« ZurückWeiter »
nature without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength; to consider, that she is to shine for ever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity ; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation for ever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing nearer to him by greater degrees of resemblance.
Methinks this single consideration of the progress of a finite spirit to perfection will be sufficient to extinguish all envy in inferior natures, and all contempt in superior. That cherub, which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well, that the period will come about in eternity when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is ; nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being; but he knows, that, how high soever the station is of which he stands possessed at present, the inferior nature will at length mount up to it, and shine forth in the same degree of glory.
With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection! We know not yet what we shall be, nor will it ever enter into the heart of man to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him. The soul, considered in relation to its Creator, is like one of those mathematical lines, that may draw nearer to another for all eternity without a possibility of touching it; and can there be a thought so transporting, as to consider ourselves in these perpetual approaches to Him, who is not only the standard of perfection, but of happiness?
ON THE BEING OF A GOD.
RETIRE ;—The world shut out ;-thy thoughts call
What am I ? and from whence? I nothing know
Judgment, and genius? Is it deeply learn'd
ORATIONS AND HARANGUES.
JUNIUS BRUTUS OVER THE DEAD BODY OF LUCRETIA.
YES, noble lady! I swear by this blood, which was once so pure, and which nothing but royal villany could have polluted, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius the proud, his wicked wife, and their children, with fire and sword; nor will I ever suffer any of that family, or of any other whatsoever, to be king in Rome. Ye Gods, I call you to witness this my oath !—There, Romans, turn your eyes to that sad spectacle--the daughter of Lucretius, Collatinus's wife —she died by her own hand. See there a noble lady, whom the lust of a Tarquin reduced to the necessity of being her own executioner, to attest her innocence. Hospitably entertained by her as a kinsman of her husband's, Sextus, the perfidious guest, became her brutal ravisher. The chaste, the generous Lucretia could not survive the insult. Gloria ous woman! but once only treated as a slave, she thought life no longer to be endured. Lucretia, a woman, disdained a life that depended on a tyrant's will; and shall we, shall men, with such an example before our eyes, and after five and twenty years of ignominious servitude, shall we, through a fear of dying, defer one single instant to assert our liberty ? No, Romans, now is the time; the favourable moment we have so long waited for is come. Tarquin is not at Rome. The patricians are at the head of the enterprise. The city is abundantly provided with men, arms, and all things necessary. There is nothing wanting to secure the success, if our own courage do not fail us. Can all these warriors, who
have ever been so brave when foreign enemies were to be subdued, or when conquests were to be made to gratify the ambition and avarice of Tarquin, be then only cowards, when they are to deliver themselves from slavery ? Some of you are perhaps intimidated by the army which Tarquin now commands : The soldiers, you imagine, will take the part of their general. Banish so groundless a fear. The love of liberty is natural to all men, Your fellow citizens in the camp feel the weight of oppression with as quick a sense as you that are in Rome: they will as eagerly seize the occasion of throwing off the yoke. But let us grant there
may be some among them, who through baseness of spirit, or a bad education, will be disposed to favour the tyrant. The number of these can be but small, and we have means sufficient in our hands, to reduce them to reason. They have left us hostages more dear to them than life. Their wives, their children, their fathers, their mothers, are here in the city. Courage, Romans ! the Gods are for us ; those Gods, whose temples and altars the impious Tarquin has profaned with sacrifices and libations made with polluted hands, polluted with blood, and with nuinberless unexpiated crimes committed against his subjects. Ye Gods, who protected our forefathers; ye Genii, who watch for the preservation and glory of Rome, do you inspire us with courage and unanimity in this glorious cause, and we will to our last breath defend your worship from profanation. Livy.
HANNIBAL TO HIS SOLDIERS.
I KNOW not, soldiers, whether you or your prisoners be encompassed by fortune with the stricter bonds and necessities. Two seas enclose you on the right and left ;-not a ship to flee to for escaping. Before you is the Po, a river broader and more rapid than the Rhone; behind you are the Alps, over which, even when your numbers were undiminished, you were hardly able to force a passage. Here, then, soldiers, you must either conquer or die the very first hour you meet the enemy. But the same fortune, which has