« AnteriorContinuar »
traveller, who was on his way thither. perceived, at the distance of some miles, a black cloud, like night, hanging over the place. The sea, all of a sudden, began to roar; moudi Ætoa to send forth great spires of fame; and soon after a shock ensued, with a poise as if all the artillery in the world had been at once discharged. Our traveller being obliged to a. light, instantly felt himself raised a foot from the groucd; and turning his eyes to the city, he wish a. maztrent saw nothing but a thick cloud of dust in the air. The birds flew about astonished; the sun was darkeord; the beasis rao howling from the hills; and although the shock did not continue above three minutes, vet near oineteen thousand of the inhab. itants of Sicily perished in the ruins. Catanca, to which city the describer travelling, seemed the prin. cipal scene of ruin; its place only was to be found; and pot a footstep of its former magoificence was to be seed remaining
In the progress of Divine works and governmedt, there arrived a period, in which the earth was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might, and with a word created the world, What an illustrious moment was that, whea, from concxistence, there sprang at once into being, this mighty globe, on which so maoy millions of creatures now dwell! No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was em• ployed. “He spake; and it was done: he command. ed; and it stwod fast. The earth was at first with. out form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” The Almighty surveyed the dark a. byss; and fixed bouods to the several divisions of nature. He said, " let there be light: and there
- light." Then appeared the sea, and the dry land. The mountains rose; and the rivers Acwed. The sun and moon began their course in the skies, Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, aod the waters, were stored with their respective inhabitanıs. At last, man was made after the image of God. He appeared, walking with countenance erect; and received his Creator's benediction, as the Lord of inis new world. The Ala mighty beheld his work wheo ii was finished; and pronounced it GOOD. Superior beings saw with wonder his new accession to existence. 6 The moroing stars sang together; and sll the sons of God shouted for joy."
CHARITY is the same with benevolence or love; and is the term uoiformly employed in the New Testament, to denote all the good affections which we aught to bear towards one another. It consists por in speculative ideas of general benevolence, Aosting io the head, and leaving the heart, as speculations too often do, votouched and cold. Neither is it confined to that indolent good oature.
which makes us rest sa'isfied with being free from invete erate malice or ill-will to our fellow creatures, without prompting us to be of service to any. True charity is an active principle. It is not properly a single virtue; hut a disposition r-siding in the heart, as a fountain from whence all the virtues of benignity, candor forbearance, generosity, compassion, and liberality flow, as so many native streams. From general good will to all, it extends its influ. ence particularly to those with whom we stand in nearest connexion, and who are directly within the sphere of our good offices. From the country or community to which we belong, it descends to the
smaller associations of neighborhood, relations and friends; and spreads itself over the whole cirale of social and domestic life. I nean nor that it im. ports a promiscuous undistinguished affection, which gives every man a title to our love. Charity, if we should endeavor to carry it so far, would be rendered an impracticable virtue; and would resolve itself into mere words, without affecting the heart.True charicy attempts not to shut our eyes to the distinction between good and bad men; nor to warm our hearts equally to those who befriead, and those who injurt us. It reserves our esteem for good men, and our complacency for our friends. Tow. ards our enemies it inspires forgiveness, humanity, and a solicitude for their weltare. It breaches yoi. versal capdor, and liberality of sentiment. It forms gentleness of temper, and dictates affability of marDers. It prompts corresponding sympathies with them who rejoice, and them who weep. It teaches us to slight and despise oo man. Charity is the comforter of the afflicted, the protector of the oppressed, the reconciler of differcoces, the intercese sor for off-nders. It is faithfuloess in the trieod, public spirit in the magistrate, equity and patience in the judge, moderation in the sovereigo, and loyalty 10 the subject. to parents, it is care and attenc100; in childreo, it is reverence and submission.
In a word, it is the soul of social life. It is the sun that enlivens and cheers the abodes of men. It is, "like the dew of Hermoa,” says the Psalmist, “and the dew that descended on the mountains, of Zion, where the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for overmore,”
BLAIRE I 2
Prosperity is redoubled to d good man. None but the temperate, the regular, and the virtuous, know how to enjoy prosperity. They bring to its coinforts the manly relish of a sound uncorrupted mind, They stop at the proper point, before enjoyment degenerates into disgust, and pleasure is converted into pain. They are strangers to those complaints which flow from spleen, caprice, and all the fantastical distresses of a vitiated mind. While riotous indulgence enervates both the body and the mind, purity and virtue heighten all the powers of human fruition.
Feeble are all pleasures in which the heart has go share. The selfish gratifications of the bad, are both narrow in their circle, and short in their duration, Bot prosperity is redoubled to a good man, by his generous use of it. It is reflected back upon him from every one whom he makes happy. In the intercourse of do-mestic affection, in the attachment of friends, the gratitude of dependents, the esteem and good-will of all who know him, he sees blessings multiplied round him on every side. “When the ear heard me, then it blessed e; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless; and him that had done to help him. The blessiog of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing with joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame: I was a father to the poor : and the cause which I knew not, I searched out."-Thus, while the righteous man Rounisties like a tree planted by the rivers of water, he brings forth also his fruit in its season : and that fruit. he brings forth not for himself alone. He flourishes, not like a tree in some solitary desert, which scatters its blossoins to the wind, and communicates neither fruit nor shade to any living thing: but like a tree in
the midst of an inhabited country, which to some af. fords friendly shelter, to others fruit; which is not only admired by all for its beauty; but blessed by the traveller for the shade, and by the hungry for the sustenance it hath given.
On the beauties of the Psalms.
GREATNESS confers no exemption from the cares and sorrows of life: its share of them frequently bears a melancholy proportion to its 'exaltation. This the monarch of Israel experienced. He sought in piety, that peace which he could not find in empire ; and alleviated the disquietudes of state, with the exercises of devotion, ilis invaluable Psalms convey those comforts to others, which they afforded to himsell. Composed upon particular occasions, yet designed for general use ; delivered out as services for 'Israelites under the Law, yet no less adapted tu the circumstances of Christians under the Gospel ; they present religion to us in the most engaging dress ; communicating truths which philosophy could never investigate, in a style which poetry can never equal ; while history is made the vehicle of prophecy, and creation lends all its charms co paint the glories of redemption. Calculated alike to profit and to pleas, they inform the understanding, elevate the atfections, and entertain the imagigation. Indited under the influence of him, to whuin all hearts are knowo,and all events fore knowo, they suit mankind in all situations ; grateful as the manna which descended froin above, and confor.ned itself to every palate.
The fairest productions of human wit, after a few perusals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands, and lose their fragrancy : but these unfading plants of paradise become, as we are accustomed to them, still more and more beautiful; their bloom appears to be dailg heightened ; fresh odours are emitted, and
new sweets extracted from them. He who hath once and