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dictates of reason; for as a fresh wound shrinks back from the hand of the surgeon, bui by degrees submits to, and even requires the means of its cure: sp a mind under the first impressions of mistertune, shuns and rejects all arguments of consolation; bu at length, if applied with tenderness, calmly and willingly acquiesces in them. Farewell.
I HAVE often thought, if the minds of men were laid open, we should see but little difference between that of a wise man and that of a fool.
There are infinite reveries, nuinberless estravagances, and a succession of valities, which pass through both. The great difference is, that the first kdows low to pick and cull bis thoughts for conversa. tion, by suppressing some, aud communicating others; whereas the other lets them all indifferently fly out is words. This sort of discretion, however, bas no plare in private conversation between intimate friends. On such occasions, the wisest men very often talk like the weakest ; for indeed talking with a frend is nothing else than thinking aloud.
Tully has therefore very jastly exposed a precept, delivered by some ancient writers, That a man should live with his enemy in such a manner, as might leave him room to become his friend; and with his friend, in such a manner, that if he become his enemy, it should not be in his power to hurt him. The first part of this role, which regards our behaviour towards an enemy, is indeed very reasonable, as well as very pru. dential; but the latter part of it, which regards our behaviour towards a friend, savours more of cupning than of discretion; and would cut a man off from the greatest pleasures of life, which are the freedoms of conversation with a bosom friend. Besides that, when a friend is targed into an enemy, the world is
just enough to accuse the perfidiousness of the friend, rather than the indiscretion of the person who confided in him.
Discretion does not only show itself in words, but in all the circumstances of action; and is like an un. der agent of Providence, to guide and direct us in the ordinary concerns of life.
There are many more shining qualities in the mind of man, but there is none so useful as discretion. It. is this, indeed, which gives a value to all the rest ; which sets them at work in their proper times and places; and turns them to the advantage of the person who is possessed of them. Without it, learning is pedantry, and wit impertinence; virtue itself looks like weakness; the best parts only qualify a man to be more sprightly in errors, and active to his own preju. dice.
Discretion does not only make a man the master of his own parts, but of other meu's. The discreet man fisds out the talents of those he converses with; and knows how to apply them to proper uses. Accordingly, if we look into particular communities and divis. iods of men, we may observe, that it is the discreet man, not the witty, nor the learned, oor the brave, who guides the conversation, and gives measures to society. A man with great talents, but void of discretion, is like Polyphenus in the fable, strong and blind; endued with an irresistible force, which, for want of sight is of no use to him.
Though a man has all other perfections, yet if he waots discretion, he will be of no great consequence in the world, on the contrary, if he has this single talent in perfection, and but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his particular station of life.
At the same time that I think discretion the most osetul talent a man can be inaster of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion points out the Goblest ends to us; and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of attaining them: cunning has only private selfish aims; and sticks at nothing which may make
them sacred. Discretion has large and extended views; and, like a well formed ege, commands a whole horizon: cupping is a kind of short-sightedness, that discovers the minutest objects which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. 'Discretion, the inore it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who posses it: cunning, when once it is detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done, had he passed only for a plain
Discretior is the parfection of reason; ará a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunoicg is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our immediate interest and weltare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understandings; cunniog is often to be met with in brutes themselves;and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them. In short, cunning is only the mimic of discretion; and it may pass upon weak men, in the saine manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wii, and gravity, for wisdom.
The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man, makes him look forward into futurity and consider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the misery or happiness which is reserved for himn in another world loses nothing of its reality by being placed at 80 great a distance from bim. The objects do not appear little to him because they are resnote.
lle 100siders, that those pleasures and pains which lie hidin eternity, approach nearer to him every moment; and will be present with him in their full weight and measure, as much as those pains and pleasures which he feels at this very instant. For this reason, he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper bap. piness of his nature, and the ultimate design of his being. He carries his thoughts to the end of every action; and considers the post distapt, as well as the inost immediate effects of it. He supersedes every little prospect of gain and advantage which ofiers itself here, if he does not find it consistent with his views of an hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality; nis schemes are large and glorious; and
is conduct suitable to one who knows his true interst, and how to pursue it by proper methods.
On the government of our thoughts. A MULTITUDE of cases occur, in which we are no less accountable for what we think, than for what we do.
As, first, when the introduction of any train o thought depends upon ourselves, and is our volun. tary act, by turning our attention towards such ob. jects, awakeping such passions, or engaging in such employments, as we kyow must give a peculiar determination to our thoughts. Next when thoughts, by whatever accident they may have been originally suggested, are indulged with deliberation and com. placency. Though the mind has been passive in their receprion,and, therefore, free from blame; yet, if it be active in their continuance, the guilt becomes its own. They may have intruded at first, like unbidden guests ; but if, when entered, they are made welcome, and kindly eptertained, the case is the same as if they had been invited from the be. ginning. If we are thus accountable to God for thoughts either voluntarily introduced, or deliber. ately indulged, we are no less sn, in the last place, for those which find admittance into our hearts from supine negligence, from total relaxation of attention, from allowing our imagination to rove with entire liceose "ike the eyes of the fool,towards the ends of the earth.” Our minds are, in this case, thrown open to folly and vanity. They are prusti. . tuted to every evil thiog which pleases to take posa sessioo. The consequences must all be charged to our accogut; and in vain we plead excuse from human infirmity. Hence it appears, that the great object at which we are 10 aim in governing our
thoughts, is, to take the most effectual measures for preventing the introduction of such as are sinful , and for hastening their expulsion, if they shall have introduced themselves without consent of the wilt.
But when we desceud into our breast, and examine how far we have studied to keep this object in view, who can tell, show oft he hath offended pes In no ar. ticle of religion or morals are men more culpably remiss, than in the unrestrained indulgence they give to fancy; and that too, for the most part, without remorse. Since the time that reason began to exert her powers, thought, during her waking hours, has been active in every breast, without a moment's suspension or pause. The current of ideas has been always flowing. The wheels of the spiritual engine have circulated with perpetual motion. Let me ask, what has been the fruit of this incessant activity, with the greater part of mankind ? Of the innumerable hours that have been employed in thought, how few are marked with any permanent or useful effect? How many have either passed away in idle dreams; or have been abandoned to anxious discontented ousings, to unsocial and ma. lignant passions, or to irregular and cuminal desires ? Had I power to lay opeu that storehouse of iniquity which the hearts of too many conceal; could I draw out and read to them a list of all the imaginations they have devised, and all the passions they have in. dulged in secret; what a picture of men should I present to themselves! What crimes would they appear to have perpetrated in secrecy, which to their most iatimate companions they durst not reveal !
Even when men imagine their thoughts to be innocently employed, they too commonly suffer them to run out into extravagant imaginations, and chimerical plans of what they would wish to attain, or choose to be, if they could frame the course of things according to their desire. Though such employments of fancy come not under the same description with those which are plainly criminal, yet wholly unblamable they seldom are. Besides the waste of time which they occasion and the misapplication which they indicate of those