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above the inhabitants of those nations of which I have been here speaking; as those who have had the advantages of a more liberal education, rise above one another by several different degrees of perfection.
7. For, to return to our statue in the block of marble, we see it sometimes only begun to be chipped, sometimes rough hewn, and but just sketched into a huinan figure; sometimes we see the man appearing distinctly in all his limbs and features; sometimes we find the figure wrought up to great elegancy; but seldoin meet with any to which the hand of a Phidias or a Praxiteles could not give several nice touches and finishings.
ADDISON. SECTION II.
ON GRATITUDE. 1. There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind, than gratitude. It is accoinpanied with so great inward satisfaction, that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance. It is not like the practice of mavy other virtues, difficult and painful, but attended with so much pleasure, that were there no positive command which enjoined it, nor any recompense laid up for it hereafter, a generous mind would indulge initfor the natural gratification which it affords.
2. If gratitude is due from man to man, how much more from man to his Maker? The Supreme Being does not only confer upon us those bounties which proceed more immediately from his hand, but even those benefits which are conveyed to us by others. Every blessing we enjoy, by what means soever it may be derived upon us, is the gift of HIM who is the great Author of good, and the Father of mercies.
3. If gratitude when exerted towards one another, naturally produces a very pleasing sensation in the mind of a grateful man, it exalts the soul into rapture, when it is employed on this great object of gratitude; on this beneficent Being, who has given us every thing we already possess, and from whom we expect every thing we yet hope for.
ON FORGIVENESS. 1. The most plain and natural sentiments of equity concur with divine authority, to enforce the duty of forgiveness. Let him who has never in his life done wrong, be allowed the privilege of remaining inexorable. But let such as are conscious of trailties and crimes, consider forgiveness as a
debt which they owe to others. Common failings are the strongest lesson of mutual forbearance. Were this virtue unknown among men, order and comfort, peace and repose, would be strangers to human life.
2. Injuries retaliated according to the exorbitant measure which passion prescribes, would excite resentment in return. The injured person would become the injurer; and thus wrongs, retaliations, and fresh injuries, would circulate in endless succession, till the world was rendered a field of blood. Of all the passions which invade the human breast, revenge is the most direful.
3. When allowed to reign with full dominion, it is more than sufficient to poison the few pleasures which remain to man in his present state. How much soever a person may suffer from injustice, he is always in hazard of suffering more from the prosecution of revenge. The violence of an eneiny cannot inflict what is equal to the torment he creates to himself, by means of the fierce and desperate passions which he allows to range in his soul.
4. Thase evil spirits who inhabit the regions of misery, s are represented as delighting in revenge and cruelty. But all that is great and good in the universe, is on the side of die clemency and mercy: The Almighty Ruler of the world, though for ages offended by the unrighteousness and insulted a by the impiety of men, is “long-suffering and slow to anger."
5. His son, when he appeared in our nature, exhibited, both in his life and death, the most illustrious example of forgiveness which the world.ever beheld. If we look into the history of mankind, we shall find that, in every age, they who have been respected as worthy, or admired as great, have been distinguished for this virtue..
6. Revenge dwells in little minds. A noble and magnanimous spirit is always superior to it. It suffers not from the injuries of men those severe shocks which others feel. Collected within itself, it stands unmoved by their impotent assaults; and, with generous pity, rather than with anger, looks down on their unworthy conduct. It bas been truly said, that the greatest man on earth can no sooner commit an in. If jury, than a good man.can make hiinseil greater, by forgiving it it.
MOTIVES TO THE PRACTICE OF GENTIENESS. 1. To promote the virtue of gentleness, we ougl.t to view our character with an impartial eye; and to learn, from our
own failings, to give that indulgence which in our turn we claim. It is pride which fills the world with so much harshness and severity. In the fulness of self estimation, we forget what we are. We claim attentions to which we are not entitled. We are rigorous to offences, as if we had never oftended; unfeeling to distress, as if we knew not what it was to suffer. From those airy regions of pride and folly, let us descend to our proper level.
2. Let us survey the natural equality on which Providence has placed man with man, and reflect on the infirmities common to all. If the reflection on natural equallty and mutual offences, be insufficient to prompt humanity, let us at least remember what we are in the sight of our Creator. Have we none of that forbearance to give one another, which we all so earnestly intreat from heaven ? Can we look for clemency or gentleness from our Fudge, when we are so backward to show it to our own brethren ?
3. Let us also accustoin ourselves to reflect on the smal 1 moment of those things, which are the usual incentives to violence and contention. In the ruffled and angry hour, we view every appearance through a false medium. The most inconsiderable point of interest, or honour, swells into a momentous object; and the slightest attack seems to threaten immediate raini
4. But after passion or pride has subsided, welook around io vain for the mighty mischiefs we dreaded. The fabric, which our disturbed imagination had reared, totally disappears. But though the cause of contention has dwindled away, its consequences remain. We have alienated a friend; we have embittered an enemy; we have sown the seeds of uture suspicion, malevolence, or disgust.
5. Let us suspend our violence for a moment, when causes of discord occur. Let us anticipate that period of coolness, which of itself, will soon arrive. Let us reflect how little we have any prospect of gaining by fierce contention ; but how much of the true happiness of life we are certain of throwing away. Easily, and from the smalle st chink, the bitter waters of strife are let forth; but their course cannot be foreseen; and he seldom fails of suffering, inost from their poisonous effect, who first allowed them to ilo-W. BLAIR.
SECTION V. A suspicious Temper the source of Misery to its Possessor.
1. As a suspicious spirit is the source of many crimes and calamities in the world, so it is the spring of certain misery
to the person 1: ho indulges it. His friends will be few; and small will be his comfort in those whom he possesses. Be. lieving others to be his enemies, he will of course inake them such. Let his caution be ever so great, the asperity of his thouglits will often break out in his behaviour; and in return for suspecting and hating, he will incur suspicion and hatred.
2. Besides the external evils which he draws upon him. self, arising from alienated friendship, broken confidence, and open enmity, the suspicious temper itself is one of the worst evils which any man can suffer. If in all fear there is torment,” how miserable must be his state, who by living in perpetual jealousy, lives in perpetual dread!
3. Looking upon himself to be surrounded with spies, enemies, and designing anen, he is a stranger to reliance and trust. He knows not to whom to open himself. He dresses liis countenance in forcer smiles, while his heart throbs within from apprehensions of secret treachery. Hence fretfulness and ill-humour, disgust at the world, and all the painful sensations of an irritated and embittered mind.
4. So numerous and great are the evils arising from a sus. picious disposition, that, of the two extremes, it is more eligible to expose ourselves to occasional disadvantage from thinking too well of others, than to suffer continual misery, dy thinking always ill of them. It is better to be sometimes imposed upon, than never to trust. Safety is purchased at too dear a rate, when in order to secure it, we are obliged to be always clad in armour, and to live in perpetual hostility to our fellows.
5. This is, for the sake of living, to deprive ourselves of the comfort of life. The man of candour enjoys bis situation whatever it is, with cheerfulness and peace. Prudence directs lris intercourse with the world; but no black suspicions haunt his hours of rest. Accustomed to view the characters of his neighbours in the most favourable light, he is like one who dwells amidst those beautiful scenes of na. ture, on which the eye rests with pleasure.
6. Whereas the suspicious man, having his imagination filled with all the shocking forms of human falsehood, deceit, and treachery, resembles the traveller in the wilderness, who discerns no objects around him, but such as are either dreary or terrible ; caverns that open, serpents that hiss, and beasts of prey that howl.
COMFORTS OF RELIGION.
1. THERE are many who have passed the age of youth and beauty; who have resigned the pleasures of that smiling season ; who begin to decline into the vale of years, impaired in their health, depressed in their fortunes, stript of their friends, their children, and perhaps still more tender connexions. . What resource can this world afford them ? It presents a dark and dreary waste, through which there does not issue a single ray of comfort. .
2. Every delusive prospect of ambition is now at an end ; long experience of mankind, an experience very different from what the open and generous soul of youth had fondly dreamt of, has rendered the heart almost inaccessible to new friendships. The principal sources of activity are taken away, when they for whom we labour are cut off from us ; they who anirnated, and who sweetned all the toils of life.
3. Where then can the soul find refuge, but in the bosom of Religion? There she is admitted to those prospects of Providence and futurity, which alone can warın and fill the heart. I speak here of su:h' as retain the feelings of humanity ; whom misfortunes have so:ienel, and perhaps rendered more delicately sensible ; not of such as possess that stupid insensibility, which some are pleased to dignify with the name of philosophy.
4. It might therefore be expected, that those philosophers, who think they stand in no need theinselves of the assistance of religion to support their virtue, and who never feel the want of its consolations, would yet have the humanity to consider the very different situation of the rest of mankind; and not endeavour to deprive them of what hakit, at least, if they will not allow it to be nature, has made necessary to their morals and to their happiness.
5. It might be expected, that humanity would prevent them from breaking into the last retreat of the unfortunate, who can no longer be objects of their envy or resentment, and tearing from them their only remaining comfort. The attempt to ridicule religion may be agreeable to some, by relieving them from restraint upon their pleasures ; and may render others very miserable, by making them doubt those truths, in which they were most deeply interested; but is can convey real good and happiness to no one individual.