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MAXIMS FOR CONDUCT IN LIFE.
THERE is a good deal in the idea of happiness being the natural consequence of virtue, and that happiness in proportion to the active, positive virtue; so that, if a man could see all together, he might choose to undergo the trials and evils incident to his lot in this world, inasmuch as, without these opportunities for the exercise of positive virtue, he cannot enjoy that portion of happiness which will be the reward of such conduct. And it is also possible that the happiness assigned to negative virtue may be small: by negative virtue I mean, not doing wrong, but when under no temptations, under no circumstances liable to induce such conduct.
Resist a temptation, and fight till thou hast conquered; there is no greater triumph than that which the soul feels when it comes off victor, and applauds itself for the valour and courage it hath expressed in its conflicts.
He that resolvedly enters upon a virtuous course of life will, by happy experience, be encouraged to prosecute it; because in practising virtue, both moral and christian, as in learning to play upon the lute, or some other musical instrument, exercise
does daily both lessen the difficulty and increase the pleasure.'
When our souls shall leave this dwelling,
I hope no considerations will induce your sons to marry women whom they cannot love, or comply with measures they cannot approve, as so many men every day do.3
A main article of human happiness is the exercise of our faculties, either of body or mind, in the pursuit of some engaging end."
Happiness depends upon the prudent constitu
of the habits."
Easy things, that may be got at will,
Most sorts of men do set but little store;
Why then should I account of little pain
St. Jerome said well, that he deserves not the name of a Christian who will live in that state in which he would not die."
Eschewing evil is but the one half of the work; we must also do good.8
Among other acts of duty let it be remembered that it is excellent charity to leave our WILL and
4 Paley, Mor. Phil.
7 Jeremy Taylor.
2 Shirley. 3 Lady M. W. Montague. 6 Spenser (Sonnet xxvi.).
desires clear, plain, and determinate, that contention and lawsuits may be prevented.'
It is evident that luxury, self-indulgence, and an indolent aversion to perform the duties of a man's station, do not only bring on gross bodily discases, but also, previously to this, are often apt to lead men into such a degree of solicitude, anxiety, and fearfulness, in minute affairs, as to make them inflict upon themselves greater torments than the most cruel tyrant could invent.2
A daily or frequent examination of the parts of our life will interrupt the proceeding, and hinder the journey of little sins into a heap.3
"Judge yourselves, and ye shall not be judged of the Lord." As, therefore, every night we must make our bed the memorial of our grave, so let our evening thoughts be an image of the day of judgment. The way to prevent God's anger is to be angry with ourselves."
Charity is the great channel through which God passes all his mercy upon mankind; for we receive absolution of our sins, in proportion to our forgiving one another.5
I have, and do, and will do that which all good men call repentance; that is, I will be humbled before God, and mourn for my sin, and for ever ask forgiveness, and judge myself."
In the morning, think over what thou hast to do; in the evening, what thou hast done, or left undone.
If thou wouldst be delivered from the fears of death, prepare for it.
Be not too diffident of thyself: those who are always afraid of falling do nothing but stumble.
When thou speakest to another, look at the eyes; when another speaketh to thee, upon the mouth.
If thou wouldst live long, live well: there are two things which shorten life, folly and wickedness.1 If thou honestly doest what thou canst not to err, thou wilt not go far wrong.
Suspect all extraordinary and groundless civili
Do good to all, that thou mayest keep thy friends, and gain thy enemies.
Account him thy real friend that desires thy good, rather than thy good-will.
Suppose all thy auditors enemies when thou dispraisest any one.
Be thankful for the least gift, so shalt thou be meet to receive more hereafter.2
Be thou the first true merit to befriend:
With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust,
Suspicion is a heavy armour, and,
5 Byron (Werner).
3 Pope (Essay on Criticism).
6 Suspicious Husband.
The former part of life is to be considered as an important opportunity, which nature puts into our hands; and which, when lost, is not to be recovered.1 Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists not in saving, but in selection.2
True politeness consists in being easy oneself, and making every body about one as easy as one
Firmness, both in sufferance and exertion, is a character I would wish to be thought to possess ; and I have always despised the whining yelp of complaint, and the cowardly, feeble resolve."
Take care always to form your establishment so much within your income as to leave a sufficient fund for unexpected contingencies and a prudent liberality."
C'est un des avantages de l'esprit d'ordre et de moderation que celui qui le possede, pourvu qu'il vive longtemps, se trouve dans l'abondance sans qu'il s'apperçoive."
I will endeavour to be just, and then, if I can, I will be generous-that's another species of my pride.'
If would not have a person deceive you, be you careful not to let him know you mistrust him.8 If thou desirest to be well spoken of, speak well of others.
1 Butler (Analogy).
See Spence's Anecdotes, 214.
6 Mémoires de Sulli.
8 Cardinal Polignac.
7 Sir C. Grandison.