« 前へ次へ »
means the disposal of the events that happen. Calamities sometimes befall the worthiest and the best, which it is not in their power to prevent, and where nothing is left them but to acknowledge, and to submit to, the high hand of heaven. For such visitations of trial, many good and wise reasons can be assigned, which the present subject leads me not to discuss. But though those unavoidable calamities make a part, yet they make not the chief part, of the Texations and sorrows that distress human life.
2. A multitude of evils besetb us, for the source of which we must look to another quarter. No sooner has any thing in the health, or in the circumstances of men, gone cross to their wish, than they begin to talk of the unequal distribution of the good things of this life; they envy the condition of others; they repine at their own lot, and fret against the Ruler of the world.
3. Full of these sentiments, one man pines under a broken constitution. But let us ask him, whether he can, fairly and honestly, assign no cause for this but the unknown decree of heaven? Has he duly valued the blessing of health, and always observed the rules of virtue and sa briety ?d Has he been moderate in his life, and temperate in all his pleasures? If now he is only paying the price of his former, perhaps his forgotten indulgences, has he any title to complain, as if he were suffering unjustly?
4. Were we to survey the chambers of sickness and dis tress, we should often find them peopled with the victims of intemperance and sensuality, and with the children of vicious indolence and sloth. Among the thousands who languish there, we should find the proportion of innocent suf ferers to be small. We should see faded youth, premature old age, and the prospect of an untimely grave, to be the portion of multitudes, who, in one way or other, have brought those evils on themselves; while yet these martyrse of vice and folly have the assurance to arraign the bard fate of man, and to “fret against the Lord.”
5. But you, perhaps, complain of hardships of anotoer kind; of the injustice of the world; of the poverty which you suffer, and the discouragements under which you labour; of the crosses and disappointments of which your life has been doomed to be full. Before you give too much scope to your discontent, let me desire you to reflect impar tially upon your past train of life.
6. Have not sloth, or pride, or ill temper, or sinful pas
sions, misled you often from the path of sound and wise conduct? Have you not been wanting to yourselves in improving those opportunities which Providence offered you, for bettering and advancing your state? If you have chosen to indulge your humour, or your taste, in the gratifications of indolence or pleasure, can you complain because thers, in preference to you, have obtained those adranages which naturally belong to useful labours, and honourable pursuits?
7. Have not the consequences of some false steps, into which your passions, or your pleasures, have betrayed you, pursued" you through much of your life; tainted, perhaps, your characters, involved you in embarrassments, or sunk
you into neglect?- It is an old saying, that every man is the artificer of his own fortune in the world. It is certain, that the world seldom turns wholly against a man, unless through his own fault. “ Religion is,” in general, “profitable unto all things."
8. Virtue, diligence, and industry, joined with good temper and prudence, have ever been found the surest road to prosperity; and where men fail of attaining it, their want of success is far oftener owing to their having deviated! from that road, than to their having encountered insuperable bars in it. Some, by being too artful, forfeit the reputation of probity. Some, by being too open, are accounted to fail in prudence. Others, by being fickle and changeable, are distrusted by all.
9. The case commonly is, that men seek to ascribe their disappointments to any cause, rather than to their own misconduct; and when they can devise no other cause, they lay them to the charge of Providence. Their folly leads them into vices; their vices into misfortunes; and in their misfortunes they“ murmur against Providence.”
10. They are doubly unjust towards their Creator. In their prosperity; they are apt to ascribe their success to their own diligence, rather than to his blessing: and in their adversity, they impute their distresses to his providence, not to their own misbehaviour. Whereas, the truth is the very reverse of this. Every good and every perfect gift cometh from above;" and of evil and misery, man is the author to himself.
11. When, from the condition of individuals, we look abroad to the public state of the world, we meet with more proofs of the truth of this assertion. We see great societies
of men torn in pieces by intestinem dissensions, tuniults, and civil commotions. We see niighty armies going forth, in formidable array," against each other, to cover the earth with blood, and to fill the air with the cries of widows and orphans. Sad. evils these are, to which this miserable world is exposed.
12. But are these evils, I beseecho you, to be imputed to God? Was it he who sent forth slaughtering armies into the field, or who filled the peaceful city with massacres and blood? Are these miseries any other than the bitter fruit of men's violent and disorderly, passions? Are they not clearly to be traced to the ambition and vices of princes, to the quarrels of the great and to the turbulence of the people?—Let us lay them entirely out of the account, in thinking of Providence; and let us think only of the “ foolishness of man."
13. Did man control his passions, and form his conduct according to the dictates of wisdom, humanity, and virtue, the earth would no longer be desolated by cruelty; and human societies would live in order, harmony, and peace. In those scenes of mischief and violence which fill the world, let man behold, with shame, the picture of his vices, his ignorance, and folly. Let him be humbled by the mortifying view of his own perverseness; hut let not his “heart fret against the Lord."
SECTION V. @ Po-sit-ion, pỒ-zlsho-un, situation, O-blige, b-bildje, or b-bl'Adje', to principle laid down.
bind, to please. b Tor-ture, tỏr'-tshure, pain, an-m Sat-is-fac-tion, såt-ls-fâk'-shủn, guish, punishment.
gratification. c Soph-is-try, sôf'-fis-tre, fallacious n Poise, poéze, to balance,to weigh. argument.
0 Re-nounce, ré-njúnse', to disown d In-gre-dient, in-gré'-jent, compo-p Ac-tu-ate, åk'-tshủ-áte, to put ir. nent part of a body.
action. Ten-et, tên'-nět, a principle, opin- 9 Ob-serve, ob-zérv', to note, reion.
gard, obey. Cast, kást, a throw, motion of r A-ver-sion, å-ver'-shủn, hatred the eye, form, to form.
dislike. g Prop-o-sit-ion, prðp--zish'-ůn, s In-corn-pat-i-ble, in-kom-påt'-e-bl, any thing proposed.
inconsistent with something else. h Aux-il-ia-ry, awg-zil-yå-rè, help- t Mo-tive, ino'-tiv, that which deter
ing, assisting, help, assistance. mines the choice. Al-li-ance, ål-ll'-anse, connexionļu Am-i-ca-ble, &m'-d-kå-bl, friends by league.
ly, kind. k In-di-gence, in-de-jense, want, v Lull, 11), to compose to sleep. poverty.
w Pre-clude, pró-klude', to shut out
1. I am informed that certain Greek writers (philosophers, it seems, in the opinion of their countrymen) have advanced some very extraordinary positions relating to friendship; as, indeed, what subject is there, which these subtle geniuses have not tortured with their sophistry?"
2. The authors to whom I refer, dissuade their disciples from entering into any strong attachments, as unavoidably creating supernumerary disquietudes to those who engage in them; and, as every man has more than sufficient to call forth his solicitude, in the course of his own affairs, it is a weakness, they contend, anxiously to involve himself in the concerns of others.
3. They recommend it also, in all connexions of this kind, to hold the bands of union extremely loose; so as always to have it in one's power to straiten or relax them, as circumstances and situations shall render most expe-' dient. They add, as a capital article of their doctrine, hat, “to live exempt from cares, is an essential ingredientd to constitute huraan happiness: but an ingredient, however, which he, who voluntarily distresses himself with cares, in which he has no necessary and personal interest, must never hope to possess.".
4. I have been told likewise, that there is another set of pretended philosophers, of the same country, whose tenets, concerning this subject, are of a still more illiberal and ungenerous cast.'
5. The propositions they attempt to establish, is, that
friendship is an affair of self-interest entirely; and that the proper motive for enaging in it, is, not in order to gratify the kind and benevolent affections, but for the benefit of that assistance and support which are to be derived from the connexion."
6. Accordingly they assert, that those persons are most disposed to have recourse to auxiliaryh alliances of this kind, who are least qualified by nature, or fortune, to depend upon their own strength and powers; the weaker sex, for instance, being generally more inclined to engage in friendships, than the male part of our species; and those who are depressed by indigence, or labouring under misfortunes, than the wealthy and the prosperous.
7. Excellent and obliging' sages, these, undoubtedly! To strike out the friendly affections from the moral world, would be like extinguishing the sun in the natural, each
of them being the source of the best and most grateful satisfactions, that Heaven has conferred on the sons of men. But I should be glad to know, what the real value of this Doasted exemption from care, which they promise their disciples, justly amounts to an exemption flattering to self-love, i confess; but which, upon many occurrences in numan life, should be rejected with the utmost disdain.
8. For nothing, surely, can be more inconsistent with a Well poised" and imanly spirit, than to decline engaging in any laudable action, or to be discouraged from persevering in it, by an apprehe’nsion of the trouble and solicitude with which it may probably be attended.
9. Virtue herself, indeed, ought to be totally renounced,
jo if it be right to avoid every possible means that may be productive of uneasiness: ter who, that is actuated by her principles, can observe the conduct of an opposite character, without being affected with some degree of setret dissatisfaction?
10. Are not the just, the brave, and the good, necessarily exposed to the disagreeable emotions of dislike and aversion," when they respectively meet with instances of fraud, of cowardice, or of villany? It is an es: sential property of every well constituted mind, to be a ffe ted with pain, or pleasure, according to the nature of those moral appearances that present themselves to observatio, n.
11. If sensibility, therefore, be not incompatible with true wisdom, (and it surely is not, unless we suppose that philosophy deadens every finer feeling of our natu. re,) what just reason can be assigned, why the sympathe 'ic sufferings which may result from friendship, should be a? sufficient inducement for banishing that generous affection from the human breast?
12. Extinguish all emotions of the heart, and what difference will remain, I do not say between man and brute, but between man and a mere inanimate clod? Away then with those austere philosophers, who represent virtue as hardening the soul against all the softer impressions of humanity!
13. The fact, certainly, is much otherwise. A truly good man is, upon many occasions, extremely susceptible of tender sentiments; and his heart expands with joy, or shrinks with sorrow, as good or ill fortune accompanies his friend. Upon the whole, then, it may fairly he concluded that, as in the case of virtue, so in that of friendship, those