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As a young person, it is peculiarly becoming that you should be humble; and if you resign your opinions with cheerful submission, the propriety of such conduct cannot fail of notice from your elders. If the wishes of two persons are opposite, they cannot both be gratified at the same time, and why should you expect that others must give up their inclinations to you? Why not renounce your desires to them? A wayward child will fret at every disappointment; but a man of sense does not heed the daily trifles that occur. If your mind is in tune, you will easily change your occupations, and find pleasure in all you do but where the spirits are unharmonized by ill-humour, every employment is irksome. Endeavour therefore to suit your inclination, to your condition, and not your condition to your inclination. The one may seldom be in your pow. er, the other will always be so, by the exertion of resolution; for, as a celebrated author observes, "that man is happy whose circumstances suit his temper; but he is more happy who can suit his temper to any circumstances. Youth is the season to incline the will into a right direction. becomes stubborn with age, and long habit
renders a change next to impossible. You may easily bend a sapling, but the sturdy oak stands unmoved by the strongest wind, and all your efforts to alter its direction are thrown away; regulate your temper, then, while it is pliable. Accustom yourself to resist difficulties, to comply with others in things indifferent, though it may not suit your own immediate designs. The sacrifice may sometimes be painful, but the reward of love will be an agreeable recompence. The smile that beams in the countenance of those you have obliged, will reflect its cheerfulness in your heart, if that heart is not clouded with petulance. A good temper has the real properties that are feigned to exist in the philosopher's stone; it can turn every thing to gold, that is, it can change the cross accidents of life into the means of happiness, and extract a permanent advantage from a transient evil. If your situation is disagreeable, my young friend, let me entreat you to make trial of its influence. Instead of repining at what you cannot avoid, set yourself seriously to amend it. If you are confined when you wish for liberty, do not supinely fret at the vexation, but with a steady resolution con
sider what employments are within your power. If you cannot read, endeavour to be pleased with your work. If you want to work when restrained to your book, try to improve or be entertained by the author you are compelled to study. If you desire exercise when quiet is allotted you, make the most you can of the circumstance, and seek to turn it to some good. If you are cheerful, without an opportunity of conversation, let your thoughts be well employed, and treasure up a fund for future use: but never suffer them to prey upon disagreeable subjects, and to magnify the errors of others, or the inconveniences you sustain.
To every work there is a season, and a time to every purpose; but it is the worst sort of mismanagement to let your inclina. tions arrange the business of life, exactly contrary to the manner in which it is ordered for us. There are a thousand good offices may be done without expense, and a variety of means, wherein we may become serviceable to those we live with. The little attentions paid to one another, among the tenderest pleasures of life. Every expression of good-will is a tribute of value that conveys satisfaction to the giver and the re
ceiver. We may have great obligations to other persons for essential benefits, but the debt of happiness we must chiefly owe to those who are of our own family. It is there that all the social affections centre, and there we must cultivate the habitual exercise of good temper. We must not weigh every thing that appears amiss in the rigorous balance of equity, unless we are content to put our own errors into the opposite scale. Let us try the force of argument to excuse those who offend us, and we shall find the provocations we meet with will be considerably lessened. The little civilities that are in themselves indifferent, are consecrated by the motive, when exercised to make those about us pleased and contented; and we may promote our salvation by a proper performance of the daily offices and employments of society, better than by a total seclusion from the world. Young persons, who are of a serious turn, and have a tincture of enthusiasm, sometimes form romantic wishes of dedicating their lives to God, by a monastic retirement; but the Deity is served in a more acceptable manner when they fulfil the purposes of their creation, by a useful and amiable conduct in active life.
The best kind of mortification is to subdue our bad dispositions, and instead of shunning temptation, by quitting the post assigned us, to endeavour, with the aids of Heavenly grace, to stand firm to the duties of it. When you are exercised through the ill-temper of others, and find your patience begin to fail, consider it as a particular trial of virtue, and instead of amusing yourself with vain plans of the good you would do in other circumstances, exert yourself to act quietly and with submission to Providence in those before you. Those who continually boast of the excellence they should exhibit in some fancied situation, do not consider that they charge God foolishly; for what do such murmurs imply, but that the Almighty has placed them in a condition unsuitable to their disposition? whereas you should firmly confide, that as he cannot be deceived, and must know the exact state for which every individual is best adapted, he is too wise and too benevolent to assign to any one a post that is not perfectly adapted to their capacity. We may in some degree exchange our place by wilful folly and indiscretion, and must then lament and suffer for our disobedience.