Sidor som bilder

The prohibitions of the Gospel for the good of Man. 305


sing, is in the highest degree friendly to our enjoyments in this life" that length of days is in her right hand, and in her left, riches and honour; that all her ways are pleasantness and all her paths are peace."

Notwithstanding the insinu átions of its enemies, or the unwarrantable representations of its mistaking friends, yet the yoke of christianity is incomparably easier, its burden is infinitely lighter, than those which the world imposes. This will be satisfactorily apparent if we consider-That all those pursuits which christianity forbids, are injurious to our real happiness even in this life.

cealment soon becomes impossible-This fatal appetite, like a poison, that gradually pervades the system, obtains supreme dominion over his mind; it stifles all the feelings of nature, and breaks down the barriers of shame. In vain does he contemplate the dreadful consequences that threaten him; in vain does he resolve and re-resolve to stop in his career. The loss of every thing that tends to make existence desirable-the tears and distresses of his family and friends cannot check him. For these apprehensions and feelings become too horrible to be borne, and are drowned in deeper intoxication. His reputation is gradually blasted; his affairs disordered; his constitution broken down; he becomes an object of perpetual mortification and disgust to his friends, and he sinks prematurely into the grave-a prey to horror, despair, and the wretched victim of his own folly.

Those ancient philosophers, who confined their speculations to this present state of existence; and even Epicurus himself, the sole principle of whose philosophy was pleasure, strongly inculcated upon their disciples, the necessity of temperance and moderation. They taught that pleas ure, to be obtained, must not be sought with too much avidity; and to be long enjoyed, must be tasted with caution.


If there is any vice, that peculiarly degrades human nature, it is debauchery. It enervates at the same time, the body and mind. It entirely obliterates every elevated and benevolent benevolent sentiment, and makes its subject the slave of the most selfish and degrading appetites. What then are the enjoyments of a mind continually agitated by the most brutal and debasing passions, and sunk to the lowest point of infumy and degradation?


What philosophy recommended, christianity enjoins, and enjoins too with the most solemn sanctions, that we may thus obtain our highest happiTo be convinced of this let us view but for a moment, the progress of vice in either of its forms. Take for example intemperance-a vice, alas, as. common as it is degrading. Its unhappy subject is at first secret and solitary in its indulgence-but conVol. VI. No. 10.


[ocr errors]

"Whenever the love of gaming becomes a passion," says Logan, "farewell to tran

306 The prohibitions of the Gospel for the good of Man.

quillity and virtue. Then suc-
deed days of vanity, and nights
of care; dissipation of life;
corruption of manners; inat-
tention to domestic affairs;
arts of deceit, lying, cursing,
and perjury.
At a distance,
poverty, with contempt at her
heels, and in the rear of all,
despair bringing a halter in
her hand."

Does avarice confer a cheerful serenity to the mind; or does it cloud it with anxiety, and render it the sport of the conflicting passions of desire and fear?

Ambition seldom crowns its votaries with those honours. which allured them to the race of worldly greatness. Envy is ever ready to blast their fairest expectations. The long wished for prize, which appeared just within their grasp, may be snatched. Men frequently appear to be caught up from the crowd by the whirlwind of popular favor, merely to render their fall more conspicuous and disgraceful. And after all his profusion of expense, of intrigue, of exertion and anxiety, the votary of worldly henours has usually the mortification to find at the close of life, that he has been running in an enchanted circle, and has just arrived at the precise point, from which he started. in the commencement of his


Are we not then much indebted to religion, which presents the most powerful restraints to indulgences so fatal? indulgences, which in prospect scarcely deceive, and in possession bring ruin and death.

But religion not only prohibits these vices but also a devotion or excessive attachment to any pleasure, however innocent it may be general ly esteemed. A life devoted to frivolous amusements and unmarked by active duties is highly censured in the gospel

and if there be any of this description who may peruse this-we would ask, whether the intervals of amusement do not leave you a prey to listlessness and stupidity-whether your highest enjoyments are not embittered by some trifling circumstances; some petty competition, that disappoints and disturbs you; whether you are not frequently disgusted with your amusements and yourself; whether in fact you are not frequently reminded by your painful experience, that happiness is only to be found in quietness and composure, and is absolutely inconsistent with bustle and dissipation of mind ?

Thus if we will consider any of those pursuits which religion forbids, we shall invariably discover, that they all terminate in disappointment or pain. At the precise point where religion interposes to check our pursuit, then our happiness ends and misery begins. The precepts of. christianity never prohibit any enjoyment, unless that prohi-bition has a manifest tendency on the whole, to produce our greatest happiness, even in the present life. But our holy religion not only for bids

those pursuits, that would be injurious to our present enjoyments, but it also gives the highest degree of encourage

ment and perfection to all those pleasures, that really tend to make us happy even in this world. A.


THE harps of the Angelic hosts were employed to announce the first appearance of that glorious personage whose religion was to proclaim "peace on earth and good will to man;" and it is a very striking feature in the Christian religion that enjoins the active discharge of those duties which are due to ourselves and to each other as members of the same common family. In this particular our own happiness, as well as the happiness of others, is peculiarly concerned. For activity is an essential attribute of the human mind, and a strong desire of occupation is intimately woven into our constitution by the finger of God. It is this activity of mind only that gives us superiority over the animals and elicits every thing great and noble in our characters. It is not, however, merely the source of our excellence, but it also gives rise to some of our most refined enjoyments.

Have not the most exquisite pleasures been found in the rewards of virtue-the approbation of conscience, when in the cool and silent hours of reflection, the Christian has been able to look back on some portion of his existence which has been peculiarly distinguished by the active performance of duty? How vast

then is that field which presents itself to him, where he may reap the richest fruits of pleasure-a field as extensive as society and various as the wants and infirmities of man!

Do you not feel a pleasure superior to any that the world bestows, and of which the world cannot deprive you, when through Divine assistance you have obtained a triumph over some of the corrupt propensities of your nature? Do you not experience that "luxury of doing good," with which a stranger cannot intermeddle, when you are the instrument of restoring an erring brother to paths of virtue and of truth-when you can calm the turbulent passions of men, and deprive party spirit of its bitterness and asperity-when you impart instruction to the ignorant and gladden the heart of desponding poverty-when you cause the beams of joy to sparkle through the tears of sorrow and mingle the balm of comfort in the cup of affliction-when you have presented your ardent supplications at the throne of grace for those whom your counsels cannot reach nor your exertions relieve?

Religion also affords enjoyment in the improvement of our minds and in the cultivation of the benevolent affec

[blocks in formation]

which awaits the righteous. Hence religion is perpetually suggesting those topics of conversation that tend to en large our views, to elevate our thoughts and to confer dignity on the mind. We are also furnished with the most weighty motives to prompt us to purify and ameliorate our affections ;—And are moreover promised the assistance of God's holy spirit to cleanse our hearts and to enable us to triumph over the corrupt propensities of our natures. It is by these means that religion enables a good man to partake of the highest pleasures of which his nature is susceptible while on earth, and he is even allowed a foretaste of those joys which await him in heavA.





THE kind concern which you were pleased to take in our public exhibition of last year, and the wish which you have had the goodness to ex

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


press, to see it renewed, have induced me to comply with the request of the Directors of the Asylum, to deliver this address. I at first intended to write two or three pages, that I might not fatigue the attention of our Auditors, but my thoughts have led me farther, and I flatter myself that you will attend to and keep the memory of these particulars, as a small token of our gratitude for all the favours which you have vouchsafed to confer both upon us and our pupils.

The origin of the discovery of the art of teaching the Deaf and Dumb is so little known in this country, that I think necessary to repeat it.



A lady, whose name I do not recollect, lived in Paris, and had among her children two daughters, both deaf and dumb. The Father Famin, one of the members of the society of Christian Doctrine, was acquainted with the family, and attempted, without method, to supply in those unfortunate persons the want of hearing and speech; but was surprised by a premature death, before he could attain any degree of success. The two sisters, as well as their mother, were inconsolable at that loss, when by divine providence, a happy event restored every thing. The Abbé de L'Epée, formerly belonging to the above mentioned society, had an opportunity of calling at their house. The mother was abroad, and while he was waiting for her, he wished to enter into conversation with the young ladies; but their eyes remained fixed on their needle, and they gave no answer. In vain did he renew his questions, in vain did he redouble the sound of his voice, they were still silent, and durst hardly raise their heads to look at him. He did not know that those whom he thus addressed, were doomed by nature never to hear or speak. He already began to think them impolite and uncivil, and rose to go out. Under these circumstances, the mother returned, and every thing was explained. The good Abbé sympathised with her on the affliction, and with drew, full of the thought of


taking the place of Father Famin.

The first conception of a great man, is usually a fruitful germ Well acquainted with the French grammar, he knew that every language was a collection of signs, as a series of drawings is a collection of figures, the representation of a multitude of objects, and that the Deaf and Dumb can describe every thing by gestures, as you paint every thing with colours, or express every thing by words; he knew that every object had a form, that every form was capable of being imitated, that actions struck your sight, and that you were able to describe them by imitative gestures ; he knew that words were conventional signs, and that gestures might be the same, and that there could therefore be a language formed of gestures, as there was a language of words. We can state as a probable fact, that there was a time in which man had only gestures to express the emotions and affections of his soul. He loved, wished, hoped, imagined, and reflected, and the words to express those operations still failed him. He could express the actions relative to his organs; but the dictionary of acts, purely spic itual, was not begun as yet. 37

Full of these fundamental ideas, the Abbé de L'Epée was not long without visiting the unfortunate family again; and with what pleasure was he not received! He reflected, he imitated, he delineated, he

« FöregåendeFortsätt »