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rational an account of Providence and of man, as are to be found in the New Testament. Compared, indeed, with this, all other moral and theological wisdom Lofes, discountenanc'd, and like folly fhows.
Reflections occasioned by a review of the blessings, pronounced by Christ on his disciples, in his sermon on the mount.
WHAT abundant reasons have we to thank God, that this large and instructive discourse of our blessed Redeemer, is so particularly recorded by the sacred historian. Let every one that "hath ears to hear," attend to it for surely no man ever spoke as our Lord did on this occasion. Let us fix our minds in a posture of humble attention, that we may "receive the law from his mouth."
He opened it with blessings, repeated and most important blessings. But on whom are they pronounced? and whom are we taught to think the happiest of mankind? The meek and the humble; the penitent and the merciful; the peaceful and the pure; those that hunger and thirst after righteousness; those that labour, but faint not, under persecution. Lord! how different are thy maxims from those of the children of this world! They call the proud happy; and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. But let a vain world take its gaudy trifles, and dress up the foolish creatures that pursue them. May our souls share in that happiness, which the Son of God came to recommend and to procure! May we obtain mercy of the Lord may we be owned as his children; enjoy his presence; and inherit his kingdom! With these enjoyments, and these hopes, we will cheerfully welcome the lowest, or the most painful circumstances.
Let us be animated to cultivate those amiable virtues, which are here recommended to us; this humility and meekness; this penitent sense of sin; this ardent desire after righteousness; this compassion and purity; this peacefulness and fortitude of soul: and, in a word, this universal goodness which becomes us, as we sustain the character of "the salt of the earth," and "the light of the world."
Is there not reason to lament, that we answer the character no better? Is there not reason to exclaim, with a good man in former times, "Blessed Lord! either these are not thy words, or we are not Christians!" Oh, season our hearts more effectually with thy grace! Pour forth that divine oil on our lamps! Then shall the flame brighten; then shall the ancient honours of thy religion be revived; and multitudes be awakened and animated by the lustre of it, "to glorify our Father in heaven."
Schemes of life often illusory.
OMAR, the son of Hassan, had passed seventy-five years in honour and prosperity. The favour of three successive califs had filled his house with gold and silver; and whenever he appeared, the benedictions of the people proclaimed his passage.
Terrestrial happiness is of short continuance. The brightness of the flame is wasting its fuel: the fragrant flower is passing away in its own odours. The vigour of Omar began to fail; the curls of beauty fell from his head; strength departed from his hands; and agi lity from his feet. He gave back to the calif the keys of trust, and the seals of secrecy; and sought no other pleasure for the remains of life, than the converse of the wise, and the gratitude of the good.
The powers of his mind were yet unimpaired. His chamber was filled by visitants, eager to catch the dictates of experience, and officious to pay the tribute of admiration. Caled, the son of the viceroy of Egypt, entered every day early, and retired late. He was beautiful and eloquent: Omar admired his wit, and loved his docility. "Tell me," said Caled, "thou to whose voice nations have listened, and whose wisdom is known to the extremities of Asia, tell me how I may resemble Omar the prudent. The arts by which thou hast gained power and preserved it, are to thee no longer necessary or useful: impart to me the secret of thy conduct, and teach me the plan upon which thy wisdom has built thy fortune."
Young man," said Omar, "it is of little use to form plans of life. When I took my first survey of the world, in my twentieth year, having considered the various conditions of mankind, in the hour of solitude I said thus to myself, leaning against a cedar, which spread its branches over my head: "Seventy years are allowed to man; I have yet fifty remaining. years I will allot to the attainment of knowledge, and ten I will pass in foreign countries; I shall be learned, and therefore shall be honoured; every city will shout at my arrival, and every student will solicit my friendship. Twenty years thus passed, will store my mind with images, which I shall be busy, through the rest of my life, in combining and comparing. I shall revel in inexhaustible accumulations of intellectual riches; I shall find new pleasures for every moment; and shall never more be weary of myself. I will not, however, deviate too far from the beaten track of life; but will try what can be found in female delicacy. I will marry a wife as beautiful as the Houries, and wise as Zobeide: with her I will live twenty years within the suburbs of Bagdat, in every pleasure that wealth can purchase, and fancy can invent. I will then retire to a rural dwelling; pass my days in obscurity and contem
plation; and lie silently down on the bed of death. Through my life it shall be my settled resolution, that I will never depend upon the smile of princes: that I will never stand exposed to the artifices of courts: I will never pant for public honours, nor disturb my quiet with the affairs of state.' Such was my scheme of life, which I impressed indelibly upon my memory.'
"The first part of my ensuing time was to be spent in search of knowledge, and I know not how I was diverted from my design. I had no visible impediments without, nor any ungovernable passions within. I regarded knowledge as the highest honour, and the most engaging pleasure: yet day stole upon day, and month glided after month, till I found that seven years of the first ten had vanished, and left nothing behind them. I now postponed my purpose of travelling; for why should I go abroad, while so much remained to be learned at home? I immured myself for four years, and studied the laws of the empire. The fame of my skill reached the judges; I was found able to speak upon doubtful questions; and was commanded to stand at the footstool of the calif. I was heard with attention; I was consulted with confidence; and the love of praise fastened on my heart."
"I still wished to see distant countries; listened with rapture to the relations of travellers; and resolved some time to ask my dismission, that I might feast my soul with novelty but my presence was always necessary; and the stream of business hurried me along. Sometimes I was afraid test I should be charged with ingratitude; but I still proposed to travel, and therefore would not confine myself by marriage."
"In my fiftieth year, I began to suspect that the time of travelling was past; and thought it best to lay hold on the felicity yet in my power, and indulge myself in domestic pleasures. But at fifty no man easily finds a woman beautiful as the Houries, and wise as Zobeide.
I inquired and rejected, consulted and deliberated, till the sixty-second year made me ashamed of wishing to marry. I had now nothing left but retirement: and for retirement I never found a time, till disease forced me from public employment."
"Such was my scheme, and such has been its consequence. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I trifled away the years of improvement; with a restless desire of seeing different countries, I have always resided in the same city; with the highest expectation of connubial felicity, I have lived unmarried; and with unalterable resolutions of contemplative retirement, I am going to die within the walls of Bagdat."
The pleasures of virtuous sensibility.
THE good effects of true sensibility on general virtue and happiness, admit of no dispute. Let us consider its effect on the happiness of him who possesses it, and the various pleasures to which it gives him access. If he is master of riches or influence, it affords him the means of increasing his own enjoyment, by relieving the wants, or increasing the comforts of others. If he commands not these advantages, yet all the comforts, which he sees in the possession of the deserving, become in some sort his, by his rejoicing in the good which they enjoy. Even the face of nature yields a satisfaction to him, which the insensible can never know. The profusion of goodness, which he beholds poured forth on the universe, dilates his heart with the thought, that innumerabie multitudes around him are blest and happy. When he sees the labours of men appearing to prosper, and views a country flourishing in wealth and industry; when he beholds the spring coming forth in its beauty, and reviving the