Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to rob thee of justice, or temperance, or charity, or modesty, even riches themselves shall not make thee unhappy.

15 The nearest approach thou canst make to happiness on this side the grave, is to enjoy from heaven understanding and health. These blessings if thou possessest, and wouldst

preserve to old age, avoid the allurements of voluptuousness, and fly from her temptations. When she spreadeth her delicacies on the board, when her wine sparkleth in the cup, when she smileth upon thee, and persuadeth thee to be joyful and happy; then is the hour of danger, and let reason stand firmly on her guard.

16 For, if thou hearkenest unto the words of her adversary, thou art deceived and betrayed. The joy which she promiseth changeth to madness, and her enjoyments lead on to diseases and death. Look round her board, cast thine eyes upon her guests, and observe those who have been allured by her smiles, who have listened to her temptations. Are they not meagre? are they not sickly ? are they not spiritless?

17 Their short hours of jollity and riot are followed by tedious days of pain and dejection. She hath debauched and palled their appetites, that they have no relish for her nicest dainties; her votaries are become her victims; the just and natural consequences

which God hath ordained, in the constitution of things, for the punishment of those who abuse his gifts.

18 Enfeebled by dalliance, with luxury pampered, and softened by sloth, strength shall forsake thy limbs, and health thy constitution. Thy days shall be few, and those inglorious: thy griefs shall be many, yet meet with no compassion.

SECTION II. The passions: joy and grief; anger; pity. 1 Let not thy mirth be so extravagant as to intoxicate thy mind, nor thy sorrow so heavy as to depress thy heart. This world affordeth no good so transporting, nor inflicteth any evil so severe, as should raise thee far above, or sink thee much beneath, the balance of moderation, Lo! yonder standeth the house of joy. It is painted on the outside, and looketh gay; thou mayst know it from the continual noise of mirth and exultation that issueth from it.

2 The mistress standeth at the door, and calleth aloud to all that pass by; she singeth, and shouteth, and laugheth without ceasing. She inviteth them to go in and taste the pleasures of life, which she telleth them are no where to be found, but beneath her roof. But enter not thou into her gate; neither associate thyself with those who frequent her house.

3 They call themselves the sons of joy; they laugh and seem delighted; but madness and folly are in all their doings. They are linked with mischief, hand in hand, and their steps lead down to evil. Dangers beset them round about, and the pit of destruction yawneth beneath their feet. Look now on the other side; and behold in that vale overshadowed with trees and hid from the sight of men, the habitation of

sorrow.

4 Her bosom heaveth with sighs; her mouth is filled with lamentation; she delighteth to dwell on the subject of human misery. She looketh on the common accidents of life, and weepeth; the weakness and wickedness of man is the theme of her lips. All nature to her teemeth with evil; every object she seeth is tinged with the gloom of her own mind; and the voice of complaint saddeneth her dwelling day and night.

5 Come not near her cell; her breath is contagious; she will blast the fruits, and wither the flowers that adorn and sweeten the garden of life. In avoiding the house of joy, let not thy feet betray thee to the borders of this dismal mansion; but pursue with care the middle path, which shall lead thee, by gentle ascent, to the bower of tranquillity.

6 With her dwelleth peace; with her dwelleth safety and contentment. She is cheerful, but not gay; she is serious, but not grave; she vieweth the joys and the sorrows of life with an equal and steady eye.

7 From hence, as from an eminence, shalt thou behold the folly and the misery of those, who, led by the gaiety of their hearts, take up their abode with the companions of jollity and riotous mirth; or, infected by gloominess and melancholy, spend all their days in complaining of the woes and calamities of human life. Thou shalt view them both with pity; and the error of their ways shall keep thy feet from straying

8 Seest thou not that the angry man loseth his understanding? Whilst thou art yet in thy senses, let the wrath of another be a lesson to thyself. Harbor not revenge in thy breast; it will torment thy heart, and disorder its best inclinations. Be always more ready to forgive than to return an injury: he that watcheth for an opportunity of revenge, lieth in wait against himself, and draweth down mischief op his own head.

9 As blossoms and flowers are strewed upon the earth by the hand of spring, as the kindness of summer produceth in perfection the bounties of harvest; so the smiles of pity shed blessings on the children of misfortune. He who pitieth another, recommendeth himself; but he who is without compassion, deserveth it not.

10 The butcher relenteth not at the bleating of the lamb; neither is the heart of the cruel moved with distress. But the tears of the compassionate are sweeter than dew-drops, falling from roses on the bosom of the earth. Shut not thine ears, therefore, against the cries of the poor; neither harden thy heart against the calamities of the innocent.

11 When the fatherless call upon thee, when the widow's heart is sunk, and she imploreth thy assistance with tears of sorrow; O pity her affliction, and extend thy hand to those who have none to help them. When thou seest the naked wanderer of the street shivering with cold, and destítute of habitation, let bounty open thy heart; let the wings of charity shelter him from death, that thine own soul may live.

12 Whilst the poor man groaneth on the bed of sickness, whilst the unfortunate languish in the horrors of a dungeon, or the hoary head of age lifts up a feeble eye to thee for pity; O how canst thou riot in superfluous enjoyments, regardless of their wants, unfeeling of their woes!

SECTION III.

Woman. ? Give ear, fair daughter of love, to the instructions of Prudence, and let the precept of truth sink deep in thy heart; so shall the charms of thy mind add lustre to the elegance of thy form: and thy beauty, like the rose it resembleth, shall retain its sweetness when its bloom is withered.

2 Who is she that winneth the heart of man, that subdueth him to love, and reigneth in his breast? Lo! yonder she walketh in maiden sweetness, with innocence in her mind, and modesty on her cheek. Her hand seeketh employment; her foot delighteth not in gadding abroad. She is clothed with neatness; she is fed with temperance; humility and meekness are as a crown of glory encircling her head. Decency is in all her words; in her answers are mildness and truth.

3 Before her steps walketh prudence, and virtue attendetlı at ber right hand. Her eye speaketh softness and love; but discretion with a sceptre sitteth on her brow. The tongue of the licentious is dumb in her presence; the awe of her virtue keepeth him silent. When scandal is busy, and the fame of her neighbor is tossed from tongue to tongue; if charity and good nature open not her mouth, the finger of silence resteth on her lip.

4 Her breast is the mansion of goodness; and therefore, she suspecteth no evil in others. Happy were the man that should make her his wife; happy the child that shall call her mother. She presideth in the house, and there is peace; she commandeth with judgment, and is obeyed. She ariseth in the morning; she considers her affairs; and appointeth to every one their

proper

business. 5 The care of her family is her whole delight; to that alone she applieth her study: and elegance with frugality is seen in her mansions. The prudence of her management is an honor to her husband, and he heareth her praise with a secret delight. She informeth the minds of her children with wisdom; she fashioneth their manners from the example of her own goodness.

6 The word of her mouth is the law of their youth: the motion of her eye commandeth her obedience. She speaketh, and her servants fly; she pointeth, and the thing is done: for the law of love is in their hearts; and her kindness addeth wings to their feet.

7 In prosperity she is not puffed up; in adversity she healeth the wounds of fortune with patience. The troubles of her husband are alleviated by her counsels, and sweetened by her endearment: he putteth his heart in her bosom, and receiveth comfort.

SECTION IV. Duties of children to parents, and of brothers to one

another. i From the creatures of God let man learn wisdom, and apply to himself the instruction they give. Go to the desert my son; observe the young stork of the wilderness; let him speak to thy heart; he beareth on his wings his aged sire; he lodgeth him in safety, and supplieth him with food.

2 The piety of a child is sweeter than the incense of Persia offered to the sun; yea, more delicious than odours wafted from a field of Arabian spices, by the western gales. Be grateful then to thy father, for he gave thee life; and to thy mother, for she sustained thee.

3 Hear the words of his mouth, for they are spoken for thy good: give ear to his admonition, for it proceedeth from love. He hath watched for thy welfare; he hath toiled for thy ease; do honor therefore to his age, and let not his grey hairs be treated with irreverence.

4 Forget not thy helpless infancy, nor the frowardness of thy youth, and indulge the infirmities of thy aged parents; assist and support them in the decline of life. So shall their hoary heads go down to the grave in peace; and thine own children in reverence of thy example, shall repay thy piety with filial love.

5 Ye are the children of one father, provided for by his care; and the breast of one mother hath given you suck. Let the bonds of affection, therefore, unite thee with thy brothers; that peace and happiness may dwell in thy father's house.

6 And when ye separate in the world, remember the relation that bindeth you to love and unity; and prefer not a stranger before thine own blood. If thy brother is in adversity, assist him: If thy sister is in trouble, forsake her not. So shall the fortunes of thy father contribute to the support of his whole race; and his care be continued to you all, in your love to each other.

SECTION V. Wise and ignorant; rich and poor; masters and servants.

1 The gifts of the understanding are the treasures of God; and he appointeth to every one his portion, in what measure seemeth good unto himself

. Hath he endowed thee with wisdom? hath he enlightened thy mind with the knowledge of truth ? communicate it to the ignorant, for their instruction.

2 But the wise man cultivates his mind with knowledge; the improvement of arts is his delight; and their utility to the public crowneth him with honor. Nevertheless, the attainment of virtue he accounteth as the highest learning; and the science of happiness is the study of his life.

3 The man to whom God hath given riches, and blessed with a mind to employ them aright, is peculiarly favored and highly distinguished. He looketh on his wealth with pleasure ; because it affordeth him the means to do good. He protecteth the poor that are injured; he suffereth not the mighty to oppress the weak.

4 He seeketh out objects of compassion; he inquireth into their wants; he relieveth them with judgment, and without ostentation. He assisteth and rewardeth merit; he encourageth ingenuity, and liberally promoteth every useful design...

« AnteriorContinuar »