Page images

beyond these to the approbation of God, and of his own conscience, and the esteem and love of his fellowa creatures. They pursued their different objects with equal ardour. Frederic, without having taken any pains to regulate his inclinations, implicitly obeyed them, and gave himself completely up to the present impulse. Albert permitted no desire to harbour in his breast, that interfered with the fulfilment of any duty which he owed to God or man. The pure principles he had embraced were cherished in a pure heart; and, by being always steadily adhered to, became in a manner intuitive: they no longer required the aid of reflection, but presented themselves uncalled for, to regulate every thought, every word, and every action. The principle of selfishness was to Frederic, what the principles of religion and virtue were to Albert.



It operated with the same force, and with the same certainty; so that none that were thoroughly acquainted with the two characters would have expected any thing but what was noble, and generous, and virtuous in the one, or been disappointed at meeting with what was mean, and sordid, and dishonourable in the other.

No, my dear child, there is nothing upon which we can so much depend as upon the uniform operation of long cherished principle. Virtuous habits that are merely produced by situation, will last just so long, and no longer than the situation remains unchanged. But when they are the effects of vir. tuous principle, they will be perse. vered in through every situation.

There is still another inference of much importance to which I would direct your attention. The knowledge of our duty, or, in other words,

just just and enlightened notions of our happiness, will not have in our minds the force of principles without some pains on our parts. The habit of referring to them, must be for some time persisted in, before they will have much influence upon our conduet. If we have not when young accustomed ourselves to do what was right, and because we knew it to be right, we shall very soon come to do wrong, though we know it to be wrong. Let, therefore, no day, no hour, nay, not so much as a minute of your time be spent without having been sanctified by a good intention. If you believe in God, and believe that he is ever present with you, let pleasing God be the constant object of your care. . If I ask you how you may best please him; you will answer by the performance of every duty. The great duty of youth is a zealous im

L 2


provement of every opportunity of instruction. Without applying the heart unto knowledge, knowledge will never be acquired; but to practise what we already know, requires no less zeal, no less diligence and application, than to make new acquisitions in information. Both ought to be considered in the light of primary duties; but the misfortune is, people too often imagine that if knowledge of duty is given, the practice of it will follow of course.' I have therefore been at some pains to set you right in this particular ; and hope I have succeeded in convincing you, thạt though knowledge may be in a manner forced upon us by others, we must, for the formation of our principles, be in a great measure indebted to our own exertions.

By the different views of happiness that are set before us, we may no


doubt be greatly influenced; and hence arises the chief advantage of instruction ; but after we are capable of reflection, we cannot avoid giving such consideration to these views as renders our adopting or rejecting them our own deliberate act. The views of happiness that are adopted by a mean and narrow mind, are constantly circumscribed within the sordid limits of personal and immediate gratification. The person who embraces more enlarged and generous sentiments, extends his views of happiness to objects that are in their nature infinite, and in duration eternal! I leave it for you to decide which is likely to enjoy the greatest portion of felicity.

In contemplating the opposite conduct of Albert and Frederic, you will not hesitate where to give the preference. But do not imagine that in

L 3


« PreviousContinue »