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sensations that are at once imperfect and obscure. If we would accompany others in their train of reflections, or follow them in their arguments : then we must place ourselves, as it were, in the orbit of their view, and thus alter or enlarge our own.

If we be desirous that others should readily communicate their reflections to us: then must we let them fee that we perceive the truth and juftness of them, and must repay them by some equivalent thoughts of our own. Generally speaking, in social life we barter our experiences; our perceptions, our knowledge, against those of others, while all are gainers by this fpecies of traffic, not excepting even him who gives far more than he receives ; because we can never teach others, without learning ourselves, and because every person in his line and circumftances has seen much, heard much, experienced muchi, confidered much, that another in a quite different line, and quite other circumstances, could not have seen, noe have heard, not have experienced, and not have thought on. We there learn to fee things on new sides, unobserved by us before, in new connections and different relations ; learn to judge of them more liberally, and therefore with less partiality and injustice. We there meet with opportunities of freeing ourselves from numberless prejudices against certain ftations, or bufineffes, or pleasures, or modes of life, or other objects, by which such as live at too great a distance from the world are shackled and led into mistake; we learn to compare more things together,


to comprehend more and to survey more objects at once, and thus likewise to judge more justly of the whole.

And how frequently, in social life, does not one intellect rouze and excite another! How often one light kindle another, one brilliant thought elicit another! How oft does a splendid ray of light, a vivid particle of celestial fire, dart into a mind where dark. ness and cold had fixed their reign, and awaken all its torpid powers to motion and activity! How often, does even a pensive and enlightened head there find the solution of some difficulty, or the clue to some labyrinth of human thought, which it had long been seeking for in vain ! — And at what point does the series of reflections stop, that a happy moment, an animated conversation with some friend to truth, has once given rise to? What sentiment is there that does not beget a thousand others; which does not multiply itself a thousand-fold in every head that admits and comprehends it ; which does not return upon the mind ten thousand times, as occasion of fers, influencing its ideas and judgments! How frequently does it not happen, that some just and good sentiment,some right and proper judgment, some generous principle, some important rule of prudence, fome pious sentiment or emotion, uttered by the wise man, the christian, in conversation with his brethren, how oft does it not sink, imperceptibly even to ourselves, into our hearts, and there germinate in concealment, ich grain of wheat, and sooner or later F 3


bear fruits of wisdom, of virtue, of happiness, in an increase of an hundred-fold! How oft does not some good word of this kind enlighten, direct, animate, determine us, long after it was mentioned in familiar conversation, and to which we afterwards paid no farther regard, and now presents itself to us in all its energy and truth, as a friend, as a counsellor, as a guide! How manifold, in short, how copious are not the materials we there collect for our own reflecstions, which we may work up afterwards in retirement as our views and wants require! Certainly, if folitude be indispensable for giving justness and foli. dity, firmness and consistency, to our reflections ; social life is no less so for adding to the number of their objects, for giving perspicuity to them, and for rendering them serviceable by their proper application.

A third circumstance with confers a great value on social life is this : by it we are brought nearer together, gain the affection, and learn how to obtain more reciprocal fatisfaction from each other. When a man lives remote from his fellow-creatures, he is apt to judge too harshly of them ; seldom takes much interest in what concerns them, and his heart very often retires from them in proportion as he withdraws himself from their society and converse. Humanity, human affairs, human misery, human happiness, in general and in the aggregate are nothing more than barren ideas, frequently mere words, which leave the heart unmoved and cold, 'unlefs at the same time

they they present us with lively images of several particular persons who share in this humanity, to whom these concerns are of consequence, who groan under this misery, or rejoice in this happiness. These ideas only then become living motives to generous sentiments and actions. But this vivacity and this energy they can scarcely otherwise acquire than by means of social life, and the closer connection we thereby contract with our fellow-creatures. There alone we feel how much we all pcffefs in common; how little one man can dispense with the help of another; of how much yalue one is to the other; how important this link is of the great chain which embraces and holds them all together. There we mutually discover many good qualities, many happy dispositions, many capacities and abilities, much acuteness and aptitude, which we did not suspect in each other ; and how much must not this contribute to increase our reci. procal esteem and affection!

How much generous satisfaction procure us ! There we frequently hear individuals of each condition, each age, each sex, each way of life, deliver such just opinions, express such truly christian sentiments, and see them conduct themselves so prudently, that our mind energetically feels its affinity, and our heart entirely fympathizes with them; and how closely, how intimately must not this connect us together! How extensively promote the cause of humanity and brotherly love!

In social life we likewise learn to think more rea. sonably of the weaknesses, the failings, and the aber.



rations of our fellow-mortals; we learn to consider them not only in and of themselves but in relation to the particular individual, to the situation and circumstances of that individual; we learn to judge of them by their grounds and occasions; we learn to compare them with the good that fo often counterbalances, nay, which so often outweighs them; and how much more disposed must not this render us to each other, to bear and to pardon one another in christian love, and to admonish cne another in meek: ness of spirit!

By social life we acquire more fociable dispositions, transact more-focial affairs, enjoy more social plea, sures and satisfactions, encourage ourselves more by common prospects and expectations; and by all this we are undoubtedly brought much closer together, into stricter and more intimate connections, and are therefore, if we be well-disposed and inclined, far more ready to serve and assist one another, and to promote our mutual happiness. To the calls of hu; manity, to the arguments of religion and christianity, are there superadded the particular impulses of act quaintance and frequent intercourse, the sacred impulse of friendship, the impulse of social pleafures, and the common honour of society; and how much more must not the united force of all these arguments and incentives effect in the man who does not harden his heart against them, than if he were reduced barely to follow the general and cold precepts of reason!

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