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enjoyment of pleasure: but I shall at present decline considering the subject in this view; and confine myfelf to point out the direct effects of a proper attention to the distreffes of life upon our moral and religious character.

In the first place, the house of mourning is calculated to give a proper check to our natural thoughtlefsnefs and levi. ty. The indolence of mankind, and their love of pleasure, spread through all characters and ranks fome degree of a. versión to what is grave and serious. They grasp at any object, either of business or amusement, which makes the present moment pass smoothly away ; which carries their thoughts abroad, and faves them from the trouble of re. flecting on themselves. With too many, this passes into a habit of constant dissipation. If their fortune and rank allow them to indulge their inclinations, they devote themselves to the pursuit of amusement through all its different forms. The skilful arrangement of its succeslive scenes, and the preparatory study for shining in each, are the only exertions in which their understanding is employed. Such a mode of life may keep alive, for a while, a frivolous vi. vacity: it may improve men in some of those exter ior accomplishments, which sparkle in the eyes of the giddy and the vain ; but it must link them in the esteem of all be wise. It renders them strangers to themselves; and uselefs, if not pernicious to the world. They lose every manly principle. Their minds become relaxed and effeminate. All that is great or respectable in the human character is buried under a mass of trifles and follies.

If some measures ought to be taken for rescuing the mind from this disgraceful levity ; if fome principles mult be acquired, which may give inore dignity and steadineis to conduct ; where are these to be looked for ? Not furely in the house of feasting, where every object flatters the senses, and strengthens the reductions to which we are already prone ; where the spirit of dilipation circulates from heart to heart; and the children of folly mutually admire and are admired.

It is in the fober and serious boule of mourn. ing that the tide of vanity is made to turn, and a new direction given to the current of thought. When fome affect. ing incident presents a strong discovery of the deceitfulness of all worldly joy, and roules our sensibility to human wo; when we behold those with whom we had lately mingled in the house of feasting, funk by some of the sudden vici ii. tudes of life into the vale of misery; or when, in fad filence,

we stand by the friend whom we had loved as our own foul, Atretched on the bed of death ; then is the season when the world begins to appear in a new light; wlien the heart opens to virtuous sentiments, and is led into that train of re. dedion which ought to direct life. He, who before knew not what it was to commune with his heart on any serious fubject, now 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 amufe for a little, but which, he now sees, cannot save the heart from anguifh in the evil day. Touched by the hand of thoughtful melancholy, that airy edifice of bliss, which faney had raised up for him, vanishes away. He beholds, in the place of it, the lonely and barren defert, in which, furrounded with many a disagreeable obje&, he is left muling upon himself. The time which he has inispent, and the faculties which he has milemployed, his foolith levity and his criminal pursuits, all tile in painful prospect before him. That unknown state of existence into which, race after race, the children of men pals, itrikes his mind with folemn

awe,

Is there no course by which he can retrieve his past errors? Is there no fupe.

power to which he can look up for aid ? Is there no plan of conduct which, if it exempt him not from forrow, can at lealt procure him confolation amidst the distressful exigencies of life? Such meditations as these, fuggested by the house of mourning, frequently produce a change in the whole character. They revive thote sparks of goodness which were nearly extinguished in the diflipated mind; and give rise to principles of conduct more rational in themselves, and more suitable to the human ftate.

In the next place, impressions of this nature fot only produce moral feriouhiefs, but awaken sentiments of piety, and bring men into the fanctuary of religion. One might, indeed, imagine that the blessings of a prosperous condition would

prove the most natural incitements to devotion ; and that when men were happy in themselves, and law 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, as ruffled by any griefs; when they neither receive in their own circumstances, nor allow themselves to receive from the cir. cumstances of others, any admonitions of human instability, they not only become regardless of Providence, but are in hazard of contemning it. Glorying in their trength, 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 neceffary is it that, by some change in their situation, mer should be obliged to enter into the house of mourning, in order to recover a proper sense of their dependent state ! It is there, when forsaken by the gaieties of the world, and left alone with the Almighty, that we are made to perceive how awful his government is; how easily human greatness bends before him; and how quickly all our designs and measures, at his interpofal, vanilh into nothing. There, when the countenance is fad, and the affections are softened by grief; when we fit apart involved in serious thought, looking down as from fome 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 fee, we feel how much we stand in need of an Almighty Protector, amidit 'the changes of this vain world. Our foul cleaves to him who “ despises not, nor abhors the affliction of the af. dicted.” Prayer flows forth of its own accord from the re. lenting 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 strength. en ns 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 fo many rays of light sent down from above to dispel, in fome 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 cordiat of grief. In such moments as these, which we may justly call happy moments, the foul participates of all the pleasures of devotion. It feels the power of religion to

fupport and relieve. It is softened without being broken. It is full, and it 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, " forrow may be better than laughter.” Wouldit thou ac.. quire the habit of recollection, and fix the principles of thy conduct ; wouldīt 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 af. fections which delight the compaflionate and humane; wouldlt 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, go--not to scenes of pleasure and riot, not to the house of feasting and mirth -but to the filent house of mourning ; and adventure to dwell for a while among objects that will foften thy heart. Contemplate the lifeless remains of what once was fair and fourishing. B.ing home to thyself the viciffitudes of life. Recall the remembrance of the friend, the parent, or the child, whom thou tenderly lovedit. Look back on the days of former years; and think on the companions of thy youth, who now fleep in the dust. Let the vanity, the mu. tability and the forrows of the human ftate, rise in full prospect before thee ; and though thy “countenance may be made fad, thy heart Thall be made better.” This fadneis, though for the prefent it dejects, yet fhall in the end fortify thy {pirit ; inspiring thee with such fertiments, and prompting such resolucions as fhall enable thee to enjoy, with more real advantage, the rest of life. Dilpolitions 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 “ fowing 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 deferves to be sometimes indulged. ! Religion hath, on the whole, provided for every good man, abundant materials of confolation and relief. How dark foever the present face of nature may appear, it difpels the darkness, when it brings into view the entire fyftem of things, and extends our survey to the whole kingdom of God. It represents that we now behold as only a part, and a small part, of the general order. It affures us, that though here, for wile ends, mifery and corrow are permitted to have place, these temporary evils thall, in the end, advance the happiness of all who love God, and are faith. ful to their duty. It shows them this mixed and confused scene vanishing by degrees away, and preparing the introduction of that Itate, where the house of mourning shall be fhut up forever ; where no tears are seen and no groans heard; where no hopes are frustrated, and no virtuous connexions dissolved; but where, under the light of the Divine countenance, goodness shall flourish ia perpetual felicity. Thus, though religion may occasionally chasten our mirth with sadness of countenance, yet under that sadness it allows not the heart of good men to link. 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 peevish and unreasonable complaints of human life, or injuriously to ascribe to it more evil than it contains Mixed as the present Itate is, she pronounces, that generally, if not always, there is more happiness than misery, more pleasure than pain, in the condition of man.

It calls upon

BLAIR

CHAP. VI.

DIALOGUES.

SECTION I.

THERON AND ASPASIO.

Beauty and utility combined in the productions of nature. THERON and Aspasio took a morning walk into the fields; their fpirits cheered, and their imaginations lively; gratitude glowing in their hearts, and the whole creation smiling around them.

After sufficient exercise, they feated themselves on a mosfy hillock, which offered its couch. The rising fun had visited the spot, to dry up the dews and exhale the damps, that might endanger health ; to open the violets, and to expand the prinıroses, that decked the green. The whole fnade of the vood was collected behind them; and a beau. tiful, extensive, diversified landscape spread itself before them.

Theron, according to his usual manner, made many inproving remarks on the prospect, and its furniture. He traced the foot teps of an All.comprehending contrivance,

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