« PreviousContinue »
community, that they should not lose that respect, which is fo juftly due to them, by a popular clamour kept up in opposition to a measure of no importance in itself. But if the departing from that measure should not remove the prejudice fo maliciously raised, I am certain that no further step you can take will be able to remove it, and therefore, I hope you will stop here. This appears to be a reasonable and fafe condescension, by which nobody will be hurt; but all beyond this, would be dangerous weakness in government. It might open a door to the wildest enthafiasm, and to the most mirchievous attacks of political disaffection working upon that enthusiasm. If you encourage and anthorize it to fall on the synagogue, it will go from thence to the meeting-house, and in the end to the palace. But let us be careful to check its further progress. The more zealous we are to support Christianity, the more vigilant should we be in maintaining tolerațion. If we bring back persecution, we bring back the anti-christian spirit of Popery ; and when the spirit is here, the whole system will soon follow. Toleration is the basis of all public quiet. It is a character of freedom given to the mind, more valuable, I think, than that which recures our perfons and estates. Indeed, they are inseparably connected together: for, where the mind is not free, where the conscience is enthralled, there is no freedom. Spiritual tyranny puts on the galling chains; but civil tyranny is called in, to rivet and fix them. We see it in Spain, and many other countries; we have formerly both seen and felt it in England. By the blessing of God, we are now delivered from all kind of oppreffion. Let us take care, that they may never return.
CH AP. XII.
IN PRAISE OF VIRTUE: V IRTUE is of intrinsic value and good defert, and of in
, dispensable obligation ; not the creature of will, but neces sary and immutable: not local or temporary, but of equal extent and antiquity with the DiviNE MIND; not a mode of fenfation, but everlasting Truth; not dependent on power, but the guide of all power. Virtue is the foundation of honour and esteem, and the source of all beauty, order, and happiness-in nature. It is what confers value on all the other endowments and qualities of a reasonable being, to which they ought to be absolutely subservient; and without which the more eminent they are, the more hideous deformities and the greater curses they become. The use of it is not confined to any one stage of our exiftence, or to any particular situation we can be in, but reaches through all the periods and circumstances of our beingsmMany of the endowments and talents we now posa. fess, and of which we are too apt to be proud, will ceafe entirely with the present state; but this will be our ornament and dignity in every future state to which we may be removed. Beauty and wit will die, learning will vanish away, and all the arts of life be soon forgot ; but virtue will remain for ever. This unites us to the whole rational creation, and fits us for conversing with any order of superior natures, and for a place in any part of God's works. It procures us the approbation and love of all wise and good beings, and renders them our allies and friends.But what is of unspeakably greater consequence is, that it makes God our friend, assimilates and unites our minds to
his, and engages his almighty power in our defence.Superior beings of all ranks are bound by it no less than ourselves. It has the same authority in all worlds that it has in this. The further any being is advanced in excellence and perfection, the greater is his attachment to it, and the more is he under its influence.—To say no more; 'Tis the Law of the whole universe; it stands firft in the estimation of the Deity; its original is his nature; and it is the very object that makes him lovely.
Such is the importance of Virtue. Of what consequence, therefore, is it that we practise it? There is no argument or motive which is at all fitted to influence a reasonable mind, which does not call us to this. One virtuous disposition of soul is preferable to the greatest natural accomplishments and abilities, and of more value than all the treasures of the world. If you are wise, then study virtue, and contemn every thing that can come in competition with it. Remember, that nothing else deserves one anxious thought or wish. Remember, that this alone is honor, glory, wealth, and happiness. Secure this, and you secure every thing. Lose this, and all is loft.
CHAP. XIII. .
THE SPEECH OF BRUTUS ON THE DEATH OF
VS, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for
my cause; and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe. Cenfure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Cæsar's, to him, I say, that Brutus's
love to Cæsar was no less than his. If then that friend demard why Brutus rofe against Cæfar, this is my answer: Not that I lov'd Cæsar less, but that I lov'd Rome more. Had you rather Cæfar were living, aná die all llaves ; than that Cæsar were dead to live all freemen? As Cæfar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him ; but as he was ambi. tious, I flew him. There are tears for his love, joy for his fortune, honour for his valour, and death for his ambition. Who is here so base, that would be a bond-man? If any, speak;, for him I have offended. Who is here fo rude, that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here fo vile, that will not love his country? If any speak; for him have I offended I pause for a reply
None ?-then none have I offended. I have done ne more to Cæsar than you should do to Brutus. The question of his death is inrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy: nor his offences inforced, for which he suffered deach.
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony; who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart, that as I flew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
RAVE Peers of England, pillars of the state,
Your grief, the common grief of all the land.
Peers of England, shameful is this league?