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made as few converts as the sword, and both these instruments are particularly unbecoming when wielded by a female hand.
But, though no one will be frightened out of their opinions, yet they may be persuaded out of them : they may be touched by the affecting earnestness of serious conversation, and allured by the attractive beauty of a consistently serious life. And while a young woman ought to dread the name of a wrangling polemic, it is her duty to aspire after the honourable character of a sincere Christian. But this dignified character she can by no means deserve, if she is ever afraid to avow her principles, or ashamed to defend them. A profligate, who makes it a point to ridicule every thing which comes under the appearance of formal instruction, will be disconcerted at the spirited yet modest rebuke of a pious young
But there is as much efficacy in the manner of reproving profaneness, as in the words. If she corrects it with moroseness, she defeats the effect of her remedy, by her unskilful manner of administering it. If, on the other hand, she affects to defend the insulted cause of God in a faint tone of voice, and studied ambiguity of phrase, or with an air of levity, and a certain expression of pleasure in her eyes, which proves she is secretly delighted with what she pretends to censure, she injures religion much more than he did who publicly profaned it; for she plainly indicates, either that she does not believe, or respect what she professes. The other attacked it as an open foe; she betrays it as a false friend. No one pays any regard to the opinion of an avowed enemy; but the desertion or treachery of a professed friend, is dangerous indeed !
It is a strange notion which prevails in the world, that religion only belongs to the old and the melancholy, and that it is not worth while to pay the least attention to it, while we are capable of attending to
any thing else. They allow it to be proper enough for the clergy, whose business it is, and for the aged, who have not spirits for any business at all. But till they can prove, that none except the clergy and the aged die, it must be confessed that this is most wretched reasoning.
Great injury is done to the interests of religion, by placing it in a gloomy and unamiable light. It is sometimes spoken of, as if it would actually make a handsome woman ugly, or a young one wrinkled. But can any thing be more absurd than to represent the beauty of holiness as the source of deformity ?
There are few, perhaps, so entirely plur.ged in business, or absorbed in pleasure, as not to intend, at some future time, to set about a religious life in good earnest. But then they consider it as a kind of dernier ressort, and think it prudent to defer flying to this disagreeable refuge, till they have no relish left for any thing else. Do they forget, that to perform this great business well requires all the strength of their youth, and all the vigour of their unimpaired capacities ? To confirm this assertion, they may observe how much the slightest indisposition, even in the most active season of life, disorders every faculty, and disqualifies them for attending to the most ordinary affairs : and then let them reflect how little able they will be to transact the most important of all business, in the moment of excruciating pain, or in the day of universal debility.
When the senses are palled with excessive gratification ; when the eye is tired with seeing, and the ear with hearing; when the spirits are so sunk, that the grasshopper is become a burden, how shall the blunted apprehension be capable of understanding a new science, or the worn-out heart be able to relish a new pleasure ?
To put off religion till we have lost all taste for amusement; to refuse listening to the voice of the
charmer, till our enfeebled organs can no longer listen to the voice of 66 singing men and singing women, and not to devote our days to heaven till we have “no pleasure in them” ourselves, is but an
ungracious offering. And it is a wretched sacrifice to the God of heaven, to present him with the remnants of decayed appetites, and the leavings of extinguished passions.
GENIUS, TASTE, GOOD SENSE,* , ,
Good sense is as different from genius as perception is from invention; yet, though distinct qualities, they frequently subsist together. It is altogether opposite to wit, but by no means inconsistent with it. It is not science, for there is such a thing as unlettered good sense ; yet, though it is neither wit, learning, nor genius, it is a substitute for each, where they do not exixt, and the perfection of all where they do.
Good sense is so far from deserving the appellation of common sense, by which it is frequently called, that it is perhaps one of the rarest qualities of the human mind. If, indeed, this name is given it in respect to its peculiar suitableness to the purposes of common life, there is great propriety in it. Good sense appears to differ from taste in this, that taste is an instantaneous decision of the mind, a sudden relish of what is beautiful, or disgust at
* The author begs leave to offer an apology for introducing this essay, which, she fears, may be thought foreign to her purpose. But she hopes that her earnest desire of exciting a taste for literature in young ladies, (which encouraged her to hazard the following remarks,) will not obstruct her general design, even if it dues not actually promote it.