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thousand of the inhabitants of Sicily, perished in the ru ins. Catanea, to which city the describer was travelling seemed the principal scene of ruin ; its place only was to be found, and not a footstep of its former magnificence was to be seen remaining.
Creation. TN the progress of the Divine works and government, 1 there arrived a period, in which this earth, was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might, and, with a word, created the world.—What an illustrious moment was that, when, from non-existence, there sprang at once into being, this mighty globe, on which* so many millions of creatures now dwell!
2 No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was employed. “He spake, and it was done: he commanded ; and it stood fast. The earth was at first without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” The Almighty surveyed the dark abyss; and fixed bounds to the several divisions of nature. He said, “ Let there be light; and there was light."
3 Then appeared the sea, and the dry land. The moun. tains rose ; and the rivers flowed. The sun, and moon, began their course in the skies. Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, and the waters, were stored with their respective inhabitants. At last, man was made after the image of God.
4 He appeared, walking with countenance erect; and received his Creator's benediction, as the lord of this new world. The Almighty beheld his work when it was finished; and pronounced it good. Superior beings saw, with wonder, this new accession to existence. “The morning stars sang together; and all the sons of God, shouted for joy."-BLAIR,
i SECTION VII. mendean
Charity. CHARITY is the same with benevolence or love; and is U the term uniformly employed in the New Testament, to denote all the good affections which we ought to bear towards one another. It consists not in speculative ideas of general benevolence, floating in the head, and leaving the heart, as speculations too often do, untouched and cold. Neither is it confined to that indolent good nature, which makes us rest satisfied with being free from inveterate malice, or ill-wi
our fellow-creatures, without prompting us to be of service to any.
2 True charity, is an active principle. It is not properly a single virtue ; but a disposition residing in the heart, as a fountain whence all the virtues of benignity, candour, forbearance, generosity, compassion, and liberality, flow, as so many native streams. From general good-will to all, it extends its influence, particularly to those with whom we stand in nearest connexion, and who are directly within the sphere of our good offices.
3 From the country or community to which we belong, it descends to the smaller associations of neighbourhood, relations, and friends; and spreads itself over the whole circle of social and domestic life. I mean not that it imports a promiscuous undistinguished affection, which gives every inan an equal title to our love. Charity, if we should endeavour to carry it so far, would be rendered an impracticable virtue; and would resolve itself into mere words, without affecting the heart.
4 True charity attempts not to shut our eyes to the distinction between good and bad men; nor to warm our hearts equally to those who befriend, and those who injure us. It reserves our esteem for good men, and our complacency for our friends. Towards our enemies, it inspires forgiveness, humanity, and a solicitude for their welfare. It breathes universal candour, and liberality of sentiment. It ty forms gentleness of temper, and dictates affability of manners. li
5 It prompts corresponding sympathies with them who 1: rejoice, and them who weep. It teaches us to slight and despise no man. Charity is the comforter of the afflicted, the ; protector of the oppressed, the reconciler of differences, the intercessor for offenders. It is faithfulness in the friend, public spirit in the magistrate, equity and patience in the judge, moderation in the sovereign, and loyalty in the subject.
6 In parents, it is care and attention; in children, it is reverence and submission. In a word, it is the soul of social life. It is the sun that enlivens and cheers the abodes of men. It is “ like the dew of Hermon,” says the Psalmist, "and the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion, where the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”
BLAIR. SECTION VIII. Prosperity is redoubled to a good man. ANTONE but the temperate, the regular, and the virtuous, I know how to enjoy prosperity. They bring to its com
forts the manly relish of a sound uncorrupted mind. They s top at the proper point, before enjoyment degenerates into (lisgust, and pleasure is converted into pain. They are sitrangers to those complaints which flow from spleen, caprice, and all the fantastical distresses of a vitiated mind. While riotous indulgence enervates both the body and the mind purity and virtue, heighten all the powers of human fruition
2 Feeble are all pleasures in which the heart has no share The selfish gratifications of the bad, are both narrow in their circle, and short in their duration. But prosperity is redipubled to a good man, by his generous use of it. It is reflected back upon him from every one whom he makes happy. In the intercourse of domestic affection, in the attachment of friends, the gratitude of dependants, the esteem and goodvill of all who know him, he sees blessings multiplied on every side.
3 “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing with joy: I Was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame: I was a frither to the poor; and the cause which I knew not, I searched out.”
4 Thus, while the righteous man flourishes like a tree planted by the rivers of water, he brings forth also his fruit in its season: and that fruit he brings forth, not for himself alone. He flourishes, not like a tree in some solitary desert, wlich scatters its blossoms to the wind, and communicates neither fruit nor shade to any living thing: but like a tree in the midst of an inhabited country, which to some affords friendly shelter, to others fruit; which is not only admired by all for its beauty; but blessed by the traveller for the shade, and by the hungry for the sustenance it hath given.
BLAIR. SECTION IX.
On the beauties of the Psalms. N REATNESS confers no exemption from the cares and
T sorrows of life: its share of them, frequently bears a melancholy proportion to its exaltation. This the monarch of Israel experienced. He sought in piety, that peace which he could not find in empire ; and alleviated the disquietudes of state, with the exercises of devotion. His invaluable Psalms, convey those comforts to others, which they afforded to himself
( 18 c)
2 Composed upon particular occasions, yet designed for general use ; delivered out as services for Israelites under the Law, yet no less adapted to the circumstances of Christians under the Gospel; they present religion to us in the most engaging dress; communicating truths which philosophy could never investigate, in a style which poetry can r-ever equal; while history is made the vehicle of prophecy, and creatíon lends all its charms to paint the glories of redemption.
3 Calculated alike to profit and to please, they inform the understanding, elevate the affections, and entertain the imagination. Indited under the influence of HIM, to whom all hearts are known, and all events foreknown, they suit man. kind in all situations; grateful as the manna which descended from above, and conformed itself to every palate.
4 The fairest productions of human wit, after a few perysals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands, and lose their fragrancy: but these unfading plants of paradise, become, as we are accustomed to them, still more and inore beautiful ; their bloom appears to be daily heightened ; fresh odours are emitted, and new sweets extracted from them. He who has once tasted their excellences, will desire to taste them again; and he who tastes them oftenest, will relish them best.
5 And now, could the author flatter himself, that any one would take half the pleasure in reading his work, which he has taken in writing it, he would not fear the loss of his labour. The employment detached him from the bustle and hurry of life, the din of politics, and the noise of folly. Vanity and vexation, flew away for a season; care and disquietude came not near bis dwelling. He arose, fresh as the morning, to his task; the silence of the night, invited him to pursue it; and he can truly say, that food and rest, were not preferred before it.
6 Every psalm improved infinitely upon his acquaintance with it, and no one gave him uneasiness but the last: for then he grieved that his work was done. Happier hours than those which have been spent in these meditations on the songs of Sion, he never expects to see in this world. Very pleasantly did they pass; they moved smoothly and swiftly along: for when thus engaged, he counted no time. They are gone; but they have left a relish and a fragrance upon the mind; and the remembrance of them is sweet.
HORNE. SECTION X. Character of ALFRED, king of England. MT HE merit of this prince, both in private and public hte, I may, with advantage, be set in opposition to that of any monarch or citizen, which the annals of any age, or any nation, can present to us. He seems, indeed, to be the complete model of that perfect character, which, under the denomination of a sage or wise man, the philosophers have been fond of delineating, rather as a fiction of their imagination, than in hopes of ever seeing it reduced to practice: so happily were all his virtues tempered together; so justly were they blended ; and so powerfully did each prevent the other from exceeding its proper bounds.
2 He knew how to conciliate the most enterprising spirit, with the coolest moderation; the most obstinate perseverance, with the easiest flexibility; the most severe justice, with the greatest lenity; the greatest rigour in command, with the greatest affability of deportment; the highest capacity and inclination for science, with the most shining talents for action.
3 Nature also, as if desirous that so bright a production of her skill should be set in the tairest light, had bestowed on him all bodily accomplishments; vigour of limbs, dignity of shape and air, and a pleasant, engaging, and open countenance. By living in that barbarous age, he was deprived of histori ans worthy to transmit his fame to posterity; and we wish to see him delineated in more lively colours, and with more particular strokes, that we might at least perceive some o. those small specks and blemishes, from which, as a man, it is impossible he could be entirely exempted.
HUME. SECTION XI. Character of QUEEN ELIZABETH. THERE are few personages in history, who have been I more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than queen Elizabeth ; and yet there scarcely is any, whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have, at last, in spite of political factions, and, what is more, of religious animosities, produrer a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct.”
2 Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her perietration, vigilance, and address, are allowed to merit the highest praises; and appear not to have been surpassed by any person who ever filled a throne; a conduct less rigorous, less iniperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to forin a perfect character. By the force