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that difcord or fufpicion, by which the fweetnefs of domeftick retirement is deftroyed; and must always be even more expofed, in the fame degree as they are elevated above others, to the treachery of dependents, the calumny of defamers, and the violence of opponents.
Affliction is infeparable from our prefent state; it adheres to all the inhabitants of this world in different proportions indeed, but with an allotment which feems very little regulated by our own conduct. It has been the boaft of fome fwelling moralifts, that every man's fortune was in his own power, that prudence fupplied the place of all other divinities, and that happiness is the unfailing confequence of virtue. But, furely, the quiver of Omnipotence is stored with arrows, against which the fhield of human virtue, however adamantine it has been boafted, is held up in vain: we do not always fuffer by our crimes; we are not always protected by
A good man is by no means exempt from the danger of fuffering by the crimes of others; even his goodness may raife him enemies of implacable malice and reftlefs perfeverance: the good man has never been warranted by Heaven from the treachery of friends, the difobedience of children, or the dishonesty of a wife; he may fee his cares made ufclefs by profufion, his inftructions defeated by perverfenefs, and his kindness rejected by ingratitude; he may languifh under the infamy of falfe accufations, or perifh reproachfully by an unjuft fentence.
A good man is fubject, like other mortals, to all the influences of natural evil; his harvest is not fpared by the tempeft, nor his cattle by the murrain; his houfe flames like others in a conflagration; nor have his fhips any peculiar power of refifting hurricanes his mind, however elevated, inhabits a body fubject to innumerable cafualties, of which he must always share the dangers and the pains; he bears about him the feeds of difeafe, and may linger away a great part of his life under the tortures of the gout or ftone; at one time groaning with infufferable anguish, at another diffolved in liftleffness and languor.
From this general and indifcriminate diftribution of mifery, the moralifts have always derived one of their strongest moral arguments for a future ftate; for fince the common events of the prefent life happen alike to the good and bad, it follows from the juftice of the Supreme, Being, that there must be another state of exiftence, in which a juft retribution fhall be made, and every man shall be happy and miferable according to his works.
The miseries of life may, perhaps, afford fome proof of a future ftate, compared as well with the mercy as the juftice of God. It is fcarcely to be imagined, that Infinite Benevolence would create a being capable of enjoying fo much more than is here to be enjoyed, and qualified by nature to prolong pain by remembrance, and anticipate it by terror, if he was not defigned for fomething nobler and better than a ftate, in which K 3
many of his faculties can ferve only for his torment; in which he is to be importuned by defires that never can be fatisfied, to feel many evils which he had no power to avoid, and to fear many which he fhall never feel: there will furely come a time, when every capacity of happiness shall be filled, and none fhall be wretched but by his own. fault.
In the mean time, it is by affliction chiefly that the heart of man is purified, and that the thoughts are fixed upon a better ftate. Profperity, allayed and imperfect as it is, has power to intoxicate the imagination, to fix the mind upon the prefent fcene, to produce confidence and elation, and to make him who enjoys affluence and honours forget the hand by which they were beftowed. It is feldom that we are otherwife, than by affliction, awakened to a fenfe of our own imbecillity, or taught to know how little all our acquifitions can conduce to fafety or to quiet; and how juftly we may afcribe to the fuperintendence of a higher Power, those bleffings which in the wantonnefs of fuccefs we confidered as the attainments of our policy or courage.
Nothing confers fo much ability to refift the temptations that perpetually furround us, as an habitual confideration of the fhortness of life, and the uncertainty of thofe pleafures that folicit our purfuit; and this confideration can be inculcated only by affliction. "O Death! how bitter is the re"membrance of thee, to a man that lives at eafe in his poffeflions!" If our prefent ftate were
continued fucceffion of delights, or delights, or one, uniform flow of calmnefs and tranquillity, we fhould never willingly think upon its end; death would then furely furprise us as "a thief in the "night;" and our task of duty would remain unfinished, till " the night came when no man can "work."
While affliction thus prepares us for felicity, we may confole ourselves under its pressures, by remembering, that they are no particular marks of divine displeasure; fince all the diftreffes of perfecution have been fuffered by those, "of whom the world. << was not worthy;" and the Redeemer of Mankind. himfelf was "a man of forrows and acquainted « with grief."
NUMB. 126. SATURDAY, January 19, 1754.
Steriles nec legit arenas
-Ut caneret paucis, merfitque hoc pul-vere verum. LUCAN.
Canft thou believe the vast eternal Mind
Was e'er to Syrts and Lybian fands confin'd?
HERE has always prevailed among that part of mankind that addict their minds to fpeculation, a propensity to talk much of the delights of retirement; and fome of the moft pleafK 4
ing compofitions produced in every age contain defcriptions of the peace and happiness of a country life.
I know not whether thofe who thus ambitiously repeat the praifes of folitude, have always confidered, how much they depreciate mankind by declaring, that whatever is excellent or defirable is to be obtained by departing from them; that the affistance which we may derive from one another, is not equivalent to the evils which we have to fear; that the kindness of a few is overbalanced by the malice of many; and that the protection of fociety is too dearly purchased, by encountering its dangers and enduring its oppreffions.
Thefe fpecious reprefentations of folitary happinefs, however opprobrious to human nature, have fo far fpread their influence over the world, that almost every man delights his imagination with the hopes of obtaining fome time an opportunity of retreat. Many, indeed, who enjoy retreat only in imagination, content themselves with believing, that another year will tranfport them to rural tranquillity, and die while they talk of doing what, if they had lived longer, they would never have done. But many likewife there are, either of greater refolution or more credulity, who in earneft try the ftate which they have been taught to think thus fecure from cares and dangers; and retire to privacy, either that they may improve their happinefs, increase their knowledge, or exalt their
The greater part of the admirers of folitude, as of all other claffes of mankind, have no higher or 6