« PoprzedniaDalej »
cies, which borrow its name, are little better than ropes of sand, that have neither consistency, reality, nor beauty.
Let us next compare them in point of Delight. And here we will fuppose a small select fociety of intelligent, goodnatured, and well-disposed youth, among whom the stiffness of ceremony, the sharpness of raillery, and the venom of envy, were wholly excluded; who, drawn together by the conspiring impulse of kindred dispositions, seized every opportunity of meeting at a distance from noise and nonsense, to enjoy undisturbed “ the feast of “ reason, and the flow of foul.” We will suppose, that this happy society understood how to blend reflection upon the sublimest themes with the sprightliness of candid wit, and all the agreeable colouring of fancy; that with confidence and safety they unbosomed themselves on whatever was most interesting to each; that they often consulted on projects of private improvement, public usefulnek, and virtuous fame; that they spoke their opinions on every head with modest free dom, and listened to one another with respectful attention; that they frequently diversified and enlivened conversation with that sort of reading in which entertainment is the vehicle of instruction ; in a word, that without apprehension, and without ftudy, they gave scope to the finest effusions of the mind, and of the heart. And now imagine that you behold this chosen band in those passages where they appear most visibly affected by the communications of Friendship. An honeft rapture glows in their countenances : every eye beams with benevolence and sentiment: every bosom catches from the rest addi. tional ardour on the best subjects; and all present receive and give a felicity which is multiplied by the collision and rebound of ideas, and which, as the social spirit. xrises and still rises, is kindled into a flame of sacred enthusiasm, that runs with se
çiftless energy through the whole amiable circle- Amiable indeed, and blessed, if any thing on earth can deserve such epithets! Would it not resemble in part what we have been taught to believe of Heaven? Would not the angelic Spirits who are sent forth from that world by the common Parent, “ to minister to the 6 heirs of salvation,” be almost induced to suspend for a while their higher harmonies, in the pleasing contemplation of their mortal brethren, thus emulating fome of their employments; and when they witnessed, though invisible, a scene of so much happiness, would not their friendly natures experience new acceflions of transport, and at last dispose them, by a kind of divine sympathy, to burst into louder and yet louder tones of praise? Say not that the scene we paint is imporfible, because it is rare. So are all the more exalted forms of Humanity in a degenerate age. Think not that the little ring of Friends, we have figured, would
affect a refinement above the reach of men. What is there of innocent diverfion, ou convivial joy, which they might not, on every proper occasion, mix with their nobler intercourses? Would mirth and festivity have the worse relish for being corrected by temperance, and seasoned with wisdom? When such companions parted to business or retirement, with what sincere fatisfaction would they review the hours they had passed together; and when they recollected the undissembled approbation by which they had encouraged each other to excel, how sweetly would the express sions of it be repeated by the echoings of conscience! With what augmented vigour and alacrity would they advance to the remaining conflicts of virtue, while their ears, so to speak, resounded with the gratulations and triumphal shouts of their confederates and fellow - soldiers ! When I think of this, I cannot help imagining to myself, however imperfectly, the holy exultation that must have swelled
the foul of a Nathaniel, of a Lazarus, of a John, every time they reflected on the testimonies of complacence and affection, with which they were privileged by the great Model of Friendship.
That Friend ihip is not authorized by Christianity, has been alledged without foundation. Though not directly enjoined in our Saviour's discourses, it is yet powerfully enforced by his example. Who has not heard of “ the Disciple whom 166 Jesus loved,” honouring him in his life with distinguished tokens of esteem, and at his death with a mark of confidence that could only proceed from particular attachment; I mean in committing to the filial protection of that disciple, Father than any of the reft, his helpless and sorrowful mother, whom, in the true spirit of the purest Friendship, he thus lefc him as the most precious legacy he could bestow.