Page images

wounded pride, thy affronted vanity; not for breaking forth in fad complaints, or for indulging fome secret sorrow or fome unruly passion; not for withdrawing thyself from thy brethren, for dissolving, thy intercourse with them, and depriving them, as unworthy, of thy services and converse. No, this were to profane the solemn filence that surrounds thee, a criminal abuse of fo excellent a means of improving and calming thy heart: and every folly thou committest there ; every depraved sentiment or fenfation thou indulgest there, will so much the more degrade thee, as it was more easy for thee to avoid or to suppress it.

Seek not folitude, when thy duty, the duty of thy station and calling summons thee to active life, when thy friend, thy brother, is in need of thy fuċcour, when thou canst perform something useful to society. To do good is always better than to think well : useful employment preferable to the loftieft repofe ; a magnanimous facrifice for the benefit of others more meritorious than the noblest sentiments. Be, ware then of preferring the pleasures of folitude, innocent and respectable as they are, to the pleasures of beneficence, and, under the pretence of promoting thy own internal perfection, to neglect the ad. vancement of the general welfare.

Seek not folitude, thirdly, as a punishment on thyself, as a penance for thy numberless diffipations and amusements. Thus it would soon become bur. denfome to thee. Thus it could neither be useful


nor agreeable to thee, and the oppressive languor that would haunt thee there would soon deliver thee a prey to every foolish and dangerous dissipation and pleasure, that bids fair to free thee from this hateful incumbrance. No, the sentiment of thy spiritual wants, the sentiment of thy superior vocation, the desire of becoming wiser and better, and of having more communion with God, should drive thee into retirement, and should direct thy thoughts and thy employment there. It should be the nourishment and recreation of thy mind and heart, the foother of thy cares, the reward of thy industry and fidelity in business, tủy refreshment after wearisome assiduity, and thy preparative and strengthener to every

fresh exertion requisite to thy station in life.

If in these views thou enter into solitude, then let thy thoughts and sentiments fow unrepressed, fo long as they are innocent and good, suitable to thy present temper of mind and thy immediate necessities. Lay no reftraint upon thyself, unless particular pure poses require it. Let the sentiment of thyself, the clear internal consciousness of what thou art and dost, be active in thee; hide thee not from thyself: repell no sentiment or thought merely because it is strange or unusual to thee; let thy mind exert its vigour without restraint. The more freely, naturally and calmly thou thinkest and feelest : the more will the recesses of thy heart disclose themselves to thee; truth will shine upon thee with a brighter beam; and the farther advances wilt thou make in felf-knowledge, in wisdom and virtue.



Lastly, never depart out of folitude without taking with thee into social and active life some good and lucid notion, fome noble and pious sentiment, some virtuous resolution, or some ground of comfort. Retirement should not be fo much an ultimate end as a means to higher aims. Let not thy attachment to solitude render thee morose and querulous, disspirited in goodness, fullen, or unsocial, shy and unfriendly to mankind. Return to thy brethren with an open countenance, a chearful heart, and with firmer affection; and then apply the force thou hast collected, the perceptions thou hast acquired, the serenity thou hast restored within thee, the fatiffaction and hopes thou hast confirmed, the sentiment of the divine presence and nearness wherewith thou hast impressed thy heart; apply all these to the more ready and chearful prosecution of thy business, to greater circumspection in thy conduct, to a happier enjoyment of the bounties of thy God, apply it to the purposes of beneficence and the advancement of human happiness. Proceed on thy way towards the mark of the prize of thy high calling, which now shines brighter before thee; proceed undismayed and firm, and pra&tise, as thou goest, what thou hast learnt in this school of wisdom and virtue. So wilt thou completely fulfill thy vocation, and neither be fothful and idle in solitude, nor trifling and negligent in the hurry of the world.


The Value of Social Life.

O GOD, who
art the father of us all

, how closely haft thou not connected us with each other! How intimately, how indiffolubly interwoven our concerns, our wants, our sorrows and joys together! No one can dispense with others; no one can be accomplished and happy for himself alone; every one may be useful to others in numerous ways.

How were it possible for us here, most merciful father, to mistake thy call to be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, and our destination to focial life? No, it is thy appointment that we should confort together along the path of life, mutually bear each others burdens and facilitate the


to each other, that we should commute thy various gifts and blessings with one another, impart to others of our substance and mutually rejoice in the inter

change change of benefits. By planting strong social difpositions in our hearts, what sources of generally useful activity and of generous pleasure hast thou not made them! Oh that no sordid felfishness, no misanthropic passion might weaken or disturb these sources of satisfaction and delight! Might they ever flow more clear and pure, ever issue more copiously, and diffuse around abundance of true happiness and joy! Do thou then grant us the understanding, the wisdom, the integrity and virtue which in this respect

we want.

Do thou penetrate and replenish our hearts with the gentle, generous, affectionate emotions and dispositions, with the zeal to serve and benefit others, with that warm participation in the prosperity and adversity of all, which alone can confer a real value on social life. Let us more and more plainly perceive and prize this value, and behave in regard to it as is agreeable to thy will and to our vocation. Bless to that end the reflections we are now about to begin on that subject. Let us thoroughly comprehend the lessons of wisdom that are to be delivered to us, impartially apply them to ourselves, and make a faithful use of them in our future conduct. For these blessings we implore thee, fully trusting in the promises given us by Jesus, and, as his followers, farther address thee, in filial confidence, as, Our Father, &c.

« PreviousContinue »