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the world, and to be wise in the sight of our Creator, are, three things so very different, as rarely to coincide.
Man, in his highest earthly glory, is but a reed floating on the stream of time, and forced to follow every new direction of the current. .
The corrupted temper and the guilty passions of the bad, frustrate the effect of every advantage which the world confers on them.
The external misfortunes of life, disappointments, poverty, and sickness, are light in "comparison of those inward distresses of mind, occasioned by folly, by passion, and by guilt.
No station is so high, no power so great, no character so unblemished, as to exempt men from the attacks of rashness, malice, or envy.
Moral and religious instruction derives its efficacy, not so much from what men are taught to know, as from what they are brought to feel.
He who pretends to great sensibility towards men, and · yet has no feeling for the high objects of religion, no heart to
admire and adore the great Father of the universe, has reason to distrust the truth and delicacy of his sensibility, ,
When, upon rational and sober inquiry, we have established our principles, let us not suffer them to be shaken by the scoffs of the licentious, or the cavils of the sceptical.
When we observe any tendency to treat religion or morals with disrespect and levity, let us hold it to be a sure indication of a perverted understanding, or a depraved heart.
Every degree of guilt incurred by yielding to temptation, tends to debase the mind, and to weaken the generQus and benevolent principles of human nature.
Luxury, pride, and vanity, have frequently as much influence in corrupting the sentiments of the great, as ignorance, bigotry and prejudice, have in misleading the opinions of the multitude.
Mixed as the present state is, reason and religion pronounce that, generally, if not always, there is more happiness than misery, more pleasure than pain, in the condition of man.
Society, when formed, requires distinctions of property, diversity of conditions, subordination of ranks, and a multiplicity of occupations, in order to advance the general good.
That the temper, the sentiments, the morality, and, in general, the whole conduct and character of men, are influenced by the example and disposition of the persons
with whom they associate, is a reflection which has long since passed into a proverb, and been ranked among the standing maxims or human wisdom, in all ages of the world.
SECTION III. The desire of improvement discovers a liberal mind and is connected with many accomplishments, and many : virtues.
Innocence confers ease and freedom on the mind; and leaves it open to every pleasing sensation.
Moderate and simple pleasures relish high with the temperate : in the midst of his studied refinements, the voluptuary languishes.
Gentleness corrects whatever is offensive in our manners; and, by a constant train of humane attentions, studies to alleviate the burden of common misery.
That gentleness which is the characteristic of a good man, has, like every other virtue, its seat in the heart; and, let me add, nothing except what flows from the heart, can render even external manners truly pleasing.
Virtue, to become either vigorous or useful, must be habitually active : not breaking forth occasionally with a transient lustre, like the blaze of a comet ; but regular in its returns, like the light of day: not like the aromatic gale, which sometimes feasts the sense ; but like the ordinary breeze, which purifies the air, and renders ic healthful.
The happiness of every man depends more upon the state of his own mind, than upon any one external circumstance: nay, more than upon all external things put together.
In no station, in no period, let us think ourselves secure from the dangers which spring from our passions. Every age, and every station they beset ; from youth to gray hairs, and from the peasant to the prince.
Riches and pleasure are the chief temptations to criminal deeds. Yet those riches, when obtained, mav very possibly overwhelm us with unforeseen miseries. Those pleasures may cut short our health and life.
He who is accustomed to turn aside from the world, and commune with himself in retirement, will, sometimes at least hear the truths which the multitude do not tell him. A more sound instructor will lift his voice, and awaken within the heart those latent suggestions, which the world had overpowered and suppressed.
Amusemest often becomes the business, instead of the relaxation, of young persons : it is then highly pernicious.
He that waits for an opportunity to do much at once, may breathe out his life in idle wishes; and regret, in the last hour, his useless intentions and barren zeal.
The spirit of true religion breathes mildness and affabil. ity. It gives a native, unaffected ease to the behaviour. It is social, kind, and cheerful; far removed from thatgloomy and illiberal superstition, which clouds the brow, sharpens the temper, dejects the spirit, and teaches men to fit themselves for another world, by neglecting the concerns of this.
Reveal none of the secrets of thy friend. Be faithful to his interests. Forsake him not in danger. Abhor the thought of acquiring any advantage by his prejudice.
Man, always prosperous, would be giddy and insolent; always afflicted, would be sullen or despondent. Hopes and fears, joy and sorrow, are, therefore, so blended in his life, as bo th to give room for worldly pursuits, and to recall, from time to time, the admonitions of conscience.
- SECTION IV, TIME once past never returns: the moment which is lost, is lost forever.
There is nothing on earth so stable, as to assure us of undisturbed rest; por so powerful, as to afford us constant protection.
The house of feasting too often becomes an avenue to the bouse of mourning. Short, to the licentious, is the interval between them.
It is of great importance to us, to form a proper estimate of human life; without either loading it with imaginary evils, or expecting from it greater advantages than it is able to yield.
Among all our corrupt passions, there is a strong and intimate connexion. When any one of them is adopted into our family, it seldom quits us until it has fathered upon us all its kindred.
Charity, like the sun, brightens every object on which it shines ; à censorious disposition casts every character into the darkest shade it will bear.
Many men mistake the love, for the practice, of virtue; and are not so much good men, as the friends of goodness.
Genuine virtue has a language that speaks to every heart throughout the world. It is a language which is understood by all. In every region, every climate, the homage paid to it is the same. In no one sentiment were ever mankind more generally agreed.
The appearances of our security are frequently deceita ful. When our sky seems most settled and serene, in some unobserved quarter gathers the little black cloud in which the tempest ferments, and prepares to discharge itself on our head.
The man of true fortitude may be compared to the castle built on a rock, which defies the attacks of surrounding waters: the man of a feeble and timorous spirit, to a hut placed on the shore, which every wind shakes, and every wave overflows. .
Nothing is so inconsistent with self-possession as violent anger. It overpowers reason ; confounds our ideas; distorts the appearance, and blackens the colour of every object. By the storms which it raises within, and by the mischiefs which it occasions without, it generally brings on the passionate and revengeful man, greater misery than he can bring on the object of his resentment.
The palace of virtue has in all ages, been represented as placed on the summit of a hill; in the ascent of which, labour is requisite, and difficulties are to be surmounted; and where a conductor is needed, to direct our way, and to aid our steps.
In judging of others, let us always think the best, and employ the spirit of charity and candour. But in judging of ourselves, we ought to be exact and severe.
Let hiin who desires to see others happy, make haste to give while his gift can be enjoyed; and remember, that every moment of delay takes away something from the value of his benefaction. And let him who proposes his own happiness reflect, that while he forms his purpose, the day rolls on, and “ the night cometh, when no man can work."
To sensual persons, hardly any thing is what it appears to be; and what flatters most, is always farthest from reality. There are voices which sing around them ; but whose strains allure to ruin. There is a banquet spread, where poison is in every dish. There is a couch which invites them to repose ; but to slumber upon it, is death.
If we would judge whether a man is really happy, it is not solely to his houses and lands, to his equipage and his retinue we are to look. Unless we could see farther, and discern what joy, or what bitterness, his heart feels, we can pronounce little concerning him.
The book is well written; and I have perused it with pleasure and profit. It shows, first, that true devotion is rational and well founded ; next, that it is of the highest importance to every other part of religion and virtue; and, lastly, that it is most conducive to our happiness.
There is certainly no greater felicity, than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed ; to trace our own progress in existence, by such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow. It ought, therefore to be the care of those who wish to pass the last hours with comfort to lay up such a treasure of pleasing ideas, as shall support the expenses of that time, which is to depend wholly upon the fund already acquired.
SECTION V. What avails the show of external liberty, to one who has lost the government of himself?
He that cannot live well to-day, (says Martial,) will be less qualified to live well to morrow..
Can we esteem that man prosperous, who is raised to a situation which flatters his passions, but which corrupts his principles, disorders his temper, and finally oversets his virtue ?
What misery does the vicious man secretly endure! Adversity ! how blunt are all the arrows of thy quiver, in comparison with those of guilt : 'When we have no pleasure in goodness, we may with certainty conclude the reason to be, that our pleasure is all derived from an opposite quarter.
How strangely are the opinions of men altered, by a , change in their condition !
How many have had reason to be thankful, for being dig. appointed in designs which they earnestly pursued, but which if successfully accomplished, they have afterwards seen would have occasioned their ruin !
What are the actions which afford in the remembrance a rational satisfaction ? Are they the pursuits of sensual pleasure, the riots of jollity, or the displays of show and vanity ? No: I appeal to your hearts, my friends, if what you recollect with most pleasure, are not the innocent, the virtuous, the honourable parts of your past life.
The present employment of time should frequently be an object of thought. About what are we now busied ? What is the ultimate scope of our present pursuits and cares ? Can we justify them to ourselves ? Are they likely to produce any thing that will survive the moment, and bring some fruit for futurity?