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learned, nor the brave, who guides the converfation, and gives measures to fociety. A man with great talents, but void of difcretion, is like Polyphemus in the fable, ftrong 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 difcretion, he will be of no great confequence in the world; on the contrary, if he has this fingle talent in perfection, and but a common fhare of others, he may do what he pleases in his particular station of life.

At the fame time that I think difcretion the most useful talent a man can be mafter of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerons minds. Difcretion points out the nobleft ends to us; and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of attaining them; cunning has only private, felfish aims: and flicks at nothing which may make them fucceed. Difcretion has large and extended views ; and like a well-formed eye, commands the whole horizon: cunning is a kind of fhort-fightedness, that discovers the minuteft objects which are near at hand, but is not able to difcern things at a distance. Difcretion, the more it is difcovered, gives a greater authority to the perfon who poffefses it: cunning, when it is once detected, lofes its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done, had he paffed only for a plain man. Difcretion is the perfection of reafon; and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunDing is a kind of inftinct, that only looks out after our immediate intereft and welfare. Difcretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understandings: cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves and in perfons who are but the feweft removes from 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 caft of mind which is natural to a difcreet man, makes him look forward into futurity, and confider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at prefent. He knows that the mifery or happiness which is referved for him in another world, lofes nothing of its reality by being placed at fo great a distance from him. The objects do not appear little to him because they are remote. He confiders, that thofe pleasures and pains which lie hid in eternity, approach nearer to him every


moment; and will be prefent with him in their full weight and measure, as much as thofe pains and pleasures which he feels at this very infant. For this reafon, he is careful to fecure to himself that which is the proper happiness of his nature, and the ultimate defign of his being. He carries his thoughts to the end of every action; and confiders the most distant, as well as the most immediate effects of it. He fuperfedes every little profpect of gain and advantage, which offers itself here, if he does not find it confiftent with his views of an hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality; his fchemes are large and glorious; and his conduct fuitable to one who knows his true intereft, and how to pursue it by proper methods.



On the Government of our Thoughts.

A MULTITUDE of cafes occur, in which we are no lefs accountable for what we think, than for what we do.

As, firft, when the introduction of any train of thought depends upon ourselves, and is our voluntary act, by turning our attention towards fuch objects, awakening fuch paffions, or engaging in fuch employments, as we know muft give a peculiar determination to our thoughts. Next, when thoughts, by whatever accident they may have been originally fuggefted, are indulged with deliberation and complacency. Though the mind has been paffive in their reception, and, therefore, free from blame; yet, if it be active in their continuance, the guilt becomes its own. They may have intruded at firft, like unbidden guests; but if, when entered, they are made welcome, and kindly entertained, the cafe is the fame as if they had been invited from the beginning. If we are thus accountable to God for thoughts either voluntarily introduced, or deliberately in-. dulged, we are no lefs fo, in the last place, for those which find admittance into our hearts from fupine negligence, from total relaxation of attention, from allowing our imagination to rove with entire license, "like the eyes of the fool, towards the end of the earth" Our minds are, in this cafe, thrown open to folly and vanity. They are prostituted to every evil thing which pleafes to take poffeffion. The confequences muft all be charged to our account; and in vain we plead excufe from human infirmity. Hence it appears, that the great object at which we are to aim in governing our thoughts, is, to take the most effec

tual measures for preventing the introduction of fuch as are finful, and for haftening their expulfion, if they fhall have introduced themselves without confent of the will.

But when we defcend into our breast, and examine how far we have ftudied to keep this object in view, who can tell, "how oft he hath offended?" In no article of religion or morals are men more culpably remifs, than in the unreftrained indulgence they give to fancy; and that too, for the most part, without remorse. Since the time that reafon began to exert her powers, thought, during our waking hours, has been active in every breast, without a moment's fufpenfion or pause. The current of ideas has been always flowing. The wheels of the spiritual engine have circulated with perpetual motion. Let me afk, what has been the fruit of this inceffant activity with the greater part of mankind? Of the innumerable hours that have been employed in thought, how few are marked with any permanent or ufeful effect? How many have either paffed away in idle dreams; or have been abandoned to anxious difcontented mufings, to unfocial and malignant paffions, or to irregular and criminal defires? Had I power to lay open that storehoufe of iniquity which the hearts of too many conceal ; could I draw out and read to them a lift of all the imaginations they have devised, and all the paffions they have indulged in fecret; what a picture of men should i present to themselves! What crimes would they appear to have perpetrated in fecrecy, which to their most intimate companions they durft not reveal ?

Even when men imagine their thoughts to be innocently employed, they too commonly fuffer them to run out into extravagant imaginations, and chimerical plans of what they would with to attain, or choose to be, if they could frame the courfe of things according to their defire. Though fuch employments of fancy come not under the fame defcription with thofe which are plainly criminal, yet wholly unblameable they feldom are. Befides the waste of time which they occafion, and the mifapplication which they indicate of thofe intellectual powers that were given to us for much nobler purposes, fuch romantic fpeculations lead us always into the neighbourhood of forbidden regions. They place us on dangerous ground. They are for the moft part connected with fome one bad paffion; and they always nourish a giddy and frivolous turn of thought. They unfit the mind for applying with vigour to rational purfuits.

or for acquiefcing in fober plans of conduct. From that ideal world in which it allows itfelf to dwell, it returns to the commerce of men, unbent and relaxed, fickly and tainted, averfe to difcharging the duties, and fometimes difqualified even for relishing the pleasures of ordinary life.



On the Evils which flow from unrestrained Paffions. WHEN man revolted from his Maker, his paffions rebelled against himself; and, from being originally the minifters of reason, have become the tyrants of the foul. Hence in treating of this fubject, two things may be affumed as principles: first, that through the prefent weakness of the understanding, our paffions are often directed towards improper objects; and next, that even when their direction is juft, and their objects are innocent, they perpetually tend to run into excefs; they always hurry us towards their gratification, with a blind and dangerous impetuofity. On thefe two points then turns the whole government of our pafions; firft, to ascertain the proper objects of their purfuit; and next, to reftrain them in that purfuit, when they would carry us beyond the bounds of reafon. If there is any paffion which intrudes itself unfeasonably into our mind, which darkens and troubles our judgment, or habitually difcomposes our temper; which unfits us for properly dif charging the duties, or difqualifies us for cheerfully enjoying the comforts of life, we may certainly conclude it to have gained a dangerous afcendant. The great object which we ought to propose to ourselves is, to acquire a firm and fteadfalt mind, which the infatuation of paffion fhall not feduce, nor its violence fhake; which, refting on fixed principles, fhall, in the midst of contending emotions, remain free, and master of itself; able to liften calmly to the voice of conscience, and prepared to obey its dictates without hesitation.

To obtain, if poffible, fuch command of paffion, is one of the highest attainments of the rational nature. Arguments to how its importance crowd upon us from every quarter. If there be any fertile fource of mifchief to hu man life, it is, beyond doubt, the mifrule of paffion. It is this which poifons the enjoyment of individuals, overturns the order of fociety, and ftrews the path of life with fo many miferies, as to render it indeed the vale of tears. All thofe great fcenes of public calamity, which we behold with aftonishment and horror, have originated from the fource

of violent paffions. Thefe have overfpread the earth with bloodshed. These have pointed the affaffin's dagger, and filled the poifoned bowl. Thefe, in every age, have furnished too copious materials for the orator's pathetic declamation, and for the poet's tragical fong.

When from public life we defcend to private conduct, though paffion operates not there in fo wide and deftructive a fphere, we fhall find its influence to be no less baneful. I need not mention the black and fierce paffions, fuch as envy, jealoufy, and revenge, whose effects are obvioufly noxious, and whofe agitations are immediate mifery. But take any of the licentious and fenfual kind. Suppose it to have unlimited fcope; trace it throughout its course; and we shall find that gradually, as it arifes, it taints the foundness, and troubles the peace of his mind over whom it reigns; that, in its progrefs, it engages him in pursuits which are marked either with danger or with fhame; that, in the end it wastes his fortune, destroys his health, or debafes his character; and aggravates all the miseries in which it has involved him, with the concluding pangs of bitter remorse. Through all the ftages of this fatal course, how many have heretofore run? What multitudes do we daily behold pursuing it with blind and headlong steps?




On the proper State of our Temper, with Refpect to one another. Ir is evident, in the general, that if we confult either public welfare or private happiness, Chriftian charity ought to regulate our difpofition in mutual intercourse. But as this great principle admits of feveral diverfified appearances, let us confider fome of the chief forms under which it ought to fhow itself in the ufual tenor of life.

What, first, prefents itfelf to be récommended, is 3 peaceable temper; a difpofition averfe to give offence, and defirous of cultivating harmony, and amicable intercourse in fociety This fuppofes yielding and condescending manners, unwillingness to contend with others about trifles, and, in contests that are unavoidable, proper moderation of spirit. Such a temper is the first principle of fef enjoyment. It is the bafis of all order and happinefs among mankind. The pofitive and contentious, the rude and quarrelfome, are the bane of fociety. They feem deltined to biaft the fmall thare of comfort which nature has here allotted to man. But they cannot difturb the peace of

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