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TRIBUTE OF SYMPATHY.
ON THE INDULGENCE OF GRIEF.
Of all the varied emotions of which the human mind is susceptible, that arising from the exercise of sympathy, or the capacity for suffering, in ourselves, the cares and sorrows of those around us, is perhaps at once the most engaging and the most extensively useful.
When once excited, the heart is expanded to the full operation of the benevolent affections, and the most self-denying sacrifices are cheerfully made, in order to secure the happiness of its object. The high excitement of feeling occasioned by the exercise of this principle, is in itself so large a source of present pleasure, that we sometimes meet with individuals who glaringly obtrude their claims to its possession; but with whom it is an ineffective stimulus to action, administering simply to their own gratification, and diverted from the obvious design for which it was implanted in the human breast, viz. the alleviation of the sufferings of humanity.
Notwithstanding the powerful influence of envy, in narrowing the circle of social kindness, yet, when this principle does not actively predominate, it is not difficult to joy with those who rejoice; and that heart must be cold indeed, which, in contemplating the happiness of others, does not experience a kindred glow of satisfaction, which does not secretly indulge a hope, that the present scene of pleasure may be long secured from the wintry air of affliction. But to participate the sorrow of friends, and truly to sympathize with their suffering, involves not only a present emotion of disinterested benevolence, but a long train of active duties. Real sympathy will never rest satisfied with ineffective good wishes, or the common routine of polite and unmeaning profession; but it will seek to share the burden which it is unable to remove; it will enter into the feelings of the sufferer, and if it cannot dissipate the gloom with which the death of a beloved object has enveloped his every prospect, yet will it strive to illuminate the dark and silent hours of solitude and grief, by pouring in upon the mind the balmy ray of heavenly consolation, with which even the night
of desertion may be cheered. They who have suffered affliction, must have experienced the relief obtained by the participation of their sorrows, and will readily acknowledge the powerful influence of the affectionate voice of friendship, in exhibiting the sources of their consolation, soothing their aching hearts, moderating their boundless grief, and elevating their thoughts and desires to that kingdom whither their dearest friend has gone before them, and is now enjoying the perfect felicities of that rest whence every tear is eternally banished.
It is to this office that the friend who now addresses you would aspire. Like yourself, he has been visited with great distress; he has felt the want and has experienced the worth of a kind friend to whom he could confide his feelings; particularly in those seasons of solitude and seclusion which are so earnestly desired by the mourner; but in which the mind, left to prey upon itself, is too apt to indulge its propensity to dwell on all the aggravating circumstances of the present affliction, rather than on the cause which has rendered it necessary, the hand which has inflicted it, the design with which it is sent, or the blessing with which it is encompassed. And although the voice of sympathy may be removed from him for a short time only, yet he finds that he requires its welcome accents to be