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young. Inferiors study to creep into favour by servile obse. quiousness to all their desires and humours. Glad to find any apology for the indulgences of which they are fond, the young too readily listen to the voice of those who suggest to them, that strict notions of religion, order, and virtue, are old fashioned and illiberal; that the, restraints which they impose are only fit to be prescribed to those who are in the first stage of pupilage ; or to be preached to the vulgar, who ought to be kept within the closest bounds of regularity and subjection. But the goodness of their hearts, it is insinuated to them, and the liberality of their views, will fully justify their emancipating themselves, in some degree, from the rigid discipline of parents and teachers.
Soothing as such insinuations are to the youthful and inconsiderate, their first steps, however, in vice, are cautious and timid, and occasionally checked by remorse. As they begin to mingle more in the world, and emerge into the cir
ctes of gaiety and pleasure, finding these loose ideas counte** panced by too general practice, they gradually become bold
er in the liberties they take. If they have been bred to business, they begin to tire of industry, and look with contempt on the plodding race of citizens. If they are of superior rank, they think it becomes them to resemble their equals ; to assume that freedom of behaviour, that air of forwardness, that tone of dissipation, that easy negligence of those with whom they converse, which appear fashionable in high life. If afluence of fortune unhappily concurs to favour their inclinations, amusements and diversions succeed in a perpetual round ; night and day are confounded; gaming fills up their vacant intervals; they live wholly in public places; they run into mạny degrees of excess, disagreeable even to thembelves, merely from weak complaisance, and the fear of being ridiculed by their loose associates. Among these associates, the most hardened and determined always take the lead. The rest follow them with implicit submission ; and make proficiency in this school of iniquity, in exact proportion to the weakness of their understandings, and the strength of their passions...
"How many pass away, after this manner, some of the rnost valuable years of their life, tost in a whirlpool of what cannot be called pleasure, so much as mere giddiness and folly ! In the habits of perpetual connexion with idle or liCantious company, all reflection is lost ; while circulated from one empty head, and one thoughtless heart, to another,
folly shoots up into all its most ridiculous forms ; prompts the extravagant, unmeaning frolic in private ; or sallies forth in public into mad riot; impelled sometimes by intoxication, sometimes by mere levity of spirits. .
. ! Amidst this course of juvenile infatuation, I readily admit, that much good nature may still remain. Generosity and attachments may be found ; nay, some awe of religion may still subsist, and some remains of those good impressions which were made upon the mind in early days. It might yet be very possible to reclaim such persons, and to form them for useful and respectable stations in the world, if virtuous and improving society should happily succeed to the place of that idle crew, with whom they now associate ; if important bị. siness should occur, to bring them into a different sphere of action; or, if some seasonable stroke of affliction should in mercy be sent, to recall them to themselves, and to awaken serious and manly thought. But, if youth and vigour, and flowing fortune continue; if a similar succession of companions go on to amuse them, to engross their time, and to stir up their passions ; the day of ruin-let them take heed, and beware the day of irrecoverable ruin, begins to draw nigh. Fortune is squandered; health is broken; friends are: offended, affronted, estranged ; aged parents, perhaps, sent afflicted and mourning to the dust.
There are certain degrees of vice which are chiefly stamped with the character of the ridiculous, and the contemptible : and there are also certain limits, beyond which, ifit pass, it becomes odious and detestable. If, to other corruptions which the heart has already received, be added the infusion of sceptical principles, that worst of all the "evil communications” of sinners, the whole of morals is then on the point of being overthrown. For, every crime can then be palliated to conscience; every check and restraint which had hitherto remained, is taken away. He who, in the beginning of his course, soothed himself with the thought, that while he indulged his desires, he did hurt to no man; now, pressed by the necessity of supplying those wants into which his expensive pleasures have brought him, goes on without remorse to defraud, and to oppress. The lover of pleasure now becomes hardened and cruel ; violates bis trust, or betrays his friend ; becomes a man of treachery, or a man of plood ; satisfying, or at least endeavouring all the while to satisfy himself, that circumstances form his excuse ; that by Recessity he is impelled ; and that, in gratifying the passions
which pature had implanted within him, he does no more than follow nature.
Miserable and deluded man! to what art thou come at the fast ? Dost thou pretend to follow nature, when thou art dontemning the laws of the God of nature? when thou art stiling his voice within thee, which remonstrates against thy erimes? when thou art violating the best part of thy nature, by counteracting the dictates of justice and humanity ? Dost thou follow nature, when thou renderest thyself a useless animal on the earth ; and not useless only, but noxious to the society to which thou belongest, and to which thou art a disgrace ; noxious, by the bad example thou hast set ; noxjous, by the crimes thou hast committed ; sacrificing inno. Gence to thy guilty pleasures, and introducing shame and ruin into the habitations of peace ; defrauding of their due the unsuspicious who have trusted thee ; involving in the ruins of thy fortune many a worthy family ; reducing the industrious and the aged to misery and want; by all which, if thou hast escaped the deserved sword of justice, thou hast at least brought on thyself the resentment, and the reproach, of all the respectable and the worthy.-Tremble then at the view of the gulf which is opening before thee. Look with horror at the precipice, on the brink of which thou standest : and if yet a moment be left for retreat, think how thou thaýst escape, and be saved.
(RAVE always preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The latter I consider as an act, the former as a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient, cheerfulness fixed and permabent. They who are subject to the greatest depressions of melancholy, are often raised into the greatest transports of mirth ; on the contrary, cheerfulness, though it does not give the mind a gladness so exquisite, prevents it from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds; and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
Men of austere principles look upon mirth, as too wanton and diasolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a
certain triumph and insolence of heart, that are inconsistent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers,
Cheerfulness of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions. It is of a serious and composed oature. It does not throw the mind into a condition improper for the present state of humanity ; and is very conspicuous in the characters of those, who are looked upon as the greatest philosophers among the heathens, as well as among those, who have been deservedly esteemed as saints and holy men among Christians.
If we consider cheerfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to those we converse with, and to the great Author of our being, it will not a little recommend itself op each of these accounts. The man who is possessed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculties of the soul : his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturb ed ; his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action of in solitude. He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him ; tastes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured around him; and does not feel the full weight of those accidental evils which may befall him.
If we consider him in relation to the persons with whom he converses, it naturally produces love and good-will towards him. A cheerful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good humour in those who come within its influence. A man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the cheerfulness of his companion : it is like a sudden sunshine that awakens a secret delight in the aind, without her attending to it. The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally, flows out into friendship and benevolence, towards the person who has so kindly an effect upon it.
When I consider this cheerful state of the mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant babitual gratitude to the great Author of nature. An inward cheerfulness is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its dispensations. It is a kind of acquiescence in the state wherein we are placed, and a secret approbation of the divine will in his conduct towards man.
There are but two things, which, in my opinion, can reasonably deprive us of this cheerfulness of heart. The firøt
of these is, the sense of guilt. A man who lives in a state of vice and impenitence, can have no title to that evenness and tranquillity of mind, which are the bealth of the soul, and the natural effect of virtue and innocence. Cheerfulness in a bad man deserves a harder name than language can furnish us with, and is many degrees beyond what we com monly call folly or madness.
Atheism, by which I mean a disbelief of a Supreme Being, and consequently of a future state, under whatsoever title it shelters itself, may likewise very reasonably deprive a man of this cheerfulness of temper. There is something so particularly gloomy and offensive to human nature in the prospect of non-existence, that I cannot but wonder, with many excellent writers, how it is possible for a man to outlive the expectation of it. For my own part, I think the being of a God is so little to be doubted, that it is almost the only truth we are sure of; and such a truth as we meet with in every object, in every occurrence, and in every thought. If we look into the characters of this tribe of infidels, we generally find they are made up of pride, spleen, and căvil. It is indeed no wonder, that men, who are uneasy in themselves, should be so to the rest of the world : and how is it possible for a man to be otherwise than uneasy in himself, who is in danger every monent of losing his entire existence, and dropping into nothing ?
The vicious man and atheist have therefore no pretence to cheerfulness, and would act very unreasonably, should they endeavour after it. It is impossible for any one to live in good humour, and enjoy his present existence, who is apprehensive either of torment or of annihilation ; of being miserable, or of not being at all.
After having mentioned these two great principles, which are destructive of cheerfulness in their own nature, as well as in right reason, I cannot think of any other that ought to banish this happy temper from a virtuous mind. Pain and sickness, shame and reproach, poverty and old age, nay, death itself, considering the shortness of their duration, and the advantage we may reap from them, do not deserve the name of evils. : A good mind may bear up under them with fortitude, with tranquillity, and with cheerfulness of heart. The tossing of a tempest does not discompose a man, who is sure it will bring him to a joyful harbour. · He who uses his best endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two perpetual sources