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It is evident that luxury, self-indulgence, and an indolent aversion to perform the duties of a man's station, do not only bring on gross bodily diseases, but also, previously to this, are often apt to lead men into such a degree of solicitude, anxiety, and fearfulness in minute affairs, as to make them inflict upon themselves greater torments than the most cruel tyrant could inflict.'
I felt how the pure intellectual fire
The pearl of the soul may be melted away.
And I pray'd of that Spirit who lighted the flame,
We see that the unprofitable and wicked servant are the same in God's account of them; that it is in vain for any man who does no good, to pretend he has done no harm; he must answer for his neglects and omissions of this kind.3
There is no way of securing our happiness in another world, but by doing all the good we can in this.4
Seek by active usefulness to promote the happiness of others, and by so doing you will secure your own; above all implore the grace of God." Remember that when your eyes are about to
1 Hartley, Ob. vol. ii. 238.
2 Moore (Epistles).
5 Private Life.
close on the things of time, and to open on those of eternity, your prevailing regret will be that so little has been done, so much left undone.1
A career of usefulness is before you; now is the day; think not lightly of your own influence, your own example; youth, health, time, fortune, influence, they are precious talents."
Let us serve God with what reverence we are able, and do all the good we can, making as little unnecessary work for repentance as is possible. And may the mercy of our heavenly Father supply all our defects in the sum of his love!3
Through the wild waves as they roar,
I had a sort of morbid wish to seclude myself from public life. "Never indulge it," said Mackintosh, "it is the most fatal of all delusions; the sad delusion by which Cowper was wrecked. Our happiness depends not upon torpor, not upon sentimentality, but upon the due exercise of our various faculties; it is not acquired by sighing for wretchedness, and shunning the wretched, but by vigorously discharging our duty to society. Remember what Bacon says, with whom you seem as much delighted as I am, that, in this theatre of man's life, God and angels alone should be lookers on.'
1 Private Life.
4 Gray (Ode for Music, &c.).
6 See Life of Mackintosh, i. 157.
3 Osborne's Advice to a Son.
5 Basil Montague.
You, none of you, my Lords, if you will forgive my telling you so, can speak upon this subject (happiness) with as much knowledge of it as I can. Dr. Burney perhaps might. But it is not the man who looks around him from the top of a high mountain at a beautiful prospect, on the first moment of opening his eyes, who has the true enjoyment of that noble sight; it is he who ascends the mountain from a miry meadow, or ploughed field, or a barren waste, and who works his way up to it, step by step, scratched and harassed by thorns and briars, with here a hollow that catches his foot, and there a clump that forces him all the way back to find out a new path; it is he who attains to it through toil and danger, and with the strong contrast on his mind of the "difficulties he has encountered;" it is he, my Lords, who enjoys the beauties that suddenly blaze upon him; they cause an expansion of ideas, in harmony with the expansion of the view; he glories in its glory, and his mind opens to conscious exaltation; such as the man who was born. and bred on that commanding height, with all the loveliness of prospect, and fragrance, and variety, and plenty, and luxury of every sort, around, above, beneath, can never know, can have no idea of.1
1 Sir Joshua Reynolds.
A wise man, by constant observation and impartial reflection upon himself, grows very familiar with himself; he perceives his own inclinations, which, if bad, he strives to alter and correct, if
good, he cherishes and corroborates; he apprehends the matters he is fitting for, and capable to manage; and these, applying his care to, he transacts cheerfully and successfully.1
You cannot live for men without living with them. Serve God, then, by the active service of men. Contemplate more the good you can do, than the evil you can only lament. Allow yourself to see the loveliness of nature amidst all its imperfections.2
No one is permitted to be a mere blank in the world. No rank nor station, no dignity of birth nor extent of possessions, can exempt any man from contributing his share to public utility and good.3
Remember that great parts are a great trust; remember, too, that mistaken or misapplied virtues, if they are not 'as pernicious as vice, frustrate, at least, their own natural tendencies, and disappoint the purposes of the great Giver.4
As no man can live in this world without being obliged to others for their help in providing accommodations for him, so justice requires that, in commutation, he, one way or other, should undertake some pains redounding to the benefit of others. So hath the great Author of order distributed the ranks and offices of men in order to mutual benefit and comfort, that one should work with his hands and feet, another with his head and tongue."
1 Barrow's Sermons.
2 Mackintosh, i. 253.
4 Burke (Letter to Mr. Elliot).
5 Barrow, Serm. iii. 209. 8vo edit.
If God has granted you parts and fortune, raising you above the generality of mankind, remember that from great opportunities much is expected. Others may be innocent if they be not wicked; one in your situation must be wicked if he be not beneficent.1
We are to consider that our estate is as much the gift of God as our eyes or our hands, and is no more to be buried, or thrown away at pleasure, than we are to put out our eyes or throw away our limbs as we please.2
The person who is not doing all the good possible under present circumstances, would not do all foreseen under imaginary ones, were the power enlarged to the extent of the wish.3
Are we rich? then is industry requisite for keeping and securing our wealth, for managing it wisely, for employing it to its proper uses and best advantages (in the service of God, in beneficence to our neighbours, in advancing public good); that we may render a good account to Him who has intrusted us with the stewardship thereof."
It is the business of those, to whom the talents. of wealth and station are committed, to minister relief to their poor neighbours in their wants and distresses, to direct and advise the ignorant, to comfort the afflicted, to reclaim the wicked, and encourage the good; to protect the weak, to rescue
3 Hannah More on Female Education.
Barrow, Serm. iii. 197. fol., or Oxford 8vo edit. iii. 179.
2 Law's Serious Call, ch. vi.