Page images

the harvest vouchsafes to do this, since our great concern is only that it be effectually done; and then we are well assured that he will gather the wheat into his garner ?"

He who has given the former rain in its season, will not deny the latter rain also to the diligent and pious husbandman. Where a merciful Provi. dence has remarkably blessed the earlier part of life, the well-disposed heart need not fear that the latter years of it shall be left destitute : every fit support and guidance shall be provided; nay, every comfort and delight, that contradicts not some still kinder intention or more important aim.

Sufferings belong to human nature: of these, some persons have a larger, some a lighter share, and this indiscriminately, in some measure, to bad and good. This appointment is for wise reasons, some of which even our poor shallow understandings can trace. But the good are assured that they shall never want any necessary support under their sufferings; and to know that they are liable to them, is one appointed trial of their faith, of their submission. A true Christian knows that all these things shall finally work together for his good; why then should he dread any of them ?

But when these sufferings are actually present, how must they be supported ? --Cheerfully. To those who know that all is, on the whole, well, every passing day brings its amusement and relief; and let these be thankfully accepted: those who are

removed out of this world are happy; they are removed in God's good time: those who are conti. nued in it must rejoice in every comfort that attends their continuance; must be thankful for every added year. For is not life a blessing? May not this added time be improved to most excellent purposes ? Let this then be our endeavour.

While continued in human society, let us preserve a sociable, a friendly spirit; let our joyful affectionate remembrance attend those who are removed already into a higher class of beings; but let our active love be exerted towards all our fellow travellers; and let it be our aim, so far as we are enabled, to lead many along with us towards those happy mansions. This, at present, it seems, is the only work we are fit for : and is it not a blessed one?

“ Be glad, Oye righteous, and rejoice in the Lord, for a good and pleasant thing it is to be thankful!”

*. XXVI.

On the Necessity of Innocent Amusement.

AMUSEMENT is useful and laudable, not 'when it draws the mind from religious subjects in this view the world uses it, and is destroyed by it,) but when it takes the thoughts from such sorrows as are merely temporal and imaginary, and so refits them for that better employment, which, without this harmless medium, they could not so soon or so well have resumed. The idle mind Aies improvement as its enemy, and seeks amusement as its end : the Christian heart has but one home, one joy, one pursuit. But from this home it is too often detained; from this joy it is too often shut out; in this pursuit it is too often hindered by the frailty of human nature, the necessary attentions and engagements of life, the attachments of affinity and friendship.

On this side eternity cares and sorrows will be felt, in some degree, by the best; but the Christian, who knows that it is his absolute duty to rejoice and give thanks in every thing, indulges not those gloomy hours, nor wilfully harbours one melancholy thought. Yet striving with such thoughts is only to be worse entangled in them. At such times the good and humble mind accepts thankfully the assistance of the veriest trifle, the most common and uninteresting object or employment, that can dissipate the present chain of vain and tiresome thought; and this chain once broken, it flies with recruited vigour to its true home, “ as a bird out of the snare."

By common and uninteresting objects, I mean only to exclude all indulgences of fancy and ima. gination, and such amusements as seem interesting, because they indeed soothe the disposition which we suppose ourselves flying from ; as, for example, melancholy music and poetically solemn scenes : but, in a higher view, the least flower of the field is a more interesting object than the proudest palace: for what object can be small or uninteresting that is the work and gift of the Almighty? This flower, or insect, or shell, would Aspasia say, is given to me, at this instant, by ever present, ever watchful Goodness, to call off my thoughts from their present vain anxiety or sinful regret, to the thankful contemplation of a gracious Creator and Redeemer. This employment, this company, that calls my present attention from subjects it could wish to pursue, though it pursues them to its hurt; this dull and unedifying company, this dry and trifling employment, is, in the order of Providence, a kind remedy to unbend my mind, and thereby · restore its strength. As such, I will thankfully accept it, and cheerfully turn myself to it; for if I am absent in company, I had better be alone; my

soul is equally wasting its strength in earnest thought and melancholy recollection, and my appearance discredits the cause of religion.

These are the reasons that make it a duty to open the mind to every innocent pleasure, to the admiration of every rural object, to harmless pleasantry and mirth, to such a general acquaintance with arts and sciences, trades and manufactures, books and men, as shall enable us to attend to, and to be amused, in some degree, with every scene, and with every conversation. There is just the same pride in resolving that our minds shall be always employed on the stretch, as in imagining that our reason is a competent judge of all subjects : human frailty and imperfection alike forbid both. The Israelites gathered their manna from day to day; so should we our temporal pleasures and comforts, and trust him to provide for tomorrow who supplied us yesterday. When through eagerness and fondness of mind, we hoard up, by anxious schemes and wishes, a portion for ourselves, it breeds but corruption. Only in the ark can it be laid up safe.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »