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The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
And scarce in human wisdom, to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage: when young, indeed,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Resolves; and re-resolves; then, dies the same.
BISHOP BUTLER. 1692-1752. (Manual, p. 343.)
FROM THE ANALOGY." CHAP. VIII.
181. EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY SUFFICIENT.
It is most readily acknowledged that the foregoing treatise is by no means satisfactory; very far from it; but so would any natural institution of life appear, if reduced into a system, together with its evi
dence. Leaving religion out of the case, men are divided in their opinions, whether our pleasures overbalance our pains; and whether it be, or be not, eligible to live in this world. And were all such controversies settled, which, perhaps, in speculation, would be found involved in great difficulties; and were it determined upon the evi dence of reason, as nature has determined it to our hands, that life is to be preserved; yet still, the rules that God has been pleased to afford us, for escaping the miseries of it, and obtaining its satisfactions, the rules, for instance, of preserving health, and recovering il her lost, are not only fallible and precarious, but very far from being exact. Nor are we informed by nature, in future contingencies and accidents, so as to render it at all certain, what is the best method of managing our affairs. What will be the success of our temporal pursuits, in the common sense of the word success, is highly doubtful. And what will be the success of them in the proper sense of the word; i. e., what happiness or enjoyment we shall obtain by them, is doubtful in a much higher degree. Indeed, the unsatisfactory nature of the evidence, with which we are obliged to take up in the daily course of life, is scarce to be expressed. Yet men do not throw away life, or disregard the interests of it, upon account of this doubtfulness. The evidence of religion then being admitted real, those who object against it, as not satisfactory, i. e., as not being what they wish it, plainly forget the very condition of our being; for satisfaction, in this sense, does not belong to such a creature as man. And, which is more material, they forget also the very nature of religion. For, religion presupposes, in all those who will embrace it, a certain degree of integrity and honesty; which it was intended to try whether men have or not, and to exercise in such as have it, in order to its improvement. Religion presupposes this as much, and in the same sense, as speaking to a man presupposes that he understands the language in which you speak; or as warning a man of any danger presupposes that he hath such a regard to himself as that he will endeavor to avoid it. And therefore the question is not at all, Whether the evidence of religion be satisfactory; but Whether it be, in reason, sufficient to prove and discipline that virtue, which it presupposes. Now the evidence of it is fully sufficient for all these purposes of probation; how far soever it is from being satisfactory, as to the purposes of curiosity, or any other: and indeed it answers the purposes of the former in several respects, which it would not do if it were as overbearing as is required.
JOSEPH ADDISON. 1672-1719. (Manual, pp. 289-296.)
FROM "THE TATLER."
182. THE POLITICAL UPHOLSTERER.
'T'here lived some years since, within my neighborhood, a very grave person, an upholsterer, who seemed a man of more than ordinary application to business. He was a very early riser, and was often abroad two or three hours before any of his neighbors. He had a particular carefulness in the knitting of his brows, and a kind of impatience in all his motions, that plainly discovered he was always intent on matters of importance. Upon my inquiry into his life and conversation, I found him to be the greatest newsmonger in our quarter; that he rose before day to read the "Postman," and that he would take two or three turns to the other end of the town before his neighbors were up, to see if there were any Dutch mails come in. He had a wife and several children, but was much more inquisitive to know what passed in Poland than in his own family, and was in greater pain and anxiety of mind for King Augustus's welfare than that of his nearest relations. He looked extremely thin in a dearth of news, and never enjoyed himself in a westerly wind. This indefatigable kind of life was the ruin of his shop; for about the time that his favorite prince left the crown of Poland, he broke and disappeared.
This man and his affairs had been long out of my mind, til, about three days ago, as I was walking in St. James's Park, I heard son e body at a distance hemming after me; and who should it be but my old neighbor the upholsterer? I saw he was reduced to extreme poverty by certain sl.abby superfluities in his dress; for, notwithstanding that it was a very sultry day for the time of the year, he wore a loose great-coat and a muff, with a long campaign wig out of curl, to which he had added the ornament of a pair of black garters, buckled under the knee. Upon his coming up to me I was going to inquire into his present circumstances, but was prevented by his asking me, with a whisper, whether the last letters brought any accounts that one might rely upon from Bender? I told him none that I heard of, and asked
him whether he had yet married his eldest daughter? He told me no. But pray, says he, tell me sincerely what are your thoughts of the king of Sweden? For though his wife and children were starving, I found his chief concern at present was for this great monarch. I told him that I looked upon him as one of the first heroes of the age. But pray, says he, do you think there is anything in the story of his wound? And finding me surprised at the question, -Nay, says he, I unly propose it to you. I answered that I thought there was no reason to doubt of it. But why in the heel, says he, more than in Any other part of the body! Because, said, I, the bullet chanced to light there.
We were now got to the upper end of the Mall, where were three or four very odd fellows sitting together upon the bench. These, I found, were all of them politicians, who used to sun themselves in that place every day about dinner-time. Observing them to be curiosities in their kind, and my friend's acquaintance, I sat down among them. The chief politician of the bench was a great asserter of paradoxes. He told us, with a seeming concern, that by some news he had lately read from Muscovy, it appeared to him that there was a storm gathering in the Black Sea, which might in time do hurt to the naval forces of this nation. To this he added, that for his part, he could not wish to see the Turk driven out of Europe, which he believed could not but be prejudicial to our woollen manufacture. He then told us, that he looked upon those extraordinary revolutions, which had lately happened in those parts of the world, to have risen from two persons who were not much talked of; and those, says he, are Prince Menzikoff and the Duchess of Mirandola. He backed his assertions with so many broken hints, and such a show of depth and wisdom, that we gave ourselves up to his opinions. When we had fully discussed this point, my friend the upholsterer began to exert himself upon the present negotiations of peace, in which he deposed princes, settled the bounds of kingdoms, and balanced the power of Europe, with great justice and impartiality.
I at length took my leave of the company, and was going away; but had not gone thirty yards, before the upholsterer hemmed again after me. Upon his advancing towards me, with a whisper, I expected to hear some secret piece of news, which he had not thought fit to communicate on the bench; but, instead of that, he desired me in my ear to lend him half a crown. In compassion to so needy a statesinan, and to dissipate the confusion I found he was in, I told him, if he pleased, I would give him five shillings, to receive five pounds of him when the great Turk was driven out of Constantinople; which he very readily accepted, but not before he had laid down to me the impossibility of such an event, as the affairs of Europe now stand.
FROM "THE SPECTATOR.”
183. THE VISION OF MIRZA.
On the fifth day of the moon, which, according to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdad, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As l was here refreshing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation on the vanity of human life; and passing fiom one thought to another, surely, said I, man is but a shadow, and life a dream. Whilst I was thus musing, I cast my eyes towards the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one in the habit of a shepherd, but who was in reality a being of superior nature. I drew near with profound reverence, and fell down at his feet. The genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability, that familiarized him to my imagination, and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me from the ground, and taking me by the hand, "Mirza," said he, "I have heard thee in thy soliloquies; follow me." He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock; and placing me on the top of it, "Cast thy eyes eastward," said he, "and tell me what thou seest." "I see," said I, "a huge valley, and a prodigious tide of water rolling through it." "The valley that thou seest," said he, "is the vale of misery; and the tide of water that thou seest, is part of the great tide of eternity." "What is the reason," said I, "that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other?" "What thou seest," said he, "is that portion of eternity which is called time measured out by the sun, and reaching from the beginning of the world to its consummation. Examine now," said he, "this sea that is bounded with darkness at both ends, and tell me what thou discoverest in it." "I see a bridge," said I, "standing in the midst of the tide." "The bridge thou seest," said he, "is human life; consider it attentively." Upon a more leisurely survey of it, I found that it consisted of three score and ten entire arches, with several broken arches, which, added to those that were entire, made up the number about a hundred. As I was cont ing the arches, the genius told me that this bridge consisted at first of a thousand; but that a great flood swept away the rest, and left the bridge in the ruinous condition I now beheld it. "But tell me further," said he, "what thou discoverest on it." "I see multitudes of people passing over it," said I, "and a black cloud hanging on each end of it." As I looked more attentively, I saw several of the passengers dropping through the bridge into the great tide that lowed underneath it; and, upon further examination, perceived there were innumerable trap-doors that lay concealed in the bridge, which the passengers no sooner trod upon, than they fell through them into the tide, and immediately disappeared. These lidden pitfalis were set