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conflicts are so numerous, so prolonged, and in which victory costs hiin so dear, and defeat is so inconceivably dreadful of these dangers the child knows nothing. Before entering the combat, he looks at the laurels reserved only for the eonqueror; and the toils and blood by which they must be acquired, are not within the field of his vision. While he glances at the opening prospect, he sees, or imagines himself to see, a thousand roses charmingly decorating the way he shall travel; but the thorns mixed among them escape his eye, or are forgotten in his account.
2. Anticipations of uncertain enjoyment. The same natural wisli for happiness, which leads the inexperienced to grasp at surrounding objects, induces the easy belief, that the untried portion of the journey is better than the past. As expectations of this sort are comfortable, they are indulged without effort. Now the first disappointments do not destroy the habit, but repeated experience of the sorrows of life sap the foundations of this sort of pleasures. Instead of expecting a full harvest in the fields where we must labor, the blasts of adversity teach us by degrees to moderate these expectations, and eventually we come to predicate evil rather than good, and move onward in constant forebodings of the sufferings which await us, similar to those throus which we have so often passed.
I know these remarks will not be thought applicable to the rich, or to any of those on whom the world is said to smile. The ordinary opinion is, that the prosperous are happy; and though the fallacy of such a notion has been shown in many ways, I remark,
3. Enlarged intercourse with mankind increases the unhappiness of the individual.
I trust I sball not here be understood to mean, that the extension of commerce, the wide range of discovery, or the modern improvements in science, have been injurious to mankind, in the aggregate; but that the man who extends the boundaries of his acquaintance, in a region like this, is opening his bosom to numerous assailants.' That tranquillity he would secure is put to the mercy of others. If he be a humble disciple of the benevolent Redeemer, the variety of his relations bring home to his immediate inspection a wider extent of the deep and festering wound of human depravity. If his sole bope centres on earth, the sound of voices clamoring, like his own, for selfish purposes, rebounds along the vaults of his terrestrial prison, whose very echo proclaims their hearts at war with his; while they increase the waves of that sea of tempestuous passions, “wbose waters cast up mire and dirt."
As the spider enlarges his mischievous web, he feels with redoubled force every blast, which sweeps across the trembling threads around him. He finds that by multiplying the points of contact between his possessions and those of others, he has also added to the number of his enemies. The further man advances from helpless infancy, in which all seem to promote his welfare, the more powerfully is ho shaken by collision of surrounding selfish interests; the more fiercely does the storm of malignant passions beat upon his head-a storm against which no human wisdom can provide, no mortal power resist.
The abundant cautions against loving the world, and the commands to place our affections on things above, which so often meet our eyes on the sacred page, should awaken every one, who feels his attachment to earth increasing, to examine his own heart. How paradoxical would it appear, that a stranger roaming a desart, should cling to its dreary wastes with increasing fundness the more the barren soil and inhospitable climate were disclosed to his view. How absurd, that the weary traveller of a wilderness, finding no substantial food for his support, no verdure to cheer his eye, should be still more enamored of this wretched soil," the deeper he had plunged in the gloomy recesses in which lie was involved, and the further he was removed fro:n the prospect of a better country.
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ON JODGING UXCHARITABLY.
THERE is no way in which a man so effectually lays open his own heart, and exposes the motives which influence his own conduct, as in the judgment which he passes upon the motives of others. We are prone to suppose others influenced by the same motives with ourselves. Thus the inan of a frank and open lemper is with difficulty made to believe, that other men disguise their feelings. The ariful man, on the contrary, is ever suspecting that other men are artful. He sees plots and conspiracies in every ordinary occurrence. You will hardly persuade a miser, that the missionary is influenced by benevolent feelings. He will tell you that lie understands men too well; that money is bis only motive. Why is it that unregenerate men are prone to pronounce religion hypocrisy? Because they never experienced its influence upon their own hearts. It is difficult for them to believe, that others are actuated by a motive which they never felt themselves. They will rather ascribe their conduct to the basest motives, than to a principle of which they have had no experience. Ask a common laborer, what motive he supposes induces men to become students, and he will most probably tell you, laziness, a love of ease and idleness. They do it to avoid a life of labor.
In all these cases the explanation is obvious. They may all be referred to that principle of our constitution, which leads us to ascribe our own feelings to all around us. For how do we arrive at our knowledge of other men's feelings and motives? Evidently, only by reflecting on our own. We cannot see the motives of other men, nor feel them. We see only their actions, and we forin a judgment of their motives by first placing ourselves in their situation, looking into our own breasts and asking, What motives would induce us in pursue this course of conduct? We reason from analogy. We go upon the assumption that all men are like ourselves. This belief lies at the foundation of all our judgment respecting the feelings of others.
The principle extends further. Even inanimate objects receive a hue from the feelings with which we gaze upon them. When we are cheerful, all around us is cheerful. The sun shines more brightly, and all the landscape seems to rejoice. On the other hand, when we are sad, it spreads a gloon over the face of nature.
We do not usean to say, by these observations, that no man can believe anotier to possess a character which lic does not possess himself; or that every good man inust necessarily believe others good. by experience we may be come thoroughly acquainted with the real motives of men with whom we are intimate. It is only in those cases where we are slightly informed of the circumstances, where we are left to conjecture the motive from imperfect evidence, that the remark is applicable. · If these observations are correct, they may afford us a valuable rule in the business of self-examination. Are we accustomed on light grounds to believe that the motives of other men are bad? let us suspect our own. Do we believe that others are artful? let us inquire if we ourselves are frank. Do we believe without evidence, that our friends liave forsaken us, and become cold and indifferent? let us sus. pect that we have become unsocial. When a plan of benevolence is proposed to us, do we, before it is half developed, suspect the authors of being influenced by sinister views, let us inquire whether benevolent motives are not strangers in our breasts. Finally, if we regard our own character, let us judge charitably of the characters of others. Let us remember the directions of our Savior. "Judge not that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged; and with what measure yo mete, it shall be measured to you again." M. N,
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To sce noble opportunities for usefulness passing away unimproved, and to be conscious that they will never return, gives no man a favorable opinion of himself. A bare admission of the fact, iinplics a severe censure on the delinquent; and if the most complete selfishness can frame no apologies sufficient to quiet the conscience, he may be fertile in cxpedients to reinedy a neglect lie is compelled to acknowledge. In such an unpleasant state, when one is forced to become a self-accuser, were it not a matter too solemn for amusement, it would be curious enough, to observe the numerous contrivances for alleviating the pangs of remorse, or for encouraging the hope of compensating for past losses by future exertions.
Why a man, who has a thousand times resolved in vain to perform a certain duty, or to overcome a noxious habit, should go over the same mimeaning ceremony of resolving again, without any additional security for his performance, seems difficult of solution. But such is the fact. With a ruined project fresh before his eyes, whose ruin arose from his own indecision or neglect, he again resolves to undertake, with less reason to hope for accomplishing his purpose than before. Does any one pretend that the neglect of endeavors is to be ascribed to increasing knowledge, by which the object once judged valuable, while at a distance, was clearly seen, on a nearer approach, to be insignificant? Such a plea would not drop from the lips of any man, who takes the pains to look at its bearing.
The difficulty would appear still ir.creased, when leaving the sordid pursuits of worldly ambition, and the gratifications of pride, the attention is directed to a soul in search of nobler objects. Why does the professing Christian, desiring tho happiness of all men of every Vol. XY.
nation, so often abandon his designs, almost as soon as begun? One might suppose that the greatness of the enterprise would insure the most vigorous application. When the unqualified consent of the understanding is united with the affections, what should hinder such unyielding energy and perseverance as almost to insure success!
An object of acknowledged excellence, gives, for a moment, a stimulus to exertion. We are ashamed, not only to refuse our aid, but to neglect a strenuous attempt for its advancement. However, after some unsuccessful trials, perhaps only a few kind wishes, the desire to do good abates; the imagination no longer dresses its object in alluring colors, anticipations of its success are less frequent, it is looked at with coolness, and presently with indifference. Perhaps also, some dislike is entertained towards the persons who are fellow laborers in the same cause, or to their mode of conducting it; and we transfer our displeasure from the advocates and supporters to the cause itself. Undoubtedly, in the hour of sober reflection, some regret is experienced for having abandoned what we once approved. The substantial claims which gained that approbation are acknowledged still to exist, and we can scarcely fail to discover our folly, and the fickleness of our character, in changing sides on a question, whose essential merits have remained precisely the same.
A mind, wbich has in this manner often seen its firmest determin. ations utterly useless,-loses, for its own decisions, all that respect, which in some degree is necessary to sustain it in the moment of ex. treme exertion. What security has be, who is ever vibrating between contrary purposes, that he shall be fixed at any point of rest? How can the man, who sees, and has often seen, that the effect does not follow the resolve,--forbear to think that the latter was nugatory? If a resolution ever again escape him, it is regarded as a mere matter of form, which may do for some occasion of show, where the principal action is accomplished before the resolution was made.
In no other events of life, do broken resolutions present such an appalling aspect, as in connexion with the duties of religion. Where is the man, who does not shudder at the remembrance of his solemn promises to repent, and, in compliance with the dictates of his best judgment, to live with a regard to the eternity which awaits him? True, he may seldom invite the opportunity of “conversing with his departed hours;" nevertheless, there are seasons in which the uncom. fortable thought of negligence, or of crime, cannot be entirely ban, ished. As the present season is well suited to call the attention to the past, let the reader cast his eye backward a little, towards some of those prominent circumstances of his life, which have given shape and coloring to all the rest.
And here let me ask, have the numerous proposals made to yourself been complied with? Have you followed up one of your good resolutions with steady and persevering efforts for its accomplishment? Must there not be something wrong in the habits of a mind, wbich wants courage to execute its own decisions? Does it not argue a pitiable weakness, to pronounce with cool deliberation on a course of measures, and yet to act in direct hostility to a judgment thus calmly given?
Now where is the person, having any belief in the declarations of the Gospel, who has not repeatedly and solemnly resolved to repent? of most resolutions of this kind it is an alarming consequence, that their failure leaves the hard heart still harder, and darkens the moral perception. After a series of broken promises, the sinner seems deaf to all the invitations of mercy, and proof against all threatenings of the divine law. He throws aside restraint, and plunges deeper in guilt at every step. If he look backward, the wrecks of a hundred determinations stare him in the face. If he examine the ground where he now stands, he finds himself surrounded by dangers produced and aggravated by his own folly. He has no inclination to do what he promised he would do, if he came to this hour. Should he glance an anxious look towards futurity, what prospect can present a single cheering anticipation.
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ON BEING STEWARDS OF GOD.
It is generally acknowledged by Christians, that they are stewards of God's bounty, and accountable to him for the use which they make of their property, time, and talents. Their property, did I say? His property I mean, committed to their disposal and management; but to be accounted for hereafter, as baving been expended to promote his interests, and with continual reference to Him as the only rightful owner. The same may be said of time, talents, influence, every thing in short, by which good can be effectuated, or evil prevented. If all of us really sustain this relation to God, it is a solemn thing; and none but a fool or a madman could be expected to trifle with it. The relation was not made by ourselves, nor can we dissolve it. The account must be given, however reluctantly we may enter upon it, and however painful it may be in its progress, as we proceed in the melancholy history of the abuses and perversions, justly laid to our charge.
It seems, therefore, to be a dictate of true wisdom, that we pay particular attention to this subject, while we are sustaining the character of stewards; and not go carelessly along, till that account shall be demanded, for which we shall thus be entirely unprepared. In this short paper it shall be my design, to examine a little into the manner of discharging the office of a steward of God, so far as property is concerned.
Here let it be observed, that strict accountability is required of stewards, as the office is held by one man in the employment of another. So generally is this understood, that the landlord is culpably negligent, if he does not insist on regular and precise accounts from those, to whom he commits the disbursement of his money. By such negligence he not only injures himself, and exposes his own credit, but may ruin bis servants, by allowing them to feel as though his property was their own. The steward of a wealthy man never takes it amiss that he should be called to render his accounts, at regular and frequent periods. It would be the height of absurdity if he did; for the very nature of his office implies such a system of constant accountability.