Зображення сторінки

6 In the mean time, all the beauty of the face of nature, all the enjoyments of domestic society, all the gaiety and cheerfulness of an easy mind, are as open to him as to those of the highest rank. The splendour of retinue, the sound of titles, the appearances of high respect, are indeed soothing, for a short time, to the great ; but, beconie familiar, they are soon forgotten.-Custom effaces their impression. They sink into the rank of those ordinary things, which daily recur, without raising any sensation of joy.

7 Let us cease, therefore, from looking up with discontent and envy to those, whom birth or fortune has placed above us. Let us adjust the balance of happiness fairly.When we think of the enjoyments we want, we sbould think also of the troubles from which we are free. If we allow their just value to the comforts we possess, we shall find reason to rest satisfied, with a very moderate, though not an opulent and splendid condition of fortune. Often, did we know the whole, we should be inclined to pity the state of those whom we now envy.

BLAIR. SECTION XIII. Patience under provocations our interest as well as duty.

THE wide circle of human society, is diversified by an endless variety of characters, dispositions, and passions. Uniformity is, în no respect, the genius of the world. Every man is marked by some peculiarity, which distinguishes him from another: and no where can two individuals be found who are exactly, and in all respects, alike. Where so much diversity obtains, it cannot but happen, that in the intercourse which men are obliged to maintain, their tempers will often be ill adjusted to that intercourse ; will jar and interfere with each other.

2 Hence, in every station, the highest as well as the lowest, and in every condition of life, public, private, and domestic, occasions of irritation frequently arise.

We are provoked, sometimes, by the folly and levity of those with whom we are connected ; sometimes, by their indifference or neglect : by the incivility of a friend, the haughtiness of a superiour, or the insolent behaviour of one in lower station.

3 'Hardly a day passes, without somewhat or other occurring, which serves to ruffle the man of impatient spirit. Of course, such a man lives in a continual storm. He knows not whatit is to enjoy a train of good humour. Servants, neighbours, friends, spouse, and children, all, through the unrestrained violence of his temper, become sources of disturbance and vexation to him In vain is affluence : ip vain

His very

are health and prosperity. The lcast trifle is sufficient to discompose his mind, and poison bis pleasures. amusements are mixed with turbulence and passion.

4 I would beseech this man to consider, of what small moment the provocations which he receives, or at least imagines himself to receive, are really in themselves ; but of what great moment he makes them, by suffering them to deprive him of the possession of himself. I would beseech him to consider, how many hours of happiness he throws away, which a little more patience would allow him to enjoy : a d how much he puts in the power of the most insignificant personis, to render him miserable.

5 “But who can expect," we hear him exclaim, “that he is to possess the insensibility of a stone? How is it possible for human nature to endure so many repeated provocations ? or to bear calmly with so unreasonable behaviour ?”—My brother! if thou canst hear with no instances of unreasonable behaviour, withdraw thyself from the world. Thou art no longer fit to live in it. Leave the intercourse of men. Retreat to the mountain, and the desert, or shut thyself up in a cell. For herc, in the midst of society, offences must come.

6 We might as well expect, when we behold a calm atmosphere, and a clear sky, that no clouds were ever to rise, and no winds to blow, as that our life were long to proceed, without receiving provocations from human frailty. The careless and the imprudent, the giddy and the fickle, the ungrateful and the interested, every where meet us. They are the briers and thorns, with which the paths of human life are beset. He only. who can hold his course among them with patience and equanimity, he who is prepared to bear what he must expect to happen, is worthy of the name of a man.

7. If we preserved ourselves composed but for a moment we should perceive the insignificancy of most of those provocations which we magnify so highly. When a few suns more have rolled over our heads, the storm will, of itself, have subsided; the cause of our present impatience and disturbance, will be utterly forgotten. Can we not then anticipate this hour of calmness to ourselves; and begin to enjoy the peace which it will certainly bring ?

8. If others have behaved improperly, let us leave them to their own fully, without becoming the victim of their caprice, and punishing ourselves on their account.-Patience, in this exercise of it, cannot be too much studied, hy all who wiska their life to flow in a smooth stream.: It is the reason of a man, in opposition to the passion of a child. ment of peace, in opposition to uproar and confusion.

It is the enjoy


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Moderation in our wishes recommended. THE active mind of man, seldom or never rests satisfied with its present condition, how prosperous soever. Original ly formed for a wider range of objects, for a higher sphere of enjoyments, it finds itself, in every situation of fortune, straitened and confined. Sensible of deficiency in its state, it is ever sending forth the fond desire, the aspiring wish, after something beyond what is enjoyed at present.

2 Hence, that restlessness which prevails so generally among mankind. Hence, that disgust of pleasures which they have tried ; that passion for novelty ; that ambition of rising to some degree of eminence or felicity, of which they have formed to themselves an indistinct idea. All which may be considered as indications of a certain native, original greatness in the human soul, swelling beyond the limits of its present condition, and pointing to the higher objects for which it was made. Happy, if these latent remains of our primitive state, served to direct our wishes towards their proper destination, and to lead us into the path of true bliss.

3 But in this dark and bewildered state, the aspiring tendency of our nature, unfortunately takes an opposite direction, and feeds a very misplaced ambition. The flattering appearances which here present themselves to sense; the distinctions which fortune confers; the advantages and pleasures which we imagine the world to be capable of bestowing, öll up the ultimate wish of most men. These are the objects which engross their sulitary, musings, and stimulate their active labours; which warm the breasts of the young, animate the industry of of the middle aged, and often keep alive the passions of the old, until the very close of life.

4 Assuredly, there is nothing unlawful in our wishing to be freed from whatever is disagreeable, and to obtain a fuller enjoyment of the comforts of life. But when these wishes are not tempered by reason, they are in danger of precipitating us into mucho extravagance and folly. Desires and wishes, are the first springs of action. When they become exorbitant, the whole character is likely to be tainted.

5 If we suffer our fancy to create to itself worlds of ideal bappiness, we shall discompose the peace and order of our iniirds, and foment many hurtful passions. Here, then, let moderation begin its reign, by bringing within reasonable bounds the wishes that we form. As soon as they become extravagant, let us check them, by proper reflections on the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

fallacious nature of those objects, which the world bangs out to allure desire.

6 You have strayed, my friends from the road which conducts to felicity; you have dishonoured the native dignity of your souls, in allowing your wishes to terminate on nothing higher than worldly ideas of greatness or happiness. Your imagination roves in a land cf shadows. Unreal forms den ceive you. It is no more than a phantom, an illusion of happiness, which attracts your fond admiration; say, an illusion of happiness, which often conceals much real misery..

7 Do you imagine that all are happy, who have attained to those summits of distinction, towards which your wishes aspire? Alas! how frequently has experience shown, that where roses were supposed to bloom, nothing but briers and thorns grew! Reputation, beauty, riches, grandeur, pay, royalty itself, would, many a time, have been gladly exchange ed by the possessors, for that more quiet and humble station, with which you are now dissatisfied.

8 With all that is splendid and shining in the world, it is decreed that there should mix many deep shades of woe. On the elevated situations of fortune, the great calamities of life 'chiefly fall. There, the storm spends its violence, and there, the thunder breaks ; while, safe and unhurt, the inhabitants of the vale remain below ;-Retreat, then, from those vain and pernicious excursions of extravagant desire.

9 Satisfy yourselves with what is rational and attainable. Train your minds to moderate views of human life, and human happiness. Remember, and admire the wisdom of Agur's petition. “ Remove far from me vanity and lies. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food convenient for me : lest I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

Omniscience and omnipresence of the Deity, the source of

consolation to good men.
I WAS yesterday, about sun-set, walking in the open
fields, till the night insensibly fell upon me. I at first amus-
ed myself with all the richness

and variety of colours, which ap. peared in the western parts of heaven. In proportion as they faded away and went out, several stars and planets appeared one after another till the whole firmament was in a glow.

2 The blueness of the ether was exceedingly heightened and enlivened, by the season of the year, and the rays of all those luminaries that passed through it. The galaxy

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

appeared in its most beautiful white. To complete the scene, the full moon rose, at length, in that clouded majesty, which Milton takes notice of; and opened to the eye a new picture of nature, which was more finely shaded, and disposed among softer lights than that which the sun had before discovered to me.

3 As I was surveying the moon walking in her brightness, and taking her progress among the constellations, a thought arose in me, which I believe very often perplexes and disturbs men of serious and contemplative natures. David himself fell into it in that reflection : * When I consider the heav. ens, the work of thy fingers; the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou regardest him!”

4 In the same manner, when I consider that infinite host of stars, or, to speak more philosophically, of suns, which were then shining upon me; with those innumerable sets of planets or worlds, which were moving round their respective suns; when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another heaven of suns and worlds, rising still above this which I discovered ; and these still enlightened by a superiour firmament of luminaries, which are planted at so great a distance, that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former, as the stars do to me: in short, while I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself, bore amidst the immensity of God's works.

5 Were the sun, which enlightens this part of the creation, with all the host of planetary worlds that more about him, utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would not be missed, more than a grain of sand upon the sea-shore. The space they possess, is so exceedingly little in comparison of the whole, it would scarcely make a blank in the creation. The chasm would be imperceptible to an eye that could take in the whole compass of nature, and pass from one end of the creation to the other; as it is possible there may be such a sense in ourselves hereafter, or in creatures which are at present more exalted than ourselves. By the help of glasses, we see many stars, which we do not discover with our naked eyes : and the finer our telescopes are, the greater still are our discoveries.

6 Huygenius carries this thought so far, that he does not think it impossible there may be stars, whose light has not yet travelled down to us, since their first creation. There is no question that the universe has certain bounds set to it; but when we consider that it is the work of Infinite Power prompted by Infinite Goodness, with an infinito space to

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »