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AT a time when the thirst for knowledge is so universal, that it is sought after by all ranks of people ; through its most intricate windings, and mazy labyrinths, it is not to be wondered at, that books of science and polite literature are published in such abundance, and that they meet with that reception and encouragement, from a liberal-minded public, which their noble design requires, and which their intrinsic merit deinands.
The design of this publication, is not merely to amuse ; but rather, in an engaging, diversified, and pleasing manner, to attract the attention-imperceptibly gain the affections and draw the soul to a love of virtue, (by dclineating her in her most attractive and alluring dress) from whense arises the spring of all great, noble and generous actions:-To inculcate a sincere detestation of every species of vice, by an exposition of the malevolent affections of the mind, as well in their softer, as in their more glaring, or aggravated colors.
The above, though not the least, is not the chief intention of this selection. The art of thinking justly, speaking pertinently, and writing with correctness, caso, elegance, and precision upon any subject, has ever been
esteemed the first ornament of the human mind, and justly accounted the grand characteristical mark, by which the rational being is distinguished from the irrational.—Yet, how few do we find thus accomplished, or how very few give themselves any trouble to hold their rank in the great scale of animal creation. To render the above invaluable accomplishment easy of acquirement, is the principal design of THE ĤIVE, wherein all the vices, virtues, relative duties, and affections of the human soul are delineated by the masterly hands of many of the first writers in the English language, who are as much esteemed for their correctness, ease, elegance, and beauty of diction, as for their conciseness, perspicuity, justness, and dignity of thought.
The editor of this miscellaneous volume, deeply impressed with the importance of the above consideration, without any parade of unmeaning ceremony, humbly recommends The Hive to the support and attention of the candid public, as a publication solely intended to improve the heart, to inform the judgment, and gently to draw the affections to the love of virtue.
The present misfortume is always deemed the
greatest : therefore, small causes are sufficient to make us uneasy, when great cres are not in the way.
E ought to make a good improvement of past and present afflictions. If they are not sanctified to us, they become a double cross ; but if they work rightly in us, and convince us of our failings, and how justiy we are afflicted, they do us much good. Afiction is a spiritual physic for the soul, and is compared to a furnace : for as gold is tried and purified therein, so men are proved, and either purified from their dross, and fitted for good uses, or else entirely burnt up and undone for ever.
Therefore may all who labor under any kind of affliction, have reason to say with Joe, — " when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as pure gold.”
Let a man live (says Mr. Stccle) but two or three years without affliction, and he is
almost good for nothing, he cannot pray, nor meditate, for keep his heart fixed upon spiritual things; but let God smite him in his child, health, or estate ; now he can find his tongue and affections again; now he awakes and falls to his duty in earnest ; now God has twice as much honor from him as he had before. Now, saith God, this amendment pleaseth me, this rod was well bestowed, I have disappointed him in his great benefit and advantage.
It may be boldly affirmed, that good men generally reap more substantial benefit from their afflictions, than bad men do from their prosperities ; and what they lose in wealth, pleasure, or honor, they gain with vast advantage in wisdom, goudness, and tranquillity of mind.
Prosperity is not without its troubles, nor adversity without its comforts. A mind that can bear affliction without murmur, and the weight of a plentiful fortune without vain glory,—that can be familiar without meanness, and reserved without pride, has something in it great, particularly pleasing and truly admirable.
Nothing would be more unhappy, (said Demetrius,) than a man who had never known alliction. The best need afflictions for the trials of their virtue : How can we exercise the grace of contentment, if all things succeed well ? or that of forgiveness if we have no enemies ?