Imágenes de páginas

seasons, and inclement skies. It is not owing to the debility of our bodies, or to the unequal distribution of the goods of fortune. Amidst all disadvantages of this kind, a pure, a stedfast, and enlightened mind, possessed of strong virtue, could enjoy itself in peace, and smile at the impotent assaults of fortune and the elemen:s. It is within ourselves that misery has fixed its seat. Our disordered hearts, our guilty passions, our violent prejudices, and misplaced desires, are the instruments of the trouble which we endure. These sharpen the darts, which adversity would otherwise point in vain against us.

While the vain and the licentious are revelling in the midst of extravagance and riot, how little do they think of those scenes of sore distress, which are passing at that moment throughout the world ! multitudes struggling for a poor subsistence,to support the wife and the children whom they love, and who look up to them with eager eyes for that biead which they can hardly procure, multitudes groaning under sickness in desolate cottages, untended and unm nurned ; inany apparently in a better situation of life, pining away in secret with concealed griefs ; families weeping over the beloved friends whom they have lost, or, io all the bitterness of anguish, bidding those who are just expiring the last adieu.

Never adventure on too bear an approach to what is eril. Familiarize not yourselves with it, in the slightest instances, without fear. Listen with reverence to every reprehension of conscience, and preserve the most quick and accurate sensibility to right and wrong: If ever your moral in pressions begin to decay, and your natural abhorrence of guilt to lessen, you have ground to dread that the ruin of virtue is fast approaching

By disappointments and trials, the violence of our passions is tamed, and our minds are formed to sobriety and reflection. In the varieties of life, occasioned by the vicissitudes of worldly fortune, we are inured to habits both of the active and the suffering virtues. How much soever we complain of the vanite of the worded



facts plainly show, that if its vanity were less, it could not answer the purpose of salutary discipline. Unsatisfactory as it is, its pleasures are still too apt to corrupt our hearts. How fatal then must the quences have been, had it yielded us more complete enjoyment? If, with all its troubles, we are in dan. ger of being too much attached to it, how entirely would it have seduced our affections, if ro troubles had been mingled with its pleasures ?

In seasons of distress or difficulty, to abandon ourselves to dejection, carries no mark of a great or a worthy mind. Instead of sinking under trouble, and declaring “ that his soul is weary of life,” it becomes a wise and a good man, in the evil day, with firmness to maintain his post; to bear up against the storm ; to have recourse to those advantages which, in the worst of times, are always left to integrity and virtue ; and never to give up the hope that better days may yet a

How many young persons have at first set out in the world with excellent dispositions of heart: generous, charitable, and humane; kind to their friends, and amiable among all with whom they had intercourse ! And yet, how often have we seen all those fair appear. ances unhappily blasted in the progress of life, merely through the influence of loose and corrupting pleasure ; and those very persons, who promised once to be blessings to the world, sunk down, in the end, to be the burden and nuisance of society!

The most common propensity of mankind, is to store futurity with whatever is agreeable to them; especially in those periods of life, when imagination 19 livels, and hope is ardent. Looking forward to the year now beginning, they are ready to promise themselves much, from the foundations of prosperity which they have laid ; from the friendships and connexions which they havesecured ; and from the plans of conduct which they have formed. Alas ! how deceitful do all these dreains of happiness often prove! While many are saying in secret to their hearts, “ To-morrow shall be as this day and more abundantly," we are obliged

in return to say to them ;“ Boast not yourself of tomorrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth !"




Norank or possessions can make the guilty mind happy.

DIONYSIUS, the tyrant of Sicily, was far from being happy, though he possessed great riches, and all the pleasures which wealth and power could procure. Damocles, one of his flatterers, deceived by these ssecious appearances of happiness, took occasion to compliment him on the extent of his power, his treasures, and royal magoificence; ard declared that no mon. arch had ever been greater or happier than Dionysius. Hast thou a mind, Damocles," says the king, “ to taste this happiness ? and to know, by experience, what the enjoyments are, of which thou hast so high an idea ?” Damocles, with joy accepted the offer. The king ordered that a royal banquet should be prepared, and a gilded sofa, covered with rich embroidery, placed for his favourite. Side-boards, loaded with gold aod silver plate of immense value, were arranged in the apartment. Pages of extraordinary beauty were ordered to attend his table, and to obey his commands with the utmost readiness, and the most profound submission. Fragrant ointments, chaplets of flowers, and rich perfumes, were added to the entertainment. The table was loaded with the most exquisite delicacies of every kind. Damocles, intoxicated with pleasure, fancied himself amongst superior beings. But in the midst of all this happiness, as he lay indulging himself

in state; he sees let down from the ceiling, exactly over his head, a glittering sword hung by a single hair. The sight of impending destruction put a speedy end to his joy and revelling. The pomp of his attendance, the glitter of the carved plate, and the delicacy of the viands, ceased to afford him any pleasure. He dreads to stretch forth his hand to the table. He throws off the garland of roses. lle hastens to remove from his dangerous situation : and earnestly entreats the king to restore him to his former humble condition, having no desire to enjoy any longer a happiness so terrible.

By this device, Diodysius intimated to Damocles, how miserable he was in the midst of all his treasures ; and in possession of all the honours and enjoyments which royalty could bestow.



Change of external condition often adverse to virtue.

In the days of Joram, king of Israel, flourished the prophet Elisha.

His character was so eminent, and his fame so widely spread, that Benhadad the king of Syria, though an idolater,sent to consult him, concerning the issue of a distemper which threatened his life. The messenger employed on this occasion was Hazael, who appears to have been

one of the princes, or chief men, of the Syrian court. Charged with rich gifts from the king, he presents bimself before the prophet ; aod accosts him in terms of the highest respect. During the conference which they held together, Elisha fixed his eye stedfastly on the countenance of Hazael ; and discercing, by a prophetic spirit, his future tyranny and cruelty, he could not contain himself froni bursting into a flood of tears. When Hazael, in surprise, enquired into the cause of this sudden emotion, the prophet plainly informed him of the crimes and barbarities, which he foresaw that he would afterwards commit. The soul of llazael abhorred, at this time, the thoughts of cruelty. Uncorrupted, as yet, by ambition or greatness, his indignation rose at being thought rapable of the savage actions which the prophet had

mentioned ; and, with much warmth, he replies ; “ But what ! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ?” Elisha makes no return, but to point out a remarkable change, which was to take place in his condition : “ The Lord hath shown ipe, that thou shalt be king over Syria." In course of time, all that had been predicted came to pass. Hazael as. cended the throne, and ambition took possession of his heart. “ He smote the children of Israel in all their coasts, He oppressed them during all the days of king Jehoahaz ; and, from what is left on record of his actions, he plainly appears to have proved, what the prophet foresaw him to be, a man of violence, cruelty, and blood.

In this passage of history, an object is presented which deserves our serious attention. We behold a man who, in one state of life, could not look upon certain crimes without surprise and horror ; who knew so little of bimself, as to believe it impossible for him ever to be concerned in committing them ; that same man, by a change of condition, and an unguarded state of mind, transformed in all his sentiments; and as he rose in greatness rising also in guilt; till at last he completed that whole character of iniquity, which he. once detested.



Hainan ; or, the misery of pride. AHASUERU'S, who is supposed to be the prince known among the Greek historians by the name of Artaxerxes, had advan. ced to the chief dignity in his kingdom, Haman, an Amale. kite, who inherited all the ancient enmity of his race to the Jewish nation. He appears, from what is recorded of him, to have been a very wicked minister. Raised to greatness with. out merit, he employed his power solely for the gratification of his passions. As the honours wbich he possessed were next to royal, his pride was every day fed with that servile homage, which is peculiar to Asiatic courts ; and all the ser. vants of the king prostrated themselves before him In the midst of this general adu'ation, one person only stooped no: 10 Haman. This was Mordecai the Jew ; who, knowing this Amalekite to be an enemy to the people of God; and,

« AnteriorContinuar »