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sorrow in the former as far exceeds the latter, as the perpetual favour of Heaven transcends the momentary calamities of life!—The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?'
It may be said in answer to this inquiry, that pain of conscience has relation to guilt, and is the effect of sin operating against a known rule prescribed for the regulation of moral conduct. In order, therefore, to sympathize with the contrite sufferer, we must have the same ideas respecting the equity of God's government, the detestable nature of sin, and the justice of that punishment with which it is connected. But natural men see things in a very different light. Their consciences are not under the authority of the law of God; no beauty is beheld in the divine precepts; nor do they, it is to be feared, really believe that the commission of moral evil will be attended with those dreadful consequences which the scriptures constantly affirm. It is, therefore, impossible, in the very nature of the case, that men with such ideas should feel for a soul tortured with guilt: the distress endured
will be considered rather as chimerical than real, or at least as the effect of superstitious credulity, and as deserving raillery more than commisseration, or severe rebuke than serious expostulation.
That men frequently act on this principle, in giving advice to persons under religious impressions, needs no proof. What more common than to hear the disconsolate mourner.exhorted to shun the haunts of solitude, to rouse from the torpor of dejection, to frequent the resorts of diversion, to look for tranquillity and pleasure in the circles of gaiety, where every eye sparkles with joy, where the ear is charmed with sprightly sallies of wit; where novelty gives perpetual delight; and the mind, released from the gloom of reflection, is restored to freedom and to happiness?
But these prescriptions are not adapted to the malady. They have been frequently administered, but without success. The throbs of guilt are not to be lulled by the sound of the tabret and the pipe, the harp or the viol; and the de
luded patient who shall try the experiment, will find that he has not expelled, but increased his complaint; and the symptoms may perhaps be so rapid and so alarming, as to generate despair of relief instead of exciting hope of deliverance. For what is the natural tendency of such admonitions? Is it not saying, in effect, Be familiar with vice, or at least with vanity; blunt the edge of remorse by the accession of fresh guilt ; hope for quiet in the midst of tumult; and drown the clamours of conscience in obstreperous merriment !
Lavinia was the daughter of one of the first families in London. Her parents dying when she was young, left her to the care of an aunt, whose fortune she was to inherit, and who felt herself deeply interestedin having her successour instructed in all the useful and polite accomplishments that endear society and embelish life. At an early period, Lavinia gave ample proof that the expectations formed of her capacity and her attainments were not likely to be disappointed : for she made such rapid progress in all the branches of female education, as rendered her the pattern of all who aspired to excellence.
The guardian of our young pupil, who was a woman of the first rank and fashion, could not long defer the happiness she expected to participate, when the wondering world should first witness the charms that were never beheld by her but with maternal fondness. Lavinia, who was elegant in her form, and graceful in her manners, wa's, therefore, introduced early into all the polite circles, and received with the most flattering tokens of admiration. Every eye was struck with her beauty, and every tongue lavish in her praise. Nor was the marked attention paid her in all companies ungratefully received: for who can be deaf to the voice of praise ? or unwilling to believe that it may be heard without vanity, and received as a just tribute to excellence, which, if hidden to ourselves and the vulgar, others, possessed of keen discernment, refined taste, and impartial judgment, have not only discovered, but kindly endeavoured to appretiate?
Few were the resorts of pleasure at which Lavinia was not the rival of her.sex. surrounded by men of the first rank, each ambitious to attract her notice, and to bow
obsequious to her will. The sprightly sallies of her wit were heard with rapture; her fascinating demeanour captivated every heart; and she received, on every hand, those tokens of respect, a moderate share of which would have transported the hearts of thousands.
' A solitary philosopher would imagine ladies born with an exemption from care and sorrow, lulled in perpetual quiet, and feasted with unmingled pleasure ; for what can interrupt the content of those, upon whom one age has laboured after another to confer honours, and accumulate immunities; those to whom rudeness is infamy, and insult is cowardice; whose eye commands the brave, and whose smiles soften the severe; whom the sailor travels to adorn, the soldier bleeds to defend, and the poet wears out life to celebrate ; who claim tribute from every art and science, and for whom all who approach them endeavour to multiply delights, without requiring from them any return but willingness to be pleased ?