Imágenes de páginas

ments themselves, and partly from circumstances which corrupt them. No worldly enjoyments are adequate to the high desires and powers of an im. mortal spirit. Faocy paints them at a distance with splendid colours; but possessien unveils the falacy. The eagerness of possion bestows upon them at first, a brisk and lively relish. But it is their fate always to pall by familiarity, and sometimes to pass from satiety into disgust. Happy would the poor man think himself, if he could enter on all the treasures of the rich; and happy for a short time he might be : but before he had long contemplated and admired his state, his possessions would seem to lessed, and his cares would grow.

Add to the unsatisfying cature of our pleasures, the atieoding circumstances which never fail to cor. rupt thema. For, such as they are, they are at no time possessed uomixed. To human lips it is not given to taste the cup of pure joy. When exterDal circumstances show fairest to the world, the en. vied man groads in private under his own burden. Some vexation disquiets, some passion corrodes him; some distress, either telt or feared, gnaws like a worm, the root of his felicity. When thero is nothing from without to disturb the prosperous, a secret poison operates withio. For worldly happiness ever tends to destroy itself, by corruptiog the heart. It fosters the loose and the violent passions. It engenders noxious habits; and taipts the mind with false delicacy, which makes it feel a thousand unreal evils.

But put the case in the most favourable light, Lay aside from human pleasures both disappointment in pursuit, and deceitfulness in enjoyment ; suppose them to be folly attainable, and completely satisfactory ; still there remains to be considered the vanity of uncertain possession and short dura. tico. Were there in worldly things any fixed point of security which we could gain, the mind would

But our

then have some basis on which to rest. condition is such, that every thing wavers and tocters around us. " Boast not thyself of lo-morrow; for thou koowest not what a day may bring forth." It is much if, during its course, thou hearest not of somewhat to disquiet or alarm thee. For life never proceeds long in a uniform train. It is continually va. ried by unexpected events. The seeds of alteration are every where sown; and the sunshine of pros. perity commonly accelerates their growth. If our enjoyments are numerous, we lie more open on dif. fercot sides to be wounded. If we have possessed them long, we have greater cause to dread an ap. proaching change. By slow dgrees prosperity ris. es; but rapid is the progress of evil. It requires no preparation to bring it forward. The edifice which is cost much rime and labour to erect, one ioauspicious event, one sudden blow, cap level with the dust. Even supposiog the accidents of life to leave us untouched, homan bliss must be transitory; for man changes of himself No course of enjoy. ment cap delight us long. What amused our youth, loses its charm in mature age. As years advance, our powers are blunted, and our pleasurable feel. ings declipe. The silept lapse of time is ever care rying somewhat from us, till at length the period comes, when all must be swept away. The prospect of this termination of our labours and pursuits, is sufficient to mark our stare with vanity, “Our days are a band's breadth, aod our age is as poth. ing." Within that little space is all our enterprise bounded. We crowd it with toils aod cares, with contention and strife. We project great designs, entertain high hopes, and then leave our plans uc. finished, and sink joto oblivion.

l'his much let it suffice to have said concerning the vanity of the world. That to much has not beca said, must appear to every one who considers bow generally mankind lean to the opposite sides

aod how ofteo, by uòdue attachment to the present state; they both feed the must sigful passions, and “pierce themselves through with many sorrows."



What are the real and solid enjoyments of human life.

It must be admitted, that unmixed and complete happiness is uoknown on earth. No regulation of conduct cap altogether prevent passions from disturbing our peace, and mistortunes from wounding our heart. But after this concession is made, will it follow that there is no object on earth which deserves our pursuit, or that all enjoyment becomes contemptible which is not perfect? Let us survey our state with an impartial eye, and be just to the various gifts of Heaveo. How vain soever this life, considered in itself, may be, the comforts and hopes of religion are sufficient to give solidits to the cojoyments of the righteous. In the exercise of good affections, and the testimony of an appoving conscience

; in the sense of peace and reconciliation with God, through the great Redeemer of mankind; in the firm confidence of being conducted through all the trials of lite, by infinite Wisdom and Goodness, and in the joyful prospect of arriviog, in the end, at immortal telicity; they possess a happiness which, decending from a purer and more perfect region than this world, partakes not of iis vanity.

Besides the enjoyments peculiar to religion, there are other pleasures of our present state, which, though of an inferior order, must not be overlook. ed in the estimate of human life. It is necessary to call attention to these, in order to check that re. pining and unthankful spirit to which man is always too prone. Some degree of importance must be al.

lowed to the comforts of health, to the innocent gratifications of sease, and to the ebiertaiomeot afforded us by all the beautiful scenes of nature ; some to the pursuits god harmless amusements of social life, and more to the interoal enjoymente of thought and reflection, and to the pleasures of affeclionate intercouse with those whom we love. These comforts are often held in too low estimation, merely because they are ordinary and common; although That is the circumstance which ought io reason to enhance their value. They lic open, in some degree, to all; extend through every rank of life; and fill up agrecahly many of those spaces io our prescot existeoce, which are

dot occupied with higher objccia, or with serious carts.

From this representation it appears, that, gotwithstanding the vanity of the world, a considerable degree of comfort is attaioable io the present State. Let the recollection of this serve to reconcile us to our condition, and to repress the arrogance of complaints and murreurs.-- What art thou, O son of man! who, haviog sprung but yesterday out of the dust, darest to lift up thy voice against thy Maker, yod to arraign his providcoce, because all thiogs are not ordered according to thy wish? What title bast thou to find fault with the order of the universe, whose lot is so much beyond what thy virtue or merit gave the ground to claim ? Is it oothing to have been introduced into this mag. nificent world ; to have beea admitted as a spectator of the Divine wisdom aos works ; and to have had access to all the comforts which nature, with a bountiful hand, has poured forth around thee? Are all the hours forgotten which theu base passed ia case, io complacency, or joy? Is it a small favour in the eyes, that the hand of Divine Mercy has been stretched forth to aid thee ; aod, if thou reject pot its assistance, is ready to conduct thce to a happier stalo of existence? When thou

comparest thy condition with thy desert, blush, aod be ashamed of thy complaints. Be silent, be grate. ful, and adore. Receive with thankfuloess the blessiogs which are allowed thee. Revere that 80vernment which at present refuses thee more. Rest in this cooclusion, that though there are evils in the world, its Creator is wise and good, and has been bountiful to thee.



Scale of beings.

Trovou there is a great deal of pleasure in con. templating the material world; by which I mean, that system of bodies, into which nature has so curiously wrought the mass of dead matter, with the several relations that those bodies bear to one another; there is still, methinks, something more wonderful and surprising, in contemplations on the world of life ; by which I understand, all those animals with which every part of the universe is furnished. The material world, is only the shell of the universe : the world of life, are its inhabitants.

If we consider those parts of the material world, which lie the nearest to us, and are therefore subject to our observations and inquiries, it is amazing to consider the infinity of animals with which they are stocked. Every part of matter is peopled; every green leaf swarms with inhabitants. There is scarcely a single humour in the body of a man, or of any other animal, in which our glasses do not discover myriads of living creatures. We find, even in the most solid bodies, as in marble itself, innumerable cells and cavities, which are crowded with imperceptible inhabitants, too little for the naked eye to discover. Oa the other hand, if we look inco the more bulky parts of nature, we see the seas, lakes, and rivers, teeming with pomberless kiods of living creatures. We find every mountain aud marsh, wilderness aod wood, plentifully stocked with birds and beasts ; and every

« AnteriorContinuar »