Page images

with fuch untimely darkness; that good- ruin. And under idleness I include, not bamour, which cace captivated all hearts, mere inaction only, but all that circle of that vivacity which sparkled in every com- trifling occupatiors, in which too many pany, those' abilities which were fitted for faunter away their youth ; perpetuuly enadorning the highest flations, all sacrificed gaged in frivolous society, or public amuseat the inrine of low sensuality; and one ments; in the labours of dress, or the who was formed for running the fair ca- oftentation of their persons Is this the reer of life in the midt of public eleem, foundation which you lay for fature uses cut off by his vices at the beginning of fulness and esteem? By such accomplishhis courie; or sunk for the whole of it ments do you hope to recommend yourinto infignificancy and contempt!These, delves to the thinking part of the world, O inful Pleasure, are thy trophies ! It is and to answer the expectations of your thos that, co-operating with the foc of God friends and your country.--Amusements and man, thou degradeft human honous, youth requires : it were vain, it were and blaiteit the opening prospects of hy. cruel, to prohibit them. But, though alman felicity!

Blair, lowable as the relaxation, they are most

culpable as the business, of the young. $38. Industry and Application.

For they then become the gulph of time, Diligence, industry, and proper im- and the poison of the mind. They foment provement of time, are material duties of bad pastions. They weaken the manly. the young. To no purpose are they en. powers. They link the native vigour of dowed with the beft abilities, if they want youth into contemptible effeminacy. activity for exerting them. Unavailing,

Ibid. in this case, will be every direction that can be given them, either for their tem- $39. The Employment of Time. pural or spiritual welfare. In youth, the Redeeming your time from such dans babics of industry are most eally acquired: gerous walle, seek to fill it with employin yoath the incentives to it are ftrongest, ments which you may review with satisfrcn ambition and from duty, from emu- faction. The acquisition of knowledge is lation and hope, from all the prospects, one of the most honourable occupations of which the beginning of life affords. If, youth. The desire of it discovers a liberal dead to these calls, you already languish mind, and is connected with many accomin flothfui inaction, what will be able to plislaments and many virtues. But though quicken the more fluggish current of ade your train of life should not lead you to sancing years ? Indultry is not only the Itudy, the course of education always furinftrument of improvement, but the foun. nishes proper employments to a well-dirdation of pleasure. Nothing is so opposite posed mind. Whatever you pursue, be to the true enjoyment of life, as the re- emulous to excel. Generous ambition, and lated and feeble date of an indolent mind. sensibility to praise, are, especially at your He who is a stranger to industry, may age, among the marks of virtue. Think pofsels, but he cannot enjoy. For it is not, that any alluence of fortune, or any labour cnly which gives the relish to plea- elevation of rank, exempts you from the fure. It is the appointed vehicle of every duties of application and industry. Ingood man. It is the indispensable condi- dustry is the law of our being; it is the tion of our possefling a sound mind in a demand of nature, of reason, and of God. found body. Sloth is so inconsistent with Remember always, that the years which both, that it is hard to determine, whether now pass over your heads, leave permait be a greater foe to virtue, or to health nent memorials behind them. From your and happiness. Inactive as it is in itself

, thoughtless minds they may escape ; but its effects are fatally powerful. Though it they remain in the remembrance of God. 27: car a lowly-flowing stream, yet it un. They form an important part of the register dermines all that is stable and flourishing of your life. They will hereafter bear terIt not (nly faps the foundation of every timony, either for or against you, at that virtue, but pours upon you a deluge of day when, for all your actions, but particrimes and evils. It is like water which cularly for the employments of youth, you firå p- refies by stagnation, and then sends must give an account to God.' Whether up coxious vapours, and fills the atmosphere your future course is destined to be long with deach. Fly, therefore, from idleness, or short, after this manner it should comas the certain parent both of guilt and of mence; and, if it continue to be thus conducted, its conclusion, at what time soever rits ; a constant succession of gay ideas, it arrives, will not be inglorious or un- which flatter and sport in the brain, makes happy.


Blair. them pleased with themselves, and with

every frolic as trifling as themselves : but, $ 40. The Necessity of depending for Suc, when the ferment of their blood abates,

cess on the Blessing of Heaven. and the freshness of their youth, like the Let me finish the subject, with recalling morning dew, passes away, their spirits flag your attention to that dependance on the for want of entertainments more satisfacblessing of Heaven, which, amidst all your tory in themselves, and more suited to a endeavours after improvement, you ought manly age; and the soul, from a sprightly continually to preserve. It is too common impertinence, from quick sensations, and with the young, even when they resolve to florid desires, fubfides into a dead calm, tread the path of virtue and 'honour, to and finks into a fat ftupidity. The fire set out with presumptuous confidence in of a glowing imagination (the property of themselves. 'Trufting to their own abili. youth) may make folly look pleasing, and ties for carrying them successfully through lend a beauty to objects, which have none life, they are careless of applying to God, inherent in them: just as the sun-beams or of deriving any affistance from what may paint a cloud, and diversify it with they are apt to reckon the gloomy disci- beautiful ftains of light, however dark, pline of religion. Alas! how little do unsubftantial, and empty in itself. But they know the dangers which await them! nothing can shine with undiminished lustre, Neither human wisdom, nor human virtue, but religion and knowledge, which are unfupported by religion, are equal for the effentially and intrinsically bright. Take trying situations which often occur in life. it therefore for granted, which you will find By the hock of temptation, how frequently by experience, that nothing can be long have the most virtuous intentions been entertaining, but what is in some measure overthrown! Under the pressure of dif- beneficial ; because nothing else will bear a alter, how often has the greatest conftancy calm and sedate review. sunk! Destitute of the favour of God, you You may be fancied for a while, upon are in no better situation, with all your boast- the account of good-nature, the insepaed abilities, than orphans left to wander in rable attendant upon a flush of fanguine a trackless defert, without any guide to health, and a fulness of youthful spirits; conduct them, or any shelter to cover them but you will find, in process of time, that from the gathering storm. Correệt, then, among the wise and good, useless good. this ill-founded arrogance. Expect not nature is the object of pity, ill-nature of that your happiness can be independent of hatred; but nature beautified and imhim who made you. By faith and repent- proved by an assemblage of moral and inance, apply to the Redeemer of the world. tellectual endowments, is the only object By piety and prayer, seek the protection of of a solid and lasting esteem. Seed. the God of Heaven,


$ 43. The Unhappiness consequent on the § 41. The Necefily of an early and close Neglect of early improving the Mind. Application to Wisdom.

There is not a greater inlet to misery It is necessary to habituate our minds, in and vices of all kinds, than the not knowour younger years, to some employment ing how to pass our vacant hours. For which may engage our thoughts, and fill what remains to be done, when the first the capacity of the soul at a riper age. part of their lives, who are not brought For, however we may roam in youth from up to any manual employment, is slipt away folly to folly, too volatile for rest, too soft without an acquired relish for reading, or and effeminate for industry, ever ambitious taste for other rational satisfactions ? That to make a splendid figure; yet the time they should pursue their pleasures ?-But, will come when we shall outgrow the relish religion apart, common prudence will warn of childish amusements; and, if we are them to tie up the wheel as they begin to not provided with a taste for manly satis- go down the hill of ļife. Shall they then factions to succeed in their room, we must apply themselves to their studies ? Alas! of course become miserable, at an age the feed-time is already past: The entermore difficult to be pleased. While men, prizing and spirited ardour of youth being however unthinking and unemployed, en- over, without having been applied to those joy an inexhauftible How of vigorous fpi- valuable purposes for which it was given,


of day.

a! ambition of excelling upon generous sults that serene complacency,which, though and laudable schemes quite ftagnates. If not so violent, is much preferable to the they have not some poor expedient to de- pleasures of the animal life. He can traceive the time, or, to speak more pro- vel on from strength to strength : for, in perly, to deceive themselves, the length literature as in war, each new conquest of a day will seem tedious to them, who, which he gains, impowers him to push his perhaps, have the unreasonableness to como conquests still farther, and to enlarge the plain of the shortness of life in general, empire of reason: thus he is ever in a proWhen the former part of our life has been greflive ftate, ftill making new acquirenothing but vanity, the latter end of it ments, ftill animated with hopes of future can be nothing but vexation. In fort, discoveries.

Seed. we must be miferable, without some employment to fix, or some amusement to dif- $43. Great Talents not requifite for the iipate our thoughts: the latter we cannot

common Duties of Life. command in all places, nor relish at all times; and therefore there is an absolute Some may alledge, in bar to what I Decedity for the former. We may pursue have faid, as an excuse for their indolence, this or that new pleasure; we may be fond the want of proper talents to make any profor a while of a new acquisition ; but when gress in learning. To which I answer, that che graces of novelty are worn off, and few stations require uncommon abilities to the brikkness of our first desire is over, the discharge them well; for the ordinary offices transition is very quick and sudden, from of life, that share of apprehension which an eager fondness to a cool indifference. falls to the bulk of mankind, provided we Hence there is a restless agitation in our improve it, will serve well enough. Bright minds, till craving something new, ftill and sparkling parts are like diamonds, unfatisfied with it, when postested; till me- which may adorn the proprietor, but are Lancholy increases, as we advance in years; not necessary for the good of the world ; like hadows lengthening towards the clofe whereas common sense is like current coin ;

we have every day, in the ordinary occur Hence it is, that men of this stamp are rences of life, occasion for it ; and if we continually complaining that the times are would but call it into action, it would carry altered for the worse: Because the spright- us much greater lengths than we feem to liness of their youth represented every be aware of. Men may extol, as much thing in the most engaging light; and as they please, fine, exalted, and fupewhen men are in high good humour with rior fense; yet common sense, if attendthemselves, they are apt to be so with all ed with humility and industry, is the best around; the face of nature brightens up, guide to beneficial truth, and the best preand the sun shines with a more agrecable fervative against any fatal errors in knowlaire : but when old-age has cut them ledge, and notorious misconducts in life. off from the enjoyment of false pleasures, For none are, in the nature of the thing, and habitual vice has given them a distaste more liable to error, than those who have for the only true and lasting delights; a diltalte for plain sober sense and dry reawhen a retrospect of their past lives pre- foning; which yet is the case of those lents nothing to view but one wide tract of whole warm and elevated imagination, cricultivated ground; a soul distempered whose uncommon fire and vivacity, make with spleen, remorse, and an insensibility them in love with nothing, but what is of each rational satisfaction, darkens and itriking, marvellous, and dazzling: for discolours every object; and the change is great wits, like great beauties, look upon pot in the times, but in them, who have mere efteem as a flat infipid thing; ncbeen forsaken by those gratifications which thing less than admiration will content they would not forsake.

them. To gain the good will of manHow mach otherwise is it with those, who kind, by being useful to them, is, in their have laid up an inexhaustible fond of know- opinion, a poor, low, groveling aim; their iedge! When a man has been laying out ambition is, to draw the eyes of the world that time in the pursuit of some great and upon them, by dazzling and surprizing important truth, which others waste in a them; a temper which draws them off circle of gay follies, he is conscious of from the love of truth, and consequently having acted up to the dignity of his na- Cabjects them to grofs mistakes : for thev care; and from that consciousness there re- will not love truth as such ; they will love it only when it happens to be surprizing work afligned to each. The reason is the and uncommon, which fewimportant truths fame in both cases, viz. that he who will are. The love of novelty will be the pre- do no good, ought not to receive or en. dominant passion; that of truth will only joy any. As we are all joint traders and influence them, when it does not interfere partners in life, he forfeits his right to any with it. Perhaps nothing sooner misleads Thare in the common stock of happiness, men out of the road of truth, than to have who does not endeavour to contribote his the wild, dancing light of a bright ima- quota or allotted part to it: the public gination playing before them. "Perhaps happiness being nothing but the sum total they have too much life and spirit to have of each individual's contribution to it. An patience enough to go to the bottom of a easy fortune does not set men free from Subject, and trace up every argument, labour and indaftry in general; it only through a long tedious process, to its ori- exempts them from fome particular kinds ginal. Perhaps they have that delicacy of labour : it is not a blessing, as it gives of make which fits them for a swift and them liberty to do nothing at all; but as speedy race, but does not enable them to it gives them liberty wisely to chuse, and carry a great weight, or to go through steadily to prosecute, the most ennobling any long journey; whereas men of fewer exercises, and the most improving employideas, who lay them in order, compare and ments, the pursuit of truth, the practice examine them, and go on, step by step, in of virtue, the service of God who giveth a gradual chain of thinking, make up by them all things richly to enjoy, in short, industry and caution what they want in the doing and being every thing that is quickness of apprehension. Bé not dif- commendable ; though nothing merely in couraged, if you do not meet with success order to be commended. That time which at firit. Observe, (for it lies within the others must employ in tilling the ground compass of any man's observation) that (which often deceives their expectation) he who has been long habituated to one with the sweat of their brow, they may kind of knowledge, is utterly at a loss in lay out in cultivating the mind, a soil alanother, to which he is unaccustomed; till, ways grateful to the care of the tiller. by repeated efforts, he finds a progreflive The sum of what I would say, is this: opening of his faculties; and then he won. That, though you are not confined to any ders how he could be so long in finding out particular calling, yet you have a general a connection of ideas, which, to a pra&tised one ; which is, to watch over your heart, understanding, is very obvious. But by and to improve your head; to make yourneglecting to use your faculties, you will, self mafter of all those accomplishments in time, lose the very power of using them. an enlarged compass of thought, that flown

Seed. ing humanity and generosity, which are $44. Riches or Fortune no Excuse to exempt of all those perfections, viz. moderation,

necefsary to become a great fortune; and any from Study.

humility, and temperance, which are neOthers there are, who plead an exemp. cessary to bear a small one patiently; but tion from study, because their fortune especially it is your duty to acquire a talte makes them independent of the world, for those pleasures, which, after they are and they need not be beholden to it for a tasted, go off agreeably, and leave behind maintenance that is, because their fitua- them a grateful and delightful flavour on tion in life exempts them from the necef- the mind.

Ibid. sity of spending their time in fervile offices and hardships, therefore they may dispose $45. The Pleasures resulting from a preof it just as they pleafe. It is to imagine, dent Uje of our Faculties. because God has empowered them to single Happy that man, who, unembarrassed out the best means of employing their by vulgar cares, master of himself, his hours, viz. in reading, meditation; in the time, and fortune, spends his time in makhighest instances of piety and charity i ing himself wiser, and his fortune in maktherefore they may throw them away in a ing others (and therefore himself) happier : round of impertinence, vanity, and folly. who, as the will and underttanding are the The apoftle's rule, that if any man will two ennobling, faculties of the soul

, thinks not work, neither should he eat,' extends himself not complete, till his understandto the rich as well as the poor; only sup- ing be beautified with the valuable furniposing, that there are different kinds of cure of knowledge, as well as his will en;

tiched with every virtue : who has fure make a man a complete master of any zihed himself with all the advantages to branch of science, but to give his mind relih folitude, and enliven conversation; that freedom, openness, and extent, which when serious, not fullen; and when chear- hall empower him to master it, or indeed fake not indiscreetly gay; his ambition, not any other, whenever he Mall turn the bent to be admired for a false glare of greatness, of his ftudies that way; which is beft done, bace to be beloved for the gentle and sober by setting before hiin, in his earlier years, haitre of his wisdom and goodness. The a general view of the whole intellectual greateft minister of state has not more bu. world : whereas, an early and entire atxness to do in a public capacity, than he, tachment to one particular calling, narrows and indeed every man elle may find in the abilities of the mind to that degree, the retired and still scenes of life. Even that he can scarce think out of that track in his private walks, every thing that is to which he is accustomed. vifible convinceth him there is present a The next advantage I Thall mention is, Being invisible. Aided by natural philo- a direction in the choice of authors upon fopły, he reads plain legible traces of the the most material subjects. For it is perDivinity in every thing he meets: he sees haps a great truth, that learning right be the Deity in every tree, as well as Moses reduced to a much narrower compass, if did in the burning bush, though not in so one were to read none but original authors, glaring a manner : and when he sees him, those who write chiefly from their own be adores him with the tribute of a grate. fund of sense, without creading servilely in fal heart.

Seed, the steps of others."

Here, too, a generous emulation quick46. The juftly valuing and duly rfing the ensour endeavours, and the friend improves Akvextages enjoyed in a Place of Educa. the scholar. The tediousness of the way

to truth is infenfibly beguiled by having One confiderable advantage is, that re- fellow-travellers, who keep an even pace gular method of ftudy, too much neglects with us: each light dispenses a brighter ed in other places, which obtains here. flame, by mixing its focial rays with those Nothing is more common elsewhere, than of others. Here we live sequestered from for persons to plunge, at once, into the noise and hurry, far from the great scene very depth of science, (far beyond their of business, vanity, and idleness; our hours Can) without having learned the first rudi: are all our own. Here it is, as in the Athements : nothing more common, than for nian torch-race, where a series of men have fome to pass themselves upon the world successively transmitted from one to anfor great scholars, by the help of universal other the torch of knowledge; and no Dictionaries, Abridgements, and Indexes; sooner has one quitted it, but another by which means they gain an useless smat. equally able takes the lamp, to dispense tering in every branch of literature, juft light to all within its sphere*. Ibid. enough to enable them to talk fuently, or rather impertinently, upon moft fubjects;

$ 47. Difcipline of the Place of Education but not to shink juftly and deeply upon

not to be relaxed. any : like those who have a general super- May none of us complain, that the difficial acquaintance with almost every body. cipline of the place is too (trict : may we To cultivate an intimate and entire friend. rather reflect, that there needs nothing hip with one or two worthy persons, would else to make a man completely miserable, be of more service to them. The true ge- but to let him, in the moit dangerous stage nuine way to make a fabftantial scholar, of life, carve out an happiness for himself, is what takes place here, to begin with without any check upon the fallies of thofe general principles of reasoning, upon youth! Those to whom you have been which all science depends, and which give over indulgent, and perhaps could not have a light to every part of literature; to make been otherwise, without proceeding to exgradual advances, a flow but fure process; tremities, never to be used but in desperate to travel gently, with proper guides to di- cases, those have been always the most rect us, through the most beautiful and liberal of their censures and invectives a. fruitful regions of knowledge in general, gainst you: they put one in mind of Ado. before we hix ourselves in, and confine our- nijah's rebellion against David his father; selves to any particular province of it; it being the great fecret of education, not to

* -Quali cursores, vita lampada tradunt.



« PreviousContinue »