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puts on a more serious aspect; and by page of sacred history are sketched personunveiling the reality and purity of true holi- ages of various characters, and under all ness, casts a dismal shade over the most the circumstances of human life, that every illustrious heathen.
bearing of the law of God may be distinctly The celebrated Boerhaave has observed, marked out. that “our Saviour knew mankind better It is in the Scriptures that we read what than Socrates ;” and truly we may see this before was scarcely suspected, though exsaying beautifully illustrated, by comparing perience now confirms the truth, namely, the observations and precepts of our holy the natural depravity of the human heart. Redeemer, with the precepts and lives of “ There is none that doeth good, no, not heathen philosophers. It is not sufficient one.” The knowledge of this truth is evifor the christian to abstain from the out- dently necessary to the salvation of man; ward act of sin; he must abhor its very for where there is no consciousness of guilt, imagination. The heart of man in its na- there can be no repentance. This truth is tural state is shewn to be depraved, and, stamped on the sacred pages in examples even when partially sanctified by the Spirit that cannot be controverted, and serves to of God, he confesses it to be deceitful discourage any thing like pride or self-suffiand desperately wicked above all things.” ciency in the uninformed convert. He sees While the self-righteous heathen looked that he has incurred the curse as well of down upon
his more immoral fellow-beings actual as of original sin, and recompense with pride and complacency, he who has must be made before God can be reconmade the greatest attainments in christian ciled. holiness has only learnt to be more humble, But while the christian reads, that man and more susceptible to the conviction of is a sinner, and condemned to death and his own sinfulness. The true christian dis- eternal misery, for sin can only be expiated claims all pride and haughtiness of heart, by death, he discovers that “God so loved and, like St. Paul, finds his most painful the world, that he gave his only begotten task in boasting of his own advantages or Son, that whosoever believeth in him attainments in religion.
should not perish, but have eternal life.” There was likewise in the superstitious Though an atonement for his sins cannot rites of the Pagans much that was flagrantly be procured by himself, since no future immoral. The orgies of Bacchus, and the obedience could cancel past offences, yet feasts of Venus, displayed scenes at which there is a sacrifice offered for man, even reason revolts, while the barbarous cruelties the death and sufferings of an incarnate of other ceremonies overwhelm the mind God, who hath thus dearly purchased his with horror. Should we even lay these church with his own blood. He reads that aside, and take the refinements of philo- no one can reasonably expect to derive sophy as the best specimen of their reli- any advantage from this sacrifice but by gious notions, we cannot but perceive how repentance and faith, since without these little they were calculated to suit the great there can be no remission of sin; that remass of mankind. Where their different pentance and faith are the fruits of a regesystems were not at variance with each nerated heart, a heart influenced by the Spiother, so much was abstruse, that none but rit of God, who has promised to a gifted few could comprehend, much less all things anew.” put in practice, what was inculcated. But Faith is an unbounded confidence in if we turn to the christian religion, we see, God; and, though a voluntary exercise of that, though its doctrines and precepts the mind, it only arises from that disposi. evince a profundity which has never been tion of the heart induced by the grace of entirely fathomed by the most pious and God. Faith, as a consequence, produces learned, it is so obvious and simple, that virtuous obedience, and thus becomes in the unlettered peasant can understand and stumental in the justification of man, wheput its requisitions into practice.
ther this virtuous obedience is enabled by Though it is a system so original, that it the providence of God to manifest itself, or is entirely distinct from all others, yet its not; for it is not by works, that man can moral code is so perfect and harmonious, be saved. It is the disposition which faith that, rejecting all that is unreasonable, it generates, that evinces its genuineness, and contains every duty that can be conceived this disposition can only spring from the of, whether to God or man. For this pur- operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus it is, pose, history and precept mutually assisting that faith is the means, while the grace of each other, both are explained; so that God is the source, of the christian's justifithough there are precepts sufficient to com- cation. But this is not all; he possesses prehend every supposable case, yet in the a hope which cheers him through all tempta
ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
ations, and sotrows, and, like the pale mendation of the religion of Christ is, that moon, sheds its soft and benignant rays this alone can support man struggling over the gloom of night, to cheer those dark under the afflictions of life, can take away desponding hours which await man in this the terrors of death, and unfold to him a vale of tears. It is a hope that “maketh joyful eternity. Whatever else may not not ashamed,” but enables him in serene deserve consideration, these should have confidence to bear the storms and trials of their due weight, and induce man to flee adversity, because it has fixed its anchorage for refuge, to lay hold upon the only hope beyond the veil of sense, even within the that is set before him. antityped holy of holies, where are trea- Now, let us ask what system, either of sured up the ark and covenant of God. religion or philosophy, can produce these
11* The difference of these two graces, faith important effects ? What system is there, and hope,” Archbishop Leighton observes, besides the christian, so comprehensive, as " is so small, that the one is taken for the to apply equally to every individual, and other in scripture; it is but a different furnish direction and consolation under aspect of the same confidence-faith appre- every circumstance? We answer, None. hending the infallible truth of those divine Alas! for infidelity. Scepticism is in itself promises, of which hope doth assuredly very painful ; but in its consequences most expect the accomplishment, and that is appalling. Painful indeed must it be, when their truth; so that this immediately results it robs man of so much happiness, when it from the other."*
darkens the most sober visions of 'hope, The other grace, which forms a promi- and generates a recklessness of conduct neney in the character of the christian, is which can only proceed from despair. But love. Love to God implies delight in his then, if there is the least ground for the hature, gratitude for his goodness, and an supposition, that the christian alone builds entire devotedness to his will; thus it forms his hopes upon a rock, how dreadful must a plain principle of duty and affection. be the fate of those who have endeavoured Love to our Creator and Redeemer neces- to stifle every conviction of truth! And sarily induces love to our fellow-creatures, how imperious the duty, that we should for, inquires St. John, “He that loveth not endeavour not only to examine the evi. his brother whom he hath seen, how can dences of reason in its favour, but so to he love God whom he hath not seen ?" live, as insure happiness in this vale of And here we must admire the wisdom and tears, and the endless bliss of an hereafter!! goodness of God, in thus comprising the But has experience never whispered her whole duty of man in the word love, that lesson to the thoughtless and indifferent ? the true principle of the christian's obe- Yes; often must she have declared how dience may be obvious to all. This most unsatisfactory have been all the attempts of prominent of the three graces mentioned by procuring unadulterated water from broken St. Paul, has been beautifully characterized cisterns ;" how the enjoyments of the preby Cowper, as
sent life, great as they may be, at length A plant divinely nursed,
pall, and leave "an aching void” in the Fed by the love from which it rose at tirst. mind, which obliterates every sensation of il: Exuberant is the shadow it supplies, Its fruits on earth, its growth above the skies.”
past delight! Why should they attempt
to stifle the conviction that “it is appointed ** Between these three graces there is a unto men once to die, but after this the striking 'union, as the pious divine just judgment ?" The existence of such a truth, cited writes, “there is an inseparable mix- or the idea of its existence, can never be ture of love with belief and pious affection, crushed by the united efforts of an army of in receiving truth ; so that in effect, as we infidels. As well might they endeavour to distinguish them, they are mutually annihilate the vast ocean, or exterminate its strengthened, the one by the other, and so, least wave. As well might they remove though it seem a circle, it is a divine one, from its shores, and retire into the secluded and falls not under censure of the schools' regions of a continent, to dispossess thempedantry.*
selves of the imagination of its being. Still The christian's life is peculiar to itself, would its waters roll, and still would the consisting in spiritual communion, in hu- mists rising from its bosom pour upon mility, 'self-denial, and mortification of all them, and remind them of its reality. The unhallowed desires ; hence his hopes and awful dispensations of Providence, and fears, his joys and sorrows, are not those of that voice which is clothed in thunder will the world. But the most important' recom- bear a testimony which nothing can silence.
We said that the frame of mind which . Conmentary on Peter, 1 Epist. chap. i. ver, 13. Comwent on Peter, 1 Epis. chap. i. ver. 8,9. scepticism induces, is painful. It doubts 2D. SERIES, NO. 12.- VOL. I.
156,- VOL. XIII.
ON THE FOLLY OF DISCONTENT.
all things, it fears all things, till it rushes on the loftiest pinnacle of prosperity, are into the determination of disbelieving the frequently more wretched and discontented plainest evidence. It brings forward “the than very many individuals in much hummystery of godliness," as its important ob- bler situations; we often find their lives to jection. It would enter the sacred pre- be embittered with calamities, and soured sence, as it would gaze upon objects of with disappointments, either imaginary or sense, till it is confounded and lost in the real, and expressing wishes that are doomed subtle mazes of reason,
Baffled at every
never to be gratified, hopes subverted by point, yet proud in his ignorance, the opposition, and desires promulged, but infidel at length asserts that religion is a never obtained. fable, providence chance, and his Maker a There is no crime more prevalent with nonentity. Thus infatuated do those be- the great mass of the world, than that of come, who forsake the service of God, to discontent at the situation, or its insepafollow the idols of their own imagination. rable concomitants, which providence has
Yet, if we turn to the opposite picture, been pleased to appoint as the bound of and contemplate the upright man, “whose their habitation, either openly avowed, or delight is in the law of God," who is reluctantly concealed. But, discontent at "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, the government of the world by a Supreme that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; ruler, and invidious remarks at the allothis leaf also shall not wither; and whatso- ments of his providence, if we reflect on ever he doeth shall prosper ;" we are the subject with that calm and dispassionate struck by the beautiful contrast, and can- attention which it requires, will evidently not but exclaim with the psalmist, “Mark appear quite as preposterous, as the sugthe perfect man, and behold the upright, for gestion is conspicuous for its impiety. the end of that man is peace.”
One of the readiest methods which we Beaconsfield.
J.A.B. generally employ, to ascertain the impor
tance and excellence of what we deem valuable, is, that of comparing it with
another, somewhat analogous in quality, Such is the weakness of our nature, and and of observing which is productive of the imperfections of the human condition, the greatest portion of happiness or profit, that every state of life, and every sphere of in the same time, and with the same faaction, is exposed to temptations peculiar cilities. Hence it is, that they who repine to itself, whether we are fixed in scenes of at the infelicities of their lot, ofien err adversity or prosperity, the one has its de- widely from the truth, by erroneous estiluding snares, and the other its harassing mates, drawn from merely external appeardifficulties. These two opposite states are They suppose themselves to be equally dangerous to virtue, unless they more miserable than some with whom they are strictly guarded by the most unwearied are acquainted, and imagine that the affic. circumspection and unsleeping vigilance. tions and distresses with which they are
It is no less true, that we often form visited, are distributed with a partial hand. mistaken notions of the advantages or But, on a closer inspection, and a nearer miseries which we suppose uniformly to observation of the requisites for happiness, attend on certain conditions of life, that it will probably be found, that the equilithey are either necessarily exempt from brium does not materially preponderate to cares, or perpetually embarrassed with the other side; nay, perhaps those whom anxieties. Poverty is certainly an evil, they view as enviably situated, have, when which it is the incessant endeavour of most duly considered, more urgent cause to commen to avoid ; and hence, their arduous plain—so that their decision, as might be exertions and vigorous efforts to attain a expected from the inadequacy of their competence, that will completely exonerate means for judging on such disputable them from the galling shackles of penury; points, frequently terminates in erroneous but still, though it is a state attended with conjecture and vague hypothesis. We canmany privations, it is not without its not determine, with any degree of certainty, counterbalances of good.
that others are more happy than ourselves, To be entirely destitute, and incapable by the prosperity of their fortunés, their of procuring the common conveniences of accessions of grandeur, or the renown of life, are circumstances unquestionably un- their exploits ; unless we could discern the favourable to happiness, in many respects inmost recesses of their hearts, and were hostile to peace of mind, and inimical to intimately acquainted with all their opecomposure of spirit. But even those in rations. higher stations, and with larger resources, That which is exposed to the vulgär
ON THE FOLLY OF DISCONTENT.
gaze, is only the bare superficies of cha- and trust, in the fiercest contest by which racter; we must explore further, and pene. terrestrial virtue has ever been assailed. trate deeper, to judge correctly of the grand Whenever we suffer, we may rest asconstituents which so eminently conduce to sured that God does not afflict us unnecestranquillity of mind. These adventitious sarily, but that it is to avoid more momenaids, they may probably possess in profu- tous evils, to restrain us from aberrations to sion ; but how often is it the case, that wickedness, to recall us from levity, and to they are only the wretched solaces of a secure us from the baneful effects of a mind distracted with perplexities, and ha- course of folly; to reinstate us in virtue, or rassed with phantoms of terror, produced to accelerate our progress in holinesss. The by guilt, and heightened by remorse; as purposes of discipline and improvement such the poet depicts them in the following are best effected and advanced by salutary lines, and the original is but too often to intermissions of success; and occasional be found in the more exalted walks of life: depression of spirits purifies the moral at6. The gay parterre, the chequered shade,
mosphere from pestiferous exhalations, disThe morning bower, the evening colonnade, sipates the illusions of sense, and eradicates Those soft recesses of uneasy minds."
that over-weening fondness for the pleasures Reflections on their past conduct inces- of this life, which before held undisputed santly haunt them in their slumbers in the sway over the affections and the heart. night season, and, unscared by any attempts It behoves all to rest contented and to elude the spectral presence, attend them cheerful in that station in which it has through the hours of each successive day, pleased the great Disposer of all things to whether they engage in the cares of busi. place them, as long as he deems fit they ness, or hurry to scenes of dissipation, should continue to occupy it; without enflutter at courts, or preside at banquets. vying or depreciating those who are more Prosperity and happiness are very far from prosperous in temporal affairs, without any being synonymous terms; though too often preposterous anxiety to alter their condiconfounded in their signification, by those tion by improper means, or arraigning the who view the higher ranks of society with justice of providence, in fixing them in a suspicion and envy, and consider the tinsel less splendid sphere than they proudly glitter of wealth, greatness, and power as imagined their extraordinary virtues or conferring the highest contentment and talents deserved. By nourishing unbounded satisfaction; but, on embracing a more ex- desires for such extravagant objects as lie tensive survey, and by instituting a more too remote for their probable attainment, rigorous inquiry, it will be found that their and being dissatisfied with every thing that real import is quite different.
transpires around them, they embitter that It intimately concerns us, as men and as enjoyment, and likewise deprive themselves christians, since all are inevitably exposed of those advantages, which the present state to trouble and calamities, to prepare our
of mortal existence is so eminently capable thoughts, and familiarize our minds, to con- of affording, in a rational manner, and with template the day of adversity, lest it come more sober expectations. suddenly, and with such an overwhelming One of the most efficient correctives of a force, as to tempt us, at the first discovery discontented spirit, is, that of pondering of the change, to repine at the event, and and considering, for the purpose of simple to involve us in the guilt of “charging God investigation, how little we can claim on foolishly.” He who has accustomed him- account of meritorious actions, and how self to consider that he is incessantly under immeasurably great are the blessings we the protection of the supreme Being, and enjoy from the divine bounty. As to the that all the events of his life are connected deserving of recompense from our gracious and carried on in direct subserviency to a Benefactor, for “works of righteousness beneficial and ultimate end, though to his that we have done,” we know that we have finite vision they may appear in the highest no plea to urge in our behalf
, and must degree mysterious and inscrutable, for His feel convinced that the very idea is utterly ways are in the deep;" happily gains for- absurd and contemptible; for what minute titude to withstand those temptations which particle can we boast of, that we have not prostrate some minds, not guarded by an received from the Source of all felicity and habitual sense of the divine presence, to the life, which sustains the hierarchies of distant most humiliating state of moral degrada- worlds, and from whence the meanest tion. The consciousness of his cheering animalcule receives its functions, and abides influence is to him as the sunbeam of hope in existence by the primitive laws of its and consolation in the darkest hour of trial, being ? We all stand on a mutual equality, and the invincible panoply of confidence both high and low, rich and poor, before the august presence of the Governor of the obscurity of the cottage, the expressive universe, as guilty sinners in a rebellious sadness occasionally settling on his brow, portion of his dominions, and therefore the mournful sigh heaved from his breast, have no title to expect actual favours as and the doleful utterance of his heart-felt our due; but, rather, lo rejoice and be wo, indicate the bitterness of the draught of exceedingly glad, at his unutterable display life. Many are the evils by which he is of clemency and goodness, that we are not surrounded; and, from the dawn of his totally consumed, and long before this en- existence to the evening of his day, he is tirely“ cut off from the land of the living." exposed to bodily pain and mental an
Positive happiness is alone reserved for guish. the next, and not to be attained in this life, But man, amid all his troubles, carries otherwise it would defeat the object of a with him an irresistible evidence, that he is probationary career, which the great Creator qualified for the enjoyment of happiness; of man has primarily in view. Such, how- though we behold him oppressed by the ever, as is negative, may be secured, as far effects of moral evil, the prolific source of as the internal state of our minds can con- his wretchedness, still we recognize the tribute to this desirable end; but this can operations of principles implanted in his only be when the temper is properly re- soul by the hand of Him who is love. gulated, the desires uniformly moderated, Among these, sympathy, or mutual sensiand the passions effectually controlled. bility, has peculiar claims which merit our
A contented mind is the primordial regard. It is this that forms the foundation root whence the flower of sublunary felicity of the fabric of society--the spring which so germinates and expands into vigorous ma- regulates the movements of a community, turity, that at once emits a fragrance, and as to promote individual comfort. The adds a beauty to surrounding objects. But degrees in which it exists are various. the Eternal has decreed, and it cannot be The brutal ferocity by which some men are reversed, that true and genuine contentment, distinguished, leads us to suspect the almost under every variety of external condition, total extinction of this noble feeling. In can only spring from one, and that a fertile many, its influence is manifested by a soil, where no weeds abound; that, exclu- general esteem of the virtuous : and in sively from a good conscience, a holy life, some, we see it displayed in reciprocal a calm and serene hope of the blessed emotions, and endearing attachments; and fruition of the heavenly state, can it alone under this aspect it assumes the designation indubitably spring. They who imbibe a of friendship, the subject of our present principle that will enable them to rise essay. superior to the vaunted support of the This quality has allured to its praises the world, who enjoy “that peace which sur- philosopher and divine, who often have passeth all understanding,” can alone remain accurately described its nature and influundisturbed by its ever shifting vicissitudes. ence, and have bestowed upon it their These regulate their lives according to those highest encomiums. The contemplation of sublime maxims recorded by the pen of it has not yet ceased to be a source of deinspiration, that, “in whatsoever state they light; it has still a powerful charm, which are, therewith to be content." This far thrills the soul of him who gazes on it with surpasses, in practical utility, the gloomy a sweet enchantment. Previous to the conpride of the ancient philosophers, such as sideration of the subject, it will not be amiss the precepts of Epicurus, and the dictates merely to allude to the false appearances of of Zeno, who taught their disciples and it assumed by men for purposes the most followers to look with entire apathy and culpable. indifference on external things.
It is not uncommon to see the great sur
T. Royce. rounded by a host of servile courtiers, and Leicester, October 5, 1831.
the influential encompassed by a band of admirers. There are motives which urge men to the pretension of esteem, when the
heart is by no means affected ; and the reHISTORY and experience combine to cor- presentations of the tongue often belie the roborate the divine statement, that “ man is emotions of the breast. Deeds of kindness born unto trouble.” We need not enter the are performed with apparent disinterestness ; haunt of misery, too oft his dwelling, or and tokens of regard are given, when the witness the writhing agony of his sick-bed, gratification of self is the only object. for a practical proof of its truth. In what- Nothing can be more remote from the spirit ever station we view him, whether moving of friendship, than these its counterfeits. in the circle of royalty, or buried in the Dissimulation, flattery, and hypocrisy, in
ESSAY ON FRIENDSHIP.