Imatges de pÓgina

works; he ruleth and directeth with in- "speak praise and adoration; let the finite wisdom. "actions of thy life shew thy love to his "law."

He hath instituted laws for the government of the world; he hath wonderfully varied them in his beings; and each, by his nature, conformeth to his will.

In the depths of his mind he revolveth all knowledge; the secrets of futurity lie open before him.

The thoughts of thy heart are naked to his view; he knoweth thy determinations before they are made.

With respect to his prescience, there is nothing contingent; with respect to his providence, there is nothing accidental.

Wonderful he is in all his ways; his counsels are inscrutable; the manner of his knowledge transcendeth thy conception.

"Pay therefore to his wisdom all ho"nour and veneration, and bow down "thyself in humble and submissive obe"dience to supreme direction."

The Lord is gracious and beneficent; he hath created the world in mercy and love.

His goodness is conspicuous in all his works; he is the fountain of excellence, the centre of perfection.

The creatures of his hand declare his goodness, and all their enjoyments speak his praise; he clotheth them with beauty, he supporteth them with food, he preserveth them with pleasure from generation to generation.

If we lift up our eyes to the heavens, his glory shineth forth: if we cast them down upon the earth, it is full of his goodness; the hills and the valleys rejoice and sing; fields, rivers, and woods resound his praise.

But thee, O man, he hath distinguished with peculiar favour; and exalted thy station above all creatures.

He hath endued thee with reason, to maintain thy dominion: he hath fitted thee with language, to improve by society; and exalted thy mind with the powers of meditation to contemplate and adore his inimitable perfections.

And in the laws he hath ordained as the rule of thy life, so kindly hath he suited thy duty to thy nature, that obedience to his precepts is happiness to thyself.


"O praise his goodness with songs of thanksgiving, and meditate in silence on "the wonders of his love; let thy heart "overflow with gratitude and acknow"ledgment; let the language of thy lips

The Lord is just and righteous, and will judge the earth with equity and truth.

Hath he established his laws in goodness and mercy, and shall he not punish the transgressors thereof?

O think not, bold man! because thy punishment is delayed, that the arm of the Lord is weakened; neither flatter thyself with hopes that he winketh at thy doings.

His eye pierceth the secrets of every heart, and remembereth them for ever; he respecteth not the persons or the stations of men.

The high and the low, the rich and the poor, the wise and the ignorant, when the soul hath shaken off the cumbrous shackles of this mortal life, shall equally receive from the sentence of God a just and everlasting retribution according to their works.

Then shall the wicked tremble, and be afraid; but the heart of the righteous shall rejoice in his judgments.

"O fear the Lord, therefore, all the "days of thy life, and walk in the paths "which he hath opened before thee. Let "prudence admonish thee, let temperance "restrain, let justice guide thy hand, be"nevolence warm thy heart, and grati❝tude to heaven inspire thee with devo"tion. These shall give thee happiness "in thy present state, and bring thee to "the mansion of eternal felicity, in the "paradise of God."

This is the true ECONOMY of HUMAN LIFE.

$160. DEATH.

As the production of the metal proveth the work of the alchymist; so is death the test of our lives, the assay which sheweth the standard of all our actions.

Wouldst thou judge of a life, examine the period of it; the end crowneth the attempt: and where dissimulation is no more, there truth appeareth.

He hath not spent his life ill, who knoweth to die well; neither can he have lost all his time, who employeth the last portion of it to his honour.

He was not born in vain who dieth as he ought; neither hath he lived unprofitably who dieth happily.

He that considereth he is to die, is con

tent while he liveth: he who striveth to forget it, hath no pleasure in any thing; his joy appeareth to him a jewel which he expecteth every moment he shall lose. Wouldst thou learn to die nobly? let thy vices die before thee. Happy is he who endeth the business of his life before his death; who, when the hour of it cometh, hath nothing to do but to die; who wisheth not delay, because he hath no longer use for time.

Avoid not death, for it is a weakness; fear it not, for thou understandest not what it is: all that thou certainly knowest, is, that it putteth an end to thy sorrows.

Think not the longest life the happiest; that which is best employed, doth man the most honour; himself shall rejoice after death in the advantages of it.

§ 161. A Morning Prayer for a young Student at School, or for the common Use of a School.

Father of All! we return thee most humble and hearty thanks for thy protection of us in the night season, and for the refreshment of our souls and bodies in the sweet repose of sleep. Accept also our unfeigned gratitude for all thy mercies during the helpless age of infancy.

Continue, we beseech thee, to guard us under the shadow of thy wing. Our age is tender, and our nature frail; and, without the influence of thy grace, we shall surely fall.

Let that influence descend into our hearts, and teach us to love thee and truth above all things. O guard us from temptations to deceit, and grant that we may abhor a lie, both as a sin and as a disgrace.

Inspire us with an abhorrence of the loathsomeness of vice, and the pollutions of sensual pleasure. Grant, at the same time, that we may early feel the delight of conscious purity, and wash our hands in innocency, from the united motives of inclination and of duty.

Give us, O thou Parent of all knowledge, a love of learning, and a taste for the pure and sublime pleasures of the understanding. Improve our memory, quicken our apprehension, and grant that we may lay up such a store of learning, as may fit us for the station to which it shall please thee to call us, and enable us to make great advances in virtue and religion,

and shine as lights in the world, by the influence of a good example.

Give us grace to be diligent in our studies, and that whatever we read we may strongly mark, and inwardly digest it.

Bless our parents, guardians, and instructors; and grant that we may make them the best return in our power, for giving us opportunities of improvement, and for all their care and attention to our welfare. They ask no return, but that we should make use of those opportunities, and co-operate with their endeavours -O grant that we may not disappoint their anxious expectations.

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, that we may immediately engage in the studies and duties of the day, and go through them cheerfully, diligently, and successfully.

Accept our endeavours, and pardon our defects, through the merits of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Knox.

§ 162. An Evening Prayer.

O Almighty God! again we approach thy mercy-seat, to offer unto thee our thanks and praises for the blessings and protection afforded us this day; and humbly to implore thy pardon for our manifold transgressions.

Grant that the words of various instruction which we have heard or read this day, may be so inwardly grafted in our hearts and memories, as to bring forth the fruits of learning and virtue.

Grant that as we recline on our pillows, we may call to mind the transactions of the day, condemn those things of which our conscience accusesus, and make and keep resolutions of amendment.

Grant that thy holy angels may watch over us this night, and guard us from temptation, excluding all improper thoughts, and filling our breasts with the purest sentiments of piety. Like as the hart panteth for the water-brook, so let our souls thirst for thee, O Lord, and for whatever is excellent and beautiful in learning and behaviour.

Correct, by the sweet influence of Christian charity, the irregularities of our temper; and restrain every tendency to ingratitude, and to ill-usage of our parents, teachers, pastors, and masters. Teach us to know the value of a good

education, and to be thankful to those who labour in the improvement of our minds and morals. Give us grace to be reverent to our superiors, gentle to our equals or inferiors, and benevolent to all mankind. Elevate and enlarge our sentiments, and let all our conduct be regulated by right reason, attended with Christian charity, and that peculiar generosity of mind, which becomes a liberal scholar, and a sincere Christian.

O Lord, bestow upon us whatever may be good for us, even though we should

omit to pray for it; and avert whatever is hurtful, though in the blindness of our hearts we should desire it.

Into thy hands we resign ourselves, as we retire to rest; hoping by thy mercy, to rise again with renewed spirits, to go through the business of the morrow, and to prepare ourselves for this life, and for a blessed immortality; which we ardently hope to attain, through the merits and intercession of thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Knox.






§ 1. Beneficial Effects of a Taste for the it naturally tends to produce on human


B consider Man as a being endowed

ELLES Lettres and Criticism chiefly consider Man as a being endowed with those powers of taste and imagination, which were intended to embellish his mind, and to supply him with rational and useful entertainment. They open a field of investigation peculiar to themselves. All that relates to beauty, harmony, grandeur, and elegance; all that can sooth the mind, gratify the fancy, or move the affections, belongs to their province. They present human nature under a different aspect from that which it assumes when viewed by other sciences. They bring to light various springs of action, which, without their aid, might have passed unobserved; and which, though of a delicate nature, frequently exert a powerful influence on several departments of human life.

Such studies have also this peculiar advantage, that they exercise our reason without fatiguing it. They lead to inquiries acute, but not painful; profound, but not dry nor abstruse. They strew flowers in the path of science; and while they keep the mind bent, in some degree, and active, they relieve it at the same time from that more toilsome labour to which it must submit in the acquisition of necessary erudition, or the investigation of abstract truth. Blair.

life. The most busy man, in the most active sphere, cannot be always occupied by business. Men of serious professions cannot always be on the stretch of serious thought. Neither can the most gay and flourishing situations of fortune afford any man the power of filling all his hours with pleasure. Life must always languish in the hands of the idle. It will frequently languish even in the hands of the busy, if they have not some employment subsidiary to that which forms their main pursuit. How then shall those vacant spaces, those unemployed intervals, which, more or less, occur in the life of every one, be filled up? How can we contrive to dispose of them in any way that shall be more agreeable in itself, or more consonant to the dignity of the human mind, than in the entertainments of taste, and the study of polite literature? He who is so happy as to have acquired a relish for these, has always at hand an innocent and irreproachable amusement for his leisure hours, to save him from the danger of many a pernicious passion. He is not in hazard of being a burden to himself. He is not obliged to fly to low company, or to court the riot of loose pleasures, in order to cure the tediousness of existence.

Providence seems plainly to have pointed out this useful purpose, to which the pleasures of taste may be applied, by interposing them in a middle station between § 2. Beneficial Effects of the Cultivation intellect. We were not designed to grovel the pleasures of sense and those of pure


The cultivation of Taste is further recommended by the happy effects which

always among objects so low as the former; nor are we capable of dwelling constantly in so high a region as the latter.

The pleasures of taste refresh the mind after the toils of the intellect,and the labours of abstract study; and they gradually raise it above the attachments of sense, and prepare it for the enjoyments of virtue.

So consonant is this to experience, that in the education of youth, no object has in every age appeared more important to wise men than to tincture them early with a relish for the entertaininents of taste. The transition is commonly made with ease from these to the discharge of the higher and more important duties of life. Good hopes may be entertained of those whose minds have this liberal and elegant turn. It is favourable to many virtues. Whereas to be entirely devoid of relish for eloquence, poetry, or any of the fine arts, is justly construed to be an unpromising symptom of youth; and raises suspicions of their being prone to low gratifications, or destined to drudge in the more vulgar and illiberal pursuits of life. Blair.

§ 3. Improvement of TASTE connected with Improvement in VIRTUE.

There are indeed few good dispositions of any kind with which the improvement of taste is not more or less connected. A cultivated taste increases sensibility to all the tender and humane passions, by giving them frequent exercise; while it tends to weaken the more violent and fierce emotions.

-Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros*. The elevated sentiments and high examples which poetry, eloquence, and history are often bringing under our view, naturally tend to nourish in our minds public spirit, the love of glory, contempt of external fortune, and the admiration of what is truly illustrious and great.

I will not go so far as to say that the improvement of taste and of virtue is the same, or that they may always be expected to co-exist in an equal degree. More powerful correctives than taste can apply, are necessary for reforming the corrupt propensities which too frequently prevail among mankind. Elegant speculations are sometimes found to float on the surface of the mind, while bad passions possess the interior regions of the heart. At the same time this cannot but be admitted, that the

exercise of taste is, in its native tendency, moral and purifying. From reading the most admired productions of genius, whether in poetry or prose, almost every one rises with some good impression left on his mind; and though these may not always be durable, they are at least to be ranked among the means of disposing the heart to virtue. One thing is certain, and I shall hereafter have occasion to illustrate it more fully, that, without possessing the virtuous affections in a strong degree, no man can attain eminence in the sublime parts of eloquence. He must feel what a good man feels, if he expects greatly to move or to interest mankind. They are the ardent sentiments of honour, virtue, magnanimity, an public spirit, that only can kindle that fire of genius, and call up into the mind those high ideas which attract the admiration of ages; and if this spirit be necessary to produce the most distinguished efforts of eloquence, it must be necessary also to our relishing them with proper taste and feeling. Ibid.

§ 4. On STYLE.

It is not easy to give a precise idea of what is meant by Style. The best definition I can give of it is, the peculiar manner in which a man expresses his conceptions, by means of Language. It is dif ferent from mere Language or words. The words, which an author employs, may be proper and faultless; and his Style may, nevertheless, have great faults; it may be dry, or stiff, or feeble, or affected. Style has always some reference to an author's manner of thinking. It is a picture of the ideas which rise in his mind, and of the manner in which they rise there; and hence, when we are examining an author's composition, it is, in many cases, extremely difficult to separate the Style from the sentiment. No wonder these two should be so intimately connected, as Style is nothing else, than that sort of expression which our thoughts most readily assume. Hence, different countries have been noted for peculiarities of Style, suited to their different temper and genius. The eastern nations animated their Style with the most strong and hyperbolical figures. The Athenians, a polished and acute people, formed a Style, accurate, clear, and neat. The Asiatics, gay and loose in their manners, affect

*The polish'd arts have humaniz'd mankind, Soften'd the rude, and calm'd the boist'rous mind.

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