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ble) that which denominates a man either to be a vine, in which are many fruitless branches; or that he is a thorn or a bramble bush, from which it is impossible to expect there should ever at all be gathered figs or grapes. Dr. Clarke.
COMFORTS OF RELIGION.
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 connections. What resources can this world afford them? It presents a dark and dreary waste, through which there does not issue a single ray of comfort. 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 those for whom we labour are cut off from us, those who animated, and those who sweetened all the toils of life. 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 warm and fill the heart. I speak here of such as retain the feelings of humanity, whom misfortunes have softened, and perhaps rendered more delicately sensible; not of such as possess that stupid insen
sibility, which some are pleased to dignify with the name of philosophy.
It should therefore be expected that those philosophers, who stand in no need themselves 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 habit, at least, if they will not allow it to be nature, has made necessary to their morals, and to their happiness.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 it can convey real good and happiness to no one individual. Gregory.
RELIGION THE FOUNDATION OF CONTENT.
OMAR, the hermit of the mountain Aubukabis, which rises on the east of Mecca, and overlooks the city, found one evening a man sitting pensive and alone, within a few paces of his cell. Omar regarded him with attention, and perceived that his looks were wild and haggard, and that his body, was feeble and emaciated: the man also seemed to gaze stedfastly on Omar; but such was the ab
straction of his mind, that his eye did not immediately take cognizance of its object. In the moment of recollection he started as from a dream, he covered his face in confusion, and bowed him. self to the ground. Son of affliction,' said Omar, ' who art thou, and what is thy distress?" 'My name,' replied the stranger,' is Hassan, and I am a native of this city: the Angel of Adversity has laid his hand upon me, and the wretch whom thine eye compassionates, thou canst not deliver.' 'To deliver thee,' said Omar, 'belongs to Him only, from whom we should receive with humility both good and evil: yet hide not thy life from me; for the burthen which I cannot remove, I may at least enable thee to sustain.' Hassan fixed his eyes upon the ground, and remained some time silent; then fetching a deep sigh, he looked up at the hermit, and thus complied with his request.
'It is now six years since our mighty lord the caliph Almalic, whose memory be blessed, first came privately to worship in the temple of the holy city. The blessing which he petitioned of the prophet, as the prophet's vicegerent, he was diligent to dispense: in the intervals of his devotion, therefore, he went about the city relieving distress and restraining oppression: the widow smiled under his protection, and the weakness of age and infancy was sustained by his bounty. I, who dreaded no evil but sickness, and expected no good beyond the reward of my labour, was singing at my work, when Almalic entered my dwelling. He looked round with a smile of complacency; perceiving, that though it was mean, it was neat, and though I was poor, I appeared to be
content. As his habit was that of a pilgrim, I hastened to receive him with such hospitality as was in my power; and my cheerfulness was rather increased than restrained by his presence. After he had accepted some coffee, he asked me many questions; and though by my answers I always endeavoured to excite him to mirth, yet I perceived that he grew thoughtful, and eyed me with a placid but fixed attention. I suspected that he had some knowledge of me, and therefore inquired his country and his name. "Hassan," said he, "I have raised thy curiosity, and it shall be satisfied; he who now talks with thee is Almalic, the sovereign of the faithful, whose seat is the throne of Medina, and whose commission is from above." These words struck me dumb with astonishment, though I had some doubt of their truth: but Almalic, throwing back his garment, discovered the peculiarity of his vest, and put the royal signet upon his finger. I then started up, and was about to prostrate myself before him, but he prevented me : "Hassan," said he, "forbear : thou art greater than I, and from thee I have at once derived humility and wisdom." I answered, "Mock not thy servant, who is but as a worm before thee: life and death are in thy hands, and happiness and misery are the daughters of thy will." "Hassan,” he replied, "I can no otherwise give life or happiness, than by not taking them away: thou art thyself beyond the reach of my bounty, and possessed of felicity which I can neither communicate nor obtain. My influence over others, fills my bosom with perpetual solicitude and anxiety; and yet my influence over others extends
to their vices, whether I would reward or punish. By the bow-string, I can repress violence and fraud; and by the delegation of power, I can transfer the insatiable wishes of avarice and ambition from one object to another: but with respect to virtue, I am impotent; if I could reward it, I would reward it in thee. Thou art content, and hast therefore neither avarice nor ambition: to exalt thee, would destroy the simplicity of thy life, and diminish that happiness which I have no power either to increase or to continue."
'He then rose up, and commanding me not to disclose his secret, departed.
'As soon as I recovered from the confusion and astonishment in which the caliph left me, I began to regret that my behaviour had intercepted his bounty; and accused that cheerfulness of folly, which was the concomitant of poverty and labour. I now repined at the obscurity of my station, which my former insensibility had perpetuated: I neglected my labour, because I despised the reward; I spent the day in idleness, forming romantic projects to recover the advantages which I had lost; and at night, instead of losing myself in that sweet and refreshing sleep, from which I used to rise with new health, cheerfulness, and vigour, I dreamt of splendid habits and a numerous retinue, of gardens, palaces, eunuchs, and women, and waked only to regret the illusions that had vanished. My health was at length impaired by the inquietude of my mind; I sold all my moveables for subsistence; and reserved only a mattress, upon which I sometimes lay from one night to another.