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piety, as well as virtue, consists in action, no less than in the passive duties of devotion and contemplation. Neither does it preclude a rational participation in the innocent and allowable amusements of life; on the contrary, it is favourable to all these; at the same time that under every adversity it
power to charm his soul to peace, from his entire resignation to the will of God, with respect to any and every event that can possibly happen to him in this life, and from his real belief in and adoption of that fine and noble sentiment of St. Paul, “ that the sufferings of this present “ time are not worthy to be compared with “ the glory which shall be revealed in us." Thus by detaching his soul from an inordinate love and adherence to things temporal, and elevating it to things eternal, he so blunts the edge of the severest affliction which can assault it, that, if he does not live in this world in a state of joy, he will always both live and die in a state of hope and peace, which is much better. Besides, as Mason, in his admirable treatise on Self-Knowledge, justly observes, “ if our hopes and joys cen“ ter in this life only, it is a mortifying “ thought that we are every day departing
“ from our happiness; whereas, if they are “ fixed above, it is a joy to think that we are
every day drawing nearer to the object of our highest wishes *.
* This little book is of very superior excellence, if the excellence of a book is to be estimated by the beneficial effect it is capable of producing on the mind. It appears to me to contain a fine union of genuine philosophy and true Christian piety; and perhaps there is no character so perfect, but may derive very considerable benefit from its perusal. If a youth, rising in life, will deeply and intensely study it, so deeply as to make himself completely master of its theory, and will carefully practise the admirable rulęs it gives him for his future conduct in life, he will then acquire the enviable but rare character of a real gentleman ; if that character consists in the agent's observing an inflexible piety towards God, and as inflexible an integrity towards man, and in considering it his glory and honour, as well as his pleasure, to be useful to man, and to promote his happiness ; if it consists in having a mind which declines owing the value of his character to the possession of riches or honours, to any thing merely external, in short, to any thing but virtue and manners ; which abhors an insolent carriage towards the very meanest of his fellow-creatures, as he is conscious of being ordered by the word of God (since all are created in his image) to “ honour all
men, and therefore he considers it his duty to observe such a benevolent condescension towards his inferiors, as implies a disposition to be lenient and indulgent to their faults, though severe to his own; if it consists in having a mind which believes genuine happiness stands on a firm and solid basis, which pleasure does not possess, and therefore, though his heart may not despise pleasure, it is never eagerly set on it, much less a slave to it; in having a mind which inclines him to distinguish himself in his profession and station of life, not from ostentation, but from an exemplary discharge of its duties; in possessing a mind which
The doctrines of the Gospel likewise, by stating those final rewards and punishments which will be allotted to every man according to his conduct in this life, place that necessary, curb on the intemperate and sensual passions of the soul, so requisite for its enjoyment of genuine happiness, and for its properly discharging with justice and mercy its individual and social duties; and which the Grecian and Roman histories
how infamously the heathens violated. They had not this curb, and accordingly the basest lusts and passions raged amongst them with
strongly inclines him to acquire amiable and agreeable manners; not in the school of Lord Chesterfield, from a latent principle of pride and deceit, and only with the view “ pour se faire valoir;" but in the school of the Apostle Paul, from the rules he inculcates for their formation, in his celebrated chapter to the Corinthi
charity :” and as these manners will be founded in genuine humility of heart, and exerted from a real desire to please, they will not fail to fascinate equally the best and the worst judges of human nature. To form the human mind to a character of this description seems to have been the laudable design of Mr. Mason; and he appears to have admirably succeeded in his theory, by the excellent rules he has prescribed, and by the forcible manner in which he has shewn the great honour and advantage which is and ever will be attached to its attainment.
The most useful of the numerous and various editions of this valuable book are those in which the author's quotations from the Greek and Roman philosophers are inserted.
incredible fury; as may be collected not only from their own satirists, but in particular from St. Paul's first chapter to the Romans, wherein he states a shocking list of their flagitious crimes ; and even their philosophers (though with several noble exceptions) are reproached equally by Diogenes Laertius, Aristotle, and Cicero, with leading in general very disorderly lives. The heathens were likewise ignorant of that charming consolation which is imparted by Revelation, so exhilarating to such a frail being as man, that his sins will be forgiven on his reformation and repentance : but, above all, when they suffered that sorrow, which it is decreed man shall suffer in this world, they had no counterpoise to it from the reflection, that a life of virtue and piety would ensure them an everlasting happiness hereafter, whatever might be their fate in this world. Had the mind of Brutus been fully possessed and enriched by this persuasion, he never could have made the bitter exclamation before taken notice of. Thus it is impossible to suppose the heathens either during life, or at the awful moment of their decease, could have enjoyed the happiness which a
Christian may and does enjoy from the glad tidings of the Gospel. Instead of considering death, with the Poet, as
A happy path, which must be trod,
instead of considering it, as St. Paul did, as an entrance into that blessed kingdom, where a crown of righteousness was laid up for him, and where he should be permitted to partake of those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore; Pagans considered death as a great evil, as a dreadful leap in the dark. “ Illa quoque res morti nos alie“ nat, quod hæc jam novimus : illa ad quæ “ transituri sumus, nescimus qualia sint, et
* In Sir William Forbes's interesting and entertaining edition of the Life of Dr. Beattie, the following anecdote of the late Dr. Campbell (author of a translation of the four Gospels, &c.) is inserted, in a letter from Dr. Beattie to Sir William Forbes. “ At
time when Dr. Campbell seemed to be just expiring, and had “ told his wife and his niece that it was so, a cordial happened
unexpectedly to give him relief. As soon as he was able to "speak, he said, he wondered to see their countenances so me“ lancholy, and covered with tears, in the apprehension of his
departure. * At that instant,' said he, 'I felt my mind in such a “ state, in the thoughts of my immediate dissolution, that I can
express my feelings in no other way than by saying, that I was. “ in a rapture. The feelings of such a mind as Dr. Campbell's, in “ such an awful moment, when he retained the full use of all his “ faculties, deserve to be attended to. When will an infidel die “ such a death?"