Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

vile means,

“ I see the jewel, best enamelled,
Will lose its beauty: and tho' gold bides still
That others touch; yet often touching will
Wear gold : and so no man that hath a name

But falsehood and corruption doth it shame." 5. If, indeed, there were but one kind of slanderers, if they were all actuated by the same motive, and had in view the same end, there might be at least a chance of escaping their attacks ; we might find some covert of defence, some shield against their arrows : but we have no such security. If we be wise, they envy; if virtuous, they hate ; if in favour, they are jealous : the high, the low-the rich, the poor—the old,

the

young-are all subject to the slanderer's attacks. Nor can even the shades of obscurity protect us from his venom. With the fierceness of the bloodhound he hunts his innocent prey; with the savage ferocity of the tiger he commences his unprovoked attack,

and proudly boasts that he will not spare his victim.

6. One would think human life loaded with miseries enough which are unavoidable, without adding to the bitter cup the gall of calumny; yet, strange as it may seem, it really appears as if the restless petulant slanderer envied the little repose al. lotted to the virtnous, and was determined, by every to diminish their already small joys. If it were possible to banish from society this despicable monster, or to destroy his influence, and thereby avoid the broils, the bickerings, and the anxieties, which he creates, life would be a paradise compared with what it now is. What miseries he brings to society! ah, what misery brings he not!

7. To the shame of society be it spoken, that even in this refined age, so reputable are the venders of slander, and so nu- . merous and eager their bidders, that many persons of acknothledged worth seclude themselves from society, lest they should become the objects of attack; for to be known is to be slandered.

8. But it will be said, we need not regard the calumnies heaped upon us so long as we are conscious of not meriting them. Happy, indeed, if it were so; happy if we could look with indifference upon the vile attempts of those who slander us; and like the moon, when bayed by the angry cur, continue to travel peaceably on our course : but it is not for us to be thus independent: a reputation is too hard to be acquired, and too easily blasted to allow of such indifference. Nor is a solicitude for one's character at all improper : it is not the growth of extravagant self love, but of a refined and virtuous sensibility

sence.

9. Hence we often see persons of the greatest worth betray the most anxiety concerning what is said of them in their ab

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-lea 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 bar. riers to social enjoyment ? What that blasts the fairest reputation, and sinks the envied possessor into disgrace and ruin?

-66 ?Tis slander,
Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue
Out-venoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
All corners of the world. Kings, Queens and states,
Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave,
This viperous slander enters.”

The Ungrateful ruest. 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, flew to the relief of the unhappy stranger. He bore himn 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 determination to

P

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 presented 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 entertained. Unhappily, Philip, without examination, precipitately granted his infamous request. The soldier then returned 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, stung with such an instance of unparalleled ingratitude and insensibility, boldly determined, in submitting to his wrongs, to seek relief; and, in a letter addressed to Philip, represented his own, and the soldier's conduct, in a lively and affecting manner. The king was instantly fired with indignation. He ordered that ample justice should be done without delay; that the possessions should be immediately restored to the man whose charitable offices had been thus horribly repaid ; and, to show his abhorrence of the deed, he caused the soldier to be seized, and to have these words branded on his forehead : “ The grateful Guest.'

A True Friend. 1. CONCERNING the man you call your friend, tell me, will he weep with you in the hour of distress? Will he faithfully reprove you to your face, for actions for which others are ridiculing, or censuring you behind your back? Will he dare 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 shall 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, cannot 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 pow. er, 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 returning zephyrs 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 Huids, 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 syn; 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

« ZurückWeiter »