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14 “Son, " said the hermit, “let the errors and follies, the dangers and escape of this day, sink deep into thy heart. Remember, my son, that human life is the journey of a day. We rise in the morning of youth, full of vis gour, and full of expectation; we set forward with spirit and hope, with gaiety and with diligence, and travel on a while in the direct road of piety, towards the mansions of rest.
15 In a short time we remit our fervour, and endeavour to find some mitigation of our duty, and some more easy means of obtaining the same end. We then relax our vig. our, and resolve no longer to be terrified with crimes at a distance; but rely upon our own constancy, and venture to approach what we resolve never to touch. We thus enter the bowers of ease, and repose in the shades of security.
16 Here the heart softens, and vigilance subsides; we are then willing to inquire whether another advance cannot be inade, and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes upon the gardens of pleasure. We approach them with scruple and hesitation; we enter them, but enter timorous and trembling; and always hope to pass through them without losing the road of virtue, which, for a while, we keep in our sight, and to which we purpose to return. But temptation succeeds temptation, and one compliance, prepares us for another; we in time lose the happiness of innocence, and solace our disquiet with sensual gratifications.
17 By degrees, we let fall the remembrance of our original intention, and quit the only adequate object of rational desire. We entangle ourselves in business, immerge ourselves in luxury, and rove through the labyrinths of inconstancy; till the darkness of old age begins to invade us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way. We then look back upon our lives with horror, with sorrow, with repentance; and wish, but too often vainly wish, that we had not forsaken the ways of virtue.
18 Happy are they, my son, who shall learn from thy example, not to despair ; but shall remember, that, though the day is past, and their strength is wasted, there yet remains one effort to be made: that i formation is never honeless, nor sincere endeavours ever unassisted; that the wanderer may at length return, after all his errors; and that he who implores strength and courage from above, shall bir
prar and difficulty give away before him. Go nov
son, to thy repose; commit thyself to the care of Omnipotence; and when the morning calls again to toil, begin anew thy journey and thy life.”
SECTION I. The importance of a good Education. I consider a human soul, without education, like marble in the quarry; which shows none of its inherent beauties, until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein, that runs through the body of it. Education, after the same manner, when it works upon a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection, which, without such helys, are never able to make their appearance.
2 If my reader will give me leave to change the allusion so soon upon him, I shall make use of the same instance to illustrate the force of education, which Aristotle has brought to explain his doctrine of substantial forms, when he tells us, that a statue lies hid in a block of marble ; and that the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter, and removes the rubbish. The figure is in the stone, and the sculptor only finds it.
3 What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero, the wise, the good, or the great man, very often lies hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred, and brought to light. I am therefore much delighted with reading the accounts of savage' nations; and with contemplating those virtues which are wild and uncultivated : to see courage exerting itself in
fierceness, resolution in obstinacy, wisdom in cunning, pa· tience in sullenness and despair.
Men's passions operate variously, and appear in different kinds of actions, according as they are more or less rectified and swayed by reason. When one hears of negroes, who, upon the death of their masters, or upon changing their service, hang themselves upon the next tree,
as it sometimes happens in our American plantations, who man forvear admiring their fidelity, though it expresses itsmli in so dreadful a manner?
5 What might not that savage greatness of soul, which appears in these poor wretches on many occasions, be raised to, were it rightly cultivated ? And what colour of excuse can there be, for the contempt with which we treat this part of our species ; that we should not put them upon the common footing of humanity; that we should only set an insignificant fine upon the man who murders them; nay, that we should, as much as in us lies, cut them off from the prospects of happiness in ariother world, as well as in this; and deny then that which we look upon as the proper. means for attaining it?
6 It is therefore an unspeakable blessing, to be born in those parts of the world, where wisdom and knowledge flourish; though, it must be confessed, there are, even in these parts, several poor uninstructed persons who are but little above the inhabitants of those nations, of which I have been here speaking; as those who have had the advantages os a inore liberal education, rise above one another by sereral different degrees of perfection.
7 for, to return to our statne in the block of marble, we See it sometimes only begin to be chipped, sometimes rough hewn, aud but just sketched into a human figure; sometines, we see the man appearing distinctly in all his limbs and features; sometimes, we find the figure wrought up to treat elegancy; but seldom meet with any to which the hand of a Phidias or a Praxiteles, could not givé several nice touches and finishings.
On Gratitude. There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind, than gratitude. It is accompanied with so great inward satisfaction, that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance. It is not like the practice of many other virtues, dillicult and painful, but attended with so much plea
11re, that were there no positive coinmand which enjoin. pd it, nor any recompense laid up for it hereafter, a generous inind would indulge in it. for the natural gratification which it affords.
2 If gratitude is due from man to man, how much more from man to his Maker: The Supreme Being does not only confer upon us those bounties which proceed more immediately from his own hand, but even those benefits which are conveyed to us by others. Every blessing we enjoy, by what means soever it may be conferred upon us, is the gift of Him who is the great Author of good, and the Father of mercies.
3 If gratitude, when exerted towards one another, naturally produces a very pleasing sensation in the mind of a grateful man, it exalts the soul into rapture, when it is employed on this great object of gratitude; on this beneficent Be-ing, who has given us every thing we already possess, and from whom we expect every thing we yet hope for. ADDISON.
On Forgiveness. The most plain and natural sentiments of equity, concur with divine authority, to enforce the duty of forgiveness. Let him who has never, in his life, done wrong, be allowed the privilege of remaining inexorable. But let such as are conscious of frailties and crimes, consider forgiveness as a debt which they owe to others. Common failings are the strongest lesson of mutual forbearance. Were this virtue unknown among men, order and comfort, peace and repose, would be strangers to human life.
2 Injuries retaliated according to the exorbitant measure which passion prescribes, would excite resentment in return. The injured person, would become the injurer; and thus wrongs, retaliations, and fresh injuries, would circulate in endless succession, till the world was rendered a field of blood.
3 Of all the passions which invade the human breast, revenge is the most direful. When allowed to reign with full dominion, it is more than sufficient to poison the few pleasures which remain to man in his present state. How much soever a person may suffer from injustice, he is always in hazard of suffering more from the prosecution of revenge. The violence of an enemy, cannot inflict what is equal to the torment he creates to himself, by means of the fierce and desperate passions, which he allows to rage in his soul.
4 Those evil spirits that inhabit the regions of misery, are represented as delighting in revenge and cruelty. Punt:
that is great and good in the universe. is on the side of clemency and mercy. The almighty Ruler of the world, though for ages offended by the unrighteousness, and insulted by the impiety of men, is “long-suffering and slow to anger."
5 His son, when he appeared in our nature, exhibited, both in his life and his death, the most illustrious example of forgiveness, which the world ever beheld. If we look into the history of mankind, we shall find that in every age, they who have been respected as worthy, or admired as great, have been distinguished for this virtue.
0 Revenge dwells in little minds. A noble and magnannoys spirit, is always superior to it. It suffers not from the injuries of men, those severe shocks which others feel. Coltected within itself, it stands unimoved by their impotentassalills; and with generous piw, rather than with anger, luoks down on their unworthy conduct. It has been truly said, that the greatest man on earth can no sooner commit au injury, than a good man can make himself greater, by forgiving it.
BLAIR. SECTION IV. Motives to the practice of gentleness. To promote the virtue of gentleness, we ought to view our character with an impartial eye; and to learn, from our own failings, to give that indulgence which in our turn we claim. It is pride which fills the world with so mucli harshness and severity. In the fullness of self-estimation, we forget what we are. We claim attentions to which we are not entitled. Weare rigorous to vffences, as if we had never offendede; unfeeling to distress, as if we knew not what it was to suffer. From those airy regions of pride and folly, let us descend to our proper level.
2 Let us gurvey the natural equality on which providence has placed man with man, and reflect on the infirmities common to all. If the reflection on natural equality and mutual offences, be insufficient to prompt humanity, let us at least remember what we are in the sight of our Creator. Have we none of that forbearance to give one another, which we all so earnestly entreat from heaven? Can we look for clemency or gentleness from our Judge, when we are so backward to show it to our own brethren ? · 3 Let us also accustom ourselves to reflect on the small mo