The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 3,418 pages of information about The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3.


[Footnote 1:  Eccl. ix. 14-16.]

[Footnote 2:  Proverbs xxx. 7-9.]

[Footnote 3:  The Plutus.]

[Footnote 4:  [were]]

[Footnote 5:  [Man]]

* * * * *

No. 465.  Saturday, August 23, 1712.  Addison.

  ’Qua ratione queas traducere leniter aevum: 
  Ne te semper inops agitet vexetque cupido;
  Ne pavor et rerum mediocriter utilium Spes.’


Having endeavoured in my last Saturday’s Paper to shew the great Excellency of Faith, I here consider what are proper Means of strengthning and confirming it in the Mind of Man.  Those who delight in reading Books of Controversie, which are written on both sides of the Question in Points of Faith, do very seldom arrive at a fixed and settled Habit of it.  They are one Day entirely convinced of its important Truths, and the next meet with something that shakes and disturbs them.  The Doubt [which [1]] was laid revives again, and shews it self in new Difficulties, and that generally for this Reason, because the Mind which is perpetually tost in Controversies and Disputes, is apt to forget the Reasons which had once set it at rest, and to be disquieted with any former Perplexity, when it appears in a new Shape, or is started by a different Hand.  As nothing is more laudable than an Enquiry after Truth, so nothing is more irrational than to pass away our whole Lives, without determining our selves one way or other in those Points which are of the last Importance to us.  There are indeed many things from which we may with-hold our Assent; but in Cases by which we are to regulate our Lives, it is the greatest Absurdity to be wavering and unsettled, without closing with that Side which appears the most safe and [the] most probable.  The first Rule therefore which I shall lay down is this, that when by Reading or Discourse we find our selves thoroughly convinced of the Truth of any Article, and of the Reasonableness of our Belief in it, we should never after suffer our selves to call it into question.  We may perhaps forget the Arguments which occasioned our Conviction, but we ought to remember the Strength they had with us, and therefore still to retain the Conviction which they once produced.  This is no more than what we do in every common Art or Science, nor is it possible to act otherwise, considering the Weakness and Limitation of our Intellectual Faculties.  It was thus, that Latimer, one of the glorious Army of Martyrs who introduced the Reformation in England, behaved himself in that great Conference which was managed between the most learned among the Protestants and Papists in the Reign of Queen Mary.  This venerable old Man knowing how his Abilities were impaired by Age, and that it was impossible for him to recollect all those Reasons which had directed

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