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feldom is it so bright in our mind, so silent in our heart, fo quiet around us, that we can thoroughly rejoice in thy existence and our own, thoroughly feel our fuperior destination, and think and act in complete consistence with it! O God, the father of our spirits, grant us then more to feel, more highly to prize our connection with thee, and render us more susceptible of thy influence upon us, more frequently to collect our scattered thoughts, to seek retirement, to exercise ourselves more in reflection and thus to come nearer to thee and to our superior appointment. Teach us to be jealous of the prerogative we poffefs as intelligent creatures, and let us find so much pleasure and happiness in the proper application of it, that we may never be wanting in incitement and inclination to it. Strengthen also now our mind that it may perceive the truth intended to inform and to improve it, in a perspicuous light ; let it difsipate our prejudices and errors, and enable us by its Tustre, more securely and happily to continue and to complete our journey of life. We ask it of thee in the name of Jesus, saying: Our father, &c.


MARK, i. 12

And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wildernessa

CONVERSE with mankind, and converse with

oneself; the gaieties of social, and the serious, ness of folitary life; diffusive, beneficent activity among many, and the application of the entire at, tention on oneself; vivacity in business and vivacity in reflection ; noise and silence; dissipation and re, collection; are always to be interchangeably followe ed, if we would attain the true end of our being, ful, fil our several duties, and arrive at a certain degree of wisdom and virtue. If we confine our existence to either sort exclusively of the other, we shall neglect either our own most important concerns, or the concerns of our brethren.

In the uninterrupted bustle of business and dissipation, we may easily for, get ourselves ; and by too severe a pursuit of solitary filence, we may as easily become indifferent and in, sensible to others. But, if we combine them both together, we shall live as much for others as for ourselves, promote as far as we are able our own feli. city no less than that of other men, and shall neither be feduced to folly by levity and habitual distraction, nor to misanthropy by the gloomy and querulous


austerity of the recluse. Two fide-ways, by which too many have missed of the proper end of their being, and still mistake it, with only this difference, that now the one and then the other has been more thronged and frequented. At present, at least in our regions of the world, those times are past, when the folitary life, devoted to meditation, was so highly esteemed, and a total seclusion from the world was thought the sole means of access to heaven. Now the opposite path is more universally trodden : company


every thing; and silence and retirement are fallen, with the majority, into evil report. But whether they merit this report ? Whether, under

proper limitations, they still are not worthy of the use and esteem of the fage and the christian? Whether we have not cause, in this particular likewise, to imitate our faviour Jesus, and like him to be led of the {pirit, to be led by the sentiment of our spiritual wants, into the wilderness, or into retirement ? This, my pious hearers, is what we shall now endeavour to discuss. I mean to discourse to you on the value and the discreet use of solitude; first stating the subject, then shewing its utility, and lastly adding a few rules for the prudent employment of it.

By the folitude I recommend, I mean not a life passed in absolute seclusion from all commerce with the world and all intercourse with mankind, not the life of the cænobite, nor that of the hermit. Such a life is plainly in opposition to the destination and felicity of man, and at most is adapted only to the


feeble, such as the weight of misfortunes has entirely borne down and rendered unfit for the business and joys of social life. And he who thinks by such a life to serve God, or to promote the salvation of his foul, neither knows God, nor understands what the term of saving his foul implies, and cannot be acquit. ted of the charge of superstition. No, to serve God means, from love and obedience to him, to serve his creatures of the human race, and to fulfil all the duties of life ; and the saving of the soul consists in the application of all our faculties and powers to do the will of our creator; and by the best and most useful means to effect as much good with them as we always are able.

No, the solitude I mean is every place, every retreat, where a man, for a longer or a shorter time, is alone and apart from the company of other perfons, that he may be at liberty to make reflections on himself and his mcre important concerns, wheit be in a small room of his house, or in the spacious and open plain; in the blaze of the meridian fun, or by the milder light of the nocturnal moon. Ņeithier darkness nor confinement, but silence and freedom from such matters and absence of such persons, as might interrupt or disturb our thoughts, is the effence of folitude. The more extensive however the fphere of our fight and sentiment; the farther our eyes can reach ; the freer our breast can respire; the more our heart can comprehend, and the more unimpeded it may expand : so much the more produc


tive to us is folitude in

great, generous, in pious thoughts and sentiments ; so much the more likely is it to be and to procure us what it ought to be and to procure.

Even the presence of a mind in harmony with ours, of a heart pursuing and loving such objects as our own, is frequently, not only no hindrance, but rather an advantage to it. To such a solitude we ascribe great worth and manifold utility. And this for various reasons.

In folitude we think more sedately, more undisturbed and free; and thinking, my pious hearers, is the grand prerogative of man, the foundation of his utmost perfection and happiness. In society, and in the midst of our affairs, it frequently happens, that, in this respect, we are more passive than active. We must take the impressions of outward things as they fall

upon us, our mental representations will be exactly modelled on what surrounds us, on whatever we see and hear, on what we have to do. They commonly glide away from before us as quickly as they arise ; one presses upon the other; their impetuous torrent carries us away with it. But seldom can we chuse from among them ; but feldom can we detain such as are most agreeable and important to us; seldom can we disiniss such as promise us neither profit nor pleasure ; but seldom can we distinguish between truth and falsehood, between reality and appearance. We there collect more materials for thought, than we are able to give our mental application to in all its force.


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