« PreviousContinue »
vide for all cafes, it is better private men should have some injustice done them, than that a publick grievance should not be redrefled. This is usually pleaded in defence of all those hardships which fall. on particular persons in particular occasions, which. could not be foreseen when a law was made. Ta remedy this however as much as possible, the Court. of Chancery was erected, which frequently miti. gates, and breaks the teeth of the common law, in cases of mens properties, while in criminal cafes there is a power of pardoning still lodged in the Crown.
Notwithstanding this, it is perhaps impossible in a large government to distribute rewards and punishments strictly proportioned to the merits of every action. The Spartan commonwealth was indeed. wonderfully exact in this particular; and I do not remember in all my reading to have met with so nice an example of justice as that recorded by Plutarch, with which I fall close my paper for this, day.
The city of Sparta being unexpectedly attacked by a powerful army of Thebans, was in very great. danger of falling into the hands of their enemies.. The citizens suddenly gathering themselves into a body, fought with a resolution equal to the neceffity of their affairs, yet no one fo remarkably distinguished himself on this occasion, to the amazement. of both armies, as Ifadas the son of Phæbidas, who ' was at that time in the bloom of his.youth, and veby remarkable for the comeliness of his person. He was coming out of the bath. when the alarm was given, so that he had not time to put on his clothes, much less his armour ; however, transported with a desire to serve his country in so great an exigency, snatching up a spear in one hand and a fword in the other, he flung himself into the thickest ranks of his enemies. Nothing could withstand his fury:: In what part' soever be fought he put the enemies.
to fight without receiving a single wound. Whether, fays Plutarch, he was the particular care of some god, who rewarded his valour that day with an extraordinary protection, or that his enemics, ftruck with the unusualnefs of his dress and beauty of his shape, fuppofed him something more than man, I shall not determine. The galantry of this action was judged so.
great by the Spartans, that the Ephori, or chief magiftrates, decreed he should be presented with a garland; but as soon as they had done so, fined him a thousand drachmas for going out to the battle unarmed. acrookcookiccio**acotheckoctor como o
FRIDAY, JULY 9.
per omnes Terrasque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum.
VIRG, Georg. iv, ver. 221. For God the whole created mass inspires ; Thro' heav'n, and earth, and ocean's depths hc
throws His influence round, and kindles as he goes.
Was yesterday about sun-set walking in the open
fields, until the night infenfibly fell upon me. I at first amused myself with all the richness and variety of colours, which appeared in the western parts of heaven: In proportion as they faded away and went out, several stars and planets appeared one after another, until the whole firmament was in a glow. The blueness of the Æther was exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year, and by the rays of all those luminaries that passed through it. The Galaxy appeared in its most beautiful white. To complete the scene, the full moon rose at length in that clouded majesty which Milton takes notice of, and opened to the
eye a new picture of nature, which was more finely shaded, and disposed among softer lights, than that which the fun had before discovered to us.
As I was surveying the moon walking in her brightness, and taking her progress among the conftellations, a thought rose in me which I believe very often perplexes and disturbs men of serious and contemplative natures. David himself fell into it in that reflexion: When I consider the Heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the four of man that thout regardest him? In the same manner, when I confidered that infinite host of stars, or, to speak more philosophically, of suns, which were then thining upon me, with those innumerable fets of planets or worlds, which were moving round their respective funs; when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another Heaven of funs and worlds rising still above this which we ditcovered, and these ftill enlightened by a superior firmament of luminaries, which are planted at to great a diftance, that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former as the stars do to us; in short, while I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself bore amidst the immensity of God's works.
Were the fun, which enlightens this part of the creation, with all the host of planetary worlds, that move about him, utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would not be niffed more than a grain of fand upon the sea-shore. The space they poffefs is so exceedingly little in comparison of the whole, that it would scarce make a Blank in the creation. The chasm would be imperceptible to an eye, that could take in the whole compass of nature, and pass from one end of the creation to the other; as it is possible there may be such a sense in ourselves hereafter, or in creatures which are at present more exalted than ourselves. We see many stars by the help of glasses, which we do not difcover with our naked.
eyes; and the finer our telescopes are, the more till are out discoveries. Huygenius carried this thought so far, that he does not think it impoffible there
may be stars whose light is not yet travelled down to us, since their first creation. There is no question but the universe has certain bounds set to it ; but when we consider that it is the work of infinite power prompted by infinite goodness, with an infinite space to exert itself in, bow.can our imagination set any bounds to it?
To return therefore to my first thought, I could not but look upon myself with secret horror, as a being that was not worth the smallest regard of one who had so great .a work under his care and su. perintendency. I was afraid of being overlooked amidst the immensity of nature, and lost among that infinite variety of creatures, which in all probability swarm through all these immeasurable regions of matter.
In order to recover myself from this mortifying thought, I considered that it took its rise from those narrow.conceptions, which we are apt to entertain of the Divine Nature. We ourselves cannot attend to many different objects at the fame time. If we are careful to inspect fome things, we must of course neglect others. This imperfection, which we observe in ourselves, is an imperfection that cleaves in some degree to creatures of the highest capacities, as they are creatures, that is, beings of finite and limited natures. The presence of every created being is confined to a certain measure of space, and confequently his observation is stinted to a certain number of objects. The sphere in which we move, and act, and understand, is of a wider circumference to one creature than another, according as we rise one above another in the scale of existence. But the widest of these our spheres has its circumference. When therefore we reflect on the Divine Nature, we are fo used and accustomed
to this imperfection in ourfelves, that we cannot forbear in fome measure afcribing it to him in whom there is no shadow of imperfection. Our reason indeed affures us that his attributes are infi. nite, but the poorness of our couceptions is such that it cannot forbear setting bounds to every thing it contemplates, until our reason comes again to our succour, and throws down all those little preju'dices which rise in us unawares, and are natural to the mind of man.
We shall therefore utterly extinguish this melancholy thought, of our being overlooked by our Maker in the multiplicity of his works, and the infinity of those objects among which he seems to' be inceffantly employed, if we confider, in the first place, that he is omnipresent; and, in the second, that he is omniscient.
If we consider him in his omnipresence: His being passes through, actuates, and supports the whole frame of nature. His creation, and every part of it is full of him. There is nothing he has made, that is either so diftant, so little, or fo inconfiderable, which he does not effentially inhabit. - His fubftance is within the substance of every being whether material or immaterial, and as intimately prefent to it, as that being is to itself. It would be an imperfection in him, were he able to remove out of one place into another, or to withdraw himself from any thing he has created, or from any part of that space which is diffused and spread abroad to infinity. In short, to speak of him in the language of the old philofopher, he is a being whofe centre is every where, and his circumference no where.
In the fecond place, he is omniscient as well as omnipresent. His omniscience indeed neceffarily and naturally flows from his omnipresence; le cannot but be conscious of every motion that arises in the whole material world, which he thus effentially pervades, and of every thought that is stirring in