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in the great chart of nature; all the adjacent islands, and the whole coast of Italy, as far as your eye can reach; fof it is nowhere bounded, but every where lost in the space. On the sun's first rising, the shadow of the mountain extends across the whole island, and makes a large tract visible even in the sea and in the air. By degrees this is shortened, and in a little time is confined only to the neighborhood of .Etna."
Why is it that every one is pleased with the common ivy? There is a charm about that plant which all feel, but none can tell why. Observe it hanging from the arch of some old bridge, and consider the degree of interest it gives to that object. The bridge itself may be beautifully situated; the stream passing through its arches clear and copious; but still, it is the ivy which gives the finished and picturesque effect.
Mouldering towers and cast!es, and ruined cloisters, interest our feelings in a degree more or less, by the circumstance of their being covered or not by the ivy. Precipices, which else would exhibit only their naked, barren walls, are clothed by it in a rich and beautiful vesture. Old trees, whose trunks it surrounds, assume a great variety of aspect; and, indeed, it is a most important agent in forming the beauty and variety of rural landscape.
It is also as useful as it is beautiful; and among its uses, I would include the very thing of which I am now speaking, for I have no idea that the forms and colors in nature, please the eye by a sort of chance. If I admire the ivy clinging to and surmounting some time-worn tower, and the various tints that diversify the parts of the ruin not hidden by it, I can only refer the pleasure I experience, to the natural construction of the human mind, which the Almighty has formed to feel a pleasure, in contemplating the external world around it.
Who is insensible to the beauties of nature at the rising and setting of the summer's sun? Who can behold the moonbeams reflected from some silent river, lake, or sea, and not feel happy in the sight? None, I believe, in early life. When hardened in the ways of men—when the chief good pursued is the accumulation of wealth, the acquisition of power, or the pursuit of pleasure, so called,—then mankind lose a sense of the beauties of nature; but never, perhaps till then. A love for them is inherent in the mind, and almost always shows itself in youth; and, if cherished at that period by education, would seldom be destroyed or become dormant in after life, as it now so generally is.
The ivy is of vast advantage to the smaller birds, as it affords them shelter in winter, and a retreat for building their nests in spring and summer. It is in fructification in October and November, and the sweet juice which its flowers exude, supports an infinity of insects in autumn, while its berries are a store of nutriment for many birds in early spring
The Pleasures of Religion.—Smith.
A Righteous man is a happy man, because he is a free man, and the servant to no inward lust. He can act up to his own decisions, and when he sees what is right, he can do it. He has found from experience, that the impulse of passion may be withstood, till the resistance becomes habitually strong, and the passion habitually weak.
While the sinner stands trembling, and says to himself, shall I enjoy this one pleasure? shall I tempt the mercy of God only this once? the righteous man treads down Satan beneath his feet, defends his soul, and walks on to his salvation, unheeding bad pleasures that lure him from eternity.
If there is wretchedness upon earth, it is to live by a rule which we perpetually violate; first, to convince ourselves that the thing is right, that prudence requires it, that the world approves it, that religion ordains it; then, when the eye is tempted, when the heart is touched only by the faint beginnings of pleasure, to forget prudence, to forget the world, to forget religion, to enjoy, and to repent.
He, who has suffered this long, hates and despises himself; he can see nothing venerable in his own nature; nothing but that levity and voluptuousness, which he would despise in others, and which, in spite of all self-love he knows to be despicable in himself.
The most miserable of human beings are professed sinners, men who despise rule, who look upon their passions as mere instruments of pleasure, and are determined to extract from life, every drop of amusement it can afford. The last excess is stale, and tiresome; there must be a higher degree of emotion; when every thing else is exhausted, the destruction of all decency affords some little entertainment; to laugh at religion is, for some time new, and amusing. But immodesty, and blasphemy soon weary, and the sinner finds, that he has not chosen the path of pleasantness and peace.
In fact, putting aside all religious considerations, there is not a greater mistake in the world, than to suppose, that a profligate man is a happy man. He seems to be happy, because his enjoyments are inore visible, and ostentatious; but is in truth a very sorry, and shallow impostor, who may deceive the young, but is laughed at by the wise, and by all who know in what true happiness consists.
The truly happy man is he, who has early discovered, that he carries within his own bosom his worst enemies, that the contest must be manfully entered into; that if righteousness does not save him from his sinful appetites, they will rule him, up to the moment of the grave; that they will bend him down to the earth, and tear, and rend him like the bad spirits in scripture; that his fame will be sullied, his mind and body wasted away, and his substance destroyed.
When Solomon saw these things, when he beheld one man groaning with despair, another withing with disease, when he beheld the follies, the errors, and crimes of the world, and could see nothing placid, nothing calm, nothing stable, but the righteous man; then he said, (and oh how truly, and wisely he said it,) the ways of that man are the ways of pleasantness, and his paths the paths of peace.
A religious man is happy because he is secure; because it is not in the power of accident, or circumstance, to disclose any secret guilt; as he is, he has long been; he can refer to the blameless tenor of years; to a mind long exercised in avoiding offence towards God, and towards man! His present enjoyments are never polluted, by bitter remembrances of the past; whatever he has of honor, or consideration among men, he has it honestly, and safely; it does! inot ;depend upon their ignorance, nor upon his dexterity, •aabr »fpon any fortunate combination of events.
The more men know him, the more they love ■him, the more they try him, the more plainly they are convinced that he follows after righteousness as the truest wisdom, and that this feeling is the plain and simple key to all his actions. Herein it is that the sinner so grossly miscalculates his happiness, and that he is so bitterly taunted by the great masters of ethics in the scriptures; that he has lost that, in which the pleasantness and comfort of righteousness principally consists; the inviolable feeling of security by which it is accompanied.
Believe me, whether you have sold this for money, or parted with it for ambition, or bartered it for tht. joy of some vile appetite, you have lost the purest and noblest instrument of human happiness. The time will come, when you will say to yourself, why did I do this? why did I give up my pleasant innocence? why cannot I look upon every man that I meet, with the same firmness and cheerfulness with which I was wont?
In this short, and passing life, there is nothing whieh can repay a man for the loss of his own conscious purity. In extreme old age, he will loathe the chariots, and the horses, the purple, the fine linen, and the sumptuous fare, the price of his soul, and will remember, (when it is too late,) that the ways of righteousness were pleasant, and her paths the paths of peace.
There is no season of the day or year, which gives me such pure and exquisite pleasure, as that of a Summer's Sabbath evening, when the heart has been soothed, and the spirit elevated by recent acts of devotion; and when, over every mountain and valley, forest and river, a holy tranquillity reposes, as if inanimate nature were conscious of the sanctitv of the day of rest.
To an observer of feeling and imagination, the contemplation of nature is a source of continual enjoyment: the budding Spring inspires him with hope; the full blown Summer fills him with joy; the decaying Autumn speaks to him of his own decay, like the soothing voice of a parent that invites him to repose, after the labors of the day; and the desolating Winter gives intimation of his death, when, like the faded flowers, his body shall be withering in the oust, and his spirit, like the birds of passage that follow the genial seasons in their journey round the globe, shall have winged its way to a better and happier region.
But a Summer's Sabbath evening is the season of the most exalted enjoyment: it is then that there seems to be an inti'nate communion between earth and heaven, and we feel as if partakers of the pleasures of both worlds: it is then that their confines seem to meet, and we feel as if, by one step, we could pass from time into eternity.
On a beautiful Sabbath evening, about the middle of July, I pursued my walk along a narrow path that stretched through an extensive wood, to enjoy alone and undisturbed, that soothing melancholy, which is to me sweeter than the turbulence of social merriment.
The sun had just set,—the twilight star was twinkling, like the eye of a beautiful woman, whose lashes are quivering with the effects of departing sorrow that bedewed them with tears, and the thrush was pouring forth his vesper hymn on the topmost twig of the tall larch tree, as if he thought that his song would sound the sweeter, the nearer he could make his perch to heaven.
It was to me a scene Of peculiar interest: on the one side, stood the home of my father and mother, brothers and sisters, the affectionate beings who appeared to me parts of my own existence, without whom, without one of whom I could not live; and on the other side, lay the churchyard where my forefathers slept in 'the narrow house,' and where my kindred and myself were in all likelihood destined to sleep—one of us, perhaps, in a few days, for my mother was at that time sick,—the being who gave me birth—who nourished me on her bosom in infancy—who condoled my sorrows in manhood—the thought of her death was dreadful.
But my mind was soon called from its agonizing anticipations, by the tremulous tones of a plaintive voice; when, on looking around me, I saw a man kneeling beneath a branching fir, and praying loudly and fervently. It was not, however, the prayer of the Pharisee, in the corner of the street, where every eye might behold him: the person before me was unconscious that any eye beheld him, but that of his Creator whom he was so earnestly supplicating.
I never saw a more affecting picture of devotion. I have