Графични страници
PDF файл

There are but two things, which, in my opinion, car reasonably deprive us of this cheerfulness of heart. The first of these is the fenfe of guilt. A man who lives in a ftate of vice and impenitence can have no title to that even nefs and tranquillity of mind which are the health of the foul, and the natural effect of virtue and innocence. Cheerfulness in a bad man deferves а harder name than language can furnish us with, and is many degrees beyond what we commonly call folly or madness.

Atheism, by which I mean a disbelief of a Supreme Being, and confequently of a future ftate, under whatsoever title it fhelters itself, may likewise very reasonably deprive a man of this cheerfulness of temper. There is fomething fo particularly gloomy and offenfive to human nature in the profpect of non-existence, that I cannot but wonder with many excellent writers, how it is poffible for a man to outlive the expectation of it. For my own part, I think the being of a God is fo little to be doubted, that it is almoft the only truth we are fure of, and such a truth as we meet with in every object, in every occurrence, and in every thought. If we look into the characters of this tribe of infidels, we generally find they are made up of pride, fpleen, and cavil. It is indeed no wonder, that men, who are uneafy in themselves, fhould be fo to the rest of the world; and how is it poffible for a man to be otherwife than uneafy in himself, who is in danger every moment of lofing his entire existence, and dropping into nothing.

The vicious man and atheist have therefore no pretence to cheerfulness, and would act very unreasonably, fhould they endeavour after it. It is impoffible for any one to live in good humour, and enjoy his prefent exiftence, who is apprehenfive either of torment or of annihilation; of being miferable, or of not being at all.

After having mentioned thefe two great principles, which are deftructive of cheerfulness in their own nature, as well as in right reafon, I cannot think of any other that ought to banish this happy temper from a virtuous mind. Pain and ficknefs, fhame and reproach, poverty and old age, nay, death itfelf, confidering the fhortnefs of their du ration, and the advantage we may reap from them, do not deferve the name of evils. A good mind may bear up under them with fortitude, with tranquillity, and with cheerfulness of heart. The toffing of a tempeft does not discom pofe him, who is fure it will bring him to a joyful harbour.

A man who ufes his beft endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reafon, has two perpetual fources of cheerfulness, in the confideration of his own na ture, and of that Being on whom he has a dependence. If he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that existence which was fo lately bestowed upon him, and which, after millions of ages, will be ftill new, and still in its beginning. How many felf-congratulations naturally arife in the mind, when it reflects on this its entrance into eternity; when it takes a view of those improveable faculties, which in a few years, and even at its first setting out, have made fo confiderable a progress, and which will be still receiving an increase of perfection, and confequently an increase of happiness! The confcioufnefs of fuch a being caufes a perpetual diffufion of joy through the foul of a virtuous man; and makes him feel as much happiness as he is capable of conceiving.

The fecond fource of cheerfulness to a good mind, is, its confideration of that Being, on whom we have our dependence, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint difcoveries of his perfections, we fee every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves every where upheld by his goodness, and furrounded with an immenfity of love and mercy. In fhort, we depend upon a Being, whofe power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means; whose good nefs and truth engage him to make thofe happy who defire it of him; and whofe unchangeablenefs will fecure for us this happiness to all eternity.

Such confiderations, which every one fhould perpetually cherish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that fecret heaviness of heart, which unthinking men are subject to when they lie under no real affliction ; all that anguish which we may feel from any evil that actually oppreffes us; to which I may likewise add, thofe little cracklings of mirth and folly, that are apter to betray virtue than fupport it ; and establish in us fo even and cheerful a temper, as will make us pleafing to ourselves, to those with whom we converfe, and to Him whom we are made to please. ADDISON.


Happy effects of contemplating the works of nature.

WITH the divine works we are in every place furrounded. We can caft our eyes no where, without discerning the hand


of Him who formed them, if the groffnefs of our minds will only allow us to behold Him. Let giddy and thoughtless men turn afide a little from the hauntsof riot. Let them stand still, and contemplate the wondrous works of God; and make trial of the effect which fuch contemplation would produce. It were good for them that, eyen independently of the Author, they were more acquainted with his works; good for them, that from the societies of loofe and diffolute men, they would retreat to the fcenes of nature; would oftener dwell among them, and enjoy their beauties. This would form them to the relifh of uncorrupted, innocent pleafures; and make them feel the value of calm enjoyments, as superior to the noife and turbulence of licentious gaiety. From the harmony of nature, and of nature's works, they would learn to hear fweeter founds than those which arife from "the viol, the tabret, and the pipe."

But to higher and more ferious thoughts these works of nature give occafion, when confidered in conjunction with. the Creator who made them. Let me call on you, my friends, to catch fome interval of reflection, fome ferious moment, for looking with thoughtful eye on the world around you. Lift your view to that immenfe arch of heav en which encompasses you above. Behold the fun in all his fplendour rolling over your head by day; and the moon, by night, in mild and ferene majefty, furrounded with that hoft of ftars which prefent to your imagination an innumerable multitude of worlds. Liften to the awful voice of thunder. Listen to the roar of the tempest and the ocean. Survey the wonders that fill the earth which you inhabit. Contemplate a steady and powerful Hand, bringing round fpring and fummer, autumn and winter, in regular courfe; decorating this earth with innumerable beauties, diverfifying it with innumerable inhabitants; pouring forth comforts on all that live; and, at the fame time, overawing the nations with the violence of the elements, when it pleases the Creator to let them forth. After you have viewed yourselves as furrounded with such a scene of wonders ; after you have beheld, on every hand, so astonishing a difplay of majesty united with wifdom and goodness; are you not seized with folemn and serious awe? Is there not fomething which whifpers within, that to this great Creator reverence and homage are due by all the rational beings whom he has made? Admitted to be


fpectators of his works, placed in the midft of fo many great and interefting objects, can you believe that you were brought hither for no purpose, but to immerse yourfelves in grofs and brutal, or, at beft, in trifling pleasures; loft to all fenfe of the wonders you behold; loft to all reverence of that God who gave you being, and who has erected this amazing fabric of nature, on which you look only with ftupid and unmeaning eyes? No let the scenes which you behold prompt correfpondent feelings. Let them awaken you from the degrading intoxication of licentioufnefs, into nobler emotions. Every object which you view in nature, whether great or fmall, ferves to instruct you. The ftar and the infect, the fiery meteor and the flower of fpring, the verdant field and the lofty mountain, all exhibit a fupreme Power, before which you ought to tremble and adore; all preach the doctrine, all inspire the fpirit of devotion and reverence. Regarding, then, the work of the Lord, let rifing emotions of awe and gratitude call forth from your fouls fuch fentiments as thefe ;"Lord, wherever I am, and whatever I enjoy, may I never forget thee, as the Author of nature! May I never forget that I am thy creature and thy fubject! In this magnificent temple of the univerfe, where thou haft placed me, may I ever be thy faithful worthipper; and may the reverence and the fear of God be the first fentiments of my heart!"



Reflections on the univerfal prefence of the Deity. In one of my late papers, I had occafion to confider the ubiquity of the Godhead, and at the fame time to fhow, that as he is prefent to every thing, he cannot but be attentive to every thing, and privy to all the modes and parts of its exiftence: or, in other words, that his omniscience and omniprefence are co-exiftent, and run together through the whole infinitude of fpace. This confideration might furnith us with many incentives to devotion, and motives to morality; but as this fubject has been handled by feveral excellent writers, 1 fhall confider it in a light in which I have not feen it placed by others.

First, How difconfolate is the condition of an intellectual being, who is thus prefent with his Maker, but at the fame time receives no extraordinary benefit or advantage from his prefence!

Secondly, How deplorable is the condition of an intellectual being, who feels no other effects from his prefence, than fuch as proceed from divine wrath and indignation!

Thirdly, How happy is the condition of that intellectual being, who is fenfible of his Maker's presence, from the fecret effects of his mercy and loving-kindness !

First, How disconsolate is the condition of an intellectual being, who is thus prefent with his Maker, but at the fame time receives no extraordinary benefit or advantage from his prefence! Every particle of matter is actuated by this Almighty Being which paffes through it. The heavens and the earth, the stars and planets, move and gravitate by virtue of this great principle within them. All the dead parts of nature are invigorated by the prefence of their Creator, and made capable of exerting their refpective qual ities. The feveral instincts, in the brute creation, do likewife operate and work towards the feveral ends which are agreeable to them, by this divine energy. Man only, who does not co-operate with his holy Spirit, and is inattentive to his prefence, receives none of those advantages from it, which are perfective of his nature, and neceffary to his well-being. The divinity is with him, and in him, and every where about him, but of no advantage to him. It is the fame thing to a man without religion, as if there were no God in the world. It is indeed impoffible for an infinite Being to remove himself from any of his creatures ; but though he cannot withdraw his effence from us, which would argue an imperfection in him, he can withdraw from us all the joys and confolations of it. His prefence may perhaps be neceffary to fupport us in our existence; but he may leave this our existence to itself with regard to its happiness or mifery. For, in this fenfe, he may caft us away from his prefence, and take his holy Spirit from us. This fingle confideration one would think fufficient to make us open our hearts to all thofe infufions of joy and gladness, which are fo near at hand, and ready to be poured in upon us especially when we confider,

Secondly, the deplorable condition of an intellectual being, who feels no other effects from his Maker's presence than fuch as proceed from divine wrath and indignation. We may affure ourselves, that the great Author of nature will not always be as one who is indifferent to any of his creatures, Those who will not feel him in his love, will

« ПредишнаНапред »