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reputation for honesty, pure morality, and even of piety; and who are pained when they see a weak brother leave the paths of virtue, and are liberal in their censures upon him; when adversity overtakes them, they are left, as some say, to dissimulation—deceit, and sometimes, have their names enrolled on the calendar of crime—proving, by melancholy demonstration, that they did not know themselves. He that knows himself, knows others, and he alone is competent to speak and write of others.
Of all ignorance, that of ourselves is most lamentable. It engenders self conceit—makes us the dupes of knaves—enslaves us to the most cruel of all masters —our evil passions; renders us blind to our own interests—deprives us of happiness here, and endangers our future bliss. Many seem to be affected with a kind of delirium, like a person reduced to extreme weakness by disease—imagine they are strong, when they cannot sustain their own weight—hence, they are sure to fall when they attempt to go forward; not being supported by their friends—reason, discretion, prudence, and virtue. If they knew themselves—realized their own weakness—the dangers of temptation—the proneness of human nature to turn from the highway that leads to pure happiness, and would make themselves acquainted with the inevitable results produced by familiar causes—common sense, aside from Revelation, would warn them to avoid the quick-sands of error and the rocks of destruction, on which many a splendid craft has made shipwreck. Let all who desire a peaceful life and a happy end, obey the Heavenly precept— Know Thyself.
Experience has been called the mother of science, but, like most other mothers, has many disobedient, and some very unruly children. More lessons are learned in the school of this thorough matron, than are practised. They are of the most salutary kind, and usually so expensive, that it is passing strange they should be discarded. But so it often is. The grosser passions of human nature wage a perpetual war upon the citadel of our true happiness, and too often take it by storm. Self conceit blinds us—self confidence betrays us; our fancy, taste, and appetite lead us; we heed not the warning voice of experience, and are hurried on by folly and vice, fully apprized of consequences.
The ambitious man is enraptured with the history of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Bonaparte; and burns to tread in their footsteps. It is vain that experience informs him, that the former became disgusted with power, and killed himself with alcohol— that the other was stabbed in the Roman senate—and that the latter expired, a prisoner, on a desolate rock in the ocean. His thirst for power cannot be quenched by experience—he tempts fate.
The inebriate commences his career in full view of the wrecks of intemperance strewed thick around him— has seen the desolations produced by rum—has followed the drunkard to the grave—perhaps to the gallows; yet he turns a deaf ear to the warning voice of experience, and plunges into the dark abyss of destruction.
The victims of lotteries, cards, dice, and all the demon arts of the blackleg, are reduced to the keenest penury among us; yet thousands of others, like the infatuated devotees of Juggernaut, throw themselves before the wheels of this car of hell, and are crushed to poverty.
The calendar of crime, the penalties of the criminal code, the various punishments that are so certain and frequent, from the small fine up to the gallows; are sufficiently familiar to all to be avoided; yet the voice of experience is unheeded by thousands, and their career of crime is only arrested by death.
The whirlpool of wild and precarious speculation has often been gorged with ruined adventurers; yet other multitudes follow in their wakes, regardless of the lessons of experience, posted up in hand bills by the constable, sheriff, and auctioneer; at every corner, in glaring capitals. A thirst for gain inspires a blind confidence; they make a desperate leap after fortune—jump over low-water mark into the maelstrom, and sink to rise no more. The fatal consequences of crime and error, gleaming beacons thickly placed along the shores of time to warn against peril, are unheeded by millions; and many who survive one shipwreck, in despite of experience, again rush into the same danger, and are lost.
Through all the multiform concerns of life, the human family is constantly taking lessons in the school of experience, and paying dearly for them; but obstinately refusing to profit by them. This fond mother may warn, reason plead, wisdom woo, common sense demonstrate; but all to no purpose. Self conceit, blind confidence, carnal desires, pampered appetite, tyrannical habit; all combine and bind the captive with chains, that require an Almighty hand to break their ponderous links.
Reader! the evils uncorrected by experience, and their consequences, that have now passed in rehearsal, you must admit, involve, in one common ruin, wealth, health, reputation, and all the sources of human happiness, and endanger, perhaps may ruin, the soul.—Do you ask the remedy !—Religion.
FAME AND GLORY.
Though fame is smoke,
Fame, like money, should neither be despised or idolized. An honest fame, based on worth and merit, and gained, like large estates, by prudence and industry, deservedly perpetuates the names of the great and good. We have a species of spurious fame, some call it glory, that either dies with the incumbent, or is ungrateful to the memory. Genuine fame is a better undertaker than physician, and deals more in epitaphs than prescriptions. Transient fame, or glory, requires as much, and more difficult labor to acquire it, because the offspring of ambition.
Lacon has truly observed, in substance, The road to glory would cease to be arduous, if it were well trodden. Those who seek earthly glory, must always be ready to take and make opportunities for advancement—take and make paths to travel in. Some practise simulation and dissimulation—leap and creep, like Cresar; kiss the ground, like Brutus; soar aloft and and stoop, to conquer—any thing to insure success.
Brennus threw his sword in the trembling scale to turn it; Nelson snatched the laurels from the hesitating hand of victory, and placed them on his own brow. Cromwell did not wait to strike, until the iron was hot, but made it hot by striking. Some can rule the storm of mind when raised—but few have lived, who could both raise and rule it.
No glory or fame is both consolatory and enduring, unless based on virtue, wisdom, and justice. That acquired by wild ambition, is tarnished by association —time deepens the stain. We read the biography of Washington with calmness and delight; that of Bonaparte, with mingled feelings of admiration and abhorrence. We admire the gigantic powers of his intellect, the vastness of his designs, the boldness of their execution; but turn, with horror, from the slaughter-fields of his ambition, and his own dreadful end. His giddy height of power served to plunge him deeper in misery; his lofty ambition increased the burning tortures of his exile; his towering intellect added a duplicate force to the consuming pangs of his disappointment. His fatal end should cool the ardor of all who have an inordinate desire for earthly glory.
There is a higher, purer glory, enduring as eternity, which is more worthy of immortal souls, than any thing earth can give. That glory is within the reach of all, and is not dependent on the caprice of the multitude. To obtain it, we have only to enlist under King Immanuel, fight manfully the good fight of faith; he will enable us to triumph over every foe, and will reward us with palms of victory, and a crown of immortal glory.