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quires its particular attention; in a word, it tends to form the precious habit of calling home our wandering thoughts at pleasure, and bringing them to a point.
After all, book learning alone is insufficieut for human concerns. To use a quotation from Doctor Johnson : “ Books, says Bacon, can never teach the use of books. The student must learn by commerce with mankind to reduce his speculations to practice, and accommodate his knowledge to the purposes of life.”
One observation more I will make, and hope it may be carefully heeded. We err no less in not turning to good account what we know, than in neglecting to increase our stock of knowledge. What doth it profit though a man have much knowledge or learning, if he is not better, more wise and virtuous in his conduct, and more useful to the community ?-If it makes him but the worse, he turns the blessing to a curse.
Of the impassable and unalterable limits to the pleasures
The pleasures of sense, common to all animal natures, can admit of very little increase by the refinements of art, and at the same time are bounded and limited by impassable barriers. I say impassable barriers, for you no sooner have overleaped them than the pleasure is gone, and satiety, disgust, or some kind of painful dissatisfaction, succeeds to its place.
Sweet as is the light, too much of it would instantly destroy the organ of vision. Pleasant as it is to see the sun, yet looking steadfastly upon him in his meridian glory, would cause pain, and even blindness. The light of that luminary, by which alone we see the innumerable objects that are visible to us, is colored; else our feeble organ of sight could endure it scarcely for a moment. For what if the whole sky, the whole earth, and every object above and around us, shone with the unmingled brightness of uncolored light? In that case
the light itself would become darkness, since every eye must instantly be blinded by it.
And as with light, so with hearing. A sound that is too strong and forcible, deafens the ear. Nay even the most sweet and harmonious sounds, when long continued, or very often repeated, become indifferent to the ear, if not tiresome.
In like manner the smell is sickened with perpetual fragrance, and the palate surfeited by overmuch sweet
Even the joy, of mere animal nature, when it exceeds the just bounds, becomes a disturber. Overmuch joy of this sort, is inquietude; it banishes quiet sleep as effectually as pungent grief:
Hence it falls out, agreeably to the established constitution of our nature, that scarcely any persons lead more unpleasant lives than those who pursue after pleasure with the most eagerness. And so it must needs be, because their over-eagerness of desire, by impelling them on to perpetual excess, turns their pleasures to pains, and their very recreations to scenes of wearisome drudgery.
If Solomon had not told us from his own experience, that such a course of life is not only vanity, but vexation of spirit; yet the world abounds with instances to prove and illustrate it;—and of these I will now cite two eminent ones of the last age:
Richard Nash, Esq.-commonly called Beau Nashwho died, 1781, aged 87, was master of the Ceremonies, or King of Bath, for the space of nearly half a century. His body was athletic, his constitution strong and healthy, and his ruling passions were vanity, and keenness of desire for fashionable dissipation. With his darling wishes the means of indulgence exactly and altogether corresponded. Presiding over the amusements of the courtiers and nobility and gentry of England, he gratified his vanity with the finery and costliness of his apparel, and the implicit obedience paid to his orders; and whilst employed in providing banquets of pleasure for his voluptuous guests, he seldom neglected his opportunities of carving plenteously for himself.-Beau Nash, enjoyed what is called pleasure, for
a greater length of time, and refined upon it more exquisitely, than perhaps any man else that is now among the living or the dead. Yet, setting aside all the awful considerations of futurity, no one that reads the story of his life with any degree of sound reflection, will be led to think that lie had more real enjoyment of it, or even near so much, as falls to the ordinary lot of mankind. A biographer of Nash, in speaking of the latter stages of his life, observes: “He was now past the period of giving or receiving pleasure, for he was poor, old and peevish; yet still he was incapable of turning from his former manner of life to pursue happiness. The old man endeavored to practise the follies of the boy; and he seemed willing to find lost appetite among the scenes where he was once young."
A remarkable counterpart to the life of Mr. Nash, is that of Mademoiselle de Lespenasse; which clearly shows that the most unhappy of women are those who have no taste for siinple domestic comforts.
It is related of this most accomplished French lady, who had been the unrivalled leader of the fashion in France, during a part of the last century, “That she not only lived, but almost died, in public; that while she was tortured with disease, and her lieart so torn with agonizing passions as frequently to turn her thoughts on suicide, she dined out and made visits every day: and that, when she was visibly within a few weeks of her end, and was wasted with coughs and with spasms, she still had her saloon filled twice a day with company, and dragged herself out to supper with all the Countesses of her acquaintance."
To be Temperate in all things, is as really a matter of interest as of duty. If there were even no unlawfulness in excess, nor any punishment following it in the coming world, yet it ever brings with it a punishment here; a punishment that more than countervails the enjoyment. And, on the other hand, if there were neither virtue nor duty in the moderation of enjoying the pleasures of sense, yet it carries' along with it its own reward, as it is the only way of deriving from those pleasures all the satisfaction which it is of their nature to give. So that, to enjoy innocently and in strict con
formity to the rules of reason and of our holy religion, terminates ordinarily in a greater amount of real pleasure than is to be found by the epicure or the voluptuary.
It is excellently observed by Doctor Reid, on the Mind—“If one could by a soft and luxurious life, acquire a more delicate sensibility to pleasure, it must be
expense of a like sensibility to pain, from which he can
never promise himself exemption ; the expense of cherishing many diseases which produce pain.?? Beware of Pleasure! The envenomed serpent
couches under the gay and fragrant flower.
Of Evil Thinking.
« HE that would seriously set upon the search of truth," says the great Locke, “ought in the first place to prepare his inind with the love of it; for he that loves it not, will not take much pains to get it, nor be much concerned when he misses it. There is nobody in the commonwealth of learning who does not profess himself a lover of truth: and there is not a rational creature that would not take it amiss to be thought otherwise of. And yet, for all this, one may truly say, there are very few lovers of truth for truth's sake, even amongst those who persuade themselves that they are so. How a man may know whether he be so in earnest, is worth inquiry, and I think there is this one unerring mark of it, viz. the not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance, than the proofs it is built upon will warrant."
These weighty sentiments, so worthy to be carried along with us in all our secular, and in all our moral and religious concerns, are particularly applicable to the subject of evil thinking. Downright wilful slander is considered on all hands as a detestable vice; and a person habitually.guilty of it, in its grossness, is marked as a foe to socieiy. A man, a woman, or a family, that is notoriously infected with this foul malady, is watched as carefully as is a pick-pocket, or a common cheat. But it unhappily falls out, that although gross, wilful slander, commonly meets with the reprobation it merits, yet, what is nearly related to it passes with very little censure or remorse.— I mean one's taking up a reproach against one's neighbor, or believing an ill report of another upon slight grounds, or without sufficient evidence.
The commonness of this fault seems to evince a strong predisposition to it in our very nature. It is a remark of the great British moralist, Dr. Johnson, that “there are two causes of belief: Evidence and Inclination." When we are in no manner inclined to believe a thing, we naturally require full evidence of it before we yield our credence; and, on the other hand, when we are powerfully inclined to believe, we can do so, not only without evidence, but against it. Hence it would seem, that we naturally have a strong inclination to believe or think ill of others, since we so often do it on no real proof, or on what is next to none.
How happens it, that even in well-ordered society, scandal flies as upon the wings of the wind? That it so quickly spreads over a whole neighborhood, parish, or town? That it continues to widen its circle from day to day, till every body knows it, save one, to wit, the very person scandalized ?-Does not this argue a general love of scandal?--Perhaps you will say No; and will hold, that two or three tale-bearers or busy bodies may have done the whole mischief. But how could they have done it if they had not found a multitude of ears to listen to their tale, and a multitude of tongues to aid them in its circulation ? As there would be no thieves of one kind, if there were no receivers of stolen goods, so there would be no tale-bearers, if there were no eager listeners to their buzz: and as the receiver is as bad as the thief, so the eager listener to groundless scandal is well nigh as bad as its author, or at least possesses some portion of the same depravity of feeling and temper.
No one has travelled very far upon the journey of life, and been an observant traveller, who has not noticed the manner in which, for a while, this pestilence walketh in darkness," and then burts forth into open