Page images

may well

only they are due—to Him only he ascribes the glory.

It would, however, be depriving a good man of one of the most amiable traits of character, if we supposed him insensible of praise; at the same time it would be ascribing to him a degree of weakness, to imagine that he was actuated by the faint représentation of future fame. It be allowed to the acknowledged benefactors of mankind to enjoy those sweet and comfortable sensations, which rise continually in the heart of him who is conscious of promoting extensive benefits. Well may they anticipate the estimation of unborn ages, not as adding any thing to the felicity which they will then enjoy, but gratifying their generous hearts with the pleasing hope, that there will always be found some in the list of posterity, who will not content them, selves with the emptiness of praise, but will be inspired by an honest and virtuous emas lation to do likewise.


[merged small][ocr errors]


Influence of a future State on Man as an


A blest hereafter, then, or hop'd or gain'd,
Is all ; --our whole of happiness.


FTER having ranged through a country where we have studied the manners, and become acquainted with the improvements of its inhabitants, it is a proof of wisdom to make our observations useful to ourselves. After having considered the moral and religious characters of men as they are influenced by a belief of a future state, and seen the general happiness which such a belief is calculated to produce, let us turn our eyes inward, and contemplate the indiwidual felicity of so blessed an expectation. The man of retired and solitary habits is he from whom we look for arguments on so important a subject. Abstracted from the world, not by a misanthropic contempt of it, nor by a disgust at any thing he has met with on the scene of life, but retiring from its tumults that he may enjoy a more intimate union with his Maker, he feels the impression of future enjoyments, ' in the same proportion that he proceeds towards them. Having considered life under every different appearance, and having acted his part in it with all the integrity of a man, and all the piety of a christian, he is ready to be removed into those regions, where hope is swallowed up of certainty, and time gives place to eternity. A blessed hereafter is his firm expectation; and therefore he is neither afraid for “ the terror by night,


nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” His passions being subdued by his reason, and his reason being directed by religion, he enjoys all that serenity of temper, all that chearfulness of benevolence, which principles so excellent cannot but inspire.

As in ordinary life the vital functions are performed without the accurate observation of every letter, in speech, or every limb, in action; so the influence of a future state is incorporated so intimately and imperceptibly with a good man's life, that it produces, if I may so express myself, a spontaneous happiness. Pursue a character thus impressed with a solid belief of a future world, and the sentiments which naturally flow from such an impression; follow him through the many and various mazes of his present existence, and you will find that it is not a large increase of possessions which hurries him into irregular joy, nor a small misfortune which plunges him in despair. His"

hope is full of immortality.” His eye is bent upon an object which possesses his whole soul; and has the same effect upon his breast which the sun has upon universal nature, it chears, revives, inspirits and enlivens it. The seed, which was originally placed in it, by the hand of the heavenly husbandman, is nourished by this ray, and brings forth a plentiful harvest.

Every transaction of a good man's life, whether it be exposed to public view, or buried in the sweet tranquillity of doinestic

privacy, privacy, takes its colour from this general impression of a state of being, different indeed in its nature from, but in every other respect strongly connected with, the present scene of existence. When we consider the connection, then, between this world and the next, as implied by nature, and expressed by revelation, shall we not produce this as an important argument, not of consolation only, but of pleasure and positive enjoyment, to the breast of that man whose mind is directed into so happy a channel? In material things we often behold what we cannot reach : but in spiritual and everlasting blessings, our soul anticipates what our sight cannot perceive. “ suit of the things of this world, we

usually prevent enjoyment, by expecta« tion; we anticipate our own happiness, $ and eat out the heart and sweetness of

worldly pleasures, by delightful fore

thoughts of them; so that when we “ come to possess them, they do not answer “ the expectation, nor satisfy the desires "s which were raised about them, and they

vo vanish

" In our pur

« PreviousContinue »