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reflection ; have fields, and feas, and skies of their own ; are furnished with all accommodations for animal sublista ence, and are supposed to be the abodes of intellectual life ; all which, together with our earthly habitation, are dependent on that grand dispenser of divine munificence, the fun ; receive their light from the distribution of his rays, and derive their comfort from his benign agency.
The sun, which seems to perform its daily Itages through the sky, is in this respect fixed and immoveable : it is che great axle of heaven, about which the globe we inhabit, and other more spacious orbs, wheel their stated courses. The sun, though seemingly smaller than the dial it illuminates, is abundantly larger than this whole earth, on which so many lofty mountains rise; and such valt oceans roll. A line extending from side to side through the centra of that resplendent orb, would measure more than eight hundred thousand miles : a girdle formed to go round its ciras cumference would require a length of millions.- Were its folid contents to be eltimated, the account would over-whelm oar undertanding, and be almost beyond the power of language to express. Are we startled at these reports of philosophy ? Are we ready to cry out in a transport of surprise, “ How mighty is the Being who kindled to prodigious a fire ; and keeps alive, from age to age, so enormous a mals of Aame ! let us attend our philosophical guides, and we shall be brought acquainted with speculations more enlarged and more inflaming.
This sun, with all its attendant planets, is but a very little part of the grand machine of the universe ; every star, though in appearance no bigger than the diamond that glitters upon a lady's ring, is really a valt globe, like the fun in fize and glory ; no less spacious, no less luminous, than the radiant source of day. So that every Itar is not barely a world, but the centre of a magnificent lyttem ; has 2. retinue of worlds, irradiated by its beams, and revolving round its attractive influence, all which are lost to our fight in unmeasurable wilds of ether.
That the stars appear like so many diminutive, and scarcely diltinguishable points, is owing to their immense and inconceivable diítance. Inmense and inconceivable indeed it is, since a ball, thot from the loaded cannon, and flying with unabated rapidity, muit travel, at this impetuous rate, almoit seven hundred thou-fand years, before it could reach the nearest of these twink ling luminaries.
While beholding this vast expanse, I learn my own ex: vreme m anness, I would also discover the abject littleness of all terrestrial things. What is the earth, with all her oftentatious ienes, compared with this aftovishingly grand furLiture of the skies? What, but a dim fpeck, hardly perceivable in the map of the universe ? It is observed by a very judicious writer, that if the fun himself, which enlightens this part of the creation, were extinguished, and all the host of planetary worlds, which move about him, were annihilated, they would not be missed by an eye that can take in the whole compass of nature, any more than a grain of saod upon the sea lhore. The bulk of which they confift, and the
pac" si ich they occupy, are so exceedingly little in compar. con of the whole, that their loss would scarcely leave a blank in the immensity of God's works. If then, not our glob: -ly, but this whole system, be so very diminutive, what is a kingdom or a country? What are a few lordships, or the fo much admired patrimonies of those who are styled wealthy? When I measure them with my own little pittance, they swell into proud and bloated dimensions : but
ake the universe for my standard, how scanty is
how contemptible their figure! They shrink into nothings.
THERi is not a common saying, which has a better turn of fente in it, than what we often hear in the mouths of the vulgar, that Custom is a second nature.” It is indeed alle to form the man anew ; and give him inclinations and capacities altogether different from those he was born with. A periun who is addicted to play or gaming, though he took het little delight in it at first, by degrees contracts fo ming an inclination towards it, and gives himself up fo kirly to it, that it seems the only end of his being,
?* of a retired or busy life will grow upon a man Halv, as he is conversant in the one or the other, till Die is uiterly únqualified for relishing that to which he has Fin fua fome time disused. Nay, a man may smoke, or Cir's or take snuff, till he is unable to pass away his time Wint; not to mention how our delight in any par
r l'udy, art, or science, rises and improves, in protion to the application which we beltow upon it. 17:05, wiat was at first an exercise, becomes at length an Calinent. Our employments are changed into di
versions. The mind grows fond of those actions it is accustomed to; and is drawn with reluctancy from those paths in which it has been used to walk.
If we attentively consider this properly of human nature, it may instruct us in very fine moralities. In the first place, I would have no man discouraged with that kind of life, or series of action, in which the choice of others, or his own neceflities, may have engaged him. It may perhaps be very disagreeable to him, at first; but use and application will certainly render it not only less pain. ful, but pleasing and satisfactory.
In the second place, I would recommend to every one, the admirable precept which Pythagoras is said to have given to his disciples, and which that philofopher must have drawn from the observation I have enlarged upon ; “Pitch upon that course of life which is the most exceilent, and custom will render it the most delightfult Men, whose circumstances will permit them to choose their own way
of life, are inexcusable if they do not pursue that which their judgment tells them is the moit laudable. The voice of reason is more to be regarded, than the bent of any present inclination; since, by the rule abovementioned, inclination will at length come over to reason, though we can never furce reason to comply with ... clination.
In the third place, this observation may teach the most sensual and irreligious man, to overlook those hardships and difficulties, which are apt to discourage him from the prosecution of a virtuous life. “ T'he gods," said Hefiod, "have placed labour before virtue ; the way to her is at first rough and difficult, but grows more smooth and easy the farther we advance in it. The man who proceeds in it with steadiness and resolution, will, in a little time, find that her “ways are ways of pleafantness, and that all her paths are peace.”
To enforce this consideration, we may further observe, that the practice of religion will not only be attended with that pleasure which naturally accompanies those actions to which we are habituated, .but with those supernumerary joys of heart, that rise from the consciousness of such a pleasure"; from the satisfaction of acting up to the dictates of reason; and from the prospect of a happy immortality.
In the fourth place, we may learn from this observation, which we have made on the mind of man, to take particuar care, when we are once settled in a regular course of ife, how we too frequently indulge ourselves in even the .nost innocent diversions and entertainments ; since the mind may insensibly fall off from the relish of vir tuous ac. tions, and, by degrees, exchange that pleasure which it takes in the performance of its duty, for delights of a much inferior and an unprofitable nature
The last use which I shall make of this remarkable property in human nature, of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is, to show how abfolutely necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss, we call heaven, will not be capable of affecting those minds which are not thus qualified for it : we mult, in this world, gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection, which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those. spiritual joys and raptures, which are to rise up and flourish; in the soul to all eternity, must be planted in it during this its present state of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect of
SECTION The Pleasures resulting from a proper Use of our Faculties.
Happy that man, who, unembarrassed by vulgar çares, malter of himself, his time, and fortune, spends his time in making himself wiser ; and his fortune, in making others (and therefore himself) happier ; who, as the will and understanding are the two ennobling faculties of the soul, thinks himself not complete, till his understanding is beautified with the valuable furniture of knowledge, as well as his will enriched with every virtue ; who has furnished himself with all the advantages to relish folitude and enliven conversation ; who, when serious, is not sullen ; and when cheerful, not indiscreetly gay ; whose ambition is, not to be admired for a false glare of greatness, but to be beloved for the gentle and sober lv tre of his wisdom and goodness.
The greatest minister of state has not more business to do, in a public capacity, than he, and indeed every other man, may find, in the retired and still scenes of life. Even in his private walks, every thing that is visible convinces him there is present a Being invisible. Aided by natural philosophy, he reads plain legible traces of the Divinity in every thing he meets ; he fees the Deity in every tree, as
learned, nor the brave, who guides the conversation, and gives measures to fociety. A man with great talents, but void of discretion, is like Polyphemus in the fable, strong and blind ; endued with an irresistible force, which, for want of fight, is of no use to him.
Though a man has all other perfections, yet if he wants discretion, he will be of no great consequence in the world ; on the contrary, if he has this single talent in perfection, and but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his particular Itation of life.
At the same time that I think discretion the molt useful talent a man can be master of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerons minds. Discretion points out the noblest ends to us; and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of attaining them ; cunning has orty private, felfish aims; and sticks at nothing which may make them succeed. Discretion has large and extended views; and like a well-formed eye, commands the whole horizon : cunning is a kind of short-lightedness, that discovers the minutest obje&s which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion, the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it : cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done, had he passed only for a plain man.
Discretion is the perfection of reason ; and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunping is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our im. mediate interest and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understandings : cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves : and in persons who are but the fewest removes froni them. In fhort, cunning is only the mimic of discretion; and it may pass upon weak men, in the fame manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity, for wisdom.
The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man, makes him look forward into futurity, and consider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the misery or happiness 'which is relerved for him in another world, loles nothing of its reality by being placed at fo great a distance from him. The obje&ts do not appear little to him because they
He considers, that those pleafiires and pains which lie hid in eternity, approach nearer to him every