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the riots of the licentious, or the outrages of the profligate; but it is in the absence of that integrity, the neglect of that virtue, the contempt of that honor, which, by connecting individuals, formed society and without which society can no longer subsist.
Few men are calculated for that close connexion, which we distinguish by the appellation of friendship, and we well know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. The acquaintance is in a post of progression, and after having passed through a course of proper experience, and given sufficient evidence of his merit, takes a new title, and ranks himself higher. He must now be considered as in a place of consequence, in which all the ornaments of our nature are necessary to support him.
But the great requisites, those without which all others are useless, are fidelity and taciturnity. He must not only be superior to loquacious imbecility, he must be well able to repress the attacks of curiosity, and to resist those powerful engines that will be employed against him, wine and resentment. Such are the powers that he must constantly exert, after a trust is reposed in him; and, that he may not overload himself, let him not add to his charge by his own inquiries ; let it be a devolved, not an acquired, commission.
There is a very general inclination amongst us to hear a secret, to whomsoever it relates, known
or unknown to us, of whatever import, serious or trifling, so it be but a secret; the delight of telling it, and of hearing it, are nearly proportionate and equal. The possessor of the valuable treasure appears, indeed, rather to have the advantage, and he seems to claim his superiority. I have discovered at once, in a large company, by an air and deportment that is assumed upon such occasions, who it is that is conscious of this happy charge. He appears restless and full of doubt for a considerable time; has frequent consultations with himself, like a bee undetermined where to settle in a variety of sweets, till at last, one happy ear attracts him more forcibly than the rest, and. there he fixes, stealing and giving odors.'
In a little time it becomes a matter of great amazement, that the whole town is as well acquainted with the story, as the two who were so busily engaged ; and the consternation is greater, as each reporter is confident that he only communicated it to one person. A report,' says Strada, thus transmitted from one to one, is like a drop of water at the top of a house; it descends but from tile to tile, yet at last makes its way to the gutter, and then is involved in the general stream.' And if I may add to the comparison, the drop of water, after its progress through all the channels of the streets, is not more contaminated with filth and dirt, than a simple story, after it has passed through the mouths of a few modern talebearers.
YOUTH A SEASON
FOR THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE.
In every period of life the acquisition of knowledge is one of the most pleasing employments of the human mind. But in youth there are circumstances, which make it productive of higher enjoyment. It is then that every thing has the charm of novelty, and that the heart swells with the anticipations of future eminence and utility. Even in those lower branches of instruction, which we call mere accomplishments, there is something always pleasing to the young in their acquisition. They seem to become every well educated person; they adorn, if they do not dignify, humanity; and, what is far more, while they give an elegant employment to the hours of leisure and relaxation, they afford a means of contributing to the purity and innocence of domestic life. But in the acquisition of knowledge of a higher kind, in the hours when the young gradually begin the study of the laws of nature, and of the faculties of the human mind, or of the magnificent revelations of the gospel ; there is a pleasure of a sublimer nature. The cloud, which, in their infant years, seemed to cover nature from their view begins A SEASON FOR ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE. 133
gradually to resolve. The world in which they are placed, opens with all its wonders upon their eye; their powers of attention and observation seem to expand with the scene before them; and, while they see, for the first time, the immensity of the universe of God, and mark the majestic simplicity of those laws by which its operations are conducted, they feel as if they were awakened to a higher species of being, and admitted into nearer intercourse with the Author of Nature. It is this period of all others, accordingly, that most determines our hopes or fears of the future fate of the young. To feel no joy in such pursuits; to listen carelessly to the voice which brings such magnificent instruction; to see the veil raised that conceals the counsels of the Deity, and to show no emotion at the discovery, are symptoms of a weak and torpid spirit, of a mind unworthy of the advantages it possesses, and which is fitted only for the humility of sensual, ignoble pleasure. Of those, on the contrary, who distinguish themselves by the love of knowledge, who follow with ardor the career that is opened to them, we are apt to form the most honorable presages. It is the character natural to youth, and which, therefore, promises well of their maturity. We foresee for them at least a life of pure and virtuous enjoyment, and we are willing to anticipate no common share of future usefulness and splendor.
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL
ARGUED FROM THE DESIRE OF HAPPINESS.
If there were no other proofs of the existence of a God than the wonders of nature, these evidences are so strong as to be quite sufficient to convince every man, whose only object is truth. But if those who deny a Providence, cannot explain the miracles of the creation without one, they are still more puzzled for a reply to the objections of their own hearts. By renouncing the Supreme Being, they are obliged to renounce a future state. The soul nevertheless disturbs them; she appears every moment before them, and compels them, in spite of their sophistry, to acknowledge her existence and her immortality.
Let them inform us, in the first place, if the soul be extinguished when the body descends to the tomb, whence proceeds the desire of happiness by which they are agitated ? All our passions here below may easily be gratified ; love, ambition, anger, have a determined plenitude of enjoyment; the desire of happiness is the only one that fails to obtain satisfaction, for we know not what is that vague felicity that we wish for. It must be admitted that if every thing be matter, nature has here