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within me. I threw myself beneath a blasted yew, where the winds blew cold and dismal round my head, and dreadful apprehensions chilled my heart. Here I resolved to lie till the hand of death, which I impatiently invoked, should put an end to the miseries of a life so deplorably wretched. In this sad situation I espied on one hand of me a deep muddy river, whose heavy waves rolled on in slow, sullen murmurs. Here I determined to plunge ; and was just upon the brink, when I found myself suddenly drawn back. I turned about, and was surprised by the sight of the loveliest object I had ever beheld. The most engaging charms of youth and beauty appeared in all her form : effulgent glories sparkled in her eyes, and their awful splendors were sostened by the gentlest looks of compassion and peace. At her approach, the frightful spectré, who had before tormented me, vanished away, and with her all the horrors she had caused. The gloomy clouds brightened into cheerful sunshine, the groves recovered their verdure, and the whole region looked gay and bloom-ing as the garden of Eden. I was quite transported at this unexpected change, and reviving pleasure began to gladden my thoughts; when with a look of inexpressible sweetness, my beauteous deliverer thus uttered her divine instructions.
“My name is RELIGION. I am the offspring of TRUTH and Love, and the parent of BenEVOLENCE, HOPE, and Jux. That monster, from whose power I have freed you, is called SUPERSTITION: she is the child of DISCONTENT, and her followers are FEAR and SORROW. Thus, different as we are, she has often the insolence to assume my name and character ; and seduces unhappy mortals to think us the same, till, she at length drives them to the borders of Des. PAIR, that dreadful abyss into which you were just going to sink.”
“Look round, and survey the various beauties of the globe, which heaven has destined for the seat of the human race ; and consider whether a world thus
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 Reli. gion? 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 flutter of light amusements. Yielding to immoral pleasures, cortupts 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 wretchedness. 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 patiently submit both to the painful workings of nature, and needful severities of medicine, in order to his cure. 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 joy will 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, poor mortal, at the thought of the gulf into which thou wast just now going to plunge.”
“ While the most faulty have every encouragement to amend, the more innocent soul will be supported, with still sweeter consolations under all its experience of human infirmities, supported by the gladdening, assurances, 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 who faithfully examine and acknowledge what they are, shall be enabled under my conduct, to become what they desire. The christian and the hero are inseparable ; and to the aspirings of unassuming trust and filial confidence are set no bounds. To him who is animated with a view of obtaining approbation from the Sovereign of the universe, no difficulty 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 a restraints of many kinds will be necessary; and studying to behave 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 gond ; 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 present 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 cheerful 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.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee ;
BOZALDAB, Caliph of Egypt, had dwelt securely for many years 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 expired 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 Patience offered him to the ground. He suffered not his minstrels to approach his presence; but listened to the screams of the melancholy birds of midnight, 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-loving Providence ! He, whom ye pretend reigns in heav. en, 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