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But he confined himself to five points only as meant by the apostle; viz. Keeping holy the Sabbath Day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy scriptures. 3. Attending duly the public worship. 4. Partaking of the Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers. These might be all good things, but as they were not the kind of good things that I expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. I had some years before composed a little liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use, (viz. in 17128,) entitled, Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. * I returned to the use of this, and went no more to the public assemblies. My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it without attempting further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not to make apologies for them.
It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection; I wished to live without committing any fault at anytime, and to conquer all that either natural inclination, custom or company, might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined: while my attention was taken up, and care employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another: habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded at length that the mere speculative conviction, that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependance on a steady uniform rectitude of conduct. . For this purpose I therefore tried the following method.
In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking; while by others it was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure, appetite, inclination or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice and ambition. I proposed to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annexed to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues, all that at that time occurred to me as necessary or desirable; and annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I gave to its meaning.
These names of virtues, with their precepts, were;
2 See Papers on Religious Subjects.
1. TEMPERANCE.—Eat not to dulness: drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE.—Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself: avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER.—Let all your things have their places: let each part of your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION.—Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail, what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY.—Make no expence but to do good to others or yourself; i. e. Waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY.—Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY.—Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE.—Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are 'your duty.
9. MODERATION.—Avoid extremes: forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS.—Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILLITY.—Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY.—Rarely use venery, but for health or offspring; never to dulness or weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another; and so on till I should have gone through the thirteen. And as the previous acquisition of some, might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and a guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquired and established, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improved in virtue; and considering that in conversation it was obtained rather by the use of the ear than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning and jesting, (which only made me acceptable to trifling company) I gave Silence the second place. This and the next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies. Resolution once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavours to obtain all the subsequent virtues; Frugality and Industry relieving me from my remaining debt and producing affluence and independence, would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, &c, &c, Conceiving then, that agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses, daily examination would be necessary; I contrived the following method for conducting that examination.
I made a little book in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. I ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I crossed these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues ; on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue, upon that day.'
FORM OF THE PAGES.
1 This little book is dated, Sunday 1st July 1733, and is in the Editor's possession.
I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offence against Temperance; leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line marked T. clear of spots, I supposed the habit of that virtue so much strengthened, and its opposite weakened, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next; and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could get through a course complete in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like him who having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, (which would exceed his reach and his strength,) but works on one of the beds at a time, and having accomplished the first, proceeds to a second; so I should have (I hoped) the encouraging pleasure, of seeing on my pages the progress made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots; 'till in the end by a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, after a thirteen weeks' daily examination.
This my little book had for its motto, these lines from Addison's Cato:
*' Here will I hold: If there's a Power above us, (And that there is, all Nature cries aloud Through all her works,) He must delight in Virtue; And that which he delights in must be happy." Another from Cicero, "OVitœ Philosophia Dux I O Virtutum indagatrix expultrixque vitiorum! Unus Dies bene, et ex prœceptis tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati est anteponendus."
Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom or virtue: "Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit his assistance for obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little prayer, which was prefixed to my tables of examination, for daily use.
"O powerful goodness! bountiful father! merciful guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolution to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to thy other children, as the only return in my power for thy continual favors to me."
I used also sometimes a little prayer which I, took from Thomson's Poems, viz.
From every low pursuit; and fill my soul
With knowledge, conscious peace and virtue pure;
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!" The precept of Order, requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time, one page in my little book contained the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day.
Orning. n Rjse> Wash, and address Powerful Goodness! contrive day's
The Question. What good 6 f business, aud take the resolution of the day ; prosecute the pre
shall I do this day?
I sent study and breakfast. 7)
I entered upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continued it with occasional intermissions for some time. I was surprized to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which, by scraping out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in a new course, became full of holes, I transformed my tables and precepts to