable to the Nature and Perfections of a God.

Now the Remedies he administers upon such Occasions, are divers: Some he humbles with Diseases, or Poverty, or Disgrace; some with the more publick Calamities of Famines, or Earthquakes, or Inundations, or Shipwracks, or Wars; some he cures with such Medicines as come immediately from his own Hand, and [Page 136] others by more remote and distant ones, making Men the Ministers of his Justice, and Instru­ments of punishing one another. But still, if Physick and the Methods of Cure be not Evil, but Good, all these and all other Remedies must be allowed to be so too, notwithstanding any Uneasiness that we may feel in the Operation.

If any one shall scruple the calling of these Things Good, because they are not eligible purely for their own sakes, (as all Things ab­solutely, and truly Good must be) yet at least let him forbear stigmatizing them with the Name of Evils, and rather call them necessary Expedients, for the attaining what is truly Good. In Order to which, and for the sake whereof, we chuse these, because that other is not to be had without them. For there is no Man so sottish and senseless, as to chuse Ampu­tations and Searings, or any such violent Reme­dies, for their own sakes; but yet we do it from our Desire of Health, which these means must be assisting to us in. And indeed, the Philosophers have with great Propriety styled all those Things necessary Expedients, which are so ordered, as to be preliminary to our Good, and such as we must make use of for it. These very Things then, so far as they con­duce to our Good, and in that respect, are themselves Good, some as they contribute to the Health of the Body, and others to that of the Soul, though indeed they be so in a Quali­fied Sense only, and much inferiour in Dignity and Value to those T [...]ings that are absolutely Good. And it is with regard to these more excellent Things, that the Generality of People [Page 137] look upon them, and so think them compara­tively Evil, which yet, surely, is a Censure too Severe to be justified, if they do not only Contribute, but are Necessary to our Happi­ness.

If then the Objector's Arguments are suffici­ently refuted; in that all Things that happen are so ordained of God, as that Nature and Choice have both their due, and as is most be­neficial to Mankind; every Wise Man certain­ly will think himself obliged to be well content Things should be just as they are, (unless you will suppose him to envy the Giving every Thing its Due, and the Recovering such as are Di­stempered, and need sharp Remedies,) he will most sincerely love and honour, and adore this Excellent Physician, and look upon him as the World's great and only Benefactor.

Now that Calamitous Circumstances are a sort of Remedies, and that the Administration of proper Physick, where the case requires it, is good both to the Body and Soul, no Body I presume will take upon them to dispute. But what course shall we take to perswade Men, that this very Distemper it self of Soul or Bo­dy, this miserable Condition that renders such painsul Applications necessary, is Good and not Evil, and that the Author of it is not the Cause of Evil to us?

To this purpose I shall briefly recollect what was observed before, That Diseases are not E­vil to the Body it self, as being by Nature made subject to them, and tending to a dissolution of the Compound, Resolving each of its Parts, and Restoring the Simple Elements to their pro­per [Page 138] Masses; the Releasing them from a strange place where they were kept in Bondage, and putting an end to the perpetual Combat of op­posite Qualities among them. Neither can the Disease of the Body be Evil to the Soul, for it hath been already shewn to be its Physick, and its Cure: And thus Experience often shews it to be. But granted that Sickness and Corrup­tion were injurious to one particular Body, yet still it appears to be for the advantage of the Soul that owns that Body, and to the Constitu­tion of the Universe in general, of the Elements of which it is formed, and the infinite R [...]volu­tions of Matter and Motion, which are there­fore Infinite, because the Destroying of one thing, becomes the Production of another. Well therefore may the wise Governour of all things, not value a Creature which was by Na­ture corruptible; and a particular inconside­rable Corruption, confined to a single instance, when the whole Creation is benefited, and the Better Ends are served, and the Eternal Re­volution of Things are continued and kept up by this means.

But perhaps you will say, though all this should be admitted with regard to the Body, yet what shall we account for the Diseases of the Soul? The frail and distempered State she is in, can neither be for the good of her self that languishes under it, nor does it contribute any Advantage to the Creation in common. So that the Author and Ordainer of this state, must needs be the Cause of Evil to her; and he that is content she should be thus deprived, and se [...]s and suffers her Sicknesses, must needs [Page 139] be an Ill-natur'd Being; and therefore as to this particular, the Difficulty remains still the same.

Now in answer to this Scruple, I beg leave to refresh your Memory, with what was dis­coursed before concerning the Cause of Evil and Vice to the Soul; while we were explain­ing Epictetus's Distinction between what is, and what is not in our own power; viz. That the Good and Happiness of the Soul, consists in Prudent Regular Desires and Aversions; and that the E­vil and Misery of it proceeds from such as are Vicious and Exorbitant. Now I hope the De­sires and Aversions have been sufficiently proved to be in our own Disposal; and if so, then we our selves are the Cause of our own Vices and Virtues. This is the true ground of all that Commendation which is thought due to Good Men; that their Happiness and Excellence is the Effect of their own free Choice; for which reason, the Greeks call Virtue by a Name which bears some Affinity to that which imports Choosing. And for the same Reason, Wicked Men are Condemned and Reproached, because they are such through their own Sloath and Baseness of Soul, when it was in their own power to be otherwise. But now, if these Mat­ters proceeded from any External Causes, this Virtue or Vice would be no longer Choice, but blind Chance, or fatal Necessity. And conse­quently our Evil and Misery can with no colou [...] of Reason and Justice be charged upon Almigh­ty God.

May we not indeed drive this Argument a great deal farther, and urge, that even Vice, [Page 140] which is properly the Disease of the Soul, is not positively and in all respects Evil; but is it self in some degree necessary to the very Be­ing of Virtue among Men? For, as our Bodies, if Nature had not made them capable of Sick­ness and Infirmities, could not properly be said at any time to enjoy a state of Health, because in truth, this would not be Health, but a sim­ple and fix'd Disposition, above the power of Frailties and Diseases, such as the Celestial Be­ings enjoy: So the Virtues proper to Humane Souls, such as Temperance, and Justice, and Prudence, and all the rest of that Glorious Ca­talogue, would be no such thing, unless the Soul were of such a Nature as is liable to be depraved. For at this rate she would be graced not with the Virtues of a Man, but with the Perfections of an Angel or a God; whose pe­culiar Excellence it is, that they can never be seduced, or deviate into Vice: But is rooted in the very Nature of Men, and Humane Virtues, that they may degenerate, and be corrupted.

If then Human Virtues in the Soul, and if the Health of the Body, though neither of them absolutely Uniform and Inflexible, be yet Good; and if the Order of Nature required, that be­side the First, Simple and Fix'd Beings, others of a Middle and of Inferior Nature, should de­rive themselves from the great Original and common Source of all Good; then there was likewise a necessity that there should be Depra­vations of such good things as are subject to be Depraved, which have not any positive and absolute Existence of their own, but only a sort of additional one, cast in to those that have.

[Page 141] And in this, the exceeding Goodness of God is very remarkable, that he hath ordained the Dissolution of the Body, which as I said, does as necessarily follow upon Matter and Motion, as the Shadow attends upon its Substance; this Dissolution he hath made even a good thing, both with regard to the Bodies so Diseased and Dissolved, as they are restored back again to their Primitive Elements; and so the Simples out of which they are compounded, are renewed, and with regard to the Souls that own and use them, as they are cured and made better by this Means; and also to the Universe in common, by reason of that infinite Succession of Changes and Motions which these Dissolutions, as I shew­ed before, keep continually on Foot. But as for Vice, the Evil of the Soul, and indeed the only thing which, when well considered, proves to be Evil, of this he utterly acquits himself, and hath no part in it at all: First, Because he only permits to it an Additional and Acciden­tal Being, and that not in the quality of Evil neither, but as being it self a necessary Expe­dient for the promoting of Good: And Se­condly, Because even after all these Limitations, it depends wholly upon the Choice and Deter­mination of the Soul, and can have no being at all, without our own Consent and actual Con­currence. For which Reason it is, that all the Laws both of God and Man, suffer such A­ctions as are done involuntary, to go unpu­nished.

And indeed, all Evil whatsoever, is in some Sense an involuntary Misfortune to the Soul; for the Soul never chooses Evil, considered as [Page 142] Evil, but under the Desire and Pretence of some Good; as sometimes Riches, sometimes Sen­fual Enjoyments, or Honours, or Proferments, and Greatness. Now in such Cases, the Mis­chiefs attending these, are either wholly over­looked, or else they are lessened and stifled by that prevalency of Passion which bribes and sways the Soul: So that there cannot possibly be any such thing in nature, as an Absolute E­vil, when considered in all the Circumstances of it. And that which never had any Being, may sooner be, than that even this Accidental Being in the Soul, should be entirely Evil, and chosen as such.

Some perhaps may imagine, that God is the Cause of Evil, as having given the Soul this Freedom to Virtue or Vice, to the ill Manage­ment whereof, that Evil is owing: Now in­deed, if the Soul's being indued with a Faculty of acting freely and absolutely be Evil, then he who gave this Faculty, must be confessed the Cause of Evils: But if such a Power be Good, a greater and more valuable Good, than all the Advantages of the World besides; why then should he who hath given us the Good, be for so doing, charged with the Evil? Since there­fore, that which is most agreeable to our Na­ture and Reason, is also most eligible and de­sirable, what account can be given why any one that is a Man, and understands at all where­in the peculiar Excellence of a Man consists, should rather wish to be a Plant, or any other Irrational Creature, than that which God hath made him? Though at the same time we must allow, that even Plants, and other Irrational [Page 143] Beings, are Good in their Kind and Capacity, that is in a lower Degree, and a qualified Sense, and in proportion to the Uses they are designed to serve.

Now, if it be in our own power to be Good and Happy, and we have the sole Disposal of this Matter, so that nothing can possibly bring our Desires or our Aversions under any Com­pulsion to act as we would not have them, or under any Restraint, not to act as we would have them; such a Free Nature, and Absolute Power as this, is (in my Opinion,) a Glorious Priviledge, a most Magnificent and Royal Pre­rogative; and the Person in whom it is lodged, is thereby made a Great, a Happy, an Arbitra­ry Prince. But if such a Soul contribute to its own Deviations, and can choose whether it will so deviate or no; where can any Miscar­riage of that kind be laid, with any tolerable Justice, but to the charge of the Soul it self; which is the true Original and Cause both of its own Good, and of all the Deflexions from it, since in and by it such Deflexions first began? For the Great Creator, who hath thus made it, so as to be the Cause of its own Ruin, did not absolutely ruin it, but only made it capable of being ruined; and yet at the same time too, utterly incapable of it, without her own Con­sent. If therefore this Volition or Consent, be an internal Motion of her own, she is the sole Cause of her own Sin and Misery.

Behold therefore the Goodness and the Wis­dom of God! For since the Constitution of the World, and Order of Nature, made a middle sort of Beings necessary, that should stand be­tween [Page 144] those that are always above, and those that are always below; things that should bear a Resemblance, and be conformed sometimes to one, and sometimes to the other of these Be­ings, and thus make the whole perfect, by par­taking of, and knitting together the distant Extremes. Since also this tendency to things below us, is but an accidental and additional thing, and this Prudence is the very thing capable of Depravation, he hath endued this middle sort of Beings with such a Tendency, yet so as that it may still remain Untainted and Undepraved; if it will do so, and that he himself might be clear upon all Accounts, and in no degree the Cause of any manner of Evil.

These Arguments I have insisted on the more largely, not only because they are proper for the explaining what Epictetus have delivered up­on this occasion, but also in regard they give us a great light into what he tells us after­wards concerning the Nature of Evil. For we might have made very short work of the Case now before us, and needed only have given this Answer to all the Objections, that when Epictetus advises Men to be well pleased Things should be just as they are, he does not intend it of Vice, or that which is Evil to the Soul; (for he could never have said, that Men who are pleased with their own, or other People's Vices, are easie and happy,) but that we must restrain it to those Accidents that affect our Bo­dies or our Fortunes. For these are things that a Wise and Good Man will be sure to make an Advantage of, however they are ordered; and the more Cross and Difficult they are, the [Page 145] more still will he profit by them. And these are the things he means, which foolish and ig­norant Men wish may be conformable to their own Wishes and Desires; and not the Desires and Aversions themselves in which all our Good and Evil consists. For they are in our own power, just what we please to make them, and consequently it were most absurd and foolish, to wish they were as we would have them. But he advises, that we would forbear wishing thus of Things out of our power; because this is what we cannot compass by any strength of our own, nor would it always prove for our Advantage to do it if we could: For we often are passionately desirous of what is pleasant, though at the same time it be prejudicial to us; and as often decline what is harsh and unpa­latable, though Providence intend it for Phy­sick, and design our mighty Benefit in the ap­plication.

Sickness is a Hindrance to the Body, but it does not enfeeble the Mind, nor can it obstruct her Freedom, unless she please her self: And Lameness is a Confinement to the Foot, but it can put no Restraint upon the Will, nor make that one jot the less Active. And the same Consideration is applicable in proportion to every Accident of Humane Life. For you will find, that though these may prove Ob­structions to something else, yet they cannot, or need not ever be so to you.

He had told us immediately before, that the Way to live Easie and Happy, was for a Man [Page 146] not to wish that things might be just as he would have them, but to be well pleased, that they should be just as they are: And now he proves the Argument intended, to be deduced from thence; which is, That all outward Mis­fortunes, are to be entertained with Temper and Moderation; and not only so, but he re­moves (as I conceive) an Objection that might be raised against it.

The Argument it self, seems to me to lye thus: If those Calamities that happen in our Fortunes, or from any External Causes, were properly Ours, yet even upon this Supposi­tion, we ought to suffer them with great Pa­tience and Resignation, though they were much more Disastrous than really they are; when it is remembred, that even these are for our Advantage. But if they be not indeed ours, but each of them terminates in something else, and cannot extend to us, then it would be the last degree of Folly, to be disturbed at the Mis­fortunes which are none of our own. Sickness he says, is a Hindrance to the Body; and he says very well, that it is a Hindrance only, not an Evil. For we have seen already, that nei­ther the Diseases, nor the Dissolution of the Body is Evil; but all that it does, is only to put a stop to its Operations, as Lameness likewise does, which was Epictetus's own Infirmity; so that he does not speak to us now in a Formal Speculative way, but from his own Practice and Experience. Thus Lameness is an Obstruction to the Parts affected, and Poverty is so to a Man's Expences and way of Living; but nei­ther the one nor the other, is so to the Will [Page 147] and the Mind, unless they voluntarily submit to be obstructed by it. I confess if the Body, or the Foot, or our Estates were our very Es­sence and Nature, then these Hindrances would be truly and properly ours; but since we sub­sist in none of them, none but the Rational Soul only is our selves; since our Bodies are no more than Instruments by which we act, and our Pos­sessions only Conveniences for ministring to our necessary Occasions; and since all our Good and Evil depends upon the Choice of our own Mind, and consequently cannot be restrained or obstructed by them, it is evident that we our selves are not hindred by these things neither: For no outward Accident whatever, can put any Confinement upon us, but only upon some­thing else, something which we are not. And therefore we must not suffer our selves to be disordered at these Misfortunes, as if they were our own; because by this means, we shall fall into an Evil, that is properly ours, upon the account of something that is not so: For Dis­content, and a Disturbance of the Mind, are truly our own Evils. This I take to be the Force and Connexion of his Argument.

But besides this, he removes at the same time, an Objection, drawn as the Rhetoricians use to term it, Ab Utili, from the point of Advan­tage and Convenience. For it may be said up­on this Occasion, that Sickness and Poverty cannot possibly be for our Benefit; for how is it possible that a Diseased Man should perform all the Functions of Nature as he ought? or how can we deny, that a Man when reduced to ex­tream Poverty, is under an absolute Constraint [Page 148] to bend all his Care and Pains to the relief of his Wants, and furnishing himself with neces­sary Supports? This Objection now he takes off, by shewing, that Sickness, and Poverty, and all Hardships and Inconveniences of that kind, put the Will under no Consinement at all, and that in this free Principle it is, that the very Being of Men consists; and all their Good and Evil depends entirely upon it. For how is the Sick Man tied up from choosing and desiring such things as are Vertuous and Rea­sonable, and hating and declining the contrary? Or what violence can the Extreamest Poverty put upon a Man, which shall be able to compel him to act contrary to the principles of Ho­nesty and Honour? Were not Diogenes, and Crates, and Zeno in these Circumstances? And did they ever shew themselves more truly Phi­losophers? Did they ever give more Illustrious Proofs of Virtue and Greatness of Soul, of Contentment and Satisfaction, and even of A­bundance in the slenderest Fortune, than when they chose to forego their Plenty, and thought it Wisdom to exchange that for Want, and no Possessions of their own at all? And indeed, who is there so Blind and Brutish, but would be pleased and proud to sustain such a Man in his Necessities, and think his Liberality a greater Obligation and Honour to himself, than to the Receiver?

But what need we go so far for Examples of this kind, when even Epictetus himself that makes this Declaration, was so eminent an instance of it? As to his Fortune and Condition, he was a Slave, Infirm in his Body, Lame from a Child, [Page 149] and one that was so much exercised with Po­verty, and made it so much his Choice, that his little Cottage at Rome, was not thought worth a Lock or a Bolt; for alas! there was no Temptation within, nothing but a course Co­verlet, and a hard Mattrice upon which he lay. And yet this is the very Man, that tells us Lameness may obstruct the Feet, but the Mind it cannot, except we please to let it. Thus you see, he did not make it his Business, as a great many do, to say fine things, and entertain his Readers with sublime and airy Speculations, but made the Experiment himself, and speaks from his own Knowledge and Practice. And for this Reason his Discourses are the more valuable, for they manifest a truly Great Soul in himself, and will make the deeper Impression upon all o­thers whose Minds are well disposed.

CHAP. XIV.

Ʋpon every fresh Accident, turn your Eyes in­ward; and examine how you are qualified to encounter it. If you see any very Beau­tiful Person, you will find Continence to oppose against the Temptation. If Labour and Difficulty come in your way, you will find a Remedy in Hardiness and Resolu­tion. If you lye under the obloquy of an Ill Tongue, Patience and Meekness are the proper Fence against it. And thus if you do but prepare and use your self by degrees, no Accident whatever will be able to surprise or subdue you.

COMMENT.

AFter having advanced some strange sublime Notions, and required Men to do that which the generality of the World will be sure to think Romantick and Impossible; as for Ex­ample, to slight the Diseases of the Body, as no Evil of ours; and to be well pleased, let our Circumstances be what they will, that things should go just as they do; never to suffer ones self either to be caught with the Bait of Sen­sual or Worldly Pleasure; or to be dejected with any outward Calamities: It is but rea­sonable, that he should apply himself in the next place, to shew that these are Transactions [Page 151] not above the Powers of Humane Nature, and that he enjoyns us nothing but what we are ca­pable of discharging.

To this purpose he proves, that the Great Creator to whom the Soul of Man owes its Being, was pleased to give it such a Frame and Temper, that it should not be constantly determined to Sublime and Heavenly things, nor always dwell above, as the Blessed Spirits, the Angels, and those other of a Divine and still more Excellent Nature do, but hath order­ed the Matter so, that this should sometimes be degraded to a State of Matter, and Motion, and Mortality; be joyned to the Body, and converse with Frail and Corruptible things. But though he hath subjected the Soul to these Hazards and Tryals, yet he hath endued her with particular Faculties and Powers suitable to each occasion; by means whereof, she may both engage with all the Accidents that can assault her, and come off without Loss; nay, and vanquish, and keep them under too.

Against such as tempt us with an Appearance of Pleasure, he proposes Continence; (and this he rather chose to mention, than those higher Degrees of absolute Chastity and Temperance; in consideration, that the Persons now addrest to, are but Imperfect and Young Proficients in Virtue.) Now these Objects stir the Passi­ons up to Rebellion, and beget a Combat between Reason and them; but by Disci­pline, and a strict hand over ones self, they are subdued and reduced to Obedience again. And this is a true Description of that which we properly call a Continent Life; as on the [Page 152] contrary, that Man is properly said to be In­continent, whose Reason is impotent; and tho it may struggle for a while, yet yields at last to the stronger Insults of Passion. But now in Persons who have attained to the Perfection of Wisdom and Virtue, the Passions and Appetites (which as I hinted before, are the Child to be trained up in every one of our Minds) are in absolute Subjection to Reason, without any Dispute or Mutiny at all; so that they are mo­ved and directed entirely towards such Objects, and at such Times, and in such Measures as this sees fit to prescribe to them. And this is truly Temperance, which the Greeks call [...], as being that which secures the Reason, and pre­serves the Government and Prerogative of the intelligent Part in us. For when this is brought under, and distracted by Passion, the Mind is torn in pieces, and destroyed. But while it maintains its own Superiority over the Affecti­ons, it continues vigorous and sound.

So again, to Persons that are Masters in Phi­losophy, Fortitude is always a present Security against all Difficulty and Pain; it keeps the ve­ry Out-guards of the Soul, and suffers nothing of this kind to get the least Footing there, but perseveres without any Perplexity or Distur­bance, and looks upon all the Hardships that come in its Way, as so many Tryals to exer­cise it. But the Proficients, who are less expert, must be content with Hardiness and Resolution, such as may maintain its Post, and make a gal­lant Resistance, and prevent the Sinkings of the Soul, by enabling it to continue the Fight, and ward against the Blows when Trouble and Pains assault it.

[Page 153] For, a constant and vigorous Opposition, and hardening ones self against Difficulties, will conquer all our E [...]eminancy and Passion, and make Reason and Virtue triumphant: and by such Conquests frequently gained, and prudent­ly managed, our Passions will be used to the Yoke, submit to Discipline, and obey without Reluctancy. And when a Man hath brought himself to this Pass, there will be no farther Trouble to exercise his Patience. He is now a­bove it all; for he neither desires any Thing that is capable of giving him Disappointment, nor does he make any Thing his Aversion that can overtake him whether he will or no; and con­sequently, can have no Trouble and Pain, which always must proceed from one of these Causes.

Against Scandal and an Ill Tongue, he tells us we shall find our best Defence in Meekness. For in truth, Scandal, in its own Nature, hath nothing that can afflict us; and all that uses to do so, is not what is said, but the Judgments and Reflections we pass upon it; which we ever aggravate to our selves, according as we are blown up with Vanity, or transported with Anger. For all that Scandal can do without this, is only to make us condemn the Defamer. And for the proceeding regularly in this Con­demnation, without Heat or Prejudice, we shall do well to consider, wherein the Defamer is really to blame; and that it is upon one of these two Accounts; that he slanders and asper­ses us either falsly, or out of Malice. Now the Scandal it self may very well be born with, because it is not capable of doing us any real [Page 154] Injury; and so, in truth, may the Party that raises or spreads it too, when we consider, that the Injury is done not to Us, but Himself; for so it is, in reality, when his own Mind is the Sufferer, by doing an ill and a base Thing. Nay, if this be too little, we may consider far­ther, that Scandal is always capable of being made an Advantage to us. It is manifestly so when false; and when it is true, we gain this by it, That it discovers our own Faults and Failings, and either shews us something we did not know before, or which though we did know, yet we were apt to indulge, upon a Presumpti­on, that no Body knew it but our selves. And this very Consideration is of great Importance, to restrain young Proficients in Virtue. For such, tho they are not come up to that noble Principle of practising Virtue for its own sake, will yet give check to many exorbitant Passions, and abstain from gross Evils, out of Shame and Tenderness to their own Reputation. And indeed, this must be said in behalf of Ambition, and a De­sire of Praise, that though it be a Passion it self, yet it is of excellent Use for the modera­ting and correcting all the rest. For this Rea­son, it hath been called, by a pertinent Allusion, the Shirt of the Passions: Because it sits closest to the Soul; and when the Mind hath by the help of this put off all other Passions, it divests it self of this last of all, that so it may come to Virtue naked, and stripp'd of all its former Prejudices and Incumbrances.

For this Reason (says Epictetus) we must not suffer our selves to be surprised, or over-born [Page 155] by any Accident, that would engage our Minds, and draw them off to any External Advan­tages or Calamities; so as that we should be discomposed with any false Idea's of its being Good or Evil. Nor must we give too great a Scope to our Desires and our Aversions, nor let them be too hasty in their Motions, but call up the Powers within us to our Assi­stance; and when we have found which are the Succours proper for each Circumstance, to rally them together, and enter the Lists with Resolution, and ward off every Acci­dent accordingly.

CHAP. XV.

Never use your self to say, upon any Occasion, That you have lost any thing, but restored it. If your Wife or your Child dye, you have returned them to the Owner. If your Estate be taken from you, this too is paid back to the Giver. But you'll say, he was a Knave that defrauded me of it. Alas! what's that to the Purpose? or how does it concern you, by what Means, or what Hand, he that gave it resume it to himself? Trou­ble not your self therefore about these Mat­ters, but while he permits the Enjoyment, use it as a Thing that is not your own, but anothers; and let your Concern and Affe­ction for it, be just such as Travellers have for an Inn upon the Road.

COMMENT.

HE had instructed us before in the Nature of External Accidents and Advantages; which of them we might prosecute, and how far, and by what Methods we are allowed to do it; how we should entertain both our prosperous and pleasant, and our adverse and less grateful For­tunes; and what Improvement is to be made of each of them: and here he comes to speak of the Loss of any Advantages we have, and directs us, not only how to enjoy, but how to part [Page 157] with them too. Now every Man, who loses what he esteems his own, must needs apprehend himself injured, and naturally flies out, not on­ly into Excess of Grief for his Loss, but into reproachful Language against those that depri­ved him of it: But he who restores upon De­mand what he knew and considered was none of his own, must be the senslessest Fool in the World to be troubled at its being taken away from him, or to fall foul upon the Proprietor that requires it. This then is our Case direct­ly. The World, and its Enjoyments, are not Ours; and for that Reason, not within the Command and Disposal of our own Wills; and nothing indeed is properly so, but our Desires and Aversions, and the Inclinations of our own Minds; and all our Virtue and Vice, all our Happiness and Misery, do depend upon these. So that we should always keep our Minds strong­ly possest with this Consideration, and be affect­ed accordingly to every Thing without us, as that in which we have no Propriety at all. And the way to keep our Minds thus possest, and thus affected, is, not only to say so, and con­tent our selves with Verbal Distinctions, but to shew it in our Practice, and behave our selves like Men who are convinced they have no Title to them.

Suppose then, upon the Death of a Child, that a Man gives himself over to Tears and Groans, deplores his Misfortune, and complains of his Loss; is it not evident, that this Man, while his Son lived, look'd upon him as strict­ly, and by Right his own? If it were not so, with what Pretence does he call this being taken [Page 158] away a Loss, or resent it so deeply? And a Man that does thus, 'tis plain, would go farther too, if he could, and revenge the Injury he fancies he hath received, upon the Person that took him away, if it were in his Power. But the Man that considers this Child as one in whom he had not any absolute Propriety, and that Death hath only paid him back to the Per­son that lent him, will neither afflict himself upon the Occasion, nor accuse the Owner that demanded him again.

And here the Artifice of Epictetus is very ob­servable; for he instructs us not only to adapt our Words to our Thoughts, and correct our Expressions by more just Apprehensions of Things; but contrives, that even our Expres­sions may rectifie our Notions. For to this purpose, he says, it is necessary that we speak of the Enjoyments of the World in such Terms as may not flatter us with any Imaginations of Property in them, but such as may wean our Affections, and make them sit loose about us; that so from calling and t [...]inking them anothers, and not our own, we may bring our selves to use them as such.

And, since nothing adds more to our Tender­ness for any thing, than the Care and Concern we are in about it, he advises us to moderate these, and to bestow only so much upon them as we think worth our while to lay out upon that which is another Man's. Some regard in­deed must be had to them, nor may we so ne­glect them, as to give our selves up to Supine­ness and Sloth; but yet we must not so six our Hearts or our Endeavours upon them neither, [Page 159] as if they were our own, and that which is ne­ver to be taken away from us. And therefore all the Concern allowed us in this Case, is only that of Travellers in an Inn; who consider that they are not at home, and that their Stay is like to be very short; and are sollicious for no­thing farther, than only to get the best Conve­niences the Place will afford, and be satisfied with what they can get, for the little Time they do stay.

For this Reason, he hath added very conve­niently, while he permits us the Enjoyment, to put us continually in Remembrance, that all our Enjoyments are upon Sufferance, the Effect of a permissive Providence, what we cannot give our selves, but derive from the Bounty of ano­ther, and that no other than the very Person that takes them away from us.

And, because some People are apt to aggra­vate their Misfortunes, by tragical Accounts of the Circumstances that attend them, and the Manner of their being deprived of their Com­forts. As, if I must lose my Estate, yet what need was there of losing it by so much Trea­chery, or Injustice, or Ingratitude? Or, if my Child or my Wife had died of a natural or a lingring Death, a Fever, or a Consumption, I could have supported it; but to be snatch'd away all on the sudden, to dye a violent, an un­timely, or a scandalous Death; or to be rack'd with Tortures and strong Convulsions, this is a dismal and an intolerable Affliction. Now all these Complaints savour of Discontent, and at the bottom are not a finding Fault with the Manner, but the Thing it self. For, as we [Page 160] could not prescribe to our Great Benefactor the Methods or the Instruments by which he be­stowed them upon us, so neither must we find Fault with those by which he recalls them; and it is but fit, that he who gave as he pleased, should take away as he pleases too.

We may take Notice farther, that Epictetus chooses to instance in the tenderest Points, the Death of a Wife or a Child; because these sit closest to our Hearts; and any other Losses, if compared to these, are no more than every vulgar Virtue can sustain and flight. But still, as he told us before, and will do again in the following Discourses, we shall do well to begin with lesser Tryals, and by rendring them fa­miliar and easie, harden our selves by Degrees against sharper and greater. The same Rule therefore holds much stronger, and is more pra­cticable, when any one hath taken my Purse, or spirited away my Servant, or defrauded me of my House, or my Estate, to say, (and we may say it with as great Truth in these Cases too) I have not lost these Things, but restored them to the Owner, and Lender of them to me.

CHAP. XVI, XVII.

If you are indeed desirous to improve in Wis­dom and Virtue, you must never allow your self in such mean Thoughts as these; I must follow the Business of my Calling close, or else I and my Family shall starve: I must take Pains with this Boy of mine, and cha­stise him, or he will be ruined. These are the Misgivings of an anxious Mind, and unworthy a Philosopher, whose first Care should be the Ease and Quiet of his own Breast. For a Man had better perish for Hunger, and preserve his Mind from immo­derate Fear and Concern, than to live in the greatest Plenty, and continual Perplexi­ty with it. And it were a less Evil for you, that your Servant or your Child were Vicious, than that your self should be perpe­tually unhappy with an anxious Care to pre­vent it.

Use your self therefore to little Tryals first: If a Cruise of Oyl be broken, or a Pint of your Wine stolen, reflect immediately, that this is the Purchase of Constancy and a composed Mind; and since nothing can be had Free-cost, he that gets these so cheap hath a good Bargain. So again, When you call your Servant, consider, that it is possi­ble he may not attend to you; or if he do, [Page 162] that he may not do what you command him. And it is too great an Advantage that you give him over your self, if you put it in his Power, whether your Mind shall be easie or no.

COMMENT.

UPon the Advice last given, that the Things of this World are what we ought not to think we have any Propriety in, or should be any farther sollicitous about them, than Travel­lers are to accomodate themselves in an Inn; It might very probably be objected; That this Contempt of the World will expose us to vast Inconveniences. For at this rate, says one, if I neglect the looking after my Estate, I shall reduce my self to Want and Beggary; and if for the avoiding this Anxiety, which you so strictly forbid, I omit the chiding and correct­ing my Servant, I shall be accessory to his ut­ter Ruin. In Answer to both these, he insists upon that eminent Distinction in the Beginning of his Book, by which he had proved, That all our Good and Evil, truly so called, depends entirely upon the Use of our Natural Liberty, and such Things as are within the Compass of our own Choice; and that no Condition either of our Bodies, or our Fortunes, can make Men truly Happy or Miserable.

But at present he addresses himself principal­ly, to such as are in a State of Proficiency, and have not yet attained to such a Mastery in Wisdom, as should qualifie them to attend to [Page 163] the cultivating their own Minds, and the Ma­nagement of their Worldly Concerns both ar once, in so prudent a manner, that these Cares should not be prejudicial to one another, or unsafe for the Person himself. For this is the peculiar Perfection of accomplished Philosophers, that they ride secure, and fear no Storms from those brutish Appetites, which they have abso­lutely subdued: Nor is there any Danger if they do look abroad into the World sometimes, and give themselves a little loose, that their Affe­ctions should be seduced and perverted by any thing they meet with there, or the Peace and Tranquillity of their Souls at all disturbed up­on that Account. These Men stand firm, and collected within themselves, and whatever Con­fusion they meet in the World, they manage and compose it all by the fix'd standing Order of their own Minds. But where the Passions run high, and are still upon the Ferment, there it is dangerous to engage a Man's self in Busi­ness at all, or be the least taken off from the best and severest Studies. For there is a won­derful Affinity between the World and the brutish Inclinations; and these not being yet duly tempered, nor reduced to the Obedience of Reason, drag [...] down the Mind, and utterly immerse it in Cares and Pleasures, and like a Ship without Rudder or Pilot, will drive a wild and fatal Course, till at last she strand her self, and all be lost.

But in the mean while, what Course shall this Young Proficient take? For Necessaries he must have; and 'tis to no Purpose to give him Rules of Living, if you put it out of his Power [Page 164] to live at all. To this Difficulty, Epictetus, if he had pleased, might have replied, That a great part of the Prejudice a Man's Fortunes would receive from neglecting and despising the World, would be made amends for, by the strict Temperance, and Abstemious Life of a true Philosopher; the easie Contentment and confined Desires, that are an essential part of his Character. But, if this Remedy be not granted a sufficient Cure for the Disease, yet at least it may fairly be presumed, that there are People enough who would preserve such a Man from perishing. Such a one, I say, whose Wants and Wishes will be so easily supplied, and who must needs attract Love and Esteem, when he neglects and scorns the World for the Exercise of Virtue, and the Improvement of his own Mind. This Reply, I say, Epictetus might have made; and the Reason of the Thing would have born him out in it. But he passes such Comforts over, as too effeminate and indulgent, such as were likely to enervate our Virtue, and sully its Brightness; and therefore, as if it were a Blemish and a Disparagement for a Wise and Good Man to stand in any need at all of any thing without, he runs the Comparison up to the highest and boldest Extreme, and pronoun­ces peremptorily, That a Man had better dye for Want, and preserve his Mind from immo­derate Fear and Concern, and by that means at­tain to the peculiar Perfection of his Nature, than to live in continual Perplexity, though he had the greatest Plenty with it, which can ne­ver give him that Perfection. For what does all this World signifie to a vicious and a disor­dered [Page 165] Mind, and one that in truth receives more hurt than good from the Enjoyments of it? Just as sumptuous Entertainments, and rich Sauces gratify a Sick Man, who either cannot relish, or must not taste them; or if he do, is sure to nourish not himself, but his Di­sease.

So again, it were a less Evil, he says, for you, that your Servant or your Child were Vi­cious, than that you your self should be perpe­tually unhappy, with an Anxious Care to pre­vent it. If indeed Matters could be so order­ed, that you could preserve him and your self both, and attend to what is necessary for each of you, without Distraction, this were much more eligible. But this can never be, for Two Reasons; First, Because a Man void of Wisdom and Virtue himself, will never be able to make another Virtuous and Wise; and then, because that by this inordinate Concern, you do him no manner of Good, but your self in the mean while, an infinite deal of Hurt. So that in such a case the best course we can take, is to let the Incorrigible Wretch alone in his Wicked­ness, and not discompose our selves, but take care at least to save one.

But when he had proposed the highest pitch of Resolution, and advised rather to choose Po­verty and Death with Wisdom and Virtue, than Plenty and Sollicitude without them; and if a Man be driven to that hard Necessity, ra­ther to overlook the Vice and Ruin of one un­der his Care, than to lose his own Happiness, and undo himself, by trying to preserve an­other; to shew that Men must be wound up [Page 166] to this pitch by degrees, and that he had a just regard to the Abilicies of his Scholar, he advises them here to begin with less and gent­ler Tryals, and such as the Condition of Young Beginners are capable of. For Exercise and Practice in Matters of less Moment and Diffi­culty, is a safe and a successful Method; but when such things are look'd upon with Dis­dain, and below ones Notice, and a Man scorns the instances hereof, his Oyl being spilled, or his Wine stolen, and will needs fly at all, and attempt great Hardships at first, he will fall under this double inconvenience; neither to be a Match for what he encounters, as having not made his way up to it gradually, nor to re­ceive that Benefit and Advantage that he might have done from those others; which, had he not slighted them, would have qualified him for the Combat he hath lost for want of them. For let us imagine that a Man without any preparation, or previous practice in Matters of less consequence, would needs all upon the spurt, take upon him to rival Crates, and divest him­self of all his Possessions at once; how is it possible that this Person should not immediate­ly repent, and condemn himself, and wish Ten Thousand times, that the thing were undone, and he in his former Circumstances again? For though Crates himself, or Diogenes, or Zeno, or some other Eminent Philosopher, may perhaps have made a sudden turn, and brought them­selves to extream Strictness, and Virtue, and voluntary Poverty, without such leisurely ad­vances, yet still this is a thing that very rarely happens; and that which is extraordinary, is [Page 167] no rule for us to follow; especially too, when we consider, that these were themselves very extraordinary Persons, and consequently no proper Measure for others that are but of the common rate of Men to govern themselves by.

And after he had directed us how to make greater Losses and Misfortunes in our Estates, easie and familiar to us, by First despising those that are small and inconsiderable, for the im­provement and confirmation of our Virtue; he instructs us which way to get above all the Dis­composure and Passion that the Negligence, or the Sauciness of our Servants, may be apt to cast us into. For he tells us, we ought be­fore-hand to represent to our selves, that it is very possible your Servant may not give his At­tendance when called upon; or that if he an­swer to your Call, he may not observe your Commands: And that we should settle our Minds not to give him so great Advantage over us, as the putting us into Disorder would be. And this settling our Minds, is very considerable, in that the Inconvenience is in a great measure defeated, by being foreseen. For it is the sud­denness of an Accident, that is most apt to con­found young Proficients; this breaks their Mea­sures, puts them out of their Biass, and beats them from their Posts. But Premeditation keeps the Mind firm and cool, it preserves our Thoughts, and gives us the power and leisure to recollect; and by Use and Custom, prepares and arms the Mind against all those things which our Hopes and Imaginations represent most difficult and insupportable.

[Page 168] Now what a mighty Advantage this Prepa­ration is, and how much better we entertain any Accident, when we are not surprised, eve­ry Man's own Consideration and Experience will inform him. Nor is this the case of Mis­fortunes only, but even of Pleasures and Good Fortune too, when they come upon us unex­pected. Afflictions immediately overturn our Thoughts, and cramp up the Faculties of Rea­son, and put both Body and Soul out of Tem­per; and Pleasures and Good Fortune, when sudden and surprising, scatter and dissolve them, and enervate both Body and Mind. From whence it comes to pass, that these Causes, though so very distant in themselves, are yet attended with the same Effects; and the same Symptoms plainly prove the Disease to be the same. For an Excess either of Joy or Grief, shocks the Constitution equally, and throws us into Swoonings, and Sweats, and the loss of Sense, sometimes even to Death it self.

But these things are so evident, that they need no enlargement; and therefore I rather choose to observe the Method Epictetus hath taken upon this occasion, and the Improvements we may make of it. When any Loss or Dis­appointment in our Affairs have happened to us, he advises, that we would compose our selves with this Reflection; That Constancy and a Composed Mind, are Treasures which must be bought, and this it seems is the Price which we must pay for them. But when our Servants provoke us, either by being out of the way, and not ready to receive our Commands; or by being insolent, and not obeying them; the Remedy [Page 169] in this case, is to prepare our Minds, and con­sider before-hand, that these were things very likely to happen.

This is the Method he prescribes, but the im­provement we may make of it, is to joyn both these Directions together, and apply them to either of the Cases indifferently. For indeed, we are no less obliged to receive any Losses whatsoever with all that Premeditation, and shall find them infinitely lessened to us by Expectation, and a possessing our Minds early with the Thought that these things may very probably happen to us. And on the other Hand, when we are incensed by the Negligence or the Disobedience of Servants, or any other Provocation of that kind, it will turn to very good account to re­collect, That Constancy and a Composed Mind, are Treasures that will not come for nothing; and this is the Price that we are to purchase them at.

Now the Reasons why Epictetus himself did thus apply both indifferently, seem to be, That the Instances produced by him, of Oyl spilled, and a little paltry Wine stolen, are too mean and trivial, to need the solemnity of any such Preparation; and that in Matters so small, a short Recollection is sufficient, after the thing hath happened. And not only so, but because in things of less Consideration, the prospect of the Gain, and comparing the Price with the Purchase, is abundantly enough to prevail upon the Soul. For what occasion can there be of Grudging or Discontent, when for such a Trifle as a little Oyl or Wine lost, a Man hath it in his power to receive a thing so valuable as Con­stancy [Page 170] and a Composed Mind, by way of Ex­change? Nay, and not only to procure this for once and no more, but to gain the standing Disposition and Habit of it, which may be ready at hand, and serviceable upon every oc­casion, provided he drive a wise bargain, and manage his Market with any skill and dexte­rity. Who would not be proud and pleased to make that Exchange which Homer tells us Dio­mede did, when he bartered Brass for Gold? And what Man that hath the Sense and Rea­son of a Man, would not gladly forego any Advantages of Fortune, if he can obtain the greatest and most desirable Advantages of the Mind in return of them? Especially too, when the Matter may very frequently be so ordered, as not properly to forego them neither, but by a prudent forethought and preparation, to think that a thing of no Concern to him, and be sen­sible of no Loss at all.

CHAP. XVIII.

If you would indeed improve in Wisdom, you must be content to be thought Foolish and Stupid, for neglecting the Things of the World.

COMMENT.

THE Reason why many of us lay out so much of our Thoughts and our Pains up­on the World, is not always a Desire to be [Page 171] supplied with what is necessary and convenient for our Circumstances, but to avoid the Cen­sure of being thought Singular, and Insensible, and Speculative Drones. Now in opposition to this Principle, and all the Discouragements such Apprehensions give us, he advises every Scholar of his, who would be wise in good earnest, not to let so poor a Pretence prevail upon him, to abandon himself to the Cares of the World, and neglect the true and in­ward Advantages of his own Mind. For what a Monstrous Absurdity is it, for a Man to be really Mad, for fear of being thought so; and to commit the most desperate Act of Folly, lest he should be called Fool by those that are no better than Fools themselves? And in truth, there is nothing contributes to a Ver­tuous Life, and such a Behaviour as is every way suitable to the Character of a Man, consi­dered as a Rational Creature, more, than to re­solve not to be a Slave to the Opinions of the World, not to make what idle and silly People approve, any measure of our Actions, or rule to walk by; but to use ones self to despise both their Commendations and their Censures, and to keep our Eyes steady upon the Dictates of right Reason, and the Judgments of those few Good and Wise that live in Conformity to it; and let these guide and govern us in the Ma­nagement of all our Affairs: For Reason is the proper Standard that all our Actions should be agreeable to, and all they whose Opinions are worth our regarding, will be sure to ap­prove whatever is so.

[Page 172]

Do not affect to be thought exceeding Wise; and if other People think you something more than ordinary, let this make you so much the more Distrustful and Jealous of your self. For be assured, it is no easie matter to pro­secute your Designs upon Vertue, and other ex­ternal Advantages, at one and the same time. But he that sets his Heart upon either of these, will of course find his Concern for the other a­bate and grow cold.

Epictetus hath taken a great deal of Pains to confine the Soul of his Young Philosopher within a narrow compass, that all his Care may be employed at Home, upon the improve­ment of himself; especially when he first en­ters into this reformed course of Life. And since the Desire of Riches and Cares of the World, are but a part of those Temptations that engage the Affections, and misplace them abroad; for a Superstitious value for Reputa­tion and Applause, are every whit as dange­rous Baits; (and so much the more so indeed, as they are accomplish'd Persons, and have some real Excellencies to recommend them to the World, are apt to be insnared by them,) he advises to root out this vain-glorious Appetite by all means.

Do not affect to be thought Wise, says he; not that he condemns the most Zealous Desires or Endeavours aster Knowledge, but only to sup­press the Vanity of desiring to appear Know­ing. For this swells the Mind, and puffs it up with flashy Imaginations, and inclines it to [Page 173] the World. It represents the Opinion of o­thers, as the Rule of Acting, rather than Du­ty, and the Dictates of a Man's own Con­science; and makes him live no longer to him­self, but to his Masters, the People; and which is worst of all, it makes a Man satisfied with the empty Shadows, and outward Ap­pearances of things; and neglect the Substance. For the Vain-glorious are not half so much concerned to be really Virtuous or Wise, as they are to impose upon themselves and the World, in seeming so. For this Reason he expresses himself very prudently here, and says not, Do not be thought Wise, but Do not affect to be thought so: For in truth, the Esteem other People have of us, is a thing by no means in our own power; nor can we make them think as we would have them; but the courting that Esteem, and being fond of such a Character, is entirely our own Act and Deed.

And therefore since the World will sometimes have a great Opinion of our Abilities, whether we seek it or no; in such a case, says he, let their Commendations make you but so much the more distrustful and jealous of your self. For this will be a most excellent Preservative against the giving your self up to be governed by o­ther People's Judgments, and taking up with the Fame or False Images of Goodness, instead of the thing itself. Besides, that the suspecting and thinking more meanly of ones self, when the World extols them most, is a Duty parti­cularly seasonable for young Philosophers. For they that are Masters in it, sit secure above the Breath of Fame, pass just and impartial [Page 174] Judgments upon their own Actions; and, as they do not think the better, so neither need they think at all the worse of themselves, for what the World say of them.

Now Reputation and Applause, we know ve­ry well, is not the Attendant of Knowledge on­ly, but of Temperance and Moderation too, of Justice and Fortitude, of Prudence, and indeed of every Virtue whatsoever. Every Accomplish­ment that qualifies us for Business, and makes us useful to our Country, and one another, of every Character of any extraordinary Eminence in the World; all which he hath comprehended here in this short Expression of being though something more than ordinary; which extends to e­very kind of Opinion that is for our Advantage, let the Ground of it be what it will.

At last, he shuts up all with a Conclusion, ap­plicable not only to this Chapter, but to those that went before, concerning the Care that is due to our own Minds, and intimates, that a Learner in Philosophy, will find it no easie Mat­ter to prosecute his Designs upon Wisdom and Virtue with Success, and at the same time to grasp at Riches or Fame, or any other World­ly Advantages. And the Reason is, because the keeping our Minds tight in the prosecution of Virtue, consists in an extraordinary Vigilance and concern for our selves, and the regulating our own Wills; and in making all without us, all that are called the Goods of Fortune, little or no part of our Concern. But now an eager pursuit of Fame, or any other external Advan­tage, utterly overturns this whole frame of Mind; for it engages our Affections upon Fo­reign [Page 175] and distant things, and makes us cold and careless for our selves. Therefore it can be no easie matter to reconcile these wide Extremes, and manage both at once. But still you may observe with what Caution our Author delivers himself; he declares it difficult, but he dares not pronounce it impossible; because there are some exalted Minds that exert themselves to the wonder of Mankind, and consequently must be admitted for Exceptions from the general Rules of Nature. But as for the rest, who are of the same Mould and Tempering with their Neighbours, to them the Rule in the Close holds good, That he who proposes to follow one of these in good earnest, and to purpose, must wholly lay aside all Concern for the other.

CHAP. XIX.

If you desire that your Wife, and Children, and Friends may never Dye, this is a Senseless Wish; for you would have what is not your own, to be in your own power; and would dispose of that which is anothers. So again, if you desire that your Boy may live without any Faults, this is Foolish too; for it is to wish, that Vice and Corruption may change their Nature, and be no longer what they cannot but be. But if you will needs be wishing, and would wish so as not to be disappointed, this may be done; and therefore the best way is to practise upon that which is in your own power.

COMMENT.

THE first Care of a Man, should be to con­sider what things are worth his Pains; and those that deserve to be thought so, 'tis plain, must have the following Qualifications: They must be possible, for none but Fools lay them­selves out upon what can never be compassed. And they must be decent and proper for the Person that takes pains for them; something that suits his Character and Conveniences, and such as he may call his own when he hath them. For nothing can be more impertinent, than to concern one's self in other People's Matters, [Page 177] and neglect our own; or to be extreamly solli­citous for obtaining that, which another will always retain the propriety to. A Third Con­sideration should be, of what value the Prize we propose to our selves will be, of what con­stancy and continnance; and whether we can be secure of keeping it when we have got it. For no prudent Man will give himself trouble a­bout Trifles, and things that will turn to no account; or such as are likely very soon to de­cay, or forsake him.

And therefore in pursuance of his Design, to call off his young Philosophers Affections from the World, and to drive on his former Di­stinction of Things that are, and Things that are not in our own power; he proves, that all exter­nal Advantages whatsoever, are really not ours, but anothers. And he had shewed at the be­ginning, that whatever is another's, cannot be any of the things in our own power, nor con­sequently a proper Object of our Choice.

When a Man then is desirous, that his Wife, and Children, and Friends, may never be taken away from him, this Man is sollicitous for a thing in which his Choice hath nothing to do; a thing that it is not possible for him to bestow upon him­self; for when things are not entirely at our own Disposal, nor submitted to the Determi­nations of our own Wills, it is not for us to make our selves Masters of them; but we must depend upon the good pleasure of those Per­sons for them, in whose Possession and Disposal they are.

Besides, there is not any of those Advantages we are so fond of, but they are really mean, and [Page 178] of no value at all, frail and perishing, and the Enjoyment of them short and uncertain. Who then would give himself trouble, for so low, so poor a Recompence? Or who would engage his Affections upon what so many Casualties may, and daily do conspire against, and what they must at length destroy, and rob him of? So vain is it to fix ones Happiness or ones Desires, in the Lives of our Tenderest Friends, (for in­stance,) or to delude one's self with vain Hopes, and fond Wishes of their living always; when at the same time they are Mortal, and must submit to the same fatal Necessity, with every thing else that is so; which is, to depart with­out delay or mercy, whenever Death summons them away.

So again, If a Man wish that his Servant may be Virtuous, nay, even an Honester and better Man than himself, (as many of us are apt to do sometimes, when provoked by the Knavery of Servants,) this Man, (says Epictetus) is a Fool, and wishes an idle and impossible thing. For since all Knavery proceeds from Vicious Princi­ples, and the Corruption of the Mind, how can it possibly be, that a Man who takes care to Go­vern or Reform his Brutish Appetite, but sub­mits and lives according to it, should act any otherwise than Viciously? So vain is it for Men to expect Success in these Matters, when they place their Affections and Concern upon things that are either impossible to be had, or at the disposal of some other Person, or poor and pe­rishing, and as hazardous and unsure in the En­joyment, as they were difficult in the acquisi­tion. Must not Men needs fail of their hopes, [Page 179] where so many Accidents concur to disappoint them? And if they lead a Life of Disappoint­ment, must they not of necessity lead a Life of Sorrow and perpetual Torment too? Against all these Miseries, there is but one Remedy, and that is an effectual one indeed: 'Tis to make our Selves, and what Nature hath put within our own power, the sole Object of our Care and Concern. Now Nature hath given us an absolute power of consining our Desires to such things as she hath made necessary and ex­pedient for us. And therefore we shall do well not to be too lavish, nor squander them away upon vain and unprofitable Matters, but to lay them out upon those others, for they can never fail our Expectations, and will be sure to turn to good account, when they have at­tained them.

CHAP. XX.

That Person is properly my Lord and Master, who hath it in his power to gratify my Wishes, or to inflict my Fears; to give what I desire to have, or to take from me what I am loath to part with. The only way then to preserve one's Liberty, is to restrain one's own Passions, and to have neither Desire nor Aversion for any thing in the power of others: For he that does not so, is sure to be a Slave as long as he lives.

COMMENT.

HEre again we meet with another severe Reflection upon the World, and a just Censure of those who abandon themselves to the Love and the Cares of it. For by this means, we do not only betray our Minds to Misery and Trouble, when our Desires are fru­strated, and the Misfortunes we fear, overtake us, but which is more, we sink into a state of Slavery, and submit not to one, but to many Masters, to a Thousand imperious and merci­less Masters. For whoever it be, says he, that hath it in his own power to gratify our Desires, or to bring our Fears upon us, to give what we would fain have, or to take away, what we are loath to part with, that Person is most truly our Lord and Master. So that at this rate, [...]very Passion, and every Accident, tyrannizes [Page 181] over the worldly Man without Resistance or Controul.

With what humble Submission do we cringe to those that have the Riches, or Preferments, or Honours we desire, in their Disposal! How servile are all our Applications, and how ob­sequious all our Behaviour, that we may in­cline their Favour, and prevail for the Advan­tages we propose to our selves from it? And again, when any of these Enjoyments lye at their Mercy, with what Terrors and misgi­ving Fears do we approach them? what mean Acts do we make use of to keep their Counte­nance and good Graces? and how pitifully do we flatter and fawn upon them, to secure the Continuance of that which they may deprive us of whenever they please? So poor and preca­rious are all the Goods of Fortune, so absolute­ly anothers, and so little our own. For that which another can bestow, or call back again, is properly his; and nothing really ours, but what falls entirely within the Compass of our own Power and Choice.

If then Liberty be, as certainly it is, a most desirable Thing; and if we would assert our own Freedom, and break our Chains; the Course we must take is, to contract our Fears and Desires, to contain them within their pro­per Sphere, and not suffer them to rove abroad, or fix them upon any thing within the Power of any but our selves. For if we do so, our Slavery is sure, and the Instances of it infinite. Our Desires are our Masters when we would obtain them, and our Possessions when we dread the loss of them: Our Aversions are so when we [Page 182] fear Dangers, and our Misfortunes when we fall into them.

To this we may add another Observation too; That every Man in these Circumstances is subject to two Masters; one at home, and ano­ther abroad: For the Brutal Appetite within, that moves our Reason, (that is, our selves, whose very Essence consists in this) and carries it away captive, submits both Reason and it self to another Master, which is the outward Object of our Passions: So that we are not on­ly Slaves, but the meanest and most abject of them all, even the Slaves of Slaves.

Besides, other Servants have some Intervals of Freedom and Leisure at least; they are not always confined to their Master's Presence; they are upon the Level with other Men at some times; Night and Sleep sets them free; and they obtain Leave and Ease now and then un­der the hardest Government. But our Atten­dance is without any Intermission; we can nei­ther fly from our Masters, nor will they ever remit or dispense with our Service; sleeping and waking we still drudge on, and are ever la­bouring to satisfie the insolent, unjust, and ex­travagant Commands of our cruel Tyrants. No Moment of Rest is allowed us after once we have submitted to them; but they are perpetu­ally teazing, and harassing us, and imploying us either with wicked Actions or Words, or when there is an Opportunity for neither of these, then distracting us with idle Thoughts and fan­tastick Imaginations.

Nay, and which is yet worst of all, and the most deplorable Aggravation of our Misery, in [Page 183] other Cases, the better sort of Servants have a Soul above their Condition, and owe their Bondage to the Necessity of their Affairs, and the Rigor of a penurious Fortune: but ours is not our Fate, but our Choice; we hug and are fond of our Chains, and are perpetually con­triving to bind our Slavery faster upon us, ex­ceeding industrious to make our selves misera­ble, and ingenious in finding out new Methods of Ruin; that is, ever seeking out some fresh Object of Desire or Fear, and in order to it, complying with such Commands as are never obeyed, but to our infinite Damage, if not our utter undoing.

CHAP. XXI.

Let it be your constant Care, to behave your self in all the Affairs of Humane Life, with the same Decency that you would at a publick Entertainment. If any thing be of­fered you, receive it with Modesty; if it pass by you, and be sent to another, do not with-hold it from him, or keep what was not intended you. If it be not yet come down so low, shew not your self eager, nor snatch at it greedily, but wait patiently, till it comes to your turn. Manage your self with the same good Manners and Reservedness in case of a Wife, or Children, or Honours, or Riches, or Power, and Preferment. This will render you worthy to be entertained by the Gods. But if you can conquer your Ap­petite so far, as even to refuse and disdain the delicious Meats that are set before you: This will not only qualifie you to feast with the Gods, but exalt you to the same Dignity and Perfection with them too. Such was Diogenes and Heraclitus, and those other renowned Heroes, who by this generous Scorn were justly esteemed, and in reality were Divine Persons.

COMMENT.

AFter so many Arguments used to check the mighty Propensities of Humane Nature, [Page 185] and restrain his Scholars from too eager a Pur­suit of the Goods of Fortune, lest his Discourse should prove less persuasive for being thought too severe, he tells us, that it is not his Inten­tion to debar Men from all Communication with the World; and therefore instructs us what Ad­vantages they are allowed to partake of, and how they ought to demean themselves with re­gard to them. He had before indulged us the Use of not only the Necessaries, but the Con­veniences of Humane Life; provided that we accepted of these as additional Enjoyments, and did not mistake them for our main Concern, but kept our Minds and Eyes constantly intent up­on the Ship, and (as he exprest it there) were ready to come on Board, and Sail at the Ma­ster's Call. And now he tells us, that whatever of this kind is presented to us, we may receive it, whether it be a Wife, or Children, or Rich­es, or Advancement; but then we must take them modestly and decently, and not suffer our Appetites to grow impatient, and snatch or reach at it rudely, before it is offered. So again, if they were once ours, and are taken away (for thus I understand that Expression of passing by, and being sent to some body else) we must by no means detain them, he says; that is, we should part with them patiently, neither struggling to keep them, nor repining at the Loss. If they be not yet come to us, it will ill become us not to desire them before our Turn, to feed our Wishes and Imaginations with them, and be so taken up with these, as to forget both Virtue and our Selves.

When they are given to us, we must not re­ceive [Page 186] them even then voraciously, and with too much seeming Transport; but decently and gent­ly, that so we may keep our selves above them, and use them prudently, without suffering our Affections to be over-power'd, and wholly im­merst in them.

Now the Condition of Men in the World is here represented by People met together at a Common Entertainment; where Almighty God makes the Invitation and the Feast; and every one of the Guests partakes of the Provision ac­cording as his own Appetite stands affected. Some behave themselves with a prudent Reserve, like well-bred Persons, as the Dictates of Rea­son and Nature direct them, and in a manner acceptable to the Master of the Feast, so as to seem a Guest worthy of the Gods. Others again are insolent and unruly, greedy and gluttonous, injure themselves, and displease the Great Lord that receives them.

But the especial Excellency is yet behind. For if you are a Person of so exalted a Virtue, as not only to wait with Patience, and accept with Modesty, but even to decline and slight these worldly Advantages, that the Generality of Mankind dote upon so infinitely, and can deny your self what the Master of the Feast offers to you; this is the utmost Perfection Mortality is capable of: the World is no longer worthy of such a Person: he hath transcended Humane Nature it self, and is not only fit to be a Guest to the Gods, but to be admitted into a share of that Dignity and those Divine Excellencies, which he hath wrought himself up to so near a Resemblance of.

[Page 187] This was the Case of Crates and Diogenes, the latter of which exprest so just a Contempt of the World, that, when Alexander the Great saw him basking in the warm Sun, and asked, what he should do for him? he desired no more, than only that he would stand out of his Sun-shine. Which Answer gave so true an Idea of the Gal­lantry of his Soul, that this mighty Conqueror thought that Philosopher a Braver and Great­er Man than himself in all his Triumphs; and said, that he could wish, if that were possible, to be Diogenes; but if not, then his second Wish should be, to continue Alexander.

Thus then the Good Providence that consti­tutes this mortal State, and mingles Mens Cir­cumstances in it as it sees most suitable and convenient, advances those Persons to the Ta­ble of the Gods, who manage the Incumbrances of the Body and the World, according to the Directions they have given us, and temper all their Actions with Prudence and Moderation. But when Men do not only manage, but tran­scend the World and its Enjoyments, when they get quite above these Things, and exercise an absolute Mastery over them; then the same Providence calls up those Souls that so well imi­tate the Divine Excellencies, into a sort of Partnership and Government, and makes them (as it were) its Assistants in the disposing of Things here below. For, what can we think less of them, while they sit enthroned on high, and look down, and order all Things, with such undisturbed Security, and so Imperial a Sway, as if themselves were no longer a part of this Universe, but, like those Beings above, were [Page 188] distinct and separate from it, and governed their own World?

For this Reason, Epictetus says, Heraclitus and Diogenes, that had a generous Disdain for these Things, were justly esteemed, and in reality were Divine Persons. And indeed, they are tru­ly so that live up to the utmost Perfection of their Nature, and divest themselves of all Con­cerns for the Body and the World. They are spiritualized already, and have no more to do with any Impressions of Flesh and Sense. This is the utmost Perfection of a Humane Mind, and whatever is absolutely perfect, is Divine; because it is of God, who is the Source and Sum of all Perfection.

CHAP. XXII.

When you see a Neighbour in Tears, and hear him lament the Absence of his Son, the Hazards of his Voyage into some remote Part of the World, or the Loss of his Estate; keep upon your Guard, for fear lest some false Idea's that may rise upon these Occasions, surprise you into a Mistake, as if this Man were really miserable, upon the Account of these outward Accidents. But be sure to distinguish wisely, and tell your self imme­diately, that the Thing which really afflicts this Person is not really the Accident it self, (for other People, under his Circum­stances, are not equally afflicted with it) but merely the Opinion which he hath form­ed to himself concerning this Accident-Notwithstanding all which, you may be al­lowed, as far as Expressions and outward Be­haviour go, to comply with him; and if Oc­casion require, to bear a part in his Sighs, and Tears too; but then you must be sure to take care, that this Compliance does not in­fect your Mind, nor betray you to an in­ward and real Sorrow, upon any such Ac­count.

COMMENT.

AS this Consideration, That the desirable Things of this World are not, cannot be [Page 190] our Happiness, though we should suppose a Man never so prosperous, should restrain our Eager­ness, and check our too forward Desires after them; so that other Reflection, that no Exter­nal Misfortunes can make us truly miserable, should be an Argument no less prevailing to buoy up our Spirits, and make us entertain them with Courage and Resolution.

To this purpose, our Author urges the fol­lowing Instance of a Man in great Grief and Lamentation for some Calamity; the Death or the Distance of a Darling Child, the Loss of an Estate, and being reduced to extreme Poverty, or the like. And the Caution he gives upon such Occasions, is, that the Spectators would not suffer themselves to be born down by the Tor­rent of this Man's Tears, and carried into an Erroneous Opinion of his being made misera­ble by any of these Disasters: For, they are to recollect themselves, and consider, that no Mans Happiness or Unhappiness does, or ever can de­pend upon his Successes in the World, or any of the Good or Bad Events from without.

But if this be so, how comes it then to pass, that this Person is so infinitely afflicted, as if some real Ill had happened to him? The Acci­dent, it is plain, cannot be Evil in its own Nature; for were it so, all Persons that lay un­der the same Misfortune, would feel the same Impressions, and be carried to an equal Excess of Grief: For this is a Rule in Nature, that Natural Qualities have always the same Opera­tion; and what feels hot to one, will feel so to every one that touches it. At this rate then, every one that buries a Son must mourn and la­ment; [Page 191] and yet Anaxagoras, when News was brought him of the Death of his, made Answer, with all the Bravery and Unconcernedness in the World, Well, I knew my Child could be no more than mortal. But what then i [...] the true Cause of all this Melancholy? Nothing else, but the Man's own Notions of this Accident: this is the Root of all the Disease; and our Opinions are properly our own. So that we will grant the Ground of this excessive Grief to be not only a seeming, but a real Evil; but then the Mistake of the Person still remains; for it is not in any Accident from without, but rises entirely from within himself, and is ow­ing to nothing else but his own wrong Appre­hensions. And this is both a real Evil, and properly ones own too, because Opinions are some of those Things within our own Power, and the Truth and Falshood of these depends purely upon the Will, and falls within the Com­pass of our own Choice.

You will ask perhaps, in the next place, what Behaviour is proper in such a Case? Is no Com­passion due to this afflicted mistaken Man? And must I only with a sullen Magisterial Pride con­demn his Error, and chide or scorn his Folly? By no means. This Deportment is unsuitable to the Character of a Good Man. You are allowed therefore to pity and comply with him, to condescend in some measure to his Frailties, to speak kind and tender Things, and if you see Occasion, to drop a few Tears for Compa­ny. Nor is all this to be put on merely for Ostentation, or to shew Good Nature: For, Dissimulation and Trick is what no Ci [...]um­stance [Page 192] can render excusable to a Good Man. But your Trouble may be real; and indeed, there is but too just a Pretence for it, when you see such an Instance of Humane Infirmity, as a Man that can think the Misfortunes of the World worth so immoderate a Concern.

But still you must set Bounds to your Pity and Condescension, for Grief is catching; and there­fore be sure to take care, that it do not fasten upon your Mind, and so you fall into the same Disease, of a real Concern for the Accident it self. If once you sink so low, you are for the future incapable of doing the Sorrowful any Ser­vice. He that would be serviceable to another's Cure, and quiet the Anguish of his Passions, must make some Advances indeed, and some Compliances, but he must be sure to keep out of the Reach of Infection too. A Man that stands still upon the Bank, and will not so much as step into the Water, can never draw his Friend out when he is drowning; and a Man that jumps in, and lets the same Stream carry him away too, can as little do it. He that ap­pears insensible, and void of all tender Impressi­ons, will never be able to compose another's Passion, and bring him to Reason; but he that suffers the same Passion to overcome his own Reason too, will be so far from serving his Friend, that he himself must be beholding to the Assistance of some third Friend.

CHAP. XXIII.

Remember, that the World is a Theatre, and that your Part in this Play of Life is deter­mined by the Poet: Upon him it must de­pend, whether you shall act a long or a short one; whether your Character shall be high or low: If therefore he assign you that of a Beg­gar, take care to humour it well; if a Crip­ple, or a Prince, or a private obscure Man, or whatever it be, make the best of it: For consider, that the playing of the Part assign­ed you commendably, depends upon your self. This is your Business; but the giving out of the Parts, and choosing the Actors, is not yours, but another Person's.

COMMENT.

IN one of the Chapters a little before, this present Life, and the Distribution and En­joyment of the Comforts and Advantages of it, was compared to a Publick Entertainment, and the Maker and Master of that Entertainment said to be Almighty God, who left us at Liber­ty either to accept or to refuse the Dishes that were set before us. For this Reason it was, that such Pains were taken to correct and form our Appetites aright, and instruct us, how we ought to govern our Selves, and our Choice, with regard to all External Events, past, pre­sent, and future. For, at Feasts every Guest [Page 194] feasts of what is set before him according as his own Palat stands, and his own Judgment di­rects him.

But here we meet with another kind of Re­presentation; where Life is resembled to a Play, in which every Man breathing bears a part, but the Composer and Dispenser of these Parts is God. For in this respect the present Similitude differs from the former, that in it we are not left to our own Disposal, whether we will ac­cept what is assigned us or not. Providence hath appointed our Character, and we cannot change nor decline it. There are infinite In­stances of this kind, that seem to carry a plain Fatality in them. For though when Riches are offered us, it is in our Power to reject them, and embrace a voluntary Poverty; yet when Poverty or Sickness is laid out for us, it is not then in our Power to decline these. So again, we may choose whether we will be Masters and Governours or not; but we cannot choose whe­ther we will be Servants or Subjects, or not.

All then that is left to our own Liberty here, is the Management of what falls to our share; and the Blame or the Commendation, the Happiness or the Misery of a Man in such Cases, does not consist so much in desiring or not desiring, ac­cepting or refusing, (for this last does not fall within our Sphere) but in such a Management as is still left at our own Liberty; that is, the behaving our selves decently or otherwise, suit­ably or unsuitably to our Condition. For tho we cannot avoid Poverty or Sickness when we would, yet we can make a Virtue of Necessity; and if we please, can carry our Selves hand­somely [Page 195] under them. And all the Fate in the World cannot tye us up so far, but that the husbanding and making the best of those things which we cannot help, shall be still as much in our own Breasts, as of those which we choose and procure for our own selves.

Thus it is in the practice of the Stage: The Choice of the Players, is the Poets Work; it is he that gives out the Parts, according to the particular Humours of the Actors; he takes notice of their Qualifications and Abilities, and then suits the Persons to the Characters they are capable of. One he appoints to personate a Prince, another a Servant, another a Mad-Man, (for every one is not fit to play Orestes.) Thus far his Care goes, and he is answerable no farther: For the Persons to whom these Parts are assigned, must account for the doing them Justice in the Action.

For this Reason it is, that Men do not judge of the Entertainment of a Play-House, by the Greatness or Quality of the Character, but by the just Proportion, and the natural Represen­tation, and the Gracefulness of the Action it self. How often do we see a Beggar, or a Ser­vant, or a Mad Man clapped, and at the same time, a Rich Man, or a General, or a King his­sed? The Reason of which is, that one hath hit the Humour of his part, and maintained the Character that he was to appear in, and the other did not so. The Beggar behaved himself as a Beggar should do, and the King sunk be­neath the Grandeur of his Post; and this Be­haviour was the proper Business of the Actors themselves, though the choosing whether they [Page 196] should personate a King, or a Beggar, was not.

Just thus we find in this vast Theatre of the World; How many Emperors, and Wealthy, and Strong Lusty Men, have spoiled their Parts, while the Poor, the Lame, the Slave, the De­spised Epictetus, performed his with the appro­bation of his Great Master, and to the wonder of all the Spectators? For though his Part had less of Pomp and Shew than theirs, yet he stu­died the Character throughly, and kept it up to the very last, and answered the Design and Directions of the Poet that destin'd him to it. This was his proper Business, and there­fore this Commendation is due to him for it: For, as no Man's Happiness or Misery can con­sist in any thing but what falls within his own Choice, so neither will any Wise Man allow, that either Praise or Commendation, Honour or Infamy, belongs properly to any thing else. And consequently, it is not the Part, but the manner of acting it, that every Man distinguishes himself by.

CHAP. XXIV.

When the Ravens croak, or any other Omi­nous thing happens, let not any Superstitious Fancies disturb or affright you: But ha [...] immediate recourse to this Distinction, [...] the quieting your Fears, That nothing of this kind can Bode Ill to you: To your Bo­dy, or your Estate, or your Reputation, or your Wife, or your Children, 'tis pos­sible it may; but as for your Self, 'tis in your own power to make every thing auspi­cious to you; because whatever Disaster happens in any of the forementioned Respects, you may, if you please, reap some very con­siderable Advantage from it.

COMMENT.

THis Chapter seems to me to be misplaced, and would be more Methodical, if set be­fore the former, and immediately after that which begins with these Words, If you see a Neighbour in Tears, &c. For having told us there, that a Man ought not to be too sensibly affected with the excessive Passion of those who think themselves unhappy for the loss of any of the Comforts of this World, nor sympathize so far, as to imagine that such a one is really Mi­serable upon any of these Accounts, since a Man's Happiness or his Wretchedness does not consist in any outward Prosperous or Adverse [Page 198] Events, but purely in the use of his own Free-Will, and the Practice or Neglect of what God and Nature have made entirely the Object of his own Choice and Power; here he adds, that if any inauspicious Bird, or other Omen seem to foretel Mischief and Ill-luck, this ought not to terrify or discompose us. But though we should suppose them to carry any ill portent to our Bodies or our Fortunes, yet we must distin­guish between these and our selves, and consi­der, that our own Happiness and Misery de­pends upon our own Disposal, and can come from nothing but our selves.

Do but resolve then not to make your self unhappy, and all the most direful Significations of Misfortune, and all the Misfortunes conse­quent to those Significations shall never be a­ble to do it. Your Body, 'tis true, may be Sick, or Dye; your Reputation may be Blasted, your Estate Destroyed or Wasted, your Wife or Children taken from you; but still all this does not reach your Self; that is, your Reason­ing Mind. This can never be Miserable, nay, it must and will be Happy, in despight of all these Ill-bodings, except you consent to your own Wretchedness: For all your Good and E­vil depends wholly upon your self.

Nay, which is more, and the greatest Secu­rity imaginable, these very Misfortunes shall conspire to render you yet more Happy; for out of this Bitter, you may gather Sweetness, and convert what is generally mistaken for Mi­sery, to your own mighty Benefit. And the greater those Calamities are, the more conside­rable will the Advantage be, provided you ma­nage [Page 199] them prudently, and behave your self de­cently under them. Now it is plain from hence, that these are not Evils, (properly speaking,) for whatever is so, must always do hurt, and can never change its Nature so far, as to con­tribute to any good effect. Since then these may be so ordered, as to become subservient to your Good, and since no Ill can come to you, but what your self must be instrumental in, and accessary to, you must of necessity grant, that all Omens, and all the Evils threatned by them, are not, cannot be Evils to you your self, un­less you please to make them so; and that all they can pretend to, is to affect something that belongs, or bears some distant Relation to you.

CHAP. XXV.

It is in your power always to come off Con­queror, provided you will never engage in any Combats, but such whose Successes will be determined by your own Choice.

COMMENT.

HE had said just before, that no Ominous Predictions Boded any ill to Men, except they brought the Evil upon themselves, because it is in the power of every one not to be Mi­serable. And this Chapter I take to be a far­ther [Page 200] Prosecution of that Argument, and added by way of Proof and Confirmation to the for­mer.

For it is in our own power, never to enter the Lists with any External Accidents, that is, so to restrain our Desires and Aversions, as not to concern our selves with them; for if we stake our Happi­ness upon the Success of such an Encounter, we must needs retire with Loss; because such Desires will meet with frequent Disappointments, and such Aversions cannot always deliver us from the Dangers we fear. Let all our Combats therefore be consined to our selves, and such things as Nature hath put in the power of our own Wills; for whenyou strive with your own Desires, and Aversions, and Opinions, the Prize is in your own Hands, and you may rest secure of Danger or Disappointment. This he had shewn at large formerly, and this is in effect the same thing, as to say that a Man shall ne­ver be vanquished, but always come off trium­phantly.

And if this be true, then it is no less evi­dently so, that it is in a Man's own Power ne­ver to be Miserable: For he that is Miserable, is a Subdued Man; and if it depend upon one's own Choice, whether any Evil shall happen to him, then it must needs be in his own Breast too, whe­ther any Omens or Predictions shall portend Ill to him. So that Epictetus had reason when he pronounced so peremptorily, that no inauspicious Events are signified to any Man, unless himself conspire to make them so: That is, unless he engage in such Disputes as he is not qualified for, and where the Victory is doubtful at least, [Page 201] if not sure to go against him. And this is done by every one who overlooks his own Mind, and places his Happiness and Unhappiness in the Events of Fortune, and Affairs of the World.

CHAP. XXVI.

Take heed when you see any Person advanced to an eminent Station of Honour or Power, or any other kind of Prosperity, that you be not presently surprised with a false Idea of his Condition, and rashly pronounce him Happy. For if all the Happiness and Tran­quillity of our Minds, depend upon things within our own power, there can be no room for Envy or Emulation. And you your self, when you consider, do not desire to be a Ge­ral, or a Senator, or a Consul, but to be free and easie. Now the only way to be so, is to despise the World, and every thing that is out of your own power.

COMMENT.

THE only Method of insuring a Conquest upon all Encounters, the last Chapter told us, is never to engage with what is out of our own power. But because we are exceeding apt to be drawn into such Conflicts, and by nothing [Page 202] more indeed than the Examples of other Per­sons that seem to be Prosperous and Happy, and the Envy and Emulation that usually fol­lows upon such occasions; therefore he shews us here very briefly, that no body who makes the real Happiness of a Man his serious Study, and sincere Endeavour, is capable of Envy or Emulation, and that it were utterly incon­sistent with his Principles, to be guilty of ei­ther.

For if the proper Happiness of a Man de­pend upon the use of his Free-Will, and those things that are subjected to it, and the Persons who are promoted to Power and Honour, and courted with popular Applause and Admira­tion, have not in all this any of those Advan­tages which Nature hath put in our own power, it is manifest that these seemingly Happy Men are not in reality such; nor have they by this Advancement, attained to any degree of that which is the peculiar and true Happiness of Hu­mane Nature. What occasion then can all these flattering Appearances give for Envy or Emula­tion? For Envy is properly the repining at an­others Happiness; and Emulation, is an impa­tient Desire of raising our selves up to an E­quality with others that exceed us in something which we take for Happiness.

Now the Original Cause of these Passions is rooted in our Nature and Constitution; which determines us to thirst after Honour and E­steem, and is uneasie when we come behind any of our Equals. Hence it is, that Men of mean Souls, and Vulgar Attainments, and such as de­spair of advancing themselves by the strength [Page 203] of their own Worth, endeavour to undermine, and detract from others of better Desert, that so they may rise upon their Ruins. And to such ungenerous Tempers, no consideration is so afflicting as the good Successes of their Neigh­bours: And in this Vile Disposition, the very Essence of Envy consists. For Envy steals in upon the Prosperous, or those that are esteemed so; but especially if those Persons are upon the same level with our selves, either in respect of their Birth or Fortune, or Profession, or other Accomplishments. For Persons either very much above, or very much below our selves, are not the Object of our Envy. Because these are not a match for us, but the one sort excite our Ad­miration, and the other provoke our Con­tempt.

But where Nature hath given a greater strength of Parts, and a more active and gene­rous Disposition, there Men feel a gallant warmth of Soul, which exerts it self vigorous­ly, and struggles to come up to the perfection of others, by virtue of ones own Merit, with­out any invidious Arts of lessening theirs: Nay, not only to come up with them, but to outstrip them in the Race, and bear away the Prize. From the difference then of these Two Tempers, and the Practices consequent to them, we may plainly perceive, that Envy is a Vicious Passion, and no Qualification can render it o­therwise. But Emulation is sometimes Com­mendable, and nearly related to the Love o [...] Goodness, when Virtue is the thing we strive to excel in; but it degenerates into Vice, and is little better than Envy, when the Advantages [Page 204] of Fortune; and the World, are the Prize we contend for.

Since therefore Good is the proper Object of Envy and Emulation, and reference in Ho­nour, or Power, or Reputation, is only mista­ken for such by the Vulgar, but can really be no such thing; because none of these fall with­in our own Choice; it is plain, that in Men who examine Matters nicely, there can be no such Passion as Envy or Emulation excited upon any of these Accounts. And consequently these are Resentments most unbecoming a Man that makes Wisdom and Virtue his Study, because they plainly argue, that while he accounts such Persons worthy of his Envy or Emulation, he does likewise expect to find his Happiness in these Advantages which they enjoy. And this contradicts the very first Principles of Philoso­phy, and is inconsistent with the Character he pretends to. For the thing that ought to be first in his Desires, is Liberty, the breaking those Chains his Passions have bound him in, and get­ting loose from all the Incumbrances of the World. And the only way to deliver himself from this Bondage, is to slight and disdain the World, and assert his Native Freedom from all those External Accidents, those Rivals in his Af­fections, that subdued and enslaved his Mind. For these only have the power to vanquish and captivate him, by disappointing his Hopes and Expectations, and oppressing him with the Ca­lamities he fears. Upon these it is, that our Brutish Inclinations let themselves lose, and from hence comes all that remorseless Tyran­ny which they usurp, and so arbitrarily exer­cise [Page 205] over us. The Contempt of the World, therefore, is the most effectual Method of re­ducing all into Order again; for by a brave and just scorn of these outward Objects, we weaken the Desires that lead to them, and when once those Succours are intercepted and cut off, these cannot stand alone, but fall in of course, and submit themselves to Reason.

CHAP. XXVII.

Remember that when any Man Reviles or Strikes you, it is not the Tongue that gives you the Opprobrious Language, or the Hand that deals the Blow, that injures or affronts you; but it is your own Resentment of it, as an Injury or Affront, that makes it such to you. When therefore you are provoked, this is owing entirely to your own Appre­hensions of the thing; and especially guard your self well against the first impressions, for if you can but so far subdue your Passion, as to gain time for cooler Thoughts, you will easily attain to a good Government of your self afterwards.

CHAP. XXVIII.

But be sure to keep Death, Persecution and Banishment, and all those Calamities which [Page 206] Mankind are most afraid of, constantly be­fore your Eyes, and let them be very fami­liar to your Minds. But above all, let Death be ever present there: For you will find this a most excellent Remedy against base and mean Thoughts, and a powerful re­straint to all immoderate Desires.

COMMENT.

AFter having again exposed the Vanity of all those imaginary Happinesses which Men depend upon the World for; and shewed us, that a Gallant and Generous Disdain of these, is the only possible means of setting our Souls at Liberty, and living easie; he proceeds in the next place, to take off all those formi­dable Objections which Men are either apt to raise meerly for Discourse sake, or used to feel the discouraging effects of in themselves, while they are yet but raw and untrained in the Dis­cipline of Wisdom and Virtue. And in this he observes his former Method of having re­course to his first Principles of Morality.

The Sum of what the Objectors have to say, is this, That such a Contempt and Neglect of the World, how Great and Gay soever it may look at first; is yet really attended with many Inconveniences; for it renders Men Despicable and Cheap, keeps them Impotent and Low, and lays them open to all the Insolencies and Inju­ries imaginable, while they are neither in a capacity to repel the Wrongs that are done them by Force, nor can descend so low, as to [Page 207] prevent them by Flattery, and Servile Ap­plications. When People see this, there is no Indignity that they have not ill Nature e­nough to offer; no Liberty that they will not give themselves, nor Tongue, nor Hand will know any Restraint. And thus we see daily, that when Men have got the Ascendant, there is nothing they stick at, they wound such un­resisting Philosophical Persons in their Reputa­tions, with Slanders and Reproaches, offer Vio­lence and Indignities to their Persons, treat them with all manner of Contumely and Scorn, oppress them in their Estates, drive them from their Dwellings, clap them up in Prisons, make them fly their Countrey, and as if all this were too little, sometimes take away their very Lives too. Now who would choose to be thus trampled upon, and not only choose but make a Virtue of it too? a Virtue that provokes the most barbarous Injustice and ill Affronts, and leaves a Man naked and defence­less to them all?

To all this, Epictetus replies in short, that there is nothing grievous or terrible in all this dismal Representation; for if there were, all the World would agree in esteeming it so. But in truth, the only thing that carries Terror in it, is the Opinion we entertain of these Injuries being such. So that the affront is not from the action of the Person that offers, but from the Opinion of the Person that resents it, and consequently we expose and injure our selves; for these Opinions are our own Act and Deed.

[Page 208] Now that Reproach and Slanders are no such mighty Affliction, nor what ought to move our Indignation, and disquiet our Minds, will very easily be made appear: For, they must be ei­ther true or false; if the former, why so very loath, and so very much displeased to hear the Truth? Our Shame in this case comes too late, and we should have done much better in hating to commit the Fact, than in hating to be told of it afterwards. But if what is said of us be false, it is the Reporter, and not we, that are the worse for it.

What Course then is to be taken in this case? He tells you the Remedy is, Not to let this Affront make too sudden and sensible Impressi­ons upon you, nor provoke you to Lamentati­ons and Complaints, as if you thought your self unhappy upon this Account; but to give your self Leisure to recollect, and consider the true Nature of the Thing calmly and coolly: For if you once can gain time, and defend your self against the Surprize of the Thing, you will live easie and quiet, and your Mind will be in a Condition to weigh and apply the Princi­ples of Philosophy, and distinguish, whether this Accident be any thing within your own Power or not; and when you find it to be somewhat that your Will cannot command, the Result of this will presently be, to conclude, that neither your Happiness or Unhappiness can depend upon it; and that, be it as bad as it is possible to suppose, yet you have it in your Power, to convert it to an excellent Use, and by a true Elevation of Soul, that expresses a de­cent Contempt of the World, and all its Malice, [Page 209] to reap great Advantages from such cross Acci­dents as these.

Now the best Expedient for Evenness of Tem­per is Custom. And therefore upon any such provoking Occasion, there is no Preservative against false Notions and immoderate Resent­ments, like Silence, and resusing to give one's Passion vent; and though it may boil and foam within, yet still to stisle the Fire, till we feel its Heat abate; and not let loose the Dog, till he have done snarling. And thus Practice is re­commended to us particularly by the Example of Socrates, who was taken notice of for never speaking a Word when any thing anger'd him.

What Epictetus says upon this Subject, and that which follows in the next C [...]apter, have, in my Opinion, so close a Coherence, that they ought to be connected by that Particle But, which seems to me by no Means redundant, but a very significant Conjunction in this place. Thus then the Author carries on his Argument; But as for Death, and Exile, and all those Calamities which Mankind are usually asraid os, be sure to [...]eep these constantly before your [...]yes; and so on.

For having proved concerning all External Events in general, even [...]he dismallest and dread­fullest of them all, that there was not any thing formidable or injurions in the Nature of the Things themselves, but that this is entire­ly owing to Mens own Notions and Resentments of them, he prescribes Caution, and Leisure, and cooler Consideration, as the best Remedy against such Impressions, and particularly against our being enraged at, or dejected under any Vexations or cross Accidents, But he directs [Page 210] to another sort of Application, against Death, and Exile, and such Misfortunes as are of the first and most formidable Kind, which is to bear them continually in mind, and live in Ex­pectation of them every Moment, as Things that may come at any time, and some of which most certainly will come at one time or other. For when once Reason hath convinced us, that these Things are not really such as make a Man one whit the better, or the worse; and when customary Meditation hath reconciled us to them, taken off all their Terror, and the Thoughts of them rendred easie and familiar to the Soul, we presently look upon the most dreadful of them all, as Things frequent and common; and by this means feel both our Spirits supported against the Terrors of the World, and our Af­fections much moderated, and weaned from the Pleasures of it.

CHAP. XXIX.

If you resolve to make Wisdom and Virtue the Study and Business of your Life, you must be sure to arm your self before-hand against all the Inconveniences and Discouragements that are like to attend this Resolution. Imagine that you shall meet with many Scoffs, and much Derision; and that People will upbraid you with turning Philosopher all on the sudden; and ask in Scorn, What is the meaning of all this affected Gravity, and these disdainful Looks? But be not you affected, or supercilious, only stick close to whatever you are in your Judgment convin­ced is vertuous and becoming; and consi­der this as your proper Station, assigned you by God, which you must not quit upon any Terms. And remember, That if you per­severe in Goodness, those very Men who derided you at first, will afterwards turn your Admirers. But if you give way to their Reproaches, and are vanquished by them, you will then render your self doubly, and most deservedly ridiculous.

COMMENT.

THE former Advice extended to all Man­kind in general, and concerned them as Men; there he had very largely dissuaded them [Page 212] from engaging in the Affairs of the World, and all the Disquiets and Superstitious Fears about them; in consideration, that these are remote and foreign, out of our Reach and Dis­posals, and that a Man must look at home for all that is properly Good or Evil, this being the peculiar Prerogative of a Rational and Free Agent, that all its Happiness and Misery de­pends upon it self alone. But now he takes another Method, and addresses himself particu­larl [...], to such as have made some Advances in Wisdom and Goodness, and are affected with a real Love and Desire of it. And here his first Care is, to secure the Approaches, and first Efforts of such a Desire, by giving timely Warn­ing of the Difficulties it may probably encoun­ter, lest the Surprize of any sudden and un­foreseen Opposition should disturb the Mind, and br [...]ak its Measures.

Now nothing is more usual, than for Men to take it ill, when any of their Companions leave a way of Living, to which they have been long accustomed. And the Method they take for expressing such Resentments, is, sometimes by exposing and ridiculing them, that so the World may think their own Courses, at least as good as those they use with such rude Insolence and Contempt: And this is commonly the Treat­ [...]ent Men meet with from their old Chronies and intimate Acquaintance. Sometimes they do [...] by reproaching them with Arrogance and Pride, and valuing themselves upon their Phi­losophy more than they ought to do. And this proceeds partly from Anger, and partly from Envy, and a malicious Desire to obstruct their furth [...]r Progress.

[Page 213] And indeed, this spightful Dealing does but too often meet with its desired Success; for many Persons are overcome with these Re­proaches, and desert their Post, and relapse in­to their former Follies, merely to deliver them­selves from such Teazings. Some of these De­risions are exprest in contemptuous Looks and Gestures, and they are properly Mockeries. Others do not content themselves with Apish Figures, and ill Language, but run Men upon Pre­cipices, and draw both those that would sain be good, and all that take their part, and assist them in so necessary a Reformation, into great Difficul­ties, and great Dangers. And if this were done by Strangers only, it were something more tole­rable; but their own Friends and Relations have oftentimes the greatest Hand in it. These do it upon an idle Pretence, That a Philoso­phical Retirement renders Men useless, and lost to the World; and others do it, partly out of Envy against a Life so infinitely more happy and commendable than their own; and partly out of a Resentment, that this will make them, and their way of Conversation d [...]spi [...]ed, by those that have exchanged it for a better.

Nor must it be dissembled, that there is some­times too just ground for the latter of these Reasons; for we very often see Men, whose good Dispositions and happy Temper incline them to Wisdom and Virtue, (while they are not arrived to any Mastery or Perfection in it, but only big with the Hope of attaining to it in time) exalted with Self-conceit, and full of Disdain, as if they only had all Perfection, [...] other People none at all. When, in tru [...]h, this [Page 214] mighty Opinion proceeds only from want of Discretion and Judgment, and is the most un­deniable Evidence against such Men, that they really have not that which they with so much Confidence pretend to. For there is not in the whole World any thing more inconsistent with true Wisdom and Virtue, than an haughty su­percilious Carriage, and that swelling Vanity, which disdains and neglects that excellent and most Divine Rule of Knowing ones Self: A Rule, that is in truth, the Sum and Substance of all Philosophy, the first Principle, and the last and highest Precept in it.

When Men behave themselves with so much Pride and Ostentation, the World think the Character of Philosophers sutes but very ill with them. For this Exaltation does not proceed from any true Gallantry or Greatness of Soul, but is a vain Tumour, that draws the ill Hu­mours to it from within, and swells to an un­natural Bulk; an Excrescence that causes De­formity, and proceeds from some Disease. Whereas true Greatness and Strength of Mind, like that of the Body, results from a good Dis­position of the Parts, is distributed equally and regularly through the whole Mass, and preserves a due Temper, and mutual good Assistance be­tween the Parts within, and those without.

Against this Distemper, he cautions all that make Philosophy their Study, as against a Thing detested by all Mankind, and that which gives a just Provocation to Malice, and exposes a Man to all the mischievous Effects of it. But when all due Care hath been taken to get clear of this Folly; then a Man ought to harden himself [Page 215] against all Scoffs and Reproaches, with the Con­sideration of the Dignity of Humane Nature, and what is decent and agreeable to so excel­lent a Being; and then to persevere in the Choice of Virtue, in despight of all Opposition to the contrary, and in a full Persuasion, that these good Resolutions and Desires are the Motions and Impulses of a Divine Power. For, in truth, Philosophy is the noblest and most va­luable Blessing that ever God bestowed upon Mankind.

The Excellence of the Thing is confessed by these very Scoffers themselves, who when they reproach us with pretending to an Accomplish­ment above us, do at the same time express the high Esteem they have for it; and by not al­lowing any Man to profess himself a Philosopher on a sudden, they expose indeed the Arrogance and Forwardness of the Persons that presume to do so; but then withall they acknowledge this to be an Attainment that requires much Time, and great Application. Now these very Men, who resent the Vanity of bold Pretenders with so much Indignation, and express their Honour of Philosophy that way; will discern the Beauty and Majesty of it much better, and admire it ten thousand times more when they behold its Effects, in the modest Conversation of one who constantly improves, and perseveres in being resolutely and obstinately vertuous, in despight of all the Scoffs and Discouragements by which they attempted, in vain, to draw him off. But the Man that yields tamely to their Reproaches, and upon that Account desists from his good Purposes, and compounds for [Page 216] his Quiet by returning to his former Courses, he renders himself doubly ridiculous. The Jests and Scorn that passed upon such a one at first, were what he had really no Concern in, but the Reproach must return all upon the Authors themselves, and none of their Aspersions would stick, so long as he proceeded in a generous Neglect of them, and by degrees was prepa­ring to change their Scorn into Admiration and Esteem. But the suffering ones self to be van­quished by their Malice, does not only justifie their first Insolence, by quitting our former Pretensions, and falling so low, after looking so high; thus vainly attempting to reconcile Philosophy with a mean and sordid Temper; but it also provokes Contempt upon another Account, that of being subdued by such base and despicable Enemies, and letting a senseless Flear, or a malicious Jest, beat one off from that Post of Virtue which God and Wisdom had assigned to him. Most justly therefore does this poor-spirited Wretch deserve a double Portion of Scorn, the Scorn of wise and good Men, af­ter having submitted to that of Fools and Knaves; which could have done him no Harm at all in case he had persisted in his Duty; but returns upon him with double Force, and is render'd most reasonable and due, by his own Inconstancy and Desertion.

These Considerations are abundantly suffici­ent to inspire any Mind that is not utterly sunk into Feebleness and Effeminacy, with generous Resolutions to persevere in Goodness, and hold out against all manner of Opposition. And in this there is one very considerable Advantage, [Page 217] That even our Passions commence good Disposi­tions, and the natural Ambition every Man hath after Honour and Fame, becomes upon this Oc­casion an Assistant to Virtue: It adds Strength and Vigour to Reason, and is resined and ex­alted by it. For thus we come to a true Noti­on of Honour; we covet it no longer for its own sake, nor are proud of it upon the Account of the Persons who pay the Respect, and so place our Happiness upon something without us: But we value it as a Mark and Testimony of real Virtue and Desert. And therefore the Honour which a Man ought to be satisfied with, is by no means that which comes from the Ap­plause of the Rabble, and unthinking part of the World, who often mistake Mens Characters; but that which is founded upon the Commenda­tion of the Wise and the Good; for these know how to discern between Persons, and their Me­fits, and the Testimony of such is what may be depended upon, without any Danger of being led into false Judgments by it.

CHAP. XXX.

If you ever happen to accommodate your self to the Humours of the World, for the sake of Reputation and Applause; take notice, that this is below a Philosopher. And therefore content your self upon all Occasions with re­ally being what you would be thought. But if you will needs be thought so too, deserve your own good Opinion, and that will be sufficient.

COMMENT.

WE were told before, That when once a Man's Judgment is convinced of his Duty, he ought constantly to persevere in it; to look upon this as the particular Post, and Character, which Providence hath appointed him to fill: That however Men may run down Goodness for a while, yet the Resolute and Brave break through all that, and in time gain the Admiration of their Enemies and Deriders; but the Tame and the Fickle, that sink under the Reproaches of ill Men, draw down a just Scorn, and a double Shame upon themselves. Now to all this he adds, That for a Man to forsake his Principles, and consult, not so much his own Judgment as the Humour of the World, thereby to render himself acceptable to others; is a Weakness of which a Philosopher must not be guilty; it being a fix'd Rule to all such, That their only Care ought to be, to recommend [Page 219] themselves to their own Consciences, and Al­mighty God.

Therefore, says he, content your self with being a Philosopher; which is but another Name for a Good Man. But if the being so alone seem too little, and you desire that your Light should shine abroad, and People see and be sensible of your Virtue, (as indeed it is the Nature of Goodness to discover its Beauties and shed its Lustre, and a Man can with better Confidence take Satisfaction in his own Virtues when they are conspicuous and acknowledged;) then, says he, do not fix your Eye upon the World, nor be sollicitous to please the Multitude; for these are but very incompetent Judges of such Mat­ters: But rather strive to approve your self to your own Breast, and let the Sense and Consci­ousness of your own Virtue satisfie you. For a Man that hath attained to some good measure of Philosophy, (and such a one, you must ob­serve, Epictetus applies himself to at present) will be sure, both to act consistently with his Principles, while he makes it his Business to ap­prove himself to his own Conscience; and he will also secure a more discerning and impar­tial Judge of his Actions, when they are to be tried by his own Reason, than if he appealed to the Judgment of the World.

And here it may be proper to take notice, how different this Advice is from something which was said before; all which, in truth, de­pends upon the Difference of the Persons con­cerned in it. There he addrest his Discourse to a Young Beginner, one who was but just enter­ing upon the Study of Philosophy; and to him [Page 220] the Counsel thought fit to be given, was, Do not affect to be thought Wise; because, Persons in his Circumstances are strangely fond of Fame and Applause, transported beyond Measure with Noise and empty Breath, and not only too cre­dulously vain upon the false Judgments of others, but unqualified, as yet, to pass any true Judg­ment upon themselves. But at present he hath a good Proficient to deal with, one that is bet­ter disposed to act upon a Principle, and fol­low the Dictates of his own Reason: And there­fore to such a one his Advice is, That he would content himself with being what he should be; but if he will needs be thought so too, he is now in a Condition to make a just Estimate of himself, and therefore may be satisfied with his own Approbation.

This seems to be the true Importance of the Chapter: Though possibly there may be ano­ther very convenient Sense of it too. For this Great Man, very probably, designed it as a ne­cessary Caution, (as indeed he generally takes care to prevent any Misconstructions that his Expressions may be liable to.) Now by say­ing in the former Chapter, That those who ex­pose Virtue at first, will afterwards admire the Re­solute and Constant in it; but these Men who yield­ed to th [...]se Reproaches deserve to be doubly scorn'd; he might be thought to propound the Opinion and Esteem of the World, as the principal Mo­tive to Goodness; and therefore here he retracts that, and takes off all such Suspicions, by call­ing away the Soul from the Pursuit of Fame and Reputation abroad, as that which is apt to cor­rupt her Principles, and make a Man more in­dustrious [Page 221] to please others than himself. And in Opposition to this, he would have a Man gain his own Approbation; for the Judgment a wise Man makes of himself is less subject to Partia­lity, and Prejudice, and Vanity, and of greater Use in the Encouragement it gives to Virtue, than that of the World can possibly be. For the being approved and commended by Wise and Good Judges, is the most satisfactory and convincing Evidence, that a Man is t [...]uly Virtuous. Now the Person to whom Epictetus speaks in this Place, is supposed to be such a Judge; and upon this Presumption I imagine it is, that he says in the Close of the Chapter, Do but deserve your own good Opinion, and that is enough in all Conscience.

CHAP. XXXI.

Never perplex your self with anxious Thoughts like these; I shall lead a wretched obscure Life, without any Name, or Notice ta­ken of me. For if you suppose (as this Complaint evidently does) that Obscurity and Disrespect is an Evil, consider that it is no more in the power of any but your self to bring any Evil upon you, than it is to bring any Baseness or Dishonesty upon you. But besides, pray consider, Was it any part of your proper Business, to be chosen into a Place of Command, or to be admitted to, or caressed at publick Entertainments? You must allow it was not. Where is the Dis­respect then? and what just Reflection can it be upon you, if you are not? Besides, why should you say, you shall be despised, and have no Name or Notice taken of you, when your Business lies wholly in Matters at the disposal of your own Will, and for which consequently you have it in your own power to make your self as valuable as you please? But your Friends will be never the bet­ter for you. What do you call being never the better? You will not furnish them with Money, nor have Interest enough to give them the Privileges of Citizens of Rome. And why should you trouble your self for this? [Page 223] Who told you, that this was ever incumbent upon you; or one of those Things in your own power which you ought to look upon as a Duty? Or how can it be expected, you should bestow that upon another which you are not possest of your self? But your Friends will answer, Pray get it then, that you may impart to us. Yes, I will, with all my Heart, provided you can direct me how I may attain these Things, and at the same time preserve my Integrity, and Modesty, and true Greatness of Soul, inviolate. But if you desire me to part with my own real Good, that I may procure you some imagi­nary one only; this is the greatest Injustice, and the greatest Folly imaginable. And which of these do you esteem the more valu­able; Money, or a true, vertuous, and modest Friend? Therefore it would bet­ter become you to assist my Virtue, than to expect such Things from me as cannot be had, but at the Expence of that. But it will be objected again, That your Coun­try receives no Advantages from you. What Advantage do you mean? You will not build publick Portico's, nor Bagnio's, nor Exchanges? And what if you do not? Does your Country expect to be furnished with Arms from a Shoe-maker, or Shoes from a Smith? Surely, if every one do it Service in his own Way, this is all that can [Page 224] in Reason be required. And shall you then be thought to have done it none, if you make an honest and good Patriot? No sure; you are very far from being an Ʋse­less Member of the Commonwealth, when you do so Well, but what Rank then, what Place (you'll say) shall you have in the Commonwealth? Why truly, even just such a one as is consistent with your Inte­grity and Modesty. But if once you part with these, upon a Pretence of promoting the Publick Good; know, that you are less capable of serving your Country, when you are grown Knavish and Impudent.

COMMENT.

WHen Men apply themselves to the Study and Practice of Virtue, and are convin­ced that nothing so well deserves their Care as the Improvement of their Minds, many Diffi­culties offer themselves, to shake these Resolu­tions; and as Men differ in their Circumstances, so these Objections present themselves different­ly, both to disquiet their own Thoughts, and to evacuate the Good Advice of others. To the Young Beginners, whose Minds have not yet purged off the Dross of the World, such mean and sordid Reflections as these are apt to step in; If I neglect my Business and Estate, I and my Family shall starve; and except I take the Trouble of punishing my Servant, my Indulgence will be his Ruin.

[Page 225] But to those who have made any considerable Progress, these Objections appear Despicable and Low; they are above such trifling Consi­derations, and while they are doing their Du­ty, can trust Providence for a Provision. But then at the same time, they are concerned for the discharge of all those good Offices that may be expected from them; and think, that both the intrinsick Goodness of the thing, and the Honour that attends it, will abundantly justify such a Concern. For their Desires are Generous and Noble, they aim at nothing else but true Honour; they decline Infamy and Obscurity, and propose to themselves the Advantage of their Friends, and the Service of their Country: And from these Topicks, they start some Objections, which Epictetus here undertakes to examine and refute particularly.

And First of all, he applies himself to that General one of Obscurity or Disgrace; that if a Man retire from the Gainful Employments and Business of the World, or quit his Practice at the Bar;

Where Eloquence acquires a just and lasting Fame.

(as Homer observes) it must be his hard fate to be buried alive, without any Respect paid, or notice taken of him.

Now this Objection Epictetus takes off most effectually, by the following Syllogisms: Dis­grace is an Evil, and Evil as well as Good, is something within our own power. But whate­ver is so, no other but our selves, can bring upon us. Therefore when any Man is really in [Page 226] Disgrace, this is in, and by, and from himself, whether others disrespect him, or whether they do not. So that the Disgrace from others, is what we have no just cause to fear, nor indeed ought it to pass for Disgrace in our Opinion, if Disgrace be allowed to be Evil; for then it must by consequence too be our own Act and Deed.

This is the Sum of the Argument; and now if you please, let us examine the several Propo­sitions whereof it consists. First of all, Dis­grace or Obscurity, (says he) is an Evil: Now if Honour be (as all Men sure will allow it to be) a Good, Disgrace, and any thing that is Honourable, must needs be Evil: For if it were Good, it would cease to be Dishonorable, and be valued and esteemed. But besides the consent of all Mankind in this notion of Honour, this very thing proves it to be Good, that it is what we account most properly to belong to the best Persons and Things. For Honour is attributed to God, to Blessed Spirits, and to the most ex­cellent of the Sons of Men, as their strict and just due, as the best acknowledgment we can pay for their Merit and Goodness. So that Dishonour must needs be an Evil upon this Ac­count also; for where one Contrary belongs to one Extream, the other Contrary will belong to the distant Extream; and this is the Case of Honour and Dishonour, with regard to Good and Evil.

The next thing to be proved would be, that this is a thing wholly in our own power, but this I presume is done already; for there hath been so much said in the former part of this [Page 227] Treatise, to shew, that all the Good and Evil, properly so called, that can fall upon Rational and Free Agents, must needs depend upon the Liberty of their own Choice; and that nothing which does not fall within a Man's own Dispo­sal, can in true and strict Speaking, be called Good or Evil; that it is to be hoped there is no need of repeating those Arguments any more. But now, if Disgrace and want of Ho­nour, be our own Act, and what depends upon none, and comes from none but our selves when we lye under it; a Man may absolutely despise and neglect the World, without incurring any real Dishonour upon that account. You will say indeed, this excludes him from Places of Dignity and Respect, that it hinders him from making a Figure and Interest in his Coun­try; that he sits at Home, and eats in Private. But then I must ask you again, whether the Of­fice of a Lord Mayor, or a Member of Par­liament, whether the City Feasts, or the Ca­resses of the World, are things in our own Dis­posal, and such as any Man can give himself when he pleases? You must grant me they are not; and from thence I infer, that no Man is really happy for the want of them; and conse­quently that Obscurity, and want of publick Honour, of which these are alledged, as the dis­couraging Inconveniences, is no Evil or Unhap­piness neither.

Now, as to the meaning of what follows, (there seems to be some difficulty in that short Sentence, It is no more in the power of any but your self, to bring any Evil upon you, than it is to bring Idleness or Dishonesty upon you.) For this, not be­ing [Page 228] in the power of any other Person to bring any Evil upon a Man, seems to be urged from a proof more evident than it self; and the Insinuation here is, that as the decency of an Action is more easi­ly discerned, than the real and intrinsick Good­ness; (for it is by its Comeliness and Beauty, that Virtue recommends it self, and invites us to its Embraces, and engages our Affection,) so also the Vileness and Dishonesty is more visible than the Immorality and Evil. Now Vileness or Turpitude is properly applied to an undue use of Pleasures and Sensual Delights; and this a­buse can be the effect of no other thing but Choice, because the indulging those Pleasures, is purely our own Act. It is therefore no more in the power of any other Person to bring Evil upon a Man, than to bring Vileness or Disho­nesty upon him; and Evil it is plain he cannot, for a Man has no more power to engage us in Vice, than he hath to engage us in base and un­becoming Practices; and Evil both of Crime and Misery, is as much in his own free Dispo­sal, as Turpitude and Disnonesty: So that if a Man cannot be brought into this latter by another, and if he can no more be brought into Evil, than into That, it follows, that he cannot be brought into Evil at all by ano­ther.

But possibly the place may be clearer, and a more full and expedient Sense found out, if we transpose that Negative Particle, that so the Sentence may run thus, It is impossible for any Person to be made Miserable by any other; nay, much more so, than to be made Vile and Base by him; that so the strength and stress of [Page 229] the whole Argument, may lye upon that note of Comparison. And this Conjecture, as well as the whole Interpretation grounded upon it, seems to carry a great deal of Truth, if we attend to the Notions upon which the Masters of Reason and Oratory proceed in these Mat­ters; for they define Honesty and Turpitude, by that which is Praise or Blame-worthy, and so make Decency and Vileness to depend upon the Judgment of the World. But of things Profitable or Hurtful, and Good and Evil, they give us a very different Account; for these they tell us, have a distinguishing Character founded in Nature, and are not so precarious, as to depend upon the Opinions or Determinations of Men. Now according to this Notion, which allows so much to the Commendations of Men, and makes Dishonesty to consist in the Con­demnation and dislike of the World, he says, a Man must admit, that it is at least as impos­sible for another to bring Evil upon him, as it is to bring Dishonesty. And if, (as was pro­ved before,) this cannot be done, much less can that; and so the Conclusion is still the same, that it is utterly impossible to be done at all.

But then again, What occasion, (says he) is there for that Complaint of living without any Name or Notice taken of you? Is there no way of becoming Eminent, but by appearing in some Office of Authority, and being advanced to the Administration of Publick Business? Alas! poor Man, you have forgot it seems, that this is not the Field where Humane Good and Evil, the proper and peculiar Happiness or Misery of our [Page 230] Nature is to be contended for. The Desires and Aversions of your Mind, the Actions of your Life, and in a word, the Management of your Freedom, and what is left to its Disposal, these are the Lists which you must enter for that Prize; and this is a Combat in which if you behave your self Gallantly, and act as un­corrupt Nature, and right Reason would di­rect, you may render your self highly valuable and conspicuous. Why then do you complain of Obscurity and Contempt, when you have the Post of Honour within your self, and may become as Signal and Eminent on it as you please? Why indeed? But because you have not yet unlearned the Folly of placing your Happiness in Foreign and External Advantages, such as it is one necessary Qualification of every one who would be a Philosopher in good ear­nest, to neglect and despise.

Well, but allowing, (says the Objector) that I may signalize my self never so much, yet still this is but a private Satisfaction, it gives one no Credit nor Influence in the World, and my Friends are never the better for my Merit. This now is a Pretence calculated for one who hath made some competent Proficiency in Wisdom and Virtue: It argues the Man to have got a­bove all sordid seekings of his own Interest, and to value the World and its Advantages, no longer for the sake of himself, but in kindness to his Friends. The Assisting of them, he looks upon as a Good and Gallant Action, and there­fore allows himself in the pursuit of Wealth, and Power, and Interest, to prevent his being an useless and unprofitable part of the Creation, [Page 231] and render the Good he hath, as diffusive as may be.

This Objection too, Epictetus removes by Two Arguments; the First proceeds upon the distinction of things within our own Power; the other urges, that a Man who retains his Virtue and Fidelity, and all the good Qualities that create and preserve a true Friendship, is more serviceable and beneficial to his Friends, than if he should enrich or promote them, when the power of doing so, was purchased at the Ex­pence of those good Qualities.

From the Distinction of Things in our Power, he argues, that Riches, and Honours, and Pre­ferments, are none of them which Nature hath left within the Disposal of our own Wills: If therefore it happen at any time, that a Wise and Good Man be possessed of these Advanta­ges, let him impart to others liberally; nay, le [...] him esteem the Opportunity of doing Good, a greater kindness to himself, than to the Person that receives it from him. But if it be not his Fortune to be placed in such Circumstances, this is no Reflection upon his Virtue, nor any Disparagement to his Kindness and good Inten­tions: He is not one whit the worse Man in himself, nor the less a Friend to others. For (as Epictetus says,) what Madness is it to expect that a Man should give that to us, which he is not possessed of himself?

But pray get these things, say your Friends, that we may partake of them with you. Yes, with all my Heart, if I can get them, and not lose my self. Do but order Matters so, that I may still retain my Fidelity and my Innocence, and [Page 232] not bring any aspersion upon the Characters I pretend to, viz. Those of a Friend and a Phi­losopher; and when you have thus smoothed the way, give your Directions, and I will not fail to follow them. Now by this Answer, our Author seems plainly to allow a Liberty, both of endeavouring to improve an Estate, and to embrace publick Offices and Honours, provided those Riches and Honours may be acquired and enjoyed, without being engaged in any thing inconsistent with Virtue, or unbecoming our Cha­racter. But if this be an impossible Condition, as it too often proves; if the Corruption of the World be such, that a Man who makes it his Business to acquire these Advantages, do at the same time bring himself under a manifest hazard, if not a fatal necessity of parting with something that is a greater and more substan­tial Good; a Good more properly his, in ex­change for them: Then what do those Friends, who importune a Man to make himself Rich and Great, that he may make them so too; what do they, I say, but desire, that he would part with a Happine [...]s that is real and his own: (that is the Good of his Rational Soul,) to pro­cure them a Happiness which is but imagina­ry, and cannot be truly called their own, though they had it? For the Advantages they are so eager for, have no relation to the Rational Mind, in which the very Essence and Nature of a Man consists, (and consequently all the Happiness he is capable of, considered as a Man, must needs depend upon that too,) but they are the Objects of meaner Appetites.

[Page 233] This therefore is the most unequal Dealing, and the greatest Folly imaginable: They deal unequal­ly, because they transgress the Laws of true Friendship; (for the Pythagoreans, you know, make Friendship to consist in Equality,) and be­sides, nothing can be more unfair, than for me to engage a Friend in some great hazard, and expose him to certain and extream Misery, and all this, only to satisfy some unreasonable Desire of my own: The Folly of it is double; for who but Fools would be so barbarous, as to impose such an unreasonable Trial of his Kindness upon an Intimate Acquaintance, and particular Friend? And who but such could be so blind, as not to discern the mighty diffe­rence between the Loss their Friend would su­stain, by gratifying their Requests, and the Gain themselves should reap, in case he did so? He sacrifices his All; forfeits his Greatest, his own peculiar Happiness, to purchase that for them, which is not, cannot be their pro­per Happiness; and is so far from being a Great one, that it very often proves to be none at all in the Event, but a great and sore Evil.

But besides all this, there may still another very good Reason be given, why he should call such Men Foolish and Senseless; and that is, their esteeming Mony to be of greater and more valuable Consideration to them, than the Modesty and Fidelity of a Friend. And to this purpose, he proceeds to shew, that a Person thus quali­fied, is so far from being unserviceable to his Friends, that he is really much more useful [Page 234] and beneficial, than even those who feed them with the Dross they so much admire.

For if among Servants, those who are honest and respectful, recommend themselves more to the Esteem of their Masters, than others who are of quicker Parts, and more dextrous in the Business of their Trade; sure the Reason holds much stronger, why a Faithful and Vertuous Friend should have the Preference infinitely be­fore what the World calls a gainful one, and the Preference they will have in the Opinion of wise Men. For we feel the Benefit of these up­on every Occasion; they give us the Sweets of good Conversation, and the Assistance of sea­sonable Advice; they are a perpetual Guard upon whatever we esteem most dear, and a sure Relief in Dangers and Distresses; they are Phy­sicians in our Diseases, and (as if Life were too short a Space for so much Goodness to exercise it self in) we find our Account in such Friends even after Death: And upon all these Occa­sions, there is a perpetual good Correspondence, a mutual Agreement between the Giver and the Receiver of Favours; no Discord in the whole Course of their Lives, but constant Consent, and perfect Harmony of Souls. Those therefore that are Friends indeed, will contribute their utmost Endeavours towards the preserving the Virtue and Fidelity of their Friends; nay, they will find themselves obliged to it, in Tender­ness to their own Interest; and cannot be guil­ty of so great an Absurdity, as to desire any Thing for their own Sakes, which must turn at last so infinitely to their own Prejudice, by robbing their Friend of his Honesty, and ren­dring [Page 235] him incapable of doing them any far­ther Service.

Thus also that other Argument might be an­swered, and the observing what is in a Man's own Power, and properly belongs to him to do, would serve to refute what follows. For, who ever told you, that it was a Duty incum­bent upon you, or a Thing in your own Power and Choice, to procure Portico's and publick Buildings for the Benefit of your Country? To this may be replied again, as it was in the Case of your Friends; Who can be expected to bestow that upon others which he never had himself? And if to this it be rejoyned, Get them your self, that you may have it in your own Power to give to your Country; what was said before will serve every jot as well upon this Occasion too. But these Considerations he hath left in the general, for us to apply as we see requisite; and hath supplied us with ano­ther clear and full Answer, much more pertinent, and particular to the Matter in hand.

What need this trouble you (says he)? Is it your Concern to provide Cloisters and Ex­changes for your Country? The Smith does not think it his Business to supply his Country with Shoes, but with Arms; and the Shoe-maker does not think himself obliged to furnish out Arms, but Leather and Shoes. And sure every Commonwealth is served in best Order, and to most Advantage, when every one attends strict­ly to the proper Business of his Calling, and does not intermeddle with other Peoples Con­cerns; but takes care to do his own part, and interrupts no Body else in the Discharge of theirs.

[Page 236] Well, but what is my part then, says the Philosopher, and wherein will it be expected that I should contribute to the Publick Good? The seeming force of this Question he obviates most excellently, by appealing to his own Judg­ment in another; What, says he, if you have been the Means of making a good Man, have not you been beneficial to your Country? Is not this a piece of Service of much greater Con­sequence than the Profits every mean Artificer brings to the Publick? This would be the Ad­vantage, and this the Thanks and Honour due to you, for making your self an honest Man and a good Subject: But if your Wisdom and Virtue have a kindly Influence upon others too; if your Instructions and your Example form them into the same good Principles, you are then a publick Blessing, and more beneficial still, in proportion to the Numbers you have an In­fluence upon.

And now you desire to know, what Rank or Office shall be assigned you, and would fain be like the General in the Army, or the Magistrate in the City, or the Artificer in the Shop, who know their respective Trusts, and have some Station or Business, Military or Civil, which they can properly call their own: To this the Author replies in general Terms, You may have any that will fall to your share, only with this Provision, that it be consistent with Virtue and Honesty. But if you make Shipwrack of these, while you pretend to venture for Monuments and stately Buildings, it is great odds but you lose your Magnificence at the same time that your Modesty and Fidelity is cast away. And, I [Page 237] pray, whether of the two is the greater Grace to a Commonwealth? a City well stored with true and good Men, or adorned with sumptu­ous Halls and splendid Palaces?

But to come nearer to the Question, What Place or Esteem is due to a Philosopher, or what Regard should the State have to him? Surely Men should be esteemed according to the Dignity and Value of their Work. And by this Rule the Philosopher may claim Prece­dence, as a Former and Maker of Men; one that frames and moulds them into vertuous Persons, and useful honest Subjects. For the Matter he hath to work upon, is, himself and others; and the Pains he is at about them, is, to refine and purifie their Nature, and exalt them to a Life of Reason and Virtue. He is indeed, and ought to be respected, as a Com­mon Father, and Master, a Corrector of Er­rors, and a Counsellor and Assistant in Good­ness; one that is liberal of his Care, makes every other Man's Benefit and Improvement his Endeavour and Concern, and hath a Hand in all the Good that is done. One that adds to the Enjoyments of the Prosperous, by congratula­ting and rejoycing with them; and lightens the Burden of the Wretched, by ministring season­able Comforts; and himself bearing a part in their Afflictions. In one word, He will do all those Things, that are possible, or can be ex­pected, to be done by one who thinks no part of the World exempt from his Care, but feels in himself a constant Desire, and kind Intenti­on to promote the Good of all Mankind.

[Page 238] Now if this general Employment do not sa­tisfie, but you would needs have this wondrous Man fastned down to some one particular Pro­fession, in a wise and well-constituted Govern­ment, this Person would be chosen their Head, because his Eminence and Usefulness must needs give him the Preference before others. And indeed, his Qualifications, if we consider them particularly, seem to deserve no less. His Pru­dence, so much superior to the common Sheep, capacitates him for a Shepherd to the Flock. His Learning and Wisdom entitle him to the Degree of a Senator or Privy Counsellor; and if he have applied himself at all to that sort of Discipline, none can be fitter to command an Army, because he must needs excell both in true Courage and regular Conduct. * Thus Socra­tes gained immortal Renown by his Bravery at the Battel of Delium, and cast, as we are told, so universal an Awe into his Enemies, that they all stood amazed at his Courage, and he made good his Retreat single, through a whole Body [Page 239] of them, without their daring to fall upon him. So likewise Xenophon brought off that great Body of Greeks, and had his Praises celebrated in the Olympick Games, for so Noble an At­chievment.

This, I say, would be the case, this the Re­spect paid to a Philosopher in a wise and well­constituted Government. But we must take notice, that wicked and licentious States do quite contrary; They are most Inauspicious Places to dwell in, and have destructive Effects upon the Minds of Men; they stifle and quench that Light which Heaven hath given us, cast a Blemish upon the best Employments, discourage the most useful Sciences, disregard the Persons, and obstruct the good Influence of them who teach us by their Doctrins, and lead us by their Examples. And where so much wicked Indu­stry is used to damp the Lustre of Virtue, that must be confest a very improper Place, either for Men to lay the first Foundations of Wis­dom and a good Life in, or to improve and confirm themselves in, after such good Begin­nings. But then we must observe withall, that if in the midst of such perverse Conversation some one be found of a happier Complexion than the rest; one, whose Soul a particular good Genius hath made proof against a [...]l Cor­ruption; the greater such a one's Difficulties are, and the more Tryals his Virtue is exerci­sed with, the more perfect and illustrious it will appear, and shed abroad its Rays with great­er [Page 240] Advantage in the midst of so much Dark­ness. So true it is, that all the Traverses of Fortune, and this vast Variety of Accidents in Humane Life, contribute exceedingly to the In­crease of Virtue; and that both Prosperity and Adversity work together for the Good of those Men who have the Wisdom to choose Things with Judgment, and manage them with Dex­terity.

CHAP. XXXII.

It is possible, you observe some other Person more caressed than your self; invited to En­tertainments, when you are left out; salu­ted before you are taken any notice of; thought more proper to advise with, and his Counsel followed rather than yours. But are these Respects paid him, Good Things, or are they Evil? If they deserve to be esteemed Good, this ought to be matter of Joy to you, that that Person is happy in them: But if they be Evil, how unreasonable is it to be troubled, that they have not fallen to your own share? Besides, Consider, I pray, that it is not possible you should have those Civi­lities paid to you in the same degree that others have; because the Profession you have taken upon you, will not suffer you to do the same Things to deserve them that others do. And how can it be expected, that a Man who thinks the trouble of waiting at a great Man's Leveé below him, should have the same Interest with one that constantly pays his Morning Devotions there? Or one, that only minds his own Business, with another that is eternally cringing, and fawning, and wriggling himself into a Lord's Train; one that will not strain a Point to commend him; with a Parasite, that is ever blowing him up with his own Praise, that indulges [Page 242] all his Vices, and admires his Follies and his Nonsense? At this rate, you are a very unjust, and a most unreasonable Man; for you expect to receive that gratis, which is really set to Sale, and cannot be obtained without paying the Price: For instance now, and to use a very familiar one. You enquire in the Market, how Lettice go? and are told, they are a Half-penny a-piece. Sup­pose now, another Person bids and pays, and takes them; and you will neither bid, nor pay, and go without them; is there any Wrong done you? or hath the Buyer a bet­ter Bargain than you? He parted with his Money, and hath the Sallad; you have no Sallad indeed, but you have kept your Mo­ney: Just so it is in the Case before us. You were not invited to a Great Man's Ta­ble; the Reason is, because you did not buy the Invitation: Pay the Price, and you may have it; and that Price is, Commendation and Flattery. If therefore you think the Thing for your Advantage, it is set to Sale, and you know the Market Rates. But if you expect it should come without making Payments, you are very reasonable. And if it be thought too dear, then sure you have no Reason to complain; for, though you have not his Lordship's Dinner, yet you have something as good in the room of it; for you have the Satisfaction of keeping the [Page 243] Price in your own Hand still; that is, of not commending a Man against Truth and Conscience; These Words are not in Simplicius's Copy; but being ge­nerally found in the rest, I have inserted them in a diffe­rent Character. [and of avoiding his for­mal haughty Reception of you, which carries in it a thousand times more of Insolence than Civility.]

COMMENT.

THis Discourse seems to be a Continuation of the former; proceeding to obviate some Objections that are still behind, and such as seem all to arise from the same Habit and Disposition of Mind. For, when a Man hath turned all his Thoughts and Care upon his own Improvement, and hath disengaged himself from the World, and its Incumbrances; when he hath arrived to that Largeness and Sufficien­cy of Soul, as to despise Riches, and Honour, and Popularity; when he thinks it unbecoming his Character, to court the Countenance of Great Persons, by all the mean Arts and obse­quious Attendance of Slaves and Sycophants; there will, in all likelihood, follow this Incon­venience upon it, that he shall be slighted and disregarded himself. Many of his Equals and Inferiours shall be invited home to Entertain­ments, shall be more particularly addrest to in publick Places, and receive all those outward Marks of Respect; nay, many less capable of advising than he, shall be admitted into the Se­crets of Families, and consulted in all their [Page 244] Affairs of Importance, while this Person, so much their Superior in Worth and Wisdom, is industriously neglected.

Now all the seeming Hardship that appears in such Usage, Epictetus might, if he had thought fit, have taken off in one word, by remitting us to his usual Distinction, of the Things that are, and that are not, within the Compass of our own Choice: For, if those Things that conduce to our real Happiness be at our own Disposal, and the Things here mentioned are not so, then ought we not to suppose, that our Happiness does at all consist in them. But this Solution of the Difficulty he takes no Notice of here, partly because it is general, and applicable to many other Cases as well as this; and partly, as presuming it abundantly enlarged upon, and that his Reader was sufficiently perfect in it be­fore. That therefore which he chooses to in­sist upon, is, something that comes up closer to the Matter in hand; and proves, that the Inconveniences here alledged minister an Occa­sion of much greater Advantage, to those who have the Wisdom to make a right Use of them.

To this Purpose, he tells us, that the Instan­ces, in which Men of inferior Qualifications have the Preference and Respect before those who have made a strict Philosophical Life their Choice, must be either Good or Evil. If you please to make the Division perfect, I will take the Confidence to add, or indifferent; for in truth, there are a great many Things of this middle sort. But then it must be confest too, that those which are indifferent, can neither be called Honorable nor Dishonorable. And for [Page 245] that Reason, the Author seems not to have thought this Branch worth any room in his Di­vision. Well, we will say then, according to him, that they are all in one of the Extremes, either Good or Evil: Now if they be Good, (says he) this ought by no means to be matter of Discontent to you. But quite contrary, it should add to your Joy and Satisfaction, that another Person is happy in them. For this calls for the Exercise of a very Exalted and Philo­sophical Virtue, that of wishing well to all Man­kind, and rejoycing at the Prosperity of o­thers.

And here we shall do well to observe what a mighty Good he makes this seeming Evil to contain, and how prodigious an Honour this Disrespect derives upon us. For this indeed is the very Quality of the Mind, that brings us to the truest and nearest resemblance of God, which is the greatest Happiness that any of his Creatures can possibly attain to. For God is himself of absolute and unbounded Power, be­ing indeed the only Source of whatever limited Power is communicated to any other Beings. And as his Power is infinitely great, so his Will is infinitely Good. From hence it comes to pass, that he would have all things good, and not any thing Evil, so far as that can be. And be­cause his Will can intend nothing but what his Power is able to accomplish, therefore he does really make all things Good; and this he does not niggardly and grudgingly, but communi­cates to every Creature of his own Goodness, in as large Proportions, as the Condition of each Creature is capable of enjoying.

[Page 246] Now the Soul of Man does not resemble God, in infinite and uncontroulable Power, 'tis true, for this is a Perfection of the Divine Nature, which our Constitution cannot receive; and besides, there are many Degrees of interme­diate Beings, which though much inferior to God, are yet much superior to us in point of Power. But still in the other part of his Excellence, he hath condescended to make us like himself, and given us the honour of a Will Free and Unbounded, a Will capable of extend­ing its good Wishes, and kind Inclinations to all the World, provided we have but the Grace to make this good use of it. It is therefore an in­stance of his wonderful Wisdom, and adorable Goodness, that he hath made this to be his I­mage and Similitude in our Souls; because this is the true and proper principle of all Opera­tion and Action. And though the Soul cannot punctually make all things Good, as God can and does; yet it goes as far as it can, in ma­king them so, and for the rest, it does its part, by wishing that Good which it cannot give them. [For that indeed is perfect and true Volition,] when the Person willing, exerts his whole Strength, and all the Faculties assist and con­cur with it; for we have the absolute Disposal of our own Minds, and so the wishing well to all Mankind, is what any Man may do, if he please. And indeed, a truly Good Man goes farther than all this; he wishes the Prosperity of all Men whatsoever; and he stops not there, but extends his Kindness to Creatures of dif­ferent Species, to Brutes, and Plants, and even Inanimate things; in a word, to all that make [Page 247] up this great Body of the World, of which himself is a part. 'Tis true, he cannot make those Wishes effectual to all, because, as I said, the Willing is a Perfection given us by Nature, but the power of Effecting is not; for this re­quires the Cooperation of many other Causes, the Permission of the Gods, and the Concur­rence of several Agents which we cannot com­mand. And for this Reason it is, that all our Virtue consists in our Will, the Merit of all our Actions is measured by that; and all the Happiness and Misery of our Lives, made to depend upon the Good or Ill use of it. And thus you have the force of this Argument, pro­ceeding upon a Supposition that these things are Good.

But if on the other hand, the Respects de­nied to the Philosopher, and paid to others, be Evil, this can be no ground of dissatisfaction, but ministers a fresh occasion of Joy: Not upon his account indeed who hath them, but upon your own, who have them not. And at this rate, the Good Man can never be Melancholy at the want of these things, nor look upon it as any dis­paragement to his Person, or diminution of his Happiness, but is sure to be pleased, let the E­vent be what it will; that is, either for others good Success, if it be Good, or for his own Escape if it be otherwise. And thus all angry Resentments are taken off, in point of Interest and Advantage; for though we allow these things to be what conduce to our Happiness, yet it is a much greater Happiness to aspire af­ter a Resemblance of the Divine Perfections, which the missing of them, gives Men an op­portunity [Page 248] to do; and if they rather tend to make us Miserable, then the Being without them, is not so properly a Want, as a Delive­rance.

After this, he proceeds to Two other To­picks, the Possibility of obtaining them, and the Reasonableness of expecting them. From the former of these he argues, that it is not to be imagined, that one who never makes his Court, should have the same Priviledges with one that is eternally labouring to ingratiate himself. And this must consist of all the Ce­remonious Fopperies, and Servile Submissions imaginable; the waiting at the Great Man's Ri­sing, expecting his coming out, cringing and bowing in the Streets, the Court, and all Places of publick Concourse; the Commending all he does, though never so Base, and admiring all he says, though never so Senseless. And there­fore for a Philosoper, and a Man of Honour and Truth, who cannot submit to these un­worthy Methods of insinuating himself, to meet with the same Countenance, and Marks of Kind­ness with those that prostitute themselves at this rate for them; is, as the World goes, ab­solutely impossible.

Nay, it is not only unreasonable upon that account to expect them, but in point of Justice too; it argues a Man greedy and insatiable, when he expects his Meal, and yet will not con­sent to pay his Ordinary. It is desiring to in­vade another's Right, and ingross to your self, what he hath already bought and paid for: For though he left no Mony under his Plate, yet he gave that purchase which you would have [Page 249] thought much too dear. And consequently (as he shews by that instance of the Lettice,) you that went without the Dinner, have as good a Bargain at least, as he that was admitted to it: He had the Varieties indeed, but then you have your Liberty; you did not inslave your self so far, as to laugh at his dull Jests, nor to commend what your better Sense could not like, nor to bear the affected Coldness of his Welcome, nor the tedious Attendance in an Anti-Chamber: In short, you were not the Subject of his haughty Negligence, and stiff Formality, nor the Jest of his saucy Servants. All this you must have been content with, to have Dined with his Greatness; if you expect it upon easier Terms, you are mistaken, for it will come no cheaper; and if you expect it, without paying as others do, it argues you greedy, and an unfair Chapman. And this Cha­racter is not consistent with that of a Good Man; so that you must change your Temper, and be more moderate in your expectances of this kind.

CHAP. XXXIII.

* We cannot be at a loss, what the Condition of things is by Nature, what her Laws and Methods, nor how Men ought to deport them­selves, with regard to them: For these are things so plain, that all the World at one time or other, are universally agreed about them. For instance, If a Neighbours Child happen to break a Glass, we presently an­swer, that this is a very common Accident. Now the Application that ought to be made from hence is, that when one of our own happens to be broken, we should no more think it extraordinary, nor suffer it to give us any greater disturbance, than when it was another Man's case. And this trivial Ex­ample, should prepare us for bearing Casual­ties of greater consequence, with the like Temper. When any of our Acquaintance buries a Child, or a Wife, every Body is ready to mitigate the Loss, with the Re­flection, that all Men are Mortal, and that this is what all Men have therefore reason [Page 251] to expect. But when the Misfortune comes home to our selves, then we give a loose to our Passions, and indulge our Lamenta­tions and bitter Complaints. Now these things ought quite otherwise to awaken the same Considerations; and it is but reaso­nable, that what we thought a good Argu­ment to moderate the Resentments of o­ther People, should be applied with the same efficacy, to restrain the Excesses of our own.

COMMENT.

THere are some Notions concerning the na­ture of things, in which all Mankind con­sent; and not any one considering Person ever pretended to contest or contradict them. Such are these that follow; That whatever is Good, is Profitable, and whatever is truly Profitable is Good. That all things are carried by a na­tural Propension to the Desire of Good: That Equal things are neither less nor more than one another: That Twice Two make Four. And these Notions are such as right Reason hath re­commended, and riveted into our Minds, such as long Experience hath confirmed, and such as carry an exact Agreement with the Truth, and nature of things.

But when we descend from these general Truths, to the particular Ideas and Doctrins of single Persons, there we very often find our selves mistaken. And these Erronious Opinions [Page 252] are of different sorts; some of them deceive us, by too credulous a dependance upon the report of our Senses, as when we pronounce the Cir­cumference of the Moon, to be as large as that of the Sun, because it appears so to the naked Eye. Some we are prepossessed in favour of, by inclining too much to our Sensual Inclinations; as when we say, that all Pleasure is Good. Some are owing to the admitting of Arguments, be­fore they are well weighed, as those which ad­vanced the belief of the World's being made by Two Principles, and that the Soul is Cor­poreal. Now these are what Men argue diffe­rently upon, and they are so far from being always true, that many times the Truth lies on the contrary side of the Question. And it can never be safe for us to depend upon such particular Assumptions, for the knowledge of the true state of things, which Epictetus means here by the Condition, the Laws and Methods of Nature.

Now nothing can be a more pregnant proof how exceeding fickle and unfaithful, particular Opinions are, and how firm and unalterable those general and acknowledged ones, than the variety of Mens Behaviour, in one and the same case. For let any Accident happen to a Man's self, and he is quite another Person, transport­ed with the vehemence of his Concern, and all his Reason too feeble to support it. But when the very same Misfortune happens to another, there is none of this Disorder; he then looks upon it as it really is, considers it calmly and coolly, without Passion or Prejudice, and passes the same Judgment upon it, that the rest of [Page 253] the World do, who have no partial Affection, or Concern of their own to perve [...]t them; but only regard Truth, and the clear Reason of the thing.

This he illustrates by a very trivial instance, that of breaking a Glass, which when done by a Neighbour's Child or Servant, we are apt pre­sently to excuse, by putting him in Mind how exceeding common this is, that it is what hap­pens every Day; that considering how little a thing throws a Child down, how often they let things drop out of their Hands, and withal, how exceeding brittle the Matter it self is, of which the Vessel is made, and that the least Blow in the World dashes it to pieces, it is rather to be wondered that such things happen no oftener: Thus we say, when our Discourse is Sober and Dispassionate. But when one of our own is broken, then we rage and storm, as if some new thing had happened to us. And yet in all reason, the same Consideration of the Ac­cident being so usual, ought to offer it self to our Minds too, and with the same Success.

Now this (says he) you may, if you please, apply to Matters of greater importance: When any of our Acquaintance buries his Wife, or his Child, who is there that does not presently say, this is every Man's Case? And the Reason of it is, because they pass this Reflection from the common Principles in their own Minds, and the plain constant course of Nature, which they find agreeable to them. For to Dye, is a Ne­cessity unavoidable; 'tis the very Condition of Humane Nature, and to be Man, and not sub­ject to this Fate, would imply a Contradiction. [Page 254] And yet for all this, when such a Loss happens in a Man's own Family, what Groans, what Tears, what loud Exclamations, what wild Ex­travagances of Passion do immediately follow? Nay, how hard is it to perswade Men, that there is not a justifyable Cause for all this, or that any besides themselves, ever suffer'd such an Affliction before? Now why should not such a one recollect how he felt himself affected, when he saw his Neighbour in such Excesses, and how wisely he could tell him then, that he mistook his own case? that Death was inevitable, and nothing more frequent, and that there was no­thing in the Accident it self, that could create all this Disorder, but that was owing entirely to his own mistaken Apprehensions, and the violent Passions of his own Mind, which shewed it him in a false Light.

Now indeed there are Two Reasons why we should be thus partial, and passionate in our own case: One is, the exceeding Fondness, and tender Sympathy, between the Rational Soul, and the Mortal Body; which considering that this part must Dye, is much more close and mo­ving, than in Reason it ought to be. The other is, that though we know, and are satisfied, that Dye we must, yet we do not care to think of it; but these Two dear Friends live together, as if they were never to part. Now there is nothing that gives a Man so much disturbance and confusion, as the being surprised with any Accident; for whatever we have foreseen, and made familiar to our Thoughts by long expecta­tion, never gives us those violent disturbances.

[Page 255] And this I take to be sufficiently plain, from what we see in Men's Behaviour afterwards; for even those that are most intemperate in their Griefs, yet within a little while, when they come to be used to the being without what they lament the Loss of, return to themselves and their Reason again, and all is quiet and easie, as if no such Misfortune had ever happened. Then they can suggest to their own composed Thoughts, what at first they could not endure to bear, that this is no more than we see daily come to pass; that other People are liable to it, and have born it as well as they; that the Condition of our Nature is Mortal, and most absurd it is to suppose any Man can be exempt from the common fate of his Nature; that our Friends are only gone a little way before, in the beaten Road, which all our Fore-Fathers have led, and in which we our selves shall very shortly follow them.

Now if this Separation, when a little Time and Custom hath rendred it familiar, become so very supportable, after the thing hath hap­pened, I would fain know what Reason can be alledged, why the making such a Separation fa­miliar to us beforehand, by frequent Thoughts, and perpetual Expectations of it, should not enable us to bear it with great evenness of Tem­per, whenever it shall happen. For surely the true cause of all our immoderate Concern upon these Occasions, is, that we do not represent these things to our own Thoughts, nor accu­stom our selves to them so effectually as we might, and ought to do. And the Reason of [Page 256] this again seems to be, that the generality of People have their Minds fastened down to their Fortunes, and all their Imaginations formed ac­cording to the Model of their present Condi­tion. Hence it is, that the prosperous Man is always Gay, and Big, as depending upon the Continuance of his Happiness, and never dream­ing of any possible Change in his Affairs. And thus People that lye under unhappy Circum­stances too, are as commonly Dispirited and Diffident, and can entertain little thought of a Deliverance, and better Days. But another Cause which contributes to this Fault as much as the former, is the unreasonable Fondness of these things which they lament the Loss of so tenderly: They perfectly dote upon them, while they have them, and cannot therefore ad­mit any Thought so uneasie, as that of part­ing with them; for no Man alive cares to to dwell long upon Meditations that are trou­blesom and afflicting to him. This Fondness is the thing we should guard our selves a­gainst, at least cut off all the Excesses of it, by reflecting seriously what we are our selves, and what that is, which we so passionately ad­mire. We should consider, that it is what we cannot call our own, and that though we could, yet it is so imperfect a Bliss, as to cloy and weary us with long Enjoyment. Our Kindness therefore should be reduced, and brought within such Proportions as are consi­stent with Decency and Moderation: And in all our Conversation, it will be great Pru­dence to abstain from all Expressions and Dis­course, [Page 257] and especially from all such Actions in our Behaviour, as tend to endear these things the more, and serve in truth for no other End, than to cherish our own Folly, and make our Passions more Exorbitant and Ungovernable.

CHAP. XXXIV.

As no Man sets up a Mark, with a Design to shoot beside it, so neither hath the Ma­ker of the World formed any such real Be­ing, as Evil in it.

COMMENT.

THE Disputes which are wont to arise concerning the Nature and the Original of Evil, by being unskilfully managed, have been the Occasions of grievous Impiety to­wards God, and subverted the very Founda­tions of Vertue and good Manners; and per­plexed many unwary Persons with several dan­gerous Scruples, and inextricable Difficul­ties.

First, As to that Opinion which makes Evil a first Principle, and will have Two com­mon Principles, a Good and a Bad one, from whence all things whatsoever derive their Be­ing, it is attended with a Thousand prodi­gious Absurdities. For, whence should this Power of being a Principle, which is one, and is imparted to both these Contraries in com­mon, whence I say, should it come? Or how should one and the same Cause give it to them both? And how is it possible, that these Two should be Contraries, unless they be ranked under one common Genus? For we must di­stinguish [Page 259] between Diversity and Contrariety; that which is White, cannot be termed Con­trary to that which is Hot or Cold; but Con­traries are properly those things that are most distant from one another, yet still under the same common Genus. White then and Black, are Contraries, because both bear relation to the Genus of Colour; for they are both Co­lours alike. And Hot and Cold are Contra­ries, for they likewise meet under the Genus of Tactile Qualities; and this is Reason e­nough to shew, that Contraries cannot possi­bly be first Principles, because there must have been some common Genus antecedent to them, or they could not be Contraries; and fur­ther, because one must needs have a Being, before many; for each of those many Beings must subsist, by vertue of its Essence, be­ing communicated from that first Being, o­therwise nothing could ever have been at all.

Again, Some single Original Being there must needs have been, which must have been a Foundation for particular Properties, and from which those Properties must have been distributed among the many. For from the Divine Original Good, all Good things what­soever proceed; and in like manner all Truth, from the same Divine Fountain of Truth. So that though there be several Principles of se­veral Properties, yet still these all are com­prehended in, and resolved into one Principle at last; and that not some subordinate and particular one, as these are in their own kind [Page 260] only, but a Principle from whence all the rest spring; one that transcends, connects, con­tains them all, and communicates to each of them its Causal and Productive Power, with such Limitations and Abatements as their re­spective Natures require. So exceeding irra­tional and absurd it is, to think of advan­cing Two Principles of all things, or to sup­pose it possible that there should be more than one.

Besides, They that will have this Universe to proceed from Two Principles, are driven by their own Tenets into a Thousand wild Inconsistencies; they tell us, one of these Principles is Good, and the other Evil; they call the Good one God, but yet at the same time, they do not allow him to be the Uni­versal Cause: They cannot worship him as Almighty, for indeed they have clipped the Wings of his Omnipotence, and are so far from ascribing all Power to him, that they divide it into Halves; or to speak more pro­perly, they give the greater share by much a­way from him; they call him the Source of Goodness, and Spring of Light, and yet de­ny, that all things receive Light and Good­ness from him.

Now what horrid Blasphemies, what op­probrious Reflections does these Mens Do­ctrin cast upon the Majesty of God? They represent him as a Feeble and a Fearful Be­ing, uneasie with continual Apprehensions that Evil will invade his Territories. And to ease himself of these Fears, and buy off his Enemy, [Page 261] contrary to all Justice, and Honour, and In­terest, casting some Souls away, (which are so many Parts and Parcels of himself, and never merited by any Offence of theirs to be thus delivered up,) that by parting with these, he may compound for the rest of the Good ones with him. Like some General in Distress, who when the Enemy attacks him, sacrifices one part of his Army, to gain an Opportunity of bringing off the other. For the Sense of what they say, amounts to thus much, though it be not express'd in the very same Words. Now he that delivered up these Souls, or commanded them to be delivered up in this barbarous manner, had sure forgot, or at least did not duly consider, what Mise­ries those wretched Spirits must endure, when in the Hands of that Evil Principle. For (according to them,) they are Burnt, and Fryed, and Tormented all manner of ways, and this too, notwithstanding they were never guilty of any Fault, but are still parts of God himself. And at last they tell us, that if any such Souls happen to Apostatize, and Degenerate into Sin, they never recover them­selves; nor from thenceforth are in any pos­sibility of returning to Good, but continue inseparably united to Evil for Ever. (Only here it is fit we take notice what Souls these are, and how they thus degenerate; for they do not admit their Crimes to be Adultery or Murder, or any of the grossest and most sla­gititious Enormities of a dissolute and wicked Conversation, but only the denying of Two [Page 262] Principles, an evil and a good one.) In the mean while, this God, it seems, is left maim­ed and imperfect, by the Loss of so many of his Parts; he is stupid and sensless too, (in their Hypothesis I mean, for far be it from me to entertain so irreverent a Thought) for he understands nothing at all either of his own Interest, or the Nature of Evil: If he did, what Dread could he be under, or how should Evil enter into any part of that Province which Good possesses, since their Natures are so very distant and irreconcileable, that they cannot run into each other, but their Bounds are fix'd, and immovable Barriers set between them from all Eternity?

For this they say too: But who, in the Name of Wonder, set these Bounds and Bar­riers? Did Chance? Then it seems they make Chance a Common Principle too. Did any other Being that had Authority over both these, and prescribed to them as it self thought fit? Then it seems That had a Sub­sistence before They made the World. But how could that be done before the Creation? For the Division they make is like this upon Earth, for they assign the Eastern, Western, and Northern Regions to Good, and reserve only the South for Evil.

Afterwards they go on, a [...]d fancy that Evil hath five Apartments, like so many Dens or Caverns; and here they tell us of Woods, and all manner of Animals, such as frequent both Sea and Land; that these are at eternal Wars with one another; and though these [Page 263] are said to be immortal, as being originally Good, yet they pretend at the same time, that they are devoured by their Five-formed Monster.

Now then, since these distinct Regions have been set out, as you see, from the Beginning of the World at least; and each assigned and accommodated to its peculiar Inhabitant; I would fain be satisfied, which way Evil should make an Incursion into Good's Dominions? Or, if we should suppose this possible, yet could it be done however, and still these Two remain contrary to one another? May we not as well say, that White may be Black, and yet retain its Whiteness still; and that Light can admit Darkness, and still be Light, as that perfect Evil can make Approaches to perfect Good, and still continue perfect Evil? And if this Impossibility be evident and una­voidable, what Occasion is there to describe God as they do, committing an Act of so much unnecessary Fear, and Folly, and Injustice, as is the casting away Souls to Evil for his own Security, and ever since labouring to no pur­pose (for so they will needs have it too) to redeem these Souls from Misery? A Design never to be effected, because, as I observ'd before, some of them have lapsed, and so must abide under the Dominion of Evil to all Eternity: And all this they will not allow the Good to have had any Knowledge or Foresight of, though with the same Breath they pretend, that Evil knew perfectly well what Number of Souls would fall into his [Page 264] Hands, and laid his Stratagems accordingly.

Their Scheme certainly had been much bet­ter contrived, had they represented the Good Principle, as always employed and taken up with the Contemplation of it self, and not engaged it in perpetual War with an Enemy never to be vanquished or destroyed. For they make Evil to be no less Eternal and Immor­tal than Good. And this, indeed, is a con­siderable Objection, and a just Reproach to their whole System, that Eternal Existence, and Incorruptible Duration, no Beginning, and no End, are allowed to Evil as well as Good. And when these glorious Attributes are given to that which we cannot but detest, what Difference is there left, or what can we say more in Honour of that which we cannot but love and admire?

Let us now proceed, if you please, to take a short View of the Account they give con­cerning the Creation of the World. Pillars then there are, they tell us, not like those of the Poet,

That this vast Globe of Earth and Heav'n sustain,

(for they scorn that any Poetical Fictions, or the least fabulous Circumstance, should be al­lowed a Place in their Philosophy;) but (as one of their greatest Masters hath informed us) of solid unhewn Stone, and twelve Win­dows, one of which is constantly opened eve­ry hour▪

[Page 265] But their marvellous Wisdom is not more eminently seen in any one Instance, than the Account they pretend to give of Eclipses: For they tell us, That when in the Framing of the World, the Evils that were in Con­junction together gave great Disturbance by their justling and disorderly Motions, the Lu­minaries drew certain Veils before them, to shelter them from the ill Influences of that Disorder; and that Eclipses are nothing else, but the Sun and Moon hiding themselves still behind those Veils, upon some extraordinary and threatning Emergencies.

Then again, How odd and unaccountable is it, that of so many Heavenly Bodies which give Light to the World, they should hold only the two great ones in Veneration, and contemn all the rest; assigning the Sun and Moon to the Good Principle, but putting all the Stars into the Possession of the Evil, and deriving them from a Bad Cause?

The Light of the Moon they do not agree to be borrowed from the Sun, but think it a Collection or Constellation of Souls; which she draws up, like so many Vapours from the Earth, between Change and Full; and then translates them by degrees into the Sun from the Full to the next New Moon.

In short, they have a World of extravagant Fancies, which do not so much as deserve to be reckoned among Fables; and yet they are by no means content to have them look'd up­on as Fabulous, nor do they use them as Fi­gures or Hieroglyphicks, so as to signifie [Page 266] something else of more substantial Goodness, but will needs have them believed to be strict­ly and literally true. Thus the Image they give us of Evil, is a Monster compounded of five several Creatures, a Lion, a Fish, an Eagle, and some other two Things, I do not well remember what; but all these put to­gether, are supposed to make a very ravenous and formidable Composition.

Such abominable Impiety against God are these Notions and Principles chargeable with; and yet (which is still more amazing) the Persons that advance them, profess to take Sanctuary in these Opinions, out of a more than common Respect, and a profounder Re­verence to the Divine Perfections, than the rest of the World (as they think) express. They could not bear the imputing any Evil to God, and, to avoid this Inconvenience, they have found out a particular Principle and Cause of all Evil; a Principle equal in Honor and Power to the Good, or rather indeed Su­perior and more Potent than He. For in all the Attempts that have been made hitherto, to corrupt the World, and render it mise­rable, Evil seems plainly to have got the bet­ter. For they represent Evil upon all Occa­sions taking Advantage against Good, and contriving all manner of Ways not to let it go. This is constantly the bold and daring Aggressor, while Good, in the mean while, gives way to, and mingles it self with Evil, would fain compound the Matter, and for any thing that yet appears, hath discovered no­thing [Page 267] in its whole Management but Fear, and Folly, and Injustice. Thus, while they abhor to call God the Cause of Evil, they make him nothing but Evil in the most exquisite Degree, and (according to that vulgar Proverb) leap out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire.

But besides these vile Profanations of the Majesty of God, this System of Philosophy does, as much as in it lies, tear up the very Roots of all Virtue and moral Instruction, by destroying and utterly taking away all that Liberty of Choice which God and Nature have given us. For besides those Attributes of Eter­nity and Immortality, it does also ascribe to this Principle of Evil a compulsive Power over our Wills, and that so very absolute and strong, that it is not only out of our own Disposal, whether we will commit Wickedness or no, but such as even God himself is not able to controul or over-power. In the mean while it must be confest, that this is a very idle and extravagant Imagination: For if our Souls are violently thrust, and born down in­to Murder or Adultery, or any other that are reputed the most grievous Crimes, and com­mit these merely by the Impulse of some stronger Power, without any Consent or vo­luntary Concurrence of their own, then are they clear of all Guilt. And this is a Matter so evident and acknowledged, that all Laws, both Divine and Humane, acquit Persons in Cases of Violence, and such a Force as they could not resist, and where it is plain they acted against their Will. And indeed there [Page 268] is not, nor can be any Sin at all in such Acti­ons, where Mens own Minds are supposed to have no Concern, but to proceed upon Ne­cessity and Constraint, and such as could not be resisted by them.

Now if these wise Philosophers, while they were at a loss where to fix the true Cause of these Things, considered as Evils, bethought themselves of this Remedy, and set up such a Principle of Evil, as you have heard, to re­solve the Difficulty; they have done their own Business effectually, and by a very pleasant Blunder over-turned their whole Scheme at once. For if it follows likewise (upon the Supposal of such a Constraint put upon the Wills of Men by that Principle) that nothing they do is any longer Evil, then observe how pleasant a Conclusion they have brought their Matters to: for, the Consequence lies plainly thus. If there be such a Thing as a Principle of Evil, then there is no such Thing as Evil in the World; and if there be no such Thing as Evil, then there cannot possibly be any such Thing as a Principle of Evil; and so upon the whole Matter, they have left themselves nei­ther a Principle of Evil, nor any Evil at all.

Since therefore this is discovered to be but a rotten Foundation; if any, conscious of its weakness, shall presume to affirm, that God is the Author of Evil as well as Good, the Falshood and Impiety of this Assertion will ask but little Time and Pains to evince it. For how indeed can we suppose it possible, that that Opinion should be true, which casts [Page 269] such unworthy Aspersions upon him, who is the Author and Giver of all Truth?

And first, which way can one conceive, that God, whose very Essence is perfect and immutable Goodness, should produce Evil out of himself? For since Evil and Good are con­trary to each other, as our Adversaries them­selves grant, How can we imagine one Con­trary to be the Production of another?

Besides, He that produces any thing out of himself, does it by being the Cause of its existing, by having the Cause within himself, and having some Likeness to it in his own Nature; and so if you respect him as the Cause, the Producing, and the Produced, are in some degree the same. So that the Promo­ters of this Opinion seem not to have attend­ed to the manifest Dishonour they put upon God, by making him not only the Cause and Author of Evil, but to be the first and origi­nal Evil in his own Nature.

Since therefore there is no such Thing as a Common Principle of Evil, and since God is not the Author and Cause of it, what Ac­count shall we give of its coming into the World? For it is impossible any Thing should have a Beginning without a Cause. And the best Course we can take for this will be, first to explain what we mean by Evil, and then enquire into its Original; for the Causes of Things will very hardly be found, till their Natures are first known.

Now as to that Evil which they suppose who profess to believe a Common Principle of [Page 270] Evil, and many of those that dispute this Question understand, we may be bold to pro­nounce, that there is no such Thing in Na­ture. For they pretend, that this Evil hath a positive Subsistence of its own, as Good hath; that it hath a Power equal to Good, and contrary to it; that its Essence is in­compatible with that of Good, and will no more endure any Mixture with it, than White will with Black, or Hot with Cold. But if there were any such real and substantial Evil, like the Substance of a Man, or a Horse, or any other Species, that really and actually subsists; it must needs have some sort of Per­fection in proportion to its Nature; and a particular Form, that makes it what it is, and distinguishes it from all other Beings. Now every Form, considered as such, is Good and not Evil, because it is endued with the Per­fections peculiar to its Nature. And indeed they are so sensible of this, as to make that Evil of theirs desire Good, and embrace and court it, and receive Advantage by it, and love to partake of it, and use all possible Di­ligence not to part from it. And how very ridiculous an Attempt is it, to impose a Thing upon us that does all this, for a Being simply and absolutely Evil?

But then, if we consider in the next place, that Evil, by the Commission whereof Men are denominated wicked, and are punished by God and Man for contracting it; this is pure­ly accidental, and hath no real Essence of its own: For we find, that it both is, and ceases [Page 271] to be, without the Destruction of the Subject, which is the very distinguishing Character of an Accident; and likewise, it never subsists but by Inherence in some Subject: For, what Evil of this kind was there ever in the Ab­stract, without being the Evil, that is, the Crime of some Person that committed it? And so in like manner, Moral Good, which is the true Opposite of Evil, in this Sense is merely an Accident too.

Only herein they differ, that Good is that Quality of its Subject, by which it is rendred agreeable to Nature, and attains its proper Perfection. But Evil is the Depravation or Indisposition of its Subject, by which it swerves and departs from Nature, and loses or falls short of its natural Perfection, that is, of Good. For if Evil were the right Disposi­tion, and natural Perfection of the Form to which it belongs, then would it by this Means change its Name and its Nature, and commence Good. So that from hence we may conclude against any primary Nature and positive Subsistence of Evil; for it is not in Nature as Good is, but is only an addi­tional Thing superinduced upon Good, the Privation of, and Fall from it.

Just thus we may conceive Sickness, with regard to Health; and the Vices of the Mind, with respect to Virtue. And as the Walking strong and upright is the designed and prima­ry Action of an Animal, and the end which it proposes to it self when it moves; but Stumbling or Halting is an Accident beside [Page 272] the purpose, and happens throught some De­fect, and missing the intended Aim, being a Motion, not of Nature's making, nor agree­able to her Operations; directly so we may affirm of Evil, when compared to its opposite Good. And though these be Contraries, as White and Black are, yet no Man can main­tain that they do equally subsist, or are equi­pollent to one another, as White and Black are in a Physical Consideration. For these do both subsist alike, and neither of them can pretend to a greater Perfection in Nature than the other; and consequently, one is not the mere Privation of the other. For, a Pri­vation is properly a Defect or kind of false Step in Nature, whereby the original Form is not fully come up to, as Limping is in a Man's Gate. But now each of those Colours hath its Form entire, and as much of what Nature intended should belong to it as its Contrary. Whereas, in the Case before us, one of the Extremes is agreeable to Nature, and the other contrary to it; and that which is contrary to Nature, is an accidental Addi­tion to that part which is agreeable to it; for Good was first, and then Evil; not Evil first, and afterwards Good. As no Man can say, that Missing the Mark was antecedent to the Hitting of it; nor Sickness before Health; but quite otherwise. For it was the Archer's primitive Design to hit the Mark, and he shot on purpose that he might do so; thus also it was the original Intent of Nature to give us sound Health, and good Constitutions; for, [Page 273] the Preservation and Continuance of the Creation, was the very End she proposed to her self in forming it. And in general Terms, whatever any Action is directed to, that is the proper End of it. But now the missing of the Mark happens afterwards by Accident, when the Operation does not suc­ceed as it ought, nor attain the End at first proposed, but hits upon something else, some Disappointment instead of it. Now then this Disappointment which comes in afterwards, and by the Bye, may very truly be said to be Additional, and Accidental to the Origi­nal Purpose of Hitting the Mark; but that Purpose can with no good Propriety of Speech be called so, with regard to that which happened afterwards, besides and a­gainst the Man's Purpose.

If then all Things naturally desire Good, and every Thing that acts of any kind, does it with a prospect of, or in order to, some Real, or some Seeming Good, it is manifest, that the obtaining some Good is the primary End of all Operations whatsoever. Some­times, indeed, it happens, that Evil steps in between, when the Desire is fixed upon some Object that is not really and truly good, but such in outward Appearance only, and which hath an Allay and Mixture of E­vil with it. Thus when a Man, in pur­suit of Pleasure, or greedy of Wealth, turns a Robber, or a Pirate, his Desire, in this Case, is principally fixed upon the seeming Good, and that is the Spring upon which all [Page 274] these Actions move; but as Matters stand, he is forced to take the Good and the Bad together. For no Man alive was ever yet so unnaturally profligate, as to be guilty of Lewdness for Lewdness sake; or to Rob any Man merely for the sake of Stealing; or in­deed, disposed to any manner of Evil, pure­ly for the Satisfaction of doing evil. Be­cause it is past all doubt, that Evil, consi­dered and apprehended as Evil, can never be the Object of any Man's Desire. For if it were the principal and original Cause of those Things that proceed from it, then would it be the End of all such Things: As an End it would be desirable to them, as good. For good and desirable, are Terms reciprocal and convertible, and consequent­ly, at this rate, it would become good, and cease to be evil.

'Tis most certainly true then, that all Things whatsoever do desire and pursue their own Advantage; not all their true and real Advantage indeed, but all their seeming Benefit, and such as they at that time take for the true and best. For no Man is wil­lingly deceived, no Man chooses a Falshood before Truth, nor Shadows before Substan­ces, who knows and is sensible of the Dif­ference between them when he does it. But this Misfortune happens generally from a blind Admiration of some apparent Good, which so dazles our Eyes, that either we do not at all discover the Evil it is attended with, or if we do discern that, yet we see [Page 275] the Thing through false Opticks, such as magnifie the Good, and lessen the Evil to the Eye. Now it is a frequent and a reasonable Choice, when we are content to take a great­er Good with the Incumbrance of a less Evil: As for Instance, When we suffer an Incision, or a Cupping, and account the Evil of these Pains much too little to counterbal­lance the Good there is in that Health which they restore to us.

Once more yet; That all Things desire Good, is farther plain from hence; That sup­posing Evil to have a real Being, and a Pow­er of Acting, whatever it did would be for its own Advantage, that is, in other Words, for its own Good. And thus much they who ascribe a Being and Operation to it confess; for they pretend, that it pursues after Good, would fain detain it, and uses all possible Endeavours not to let it go. And if Evil be the Object of no Desire, then is it not any primary and designed Nature. But since the Condition of it is in all Parti­culars according to the Description here gi­ven of it, it is most truly said, to be an Accidental and Additional Thing, superin­ducive to something that did subsist before, but to have no Subsistence of its own.

Well (says the Objector) I allow what you say. We will suppose, that Evil is on­ly an Accident, a Defect, and Privation of Good, and an additional Disappointment of the first and original Intent of Nature. And what of all this? How are we advanced in [Page 276] the Question before us? For let this be what, or after what manner you please, still it must have some Cause; otherwise, How, in the Name of Wonder, did it ever find the way into the World? How then will you get out of this Maze? You allow God to be the Cause of all Things; you must grant that Evil hath some Cause; and yet you tell me, that God is infinitely Good, and so can­not be that Cause.

This Objection hath been already consider­ed, and spoken to, both at the Beginning of the Book, where we explained this Au­thor's Distinction of the Things that are or are not in our own Power; and also in the Comment upon the XIII. Chapter, upon Oc­casion of those words, Trouble not your self with wishing, that Things may be just as you would have them, &c. But however, I will speak to it once more here too, and that briefly, as follows.

God, who is the Source and Original Cause of all Goodness, did not only pro­duce the highest and most excellent Things, such as are good in themselves; nor only those that are of a Rank something inferiour to these, and of a middle Nature; but the Extremes too, such as are capable of falling, and apt to be perverted from that which is agreeable to Nature, to that which we call Evil. Thus; As after those incorruptible Bodies which are always regular in their Mo­tions, and immutably good, others were cre­ated subject to Change and Decay; so like­wise [Page 277] it was with Souls; the same Order was observed with these too; for after them which were unalterably fixed in Good, others were produced liable to be seduced from it. And this was done, both for the greater illustration of the Wise and Mighty Creator, that the Riches of his Goodness might be the more clearly seen, in producing good things of all sorts, as many as were capable of subsisting; and also that the Universe might be full and perfect, when Beings of all kinds, and all Proportions, were contain­ed in it. (For this is a Perfection to want nothing of any kind.) And also to vindicate the Highest and the Middle sort, which ne­ver decline or deviate from their Goodness, from that Contempt which always falls upon the Lowest of any sort; and such these had been, if the Corruptible and Mortal things, had not been Created, and Supported the o­thers Dignity, by their own want of it.

And Corruptible they must be, for it could ne­ver be, that while the First, and the Middle sort of Bodies continued as they are, some Immu­table, both as to their Nature and their Ope­rations; others Immutable indeed, as to their Substance, but Mutable in their Motion; it could not be, I say, that the Lowest and Sub­lunary Bodies, should ever hold out, while the violent Revolutions of the Heavenly ones, were perpetually changing their Sub­stance, and putting them into unnatural Dis­orders.

[Page 278] For these Reasons certainly, and perhaps for a great many others more important than these, which are Secrets too dark and deep for us, these Sublunary Bodies were made, and this Region of Mortality, where the Per­verted Good hath its Residence. For there was a Necessity that the lowest sort of Good should have a Being too, and such is that which is liable to Change and Depravation. Hence also, there is no such thing as Evil in the Regions above us; for the nature of E­vil being nothing else but a Corruption of the Meanest and most Feeble Good, can on­ly subsist where that Mean and Mutable Good resides. For this Reason the Soul, which con­sidered by her self, is a Generous and Immu­table Being, is tainted with no Evil, while a­lone in a State of Separation; but being so contrived by Nature, as to dwell in this lower World, and be intimately united to Mortal Bodies, (for so the good Providence of our great Father and Creator hath ordered it, making these Souls a Link to tye the Spiri­tual and Material World together, joyning the Extreams by the common Bonds of Life,) it seems to bear a part in all those Distem­pers and Decays which Evil subjects our Bo­dies to, by disturbing their natural Habit and Frame. Though indeed I cannot think this to be Evil, strictly speaking, but rather Good; since the Effect of it is so: For by this means, the simple Elements, of which these Bodies are compounded, come to be set free from a great Confinement, and severed from other [Page 279] parts of Matter of a different Constitution, with which they were interwoven and entan­gled before; and so getting loose from the perpetual Combat between contrary Qualities, are restored to their proper Places, and their primitive Mass again, in order to acquiring new Life and Vigour.

And if this proceeding be the occasion of perpetual Change, yet neither is that Evil; because every thing is resolved at last, into what it was at the beginning. For Water, though evaporated into Air, yet is by de­grees congealed into Water again; and so even particular Beings, lose nothing by those Vicissitudes.

But that which ought to be a Considera­tion of greater Moment, is, that the Disso­lution of Compound Bodies, and the mutual change of Simple ones into each other, con­tributes to the Advantage of the Universe in general, by making the Corruption of one thing, to become the Rise and Birth of ano­ther: And by this perpetual Round it is, that Matter and Motion have been sustained all this while. Now it is obvious to any ob­serving Man, that both Nature and Art, (as was urged heretofore,) do frequently neglect a part, when the detriment of that in parti­cular, may conduce to the good of the whole. The former does it as often as our Rheums, and Ulcerous Humours, are thrown off from the Vitals, and turned into Sores or Swellings in any of the Extream Parts. And Art imi­tates this Method of Nature, as oft as a [Page 280] Limb is seared, or lopped off for the preser­vation of the Body: So that upon the whole Matter, these Shocks and Corruptions of Bodies, deserve rather to be esteemed Good than Evil; and the Cause of them, the Cause of Good and not Evil Events. For those Sublunary Bodies that are Simples, suffer no Injury, because they are subject to no De­cay or Destruction: And for the Evil that the Parts seems to undergo, this hath been shewn to have more Good than Evil in it, both in Simples and Compounds, even when considered in it self; but if taken with re­spect to the Benefit which other Creatures reap by it, then it is manifestly Good. So that the Distempers and Decays of Bodies, take them which way you will, are not Evil, but produce great Good.

But if any one shall be scrupulous upon this occasion, and quarrel with that being called Good, which is confessed to be no better than a perverting of the course of Na­ture; let not this Nice Caviller take upon him however to call it Evil, in the gross Sense, and common Acceptation of the Word; by which we understand something utterly re­pugnant and irreconcileable to Good. But let him rather call it a Necessity or Hard­ship, as being not desirable for its own sake, but having some tendency, and contributing to that which is so: For were it simply and absolutely Evil, it could never be an Instru­ment of Good to us. Now that which I mean by Necessary, though it have not [Page 281] Charms enough of its own to recommend it, yet does it deserve to be accounted Good, for leading us to that which is Good; and that which can become a proper Object of our Choice, under any Circumstance, is so far forth Good. Thus we choose Incisions, and Burnings, and Amputations, nay, we are con­tent to pay dear for them, and acknowledge our selves obliged both by the Prescription, and the painful Operation; all which were most ridiculous to be done, if we thought these things Evil. And yet I own this is but a Qualified and an Inferior Good, not strictly and properly so, but only in a Second and Subordinate Sense: Yet so, that the Creator of these things, is by no means the Cause of Evil, but of a necessary and meaner Good, but a Good still; for such we ought to esteem it, since it is derived from the same Universal Fountain of Goodness, though em­based with some Allays and Abatements. And thus much, I hope, may be thought suf­ficient, in Vindication of the Nature and Cause of that Evil which Bodies are con­cern'd in.

Nothing indeed can so truly be called E­vil, as the Lapses and Vices of the Soul of Man; and of these, too much hath been said before; but however we will resume the Discourse upon this Occasion, and enquire afresh, both into the Nature and the Cause of them.

And here we shall do well to take notice, That the Soul is of a more excellent Nature, [Page 282] which dwell in the Regions above us, are immutably fixed in Goodness, and wholly unacquainted with any Evil. There are also the Souls of Brutes, of a Baser alloy than ours, and standing in the middle as it were, between the Vegetative Souls of Plants, and our Rational ones. These, so far forth as they are Corporeal, are liable to that Evil, to which Bodies are subject; but so far as concerns their Appetites and Inclinations, they bear some resemblance to the Humane, and the Evil they are in this respect obnoxious to, is in proportion the same; so that one of these will be sufficiently explained, by giving an account of the other.

Now the Humane Soul, is in a middle Sta­tion between the Souls above, and those be­low; it partakes of the Qualities of both; of those more Excellent ones, in the Subli­mity of its Nature, and the Excellence of its Understanding: Of the Brutal and inferiour ones, by its strict affinity to the Body, and Animal Life. Of both these it is the common Band; by its Vital Union with the Body, and by its Habitual Freedom, assimilates it self sometimes to the one sort, and sometimes to the other of these Natures. So long as it dwells above, and entertains it self with Noble and Divine Speculations, it preserves its Innocence, and is fixed in Goodness; but when it begins to flag and droop, when it sinks down from that blissful Life, and gro­vels in the Filth of the World, which by Na­ture it is equally apt to do, then it falls into [Page 283] all manner of Evil. So that its own Volun­tary Depression of its self into this Region of Corruption and Mortality, is the true Be­ginning, and proper Cause of all its Misery and Mischief. For though the Soul be of an Amphibious Disposition, yet it is not forced either upwards or downwards, but acts pure­ly by an internal Principle of its own, and is in perfect Liberty. Nor ought this to seem incredible in an Agent which Nature hath made Free, since even those Brutes that are Amphibious, dwell sometimes in the Water, and sometimes upon dry Ground, without be­ing determined to either, any otherwise than by their own Inclination.

Now when the Soul debases her self to the World, and enters into a near Intimacy with the Corruptible Body, and esteems this to be the other consistent part of the Humane Na­ture, then it leads the Life of Brutes, and exerts it self in such Operations only, as they are capable of. Its Intellectual part degene­rates into Sense and Imagination, and its Af­fections into Anger and Concupiscence. By these the wretched Mortal attains to Know­ledge, just of the same pitch with that of other Animals, such as puts him upon seek­ing fresh Supplies for a Body that is conti­nually wasting, and upon continuing the World by Posterity, to fill the place of one that must shortly leave it; and upon making the best Provision he can for his own Preser­vation and Defence in the mean while. For these Cares are what no Mortal would have, [Page 284] were he not endued with Sensual Faculties and Passions. For what Man that is any thing Nice and Considering, would endure to spend so many Days and Years upon the support of this Body, when the Burden of the whole Matter comes to no more, than always fill­ing, and always emptying, if Sensual Incli­nations did not whet his Appetite? Or who could undergo the tedious fatigue by which Succession is kept up, if vehement Desires did not perpetually kindle new Flames, and the prospect of Prosperity, make us more easie to be warmed by them? These Arguments have been in some measure insisted on be­fore, and I take them to be abundantly clear in this point, that though our Passions and Appetites be the Cause of Moral Evil, yet they are extreamly Beneficial to the Crea­tures, in which Nature hath implanted them, as being necessary to their Constitution, and giving a Relish to some of the most indispen­sible Actions of Life. Upon all which accounts, even these cannot with any Justice be called E­vil; nor God who infused them, the Cause of it.

But the truth of the Matter is this: The Soul is by Nature superior to this Body, and Animal Life, and hath a commanding power over them put into her Hands; this Digni­ty and Power so long as she preserves, keep­ing her Subjects under, and at their due di­stance; while she uses the Body as her In­strument, and converts all its Functions to her own Use and Benefit; so long all is well, [Page 285] and there is no danger of Evil. But when once she forgets that the Divine Image is stampt upon her; when she lays by the En­signs of Government, and gives away the Reins out of her own Hands; when she sinks down into the Dregs of Flesh and Sense, (by preferring the Impetuous Temptations of Pleasure, before the Mild and gentle Per­swasions of Reason; and enters into a strict Union with the Brutish part, then Reason acts against its own Principles, divests it self of its Despotick Power, and basely submits to be governed by its Slave; and this Con­fusion in the Soul, is the Root of all Evil; an Evil not owing to the more Excellent and Rational part, while it maintains its own Station; nor to the Inferior and Sen­sual, while that keeps within its due Bounds; but to the inverting of these, the violent U­surpation of the one, and the tame Submis­sion of the other; that is, The perverse Choice of Degenerating into Body and Mat­ter, rather than forming ones self after the similitude of the Excellent Spirits above us. But still, all this, as I said, is Choice, and not Constraint; it is still Liberty, though Li­berty abused.

And here I would bespeak the Reader's Attention a little, to weigh the Reasons I am about to give, why Choice and Volition must needs be the Souls own Act and Deed, an Internal Motion of ours, and not the Effect of any Compulsion from without. I have already urged the Clearness of this [Page 286] Truth at large, and that the Soul only is concern'd, and acts purely upon the prin­ciples of her own Native Freedom, in the Choice of the Worse, no less than the Bet­ter part. Thus much I apprehend to have been plainly proved, from the Example of Almighty God himself; the Determinations of all Wise Laws, and well Constituted Governments, and the Judgment of Sober and Knowing Men, who all agree in this, That the Merits of Men are not to be mea­sured by the Fact it self, or the Events of things, but by the Will and Intention of the Person. And accordingly their Rewards and Punishments, their Censures and their Commendations, are all proportioned to the Intention; because this alone is entirely in a Man's own power, and consequently, it is the only thing he can be accountable for. From hence it comes to pass, that whate­ver is done by Constraint, and Irresistible Force, though the Crime be never so grie­vous, is yet pardoned or acquitted, and the Guilt imputed not to the Party that did it, but to the Person that forced him to the doing of it. For he that used that Force, did it Voluntary, but he that was born down by it, had no Will of his own concerned in the Fact, but became the mere Instrument of effecting it against the Inclination of his own Mind.

Since then our own Choice is the Cause of Evil; and since that Choice is the Souls Voluntary Act, owing to no manner of Com­pulsion, [Page 287] but its own internal mere Motion, what can we charge Evil upon, so justly as upon the Soul? But yet, though the Soul be the Cause of Evil, it is not the Cause of it, considered as Evil; for nothing ever is, or can be chosen under that Notion. But it disguises it self, and deludes us with an Appearance of Good; and when we choose that seeming Good, we take at the same time, the real Evil that lay concealed under it. And thus much in effect was said before too.

And now, having thus discovered the true Origine of Evil, it is fit we proclaim to all the World, That God is not chargeable with any Sin; because it is not He, but the Soul that does Evil, and that freely and willing­ly too: For were the Soul under any Con­straint to do amiss, then indeed there would be a colourable Pretence to lay the Blame on God, who had suffered her to lye under so fatal a Necessity, and had not left her free to rescue and save her self: (Though in truth, upon this Presumption, nothing that the Soul was forced to do, could be strictly Evil.) But now, since the Soul is left to her self, and acts purely by her own free Choice, she must be content to bear all the Blame.

If it shall be farther objected, That all this does not yet acquit Almighty God, for that it is still his Act to allow Men this Liber­ty, and leave them to themselves; and that he ought not to permit them in the Choice [Page 288] of Evil; then we are to consider that one of these Two Things must have been the Con­sequence of such a Proceeding: Either First, That after he had given Man a Rational Soul, capable of choosing sometimes Good, and sometimes Evil, he must have chained up his Will, and made it impossible for him to choose any thing but Good: Or else, that it ought never to have had this Indif­ference at all, but to have been so framed at first, that the Choice of Evil should have been naturally impossible. One of these Two Things the Objector must say, or he says nothing at all to the purpose.

Now the former of these is manifestly ab­surd; for to what purpose was the Will left Free and Undetermined either way, if the Determining it self one way, was af­terwards to be debarred it? This would have been utterly to take away the power of Choosing; for Choice and Necessity are things Inconsistent; and where the Mind is so tied up, that it can choose but one thing, there (properly speaking) it can choose no­thing.

As to the latter, It must be remembred in the First Place, that no Evil is ever chosen, when the Mind apprehends it to be Evil: But the Objector seems to think it were very convenient, if this Freedom of the Will, which is so Absolute in the Determining of it self sometimes to real Good, and sometimes to that which deceives it with a false Appearance of be­ing so, were quite taken away. Imagining it to be [Page 289] no Good to be sure, and perhaps some great Evil: But alas! he does not consider how many things there are in the World, that are accounted exceeding Good, which yet are not really in any degree comparable to this Freedom of the Will. For in truth, there is no Thing, no Priviledge in this lower World so desirable. And there is no Body so stupid and lost, as to wish, that he were a Brute, or a Plant, rather than a Man. And therefore, since God displayed the A­bundance of his Goodness and Power, in gi­ving Perfections inferior to this, how incon­sistent would it have been with that Bounty of his, not to have bestowed this most excel­lent Priviledge upon Mankind?

Besides, (as hath been intimated former­ly,) take away this Undetermined Propen­sion of the Soul, by which it inclines it self to Good or Evil, and you undermine the very Foundations of all Virtue, and in effect, destroy the Nature of Man. For, if you suppose it impossible to be perverted to Vice, you have no longer any such thing as Justice or Temperance, or any other Vir­tue left; the observing of these things, may be the Excellence of an Angel, or a God, but impeccable and indefectable Good­ness, can never be the Virtue of a Man. From whence it is plain, that there was a necessity of leaving the Soul in a capacity of being Corrupted, and of committing all that Evil consequent to such Depravation, be­cause otherwise a Gap had been left in the [Page 290] Creation; there could have been no Medium between the Blessed Spirits above, and Brutes below; no such thing as Hu­mane Nature, nor Humane Vertue in the World.

So then we allow, that this Self-determi­ning Power by which Men are depraved is, a thing of God's own Creation and appoint­ment; and yet consider withal, how necessary this is to the Order and Beauty of the Universe, and how many good Effects it hath. In o­ther respects, we can by no means admit, that he should be traduced as the Cause and Author of Evil upon this account. When a Surgeon lays on a Drawing Plaister, to ri­pen a Swelling, or Cuts or Sears any part of our Bodies, or lops off a Limb, no Man thinks he takes these Methods to make his Patient worse, but better; because Reason tells us, that Men in such Circumstances, are never to be cured by less painful Applica­tions. Thus the Divine Justice in his deser­ved Vengeance, suffers the Passions of the Soul to rage and swell so high, because he knows the condition of our Distemper; and that the smarting sometimes under the wild Suggestions of our own furious Appetites, is the only way to bring us to a better Sense of our Extravagance, and to recover us of our Phrensy.

'Tis thus, that we suffer little Children to burn their Fingers, that we may deter them from playing with Fire. And for the same Reasons, many wise Educators of Youth, do [Page 291] not think themselves oblig'd to be always thwarting the Inclinations of those under their Charge; but sometimes connive at their Follies, and give them a loose; there being no way so effectual for the purging of these Passions, as to let them sometimes be indul­ged, that so the Persons may be cloyed, and nauseate, and grow Sick of them. And in these Cases, it cannot be said, that either those Parents and Governors, or the Justice of God, is the Cause of Evil, but rather of Good, because all this is done with a Ver­tuous Intent. For whatever tends to the Re­formation of Manners, or confirming the Ha­bits of Virtue, may be as reasonably called Virtuous, as those things that are done in order to the Recovery, and Continuance of Health, may be called wholsome. For Actions do principally take their denomination and quality from the End to which they are di­rected. So that although God were in some measure the Cause of this necessity we are in, of deviating from Goodness, vet cannot Moral Evil be justly laid at his Door. But how far he is really the cause of our Defle­ction from our Duty, I shall now think it be­comes me to enquire.

God does not by any Power, or immediate Act of his own, cause that Aversion from Good, which the Soul is guilty of when it Sins; but he only gave her such a power, that she might turn her self to Evil; that so such a Species of free Agents, might fill avoid Space in the Universe, and many good [Page 292] effects might follow, which without such an Aversion, could never have been brought a­bout. God indeed is truly and properly the Cause of this Liberty of our Wills, but then this is a Happiness and a Priviledge infinitely to be preferred above whatever else the World thinks most valuable; and the Ope­ration of it consists in receiving Impressions, and determining it self thereupon, not from any Constraint, but by its own mere Plea­sure.

Now that a Nature thus qualified is Good, I cannot suppose there needs any proof; we have the Confession of our Adversaries them­selves to strengthen us in the Belief of it. For even they, who set up a Principle of E­vil, declare they do it, because they cannot think God the Author of Evil; and these ve­ry Men do not only acknowledge the Soul to be of his forming, but they talk big, and pretend that it is a part of his very Essence; and yet, notwithstanding all this, they own it capable of being vitiated, but so as to be vitiated by its self only. For this is the ma­nifest consequence of their other Tenets, that it depends upon our own Choice, whether we will overcome Evil, or be overcome by it; that the Vanquished in this Combat are very justly punished, and the Victors largely and deservedly rewarded. Now the truth is, when they talk at this rate, they do not well consider how directly these Notions con­tradict that irresistible necessity to Sin, which they elsewhere make the Soul to lye under. [Page 293] But however, whether the Soul be depraved by its own Foolish Choice, or whether by some fatal Violence upon it from without, still the being naturally capable of such de­pravation, is agreed on all Hands; for both sides confess it to be actually depraved, which it could never be, without a natural Capacity of being so. Therefore they tell us, the First O­riginal Good is never tainted with Evil, be­cause his Nature is above it, and inconsi­stent with any such Defect; as are also the other Goodnesses in the next degreee of Per­fection to him, such as in their Cant are called the Mother of Life, the Creator, and the Aeones. So then these Men acknowledge the depravable Condition of the Soul, they pro­fess God to be the Maker of it, and to have set it in this Condition; and yet it is plain, they think the nature of the Soul depravable, as it is Good, and not Evil; because at the same time that they ascribe this Freedom of the Will to God, they are yet superstitiously fearful of ascribing any Evil to him. And this I think may very well suffice for the Na­ture and Origin of Evil.

Let us now apply our selves to consider the Passage before us, and observe how artificial­ly Epictetus hath comprised in a very few Words, the substance of those Arguments which we have here drawn out to so great a length. For in regard the Choice of Good, and the Refusing of Evil, are the Object and Ground of all Moral Instructions whatsoever, it was proper for him to shew, that the Na­ture [Page 294] of Evil was something very odd, and out of Course. In some Sense it has a Being, and in some Sense it is denyed to have any; it has no Existence of its own, and yet it is a sort of supernumerary, and a very unto­ward addition to Nature. In the mean while, this shews, that we ought not to make it ou [...] Choice, because Nature never made it hers; and whenever it got into the World, it was never brought in by Design, but came in by chance. No Man ever proposed it, as the End of any Action; no Artificer ever drew his Model for it: The Mason proposes the House he is Building, and the Carpenter the Door he is Plaining, for his End; but nei­ther the one, nor the other, ever works only that he may work ill.

Epictetus his Argument then lies in the fol­lowing Syllogism, Evil is the missing of the Mark: For what Nature hath given a real and a designed Existence to, is the Mark; and the compassing of that, is the hitting of the Mark. Now if what Nature really made and designed, be not the missing of the Mark, (as it is not, but the hitting it indeed) and if Evil be the missing of the Mark, then i [...] is plain, that Evil can be none of those things which have a real and a designed Exi­stence.

Now that Evil is properly the missing of the Mark, is plain, from what hath been spoken to this point already. For suppose a Man makes Pleasure his Mark, he aims at it as a Good and Desirable thing; he lets [Page 295] fly accordingly, his Imaginations I mean, which indeed fly swifter than any Arrow out of a Bow. But if he do not attain the Good he desires, but shoot wide, or short of it, 'tis plain this Man is worsted, and hath mis­sed his Mark. And again, that something to which Nature designed and gave a Being, is constantly the Mark every Man aims at; and the obtaining those things, the hitting of his Mark, is no less evident from the Instances I gave of the Mason and the Carpenter.

Now, when the Author says, there is no such real Being as Evil in the World, you are to understand, that Nature never formed or designed any such thing: And then if you please, you may take his Minor Proposition singly by it self, which consists of those Words, As no Man sets up a Mark with a De­sign to shoot beside it. (For this intimates that Evil is a missing of one's Aim,) without men­tioning the Major; which implies, that the principal Design, and real work of Nature, is never the missing, but the hitting of the Mark; and so add the Conclusion, which is this, Therefore Evil is none of the principal Designs, or real Works of Nature.

It may likewise be put all together into one single Hypothetical Proposition thus: If no Man sets up a Mark on purpose to shoot be­sides it, then there is no such real Being as Evil in the World. For if there were such a thing, then it would be proposed as the End or Pro­duct of Action. But Evil is never proposed as a thing to be produced or obtained, but [Page 296] as a thing to be declined; for Evil is always the Object of our Refusal and Aversion. So that at this rate, it would follow, that there is a Mark set up, only that it may not be hit; which is contrary to common Sense, and the Practice of all Mankind. And therefore there can be no such thing in Nature as Evil, be­cause Evil is not capable of being the End of any Action in Nature.

CHAP. XXXIV.

If any one should take upon him to expose your Body to be abused by every Man you meet, you would resent it as an insuppor­table Insolence and Affront. And ought you not then to be much ashamed of your self, for enslaving and exposing you Mind to every one that is disposed to take the Advantage? For so indeed you do, when you put it in the power of every Ma­licious Tongue, to disturb the inward peace and order of your Breast. For this Reason, before you attempt any thing, weigh diligently with your self, the seve­ral Difficulties it is like to be incumbred with, the Circumstances preliminary to, and consequent upon it. For unless you come well settled with this Consideration, you will afterwards be discouraged; and what you begun with Eagerness and Vi­gor, you will desist from with Cowardice and Shame.

CHAP. XXXV.

You are extremely desirous to win the Olym­pick Crown. I wish the same for my self too; and look upon it as an Immortal Honour. But not so fast: Consider the Preparations necessary to such an Ʋnder­taking, and the Accidents that may fol­low upon it; and then let me hear you say you'll attempt it. You must be confined to a strict Regimen, must be cramm'd with Meat when you have no Appetite, must abstain wholly from Boiled Meats, must exercise whether you be disposed to it or no, whether it be hot or cold, must drink nothing but what is warm, nor any Wine, but in such Proportions as shall be thought proper for you. In a Word, you must resign your self up to your Governor, with as absolute an Obedience as you would to a Physician. When all this Hardship is mastered, you have all the Chances of Combat to go through still. And here it is many a Man's Fortune to break an Arm, or put out a Leg, to be thrown by his Adversary, and get nothing but a mouthful of Dust for his Pains; and, as [Page 299] it may happen, to be lashed and beaten, and become the Jest and Scorn of the Spectators. Lay all these Things to­gether, and then, perhaps, your Cou­rage may be cooled. But if upon consi­dering them well, you nevertheless re­tain your Resolution, then are you fit to set about the Pursuit of what you so much desire. Otherwise you will come off like Little Children, who in their Sports act sometimes Wrestlers, and sometimes Fidlers; now they are Fen­cers, and play Prizes; then they turn Trumpeters, and go to War; and by and by build a Stage, and act Plays. Just so we shall have you, one while an Olympick Fighter, and another a Gladia­tor, by and by an Orator, and after that a Philosopher; but nothing long, except a ridiculous Whiffler, a mere Ape, that mimick all you see, and venture at all Professions, but stick to none. And all this is occasioned by your taking Things upon you Hand over Head, with­out being seasoned and duly prepared for them; but either with a rash Heat or fickle In [...]lination. Thus it is with many People, when they see an eminent Philo­sopher, or hear him quoted with Admi­ration and Respect (as, How excellently [Page 300] did Socrates write on such a Subject; sure no Man was ever like him,) no­thing will serve their Turn, but these Hotspurs must needs be Philosophers too, and each of them does not doubt, but he shall make a Socrates in time.

CHAP. XXXVI.

Now I advise thee, Friend, first of all to consider perfectly the Nature of the Thing thou would'st undertake, and then thy own Qualifications for it, whether this be what thou art cut out for, or no. Examine thy Limbs, and thy Sinews; every Man is not built for the Olympick Exercises. Do you imagine, when you apply your self to Philosophy, that you can be allowed to live at the same rate you do now? To indulge your Appetite, and be as nice in all you Eat and Drink? Alas! you must prepare for Want of Sleep, for hard Labour, for Absence from your Family and your Friends, for Contempt and Insolence from your Inferiors, and to have others, less wor­thy, put over your Head in Preferments, countenanced more than you in Courts of Justice, and respected more in Conversa­tion. Sit down now, and ask your self, if the Prize be worth all this Pains? Whether you can be content, at so dear a Rate, to purchase an equal Temper, a quiet Mind, perfect Freedom, and un­movable [Page 318] Constancy. If you think the Price set upon these Things too high, leave them for some other Purchaser, and do not expose your self, like those ridiculous Boys I mentioned; by being a Philosopher this Hour, and an Excise-Man the next; a School-master to Day, and a Statesman to Morrow. These Things are not for your Credit. In short, you have but one Man to make, and you may make him either a Good or a Bad one. You must either make your Self, or the World, your Care. In a Word, you must be either a Fool, or a Philosopher.

COMMENT.

THE Thing Epictetus drives at is very much illustrated by the Comparisons he uses here, and setting our Selves in Opposi­tion to Others, and the Soul to the Body. For, to be injured by ones own Self, is much worse than if it were done by another. If we are apt to resent an Unkindness when coming from a Friend, with much more Im­patience than the same Thing from a Com­mon Man; because, the Considerations of in­timate Acquaintance, and former Obligations step in, and heighten the Provocation, by telling us we had Reason to expect better Usage; how much more is the Injustice ag­gravated [Page 319] when a Man does any Thing to his own Prejudice? And again, If the Affronts and Injuries done to the Body are [...]o deep­ly resented, how much more tender ought we to be when the Soul is injured and a­bused?

Again, If we think it an insupportable In­solence in any other Person to expose our Bo­dy to Abuses, when yet his Affronting or not Affronting us a [...]ter this manner is a Thing not in our own Power; and, if the exposing our Minds to be abused by the next Man we meet, by suffering our Selves to be disordered at the Calumnies of every malicious Railer, be a Thing that depends purely upon our own Choice, whether it shall be done or not; then we ought to be ashamed upon a double Account: First, for taking a Thing ill which was not in our Power to help, and which too when done, was not strictly Evil to us; and then, for exposing our own Selves to that which is a real Evil, and that Evil so much the worse, because such a one, as it was in our Power to prevent.

Now upon this Occasion he changes his Ex­pression, and does not call it Indignation, but Shame. For the Injuries that come upon us from another Hand, we receive with Resent­ments of Anger; but those that our Selves are guilty of, we reflect upon with Shame and Remorse; and surely there is much greater Reason for doing so, when we our Selves have been guilty of injuring our Selves; especially when these Injuries need not have befallen us, [Page 320] indeed could not have done so, but by our own Choice. And this is the proper Notion of Shame, the being out of Countenance at the Folly and Foulness of our own voluntary Miscarriages. And what can more deserve a Blush, than the not discerning the mighty Difference there is between the several Branch­es of so lively a Companion as this? And when one does discern it, what can be more scandalous, than not to act accordingly?

CHAP. XXXVII.

It may be said, generally speaking, That the Quality of the Reasons we converse with, and the mutual Relations they bear, is the true Standard of a Man's Duty and Be­haviour toward them. Thus my Duty to a Father is to assist and take care of him; to support his Age and his Infirmities; to yield to him, and pay him Service and Respect upon all occasions, and to receive both his Reproofs and his Chastisements with patience and submission. But you'll say, He is a rigorous and unnatural Fa­ther. What's that to the purpose? You are to remember, this Obligation to Duty does not arise from the Consideration of his Goodness, but from the Relation he bears to us: No Failings of his can make him cease to be a Father, and consequent­ly none can abselve you from the Obedience of a Son. Your Brother hath done you an Injury; but do not suppose that this dis­penses with the Kindness you owe him: You are still to observe what becomes you; not to imitate what misbecame him. Be­sides, no body can do you a real Injury, without your own Concurrence: You are not one whit the worse, unless you think your self so. After this manner it will be easie [Page 322] to discover what is fit for you upon all oc­casions. For it is but considering your self under the several Qualities of a Neigh­bour, or a Subject, or a Civil Magistrate, or a Military Officer, and you will soon discern what Behaviour is proper from, or to a Person in each of these Stations re­spectively.

COMMENT.

THE Duty of a Man is properly that which it becomes him to do upon every occasion, and the rendring to every one what is fit to be expected from him. This is more peculiarly called the Work of Justice, taken in a sence so comprehensive, as to include all manner of Vertue. For the Word is sometimes restrained to one particular Vertue, distinguished from the rest; and sometimes enlarged and extended to them all. Now it is the business of Justice to give every one his due: Upon which account, all Institutions, both Moral and Political, have this for their proper Object. There is private Justice with regard to a Man's own Mind, and this assigns to every part of the Soul what be­longs to it; and there is the Publick Justice of a Country, which distributes to every Member of the Commonwealth, according to his Digni­ty and Deserts. Having therefore instructed his young Philosopher as you see before, which Precepts have indeed some reference to this kind of Duty too, he proceeds here to direct him Now he may discover what it is, and discharge [Page 323] it upon all occasions: And what others have been very prolix and voluminous upon, (as parti­cularly Nicolaus Damascenus) he hath here reduced into a very narrow compass, and laid before us with wonderful Energy and Clearness.

Now the Duty of a Man, if you will branch it out into its several Heads, concerns his Beha­viour: First, towards Men, and, in general, to all his Equals: Then, to those Beings that are above him. Thirdly, those below him: And, lastly his own self. Each of these Heads have distinct Rules and Measures, the Princi­pal whereof Epictetus treats of, beginning in this Chapter with Men's Duty to one another.

To this purpose he gives us a convenient In­timation, how we may find out what is proper­ly our Duty, and that this differs according to the several Posts in which Men stand to one ano­ther. There is one kind of Deportment due to a Father, and another to a Son; one to our own Country-man, and another to a Stranger; one to a Friend, or a Benefactor, and another to an Enemy that hath injured us. And the reason of this is, Because the Relation I bear to a Father, as the Person to whom, next under God, I owe my Being, and the Comforts of it, differs from that which I bear to a Son, whom I am to con­sider, not as a Cause, but as an Effect of my self, and to look upon him as one to whom I have communicated part of my own Substance. So that in all these Cases, the first thing we have to do, is, to enquire into the Quality and Relation of the Person, and then to suit our Demeanour accordingly.

[Page 324] Now this Relation (generally speaking) is the Order of Things, or the mutual Regard they have to one another; and this may be either the effect of Necessity and Nature, or of Choice; it may reflect either to Similitude or Dissimili­tude; either to Proximity, or to Distance. For this Relation is a sort of Common Band of the Persons concerned in it, which links them so together, that though they be distinct in other respects, yet they cannot be absolutely dis-joined, but must continue to have an Interest each in other. For which Reason it is, that Relatives are said to belong to one another.

Now the natural Order and Respect which proceeds in Proximity, joins sometimes Equals, as Brothers; and here both the Denominations and the Duty of each Party is the same; for both are Brothers: And so likewise it is in other like Cases. Both are Equals, both are Cousins, both are Country-men. There is also a natural Re­spect which implies Distance, and this regards People of different Birth and Countries; and likewise proceeds upon the like Names, and the like Duties, as of one Stranger, or Fo­reigner, to another. And this is a Respect in­ferring Distance, because as that which express'd nearress of Blood and Family brought them closer together; so this which denies such a nearness, does in that very Idea set them farther asunder. This however is a general Rule, That in all Cases, where both Parties are upon the level, and go by the same Names, there they owe the same Duties too, and that, whether the Term by which the Relation is express'd, imply Pro­ximity or Distance.

[Page 325] Again, there is also a mutual Respect founded in Nature, where a Disparity is implied; as, between Father and Son: For here the Expe­ctances are not the same, as between Brothers they were said to be, nor are the Denominations, as there, the same. This then is a natural Re­gard which joins People upon unequal Te [...]ms; and this Inequality is the same in Proportion, as in a Cause and its Effect. There is another Relation too of Disparity between Things that seem Contraries, as between the Right Side and the Left; for these have a mutual Respect to each other, and yet that depends upon a kind of local Contrariety. There is likewise a dis­junctive Relation in Nature, which is between Disparates too, as Things of last Year and this Year; for this shews an Inequality in Time.

The Relation upon Choice, that implies Pro­ximity, and lies between Equals, is that of Friends▪ and that which implies Distance, or the Dis-junctive, is that of Enemies: For even Enemies are under a voluntary Relation to one another; and these Relations lying between Equals, have (as I observed before) the same Names, and are obliged to the same Duties. This voluntary Relation lies sometimes in Dis­parity too, as between Master and Scholar, con­sidered as the Cause and the Effect; between the Buyer and Seller, as contradistinguished, from each other. The dis-junctive Relations of this kind that carry a Disparity, are the Flier and the Pursuer; for these Men are under a volunta­ry and an unequal Relation to one another, though this be such an one as implies D [...]stance and Dis­junction too.

[Page 326] The Relation between Husband and Wife, seems to be something betwixt that by Nature, and that by Choice, for in truth it is partly one, and partly the other, and inferrs a Disparity both of Name and Duty. But that of Neigh­bours, which is a kind of in [...]ermediate Relation too, hath an equality in Duty, and the same Title. Between the Person in Authority, and Him under it, there is some kind of natural Relation (for Nature intended, in all her Pro­ductions, that the Better should govern the Worse.) It depends partly upon Choice too, as when by some Common Agreement the Weal­thy bear Rule, and the Meaner People submit to it; and it is a mixture of both these, when in­stead of Wealth and Power, the Wisest are ad­vanced to the Chair by Consent.

And now, that this rough, imperfect Draught hath been laid before us, of the several Rela­tions Men bear to one another, it will concern us to consider, in which we, and the Persons we converse with, stand, and to take our Mea­sures from thence; but with this Caution, That we still answer our Character, whether they make good theirs, or no; and especially where Nature hath made the Relation, and prescribed the Duty. For, where it is only founded in Choice, there the Good Man, who discharges his own Part, hath it in his power to untie the Knot when he will, and let the Relation fa [...]l asunder: That is, he can withdraw his Affe­ction and Acquaintance from an unworthy Friend, and he can melt down a spightful Man with good Offices, and cease to be an Enemy. For the same free Choice that contracted the [Page 327] Relation, can as easily dissolve it too: But the Relations founded in Nature are Eternal, and no Act of our own Will can ever make them cease.

So that if a Friend use us ill, and become an Enemy, he hath broke the Bond that linked us together, and released us from all that was due to him upon the account of Friendship, because he hath ceased to be our Friend, and chosen to be our Enemy. But if a Father behave himself viciously, or unnaturally, the [...]ase is much o­therwise: Neither [...]is Rigour nor his Vice can make him cease to [...] a Father, because these are only the Effects o [...] his own Choice; but the Re­lation between us is no [...] [...]ounded in Choice, but in Nature; and the Obligation lies to him as a Father, not as a good, or a kind Father; so that though he be not such, yet our Duty conti­nues still the same. We are bound then to pay him all manner of Duty, Observance and awful Con­cern; to consider him as the Means made use of by God to bring us into the World; to remem­ber that his provident Care and Tenderness su­stained the Being he gave us; and that our Pre­servation, as well as our Production, is in a great measure owing to Him. And therefore Chil­dren should look upon themselves as Debtors to their Parents, and pay back all their Kindness with much Gratitude and large Interest: They should give most ready Obedience to all their Commands, except such as tend to the detriment of the Soul; and in these cases their Compliance is dispensed with, because they are under a higher Engagement to the Father of Spirits, and must not displease him at any rate. And yet [Page 328] upon these occasions too, they should endeavour to give as little Offence as is possible; and though their Refusal may and ought to be resolute, yet Modesty must temper their Zeal, and contrive that it may be respectful too.

In all other Matters, we are to serve them with our utmost power, both in our Bodies and our Goods: For if the Persons and the Possessions of Slaves, are at the absolute disposal of those whom Fortune and Purchase have made their Masters, how much more ought ours to be at the Command of them, whom Nature made the Cause of our very Being? For this reason we ought to submit to their Correction, with much more easiness and patience than Servants do to their Masters; and if to their Blows, then cer­tainly rather still to their Reproaches and hard Usage. The ancient Romans had a Law, groun­ded it seems upon the Dignity of this Relation, the absolute Right it gave, the infinite Trouble Parents are at for the sake of their Children, the unlimitted Subjection due to them (presuming favourably withal of the natural Affection of Pa­rents) that gave the Parents a Power, if they pleased, to sell their Children; and if they killed them, call'd them to no account for it. And the Times of greater Antiquity still, bore so great a Reverence to Parents, as almost to venture to call them Gods: But finding some check from the incommunicable Devotion due to the Divine Nature, they called their Parents Brothers, [...]; by that intimating what pro­found Respect belonged to their Parents them­selves, when even their collateral Relations were complemented with the Name of something Di­vine in them.

[Page 329] Now indeed in the Discharge of our Duty to Parents, the first and principal Motive is the equity of the thing, and the acting as becomes Men that make Pretensions to Wisdom and Ver­tue, which this is most highly agreeable to: And after this, we should represent to our selves the Divine Justice and Vengeance, which is very likely to punish us in our own kind; and we have a great deal of reason to expect, that we shall hereafter find the same measure from our Children, which we give our Parents now.

So again, if a Brother deal unjustly by you, let it be your part to answer all the Particulars of the Relation between you, and make good that Covenant which Nature hath ratified and made unalterable: For though the World be a wide place, yet you can have no other Parents, nor Brethren, nor Kinsmen, but those you have. And therefore since you must take them upon Content, and there is no remedy, behave your self as though you had made them your own Choice. Consider too, that his Behaviour to­ward you, is not in your own power to deter­mine; but yours toward him is. And there­fore you should not so much regard his Actions, which you cannot help, nor are in any degree responsible for, as what is agreeable to your own Duty, and fit for you to do; for in this consists all the real Advantage and Prejudice that can happen to you. He can do you no harm, let him design never so much, provided you do but depend upon your own sel [...] for your Good and Evil: But if you ramble abroad, and ex­pect to find it there, you are the worse then in­deed, though not by your Brother's Malice, but [Page 330] your own Mistakes, that place Happiness and Misery in things without you. Add to all this, the Advantage of winning him over by good usage; for if your Forbearance, and Meekness, and Affection can render him not only your Bro­ther, but your Friend too, these two Relations meeting in one, and joining Forces, will make the Union wonderful close and strong.

Now the Duties that we owe to our Masters, and Teachers, whose Business it is to instruct us in Wisdom and Vertue, are much of the same nature with those due to Parents; though in some respects, I confess, the Obligations seem to be greater in the case before us: For these Persons nourish and train up not our Bodies, but, which is much more considerable, our Souls, that is, our very selves. They do it too upon a different Principle, not constrained to it by Nature and Necessity, like our Parents; and by such an instinct as Brutes obey no less than Men; but they do it out of a free Choice, and a Desire to promote Goodness and Vertue: And this makes a near Approach to, and is a lively Resemblance of the Divine Bounty, which takes Compassion upon sunk and lapsed Souls, and is perpetually retrieving them from their Mise­ry, and restoring them to the Bliss they have lost.

Now these Observances must needs be pecu­liarly due to our Instructors, because we ought to look upon their Instructions as coming out of the mouth of God Himself; and consequent [...]y sub­mit to them, without troubling our selves to find out peevish Cavils and frivolous Excepti­ons against them: For certainly, it is not easie [Page 331] to conceive, how he, whose End and Profession it is to inform us in true Wisdom and Goodness, should impose any thing upon us but what tends to the furthering so excellent a Design. But now, if our Parents take the pains to teach us, and thus to the Engagement of being our Pa­rents, that other be added of being our Teachers too, then we are to pay them all that Obser­vance and Respect which can be challenged upon both these accounts. We must then look upon them as the very Image of God, reverence them as the Formers of our Souls, as well as of our Bodies, and like God, the Causes to which not our Being only, but also our Well-being ought to be ascribed.

The next thing that offers it self is the Du­ty of Friends; and of this I shall treat with what Clearness, but withal what Brevity so weighty and useful a Subject will bear. The first thing to be regarded here is, The Choice of Friends: The next is, How to use and keep those we have chosen, and upon these things all the Benefits of Friendship depend.

The first thing we should look at in our Choice of Friends, is Likeness of Temper and Disposition: For there are several Humours, which though very good when single, yet will make but [...]ill Musick when brought together. The Sour, and Phlegmatick, and Cold Temper, will suit but ill with the Brisk and Sanguine one; though each of these alone, and each well cou­pled, may be excel [...]ent Persons. The next Con­sideration is, How the Person whom we make choice of, hath behaved himself to his other Friends before. The third Rule, which is in­deed [Page 332] of such moment that it may be justly thought to include all, is to observe, Whether he be a Man governed by his Passions, or his Reason. When this is done, we shall sind it very proper to examine into his Inclinations, and see which way the Bent and Byass of his Soul lies; whether they draw him to Goodness and Vertue, and such Actions and Enjoyments as are commendable, and befitting a Man of Piety and Honour; or whether to vile and unmanly Pleasures, and such as none but shameless Fellows and Scoundrels abandon themselves to. We shall do well to observe farther, whether these Desires and Inclinations be tractable and gentle, such as are fit to be spoken with, and ready to hearken to Reason; or whether they be violent and unper­suadable, such as mind nothing but their own Gratification, and are deaf to all Arguments that would draw them off from it: For Men of such Passions are always hot and peremptory, and by no means fit to make Friends of. Those also that are fond of the World, and expect their Happi­ness any where but from their own Minds, are very improper to fix upon: For they dote upon Riches, or Mistresses, or Preferments; and in all those things that are of a communicable nature, they carve themselves too largely, and are desi­ous to engross the Whole; so destroying that Equality which Friendship either supposeth, or introduceth. This in Riches and such instances, is plain beyond a doubt; and the Vain glorious discovers it as evidently too, in the desires of Reputation and Applause.

[Page 333] Now it is the peculiar Excellence of those things that tend to the Soul's Good, that the Possessor hath them entirely to himself, even when he imparts them to others. They are not diminished, but augmented by Communication: For they are excited and kindled in the Breasts of those on whom we bestow them; and the farther they spread, the more they are scat­tered, the more and larger they grow. So that the Light of Truth and Vertue takes fire by Conversation, as a Match does by the mutual Attrition of Flint and Steel, that kindles by the Sparks that drop from it, but loses none of the Virtue it gives away.

Again. When Friends make true Good their End, and right Reason their Rule, they are sure never to differ in point of Interest; for they judge of Advantage by the same common Standard. Now when they are thus agreed in one Measure, and judge of Pleasure and Profit, and the contraries to these alike, they have se­cured themselves against the most dangerous and usual Bane of Friendship. For without a per­fect Agreement in these Matters, Disputes and Quarrels are always unavoidable. And so much for the Choice of our Friends.

As for our Behaviour to the Friends thus cho­sen, That, in one Word, must make Reason and Equity its constant Rule: And upon this account we must never do any thing to our Friends, which we would not be perfectly satisfied with when done by them to us. Whatever Kindnesses they receive from us must be extenua­ted, and thought moderately of; but whatever Obligations we receive from them must be ve­ry [Page 334] highly esteemed, and rated above their just Va­lue. The Course directly contrary to this must be observed in Failings and Miscarriages: Theirs must be lessened and excused, our own aggrava­ted and severely condemned. We must think nothing so strictly our own, as that a Friend should not have an equal, or rather indeed a greater Share and Right in it. And upon all Oc­casions we should give them Precedence; and Re­spect; and we should do it willingly and chear­fully, as considering that their Honours devolve upon us, and that a Friend, according to the Proverb, is a Man's second Self.

But since after all our nicest Circumspection and Care, it is impossible for us to continue Men, and not give some occasion of Offence; this Point is to be managed very tenderly. A Man that will be a Friend in good earnest, ought e­specially to guard this Breach, and to reprove what is done amiss with great Temper and Soft­ness, in Obedience to that old and truly Golden Rule,

Lose not a Friend on every slight Pretence;
Ready to pardon, slow to take Offence.

Pythag. [...].

That so you may admit him to a perfect and firm Reconciliation; and deliver him from the Remorse of his own Mind, by leaving no ground of Jealousie, that he hath not still the same place in your Affection and Esteem.

It is certain too, that our Kindness and Con­cern ought not to be confined to our Friend a­lone, but extend to his Relations and Acquain­tance, [Page 335] and those whose Affairs and Successes he thinks himself interested in: So that he should be as ready to serve them upon his Account, as he would be upon their own. Our Concern and Affection ought not to be restrained to Place nei­ther; but we should have the same, and upon some Accounts, a more tender Regard to our Friend in his Absence, than we think our selves obliged to express when he is present with us; an eminent instance whereof I could give from my personal Experience in a Friend of my own. And, to conclude, all, when once we have made a prudent Choice, and laid the Foundations of Friendship in an agreeable Humour, and tryed Constancy, and vertuous Dispositions, the Affections that will naturally follow upon such powerful Attractives, will not fail to conduct us in the right Method of Conversation, and all the Duties and good Offices that can be expected, as the Testimonies and Endearments of Friendship will follow of Course.

Now what a Blessing Friendship is, how rich a Treasure, and how fruitful in the Advantages of Life, is a Subject worthy of a long and stu­died Discourse; but at present I shall content my self with a few Particulars only, and such as oc­cur to my present Thoughts.

First then; Every Friend hath Two Souls, and Two Bodies; and it is plain from the sore­going Rules, that he must needs have Two E­states: And if a Man have several such Friends, then his Advantages grow upon him still more, and he is multiplyed into more Souls, and Bo­dies, and Estates in proportion to the number of his Friends. In the Study of Wisdom and [Page 336] Nature, Souls thus united have an infinite Ad­vantage, and the Light of Truth displays it self much more early and fully to them. Nor have they less in the Exercise of Vertue, by mu­tual Conferences, and joynt Endeavours: These bring their Improvements into one common Bank, from whence every Man supplies his own Occa­sions, and easily grows rich at the publick Stock. Besides, that such united Perfection will find a more than ordinary Blessing and Encouragement from Heaven, they are secure of prudent and seasonable Advice in all their Difficulties, their Motions will be regular and well weighed, and their Successes more probable, as having more Heads to contrive, and more Hands to act than they can who stand alone, and must encounter Fortune single. When such a Man is abroad from his Family and Acquaintance, yet that Ab­sence, and all Want of him is made good to them by his Friend; in Him he is present while li­ving, and living when dead.

These are some of the Advantages. And the Pleasures of Friendship are not less than the Pro­fits of it: For what Delight can be compared to that sensible Joy that runs through all our Spirits at the sight of a Friend? What Charms do we find in his Person? What Musick in his Discourse? What an engaging Gracefulness in all his Actions? The Confidence we repose in him is above what any Ties of Blood and Nature can give our nearest Relations a Title to, and our Minds are more at ease, and more secure in his Fidelity, than any Degree of Wealth or Pow­er can make them. Of which Alexander the Great gave a very pregnant Instance, who, we [Page 337] are told, when he was asked where his vast Treasures lay, pointed to his Friends, and said, Those were they.

A Friend is likewise the best Instructer, and the best Corrector that can be: For Reproof is least offensive when coming from such a Hand; nor is there any Person whose Observation keeps us in equal Awe, or whose Censure we fear so much, if it hath been our Misfortune to fail in point of Du­ty; our prosperous Fortunes, and all the Gayeties of Heart we feel upon them, grow double by Communication, but are flat and insipid without a Friend to partake of the Pleasure: And all our Afflictions are disarmed, and their Force bro­ken, when a Friend takes off part of the Bur­den, by his tender Sympathies, and seasonable Comforts.

Friendship indeed is the best School to train a Man up in all manner of Vertue and Prudence, and to learn the World in: This forms him for Conversation, and fits his Soul for all possible Accidents and Encounters: It teaches him Ci­vility, and Meekness, and Truth. For one makes no difficulty of giving Precedence to a Friend; nor takes Offence at every Slip or Im­perfection of his, and accustoms ones self to o­pen ones Mind freely, and speak our Thoughts without any Trick or Reserve. Here we find a strange Inclination to be grateful, and just in re­turning Favours; and the Pleasure of doing them is upon no occasion so great, nor so generously put in Practice, as in the Case of a Friend; no Man will run so many Risques, nor expose his Person so freely to prevent another's Dan­ger as he: But a true Friend scorns to decline [Page 338] any Difficulty, and is ready to rescue his Friend, though at the expence of his own Life. Could an Army be levied of such Men, they would rout double their Number by their united Force, and firm Resolutions not to desert one another. These are the Qualifications that fit a Man for the World, and the exercise of them among Friends is easie, and pleasant: Whatever seems harsh at first is softned by Affection, and by de­grees a Man will find himself a Master, capable of acquitting himself as he ought in all Points, as Occasions are offered, first to his Friends; and when Practice with them hath perfected him, then to all Mankind.

This farther Consideration is likewise worth our Notice, That Friendship ties all our other Relations the closer, and binds them faster upon us: It endears us to those whom God and Nature have commanded us to love; it sweetens and recommends their Company, and enclines us to do all that is expected from us with chearful­ness and satisfaction. For unless Brothers, and Children, and Husbands, and Wives be Friends too, and have a particular kindness and regard for one another; though they may, with much ado, follow Epictetus his Direction, and discharge the several Offices which belong to their particular Station, yet all their Perfor­mances will come hard and strained; there will be nothing of Pleasure or Alacrity to whet their Duty, and give it a relish; but all is look'd upon as a Burden and a Slavery, the ef­fect of Necessity, not Choice; done, not be­cause they would, but because they must do it, and not so much to oblige the Receiver, as to avoid Guilt and Reproach.

[Page 339] Now the true Reason why this Relation of a Friend is more sacred and engaging than any other, seems to be, that it is not our Fate, but our Choice. Our natural Relations we were born to; but where our selves tye the Knot, it is generally stronger than where Nature does it; and that, because of all the Endowments of the Soul, that of Reason and Liberty seems to be the highest, and that by which we make the nearest approach to the Perfections of that Great ONE, in and by whom all things are united.

These are some of the Excellent and Marvel­lous Effects of Friendship, and such Humane Considerations as abundantly recommend it: But the most valuable, and truly Divine Recommen­dation is still behind; which is, That the Uni­on of Souls by an Innocent and Sincere Friend­ship is the noblest Contemplation, and the live­liest Image of our Union with God himself. And indeed we cannot here upon Earth aspire to any better, and more intimate Conjun­ction with Him, and those Blessed Spirits who are ever in perfect Harmony and Concord. It was not therefore without excellent Reason, that Pythagoras and his Followers, gave the Prefe­rence to Friendship above all other Vertues, and called it, The very Chain and Complement of them all. For in Truth, if any One Vertue be wanting, Friendship will not dwell there. For how can we suppose an Unjust, or an Intem­perate, and Debauch'd Man, or a Coward, ca­pable of Friendship? and an obstinate perverse Fool is so less than any of them: No no, this Treasure is too rich, too refined for such sor­did Wretches. A Man therefore that pretends [Page 340] to Friendship, must aspire to as high degrees of Prefection, as the Frailties of Humane Nature will admit; he must work off the Dross of sen­sual and brutish Passions, purifie and sublimate his Mind, and then he is qualified to seek a Mate in Friendship; and when he hath found such a­nother as himself, he must hold him close to his Heart, as his Dearer and Better Half.

If I have been tedious upon this Subject, the Reader will be kind in imputing it to so good a Cause as my Zeal for Friendship; which it were a most desireable thing to see some few at least pay that regard to, which it deserves. And indeed a few Instances would be some Comfort in this miserable Age; when the Vices and Vileness of Mankind seem to have banish'd it almost quite out of the World. But it is now high time to come off from this long Digression, and return to that which this Chapter directs us to; which is, to examine something more briefly, those other Relations that Epictetus here hath thought fit to make express mention of.

For, after having told us, That the Considera­tion of the several Qualities and Relations was the best Rule of their respective Duties, he proceeds to instance in that of a good Citi­zen, or Patriot: For this too gives us a sort of Affinity to all our Fellow-Citizens, or Sub­jects. The Country represents our Parents, and all that are born in it, that are comprehend­ed within its Privileges, and live under its Laws, are in some Sense Brethren; and a mani­fest Relation (though more distant I confess, than any hitherto insisted upon) there is between all the Natives of it. The likeness of Dispositions [Page 341] shews such a Relation to be of Nature's making; and this is very often observable in People, not only of the same City or Corpora­tion, but extends it self to those of the same Nation too. Our Behaviour therefore to all such ought to resemble that to our Kindred, and all imaginable Care should be taken for their Im­provement; for in this we shall consult our own Benefit too, and feel the Advantage of living among Honest and Vertuous People; of being supplyed in all our Necessities, and assisted in all our Distresses; and of providing Husbands, and Fathers for all Orphans and Widows: For every Man is capable of lending a helping Hand, though not every Man in the same way: One may be a Friend with his Money; another by his Authority; a Third by his Interest and Ac­quaintance, or by his good Advice; a Fourth by his Labour and Pains; and those who have nothing else in their Power, may be serviceable by their Pity and Compassion.

Now if a Man be both a Fellow-Citizen and a Neighbour, this renders the Relation some­thing nearer still. For as the State we are born in, and the Family we are descended from, are not the Gifts of a blind undistinguishing Chance; so are we to look upon that particular Habita­tion, and part of the same City where we dwell, to be assigned us by a wise Providence. So that those Fellow-Citizens which dwell nearest to us, are upon that account allyed more closely still. And whatever have been specified as Duties to the One, are so, and indeed more so, to the other, as we have Opportunities of paying, and they of receiving them. Therefore we are to [Page 342] rejoice in their Successes, and be heartily concern­ed for their Misfortunes; and when any of them are sick or indisposed, we must endeavour to be serviceable to them, as if they were a part of our own Family. In all our Conversation a­broad, we should make it appear to the World, that while our Neighbour hath no Designs but what are honest and fair, we will stand by him to our utmost, and should think it a shameful reflection, that he should upon any occasion ask or receive a kindness from them that dwell at a greater distance, which it was in the power of us his next Neighbours to have done for him.

There is also a sort of Relation betwixt us and Foreigners, that come to spend some time in our Country: a Relation of which God is the Author, who hath declared, that he bears a par­ticular regard to Strangers. The good Offices therefore that become due upon this account ought very punctually to be discharged, both in respect to the Almighty, who hath taken such Persons into his peculiar Protection, and also to exercise and enlarge our good Nature, which ought not to be confined within the narrow bounds of our own Acquaintance or Country, but must stretch its concern over the whole World, and look upon it sel [...] as a Debtor to all Mankind. There is also another very weighty reason still behind, which is, that this will give us Confidence when we present our Addres­ses before the God of Strangers; and we may with a better Grace ask and expect that assistance from Him, which we have given them without grudging. For such is his condescention, that he allows us to look upon all our Endeavours [Page 343] and Actions of Kindness as so many Loans to Himself, and he will be sure to repay with large Usury, and more to the Creditor's Advantage, than any the most Generous of the Sons of Men.

Above all things we must take special care ne­ver to injure or oppress a Stranger; but quite contrary to give him our Countenance, and help, and rescue him if it be possible from the Injustice of any other that shall attempt it: For God hath charged his Providence with a peculiar care of such; because they are more exposed and desti­tute of humane Flesh; and he who hath promi­sed to protect them more eminently, will be sure to revenge their wrongs more severely. It is sit too, that those who can do it, be assisting to them in the dispatch of the Affairs they came about, and furnish them with what conveniencies they stand in need of; that they be particularly tender of them in cases of Sickness, and when the ends of their Journey are satisfied, contribute all possible endeavours towards the facilitating their return home again.

He tells us moreover, That a Private Soldier ought to consider his own, and his Commander's Post, and from thence inform himself what is due to his Superiour Officers. Now in such a case, it is not enough that their Orders be obeyed, but it is necessary that they should be executed speedily; because in time of Action, many favourable Op­portunities present themselves, which if not pre­sently snatch'd, are lost for ever. And they must be executed with Bravery and Resolution too, because the Fortune of the Field may de­pend upon such Obedience. A Private Soldier is likewise obliged to expose his own Person for [Page 344] the safety of his Commander, because such an one's Life is of infinite consequence. If a single Soldier fall, there is no great Advantage gained, nor does this change the face of Affairs; but if a General fall, though the Soldiers under him were victorious before, yet their Spirits sink imme­diately, their Order is broke, and every one makes the best of his way to save himself, as Sheep without a Shepherd, run before Wolves. So that indeed not only the Success of the Day, but the Fate of whole Countries and Kingdoms is often brought into extream hazard, by the loss of one eminent Commander; of which Xenophon hath left us an Example, in the account he gives of what happened upon the Death of Cyrus.

It is no less evident, That there is also a Re­lation between Civil Magistrates, and the Persons under their Jurisdiction, and several Duties that follow from that Relation. And here, if Men do not bear the empty Name of Governours, but are really what they are called, all ready Obedi­ence is due to them; all Honour and Respect, as next under God, the Authors of our Peace and Happiness, and greatest Benefactors to the Pub­lick. For good Governours make this the Study and Business of their Lives; they set about it zealously and heartily, and omit no care that may any way conduce to the Benefit of the State. What Hippocrates said of Physicians, is much more eminently true of Princes, they do not torment themselves to no purpose with other People's Calamities (and Epictetus advises they should not,) but they sacrifice themselves and all their Quiet to Care and Trouble; they neg­lect their own private Affairs and Families, and [Page 345] must be content with perpetual Vexations and Interruptions, and to lose many precious Oppor­tunities that might be improved to very wise and vertuous Purposes.

Upon all these accounts, and to make them some amends, every Man is bound not only to be obedient, but so far as in him lies to ease them, and bear a part of their Burden; to be active and vigorous in their Support and De­fence, as looking upon their Dangers to affect the State in common, and threaten the whole Constitution.

And if these Governours be such as do by no means answer their Character, nor take the care that becomes them; though we are not bound to vindicate their Errours, or their Wickedness, yet even in such cases we are obliged to pay them all that is due to the Dignity of their Post; we must shew them all fit Deference and Re­spect, and comply with their Commands, as far as with a good Conscience we may.

But it is very fit I should now apply my self to the following Chapters, and not quit my first De­sign; which was to explain Epictetus, and not to run out into unnecessary Enlargements, upon the several Relations Men stand in to each other; for otherwise while I teach my Reader his Duty, he will be apt to suspect that I have forgot my own.

CHAP. XXXVIII.

Take notice, That the principal and most im­portant Duty in Religion, is to possess our Minds with just and becoming Notions of the Gods; to believe that there are such supreme Beings, and that they govern and dispose all the Affairs of the World with a just and good Providence. And in agree­ment to such a Persuasion, to dispose your self for a ready and reverend Obedience, and a perfect Acquiscence in all their Di­spensations; and this Submission is to be the effect of Choice, and not Constraint; as considering, that all Events are ordered by a most Wise and Excellent Mind: For this is the only Principle that can secure you from a querulous Temper, and prevent all the impious Murmurings, which Men are used to utter, who imagine themselves neglected, and their Merits over-look'd by a partial Deity. Now for attaining to the good Disposition I have been descri­bing, there is but one possible Method; viz. To disregard the Things of the World, and be fully satisfied, that there is no Happiness or Misery in any other thing, but what Nature hath put within your own power and choice. For, so long as you suppose any external Enjoyments ca­pable [Page 347] of making you happy, or the want of them miserable, you must unavoidably blame the Disposers of them, as oft as you meet with any Disappointment in your Hopes, or fall into any Calamity you fear. This is a Principle fix'd in all Creatures by Nature, and nothing can change or remove it, to run away from all that seems hurt­ful and destructive, and to have an aver­sion for the Causes of these Things to us. And so likewise to pursue and court the contrary, and love and admire the Per­sons we owe our Good to. So that no Man can take pleasure in the supposed Au­thor of his Mischief, any more than in the Mischief it self. Hence it is that Sons complain of their Fathers, and re­proach them for not letting them into a greater share of their Estates, in which they place their Happiness. Hence Poly­nices and Eteocles engaged in that unna­tural War, because they placed their Hap­piness in a Crown. Hence the Husband­man cries out against God, when the Season is unkindly; and the Merchant repines at Storms, and Losses at Sea, and Masters of Families at the death of their beloved Wife and Children. Now no Man can have Religion, without mixing some pro­spect of Advantage with it; nor can we heartily serve and adore a Being, of whose [Page 348] Justice and Kindness we have not a good Opinion. So that by making it our Busi­ness to regulate our Desires and our Aver­sions, and direct them to worthy and pro­per Objects; we do at the same time most effectually secure our Piety. It is necessary also, that you should offer Sacri­fices, and conform to the Custom of your Country in the Exercise of Religion; and that all things of this kind be performed with Sincerity and Devotion; not sloven­ly and carelesly, but with a decent Appli­cation and Respect; and that your Offer­ings be, according to your Ability, so tem­per'd, as neither to betray an Ʋnwilling­ness or sordid Grudging in one extream, nor to run out into the other of Profuseness and Ostentation.

COMMENT.

AFter the Duties expected from us to our Equals, that is, of Men to one another; he proceeds now to instruct us what we owe to our Superiours; viz. those of a Nature more excellent than our own. And in all Disquisitions of this kind, it is a very convenient Method to begin with those Things that are nearest and most familiar to us, and so by degrees ascend to those above, and at a greater distance from us.

[Page 349] Now these Duties are likewise discovered by taking a just View of the Relation between the Gods and us, and that is such an one as Effects bear to their Highest and First Causes.

If then they are to be considered under this No­tion, it is evident that they stand not in any need of our Services; nor can we add to their Hap­piness or Perfection. Our Duties consequently, and the Intent of them are only such as may ex­press our Subjection, and procure us a more free access and intercourse with them: For this is the only Method of keeping up the Relation to First and Highest Causes. The Instances of this Sub­jection due from us, are Honour, and Reverence, and Adoration, a voluntary Submission to all they do, and a perfect Acquiescence in all Events or­der'd by them, as being fully satisfied, that they are the Appointments of Absolute Wisdom and Infinite Goodness.

These are such Qualifications, as we must at­tain to by rectifying the Ideas of our Minds, and reforming the Errours of our Lives. The Ideas of our Minds must be rectified by entertaining no Thoughts of the Gods but what are worthy of them, and becoming us; as, That they are the First Cause of all Things: That they dispose of all Events, and concern themselves in the Goverment of the World: And, That all their Government, and all their Disposals are Wise, and Just, and Good. For if a Man be of Opini­on, That there is no God; or if he allow his Exi­stence, but deny his Providence; or if he allow both these, but think that God and that Provi­dence defective in his Counsels, or unjust in his Distributions; such an one can never pay him [Page 350] true Honour and hearty Adoration, nor submit with a resigned and contented Spirit to the va­rious Accidents of Humane Life, as if all were ordered for the best.

Again; It is likewise necessary, that the Life and Conversation of Men be so disposed, as to express this Persuasion of a Wise and Good Pro­vidence, so as not to fly out into peevish Mur­murings and Complaints, nor think that Almigh­ty God hath done us wrong in any of his Dispen­sations. But this is a Temper we can never at­tain to, so long as we expect Happiness, and dread Misery, from any thing but our selves. The Management of our own Will must be our only Care, and all our Desires and Aversions re­strained to the Objects of Choice; and then we need never be disappointed in our Hopes, nor surprized by our Fears. But this must needs happen to all that place their Happiness and Mi­sery, in the Enjoyment, or the Want of any ex­ternal Advantages; and such Disappointments and Surprizes will necessarily carry them to a Detestation of that which they look upon as the cause of such Misfortunes. And they will very hardly refrain from speaking ill of that Power, which might have prevented their Misery, but took no care to do it. For every Creature na­turally desires Good, and abhorrs Evil; and therefore not only the Things themselves, but the Causes of them are shunned and hated, cour­ted and admired, in proportion as they really are, or as we apprehend them to be Good or Evil. There is no such thing in Nature, nor can there be, as that a Man should take delight in, and bear a true Affection to the Person whom [Page 351] he looks upon to have done him some real Inju­ry or Hurt, any more than he can be fond of that Hurt or Injury it self. And since all Good naturally attracts our Love and Desire, and all Evil provokes our Aversion, we must needs be affected alike, both to the Things themselves, and the Causes of them to us.

And though we be mistaken in our Notions of Good and Evil, yet that we shall proceed accor­ding to our apprehensions of these Things, as if they were really so, and cannot restrain our selves from hating and reviling the Authors of our Calamity, or the Deceivers of our Hope, he proves from hence, That the strictest Ties of Nature, and Duty, and Affection, are generally found too feeble Engagements to keep Men in Temper, or moderate their Resentments. Thus we see greedy and impatient Children perpetu­ally railing at their Fathers for keeping them out of their Estates, which they account their Good; or for inflicting some Severities upon them which they think Evil; as when they cha­stise their Follies, or deny them their Liberty. And thus Oedipus his two Sons, Polynices and Eteocles, forgetting that they were Brothers, quarrell'd, and kill'd one another for the Crown in which they were Rivals. Thus the Farmer; when his Seed-time or his Harvest happens ill; if it rain too much, or too little, or if any other cross accident come to his Crop, presently rails and murmurs against the Gods; or if he have the modesty to hold his tongue, yet he is sure to fret and curse inwardly. Thus Mariners, when they want a fair Wind, and though they are bound to different Ports, and must sail with [Page 352] different Winds, one perhaps wishes for a Nor­thern, another for a Southerly Gale, and the same can never serve or please them all; yet they swear and rant at Providence, as if it were obliged to take care of them only, and neglect all those whose Business requires it should blow in the Quarter where it does. So likewise Mer­chants are never content: When they are to buy, they would have great plenty, and a low Mar­ket; but when it is their turn to sell, then they wish for scarcity, and a rising Price: And if either of these happen otherwise, they grow disconten­ted, and accuse Providence. And in general, when Men bury their Wives, or Children, or have something very dear taken from them, or fall into some disaster they feared, they grow angry at the Disposer of these Events. For we are naturally inclined to honour and respect the Persons that oblige and gratifie us; and as no­thing excites these Resentments in us so soon, or so powerfully as our own advantage; so no­thing gives such an effectual disgust, and so ir­reconcilable a disrespect, as the apprehension that any Person hath contributed to our loss and disadvantage.

So that a Man in taking care to fix his Desires, and his Aversions, upon right Objects, does at the same time secure his Piety and Reverence for God; for this Man's Hopes are always answered, his Fears always vanish into nothing; for he neither hopes nor fears any thing out of his own power, is consequently always pleased, and un­der no Temptations to accuse Providence, for any thing that can possibly happen to him. But the Man that gives his Desires a Loose, and expects [Page 353] his Fate from enternal Accidents, is a Slave to all the World: He lies at the mercy of every Man's Opinion, of Health and Sickness, Pover­ty and Riches, Life and Death, Victories and Defeats; nay, even the Wind and the Rain, the Ha [...]l and the Meteors; and, in short, every Cause and every Effect in Nature is his Master. For except every one of these fall out just accor­ding to his mind, his Desires must be frustrated, and his Fears accomplished? What a Weather­cock of a Man is this! How uneasie and unsetled his Life! How tedious and troublesome must he be to himself! How dissatisfied in his Breast, and how impious in his Reflections upon Provi­dence! So that, in short, there is no one Circum­stance wanting that can conduce to the rendring such a one miserable.

Having thus laid the Foundations of Religion, in true Notions of the Divine Nature, in a con­tented Submission to all Events, and in a firm Persuasion of a Wise and Good Providence, that disposes them as we see; and having moreover shewn the necessity of despising the World, and depending upon our own Will and the Objects of it, for all the Happiness and Misery we are capable of; he proceeds now to direct us what methods we should take to express our Reverence and Honour for the Gods. Some of those that are generally practised, and become universal, it is highly probable that God himself instituted, de­claring (as some Histories inform us he did) what Services would be most acceptable to Him; and this with a gracious Design of bringing us better acquainted with Himself, and likewise to san­ctifie and enlarge our Enjoyments, that our Offe­rings [Page 354] might envite his Blessings and his Bounty, and for giving back a little, we might receive the more.

As therefore we hold our selves bound in the first place to set apart that Soul which we recei­ved from him, to his Service, and to consecrate it by refined and holy Thoughts, by worthy and reve­rend Ideas of his Majesty, and a regular uncorrupt Life; so it should be our next care to purifie and dedicate this Body too, which came to us from the same hand, and carefully to wash away all the seen or hidden Blemishes and Pollutions which it may have contracted. When the Soul and its Instrument are thus clear from all their Stains, let us come decently cloathed into his presence, and there devote a part of what God in his Boun­ty hath conferred upon us, to his Use and Ser­vice. For it is highly reasonable and just, that a Part should be given back to him from whom we receive the Whole: Not that he needs, or is the better for it; (nor is he so indeed either for the Holiness of our Lives, or the reverend and wor­thy Ideas we have of him: And so this Objecti­on, if it were a good one, would lie equally a­gainst all Piety in general) but it is for our own advantage: For when we have thus quali­fied our selves for his benign Influences, he com­municates himself to us in such proportions as we are capable and worthy of. So do the Offe­rings we devote out of our Fortunes, when re­commended by a pure Conscience and a good Life, derive down the Blessing and Goodness of God upon our Estates, and procure us signal Testimonies of the Power and Efficacy of his Providence. One man hath found them the In­struments [Page 355] of a marvellous recovery from some Epilepsie, or other incurable Distemper; another of calming boisterous Winds and Seas, besides the Divine Favour and Illumination which the Votaries often acquire by such Religious Servi­ces. But if there were none of these advanta­geous Effects to follow, yet it must be confess'd a most equitable thing, and a decent expression of Gratitude, to pay back these Acknowledgments to the Giver of all we enjoy: How much more then, when the parting with so small a propor­tion, sanctifies and consecrates the whole, and ensures his Favour and Assistance in our Under­takings.

Now as to the kind and the manner of these Oblations, he would have us determined by the Custom of our Country. For there is this migh­ty Difference, among others, between God and us; he is present at all times, and in all places, and equally disposed to exert his Power, and com­municate his Influences the whole World over. But we are confined within a narrow compass; we, as men, are but one of the many Species which God hath created, and of the many who partake of the same Nature, have applied our selves to one Profession and Way of Life, out of many: Our Habitations are distinct, and con­fined to one little Spot of this vast Globe; and so we partake of the Divine Goodness, some in one place and time, and some in another. Thus there are Countries opposite to us, whose Night is our Day; and Climates so distant, that it is Winter in one, and Summer in another at the same time. So likewise Fruits and Animals are peculiar to some Countries, and do not grow nor [Page 356] breed in others; the Divine Bounty imparting it self to all the World, and every Creature in it, though to different parts of the World in different manners. As therefore the particular manifestations of God are suited to several Pla­ces and Professions, and Seasons and modes; so in the choice of Victims and Acknowledgments, each Person and Country observe what is pecu­liar to them, and proper for their Circumstan­ces. And when by common Consent solemn Festivals are celebrated as they ought to be, for the Honour and Worship of God, a more ex­traordinary effect of the Divine Favour and In­fluence is frequently seen upon those Occasions; as miraculous Cures, strange and useful Predi­ctions, and the like. Such remarkable efficacy do we find, and so much more signal Testimo­nies of the Divine Presence and Aid, may we observe at one time above another. And the same success is no less observable, in the proper Choice and Accommodation of the Places in which we worship, the Supplications we use, the Ceremonies we conform to, and the Oblations we present.

Now all the Religious Performances by which we would express our Honour for God, ought, he says, to be attended with Holiness and Since­rity, and not done in a slovenly and sordid man­ner: For it is by no means fit, that any impure thing should presume or be admitted to make its approach to the Purest and most Perfect Being: And any mixture which adulterates what is pure and sincere, does at the same time pollute and stain it. Therefore nothing of this kind is to be done slovenly and sordidly; for that is Epi­ctetus [Page 357] his meaning; and the word he makes use of to express it, signifies such Dust and Nasti­ness, as is contracted from lying upon a dirty Floor. Nor must we behave our selves loosly and negligently, so as through Idleness and Inad­vertency, to leave out, or change, or to con­found the Order of any part of our Worship. For as Words are not the same, if you leave out, or put in, or invert the course of the Let­ters; nor Sentences the same, if you confound the Words they consist of; so the Neglects and Wandrings of a Loose Worship, checks the Di­vine Influences, and renders all his Devotions flat and feeble; as, on the contrary, a wise and steddy Zeal is the best Recommendation of our Prayers, and gives them such energy and force, as never returns empty. And, indeed, what is there of so great Consequence, or so strict Obli­gation, as to be able to rouze a Man into Thought, and dispose him to Warmth and At­tention, if the Presence of God, and his solemn Approaches to so awful a Majesty, have not the power to do it? Hence it is that we are advi­sed to address our selves with reverence and fear; for nothing is more offensive, than a sawcy, irre­ligious Boldness. And the greater Veneration we hold all things that bear a relation to God and his Worship in, the more advantage we shall receive from them, and by humbling our selves before the Throne of God, we take the most effectual method to be truly exalted.

But fearing that some might possibly put a wrong Interpretation upon what he had said; and suppose, that by forbidding Men to be cold and sordid, he intimates, that they should, upon all [Page 358] occasions, come up to the utmost, or rather strain a point, and go beyond their power; therefore he prevents that mistake in the Close of the Chapter. And indeed if Moderation be a Vertue, it cannot shew it self any where to more advantage, than in the Business of Religion, the very end whereof is to reduce all things to their just proportions, and keep them within due bounds. Besides, nothing tends more to the preserving of Religion, and keeping up the con­stant Practice of it, than for Men to proceed in the same even course, with as few Alterations as the thing is capable of; for Custom and fre­quent Repetition makes Men perfect and easie: But whatever is excessive and upon the stretch, we can never be reconciled to, so as to make it our daily Business.

And further, the Men that strain themselves to be profuse in their Sacrifices, or any other way to exceed what others do, and their own Cir­cumstances will bear, seem to do it out of a very mean and mistaken Principle: For this looks as if God were to be bribed in their favour, and the value of the Present laid an Obligation up­on him: Whereas, alas! all these things are done, not for his sake, but our own; and the First Fruits which we consecrate to him, are de­signed for no other than decent Acknowledg­ments of his Liberality, and a small return out of what he hath been pleased to give us.

Thus have I trod in the Steps of this excellent Man, and done him what Right I could in the Pa­raphrase and Explanation of the Chapter before us. But now, because in the beginning he tou­ches upon three Points concerning the divine Na­ture, [Page 359] and these so fundamentally necessary, that all Positive Laws, and all Moral Institutions, do presuppose the Belief and Acknowledgment of them. And since some perverse and refractary Men have nevertheless the Confidence to oppose them, we will so far comply with their Obsti­nacy, though must unreasonable, as to prove the Truth of these Three Points; viz. That there is a divine Nature and Power, That the World is governed by it; and, That the Provi­dence by which it is so governed. is Just and Good in all its Dispensations. The Importuni­ty of these Men is so much the greater, and our trouble of refuting it will be the less; be­cause not Mankind only, but Brutes and Plants, and every Creature in the World, do accord­ing to their Capacity, all declare their Relati­on to God. Men indeed do so the most of any, because they are early instructed by their Parents, Religion grows up with them from their Cra­dle; and the Ideas common to their whole Spe­cies take root in, and carry a great Sway with them. For the Barbarous, as well as the Civi­lized Countries, and that in all Ages of the World too, though they have differ'd exceedingly in o­ther Opinions, yet have ever agreed universally in this, That there is a God. I know of no Ex­ception to this Rule, except those Acrotheites, of whom Theophrastus gives an Account, that they owned no Deity; but as a punishment of their Atheism the Earth opened and swallowed them up. Besides them we meet with no People, and but very few single Persons that ever pretended to disown this, not above Two or Three, from the beginning of the World to this Day.

[Page 360] But yet so it is, that a great many People do not duly attend to these universally received No­tions, partly because they take them upon Trust, without considering or understanding the Argu­ments upon which they are grounded: And part­ly, from some Difficulties in Providence, such as the Misfortunes and Afflictions of some very good, and the Prosperity of some exceedingly wicked Men, which are apt to raise in them the same Scruple with that in the Tragae­dian.

Pardon ye Powers, if yet such Powers there be;
For sure that Doubt is modest, when we see
Triumphant Vice, and injur'd Piety.

Now such Persons as these would soon be con­vinced, if they did but follow Epictetus his Method, and not imagine, that either the Hap­piness or Misery of a Man can depend upon ex­ternal Accidents, or indeed upon any thing else, but the Freedom and Use of his own Will. For at this rate it will not be possible for any good Man to be wretched, or any vicious one happy. And now, if you please, we will consider those Propositions, which are barely laid down by E­pictetus, and try to prove the Truth of them, by such Arguments as are proper, and occur to my present Thoughts.

The first step I shall make in this Argument, [...] to consider the Name by which we call this [...]eing, and what the Word GOD signifies. And [Page 361] here we must observe, That the Greek Word [...], was applyed to the Stars, and other Ce­lestial Bodies; which therefore were so called from [...], which signifies to Run, and had that Appellation given them for the swiftness of their Motion. But this Title was afterwards extended to Incorporeal Causes, and Intellectu­al Beings; and more peculiarly to the First Cause and Being of all Things. So that by this Name we understand the Original of this Universe, the First, and Principal, and Intel­lectual Cause of every Thing. For, whatever hath any existence, must either be derived from some Determinate Cause, or it must subsist by Chance, and Mechanical Necessity. But what­ever subsists after this manner, hath neither any particular efficient Cause, nor is it self the Final Cause of its own Production: For both these Qualifications are absolutely inconsistent with the nature of Fortuitous Beings, and indeed no less so is the following any constant Rule and regular Method in the Production of them.

Now it is obvious to any considering Person, that the Works of Nature, and of Choice, are a final Cause to the Doer, and the existence of them is proposed as that which answers his De­sign. Thus the Husbandman plants, and sows his Ground, in prospect of the Corn, and the Trees that will grow upon it. Thus the Co­ition of all Animals proposes to it self the con­tinuation of the Species. And in all the Progress of these Productions, there is a constant Or­der, and fix'd Course observed, and some Ope­rations which are proper to the Beginning, o­thers to the Promoting, and others to the Per­fecting [Page 362] this Work, each perform'd constant­ly in their proper place. The Seeds of Plants are first cast into the Ground, then moistned and impregnated there, then they take root and sprout, they shoot up in Straw, or Branches, and so on, till at last they blossom and bud, and bring Fruit to maturity. So likewise that of Animals is cherished and enlarged, and formed into an Embryo; which receiving vital Nourish­ment, and convenient Growth, is at a stated time brought to a just Perfection, and then comes to the Birth. But still in these, and in all other Cases of the like nature, there is the same Chain of Causes; and these generally keep their fix'd Times and Measures.

So then, if all the Productions of Nature, and the Effects of Choice have some particular Cause to which they owe their Being; if the Existence of these things be the final Cause of their Production; and if the same Order and a regular Method be constantly and duly observed in the producing them, the natural and necessa­ry Result of this Argument is, That all the Works of Nature, and of Choice; that is, all Things in this whole World, that have no real Existence, are not the Effects of Chance, or Mechanism, but are owing to some particular positive Causes; and since these Causes must needs be antecedent to their Effects, if They be such as had a Beginning themselves, they must be owing to some others who had a Being ante­cedent to Theirs; and so we may trace them up, till at last we come to Causes which had no Be­ginning at all: And these being eternal, are most truly and properly said to Exist, as having ne­ver [Page 363] been, nor owing their Subsistence to any Ex­ternal Cause, but solely to the Inherent Perfecti­ons of their own Nature. So that the first and Eternal Causes of Things must needs be Self-ex­istent, or something more noble and excellent than Self-existent, as the following Discourse will convince you.

The same Argument holds as strong with regard to Motion too; for if we trace this up to its beginning, we shall find, that those Bodies which made the first Impressions, were either such as moved by an Internal Power and Prin­ciple of their own; or such as were fixed them­selves, and had no share in the Motion they impressed upon others. For whatever is moved Mechanically, is moved by something else; and that again by some other thing, and so on for e­ver: But such an account as this of Motion in Infinitum, is neither possible to be, nor to be conceived. For at this rate, if there were no Beginning of Motion, the only Consequence from hence must needs be, That there would be no Mover, nor no Moved Bodies at all: And if we will allow any Beginning, as allow it we must, that First Mover must be either endued with a principle of Self-motion, or it must have no mo­tion at all. But the latter of these it cannot be neither, for this is evident in all motion, that fix'd Bodies are so far from communicating motion to those Bodies that have it not, that on the contrary they check and stop it in those that have, and dispose them always to continue in the same State and Posture, without any manner of alteration. So that free motion must at last be resolved to be the first Cause [Page 364] of Mechanical. Now the Things that are con­cerned in mechanical motion, are such as are sub­ject to Generation and Corruption, to Aug­mentation and Diminution, and to any sort of Alteration, whether that refer to the Qualities of the Things themselves, or whether to their Local Distances and Situations. For whatever is produced could never produce it self; because then it must have had a Being before it was produced, and so begin to be both before and after it self. And whatever receives increase is not augmented by it self; for Augmentation is nothing else but the addition of something which it had not before. So again, whatever is altered, is altered by some other thing, and not from it self; for alteration is properly the introdu­cing of a contrary Quality. So likewise Local motion cannot be from the Body moving; for since all motions are subject to the Rules I have here laid down, and Generation, Corruption, Augmentation and Alteration are all but so ma­ny Effects of motion, it is plain this must be derived from something else, and could not set it self on going.

Those things therefore which are in the Course of Nature superiour to these Productions, and the Causes of necessary motion, must needs be capable of moving themselves. For if we should suppose but one minute in perfect Repose, no­thing would ever move again, except some Free Self-moving Agent began the Dance. For whatever is once six'd, is disposed to continue so to all Eternity; and whatever moves mechani­cally must wait for the leisure of some other Body, and cannot stir till it receive the impres­sion, and is put into action.

[Page 365] Now whatever the first Principles of Things are, 'tis necessary that they should be of a simple Nature: For all mix'd Bodies are compounded of Simples, and consequently the Ingredients must have a Priority in Nature, before the Com­position that is made up of them. And now let us consider some of the grossest and most obvious Bodies, and so by degrees ascend higher, to try at last whether it be possible for us to con­ceive Body to be such a Principle, as Reason will tell us the first Principles of all things must needs have been; or whether it will not be impossible to conceive, that these Bodies which we see move and subsist, should ever have had that Motion and that Existence from them­selves.

For whatever moves it self, is called Self­moving; either because one part of it is active, and the other passive in this motion; or else, be­cause the whole is active, and the whole pas­sive. Now if we imagine one part to commu­nicate, and the other only to receive the Impres­sion, still the same Question will return; for that part which begins the motion, whether this be done from a Principle of its own, or from any external Impulse, and so up, till at last you must be forced to stop at something, which must be acknowledged an entire moving, and en­tire moved.

The same is to be said of Self-existence too; for whatever is originally and properly, must be an entire Existence, and the sole and entire Cause of its own Existence: And whatever is so, must be indivisible, and without Parts. For whatever consists of Parts, and is capable of [Page 366] being divided, could never unite its whole self to its whole self, so as to be entirely moving, and entirely moved; entirely subsisting, and yet the entire Cause of so subsisting at the same time.

Again: It is no less impossible, that any Bo­dies should be of a simple Nature; for they must of necessity consist of Matter and Form, and se­veral other Properties that must go to the com­pleating of their Nature; such as Magnitude, and Figure, and Colour, and sundry other Qua­lities, which are not original and causal Species themselves, but only participations of these, pro­duced in some Matter without Form that par­takes of them. For where these Original Forms lie, there every thing is in its true Essence and Perfection, and there is no need of any Matter unform'd to receive them. But when those Ori­ginals are communicated, then there must of ne­cessity be some Matter to receive them, which, till it hath done, is it self void of Form. Since then the First Principles of Things are incorpo­real and indivisible; since their Nature must be simple, and that they are properly Efficient Cau­ses; since their Existence and their Motion must be entirely from themselves; and since it hath been shewed, that Bodies are not in any degree capable of these Qualifications, it must needs, I think be concluded, that Body could not be the First Principle, nor the Universe owing to any such Original.

Where then shall we find such a self-moving Agent, as infuses Motion into the necessary ones, and may be considered as a Cause with respect to them? This sure must be something that [Page 367] moves from an internal Principle. But still, if this Motion from within were derived from something else, and not from it self, we should not call this an Internal Motion, but an External Impulse, as we do in Bodies: For if I by a Staff that is in my Hand move a Stone, though both my Staff and my Hand contribute to that Motion more immediately, yet I my self am the true and proper Cause of it. What shall we say then moves Bodies from within? What indeed but the Soul? For, animated Bodies are moved from an internal Principle, and all Bodies so moved are Animates. If then it be the Soul which gives an internal motion to Bodies, and if this inter­nal Mover be self-moving, it remains that the Soul is a free and spontaneous Mover, the cause of Productions and beginning of Motions, con­taining in her self the several Patterns, and Mea­sures, and Forms, according to which those Productions and Motions are modelled and pro­portioned. For, if the constituent Forms are not in Bodies originally, but derived immedi­ately from some free Agent, then certainly the Soul is the efficient Cause, and assigns to each Body its particular Form. Now these Forms in the Soul, are exceeding pure and untainted: As for example: Beauty in the Body of an Ani­mal consists in the Flesh and Skin, and Vessels and Blood, that make and fill up this Mass. Now it does indeed to the best of its power tem­per and adorn these things; but at the same time it is sullied and changed by them and sinks into their Deformity. But now this Beauty in the Soul is free from all these Allays, and is not only the Image and Representation of Beauty, but [Page 368] pure, substantial, unblemished, original Beauty; not graceful in one place, and not in another, but perfectly and all over so. From whence it comes to pass, that when the Soul contemplates its own or another Soul's Beauty, all bodily Graces lose their Charms, and appear despicable and deformed in comparison. And this instance hints to us the purity of all other original Forms, as they are in the Soul.

Now it is very plain, that as there are different Bodies moved by these Souls, so there are like­wise different sorts of Souls that move them; and some of these are celestial, and others sublunary: For it were an intolerable absurdity to suppose, that Bodies less refined, and inferiour in Digni­ty and Duration, should have Life, and Souls, and that those above should want both. It is therefore in this case with Souls, as with Bodies; the heavenly ones are the Causes of the subluna­ry ones. And indeed the Soul is a noble and most excellent Being, especially the heavenly one, advanced by Nature to the Prerogative of being a Principle, though not the First and Highest in the Order of Causes. For though the self-moving and self-existent Being, is su­periour to those whose Motion and Existence is derived from something else; yet still even this is capable of being considered in a double Capa­city, as Active and Passive, as a Cause and as an Effect; and it is plain, that Simples must have been before Compounds, and One before Two.

Again: Though this self-moving Agent de­pend upon no other for its Motion, yet Motion it hath; and Motion inferrs Mutation; not an [Page 369] essential Change indeed, but such as respects its Operations: And neither are these Motions Lo­cal and Corporeal, (for in that respect it is im­movable) but Spiritual, and peculiar to the Soul; such as we call Consideration, and Debate, and Dis [...]erning, and Opinion; and according as [...]he is moved by these motions, she impresses corporeal ones upon the Body.

Now whatever this Change be, yet that which is mutable in any kind or proportion, must have something besore it absolutely immu­table, that so those things that are mutable may still be preserved so. For all motion and mu­tation, [...]oth above and in our lower Regions, proceeds from the impression made by the First Cause. But since all things undergo such va­rious Changes, and great motions are violent; How come the heavenly Bodies to continue so much the same in their Constitution, their man­ner of moving, the Centre about which they roul their mutual Order and Position? And whence is it, that though the sublunary ones un­dergo more visible and frequent Alterations, yet still there is a perpetual restitution and constant return to their first Form? Thus we observe it plainly in Elements, and Seasons, and Plants, and Animals: For though these do not continue to be numerically the same, as Celestial Bodies do, yet they go round in a Circle, till at last they return to the point from whence they set out at first. Thus [...] is convert [...]d into Air, Air condensed into Water, Water into Earth, and then Earth [...] into Fire again. So the Year brings us, first into Spring, then to Sum­mer, after that Autu [...]n, and at last Winter [Page 370] thaws into Spring again. So again, Wheat is turned into the Stem, then the Blade, after that the Ear, and so ripe Wheat again. So from Man proceeds first the Seminal Principle, af­ter that the Formation, and Vital Nourishment; and this at last comes to be Man again. Now I would ask any one, since motion is of it self al­ways violent, and always tending to Change, how it comes to pass, that the same Species, and the same Course and Constitution of Nature is so exactly preserved? Certainly this must needs be the Effect of some Superiour Cause, which is it self Immoveable, and Immutable, and remains for ever in all Points exactly the same. For even in mental Motions, that Agent which is uncertain in his Motions, and acts some­times with ease and freedom, and speed; and sometimes slowly, and with difficulty, must needs have some other mind antecedent to it; one whose Essence, and whose Operations are always the same, that brings all thingsto pass in an instant, and at pleasure: And no Man need be told how much such a Being as this, which is fix'd and unchangeable, not only as to his own Na­ture and Essence, but as to his Influence too, is more excellent than that which is still in motion, and liable to Change, though that Motion be from it self alone; and Reason will convince us, that those Beings which are most Noble and Excel­lent, must needs have had an Existence before those that are indigent and depending.

Now we shall do well according to this Rule, to ascend the whole Scale of Causes in our Thoughts, and try whether we are able to find any Principle more Excellent, than what is [Page 371] already fix'd upon; and if we can do so, then to drive that still higher, till we come to rest at last in the loftiest and most majestick Notions that we are capable of entertaining; and this is a Course we may boldly take: nor is there a­ny fear of going too far, or overshooting the Mark, by conceiving any Ideas too great, and above the Dignity of this First Cause. For a­las! the boldest Flights our Minds can aspire to, are too low and feeble, so far from surmounting, that they fall infinitely short of his Divine Per­fections. This Contemplation upon God, as it is the most Excellent, so it is the only One, in which we are sure not to be guilty of any Ex­cess, or an over-valuing the Object. And when we have taken all imaginable pains to collect all the Ideas that are Great, and Venerable, and Holy, and Independant, and Productive of Good; all these Names, and all these Persections put together, do yet give us but a very poor and impersect Notion of him; only he is graciously pleased to pardon and accept these, because it is not in the power of humane Nature to admit any higher and better.

When therefore our Consideration hath car­ried us from Self-moving Beings up to that which is Immovable, and absolutely Immutable, always the same in Essence, its Power, and its Operations, fix'd for ever in a vast Eternity, out of which Time, and all the Motions that mea­s [...]re, it are taken and derive their Being; there we may contemplate the Primitive Causes, of much greater Antiquity than those we observed in the Self-moving Agent; and there we shall see them lie in all their Perfections, Immovable, Eternal, [Page 372] Entire, United to each other, so as that each should be all by Virtue of this intimate Conjun­ction, and yet the intel [...]ectual Differences be­tween them should remain distinct and unconfused. For what account can be given of so many dif­ferent Forms in the World, but only, that the Great God and Creator of the World produces these, as he thinks fit to separate and distinguish the Causes of them in his own Mind? which yet we must not suppose to make such actual and incommunicable differences between the O­riginals, as we observe between the Copies of them here. Nor are the Distinctions of the differing sorts of Souls the same with those of Bodies. Each of the Eight Heavens we see, and the Constellations peculiar to them are a part of the whole Heaven taken together, a full and integral Part, and yet each hath its Essence, and Influences, and Operations proper to it self. And so likewise the Forms of Sublunary as well as Celestial Bodies that are always the same, as that of a Man, a Horse, a Vine, a Fig-tree; each of these are perfect and full, though not in Individuals, as the Heavenly Bodies are; yet according to the various Species with which they fill the World, and the Essential Differen­ces which distinguish them from one another. Just thus it is with those more simple and Intel­lectual Considerations, of which these Forms are compounded, such as Essence, Motion, Repose, Identity, Beauty, Truth, Proportion, and all those other Metaphysical Qualities, belonging to the Composition of Bodies, each of which is perfect in its own kind, and hath a distinct Form of its own, and many Differences pecu­liar [Page 373] to it self only. And if this be the Case in so many Inferiour Beings, how much more per­fect and entire shall every thing subsist in the great Soul of the World? These are the spon­taneous Causes of the Bodies here below, and all their differences lie united there. According to this Pattern, all things here are formed, but that Pattern abundantly more perfect, and pure, and exact than any of its Resemblances. Much more persect still then are these Divine and Intellectual Forms than any Corporeal ones, of which they are the great Originals. For these are united not by any mutual Contact, or Continuity of Matter, or bodily Mixture; but by the Coa­lition of indivisible Forms. And this Union, being such as still presents the Distinctions be­tween them clear and unconsus'd, makes each of them perfect in it self, and qualifies it to be the common Principle and Root of all the Forms of its own likeness and kind, from the highest to the lowest.

Now the several distinct Principles of things derive their Causal Power and Dignity from some One Superiour Principle. For it is plain, that ma­ny could not exist without an antecedent Cause. For which Reason each of Many is One, but not such a One as was before those Many. For the One of Many is a part of that Number, and is distinguished from the rest by some particular Qualifications which give him a Being a part to himself: But the One before Many was the Cause of those Many; he comprehended them all within himself, existed before them, is the Cause of Causes, the first Principle of all Prin­ciples, and the God of Gods; for thus all the [Page 374] World, by the meer Dictates of Nature, have a­greed to call and to adore him.

He is likewise the Supreme and Original Good­ness: For all Effects have a natural desire and ten­dency to the respective Properties of their first Cause. Now that which all things desire, is Good; and consequently the first Cause must be the Origi­nal, and the Supreme Good. So likewise he must be the Original and Supreme Power: For every Cause hath the highest Power in its own kind, and consequently the first Cause of all must needs exceed them all in Power, and have all of eve­ry kind. He must needs be endued with per­fect Knowledge too; for how can we imagine him ignorant of any thing which himself hath made? It is no less evident too from hence, that the World, and all things were produced by him without any difficulty at all. Thus by consider­ing of particulars, we are at last arrived to a ge­neral Demonstration, and from the parts have learnt the whole, (for indeed we had no other way of coming to the Knowledge of it but by its parts; the whole it self is too vast for our Comprehension, and our Understandings are so feeble, as often to mistake a very small part for the whole.) And the result of the Argument is this, That as all Things and Causes are derived at last from one Cause, so they ought to pay all manner of Honour and Adoration to that Cause, for this is the Stem and Root of them all; and therefore it is not an empty Name only, but Similitude in Nature too, by which every Cause is allied to this Universal One. For the very Power and Privilege of being Causes, and the Honour that is due to them, when compared [Page 375] with their Effects, is the free Gift of this Su­preme Cause, to all the inferiour and particu­lar ones.

Now if any man think it too great an Honour for these lower and limited ones to be called Cau­ses, or Principles, as well as that original and general one, it must be owned in the first place, That there is some Colour for this Scruple, be­cause this seems to argue an equality of Causal Power. But then this may easily be remedied, by calling These barely Causes, and That the First and Universal Cause. And though it be true, that each particular Principle is a first and general one, with respect to others of less extent and power contained under it, (as there is one Principle of Gracefulness with regard to the Body, another with regard to that of the Mind, and a third of Gracefulness in general, that com­prehends them both;) yet in Truth, and strict Propriety of Speech, none is the First Principle but that which hath no other before or above it; and so likewise we may, and do say by way of Eminence, the First and Supreme Cause, the First and Supreme God, and the First and Su­preme Good.

Moreover we must take notice, that this First Cause, which is above and before all things, cannot possibly have any proper Name, and such as may give us an adequate Idea of his Nature. For every Name is given for distinction's sake, and to express something peculiar; but since all distinguishing Properties whatever flow from, and are in Him, all we can do is to sum up the most valuable Perfections of his Creatures, and then ascribe them to Him. For [Page 376] this Reason as I hinted at the beginning of this Discourse, the Greeks made choice of a name for God, derived from the Heavenly Bodies, and the swiftness of their motion. And thus we style him Holy, and Just, and Merciful, and Good, and Lord, and Omnipotent; and some­times take the Confidence to use such Appella­tions, as we think applicable to some of the Sons of men.

And thus much shall suffice at present for the First of the Three Points before us; which pre­tends to shew, That there are First Causes of Things, and that GOD is the truly First and Original of them all. And though I have pass'd over several Steps that might have been taken in running from Effects to their Causes, and would perhaps have made the Demonstration more gradual and compleat, yet I must be con­tent to enlarge no farther; as being duly sen­sible, that some Persons will think what is al­ready done a great deal too much, and that these Excursions are by no means agreeable to my first Design, which was to give as compendious an Illustration as I could, to this Manual of Epi­ctetus.

The next Assertion to be proved, was, That this God governs and disposes all Things by his Providence; which though it be, I presume, largely demonstrated upon several Occasions in the foregoing Chapters, shall yet be allowed a particular Consideration in this place. For some People are ready enough to acknowledge the Being, and the Perfections of God; they acquiesce in his Power, and Goodness, and Wis­dom; but as for the Affairs of the World, these [Page 377] they do not suppose him to regard at all, nor be in the least concerned for them, as being too little and low, and in no degree deserving his Care. And indeed the greatest Temptation to this Opinion, they frankly own to be ministred by the very unequal Distribution of Things here below, and the monstrous Irregularities that the Government of the World seems chargeable withal. They observe some exceedingly wicked Men high in Power and Preferments, their E­states plentiful and growing, their Health sound and uninterrupted; and thus they continue a prosperous and pleasant Life, to extream old Age, go down to their Graves gently and peace­ably, and frequently leave their Posterity Heirs of their good Fortune, and transmit their ill-gotten Wealth to succeeding Generations. In the mean while, many Persons eminently vertuous and good, are miserably oppress'd by the Insolence and Barbarity of those wicked Great Ones; and yet for all this Injustice, there is no Vengeance, that we can observe, overtakes the Oppressor, nor any Comfort or Reward to support the Suf­ferer. These, as was hinted before, are the Speculations that give Men the Confidence to dis­pute against GOD. Some have been so far em­boldened by them, as to deny his very Being; but others, in compliance with the universal Consent of Mankind, and the natural Intimati­ons we have of Him, are content to allow his Nature and Perfections, but can by no means al­low his Providence, and especially when it hap­pens to be their own case, and their particular Misfortunes have given an edge to the Objection, and made it enter deeper and more sensibly. For [Page 378] then they can by no means be persuaded, that so great an Inequality can be consistent with Provi­dence; or that GOD can interest Himself in the Management of the World, and yet do a thing so unworthy his Justice, and so contrary to his Nature, as to suffer insulting Wickedness to pass unpunished, and injured Vertue to perish unredressed.

Now the first Return I shall make to this Ob­jection, shall be in more general terms, by de­siring the Person who proposes it, to answer me to the several Parts of this dis-junctive Argu­ment.

If there be a God, and not a Providence, then the Reason must be either want of Knowledge, and a due Sense, that these Things ought to be his Care; or if he knows that they ought, and yet does not make them so, then this must proceed either from want of Power, or want of Will. For the want of Power, there may be two Causes assigned; either that the Burden and Dif­ficulty of Governing the World is so great, that GOD is not able punctually to discharge it; or else, That these are Matters so very mean and inconsiderable, that they escape his Notice, and are not worth his Care and Observation. If the Sufficiency of his Power be granted, and the Want of Will be insisted upon, this may like­wise be imputed to two Reasons: Either, That he indulges his own Ease, and will not take the pains; or else, as was argued before, That these Matters are of so mean Consideration, that tho' he could attend to the most minute Circum­stances of them, if he so pleased, yet he does not do it, as thinking it more becoming the [Page 379] Greatness of his Majesty to sleight and overlook them.

This dis-junctive Argument being thus propo­sed in the general, the several Branches of it may be replied to, as follows: That, admitting God to be such a Being as hath been here described, per­fect in Wisdom and Knowledge, absolute and uncontroulable in Power, and of Goodness in­comprehensible; and withal, the Original Cause and Author of all Things, produced from and by Himself; and being so many parcels (as it were) of his own Divinity, it is not possible, first, he should be ignorant, that the Products of his own Nature, and the Works of his own Hands, require his Care: For this were to re­present him more insensible than the wildest and most stupid of all brute Beasts (since even these express a very tender regard for the Creatures to whom they give Birth and Being.) It is as ab­surd every whit to say, in the next place, That this is a Care too weighty, and above his Power and Comprehension: For how is it possible to conceive an Effect greater and stronger than the Cause, to which it entirely owes its Production? And no less so, thirdly, to alledge, That these Matters are neglected, because too little and low to fall within his Observation: For sure had they been so despicable, he would never have created them at all. The want of Will is no more occasion of such a Neglect, than the want of Power. To suppose this Care omitted only for the indulging his own Ease, and to avoid the Interruption of his Pleasures, would be to six upon him the Infirmities and Passions of Men; nay, and such as are peculiar to the worst and [Page 380] most profligate of Men too. For not only hu­mane Reason, but natural instinct infuses an an­xious Tenderness into Brutes, such as suffers them to decline no pains for the Provision and Support of their Off-spring. Nor can we in any reason imagine such want of Will, from a Consideration of the Vileness of these Things, since nothing certainly is contemptible in His Eyes who created it; and whatever he thought worthy the Honour of receiving its Existence from him, he cannot think unworthy that of his Protection and Care. So that when you have made the most of this Argument that it can possibly bear, still every part meets you with some intolerable absurdity; and no one of these Considerations, nor all of them put together, can ever induce a Man, who believes that God created all these Things, to think that he does not now inspect and concern himself for his own Productions.

But now after this general Consideration, I shall apply my self more particularly to those, who either do really, or would seem to enter­tain a due sense of the Divine Majesty; and in pretended Honour to that, disparage and lower the Affairs of humane Life, as Things below his Notice, and such as it would be an unbecoming Condescension, a debasing of Himself to express any Care or Concern for.

And here I must take leave to vindicate the Honour of Humane Nature, and tell the Ob­jectors, That Mankind and their Affairs are no such small and contemptible matter, as they have thought fit to represent them. For, in the first place, Man is not only an Animal, but a [Page 381] Rational Creature too; his Soul is of exceeding Dignity and Value, capable of Wisdom, and, which is more, of Religion, and qualified for advancing the Honour of God, above any other Creature whatsoever. There is no manner of ground then for so wild a Supposition, as, That God should undervalue and disiegard so very con­siderable a part of the Creation; nor are the Actions and Affairs of Men to be thought despi­cable neither, since they are the Results of a Thinking Mind.

But withal I must add, That they who thus lessen Mankind, furnish us with another Argu­ment in behalf of Providence, and cut themselves off from taking any advantage of that part of the Objection, which would suppose these things to exceed the Power of God: For the more you disparage Mankind, the more easie still you con­fess it to take care of them. The Senses, 'tis true, discern greater Objects with more ease than smaller (as we find plain by the Proportion of those that affect our Sight, and the Loudness of those that strike our Ears) but the Faculties of the Mind and Body, quite contrary, bear small Trials, and master them much more easily and speedily than greater. A Pound weight is car­ried with less pains than a Hundred, and a half Acre of Ground ploughed sooner and easier than an Acre; so that by Parity of Reason, the less Mankind is represented, the less troublesome you make the Government and Care of them to be.

Again: They who deny, That Providence de­scends to every little Nicety (as they call it) do yet acknowledge a Superintendence over the whole [Page 382] World in general. But what Providence is that, which takes care of the Whole, and not of its Parts? At this rate we shall imagine the Almigh­ty God to come behind what every Art and Science almost among Men pretends to: For the Physician, whose Profession obliges him to stu­dy the Distempers and the Cure of the whole Body, does not think himself at liberty to neg­lect the several Parts; and the same may be said of the Master of a Family, the Commander of an Army, and the Civil Magistrate in a State. For, indeed, which way is it possible to preserve the Whole from ruine, but by consulting the Safety of the Parts, of which it is compounded? Far be it therefore from us to imagine, that Al­mighty God should betray that want of Skill and Industry, which feeble men attain to; who take care of the Whole, and the several Parts of it, at the same time, and with the same trouble; and this most wisely, for the sake of the Parts themselves in a great measure; but much more with a de­sign to promote the Good of the Whole. Where­as, we poor unthinking Mortals are often tem­pted to Impatience, by particular and private Misfortunes, not duly considering how far these contribute to the Benefit of the Whole.

Now if any Man shall imagine the Disposal of humane Affairs to be a business of great Intrica­cy, and Trouble, and Confusion; and conse­quently that it must needs perplex the Almighty, distract his Mind, and disturb his Happiness: This Person must be taught to make a difference between the Frailties of a Man, and the Perfecti­ons of a God. For it is plain, all this Objection is built upon a vain Imagination, that God is such [Page 383] a Supervisor as one of us; and that he is under the same necessity of attending every part of his Charge distinctly, and proceeding by single and subsequent Actions; so that while he is employed in one Affair, it is not possible for him to apply his mind to any thing else.

Methinks it were easie for such a person to re­flect how Law-givers and Princes manage them­selves upon these occasions: They ordain wise and convenient Laws, and assign particularly what Rewards shall be given to Merit and Ver­tue; what Punishments inflicted upon Vice and Disobedience; what Satisfaction made for Inju­ries, and the like. And these Laws they con­trive so, as to extend even to the smallest mat­ters, so far as they can foresee and provide a­gainst them. When this is done, they do not give themselves the trouble of watching and pry­ing into every Corner; they live and enjoy their Ease as they used to do; and the Care they take of the State, is not seen in perpetual Con­fusion and Disquiet of Heart, but in the Establish­ment and Observation of these wholesome Con­stitutions. Now, if men can have so general an Influence, and so effectual too, without perso­nal anxiety; much more must we confess it pos­sible for God. He founded the World, and for­med every Creature in it, and fixed wise Laws for the Government of them all: He considered that our Actions are such as are proper to Souls; that there is a great mixture of Vertue and Vice in them, and, according as each person exceeds in the one or the other of these, he allots his punish­ment, and his portion. Some he places more commodiously, and others less so, and ranks [Page 384] us according to our Deserts, those that have done well with good, and those that have done ill with worse Souls; and hath determined too, what each of these shall do to one another, and suffer from one another. Now herein is the Justice of God vindicated, that the Fundamental Cause of all these different Fates, is absolutely left to our own disposal: For it is in our power what sort of persons we will be; and we may make our selves such as we chuse, and resolve to be, by the native Liberty of our Minds, and by having Vertue and Vice properly and entirely the Object of our own Choice. And besides this, God hath appointed over men particular Guar­dian Spirits, which nicely observe the smallest actions, and are exact in such retributions, as each man's behaviour deserves.

Now in this the Care of God differs from that of men; That his Providence did not satis­fie it self to constitute Things in good Order at the beginning, and afterwards dispense with any farther Concern about them, nor cease from act­ing as the Law giver in the State was supposed to do. For indeed, properly speaking, the Goodness of God knows no Beginning; nor is there any time when it was not, and when it did not communicate it self, and make all Things good from its own exuberant Fulness. Nor are we to suppose, that this Inspection requires any laborious attendance, as if God were sometimes present, and sometimes absent; for these are such Consinements, as Bodies and Matter only are subject to; whereas He is present at all times, in all places, with, and above all Things. And the Providence of this mighty Being, thus Eternal [Page 385] and Omnipresent, and infinitely Good, finds no difficulty in expanding it self, and imparting its Influences to every Creature, as the Dignity of their Nature, and the Deserts of each Individual require. And, as the Sun sheds his Rays of Light upon the whole World, and every thing partakes of them with different Effects, some things are made capable of seeing, others of be­ing seen; some blossom and bud, others are im­pregnated and multiply; some shew black to the Eye, and others white; some grow stiff and hard, others are melted and softned; and all this by the same Light and the same Heat; adapting it self to the several Capacities and Dispositions of the Things upon which it falls; and all this with­out any trouble too to the Sun, or the least in­terruption to his Happiness: So the Goodness of GOD, most assuredly, whose Gift and Work­manship that very Sun is, knows how to im­part it self to every Creature in such propor­tions as the Necessities of each require, or the Condition of its Nature will admit, much more easily than any Creature of the most general In­fluence can do it; and that without creating any Perplexity to Almighty GOD, or giving the least disturbance to his Bliss by so extensive a Care. For God is not like the Works of Na­ture, which are acted upon at the same time they act, and so spend themselves; nor is his Goodness any acquired Perfection, that it should tire and he exhausted, but natural and unboun­ded. Nor is he confined to one single Action at a time, (as we find our feeble Minds are) that he should not be able to comprehend or manage so great a variety of Affairs, and yet enjoy Him­self [Page 386] in the Contemplation of that Perfect and Supream Good, which is infinitely more excel­lent, and above the World. For, if when the Soul of Man aspires to perfection, and soars up to God, it be said to converse and dwell on high, and to dispose and govern the World; How much more just and easie is it to believe, That the Author and Infuser of that Soul must needs, without any manner of difficulty or di­straction, guide and govern that Universe which Himself hath formed!

Now, as to that Objection of the amazing In­equality in the Distribution of the Things of this World, I can never yield, That the Prosperity of Ill Men, or the Afflictions of the Good, are of strength sufficient to shake our Belief of Provi­dence. For, in the first place, we wholly mi­stake the matter; and it is a very wrong Notion that generally prevails, Of Wicked Men being happy, and Good Men miserable. If this ob­tain still with my Readers, it is to very little pur­pose, that such pains have been taken to prove that Necessary Truth, That the Good Man is one that places all humane Happiness and Mise­ry in the Freedom of his own Mind and the directing this aright to such Objects as fall with­in the compass of his own Power and Choice▪ and, That he who does so, can never be disap­pointed in his Desires, nor oppress'd by his Fears; and consequently can never have any Unhappi­ness befal him. For the Objecters themselves agree with us in the Notion of Evil, That it is the Disappointment of some Desire, or the Fal­ling into something that we fear. So that even [Page 387] according to their Rule, the Good Man can never be wretched, nor lie under any misfortune which can make him unhappy, considered as a Man.

On the other side, All men agree in their No­tions of wicked men, that they pervert the Course and Design of Nature, and do not live as becomes men. They forget the Privilege God hath given them, and neglect the Use and Im­provement of that Liberty, which is the distin­guishing Character and Prerogative of Humane Nature; They look for Happiness from exter­nal Advantages, such as Health, and Riches, and Honour, and Power, and High Birth, and sensual Enjoyments, and the like; and the want of these they esteem misery: For which Reason, all their Desires are fix'd upon these imaginary Good Things, and all their Fears and Aversions upon the contrary Evil Ones. Now it is not possible for these outward Things always to answer a man's Wishes and Endeavours: Disap­pointed Expectations, and surprizing Calamities there must and will be; and therefore these men cannot but be unhappy, by the Confession of the Objecters themselves, and the very Persons con­cern'd, if they would but give themselves leave to be serious, and reflect coolly and impartially upon the many Accidents of this kind that dis­quiet them, must needs be driven to a sense and acknowledgment of their own misery.

But, if this do not satisfie, because they are plainly prosperous, and succeed above other men in the Advantages and Interests of the World, I shall make no scruple to affirm, That [Page 388] these Successes do but add to their Unhappiness; for they only put them upon greater Extrava­gancies, and are so many fresh Temptations to commit more Violence, and cast a greater Ble­mish upon Humane Nature. And this, I think, must be admitted for an uncontestable Truth, That whatever is contrary to Nature and Du­ty, must of necessity be both a fault, and a mis­fortune.

Now because our Auditors are to be dealt with, not only by dry Demonstrations, but by moving and gentle Persuasions, I shall endeavour to win them over to this Opinion, of the only seeming Good and Evil in all external Accidents and Advantages, by reminding them of what was said before; that those things that we com­monly call Evil, are not properly so, notwith­standing the Troubles and Uneasinesses that at­tend them; and that what passes for Good in the Opinion of the World, is very far from be­ing such, notwithstanding all its outward Gaie­ties and deluding Appearances. Sometimes what we call Evils, are made use of to excellent pur­poses; they are either sharp Remedies to cure a distemper'd Mind, or wholesom Trials to exercise a sound Vertue; and what we term Good Things, are disposed so, as to illustrate the Ju­stice of God, and proportioned to the present Occasions, or to the Deserts of the Persons on whom they are bestowed, and from whom they are taken away. Thus Riches are given to a wise and good man, both for his own ease and comfortable Enjoyment, and also to furnish him with larger Abilities of doing good; and Op­portunities [Page 389] to exercise a generous and charitable Disposition. But the very same Things to the vicious man are sent as a Curse, and a Punish­ment: For the covetous and worldly man makes his Life a perpetual Drudgery and Toil; he enslaves himself to Anxiety and Anguish, and continual Fear, and never enjoys the Plenty he hath taken such pains to procure. And this in­deed is a most just and a most ingenious Revenge upon them, that they should thus prove their own Tormenters.

On the other hand, the Luxurious and Ex­travagant are poorer than the very Beggars in the Streets; to many of these their Riches are their Ruine, by tempting them to excesses, and running them upon dangerous and destructive Courses. So that all the advantage they make of them, is but to grow the worse, and set themselves farther off from all such Improve­ments, and such a Conversation, as befits the Dig­nity of Humane Nature, and are aggreeable to the Dictates of Reason. Thus Health, and Power, and Preferments, very often turn to the prejudice of vicious Men, and these are sent partly in ven­geance to scourge them for their past Follies, and partly as Chastisements to reduce them; that when they have given a swinge to their Appetites, and gorged themselves with criminal Pleasures they may at last grow sick of them, throw off their ill Humours, and become reformed men. For the Tenderness of that Good Providence, which is so assiduous in pro [...]oting the True Hap­piness of Souls, is not so much to restrain us from the gross and outward acts of Sin, and from [Page 390] gratifying our appetites by Fear, or any other such curbing Passions which use to give check to them; but rather to subdue the appetite it self, and utterly waste and destroy all the evil Habits that had gained upon us by the frequent indulging of it before. The Substance of what I have hinted here was discoursed more largely in some foregoing Chapters, (Chap. XIII. and XXXIV.) and there, if the Reader think fit, he may refresh his Memory. And so much for my Second Argument, in reply to those who deny a Providence, and would make us believe that GOD hath no Hand at all in the Government and Disposal of things here be­low.

And now, as the old Proverb hath it, (The * Third Cup to Jove, and then we have done;) for there remains only One Objection more to be refuted; which though it own both God and his Providence, yet does not profess it self satis­fied with the Justice of either in the Government of the World.

They represent Almighty God, as one capable of being perverted, and by assed with Gifts and Oblations. And indeed it is a modern, and but too vulgar Imagination, That the most greedy Extortioner, and the merciless Oppressor, that minds nothing but his own Interest, and makes, or regards no difference between Right and Wrong, if he do but expend a very inconsiderable [Page 391] part of his ill-gotten Wealth upon pious Uses, and distribute a piece of money among those who pretend it is their Business to address to the Gods, and that they have a secret Faculty of inclining their Favour, then all shall be well; they may persist in their Wickedness securely, and shall never be called to account for it. And some indeed there are, who both entertain these Opinions without any Judgment, and declare them without any due Caution, that they think it no Reflection upon the Goodness of God that he should connive at mens Wickedness, and pass it by patiently.

What Answer shall we find now to refute this Error? The best course will be to take it in pieces; and because it refers both to the per­son that does, and to him that receives the In­jury, to examine of what Consequence this Re­mission and Indulgence would be to both, and how each of them are affected and concerned in it.

Now if it be for the Interest and real Advan­tage of the wicked and unjust Person, to have his vicious Courses connived at, and that no Punishment at all should be inflicted for them; then it is possible God may remit and wink at them, because it is most certain, that every good thing, of what kind soever it be, is deri­ved down from that Original Source of all Good­ness, upon his Creatures here below. But if this would really be the worst and most destru­ctive of all Evils, to have their Wickedness thus assisted and encouraged, if Impunity would only harden them in Vice, and render them but so much more bold and unreclaimable; then [Page 392] how can we admit so absurd a thought, as that God should become accessory to all this Mis­chief, who hath been so largely and clearly pro­ved to have no hand at all in bringing any of our Evils upon us?

Now Injustice, and Avarice, and Intempe­rance, and Injuries, and Extravagances of all sorts, are but so many Corruptions and Indispo­sitions of the Mind; they are contrary to Na­ture, and no better than the Disputes and Scan­dals, as well as the Vices of Mankind. If God therefore contribute to the growth of these Distempers, if he add to their Malignity, and let them go on till they are past all Cure; the Misery and the Corruption will be charged up­on him. But if Presents and Bribes prevail upon him to do so, this is something more vile and mercenary than even the ordinary sort of Men, who can boast of no remarkable Vertue, will stoop to. For who of a moderate Understand­ing, and common Honesty, will suffer his Charge to perish for Hire? Will any tolerable Physician, when he finds his Patient surfeited, for the sake of a good Fee, or the Intercession either of his Friends, or himself, permit him to eat and drink freely of those very things that brought the Di­stemper? nay, which is more, Will he not only permit, but procure them, and assist the sick per­son in that which must prove his certain Ruin? So far from it, that if he at all answer the Cha­racter and Duty of his Profession, he will let nothing dive [...]t him from the most ungrateful Remedies, and painful Applications, when the State of the Distemper requires them. Since [...]hen the angry Justice of God, and the avenging [Page 393] Dispensations of Providence have been so fully shewn, to carry in them the Nature and Design of Medicines, to distempered Mankind; how can we suppose this great Physician of Souls, less careful of our Recovery, than we think our selves obliged to be to one another?

But the Persons who are oppress'd by Inju­stice, are no less the Object of his Providence, than those who commit it; and therefore we shall do well to examine a little how this easi­ness to wicked Men, and this assisting and en­couraging their Villainies, for the sake of their Oblations, can be reconciled with his Tender­ness and Care for the innocent Sufferers. What Opinion must we needs have of that General, who would suffer himself to be corrupted by the Enemy, and deliver up his Camp and whole Army for Reward? Or what Shepherd would be so treacherous to his Flock? Shepherd did I say? nay, What Shepherd's Curs, when they have recovered a part of their Flock from the Wolves, will sit down contentedly, and see the rest devoured? and then sure this part of the Argument needs no farther Confutation, than on­ly to reflect what monstrous Impiety that O­pinion is guilty of, that taxes God with such Infidelity, and Baseness to his Charge, as not Men only, but even brute Beasts disdain and abhor.

Indeed, if we consider the thing only in the general, it is most irrational to conceive, that the Offerings of wicked Men should ever pre­vail upon God, or encline him to be propitious at all. 'Tis true, he graciously accepts those of the Pious and Upright; not for any respect to [Page 394] the Gifts themselves, or any occasion he hath for them; but for the sake of the Votaries, who when they thus apply, desire that not only their Minds, but their Estates, and all they possess may be consecrated to his Use and Service. There is likewise no doubt to be made, but the matter might be so ordered, as even to render the Gifts and Prayers of wicked men acceptable to him; that is, provided they came with a pur­pose of growing better, and begg'd to be reform­ed by his Punishments, and were ready to sub­mit to the Methods of their Cure. But if the secret and true Intent of their Devotions be on­ly to avert his Judgments, and confirm them­selves in Vice, it is most absurd to suppose they can ever be well received upon these Terms: for though there were no Guilt to be laid to their Charge, yet this alone were sufficient to render them abominable in the Sight of God, That they suppose him a Base and a Mercenary Being, and hope by Bribery to soften his provo­ked Justice, and buy off their own Punish­ment.

And now I expect to have the Question put, from whence this Notion of God's pardoning mens Sins, came to be so universally received; and what Foundation there is for saying, and believ­ing, as almost every Body does, That Oblations, and Works of Piety, that Prayers, and Alms, and the like, have a power to make God flexible and Propitious. For sure the World hath not taken all this upon Trust, and yet they are much to blame to lay that stress they do upon it, and propagate this Opinion with so much Confi­dence, if it be unsafe, and impious to be belie­ved, [Page 395] than God forgives wicked Men, and passes by their Offences, without punishing them, as they have deserved.

In order to the satisfying this Doubt, we must observe, That where men are duly sensi­ble of their Faults, and heartily penitent for them, these things contribute very much to their Con­version, as being decent and proper Testimonies of a sincere Repentance. The Bending of the Knees, and Bodily Prostrations, express the Sor­rows and Submissions of a dejected Soul; and the Offering up their Goods, or laying them out to Pious and Charitable Purposes, such as God peculiarly regards and delights in, proclaims how entirely their Minds and Persons, and all they have, are devoted to him.

For when we are told, That our Sins turn God's Face away from us, That he is angry at them, and leaves, or forsakes us upon the Pro­vocation they give him. These Expressions must not be taken in a strict and literal Sence. They speak the Passions and Infirmities of Creatures, such as carry no Congruity with the Divine Nature, and its immutable Happiness and Per­fections. But the Truth is, we deprave and de­base our selves by forsaking the Dictates of Nature and Reason; we deface the Image of the Divinity in our Souls, and by our Wickedness and Folly, fall off, and with­draw our selves from him: Not that we can run away from that watchful Eye to which all things are present; but we change the man­ner of its Influences upon us, and expose our selves to a different sort of Treatment; for now we have brought a Disease upon our Souls, [Page 396] and made Severity and a harsher Providence ne­cessary for our Cure.

But when we recover the soundness and perfe­ction of our Nature, and make nearer Approa­ches to God, by restoring that Image and Cha­racter of his Divinity in us, which consists in the imitation of his Justice, and Holiness, and Wisdom, we then return, and are admitted to a more easie Access, we renew our Acquain­tance, and contract a sort of fresh Affinity with him. And this return of ours to God, we often express in such Terms, as if it were his return to us; just as men at Sea, who when their Cable is fastned to a Rock, while they draw themselves and their Vessel to the Rock, are so idle as to imagine that they draw the Rock to them. And this is our Case; mens Repentance and De­votions, and Works of Piety and Charity, an­swer exactly to that Cable: For these things are the Instruments of their Conversion, and the best Proofs of its being unaffected and real. When we cherish and support either the Persons selves who have suffered by our Oppression, or our Insolence, or our Slanders; or if that cannot be, make Satisfaction to their Families, and those that are in necessity; when we hate Inju­stice, when we decline the Conversation of naugh­ty men, and become the Companions and Friends of the Wise and Vertuous; and when we are full of Indignation against our selves, and content to turn our own Punishers: And if we would be throughly reformed indeed, we must perse­vere in this method, and not suffer our Resolu­tions to be fickle and uncertain; or any Inter­missions to cool our Zeal, till we have acted a [Page 397] sufficient Revenge upon our selves, and perfected the Design of our Amendment. And there is not, there cannot be any other certain Testimony of a sincere and perfect Repentance, but only this One, That of forsaking our Sins, and doing so no more. Nay, I must add too, The not allow­ing our selves in any less or lower degrees of Guilt, or complying with the Temptations and Tendencies toward them: For in this Case we must behave our selves like Sailers, who steer their Course beyond the Point they would make, and bear down towards one side, when they would cross over to the other.

Now as to the Efficacy of Repentance, whe­ther it be of Merit and Power enough to restore the Soul to its primitive Purity; this, I think, can admit of no Dispute, when it is considered, That Almighty God does in all his Dispensati­ons propose it as his End, and always cleanse and reform us by this Means. For what other ac­count can be given of all the Punishments, and those dire Effects of his Vengeance upon us, both in this, and the next World, but only that they are de­signed to change the Soul, by the Sufferings and Tortures inflicted upon it, that a Sense of her own Wretchedness may provoke her to a just Detestation of the Vices that were the wick­ed Cause of it; and inflame her with the more servent Love, and impatient Desire of Vertue. There is indeed something very instructing in Affliction, and a strange Aptness in the rational Soul, to hearken to it, and be taught by it. But a Man is never so well disposed to learn, nor makes such quick and sure Progress, as when he exercises this Discipline upon himself; be­cause [Page 398] then the very Punishment is voluntary, and the Improvement is much more likely to be so. And indeed, considering that Pleasure and sensual Prospects tempt Men to offend; the Rule of curing Diseases by their Contraries, makes Sorrow and Pain absolutely necessary to remove this Sickness of the Mind, and expel the Hu­mours that brought it upon us. And Repentance wants no Qualifications of this kind; for the truly penitent Person chastises himself with the Scourge of a guilty Conscience, and feels such bitter Remorse, and Anguish of Heart; as are infinitely more sharp and stinging, and more inconsolable than any Smart or bodily Pains can possibly be.

And thus much in Opposition to the Third Objection against God and Religion, which is indeed the worst and most impious of all the Three. For it were a much more excusable Error to deny a God, and a Providence, than to allow both these, and yet advance such Incongruous Notions concerning him; better it were for us and him both that he had no Being, and no Concern in governing the World at all, than that he should be guilty of so much Treache­ry and Baseness as this Objection lays to his Charge: For this is to be Evil, and that is much worse than not to be at all. The Reason is evident, because Goodness and Happiness is Superiour to Existence; it is the Principle of Being, the Cause from whence all things derive it, and the very End for which they have it. For Existence it self is what no Man would desire, but meerly upon the Apprehension of its being Good; and therefore whenever [Page 399] we apprehend our selves in Evil Circum­stances, we naturally wish not to be at all.

If I have here again enlarged beyond the just Bounds of a Commentary, the Importance of the Argument will justifie me in it. For, in Truth, a regular and well-grounded Devotion towards God, Just and Becoming Apprehensions concerning the Perfections of his Nature, the Certainty of his Providence, and the Justice and Goodness of all his Proceedings with Mankind; and consequent to such a Perswasion, a submis­sive resigned Temper, and easie Acquiescence un­der all his Dispensations, as the Effects of a most excellent Wisdom, and such as are always best for us: These are the Sum of all Humane Ac­complishments, the Foundation and the Perfecti­on, the First and the Last Step of all Moral, and all Intellectual Vertue For though the Soul of Man be ('tis confess'd) a Free Agent, and pro­ceed upon Internal Principles of Good and Evil; yet still this Liberty and Power of determin­ing her self, was the particular Favour and Gift of God; and therefore while she holds fast by the Root, she lives, and improves, and attains the Perfection God made her capable of. But when she separates her self, and, as it were, dis­engages, and tears her self off, she grows bar­ren, and withers, and putrefies till she return, and be united to the Root again, and so reco­ver her Life and Perfection once more. Now nothing but a firm and a vigorous Sense of these Three Points we have been explaining, can ever prevail upon the Soul to endeavour such a Re­storation: For how is it possible to apply to [Page 400] God, when we do not believe that he is? Or what Encouragement is the belief of his Existence, without a Perswasion that he is concerned for us, and takes notice of us? Least of all should we address to a Being that does inspect and govern our Affairs, if we were possess'd with an Opini­on, That all that Care and Inspection were di­rected to Evil and Malicious Purposes, and that he only waited over us for our Misery and Mischief.

CHAP. XXXIX.

When you consult the Oracle, remember it is only the Event that you are ignorant of, and come to be instructed in. But though you do not know what that shall be particular­ly, yet Philosophy (if you have any) hath already taught you, of what Quality and Consequence it shall prove to you: For you are satisfied before-hand, That if it be any of the Things out of our own Power, it must needs be indifferent in its own Na­ture, and neither good nor bad of it self. Therefore, when these Occasions call you abroad, leave all your Hopes and Fears behind you; and do not approach the Pro­phet with such anxious Concern, as if you were to hear your Doom from his Mouth; but behave your self as becomes a Man ful­ly persuaded, That no external Accident is any thing to you; and that nothing can possibly happen, but what by good Manage­ment may be converted to your Advantage, though all the World should endeavour to obstruct it. When therefore you address to the Gods, come boldly, as one that asks their Advice; and withal when they have given it, be all Compliance; for consider whose Counsel you have ask'd, and how im­pious a Disrespect it will be not to follow [Page 402] it. When therefore you apply your self to the Oracle, observe Socrates his Rule, To ask no Questions, but what the Event is, the only material Consideration to be clea­red in; they should be Matters of great Importance and Difficulty, and such as are not capable of Resolution, by Reason, or Art, or any humane Methods. But if you are in dispute, whether you ought to assist your Friend in distress, or expose your Person for the Defence of your Country; these are not Questions fit to be put, be­cause they answer themselves: For though the Sacrifice be never so inauspicious, though it should portend Flight or Banish­ment, loss of Limbs, or loss of Life; yet still Reason and Duty will tell you, That in despight of all these Hazards, you must not desert those that have a right to your Service and Assistance. And therefore in this case you need no other Determination than that memorable one, which Apolio gave so long since, when he thrust that Wretch out of his Temple, who suffered his Friend to perish for want of help.

COMMENT.

AFter having given Directions for the under­standing and due discharge of our Duty to one another, and towards God; the next [Page 403] thing to be done, was to inform us, What we owe to our selves. But before this could be methodically undertaken, it was necessary to take notice of a sort of mix'd Duty, which re­spects both God and our selves; and this is what arises from Divination, or the consulting of Oracles. To this purpose he divides his Dis­course into Three Parts, and tells us upon what Occasions we ought to consult them, with what Disposition it should be done, and what use is to be made of their Determinations.

He begins with the Second of these, thinking it perhaps the First, both in Consequence, and in Or­der of Nature; and tells us, That the Mind should preserve such a firm and even Temper upon these Occasions, as neither to bring any Desires, nor any Aversions along with it: For at this rate it would be impossible to come without great anxiety and disorder. If our Desires are eager, we shall be afraid of hearing that what we wish will not come to pass; and if our Aversions are violent, we shall be in no less concern to be told, That what we fear most, shall certainly happen to us. But the Question is, What course we shall take to throw off these Passions, and possess our selves with that Indifference? To that he replies, That the Consideration of those Things we enquire about will be able to effect it: For we [...]eed only reflect, That they are external Acci­dents, and Things out of our Power; for no man is so sensless as to consult an Oracle upon the Events of those, which his own Choice must de­termine. Who ever enquired at a Shrine, Whe­ther he ought to regulate his Inclinations and A­versions, to reduce them within just bounds, or [Page 404] to fix them upon fit and worthy Objects? The Quaries usually put, are quite of another strain; Whether a Voyage shall be prosperous? Whe­ther it be advisable to many? Whether the pur­chasing such a parcel of Land would turn to good account? And these being such things as we our selves are not made Masters of by Na­ture, 'tis plain, our Desires and our Aversions ought not to have any concern in the Divination. The only thing we want to be satisfied in, is some particular Event; this is the Soothsayer's Work, and out of the compass of our own Knowledge: But the Quality of that Event we know as well as he. For Philosophy hath assu­red us, That none of those matters which are out of our own power, can be in themselves good or evil; and by consequence no proper Object of our Inclination or Aversion.

Besides, They that are skill'd in these Mysteries, have a Notion, That an extream Passion and Concern in the Person that applies to the Oracle, disturbs the whole method of Divination, and con­sounds the Omen. So that this Calmness will be of advantage in that respect too, and you will escape all immoderate sollicitude, when you remember, that be the Accident whatever it will, you have it still in your power to convert it to your own Benefit; and the more disastrous, so much the more beneficial still will a prudent management render it to you: And therefore come boldly (says he) and cast aside vain Fears and unnecessary Scruples, when you prosess to ask Counsel of the Gods.

[Page 405] From that Expression, he takes occasion to inform Men what is their Duty to the Gods in these Cases; namely, That when we have asked their Advice, we should be sure to take it: For he that consults God himself, and yet re [...]uses to follow his Advice; Whom will that Man be di­rected by? And indeed, there is not any more probable nor more frequent ground for our Stiffness and Disobedience, than the Prepossessi­ons we lie under, and the strong Byass of our own Inclinations and Aversions. So that from hence we have discovered one advantage more, of approaching the Deity with a dispassionate and unprejudiced Mind: For this will not only de­liver us from all those Anxieties and Fears, so in­convenient and so hazardous upon such occasions; but it will also dispose us exceedingly to a ready Compliance, and leave us free to resign our selves entirely to be governed by the Will and Directi­ons of God.

The next Enquiry he goes upon, concerns those things which are the proper Objects of Divination; and these he declares to be such only Whose End is perfectly dark and unknown, so that nothing but the Event it self can give us any light into it; things so purely accidental, that no humane Prudence, no Rules of any par­ticular Art, no helps of Experience and long Ob­servation, can enable us to pronounce what they shall be.

Thus much is agreeable to Reason and com­mon Sense; for no body consults an Oracle, whether it be fit for a Man to eat and Drink, or Sleep, because Nature teaches us the necessity of these Refreshments, and we cannot possibly s [...]b­sist [Page 406] without them: Nor whether it be advisable for a Man to improve in Wisdom, and lead a vertuous Life; for every wise and good Man sees and feels the advantage of doing so. Nor does he desire the Prophet to resolve him what sort of House he shall build; because this is the Business of a Surveyer, and his Schemes and Mo­dels are drawn by Rule and Art. Nor does the Farmer desire to be satisfied, whether he [...]ould sow his Corn, or not; [...] abso­lutely necessary to be done. But he may per­haps enquire what Season, or what parcel of Land, or what [...] Plants will turn to best acc [...] still (I mean) that Experienc [...] natu­ral Causes, have not instruc [...] things before. Or a Man may reasonably enough ask, if it be proper to undertake such a Voyage, espe­cially if the Season of the Year, or any other Circumstances, contribute to the rendring it ha­zardous for him.

Nor would it be proper to enquire, whether one should go abroad into the Market, or to Westminster-Hall, or walk a turn into the Fields: For though it be true, that even these trivial Undertakings are sometimes attended with very strange and very dismal Consequences, yet ge­nerally speaking, they fall out just as we intend, and desire they should. And where there is a very high Probability, and such as is most commonly answered by the Event, there all Di­vination is needless: If it were not so, nothing in the World could be exempt from it; for the best concluding Reason, and the surest Rules of Art, do not always succeed right. Nature some­times [Page 407] works out of her common course, and Choice does frequently mistake, and fall short of what is designed. But still there is no difficulty wor­thy an Oracle in these matters, because we ought to rest satisfied in great Probabilities, and not be disturbed at the few, the very few Excepti­ons to the contrary; otherwise we shall be o­ver-run with idle Whimsies, and superstitious Fears, such as improve every little Accident into somewhat terrible and ominous, and would make us utterly unactive, and afraid ever to at­tempt any thing so long as we live.

But here arises a Quarie worth a little conside­ration; and that is, Whether the consulting of Oracles concerning matters within our own power, be wholly disallowed: As for instance; What Opinion we ought to entertain of the Soul? Whether it be mortal, or immortal? And, Whe­ther we should apply our selves to such a parti­cular Master, or not? And the reason of this doubt is, Because several of the Ancients seem to have consulted the Gods about some Difficulties in Nature; and yet the making such or such a Judgment of Things, is our own proper act, and confessed to be one of those Things that come within the compass of our Will.

Now I must needs say, with submission, That whatever is attainable by Reason and Logical Demonstration, ought to be learn'd that way; for this will give us a clear and undoubted per­ception, and the discovery of Effects from their Causes, is the true scientifical Knowledge; it leaves no Doubt behind it, but satisfies our selves, and enables us to instruct and convin [...]e others. Now an assurance from Divine Testi­mony, [Page 408] that the Soul is immortal, may give us a firm belief of the thing, and we should do ill, and unreasonably, in refusing Credit to such a Testimony; but still this is only Faith, and differs very much from Science. And if God vouchsafe to communicate to any Man the Know­ledge of Natural Causes by immediate Revela­tion; this is to be look'd upon as an extraordi­nary Favour, a special Case, and such as falls not under the common Rules of Divination, nor to be depended upon from it: For the primary Talent, and proper Object of this, is only to instruct Men in such uncertain Events of humane Actions, as no Art or Consideration can bring them to any certain Knowledge of. And though some Persons have address'd to Oracles for My­steries in Nature, yet there were but very few that did so, and those none of the most eminent Reputation for Philosophy neither; but such as contented themselves with credible Testimonies, and chose rather to take Things upon Trust, than to be at the trouble of attaining to a demonstra­tive Evidence: Whereas God seems plainly to have designed to have made this the Soul's own Work; and by infusing into us a Principle of Liberty and Reason, to have left the Contempla­tion of our own Nature, as one of the Subjects most proper to employ our own Study and Pains. And upon that account both Epictetus and Socrates before, seem to condemn and forbid such Que­stions, as impertinent and superfluous, in regard that the Soul is sufficiently qualified to make those Discoveries by her own Strength.

[Page 409] For the same reason, you see, he disapproves of that Quaerie, Whether a Man ought to relieve his Friend in distress, or expose his Person in defence of his Country? Because right Reason cries out aloud, that these things must be done; and no Hazards can be so formidable, as that the most certain prospect of them should justifie our neglecting to do so. To what purpose then do we trouble the Gods for that which hath no difficulty in it; and where we must be lost to all sense, if we be not able to satisfie our selves? And besides, he gives us an instance wherein the Prophetick God declared his Displeasure against One that came to have this Scruple resolved: For what our own Reason will convince us is fit and necessary to be done, we must set about it without more ado; and not raise idle Doubts, or frame frivolous Excuses, though we are satis­fied, that the performance of it would cost us our Fortunes, or our Lives. And though this may seem a Hardship, yet it is back'd with this invincible Argument, That Vertue is our own proper Good, and ought to be dearer to us than our Bodies, or our Estates, which in comparison of our Souls, bear but a distant Relation to us.

After this Argument, intimating, That our Duty ought to be discharged, even at the ex­pence of the greatest Sufferings and Dangers, he introduces a God, confirming this Opinion by his own practice; and expelling that Mis­creant out of his Temple, who did not relieve his Friend, but suffered him to be murdered, that he might save himself. The Story in short is thus: Two Persons upon their Journey to [Page 410] Delphos, were set upon by Thieves; while one of these was no farther sollicitous than to make his own escape, the other was killed. The Sur­viver continued his Travels; and when he came to the Oracle, the God rejected his Address, ex­pelled him the Temple, and reproached his Cowardice and base Desertion of his Friend, in this following manner:

Do not, presumptuous Wretch, these Rites prophane,
Nor with polluted Gifts our Altar stain:
Nor prudent Fears, and threatning Fate pre­tend;
False to thy God, thy Honour, and thy Friend.
These claim thy Blood in any danger near,
And must condemn that base and guilty Fear,
Which of a Coward made a treacherous Murderer.
Henceforth dare to be just and brave; for know,
He that declines to ward it, gives the Blow.

Now though it is plain that this Person, would he never so sain, yet possibly he might not have been able to save his Fellow-Traveller's Life; yet that Uncertainty did by no means dispense with him for not attempting it: His Inclination and Endeavour should not have been wanting, [Page 411] though that Relief he intended had been never so unsuccessful; nay, though it had involved him­self in the same Fate. That then which rendred him unworthy to approach the Shrine of Apollo, was the Disposition of his Mind; which prevail'd upon him to betray his Friend, and sacrifice that Life which he ought to have defended, in tender­ness to that which he ought to have exposed.

And that this is the true state of the Case, is no less evident from another Instance of two Persons, who were likewise beset with Thieves: These had got one of them at an Advantage; and whilst the other darts at the Rogue, he mis­sed his Aim, and killed his own Friend. When he came to the Oracle, he durst not approach, as having Blood upon him; but the God justi­fied his Action, cleared him of the Scruple he lay under, and gave him this following kind Invitation:

Approach, brave Man, the Gods are Just and Kind;
They only hate a base and murd'rous Mind;
Thy slaughter'd Friend to Ʋs for Justice cries,
And his expiring Groans have pierc'd the Skies:
Yet not for Vengeance, but Rewards they sue;
Reward to Courage, and to Friendship due.
That Zeal, which Death and Danger did disdain,
A disobedient Weapon cannot stain:
[Page 412] Spotless thy Hand, and generous thy De­sign,
The Guilt misguiding Fate's, the Glory's Thine.1

Now if by the shedding this Blood, he did not only contract no Pollution at all, but was more pure, and recommended by it to the Acceptance of the Deity, because he intended well, though it was his Misfortune that the Event was so very Tra­gical, so exceeding contrary to his Intention; then it is very plain, that Men's Vertues and Vi­ces are not to be measured by Success, or by the Actions themselves, but by their innocent Intentions, honest Desires, and the Sincerity of their own Hearts.

One Caution I think necessary to be added here, for the better understanding of our Au­thor; which is, That we are to consider what sort of Persons these things are addressed to. Now those which I have last explained, and several of those which follow afterwards, are adapted particularly to a middle sort of Men, such as are neither utterly ignorant of Phi­losophy, nor absolutely Masters of it; but have applied themselves to the study of it for some time, and made tolerable advances towards Per­fection, though they have not yet atrained to it. And this is sufficiently intimated to us, by the frequent repetition of those Words (If you have any Philosophy) upon every occasion.

CHAP. XL.

Consider with your self seriously, what Fi­gure is most fit for you to make in the World; and then fix upon a Method and Rule in order hereunto; which be sure to observe nicely, both at home alone, and abroad in Company.

CHAP. XLI.

Let one of your Principal Rules be Silence; and when you discourse, confine your self to such Subjects as are necessary, and express your sence in as few Words as you can. But if an Opportunity happens, as sometimes perhaps it will, that makes it seasonable for you to start the Discourse, let it not be upon any of the common To­picks of Talk, such as Plays, or Horse-Races, or Fencers, or Fashions, or Meats, or Wines, or Entertainments; which the generality of the World use to make the Subject of their Conversation. But above all things take care not to talk of other People, neither so as to censure their Conduct, nor to be lavish in their Com­mendation, nor to make invidious Compa­risons between one and another.

CHAP. XLII.

Whenever you happen into Company, where you haue Authority and Influence enough to do it, try to change the Discourse, and bring it to becoming Subjects: But if you are among People of another Temper, and such as will not endure Restraint or Re­proof, then hold your own Tongue.

COMMENT.

THE Duties owing to a Man's self, are the next thing to be learn'd; and those he begins to treat of here, advising his Proficient, (for to such a one he writes now) to make it his first Care to determine with him­self, what Figure he intends to make, and what Part to play upon this Theatre of the World: And when once that is done, the next must be so to model all his Actions, as that they may con­spire together to the maintaining of that Cha­racter. And this, he tells him, must be kept constantly in view, that his whole Behaviour may be levelled at it, both in publick and in private. By which I suppose he means, that a Man should be always consistent with him­self, and his Life all of a piece; not fluctua­ting and uncertain, like a troubled Sea, that is ever ebbing and flowing, as the Winds and Tide change: For the Circumstances of Humane Life are no less fickle than these; and therefore we must [...]ix our selves upon a good Bottom, [Page 415] that we may be able to stand the Shock, and the variety of them. Socrates is said to have attained to so great a Mastery in this Point, that the Air of his Face was always the same; and neither Pleasure and Prosperity could give him a more Serene and gay Countenance; nor any of those which the World calls Calamities force him into a dejected and melancholy one; in such perfect Agreement was he constantly with himself.

Now of all the Expedients proper for this Character, the first and most considerable which he recommends, is a great degree of Silence. For the design of all Moral Instructions is chiefly to confine the Soul within her own proper Sphere, which is the Improvement and Contemplation of her self, and to draw her Thoughts and Affe­ctions off from the World, and the sensual Ap­petites and Passions, and an inordinate Concern for the Body: And no One thing contributes more to the effecting of this, than Silence. The Pythagoreans, you see, were so sensible of this Benefit, that they imposed a Quinquennial Silence upon all that entred into their Discipline; and thought it the most auspicious Beginning they could possibly make. For as the Senses, when fix'd upon External Objects, do carry the Mind abroad with them; (a plain Intimation whereof we have in that common Custom of Mens shut­ting their Eyes, when they would think with greater Attention;) so Speech of necessity le [...]s loose the Mind, and sets the Thoughts to ro­ving; and that much more indeed than any out­ward and sensible Object; for there the Soul only cooperates with the Organ, and bears it [Page 416] Company; but here she is the first and principal Mover, and dictates what the Tongue utters. And the only effectual cure for this Rambling, is to keep it at home, by holding ones Peace, and not indulging it in all its Effusions.

Not that an Universal Silence is expected from us; no, nor so high a degree of it, as that the Pythagoreans required, these are too exalted, and, as the World goes, unattainable Perfections. But he hath suited himself to Mens Tempers and Circumstances, and expects only such as will consist with our Infirmities, and the Affairs of the World: Therefore he advises us, either to be silent, or at least to speak no oftner, and no more than is necessary; as the answering to what is asked us, or the like. And in mentio­ning this Word Necessary, he hath given us a ve­ry compendious Hint, what Subjects we ought to converse upon; such as specially tend to the promoting of Wisdom and Vertue, the improve­ment of the Mind, and the necessities of the animal Life. For these being but very few, and having something of Substance and Business in them, not loose, and empty, and imperti­nent things, do not confound the Mind with Levity, nor fill it with wild and extravagant Ideas.

He hath also ordered us, even upon these most allowable Occasions, to be as brief as convenient­ly we can. For it is very observable, That those who talk most, generally understand least. There is nothing disposes a Man to multitude of Words, so much as slight and superficial Noti­ons of the Things he is talking of; he does not know what he says, and that is the Reason [Page 417] he does not know when to give over. But one that goes to the bottom of the Thing, and hath a clear and true Apprehension of it, will collect himself into a little Room, because he will say nothing but what is material, and directly to the Point in hand.

But if at any time an Occasion of enlarging offer it self, by which I understand Speaking, not only when you are provoked to it, but be­ginning some Discourse of your own Accord. Though there may be a necessity for dispensing with the latter of these Rules, and indulging your self in a larger proportion of Talk; yet be sure still to observe the former, and not go out of the Road I have directed you. Let your Sub­ject be something of Necessity and Use; some­thing that may advance the Love and Practice of Vertue, reform the Passions, instruct the Understanding, such as may minister Advice to Men in Difficulties, comfort them un­der Afflictions, assist them in the search of the Truth, give them a reverent Sense of God, an awful Admiration of his Divine Excel­encies, Honourable and becoming Opinions of his Providence; and of his readiness to help and forward all those in the practice of Vertue, who are careful to implore his Aid by Prayer. But as for the common ridiculous Themes, such as Fencers, and Horse-races, and the like, or Feasts, or Fashions, Cookery, and Wines, who eats and drinks, and dresses best, and such Stuff; scorn the idle Prattle: For these Subjects are apt to make a strong Impression upon the Fancy, and sometimes get within a Man's Affections before he is aware; they give a Tincture to his Appe­tites, [Page 418] and have a very unhappy Influence upon all his Conversation: And it is really no unusual thing for Peoples Manners to be sormed by their Discourse.

But above all things, he gives us warning not to entertain our selves, and our Company with talking of other People; neither so as to call their Behaviour to Account, nor to be profuse in their Praises, nor free in making Comparisons between one Man and another, as That this Lady is handsomer than That, or this Man Braver, or Honester than That, or the like. Now there is nothing more evident, than that this Topick does in a more than ordinary manner divert the Soul from its self, and its own Business; for it makes Men busie, and curious, and impertinent, extreamly inquisitive, and troublesome where they have nothing to do. But why should this (you'll say) do so more than any other? And what can our talking of other Men have in it worse than the Subjects mentioned before?

To this we may reply, That the Person to whom the Advice is here directed, being one who hath made some progress in Philosophy, as not so likely to entertain himself with those trivial Matters, as with something that relates to Mankind, and their Affairs and Actions. So that it was convenient to draw him off from those things especially, which his own Inclina­nations would most dispose him to; and there­fore he adds that Emphatical Caution, But above all things.

Besides, though it be true, That the same Affections are stirred in us by both Discourses a­like, (for we are insensibly drawn in to love and [Page 419] hate things and Men by talking of them) yet there is one peculiar Vice attends our Conver­sation, when we pretend to give Characters of other people; which is, That it strangely swells one with Vanity and Pride, and Contempt of others. For whoever he be that pretends to sit in Judgment upon other Mens Conduct, does it out of some imagined Excellence in himself, which he fansies gives him a Right to arraign his Neighbours. And besides, any mistake in our Judgments of Men, is more inexcusable, and of infinitely worse Consequenee than if we pro­nounce wrong in those other trifling Matters; and therefore we should be very sparing and ten­der in this Point.

To prove the Importance of this Advice yet more, he proceeds farther, and lays a restraint upon our Ears as well as our Tongue. And indeed, with good Reason; for our Imaginati­ons, and inconvenient Desires are cherished by hearing the Subjects that minister such Thoughts spoken of by others, as well as by speaking of them our selves. And besides, those who give themselves these indecent Liberties, if some per­son of Gravity and Authority, sit by, and do not check them; take advantage of his Pati­ence, and grow perfectly careless; they then think they have a priviledge of saying what they will, and no Shame, nor Sense of Decency hath any longer power upon them. Therefore he directs us, to take all the prudent Methods we can, of putting a stop to such Discourse, and turning it to some other more manly and be­coming Topick. But because this is not to be done at all times, nor will every Company bear [Page 420] it; therefore (says he) if you are fallen in among Men of ill Tempers, no Breeding, or vicious Conversation, (for these are the persons he calls, people of another Kidney) yet at least discoun­tenance them by your Silence; and preserve your self from Infection, by withdrawing from their Discourse into your own Breast.

CHAP. XLIII.

Laugh but upon few Occasions; and when you do, let it not be much, nor loud.

COMMENT.

AFter the former General Precept of an even Temper, and Uniform Behaviour, to which he tells his Proficient in Philosophy, no­thing will more effectually conduce, than a pru­dent Frugality in Discourse; the next restraint he puts, is upon the Excesses of Mirth, which are commonly expressed by Laughter: and per­haps by this of Joy, he might design that we should understand him to extend his Rules to the contrary Extream of Grief too. Now Laugh­ter is a sort of Evacuation, which the Mind gives it self; a kind of Vent which it finds for Joy, when it is full and runs over. The very nature and manner of it seems to speak thus much, the swelling of the Lungs, the Inter­ruptions of Breath, and Reverberations of the [Page 421] Air, and that cackling noise, which resembles the purling of Waters. All these betray an ex­traordinary Vehemence, and Emotion in the Soul and Body both, and confess plainly, That neither of them are then in that sedate and steady Temper, which Nature and Reason find most agreeable. The same Inconveniences follow up­on the other Extream; and immoderate Sorrow, and indulged Tears give as great a shock to a Man's Judgment, and Consistence with himself; which indeed is never to be preserved, but by just measures, and a constant moderation in e­very thing.

For this Reason it is, that he condemns the laughing upon every occasion, as an Argument of insufferable Levity. But if there happens any thing which may justly provoke Laughter, as we are not absolutely to decline it, for fear we be suspe­cted to want this property of Humane Nature, and appear unreasonably sour and morose, yet at least it must be allowed, That there are very few things in Conversation which will justifie it. A man that is eternally upon the Giggle, shews a mighty defect of Judgment, and that every little occasion of mirth is master of his Temper, when it thus blows him up into ex­cessive Joy. For this reason it ought not to be frequent, nor to continue long at a time, for so I understand his forbidding it to be much; nor should it be noisy and violent, and convulsive; but shew the Evenness and Government of the Mind, by being modest, and scarce exceeding a Smile, which moves the Lips a little, yet so as to make no great alteration in the Face.

CHAP. XLIV.

If it be possible avoid Swearing altogether; but if you cannot do that absolutely, yet be sure to decline it as much as you can.

COMMENT.

THE First place in this Catalogue of Duties which respect our selves, was due to the restraining those Eruptions and Vehemencies of Passion, which give a disturbance to the Quiet of our Minds, and render our Behaviour Irregular and Inconsistent. The next he assigns to that wherein the Honour of God is con­cerned.

For the very Nature of an Oath consists in this, That it invokes Almighty God as a Witness, and introduces him as a Mediator, and a Bonds­man, to undertake for our Honesty and Truth. Now to make bold with God, upon every trivi­al Occasion, (and few of the Affairs of Man­kind are any better) is to take a very unbe­coming Freedom, and such as argues great want of Reverence for so tremendous a Majesty. Re­spect and Duty then ought to make us decline an Oath, and so, as if we can possibly help it, never to bind our Souls with so Sacred an En­gagement at all. And a man that is duly cau­tious, and tender in these matters, would rather undergo some Trouble, or pay some Forfeiture, than allow himself the Liberty of swearing. But [Page 423] if there be any urgent and unavoidable Necessity for doing it, as if that Testimony of my Truth be required to rescue my Friend, or my Re­lation from the Injuries of an Oppressor, or a False Accuser; or if my Country, and the Peace of it command this Assurance of my Fidelity; in such Cases, and other such like, we may take an Oath indeed; but then we must be sure not to prostitute our Consciences. For when once we have brought our selves under so so­lemn an Obligation, and engaged God as a Wit­ness and a Party in it, no Consideration must ever prevail with us to be unfaithful to our Promise, or untrue in our Assertions.

CHAP. XLV.

Decline all Publick Entertainments, and mi­xed Companies; but if any extraordina­ry occasion call you to them, keep a strict Guard upon your self, lest you be infected with rude and vulgar Conversation: For know, that though a Man be never so clear himself, yet by frequenting Company that are tainted, he will of necessity con­tract some Pollution from them.

COMMENT.

THE former Chapter was intended to give us a due and awful regard to God, and to check those Liberties, which light thoughts of his Majesty are apt to encourage in us. His next design is, to chain up that many-headed Monster, Desire; and in order hereunto, he pre­scribes Rules, and sets Bounds to several instan­ces of it, beginning with those which are most necessary for the sustenance of Life; and so pro­ceeding to others, that make Provision for the Body, till at last he instances in those which Na­ture is most prone to.

And there was good reason here to give a par­ticular Advertisement concerning Feasts and large Companies, in regard there is so mighty a difference observable between those of Philoso­phers, and those of common Men. The Eating and Drinking part, and all the Jollity, which is [Page 425] the End and Business of most Invitations, Men of Sense have always look'd upon as the least part of a Feast: And their Meetings have been designed only for Opportunities to improve one another by mutual Conference, wise Di [...]courses, assidu­ous Enquiry into the Truth, and a free Com­munication of each others Studies and Opinions. This is exceeding plain, to their immortal Ho­nour, from those admirable Pieces of Plato, and Xenophon, and Plutarch, and others, that go by the Name of their Symposia, and are an account of the Discourses that passed, when Friends met to eat and drink together. But the Entertain­ments of the greatest part of the World, propose nothing to themselves but Luxury and Excess, and the gratifying Men's Palates and sensual Ap­petites: They are not the Entertainment of a Man, but the Cramming and Gorging of a Brute, and most justly fall under the Reproach of an old Observation: The Table that gives us Meat with­out Discourse, is not so properly a Table as a Manger.

A good Man therefore will be careful how he mingles himself in such Meetings, and decline them as much as is possible. But if any extraor­dinary occasion draw him abroad, such as a So­lemn Festival, the Invitation of a Parent, a com­mon Meeting of Friends, or Relations, or Ci­vility and Complaisance, where the thing cannot in good Manners be refused; then the next care is, That we keep a strict guard upon our selves; That we awaken our Reason, and call up all our Powers, that they watch the Motions of the Mind, and keep her under a severe Confinement, for fear she ramble abroad, and indulge her self in the Diversions of the Company, and by degrees [Page 426] degenerate into their Follies. For there is a strange Contagion in Vice, and no Disease con­veys it self more insensibly or more fatally, than sensual and brutish Inclinations do. Who­ever therefore allows himself in the Conversati­on of Persons addicted to them, and grows ac­customed to their Vices, (for that I take to be the meaning of frequenting them) will soon contract their Pollutions; his own Innocence and Purity will not be able to secure him. In these cases, the least touch leaves a Tincture behind it. And this indeed is the proper Notion of Pollution, the soiling a clean thing with an un­clean, and thereby casting a Blemish and Stain upon it.

CHAP. XLVI.

Let Ʋse Necessity be the Rule of all the Provisions you make for the Body. Chuse you Meat and Drink, Apparel, House, and Retinue of such Kinds, and in such proportions as will most conduce to these Purposes. But as for all beyond this, which ministers to Vanity or Luxu­ry, retrench and despise it.

COMMENT.

THE necessary Supports and Conveniences of the Body, must first be acquired, and then made use of; but Epictetus hath inverted this Order; for he gives us Directions for the Use of them here, and reserves the Procuring of them to be treated of hereafter.

It were a thing perhaps much to be wished, and would make greatly for the Honour of Hu­mane Nature, that so noble a Being as the Ratio­nal Soul, should be independent, and not stand in need of these outward Conveniences. But however, whatever Glories belong to that Soul considered in its self; yet its own Immortality will not suffice in this indigent and precarious state, where it is joined to a mortal and corru­ptible Body, and acts in and by it. But still, though this Consideration exposes it to some wants; yet it shews us withal, That those Wants are not many: For, the Body being the [Page 428] Instrument of the Soul, can need no more than just what will qualifie it for service and action; this is the true measure of our Expences upon it, and all beyond, savours of Luxury and Extravagance. When the Carpenter chuses an Axe, and sees afterwards that it be kept in good order, he concerns himself no farther, than to consider the Size, and the Shape, and the Sharpness of the Edge: He is not sollicitous to have the Head gilded, nor the Handle studded with Pearl or Diamonds; and the reason is, because such costly Ornaments would not only be superfluous, but prejudicial; they would be extreamly ridi­culous and singular too, and they would be a hindrance to his Tools, and render them less fit for the Uses they were designed to serve. Just thus ought we to behave our selves to this Bo­dy of ours, this Instrument of our Soul, being concerned our selves for no other Supplies, but such as may contribute to the making it of con­stant use to us.

That which should determine our Choice in Meats and Drinks, should be the Consideration, which is most natural, and the most ready at hand; for those that are so, are generally the most simple, most easie of digestion, and most wholesome: For we are to remember, that the Animal Life in us must be supported; but, that Nature hath not made Varieties and (Quelques Choses) necessary to this purpose. And therefore we may very well dispense with the Niceties of the Kitchin and Preserving-Room, and all the arts of studied Luxury; for the only Business we have to do is, to repair the Decays of a Bo­dy that is perpetually wasting; and that this [Page 429] may be done at a much easier rate, is very plain, from the Examples of those whom necessitous Circumstances compel to a plain and course Diet; who yet generally have more Strength, and better Health, than those that indulge their Palates and fare sumptuously. This we shall soon be convinced of, if we do but compare Country-men with Courtiers, Servants with their Masters, and, in general, poor People with rich. For Superfluities and dainty Meats, do but oppress Nature; they are treacherous Delights, and carry a kind of secret Poison in them. Hence it is that we see the Constitutions of men that live deliciously, so miserably bro­ken; and instead of good Nourishment, all their Food turns into Corruption, and ill Humours, Catarrhs and Vapours, and all the wretched Consequences of weak Stomachs, and indigested Fumes.

The Health therefore of the Body, and the preserving it in a vigorous and active state, should prescribe to us both for the kind and the quan­tity of our Diet; otherwise we shall be but the worse for the Care and Expence we are at a­bout it; and by a very impertinent and mistaken Tenderness, render this Instrument less capable of doing the Soul Service, and perhaps too, quite break or wear it out the faster.

Now it is a very great happiness to have been brought up sparingly, and used to a plain Diet from ones Cradle; for by this means there will be no strife between Nature and Appetite; but that which is most for the Benefit of the Bo­dy, will be likewise most agreeable to the Pa­late, and a Man lies under no Temptation of [Page 430] destroying the one, for the sake of gratifying the other.

The same Rule ought to take place in our Apparel too; in which Socrates gave himself so little trouble, that we are told he wore the same Clothes both in Winter and Summer. Now I can allow a man to indulge himself to degrees of Tenderness, which would make him seem a per­fect Epicure in comparison of Socrates; and yet I should think he might content himself too, with wearing such Linen and Woollen as our own Country affords, and to change these for warmth or coolness, as the Seasons of the Year shall make it most easie and convenient for him. But for foreign Vanities, and fantastick Dresses, such as put us upon fishing all the East and Western Rivers for Pearl, and fleaing whole Forests for Furrs and Ermins, and rifling the India's for Silks, and exchanging substantial Gold and Sil­ver for the Cobwebs of Worms; this can be nothing else but Foppery and Nonsense, the marks of a profligate Mind, and the scandal of an Age abandoned to Luxury and Madness.

So again for our Houses. Crates is said to have satisfied himself with a Tub, though at the same time he had a very fine Wife, which would have given him a fair pretence for a more spaci­ous Dwelling. This is a piece of mortification not required at our hands; and Epictetus is well contented we should have a House, and all Con­veniences about it, provided that both the Pro­portion and the Finishing be contrived for Use, and not for Pomp and Excess. It is fit there should be a decent apartment for the Men, and a­nother for the Females of the Family; tho' indeed [Page 431] these distinct apartments are not absolutely neces­sary neither. But to talk of thirty or forty Lodg­ing-Rooms, of inlaid Floors, and Marble Hearths, of Carvings, and Paintings, and Fret-work, and dif­ferent apartments suited to the several Months of the Year; this is not to supply our Necessity, but to gratifie our Curiosity and Pride. And it hath this farther Inconvenience in it, That a man used to such Things, is condemned to a perpetual un­easiness, whenever his own Occasions call him to a Place where he cannot be equally accommoda­ted; or when the change of his Fortunes reduce him to a necessity of parting with those Conve­niences, which at the Expence of so much La­bour and Treasure he hath provided for him­self. I might add too, and that very seasona­bly, That a Man who hath used himself to take delight in these things, cannot escape the folly and misery of placing his Happiness in them, and so utterly neglect the Improvement of his own Mind, and forget the true Felicity of Hu­mane Nature. And if by any misfortune (as indeed there are a great many that may contri­bute to it) he lose these Enjoyments, he must consequently be exposed to all the Excesses of Passion, and an impotent Mind, and imagine him­self wretched to the very last degree: Though in truth, to any one that esteems things rightly, it will appear, that he was much more unhappy, and had more just occasions of lamenting his own Condition, when in the midst of his so-much­admired Gaiety and Splendour.

The number of our Retinue, and use of our Servants, are subject to the same Limitations; the occasion we have for them, and the proportion [Page 432] of our Estates. For Servants should be always kept so, as to have enough of that which is ne­cessary and convenient for them; and yet be al­ways in Employment too: So that we must cut the middle way between the two Extreams, Idle­ness and Indulgence on the one hand, and Barba­rity and Slavery on the other. But as for vast Crowds of Pages and Foot-men, such as have nothing to do but to make way in the Streets, or to make appearance, to run before a Chair, or hang behind a Coach; the Masters would do well to consider, that so many Attendants are, in plain terms, but so many Keepers. And sure there cannot be a greater slavery, than to have so many Eyes continually upon you; to have every Motion watched, every Discourse over­heard, no freedom or privacy left, no retire­ment safe from their Observation; and, in a word, nothing done or said without their Know­ledge, and sawcy Censures upon it and you. But besides the insupportable Inconvenience of them in ones own Family, they are often very troublesome and injurious to others, knavish and vexatious to Tradesmen, shirking out of Mar­kets and Shops, rude and insolent to their Bet­ters, guilty of a thousand Violences and Affronts; and all this upon a Confidence of their own Strength, that their Master's Authority will pro­tect them, or their Fellow-Servants stand by them in their Rogueries, and be able to bear them out against all opposition. By these wic­ked Qualities, and their abominable Idleness, they grow lewd and debauched, and are the worst Enemies commonly that their Masters have. Who all the while, for the State of [Page 433] keeping these Rake-hells about them, are forced to break their own rest, and undergo many Hardships, and submit to the mean Arts of Flattery, and making their Court, and become Slaves their own selves, and, which is worst of all, abandon the Rules of Wisdom and Vertue. But if Men will be so fond of a profligate Life, the matter is not great if they pay dear for their Vanity; and therefore let them go on, till Re­pentance makes them wiser.

As for the Philosopher, who conforms him­self to Epictetus his Rules, a very moderate At­tendance will serve his turn; for his Concerns with the World are not like to be very great, and he will not think himself too good to do all that he can in his own Person, without being troublesome to others. So that except in cases of Sickness, or some Business which he alone cannot possibly dispatch, or retirement from the Affairs of the World, to gain leisure for atten­ding to some better Employment, he will have very little occasion for a Servant. Thus Epi­ctetus is said to have lived a long time all alone, till at last he was forced to hire a Nurse to bring up a Child of a poor Friend's, whose extream Necessity had made him resolved to drop the poor Infant, if Epictetus in Charity had not taken it home, and maintained it.

After having made particular mention of the Necessaries of Humane Life, he exhorts in gene­ral to retrench all Superfluities; reducing what­ever is so to these two Heads, Luxury and Vani­ty. For indeed whenever we exceed the Bounds of Moderation in any of our Expences, one of these two is always the cause of it. And we are [Page 434] told, that the Persons of Immortal Renown for their Wisdom and Vertue heretofore, were so extreamly nice in this point, and so careful not to indulge themselves in any thing but what was absolutely needful: That Diogenes, after having used a long time to carry a Wooden-Dish in his Pocket to drink Water in, passed by one Day, and saw a poor Fellow taking up Water in the Palms of his Hands, and so drinking it: Where­upon he flung away his Dish immediately into the River, and said he had now no farther oc­casion for it, since it only served for a Use which his Hands could as well supply with­out it.

CHAP. XLVII.

Abstain from Familiarities with Women be­fore Marriage, as much as possibly you can; at least, if you indulge your self in any Liberties of this kind, be sure to wrong no Man's Bed, nor transgress any Law. But how perfect soever your own Chasti­ty may be, let not the Conceit of this make you troublesome to others that are more frail: And be not too lavish either in reproving their Failings, nor in Commen­dation of your own Vertue.

COMMENT.

ABstinence from all kind of Bodily Pleasure hath this peculiar good Effect, that it con­firms and invigorates the Rational Soul, and by the Experience of Conquests gained by single Acts, encourages it to exert it self in new At­tempts, upon a Confidence that it is able to master the brutish and rebellious Appetites, and the Disorders of those Appetites are to be sub­dued Two ways; by wasting the Habits of them, and keeping from frequent Repetiti­ons of their several Acts; and by using them to submit to the Discipline of Reason. But the Vertue of Continence in the Pleasures of the Bed, which is a Species of the former, is of so much greater Benefit to the Soul, and deserves to be more highly esteemed, in proportion as [Page 436] the Temptation is stronger, and the Con­quest more difficult, and noble than the rest.

Now, although in this Case Reason be in­formed and directed by Doctrines of Prudence and Morality, and also by positive Laws, ex­cellently fitted for this purpose; and the Im­petuous Sallies of the brutish Inclinations are check'd, and held in by this means; yet many Instances make it plain, That there is another Method of dealing with them. The Appe­tites which lead us to all those Enjoyments that Sense is most fond of, notwithstanding they are natural to us, and very vehement in their Operations, may by good Management and Cu­stom, be reduced, and vanquished by mild and gentle ways, and without any great Violence committed upon Humane Nature. Thus we see Persons, that have habituated themselves to Fasting and Abstemiousness, find no disturbance at all from the craving of their Appetites, but quite con­trary feel themselves oppress'd and indisposed, if they allow themselves to eat either above their usual Quantity, or before their usual hour. And thus we find too, that Mens Ambition for the Olympick Crown, restrains all their Incli­nations of another kind, while they are dieting for the Exercises; though Reason and common Sense will tell us, That the unreasonable quanti­ty of Meat, which they are forced to take to nourish and strengthen them at such times, must needs raise those Desires, and render the Sollicitations of them more importunate than o­therwise they would be. And we cannot with any good Grace all that Invincible, which for the [Page 437] sake of a Sprig of Laurel is vanquish'd every Day. So also both Custom and Positive Law have utterly forbidden, That very near Relations should come together; and these Persons Incli­nations, though infused into them by Nature, yet are almost incapable of being moved to­wards one another, notwithstanding any the most engaging Charms of either Party; and whenever they are so, we look upon it as an extreme Un­happiness, and particular Judgment. And the Consequence of this I take to be, That the Pas­sion which can very hardly be provoked in one case, might with good Care be suppress'd in a­nother.

Now that strict Chastity which is here requi­red before Marriage, is very reasonable and just upon many Accounts; but it is particularly so upon this, That the Man may be upon equal Terms with his Wife, and give her the Satisfa­ction of the same unblemished Vertue in his own Person, which he expects to meet with in hers. But (says he) if some Liberties must be taken, yet keep at least within the * Compass which the Law allows: For all beyond that is impious and abominable, or else the Law would not have made a Difference, and fenced it in. Besides, it argues great Impotence, and an ungovernable Mind, to lay all this in common, and is of ill Example, and pestilent Consequence; for it hardens a Man's self, and emboldens others to [Page 438] slight not only this, but all Laws whatsoever, when once the Authority that gave them Sanction is violated.

But how perfect soever your own Chastity may be, let not (says he) the Conceit of this make you trou­blesome to others that have the Misfortune of being more frail. And be not too lavish, either in reproving their Failings, or in commending your own Vertue. This is very prudent and reasonable Advice; for such Reproaches cannot but be very harsh and grating, from Persons with whom we ordinarily converse; since we see how tenderly Humane Nature can bear Reproof, and that so very few can endure to be chidden, even by those who have a Right to do it, by Vertue of their Post and Authority. Now one great Reason, why even the softest Rebukes are generally so very ill resented, I take to be this; That so long as no Body tells us of our Faults, we please our selves with an Opinion, that they are concealed from all the World, and by degrees come to think no­thing a Fault that is not known. And this again proceeds from a base principle of Hypocrisie and Ostentation: which makes the Opinion of the World a Rule for our own Judgment of our selves; and if we can but approve our selves to other Men, we are not much concerned whether we can do it or no, to the Truth; that is, to God, and to our own Consciences.

But if the Person that reproves us, do not only take off the Veil from us, but put it up­on himself; and while he is exposing our Faults, exalt and proclaim his own Vertues, this aggra­vates the provocation yet more: For at this [...]ate he insults over us like a Conqueror, and up­braids [Page 439] our Weaknesses, and makes the Compa­rison, only that we may look a great deal less, and serve as Foiles for his Merit. And what can be more unequal than this, that our Competitor should be our Judge?

Besides, such haughty Rebukes and invidious Comparisons, are not only injurious to the per­son designed to be lessened by them, but even to the Author himself; for they swell his Mind with Pride, and confirm him in his Insolence and Vain glory; they corrupt all his Reproofs, and incline him to correct other mens Miscarria­ges, not so much out of any desire to reform them, as to raise his own Reputation by sinking that of others: And he who hath once discove­red such base indirect Designs, must never ex­pect to have his Reproofs heard with any Pa­tience, or to work any Good by them: For he gives a man the fairest Opportunity in the World to excuse his Folly, by laying hold on the odious Comparison. And if he can but re­turn this Answer, That less is expected from him, He for his part is no Philosopher; and therefore his Failings are no great Matters, he thinks his Repro­ver effectually silenced, and himself sufficiently vindicated.

[...]
[...]

Vain-glory, are very often strongly tinctured with, and chiefly owing to it.

It hath also one considerable advantage above other Passions; which is, That its Viciousness and Deformity lies concealed longer than any else, and deceives us with a Colour of Vertue, because it is by Vertuous Actions only that we hope for Reputation; not considering in the mean while, That this very courting of Applause sul­lies the most commendable Actions, and robs them of all pretension to Vertue, because we do not make that our principal End, nor choose the Good for its own sake, but for the Credit and Honour it will derive upon us. For it is plain, That the Mark we aim at is Glory and Commen­dation, and the Good we apply our selves to, is not the Effect of Choice but Necessity; and thus many of us would not be Just (for instance) but only that there is no way to get the good O­pinion of the World without it.

There is this to be said farther in its excuse, That this Passion seems to be extremely useful for the qualifying of several others. For we are content to undergo many sharp Conflicts with our selves, and deny several Inclinations and En­joyments upon this account; and as it is a restraint to our Vices, so is it likewise a powerful Incentive and Spur to Vertue; it puts us upon engaging in many difficult Encounters, reconciles us to Au­sterities and Mortifications, and imposes Tasks, which though performed with great Alacrity up­on this account, would otherwise seem severe and insupportable Punishments.

[Page 443] For this Reason Ambition and Desire of Ap­plause is very significantly termed the inmost Garment of the Soul, as that which sticks clo­sest to it of all Passions whatsoever; because, when we have stript our selves of the rest, yet this is still [...]etained, and in truth the rest are many times laid aside for the sake of this. At least they appear to be so; for to speak strictly, this is all but Appearance, and Hypocri­sie; nor does this Passion in reality make the Soul abandon Vice; for it only puts a Restraint upon the outward act, without any effectual Reformation of the mind, or correcting the in­ward motions to Wickedness. Thus we find, that those very Persons who, to preserve their Reputation, abstain from gross and scandalous Lewdness, do yet without any remorse in­dulge themselves in unseen Liberties, and loose Imaginations. So that upon the whole matter, men are not one whit the better, but the worse upon this account; for there are not any vicious Desires reclaimed by it; and the abstaining from the open Gratisication of those Desires, blows them up with a false Opinion of Ver­tue, and adds to their Vanity ten times more.

It seems, I confess, capable of doing some Service to young men, whose Passions ride high; by curbing the Exorbitancies, which Youth, through the Heat and Rashness of that Age, is so exceeding apt to fly out into; but when those importunate Solicitations wear off, and men grow into cooler Reason, no Quality of the mind can be more dangerous and destructive. For it absolutely ruins all Vertue, by seducing the Soul to base Principles, it makes the Opinion of the [Page 444] World the chief end of Action, and lays more stress upon recommending ones self to others, than upon Satisfaction and Testimony of his own Conscience; it proposes Good, to us, as eligible, not for any Intrinsick Excellence of its own, but for the Honour and Fame consequent to the doing of it: So that in short we never really choose Good; not Good I mean, consi­dered as such, because we do not choose it for its own sake.

Nor is this only a dangerous Vice, but a most extravagantly ridiculous one too, and such as exposes all that are tainted with it, to one most absurd and inconsistent Folly: For men of this Temper commonly value themselves, and despise others extremely; and yet at the same time do they court, and flatter, and fear them, and pin all their Happiness, and all their Expectation upon these very Wretches whom they think so despicable.

Now nothing can cure this extravagant and slavish Passion, so effectually as Moderation; an evenness of Mind, and a frank acknowledg­ment of our own Faults and Failings. And yet even this hath some hazard in it too; for affected Humility is the greatest Pride, and without due Caution, and prudent Care, we shall fall into the very danger we would a­void, and become Vain-glorious even in the Accu­sations of our selves. Many men know, that to lessen themselves in their own Expressions, is to bespeak the Commendation of others by a sly and a surer way. But this Temper recom­mended by Epictetus must be sincere, free from [Page 445] underhand Trickings, and indirect Ends. And indeed he recommends it upon very good Grounds; for it is easie to perceive, That if Fate should so order the matter, as that our Vertues and Advantages should be known to our selves alone; and our Follies and Defects published to all the World, there would pre­sently be an end of all Vain-glory: and what­ever Good we do, we should be invited to it for its own sake, when there could be no Pro­spect of Applause to tempt us.

CHAP. XLIX.

It is by no means convenient that you should frequent the Theatres; but if any occasion happen to call you thither, discover no concern but for your self alone. That is, do not wish the Success any other than it is, or that the Victory should fall on any Person, except him that gains it. For this will keep your Mind free and disen­gaged. Let your Behaviour there be easie and sedate, not betraying any Transport of the Mind, by Shouting or loud Laugh­ter, or lond and vehement Emotions. So again, when the Play is over, do not dis­course much of what you saw there, nor en­large upon things for which you are never the better: For if you do, this plainly im­plies, that the Entertainment hath got within you, and that you admired, and were highly pleased with it.

COMMENT.

THE sensual and brutish Appetites, are not confined to such Objects only as our Touch and Taste are employed in, but extend themselves likewise to those that entertain our Sight and our Hearing: And what sort of Behaviour and Dis­position will become us with respect to these, he tells us here, by laying down this Rule: That [Page 447] it is by no means necessary or convenient to frequent the Publick Theatres. He might have said indeed, That it is absolutely necessary, and highly ex­pedient not to frequent them; for in truth such places leave a strong Infection, and make the whole Life of those that use them to become Theatrical, all Show and Formality.

But there may sometimes an occasion fall out, in which a Man cannot, without injury to him­self or his Character, refuse appearing there; as, either upon some Publick Festival, which these Entertainments are design'd to Honour, and make more solemn; or in compliance with the Customs of the World; or at the request of Friends; (for it looks sour and morose to be singular, and decline the received Practices of Mankind;) or we may be envited thither, only to make an Experiment upon our own selves, as having a mind to be satisfied what Improve­ments we have made, and how differently we are affected with these matters at different times. If therefore any of these, or any other reasonable Cause bring us to the Theatre, we must be sure to call up all our Vigilance, to collect our selves, and not let our Passions get loose; but be solli­citous only for the Peace and Evenness of our own Mind, and perfectly indifferent where the Success of the Combat lights: For we are to remember, that all these are things foreign, and without us, and consequently such as our De­sires and Aversions ought by no means to fasten upon.

This inward Tranquility, is what Epictetus expects our outward Air and Behaviour should shew: That our Mien and Countenance be setled [Page 448] and composed, yet easie and good-natured too, such as may express Gravity without Sullenness, and Mirth without Levity: Not making our selves troublesome and ridiculous, either by loud Acclamations and Applauses at what is well performed, or by bursting out into loud and ex­cessive Laughter at any comical Passages that come before us; but commending the one sort with Judgment and Moderation, and approving the other with a silent Smile.

When the Sight is over, there is a farther care to be taken, Not to discourse largely upon any thing we have been entertained with there; as consi­dering, that these matters contribute not at all to the making a Man wiser or better. And since they are in no degree instructive, or reforming, a Man ought not to think them worthy to be the subject of his Discourse. Now indeed Epi­ctetus his Caution here, of not discoursing much upon Things for which we are never the better, may bear something different Interpretations: For he may either intend it of all Things re­lating to these Publick Entertainments, the Suc­cesses of the Gladiators, and every Event which is there presented to us; and that a Man cannot possibly be edified by talking upon such Subjects as these: Or else he may only cut off some par­ticular parts of our Discourse upon these Sub­jects, and advise us when we do make them the matter of our Talk, that we should say no more upon these occasions, than what may some way conduce to the correcting of Manners, and ma­king us wiser. And such Topicks particularly are those that make Observations upon Men's Behaviour, and condemn all such indecent and [Page 449] irregular Gestures, as plainly discover that the Mind is not in due temper. But to run out, and enlarge extravagantly upon what hath passed, is a manifest Indication, that our Minds were too much affected with it; and that it appeared to be great, and just matter of admiration to us; all which is very unworthy a Philosopher, and a Defect peculiar to little and vulgar Souls.

CHAP. L.

Be not fond of going to every body's Rehear­sals; but when you do, be sure to preserve a grave and sedate Temper; but do not run into the other Extream neither, of rude and unmannerly Moroseness.

COMMENT.

THE next thing he gives Direction in, is, those Publick Rehearsals which the Preten­ders to Oratory and Poetry use to make, meerly for Ostentation, and to proclaim their own Elo­quence. The Subjects of these Rehearsals were various; sometimes a Panegyrick upon some great Prince, or General, or Statesman; some­times they were Politick Harangues; sometimes a fine Description of a City, or Country; some­times the discussing a point of Law, or the like. Now such as these, which propose nothing far­ther to themselves but Vanity and Ostentation, and have no concern with Vertue, or any thing [Page 450] that is properly ours; he advises us not to be forward in frequenting, nor indeed ever to at­tend them at all, without some good Reason that may justifie our coming to them. For it may very often happen, that this will be expe­cted from you, either as a Testimony of your Friendship to the Composer, or a Mark of Re­spect due to the Great Man, who is his Theme: or upon some other account, which Civility and Good-Breeding may make necessary. And in­deed these Compliances are sometimes of great Use, and have good Effect, to take off the edge of that Envy and Spight with which all People are naturally persecuted, who recede from the common way of living, and do not do as the World does.

Since then you must in all likelihood be there sometimes, the next point to be gained is a due and decent management of your self upon these occasions. And this will best be done by a grave and composed Temper; yet not so severe as to be rude and troublesome. Your Gravity must shew it self in commending Things as they de­serve, so as neither to be unseasonable, nor im­moderate and lavish in your Praise. Your com­posed Temper will keep you orderly and quiet: it will prevent all irregular Motion and loud Ap­plause, and impertinent Interruptions; and con­tinue the same modest, decent Air, without those sudden and vehement alterations, both in Body and Mind, and Mien, which are but too frequent in such cases. Your Easiness must he preser­ved too all this while, that you may avoid the Indecency of being over-thoughtful, and seem­ing not to attend. By this also you will be kept [Page 451] from a sullen and affected Silence; and when Things are well said, will not grudge them their due Commendation; it will prevent all peevish Censures and malicious Criticisms, and that unbred roughness which calls out to the Poet, and reproaches him with Falshood and Flattery, or a dull Thought, or flat and im­proper Expressions. In short, the Easiness and Complacency expected from you, will consist in such Candour and Good-nature, as seems plea­sed with the Eloquence of the Rehearser, and the Merit of the Person commended, and con­gratulated both freely when they deserve it, without any mixture of Envy or Detraction.

CHAP. LI.

When you are engaged in Business with any Person, but especially if it be a Man of Quality and Power, consider with your self how Socrates and Zeno would have behaved themselves upon this occasion, and then you will never be at a loss, how to manage your Affair with decency, and to advantage.

COMMENT.

PHilosophical Persons make their own Im­provement the main Business of their Lives, and consequently meddle not with any but them­selves; so that they are very seldom troubled [Page 452] with attendance and application to Great Men. Before Persons so unpractised therefore, he sets Socrates and Zeno for Patterns, that by taking our measures from their Vertues and Demeanour, we may be able to manage so nice a point of hu­mane Conversation; and consider, that these excellent Persons when they address'd to Autho­rity and Greatness, did not put on a stiff Forma­lity and dissembled Respect; but shewed a true and genuine Nobleness of Soul, agreeable to the Tenour of their whole Lives; and this too such as was the Result of Philosophy and Prudence, and not the Effect of Insolence and Vanity: That this kept them in a due Moderation and Deco­rum; between a submissive Cringing, and a sau­cy Pertness.

The same temper will prevent any such mean and abject Awe for the Eminence of Men's Stati­on, as should betray us into Flattery, and pre­vail with us to complement their Failings, and commend their Vices; and yet it will not suffer us to presume upon our own Authority and Wis­dom neither, or so far to forget Decency and Good Manners, as to reproach and rip up those Vices in rude and opprobrious Language. It teaches us the softest and most gentle methods of Reproof; and advises, first, to allow what they have done well, its due Praises, and so to make way for just and necessary Rebukes. Thus sweet­ning the less-palatable part of our Discourse, with what we know hath an agreeable re­lish, as Physicians wrap up bitter Pills in Honey, to make them go down the more glibly. And when we must at last proceed to this most un­grateful-good Office, it will become us not to be [Page 453] too rigorous Observers, nor too severe Inter­preters of their Actions, as if their Deformities were any Diversion to us, or we took a mali­cious Joy in finding fault: But to demonstrate, by all our Carriage, That Reformation is our only End; and to pursue this with a most affe­ctionate Zeal, expressing great Tenderness, and much Trouble and Concern, that the Lustre of their good Actions should be thus sullied and eclipsed, by these Failings, and Blemishes, and rebellious Passions.

There is a also another Topick applicable to this purpose, which I do not doubt but Socrates and Zeno managed with marvellous dexterity and success: Which was, To convince People of Condition what a world of Inconveniences and Troubles Greatness was ever incumbred with; and that the only desirable thing in it, was the Power and Opportunities of doing good, and making that good diffusive and effectual, above men of a meaner Capacity. So that those who in such a Post abandoned themselves to Vice, and neglected to improve this advantage, retain'd the bitter part, and threw away all the sweet; were oppress'd with the miseries and the burden­some Cares of Riches and Honour, and lost all the Comfort and all the Happiness of them.

But all this while it must be remembred, that Socrates and Zeno are proposed to us as Patterns, because it is convenient that we should fix our Eyes upon the noblest and most perfect Examples, and so far as we can aspire by degrees to their Perfections; but still we must in matters of Pra­ctice be content to keep to our own Model, and shall acquit our selves very well, if our Actions [Page 454] bear proportion to our Condition and Chara­cter. Nor can it be expected that a young Pro­ficient in Philosophy, and one whom Epictetus supposes still to stand in need of his Instruction, should be able, in his Behaviour and Conversati­on, to proceed just as Socrates and Zeno did. The pretending to personate these Great Men in all things, would not be Imitation, but Mimick­ry▪ and sit so ill upon such a one, as to make him and what he did ridiculous. How vain an attempt this would prove, we need no other Ar­gument than that account given of Zeno by Antigo­nus, the Successor of Alexander in Syria; who tho' he had conversed with several Philosophers, yet declared, That he never could so far command himself in Company with Zeno, as to conquer his Disorder and Confusion; and, That the very Presence of that Man did (what no other could do) damp him with an unusual Awe and Concern.

And thus Epictetus takes occasion from dire­cting us what Methods are proper to be used in address to, and conference with Men in eminent Dignity, to descend to inferiour Conditions, and give Rules for Conversation in general.

CHAP. LII.

When your Occasions make it necessary to visit a Man of Quality, reflect with your self before you go what may happen to you. Possibly he may not be at home; or if he be, that he will not be spoken with; that the Porter may shut the Door rudely upon you; that you may wait in the Hall a­mong the Foot-men; that none of them will carry your Message to his Lord; or, if they do, that you will meet with nothing but scorn and neglect. When you have pre­pared your self thus, if you think it wo [...]th your while to go upon such Terms, do it; and bear whatever happens as you ought. But do not repine afterwards, and say with your self, That the Business was not worth all this Trouble: For that is a Re­flection unbecoming a Philosopher, and shews a vulgar Soul, not reconciled suffi­ciently to the Accidents of the World.

COMMENT.

THE Advice he gives here, is much of the same nature with what we met with be­fore in the Ninth Chapter; where he begins thus: In every Action you undertake, consider, first, with your self, and weigh well the Nature and Cir­cumstances [Page 456] of the Thing, &c. Only there indeed he continues and illustrates his Discourse, by a very low and familiar instance of Bathing; but here he applies it to that much more important one of application to Great Men. There is also this other difference between the two Passages, That the Conclusion and Design of his Advice there, was to persuade Men not be too much concerned at things when they had happened, but to keep their Temper even, and their Reason undistur­bed; whereas here his Business is to bring Men to a prudent forecast, that they may not run on giddily, nor see Things by halves; but repre­sent to themselves before-hand, all the possible Difficulties and Inconveniences that can rise upon them, that they may take as true an Idea of all the discouraging Circumstances now, as it is pos­sible for the Event to give them afterwards.

For after we have taken upon us the slavery of waiting upon a Great Man, and met with these Disappointments and cold Neglects, we are apt to sit down discontented, and with much remorse to condemn our own Folly, and take it exceeding ill to be treated with so much insolence and scorn, and so unbecoming our Quality or Desert. Now all that Dissatisfaction is owing to one of these two Causes; either, That we made a rash and an ill Choice at first; or else, That these ex­ternal Accidents make too strong and too tender an Impression upon us. And both these Defects betray a base and a narrow Soul, not suitable in any degree to the Dignity of a Philosopher, who should know how to manage, and how to slight every Accident of this kind; not suffering him­self to be imposed upon like the ignorant Vulgar, [Page 457] with the false appearances of Things, nor mi­staking those for matters of Consequence, which are really and in their own Nature mere Trifles, and of little or no consideration at all to him.

So that having in the former Chapter instru­cted us what Decorum is to be observed towards Persons of Honour and Authority, who are con­tent to admit us to some familiarity and free con­ferences with them, and proposed the Prudence of Socrates and Zeno for the Standard of our Be­haviour; he prescribes to us here the Rules proper to be followed, where we are received with coldness and disdain, and rougher usage: That except where some absolute necessity re­quires, we should have nothing at all to do with such Persons; and when any urgent occasion compels us to chuse this Attendance, and our Bu­siness must be followed, though at the expence of all those Hardships and Affronts, to settle and compose our Minds before, and not expose our selves to the misfortune of a Surprize, or the weakness of a late Repentance, and wish we had never undertaken it, when these things are come upon us.

CHAP. LIII.

In familiar Conversation with your Friends and Acquaintance, do not make it your Business to entertain the Company with te­dious Narratives of your self, and your own Affairs. Consider, that their Resentments and yours are very different upon these occasions. And though the Exploits by which you have signalized your self, the Successes you have obtained, the Dangers you have encountred, or the Afflictions you have undergone, may be a very agree­able Story to your self to tell, yet it will not be equally so for others to hear.

CHAP. LIV.

As little will it become you to render your self the common Buffoon, and be always trying to make the Company laugh; for this is a very nice and ticklish thing, ex­ceeding apt to degenerate into Vice and Folly, and (observe them when you will) He that only studies Men's Diversion, shall be sure at the same time to lose their Respect.

CHAP. LV.

Of all kind of Discourse, none is more unsafe, none more despicable than that which breaks in upon Modesty and Good-Manners. Whenever therefore any Person in your presence flies out into Obscenity (if so great a Liberty can decently be taken) reprove him publickly, and put a stop to his lewd Talk. But if that cannot con­veniently be done, yet at least do your self the Justice to disapprove it; and by forbearing to join with him, by blushing for him, and by chiding Looks, let all the Com­pany see plainly, that you detest his filthy Ribaldry.

COMMENT.

HEre he descends from conversing with Great Persons, to prescribe the Measures fit to be taken with those of common Quality, such as are of a Condition equal, or inferiour to our own: And that which we are chiefly concerned to take care of in this case, is, the rendring our selves easie and acceptable to all kind of Com­pany in general; to observe such a prudent Me­dium, as may prevent a stiff and formal di­stance in one extream, and keep off such a sawcy Freedom, as may make us cheap and contem­ptible in the other. Nay, which is more, we [Page 460] are not only to secure a due respect and value for our selves, but to consult the Interest of those we converse with; and a wise Man will not on­ly endeavour to recommend himself, by making his Discourse free and easie, and diverting, but by making it beneficial and improving too.

In order to the learning this Art, Epictetus gives us warning of several Indecencies that are apt to prejudice People against us; and the first of these is the expatiating upon our selves, chu­sing out some of our own Performances, or our own Hardships, for our constant Topick, and running divisions perpetually upon our Families, or our Fortunes. And this in truth is the most nauseous and tiresome thing in the World; for there is a Principle of Jealousie in every Man, that turns again at all the fulsome Commenda­tions of our selves, and we presently grow sick of them in our own defence. Nothing is more assuming, and consequently nothing can be more provoking: It argues very little and low Thoughts of all Mankind besides, when we can with such disdain overlook the rest of the World and imagine no Affairs but our own worthy to furnish out matter for Discourse. And besides, all these extravagant Panegyricks upon our selves, are no better than so many fly Invectives against other People; and he that takes pains to extol his own Conduct, only makes an invidious Comparison, and always de­sires to be so understood, as by a Side-wind to re­proach and condemn that of his Neighbour. So that a Man full of himself, is a common Enemy, no Patience can brook him; and consequently nothing can more effectually contribute to ren­der [Page 461] our Conversation agreeable and entertaining, than the declining to trouble the Company with our own Affairs. Which hath also this further advantage too, that it checks the Vanity of our Temper, abates our Love of Popular Applause, and discovers a true Bravery, and nobleness of Spirit.

His next piece of Advice concerns the gay and the facetious Part of Conversation, and here, in pursuance of his former Directions, not to in­dulge our selves in long and violent Laughter, nor to burst out upon every trivial occasion, he forbids his Proficient to be always acting the Buffoon, and endeavouring to make the Com­pany laugh. And that for this very good reason, be­cause Mirth is a slippery and unfaithful Ground; and they who resolve never to want a Jest, will easily degenerate into Impertinence and Folly. For when a Man accommodates himself so far to the Humours of the Vulgar, as to consult their Merriment and Diversion, it shews that his Soul is of their Size and Temper, and relishes the same mean, unworthy Pleasures. Indeed, if there be any difference between them, he that labours to entertain another with such Discourse, is the worse, and the greater Fool of the two. So that whoever makes the Company merry after this manner, does it at his own Expence; for this naturally renders him cheap, and encoura­ges them to be lavish and sawcy in their turn too; and there cannot be any more effectual course to lose a Man in the Reputation of the World, and rob him of all the Respect that is otherwise due to his Quality, or his Parts, than [Page 462] to be thus profuse of his Wit, or to set up for a common Jester.

And yet it must be owned, that Diversion is the very Soul of Conversation; and some wise Men have frequently studied to entertain the Company with pleasant Discourse to take off the Imputation of Moroseness and Ill-humour. To those therefore, who upon occasions find it con­venient to give a little Loose to Mirth, he adds this most necessary Caution, Always to keep with­in the Bounds of Modesty and Decency. For all obscence Discourse is absolutely inconsistent with the Character of a wise and good Man; and he who pretends to any progress in Philosophy, will be so far from allowing himself in it, that he must not with patience hear any such thing from ano­ther. And therefore Epictetus commands such a one to reprove any that use these uncomely Li­berties, provided it can conveniently and pro­perly be done: As for instance; if the Person be younger than we, and so our Age seem to give us some Authority over him; if he be one that hath any remains of Modesty left, and we have any reason to hope our Rebukes will prove suc­cessful; if there be no great distance between his Quality, or his Estate and ours, so that he is not too big, or too vain to be reproved. For in these Circumstances, you may without any breach of Civility do it, and neither the Offender nor the Company will take it ill, or think you too bold, if they understand themselves at all. But it must be confess'd, that this Duty is not al­ways practicable; for if there are some Persons with whom this Liberty cannot be taken, their Age, or their Condition, may give what they [Page 463] say a Privilege of being passed over. Their Temper may render them incapable of Animad­version, or their hardned Wickedness may have put them past all power of its doing good upon them: And in such cases, the attempt would not only be ridiculous, but might possibly be dangerous too; for no Man is obliged to do what does not become him, because another hath done so; nor must our Zeal be so warmly pur­sued, as to break good Order, or give the Com­pany disturbance, or create our selves Enemies, by such indiscreet and unnecessary Corrections. But still there is one Remedy left, and that must be taken in Justice to our selves; which is, by our Silence to refuse the becoming a Party; to demonstrate, that we understand what Behavi­our is fit for us; and that we do secretly dis­allow what Prudence or Good-Manners will not suffer us openly to rebuke.

And here I cannot omit observing, how nice and punctual Epictetus is, in suiting the Rules he gives, according to the different Circum­stances of the Case in hand: For he had trea­ted before of Discourse concerning the Enter­tainments of the Publick Theatre, the Com­bats of Gladiators, Horse Races, Feasts, Meats, and Wines, and Modes, and giving Characters of Men to their prejudice, or their advantage; and upon all such Occasions, he directs us to turn the Discourse off to some other more useful Subject. But here, it seems, that is not sufficient; for we must not only change, but reprove it too, if that can properly be done. There, if we cannot turn the Discourse, we [Page 464] may content our selves with being silent; but here it is not every Silence that will serve the turn; it is necessary it should be a sort of em­phatical and very significant one, such as may distinguish our Thoughts, and express a Dislike and Detestation of what is indecently spoken.

CHAP. LVI.

When the Idea of any Pleasure strikes your Imagination, as you must in other Cases, so should you in this, especially stand up­on your Guard, and not suffer your self to be hurried away with the impetuous Torrent. Run no teagerly upon Enjoyment, nor improve the Thought into Action; but take time to consider; and let that time be imployed in making a just Computation be­tween the duration of the Pleasure, and that of the Repentance sure to follow it; and then you will not fail to check your In­clinations, and chide your self for indulg­ing them in any Degree at all. Consider farther too, That the denying of those In­clinations will certainly give you an inward Joy, and instead of being reproached by your own Conscience; you shall be comforted and commended by it. But if upon mature Deliberation, the thing you are moved to, appear no way inconvenient, you may gra­tifie your Appetite, but you must not let it loose: for even innocent Enjoyments require a streight Rein. and a steady Hand, for fear the Impression be too strong and pow­erful, and the Pleasures of Sense charm and captivate your Reason. And therefore [Page 466] even in these Cases too, represent to your self the inward Complacency of having done well, and wisely; and the Triumphs of a good Conscience, after subduing Tem­ptations.

COMMENT.

THere is not in the whole World any thing more pernicious to the Soul than the Pleasures of Flesh and Sense; for these fetter and fasten down the Mind; and God, who saw those destructive Consequences of them, hath therefore in his infinite Wisdom, and marvel­lous Goodness, made all such Pleasures of exceed­ing short Continuance. Thus those of the Epi­cure last no longer, than just while his Mea [...]s and Drinks lie upon the Tongue, when once they are swallowed into the Stomach, all the Relish of them is lost and gone, and the Palate returns to its former Habit again. So likewise those Pleasures, which Sense is fondest of, and the most exquisitely affected with, continue no long­ger, than just the time of Fruition. When that short Moment is once past, the Man is as if he had never been at all. It is very plain too that Pleasure is properly the Object of the Sensi­tive Faculties, and does not extend to the Ratio­nal Soul; for those Creatures that are void of Sense, are not capable of Pleasure.

Nor is this the Condition of bodily Pleasures only, but those other Satisfactions which we call so, such as Men take in gay Clothes, pompous Equipage, rich Jewels, and Furniture, large E­states, [Page 467] and the like; even they are but very short-lived neither. For when once the first Flush of Joy is over, they pall and sink down into nothing; and Time, in proportion as it makes them familiar to us, makes them flat and insipid too. But, alas! the Case is not the same in the contrary Extreme; nor do our Griefs for the loss of these things wear off so fast, as our Satisfactions of acquiring, or possessing them: These are long and lasting, and very often grow by time. Thus Pleasure, it seems, of all sorts, but especially such as affects our bo­dily Senses, vanishes very quickly; and well it were for us, if it, and all its Effects went off to­gether: But it leaves a Sting behind it, wounds the Soul, disarms Reason; and, if it be indulg­ed to excess, does not stop there neither; but many times proves of terrible Consequence to the Body too. Whereas Abstinence from Plea­sure, and the Conquests we gain over it, are of infinite Advantage to the Soul; fill it with du­rable Satisfaction, and inspire Joys of quite a­nother kind, Joys agreeable to Reason and un­corrupted Nature, such as no Guilt pollutes, no mixture or remains of Sorrow taint, no Time wears away.

Thus much I thought necessary to premise in general, by way of Introduction to Epictetus his Advice, which begins in these Terms: ‘When the Idea of any Pleasure strikes your Imagination, as you must in other Cases, such as Power or Riches, or the like; so should you in this of Pleasure, more especi­ally stand upon your Guard, and not suffer your self to be hurried away from Thought, [Page 468] to Act.’ Be not too rash and hasty, but al­low your self leisure for better Consideration. And, when you have so far prevailed upon your self as to gain time, and suspend the gratifying of your Fancy for a while, employ this time in making a just Computation. Weigh first the time of Enjoyment well, and consider how short how very short it is; and afterwards observe, how infinitely this is over-balanced by that of Repentance. Think how many sad Remem­brances, what bitter Remorse, what lasting Shame, what self condemning Reflections, the being vanquished by this Temptation will cost you; and then you will be ashamed to purchase so fugitive a Pleasure, with so permanent a Misery.

But, that you may have no Prete [...], no Co­lour left for so imprudent an Exchange, consi­der once more the durable Advantages of Self­denial; the sincere and never fading Satisfactions that result from a Lust subdued; the perpetual Applauses of a good Conscience, and the Hap­piness of being approved by ones one Breast: For if you do but cast these things into the Seale, and give them their due weight, the Disparity will be so manifest, that Appetite must yield to Reason. And if you repeat this again and a­gain, as fit Occasions offer themselves, you will by degrees gain an habitual and compleat vi­ctory, and so absolutely reduce the sensual In­clinations, that they will not be in a Conditi­on to rebell, or give you any considerable di­sturbance.

[Page 469] Since then the Pleasure lasts no longer than the single Instant of an Action, when once that Instant is over, there is no difference between one that hath had this Enjoyment, and one that had it not, it is evident, that Pleasure can have but very little to recommend it. You will say, per­haps, that the Voluptuous Person hath the Sa­tisfaction of Remembrance, and recollecting the Delights he enjoyed, which is a kind of bring­ing them back again, and an acting them over in Imagination a second time. But, alas! this is a very poor and lame Satisfaction; and we need no other proof of its being so, than those dark and imperfect Ideas, which the remem­brance of a pleasant Dream gives us; for those of a past Pleasure are exactly the same, every whit as feeble and imaginary.

But in regard there are some Pleasures no way inconsistent with Duty, and right Reason; such as those of the Marriage Bed, or Bathing after a Fever, and the like; therefore he adds one necessary Caution more; That even these Pleasures, which may be innocent and convenient in themselves, should yet be so tempered with a prudent Restraint, that the Gratefulness of them to Sense do not over-bear our Reason; nor we so absolutely give our selves up to the Enjoyment, as to be transported with Rapture and Joy. But even then, when we allow our selves the Fruition, to check and correct the Ex­uberance of our Pleasure, by a seasonable Refle­ction, That Reason ought always to be upper­most; and that it is infinitely more becoming and advantageous to be above Sense, than to be a Slave to it. For indeed, this is as much more [Page 470] eligible, as the due Government of our Passi­ons, is better than the living under the Tyran­ny and Usurpation of them; as much more Noble, as Reason is Superiour to Instinct, and the Dignity of the Humane Nature, above that of a Brute.

CHAP. LVII.

When, upon mature Deliberation, you are persuaded a thing is fit to be done, do it boldly; and do not affect Privacy in it, nor concern your self at all, what impertinent Censures or Reflections the World will pass upon it. For if the thing be not Just and Innocent, it ought not to be at­tempted at all, though never so secretly. And if it be, you do very foolishly to stand in fear of those, who will themselves do ill in censuring and condemning what you do well.

COMMENT.

THere is not any thing that Epictetus seems more concerned for, than that Vertue should be chosen for Vertue's sake, That so the Good we do might be compleat and per­fect, when done out of a just sense and value of its own intrinsick Worth, without any sor­did [Page 471] Allays, or indirect Ends, such as the Opini­on of the World, and the desire of Applause and Reputation particularly. For whoever chuses Good upon this account, makes this, and not doing well his ultimate End, that is, in­deed, his Good.

Now if a Man hath consulted his own Reason, and is upon good Ground convinced, That such or such a thing ought not to be done; no conside­ration whatsoever should prevail upon him to do it, because it ought not to be done. And again, if upon a grave and wise Debate with himself, he come to a Resolution, That it should be done; and do it in this Perswasion, it is most senseless and sneaking to endeavour the conceal­ing of it, from any Apprehensions of Constructi­on other People will put upon it. For if he be right in resolving, they cannot be so in inter­preting it to his Disadvantage; and at this rate, a Man betrays less Honour, and Regard for a real Good, (for such is a wise and vertuous Action) than he does for a real Evil; for such is a false Opinion, and malicious Censure. And indeed, generally speaking, this is the Case of the Errors and Misapprehensions of the Vul­gar, which Men stand in so much fear of; and are so apt to forego, or at least to disown the Practice of Vertue, lest they should fall under them.

From hence likewise results another very mischievous Effect, which is, That the Conclu­sions and Dictates of right Reason should be look'd upon as Evils, for so they plainly are, when Men decline and disavow them, since no­thing [Page 472] is ever shunn'd or disclaimed, but under the Notion of Evil.

Further yet, there is a Third great Inconve­nience consequent upon taking these mean and indirect Methods; which is, That such a Man turns Deserter to Vertue, and runs away from the true Standard of all his Behaviour, viz. the Nature of the Actions themselves, and the Judg­ment and Testimony of his own Breast, and gives himself up entirely to be governed by common Opinion, expects no Happiness but what Applause can give him, and fears no Misery but Censure and Reproach; and is so bigotted to the World, as utterly to renounce his own Rea­son, and think nothing Good or Evil, True or False, but what Common Fame declares to be so.

CHAP. LVIII.

As this Sentence, It is Day, and, It is Night, if you take it apart, is most true; but if you join it together, is absolutely false: So for a Man, at a publick Entertainment, to carve himself the best and greatest share; though if he consider his own Body singly, it might be well enough; yet in re­gard of that Common Right which this In­vitation gives to all that are present, it is most unbecoming and unreasonable. And therefore, when you eat abroad, remember that you are to look farther than the bare satis­fying of your own Appetite; and to observe all that Decency and Respect, which is due both to the Company you are joined with, and to the Master of the House, that invi­ted you.

COMMENT.

THe Stoicks are particularly nice and subtile in the illustrating and arguing from Hy­pothetical Syllogisms: And these are of two forts, one that they call Disjunctive, the other Conjunctive or Complex. The Disjunctive are such as consist of contradictory parts, so that if one be true, the other must needs be false; and if the one be false, the other is as certainly true. [Page 474] As for instance; when I say, It is either Day or Night, but it is Night, therefore it is not Day. Thus by affirming the one part, you deny the other; and by denying the one, you affirm the other: As when I make my Assumption thus; but it is not Day, and conclude from thence, therefore it is Night; or, but it is not Night, therefore it is Day. And such a Disjunctive Proposition as this, whose parts are inconsistent with one another, (as when we say, It is either Day or Night,) is received as an Axiom; that is, as a Truth self­evident, such as is plain and agreeable to the Common Sense, and Notions of all Mankind. For such Propositions the Stoicks used to call Axioms.

Now a Complex Proposition consists of two Parts; but these such, as have a necessary con­nexion with, and dependance upon one another, so that if one be allowed, the other follows in course; for which occasion they are very pro­perly termed, the Antecedent and the Consequent. And the Condition of these Propositions is this; That if you affirm the Antecedent, you esta­blish the Consequent; but if you deny the Con­sequent, you overthrow the Antecedent at the same time. For instance, this is a true Conjun­ction, If it be Day, it is not Night; because upon this Antecedent It is Day, the Assumption fol­lows, But if it be Day it is not Night; so that putting this into one Complex Proposition, the Antecedent inferrs the Consequent; for thus you proceed, But it is Day, therefore it is not Night. And so likewise if you deny the Consequent, you deny the Antecedent also; as if you say, But it is not Night (which is as much as to [Page 475] say that it is, for the two Negatives here make one Affirmative) therefore it is not Day. And this is the Case of a Conjunctive or Complex Proposi­tion, and the Rule it proceeds upon.

Let us now see, what use Epictetus makes of this, and how he applies it to his present pur­pose. This Proposition, It is either Day, or Night, in a disjunctive Syllogism, he tells us, carries its own Evidence along with it, and is un­contestably true. But in a Conjunctive Syllo­gism the case is much otherwise. For when these two parts are brought into one Complex Propo­sition, then to affirm the one, we must deny the other; and the Sentence must of necessity run thus, If it be Day, it is not Night. Now then (says he) as this Disjunctive Proposition, in a Disjunctive Syllogism, is most true, because the whole Argument depends upon it, and all the stress lies in the opposition of the parts thus disjoined; but in a Complex Proposition it is most false, for the Conjunction is there torn a­sunder, by the necessary insertion of the Nega­tive Particle, If it be Day, it is not Night. So likewise at a publick Entertainment, however it may be for the Advantage of a Man's own Body to carve the best for one's self, and to scramble for the greatest share; yet this is absolutely in­consistent with that Equity and Common Right of Humane Society at all such publick Meetings. For a Man is not here to look upon himself, as a Disjunctive, and to act as if he stood single; but to consider himself in conjunction with the rest of the Company, and to be guilty of no­thing, that may break that Conjunction, by in­fringing the Privileges that lie in common, and [Page 476] eugrossing any such for his own private Inte­rest.

When therefore you dine in Company (says he) do not regard the Cravings of your own Appetite, nor pick out the choicest part of the Dinner to gratifie your own Palate; but consider, that there is another Duty, besides what you owe to your own Body, and that is a Duty of mutual participation, and assuming no more, than what you are content to allow to others, who have indeed equal pretensions with your self.

Now nothing can be more manifest, than that by this instance of a Feast, Epictetus meant a great deal more than he hath expressed: And intended no doubt, that we should stretch this Rule to all the Affairs of Humane Life, that concern others as well as our selves, and to all our Commerce and Dealings with one another. For all gree­diness and grasping at more than belongs to us, loosens and breaks the Bonds of Humane So­ciety, which can never be maintained otherwise, than by allowing every body the share that is due to him. Of how great efficacy this is towards the uniting Men together, and making that union durable and strong, besides what common Ex­perience teaches us, we have an instance, even in the worst and vilest Men. For the very Combi­nations that Thieves and publick Robbers make with one another, though these Men have cast off all the Ties of Justice and Common Honesty, are yet preserved, so long as they keep to the pri­vate Agreements made among themselves, and are content that the Booty should be divided e­qually. And sure strict Justice must needs ce­ment Men very strongly, when even this feeble [Page 477] imitation of it, can go so far in the confirming and maintaining a Community founded in In­justice.

So then, after the various Directions and Ex­hortations in the foregoing parts of this Book, some of which were designed to excite Men to true Freedom, some to recommend Fortitude, others Generosity, and Greatness of Soul, others Prudence, and Temperance: This Chapter is designed to make Men just; and, in order to the effecting this, to remove first of all that greatest obstruction to it, which is Avarice, and inordinate Desire of more than in strictness be­longs to us.

CHAP. LIX.

If you take upon you a Character above your capacity, you fall into this two-fold Incon­venience, first to miscarry in what you have undertaken, and then to lose the opportu­nity of undertaking somewhat else, more proportionable to your ability, in which you might have come off with Honour.

COMMENT.

VVE are not always to aim at that Good, which is most noble and excellent in it self, but that which we are best qualified for, and is most suitable to our own Circumstances. For there never comes any good of extravagant [Page 478] Undertakings. So that we shall do well to pro­ceed leisurely in the choice of the Figure we desire to make in the World, and not aspire to things above us. An eminent Orator, or a Phi­losopher in a Common-wealth; a Pilot, or Ma­ster in a Ship; a Prince, or publick Magistrate in a State: These are Characters that look great and gay; but yet every body should not desire them, because every body is not cut out for them. And it is much more graceful for a Man to be in a lower Station, where he fills his Post, and tops his part, than to be in a higher; which he cannot come up to, nor discharge the Duties of with that decency and applause that is ex­pected. Thus a Man had better be a good Usher, and teach the first grounds of Learning well, than an unable Master, who cannot finish what is well begun. And it is more desirable to be an honest and prudent Manager of a private Fa­mily, than a bad Governour of a City or Na­tion. For, besides the prejudice such persons do themselves, in not coming up to the Dignity of a Character too lofty for them (which miscar­riage I would have rated, not by the Approbation or the Censure of the World, but according to the real Nature of the Character it self) they are unfortunate in another respect. For they have not only come off very scurvily in at­tempting what they were not fit for; but they have slipp'd an opportunity too, of behaving themselves well, and gaining applause in some­thing else which they were fit for. For it is in Humane Life, as it is in a Play-house, where the Praise is due not to the Part, but to the Perfor­mance; and he that plays a Servant well, is [Page 479] look'd upon with more approbation, and repu­ted a better Actor, than he that attempts to play a Man of Honour, or a Prince, and does it ill.

This Chapter too seems to me to have a more immediate regard to Equity and Justice; for it advises every body to be content with that part, which Providence sees fittest for them upon this Stage of Life; that they should not affect Cha­racters above them, nor be desirous of, or dis­satisfied with those that are assigned to other people.

CHAP. LX.

As in walking it is your great Care, not to run your Foot upon a Nail, or to tread awry, and strain your Leg; so let it be in all the Affairs of Humane Life, not to hurt your Mind, nor offend your Judg­ment. And this Rule, if you observe it carefully in all your deportment, will be a mighty security to you in your Ʋnder­takings.

COMMENT.

THE Soul of Man is injured or wounded two ways: Either, when it is pricked with brutish Inclinations, and vehement Passions, which fasten it to the Body; in which it makes some resistance, but yet is overpowered by the prevailing force of Passion, and yields at last, [Page 480] though with reluctancy. Or else, when its Judgment is perverted, and the Byass of sensual Objects draw it so strongly, that it does not make any distinction betwixt its own rational Nature, and the other inferiour and irrational parts, which are the Seat of the Passions.

This excellent Guide therefore warns us to have a care of both these Inconveniences, and to proceed warily in all the Affairs of Humane Life, as we do when we would tread sure in walking. That we decline those brutish Appetites which would gall and wound the Soul, that fix wholly upon bodily Objects, and flatten down the Soul to Body much stronger and closer, than any Nail can possibly join material things; for they make the Mind forget it self, and mistake these Affections, and the Body they serve, for one and the same Substance.

This therefore is analogous to piercing the Foot with a Nail; but the other Misfortune, that of a perverted Judgment, he resembles to treading awry, and straining, or putting out a Leg; because this Error of the Mind proceeds from the Imagination, that part which is lowest in the Soul, as the Foot is in the Body; and by which it holds correspondence with the corpo­real, and animal Life. And the Advice he gives upon this occasion is, that, as we take care to keep our Body upright when we walk, so we should be exceeding cautious and tender of the Soul, when it goes abroad, and concerns it self in the Affairs of the World. That the Faculty of Reason, which is predominant in our Minds, and the very Character and Prerogative of Hu­mane Nature, make no false steps. That it do [Page 481] not forget it self, or its Authority, that it be neither giddy through eagerness of Desire, and heat of Passion, or grow corrupt and dull, and stupid through Sloth and Effeminacy.

And if we did but manage our selves with the same wariness in our Actions, as we do in our steps: If we would but look before us constantly, and be sure to take good footing, this, he tells us, would be a mighty security to us in all our Undertakings. For though Humane Nature will be the same still, and all our Vigilance can­not set it absolutely above Error and Frailty; yet the ill Consequences of these Infirmities would be in a great measure prevented. We might slip, but we should never fall; and the slips we did make, would be but few, and those easily recover'd too. For thus we find, that when through some little incogitancy we happen to touch upon a Nail, or make a false step; a small recollection will serve the turn, to disengage our Foot, before the Nail hath run in too deep; and to correct that Trip, which was but a slight one, and made before we were aware of it.

CHAP. LXI.

The Necessities of the Body are the proper measure of our Care for the things of the World; and those that can supply these are enough, as the Shooe is said to fit the Man, that answers to the bigness of the Foot. but if once you leave this Rule, and ex­ceed those necessities, then you are carried into all the Extravagancies in the World. Then you do not value your Shooe for fit­ting the Foot, unless it be gilded too, and afterwards from gilding you go to a rich Purple; and from that again, to having it studded, and set with Jewels. For when once a Man hath exceeded the bounds of Moderation and Convenience, he never knows where to stop.

COMMENT.

THere are two things to be considered in Cloths, and Diet, and Goods, and Estate, and whatever else is requisite for our Bodies, that is the getting, and the using of them. He hath informed us already after what manner they are to be used: and commanded us to this pur­pose, That those wants of the Body, which are necessary to be supplied, so as to render it ser­viceable to the Soul, ought to determine in this [Page 483] point: By which means all superfluities are cut off, and every thing that tends only to Luxury and vain Pomp. Now he tells us what propor­tion we ought to be content with, and what should be the measure of our Labours and our Desires in the getting an Estate; and this he says is the Body too. For the end of getting these things, is, that we may use them, so that as far as they are of use to us, so far, and in such pro­portions may we desire, and endeavour after them; and they are only so far useful, as they become serviceable to the Body, and supply its necessities. Consequently then, the Body, and its wants, which determine how far these things are capable of being used, do also determine, how far they are fit to be desired, and what mea­sure of them a Man ought in reason to sit down satisfied with.

Let us look then at the Foot, for instance, and see what wants it labours under, and what supplies are sufficient for it; and when we have done so, we shall find, that good plain Leather is all it needs: A good upper Leather to keep the Foot tight and warm, and a stout Sole to defend the Ball of the Foot from being hurt by what it treads upon. But now if a Man bear regard to Ornament and Luxury, as well as Use and Convenience; then nothing less than Gold, and Purple, and Jewels, will serve the turn, and one of these Extravagancies only serves to make way for another. For, it seems, the Romans were grown so curious and vain, as to wear rich Purple Shooes, and Shooes set with precious Stones, and these were more exquisite and modish Vani­ties than gilded ones.

[Page 484] Now just thus it is in the getting, and the sp [...]nding an Estate: When a Man hath once transgressed those bounds, which Nature and Necessity have set him, he wanders no body knows whether; and is continually adding one foolish Expence to another, and one idle whim­sie to another, till at last he be plunged over Head and Ears in Luxury and Vanity. For, these were the only Causes of seducing him at first; and when once he had broke loose from his mea­sures, a thousand imaginary wants presented themselves, and every one of these gave him as great a disturbance, as if they had been real ones. At first he wanted only ten thousand pound, then twenty; and when he was possess'd of this, he wanted forty, as much as even he did the first Ten; so he would a hundred, if he had forty, and so to all Eternity; for he has now let his Desires loose, and these are a bound­less Ocean never to be filled.

Now nothing is more evident, than that those Desires which do not keep within the bounds of Use and Convenience, do, and must needs be infinite and insatiable. Not only, because this is the last Fence, and there is nothing left to stop them afterwards; but because we see plainly, that, when they exceed these things, they quick­ly neglect and disregard them too; forget the ends, to which they are directed, and instead of preserving sometimes destroy the Body. Thus we often ruine our Health, and distort our Limbs only for Ornament and Fashion, and make those very things our Diseases which Na­ture intended for Remedies against them.

And possibly upon this account, more particu­larly, [Page 485] Epictetus might make choice of a Shooe to illustrate his Argument. For this instance is the more emphatical and significant, because if we do not take care to fit the Foot, but make it bigger than it ought to be, for Beauty and Or­nament, it hinders our going instead of helping us, and oftentimes makes us stumble, and fall very dangerously. So that it is plain, the Con­siderations which relate to our using the things of the World, will give us great light into that part of our Duty, which relates to the getting of them; and the Rules we are to be governed by, are in a great measure the same in both Cases.

And these Chapters too, which prescribe to us the Rules, and the Duty of Moderation, both in using and getting an Estate, may in my Opi­nion be very properly referred to the same com­mon Head of Justice with the former.

CHAP. LXII.

When Women are grown up to Fourteen, they begin to be courted and caressed; then they think that the recommending them­selves to the Affections of the Men is the only business they have to at­tend to, and so presently fall to tricking, and dressing, and practising all the little engaging Arts peculiar to their Sex: In these they place all their hopes, as they do all their happiness in the success of them. But it is fit, they should be given to understand, that there are other at­tractives much more powerful than these; That the Respect we pay them, is not due to their Beauty, so much as to their Mo­desty, and Innocence, and unaffected Ver­tue. And that these are the true, the irresistible Charms, such as will make the surest and most lasting Conquests.

COMMENT.

SInce he had in the foregoing Discourses al­lowed his Philosopher to marry, it was but reasonable that he should instruct him here, what Methods are most proper to be made use of in the choice of a Wife, and which are the most necessary and desirable Qualifications for her. [Page 487] This therefore he does in short, but very sig­nificant Observations, shewing what a wise Man should chiefly regard, and exposing at the same time the mischiefs that the generality of Men fall into, by taking wrong measures. Most people, says he, when they are disposed to mar­ry, look out for a young and a beautiful Mistress; then they cringe, and flatter, and adore her; keep a mighty distance, and accost her in the most respectful and submissive Terms imagina­ble; and the end of all this is no other, than the Enjoyment of her Person. The Women know the meaning of all this well enough, and manage themselves accordingly; they dress, and trick, and set of their Persons to the best ad­vantage, and these are the Arts they study to recommend themselves by.

Now in truth, though we declaim against this Vanity and Folly in the Sex, yet the Men are much more to blame than they. For the Ori­ginal of all this Vanity, is from our selves, and the Folly is ours, when we pay so much respect upon accounts that so little deserve it. It is in our power to reform what we condemn, and it is our Duty to do it. We should shew them, that no Beauty hath any Charms, but the inward one of the Mind; and that a gracefulness in their Manners, is much more engaging, than that of their Person and Mien. That Meekness, and Obedience, and Modesty, are the true and lasting Ornaments: For she, that has these, is qualified as she ought to be for the management and governing of a Family, for the bearing and educating of Children, for an affectionate and tender Care of her Husband, and for sub­mitting [...]

CHAP. LXIV.

When any Man does you an Injury, or re­flects upon your Good Name, consider with your self, that he does this out of a Per­suasion, that it is no more than what you deserve, and what becomes him to say or do. And it cannot be expected that your Opini­on of things, but his own, should give Law to his Behaviour. Now if that Opi­nion of his be Erroneous, the Misfortune is not yours, but his who is thus led into Mistakes concerning you. For the Truth of a Proposition is not shaken one whit, by a Man's supposing it to be false; the Con­sequence is not the worse, but the Person that judges amiss of it is. Such Con­siderations as these may serve to dispose you to Patience and Meekness; and by degrees you will be able to bear the most scurrilous Reproaches, and think the bit­terest, and most insolent Traducer, worth no other return than this mild Answer, That these, it seems, are his Thoughts of you, and it is not strange, that Man should vent his own Opinion freely, and act according to it.

COMMENT.

THis Chapter is plainly intended to persuade us to bearing of Injuries with Meekness and Moderation; and the Arguments made use of to this purpose are Two.

The first proceeds upon a Foundation evident to common Sense, and confirmed by the Practice and Experience of all the World; which is, That every Man acts in agreement with his own par­ticular Notions of things, and does what at the instant of doing it appears to him fittest to be done. And therefore if his Apprehensions dif­fer from ours, as it cannot be any great Matter of Wonder, so neither does it minister any just Cause of Resentment, because he follows the Dictates of his Breast, and I follow mine, and so do all the World. So that it would be a most extravagant and senseless thing for me to be an­gry for his acting according to Nature, and up­on a Principle universally consented to by all Mankind.

But you will say perhaps, That his follow­ing his own Opinion is not the thing you quarrel with, but the entertaining an ill Opinion of you, for which there is no Ground or Colour of Justice. Now upon Examination of this Pre­tence too, it will be found, that you have not at all mended the Matter, but that this is as ridiculous and absurd a Passion as the other. For if he have done you no harm, where is the Pro­vocation? and that it is plain he hath not, for no body is the worse for it but himself. He [Page 492] that thinks he does well when he really does ill, and mistakes Falsehood for Truth, is under a dan­gerous Delusion, and suffers extreamly by his Error. And therefore the Man that injures your Person or your Reputation, does but wound himself all the while: And this he does more effectually, and to his own greater Pre­judice, than it is possible for you in the height of all your desired Revenge, or for the most Potent and malicious Enemy in the World to do. For whatever the world commonly esteems most noxi­ous, can reach no farther than the Body, or the External Enjoyments, and consequently does not, in strict speaking, hurt the Man himself: But Er­ror is a Blemish upon the Soul, an Evil that af­fects his Essence, and taints the very distinguish­ing Character of the Humane Nature.

Now, that the Person who entertains this false Opinion, and not he concerning whom it is entertained, receives all the Prejudice by it, he proves beyond all Contradiction, by the Instance of a compleat Proposition. For suppose one should say, If it be Day, then the Sun is above the Hori­zon, and another Person should maintain that this is false; his standing out against it, does not in any degree weaken the Truth of the As­sertion, nor invalidate the necessary dependence of the Two Parts of it upon each other: It remains in the same Perfection still; but the person who judges amiss concerning it, does not so. Thus the Man that affronts or traduces you, contra­ry to all the Rules of Justice, and Honour, and Duty, injures himself, but you continue un­touch'd; and neither the Edge of his Wea­pon, nor the Venom of his Tongue can enter [Page 493] you. Especially if you are as you ought to be, fully convinced, that there is no such thing as Good or Evil to be had from any thing, but what falls within the Compass of our own Choice.

When therefore you have called up your Rea­son, and have reflected, first, how natural it is for every Man to be governed by his own Sense of things; and then, that the Injury does not really reach you, but falls back upon the Person who vainly intended it for you; this will cool your Passion, and fill you with a generous Disdain, you will think his impotent Malice de­serves to be slighted only, and may check both his Folly, and your own Resentment, with some such scornful return as this, That he does but what all the World do; for though all are not of the same mind, yet in that vast variety of Opinions every man acts according to his own.

CHAP. LXV.

Every thing hath two Handles, the one soft and manageable, the other such as will not endure to be touched. If then your Brother do you an Injury, do not take it by the hot and the hard handle, by repre­senting to your self all the aggravating Circumstances of the Fact; but look ra­ther on the soft side, and extenuate it as much as is possible, by considering the near­ness of the Relation, and the long Friend­ship and Familiarity, Obligations to Kind­ness, which a single Provocation ought not to dissolve. And thus you will take the accident by its manageable handle.

COMMENT.

ALL the parts of this material World are com­posed of different Principles and contrary Qualities: From whence it comes to pass, that in some respects they agree, and can subsist together, and in others they are opposite, and incompatible, and destructive of one another. Thus the Fire hath the two Qualities of hot and dry, most re­markable in it, with regard to its heat it agrees well with the Air, and is compatible with it; but its drought is repugnant to the moisture of the Air, and contends with it, and destroys it. And this Observation holds in Moral, as well [Page 495] as Natural Philosophy. For thus an Injury re­ceived from a Brother hath two handles, and is capable of different Constructions and diffe­rent Resentments, according to that handle we take it by. Consider the Man, my Brother, my Friend, my old Play-fellow, and Acquaintance, and this is the soft and pliable side, it disposes me to Patience and Reconciliation, and Kind­ness: But if you turn the other side, and re­gard only the Wrong, the Indignity, the unna­tural Usage of so near a Relation; this is the untractable part, it will not bear the touch, and disposes to nothing but Rage and Revenge. Now it is plain, that what we esteem light and very tolerable, is entertained by us with easiness and patience, and makes no change in our Cheerful­ness and Temper; but what we look upon as grievous and insupportable, leaves very angry Resentments, and melancholy Impressions, and utterly discomposes the evenness and quiet of our Minds. This is the natural result of such Acci­dents, and such Apprehensions. But now since it is our Duty always to preserve the Mind se­date and calm, not to suffer it either to be de­jected with Grief and Sullenness, or ruffled with Anger, since we are obliged to bear whatever happens to us with Patience and Moderation; and since all things have two handles, one that will, and the other that will not abide the Touch, it is plain that the way to discharge this Obligation, is always to lay hold on the right and the tractable handle. For in Truth, all things whatsoever, Riches and Poverty, Health and Sickness, Marriage and Celibacy, Children and no Children; and, to be short, all the Accidents [Page 496] of humane Life are just as you use and receive them, and have both their Conveniences to re­commend them, and their Inconveniences to lessen our esteem of them.

Thus Riches are desirable, if you consider the Advantages of Plenty, and this is their soft handle; but then they are attended with infi­nite Care, acquired with Toil, possess'd with Fear, lost with Remorse and Trouble; and these Anxieties are allays and abatements upon them, and their untractable Handle. Poverty seems very tolerable, when we reflect upon the Quiet and the undisturbed Retirements of that state; but if we turn the Tables, and observe the Indigence and Dependance of it, the Neg­lects and the Scorn that it exposes one to, these make it very dreadful and insupportable. Health is very desirable, upon the account of that per­fect ease and freedom we enjoy with it; the Vigour of our Spirits, and the ready and pun­ctual Obedience of all our Parts, in discharging their respective Duties: But even this hath its Incumbrances too, the Arrogance and assuming Pride, and that Confidence in their own Strength, to which fulness of Blood commonly exposes Men. Sickness appears a very tolerable Evil, when we reflect, that as the Spirts are low, so are the Passions too, and the Mind is then more free and undisturbed: But the Fain­tings and Languishings, and Uneasiness of a sick Bed, are the hard and the heavy Handle. Mar­riage is recommended to us by the satisfaction of having Issue of our own; the tender Care and mutual Affection of both Parties; but then it hath its Bitter, as well as its Sweet, the mul­tiplying [Page 497] of Cares, and creating new Wants to one's self, an inordinate Fondness, and a perpe­tual Uneasiness and Fears for those we love so dearly. And surely the want of Children, which is commonly esteemed so mighty an Unhappiness, hath a great deal to extenuate it; for this leaves a Man free and easie, qualifies him to encounter with any Difficulties, delivers him from all that anxious Concern, which the Care and Depen­dence of a Family, must of necessity distract him with; it allows him leisure for attending better Studies, and disengages him from that extravagant Folly, of making himself a Slave to the World, and enjoying nothing while he lives, that he may leave a little more to his Family when he dies; and, which in my Opinion is the greatest misfortune of all, it brings him under no Temptation of Indulgence and Fondness for lewd and ungracious Children: For though their being such is a mighty Affliction, yet, alas! we too often make it a greater to our selves, and love their very Vices, because our own Children are guilty of them: Even Insolencies, and Injuries, and Affronts, have something to extenuate them; for very often when Men reproach us, they bring us better acquainted with our own Concerns, and tell us something we did not know before; but, to be sure, they always minister occasions of Patience, and exercise our Vertue. Corpo­ral Pains and Punishments, are of all others the most formidable to humane Nature; and yet the anguish of these would be mitig [...]ted, and we in some degree reconciled to them, did we but reflect what good they do us, and consider, that they try the Soul, as Fire does Metals, and pu­rifie [Page 498] it from its Dross. And if there were no other Benefit to be had from them, yet the very enduring them with Courage and Constancy is it self a very great one. And much more it is for a Man's real advantage to fall into Afflictions, and behave himself gallantly under them, than never to be distressed or afflicted at all. For the esca­ping Afflictions is only a piece of good Fortune, that [...]eaches to the B [...], or the Estate, and no farther; but the bearing them with Forti­tude and Decency, is a Happiness of the Soul, and what the Man is properly the better for. Nay, lastly, to shew that there neither is, nor can be any thing without the Two Handles we speak of, even our Enemies themselves have them; and it is a very feasible thing to make a Benefit of them too: For, their Spight awakens our Care, puts us upon examining into our own Pas­sions and Failings more nicely; and the knowing how curious they will be to observe, and how pleased to find our Faults, renders us more cir­cumspect and wary in all our Behaviour. And these are such valuable Considerations, that Plu­tarch thought it worth his while to write a Tract on purpose upon this Subject, to shew how a Man may manage himself so, as to improve the Malice of his Enemies, and convert it to his own Advantage.

Vid. Plutarch. Moral. Tom. 1. [...].

CHAP. LXVI.

There is no Consequence or necessary Conne­xion at all between these Assertions: I am richer than you, therefore I am a better Man than you; or, I am more learned, or el [...]quent, than you, therefore I am better than you. But all the Inference that can be made from such Comparisons, is only this: I am a richer Man than you, there­fore my Estate is larger than yours; I am more eloquent than you, therefore my Ex­pressions are more proper, and my Style more delicate than yours. And what is all this to the purpose? For neither the Estate nor the Style is the Man; and con­sequently these may be the better, and yet you may not be one whit the better.

COMMENT.

MEN of Letters commonly shew their Ta­lent in quaintness of Expression and exact Compositions, which is a nicety unbecoming a Philosopher, except this Faculty were instilled very early, and grew up with him; so that Edu­cation and long Custom have made him so great a Master of Language, that his Rhetorick be not laboured or affected, but flow naturally from him. And even the Man who is thus happy, must not value himself upon it; because this is [Page 500] not the End a Philosopher ought to aim at, nor the peculiar Excellence of humane Nature. Elegance is properly what such Studies pretend to; and he that succeeds well in them, gains the Reputation of a good Poet, or a good Historian. But he that aspires to the Character of a Good Man, and desires to distinguish himself by a Life confor­mable to the best Reason, proposes an End agree­able to such a Life; and consequently cannot have any pretence to preferr himself before ano­ther, for any advantages of Eloquence that he hath above him. For there is a wide difference between such a one's Eloquence and himself: Nor is this the essential Property and Prerogative of his Nature, that he should receive his Deno­mination from it, as every Artificer is distingui­shed by his Profession. So that all the boast that can be allowed him in this case, comes only to thus much, My Language is better than yours. And this Instance is what I the rather have chosen to insist upon, because I imagine Epictetus his main intention here, was to give his Philosopher a check for that superstitious Nicety very com­mon among them, of being over-curious and laboured in their Compositions, and spending too much time and pains about Words. But because this was a tender point, that other Instance of the Richer Man's exalting himself is added, the better to cover his Design, and make the Reproof the softer.

CHAP. LXVII.

If any Man bathes too soon, do not you pre­sently say, He hath done ill in it; but only, that he did it early. If a Man drink a great deal of Wine, do not censure him for having done ill; but only say, That he drinks a great deal: For how is it possible for you to know whether he did ill or no, unless you were conscious of his Intentions, and saw the Grounds he went upon? And this Caution, which I here advise you, is the only way to pre­vent that common Injury and Inconve­nience, of determining rashly upon outward appearances, and pronouncing perempto­rily concerning things that you do not know.

COMMENT.

HE would have us proceed in our Judgment of Men's Actions with great accuracy and circumspection: Not to be too forward in gi­ving our Opinion of any kind, either in praise or dispraise, acquitting or condemning of them, till we are first well satisfied of the Person's In­tention, what Reasons he proceeded upon, and what End he directed it to For these are the very Considerations that make an Action formal­ly good or evil; and according as these vary, [Page 502] they may deserve a very different Interpretation. Thus a man may give Blows, and do good in it (if this be intended to correct a Fault;) he may give one Sustenance to his prejudice (if it be designed to feed his Disease;) nay, mat­ters may be so ordered, that Stealing shall be an Act of Justice, and Restitution an Injury, as if the Object of both be a Mad-man's Sword.

If then we would deal honestly and fairly, we must judge of Actions according to the Cir­cumstances that appear to us, and as they are in themselves. When we see a man bathe before the usual Hour, all we should say of it, That he hath done it early; without pretending to determine the Quality of the Fact, or calling it good or evil, till we know what it was that moved him to do so. Possibly he was obliged to sit up all Night, and wanted this Refreshment to supply his loss of Sleep. Now this and the like are very material Considerations; for a man's motives and intention, quite alter the na­ture of the thing. You ought not then to be too hasty in passing Judgment upon this Bath­ing out of course; for till these things are known, the Quality of the Fact does not lie before you, nor have you any matter to pro­ceed upon. Thus again a man may drink a larger proportion of Wine than ordinary, and there may be several Reasons that will justifie him in it; the Constitution of his Body, or the Season of the Year, or the Temperament of the Air, may make it necessary. And consequently what rash and busie People are apt to condemn, when well enquired into proves no more than Du­ty and Prudence done to satisfie Nature, or to sup­port [Page 503] the Spirits in faint, sultry Weather, or to keep out moist Foggs, or pestilential Vapours.

Now if we do thus, as he advises, and stop at the Actions themselves, without presuming to applaud, or to condemn them, till we have throughly examined into the Grounds of them, and are satisfied of the man's Disposition and Design, we decline an Injustice and an Inconve­nience, which otherwise it is impossible to avoid. And that is, the knowing one thing, and judging another; the determining more than we have Evidence for. For in both the Instances before us, nothing appears but the outward Act, and its Circumstances, that the Bathing was early, that the Wine was much; but the Causes of these do not appear, upon which depends the moral Good or Evil of the thing; and yet the busie World are ever giving their definitive Sentence in this point too. And what can be more rash, more injurious, more absurd than this, from what they do see, peremptorily to pronounce of what they do not see?

Now since men's Minds, and the secret Springs of their Actions, do so very seldom fall within our notice, I take Epictetus his Design here to be the dissuading us in general from judging men at all: And indeed it is but prudent for our own sakes, as well as sit for theirs, to be very sparing in this particular; that by suspen­ding our Judgment, we may not fall under the shame of retracting it afterwards upon bet­ter Information. And therefore he would not have us over-forward, either in our Cen­sures, or our Commendations; though he level­led this Chapter chiefly, no doubt, against the [Page 504] Condemning side, because the Injury done by rash Censures, is generally greater, and because the Evil is a great deal more popular; for the World is not rash only, but ill-natured too; they are apt and glad to find Faults, and forward sometimes to make them. This base practice therefore, lay more directly to the Author's pur­pose, which was to instruct us in another Branch of Justice, one indeed no less necessary than any of the rest; viz. That which concerns our Neighbour's Reputation.

CHAP. LXVIII.

Never profess your self a Philosopher, nor talk much of Rules and wise Observations, among the Ignorant and Vulgar; but let your Rules be seen in your Practice. Thus when you are at a Publick Entertainment, discourse not of Temperance and Modera­tion to the Company; but let your own Ex­ample teach it them; and remember that Socrates upon all occasions declined Osten­tation; insomuch, that when some Persons in derision came to him, and desired him to recommend them to a Philosopher, he carried them to some that profess'd them­selves such, without expressing the least Indignation at the Affront they had put upon him.

CHAP. LXIX.

Nay, if you happen in Conversation with igno­rant and common Men, though they start a Discourse concerning some Point in Phi­losophy, do you forbear joining with them in it: For when Men are forward to vent their Notions, it is a shrewd sign they are not well digested. It is possible your Si­lence, may be interpreted Ignorance, and [Page 506] that some of the Company may be confi­dent, and rude enough to tell you so. But if you hear this Reproach without being concerned, then be assured your Philoso­phy begins to have its due effect: For, as Sheep do not give up again the Grass they have eaten, to shew how well they are fed; but prove the Goodness of the Pasture and their own Case, by concocting their Meat well, and bringing a large Fleece, and giving large quantities of Milk, so must you approve the Excellence of your Doctrines to the World, not by Disputes and plausible Harangues, but by digesting them into practice, and growing strong in Vertue.

COMMENT.

BY this Passage you may plainly perceive, that the Person address'd to, is not supposed to be a compleat Philosopher; for such a one is in no danger of bringing up indigested Notions; nor can he need the Advice given to that pur­pose. This is applicable only to one that is still in a state of Probation and Proficiency, who hath not yet absolutely delivered his Mind from the importunate Passions of Popularity and Self­conceit, and affecting to be thought wise, Vices, which this Author hath taken great Pains to ex­pose, and reform, and that, as by other Argu­ments, [Page 507] so particularly by one, which the Method taken in this Chapter plainly insinuates; viz.

That as one cannot with any truth say, That the Brass while it is melting down is a Statue, or that an Embryo is a Man; so neither can we, That a Person who is still under Discipline and Profi­ciency, is a Philosopher. These are the rude and imperfect Beginnings of what is to come after; but they are not the Things themselves: They are the Matter under preparation, but they have not the Form, which must constitute their Es­sence: And though they be in never so fair a Disposition to receive it, yet till this is done, they are not the perfect Beings which they must and would be. But, though in other cases it be sufficient to say, That to call them so were a Breach of Truth, yet in this that seems too gencle an Imputation: For there is, in a truly Philoso­phical Life, something so great and venerable, something so much above the common Condition of Humane Nature, and so very near approach­ing to Divine, that the ascribing such exquisite Perfection to Persons who are as yet only climb­ing up to it, may justly seem not only a bold Falshood, but an imperious and blasphemous one too.

Shall then that Man, who must not pre [...]ume to call himself a Philosopher, take upon him the Office of one? Shall he set himself in the Chair, and think it becomes him, who is but a Learner, to teach, and magisterially dictate to others? No, certainly: It is fit he should know his di­stance, and keep it. But you [...]ll object, That this will be a mighty Hindrance to his Proficiency, by de­barring him that Discourse with Men of less Attain­ments, [Page 508] which should exercise and improve his Talent. I answer, That the Discourse Epictetus disallows, is not such as is intended for a Trial, but the Effect of Vanity; nor is the Design of it Ad­vancement in Wisdom, but Ostentation and Ap­plause. Well; but, How must he behave himself in such Company then? Why, the properest and most effectual course to recommend himself, will be, to forbear the vending his Principles in Words, which is but an empty and a very superficial way of propagating them; and to demonstrate the Power and Influence of them in his Actions. This is a substantial Argument, and answers the true End of Philosophy, which is not florid Ha­rangue and nice Dispute, but prudent and un­blamable Practice; for this was never intended to teach us to talk well, but to live well. If therefore you be at a Publick Dinner, do not trouble your self to read grave Lectures to the Company, concerning Temperance in Eating, and its just Bounds and Measures; but take care to observe those Mea­sures, and to keep within those Bounds your self. For by this means you will gain Authority to your Instructions; and when it comes to your turn to prescribe to others, every Word will make its own way. For, how ridicu­lous and absurd is it, to set other Men Rules of Temperance, or Patience, and at the same time to be guilty of Gluttony, or sink under the Burden of Afflictions one's self? What force or weight can such a one expect his most studied Discourses should find? And, How unreasonable and inconsistent is it to impose such Laws upon other Men's Conduct, as we are not content to submit to in our own?

[Page 509] But this is not all. He requires a higher de­gree of self-denial still. He does not only for­bid the beginning of such kind of Discourse; but if any of the Ignorant and Vulgar engage in it of their own accord, he will not allow us to join with them, nor set up for an Oracle, or great Doctor, among Men of meaner attain­ments than our selves. For this (he says) is very suspicious, and looks as if what is so very ready to come up loaded the Stomach, and was never well digested. For as Meats, when they are duly concocted, distribute themselves into the several parts, and mix with the vital Juices and Blood to nourish and strengthen the Body; so do Maxims and Doctrines, when well digested, convert into nourishment, and make the Soul healthful and vigorous. There they lie like Sap in the Root, which when occasion serves, spreads it self, and brings forth the Fruits of vertuous Actions first; and when the proper Season comes, and these have attained to a just matu­rity, then of edifying Discourses in great abun­dance. But if any one shall force this Fruit of Discourse before its time, when it is not yet ripe and kindly, this in all likelihood will turn to no better account, than the discharging ones Sto­mach of undigested Meat. And there cannot be a clearer proof that it wants digestion, than our not being able to keep it any longer. For this is directly that Man's Case, that brings up his Precepts of Philosophy again, while they are raw and whole, and does not shew the effect, and strength of them in the improvement of his Mind, and growing in those vertuous Habits, which they were intended to produce and con­firm.

[Page 510] And, in regard the Soul is naturally given to look abroad into the World, and, for that rea­son, feels it self very powerfully wrought upon by good Examples, he proposes Socrates for an eminent pattern of Modesty: Who, though a most accomplished Philosopher, and declared by the Testimony of Apollo himself to be the wisest Man in the World: One, who consequently had good warrant to take more upon him than any mere Proficient ought to pretend to, was yet the farthest that could be from an assuming Tem­per, and made it the business of his whole Life to decline and discountenance Pride and Ostenta­tion. One very remarkable instance of this kind, was his behaviour to some silly people, who came with a design to put a Slur upon him, and desired, that he would recom­mend them to some Philosopher, capable of in­structing them. He saw through their pretence well enough, but without taking any notice, or shewing the least resentment of the affront they intended him; carried them to the Sophisters Men, who had the Confidence to call themselves Masters and Professors, and made a Trade of teaching others. Thus when Hippocrates the Son of Apollodorus made it his request to be helped to a Master, he recom­mended him to Protagoras. And in that Tract of Plato, which is entituled Theoctetus, he says of himself, that he delivered over several to the Tuition of Predicus, and several to other wise and great Men: So very sparing was this divine Person in putting himself forward, and so far was he from thinking it a diminution or refle­ction upon himself to be so.

[Page 511] For this, after all, is the mighty Objection, and that against which Epictetus fortifies his Scho­lar. He does not think it a sufficient renoun­cing of vain Glory, not to begin a Philosophical Discourse among Men who do not make Philo­sophy their business: No, nor to sit still, and not interpose when they have begun it; but there is yet a farther disclaiming of this vicious Quality expected. It is probable that this si­lence may be thought to betray your Ignorance; it is possible some of the Company may be so plain as to tell you so; and though no reproach can be more grating than that of a defect in ones own Profession, yet this Proficient is to run the risque of that, and to hear it without being moved. This if he can do, it is a surer sign that he hath mortified his Vanity, than his ut­tering the most elaborate Satyr in the World against it; for you have an assurance now that other people contemn you. And if you can see, and hear this without Passion; if you find that the Resentments, which used formerly to boil up in your Breast upon the like occasions, now lie cool and quiet, take comfort, and triumph; for the subduing of your Anger proves that the O­peration is begun, and that you are now reaping those Fruits, which all the wise Exhortations you have heard, were intended to cultivate, and all your own Pains and Study proposed to pro­duce; which is, a Life of Vertue and strict Rea­son, and the making you not so much a florid, and well-spoken, as a prudent and a good Man. For Moral Precepts are learned not to be re­peated but practised; and the Excellency of them must be proved not by the Memory, or the [Page 512] Tongue, but by the Conversation of the Hea­rer. And the bearing this imputation of Igno­rance without any disorder, is it self such a proof; for it shews the Mind to be got above both the Fame and the Censures of the World. And this is the Improvement every Master ex­pects to find; for he, that, instead of Practice, gives him his Lectures again, and thinks himself the better for being able to remember and repeat them, is guilty of as great an Absurdity in Nature, as it would be for Sheep to throw up the Grass they had eat, that so the Shepherd may be satisfied of that good Feeding, which ought to shew it self in a large Fleece, firmness of Flesh, and abundance of Milk.

CHAP. LXX.

If you have so far mastered your Appetite, as to have brought your Body to course fare, and to be well contented with meer Necessaries, do not glory in your abste­mious Diet. And if you drink nothing but Water, proclaim not your own Sobrie­ty upon every occasion: Or if you would inure your self to hardship, do it for your own benefit, not to attract the Admiration of other People. Let vain-glorious Fools embrace Statues in the Streets, to shew the Croud how long they can endure the Cold; but let your Trials of your self be private: And if you would be hardy in good earnest, when you are almost quite parched with extreme Thirst, take cold Water in your Mouth; then deny your self the satisfaction of drinking, and spit it out again, and tell no body.

COMMENT.

VAin-glory hath a thousand several pretences to ground it self upon; but the most usual, and most plausible, are such as Epictetus hath touched upon in this Treatise. Some people court Men's applause, by assuming Narratives of their own Performances; others depend upon their Eloquence for it; a third sort expect to be admired by dictating to all the Companies they come in, and taking upon them to talk gravely, and teach every one they converse with his Duty; and these he hath expo [...]ed and warned [Page 514] already. There is another sort of Vanity very frequent, which is the valuing our selves upon voluntary Austerities; a spare Diet, a frugal way of Living, abstaining from lawful Plea­sures, and using the Body to great Hardships; and that makes the Subject of the Chapter now before us.

The Persons therefore, who put these Seve­rities upon themselves, are advised not to look big upon the Matter; that is, not to be too much exalted with an Opinion of their own Merit; or imagine, that they have attained to some peculiar Excellence, and made some migh­ty Conquest upon Humane Nature, which none but they ever made before. For alas! how ex­travagant an imagination is this, when we see our selves out-done every day, and many hun­dreds of indigent Wretches take up with less, and endure more than the greatest of these Boasters can pretend to? 'Tis true, the one do it out of Necessity, and the other out of Choice; but still Humane Nature is the same in both; and therefore it is plain, these Men, after all their practice and pains, have not carried it so far as it is capable of going. Besides, there is always this Consideration ready at hand to mor­tifie our Pride and Self conceit of all kinds: That if we excel in this particular, yet there are seve­ral others wherein we are deficient; and for one good Quality, which we have and others want, there might many be reckoned, which others have and we want. But there is indeed one peculiar Misfortune, that attends a Man's thinking highly of himself upon the account of any Excellence whatsoever; which is, That it both hinders him from improving and refining [Page 515] that particular Vertue, as otherwise he might do, supposing that he hath attained to the per­fection of it already; and it checks and cools his Endeavours after other Vertues, as over-r [...]ting this single one, and thinking that alone sufficient.

But do not (says he) exercise any of your Vertues for pomp and shew; nor if you drink Water, beat about the Bush in all Companies to wriggle in a Discourse of your own Abstemious­ness and Sobriety: And if you would exercise any bodily Severity, do it for your Benefit, for a trial of your own Patience, to harden your Constitution, and to qualifie you still more and more for Toil, and Trouble, and Self-denial. And if these be as they should be, the true ends you propose from the practice of them, you will be well satisfied with repeating them in private, and not covet the Eyes and Admiration of the Multitude, nor make it your business to gather a number of Spectators ; like those [Page 516] Wretches, who when they run away from the violence of too mighty an Enemy, implore the assistance of the People, and get upon the Sta­tues to cry help, that they may be more seen, and sooner get a Rabble about them: Their bu­siness being only to draw Company together in their own defence, and make themselves and their Oppression more conspicuous and deplorable.

But, if you will be mortifying, do it pri­vately and in good earnest; when you are ex­treme thirsty, take cold Water into your Mouth; and though your Entrails are ready to to be burnt up, yet spit it out again; and when you have thus subdued the importunate Clamours of Nature and Necessity, tell no body what you have done. This is mortification and severity in­deed; but the things of this kind, that are done to be seen and commended of Men, shew plainly that the bent of the Soul lies outwards; that the Man is more concerned for the Fame of the World, than the real and intrinsick Goodness of the Action; and lays a greater stress upon their Praise or Dispraise, than upon the Approbation or the Reproaches of his own Conscience. Be­sides, he loses all the real Good of his Abstinence and Severity, and profanes a vertuous Action, by an end so base and indirect as Popular Ap­plause.

Now that the practising such Austerities as these upon ones self, is of excellent use, Ex­perience daily demonstrates. For by this buf­feting of the Body, we keep that, and its sensual Inclinations under; and reduce them so low, as not only to prevent any rebellious Insurrections against Reason, but to bring them to a willing [Page 517] and ready compliance, even with those of its Commands which are of hardest digestion to Flesh and Sense: And there is moreover this mighty Convenience in it, that these voluntary Hardships fit and prepare us for necessary and unavoidable ones. Every Man's Circumstances are fickle and changeable; and sure when any Affliction, as Want, or the like, happens to us, it is no small advantage for the body to be so ha­bituated as to bear those Evils without any great alteration or reluctancy, which it is not possible to run away from. This gains us an absolute Mastery over the World, and sets us above all the uncertainties of Humane Affairs, when it is no longer in the power of the most spightful For­tune to hurt us; for whatever extremity of suf­fering she can possibly drive us to, is only what we have by long Custom made easie and familiar to our selves before.

CHAP. LXXI.

It is the peculiar Quality, and a Character of an undisciplin'd Man, and a Man of the World, to expect no advantage, and to apprehend no mischief from himself, but all from Objects without him: Whereas the Philosopher, quite centrary, looks only inward, and apprehends no Good or Evil can happen to him, but from himself a­lone.

CHAP. LXXII.

The marks that a Proficient in Philosophy may be known by, are such as these. He is not inquisitive or busie in other Men's Matters, so as to censure, or to com­mend; to accu [...], or to complain of anybody. He never talks big of himself, nor mag­nifies his own Vertue or Wisdom. When he falls under any hindrance or disappoint­ment in his Designs, he blames none but himself. If any Person commend him, he smiles within himself, and receives it with a secret Disdain; and if other People find fault with him, he is not at all soli­citous in his own vindication. His whole behaviour is like that of a sick Man upon recovery, full of caution and fear lest he [Page 519] should relapse again, and injure his ad­vances toward health before it be confir­med and perfectly sound. As for desire, he hath utterly abandoned it, except what depends upon his own self; and Aversions he hath none, but to such Objects only as are vicious and repugnant to Nature and Reason: The Affections and Appetites which Nature made strong, he hath aba­ted and taken off all the edge and eager­ness of them. If he be disparaged, and pass for an ignorant or insensible Man, he values it not. And to sam up all in a word, he is exceeding jealous of himself, and observes every Motion of his Mind as rigorously, as a Man would watch a Thief, or an Enemy, that lies lurking to rob or kill him.

COMMENT.

HE hath now gone through all the instructive part of his Book, and is drawing on to­wards a Conclusion: And the Substance of what he chuses to close up all with, is this most necessary Caution; That we must not content our selves with reading, or understanding, or remembring Rules of Morality; but take care, that they in­fluence our Lives, and be transcribed in all our Actions. And, that no Man who addicts him­self to the Study of Philosophy, must propose so mean an end, as only the informing his Judg­ment, [Page 520] the filling his Head with curious Notions, or furnishing his Tongue with Matter of learned Discourse, but the reforming of his Vices, and bettering his Conversation; as considering that the Design of Moral Precepts is never answered by any thing short of Practice. To this purpose he first describes to us three sorts of People, whose Characters are so comprehensive, that all Mankind come under some one or other of them.

For every Person whatsoever, is either a se­cular Man, one that lives at the common rate, and minds the Affairs of the World, and this is one extreme: Or else he is a Philosopher, who hath abandoned all other Care and Con­cern, but what relates to Vertue, and the Im­provement of his own Mind; and this is the other opposite Extreme. Or else he must be one of a rank between both these, neither so untaught as the secular and common Man, nor yet so accomplished as the Philosopher; but such a one as hath renounced the World, and is aspiring to a Moral Perfection: These are called Proficients, and to them the seve­ral Exhortations, that have lately fallen under our Consideration, are particularly directed. But of these we are to take notice, that E­pictetus makes two sorts, some that are young Beginners, and lately entred into this Discipline; and others, that have used it longer, and made some competent advances in it.

Now here he presents us with a Description of every one of these, and beginning with that of the Vulgar and undisciplin'd Man, he gives him this distinguishing Mark; That he expects no [Page 521] part of this Happiness or Misery from himself, but from outward Objects: And the Account of this, is as follows.

Reason, which is our very Essence and Form, that which makes and denominates us Men, is pla­ced in our own Power. And so likewise are the Sensual Appetites and Passions, only with this difference, That these are not peculiar to us alone, but given to us in common with Brutes. So that Reason is the incommunicable Privilege, and proper Prerogative of Humane Nature, That which is given to all Men in common, and to none but Men. For, though there be a diffe­rence between one Man's Reason and another's, when you come to particular Persons, and O­perations, and Objects; yet the Faculty in ge­neral is the same, the Foundation it proceeds up­on the same, and its Ends and Motives are the same; all men are directed by it to pursue the same good Things, to detest and shun the same Evils, to assent to the same Truths, and re­ject the same Errors and Untruths. So that Reason is every Man's Guide; and from this he takes his Measures of Good and Evil, of True and False.

Now the Objects which Reason inspires us with a Love and Desire of, are certain incorpo­real Excellencies, Indivisible and Immutable; such as Justice, and Moderation, and Prudence; and the advantage of these, and the like good Things is, That each Person may enjoy the whole of them, without injuring or depriving his Neighbours. They are of unbounded ex­tent; and no one Man hath the less for any other [Page 522] Man's having more. And from hence it comes to pass, that the Determinations of Right Rea­son can never be repugnant to one another; and, so long as we pursue the Objects it presents, and recommends to our Affection, there follows no Strife or Contention, but all is Union, and mutual Consent, sweet Harmony, and perfect Peace.

But now the Sensual Appetites and Passions, such as Anger and Concupiscence, and the rest, that are subordinate to these Two; though in general, and in their own Nature they be the same in you, and me, and every one, yet the Objects they fasten upon are not the same in each Person. But I fix upon one thing, and you up­on another, and so both the Desires themselves, and the Objects of them, and consequently the Aversions, and their Objects too, are extream­ly distant from one another, and peculiar to each single Man. And, though it should happen, That all should agree in the same Objects, yet would not this put an end to the Difference nei­ther; because the things themselves that engage these Affections, are Corporeal, and Singular, and Divisible, and such, as that one Man's Plen­ty necessarily infers another Man's Want: as Money, for instance, or Lands, or Women, or Honour, or Power, or Preferments. No Man can enjoy the whole of these, nor indeed a part of them, without depriving, or confining some body else, in proportion to the Quantity which himself enjoys. Upon these Accounts it is, that in these Cases Men differ vastly in their Judg­ments; and not only so, but the Order [Page 523] and good Government of the World is over­turned by them. For whenever the Peace of Mankind is disturbed, either by private Grudges, Family Quarrels, Civil Insurrections, or Foreign Wars, some of these things are constantly at the bottom of them. So then the common and untaught Man betrays his Folly, in forsaking the general Rule, and slighting the Common Good of his Nature, and setting up a particular Standard of his own; that misleads his Judg­ment, and instead of that Good which is univer­sal, cramps up his Desires, and confines him to one that is Personal, Individual, and Corpo­real, such as does not approve it self to the con­curring Judgement of all Mankind, but only seems so to his own private Opinion, and mista­ken Sense of things; for this is the true Case of External Objects. And wheresoever the De­sire, or the Aversion fixes, whether it be a Ver­tuous and Reasonable, or whether a Vicious and Unnatural one, that to be sure is what we ap­prehend to be our Good, and our Evil; and look for the Happiness and the Misery of our Lives from thence. For whatsoever we de­sire, excites our Love under the Notion of Good; and whatsoever we detest or avoid, provokes our Aversion under the Notion of Evil.

Now the Philosopher on the other hand hath discarded all outward things; he will have no­thing to do with Matter and Body, but looks upon them as things that very little con­cern him, and such as he cannot have any strict Propriety in. He hath divested his Mind of all [Page 524] those Prejudices that might misguide it, and re­fined his Reason from the Dross of Sense and Passion; so that these Shadows and gaudy De­lusions can impose upon him no longer. Con­sequently he is concerned for no Good, but what is substantial; nor attends to any other Business, than the Improvement of himself, the Promotion of Wisdom and Goodness, and the aspiring after those Incorporeal Excellencies that appear so charming and lovely to clear-sighted Reason. Such a one then need never go out of himself to be happy; Vertue is his Good, and that is always at home: And as for Evil, it is utterly banished hence, and can never annoy; or get within him.

After this Description of the Persons, who make up the Two distant Extremes, he proceeds in the next place to give a Representation of the middle sort; viz. Those whom he calls his Proficients, and for whose Use all that went before was principally intended. For the very Nature of the Subject shews us plainly, That it could belong to none else. The compleat Phi­losopher needs no Instruction nor Assistance, but it is properly his Business to assist and instruct others. Nor can this be laid down as a neces­sary Qualification of a Philosopher, That he neither Censures, nor commends any Body; for he is a Master, and a Corrector of Manners, and consequently, as his Authority will bear him out in both, so his Post r [...]quires he should do doth, as he sees occasion. Nor can these Discourses belong properly to the Common and Undisci­plin'd Man; for as the other is above them, [Page 525] so he is not capable of them; they would be ut­terly lost upon him, till he change his Course of Living, and begin to act upon a nobler Princi­ple. This Chapter therefore is a very Compen­dious Recollection of what went before at large, it is a kind of Remembrance to us, and pre­sents us with the Substance of the whole Book in little, and at one view.

I only add, before I quite shut up this Chap­ter, that That Passage of watching himself, as he would watch an Enemy, is very pertinent, and e­legantly express'd. For, we are to consider such a Man, in the Mid-way, as it were, be­tween that Vice which he hath disclaimed, and is running away from; and that Vertue which he is moving towards the Perfection of. In this State we cannot but suppose him frequently to reflect upon his former Misery; and like a Pa­tient, who is in a way of Recovery, but far from perfect Health, to be exceeding jealous, and tender, fearful of a Relapse, and cautious of indulging himself in any Liberties which may keep him back from a sound and confirm­ed State: And therefore this Jealousie must needs make him a curious Observer of his own Actions, and as severe in his Sentences upon them, as if they were done by an Enemy. And this Rigour is of excellent use, because it srees the Mind of all that partial Fondness, which we are too much inclined to; and which often­times make us either wholly over-look our own and our Friend's Faults; or at least pass ve­ry gentle and favourable Constructions upon them. And indeed this is the only way to make [Page 526] us honest and sincere; for a dissolute Man hath no Principles to restrain him; but is * (according to the Proverb) A Limber Leather, that will stretch and bend to any thing, and you never know where to have him.

CHAP. LXXIII.

If you observe any Man value himself for understanding Chrysippus his Book tho­roughly, and giving a just Explanation of it; represent to your self the intolera­ble Absurdity of such a Man's Pride by this single Reflection, That if Chrysippus his Writings had not been obscure, this Expounder would have had nothing to brag of. Well, but what is it that I think most worthy my Study? Why my Duty result­ing from the Condition of my Na­ture. I Desire to know then, who it is that can teach me this Duty, and I am told Chrysippus can. Ʋpon this Informa­tion I apply my self to the reading his Book; I read, but I do not understand him. My next Care then is to look out a good Expositor. In all this I have done no great Matter. For when by the help of this Exposition I comprehend his Mean­ing, yet still I want the Practical part; and this in truth is the only valuable Progress. For, if I rest in the Author, or the Commentator, and content my self with a bare Ʋnderstanding, or apt Explication; I have forgot the Matter I took in hand, and am no longer studying [Page 528] the Perfections of a Philosopher, but those of a Grammarian. The Difference is only this, That whereas I have chosen Chry­sippus to exercise my Talent upon, he would have pitched rather upon Homer, or some other Classick Author. But this I am sure of, that the more capable I am thought of explaining Chrysippus, the more I ought to be out of Countenance, if what I can teach others so well, I do not take due care to practise as exactly my self.

COMMENT.

AFter having distinguished Mankind into three Classes, and represented the Qualities proper to each of them; and also made a short recapitulation of the Directions given be­fore at large to his Proficient; he now begins to enter upon the concluding Part, inculcating in this and the following Chapters, that Rule which alone can give Life and Energy to all the rest; viz. That the reducing these Precepts in­to Practice, must be our chief Study and Care; and that the Good Works which they are ex­cellently accommodated to produce, is the ge­nuine Fruit expected from them, and the very End for which they were composed and com­municated. For what an Eminent Orator said once upon a like Occasion, is extreamly ap­plicable to the Case now in Hand, That Words [Page 529] without Actions are but mere Air, and empty Sound.

To this purpose, he says, a Man should reflect feriously with himself, what his meaning is, when he reads such Moral [...]nstructions, and puts his Mind upon a sedulous Enquiry after its true and proper Happiness. The Answer to this Question will be, That he intends to examine into Humane Nature, and see what is the Constitu­tion, and true Condition of it: And from thence to pursue his Enquiry farther, and con­sider what Actions, and what Sentiments are agreeable to this Nature; what Impressi­ons are fit for a Creature so framed to admit and indulge; and what are to be stifled and re­strained, as incongruous and unseemly. Well, upon due Reflection, I find, that I have a Prin­ciple of Reason, and a Body, but these not e­qual in Authority or Value; for my Reason is the Character of my Nature, it challenges a Right over my Body, and commands it as an Instrument subservient to it, and over-ruled by it. The Inference then from hence is plainly this, That God and Nature designed I should live a Life of Reason, and not of Sense; and that all my bodily Passions should conform them­selves to the Commands of their Lawful Supe­rior, that all my Fears, and all my Desires, should be reduced into due Order, and pay Ho­mage to the more illu [...]trious Perfections of the Soul.

But still I am at a loss how this is to be ef­fected, and am told, That Chrysippus hath writ­ten an excelleat [...] to this purpose. I fall immediately to re [...]ding his Book, but find it so [Page 530] abstruse and dark, that I can make nothing at all of it. I am directed to a good Commentary, and by the help of this, I understand him perfectly. But all this while here is very little good done, and but small praise due, either to the intelligent Reader, or the perspicuous Commentator. For when Chrysippus wrote this, he did not only intend to be understood and expounded, but had a farther and much better End in it; viz. That both his Reader and his Interpreter should pra­ctise what he had written. If then I do this, I attain to the Benefit the Writings were properly intended for, and they have had their due and full effect upon me. But if I delight in the Author, or applaud the Expositor never so much; if I am skill'd in all his Criticisms, see through all his Intrica [...]ies, admire the weight of his Sentences, or the turn of his Style; in short, if I master every Difficulty, and have every At­tainment but only that of Practice, I am not one whit improved in my Business. The Title of a more nice and exact Grammarian I may indeed have some pretension to, but can lay no claim at all to that of a Philosopher: For this Talent of explaining an Author's Meaning, is properly the Qualification of a Grammarian; the only dif­ference is, That Chrysippus is an Author some­thing out of his way, and Homer a much more likely Man to come under his Consideration.

But there is another difference which is much more to my Disadvantage; for a Man may read Homer, or explain him, and rest there, and yet not be the worse, if he be never the better for it. Whereas with Chrysippus it is much other­wise; for the un [...]difying Reader, in this case [Page 531] cannot be innocent: And those who do not mend by his Precepts, contract a deeper guilt, and in­curr a juster and more severe Condemnation. For, would it not be an intolerable reproach to any sick Man, that should read Prescriptions proper for his own Distemper, and value him­self upon pronouncing the Receipts gracefully, and descanting handsomely upon the Virtues of the several ing [...]ed [...]ents, and value himself upon being able to direct others how these are to be applied, and yet make use of none of them him­self? Does such a Man deserve pity? And, is he not his own Murderer, who knows his Cure, and yet will not take it? And yet as extravagant and absurd a Folly as this is, ours is every whit as bad, or worse, when we have the Diseases of our Souls set plainly before us, and are fully instructed in the Medicines and Restoratives pro­per for them, and yet are so wretchless and stu­pid, as to do nothing towards our Recovery.

CHAP. LXXIV.

Whatever Directions are given you, look up­on them as so many Laws, that have a binding Power, and such as you cannot without Impiety depart from: Persevere therefore in the Observance of them all, and be not diverted from your Duty by any idle Reflections the silly World may make upon you; for their Censures are not in your Power, and consequently should be no part of your Concern.

COMMENT.

ONE Swallow, we commonly say, makes no Summer; and no more do a few single Acts of Vertue make a Habit, or observing the Directions of Chrysippus, in one or two Instan­ces, constitute a good Man. But our Obedience must be firm and constant; we must consider our Duty, as that which is our Happiness and truest Advantage, and suffer no Consideration, how tempting soever, to draw us off from it. We must look upon our selves as under indis­pensible Obligations, such as cannot be broke loose from, without the highest Impiety. And reason good there is to do so; for if we e­steem it dishonourable and impious to fail of our Promise, or fly off from an Agreement in every trifling matter, because, though the thing is of no value, yet the Violation of our Word is of horrible consequence (as tending to the taking away that mutual Faith and good Assu­rance, [Page 533] by which all Society and Co [...]merce is maintained among Men;) How so­lemn and sacred ought those Engagements to be esteemed, by which we have tied our selves up to Wisdom and Vertue, and Innocency of Life? Now these are violated, when a Man assents to the Truth of what he is taught, and the Reaso­nableness of what he is commanded▪ and ex­presses this Assent by living acco [...]ly for a time, but afterwards relapses and [...] De­serter.

Upon this account he advises us by all [...] to persevere in Goodness, and particularly not to be discomposed with any Reflections the [...]le World shall cast upon us: For, as he in [...]ima [...]ed before (Chap. XXIX.) it is highly probable they will take upon them to censure our Conduct pretty freely; they will tax us with Singularity and Preciseness, and call our Change, Pride, or Affectation. Now such Discouragements as these, we must be provided against, and not let them cool our Zeal, or thake our Vertue; and that, because other Men's Tongues are not at our disposal, and therefore what they say should give us no disturbance.

This Passage may probably enough allude to that allegorical Saying of Pythagoras and his Fol­lowers: That when a Man comes into the Temple, he should never look behind him. B [...] which they designed to insinuate, That Religious Purposes should be fixed and steddy; and that when we come to God, we should come with se [...]led Reso­lutions, not with doubtful and wavering [...], such as would fain divide themselves between God and the World.

CHAP. LXXV.

Ʋp then, and be doing; How long will you deferr your own Happiness, and neglect the due observance of those Directions that shew you the way to it, and the Dictates of Reason, which, if duly followed, would always chuse the best! You have the Rules and Precepts to this purpose laid plainly before your Eyes; you have perused and assented to the Truth and Equity of them: What Master do you stay for now? Whom can you with any colour lay these Delays of Reformation upon? You are past the Gid­diness of Youth, and have all the Advan­tages of sound Reason, and a ripe Judg­ment. If you neglect this Opportunity, and grow slothful now, and make one Re­solution after another, and fix first one Day, and then another, for the turning over a new Leaf with your self, and still do nothing, you will cheat your self, and go backwards, and at last drop out of the World, not one jot a better Man than you came into it. Lose no time then, but set about a good Life just now; and let the De­terminations of Right Reason be an invio­lable Law to you from this very Moment. If you meet with a discouraging Difficulty, [Page 535] or an enticing Pleasure; if you are envi­ted by a prospect of Honour, or assrighted with the Fear of Disgrace, encounter the Temptation bravely, whatever it be. Re­member this is the Combat you are called to; this is the Field in which you are to signalize your self, and there is no decli­ning the Trial; all your Fortunes depend upon one Engagement; and the Ground you have gotten heretofore, must either be maintained by one gallant Victory, or lost by one base Retreat. It was thus that So­crates grew so great, by putting himself forward upon all occasions, pushing every Advantage as far as it would go, and ne­ver hearkning to any other Persuasions but those of his own Reason. And if you are not so great a Man as Socrates, yet it will become you to live and act as if you inten­ded in time to be as great as he.

COMMENT.

THis also is an Admonition no less requisite than the former; and highly necessary it is, that a Man who hath embraced this philoso­phical Discipline, and resolved to submit to it, should be put in mind how precious Time is, and awakened into Diligence.

Delays (as we commonly say of them) are dan­gerous; and one certain ill effect of them is, that they are but so many Pretences for indulging [Page 536] our Sloth. To what purpose therefore (says he) do you deserr your own Happiness, and the practice of these Rules you have received? For it is this Practice only that can render you ver­tuous and happy, and answer the Design both of the composing and the learning them. The Operation expected from them, is, To conform all your Actions to Right Reason; to fix this as a perpetual and inviolable Law [...] to retrench your Desires, al [...]ay all your Passions, and bring every Inclination, and every Aversion to fix upon proper Objects, and confine themselves within their just bounds.

Another possibly might alledge want of In­struction in his own excuse, and declare himself most ready to be good, were he but sufficiently taught how to be so. But this cannot do you any service, w [...]o have had all the advantages imaginable of Knowledge and Improvement: You, I say, who have no [...] only had the Maxims of Philosophy, and the Measures of Vertue fully explained and illustrated, but have applied your Mind to the study of these things, and made some considerable progress in them; and especially who have had it evidently proved to you, That you are by no means to co [...]tent your self with having your Understanding enlightned, and your Judgment convinced by these Rules, unless you digest and make them of a piece with your Soul, that they may be like a Principle of new Life within you, exerting it self in vertuous Habits, and influencing your whole Conversation. Since therefore all this, and indeed all that can be neces­sary for your due Information, hath been so fully opened, and so pathetically urged upon you, [Page 537] make not Ignorance and want of means a pretence, as if you still were to wait for some more power­full Call.

Others may possibly plead their Age, and the Heats and unthinking Follies of Youth, which render them incapable of sober Reflection and severe Discipline. But you are in the very Sea­son of Life, that is most kindly for Vertue; the Vehemencies of Youth are worn off, and the Weaknesses of old Age have not yet disabled you: Your Passions are sedate, your Judgment solid, and your Strength in its perfection: And if this enviting Opportunity be suffered to slip through your hands; if you cannot now find in your heart to take some pains to be good, when you are best qualified to master what you at­tempt; if Sloth and Supineness get the power over you, to make Appointments and break them; to fix upon particular Days for setting a­bout this Great Work; and when they are come, to drive it off to a farther Day again, you do but play booty with your Conscience, and deal like dishonest Debtors, who stop their Credi­tors mouths with fair Promises, and fix a time for those Payments which they never intend to make. Thus your Soul is deluded with a vain Hope and Expectation of doing something, you stifle the Reproaches from within, by fresh Re­solves; but still those new are as insignificant as the old, and pitch upon a To-morrow which will never come. And it were well indeed, if this were the worst of it; but, alas! in Vertue there can be no such thing as standing still: While you deferr growing better, you necessarily grow worse, and by insensible Decays relapse into [Page 538] Ignorance and Vice again. Thus after a number of Years spent in fruitless Intentions, you live and die a Fool, and so must continue for ever: For, as our state of Separation before we came into these Bodies, had a great influence upon what we do here, and the Disposition of the Souls we brought into the World, is a marvel­lous advantage to our future Vertue; so our Beha­viour here is but the Preface and Preparation to what we shall do there again. For the whole of this taken together, is one entire Life, and the time we pass here but one stage of it; only the * state of Prae-existence makes some alteration in our Life here; and our Life here makes a consi­derable one, and indeed determines us as to the state of our Separation hereafter.

Now therefore, now aspire (says he) to perfection, and live as one that does so. Absolute Perfection he does not mean; for then his Exhortation would be needless, but the Perfection of a Pro­ficient, such a degree as a state of Discipline and Probation is capable of; that is, so as never to lose ground, but to be continually advancing for­wards. And to this purpose, whatever upon mature Consideration appears most reasonable, let it have the force of a Law with you; a Law, I say, which cannot be satisfied with being known and understood, but requires a positive and actual Obedience.

To strengthen you in this Resolution, you may have one mighty Encouragement; which is, That all the Accidents of humane Life are so far [Page 539] in subjection to you, that you may with a pru­dent Care make them all, though never so dif­ferent in themselves, conspire together to your own advantage: For whether you meet with any thing successful or disastrous, pleasant or painful, whether it tend to Honour or Ignominy, all are manageable; only be sure, let the Temptation be never so small, never slight or neglect it; and though it be never so great, do not be dispirited at it. Security will give a defeat, where there was not Strength to do it; and De­spondency lose the Prize, where there is force enough to win it.

Be sure then that you let no Accident pass un­improved, but imagine that every one is an Ad­versary that challenges you to the Field, and that vertue is the Crown you are to contend for; re­member that there is no middle state, no getting off without Blows, but Conquest or Ruine must be the Fate of the Day. Nor are you to slip one Day, or overlook one single Action, upon a vain imagination, That such little things cannot turn to your prejudice: For that one Day, that single Action determines your whole Fortune, and your Preservation, or your Destruction, depends up­on this nice point. Thus Epictetus assures you, and he tells you very true. And if it seem incre­dible and surprizing, pray be pleased to consi­der, that every Indulgence of a Vice gives it new force to assault us, and abates of our power to resist it. He that is slothful and irresolute to day, will be a great deal more so to morrow; and if there be (as there will be sure to be) any fresh Objection to palliate his idleness, he will have a great deal less mind to encounter it the third day, [Page 540] than he had the second. And thus by degrees the Dispositions to Goodness will waste away, and all the Vigour of his Mind languish and die. It will yield more and more tamely to every fresh attack, till at last Reason be quite enfeebled and over-powered, and all the advances the Man had formerly made in Goodness, be lost to all other Intents and Purposes, except that only of adding to his Shame and his Guilt.

Now the very same single Trials, which, when neglected, do thus lose ground, do, when atten­ded to and improved, maintain and get it. And Vertue increases by the same methods, and much in the same proportions that it declines: For the practice of one Day, and the performance of one Act, leaves an Impression behind it, and confirms the Mind so, that the next Attempt proves a great deal more easie, the Reluctancies of Sense wear off, and repeated Acts become habitual and familiar, and we daily feel our own Advantages. Frequent use gives us a more masterly hand, and what we can do well, and with ease, we natural­ly come to do with delight. Thus Men never continue long the same, but every Hour, every moral Action, every single Accident of their Lives makes some alteration in them.

Socrates had a just sense of this, and express'd it abundantly in the circumspection of his Life; for the very thing that raised him so high, and gave him the Character of the Wisest of Men, was his constant Care never to neglect any ad­vantage, nor delay the doing any good; he made every Accident of every kind turn to some good account, and was deaf to all other Sollicitations, though never so importunate, except those of his [Page 541] own Reason, and the Results of his most careful and composed Thoughts. You will say, perhaps, This signifies very little to you, who have not the Vanity to think your self like Socrates. But give me leave to say, if you are not like him, you would do well to endeavour it; and whatever you want of his Perfections at present, live with that exactness, as if you meant and hoped one day to equal them: For the prospect of an eminent Example is a wonderful advantage; it fi [...]es a Man with noble Emulation, and whilst he keeps the Pattern in his eye, he is provoked to imitate his Excellencies, and feels himself at once directed how to copy after them, and ashamed not to do so.

CHAP. LXXVI.

The first and most useful Topick in Philoso­phy, is the Moral part, which teaches Men their Duty; as for instance, That they should not lie: The second is the demon­strative part, which gives us infallible proofs of it, and shews us evident Rea­sons wherefore we ought not to lie: The Third is the distinguishing and argumen­tative part, which instructs us what a Demonstration is, and how this in the case before us is one; What is a Conse­quence? What a Contradiction? What is True, and what is False? Now from hence it is plain, that the last of these is subser­vient to the second; that the second is sub­ordinate to the first, and that the first is the most important and necessary point of all: That which all our Studies should be directed to, and wherein they should all center and rest at last. But we quite invert this Order. The third employs most of our Time and Pains, and the first is not thought worth either: So that by a strange Absurdity we commit the Crime, and at the same time value our selves ex­ceedingly, for being able to demonstrate beyond all contradiction, that we ought not to do it.

COMMENT.

IT is absolutely necessary, that a Man who makes any pretensions to Philosophy, and aims at the peculiar perfection of his Nature, both as he is an Animal, and a Rational Crea­ture, should have a clear and demonstrative know­ledge of the Truth: For otherwise, he may be liable to great Errors, and run into infinite Incon­veniences, by taking things upon trust, and lean­ing too much either to the bare Authority, or the insufficient proofs of confident Pretenders. Ver­tue is a thing of the highest Consequence, and it is not fit we should take up with so slight and fee­ble Perswasions concerning it, as mere Opinion and Probabilities are capable of creating in us. Now this clear and undoubted Evidence is an ef­fect owing only to Demonstration. And it is Logick's peculiar Province, to inform us in the Nature of a Demonstration, as, That it is a Syl­logism consisting of Propositions, put together according to Rules of Art; and that those Pro­positions must be of clear and undoubted Truth: As also to acquaint us what Propositions are thus qualified, and what Method is to be observed for the forming them into a true Syllogism.

Now from hence we may plainly perceive, that the whole compass of Philosophy may be reduced to three Heads, and that these will comprehend if not all absolutely, yet all that is material and necessary in it. The First is the Preceptive part, that which converts our Speculation into Practice, that prescribes Modesty and Temperance in our Actions, and prohibits lying in all our Discourse and Conver­sation. [Page 544] The second is the demonstrative part, which shews us clearly not only that we should or should not, but also assigns convincing Rea­sons, why we should or should not do this or that. The third is the illustrating and arguing part, that sets Rules to our Reasoning, and assists Nature by Art; and prevents our being imposed upon by false appearances, by teaching us the difference between a real demonstration, and a pretended one; and shews the mutual Connexions and Con­sequences of some Propositions, and the irreconci­leable Opposition between others; as, That the Species necessarily inferrs its Genus and the Be­ing of a Man implies that of an Animal; That a particular Affirmative and an universal Negative; and so likewise a particular Negative and an uni­versal Affirmative, are direct Contradictions, never to be reconciled, and impossible to be both true or both false together. It acquaints us too with the qualifications of a Syllogism, What Pro­positions it consists of; How these Propositions must be put together; What difference there will be in the Conclusion, according to the manner of forming it; and what differences there are between true and fair Syllogisms, and irregular, sophistical, and ensnaring ones.

Now nothing can be more plain, than that this Third Topick, which instructs us in all the Subtleties of Reasoning, is intended to serve the Second, and that this is an Ingenious and Artifi­cial Expedient, contrived, as we see, to re­move all the Scruples and Disatisfactions of our Minds, to direct and fix our Judgments, and give us the most uncontestable and satis­factory Assurance, what is our real Happiness, [Page 545] and what our Duty. This, I say, is the Business of the Second Head, which consists in Demonstrative Proofs; but then it is every whit as plain too, that this Second is subordinate to something beyond it; viz. The Practical and Preceptive Part; and consequently both the other are resolved into the First: For our Knowledge is intended only to qualifie us for Action, and lead us to it; and therefore the Poactice of Vertue and a Good Life is the ulti­mate Design of alll Study, and all Instruction: Here we must fix at last; for every thing else conspires to promote this; but beyond this there is no End of greater Consequence, or higher Perfection.

And happy were it for us, if we governed our selves by this Rule. But, alas! we take quite contrary Measures; the greatest part of our Time and Pains is employed in the Third Head; in nice Disputes and Controverted Points; and we can spare but very little for the Second; That which should convince us of the Excellence, and the Necessity of being Ver­tuous, and possess our Souls with a lively and vigorous Sense of our Duty: But for the First of these Topicks, which consists in reducing our Knowledge into Practice, we allow this no Portion of our Care at all. We wrangle and dispute eternally, about curious and unprofita­ble Questions; and overlook that which would conduce to the promoting true Goodness. We study this now and then, and talk learn­edly, and affectionately upon it; but still we do no part of what we say. Nay, which is the most monstrous inconsistence that can be, we are [Page 546] guilty of gross Enormities in our own Per­sons, and at the same time are proud that we are able to convince and perswade others, That we can shew, we ought not to be what we are: And it pleases us much to think, that no body can expose the Deformity of our own Actions better than our selves.

Now all this is turning things up side down, and beginning at the wrong End. The Method in which we ought to proceed is this: First to learn how to argue against Vice, then to employ our Talent in demonstrating the Baseness and In­congruity of it to our selves; and when we are arrived to a full and undoubted Conviction, then actually to decline it, and to persevere in the Practice of what we have learnt, as considering that we learned it for that very purpose; and that the Preceptive Part, though Superiour to all the rest, is yet it self subordinate to the Practical.

This is the Substance and Design of Epictetus in the Chapter now before us, where he does with great Dexterity inforce the Practice of his Moral Maxims, and exposes the Vanity of those Men, who make Speculation the End of their Knowledge, with that Indignation, which so ex­quisite a Folly deserves.

CHAP. LXXVII.

In every Ʋndertaking we shall do well to re­sign our selves to the Disposal of Provi­dence, in some such Ejaculation as this:

Conduct me, Jove, and thou, O powerful Fate,
In every Enterprise, in every State,
As you determine: For I must obey
The wise Injunctions, which you on me lay.
For should I at your dread Decrees repine,
And strive your Sacred Order to decline:
I should but labour wickedly in vain,
And struggle with an everlasting Chain,
And after all, be dragg'd along with pain.

E. Walker's Epict. Eng. Paraphas.

CHAP. LXXVIII.

To the same purpose that other.

He that submits to Destiny's Decrees,
Is justly counted Wise by men, and knows
The due Respects which to the Gods he owes.

COMMENT.

IN regard some of the Ancients have collected together those Moral Axioms which were occasionally delivered, and lie sca tered up and down in larger Books; he advises us to have some of these significant Sente [...]ces always ready at Hand; as being not only short, and so no Burden to the Memory, but also likely to make [Page 548] a deeper and more lasting Impression, both upon the Account of their own weight, and the ce­lebrated Name of their Authors. For this Reason he subjoins some such here; the first whereof was a Meditation of Cleanthes, Scholar to Zeno, and Master to Chrysippus. The Emi­nence of this Man was so great, that I my self have seen at Assos, (of which place he was a Na­tive) a very noble Statue, worthy his Fame, and the Magnificence of the Senate of Rome, who set it up in Honour of him.

In these Verses he begs the Guidance of God, and that Providence and Power whereof God is the Source, and which makes and moves all things. This he calls here by the name of Fate; and promises for his part, that he will obey its Motions, and follow it whithersoever it leads him. And it is but reasonable, that he, and every Man should dispose his Mind to a willing and ready complyance, because Opposition (as he observes) will not only be wicked but Fruit­less too, and follow it we must whether we will or no; only it is in our Choice whether this shall be with Cheerfulness and Contentation; or with Reluctancy and Sorrow. Shake our Chain, and gall our selves with it we may, but break it we cannot; for the Cause will always be strong­er than its Effect, and there is no getting loose from him, in whom we live, and move, and have our Being.

To this purpose Epictetus advised us before (Chap XIII.) Trouble not your self (says he) with wishing. That things may be just as you would have them, but be well pleased they should be just as they are; and then you will live easie. And indeed this [Page 549] of Submission is a most comprehensive Duty; it takes in the whole Substance of Morality and Vertue: And a Man may very deservedly be called Good, when he is satisfied with his Lot in com­mon with the rest of the World, and can look upon himself as a part of this vast Universe, without any such greedy and assuming Notions, as would restrain Providence within a narrow Compass, and make a World of himself alone, and oppose that Harmony of Events, which consults the Good of the whole; as if the Course of the World were to be changed, and its Order disturbed, to follow so inconsiderable a Part, rather than he should move along with this great Engine, and take up with what falls to his own share.

The Second Sentence is taken out of one of Euripides his Tragedies, and hath a great Affinity to the former. For Necessity signifies, that o­ver-ruling Power, which submits all things to God, and makes all contribute to the First Cause, (that is, the obeying the Divine Plea­sure, and promoting his Glory) whether they will or no. The Man therefore that strikes in, and acts in consent with this, that follows it with Alacrity, and betrays no loathness, or re­gret, gives a good Proof of his Wisdom: His Be­haviour shews, that he understands the Nature of the World, and that Partiality to a private In­terest, hath not so far byassed him, but he can still make a just Distinction between a Whole and a Part. And as this answers his Wisdom, so does it his Piety too; for nothing expresses our Reverence for God, better than such a cheer­ful Resignation of our selves, and receiving con­tentedly whatever he sends upon us.

CHAP. LXXIX.

Or this other. O, Crito, If this be God's plea­sure concerning me, His Will be done; Anytus and Melitus may take away my Life, but it is not in their power to do me any hurt.

COMMENT.

THis is quoted out of a Discourse of Plato's entituled Crito, and is spoken there in the Person of Socrates: The Sence is much the same with the former, only wrapp'd up a little close, and delivered in fewer Words. And indeed the Man, who can make this Profession, and whose Life speaks it as well as his Tongue, hath van­quished all his Pride and Discontent, and cured the Degeneracy of his Nature, hath abandoned Corruption, gives up himself to God without any reserve, and submits to all his Dispensations with a perfect acquiescence of Mind. And to Me Epictetus seems to have produced these Sayings at the close of his Book, that by the Testimony and Example of such eminent Persons, he might con­firm us in this Belief, That the utmost Perfe­ction attainable by a Humane Soul, is a sincere Conversion or turning to God; and that a ready compliance with his Will upon all occasions is the Crown and Complement of all Vertues.

That last Clause, Anytus and Melitus may kill me, but they cannot hurt me, is taken out of Plato's Defence of Socrates, and spoken to his Accusers:

[Page 551] And thus our Author brings both ends together, by refreshing our Memory here with what he in­sisted upon so largely at the beginning; viz: That the Man who places his Good and Evil only in the use of his Native Liberty, and those things that come within the compass of his own choice, and does not depend upon external Objects for his Happiness: This Man, I say, is above the World, he cannot be brought under the Dominion of any thing, nor is it in the Power of Men or Accidents to do him the least prejudice.

Thus have I finished those Meditations, which occurred to me upon this Subject; and because I thought they might be of some Service to those that shall read Epictetus, I was willing to contribute what little Assistance I could to the true Understanding of so excellent an Author. Nor does my writing this Commentary, prove beneficial to others only, for I my self have al­ready found great Advantage from it, by the agreeable Diversion it hath given me, in a Sea­son of Trouble and publick Calamity. All I have more to add, is only a Prayer proper to this Subject, and with it I conclude.

‘Grant, I beseech thee, O Lord, the Giver and Guide of all Reason, that we may always be mindful of the Dignity, of the Nature, and the Privileges thou hast honoured us withal; that we may act in all things as becomes free Agents, to the subduing and governing our Passions, to the refining them from Flesh and Sense, and to the rendring them subservient to excellent Purposes. Grant us also thy Fa­vourable Assistance in the reforming, and dire­cting [Page 552] our Judgment; and enlighten us with thy Truth, that we may discern those things that are really Good; and having discovered them, may love and cleave stedfastly to the same. And, finally, disperse, we pray thee, those Mists which darken the Eyes of our Mind, that so we may have a perfect Un­derstanding: And (as Homer expresses it) knows ( [...]) both God and Man, and what to each is due.

FINIS.

A TABLE OF THE Principal Matters CONTAINED In this BOOK.

  • THE Introduction. Page 1.
  • The Distinction of Things in and out of our own Power Chap. 1. p. 10
  • The Nature and Condition of Things. c. 2. p. 50
  • The Effects of a true and false Judgment of Things. Ch. 3. 52
  • The Necessity of due Consideration, and Preparation of Mind. Ch. 4. p. 57.
  • That Vertue and Vanity cannot be both attended to at once. Ibid.
  • That we must suspend our Judgments till things are duly examined. Ch. 5. 63
  • That our Mi [...]fortunes proceed from the fear of Misery, and the disappointment of our Desires. Ch. 6 66
  • That young Beginners in Vertue should proceed slowly and gradually. Ch. 7. 67
  • [Page] That the Nature of what we love is a very material and necessary Consideration. Ch. 8. 79
  • The Circumstances and probable Consequences of every Ʋndertaking, should be well weighed before we un­dertake it. Ch. 9. 86
  • Our Disturbances are owing not to the Things them­selves, but to our Ideas of them. Ch. 10. 93.
  • Wise Men make no Complaints. Ibid.
  • Men ought not to value themselves upon the Goods of Fortune, but those of the Mind. Ch. 11. 106
  • The Ʋse and Improvement of our Notions of Things, is our proper Business and Vèrtue. Ibid.
  • Our Minds should be fixed upon God, and all exter­nal Advantages used and valued as things only by the bye. Ch. 12. 112
  • We should not trouble our selves with wishing Impossi­bilities. Ch. 13. 117
  • A well-disciplin'd Mind is subject to no Obstructi­ons. Ibid. 145
  • The Fowers of the Mind must be set against ill Acci­dents and vicious Desires. Ch. 14. 150
  • What we pa [...]t with is not lost, but restored to God the Giver. Ch. 15. 156
  • The Improvement of the Mind ought to be every Man's chief Care. Ch. 16. 161
  • We must improve our selves by rising from small things to greater. Ch 17. 161
  • It is not to be expected that every thing should be just as we would have it. Ibid.
  • We must not be discouraged at other Peoples ill Opi­nion of us▪ Ch. 18. 170
  • No Man is capable of pursuing several Ends at once. Ch. 18. 172
  • [Page] It is a vain thing to desire the securing to our selves what Nature hath put out of our own Power. Ch. 19. 176
  • Who is properly our Master▪ Ch. 20. 180
  • We must take what God gives us thankfully, and be content to want what he denies us Ch. 21. 184
  • Good Nature must be so restrained, as not to disturb the Peace of our own Mind. Ch. 22. 189
  • The Part we must act in this Play of Life, depends upon God's Appointment. Ch. 23. 193
  • A Wise Man improves every Accident of Humane Life. Ch. 24. 197
  • Nothing should be attempted that is out of our reach, and above our Strength. Ch. 25. 199
  • The way to avoid envying and admiring others. Ch. 26. 201
  • Liberty is no way to be had, but by despising the World. Ibid.
  • No Man is injured except by himself. Ch. 27. 205
  • The Benefit of Deliberation. Ibid.
  • The Advantage of Praemeditation. Ch. 28. 205, &c.
  • A Philosopher must be above Derision and Censure. Ch. 29. 211
  • Perseverance conquers all Difficulties. Ibid.
  • The Consciousness of our own Vertue ought to support and satisfie us. Ch. 30. 218
  • A Good Man needs not the Advantage of For­tune, to render him useful to the Publick. Ch. 31. 222
  • We should rejoice with all Men, and envy none. Ch. 32. 241
  • The Courtesies of the World never come for nothing. Ibid.
  • [Page] We should pass the same Judgment upon our own Mis­fortunes, that we do upon other Peoples. Ch. 33. 250
  • Concerning the Nature of Evil. Ch. 34. 258
  • Early Consideration prevents late Shame and Repen­tance. 298
  • The Mischief and Folly of Rash Attempts. Ch. 35. 36. 298, &c.
  • Of the Duties Men owe one another, and that we must do our Parts, though other People do not dis­char [...]e Theirs. Ch. 37. 321, &c.
  • A Disc [...]se of Friendship. 331, &c.
  • A Discourse concerning God and Providence, and the Duties of Religion. Ch. 38. 346
  • In what Cases, and with what Disposition Oracles should be consulted. Ch. 39 401
  • No Danger should discourage us in our known Duty. Ibid.
  • Rules for Conversation.
  • Every Man should resolve what Character he will maintain. Ch. 40. 413
  • Of the Government of the Tongue. Ch. 41. 413
  • Of Reproof. Ch. 42. 414
  • Of Laughter. Ch. 43. 420, &c.
  • Of Swearing. Ch. 44. 422
  • Of our Behaviour at publick Entertainments. Ch. 45. 424
  • Our Possessions should be measured not by Luxury, but Ʋse. Ch. 46. 427
  • Men must be chaste, without Vanity and Censorious­ness. Ch. 47. 435
  • Calumnies should be despised▪ Ch. 48. 440
  • Publick Shows should be seen with an even and com­posed Mind. Ch. 49 446
  • [Page] Rehearsals of Poets and Orators, how to be heard. Ch. 50. 449.
  • Great and wise Men should be made our Patterns for Conversation. Ch. 51. 451
  • We must prepare our selves for cold Reception from Great Men. Ch. 52. 455
  • Talking of one's self to be avoided. Ch. 53. 458, &c.
  • Of Jesting. Ch. 54. 458, &c.
  • Of obscene Discourse. Ch. 55. 459, &c.
  • The Glory of denying our selves, and abstaining from Pleasure. Ch. 56. 465
  • The Sense of Duty, and not common Fame, must be the Rule of our Actions. Ch. 57. 470
  • We must consult the Rights of Men in common, and not our private Interest. Ch. 58. 473
  • Every Man should consider his own Abilities, and not aim at things above our him. Ch 59. 477
  • The Integrity of the Mind, should be our great Care. Ch. 60. 479
  • Nature is soon satisfied, but extravagant Desires ne­ver. Ch. 61. 482
  • Modesty in a Wife is a more valuable Excellence than Beauty. Ch. 62. 486
  • The Body deserves but little of our Time and Pains, but the Mind is worthy of them all. Ch. 63. 488
  • What other People say or think of us, is not so much our Concern as theirs. Ch. 64. 490
  • We should take every thing by its best handle. Ch. 59 494
  • No Man is really the better for any external Advan­tages. Ch. 66. 499
  • Of rash Censures. Ch. 67. 501
  • Vertue is to be shewn not in wise Harangues, but good Actions. Ch. 68. [...]05
  • [Page] Of forwardness in Instructing, and how our Improve­ment in Knowledge should be manifested. Ch. 69. 505, &c.
  • Against Ostentation. Ch. 70. 513
  • Every Man's Happiness and Misery is from himself. Ch. 71. 518
  • The Character of a Proficient in Wisdom and Good­ness. Ch. 72. 518, &c.
  • Practice is the End of all Moral Knowledge. Ch. 73. 527
  • We must mind our Duty strictly, and despise the Cen­sures of ehe World. Ch. 74. 532
  • Against deferring a good Life. Ch. 75. 534
  • True Wisdom consists not in learned Disputes about Vertue, but in the Practice of it. Ch. 76. 542
  • The Duty of Self-Resignation and Submission to the Divine Will. Ch. 77, 78, 79. 547
  • The Conclusion. 551

The Author's absence and the Printer's oversight have oc­casioned these following Mistakes, which disturb the Sense, and the Reader is therefore desired to correct them.
ERRATA.

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