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possessions would seem to lessen, and his cares would grow.
12. Add to the unsatisfying nature of our pleasures, the attending circumstances which never fail to corrupt tbem. For, such as they are, they are at no time possessed unmixed. To human lips it is not given to taste the cup of pure joy. When external circumstances show fairest to the world, the envied man groans in private under his own burden.
13. Some vexation disquiets, some passion corrodegm him ; some distress, either felt or feared, gnawgn like a wo m, the root of his felicity. When there is nothing from without to disturb the prosperous, a secret poison operates within. For worldly happiness ever tends to destroy itself, by corrupting the heart. It fosters, the loose and the violent passions. It engenders noxious habits; and taints the mind with false delicacy, which makes it feel a thousand unreal evils.
14. But put the case in the most favourable light. Lay aside from human pleasures both disappointment in pursuit, and deceitfulness in enjoyment; suppose them to be fully attainable, and completely satisfactory; still there remains to be considered the vanity of uncertain possession and short duration. Were there in wondly' things any fixed point of security which we could gain, the mind would then have some basis on which to rest.
15. But our condition is such, that every thing wavers and totters around us. “Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." It is much if, during its course, thou hearest not of somea what to disquiet or aların thee. For life never proceeds long in a uniform train. It is continually varied by un. expected events.
16. The seeds of alteration are every where sown ; and the sunshine of prosperity commonly accelerates their growth. If our enjoyments are numerous, we lje more open on different "sides to be wounded. If we have possessed them long, we have greater cause to dread an approaching change. By slow degrees prosperity rises; but rapid is the progress of evil. It requires no preparation to bring it forward.
17. The edificep which it costs much time and labour to erect, one inauspiciouse event, one sudden blow, can level with the dust. Even supposing the accidents of life to leave us untouched, human bliss must still be tran. sitory ;r for man changes of himself. No course of en joyment can delight us long. What amused our youth, loses its charm in maturer age. As years adva:cu, our powers are blunted, and our pleasurable feelings decline..
18. The silent lapse of time is ever carrying somewhat from us, till at length the period comes, when all must be swept away. The prospect of this termination of our labours and pursuits, is suficient to mark our state with vanity. “Our days are a band's breadih, and our age is as nothing." Within that little space is all our enterprise bounded. We crowd it with toils and cares, with contention and strife. We project great desigos, entertain high hopes, and then leave our plans unfinished, and sink into obliviou.
19. This much let it sufficer to have said concerning the vanity of the world. That too much has not been said, must appear to every one who considers bow generally mankind lean to the opposite side; and how often by undue attachment to the present state, they both feed the most sinful passions, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows."
What are the real and solid enjoyments of human life.
1. It must be admitted, that unmixed and complete happiness is unknown on earth. - No regulation of conduct can altogether prevent passions from disturbing our peace, and misfortunes from wounding our heart.
2. But after this concession is made, will it follow, that there is no object on earth which deserves our pursuit, or that all enjoyment becomes contemptible which is not perfect? Let us survey our state with an impartial eye, and be just to the various gifts of Heaven. "How vain soever this life, considered in itself, may be, the comforts and hopes of religion are sufficient to give solidity 10 the enjoyments of the righteous.
3. In the exercise of good affections, and the testimony of an approving conscience; in the sease of peace and Feronciliation with God, through the great Befeemer
mankind; in the firm confidence of being conducted through all the trials of life, by infinite Wisdom and Goodness; and in the joyful prospect of arriving, in the end, at immortal felicity; they possess a happiness which, deseending from a purer and more perfect region than this world, partakes not of its vanity
4. Besides the enjoyinents peculiar to religion, there are other pleasures of our present state, which, though of an inferior order, must not be overlooked in the estimate of human life. It is necessary to call attention to these, in order to check that repining and unthankful spirit to which man is always too prone. I
5. Some degree of importance must be allowed to the comforts of health, to the innocent gratifications of sense, and to the entertainment afforded us by all the beautiful scenes of nature; some to the pursuits and harmless amusements of social life ; and more to the internal enjoyments of thought and reflection, and to the pleasures of affectionate intercourse with those whom we love.
6. These comforts are often held in too low estimation, merely because they are ordinary and common: although that is the circumstance which ought, in reason, to enhance their value. They lie open, in some degree, to all; 'extend through every rank of life; and fill up agreeably many of those spaces in our present existence, which are not occupied with higher objects, or with serious cares.
7. From this representation' it appears that, notwithstanding the vanity of the world, a considerable degree of comfort is attainable in the present state. Let the recollection of this serve to reconciled us to our condition, and to repress the arrogance of complaints and murmurs. What art thou, O son of man ! who, having sprung but yesterday out of the dust, darest to lift up thy voice against thy Maker, and to arraign his providence, because, all things are not ordered according to thy wish?
8. What title hast thou to find fault with the order of the universe, whose lot is so much beyond what thy virtue or merit gave thee ground to claim ! Is it nothing to thee to have been introduced into this magnificent world ; to have been admitted as a spectator of the Divine wisdom and works; and to have had access to all the comforts which nature, with a bountiful hand, has poured forth around thee ? Are all the hours forgotten which thou hast passed in ease, in complacency, or joy?
. Is it a small favour in thy eyes, that the hand of di
vine Mercy has been stretched forth to aid thee; and if thou reject not its proffered assistance, is ready to conduct thee to a happier state of existence? When thou, comparest thy condition with thy desert, blush, and be ashamed of thy complaints. Be silent, bę grateful and adore. Receive with thankfulness the blessings which are allowed thee. Revere that government which at present refuses thee more. Rest in this conclusion, that though there are evils in the world, its Creator is wise and good, and has been bountifuy to thee. BLAIR.
Scale of Beings. 1. THOUGII there is a great deal of pleasure in conteinplating the material world : by which I mean, that system of bodies, into which nature has so curiously wrought the massa of dead matter, with the several relations that those bodies bear to one another; there is still, methinks, something more wonderful and surprising, in contemplations on the world of life; by which I intend, all those animals with which every part of the universe is furnished. The material world is only the shell of the universe: the world of life are its inhabitants.
2. If we consider those parts of the material world, which sie nearest to us, and are therefore subject to our observation, and inquiries, it is amazing to consider the infinity of animals with which they are stacked. Every part of matter is peopled; every green leaf swarins with inhabitants. There is searcely a single humour in the
body of a man, or of any other animal, in which our glasses do not discover myriadse of living creatures.
3. We find, even in the most solid bodies, as in marble itself, innumerable cells and cavities, which are crowded with imperceptible inhabitants, too little for the naked eye to discover. On the other hand, if we look into the more bulky parts of nature, we see the seas, lakes, and rivers, teemings with numberless kinds of living creatures. We find every mountain and marsh, wilderness and wood, plentifully stocked with birds and beasts; and every part of matter affording proper necessaries and conveniences, for the livelihood of the multitudes which inhabit it.
4. The author of " the Plurality of Worlds," draws a very good argunent from this consideration, for the peopling of every planet; as indeed it seems very probable, from the analogy: of reason, that if no part of matter, with which we are acquainted, lies waste and useless, those great bodies, which are at such a distance from us, are not desert and unpeopled; but rather, that they are furnished with beings adapted to their respective situations.
5. Existence is a blessing to those beings only which are endowed with perception : and is in a manner thrown away upon dead matter, any farther than as it is subservient to beings which are conscious of their existence. Accordingly we find, from the bodies which lie under our observation, that matter is only made as the basis and support of animals : and that there is no more of the one than what is necessary for the existence of the other.
6. Infinite goodness is of so communicativen a nature, that it seems to delight in conferring existence upon every degree of perceptive being. As this is a speculation, which I bave often pursued with great pleasure to myseif, 1 shall enlarge farther upon it, by considering that part of the scale of beings, which comes within our koowiedge.
7. There are some living creatures, which are raised but just above dead matter. To mention only that species of siell-fish, which is formed in the fashion oí a conej that grows to the surface of several rocks; and immediately dies, on being severed from the place where it grew. There are many other creatures but one ritto move from these, which have no other sense than that of feeling and taste. Others have still an additional one of hearing; others of smell; and others of sight.