« PoprzedniaDalej »
Select Sentences, &c.
with pleasure and profit. It shows, first, that true devotion is rational and well-founded; next, that it is of the highest importance to every other part of religion and virtue ; and, lastly, that it is most conducive to our happiness.
There is certainly no greater felicity, than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed; to trace our own progress in existence, by such | tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow. It ought therefore to be the care of those who wish to pass the last hours with comfort, to lay up such a treasure of pleasing ideas, as shall support the expenses of that time, which is to depend wholly upon the fund already acquired.
WHAT avails the show of external liberty, to one who has lost the government of himself?
He that cannot live well to-day (says Martial,) will be less qualified to live well to-morrow.
Can we esteem that man prosperous, who is raised to a situation which flatters his passions, but which corrupts his principles, disorders his temper, and, finally, oversets his virtue?
What misery does the vicious man secretly endure! Adversity! how blunt are all the arrows of thy quiver, in comparison with those of guilt!
When we have no pleasure in goodness, we may with certainty conclude the reason to be, that our pleasure is all derived from an opposite quarter.
How strangely are the opinions of men altered by a change in their condition!
How many have had reason to be thankful, for being disappointed in designs which they earnestly pursued, but which, if successfully accomplished, they have afterwards seen, would have occasioned their ruin!
What are the actions which afford in the remem
brance a rational satisfaction? Are they the pursuits of sensual pleasure, the riots of jollity, or the displays of show and vanity? No: I appeal to your hearts, my friends, if what you recollect with most pleasure, are not the innocent, the virtuous, the honourable parts of your past life.
The present employment of time should frequently be an object of thought. About what are we now busied? What is the ultimate scope of our present pursuits and cares? Can we justify them to ourselves? Are they likely to produce any thing that will survive the moment, and bring forth some fruit for futurity?
Is it not strange, (says an ingenious writer,) that some persons should be so delicate as not to bear a disagreeable picture in the house, and yet, by their behaviour, force every face they see about them, to wear the gloom of uneasiness and discontent?
If we are now in health, peace, and safety; without any particular or uncommon evils to afflict our condition; what more can we reasonably look for, in this vain and uncertain world? How little can the greatest prosperity add to such a state! Will any future situation ever make us happy, if now, with so few causes of grief, we imagine ourselves miserable? The evil lies in the state of our mind, not in our condition of fortune; and by no alteration of circumstances is likely to be remedied.
When the love of unwarrantable pleasures, and of vicious companions, is allowed to amuse young persons, to engross their time, and to stir up their passions; the day of ruin,-let them take heed, and beware!-the day of irrecoverable ruin, begins to draw nigh. For tune is squandered; health is broken; friends are of fended, affronted, estranged; aged parents, perhaps, sent afflicted and mourning, to the dust.
On whom does time hang so heavily, as on the slothful and lazy? To whom are the hours so lingering? Who are so often devoured with spleen, and obliged to
fly to every expedient, which can help them to get rid of themselves? Instead of producing tranquillity, indolence produces a fretful restlessness of mind; gives rise to cravings which are never satisfied; nourishes a sickly, effeminate delicacy, which sours and corrupts every pleasure.
We have seen the husbandman scattering his seed upon the furrowed ground! It springs up, is gathered into his barns, and crowns his labours with joy and plenty. Thus the man who distributes his fortune with generosity and prudence, is amply repaid by the gratitude of those whom he obliges; by the approbation of his own mind; and by the favour of Heaven.
Temperance, by fortifying the mind and body, leads to happiness; intemperance, by enervating them, ends generally in misery.
Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious; but an ill one, more contemptible. Vice is infamous, though in a prince; and virtue honourable, though in a peasant.
An elevated genius, employed in little things, appears (to use the simile of Longinus) like the sun in his evening declination; he remits his splendour, but retains his magnitude; and pleases more, though he dazzles less.
If envious people were to ask themselves, whether they would exchange their entire situations with the persons envied, (I mean their minds, passions, notions, as well as their persons, fortunes, and dignities,)-I presume the self-love common to human nature, would generally make them prefer their own condition.
We have obliged some persons:-very well!-what would we have more? Is not the consciousness of doing good, a sufficient reward?
Do not hurt yourselves or others, by the pursuit of
pleasure. Consult your whole nature. Consider yourselves not only as sensitive, but as rational beings; not only as rational, but social; not only as social, but immortal.
Art thou poor?-Show thyself active and industrious, peaceable and contented. Art thou wealthy?-Show thyself beneficent and charitable, condescending and humane.
Though religion removes not all the evils of life though it promises no continuance of undisturbed prosperity; (which indeed it were not salutary for man always to enjoy ;) yet, if it mitigates the evils which necessarily belong to our state, it may justly be said to give "rest to them who labour and are heavy laden.”
What a smiling aspect does the love of parents and children, of brothers and sisters, of friends and relations, give to every surrounding object, and every returning day! With what a lustre does it gild even the small habitation, where this placid intercourse dwells! where such scenes of heartfelt satisfaction succeed uninterruptedly to one another!
How many clear marks of benevolent intention appear every where around us! What a profusion of beauty and ornament is poured forth on the face of nature! What a magnificent spectacle presented to the view of man! What supply contrived for his wants! What a variety of objects set before him, to gratify his senses, to employ his understanding, to entertain his imagination, to cheer and gladden his heart!
The hope of future happiness is a perpetual source of consolation to good men. Under trouble, it sooths their minds; amidst temptation, it supports their virtue: and, in their dying moments, enables them to say, "O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory."
AGESILAUS, king of Sparta, being asked, "What things he thought most proper for boys to learn," answered; "Those which they ought to practise when they come to be men." A wiser than Agesilaus has inculcated the same sentiment; "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
An Italian philosopher expressed in his motto, "that time was his estate.' An estate, which will, indeed, produce nothing without cultivation; but which will always abundantly repay the labours of industry, and satisfy the most extensive desires, if no part of it be suffered to lie waste by negligence; to be overrun with noxious plants; or laid out for show, rather than use.
When Aristotle was asked, “What a man could gain by telling a falsehood," he replied, "Not to be credited when he speaks the truth."
L'Estrange, in his Fables, tells us, that a number of frolicksome boys were one day watching frogs at the side of a pond; and that, as any of them at their heads above the water, they pelted them down again with One of the frogs, appealing to the humanity of the boys, made this striking observation: "Children, you do not consider, that though this may be sport to you, it is death to us.
Sully, the great statesman of France, always retained at his table, in his most prosperous days, the same frugality to which he had been accustomed in early life. He was frequently reproached, by the courtiers, for this simplicity, but he used to reply to them, in the words of an ancient philosopher: "If the guests are men of sense, there is sufficient for them: if they are not, I can very well dispense with their company."
Socrates, though primarily attentive to the culture of his mind, was not negligent of his external appear