« ПретходнаНастави »
ON TAKING FAREWELL.
EVERY thing beneath the sun has vanity and vexation engraven on it; and it is fit it should be so, lest men, possessing what they aspire after, should forget themselves. So we see, we feel, that pleasure is interwoven with pain, sweet with sour, joy with sorrow, riches with anxiety and cares, greatness with torment, health with disease, and life with death.
When I took farewell of my friends to see other nations, and rise into a more universal knowledge of the world and men, (trifles that please an aspiring mind), yet how were all my fine prospects more than balanced, to think that I might never see my native land again, the land of liberty and light, the Hephzibah of God! What if I should drop into the unfathomed deeps of the ocean, and be a prey to the finny tribe? But, abstracting from these gloomy forethoughts, how was joy turned into a flow of friendly sorrow! Can I yet forget the affectionate grasp of hand, the melting tear, the parting kiss, and kindly look, as if it might have been the last * and all from friends so near and dear? Yet this must be; I must either forbear going abroad, or take farewell of all my friends; and who knows if ever I shall see them again, till in another world, where the nearest ties are loosed, and the dearest relation dissolved, unless a spiritual relation unite our souls to him of whom the whole family in
* The Author never saw some friends, alluded to above, again in life, particularly his mother.
heaven and earth is named, a family that shall never scatter or be dispersed through the ages of eternity! The highest wisdom of the traveller, then, is to get himself made a member of the heavenly family. Thus, when the frail family, of which he is a mortal member, must be divided, parted, and spread abroad, some in death, some in distant lands, he shall never be cast out of the celestial family, nor denied the high privileges thereof, but may cry to God, Abba, Father, and shall find him not far off, when roaring oceans interrupt the father's passionate care, and bound the tender mother's melting flow of affection. Without such a relation we are orphans, though we had the best of fathers, and the kindest of mothers; we are friendless, though we had the most sympathising sisters, and obliging brothers; destitute amidst our numerous, rich, and munificent relations; and more desolate than the pelican of the wilderness, or the midnight owl, though crowded with visitants, and among a world of acquaintances. But, blessed with it, no tongue can tell our happiness! Our heavenly Father, who knows our need, is ever at our hand; his power and promptitude to do us good exceed the father, excel the kindly mother; his mercy outshines the sympathising sisters, and his bounty the obliging brothers; his promises are better than all our rela tions, his providence than our richest friends; and his presence than a world of acquaintance, or the levee of kings. In such a situation, the deserts of Arabia shall please, like the places where we were born and brought up. May this, then, be my case, and I am happy in my peregrinations, and joyful in my journeys.
THE TEMPER OF HIM THAT GOES ABROAD.
Now I leave my native land in peace with all, and wish well to friends and foes, as no doubt I have both.
Gratitude binds me not to forget my friends grace, to forgive my foes. He carries but a poor principle in his breast, that goes away swoln with rage, in hopes to return and revenge; for " anger rests only in the bosom of fools." It is a Christian grace to forgive even the worst of injuries; for it ennobles a man more to conquer the wicked principle of his corrupt nature, than to take a city. Would I revenge a personal quarrel on any at the day of judgement? Surely no. Shall I, then, carry rancour to the very grave, or lie down in a condition in which I would not wish to rise? Therefore my passion shall be converted into pity, and I will not only forgive men what they may have done amiss to me, but implore forgiveness for them in that wherein they may have offended God, Thus shall I go lightly, compared with the mental madman who cherishes revenge. He continually carries about with him a load of hurtful two-edged weapons, in hopes to find his foe, and satiate his revenge upon him; but, while he waits his opportunity, he slips a foot, and falls among the pointed weapons, which wound him unto death. So must every malicious person fare at last, who falls over the precipice of time into eternity, full of envy, and inflamed with wrath.
ON FINDING MANY PASSENGERS ON SHORE.
Leith, March 1758.
BEFORE I came from home, I knew not of a single person but myself that was to set out from the same port to the same place; but, on my arrival here, I find a great many from every corner of the land, waiting a fair wind to forward them in their intended passage. And may not this call to my mind, that, though only now and then, one here and another there, departs this life, yet on the confines of endless ages, on the borders of the invisible world, what numbers of departing souls are daily passing from every part of this inhabited globe, to appear before the tremendous bar!
If we glance the mortality-bills of well-peopled cities, the numbers that daily die are astonishing. And though nothing be more common than death, yet nothing is more affecting than dissolution.
I have taken one step, which may remind me. of another that shall overtake me, and that, being my last translation, shall never be succeeded by a future. Let not, then, my improvidence in spiritual things cause me to repent, when repentance, though perpetuated, may be too late.
ON ARRIVING AT A STRANGE CITY.
THOUSANDS and ten thousands are the inhabitants of this place, and yet few or none of them do
I know. How soon is man a stranger among his fellow-creatures! He may be acquainted with the people where he was born and brought up, or where he dwelt; but a few days journey convinces him, even among the multitude of men, that he is a stranger on this earth; for where he is acquainted with one, he is unacquainted with ten thousands. This admonishes me to account the world a strange country, and myself as only passing through it to my native country, and therefore to fix my affections on the things that are above, whither I am hastening.
My next reflection leads me out to admire thine omniscience with astonishment. Not a person among these many thousands but thou knowest their business, their actions, and their way of life, yea more, their words and very thoughts. Thou also rulest and governest them in all their various actions, numbers of whom have never known thee. Nor does the conduct of thy providence only extend to this circle of men, but to every individual through the extensive universe. O wisdom to be adored! O power to be depended on! And shall not I, who am but one, trust in thee who orderest all the world so well! Not only the peaceful village, in its ordinary round of human life, but the hostile plain in all the tumult and confusion of war, confesses thy sceptre. Then, if all have an interest in thy common providence, shall not I have an inte rest in thy special care?
My next reflection is on the almost incredible numbers of my fellow-creatures who inhabit here; and if I throw my thought through the world, what greater numbers, what nations are held in life! what then must the general assembly at the great assize be, if, according to some, every thirty