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quickly fell back, nor ever approached the throne of Hope, but continued still to gaze at a distance, and laughed at the slow progress of those whom they saw toiling in the Streight of Difficulty.
Part of the favourites of Fancy, when they had entered the garden, without making, like the rest, an attempt to climb the mountain, turned immediately to the vale of Idleness, a calm and undisturbed retirement, from whence they could always have Hope in prospect, and to which they pleased themselves with believing that she intended speedily to descend. These were indeed scorned by all the rest; but they seemed very little affected by contempt, advice, or reproof, but were resolved to expect at ease the favour of the goddess.
Among this gay race I was wandering, and found them ready to answer all my questions, and willing to communicate their mirth : but turning round I saw two dreadful monsters entering the vale, one of whom I knew to be Age, and the other Want. Sport and revelling were now at an end, and an universal shriek of alright and distress burst out and awaked me.
CERTAIN cardinal, by the multitude of his
generous actions, gave occasion for the world to call him the patron of the poor. This ecclesiastical prince had a constant custom, once a week, to give public audience to all indigent people, in the hall of his palace, and to relieve every one according to their various necessities, or the motions of his own goodOne day, a poor widow, encouraged by the fame of his bounty, came into the hall of this cardinal, with her only daughter, a beautiful maid, about fifteen years
When her turn came to be heard among a crowd of petitioners, the cardinal, observing the marks of an extraordinary modesty in her face and carriage, as also in her daughter, encouraged her to tell her wants freely. She, blushing, and not without tears, thus addressed herself to him: “ My lord, I owe for the rent of my house five crowns, and such is my misfortune, that I have no way left to pay it, except that which would break my heart, (and my landlord threatens to force me to it,) which is, to prostitute this my only daughter, whom I have hitherto, with great care, educated in the principles of virtue. What I beg of your eminence is, that you would be pleased to interpose your authority, and protect us from the violence of this cruel man, till, by honest industry, we can procure the money for him.” The cardinal, moved with admiration of the woman's virtue and modest request, bade her be of good courage : then he immediately wrote a billet, and giving it into the woman's hand, “ Go,” said he, “ to my steward, and he shall deliver thee five crowns to pay thy rent.” The widow, overjoyed, and returning the cardinal a thousand thanks, went directly to the steward, and gave him the note. When he had read it he told out fifty crowns. She, astonished at the circumstance, and not knowing what the cardinal had written; refused to take above five crowns, saying, she mentioned no more to his eminence, and she was sure it was some mistake. On the other hand, the steward insisted on his master's order, not daring to call it in question. But all the arguments he could use were insufficient to prevail on her to take any more than five crowns. Wherefore, to end the controversy, he offered to go back with her to the cardinal, and refer it to him. When they came before that munificent prince, and he was fully informed of the business ; “ It is true,” said he, “I mistook in writing fifty crowns, give me the paper, and I will rectify it." Upon which he wrote again, saying to the woman,
"So much modesty and virtue deserves a recompence: here I have ordered
five hundred crowns : what you can spare of it, lay up as a dowry to give with your daughter in marriage.'
The CHOICE and CRITERION of RELIGION.
W , of
of religious systems in vogue, to make a distinction, and prefer the best? Recollect the character of Christ : keep a steady eye on that universal and permanent good-will to men, in which he lived, by which he suffered, for which he died. What now would you expect from a mind so purely and habitually benign? Is it possible to suppose that a heart thus warm and wide could harbour a narrow wish, or utter a partial sentiment? Most luckily, in this point, the fuīlest satisfaction is in every man's power. Go, search the religion he has left, to the bottom: not in those artificial theories, however, which have done it the most essential and lasting injury; not in their manner who assume his name, but overlook his example, and who are talking for ever about the merits of his death, at the expence of those virtues which adorned his life; not in those wild and romantic opinions, which, to make us Christians, would make us fools : but in those writings, and in those alone, which contain his genuine history and gospel; and which, in the most peculiar and exclusive sense, are the words of eternal
life. Commentators are good for nothing but perplexing the head, and repressing the ardour of the heart. Do you want sentiment ? so do they; do ye want devotion ? so do they ; do ye want information ? so do they. For my own part, I never saw one in my life, which was not a thousand times more unintelligible than the text. Do read the scriptures then as you would the LAST WILL of some deceased friend, in which you expected a large bequest; and tell me, in the sincerity of your soul, what you see there to circumscribe the social affections, to quash the risings of benevolence, to check the generous effusions of humanity ? Littleness of mind and narrowness of temper were certainly no part of our Saviour's character; and he enjoins nothing which he did not himself uniformly and minutely exemplify. Strange!. that an institution, which begins and ends in benignity, should be prostituted to countenance the workings of malevolent passions, should produce animosities among those minds it was intended to unite! But there is not a corruption of the human heart which has not sometimes borrowed the garb of religion. Christianity, however, is not the less precious to the honest, that knaves and hypocrites have so long abused her : and let bigots and sceptics say what they will, she softens and enlarges the heart, warms and impregnates the mind of man, as certainly, and as sensibly too, as the sun does the earth. This CRITERION is as obvious as it is decisive. True generosity is always open, always acceptable, and always known. Whoever would be thought pious, without this genuine signature of piety; be his behaviour as starch, and his face as sad and sanctimonious as you will, mark him down for a hypocrite. But he whose bosom heaves with kindness, who would not say or do a thing to hurt another for the world, whose ruling disposition is to be obliging and beneficent, (whatever system he has adopted), lives under the visible influence of true goodness,
Esteem him as a brother and kinsman: the same spirit which lives in you lives in him : the divine image is stamped on him as well as on you; and he copies that example which leads us all to immortality.
PORTRAIT OF THE TRUE CHRISTIAN.
THE pious man is often disdained in society by
men of the world. He is often taxed with narrowness of genius and meanness of soul. He is often disniissed to keep company with those whom the world calls “good folks.” But what unjust appraisers of things are mankind ! How little doth it become them to distribute glory! Christian is a grand character! A Christian man unites in himself what is most grand, either in the mind of a philosopher, or in the heart of a hero. The unknown steadiness of his soul elevates him above whatever is most grand in the mind of a philosopher. The philosopher flatters himself that he is arrived at this grandeur, but he only imagines so, it is the Christian who possesses it. He alone knows how to distinguish the true from the false: The Christian is the man who knows how to ascend heaven, to procure there and diffuse it upon earth. It is the Christian who having learnt by the accurate exercise of his reason, the imperfection of his knowledge, and having supplied the want of perfection in himself, by submitting to the decisions of an infallible being, steadily resisteth all the illusions, and all the sophisms of error and falsehood. And as he possesseth and surpasseth whatever is most grand in the mind of a philosopher, so he possesseth whatever is most grand in the heart of a hero: That grandeur