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ST BERNARD'S DYING CHARGE.
Speech ventilates our intellectual fire ;
8. Of all the inconveniences attending the intercourse of mankind, slander and detraction are the most frequent, and in a very high degree odious and detestable. We are told of St Bernard, that when he was drawing near his end, he thus solemnly addressed himself to his brethren, as a dying man bequeathing legacies to his friends. “ Three things I require you to keep and observe; which I remember to have kept, to the best of my power, as long as I have lived. 1. I have not willed to slander any person; and if any have fallen, I have hid it as much as possible. 2. I have ever trusted less to my own wit and understanding than to any other’s. 3. If I were at any time hurt, harmed, and annoyed, I never wished vengeance against the party who so wronged me.” This memorable sentence is peculiarly applicable to every branch of the present subject; defamation, insolent overbearing, and petulant animosity, being the chief ingredients that tend to embitter conversation, and preclude its improvement and advantage.
15. A prudent man will avoid talking much of any particular science, for which he is remarkably famous. There is not a handsomer thing said of Mr Cowley, in his whole life, than that none but his intimate friends ever discovered he was a great poet by his discourse. Besides the decency of this rule, it is certainly founded in that good policy of which Mr Locke, as above mentioned, so well availed himself.
A man who talks of anything he is already famous for, has little to get, but a great deal to lose.
17. Sir Richard Steele observes, that there are some men who on all occasions, in all companies, talk in the same circle and round of chat as they have picked up in their daily peregrinations. I remember, says he, at a full table in the city, one of these ubiquitary wits was entertaining the company with a soliloquy (for so I call it, when a man talks to those who do not understand him) concerning wit and humour. An honest gentleman, who sat next to me, and was worth half a plumb, stared at him, and observing there was some sense, as he thought, mixed with his impertinence, whispered me, Take
my word for it, this fellow is more knave than fool.” This was all my good friend's applause of the wittiest man of talk that I was ever present at, which wanted nothing to make it excellent, but that there was no occasion for it.*
18. The same ingenious author has the following remarks on loquacity. I look upon a tedious talker, or what is generally known by the name of “a story-teller,” to be much more insufferable than even a prolix writer. An author may be tossed out of your hand, and thrown aside, when he grows dull and tiresome; but such liberties are so far from being allowed towards these orators in common conversation, that I have known a challenge sent a person, for going out of the room abruptly, and leaving a man of honour in the midst of a dissertation. The life of man is too short for a story-teller. Methusalem might be half an hour in telling what o'clock it was : but for us post-diluvians, we ought to do everything in
* See Tatler, No. 244,
haste; and in our speeches, as well as actions, remember that our time is short. I would establish but one great general rule to be observed in all conversation, which is this, " That men should not talk to please themselves, but those that hear them.” This would make them consider, whether what they speak be worth hearing; whether there be either wit or sense in what they are about to say; and whether it be adapted to the time when, the place where, and the person to whom it is spoken.
SAMUEL OGDEN was born at Manchester, July 28, 1716. He studied first at King's College, Cambridge, and afterwards at St John's. For some time he was master of the Free Grammar School at Halifax; but in 1753 he resigned it and came to reside at Cambridge, where he continued till his death, March 22, 1778. He was not only a Fellow of St John's, but Woodwardian Professor; and most of his sermons were delivered in the parish church of St Sepulchre to a numerous audience of students and the younger members of the university.
Usually cold, and sometimes feeble, there is nevertheless in Dr Ogden's sermons much that is instructive and pleasing. They are short—they are neat—they usually contain some important thought or original idea—and they are the work of a man who knows his own mind.
The Entercessor's Prayer coming back into his own Bosom.
[The text is Job xlii. 10, “ The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.”]
Among the several competitors for the throne of a certain ancient kingdom, in order to put an amicable end to the contest, and at the same time to refer the decision of it in some sort to
heaven, it was agreed, that he should be the successful candidate who should first behold the rays of the rising sun. So while the rest were gazing with their eyes fixed on that part of the horizon where they expected the great luminary of the day, the god of Persia, to ascend, one of the number bore away the royale prize by turning his face toward the west. He discovered a stream of the sun's beams by reflection from the summit of a mountain, or the pinnacle of a temple, before any part of his orb was yet visible by a direct light.
This story has the appearance of a little allegory, rather than of true history; and it is possible the meaning may be this, that he who carried the crown in that competition succeeded by not appearing too forward and eager in the pursuit. He modestly declined, he turned his face away from that great dignity; and for this very reason, it met him with the more willingness. The things which we desire the most ardently are not always to be demanded eagerly. Extreme selfishness is often the cause of its own disappointment. The greedy go away unfed ;
while he that “scattereth, increaseth," and the liberal are loaded with good.
“The Lord appeared unto Solomon, and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered, nor counted for multitude : give therefore thy servant an understanding heart. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words; lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart: and I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour.“
How charming is the contest between beneficence and modesty! the liberal hand and the disinterested bosom! Even
the receiver divides the glory with his divine Benefactor; and his generous concern for others returns with accumulated benefits and blessings upon himself.
Attend to the example of Job. Under the pressure of his great calamities and afflictions, he applied himself, and no wonder, to God by prayer; and being a good man, we may be allowed to suppose, that his petitions were not fruitless. But the petition which achieved his recovery, or, however, that which he was offering up at the moment in which it pleased Almighty God to accomplish it, was a petition for other per
It is written, " The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.”
How signal is this instance of God's dispensations ! what lustre doth it reflect upon that part of our applications to Him, which we allot to the benefit of our brethren. You observe, that this eminent pattern of piety and of patience had been both frequent and carnest in his supplications in his own favour; complaining, pleading, and, like another Jacob, wrestling with God: “O that my grief were thoroughly weighed ! it would be heavier than the sand ; and
words are swalO that I might have my request, that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee? I will speak in the bitterness of my soul; is it good unto thee, that thou shouldest oppress ? that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands ? Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again ?”
Job, we see, was sufficiently vehement in his own behalf : and yet, as if his expostulations were all in vain, “ Though I speak, saith he, my grief is not assuaged : and though I forbear, what am I eased ? God hath delivered me up to the ungodly. He breaketh me with breach upon breach. My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death. I have said to corruption, Thou art my father; to the