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chases at too dear a price. Inure yourselves ped; but being neglected, it is soon widened to frequent consideration of the emptiness by the stream, till the bank is at last totally of those pleasures which excite so much thrown down, and the food is at liberty to strife and commotion among mankind. deluge the whole plain.
Ibid. Think how much more of true enjoyment is lost by the violence of passion, than by $ 61, The Government of Temper, as inthe want of those things which give oc
cluded in the Keeping of the Heart. casion to that passion.
Passions are quick and strong emotions, selves, that the favour of God, and the which by degrees subside. Temper is the possession of virtue, form the chief happi- disposition which remains after these emoness of the rational nature. Let a con- tions are past, and which forms the habiteated mind, and a peaceable life, hold the tual propensity of the soul. The one are Dext place in your estimation. These are like the stream when it is swoln by the the conclusions which the wise and thinks torrent, and ruffled by the winds; the ing part of mankind have always formed. other resembles it when running within To these conclusions, after having run its bed, with its natural force and velocity, the race of passion, you will probably come The influence of temper is more silent and at the last. By forming them betimes, you imperceptible than that of passion ; it would make a seasonable escape from that operates with less violence; but as its opetempestuous region, through which none ration is constant, it produces effects no can pass without suffering misery, con- less considerable. It is evident, therefore, tracting guilt, and undergoing severe re. that it highly deserves to be considered in
Blair, a religious view. $ 60. The Beginnings of Passion to be in this light. They place a good temper
Many, indeed, are averse to behold it opposed.
upon the same footing with a healthy conOppose early the beginnings of passion. stitution of body. They consider it as a Avoid particularly all such objects as are natural felicity which some enjoy; but for apt to excite passions which you know to the want of which, others are not morally predominate within you. As soon as you culpable, nor accountable to God: and find the tempest rising, have recourse to hence the opinion has sometimes prevailed, every proper method, either of allaying that a bad temper might be consistent with its violence, or escaping to a calmer a state of grace. If this were true, it would shore. Hasten to call up emotions of an overturn that whole doctrine, of which the opposite nature. Study' to conquer one gospel is so full, that regeneration, or passion by means of some other which is change of nature, is the essential characof less dangerous tendency.
teristic of a Christian.' It would suppose, count any thing small or trivial which is that grace might dwell amidst malevolence in bazard of introducing disorder into your and rancour, and that heaven might be beart. Never make light of any desire enjoyed by such as are strangers to charity which you feel gaining such progress as to and love. - It will readily be admitted that threaten entire dominion. Blandishing it some, by the original frame of their mind, will appear at the first. As a gentle and are more favourably inclined than others, innocent emotion, it may steal into the towards certain good dispositions and haheart; but as it advances, is likely to bits. But this affords no justification to pierce you through with many sorrows. those who neglect to oppose the corrupWhat you indulged as a favourite amuse. tions to which they are prone. Let no menit will shortly become a serious business, man imagine, that the human heart is a and in the end may prove the burden of soil altogether unsusceptible of culture ! or your life. Most of our passions flatter us that the worst temper may not, through in their rise, but their beginnings are trea. the assistance of grace, be reformed by atcherous: their growth is imperceptible; tention and discipline. Settled depravity and the evils which they carry in their of temper is always owing to our own intrain, lie concealed, until their dominion dulgence. If, in place of checking, we is established. What Solomon says of nourish that malignity of disposition to one of them, holds true of them all, that which we are inclined, all the consequences their beginning is as when one letteth will be placed to our account, and every out water. It issues from a small chink, excuse, from natural constitution, be rewhich once-might have been easily stop- jected at the tribunal of Heaven. Toid.
$ 62. A peaceable Temper and condescend. appointments or miseries! How little
ing Manners recommended. does he know of the true happiness of life, What first presents itself to be recom
who is a stranger to that intercourse of mended, is a peaceable temper; a dis- good offices and kind affections, which, position averse to give offence, and de- by a pleasing charm, attach men to one sirous of cultivating harmony, and amica. another, and circulate joy from heart to ble intercourse in society. This supposes
Blair. yielding and condescending manners, unwillingness to contend with others about 63. Numerous Occasions offer for the trifles, and, in contests that are unavoid
Exertion of a benevolent Temper. able, proper moderation of spirit. Such a You are not to imagine that a benevotemper is the first principle of self-enjoy- lent temper finds no exercise, unless when ment: it is the basis of all order and hap- opportunities offer of performing actions piness among mankind. The positive and of high generosity, or of extensive utility; contentious, the rude and quarrelsome, these may seldom occur : the condition of are the bane of society; they seem des. the greater part of mankind in a good tined to blast the small share of comfort measure precludes them. But in the ordi. which nature has here allotted to man. nary round of human affairs, a thousand But they cannot disturb the peace of occasions daily present themselves of mitiothers, more than they break their own. gating the vexations which others suffer, The hurricane rages first in their own of soothing their minds, of aiding their bosom, before it is let forth upon the interest, of promoting their cheerfulness, world. In the tempest which they raise,
Such occasions may relate to the they are always lost; and frequently it is smaller incidents of life: but let us retheir lot to perish.
member that of small incidents, the system A peaceable temper must be supported of human life is chiefly composed. The by a candid one, or a disposition to view attentions which respect these, when sugthe conduct of others with fairness and gested by real benignity of temper, are impartiality. This stands opposed to a
often more material to the happiness of jealous and suspicious temper; which those around us, than actions which carry ascribes every action to the worst motive, the appearance of greater dignity and and throws a black shade over every cha- splendour. No wise or good man ought
to account any rule of behaviour as below selves, or in your connexions with others, his regard, which tends to cement the guard against this malignant spirit. Study great brotherhood of mankind in comfortthat charity which thinketh no evil ; that able union. temper which, without degenerating into Particularly in the course of that famicredulity, will dispose you to be just; and liar intercourse which belongs to domestic which can allow you to observe an er. life, all the virtues of temper find an amror, without imputing it as a crime. Thus ple range. It is very unfortunate, that you will be kept free from that continual within that circle, men too often think irritation which imaginary injuries raise themselves at liberty to give unrestrained in a suspicious breast; and will walk vent to the caprice of passion and humour. among men as your brethren, not your Whereas there, on the contrary, more enemies.
where, it concerns them to attend But to be peaceable, and to be candid, to the government of their heart ; to check is not all that is required of a good man.
what is violent in their tempers, and_to He must cultivate a kind, generous, and soften what is harsh in their manners. For sympathizing temper, which feels for dis- there the temper is formed. There the tress wherever it is beheld; which enters real character displays itself. The forms into the concerns of his friends with ar- of the world disguise men when abroad; dour; and to all with whom he has inter- but within his own family, every man is course, is gentle, obliging, and humane. known to be what he truly is.—In all our How amiable appears such a disposition, intercourse, then, with others, particularly when contrasted with a malicious, or en- in that which is closest and most intimate, vious temper, which wraps itself up in its let us cultivate a peaceable, a candid, a own narrow interests, looks with an evil gentle and friendly temper. This is the eye on the success of others, and with an temper to which, by repeated injunctions, unnatural satisfaction feeds on their dis our holy religion seeks to form us. This.
was the temper of Christ. This is the femper of Heaven.
s 65. The Desire of Praise subservient
to many valuable Purposes. $ 64. A contented Temper the greatest Blessing, and most material Requisite servient, and on many occasions co-ope
To a variety of good purposes it is subto the proper Discharge of our Duties.
rates with the principles of virtue. It A contented tempér is one of the great- awakens us from sloth, invigorates activiest blessings that can be enjoyed by man, ty, and stimulates our efforts to excel. It and one of the most material requisites to has given rise to most of the splendid, and the proper discharge of the duties of every to many of the useful enterprises of men. station. For a fretful and discontented It has animated the patriot, and fired the temper renders one incapable of perform- hero. Magnanimity, generosity, and foring a-right any part in life. It is unthank- titude, are what all mankind admire. ful and impious towards God; and to. Hence, such as were actuated by the dewards men provoking and unjust. It is a sire of extensive fame, have been prompted gangrene which preys on the vitals, and to deeds which either participated of the infects the whole constitution with disease spirit, or at least carried the appearance, and putrefaction. Subdue pride and va- of distinguished virtue. The desire of pity, and you will take the inost effectual praise is generally connected with all the method of eradicating this distemper. You finer sensibilities of human nature. It will no longer behold the objects around affords a ground on which exhortation, you with jaundiced eyes. You will take counsel, and reproof, can work a proper in good part the blessings which Provi- effect. Whereas, to be entirely destitute dence is pleased to bestow, and the de- of this passion betokens an ignoble mind, gree of favour which your fellow-creatures on which no moral impression is easily are disposed to grant you. Viewing your- made. Where there is no desire of praise, selves, with all your imperfections and there will be also no sense of reproach; failings, in a just light, you will rather be and if that be extinguished, one of the surprised at your enjoying so many good principal guards of virtue is removed, and things, than discontented because there are the mind thrown open to many opproany which you want. From an humble brious pursuits. He whose countenance and contented temper, will spring a cheernever glowed with shame, and whose ful one. This, if not in itself a virtue, heart never beat at the sound of praise, is at least the garb in which virtue should is not destined for
honourable distincbe always arrayed. Piety and goodness tion; is likely to grovel in the sordid ought nerer to be marked with that de- quest of gain; or to slumber life away in jection which sometimes takes rise from the indolence of selfish pleasures. superstition, but which is the proper por- Abstracted from the sentiments which tion only of guilt. At the same time, the are connected with it as a principle of cheerfulness belonging to virtue, is to be tion, the esteem of our fellow-creatures is carefully distinguished from that light and an object which, on account of the adgiddy temper which characterizes folly, vantages it brings, may be lawfully purand is so often found among the dissipated sued. It is necessary to our success, in and vicious part of mankind. Their gaiety every fair and honest undertaking. Not is owing to a total want of reflection ; and only our private interest, but our public brings with it the usual consequences of an usefulness, depends, in a great measure, unthinking habit, shame, remorse, and upon it. The sphere of our influence is heaviness of heart, in the end. The cheer- contracted or enlarged, in proportion to fulness of a well-regulated mind, springs the degree in which we enjoy the good from a good conscience and the favour of opinion of the public. Men listen with Heaven, and is bounded by temperance an unwilling ear to one whom they do not and reason. It makes a man happy in honour ; while a respected character adds himself, and promotes the happiness of all weight to example, and authority to around him. It is the clear and calm sun- counsel. To desire the esteem of others shine of a mind illuminated by piety and for the sake of its effects, is not only alvirtue. It crowns all other good disposi- lowable, but in many cases is our duty : tions, and comprehends the general effect and to be totally indifferent to praise or which they ought to produce on the censure, is so far from being a virtue, heart, Ibid. that it is a real defect in character.
§ 66. Excessive Desire of Praise tends to
ing out of it are the issues of life. Let
us account our mind the most important corrupt the Heart, and to disregard the province which is committed to our care ; Admonitions of Conscience.
and if we cannot rule fortune, study at An excessive love of praise never fails least to rule ourselves. Let us propose for to undermine the regard due to consci- our object, not worldly success, which it ence, and to corrupt the heart. It turns depends not on us to obtain, but that upoff the eye of the mind from the ends right and honourable discharge of our duty which it ought chiefly to keep in view; in every conjuncture, which, through the and sets up a false light for its guide. Its divine assistance, is always within our influence is the more dangerous, as the power.
Let our happiness be sought colour which it assumes is often fair ; and where our proper praise is found; and that its garb and appearance are nearly allied be accounted our only real evil
, which is to that of virtue. The love of glory, I the evil of our nature ; not that, which is before admitted, may give birth to actions either the appointment of Providence, or which are both splendid and useful. At a which arises from the evil of others. distance they strike the
Ibid. mon brightness; but on a nearer and stricter survey, their lustre is often tar $ 68, Religious Knowledge of great Con. nished. They are found to want that sa
solation and Relief amidst the Distresses cred and venerable dignity which charac
of Life. terizes true virtue. Little passions and Consider it in the light of consolation ;
selfish interests entered into the motives of as bringing aid and relief to us, amidst • 'those who performed them. They were
the distresses of life. Here religion in. jealous of a competitor. They sought to contestibly triumphs; and its happy effects humble a rival. "They looked round for in this respect furnish a strong argument spectators to admire them. All is mag- to every benevolent mind, for wishing nanimity, generosity, and courage, to pub- them to be farther diffused throughout the lic view. But the ignoble source whence world. For, without the belief and hope these seeming virtues take their rise, is afforded by divine revelation, the circumhidden. Without appears the hero ; with
stances of man
are extremely forlorn. in, is found the man of dust and clay. He finds himself placed here as a stranger Consult such as have been intimately con- in a vast universe, where the powers and nected with the followers of renown; and operations of nature are very imperfectly seldom or never will you find, that they known; where both the beginnings and held them in the same esteem with those the issues of things are involved in mystewho viewed them from afar. There is rious darkness; where he is unable to dis. nothing, except simplicity of intention, cover with any certainty, whence he sprung, and purity of principle, that can stand the or for what purpose he was brought into test of near approach and strict examina- this state of existence ; whether he be tion.
Blair. subjected to the government of a mild, or
of a wrathful ruler; what construction he § 67. That Discipline which teaches to his providence ; and what his fate is to be
is to put on many of the dispensations of the sions, and to fortify the Mind with the when he departs hence. What a disconPrinciples of Virtue, is more conducive mind! The greater degree of virtue it
a serious, inquiring to true Happiness than the Possession of all the Goods of Fortune.
possesses, its sensibility is likely to be the
more oppressed by this burden of laboura That discipline which corrects the eager. ing thought. Even though it were in one's ness of worldly passions, which fortifies the power to banish all uneasy thought, and heart with virtuous principles, which en- to fill up the hours of life with perpetual lightens the mind with useful knowledge, amusement ; life up would, upon and furnishes to it matter of enjoyment reflection, appear poor and trivial. But from within itself, is of more consequence these are far from being the terms upon to real felicity, than all the provision wbich which man is brought into this world. we can make of the goods of fortune. To He is conscious that his being is frail and this let us bend our
chief attention. Let feeble ; he sees himself beset with various us keep the heart with all diligence, scc- dangers, and is exposed to many a me
lancholy apprehension, from the evils of nature, how shall the unhappy man supwhich he may have to encounter before he port himself, who knows not, or believes arrives at the close of life. In this dis. not, the hope of religion? Secretly contressed conclition, to reveal to him such scious to himself, that he has not acted his discoveries of the Supreme Being as the part as he ought to have done, the sins of Christian religion affords, is to reveal to his past life arise before him in sad rehim a father and a friend; is to let in a membrance. He wishes to exist after ray of the most cheering light upon the death, and yet dreads that existence. The darkness of the human estate. He who Governor of the world is unknown. He was before a destitute orphan, wandering cannot tell whether every endeavour to obin the inhospitable desert, has now gained tain his mercy may not be in vain. All is 2 shelter from the bitter and inclement awful obscurity around him; and in the blast. He now knows to whom to pray, midst of endless doubts and perplexities, and in whom to trust; where to unbosom the trembling reluctant soul is forced away his sorrows; and from what hand to look from the body. As the misfortunes of life for relief.
must, to such a man, have been most op. It is certain, that when the heart bleeds pressive ; so its end is bitter : his sun sets from some wound of recent misfortune, in a dark cloud ; and the night of death borbing is of equal efficacy with religious closes over his head, full of misery. comfort. It is of power to enlighten the
Blair. darkest hour, and to assuage the severest woe
, by the belief of divine favour, and Ø 69. Sense of Right and Wrong, indethe prospect of a blessed immortality. In
pendent of Religion. such hopes, the mind expatiates with joy ; Mankind certainly have a sense of right and when bereaved of its earthly friends, and wrong, independent of religious besolaces itself with the thoughts of one friend lief; but experience shews, that the alwho will never forsake it. Refined rea- lurements of present pleasure, and the im. sonings, concerning the nature of the hu- petuosity of passion, are sufficient to preman condition and ihe improvement which vent men from acting agreeable to this philosophy teaches us to make of every moral sense, unless it be supported by reevent, may entertain the mind when it is ligion, the influence of which upon the at ease; may, perhaps, contribute to sooth imagination and passions, if properly diit, when slightly touched with sorrow; but rected, is extremely powerful." We shall when it is corn with any sore distress, they readily acknowledge that many of the are cold and feeble, compared with a di. greatest enemies of religion have been disrect promise from the word of God. This tinguished for their honour, probity, and is an anchor to the soul, both sure and good-nature. But it is to be considered, steadfast. This has given consolation and that many virtues, as well as vices, are refuge to many a virtuous heart, at a time constitutional
. A cool and equal temper, when the most cogent reasonings would a dull imagination, and unfeeling heart, bare proved utterly unavailing:
ensure the possession of many virtues, or Upon the approach of death especially, rather, are a security against many vices. when, if a man thinks at all, his anxiety They may produce temperance, chastity, about his future interests must naturally honesty, prudence, and a harmless, inofincrease, the power of religious consola- fensive behaviour. Whereas keen passions, tion is sensibly felt. Then appears, in the a warm imagination, and great sensibility most striking light, the high value of the of heart, lay a natural foundation for prodiscoveries made by the Gospel ; not only digality, debauchery, and ambition : atlife and immortality revealed, but a Mé- tended, however, with the seeds of all the diator with God discovered ; mercy pro- social and most heroic virtues. Such a temclaimed, through him, to the frailties of perature of mind carries along with it a the penitent and the humble ; and his pre- check to its constitutional vices, by rendertence promised to be with them when they ing those possessed of it peculiarly suscepare passing through the valley of the sha- tible of religious impressions. They often dow of death, in order to bring them safe appear indeed to be the greatest enemies into unseen habitations of rest and joy. to religion, but that is entirely owing to Here is ground for their leaving the world their impatience of its restraints. Its most with comfort and peace. But in this se dangerous enemies have ever been among Tere and trying period, this labouring hour the temperate and chaste philosophers,