« السابقةمتابعة »
torted by the enthusiast; but of that plain and venerable figure whose features are serene and smiling, and whose eye beams with goodness. To pursue her, is indeed to pursue happiness; and it is no small encouragement to follow her paths, that no man ever yet followed them in vain.
It has been the disadvantage of religion, too frequently to be represented under false appearances. The malevolent and designing have thus repelled her votaries, and delusion has superseded true belief. But these errors may be removed by solitude. A few calm collected moments will rectify these mistakes, and the gaudy colours of this deceitful rainbow will vanish, as the watry cloud disperses.
The employment of man in a temporary retreat from the world, is of the utmost importance to his eternal welfare. . The prejudices which he has imbibed by too close a commerce with temporal concerns, the frequent lapses of human frailty, the more serious pollutions of human crimes, are all brought before his eyes in the shelter of retirement. Here truth begins to find a
refuge in his heart: and here the revelation of the God of truth, displays to his astonished and delighted senses, his restoration from the miserable bondage of the servants of sin, to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Who would not then, for this purpose, retire from human footsteps, and shut out the vanities and follies, the vices and allurements of the world? Who would not call home his thoughts which have been roving over drcary scenes, where peace and comfort never shew their beams ? Who would not repress the excursions of a wild imagination, whose every step leads to danger and destruction? Who would not, under this impression, guard cach avenue of sense, and check the ardour of each delu. sive passion ? —Who would not, in short, accept the means of obtaining this great victory, and in his soul's deep silence, and in the silence of nature, commune with his own heart?
The subjects of meditation are numerous and important: as numerous as the wants, as important as the salvation of mankind. The man of a really contemplative disposiB4
tion will require no assistance in the hour of solitary recollection : but as many may be desirous of profiting by a proper application of their retired moments, who cannot perhaps at once arrange the series of their thoughts, to such, it is presumed, the following reflections may not be unacceptable.
As becoming the character of A Recluse, and as congenial with my natural disposition, as well as my professional studies, I propose to consider man as a religious being; capable of cultivating religion for the most useful purposes of life. Polemical disputes, and even scriptural criticism, on this occasion, I wish to avoid. To make men wiser, I leave to the learned; to make them better, is the sole end of this humble attempt.
O sacred solitude! divine retreat!
The most ancient and eminent philosophers of the heathen world recommended their disciples to seek for wisdom in the retreats of solitude. They knew that contemplation ill agreed with the tumults of promiscuous assemblies, and chose not to frequent the concourse of cities.' Some of them iinagined that society, even upon the
B 5 :: smallest smallest scale, was a dangerous interruption of their favourite pursuits ; and Pythagoras enjoined his scholars, for the first five years, to hear only and be silent. The doctrines of the divine philosopher, of whom Cicero says, “I had rather err with Plato, than " with others find the truth,” were received with greater applause, because they were inculcated amidst the groves of Academus.
A greater than Plato or Pythagoras, a į greater than Moses or the prophets, led his disciples into a mountain apart; sometimes for the purposes of devotion, sometimes for instruction, and once for the illustration of his glory. The conduct of the divine personage, in this, as in all other parts of his behaviour capable of imitation, affords us an example which cannot be too minutely followed. The solitary hermit, or the sorrowful anchorite, does not appear before us; we are neither expected to lacerate our bodies, nor distress, by painful severities, the finer feelings of our nature. On the contrary, the world is the Christian's school, and retirement the spot where he must rumi. nate upon his lessons.