Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

into a lifeless lump of deformity and pro trefaction, the finest decorations exchanged for a winding-sheet, and the largest estate for six feet of earth- she is astonished, that such could ever after be seduced by fattery, or intoxicated with ambition.

" What man,” cries the Psalmist, « is BG he that liveth, and shall not fee death? “ Shall he deliver his soul,” that is, according to the Hebrew idiom, his life, s from the Hand of the Grave ?An image most awfully picturesque, by which that inspired poet seems to represent the Grave, as a ghastly Form of irresistible strength, and relentless cruelty, who, while mortals are passing along unconcerned, unsuspecting, and filled with hope, raises himself on a sudden, and putting forth his iron hand, drags them down to his dark and dreary abode ! Nor does the insatiable monster ever say, “ It is enough.” A destroyer he is, whom no human power can controul, nor valour withstand, nor greatness awe, nor riches bribe, nor beauty charm, nor genius delight, nor eloquence persuade.- Look at yonder venerable fabric, which contains the tombs of ro many nobles and princes, of so many kings and conquerors, of so many statesmen, philosophers, orators, poets; with numbers from among the young and the gay, who formerly danced the giddy round of pleasure, heedless of impending disease; and perhaps with a few who fought wisa dom early, but, by what was termed an Untimely fate, fell with all their virtues blooming about them look, I say, at that celebrated repository of the dead, and contemplate the iinpotence, the nothingness, of all that Pride is apt to boast. See the universal leveller Death, with stern aspect and hideous demeanour, stalking from monument to monument, conscious of his victories, and exulting in the fplendid spoils of successive generations. Survey at leisure this heart-chilling scene,

and be proud if you can.

But, supposing the most conspicuous external distinctions were as durable as they are known to be transient, Humility would still think they could never deserve praise, unless properly improved, since they • are often bestowed on fools and profligates, to whom God would certainly not have given them, were they of any real value in themselves. .

With regard to intellectual abilities and attainments, she is of opinion, that they are only valuable as they minister to the: purposes of virtue and benevolence; and that, at any rate, they are still fo imperfect in themselves, and attended with so many defects in the characters where they are found, the original faculties are so entirely the donation of Heaven, and the means and opportunities of their culture so much the effect of Providence, as should for ever “ hide Pride from man,” on their subject. Indeed, without wisdom andi goodness, Man appears to Humility a very

poor creature, let him possess whatever else he may. As she pities and condemns him alike, when he is dispofed to worlhip

that little contemptible idol called Self, . fo it is her unalterable persuafion, that

wisdom and goodness are always accompanied, in those who sincerely seek them, with a fense of deficiency and dependence, which leads them forth from themselves to God; and that persons are amiable and great, only or chiefly in proportion to the facrifices they make to their duty, and their improvement.

From the incense of adulation which Pride receives with rapture, and employs. every miethod to secure, Humility turns away with disgust or indifference. Pride is so shameless a vice, as often to court, by ways as shameless, applause from the very people whom the despises ; · while: Humility can be satisfied with nothing: Jefs than the approbation of that Sovereign Power whom she adores. This

heroic virtue will perfuade you, that you have done nothing very wonderful, when you have performed actions, and cultivated sentiments, i to which the sons of Pride could never rise. Under such influence you will still conceive, and still aspire to, something higher.

On the whole, I fubmit it to you, Gentlemen, which is the most exalted character, he that disregards trifles, or he that sets a value on them; he that is not transported even with uncommon acquisitions, or he that is dazzled with, the smallest; the man that, having gained very considerable heights in the steep ascent to glory, keeps his eye fixed on the summit, instead of looking back on his progress with elation, and down on those below him with disdain, or the man who, still groveling at the bottom, or at most advanced but a few steps, yet affects the reputation of having reached the top, and thinks with scorn of many that are actu

« PoprzedniaDalej »