« PreviousContinue »
When a person bas conferred any benefit upon us, and we have an inclination, upon that account, to confer some benefit upon him, we call this gratitude. The reverse of this is ingratitude, which is no passion, but a temper, which inclines persons to neglect former benefits received, and make no acknowledgments or due returns of kindness. When it rises very high, it returns evil for good, which is a most hateful and criminal temper and conduct; but this has no distinct name, for the languages of men have not yet found a harder name than ungrateful.
Gratitude is a gentle principle, and makes little commotion in nature, besides a sensible pleasure when our benefactor is happy; and it excites our desires, contrivances, and active endeavours, to make
Watts, Gratitude is a pleasant affection excited by a lively sense of benefits received or intended, or even by the desire of being beneficial. In its strength, it is the powerful re-action of a well-disposed mind, upon whom benevolence has conferred some important good. It is always connected with an impressive sense of the amiable disposition of the person by whom the benefit is conferred, and it immediately produces a personal affection towards him. When the affection operates according to the natural course of influence, it will be correspondent to the importance of the good obtained, the distance in station between the recipient and his benefactor, the smallness of bis claims, perhaps the consciousness of deserving very opposite treatment. These circumstances unite to warm the heart into raptures. The grateful mind is impatient of a silent and passive reception of the blessing. It cannot be restrained from acknowledging its obligations, either by expressions or deeds. It considers every return in its power as an act of the strictest justice ; nor is it deterred by difficulties or dangers from making the attempt. The term most familiarly employed was originally suggested by this idea. The obligation is perceived and felt; and the person benefitted consi. ders himself as bound in honour and justice, either to repay or acknowledge the debt, by a bond that cannot be cancelled.
We shall not wonder at the peculiar strength and energy of this affection, when we consider that it is compounded of love placed
upon the good communicated, affection for the donor, and joy at the reception. Thus it has goodness for its object, and the most please ing, perhaps unexpected, exertions of goodness for its immediate cause. Thankfulness refers to verbal expressions of gratitude. Grove.
Pleasure. However different and variable the ideas of pleasure may be among nations and individuals, it still remains a fact, that a certain number of persons in all civilized states, whether distinguished by birth, or rank, or fortune, or talents, as they have nearly the same education, so they form nearly the same ideas of pleasure. But to possess it, a man must give his chief application to the state of his mind; and, notwithstanding all his efforts, it is of uncertain duration. Pleasure is the sunshine of life; we enjoy it frequently at great intervals; and it is therefore necessary to know how to use it. All the productions of art perish; the largest fortunes are dissipated; rank, honour, and dignity pass away, like a fleeting shadow; the memory is impaired; all the faculties of the soul are extinguished; the body sinks under the infirmities of old age; and scarcely has one reached the boundaries of happiness marked out by his imagination, when be must give place to another, and renounce all bis pleasures, all his hopes, all his illusions, the fugitive images of which bad given happiness to the mind.
Pleasure, we all agree, is man's chief good,
The pleasures of the world, which we are all so prone to dote upon, and the powers of fallen reason, which some are so apt to idolize, are not only vain, but treacherous; not only a painted flame, like these sparkling animals; but much like those unctuous exbalations, wbich arise from the marshy ground, and often dance before the eyes of the benighted wayfaring man. Kindled into a sort of fire, they personate a guide, and seem to offer their service; but, blazing with delusive light, mislead their follower into hidden pits, headlong precipices, and unfathomable gulfs where, far from his beloved friends, far from all hopes of succour, the unhappy wanderer is swallowed up and lost.
Shew, smiling fair one, shew the flowery road
Or ride upon the feather'd wind,
Attendance at her lady's side. Would you see their picture drawn to the very life, and the success of their schemes.calculated with the utmost exactness ? Cast your eye upon that fine representation exbibited by the prophet :" It shall be even as when a hungry man dreameth, and bebold, he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, behold, he drinketh; and bebold, he is faint, and his soul hatb appetite.” (Isa. xxix. 8.) Such is the race, and such the prize, of all those candidates for pleasure, who run wide of the mark of the high-calling of God, in Christ Jesus. They live in vanity, and die in woe. .
I wrong her still-I rate her worth too low;
Contentment is a disposition of mind in which our desires are confined to wbat we enjoy, without murmuring at our lot, or wishing ardently for more. It stands in opposition to envy: (James iji. 16.) to avarice: (Heb. xii. 5.) to pride and ambition : (Prov. xii. 10.) to anxiety of mind : (Matt. vi. 25. 34.) to murmurings and repinings: (1.Cor. x. 10.) Contentment does not imply unconcern about our welfare, or that we should not have a sense of any thing uneasy or distressing ; nor does it give any countenance to idleness, or prevent diligent endeavours to improve our circumstances. It implies, howe ever, that our desires of worldly good be moderate; that we do not