« PreviousContinue »
9. Hence we often see persons of the greatest worth betray the most anxiety concerning what is said of them in their absence. And well they may when recollecting that it is on the breath of the public our character depends. By a strange perversion of reason and propriety, it has become but too common to ridicule a person until a thorough acquaintance compels us to acknowledge his worth. Instead of charitably believing him possessed of merit, until we know him otherwise, we cruelly oppress till we find it of no avail, and then reluctantly cry-let him live.
10. How unreasonable to ridicule the person of whom we know little or nothing. To this practice it is owing, perhaps, more than to any other, that so many worthy persons are kept in disrepute ; for to what other cause can we attribute it? Or what is the cause of those broils and misunderstandings we so often witness in society? What is it that imposes so many barriers to social enjoyment? What that blasts the fairest reputation, and sinks the envied possessor into disgrace and ruin?
The Ungrateful Guest. 1. Philip, king of Macedon, is celebrated for an act of private justice, which does great honour to his memory. A certain soldier in the Macedonian army, had, in various instances, distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of valour; and had received many marks of Philip's approbation and favour. On a particular occasion, this soldier embarked on board a vessel, which was wrecked by a violent storm; and he was cast on the shore, helpless and naked, with scarcely any appearance of life. A Macedonian, whose lands were contiguous to the sea, came opportunely to be witness of his distress ; and, with the most humane and charitable tenderness, few to the relief of the unhappy stranger. He bore him to his house, laid him in his own bed, revived, cherished, and comforted him; and, for forty days, supplied him freely with all the necessaries and conveniences, which his languishing condition could require. The soldier, thus happily rescued from death, was incessant in the warmest expressions of gratitude to his benefactor ; assured him of his interest with the king ; and of his determipation to
obtain for him, from the royal bounty, the noble returns which such extraordinary benevolence had merited. He was at length completely recovered ; and was supplied by his kind host with money to pursue his journey.
2. After some time, the soldier présented himself before the king; he recounted his misfortunes ; he magnified his services: and this inhuman wretch, who had looked with an eye of envy on the possessions of the man by whom his life had been preserved, was so devoid of gratitude, and of every humane sentiment, as to request that the king would bestow upon him the house and lands, where he had been so tenderly and kindly en- kles tertained. Unhappily, Philip, without examination, precipi-apa tately granted his infamous request. The soldier then return- majo ed to his preserver, and repaid his goodness, by driving him from his settlement, and taking immediate possession of all the fruits of his honest industry.
3. The poor man, stưng with such an instance of unparallel lett, ed ingratitude and insensibility, boldly determined, instead of a 20 submitting to his wrongs, to seek relief; and, in a letter ad- pital dressed to Philip, represented his own, and the soldier's con- men duct, in a lively and affecting manner. The king was instantly !! fired with indignation. He ordered that ample justice should justed be done without delay ; that the possessions should be imme- ja tied diately restored to the man whose charitable offices had been tour thus horribly repaid ; and, to show bis abhorrence of the deed, midis he caused the soldier to be seized, and to have these words branded on his forehead : The Ungrateful Guest.'
A True Friend. 1. Concerning the man you call your friend, tell me, will die he weep with you in the hour of distress? Will he faithfully , reprove you to your face, for actions for which others are ridi- Riga culing, or .censuring you behind your back? Will he dares stand forth in your defence, when detraction is secretly aiming its deadly weapons at your reputation ? Will he acknowledge you with the same cordiality, and behave to you with the same friendly attention, in the company of your superiours in rank and fortune, as when the claims of pride or vanity do not interfere with those of friendship ?
2. If misfortunes and losses should oblige you to retire into the walks of humble life, in which you cannot appear with the same distinction, or entertain your friends with the same liberality as formerly, will he still think himself happy in your society ?. And instead of gradually withdrawing himself from an
unprofitable connexion, take pleasure in professing himself your friend, and cheerfully assist you to support the burden of your afflictions ?
3. When sickness sball call you to retire from the gay and busy scenes of the world, will he follow you into your gloomy retreat, and listen with attention to your tale of wo? Will he administer the balm of consolation to your fainting spirit? And lastly, when death shall burst asunder every earthly tie, will he shed a tear upon your grave, and lodge the dear remembrance of your mutual friendship in his heart, as a treasure never to be resigned? The man who will not do all this, may be your companion, your flatterer, your seducer~but believe me, he is not your friend.
True Pleasure. 1. The man whose heart is replete with pure and unaffected piety, who looks upon the great Creator of the universe, in that just and amiable light which all his works reflect upon him, can, not fail of tasting the sublimest pleasure, in contemplating the stupendous and innumerable effects of his infinite goodness.
2. Whether he looks abroad on the moral or natural world, his reflections must still be attended with delight; and the sense of his own unworthiness, so far from lessening, will increase his pleasure, while it places the forbearing kindness and indulgence of his Creator, in a still more interesting point of view. :.3. Here his mind may dwell upon the present, look back to the past, or stretch forward into futurity, with equal satisfaction; and the more he indulges contemplation, the higher will his delight arise. Such a disposition as this, seems to be the most secure foundation on which the fabric of true pleasure can be built.
4. Next to the veneration of the Supreme Being, the love of human kind seems to be the most promising source of pleasure. It is a never-failing one to him, who, possessed of this principle, enjoys all the power of indulging his benevolence; who makes the superiority of his fortune, his knowledge, or his power, subservient to the wants of his fellow-creatures. . 5. It is true there are few whose power or fortune are so adequate to the wants of mankind, as to render them capable of performing acts of universal beneficence; but a spirit of universal benevolence may be possessed by all ; and the bounteous Author of Nature has not proportioned the pleasure to the greatness of the effect, but to the greatness of the cause. - 6. The contemplation of the beauties of the universe, the cordial enjoyments of friendship, the tender delights of love, and the rational pleasures of religion, are open to all; and each of them seem capable of giving real happiness. These being the only foundations from which true pleasure springs, it is no wonder that 'many should be compelled to say they have found it; and still cry out, “Who will show us any good ? They seek it in every way but the right way; they want a heart for devotion, humanity, and love, and a taste for what is truly beautiful and admirable.
The Wisdom of Providence. 1. In contemplating the various scenes of life, the vicissitudes of the seasons, the perfect regularity, order, and harmony of nature, we cannot but be filled with wonder and admiration, at the consummate wisdom and beneficence of the all-wise and gracious Creator. His consummate wisdom and goodness have made the various seasons of the year perfectly consonant to the refined feelings of man, and peculiarly adapted them to the universal preservation of nature.
2. Dreary winter is past; its severe cold is mitigated, the re. turning zepbyrs dissolve the fleecy snow, and unlock the frozen streams, which overflow the extensive meadows, and enrich the teeming earth. At length the rapid streams begin to glide gently within their banks; the spacious meadows soon receive their usual verdure, and the whole face of nature assumes a cheerful aspect. By the refreshing showers, and vivifying power of the genial sun, we behold the rapid and amazing progress of vegetation.
3. What is more pleasing to the eye, or grateful to the imagination, than the agreeable and delightsome return of spring? The beauties of nature at once expel the gloomy cares of dreary winter. The benign influence of the sun gives a brisk circulation to the animal fluids, and happily tends to promote the propagation of animated nature. In the spring we behold the buds putting forth their blossoms ; in summer we meet the charming prospect of enamelled fields, which promise a rich profusion of autumnal fruits.
4. These delightful scenes afford to man a pleasing anticipation of enjoying the bounties of Providence, cheer him in adversity, and support him under the various misfortunes incident to human life. In the spring, when we behold plants and flowers peeping out of the ground, reviving and flourishing at the approach of the vernal sun; when we behold the seed, which the laborious husbandman casts into the earth, starting into life, and rising into beauty, from the remainder of that which
perished in the preceding autumn, we are filled with the most pleasing sensations at the universal re-animation of nature.
5. The warm and invigorating sun produces myriads of insects, which have been lifeless through the hoary frosts of winter. The herds go forth to graze on the verdant plains. The numerous flocks quit their folds with their young, to feed on the distant mountains. The matin lark, with all the charming choir which nature wakes to cheerfulness and love, tune their melodious voices to hail the welcome return of spring. The busy bee flies over the fields, and extracts the liquid sweets from every flower.
6. How pleasing ! how wonderful ! how delightful are the scenes presented to our view! The spring of the year is strikingly emblematical of that grand and universal resurrection, which shall commence at the final consummation of all things. May its beauties, therefore, raise our affections to those superiour regions of bliss, into which the truly virtuous shall then enter, and forever enjoy an unfading and eternal spring.
Comforts of Religion. : 1. THERE are many who have passed the age of youth and beauty; who have resigned the pleasures of that smiling season ; who begin to decline into the vale of years, impaired in their health, depressed in their fortunes, stript of their friends, their children, and perhaps still more tender connections. What resource can this world afford them? It presents a dark and dreary waste, through which there does not issue a single ray of comfort. Every delusive prospect of ambition is now at an end ; long experience of mankind, an experience very different from what the open and generous soul of youth had fondly dreampt of, has rendered the heart almost inaccessible to new friendships. The principal sources of activity are taken away, when those for whom we labour, are cut off from us ; those who animated, and those who sweetened all the toils of life. Where then can the soul find refuge, but in the bosom of Religion? There she is admitted to those prospects of Providence and futurity, which alone can warm and fill the heart. I speak here of such as retain the feelings of humanity; whom misfortunes have softened, and perhaps rendered more delicately sensible : not of such as possess that stupid insensibility, which some are pleased to dignify with the name of philosophy.
2. It might therefore be expected, that those philosophers who think they stand in no need themselves of the assistance of religion to support their virtue, and who never feel the want of