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great, -and so little solid comfort to be administered from the mere refinements of philosophy in such emergencies, that there was no virtue which required greater efforts, or which was found so difficult to be achieved upon moral principles which had no foundation to sustain this great weight, which the infirmities of our nature laid upon it. And for this reason, 'tis observable, that there is no subject, upon which the moral writers of antiquity have exhausted so much of their elo. quence, or where they have spent so much time and pains, as in this of endeavouring to reconcile men to these evils. Insomuch, that from thence, in most modern languages, the patient enduring of affliction, has by degrees obtained the name of philosoplıy, and almost monopolized the word to itself, as if it were the chief end or compendium of all the wisdom which philosophy had to offer. And, indeed, considering what lights they had, some of them wrote extremely well; yet, as what they said proceeded more from the head than the heart, 'twas generally more calculated to silence a man in his troubles, than to convince and teach him how to bear them. And therefore, however subtile and ingenious their argumeáts might appear in the reading, 'tis to be feared they lost much of their efficacy, when tried in the application. If a man were thrust back in the world by disappointments, or—as was Job's case--had suffered a sudden change in his fortunes, froni an affluent condition were brought down by a train of cruel accidents, and pinched with poverty-philosophy would come in, and exhort him to stand bis ground;-it would tell him, that the same greatness and strength
of mind which enabled him to behave well in the days of his prosperity, should equally enable him to behave well in the days of his adversity : that it was the property only of weak and base spirits, who were insolent in the one, to be dejected and overthrown by the other ; whereas great and generous souls were at all times calm and equal-As they enjoyed the advantages of life with indifference,—they were able to resign them with the same temper,—and consequently-were out of the reach of fortune., All which, however fine, and likely to satisfy the fancy of a man at ease, could convey but little consolation to a heart already pierced with sorrow ;-nor is it to be conceived how an unfortunate creature should any more receive relief from such a lecture, however just, than a njan racked with an acute fit of the gout or stone, could be supposed to be set free from torture, by hearing from bis physician a nice dissertation upon his case. The philosophic consolations in sickness, or in afflictions for the death of friends and kindred, were just as efficacious : -and were rather in general to be considered as good sayings than good remedies.—So that, if a man were bereaved of a promising child, in whom all his hopes and expectations centered, -or a wife were left destitute to mourn the loss and protection of a kind and tender husband, Seneca or Epictetus would tell the pensive parent and disconsolate widow-that tears and lamentation for the dead were fruitless and absurd ; that to die was the necessary and unavoidable debt of nature !-and as it could admit of no remedy,-'twas impious and foolish to grieve and fret themselves upon it.
Upon such sage counsel, as well as many other lessons of the same stamp, the same reflection might be applied, which is said to have been made by one of the Roman emperors, to one who administered the same consolations to him, on a like occasion,--to whom advising him to be comforted, and make himself easy, since the event had been brought about by a fatality, and could not be helped,-he replied, “That this was so far from lessening his trouble,--that it was the very circumstance which occasioned it.”-So that upon the whole when the true value of these, and many more of their currentarguments, have been weighed and brought to the test,-one is led to doubt, whether the greatest part of their lieroes, the most renowned for constancy, were not much more indebted to good nerves and spirits, or the natural happy frame of their tempers, for behaving well, than to any extraordinary helps, which they could be supposed to receive from their instructors. And therefore I should make no scruple to assert, that one such instance of patience and resignation as this, which the Scripture gives us in the person of Job, not of one most pompously declaiming upon the contempt of pain and poverty, but of a man sunk in the lowest condition of humanity, to behold him when stripped of his estate, his wealth, his friends, his children--cheerfully holding up his head, and entertaining his hard fortune with firm. ness and serenity ;-and this, not from a stoical stupidity, but a just sense of God's providence, and a persuasion of his justice and goodness in all his dealings-such an example, I say, as this, is of
more universal use, speaks truer to the heart, than all the heroic precepts which the pedantry of philosophy has to offer.
We are perpetually in such engagements and situations, that'tis our duties to speak what our opinions are_but God forbid that this should ever be done but from its best motive—the sense of what is due to virtue, governed by discretion, and the utmost fellow-feeling: were we to go on otherwise, beginning with the great broad cloak of hypocrisy, and so down through all its little trimmings and facings, tearing away without mercy all that looked seemly - we should leave but a tattered world of it.
THERE are secret workings in human affairs, which over-rule all human contrivance, and counterplot the wisest of our counsels, in so strange and unexpected a manner, as to cast a damp upon our best schemes and warmest endeavours.
SOLOMON says, Oppression will make a wise man mad.—What will it do then to a tender and ingenuous heart, which feels itself neglected, -too full of reverence for the author of its wrongs to complain?-See, it sits down in silence, robbed by discouragements, of all its natural powers to please, born to see others loaded with caressesin some uncheery corner it nourishes its discontent, and with a weight upon its spirits, which its little stock of fortitude is not able to withstand,-it droops and pines away.- Sad victim of caprice!
PATIENCE AND CONTENTMENT.
PATIENCE and Contentinent,—which, like the treasure hid in the field, for which a man sold all he had to purchase—is of that price that it cannot be had at too great a purchase, since without it the best condition in life cannot make us happy,-and with it, it is impossible we should be miserable even in the worst.
PITY. In benevolent natures, the impulse to pity is so sudden that, like instruments of music, which obey the touch-the objects which are fitted to