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it may appear to be the effect of pure piety and charity; and seeming 'acts of friend, ship, from a motive of felfishness.
By thus disguising our motives, we may impofe upon men, but at the same time we impose upon ourselves; and whilst we are deceiving others, our own hearts deceive us. And of all impostures self-deception is the most dangerous, because least suspected.
Now, unless we examine this point narrowly, we shall never come to the bottom of it; and unless we come at the true spring and real motive of our actions, we shall never be able to form a right judgment of them; and they may appear very different in our own eye, and in the eye of the world, from what they do in the eye of God. « For the Lord seeth not as « man seeth; for man looketh on the out-" “ ward appearance, but the Lord looketh « on the heart," i Sam. xvi. 7. And • hence it is, that “that which is highly 6 esteemed among men, is oftentimes aboa mination in the sight of God,” Luke « xvi. 15. “ Every way of man is right « in his own eyes; but the Lord ponderso eth the hearts,” Prov. xxi. 2.
cular manner sensible how far he is go
verned by a Thirst for Applause. XI. “ ANOTHER thing necessary to
A « unfold a man's heart to him« self is, to consider what is his appetite s for fame, and by what means he feeks " to gratify that particular passion." ;
This passion in particular having always fo main a stroke, and oftentimes to unfulpected an influence on the most important parts of our conduct, a perfect acquaintance with it is a very material branch of Self-knowledge, and therefore requires a diftinct and particular confideration.
Emulation, like the other passions of the human mind, shows itself much more plainly, and works much more strongly in Tome than it does in others. It is in ito felf innocent, and was planted in our na. tures for very wise ends, and is capable of serving very excellent purposes, if kept under proper restrictions and regulations. But without these it degenerates into a mean and criminal ambition. When a man finds something within
him that pushes him on to excel in worthy deeds, or in actions truly good and virtuous, and pursues that deậign with a steady unaffected ardour, without reserve or falsehood, it is a true sign of a noble fpirit : For that love of praise can never be criminal, that excites and enables a man to do a great deal more good than he could do without it. And perhaps there never was a fine genius, or a noble spirit, that rose above the common level, and distinguished itself by high attainments in what is truly excellent, but was fecretly, and perhaps insensibly prompted by the impulse of this passion.
But, on the contrary, if a man's views centre only in the applause of others, whether it be deferved or not; if he pants after popularity and fame, not regarding how he comes by it ; if his passion for praise urge him to Aretch himself beyond the line of his capacity, and to attempt things to which he is unequal; to condescend to mean arts and low diffimulation for the fake of a name; and in a sinister, indirect way, suç hard for a little incense, not caring from whom he receives it; it then degenerates into what is properly called vanity. And if it excites a man to wicka ed attempts, and makes him willing to fa
crifice the esteem of all wise and good men to the shouts of the giddy multitude; if his ambition overleaps the bounds of decency and truth, and breaks through obligations of honour and virtue, it is then not only vanity, but vice; a vice the most destructive io the peace and happiness of human society, and which of all others hath made the greatest havoc and devastation among men..
What an instance have we here of the wide difference between common opinion and truth? That a vice so big with milchief and misery should be mistaken for a virtue! and that they who have been most infamous for it should be crowned with laurels, even by those who have been ruined by it; and have those laurels perpetuated by the common consent of men through after ages! Seneca's judgment of Alexander is certainly more agreeable to truth than the common opinion; who called him “ a public cut-throat, rather than “ a hero ; and who, in seeking only to be “ a terror to mankind, arose to no greater “ an excellence, than what belonged to Śt the most hurtful and hateful animals on 66 earth *.”
Certain Quid enim simile habebat vefanus adolescens,
Certain it is, that these false heroes are of all men most ignorant of themselves, who seek their gain and glory from the destruction of their own species; and by this wicked ambition entail infamy and curfes upon their name and family, instead of that immortal glory they pursued, and imagined they had attained. According to the prophet's words, “Woe to him who co." vetethan evil covetousness to his house, that “ he may set his neft on high; that he
cui pro virtute erat felix temeritas !..Hic a pueritia latro, gentiumque vaftator, tam hoftium pernicies quam amicorum. Qui fummum bonum duceret terrori effe cundis mortalibus: oblitus non ferocissima tantum, fed ignavissima quoque animalia, timeri ob virus malum. Sen. de Benef. cap. 13.
How different from this is the judgment of Plutarch in this matter? who, in his Qration concerning the Fortune and Virtue of Alexander, exalts him into a true bero, and justifies all the waste he made of mankind under (the same colour with which the Spaniards excused their inhuman barbarities towards the poor Indians, viz.) a pretence of civilizing them. And in attributing all his success to his virtue, he talks more like a soldier serving under him in his wars, than an historian who lived many years afterwards, whose business it was to transmit his character impartially to future ages. And in whatever other respects Mr. Dryden may give the preference to Plu. tarch before Seneca (which he does with much zeal in his Preface to Plutarch's Lives), yet it must be al. lowed, that, in this instance at least, the latter shows more of the philosopher. Sce Plut. Mor. Vol. I. ad from