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other duties of piety, affection, equity, humanity, with the greatest diligence and ardour: all these same precepts are to be found in Antoninus just as if he had habitually read them.
But some perhaps may say, to what purpose take these precepts from a stranger, and even an adversary, to the Christian faith, when they can be had more readily from the sacred page, where they stand published to all? To this it may be answered, that the sacred writers have given us only the chief heads of our Lord's discourses, concisely digested, as a taste or specimen; and those maxims and cepts, only summarily proposed, are, in Antoninus, premore extensively applied, more fully explained; and established, illustrated, enforced, and inculcated upon us, and accommodated to practice in civil life. In all this, Antoninus particularly excels.
And then another thing of no small moment is this: we discover the equity of the Christian doctrine, and its perfect agreement with reason, while we show it is approved and praised, even by strangers and adversaries. A testimony from enemies is of great weight; and, says Dion Prusæus, the encomium of those who admire, though they do not receive, must be the finest of all praises.'
He who advocates the sacred cause of Christianity should be particularly aware of fancying that his being religious will atone for his being disagreeable; that his orthodoxy will justify his uncharitableness,
1 Thomas Gataker. (See last note.) He was a learned divine, of a very old Shropshire family. Preacher at Lincoln's Inn about 1601.
or his zeal make up for his indiscretion. He must not persuade himself that he has been serving God, when he has only been gratifying his own resentment; when he has actually, by a fiery defence, prejudiced the cause which he might have advanced, perhaps, by temperate argument, and persuasive mildness.'
The Christian religion, rightly understood, is the deepest and choicest piece of philosophy that is." It is a matter of sound consequence, that all duties are by so much the better performed, by how much the men are more religious, from whose habilities the same proceed.3
Who will have his work his wish'd ends to win,
If we can forbear thinking proudly of ourselves, and that it is only God's goodness, if we exceed other men in any thing; if we heartily desire to do all the good we can to others; if we do cheerfully submit to any affliction, as that which we think best for us, because God has laid it upon us; and receive any blessings He vouchsafes to confer upon us, as His own bounty, and very much above our merit, He will bless this temper of ours into that humility which he expects and accepts.5
The lines of duty are set down so clear and legible, are so agreeable to reason, so demonstrable
upon the proper principles, are so easy and plain, that we need not turn into corners and sneaking by-lanes to find them out.'
L'enthousiasme des vertus sublimes est peu d'usage dans la société; en s'élançant trop haut on est sujet aux chûtes; la continuité des petits devoirs, toujours bien remplis, ne demande pas moins de force que les actions héroïques; on en tiroit meilleur parti pour l'honneur, et pour le bonheur, et il valoit infiniment mieux avoir, toujours, l'estime des hommes que, quelquefois, leur admiration.2
How well would it be for us if we could often see ourselves in the same light that others see us in.
Whatever strengthens the understanding, expands the affections, or enlarges the sphere of our sympathies; whatever makes us feel our relation to the universe" and all that it inherits," to time and to eternity, to the great and beneficent Cause of all, must unquestionably refine our nature, and elevate us in the scale of being.3
When opening upon eternity, it will be our regret that so LITTLE has been DONE, SO MUCH left
Let us remember that when the hour of trouble and when the
comes to the mind or the body,
high and low,
3 Channing (Preface to Works, 1829).
dune for oursells, but what we hae dune for others, that we shall think on maist pleasantly.'
He who considers this earthly spot as the only theatre of his existence and its grave, instead of his first stage in progressive being, can never view nature with a cheerful, or man with a benevolent eye.
Labour, by a wise and virtuous life, to get thy soul so settled, that, which way soever she turns her eye, the heaven is calm and serene about her.
The separation of my soul and body is what I should think, of with little pain; for I am sure He that made it, will take care of it; and, in whatever state He pleases it to be, that state must be right.2
I hae naebody now I hae naebody now
Wi' light locks waving o'er her brow
And joy in her deep blue e'en,
Wi' the soft, sweet kiss, and the happy smile,
I hae naebody now I hae naebody now
An' pray for a blessing from Heaven;
1 Scott (Heart of Mid Lothian, not literal).
2 Pope (Letter to Swift - Swift's Works, xii.)
Oh! dinna break, my puir auld heart,
Nor at thy loss repine;
For the unseen hand, that threw the dart,
As she had lived, so she died- an example of every noble feeling of love, attachment, and the total want of every thing selfish. Endeavouring to the last to conceal her suffering, she evinced a resignation, a Christian courage, beyond all power of description. Her last injunction was to attend to her poor people.2
She had her senses to the very last gasp, and exerted them to give me all the marks of love in her power. The last words she said to me were the kindest of all; a reflection on the goodness of God, which had allowed us in this manner to meet once more, before we parted for ever. Not many minutes after that, she laid herself on her pillow in a sleeping posture.
Placidâque ibi demum morte quievit.
Judge what I felt on this occasion, and feel, at my age, under my infirmities. I have no reliefs and supports but those with which reason and religion furnish me; and those I lay hold on, and grasp as fast as I can. I hope that He who laid the burden upon me (for wise and good purposes no doubt), will enable me to bear it, as I have borne others, with some degree of fortitude and firmness. GOD'S WILL BE DONE!!
1 The Ettrick Shepherd. 2 See a beautiful letter by the late Duke of Buccleugh, on his Duchess's death, expressive of deep feeling, and a fine, manly sense of duty. (Life of Scott, iv. 382.) 3 Dr. Atterbury (Pope's Works, viii.).