« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Is it not strange, (says an ingenious writer,) that some persons should be so delicate as not to bear a disagreeable picture in the house, and yet by their behaviour, force every face they see about them, to wear the gloom of uneasiness and discontent?
If we are now in health, peace, and safety; without any particular or uncommon evils to afflict our condition; what more can we reasonably look for in this vain and uncertain world? How little can the greatest prosperity add to such a state? Will any future situation ever make us happy, if now, with so few causes of grief, we imagine ourselves miserable? The evil lies in the state of our mind, not in our condition of fortune; and by no alteration of circumstances is likely to be remedied.
When the love of unwarrantable pleasures, and of vicious companions, is allowed to amuse young persons, to engross their time, and to stir up their passions, the day of ruin, let them take heed, and beware! the day of irrecoverable ruin begins to draw nigh. Fortune is squandered; health is broken; friends are offended, affronted, estranged; aged parents, perhaps, sent afflicted and mourning to the dust.
On whom does time hang so heavily, as on the slothful and lazy? To whom are the hours so lingering? Who are so often devoured with spleen, and obliged to fly to every expedient which can help them to get rid of themselves? Instead of producing tranquillity, indolence produces a fretful restlessness of mind; gives rise to cravings which are never satisfied; nourishes a sickly, effeminate delicacy which sours and corrupts every pleasure.
WE have seen the husbandman scattering his seed upon the furrowed ground! It springs up, is gathered into his barns, and crowns his labours with joy and plenty. Thus the man who distributes his fortune with generosity and prudence, is amply repaid by the gratitude of those whom he obliges, by the approbation of his own mind, and by the favour of Heaven.
Temperance, by fortifying the mind and body, leads to happiness; intemperance, by enervating them, ends generally in misery.
Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious: but an ill one, more chatemptible. Vice is infamous, though in a prince; and virtue honourable, thugh in a peasant.
An elevated genius, employed in little things, appears (to use the simile of Longinus) like the sun in his evening declination he remits his splendour, but retains his magnitude; and pleases more, though he dazzles less.
If envious people were to ask themselves, whether they would exchange their entire situations with the persons envied, (I mean their minds, passions, notions, as well as their persons, fortunes, and dignities.)-I presume the self-love, common to human nature, would generally make them prefer their own condition.
We have obliged some persons :-very well!-what would we have more? Is not the consciousness of doing good, a sufficient reward?
Do not hurt yourselves or others, by the pursuit of pleasure. Consult your whole nature. Consider yourselves not only as sensitive, but as rational beings; not only as rational, but social; not only as social, but immortal.
Art thou poor?-Show thyself active and industrious, peaceable and contented. Art thou wealthy ?-Show thyself beneficent and charitable, condescending and humane. Though religion removes not all the evils of life; though it promises no continuance of undisturbed prosperity, (which indeed it were not salutary for man always to enjoy,) yet, if it mitigates the evils which necessarily belong to our state it may justly be said to give "rest to them who labour and are heavy laden."
What a smiling aspect does the love of parents and children, of brothers and sisters, of friends and relations, give to every surrounding object, and every returning day! With what a lustre does it gild even the small habitation, where this placid intercourse dwells! where such scenes of heartfelt satisfaction succeed uninterrruptedly to one anoth
How many clear marks of benevolent intention appear every where around us! What a profusion of beauty and ornament is poured forth on the face of nature! What a magnificent spectacle presented to the view of man! What supply contrived for his wants! What a variety of objects set before him, to gratify his senses, to employ his understanding, to entertain his imagination, to cheer and gladden his heart!
The hope of future happiness is a perpetual source of consolation to good men. Under trouble, it soothes their minds; amidst temptation, it supports their virtue; and in
their dying moments, enables them to say, "O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory ?"
AGESILAUS, king of Sparta, being asked, "What things he thought most proper for boys to learn," answered, "Those which they ought to practise when they come to be men.” A wiser than Agesilaus has inculcated the same sentiment: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
An Italian philosopher expressed in his motto, that "time was his estate." An estate indeed, which will produce nothing without cultivation; but which will always abundantly repay the labours of industry, and satisfy the most extensive desires, if no part of it be suffered to lie waste by negligence, to be overrun with noxious plants, or laid out for show rather than use.
When Aristotle was asked, "What a man could gain by telling a falsehood." he replied, "not to be credited when he speaks the truth."
L'Estrange, in his Fables, tells us that a number of frolicsome boys were one day watching frogs, at the side of a pond; and that as any of them put their heads above the water, they pelted them down again with stones. One of the frogs, appealing to the humanity of the boys, made this striking observation: "Children, you do not consider, that though this may be sport to you, it is death to us."
Sully, the great statesman of France always retained at his table, in his most prosperous days, the same frugality to which he had been accustomed in early life. He was frequently reproached, by the courtiers, for his simplicity; but he used to reply to them, in the words of an ancient philosapher: "If the guests are men of sense, there is sufficient for them; if they are not, I can very well dispense with their company.
Socrates, though primarily attentive to the culture of is mind, was not negligent of his external appearance. His cleanliness resulted from those ideas of order and decency, which governed his actions; and the care which he took of his health, from his desire to preserve his mind free and tranquil.
Eminently pleasing and honourable was the friendship be tween David and Jonathan. "I am distressed for thee, my Irother Jonathan," said the plaintive and surviving David;
"very pleasant hast thou been to me: thy love for me was wonderful; passing the love of women."
Sir Philip Sidney, at the battle near Zutphen, was wounded by a musket ball, which broke the bone of his thigh. He was carried about a mile and a half, to the camp; and being faint with the loss of blood, and probably parched with thirst through the heat of the weather, he called for drink. 'It was immediately brought to him; but, as he was putting the vessel to his mouth, a poor wounded soldier, who happened at that instant to be carried by him, looked up to it with wistful eyes. The gallant and generous Sydney took the bottle from his mouth, and delivered it to the soldier, saying, "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine."
Alexander the Great demanded of a pirate, whom he had taken, by what right he infested the seas?"By the same right," replied he, "that Alexander enslaves the world. But I am called a robber, because I have only one small vessel; and he is styled a conqueror, because he commands great fleets and armies." We too often judge of men by the splendour, and not by the merit of their actions.
Antonius Pius, the Roman emperor, was an amiable and good man. When any of his courtiers attempted to inflame him with a passion for military glory, he used to answer.
That he more desired the preservation of one subject, than the destruction of a thousand enemies."
Men are too often ingenious in making themselves miserable, by aggravating to their own fancy, beyond bounds, all the evils which they endure. They compare themselves with none but those whom they imagine to be more happy; and complain, that upon them alone has fallen the whole load of human sorrows. Would they look with a more impartial eye on the world, they would see themselves surrounded with sufferers; and find that they are only drinking out of that mixed cup, which Providence has prepared for all. “I will restore thy daughter again to life," said the eastern sage to a prince who grieved immoderately for the loss of a beloved child," provid ed thou art able to engrave on her tomb the names of three persons who have never mourned." The prince made inquiry after such persons: but found the inquiry vain, and was silent.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit, is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith.
Pride goeth before destruction; and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Hear council and receive instruction that thou mayest be truly wise.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Open rebuke is better than secret love. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him.
He that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord; that which he hath given will he pay him again.
If thine enemy be hungry give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?
I have been young and now I am old; yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread..
It is better to be a door-keeper in the house of the Lord, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
I have seen the wicked in great power; and spreading himself like a green bay-tree. Yet he passed away; I sought him, but he could not be found.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour: her ways are ways of plea santness, and all her paths are peace,
How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like precious ointment; like the dew of Hermon, and the dew that descended the moun. upon tains of Zion.
The sluggard will not plough, by reason of the cold; he shall therefore beg in harvest, and have nothing.
I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding: and lo! it was all grown over with thorns; nettles had covered its face; and the stone wall was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
Honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time; nor that which is measured by number of years: but wisdom is the grey hair to man; and an unspotted life is