« PreviousContinue »
exquisitely framed, could be meant for the abode of misery and pain. For what end has the lavish hand of Providence diffused innumerable objects of delight, but that all might rejoice in the privilege of existence, and be filled with gratitude to the beneficent Author of it? Thus to enjoy the blessings he has sent, is virtue and obedience ; and to reject them merely as means of pleasure, is pitiable ignorance, or absurd perverseness. Infinite goodness is the source of created existence. The proper tendency of every rational being, from the highest order of raptured seraphs, to the meanest rank of men, is, to rise incessantly from lower degrees of happiness to higher. They have faculties assigned them for various orders of delights."
“ What !” cried I, “is this the language of Religion? Does she lead her votaries through flowery paths, and bid them pass an unlaborious life? Where are the painful toils of virtue, the mortifications of penitents, and the self-denying exercises of Saints and Heroes ?"
..“ The true enjoyments of a reasonable being,” answered she mildly, “ do not consist in unbounded indulgence, or luxurious ease, in the tumult of passions, the languor of indolence, or the fiutter of light amusements. Yielding to immoral pleasures, corrupts the mind; living to animal and trifling ones, debases it: both in their degree disqualify it for its genuine good, and consign it over to wretchedniss. Whoever would be really happy, must make the diligent and regular exercise of his superior powers his chief attention ; adoring the perfections of his Maker, expressing good-will to his fellow.creatures, and cul. tivating inward rectitude. To his lower faculties he must allow such gratifications as will, by refreshing, invigorate his nobler pursuits. In the regions inhabited by angelic natures, unmingled felicity for ever blooms; joy flows there with a perpetual and abundant stream, nor'needs any mound to check its course, Beings conscious of a frame of mind originally dis
eased, as all the human race has .cause to be, must use the regimen of a stricter self-government. Whoever has been guilty of voluntary excesses, must pa. tiently submit both to the painful workings of nature, and needful severities of medicine, in order to his
Still he is entitled to a moderate share of what. ever alleviating accommodations this fair mansion of his merciful Parent affords, consistent with his recovery. And, in proportion as this recovery advances, the liveliest joywill spring from his secret sense of an amended and improving heart.-So far from the horrors of despair is the condition even of the guilty. Shudder, poo' mortal, at the thought of the gulf into which thor wast just now going to plunge.'
" While tle most faulty have every encouragement to amend, ne more innocent soul will be supported, with still sveeter consolations under all its experience of human infirmities, supported by the gladdening assurance, that every sincere endeavour to outgrow them, shall be assisted, accepted, and rewarded. To such a one, the lowliest self-abasement is but a deeplaid foundation for the most elevated hopes ; since they wio faithfully examine and acknowledge what they re, shall be enabled under my conduct, to become what they desire. The christian and the hero are jseparable ; and to the aspirings of unassuming trus and filial confidence are set no bounds. To him who is animated with a view of obtaining approbaron from the Sovereign of the universe, no difficuty is insurmountable. Secure; in this pursuit, of every needful aid, his conflict with the severest pains and trials, is little more than the vigorous exercises of a mind in health. His patient dependance on that Providence which looks through all eternity, his silent resignation, his ready accommodation of his thoughts and behaviour to its inscrutable ways, are at once the most excellent sort of self-denial, and a source of the most exalted transports. Society is the true sphere of human virtue. In social, active life, , difficulties will perpetually be met with ; restraints of
many kinds will be necessary; and studying to be. have right in respect of these, is a discipline of the human heart, useful to others, and improving to itself. Suffering is no duty, but where it is necessary to avoid guilt, or to do good ; nor pleasure a crime, but where it strengthens the influence of bad inclinations, or lessens the general activity of virtue. The happiness allotted to man in his present state, is indeed faint and low, compared with his immortal prospects, and noble capacities : but yet whatever portion of it the distributing hand of heaven offers to each individual, is a needful support and refreshment for the presént moment, so far as it may not hinder the attaining of his final destination.”
• Return then with me from continual misery, to moderate enjoyment, and grateful alacrity: return from the contracted views of solitude, to the proper duties of a relative and dependent being. RELIGION is not confined to cells and closets, nor restrained to sullen retirement. These are the gloomy doctrines of SUPERSTITION, by which she endeavours to break those chains of benevolence and social affection, that link the welfare of every particular with that of the whole. Remember, that the greatest honour you can pay the Author of your being, is a behaviour so cheer. ful as discovers a mind satisfied with its own dispensations."
Here my preceptress paused: and I was going to express my acknowledgements for her discourse, when a ring of bells from a neighbouring village, and the new risen sun darting his beams through my windows, awoke me.
ON THE JUSTICE OF PROVIDENCE.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
BOZALDAB, Caliph of Egypt, had dwelt securely for many yeirs in the silken pavilions of pleasure, and had every morning anointed his head with the oil of gladness
, when his only son Aboram, for whom he had crowded his treasury with gold, extended his dominions with conquests, and secured them with impregnable fortresses, was suddenly wounded, as he was hunting, with an arrow from an unknown hand, and expird in the field.
Bozaldab, in the distraction of grief and despair, refused to return to his palace, and retired to the gloomiest grotto in the neighbouring mountains : He there rolled himself in the dust, tore away the hairs of his hoary head, and dashed the cup of consolation, that Jatience offered him to the ground. He suffered not his minstrels to approach his presence ; but listered to the screams of the melancholy birds of midaight, that fit through the solitary vaults and echoing chambers of the pyramids. “Can that God be benevolent,” he cried, “who thus wounds the soul, as from an ambush, with unexpected sorrows, and crushes his creatures in a moment with irremediable calamity? Ye lying Imans, prate to us no more of the justice, of the kindness of an all-directing and all-lov. ing Providence ! He, whom ye pretend reigns in heaven, is so far from protecting the miserable sons of men, that he perpetually delights to blast the sweetest flowerets in the garden of hope, and, like a malignant giant, to beat down in his anger, the strongest towers of happiness. If this Being possessed the
goodness and the power with which flattering priests have invested him, he would doubtless be inclined and enabled to banish those evils which render the world a dungeon of distress, a vale of vanity and woe -I will continue in it no longer !"
At this moment he furiously raised his hand, which Despair had armed with a dagger, to strike deep in to his bosom ; when suddenly thick flashes of lightning shot through the cavern, and a being of more than human beauty and magnitude, arrayed in azure robes, crowned with amarinth, and waving a branch of palm in his right hand, arrested the arm of the trembling and astonished Caliph, and said, with a majestic smile, “ Follow me to the top of this mountain."
“ Look from hence,” said the awful conductor : “I am Caloc, the angel of peace : look from hence into the valley."
Bozaldab opened his eyes, and beheld a barren, sultry, and solitary island, in the midst of which sat a pale, meagre, and ghastly figure : It was a merchant just perishing with famine, and lamenting that he could find neither wild berries nor a single spring in this forlorn, uninhabited desart ; and begging the protection of heaven against the tigers that would now certainly destroy him, since he had consumed the last fuel he had collected to make nightly fires to atfright them.
He then cast a cask of jewels on the sand, as trifles of no use ; and crept feeble and trembling to an eminence, where he was accustomed to sit every evening, to watch the setting sun, and give a signal to any ship that might happily approach the island.
“ Inhabitant of heaven,” cried Bozaldab, “ suffer not this wretch to perish by the fury of wild beasts."
“ Peace,” said the angel, " and observe.”
He looked again, and beheld a vessel arrive at the desolate isle. What words can paint the rapture of the starving merchant, when the captain offered to transport him to his native country, if he would reward him with half the jewels of his casket. No