Page images

wounded pride, thy affronted vanity; not for breaking forth in fad complaints, or for indulging fome fecret forrow or fome unruly paffion; not for with-` drawing thyfelf from thy brethren, for diffolving, thy intercourfe with them, and depriving them, as unworthy, of thy fervices and converfe. No, this were to profane the folemn filence that furrounds thee, a criminal abuse of so excellent a means of improving and calming thy heart: and every folly thou committeft there; every depraved fentiment or fenfation thou indulgeft there, will fo much the more degrade thee, as it was more eafy for thee to avoid or to fupprefs it.

Seek not folitude, when thy duty, the duty of thy ftation and calling fummons thee to active life, when thy friend, thy brother, is in need of thy fuccour, when thou canst perform fomething useful to fociety. To do good is always better than to think well: ufeful employment preferable to the loftieft repofe; a magnanimous facrifice for the benefit of others more meritorious than the nobleft fentiments. Be. ware then of preferring the pleafures of folitude, in`nocent and refpectable as they are, to the pleasures of beneficence, and, under the pretence of promoting thy own internal perfection, to neglect the advancement of the general welfare.

Seek not folitude, thirdly, as a punishment on thyfelf, as a penance for thy numberlefs diffipations and amusements. Thus it would foon become burThus it could neither be useful

denfome to thee.


nor agreeable to thee, and the oppreffive languor that would haunt thee there would foon deliver thee a prey to every foolish and dangerous diffipation and pleasure, that bids fair to free thee from this hateful incumbrance. No, the fentiment of thy fpiritual wants, the fentiment of thy fuperior vocation, the defire of becoming wifer and better, and of having more communion with God, fhould drive thee into retirement, and should direct thy thoughts and thy employment there. It fhould be the nourishment and recreation of thy mind and heart, the foother of thy cares, the reward of thy industry and fidelity in business, thy refreshment after wearifome affiduity, and thy preparative and ftrengthener to every fresh exertion requifite to thy ftation in life.

If in these views thou enter into folitude, then let thy thoughts and fentiments flow unrepreffed, fo long as they are innocent and good, fuitable to thy present temper of mind and thy immediate neceffities. Lay no reftraint upon thyfelf, unless particular purposes require it. Let the fentiment of thyself, the clear internal confcioufnefs of what thou art and doft, be active in thee; hide thee not from thyself: repell no fentiment or thought merely because it is ftrange or unufual to thee; let thy mind exert its vigour without restraint. The more freely, naturally and calmly thou thinkest and feeleft: the more will the receffes 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.

D 4


Lastly, never depart out of folitude without taking with thee into social and active life fome good and lucid notion, fome noble and pious fentiment, fome virtuous refolution, or fome ground of comfort. Retirement fhould not be fo much an ultimate end as a means to higher aims. Let not thy attachment to folitude render thee morofe and querulous, diffpirited in goodness, fullen, or unfocial, 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 haft collected, the perceptions thou haft acquired, the ferenity thou haft restored within thee, the fatif'faction and hopes thou haft confirmed, the fentiment of the divine presence and nearness wherewith thou haft impreffed thy heart; apply all these to the more ready and chearful prosecution of thy business, to greater circumfpection 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 fhines brighter before thee; proceed undismayed and firm, and practise, as thou goeft, what thou haft learnt in this fchool of wifdom and virtue. So wilt thou completely fulfill thy vocation, and neither be flothful and idle in folitude, nor trifling and negligent in the hurry of the world.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

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 forrows 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 poffible 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 way to each other, that we fhould commute thy various gifts and bleffings with one another, impart to others of our fubftance and mutually rejoice in the interchange

change of benefits. By planting ftrong focial dif pofitions in our hearts, what fources of generally useful activity and of generous pleasure hast thou not made them! Oh that no fordid selfishness, no misanthropic paffion might weaken or difturb these fources of fatisfaction and delight! Might they ever flow more clear and pure, ever iffue more copioufly, 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 refpect we want. Do thou penetrate and replenish our hearts with the gentle, generous, affectionate emotions and difpofitions, with the zeal to ferve and benefit others, with that warm participation in the profperity and adverfity of all, which alone can confer a real value on focial 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. Blefs to that end the reflections we are now about to begin on that fubject. Let us thoroughly comprehend the leffons of wisdom that are to be delivered to us, impartially apply them to ourselves, and make a faithful ufe of them in our future conduct. For thefe bleffings we implore thee, fully trufting in the promises given us by Jefus, and, as his followers, farther addrefs thee, in filial confidence, as, Our Father, &c.

« PreviousContinue »