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tion, will, in a little time, find that "her ways are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace."
To enforce this consideration, we may further observe, that the practice of religion will not only be attended with that pleasure, which naturally accompanies those actions to which we are habituated, but with those supernumerary joys of heart, that rise from the consciousness of such a pleasure; from the satisfaction of acting up to the dictates of reason; and from the prospect of a happy immortality.
In the fourth place, we may learn from this observation which we have made on the mind of man, to take particular care, when we are once settled in a regular course of life, how we too frequently indulge ourselves in even the most innocent diversions and entertainments; since the mind may insensibly fall off from the relish of virtuous actions, and by degrees, exchange that pleasure which it takes in the performance of its duty, for delights of a much inferior and an unprofitable nature.
The last use which I shall make of this remarkable property in human nature, of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is, to show how absolutely necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss we call heaven, will not be capable of affecting those minds which are not thus qualified for it: we must, in this world, gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection, which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures, which are to rise up and flourish in the soul to all eternity, must be planted in it during this its present state of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect of a religious life.
The pleasures resulting from a proper use of our faculties.
HAPPY that man, who, unembarrassed by vulgar cares, master of himself, his time, and fortune, spends his time in making himself wiser; and his fortune, in. making others (and therefore himself) happier; who, as the will and understanding are the two ennobling faculties of the soul, thinks himself not complete, till his understanding is beautified with the valuable furniture of knowledge, as well as his will enriched with every virtue; who has furnished himself with all the advantages to relish solitude and enliven conversation; who when serious, is not sullen; and when cheerful, not indiscreetly gay; whose ambition is, not to be admired for a false glare of greatness, but to be beloved for the gentle and sober lustre of his wisdom and goodThe greatest minister of state has not more business to do, in a public capacity, than he, and indeed every other man, may find in the retired and still scenes of life. Even in his private walks, every thing that is visible convinces him there is present a Being invisible. Aided by natural philosophy, he reads plain legible traces of the Divinity, in every thing he meets he sees the Deity in every tree, as well as Moses did in the burning bush, though not in so glaring a manner and when he sees him, he adores him with the tribute of a grateful heart.
Description of candour.
TRUE candour is altogether different from that guarded inoffensive language, and that studied open,
ness of behaviour, which we so frequently meet with among men of the world, Smiling, very often, is the aspect, and smooth are the words, of those who inwardly are the most ready to think evil of others. That candour which is a Christian virtue, consists, not in fairness of speech, but in fairness of heart. It may want the blandishment of external courtesy, but supplies its place with a humane and generous liberality of sentiment. Its manners are unaffected, and its professions cordial. Exempt, on one hand, from the dark jealousy of a suspicious mind, it is no less removed, on the other, from that easy credulity which is imposed on by every specious pretence. It is perfectly consistent with extensive knowledge of the world, and with due attention to our own safety. In that various intercourse, which we are obliged to carry on with persons of every different character, suspicion, to a certain degree, is a necessary guard. It is only when it exceeds the bounds of prudent caution, that it degenerates into vice. There is a proper means between undistinguished credulity, and universal jealousy, which a sound understanding discerns, and which the man of candour studies to preserve.
He makes allowance for the mixture of evil with good, which is to be found in every human character. He expects none to be faultless: and he is unwilling to believe that there is any without some commendable qualities. In the midst of many defects, he can discover a virtue. Under the influence of personal resentment, he can be just to the merit of an enemy. He never lends an open ear to those defamatory reports and dark suggestions, which, among the tribes of the censorious, circulate with so much rapidity, and meet with so ready acceptance. He is not hasty to judge; and he requires full evidence before he will condemn. As long as an action can be ascribed to different mo tives, he holds it as no mark of sagácity to impute it always to the worst. Where there is just ground for
doubt, he keeps his judgment undecided; and, during the period of suspense, leans to the most charitable construction which an action can bear. When he must condemn, he condems with regret ; and without those aggravations which the severity of others adds to the crime. He listens calmly to the apology of the offender, and readily admits every extenuating circumstance, which equity can suggest. How much soever he may blame the principles of any sect or party, he never confounds, under one general censure, all who belong to that party or sect. He charges them not with such consequences of their tenets, as they refuse and disavow. From one wrong opinion, he does not infer the subversion of all sound principles; nor from one bad action, conclude that all regard to conscience is overthrown. When he "beholds the mote in his brother's eye," he remembers the beam in his own." He commiserates human frailty; and judges of others according to the principles, by which he would think it reasonable that they should judge of him. In a word, he views men and actions in the clear sunshine of charity and goodnature; and not in that dark and sullen shade, which jealousy and party-spirit throw over all characters.
On the imperfection of that happiness which rests solely on worldly pleasures.
THE vanity of human pleasures, is a topic which might be embellished with the pomp of much description. But I shall studiously avoid exaggeration, and only point out a threefold vanity in human life, which every impartial observer cannot but admit; disappointment in pursuit, dissatisfaction in enjoy ment, uncertainty in possession.
First, disappointment in pursuit. When we look
around us on the world, we every where behold a busy multitude, intent on the prosecution of various designs, which their wants or desires have suggested. We behold them employing every method which ingenuity can devise; some the patience of industry, some the boldness of enterprise, others the dexterity of stratagem, in order to compass their ends. Of this incessant stir and activity, what is the fruit? In comparison of the crowd who have toiled in vain, how small is the number of the successful? Or rather where is the man who will declare, that in every point he has completed his plan, and attained his utmost wish? No extent of human abilities has been able to discover a path which, in any line of life, leads unerringly to success. "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor riches to men of understanding." We may form our plans with the most profound sagacity, and the most vigilant caution may guard against dangers on every side. But some unforeseen occurrence comes across, which baffles our wisdom, and lays our labours in the dust.
Were such disappointments confined to those who aspire at engrossing the higher departments of life, the misfortune would be less. The humiliation of the mighty, and the fall of ambition from its towering height, little concern the bulk of mankind. These are objects on which, as on distant meteors, they gaze from afar, without drawing personal instruction from events so much above them. But, alas! when we descend into the regions of private life, we find disappointment and blasted hope equally prevalent there. Neither the moderation of our views, nor the justice of our pretensions, can ensure success. But "timè and chance happen to all." Against the stream of events, both the worthy and the undeserving are obliged to struggle; and both are frequently overborne alike by the current.
Besides disappointment in pursuit, dissatisfaction in