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It is not only very possible, but very common, for men to be ignorant of the chief inducements of their behaviour ; and to imagine they act from one motive, whilst they are apparently governed by another : If we examine our views, and look into our hearts narrowly, we shall find that they more frequently deceive us in this respect than we are aware of ; by persuading us that we are governed by much better motives than we really are. The honour of God, and the interest of religion, may be the open and avowed motive ; whilst secular interest and secular vanity may be the hidden and true one. While we think we are serving God, we may be only facrificing to Mammon: We may, like Jehu, boast our zeal for the Lord, when we are only animated by the heat of our natural passions (o); may cover a censorious fpirit under a cloak of piety: and giving admonition to others, may be only giving vent to our spleen.
Many come to the place of public worship, out of custom
or curiosity, who would be thought to come thither only out of conscience. And whilft their external and professed view is to serve God,
(c) 2 Kings x. 16.
and gain good to their souls, their secret and inward motive is only to show them. felves to advantage, or to avoid singularity, and prevent others making observations on their absence. Munificence and almsgiving may often proceed from a principle of pride and party-spirit; and seeming acts of friendship, from a mercenary motive.
By thus disguising our motives we may impose 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 it is least suspected.
Now, unless we examine this point narrowly, we shall never come to the bottom of it; 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 feeth not as man feeth ; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart *. And hence it is, that that which is highly esteemed among men, is oftentimes abomination in the fight of Godt. Every way of man is right in his own eyes : but the Lord pondereth the hearts I.
С НА Р. Sam. xvi. 7 + Luke xvi. 15. I Prov. xxi. 2.
CH A P. XII.
Every.one that knows himself, is in a particular
Manner fenfible how far he is governed by a Thirst for Applaufe.
A fold a man's heart to himself is, to
consider what is his appetite for Fame ; and by what means he seeks to gratify it.
This passion in particular having always so powerful a fway, and oftentimes so unsufpected 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 distinct confideration.
Emulation, like the other passions of the human mind, shows itself much more plainly, and works much more strongly in some than it does in others: it is in itself innocent, was planted in our natures for very wise ends, and, if kept under proper regulations, is capable of serving very excellent purposes, otherwise 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 design with a steady, unaffected ardour, without reserve or falsehood, it is a true sign of a noble spirit: for that love of praise can never be criminal, that excites a man to do more good than he could perform without it. Probably, 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 secretly, and perhaps insensibly prompted by the impulse of this passion.
But, on the contrary, if a man's views center only in the applause of others, whether it be deserved or not; if he pant after popularity and fame, not regarding how he acquires it; if his passion for praise urge him to stretch himself beyond the line of his capacity, and to attempt things to which he is unequal; to condescend to mean arts and low dissimulation for the sake of a name ; and in a sinister, indirect way, fue hard for a little incense, not caring from whom he receiveth it; his ambition then becomes vanity. And if it excite a man to wicked attempts, make him ready to facrifice the esteem of wise and good men to the acclamations of a mob; to overleap the bounds of decency and truth, and break through the obligations of honour and virtue, it is then not only vanity, but vice; 'a vice the most destructive to the peace
and happinefs of human fociety, and which, of all others, hath made the greatest havock and devestation among men.
What an instance have we here of the wide difference between common opinion and truth ? that a vice, so big with mischief 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 feeking only to be a terror to
mankind, arofe to no greater excellence, ' than what belonged to the moft hurtful and • obnoxious animals on earth (p).
( Quid enim fimile habebat vefanus adolef
virtute erat felix temerita's ? - Hic a pueritiâ latro, gentiumque vastator, tam hoftium pernicies quam amicorum. Qui fummum bonum duceret terrori effe cunctis mortalibus: oblitus non ferociffima tantùm, 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 Oration concerning the Fortune and Virtue of Alexander, exalts