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waters of ftrife are let forth; but their course cannot be forefeen; and he feldom fails of fuffering moft from the poisonous effect, who firft allowed them to flow. Ibid.


Let me advise you to view your character with an impartial eye; and to learn, from your own failings, to give that indulgence which in your turn you claim. § 96. Gentleness beft promoted by religious It is pride which fills the world with fo much harshness and severity. In the fulnefs of self-estimation, we forget what we are, we claim attentions to which we are not entitled. We are rigorous to offences, as if we had never offended; unfeeling to dinrefs, as if we knew not what it was to

fufer. From thofe airy regions of pride and folly, let us defcend to our proper level. Let us furvey the natural equality on which Providence has placed man with man, and reflect on the infirmities common to all. If the reflection on natural equality and mutual offences be infufficient to prompt humanity, let us at leaft confider what we are in the fight of God. Have we none of that forbearance to give one another, which we all fo earnestly entreat from Heaven? Can we look for clemency or gentleness from our Judge, when we are fo backward to fhew it to our own brethren?


95. Violence and Contention often caufed by Trifles and imaginary Mijchiefs. Accuftom yourselves, alfo, to reflect on the fmall moment of thofe things which are the ufual incentives to violence and contention. In the ruffled and angry hour, we view every appearance through a falfe medium. The most inconfiderable point of intereft, or honour, fwells into a momentous object; and the flightest attack feems to threaten immediate ruin. But after paffion or pride has fubfided, we look round in vain for the mighty mischiefs we dreaded: the fabric, which our disturbed imagination had reared, totally disappears. But though the cause of contention has dainaled away, its confequences remain. We have alienated a friend; we have embittered an enemy; we have fown the feeds of future fufpicion, malevolence, or difguft. Sufpend your violence, I beseech you, for a moment, when caufes of difcord occur. Anticipate that period of coolness, which, of itfelf, will foon arrive, Allow yourtelves to think, how little you have any profpect of gaining by fierce contention; but how much of the true happiness of life you are certain of throwing away. Eafily, and from the fmalleft chink, the bitter

moted by frequent views of those great But gentleness will, most of all, be proobjects which our holy religion prefents. Let the profpects of immortality fill your minds. Look upon this world as a state of in the purfuit of higher interefts; as acting paffage. Confider yourselves as engaged now, under the eye of God, an introductory part to a more important fcene. Elevated by fuch fentiments, your minds will become calm and fedate. You will look

down, as from a fuperior ftation, on the petty difturbances of the world. They are the felfish, the fenfual, and the vain, who are moft fubject to the impotence of world; by fo many fides they touch every paffion. They are linked so closely to the object, and every person around them, that hurting others. But the fpirit of true rethey are perpetually hurt, and perpetually ligion removes us to a proper distance from It leaves us fufficiently connected with the the grating objects of worldly contentions. world, for acting our part in it with propriety; but difengages us from it fo far, as to weaken its power of difturbing our tranquillity. It infpires magnanimity; and magnanimity always breathes gentleness. It leads us to view the follies of men with pity, not with rancour; and to treat, with the mildness of a fuperior nature, what in little minds would call forth all the bitternefs of paflion. Ibid.

$97. Gentleness to be affumed, as the Ornament of every Age and Station; but to be diftinguished from polished or affected Manners.

Aided by fuch confiderations, let us cultivate that gentle wisdom which is, in fo many refpects, important both to our duty and our happiness. Let us affume it as the ornament of every age, and of every ftation. Let it temper the petulance of youth, and foften the morofenefs of old age. Let it mitigate authority in thofe who rule, and promote deference among those who obey. I conclude with repeating the caution, not to mistake for true gentleness, that flimfy imitation of it, called polished manners, which often, among

the men of the world, under a smooth appear ance, conceals much afperity. Let yours be native gentleness of heart, flowing from the love of God, and the love of man. Unite this amiable fpirit, with a proper zeal for all that is right, and juft, and true. Let piéty be combined in your character with humanity. Let determined integrity dwell in a mild and gentle breaft. A character thus fupported, will command more real refpect than can be procured by the moft fhining accomplishments, when feparated from virtue. Blair.

$98. The Stings of Poverty, Difeafe, and Violence, lefs pungent than thofe of guilty Pafions.

Affemble all the evils which poverty, difeafe, or violence can inflict, and their ftings will be found, by far, lefs pungent than those which guilty paffions dart into the heart. Amidft the ordinary calamities of the world, the mind can exert its powers, and fuggeft relief: and the mind is properly the man; the fufferer, and his fufferings, can be diftinguished. But thofe diforders of paffion, by feizing directly on the mind, attack human nature in its ftrong hold, and cut off its last refource. They penetrate to the very feat of fenfation; and convert all the powers of thought into inftruments of torture.


$99. The Balance of Happiness equal. An extenfive contemplation of human affairs, will lead us to this conclufion, that among the different conditions and ranks of men, the balance of happiness is preferved in a great measure equal; and that the high and the low, the rich and the poor, approach, in point of real enjoyment, much nearer to each other, than is commonly imagined. In the lot of man, mutual compenfations, both of pleasure and of pain, univerfally take place. Providence never intended, that any state here fhould be either completely happy, or entirely miferable. If the feelings of pleafure are more numerous, and more lively, in the higher departments of life, fuch alfo are thofe of pain. If greatness flatters our vanity, it multiplies our dangers. If opulence increases our gratifications, it increases, in the fame proportion, our defires and demands. If the poor are confined to a more narrow circle, yet within that circle lie most of those natural fatisfactions which, after all the refinements of art, are found

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100. The trueft Mifery arifes from the Paffions of Man in his prefent fallen and difturbed Condition.

From this train of obfervation, can one avoid reflecting upon the diforder in which human nature plainly appears at prefent to lie? We behold, in Haman, the picture of that mifery, which arifes from evil paffions; of that unhappiness, which is incident to the highest profperity; of that difcontent, which is common to every state. Whether we confider him as a bad man, a profperous man, or fimply as a man, in every light we behold reafon too weak for paffion. paffion. This is the fource of the reigning evil; this is the root of the universal difeafe. The story of Haman only fhews us, what human nature has too generally appeared to be in every age. Hence, when we read the hiftory of nations, what do we read but the hiftory of the follies and crimes of men? We may dignify those recorded tranfactions, by calling them the intrigues of ftatefmen, and the exploits of conquerors; but they are, in truth, no other than the efforts of discontent to escape from its mifery, and the ftruggles of contending paffions among unhappy men. The hiftory of mankind has ever been a continued tragedy; the world, a great theatre, exhibiting the fame repeated fcene, of the follies of men fhooting forth into guilt, and of their paffions fermenting, by a quick process, into mifery.

§ 101.


Our Nature to be restored by using the Affiftance of Revelation.

But can we believe, that the nature of man came forth in this ftate from the hands of its gracious Creator? Did he frame this world, and store it with inhabitants, folely that it might be replenished with crimes and misfortunes? In the moral, as well as in the natural world, we may plainly difcern the figns of some violent contufion, which has fhattered the ori

ginal workmanship of the Almighty. Amidft this wreck of human nature, traces ftill remain which indicate its author. Thofe high powers of confcience and reason, that capacity for happiness, that ardour of enterprize, that glow of affection, which often break through the gloom of human vanity and guilt, are like the fcattered columns, the broken arches, and defaced fculptures of fome fallen temple, whofe ancient splendour appears amidst its ruins. So confpicuous in human nature are those characters, both of a high origin and of a degraded state, that, by many religious fects throughout the earth, they have been seen and confeffed. A tradition feems to have pervaded almost all nations, that the human race had either, through fome offence, forfeited, or through fome misfortune, loft, that flation of primeval honour, which they once poffeffed. But while, from this doctrine, ill understood, and involved in many fabulous tales, the nations wandering in Pagan darkness could draw no confequences that were juft; while, totally ignorant of the nature of the disease, they fought in vain for the remedy; the famé divine revelation, which has informed us in what manner our apoftacy arose, from the abuse of our rational powers, has inftructed as alfo how we may be restored to virtue and to happiness.

Let us, therefore, ftudy to improve the affiftance which this revelation affords, for the restoration of our nature and the recovery of our felicity. With humble and grateful minds, let us apply to thofe medicimal fprings which it hath opened, for curing the diforders of our heart and paffons. In this view, let us, with reverence, look up to that Divine Perfonage, who defcended into this world, on purpose to be the light and the life of men: who came, in the fulness of grace and truth, to repair the defolations of many generations, to reftore order among the works of God, and to raise up a new earth, and new heavens, wherein righteoufnefs fhould dwell for ever. Under his tuition let us put ourfelves; and amidst the ftorms of paffion to which we are here expofed, and the flippery paths which we are left to tread, never truft prefumptuously to our own understanding, Thankful that a heavenly Conductor vouchfafes his aid, let us ear neftly pray, that from him may defcend divine light to guide our fteps, and divine ftrength to fortify our minds. Let us pray, that his grace may keep us from all

intemperate paffions, and mistaken purfuits of pleasure; that whether it shall be his will, to give or to deny us earthly profperity, he may blefs us with a calm, a found, and well-regulated mind; may give us moderation in fuccefs, and fortitude under difappointment; and may enable us fo to take warning from the crimes and miferies of others, as to escape the fnares of guilt. Blair.

102. The Happiness of every Man depends more upon the State of his own Mind, than upon any external Circumftance whatever.

While we thus maintain a due dependence on God, let us also exert ourfelves with care, in acting our own part. From the whole of what has been faid, this important inftruction arifes, that the happinefs of every man depends more upon the state of his own mind, than upon any one external circumftance; nay, more than upon all external things put together. We have feen, that inordinate paffions are the great difturbers of life; and that, unlefs we poffefs a good confcience, and a well-governed mind, difcontent will blast every enjoyment, and the highest profperity will prove only difguifed mifery. Fix then this conclufion in your minds, that the deftruction of your virtue is the deftruction of your peace. Keep thy heart with all diligence; govern it with the greatest care; for out of it are the iffues of life. In no ftation, in no period, think yourfelves fecure from the dangers which fpring from your paffions. Every age, and every station, they befet; from youth to grey hairs, and from the peasant to the prince. Ibid.


At first fetting out in Life, beware

of feducing Appearances.

At your first fetting out in life especially, when yet unacquainted with the world and its fnares, when every pleasure enchants with its fmile, and every object fhines with the glofs of novelty; beware of the feducing appearances which furround you, and recollect what others have fuffered from the power of headstrong defire. If you allow any paffion, even though it be efteemed innocent, to acquire an abfolute afcendant, your inward peace will be impaired, But if any which has the taint of guilt, take early possession of your mind, you may date from that moment the ruin of your tranquillity.--Nor

with the feafon of youth does the peril end. To the impetuofity of youthful defire, fucceed the more fober, but no lefs dangerous, attachments of advancing years; when the paffions which are connected with intereft and ambition begin their reign, and too frequently extend their malignant influence, even over thofe periods of life which ought to be most tranquil. From the first to the laft of man's abode on earth, the difcipline muft never be relaxed, of guarding the heart from the dominion of paflion. Eager paffions, and violent defires, were not made for man. They exceed his fphere: they find no adequate objects on earth; and of courfe can be productive of nothing but mifery. The certain confequence of indulging them is, that there fhall come an evil day, when the anguifh of disappointment fhall drive us to acknowledge, that all which we enjoy availeth us nothing.


104. Enthufiafm lefs pernicious to the Mind than Coldness and Indifference in Religion.

But whatever abfurdities may arise from the fancied ardours of enthufiafm, they are much lefs pernicious than the contrary extreme of coldnefs and indifference in religion. The spirit of chivalry, though it led to many romantic enterprizes, was nevertheless favourable to true courage, as it excited and nourished magnanimity and contempt of danger; which, though fometimes wafted in abfurd undertakings, were of the greatest ufe on real and proper occafions. The noblest energies of which we are capable, can fcarcely be called out without fome degree of enthufiafm, in whatever cause we are engaged; and thofe fentiments which tend to the exaltation of human nature, though they may often exeite attempts beyond the human powers, will, however, prevent our ftopping fhort of them, and lofing, by carelefs indolence and felf-defertion, the greatest part of that #trength with which we really are endued.

How common is it for those who profess (and perhaps fincerely) to believe with entire perfuafion the truth of the gospel, to declare that they do not pretend to frame their lives according to the purity of its moral precepts ! "I hope," fay they, "I am guilty of no great crimes; but the "customs of the world in thefe times will "not admit of a conduct agreable either

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« to reafon or revelation. I know the " course of life I am in is wrong; I know "that I am engroffed by the world-that "I have no time for reflection, nor for "the practice of many duties which I acknowledge to be fuch. But I know not "how it is-I do not find that I can alter "my way of living."-Thus they coolly and contentedly give themselves up to a conftant courfe of diffipation, and a general worthleffness of character, which, I fear, is as little favourable to their happiness here or hereafter, as the occafional commiffion of crimes. at which they would ftart and tremble. The habitual neglect of all that is most valuable and important, of children, friends, fervants of neighbours and dependents-of the poor-of Godand of their own minds, they confider as an excufable levity, and fatisfy themfelves with laying the blame on the manners of

the times.

If a modern lady of fashion was to be called to account for the difpofition of her time, I imagine her defence would run in this ftyle:" I can't, you know, be out " of the world, nor act differently from "every body in it. The hours are every "where late-confequently I rife late. I "have fcarce breakfasted before morning "vifits begin, or 'tis time to go to an "auction, or a concert, or to take a little "exercise for my health. Dreffing my "hair is a long operation, but one can't

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appear with a head unlike every body "elfe. One must fometimes go to a play, "or an opera; though I own it hurries "one to death. Then what with necef

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fary vifits-the perpetual engagements "to card-parties at private houses-and "attendance on public affemblies, to "which all people of fashion fubfcribe, "the evenings, you fee, are fully difpof"ed of. What time then can I poffibly "have for what you call domeftic duties? "You talk of the offices and enjoy<s ments of friendship-alas! I have no "hours left for friends! I must see them " in a crowd, or not at all. As to culti"vating the friendship of my husband, we

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are very civil when we meet; but we are "both too much engaged to spend much "time with each other. With regard to

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my daughters, I have given them a "French governefs, and proper mafters "I can do no more for them, You tell

me, I should inftruct my servants" but I have not time to inform myself, "much less can I undertake any thing of

" that

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that fort for them, or even be able to guess what they do with themselves the greateft part of the twenty-four hours. Igo to church, if poffible, once on a Sunday, and then fome of my fervants attend me; and if they will not mind "what the preacher fays, how can I help * it?-The management of our fortune, * as far as I am concerned, I must leave to the steward and housekeeper; for I " find I can barely fnatch a quarter of an hour just to look over the bill of fare * when I am to have company, that they may not fend up any thing frightful or old-fashioned-As to the Chriftian duty "of charity, I affure you I am not ill"natured; and (confidering that the great expence of being always dreft for company, with loffes at cards, fubfcriptions, and public fpectacles, leave me very little to difpofe of) I am ready enough to give my money when I meet with a miferable object. You fay I should en"quire out fuch, inform myself thoroughly of their cafes, make an acquaintance "with the poor of my neighbourhood in "the country, and plan out the best " methods of relieving the unfortunate, and affling the industrious. But this fuppofes much more time, and much money, than I have to beftow. I "have had hopes indeed that my fummers "would have afforded me more leifure; "but we stay pretty late in town; then we generally país feveral weeks at one or other of the water-drinking places, " where every moment is spent in public; and, for the few months in which we "rende at our own feat, our houfe is always full, with a fucceffion of com

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moft cordial love is to conftitute your hap pinefs, where is the heart that should enjoy this delightful intercourse of affection?

Has your's been exercised and refined to a proper capacity of it during your ftate of difcipline, by the energies of generous friendship, by the meltings of parental fondness, or by that union of heart and foul, that mixed exertion of perfect friendship and ineffable tenderness, which approaches neareft to the full fatisfactionof our nature, in the bands of conjugal love?-Alas! you scarce knew you had a heart, except when you felt it well with pride, or flutter with vanity!-Has your piety and gratitude to the Source of all Good, been exercifed and ftrengthened by conftant acts of praife and thanksgiving? Was it nourished by frequent meditation, and filent recollection of all the wonders he hath done for us, till it burft forth in fervent prayer?-I fear it was rather decency than devotion, that carried you once a week to the place of public worship-and for the reft of the week, your thoughts and time were fo very differently filled up, that the idea of a Ruler of the univerfe could occur but feldom, and then, rather as an object of terror, than of hope and joy. How then fhall a foul fo dead to divine love, fo loft to all but the most childish purfuits, be able to exalt and enlarge itfelf to a capacity of that blifs which we are allowed to hope for, in a more intimate perception of the divine prefence, in contemplating more nearly the perfections of our Creator, and in pouring out before his throne our ardent gratitude, love, and adoration ?What kind of training is the life you have paffed through, for fuch an immortality?

pany, to whofe amusement one is obliged to dedicate every hour of the day." So here ends the account of that time which was given you to prepare and educate yourself for eternity Yet you believe the immortality of the foul, and a fature ftate of rewards and punishments. Ak your own heart what rewards you deferve, or what kind of felicity you are fitted to enjoy -Which of thofe faculties or affections, which heaven can be fuppofed to gratify, have you cultivated and improved If, in that eternal world, the flores of knowledge fhould be laid open before you, have you preferved that thirst of knowledge, or that tafte for truth, which is now to be indulged with endless information ?-If, in the fociety of faints and angels, the pureft benevolence and

And dare you look down with contempt on thofe whom ftrong temptation from natural paflions, or a train of unfortunate circumftances, have funk into the commiffion of what you call great crimes?Dare you speak peace to your own heart, becaufe by different circumstances you have been preferved from them?-Far be it from me to wish to leffen the horror of crimes; but yet, as the temptations to thefe occur but feldom, whereas the temptations to neglect, and indifference towards our duty, for ever furround us, it may be neceffary to awaken ourselves to fome calculation of the proportions between fuch habitual omiffion of all that is good, and the commiffion of more heinous acts of fin; between waiting our own life in what is


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