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thyself, then others discover thee most plainly. Do well while thou livest; but regard not what is said of it. Content thyself with deserving praise, and thy posterity shall rejoice in hearing it. 6 Beware of irresolution in the intent of thy actions, beware of instability in the execution; so shalt thou triumph over too great failings of thy nature. Establish unto thyself principles of action; and see that thou ever act according to them. First know that thy principles are just, and then be thou inflexible in the path of them. 7 Attribute not the good actions of another to bad motives, thou canst not know his heart; but the world will know by this, that thine is full of envy. There is not in hypocrisy more vice than folly; to be honest is as easy as to seem so. Be more ready to acknowledge a benefit than to revenge an injury; so shalt thou have more benefits than injuries done unto thee. Be more ready to love than to hate; so shalt thou beloved by more than hate thee. 8 Be willing to commend, and be slow to censure; so shall praise be unto thy virtues, and the eye of enmity shall be blind to thy imperfections. When thou dost good, do it because it is good; not because men esteem it: when thou avoidest evil, fly it, because it is evil; not because men speak against it: be honest for love of honesty, and thou shalt be uniformly so; he that doth it without principle is wavering. 9 Presumption is the bane of reason; it is the nurse of error. What is the origin of superstition? and whence ariseth false worship 2 From our presuming to reason about what is above our reach, to comprehend what is incomprehensible. 10 Riches are servants to the wise; but they are tyrants over the soul of the fool. The covetous serveth his gold; it serveth not him; he possesseth his wealth as the sick doth a fever; it burneth and tortureth him, and will not quit him unto death. 11 Poverty wanteth many things; but covetousness denieth itself all. The covetous can be good to no man; but he is to none so cruel as to himself. Be industrious to procure gold; and be generous in the disposal of it; man is never so happy as when he giveth happiness unto another. 12 If there be a vice greater than the hoarding up of riches, it is the employing them to useless purposes. He that prodigally lavisheth that which he hath to spare, robbeth the poor of what nature hath given them a right unto. He who squandereth away his treasure, refuseth the means to do good: he denieth himself the practice of virtues whose reward is in his hand; whose end is no other than his own happiness. 13 When thou hast taught thyself to bear the seeming good of men without repining, thou wilt hear of their real happiness with pleasure. If thou seest good things fall to one who deserveth them, thou wilt rejoice in it; for virtue is happy in the prosperity of the virtuous. He who rejoiceth in the happiness of another, increaseth by it his own. . 14 He that is truly virtuous, loveth virtue for herself; he disdaineth the applause which ambition aimeth after. How pitiable were the state of virtue, if she could not be happy but from another’s praise! Pursue that which is honorable, do that which is right; and the applause of thine own conscience will be more joy to thee, than the shouts of millions who know not that thou deservest them. 15 The noblest employment of the mind of man is the study of the works of his Creator. To him whom the science of nature delighteth, every object bringeth a proof of his God; everything that proveth it, giveth cause of adoration. His mind is lifted up to heaven every moment; his life is one continued act of devotion. 16 Casteth he his eye towards the clouds, findeth he not the heavens full of his wonders ? Looketh he down to the earth, doth not the worm proclaim to him, Less than Omnipotence could not have formed me? 17 While the planets perform their courses; while the sun remaineth in his place; while the comet wandereth through the liquid air, and returneth to its destined road again; who but thy God, O man! could have formed them P what but infinite wisdom could have appointed them their laws 7 18 Behold, how awful their splendor! yet do they not diminish: Lo! how rapid their motions! yet one runneth not in the way of another. Look down upon the earth, and see her produce; examine her bowels, and behold what they contain! Hath not wisdom and power ordained the whole? 19 Who biddeth the grass to spring up 2 who watereth it at its due seasons? Behold! the ox croppeth it; the horse and the sheep, feed they not upon it? Who is he that provideth it for them? Who giveth increase to the corn which thou sowest ? Who returneth it to thee a thousand fold 2 20 What is the study of words compared with this? In what science is knowledge, but in the study of nature? Who is wise then, but he that knoweth it? Who hath understanding, but he that contemplateth it? For the rest, what
ever science hath most utility, whatever knowledge hath least vanity, prefer these unto the others; and profit of them for the sake of thy neighbor.
21 Piety to thy God, and benevolence to thy fellow creatures, are they not thy great duties? What shall teach thee the one, like the study of his works 2 what shall inform thee of the other like understanding thy dependencies 2
22 Wouldst thou learn to die nobly 2 let thy vices die before thee. Happy is he who endeth the business of his life before his death: who, when the hour of it cometh, hath nothing to do but to die; who wisheth not delay, because he hath no longer use for time.
ABRIDGMENT OF PENN'S MAXIMS, PALEY'S MORAL PHILOSOPHY, AND KNIGGE'S PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIAL LIFE.
ABRIDGMENT OF WILLIAM PENN’s REFLECTIONs AND MAXIMS, RELATING TO THE CONDUCT OF HUMAN LIFE : AND HIS ADVICE TO HIS CHILDREN.
1 IT is admirable to consider how many millions of people come into and go out of the world, ignorant of themselves, and of the world they have lived in. We are in pain to make our youth scholars, but not men; to talk, rather than to know; which is true canting. The first thing obvious to children is what is sensible; and that, we make no part of their rudiments. . 2 We press their memory too soon, and puzzle, strain, and load them with words and rules to know grammar and rhetoric, and a strange tongue or two, that it is ten to one may never be useful to thems; leaving their natural genius to mechanical and physical or natural knowledge uncultivated and neglected; which would be of exceeding use and pleasure to them through the whole course of their lives. To be sure, languages are not to be despised or neglected ; but, things are still to be preferred. 3 Lend not beyond thy ability, nor refuse to lend out of thy ability: especially when it will help others more than it can hurt thee. If thy debtor be honest and capable, thou hast thy money again, if not with increase, with praise. If he prove insolvent, do not ruin him to get that which it will not ruin thee to lose. 4 Frugality is good, if liberality be joined with it. The first is leaving off superfluous expenses; the last bestowing them to the benefit of others that need. The first, without the last, begins covetousness; the last, without the first, begins prodigality. Both together make an excellent temper, Happy the place where that is found. 5. Were it universal, we should be cured of two extremes, M
want and excess: and the one would supply the other, and so bring both nearer to a mean; the just degree of earthly happiness. It is a reproach to religion and government, to suffer so much poverty and excess. 6 Were the superfluities of a nation valued, and made a perpetual tax for benevolence, there would be more almshouses than poor, schools than scholars, and enough to spare for government besides. 7 Love labor: for if thou dost not want it for food, thou mayst for physic. It is wholesome for thy body, and good for thy mind. 8 Neither urge another to that thou wouldst be unwilling to do thyself: nor do thyself what looks to thee unseemly, and intemperate in another. 9 The very trimming of the vain world would clothe all the naked one. If thou art clean and warm, it is sufficient; for more doth but rob the poor, and please the wanton. 10 If thou hast done an injury to another, rather own it than defend it. One way thou gainest forgiveness; the other, thou doublest the wrong and reckoning. Some oppose honor to submission; but it can be no honor to maintain what it is dishonorable to do. True honor will pay treble damages, rather than justify one wrong by another. 11 In such controversies, it is but too common for some to say, “Both are to blame,” to excuse their own unconcernedness; which is a base neutrality. Others will cry, “They are both alike;” thereby involving the injured with the guilty, to mince the matter for the faulty, or cover their own injustice to the wronged party. Fear and gain are great perverters of mankind: and where either prevails, the judgment is violated. 12 If thou thinkest twice before thou speakest once, thou wilt speak twice the better for it. Better say nothing, than not to the purpose. And to speak pertinently, consider both what is fit, and when it is fit, to speak. In all debates, let truth be thy aim ; not victory, or an unjust interest: and endeavor to gain, rather than to expose, thy antagonist. 13 Believe nothing against another, but upon good authority: nor report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to others to conceal it. 14 Never assent merely to please others; for that is, besides flattery, oftentimes untruth, and discovers a mind to be servile and base: nor contradict to vex others; for that shows an ill temper, and provokes, but profits nobody.