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of life, pining away in secret with concealed griefs ; families weeping over the beloved friends whom they have lost, or in all the bitterness of anguish, bidding those who are just expiring, the last adieu.i
Never adventure on too near an approach to what is eyil. Familiarizej not yourselves with it, in the slightest instances, without fear. Listen with reverence to every reprehension of conscience; and preserve the most quick and accurate sensibility to right and wrong. If ever your inoral impressions begin to decay, and your natural abhorrence of guilt to lessen, you have ground to dread that the ruin of virtue is fast approaching.
By disappointments and trials the violence of our passions is tamed, and our niinds are formed to sobriety and reflection. In the varieties of life, occasioned by the vicissitudes of worldly fortune, we are inuredm to habits both of the active and the suffering virtues. How much soever we complain of the vanityn of the world, facts plainly show, that if its vanity were less, it could not ansier ihe purpose of salutaryo discipline. Unsatisfactoryr as it is, its pleasures are still too apt to corrupt our hearts. llow fatal? then must the consequences have been, had it yielded us more complete enjoyment ? If, with all its froubles, we are in danger of being too much attached to it, how entirely would it have seduced our affections, if no troubles had been mingled with its pleasures ?
In seasons of distress or difficulty, to abandon ourselves to dejection, carries no mark of a great or a worthyr mind. Instead of sinking under trouble, and declaring " that his soul is weary of life,” it becomes a wise and a good man, in the evil day, with firmness to maintain his post: to bear up against the storm; to have recourses to those advantages which, in the worst of times, are always left to integrity and virtue; and never to give up the hope that better days may yet arise.
How many young persons have at first set out in the world with excellent dispositions of heart; generous, charitable, and humane; kind to their friends, and amiable« among all with whom they had intercoursev! And yet how often have we seen all those fair appearances unhappily blasted in the progress of life, merely through the influ. ence of loose and corrupting pleasures : and those very persons, who promised once to be blessings to the world, sunk down, in the end, to be the burden and nuisances of society!
The most common propensity of mankind, is, to store futurity witḥ whatever is agreeable to them ; especially in those periods of life, when imagination is lively, and hope is ardent.y Looking forward to the year not beginning, they are ready to promise themselves much, from the foundations of prosperity which they have laid ; from the friendships and connexions which they have secured ; and from the plans of conduct which they have formed. Alas! how deceitful do all these dreams of happiness often prove! While many are saying in secret to their nearts, " To-morrow shall be as this day, and more abundantly," we are obliged in return to say to them; " Boast not yourselves of to-morrow ; for you know not what a day may bring forth !"
1. N YONYSIUS, the tyrant of Sicily, was far
D from being happy, though he possessed great oriches, and all the pleasures which wealth and power could procure. Damocles, one of his flatterers, deceived by those speciousc appearances of happiness, took occasion to coinpliment him on the extent of his power, his treasures, and royal magnificence : and declared that
no monarch had ever been greater or happier than Dionysius.
2. " Hast thou a mind, Damocles,” says the king, " to taste this happiness; and to know, by experience, what the enjoyments are, of which thou hast so high an idea ?" Damocles, with joy, accepted the offer. The king ordered that a royal banquete should be prepared, and a gilded sofa.f covered with rich embroidery,e placed for his favourite. Side boards, loaded with gold and silver plate of immense value, were arranged in the apartment.
3. Pagesh of extraordinary beauty were ordered to attend his table, and to obey his commands with the utmost readiness, and the most profound submission. Fragranti ointments, chapletsj of flowers, and rich perfumes, were added to the entertainment. The table was loaded with the most exquisitek delicacies of every kind. Damocles, intoxicated with pleasure, fancied himself amongst superior beings.
4. But in the midst of all this happiness, as he lay indulging himself in state, he sees let down from the ceiling, exactly over his head, a glittering sword hung by a single hair. The sight of empending' destruction put a speedy end to his joy and revelling. The pomp of his attendance, the glitter of the carved plate, and the delicacy of the viands,m cease to afford him any pleasure.
5. He dreads to stretch forth his hand to the table. He throws off the garland" of roses. He hastens to remove from his dangerous situation ; and earnestly entreats the king to restore him to his former humble condition, having no desire to enjoy any longer a happiness so terrible. 16. By this device, Dionysius intimated to Damocles, how miserable he was in the midst of all his treasures ;' and in possession of all the honours and enjoyments which royalty could bestow.
CICERO. SECTION II. a Jo-ram, jd-rám, a king of Israel ig Tyr-an-ny, tlr'-rån-e, crue goitin. b Ben-ha-dad, bên-ha-dad, a king of ment Syria
Vile In-dig-na-tion, In-dig-nd'-shồn, anger c I-dol-a-ter, l-doll-1d-tår, one who wor- mingled with disgust ships images
li Pre-dict, pre-dikt', to foretell, foreshow d Is-sue, Ish-shd, to come out, proceed, lj Je-ho-a-haz, je-lid-a-ház, a king of to send out
Israel. € Haz-a-el, ház'--el, one of the kings k Trans-form, tráns-f8rm', to chango of Syria
form, to be changed I Pro-phet-ick, profét-ulk, faresseing|| In-iq-ui-ty, In-lk-kwdate, injustice, or foretelling
Change of external condition is often adverse to virtue:
1. In the days of Jorama king of Israel, flourished the prophet Elisha. His character was so eminent, and his fame so widely spread, that Benhadad," the king of Syria, though an idolater,c sent to consult him, concerning the issued of a distemper which threatened his life. The messenger employed on this occasion was Hazael, who appears to have been one of the princes, or chief men of the Syrian court.
2. Charged with rich gifts from the king, he presents himself before the prophet; and accosts him in terms of the highest respect. During the conference which they held together, Elisha fixed his eyes stedfastly on the countenance of Hazael ; and discerning, by a prophetics spirit, his future tyrannyg and cruelty, he could not contain himself from bursting into a flood of tears.
3. When Hazael, in surprise, inquired into the cause of this sudden emotion, the prophet plainly informed him of the crimes and barbarities, which he foresaw that he would afterwards commit. The soul of Hazael abhorred, at this time, thoughts of cruelty Uncorrupted, as yet, by ambition or greatness, his indignation rose at being thought capable of the sayage actions which the prophet had mentioned ; and with much warmth he replies; “But what? is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great * thing ?"
4. Elisha makes no return, but to point out a remarkable change, which was to take place in his condition; " The Lord hath shown me, that thou shalt be king over Syria." In course of time, all that had been predica tedi came to pass. Hazael ascended the throne, and ambition took possession of his heart. "He smote the children of Israel in all their coasts. He oppressed them during all the days of king Jehoahazi :" and, from what is left on record of his actions, he plainly appears to have proved, what the prophet foresaw him to be, a man of violence, cruelty, and blood..
5. In this passage of history an object is presented, which deserves our serious attention. We behold a man who, in one state of life, could not look upon certain crimes without surprise and horror ; who knew so little of himself, as to believe it impossible for him ever to be concerned in committing them; that same man, by a change of condition, and an unguarded state of mind, transform,