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Through all ranks and conditions, "one generation passeth, and another generation cometh ;" and this great inn is by turns evacuated, and replenished by troops of succeeding pilgrims.—Ó vain and inconstant world! O fleeting and transient life! When will the sons of men learn to think of thee, as they ought? When will they learn humanity from the afflictions of their brethren; or moderation and wisdom, from the sense of their own fugitive state.
THE DYING INFIDEL.
People doubt because they will doubt. Dreadful disposition! Can nothing discover thine enormity? What is infidelity good for? By what charm doth it lull the soul into a willing ignorance of its origin and end? If, during a short space of a mortal life, the love of independence tempt us to please ourselves with joining this monstrous party; how dear will the union cost us when we come to die!
O! were my tongue dipped in the gall of celestial displeasure, I would describe to you the state of a man expiring in the cruel uncertainties of unbelief; who seeth, in spite of himself, yea, in spite of himself, the truth of that religion, which he hath endeavoured to no purpose to eradicate from his heart. Ah! see! "I am every thing contributes to trouble him now. dying-I despair of recovering-Physicians have givfriends are en me over The sighs and tears of my useless yet they have nothing else to bestow-Medicines take no effect-consultations come to nothingalas! not you-not my little fortune-the world cannot cure me-I must die-It is not a preacher—it is not a religious book-it is not a trifling declaimerit is death itself that preacheth to me-I feel, I know not what, shivering cold in my blood-I am in a dying
sweat-my feet, my hands, every part of my body is wasted-I am more like a corpse than a living bodyI am rather dead than alive-I must die-Whither am I going? What will become of me? What will be1 come of my body? My God! what a frightful spectacle! I see it! The horrid torches the dismal shroud -the coffin-the pall-the tolling bell-the subterranean abode-carcasses-worms-putrefaction-what will become of my soul? I am ignorant of its destiny —I am tumbling headlong into eternal night-my infidelity tells me, my soul is nothing but a portion of subtile matter-another world a vision-immortality a fancy-But yet, I feel, I know not what, that troubles my infidelity-annihilation, terrible as it is, would appear tolerable to me, were not the ideas of heaven and hell to present themselves to me, in spite of myself-But I see that heaven, that immortal mansion of glory shut against me—I see it at an immense distance-I see it a place, which my crimes forbid me to enter-I see a hell-hell, which I have ridiculedit opens under my feet-I hear the horrible groans of the damned-the smoke of the bottomless pit choaks my words, and wraps my thoughts in suffocating darkness."
Such is the infidel on a dying bed. dying bed. This is not an imaginary flight: it is not an arbitrary invention, it is a description of what we see every day in the fatal visits to which our ministry engageth us, and to which God seems to call us to be sorrowful witnesses of his displeasure and vengeance. This is what infidelity comes to. This is what infidelity is good for. Thus most sceptics die, although, while they live, they pretend to free them from vulgar errors. I ask again, what charms are there in a state, that hath such dreadful consequences? How is it possible for men, rational men, to carry their madness to such an excess?
NOVELS AND ROMANCES.
One of the most obvious distinctions of the works of romance is, an utter violation of all the relations between ends and means. Sometimes such ends are proposed as seem quite dissevered from means, inasmuch as there are scarcely any supposable means on earth to accomplish them: but no matter; if we cannot ride we must swim, if we cannot swim we must fly: the object is effected by a mere poetical omnipotence that wills it. And very often practicable objects are attained by means the most fantastic, improbable, or inadequate; so that there is scarcely any resemblance between the method in which they are accomplished by the dexterity of fiction, and that in which the same things must be attempted in the actual economy of the world. Now, when you see this absurdity of imagination prevailing in the calculations of real life, you may justly apply the epithet romantic.
Indeed a strong and habitually indulged imagination may be so absorbed in the end, if it is not a concern of absolute immediate urgency, as for a while quite to forget the process of attainment. It has incantations to dissolve the rigid laws of time and distance, and place a man in something so like the sence of his object, that he seems half to possess it; and it is hard while occupying the verge of paradise, to be flung far back in order to find or make a path to it, with the slow and toilsome steps of reality. In the luxury of promising himself that what he wishes will by some means take place at some time, he for
gets that he is advancing no nearer to it-except on the wise and patient calculation that he must, by the simple movement of growing older, be coming somewhat nearer to every event that is yet to happen to him. He is like a traveller, who, amidst his indolent musings in some soft bower, where he sat down to be shaded a little while from the rays of the noon, falls asleep, and dreams he is in the midst of all the endearments of home, insensible that there are many hills and dales yet for him to traverse. But the traveller will awake; so too will the man of fancy, and if he has the smallest capacity of just reflection, he will regret to have wasted in reveries the time which ought to have been devoted to practical exertions.
But even though reminded of the necessity of intervening means, the man of imagination will often be tempted to violate their relation with ends, by permitting himself to dwell on those happy casualties which the prolific sorcery of his mind will promptly figure to him as the very things, if they would but occur, to accomplish his wishes at once, without the toil of a sober process. If they would occur-and things as strange might happen: he reads in the newspapers that an estate of twenty thousand pound perannum was lately adjudged to a man who was working on the road. He has even heard of people dreaming that in such a place something valuable was concealed; and that, on searching or digging that place, they found an old earthern pot, full of gold and silver pieces of the times of good king Charles the Martyr. Mr. B- was travelling by the mail-coach, in which he met with a most interesting young lady, whom he had never seen before; they were mutually delighted, and were married in a few weeks. Mr. C- a man of great merit in obscurity, was walk ing across a field when Lord D- in chase of a fox, leaped over a hedge, and fell off his horse into a ditch. Mr. C with the utmost alacrity and kind solicitude helped his lordship out of the ditch, and recovered for him his escaped horse. The conse
quence was inevitable; his lordship superior to the pride of being mortified to have been seen in a condition so unlucky for giving the impression of nobility, commenced a friendship with Mr. C and introduced him into honourable society and the road to fortune. A very ancient maiden lady of large fortune happening to be embarrassed in a crowd, a young clergyman offered her his arm, and politely attended her home; his attention so captivated her, that she bequeathed to him, soon after, the whole of her estate, though she had many poor relations.
That class of fictitious works called novels, though much more like real life than the romances that preceded them, (and which are now, with some alterations partly come into vogue again,) are yet full of these lucky incidents and adventures, which are introduced as the chief means towards the ultimate success. A young man without fortune, for instance, is precluded from making his addresses to a young female in a superior situation, whom he believes not indifferent to him, until he can approach her with such worldly advantages, as it might not be imprudent or degrading for her to accept. Now how is this to be accomplished? Why, I suppose by the exertion of his talents in some fair and practicable department; and perhaps the lady besides will generously abdicate for his sake some of the trappings and luxuries of rank.-You really suppose this is the plan? I am sorry you have so much less genius than a novel-writer. This young man has an uncle, who has been absent a long time, nobody knows where, except the young man's lucky stars. During his absence, the old uncle has gained a large fortune, with which he returns to his native land, at a time most opportune for every one, but a highwayman, who attacks him in a road through a wood, but is frightened away by the young hero, who happens to come there at the instant, to rescue and recognize his uncle, and to be in return recognized and made the heir to as many thousands as the lady or her family could wish. Must not the reader think