I shall conclude with the Fable of Boccalini’s Traveller, who was so pester’d with the Noise of Grasshoppers in his Ears, that he alighted from his Horse in great Wrath to kill them all. This, says the Author, was troubling himself to no manner of purpose: Had he pursued his Journey without taking notice of them, the troublesome Insects would have died of themselves in a very few Weeks, and he would have suffered nothing from them.
[quenquam, Nulla venenata littera mista joco est.
[Footnote 2: Enchiridion, Cap. 48 and 64.]
[Footnote 3: Letters and Remains. Trans. by Sir. R. Baker (1655-8).]
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No. 356. Friday,  April 18, 1712. Steele.
Aptissima quaeque dabunt Dii,
Charior est illis homo quam sibi.
It is owing to Pride, and a secret Affectation of a certain Self-Existence, that the noblest Motive for Action that ever was proposed to Man, is not acknowledged the Glory and Happiness of their Being. The Heart is treacherous to it self, and we do not let our Reflections go deep enough to receive Religion as the most honourable Incentive to good and worthy Actions. It is our natural Weakness, to flatter our selves into a Belief, that if we search into our inmost thoughts, we find our selves wholly disinterested, and divested of any Views arising from Self-Love and Vain-Glory. But however Spirits of superficial Greatness may disdain at first sight to do any thing, but from a noble Impulse in themselves, without any future Regards in this or another Being; upon stricter Enquiry they will find, to act worthily and expect to be rewarded only in another World, is as heroick a Pitch of Virtue as human Nature can arrive at. If the Tenour of our Actions have any other Motive than the Desire to be pleasing in the Eye of the Deity, it will necessarily follow that we must be more than Men, if we are not too much exalted in Prosperity and depressed in Adversity: But the Christian World has a Leader, the Contemplation of whose Life and Sufferings must administer Comfort in Affliction, while the Sense of his Power and Omnipotence must give them Humiliation in Prosperity.
It is owing to the forbidding and unlovely Constraint with which Men of low Conceptions act when they think they conform themselves to Religion, as well as to the more odious Conduct of Hypocrites, that the Word Christian does not carry with it at first View all that is Great, Worthy, Friendly, Generous, and Heroick. The Man who suspends his Hopes of the Reward of worthy Actions till after Death, who can bestow unseen, who can overlook Hatred, do Good to his Slanderer, who can never be angry at his Friend, never revengeful to his Enemy, is certainly formed for the Benefit of Society: Yet these are so far from Heroick Virtues, that they are but the ordinary Duties of a Christian.