« PoprzedniaDalej »
himself, and his Maker, too well to adopt the language of those boasters that used to harangue about defying adversity, and provoking the utmost rigour of fortune. But, as he “ despises not the chastening 46 of the" sovereign Parent, ro " he faints “ not when rebuked of him." The storms of life may shake the fabric of his happiDess, but they cannot destroy it: “ for it 66 is built upon a rock;" and that rock Jies within, sustained by the power of the Omnipotent. When Nature would shrink from the lot assigned her, Religion comes in to her affistance. The rear of sorrow is often transformed into the tear of rapture, while the eye that sheds it is lifted to Heaven. “ The cup which my Fa“ther has given me to drink, shall I not “ drink it?” is a thought that was never cordially entertained, without leaving some impression of gladness or serenity. We must not forget to subjoin, that when Virtue suffers, the compassionate acquaintance, the amiable companion, the zealous
friend, are sure to administer relief or comfort, to succour by substantial services, or to sooth by kind condolance. What is the result of all ? New degrees of acquiescence in the unerring order, higher aspirations after the joys of eternity, a happier progress in the school of Wisdom, and a quicker sensibility to the claims of sympathy and goodness.
You will understand, that what I have now said refers to the inevitable ills of life, those which must be borne as the ftrokes of an irresistible Providence, or which cannot be avoided without the forfeiture of a good conscience. Whatever calamities may be fairly prevented or remedied, it is the part of fortitude, no less than of prudence, to obviate or remove. To be resigned, is not to be fpiritless s and patience and indolence are very different qualities. To lic supinely under miffortune, is not equanimity, but cowardice: to expect from the Almighty help or deli-, verance, without any active endeavour to obtain it, is not faith, but fanaticism,. presumption, and sloth united. He is the right believer who performs his duty with vigour, and waits the event with chearfulness. Religion promises nothing to the idle, but much to the diligent. And why fhould not he beitir himself in every honest way, who may thus hope for the divine patronage? Why should not industry and capacity be employed under an adminiftration that generally prospers them, te encourage their exertion ; though it fometimes denies success, to teach humility and dependence? But indeed the greater part, at least among the higher ranks of life, are become languid and daftardly together. Inordinate pleasure has relaxed the sinew of application, and weakened the nerve of endurance. Of those who have hurt their health or their fortune by extravagance, how few possess the courage: of voluntarily retrenching, for their own lake, or ior that of their connexions !
It may be added, that a manly and a. christian spirit lead to the same behaviour, in scenes of suffering, as well as of action They are neither of them tame; but both include an ultimate superiority to thofe external possessions, which no virtue can universally attain, and no wisdom can always insure : the petty vexations hourly incident to men, they learn to despise : they pity the imbecillity of being discomposed with trifles: they condemn alike the folly of creating imaginary, and of magnifying real distresses : they both remember, that.“ sufficient for the day is b6 the evil thereof,” and both consider that. the world is a state of probation, in which not he who meets the fewest trials, but he who bears those appointed' him in the best manner, is the happiest man. It deserves to be remarked, that in this instance Philosophy and Christianity have the same scope, though the principles of the one are inferior to those of the other; and that they agree in giving fortitude the name of
Virtue, by way of preference to all other qualities; probably, because above al} others it has felf-denial for its ground, and because its structure is above all others distinguished for strength and elevation.
A virtuous man rising above his misfortunes, like some impregnable rock, which stands unmoved by all the winds and waves that beat upon it, has been an object of universal respect and complacence from age to age; one of those images, on which the minds of men have dwelt with'a kind of reverential pleasure. Who, that has heard of the sufferings and patience of Job, can help thinking of him with that sacred and awful delight, which one would feel on surveying the remains of some venerable temple? But put the case of a person supporting, with unwearied conftancy, evils which he might elude by a compliance with dishonourable terms ; fuppose him unalterably resolved to sustain yet worse, to sustain the very worst that