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simplicity of natural affections have somewhat so nearly sacred, that their existence seems the only memento in the possession of fallen man to remind his heart that it was created the seat of
peace and virtue.
After he has been deluded by visions of selfishness, and pursued the phantom through each gradation of its appearance, from the pleasures of youth to the ambition of manhood, or the avarice of age, the apparition at last fades into the spectre of death! He stops in his eager chace, and feels that time has passed as a harassed dream; yet he would feign glean its remnant of hours, feign dedicate them to humble hopes, and make the only exchange for lost happiness in the repose of penitent resignation. He seeks a solace for disappointment in th bosom of his family, and finds no balm so healing to the corrosions of care, as the anodyne of patient love administered in the seclusion of home.
Seclusion--. Employment of time Happiness
sought in virtue—The law of honour, the law of conscience, the law of God-Personal experience and conviction-Erroneous ideas of the Gospel rectified by the Scriptures—Meditation in a field—A vision of fancy.
I do not know what others find, but I am continually reminded that time is too limited for all the intents of its expenditure. The habits get defined into an interchange of employment, which gives such a serenity to every passing hour, that one call of industry treads upon the heels of another in swift succession of increasing occupation. The spirits are thus preserved in equilibrium, and we are really as happy as we can be (as to temporal instrumentality) when we simplify the enjoyments of sense.
There seems room vacated in the heart to bless the giver, when his gifts do not absorb us; and
thus moderation in partaking of all things bestowed for our pleasure, ensures the very flavour we wish to extract.
I soon got domesticated in my rural apartment, dressed it with plants, displayed my limited library in neat order, prepared my drawing implements, and ornamented the walls with a few sketches, which were tokens of remembrance from their tasteful delineators. These arrangements completed, and serenity having succeeded to the excitement of my arrival, I began to feel that the understanding needs sustenance, independent of the affections.
Leisure, uncontrolled by exertion, will produce ennui as surely as the most useless profusion of moments. Our nature is such a subtle compound of requirements, that a vacuum is equally injurious to the head as to the heart; but where the one covets instruction, and the other is animated by philanthropy, the incidents of every day may be appropriated to improvement,
Wherever we dwell, or however we are employed, the affinity of hope and sorrow, of sin and remorse, which binds us to our surrounding neighbours, must bring our feelings into contact with their joys and griefs; and if the sympathies of nature have notified the events which are strewed around us, it is profitable for the mind to gather up these fragments of observation, before the rippling current of time shall wash away their vestiges The smallest accidents which the Lord intends to bless, are sufficient in his hand to produce a blessing, and we must learn to calculate mercies not by the measure of their size, but by the weight of their love.
My experiment on general society had imperceptibly led me to the scripture conclusion, “all is vanity,” and more than vanity-vexation of spirit; the disappointment as turbulent as the objects of our desires are empty. But I still restricted this humiliating expression to pursuits which were avowedly in alliance with the world. I thought dissipated cities and godless multitudes were the chief exemplifiers of such a doctrine, and when removed from these haunts of temptation, I expected to meet with human nature, not indeed pure in pristine innocence, but eminent in the love of virtue, and sometimes eminent in its practice. I delighted to pourtray repentance in all that fortitude of suffering which has a strengthening
tendency towards perfection, and to picture the ascent of a soul beyond its atmosphere of frailty, into those heights of glory which should be its reward for holy aspirations.
Amidst embers of transgression which almost smothered its vitality, I concluded that a spark of divine life still dwelt within the spirit of man, and that when the breath of heaven should disperse every impediment, and fan the emancipated light into a blaze, the regenerated faculties would progressively reassume their proportion, and exhibit to the emulation of others a consistent model of excellence.
The religion of the natural mind grafted on previous instruction of education, will generally be found in concordance with opinions which have self-attainment for their aim, and the excitement of sensibility for their support ; and, until the Revealer of divine secrets becomes our teacher in his truths, it is impossible to discern the distinction between that faith which is personified by a devout imagination, and that gift of God which is the faith of Christianity.
Mariners at sea often mistake a bank of fog for land, and have been deluded out of