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see people lulled asleep with solid and elaborate dig. courses of piety, who would be warmed and transported out of themselves by the bellowings and distortions of enthusiasm.
If nonsense, when accompanied with such an emo. tion of voice and body, has such an influence on men's minds, what might we not expect from many of those admirable discourses which are printed in our tongue, were they delivered with a becoming fervour, and with the most agreeable graces of voice and gesture?
We are told, that the great Latin orator very much impaired his health by this laterum contentio, this vehemence of action, with which he used to deliver himself. The Greek orator was likewise so very famous for this particular in rhetoric, that one of his an. tagonists, whom he had banished from Athens, reading over the oration which had procured bis banishment, and seeing his friends admire it, coald not forbear asking them, if they were so much affected by the bare reading of it, how much more they would have been alarmed, had they heard him actually throwing out such a storm of eloquence?
How cold and dead a figure, in comparison of these two great men, does an orator ofter make at the Bri. tish bar, holding up his head with the most insipid serenity, and stroking the sides of a long wig that reaches down to bis middle? The truth of it is, there is often nothing more ridiculous than the gestures of an English speaker; you see some of them running their hands into their pockets as far as ever they can thrust them, and others looking with great attention on a piece of paper that has nothing written in it; you may see many a smart rhetorician turning his bat in his hands, moulding it into several different cocks, examining sometimes the lining of it, and sometimes the button, during the whole course of his harangue. A deaf mau would think he was cheapening a beaver, when perhaps he is talking of the fate of the British nation. I remember, when I was a young man, and used to frequent Westminster-Hall, there was a counsellor who never pleaded without a piece of pack. thread in his hand, which he used to twist about a thumb, or a finger, all the while be was speaking: the wags of those days used to call it the thread of his discourse, for he was not able to utter a word without it. One of his clients, who was more merry than wise, stole it from him one day in the midst of his pleading; but he had better have let it alone, for he lost his cause by his jest.
I believe every one will agree, that we ought either to lay aside all kinds of gesture, (which seems to be very suitable to the genius of our nation) or at least to make use of such only as are graceful and expressive.
EURIPID. The wise with hope support the pains of life. THE time present seldom affords sufficient employ
ment to the miod of man. Objects of pain or pleasure, love or admiration, do not lie thick enough together in life to keep the soul in constant action, and supply an immediate exercise to its faculties.
In or der, therefore, to remedy this defect, that the mind may not want business, but always have materials for thinking, she is endowed with certain powers, that can recal what is passed, and anticipate what is to come.
That wonderful faculty, which we call the memory, is perpetually looking back, when we have nothing present to entertain us. It is like those repositories in several animals, that are filled with stores of their for. mer food, on which they may ruminate when their present pasture fails.
As the memory relieves the miud in her vacant mo. ments, and prevents any chasms of thought by ideas of what is past, we have other faculties that agitate and employ her upon what is to come. These are the pas. sions of hope and fear.
By these two passions we reach forward into futurity, and bring up to our present thoughts objects that lie hid in the remotest depths of time. We suffer mi. gery and enjoy happiness before they are in being ; we can set the sun and stars forward, or lose sight of them by wandering into those retired parts of eternity, when the heavens and earth shall be no more.
By the way, who can imagine that the existence of a creature is to be circumscribed by time, whose thoughts are not? But I shall here confine myself to that particular passion which goes by the name of hope.
Our actual enjoyments are so few and transient, that man would be a very miserable being, were he not endowed with this passion, which gives him a taste of those good things that may possibly come into his possessiou. “ We should hope for every thing that is good,” says the old poet Linus, “ because there is nothing which may not be boped for, and nothing but what the gods are able to give us.” Hope quickens all the still parts of life, and keeps the mind awake in her most remiss and indolent bours. It gives habitual serenity and good-humour. It is a kind of vital heat in the soul, that cheers and gladdens her, when she does not attend to it. It makes pain easy, and labour pleasant.
Besides these several advantages which rise from hope, there is another which is none of the least, and that is, its great efficacy in preserving us from setting too high a value on present enjoyments. The saying of Cæsar is very well known. When he bad given away all bis estate in gratuities among his friends, one of them asked what he had left for himself, to which that great mau replied, Hope. His natural magnani.
mity hindered him from prizing what he was certainly possessed of, and turned all his thonghts upon something more valuable that he had in view. I question not but every reader will draw a moral from this story, and apply it to himself without my direction.
The old story of Pandora's box (which many of the learned believe was formed among the beatbens upon the tradition of the fall of man) shows us how deplorable a state they thought the present life without hope. To set forth the utmost condition of misery they tell us, that our forefather, according to the pagan theo. logy, had a great vessel presented him by Pandora: upon his lifting up the lid of it, says the fable, there flew out all the calamities and distempers incident to men, from which, till that time, they had been altogether exeinpt. Hope, who had been inclosed in tbe cup with so much bad company, instead of flying off with the rest, stuck so close to the lid of it, that it was sbut down upon her.
I shall make but two reflections apon what I have hitherto said. First, that no kind of life is so happy as that which is full of hope, especially when the hope is well grounded, and when the object of it is of an exalted kiud, and in its nature proper to make the person happy who enjoys it. This proposition must be very evident to those who consider how few are the present enjoyments of the most happy man, and how insufficient to give him an entire satisfaction and acquiescence in them.
My next observation is this, that a religious life is that which most abounds in a well-grounded hope, and such an one as is fixed on objects that are capable of making us entirely happy. This hope in a religious man, is much more sure and certaiv than the hope of any temporal blessing, as it is strengthened not only by reason, bat by faith. It has at the same time its eye perpetually fixed on that state, which implies in the very notion of it the most full and the most com. plete happiness.
I have before shown how the influence of hope in general sweetens life, and makes our present condition supportable, if not pleasing; but a religious hope has still greater advantages. It does not only bear up the mind under her sufferings, but makes her rejoice in them, as they may be the instruments of procuring her the great and ultimate end of all her hope.
Religious hope bas likewise this advantage above any other kind of hope, that it is able to revive the dying man, and to fill his mind not only with secret comfort and refreshment, but sometimes with rapture and transport. He triumphs in his agonies, while the soul springs forward with delight to the great object which she has always had in view, and leaves the body with an expectation of being reunited to her in a glo. rions and joyful resurrection.
I shall conclude this essay with those emphatical expressions of a lively hope, which the Psalmist made use of in the midst of those dangers and adversities which surrounded him; for the following passage bad its present and personal, as well as its future and prophetic sense. “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”.