Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

bim so.

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

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

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

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,
Our only contest what deserves the name.
Give pleasure's name to nought, but what has pass'd
Th’ authentic seal of Scripture, and defies
The tooth of Time; when past, a pleasure still;
Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age,
And doubly to be prized, as it promotes
Our future, while it forms our present joy.
Some joys the future overcast; and some
Throw all their beams that way, and gild the tomb.
Consult thy whole existence, and be safe.
That oracle will put all doubt to flight.
Be good; and let Heaven answer for the rest.


[ocr errors]

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.


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

Shew, smiling fair one, shew the flowery road
That winds its mazy way to thy abode.
Shall I thy footsteps in yon palace trace,
Where dwell Britannia's sons' illustrious race?
Or art thou doom'd to some more humble lot,
The welcome inmate of a lonely cot,
Sequester'd in some covert, wild and rude,
Reclining in the arms of solitude ?
Or, in a bark, skim'st thou the boisterous deep,
Rock'd by rough ocean's winds and waves to sleep ?
Say, art thou found on Greenland's icy shore ?
Or where the miners dig for golden ore?
North, south, east, west, the happy clime, oh name,
That boasts thy presence, and that owns thy fame!
Though ever so remote thy temple be,
No place so distant, but I'd follow thee.
The search is vain; for Pleasure's no where found,
But in her native place, Elysian ground.

When our own native land we hate,
Too cool, too windy, or too wet;
Change the thick climate, and repair
To France or Italy for air:
In vain we change, in vain we fly;
Go, Silvia, mount the whirling sky,

Or ride upon the feather'd wind,
In vain ; if this diseased mind
Clings fast, and still sits close behind;
Faithful disease, that never fails

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. .

Pleasures abroad the sport of nature yields;
Her living fountains and her smiling fields :
And then, at home, what pleasure 'tis to see
A little, cleanly, cheerful family!
Which, if a chaste wife crown, no less in her,
Than fortune, I the golden mean prefer.
Too noble nor too wise she should not be ;
No, nor too rich, too fair, too fond of me.
Thus let my life slide silently away,
With sleep all night, and quiet all the day. COWLET.
Patron of pleasure ! Doter on delight!
I am thy rival; Pleasure I profess:
'Tis balm to life, and gratitude to Heaven.
How cold our thanks for bounties unenjoy'd !
The love of pleasure is man's eldest-bora-
Born in his cradle, living to his tomb.
Wisdom her younger sister, though more grave,
Was meant to minister, and not to mar,
Imperial Pleasure, queen of human hearts.
Pleasure's the purpose of this serious page;
Pleasure is but Religion's gayer name:

I wrong her still-I rate her worth too low;
Pleasure the flower, Religion is the root.
Canst thou plead Pleasure's cause as well as I ?
Know'st thou her nature, purpose, parentage ?
Not to turn human brutal; but to build
Divine on human, Pleasure came from heaven,
It serves ourselves, our species, and our God ;
And to serve more, is past the sphere of man.
“ Glide then, for ever, Pleusure's sacred stream !
Through Eden as Euphrates ran, it

And fosters ev'ry growth of happy life.
Dripk deep; the deeper, then, the more divine;
Angels are angels from indulgence there;
'Tis unrepenting pleasure makes their bliss.”

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


[ocr errors]

“ Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

Happy the man, of mortals happiest he,
Whose quiet mind from vain desires is free ;
Whom neither hopes deceive, nor fears torment,
But lives at peace, within himself content.
In thought or act accountable to none
But to himself, and to his God alone.
O sweetness of content! seraphic joy!
Which nothing wants, and nothing can destroy.



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


« PreviousContinue »