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tide of vanity is made to turn, and a new direction given to the current of thought. When some affecting incident presents a strong discovery of the deceitfulness of all worldly joy, and rouses our sensibility to human wo; when we behold those with whom we had lately mingled in the house of feasting, sunk by some of the sudden vicissitudes of life into the vale of misery ; or when, in sad silence, we stand by the friend whom we had loved as our own soul, siretched on the bed of death ; then is the season when this world begins to appear in a new light ; when the heart opens to virtuous sentiments, and is led into that train of reflection which ought to direct life. He who before knew not what it was to commune with his heart on any serious subject, dow puts the question to himself, for what purpose he was sent forth into this mortal, transitory state ; what his fate is likely to be when it concludes ; and what judgment he ought to form of those pleasures which amuse for a little, but which, he now sees, cannot save the heart from anguisha in the evil day. Touched by the hand of thoughtful melancholy, that airy edifice of bliss, which fancy had raised ap for him, vanishes away. He beholds, in the place of it, the lonely and barren desert, in which, surrounded with many a disagreeable object, he is left musing upon himself. The time which he has mispent, and the faculties which he has misemployed, his foolish levity and his criminal pursuits, all rise in painful prospect before him. That unknown state of existence into which race after race, the children of men pass, strikes his mind with solemn awe.- Is there no course by which he can retrieve his past errors ? Is there no superior power to which he can look up for aid ? Is there no plan of conduct which, if it exempt him not from sorrow, can at least procure him consolation amidst the distressful exigencies of life ?-Such meditations as these, suggested by the house of mourning, frequently produce a change in the whole character. They revive those sparks of goodness which were nearly extinguished in the dissipated enind; and give rise to principles of conduct more rational in themselves, and more suitable to the human state.
In the next place, impressions of this nature not only produce moral seriousness, but awaken sentiments of piety, and bring men into the sanctuary of religion. One might, indeed, imagine that 'the blessings of a prosperous condition would prove the most catural incitements to devotion ; and that when men were happy in themselves, and saw nothing
but happiness around them, they could not fail gratefully to acknowledge that God who “giveth them all things richly to enjoy." Yet such is their corruption, that they are never more ready to forget their benefactor, than when loaded with his benefits. The giver is concealed from their careless and inattentive view, by the cloud of his own gifts. When their life continues to flow in one smooth current, unruffled by any griefs : when they neither receive in their own circumstances, nor allow themselves to receive from the circumstances of others, any admonitions of human instability, they not only become regardless of Providence, but are in hazard of contemning it. Glorying in their strength, and lifted up by the pride of life into supposed independence, that impious sentiment, if not uttered by the mouth, yet too often lurks in the hearts of many during their flourishing periods, “ What is the Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit should we have if we pray unto him ?"
If such be the tendency of the house of feasting, how necessary is it that, by some change in their situation, men should be obliged to enter into the house of mourning, in order to recover a proper sense of their dependent state ! li is there, when forsaken by the gaieties of the world, and left alone with the Almighty, that we are made to perceive how awful bis government is; how easily human greatness bends before him ; and how quickly all our designs and measures, at his interposal, vanish into nothing. There, when the countenance is sad, and the affections are softened by grief; when we sit apart, involved in serious thought, looking down as from some eminence on those dark clouds that hang over the life of man, the arrogance of prosperity is humbled, and the heart melts under the impressions of religion. Formerly we were taught, but now we see, we feel, how much we stand in need of an Almigbty Protector, amidst the changes of this vain world. Our soul cleaves to him who “ despises not, nor abhors the affliction of the afflicted.” Prayer flows forth of its own accord from the relenting heart, that he may be our God, and the God of our friends in distress ; that he may never forsake us while we are sojourning in this land of pilgrimage ; may strengthen us under its calamities, and bring us hereafter to those habitations of rest, where we, and they whom we love, may be delivered from the trials which all are now doomed to endure. The discoveries of his mercy, which he has made
in the gospel of Christ, are viewed with joy, as so many rays of light sent down from above, to dispe', in some degree, the surrounding gloom. A Mediator and Intercessor with the Sovereign of the universe, appear comfortable names ; and the resurrection of the just becomes the powerful cordial of grief. In such moments as these, which we may justly call happy moments, the soul participates of all the pleasures of devotion. It feels the power of religion to support and relieve. It is softened, without being broken. It is full, and it pours itself forth ; pours itself forth, if we may be allowed to use the expression, into the bosom of its merciful Creator.
Enough has been said to show, that, on various occasions, " sorrow may be better than laughter."-Wouldst thou ac. quire the habit of recollection, and fix the principles of thy conduct; wouldst thou be led up to thy Creator and Redeemer, and be formed to sentiments of piety and devotion ; wouldst thou be acquainted with those mild and tender affections which delight the compassionate and humane; wouldst thou have the power of sensual appetites tamed and corrected, and thy soul raised above the ignoble love of life, and fear of death ? go, my brother, gownot to scenes of pleasure and riot, not to the house of feasting and mirth but to the silent house of mourning; and adventure to dwell for awhile among objects that will soften thy heart. Contemplate the lifeless remains of what once was fair and flourishing. Bring home to thyself the vicissitudes of life. Recall the remembrance of the friend, the parent, or the child, whom thou tenderly lovedst. Look back on the days of former years ; and think on the companions of thy youth, who now sleep in the dust. Let the vanity, the mutability, and the sorrows of the human state, rise in full prospect before thee; and though thy “countenance may be made sad, thy heart shall be made better.” This sadness, though for the present it dejects, yet shall in the end fortify thy spirit; inspiring thee with such sentiments, and prompting such resolutions as shall enable thee to enjoy, with more real advantage, the rest of life. Dispositions of this nature form one part of the character of those mourners, whom our Saviour hath pronounced blessed ; and of those to whom it is promised, that “ sowing in tears, they shall reap in joy." A great difference there is between being serious and melancholy; and a melancholy too there is of that kind which deserves to be sometimes indulged.
Religion bath, on the whole, provided for every good man abundant materials of consolation and relief. How dark soever the present face of nature may appear, it dispels the darkness, when it brings into view the entire system of things, and extends our survey to the whole kingdom of God. It represents what we now behold as only a part, and a small part, of the general order. ' It assures us, that though here, , for wise ends, misery and sorrow are permitted to have place, these temporary evils shall, in the end, advance the happiness of all who love God, and are faithful to their duty. It shows them this mixed and confused scene vanishing by degrees away, and preparing the introduction of that state, where the house of mourning shall be shut forever; where no tears are seen, and no gr sans heard ; where no hopes are frustrated, and no virtuous connexions dissolved ; but where under the light of the Divine countenance, goodness shall flourish in perpetual felicity. Thus, though reigion may occasionally chasten our mirth with sadness of countenance, yet under that sadness it allows not the heart 3f good men to sink. It calls upon them to rejoice “ because the Lord reigneth who is their Rock, and the most high God who is their redeemer.” Reason likewise joins her voice with that of Religion ; forbidding us to make peepish and unreasonable complaints of human life, or injuriously to ascribe to it more evil than it contains. Mixed as the present state is, she pronounces, that generally, if not always, there is more happiness than misery, more pleasure than pain, in the condition of man.
THERON AND ASPASIO.
Beauty and utility combined in the productions of nature. THERON and Aspasio took a morning walk into the fields; their spirits cheered, and their imaginations lively ; gratitude glowing in their hearts, and the whole creation smiling around them.
After sufficient exercise, they seated themselves on a . mossy hillock, which offered its couch. The rising sun bad visited the spot, to dry up the dews and exhale the damps, that might endanger health ; to open the violets, and to expand the primroses, that decked the green. The whole shade of the wood was collected behind them; anù a beautiful, extensive, diversified landscape spread itself before them.
Theron, according to his usual manner, made many improving remarks on the prospect, and its furniture. He traced the footsteps of an All-comprehending contrivance, and pointed out the strokes of inimitable skill. He observed the grand exertions of power, and the rich exuberance of goodness, most signally, most charmingly conspicuous through the whole. Upon one circumstance he enlarged, with particular satisfaction.
THERON. See! ASPASIO, how all is calculated to administer the highest delight to mankind. Those trees and hedges, which skirt. the extremities of the landscape, stealing away from their real bulk, and lessening by gentle diminutions, appear like elegant pictures in miniature. Those which occupy the nearer situations, are a set of noble images, swelling upon the eye, in full proportion, and in a variety of graceful attitudes ; both of them ornamenting the several apartments of our common abode, with a mixture of delicacy and grandeur.