Imatges de pÓgina
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health and vigour as well as in many of idleness to concentrate the thoughts other things of much greater impor- on self, in a manner which is utterly tance. The idle man is commonly inconsistent with the cultivation of low-spirited, peevish and splenetic; any elevated or enlarged sentiment, every little inconvenience or obstacle and destructive of all real enjoyment; to the accomplishment of his desires, while on the other hand, an active vexes him and ruffles his temper; but disposition is continually carrying us since he is not thus excited to exert beyond these narrow bounds; and himself in its removal, his life is ren- thus, as it is often first excited by bedered an endless scene of petty trou- nevolent and amiable feelings, so it bles and vexations, which if he had has commonly the happiest effect in any habits of enterprise or activity continuing, enlivening and purifying would be removed without difficulty these feelings, converting them into as soon as they made their appearance, habitual states of mind, and ruling and before they had had time to principles of conduct. occasion any material inconvenience. sity of action,” says Dr. Johnson, “ is But when allowed to remain and not only demonstrable from the fabric accumulate, they grow up to a serious of the human body, but is also evident i amount; which one more accustom- from the universal practice of maned to look difficulties in the face nd; since all men, for the presermight contemplate with apprehen-vation of their health, for pleasure sion, and which fill him with ab- and enjoyment, even when exempsolute despair. Sull, though he des- ted by circumstances from the necespairs of getting rid of them, they are sity of pursuing any kind of lucrative not on that account the less felt; they labour, have invented sports and diproduce a permanent effect upon his versions which though not equally temper, he contracts a sour, morose, useful to the world with the mechacomplaining disposition; and thus, nical or menial arts, yet equal them from being at first merely indolent, in the fatigue they occasion to those he becomes a thoroughly discontent- who practise them; differing from ed, dissatisfied creature, caring for no them only as acts of choice differ from one but himself, and despised or dis- those which are attended by the painliked by every one else. Even when ful sense of compulsion." Even this it does not operate in this manner; sense of compulsion which is the when circumstances are not such as general subject of complaint, may to throw any of these petty miseries nevertheless be of considerable serin his way, yet the necessary effect vice, by excluding that undecided, of laziness is to bring op ill-humour vacillating state of mind which often and disquict; a teinper of mind which attends those who are aware that their is most destructive of his own peace, laborious exertions are merely the and musi greatly impede his usefulness objects of their own free choice, and to others.

than which nothing can be more To correct this unhappy disposition, montifying and humiliating to those there is no remedy more effectual than who are conscious of its influence employment; perhaps no sovereign re- yet cannot shake off its power. This medy but this. In so far as its effi- is another reason why it is a most cacy in promoting this object is con- wise and excellent appointment of cerned it is of little consequence what Providence, that in most cases it is the employment is; provided it in- not left to our own choice whether terests the mind and presents it with we will exert ourselves or no'; but some other object on which it can that we are most of us compelled, in dwell with more complacency than order to gain the means of comforton its own grievances and complaints. able subsistence, to devote ourselves If the employment be one which is to some regular employment. Dr. fitted at the same time to answer Jolinson himseli seems to have fur. some valuable end, to contribute to nished a striking illustration of the his own comfort or convenience; to truth of this remark ;---though abunpromote his improvement in useful dantly active in the earlier part of knowledge; or still more to pronote his life, his latter years which were the confort or relief of others; sospeit in ease and comparative afflumuch the better. It is scarcely neces- ence were clouded with melancholy, sary to dwell on the obvious tendency occasionce it would scem in 'a great

measure by the absence of imperious inotive to exertion. I have no doubt that he was much happier when compiling his Dictionary, or even when writing the parliamentary debates in a garret in Grub Street, than in the luxurious indolence of Streatham.

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I have said that employment, constant regular employment of any kind, cannot fail to have a most beneficial effect upon the spirits and temper; but it is evident that this effect must be greatly heightened, if it be direct ed towards honourable pursuits, arise from the prosecution of objects suggested by a generous and benevolent disposition. It may therefore he added in the second place, that the happiness of man must materially depend on the gratification of the more enlarged and benevolent feelings of his nature. It is scarce possible for any man to be happy in a state of absolute solitude. do not speak here of those occasional seclusions from social intercourse which are useful to promote meditation and thought, and which may thus tend greatly to exalt and improve the benevolent feelings, and suggest to us additional opportunities and modes of calling them into action, but an entire and permanent separation from all intercourse with our fellow-creatures. The happiest men probably are they who enjoy the most frequent and constant opportunities of culti vating the sentiments which belong to and arise out of domestic society. What picture of human felicity can equal that which is often enjoyed in the simple scenes of private life; where every one is deeply interested in the general welfare; where every heart glows with delight in contemplating the enjoyment of all; where every one is actively employed in ministering to the general good of the little society. Such feelings thus generated and improved, in a mind Otherwise well disposed, are the best nicans of introducing and nourishing anore exalted and extensive affections and of leading to a complete forgetfulness of self in an habitual regard through the whole conduct of life to the general welfare and improve ment of the human race.

Closely allied to benevolence is what is commonly called a good temper. Though nearly connected, how

ever, these qualities are sometimes seen separated, and may easily be distinguished from each other. There are many persons of great and eminent worth, and who possess abundance of benevolence, or who are at least continually performing acts of the most disinterested and even profuse beneficence, who are yet destitute of all command of temper; who either administer their good offices with a sour moroseness of manner which takes from them their most powerful charms, or are liable to sudden fits and starts of passion which sometimes induce them to inflict serious evils upon the very persons whom but a moment before they had cherished and assisted. Thus their kindness even towards those whom they wish to serve, is interrupted or prevented, and all its happy effects both on the giver and the receiver are in a great measure destroyed. A temper of this kind is one of the greatest bars to happiness in those who are afflicted with it :-it becomes therefore one of our most important personal duties to be strenuous in our endeavours to restrain and sweeten it. There is an apology, but a very imperfect one, which is sometimes made for this unhappy irritability of temper, which ascribes it to a morbid sensibility in the original constitution of such persons. This apology might be made with nearly equal justice for every moral defect and for every intellectual folly whatever; and if admitted, puts a stop to all sorts of improvement. It is true that original temperament, or rather, perhaps, improper management in early life, may occasionally give rise to an unusual degree of this disposition; but this can be no justification of it; it cannot render it less inconsistent with our enjoyment of life and society; and rather furnishes an additional motive to such persons as have laboured under these disadvantages, to be more than ordinarily solicitous to keep it in check. And let no one imagine that this is impossible;-that his own case is so peculiar as not to yield to the ordinary influence of moral medicine. There is a course of discipline before which the most inveterate mental disorders will give way. The remedy, however, it must be admitted, is often more easily perceived and pointed out than applied. To perceive it only requires good sense

and discernment; to apply it steadily and effectually requires often a great share of self-government and selfdenial, and the frequent mortification and disappointment of our strongest propensities.

By the unreflecting at all times, and by some sects among pilosophers, much more than their weight is attributed to original differences in mental and bodily constitutions. That such differences do exist, no one I think can doubt who observes the very great variety of character and disposition, which frequently appear in per sons whose circumstances and education, so far as we have been able to trace, or as human means were able to controul them, have been as nearly similar as possible. We are not either formed or educated after one common standard; nor is it desirable that we should: a dull, uniform sameness would doubtless take away greatly from the enjoyment of human life, and would be inconsistent with the proper discharge of the various duties which the convenience or the subsistence of mankind requires. Though however we admit that such original diversities do exist, yet by inuch the greater part of the actual diversity observable in human character is to be ascribed to those circumstances which we call accidental or adventitious; that is, they are the result of educa tion and experience, and are in some considerable measure subject to government and controul. The contrary opinion appears not only inconsistent with a just theory of the history of the human mind, but also leads to dan gerous practical consequences, and ought therefore to be diligently guarded against. But to return to our pro per subject.

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disposition to observe with satisfaction and duly to appreciate such good qua lities as are possessed even by the worst men, and to place in their due light all the excellencies of the really deserving, and which when justly estimated are sufficient to cast into the shade the infirmities or failings by which they may be accompanied. Candour in acknowledging all these would greatly contribute to the forma tion of an even and gentle disposition. Again, a habit, which may soon be acquired by care and practice, of checking the external signs of those emotions of contempt and anger to which we feel ourselves peculiarly liable, will succeed in time in preventing the inordinate rise of the emotions themselves. Such efforts at first produce nothing more than the external appearance of decorum and propriety of behaviour; but the influence soon becomes more extensive. Between the outward signs and the feelings which are represented by them, there is a sur prising connection; and as, on the one hand, the assumed language of violent emotion will, in many cases, excite a considerable degree of the emotion itself-so, on the other, the constant endeavour to check the external symp toms, soon chokes up and even entirely removes the source from whence they flow.

The species of ill-humour which arises from a morbid sensibility to our own miseries, is equally inconsistent with real enjoyment. Nothing is more destructive of pleasure than a constant habit of complaining and grumbling; which leads a man to look in preference on those circumstances of his lot which are the least inviting, and is eternally brooding over them so as to preclude all attention to those which are more favourable and encou raging, and to magnify the others to such a degree in his disordered imagi nation, that what might have been but trifling grievances are exalted into evils of the first magnitude. A habit therefore of dwelling on whatever is in its nature fitted to give pleasure! and of endeavouring to look out for the beneficial consequences which are to flow even from those which cannot; in the first instance, be regarded with satisfaction, is exceedingly well caf ulated to secure and inercase our happiness. This is the disposition which every sincere Christian, every

The weakness and irritability of temper which I have alluded to, is so inconsistent with our happiness, that it is necessary to take all possible methods to restrain it. For this purpose it is very desirable to cultivate a habit of looking always in preference on the bright side of every character, and in deed of every object which attracts our notice. I would not recommend a total blindness to the defects and errors of others, for that might be fatal to our own personal security, and injurious to the important interests of those whose welfare it is our more immediate duty to promote; but a WOL. XI.

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believer in the constant superintendance of an infinitely wise and kind Providence, will naturally cherish; and he will be led to this, by a sense not merely of its propriety, but of its immediate and direct influence on his present enjoyments. Let the more serious afflictions of life then teach us patience and resignation. As for the lighter grievances and petty miseries by which so many suffer their tempers to be ruffled and their cheerfulness destroyed, let them be regarded as fitter subjects of a laugh or jest than of any graver reflections. A very amusing book-which had a great run soine years ago, but seems now almost forgotten the "Miseries of Human Life," may perhaps show us the right way of dealing with these minor troubles. To allow them to destroy one's comfort would be the extreme of folly; and to talk about philosophy or resignation in connexion with such trifles would be equally absurd; the only method left therefore is to treat them with their own characteristic levity.

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Another circumstance of great importance to human happiness, is a wise management and distribution of our habits. The capacity of acquiring habits, both bodily and mental, is a most important and valuable part of our constitution. By its means we acquire and continually improve our skill in those occupations which are to be the means of our subsistence or the source of our usefulness to our fellow-creatures; and our various necessary employments become, through the operation of the same general prin ciple, not only easy but agreeable to us. Every thing however depends on the right application of this principle, It may minister to virtue or be made subservient to vice; it may contribute to happiness or greatly aggravate our misery, according as it is wisely or injudiciously directed. The object therefore in the regulation of our habits must be that those things be rendered easy and agreeable through frequent practice, which are most essentially requisite to our comfort and permanent well-being; and that we render our pleasures dependent, as much as possible, on those sources which are most easily attainable. Now all this may be done by habit. A habit of moderation in our desire, will enable us to take as much delight in the cheaper, more ordinary means fratification, as others do in those

which are most difficult to be procured In absolute enjoyment we are nearly upon a level; but the difference in our favour consists in this, that our pleasures are 'more secure and permahent than theirs, and also that almost every change is with us a change from contented tranquillity to a state of high enjoyment, while they, having foolishly placed their habitual station at the summit of all, cannot remove from it without descending.

Such then are some of those sources from which the wise and prudent man may, in ordinary cases, depend upon deriving an abundant and secure supply of happiness;-from innocent, or still better, from benefi cent, activity-from the exercise of the benevolent affections either to wards those with whom he is pecu liarly connected by the ties of kindred or friendship, or as delighting in the more enlarged, expanded views of universal philanthropy-from a serene and even temper, unruffled either by trifling offences on the part of others, or by those petty miseries and vexations which occasionally occur to himself. From these, and such as these, the wise man may draw a never-failing supply of enjoyment. Not that he is to be always in transport or extacy, for this is inconsistent with human nature, and indeed is not in itself de sirable; but a steady, uniform cheerfulness and tranquillity which, from its permanence and security, will certainly furnish in the end a much greater sum of real happiness. The enumeration is not by any means complete; for such is the admirable constitution of things, that, to the truly wise man, every object in nature, and almost every circumstance of life, may be made the source of pleasure. All the provinces of external nature-all the powers, desires and affections of his own mind, will contribute to his feli city: the powers of taste and imagina tion-the search after, and discovery of, knowledge-the interest he takes in the events which diversify the his tory of his species,-all these, and a thousand other pleasures of the mind, which, though nothing can in this uncertain state be pronounced absolutely imperishable and constantly within reach, may yet be said to be in general firmly secured to wise and good men as a just reward of intellectual and moral happiness.

Mr. Wright on Dr. Adam Clarke's Notes on the Holy Scriptures.

Mr. Wright's Remarks on Two Passages
in Dr. Adam Clarke's Notes on the
Holy Scriptures.

'N his remarks on 1 Cor. i. 8, the
Doctor relates two Jewish stories
to illustrate the faithfulness of God
the following is one of them :-" Rab-
bi Simeon, the son of Shetach, bought
an ass from some Edomites, at whose
neck his disciples saw a diamond hang-
ing: they said unto him, Rabbi, the
blessing of the Lord maketh rich, Prov.
x. 22. But he answered, The ass I
have bought, but the diamond I have
not bought: therefore he returned the
diamond to the Edomites." To this
story Dr. C. has added the following
illiberal remark:-"This was an in-
stance of rare honesty, not to be pa-
ralleled among the Jews of the present
day; and probably among few Gen-
tiles." On what authority the Gen-
tiles are supposed to be so much better
than the Jews, and the whole of the
latter, as well as the greater part of
the former, to be destitute of strict ho-
nesty, the Doctor has not stated. It
is certain every strictly honest man
would act as Rabbi Simeon is said to
have acted. It has been too much the
practice for Christians to speak of the
Jews, because they do not believe that
Jesus is the Christ, as men destitute
of all piety and virtue; though proofs
of the contrary might be produced.
To treat a whole people as altogether
depraved and worthless, is the way to
debase them, and injure their moral
character. It is inconsistent with
Christian charity, and even with com-
mon justice, to represent a whole na-
tion as not furnishing, in the present
day, a single instance of the strictest
honesty. I have been credibly in
formed of an instance of what the
Doctor calls rare honesty, in the con-
duct of a Jew, with whom I was well
acquainted, which may be paralleled
with the case he has stated. The Jew
I referto, travelling with his box, hap-
pened to call at a house where he was
asked if he would purchase a watch
which was presented to him: he in-
quired what price the person who
offered to sell him the watch required
for it, and being told, he asked if the
seller knew what the watch was, and
was answered Yes, it is a gilt one;"
he replied, "No, you are mistaken,
it is a gold one, and worth much
more than you ask for it."-Will Dr.
C. take upon him to say that none of
the Jews, in the present day, are or

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can be conscienciously such? And if conscienciously Jews, according to men of strict integrity? Is he suffithe law of Moses, will they not be ciently acquainted with the conduct of all the Jews, to justify the censure he passes upon them?

the Doctor says, "One remark I canIn his notes on 1 Cor. xvth. chap. not help making; the doctrine of the resurrection, appears to have been thought of much more consequence among the primitive Christians than it is now! How is this? The apostles were continually insisting on it, and exciting the followers of God to diligence, obedience and cheerfulness through it. And their successors in the present day seldom mention it! So apostles preached; and so primitive Christians believed: so we preach;" and so our hearers believe. There is not a doctrine in the gospel on which more stress is laid: and there is not a doctrine in the present system of preaching which is treated with more neglect!" Is not this an acknowledg ment that what is called evangelical preaching in the present day is essentially different from the preaching of the apostles? Dr. C. asserts that the doctrine which the apostles were continually insisting on, is seldom mentioned by those he calls their successors; but he does not state the reasons for this difference. He will not say the doctrine of the resurrection is of less importance now than it was in the days of the apostles. He does not attempt to justify the neglect of their doctrine by modern preachers. Surely if those who take to themselves the name of evangelical ministers in the present day had the same views of the gospel as the apostles had, they would preach as Ought not Dr. C. and his readers to inquire whether the primitive docthe apostles preached. trine of the gospel be not neglected on account of other doctrines being insisted on, as leading articles of faith, which the apostles did not preach, and which cannot be found in their discourses, of which we have an account in the book of Acts? There are ministers, but I fear the Doctor would hardly allow them to be evangelical, who insist more on the doctrine of the resurrection than all their more numerous brethren who disown them as legal teachers.

R. WRIGHT.

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