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industry which is required of us, as good members of society; when, according to the exhortation of the Apostle, we are found “not slothful in business,” and at the same time, - fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
The choice of our situation in life, a point of great importance.
The influence of a new situation of external fortune is so great ; it gives so different a turn to our temper and affections, to our views and desires, that no man can foretell what his character would prove, should he be either raised or depressed in his circumstances, in a remarkable degree ; or placed in some sphere of action, widely different from that to which he has been accustomed in former life.
The seeds of various qualities, good and bad, lie in all our hearts. But until proper occasions ripen, and bring them forward, they lie there inactive and dead. They are covered up and concealed within the recesses of our nature : or, if they spring up at all, it is under such an appearance as is frequently mistaken, even by ourselves. Pride, for instance, in certain situations, has no opportunity of displaying itself, but as magnanimity, or sense of honour. Avarice appears as necessary and laudable economy. What in one station of life would discover itself to be cowardice and baseness of mind, passes in another for prudent circumspection. What in the fulness of power would prove to be cruelty and oppression, is reputed, in a subordinate rank, no more than the exercise of proper discipline. For a while, the man is known neither by the world, nor by himself, to be what he truly is. But bring him into a new situation of life, which accords with his predominant disposition; which strikes on certain latent qualities of his soul, and awakens them into action ; and as the leaves of a flower gradually unfold to the sun, so shall all his true character open full to view.
This may, in one light, be accounted not so much an alteration of character, produced by a change of circumstances, as a discovery brought forth of the real character, which formerly lay concealed. Yet, at the same time, it is true that the man himself undergoes a change. For opportunity being given for certain dispositions, which had
been dormant, to exert themselves without restraint, they af course gather strength. By means of the ascendancy which they gain, other parts of the temper are borne down ; and thus an alteration is made in the whole structure and system of the soul. He is a truly wise and good man, who, through Divine assistance, remains superior to this influence of fortune on his character; who, having once imbibed worthy sentiments, and established proper principles of action, continues constant to these, whatever his circumstances be ; maintains, throughout all the changes of his life, one uniform and supported tenour of conduct; and what be abhorred as evil and wicked, in the beginning of his days, continues to abhor to the end. But how rare is it, to meet with this honourable consistency among men, while they are passing through the different stations and periods of life! When they are setting out in the world, before their minds have been greatly misled or debased, they glow with generous emotions, and look with contempt on what is sordid and guilty. But advancing farther in life, and inured by degrees to the crooked ways of men ; pressing through the crowd, and the bustle of the world ; obliged to contend with this man's craft, and that man's scorn ; accustomed, sometimes, to conceal their sentiments, and often to stifle their feelings, they become at last hardened in heart, and familiar with corruption. Who would not drop a tear over this sad, but frequent fall of human probity and honour ? Who is not humbled, when he beholds the refined sentiments and high principles on which we are so ready to value ourselves, brought to so shameful an issue ; and man, with all his boasted attainments of reason, discovered so often to be the creature of his external fortune, moulded and formed by the incidents of his life?
Let us for a moment reflect on the dangers which arise from stations of power and greatness ; especially, when the elevation of men to these has been rapid and sudden. Few have the strength of mind which is requisite for bearing such a change with temperance and self-command. The respect which is paid to the great, and the scope which their condi. tion affords for the indulgence of pleasure, are perilous circumstances to virtue. When men live among their equals, and are accustomed to encounter the hardships of life, they are of course reminded of their mutual dependence on each other, and of the dependence of all upon God. But wher they are highly exalted above their fellows, they meet with
few objects to awaken serious reflection, and with many to feed and inflame their passions. They are apt to separate their interests from that of all around them ; to wrap themsélves up in their vain grandeur; and, in the lap of indolence and selfish pleasure, to acquire a cold indifference to the concerns even of those whom they call their friends. The fancied independence into which they are lifted up, is adverse to sentiments of piety, as well as of humanity, in their heart.
But we are not to imagine, that elevated stations in the world furnish the only formidable trials to which our virtue is exposed. It will be found, that we are liable to no fewer, nor less dangerous temptations, from the opposite extreme of poverty and depression. When men who have known better days are thrown down into abject situations of fortune, their spirits are broken, and their tempers soured: envy rankles in their breast at such as are more successful : the providence of Heaven is accused in secret murmurs ; and the
sense of misery is ready to push them into atrocious crimes, . in order to better their state. Among the inferior classes of mankind, craft and dishonesty are too often found to prevail. Low and penurious circumstances depress the human powers. They deprive men of the proper means of knowledge and improvement ; and where ignorance is gross, it is always in hazard of engendering profligacy. .
Hence it has been, generally, the opinion of wise men in all ages, that there is a certain middle condition of life, equally remote from either of those extremes of fortune, which, though it wants not also its own dangers, yet is, on the whole, the state most favourable both to virtue and to happiness. For there, luxury and pride on the one hand, have not opportunity to enervate or intoxicate the mind, nor want and dependence on the other, to sink and debase it ; there, all the native affections of the soul have the freest and fair. est exercise, the equality of men is felt, friendships are formed, and improvements of every sort are pursued with most success; there, men are prompted to industry without being overcome by toil, and their powers called forth into exertion, without being either superseded by too much abundance, or baffled by insuperable difficulties; there a mixture of comforts and of wants, at once awaken their gratitude to God, and reminds them of their dependence on his aid; and therefore, in this state, men seem to enjoy life to most advantage, and to be least exposed to the mares of vion.
"From what has been said, we learn the importance of attending, with the utmost care, to the choice which we make of our employment and condition in life. It has been shown, that our external situation frequently operates powerfully on our moral character; and by consequence that it is strictly connected, not only with our temporal welfare, but with our everlasting happiness or misery. He who might have passed unblamed, and upright, through certain walks of life, by anbappily choosing a road where he meets with temptations 100 strong for his virtue, precipitates himself into shame here, and into endless ruin hereafter. Yet how often is the determination of this most important article left to the chance of accidental connexions, or submitted to the option of youthful fancy and humour! When it is made the subject of serious deliberation, how seldom have they, on whom the decision of it depends, any further view than so to dispose of one who is coming out into life, as that he may the soonest become rich, or, as it is expressed, make his way to most advantage in the world! Are there no other objects than this to be attended to, in fixing the plan of life ? Are there not sacred and important interests which deserve to be consulted ?-We would not willingly place one whose welfare we studied, in a situation for which we were convinced that his abilities were unequal. These, therefore, we examine with care ; and on them we rest the ground of our decision. It is, however, certain, that not abilities merely, but the turn of the temper and the heart, require to be examined with equal attention, in forming the plan of future establishment. Every one has some peculiar weakness, some predominant passion which exposes him to temptations of one kind more than of another. Early this may be discerned to shoot; and from its first risings its future growth may be inferred. Anticipate its progress. Consider how it is likely to be affected, by succeeding occurrences in life. If we bring one whom we are rearing up, into a situation, where all the surrounding circumstances shall cherish and mature this fatal principle in his nature, we become, in a great measure, answerable for the consequences that follow. In vain we trust to his abilities and powers. Vice and corruption, when they have tainted the heart, are sufficient to overset the greatest abilities. Nay, too frequently they turn them against the possessor; and render them ihe instruments of his more speedy ruin.
No life pleasing to God, that is not useful to man. An eastern
It pleased our mighty sovereign Abbas Carascan, from whom the kings of the earth derive honour and dominion, to set Mirza his servant over the province of Tauris. In the hand of Mirza, the balance of distribution was suspended with impartiality; and under his administration the weak were protected, the learned received honour, and the diligent became rich: Mirza, therefore, was beheld by every cye with complacency, and every tongue pronounced blessings upon his head. But it was observed that he derived no joy from the benefits which he diffused; he became pensive and melancholy; he spent his leisure in solitude ; in his palace he sat motionless upon a sofa ; and when he went out, his walk was slow, and his eyes were fixed upon the ground: he applied to the business of state with reluctance ; and resolved to relinquish the toil of government, of which he could no longer enjoy the reward.
He, therefore, obtained permission to approach the throne of our sovereign; and being asked what was his request, he made this reply : “ May the Lord of the world forgive the slave whom he has honoured, if Mirza presunie again to lay the bounty of Abbas at his feet. Thou hast given me the dominion of a country, fruitful as the gardens of Damascus ; and a city glorious above all others, except that only which reflects the splendour of thy presence. But the longest life is a period scarcely sufficient to prepare for death. All other business is vain and trivial, as the toil of emmets in the path of the traveller, under whose foot they perish for ever : and all enjoyment is unsubstantial and evanescent as the colours of the bow that appears in the interval of a storm. Suffer me, therefore, to prepare for the approach of eternity ; let me give up my soul to meditation; let solitude and silence acquaint me with the mysteries of devotion ; let me forget the world, and by the world be for. gotten, till the moment arrives in which the veil of eternity shall fall, and I shall be found at the bar of the Almighty." Mirza then bowed himself to the earth, and stood silent.
By the command of Abbas it is recorded, that at these words be trembled upon the throne, at the footstool of which