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with a hag that all the country abhors. I wish you, would come to the pastimes; they would put you in a better humour: besides, you would there hear what the shepherds say to this Phyllis, whom you are pleased to despise so.
Damaris. I do not despise you, Phyllis, but I wish you well, and would fain see you as happy as myself. That fine green stuff your gown is made of, would become you much better if it was of your own spinning. But I talk like an old man's daugh. ter, and am little heeded. Go, pretty butterfly, and rejoice in the summer of thy days : let me, like the homely but industrious ant, lay up some provision for the winter.
The Happiness of religious Hope.
IMAGINE, honest friends, that instead of a little book, I am a good-humoured neighbour, come to spend an hour with you in cheerful chat: do not look upon me as one that is come to read you grave lectures of religion and good behaviour; but give me the welcome of an agreeable companion. Is it in a summer's holyday you take me up ? Come, let us go out into the fields, sit down under some shady tree, and while the sun shines and the birds sing round us, let us talk over all we have to say. Or is it a winter's evening ? Draw your seats about the chimney; throw on another faggot, make a cheerful blaze, and let us be comfortable. What is it to us here, if the wind blows and the rain beats abroad ? Since we cannot work, let us divert ourselves; but let us divert ourselves in a harmless reasonable way, that we may turn this idle time to as good account as the busiest.
Come, what shall we talk of? Of happiness? there cannot be a pleasanter subject. Where is it to be had, this happiness, and how shall we come by it? ... -r. .
Where is it to be had? Why, every where, so we can but command our thoughts, and do our duty; serve God cheerfully, and make the best of our lot.
It may be, good neighbour, you are old, lame, sickly, have a large family, and little to maintain them : alas, poor neighbour! yet still it is ten to one you may be happier than many a nobleman and many a prince. I suppose you honest and religious : why then the better half is secure; your mind is easy : you have no load upon your con. science, and no need to be afraid even of death. But cannot your condition be any way mended ? Content is a good thing ; yet success in honest endeavours is a better. There is no need of sitting sadly down, and acquiescing in a miserable lot, till, upon mature consideration, we find it to be really the will of Providence that we should : and then, let me tell you, dear friend, God's will is kinder to us than our own wishes. When we submit patiently to sorrows and hardships, not out of lazi. ness, nor out of despair, nor out of thoughtless helplessness, we then trust our souls to him, in well doing; we act a commendable part which our great Master will approve; and we may have a cheerful confidence in his mercy, that all things shall work together for our good. Come, pluck up your spirits, my friend, and let us see whether the part that falls to you is to mend your condition or to bear it.
First, you are old.Well, that is a fault that time will not mend indeed—but eternity will mend it, honest friend. The period will come when your
youth shall be renewed; when you shall be young and lusty as an eagle, and these gray hairs and wrinkles shall be succeeded by immortal bloom, In the mean time, so much of your life is well over; you are got so far on your journey through this vale of tears; you can reflect with pleasure on a great many good actions and pious dispositions; and it peculiarly becomes old age to meditate much upon those subjects which are, of all others, the most noble and delightful. Heaven is the object that should be always in their view. What a prospect is that! What, think you, should be the joy of a sea-faring man, when, after a long stormy voyage, he is come within sight of the port ? Suppose a young man had an estate left to him which he had never seen: suppose he had been travelling a thousand miles to come to it; that he had met with perpetual bad weather by the way, and dirty roads : that he was faint, and well nigh wearied out; and that, just when he comes to the brow of a dry, sandy hill, bleak and unpleasant in itself, but from whence the prospect first opened upon him of that fair place he is going to enjoy : suppose he sees the tufted woods crowned with the brightest verdure : suppose he sees among them glittering spires and domes and gilded columns; and knows that all these shall be his own : with what pleasure will he survey the gentle winding rivulets gliding through fertile meadows; the borders gay with flowers of every kind; the parks and forests filled with all sorts of excellent fruits; the castles and pleasure-houses, which he knows to be rich with magnificent furniture; and, what is above all, where
he knows that his best and most beloved friends, and a delightful society, whom he longs to be amongst, are waiting with kind impatience to receive him ! think you that he will have leisure to attend to the little inconveniences of the present moment? Will not his thoughts fly forward faster than his legs can carry him to this blessed inberitance? Yet how poor are such riches and pleasures, compared with the certain expectations of the poorest old man that is pious and virtuous.