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as long as they are kept within due bounds, it does not censure nor condemn them; neither does it propose them as rewards to the virtuous, or as the principal objects of their pursuit. To such it points out nouler ends of action. Their felicity it engages them to seek in the discharge of an useful, an upright, and honourable
part in life; and, as the habitual tenor of their mind, it promotes cheerfulness, and discourages levity.
Between these two there is a wide distinction; and the mind which is most open to levity, is frequently a stranger to cheerfulness. It has been remarked, that transports of intemperate mirth are often no more than flashes from the dark cloud; and that in proportion to the violence of the effulgence is the succeeding gloom. Levity may be the forced production of folly or vice; cheerfulness is the natural offspring of wisdom and virtue only. The one is an occasional agitation; the other a permanent habit. The one degrades the character; the other is perfectly consistent with the dignity of reason, and the steady and manly spirit of religion. To aim at a constant succession of high and vivid sensations of pleasure, is an idea of happiness altogether chimerical. Calm and temperate enjoyment is the utmost that is allotted to man. Beyond this, we struggle
ON THE MOTIVES TO CONSTANCY IN VIRTUE.
GALAT. vi. 9.
And let us not be weary in well-doing ; for in
due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
It is a
Discontent is the most general of all the evils which trouble the life of man. disease which every where finds materials to feed itself; for, if real distresses be wanting, it substitutes such as are imaginary in their place. It converts even the good things of the world, when they have been long enjoyed, into occasions of disgust. In the midst of prosperity, it disposes us to complain ; and renders tranquillity tiresome, only because it is uniform. There is no wonder that this spirit of restlessness and dissatisfaction, which corrupts every terrestrial enjoyment, should have sometimes penetrated into the region of virtue. Good men are not without their frailties ; and the perverseness incident to human nature too readily leads us, who become weary
of all other things, to be weary, also, in welldoing.
Let me put a case, which, perhaps, will be found not unfrequent in ordinary life. Suppose a person, after much commerce with the world, to be convinced of its vanity. He has seen its most flattering hopes to be fallacious. He has felt its most boasted pleasures to be unsatisfactory. He resolves, therefore, to place his happiness in virtue ; and disregarding all temptations from interest, to adhere to what is right and honourable in conduct. He cultivates acquaintance with religion. He performs, with seriousness, the offices of devotion. He lays down to himself, a rational and useful plan of life; and, with satisfaction, holds on for a while in this reformed course. But, by degrees, discouragements arise. The peace which he hoped to enjoy, is interrupted, either by his own frailties, or by the vices of others. Passions which had not been thoroughly subdued; struggle for their accustomed gratification. sure which he expected to find in devotion, sometimes fails him ; and the injustice of the world often sours and frets him. Friends