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they, on whose lips the attention of others hangs | all the depth of erudition, all the superiority of
with delight, can, themselves, by this divinely infused principle, bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.'
rank, all the distinction of riches is only held by the attenuated thread that attaches him to this world-a world which is itself hung upon nothing.' True ambition would instruct him, that he is not really great who is not great for eternity-that to know the height and depth, the length and breadth, of the knowledge of God, and of his eternal love in Christ Jesus, is the consummation of all knowledge, the top of all greatness, the substance of all riches, the sum of all wisdom; that the only object sufficiently capacious to satisfy the grasping desires, to fill the hungering soul of man, is that immortality which is brought to light by the Gospel. That state which has God for its portion, and eternity for its duration, is alone commensurate to the grandeur of a soul redeemed by the blood of Christ. This holy ambition would show him, that there is a littleness in whatever has bounda. ries-a penury in every thing of which we can count the value-an insignificance in all of which we perceive the end.
There is no quality so ready to suspect, and so prompt to accuse, as that which we are considering; there is no fault which a proud man so readily charges upon others as pride; especially if the person accused possess those distinctions and accomplishments, the possession of which would make the accuser proud. Men full of themselves, are disposed to fancy others deficient in attention to them; and as it never occurs to them why those attentions are with held, they have no other way of accounting for the neglect, but to charge the neglector with being envious of their qualities, or vain of his own. With that deep humility, which is the ground-work of his profession, the Christian alone attains to real dignity of character. If we reckon those men great who rise high, and make a distinguished figure in the world, how much higher is his claim to greatness who looks down on what the others glory in; who views with indifference the things to which the world accounts it greatness to aspire, and the consum-eternity from its plan. As a consequence, let mation of greatness to attain,
The proud man, by not cordially falling in with the Christian scheme-which, if he thoroughly adopted, would shrink to nothing these bloated fancies-contracts, in effect, the duration of his existence, and reduces to almost nothing the sphere in which his boasted dignity is to be exercised. The theatre on which he is satisfied to act, is limited to the narrow stage of this world; and even on this vanishing scene, how far are the generality from being considerable actors! Pride, therefore, is something worse than fatuity, for whether the stake be high or low, it is sure to play a losing game. It is difficult to say which lot will be most terrible; his, who, having performed an obscure and painful part in this short drama, and having neglect ed to seek that kingdom promised to the poor in spirit, closes his life and hopes together; or his, who, having had a conspicuous part assigned him here, submits, when the curtain drops, not merely to be nothing: but oh! how much worse than nothing! Absorbed in the illusions and decorations of this shifting spectacle, or intoxicated with the plaudits of the spectators, the interminable scenes which lie beyond the grave, though, perhaps, not absolutely disbelieved, have been totally neglected to be taken into his brief reckoning.
Let it, then, ever be considered as a destitution of true greatness, practically to blot out
that be truly designated the wisdom from above,' which makes eternity the grand feature in the aspect of our existence. And this ambition, be it remembered, is the exclusive property of the humble Christian. His desires are illimitable-he disdains the scanty bounds of time
he leaps the narrow confines of space. He it is who monopolizes ambition. His aims soar a bolder flight-his aspirations are sustained on a stronger pinion—his views extend to an immeasurable distance-his hopes rest in an interminable duration.
Yet if his felicity does not, like that of secular ambition, depend on popular breath, still it subsists on dependence. It subsists upon a trust which never disappoints-upon a mercy which is never exhausted-upon a promise which never deceives-upon the strength of an arm which 'scattereth the proud in the imagination of their hearts'-on a benignity which exalteth the meek and humble'-on a liberality, which, in opposition to worldly generosity, 'fills the hungry alone with good things,' and which, contrary to human vanity, sends only 'the rich empty away.'
Humility is an attribute of such antipathy to the original constitution of our nature, that no principle can possibly produce it in its full extent, and bring it to its complete maturity, but that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No spirit short of this can enable us to submit our under. standing, to subdue our will, to resign our independence, to renounce ourselves,
Now, if pride were really a generous principle, if its tumour were indeed greatness, surely the soul which entertains it would exert its energies on a grand scale! If ambition were indeed a noble sentiment, would it not be point- This principle not only teaches us to bow ed to the noblest objects; would it not be direct-to the authority and yield to the providence of ed to the sublimest end? Would not the mind which is filled with it, achieve a loftier flight? Would it stoop to be cooped up within the scanty precincts of a perishing world? True ambition would raise its votary above the petty projects which every accident may overturn, and every breath destroy; which a few months may, and a few years must, terminate. It would set him upon reflecting, that all the elevation of intellect,
God, but inculcates the still harder lesson of submitting to be saved in the only way He has appointed-a way which lays pride in the dust. If even, in the true servants of God, this submission is sometimes interrupted-if we too naturally recede from it-if we too reluctantly return to it, it is still owing to the remains of pride, the master sin; a sin too slowly discard. ed even from the renewed nature. This partial
conquest of the stubborn will, this imperfect re-, would be a happier place than it is; a training signation, this impeded obedience, even in the suitable to a world of such brief duration, would real Christian, is an abiding proof that we want be a better preparatory study for a world which farther humbling, a mortifying evidence that our will have no end. hearts are not yet completely brought under the dominion of our principles.
Leisure with dignity is a classic phrase which carries to the taste and to the heart the mingled ideas of repose, elegance, and literature. It is, indeed, an honourable state of enjoyment. It has been sung by the poet, and extolled by the philosopher. Its delights have been echoed by those who seek it, and by those that shun it; by those who desire its possession, and by those who are satisfied with its praise; by those who found their fondness on a happy experience, and by those who had rather admire than enjoy it.
AN old French wit says, that ambition itself might teach us to love retirement, as there is nothing which so much hates to have compan- Tumult, indeed, is to be avoided as a great ions.' Cowley corrects this sentiment with one impediment to that interior peace, without equally lively and more sound, that ambition, which outward stillness is of little value. But indeed, detests to have company on either side, let us bear in mind that it is more easy to es but delights above all things in a train behind, cape from the tumult of the world than of the and ushers before. To seek therefore a retreat passions. Before, therefore, we expect immutill we have got rid of this ambition, to fly to nity from care in our projected retreat, let us inretirement as a scene of pleasure or improve- quire what is our object in retiring. We may ment, till the love of the world is eradicated deceive ourselves in this pursuit as we have from the heart, or at least till this eradication is done in others. We may fancy we are retiring its predominant desire, will only conduct the from motives of religion, when we are only discontented mind to a long train of fresh dis-seeking a more agreeable mode of life. Or we appointments, in addition to that series of vexations of which it has so constantly complained in the world.
may be flying, from duty, when we fancy we are flying from temptation. We may flatter ourselves we are seeking the means of piety, The amiable writer already referred to, who when we are only running away from the has as much unaffected elegance and good sense perplexities of our situation; from trials which in his prose works, as false taste and unnatural make, perhaps a part of our duty. To dis. wit in his poetry, seems not to be quite accu- like these is natural; to desire to escape from rate when he insists in favour of his beloved them is innocent, generally laudable. Only let solitude that a minister of state has not so us not persuade ourselves that we are influencmuch business in public as a wise man has ined by one motive when we are acting from private; the one,' says he, has but part of the affairs of one nation, the other has all the works of God and nature under his consideration. But surely there is a manifest difference between our having great works under our consideration, and having them under our control. He assigns, indeed, high motives for the purposes of retreat, but he does not seem to assign the highest. Should he not have added in conjunction with the objects he enumerates, what should be the leading object of the retirement of the good man, the study of his own heart, as well as of inanimate nature; of the world, as well as of the works of God?
He who has spent his life in the study of mankind, till he is weary both of the study and of its object, will, with a justly framed mind, be well prepared for retirement. He will delight in it as an occasion for cultivating a more intimate acquaintance with his Maker and with himself. He will seek it not merely as the wellearned reward of a life of labour, but as a scene, which, while it advances his present comfort, furnishes him with better means of preparing for a better life. We often hear of the necessity of being qualified for the world; and this is the grand object in the education of our children, overlooking the difficult duty of qualifying them for retirement. But if part of the immense pains which are taken to fit them for the company of others, were employed in fitting them for their own company, in teaching them the duties of solitude as well as of society, this earth
another. The design may be even good, but let us not deceive ourselves with the idea of its being better than it is. Let us not boast that we are making a sacrifice to duty, when we are consulting, however innocently, our own ease or convenience. In retreating into the country for peace of mind, the temper you would find you must carry thither. Those who retire on no other principle but to escape trouble without turning their leisure to the benefits it is calculated to impart, are happy only on the low condition of being useless. If we retire upon the motive of Soul take thine ease,' though neither covetousness nor sensuality be the prompting principle, if our object be a slothful indulgence, a retirement which does not in. volve benefit to others, as well as improvement to ourselves, we fail of the great purpose for which we came into the world, for which we withdrew from it.
But while we advert to the highest object as the best, we are far from insinuating that the taste, especially so right a taste, may not be indulged from motives of an inferior nature; far from thinking that we are not justified in preferring a tranquil to a bustling scene, and adopt. ing a more rational, even if it be not a more religious plan of life. There is something almost like virtue in the good taste which prefers it; only, that as in intellectuals, good taste must have its substratum in good sense, so in morals it should have its substratum in principle. But if any one thinks that merely by retiring from
the world, he shall get rid of his own evil tempers, solitude is the worst choice he could make. It may indeed, through the grace of God, be made eventually beneficial; for though his interior burthen, so far from being lightened, will be more oppressively felt, yet its very oppressiveness, by leading him to look into the cause, may lead to its removal; he may be drawn to religion to get rid of himself, as he was driven to retirement to get rid of his cares.
No second causes act but by the direction of the first. The visible works of God, though so admirably calculated to stir up devotion in the heart, have not commonly, especially when habit makes them familiar, been found to produce this effect. Some of the school divines made a just distinction, when they compared inanimate and intelligent beings, in reference to the supreme Creator, by saying that the one only exhibit the foosteps of God, while the other represent his face.
It was worthy of the munificence of omnipotent Bounty, not only to spread the earth with a rich profusion of whatever is necessary and pleasant to animate life, but with whatever might invite to contemplative and intellectual life; not only to sustain but to gratify; not only to nourish but to improve: by endless variety, awakening curiosity, and by curiosity exciting research. The country is favourable to the study of natural history; furnishing both the leisure and the materials. It sets the mind upon thinking, that if the objects of God's creation are so wonderful, Himself how wondrous then!
gave them, than it could easily find in those broken snatches and uncertain intervals which busier scenes afforded. But then we must be brought into a state and condition to reap benefit from retreat. The paralytic might as reasonably expect to remove his disease by changing his position, as the discontented to allay the unruly motions of a distempered mind merely by retiring into the country.
A great statesman, whom many of us remember, after having long filled a high official situation with honour and ability, began at length impatiently to look forward to the happy period when he should be exonerated from the toils of office. He pathetically lamented the incessant interruptions which distracted him, even in the intervals of public business. He repeatedly expressed to a friend of the author, how ardently he longed to be discharged from the oppressive weight of his situation, and to consecrate his remaining days to repose and literature. At length one of those revolutions in party, which so many desire, and by which so few are satisfied, transferred him to the scene of his wishes. He flew to his rural seat, but he soon found that the sources to which he had so long looked, failed in their power of conferring the promised enjoyment; his ample park yielded him no gratification but what it had yielded him in town, without the present drawback; there he had partaken of his vension without the incumbrance of its solitude. His Hamadryads, having no despatches to present, and no votes to offer, soon grew insipid. The stillness of retreat became insupportable; and he frankly deThe mind, indeed, which is looking out for clared to the friend above alluded to, that such good, finds 'sermons in stones, and good in was to him the blank of life, that the only every thing. To minds of an opposite make, relief he ever felt was to hear a rap at the door. use destroys the effect, even if novelty had pro- Though he had before gladly snatched the little duced it. Little habituated to reflection, they leisure of a hurried life for reading, yet when soon learn to behold a grove of oaks with no life became all leisure, books had lost their pow. higher feeling than a street of shops, and are as er to interest. Study could not fill a mind little soothed with the murmurs of a rivulet, as long kept on the stretch by great concerns in with the clatter of hackney coaches. Where which he himself had been a prime mover. The sloth predominates in the character, we are dis- history of other times could not animate a spirit posed to consider the retreat from which we had habitually quickened by a strong personal inpromised ourselves so much advantage, as fur-terest in actual events.-There is a quality in nishing a refuge for idleness rather than a place for reflection. If vanity and vivacity predominate, we shall value the loveliest scenery we have been embellishing, rather as means to attract company and commendation, that as a help to assist our better thoughts, and lift our hearts to holy aspirations.
our nature strongly indicative that we were formed for active and useful purposes. These, though of a calmer kind, may be still pursued in retirement under the influence of the only principle powerful enough to fill the heart which fancies itself emptied of the world. Religion is that motive yet quieting principle, which alone delivers a man from perturbation in the world, and inanity in retirement; without it, he will in the one case be hurried into impetuosity, or in the other be sunk into stagnation. But re. ligion long neglected will not come when you do call for it. Perhaps the noble person did not call.
Though piety is no local thing, yet it has locality. That being is but a bad authority whom Milton makes proudly to exclaim, The mind is its own place,' and the Stoics carried their haughty mental independence too far, in asserting that local circumstances made no dif. ference in the condition of man. Retirement is assuredly favourable to the advancement of the best ends of our being. There the soul has freer means of examining into its own state, and its dependence upon God. It has more unob-plough; that they make an honourable and structed leisure for enjoying with its Maker,
Communion sweet, communion large and high, It has ampler means for reiterating the consccration of its powers and faculties to him who
It is an obvious improvement in the taste and virtue of the present day, that so many of our dictators retire, not to the turf, but to the
pleasant exchange of the cares and vexations of political life for the tranquil and useful pursuits of agriculture. Such pursuits yield comparative repose, and produce positive good. Besides this, the modern Cincinnatus will have the gratifica
tion of finding how much he has gained by the change in his choice of instruments, for he will see that all sheep and oxen, yea and all beasts of the field,' are far less perverse, faithless and intractable than the indocile human agents whom he has been so long labouring to break in, and bring under the yoke.
It is indeed a spectacle to warm the coldest and to soften the hardest heart, to behold men of the first rank and talents, statesmen who have never met but to oppose each other, orators who have never spoken but to differ, each strenuous in what is presumed he believes right, renouncing every interfering interest, sacrificing every jarring opinion, forgetting all in which they differed, and thinking only on that in which they agree; each reconciled to his brother and leaving his gift at the altar, offering up every resentment at the foot of the Cross! There might be two opinions how men should be governed, there can be but one-whether they should be saved.
We ought not to doubt that a portion of that generous zeal with which they disseminate the word of life to others, will be exerted in in
But whatever he may have gained in these respects, if the philosophical and political agriculturist do not make it part of his arrangement, as we hope he does, that the cultivation of personal piety shall divide his time and his thoughts with the cultivation of his paternal acres, he will not find his own passions more tractable, his own appetites more subdued, his own tempers better regulated, because the theatre in which they are exercised is changed from contentious senates to blooming meadows. There is no power in the loveliest scenery to give that cha-creasing their own personal acquaintance with racter to the mind on which its peace depends. It is true his innocent occupations will divert ambition, but it requires a more powerful operation to cure it. Ambition is an intermittent: it may, indeed, be cooled, but without piety it will be cooled as the patient in an ague is cooled 'in the well day between the two fits,' he will be looking back on the fever he has escaped, and forward to that which he is anticipating. There is but one tonic powerful enough to prevent the return of the paroxysm. He will find the perusal of the Bible not less compatible than that of the Georgics with this interesting occupation. While he is actually enjoying the lovely living images under which the inspired writers represent the most delightful truths of religion, he may realize the analogies intellectually, he may be, indeed, conducted to green pastures' and led beside the still waters of comfort' in the highest sense of those beautiful metaphors.
it. To dispense the grand instrument of salvation to others, forgetful of our own interest in it, is one of the few instances in which disinterestedness would be criminal: while here to participate in the blessing we bestow, is one of the rare occasions in which self-love is truly honourable. May we, without offence, without the remotest idea of any thing personal, hazard the observation that it is possible to be made the instrument, not only of temporal, but eternal, good to others, without reaping ourselves any advantage from the good we communicate?
It might have supplied a thesis for disputation among the whimsical subtleties of the old school divines, which was the more blameable extreme, to possess the Bible ourselves without imparting the blessing to others, or to communicate it to them without using it ourselves. Unfortunately however, the cause for casuistry was cut short, by their refusing the Bible altogether to the laity.
What a blessing is it to mankind, when they, whose large domains confer on them such ex- It is with reluctance we turn from subjects tensive local influence, give their views a wider of grateful panegyric to those presented to us by range, and take in an ampler compass of bene- the same class of society for animadversion. ficial patronage; when they crown their exer- With regret we take leave of scenes enriched tions for the public good by the pious education and dignified by the beneficial presence and exof their young dependants, by promoting the ertions of their lords, for the dreary prospect of growth of Christianity as assiduously as the deserted mansions and abdicated homes. To not breed of sheep; by extending the improvement a few of the rich and the great, their magnifiof the soil to the moral cultivation of those whom cent houses are rather a cumbrous appendage to Providence, having committed to their protec-grandeur, places to which strangers resort to tion for that very purpose, will require at their hands.
admire the splendour of the proprietors, and the portraits of their ancestors, than what Provi
With the deepest gratitude to God, let it be observed how many of these great persons, with ter,) upon the complete establishment of the argument a spirit more honourable to them than their coin favour of the Bible Society, from its not injuring its venerable predecessor? It is now obvious that the bene ronets or any earthly distinctions, have stood fits of the new institution are effected without detriforward as the avowed patrons of the noble In- ment to the old, from its having excited fresh friends to stitution for dispersing the Bible into all counits cause, and raised additional funds for its support. Reasoning indeed from analogy, would the benefactor, tries, after having transfused it into every dia-whose means were competent to both, refuse his patron. lect of every language. When we consider the age to the Middlesex Hospital, because he was already a object, and view the rapidity, and trace the suc subscriber to St. George's? When he saw that other cess, are we not almost tempted to fancy that cially when he saw that they augmented their bounty to contributors neither withdrew nor diminished, but espewe see the Angel in the Revelation flying in the the elder establishment, would he not bid God speed to midst of heaven, carrying the everlasting Gos- the younger? Would he not rejoice that a new source pel to preach unto them that dwell in the earth, wants? In the distribution of the Bible, are not both inwas opened for healing more diseases, for relieving more and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, stitutions streams issuing from the same fountain of and people."* love, both flowing into the same ocean of good? If we may be allowed the application, they are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit; they are differences of administration, but it is the same God that worketh all in all.'
May an old and attached member of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge be allowed to offer her opinion (though irrelevant to the subject of this chap
queen Emma's ploughshares, would he not ex claim in rapture, surely these heroic ladies submit to such privations, encounter such hardships, make such renunciations from motives of the most sublime self-denial! Doubtless they crowd to these joyless abodes, because they could find at home no distress to be relieved, no innocence to be protected, no wrongs to be redressed, no ignorance to be instructed. Now, would he exultingly add, I have some practical experience of the sacrifices of which disinterested piety is capable. The good they must be doing here is indeed a noble recompence for the pleasure they are giving up.
dence intended, a rich additional ingredient in their own overflowing cup of blessings. Their seats are possessed without being enjoyed. They appear, indeed, to combine the advantages of retreat with those of opulence. But it is only appearance. Do not too many of their owners strive to dispossess the scene of every attribute appended to it: Do they not chiefly derive what little they know of the charms of the country from the descriptions of the poet-of the diversities of landscape from the painters of the opera scenes of the delights of retirement from the moralist, the philosopher, and, more frequently, the novelist? They contrive to transfer to their rural abodes every thing of the metropolis, every Unimportant as this gradual revolution in our moveable appendage of rural beauty. Like the habits may be thought, there are few things imperial Roman glutton, who never tasted fish which have more contributed to lower the tone but at the fartherest possible distance from the both of society and solitude, than this multiplied sea, they enjoy the lovely products of the con- and ever multiplying scenes of intermediate and servatory, glowing with every hue, and breath-subordinate dissipation. When the opulent diing every fragrance, any where but where they vided the year between the town and country grow. The most exquisite flowers yield little residence-the larger portion always assigned delight till transported to the town residence. to the latter-being stationary in each, as they There they exhale their sweets amid smoky occupied a post of more obvious responsibility, lamps, and waste them on a fetid atmosphere; they were more likely to fulfill their duties, than exhausting their beauties in the transient festi- in these parentheses between both. For these vity of a single night, instead of reserving them places, to persons who only seek them as scenes to decorate retreat, and add one attraction more of diversion and not as recruits to health, are to the charms of home and the pleasures of re- considered as furnishing a sort of suspension tirement. from duty as well as an exoneration from care: the chief value of the pleasures they afford consisting in their not being home-made.
With these personages, the principal change from town to country consists in the difference between a park and a square. They bring to We have little natural relish for serious things, one the same tastes, the same amusements, and It is one great aim of religion to cure this natuthe same inversion of hours which they adopted ral malady. It is the great end of dissipated in the other. They lose the true enjoyment of pleasures to inflame it. These pleasures forciboth, by contriving that neither town nor coun-bly address themselves to the senses, and thus, try shall preserve any distinct character of its own. To some, indeed, the splendid inheritance is considered as little more than a commodious inn in which to repose in their incessant migration from the capital to the watering-place, and from the chalybeate to the sea; without having the too valid plea of attending the sick, or being sick themselves.
But if we compare the domestic scenes from which they are hurrying, with the places to which they are resorting, we are inclined to pity them on the score of taste, as much as on the loss of enjoyment. A stranger to our man. ners who had heard of the self-denial our religion enjoins, when he compared what they had quitted with what they are flying to, would naturally compliment them on the noble sacrifice which he would conclude they had made to duty. He would admire the zeal which prompted the abandonment of such pure for such turbid pleasures: he would admire the elevation of mind which could submit to such unimposed penance. When he followed them from the splendid mansion to the close and incommodious residence, in which a crowded season sometimes immures the possessors of palaces; when he saw them renounce their blooming gardens, their stately woods, trees worthy of paradise,' for unshaded walks or artificial awnings; their bowers and temples for the unsheltered beach, open to all the rage of the dog star; the dry, smooth-shaven green, for sinking sands rivalling the soil of Arabia, or burning gravel, which might emulate
not only lower the taste, but nearly efface the very idea of spiritual things. They gradually persuade their votaries, that nothing but what they receive through their medium is real. Where the allusions of sense are allowed to make their full impression, the pleasures of religion appear merely visionary; faint shadows at first, and afterwards unexisting things.
If religion makes out certain pleasures to be dangerous, these pleasures revenge themselves in their turn by representing religion to be dull. They are adopted under the specious notion of being a relief from more severe employments; whereas others less poignant would answer the end better, and exhaust the spirit less. If the effect of certain diversions only serves to render our return to sober duties more reluctant, and the duties themselves insipid, if not irksomeif we return to them as to that which, though we do not love, we dare not omit, it is a question even in the article of enjoyment, whether we do not lose more than we gain by any recreation which has the effect of rendering that disgusting which might otherwise have been delightful.
But it is never too late for a change of system, provided that change is not only intended, but adopted. We would respectfully invite those who have been slaves to custom, courageously to break their chain. Let them earnestly solicit the aid which is from above on their own honest exertions. Let them tear themselves from the fascinating objects which have hitherto detained them from making acquaintance with their own