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chases at too dear a price. Inure yourselves frequent confideration of the emptinefs of thofe pleasures which excite fo much Arife and commotion among mankind. Think how much more of true enjoyment is loft by the violence of paffion, than by the want of thofe things which give occafion to that paffion. Perfuade yourfelves, that the favour of God, and the poffeffion of virtue, form the chief happinefs of the rational nature. Let a contented mind, and a peaceful life, hold the next place in your eftimation. These are the conclufions which the wife and thinking part of mankind have always formed. To thefe conclufions, after having run the race of paflion, you will probably come at the haft. By forming them betimes, you would make a feasonable efcape from that tempetuous region, through which none can pafs without fuffering mifery, contracting guilt, and undergoing fevere remorse,

Blair.

60. The Beginnings of Paffion to be opposed.

Oppofe early the beginnings of paffion. Avon particularly all fuch objects as are apt to excite paffions which you know to predominate within you. As foon as you And the tempeft rifing, have recourfe to every proper method, either of allaying its violence, or of escaping to a calmer fore. Hatten to call up emotions of an oppofte nature. Study to conquer one pation by means of fome other which is of lefs dangerous tendency. Never account any thing fmall or trivial, which is in hazard of introducing diforder into your heart. Never make light of any defire which you feel gaining fuch progrefs as to threaten entire dominion. Blandifhing it will appear at the first. As a gentle and innocent emotion, it may fteal into the heart; but as it advances, is likely to pierce you through with many forrows. What you indulged as a favourite amusement, will fhortly become a serious bufinefs, and in the end may prove the burden of your life. Most of our paflions flatter us in their rife: but their beginnings are treacherous; their growth is imperceptible; and the evils which they carry in their train, lie concealed, until their domiaion is eftablished. What Solomon fays of one of them, holds true of them all, that their beginning is as when one letteth f out water.' It iffues from a fmall chink, which once might have been easily stopped; but being neglected, it is foon widened

by the ftream, till the bank is at laft totally thrown down, and the flood is at liberty to deluge the whole plain. Ibid.

§ 61. The Government of Temper, as included in the Keeping of the Heart.

Paffions are quick and ftrong emotions, which by degrees fubfide. Temper is the difpofition which remains after thefe emotions are paft, and which forms the habitual propenfity of the foul. The one are like the ftream when it is fwoln by the torrent, and ruffled by the winds; the other resembles it when running within its bed, with its natural force and velocity. The influence of temper is more filent and imperceptible than that of paffion; it operates with lefs violence; but as its operation is conftant, it produces effects no lefs confiderable. It is evident, therefore, that it highly deferves to be confidered in a religious view.

Many, indeed, are averfe to behold it in this light. They place a good temper upon the fame footing with a healthy conftitution of body. They confider it as a natural felicity which fome enjoy; but for the want of which, others are not morally culpable, nor accountable to God: and hence the opinion has fometimes prevailed, that a bad temper might be confiftent with a state of grace. If this were true, it would overturn that whole doctrine, of which the gofpel is fo full,that regeneration, or change of nature, is the effential characteriftic of a Chriftian.' It would fuppofe, that grace might dwell amidst malevolence and rancour, and that heaven might be enjoyed by fuch as are ftrangers to charity and love.-It will readily be admitted that fome, by the original frame of their mind, are more favourably inclined than others, towards certain good difpofitions and habits. But this affords no juftification to thofe who neglect to oppofe the corruptions to which they are prone. Let no man imagine, that the human heart is a foil altogether unfufceptible of culture! or that the worft temper may not, through the affiftance of grace, be reformed by attention and difcipline. Settled depravity of temper, is always owing to our own indulgence, If, in place of checking, we nourish that malignity of difpofition to which we are inclined, all the confequences will be placed to our account, and every excufe, from natural conftitution, be re. jected at the tribunal of Heaven.

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Ibid

$62.

62. A peaceable Temper and condefcend

ing Manners recommended.

What first prefents itself to be recommended, is a peaceable temper; a difpofition averfe to give offence, and defirous of cultivating harmony, and amicable intercourse in fociety. This fuppofes yielding and condescending manners, unwillingness to contend with others about trifles, and, in contests that are unavoidable, proper moderation of fpirit. Such a temper is the firit principle of felf-enjoyment: it is the bafis of all order and happinefs among mankind. The pofitive and contentious, the rude and quarrelfome, are the bane of fociety; they feem deftined to blast the small share of comfort which nature has here allotted to man. But they cannot disturb the peace of others, more than they break their own. The hurricane rages firit in their own bofom, before it is let forth upon the world. In the tempeft which they raife, they are always loft; and frequently it is their lot to perish.

A peaceable temper must be fupported by a candid one, or a difpofition to view the conduct of others with fairness and impartiality. This ftands opposed to a jealous and fufpicious temper, which afcribes every action to the worst motive, and throws a black fhade over every character. As you would be happy in your felves, or in your connections with others, guard against this malignant fpirit. Study that charity which thinketh no evil; that temper which, without degenerating into credulity, will dispose you to be juft; and which can allow you to obferve an error, without imputing it as a crime. Thus you will be kept free from that continual irritation which imaginary injuries raife in a fufpicious breaft; and will walk among men as your brethren, not your enemies.

But to be peaceable, and to be candid, is not all that is required of a good man. He must cultivate a kind, generous, and fympathizing temper, which feels for diftrefs wherever it is beheld; which enters into the concerns of his friends with ardour; and to all with whom he has intercourse, is gentle, obliging, and humane. How amiable appears fuch a difpofition, when contrafted with a malicious or envious temper, which wraps itself up in its own narrow interefts, looks with an evil eye on the fuccefs of others, and with an unnatural fatisfaction feeds on their dif

does he know of the true happinefs of life, appointments or miferies! How little who is a stranger to that intercourse of good offices and kind affections, which, by a pleafing charm, attach men to one another, and circulate joy from heart to heart! Blair.

§ 63. Numerous Occafions offer for the Exertion of a benevolent Temper.

You are not to imagine that a benevolent temper finds no exercife, unless, when opportunities offer of performing actions of high generofity, or of extenfive utility: thefe may feldom occur: the condition of the greater part of mankind in a good measure precludes them. But in the ordi nary round of human affairs, a thousand occafions daily present themselves of mitigating the vexations which others fuffer, of foothing their minds, of aiding their intereft, of promoting their chearfulness, or eafe. Such occafions may relate to the fmaller incidents of life: But let us remember, that of fmall incidents, the system of human life is chiefly compofed. The attentions which refpect thefe, when fuggefted by real benignity of temper, are often more material to the happiness of thofe around us, than actions which carry the appearance of greater dignity and fplendour. No wife or good man ought to account any rules of behaviour as below his regard, which tend to cement the great brotherhood of mankind in comfortable union.

Particularly in the courfe of that familiar intercourfe which belongs to domestic life, all the virtues of temper find an ample range. It is very unfortunate, that within that circle, men too often think themfelves at liberty to give unrestrained vent to the caprice of paffion and humour. Whereas there, on the contrary, more than any where, it concerns them to attend to the government of their heart; to check what is violent in their tempers, and to foften what is harfh in their manners. For there the temper is formed. There the real character difplays itself. The forms of the world difguife men when abroad; but within his own family, every man is known to be what he truly is.—in all our intercourfe, then, with others, particularly in that which is clofeft and most intimate, let us cultivate a peaceable, a candid, a gentle and friendly temper. This is the temper to which, by repeated injunctions, our holy religion feeks to form us.

This

was

was the temper of Christ. This is the temper of Heaven. Blair.

164 A contented Temper the greatest Bleffing, and moft material Requifites to the proper Difcharge of our Duties.

A contented temper is one of the greateft bleffings that can be enjoyed by man, and one of the moft material requifites to the proper difcharge of the duties of every ftation. For a fretful and difcontented temper renders one incapable of performing aright any part in life. It is unthankful and impious towards God; and towards men provoking and unjuft. It is a gangrene which preys on the vitals, and infects the whole conftitution with disease and putrefaction. Subdue pride and vanity, and you will take the moft effectual method of eradicating this diftemper. You will no longer behold the objects around you with jaundiced eyes. You will take in good part the bleffings which Providence is pleafed to bestow, and the degree of favour which your fellow-creatures are difpofed to grant you. Viewing yourfelves, with all your imperfections and failings, in a juft light, you will rather be furprifed at your enjoying fo many good things, than difcontented because there are any which you want. From an humble and contented temper, will spring a chearful one. This, if not in itself a virtue, is at least the garb in which virtue should be always arrayed. Piety and goodness ought never to be marked with that dejection which fometimes takes rife from fuperftition, but which is the proper portion only of guilt. At the fame time, the chearfulness belonging to virtue, is to be carefully diftinguished from that light and giddy temper which characterifes folly, and is fo often found among the diffipated and vicious part of mankind. Their gaiety is owing to a total want of reflection; and brings with it the ufual confequences of an unthinking habit, fhame, remorfe, and heavinefs of heart, in the end. The chearfulness of a well-regulated mind, fprings from a good confcience and the favour of Heaven, and is bounded by temperance and reafon. It makes a man happy in himself, and promotes the happinefs of all around him. It is the clear and calm funfhine of a mind illuminated by piety and virtue. It crowns all other good difpofitions, and comprehends the general effect which they ought to produce on the heart.

Ibid.

$65. The Defire of Praise fubfervient to

many valuable Purpofes.

To a variety of good purposes it is fubfervient, and on many occafions co-operates with the principle of virtue. It a wakens us from floth, invigorates activity, and stimulates our efforts to excel. It has given rife to most of the fplendid, and to many of the useful enterprizes of men. It has animated the patriot, and fired the hero. Magnanimity, generofity, and fortitude, are what all mankind admire. Hence, fuch as were actuated by the defire of extenfive fame, have been prompted to deeds which either participated of the fpirit, or at least carried the appearance, of diftinguished virtue. The defire of praife is generally connected with all the finer fenfibilities of human nature. It affords a ground on which exhortation, counfel, and reproof, can work a proper effect. Whereas, to be entirely destitute of this paffion betokens an ignoble mind, on which no moral impreflion is eafily made. Where there is no defire of praife, there will be alfo no fenfe of reproach; and if that be extinguifhed, one of the principal guards of virtue is removed, and the mind thrown open to many opprobrious purfuits. He whofe countenance never glowed with shame, and whose heart never beat at the found of praise, is not deftined for any honourable diftinction; is likely to grovel in the fordid queft of gain; or to lumber life away in the indolence of felfifh pleasures.

Abstracted from the fentiments which are connected with it as a principle of action, the efteem of our fellow-creatures is an object which, on account of the advan tages it brings, may be lawfully pursued, It is neceffary to our fuccefs, in every fair and honeft undertaking. Not only our private intereft, but our public usefulness, depends, in a great measure, upon it. The fphere of our influence is contracted or enlarged, in proportion to the degree in which we enjoy the good opinion of the public. Men liften with an unwilling ear to one whom they do not honour; while a respected character adds weight to example, and authority to counfel. To defire the esteem of others for the fake of, its effects, is not only allowable, but in many cafes is our duty: and to be totally indifferent to praife or cenfure, is fo far from being a virtue, that it is a real defect in character. Ibid. § 66.

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66. Exceffive Defire of Praife tends to corrupt the Heart, and to dijregard the Admonitions of Confcience.

ing out of it are the iffues of life. Let
us account our mind the most important
province which is committed to our care;
and if we cannot rule fortune, study at
leaft to rule ourselves. Let us propofe for
our object, not worldly fuccefs, which it
depends not on us to obtain, but that up-
right and honourable discharge of our duty
in every conjuncture, which, through the
divine affiftance, is always within our pow-
er. Let our happiness be fought where
our proper praife is found; and that be
accounted our only real evil, which is the
evil of our nature; not that, which is ei-
ther the appointment of Providence, or
which arifes from the evil of others.

Ibid.

Jolation and Relief amidst the Difireffes
of Life.

An exceffive love of praise never fails to undermine the regard due to confcience, and to corrupt the heart. It turns off the eye of the mind from the ends which it ought chiefly to keep in view; and fets up a falfe light for its guide. Its influence is the more dangerous, as the colour which it affumes is often fair; and its garb and appearance are nearly allied to that of virtue. The love of glory, I before admitted, may give birth to actions which are both fplendid and useful. At a distance they ftrike the eye with uncommon brightness; but on a nearer and ftricter furvey, their luftre is often tar-$68. Religious Knowledge of great Connished. They are found to want that faered and venerable dignity which characterifes true virtue. Little paffions and felfish interefts entered into the motives of thofe who performed them. They were jealous of a competitor. They fought to humble a rival. They looked round for Spectators to admire them. All is magnanimity, generofity, and courage, to public view. But the ignoble fource whence thele feeming virtues take their rife, is hidden. Without, appears the hero; within, is found the man of duft and clay. Confult fuch as have been intimately connected with the followers of renown; and feldom or never will you find, that they held them in the fame efteem with thofe who viewed them from afar. There is nothing except fimplicity of intention, and purity of principle, that can ftand the teft of near approach and strict examination. Blair.

§ 67. That Difcipline which teaches to moderate the Eagerness of worldly Paffions, and to fortify the Mind with the Principles of Virtue, is more conducive to true Happiness that the Poffeffion of all the Goods of Fortune.

That difcipline which corrects the eagernefs of worldly paflions, which fortifies the heart with virtuous principles, which enlightens the mind with useful knowledge, and furnishes to it matter of enjoyment from within itself, is of more confequence to real felicity, than all the provifion which we can make of the goods of fortune. To this let us bend our chief attention. Let us keep the heart with all diligence fee†

Confider it in the light of confolation; as bringing aid and relief to us, amidst the diftreffes of life. Here religion incontestably triumphs; and its happy effects in this refpect furnish a strong argument to every benevolent mind, for wishing them to be farther diffufed throughout the world. For, without the belief and hope afforded by divine revelation, the circumftances of man are extremely forlorn. He finds himself placed here as a ftranger in a vast universe, where the powers and operations of nature are very imperfectly known; where both the beginnings and the iffues of things are involved in myfterious darkness; where he is unable to difcover with any certainty, whence he fprung, or for what purpofe he was brought into this state of existence; whether he be fubjected to the government of a mild, or of a wrathful ruler; what construction he is to put on many of the difpenfations of his providence; and what his fate is to be when he departs hence. What a difconfolate fituation to a ferious, enquiring mind! The greater degree of virtue it poffeffes, its fenfibility is likely to be the more oppreffed by this burden of labouring thought. Even though it were in one's power to banish all uneafy thought, and to fill up the hours of life with perpetual amufement; life fo filled up would, upon reflection, appear poor and trivial. But thefe are far from being the terms upon which man is brought into this world. He is confcious that his being is frail and feeble; he fees himself befet with various dangers and is expofed to many a me

lancholy

1

ancholy apprehenfion, from the evils which he may have to encounter, before he arrives at the clofe of life. In this diftreffed condition, to reveal to him fuch difcoveries of the Supreme Being as the Chriftian religion affords, is to reveal to him a father and a friend; is to let in a ray of the most cheering light upon the darkness of the human eftate. He who was before a deffitute orphan, wandering in the inhofpitable defert, has now gained a fhelter from the bitter and inclement blaft. He now knows to whom to pray, and in whom to truft; where to unbofom his forrows; and from what hand to look for relief.

It is certain, that when the heart bleeds from fome wound of recent misfortune, nothing is of equal efficacy with religious comfort. It is of power to enlighten the darkest hour, and to affuage the feverest woe, by the belief of divine favour, and the profpect of a bleffed immortality. In fuch hopes, the mind expatiates with joy; and when bereaved of its earthly friends, folaces itself with the thoughts of one friend who will never forfake it. Refined reafonings, concerning the nature of the human condition, and the improvement which philofophy teaches us to make of every event, may entertain the mind when it is at eafe; may, perhaps, contribute to footh it, when lightly touched with forrow; but when it is torn with any fore diftrefs, they are cold and feeble, compared with a direct promife from the word of God. This is an anchor to the foul, both fure and fedfaft. This has given confolation and refuge to many a virtuous heart, at a time when the moft cogent reasonings would have proved utterly unavailing.

Upon the approach of death especially, when, if a man thinks at all, his anxiety about his future interefts muft naturally creafe, the power of religious confolation is fenfibly felt. Then appears, in the moft friking light, the high value of the cifcoveries made by the Gofpel; not only life and immortality revealed, but a Mediator with God difcovered; mercy prodimed, through him, to the frailties of the penitent and the humble; and his prefence promised to be with them when they are paffing through the valley of the fhadow of death, in order to bring them fafe into unfeen habitations of reft and joy. Here is ground for their leaving the world with comfort and peace. But in this fevere and trying period, this labouring hour

of nature, how fhall the unhappy man fupport himself, who knows not, or believes not, the hope of religion? Secretly confcious to himself, that he has not acted his part as he ought to have done, the fins of his past life arife before him in fad remembrance. He wishes to exift after death, and yet dreads that existence. The Governor of the world is unknown. He cannot tell whether every endeavour to obe tain his mercy may not be in vain. All is awful obfcurity around him; and in the midst of endless doubts and perplexities, the trembling reluctant foul, is forced away from the body. As the misfortunes of life muft, to fuch a man, have been moft oppreffive; fo its end is bitter: his fun fets in a dark cloud; and the night of death clofes over his head, full of mifery. Blair.

69. Senfe of Right and Wrong, indepen dent of Religion.

Mankind certainly have a fenfe of right and wrong, independent of religious belief; but experience fhews, that the allurements of prefent pleasure, and the impetuofity of paffion, are fufficient to prevent men from acting agreeable to this moral fenfe, unless it be fupported by religion, the influence of which, upon the imagination and paffions, if properly directed, is extremely powerful. We fhall readily acknowledge that many of the greatest enemies of religion have been distinguished for their honour, probity, and good-nature. But it is to be confidered, that many virtues, as well as vices, are conftitutional. A cool and equal temper, a dull imagination, and unfeeling heart, enfure the poffeffion of many virtues, or rather, are a fecurity against many vices. They may produce temperance, chastity, honefty, prudence, and a harmless, inoffenfive behaviour. Whereas keen paffions, a warm imagination, and great fenfibility of heart, lay a natural foundation for prodigality, debauchery, and ambition: attended, however, with the feeds of all the focial and most heroic virtues. Such a temperature of mind carries along with it a check to its conftitutional vices, by rendering thofe poffeffed of it peculiarly fufceptible of religious impreffions. They often appear indeed to be the greatest enemies to religion, but that is entirely owing to their impatience of its reftraints. Its moft dangerous enemies have ever been among the temperate and chafte philofophers,

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