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and the vine ; or sows the tender grass and useful corn: industry preserves us from inclemencies of weather, and finds some means to supply every want; it procures us wherewith to give alms to the poor, and thereby enables us to lay up a treasure in heaven.
· Happiness, then, a great degree of it, is in our power, even at present : but fools that we are, we forfeit even present happiness for the indulgence of every peevish, froward humour. Let me examine myself a little on this. As much as I condemn it, am I not often guilty of this unaccountable folly ? Am I not readier to cherish unkind suspicions of those I live amongst, than to put a fair and fa. vourable interpretation upon every disagreeable incident ? Am I not almost upon the watch to take offence at every trifling disregard ? Do I not think it beneath me ever to take the first step towards a reconciliation ? Do I not make it a point of honour to keep up resentment, even though it pains me? How much happier are they, who go through the world with an easy good humour; never suspecting that any body means them ill, who does not really and seriously hurt them; passing over every trifle; and by placing themselves above all such peevish follies, maintaining more real dignity than those who are the proudest !
The Duty and Manner of being useful in Society.
“BLESSED are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” How greatly do we all of us need this blessing ; poor guilty creatures, who are every day offending infinite goodness, and provoking almighty power and perfect justice! How then shall we be mercisul, as we ought ? Can this duty be practised by any but the great, or the injured in relieving the distressed, or in pardoning offend. ers? Yes, every one of us may practise it every day we live. It is a great mistake, to think there is no superiority but that which rank and fortune give : every one of us may, in something or other, assist or instruct scme of his fellow-creatures; for the best of human race is poor and needy, and all have a mutual dependence on one another : there is no body that cannot do some good ; and every body is bound to do diligently all the good he can. It is by no means enough to be rightly disposed, to be serious and religious in our closets : we must be useful too; and take care, that as we all reap numberless benefits from society, society may be the better for every one of us. It is a false, a faulty, and an indolent humility, that makes peo
ple sit still and do nothing, because they will not believe that they are capable of doing much; for every body can do something : every body can set a good example, be it to many or to few: every body can, in some degree, encourage virtue and religion, and discountenance vice and folly : every body has some one or other whom he can advise, or instruct, or in some way help to guide through life. Those who are too poor to give alms, can yet give their time, their trouble, their assistance in preparing or forwarding the gifts of others; in con. sidering and representing distressed cases to those who can relieve them; in visiting and comforting the sick and afflicted. Every body can offer up their prayers for those who need them, which, if they do reverently and sincerely, they will never be wanting in giving them every other assistance, that it should please God to put in their power : even those whose poor and toilsome life can adinit of their giving no other help to society, can, by their frugality and industry, at least keep themselves, in a great measure, from being burthensome to the public : a penny thus saved, is a penny given. Dreadful state of those idle creatures, who, dragging on a wretched profligate life in laziness and rags, draw to them. selves those charities, that ought to support the helpless and really disabled poor! Severely, I fear, shall they be accountable for it at the last day; and every one in proportion, who lives an useless and burthensome drone in society. It is our duty to prevent poverty, as well as to relieve it: it is our duty to relieve every other kind of distress, as well as the distress of poverty. People who are always innocently cheerful and good-humoured, are very useful in the world; they maintain peace and happiness, and spread a thankful temper among all that live around them.
Thus for in general : but it is well worth con, sidering, in particular, my own duties and obligations. Who are the people that I ought especially to study to make happy? Are they parents ? What a debt of gratitude do I owe them for all their care of me, and for me, in my helpless years? How kindly did they bear with the froward infirmities of my childhood; and shall not I, with most affectionate tenderness, support and relieve all those which years and cares bring upon them? My more active strength and vigour, my younger spirits and clearer thoughts, may now make me, in my turn, very helpful to them: if they are good people and good parents, I am sure this is my duty: if otherwise, I owe them one of still higher importance ; I owe them the most earnest endeavours I can use, for the reformation of their faults, or instruction of their ignorance : this duty extends to all my relations, and to all from whom I have ever received any benefit, or any offices of friendship. If it is my misfortune that any of them should be bad people, though they have been good to me; or if any of those who are related to me are engaged in a wrong course of life, ought I to fly from them, and leave them to ruin ? No; gratitude and affection forbid it. Ought I then to encourage vice, and flatter folly, if it happens among those that I love? This, my higher duty to Almighty God, to truth
and virtue, absolutely forbid. What, then, is to be done? To preserve the tenderest affection for their persons, and keep up and declare openly the strongest abhorrence of their faults; to avoid every degree and every instance of ease and familiarity that may seem to give the least countenance to their vices; and, at the same time, to employ every art, and every earnest endeavour that can have the least chance of reclaiming them; to pray for and pity them; to reprove and advise them; to please and oblige them in every thing I innocently can. But if, upon the whole, I find them irreclaimable, and myself in the least possible
danger of being infected by their example—then to - fly them as I would the plague; then to cut off a
right hand, and pluck out a right eye, and break through every fondness and every attachment that would destroy my highest, my eternal interest. No ties that subsist among human creatures, can be so strong, can be so dear, or ought to be so indissoluble, as those which for ever bind us to our Creator and Redeemer.
Next to the bonds of nature, are those of choice. Married persons are bound to the observance of very sacred vows, and ought, therefore, often to recollect them, and examine their conduct by them. Among other things, they should carefully consider, whether they have so strict a guard upon their temper as they ought, now the happiness of another person is made so greatly to depend on their easy good humour and cheerfulness; whether they assist and improve one another; and whether