Obrazy na stronie

It is indeed true, that numbers have borne up to the last, against continued dirappointments from the world, by mere dint of stupidity, of sturdiness, or of vainglory, or from some other cause no way connected with their moral difpofitions ; when not a few, of indubitable worth, but of a feeble frame and timid temper, have appeared to much disadvantage in the same cases. The vivacity of animal spirits alone shall in a surprising manner support one person under disease and decay, when another, his superior in every valuable respect, shall be sadly dejected, or even wholly overset by them, from the ftate of his nerves, without any fault of his own.

And as to the all-deciding event, we doubt not but particular perfons may be so insensible from ignorance, or “ hardened through the deceitfulness “ of fin," or blinded by the pride of scepticism, as to set it at defiance, at least seem to do so, while a tender solicitude for its infinite and endless confequences, or per


haps the state of their bodies at the time, shall clothe it with double terror to some of the best men.

But, as has been often said, exceptions do not disprove a general rule; and give me leave to add, he who now addresses you, and who has by his profession had many opportunities of comparing, in the fituations just mentioned, the behaviour of those who joined religious principle to natural resolution, with that of those who did not, can boldly affert his having found the balance of composure and dignity great on the side of the former. This, Gentlemen, taken in connexion with the reason of the thing, and with all he has heard from other quarters on the same subject, is fully satisfying to himself. Forgive him if he pauses for a moment to pray, that he too may be an instance of the pleasing truth : nor can you be much offended, if he intercedes with Heaven for you, his hearers, that you may be enabled to suffer the evils under consideration with real fortitude; and especially thai, instead of meeting Death with horror, or cowardice, or brutal indifference, or fictitious bravery, or falfe hope either of happiness, or (dreadful alternative !) of annihilation, you may encounter this unavoidable enemy of man like those virtuous believers, who, after sustaining with firmness and piety the preceding conflicts of life, have engaged in its finishing struggle with a sacred magnanimity.

How different from that temper with which the last terror is braved by the Duellist and the Suicide! We mentioned both some time ago, but have not left ourselves room

to consider 'them now. They, with another desperate and unhappy character, that of the Gamester, who like them mistakes madness for resolution, will furnish ample matter of useful and affecting speculation in some future Address.

To wind up the present. Are you, my young men, poffefied of instinctive courage ? Value not yourselves on that account: the same may be found in an afsaflin, in a drayman, in a brute. Are you capable of artificial valour! It shows as little intrinsic merit as the other, fince it may be equally acquired by those of the moft vicious difpofitions. Do you perceive in yourselves the love of renown, and the foul of enterprise, congenial to the bestborn youth? Prove them by your spirited and honourable exertions in the different employments you embrace, especially by your ardour to deserve well of mankind. It is true, they have been often perverted to the vilest and most pernicious purposes : but certainly they may be made the groundwork of a worthy and useful character. Fail not, I beseech you, to build upon them an active benevolence, an unwearied perseverance, the “ contumacious probity" of the Athenian Sage admired by Cicero, the pious intrepidity of the Son of Jesse recorded in Scripture, the fingular up

rightness of the Man of Uz” applauded by God himself.

“ Be this your brazen bulwark of defence,

“ Still to preserve your conscious innocence.” And do not forget to join the generosity of self-denial, and the vigour of temperance, two qualities that wonderfully fortify and ennoble the mind. Be fure also to add the superiority that springs from a contempt of little paflions, paltry conspiracies, and pitiful concealments; the holy boldness inspired by a decifiye and invariable preference of a future life to the present; and, in fine, the animated exercise of rational devotion daily ascending to its native skies, and gradually carrying you up thither. What will be the issue of all ?Mark it well: we proclaim it aloud : it is the chief ambition of the bravest spirits: it is the fairest hope and the firmeft ftay of virtue, in youth, in manhood, and in age-Immortality, immortality !-When the deserters from reason, and the heroes of a day,—when

« PoprzedniaDalej »