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more disinterestedness and generosity than men, we are more liable to be governed by sudden emotions, and to act upon impressions of anger and of caprice. As we do not frequently investigate matters with coolness, or weigh opinions with deliberation, we are likely to be the dupes of flattery and of deception. Nay, in a single state, we sometimes indulge attachments of a most extraordinary and frivolous nature: it would scarcely be credited, were it not proved by many facts, that women could place their affections upon cats, dogs, and monkeys, with such unbounded folly, as to bequeath large sums of money for their support. I do not apprehend that the other sex, who are far enough from being infallible, have ever committed themselves so grossly, or that, when they were conscious how many intellectual beings might be benefited by their wealth, they would bestow it on objects so unworthy. Folly, however, is of both genders; and, perhaps, shows itself more frequently and ostensibly in disposing of what requires wisdom and equity in its assignment, than in some of the less important concerns in life. Every one knows the story, I fancy, of the old gentleman who left a very large fortune to a lady, to whom he had sat opposite for some years at the opera. Her countenance had not, I am told, one prepossessing expression; her benefactor knew nothing more of her than her name and appearance. The bequest did not, I have been informed, devolve upon the most deserving quarter possible; and the old gentleman, to satisfy this whim, left a numerous tribe of poor relations destitute and disappointed. Another
old man, who has a landed property of 12,000l. a year, lives at the rate of 2000l., and disgraces himself by disgusting acts of meanness to accumulate a hoard of wealth; and for whom? A strolling player, a fortieth cousin whom he has never seen, who is scarcely a relation in more than name, and who will probably do any thing but follow his example.
Every one, before she attempts to make her will, should examine carefully into the state of her feelings, that she may not be influenced either by angry feelings or even by undue partiality. They who are only stewards of earthly blessings here below, must do justly while living, and, as far as it is in their power, should ensure justice after their death.
I must now say farewell to you for a season, and not, I am afraid, before you are heartily weary of this long discourse.
MRS. B.Having in our last conversation discussed the importance of possessing right principles of conduct; and the necessity of early establishing them in the character, let us now examine how they may be best maintained undisturbed in later life, by our wilful inclinations and desires. Human frailty never permits virtue alone to have such entire dominion over us as to render us invulnerable to temptation; and to these we are daily liable while in pursuit of worldly advantages and distinction. Virtue is not always sufficient to compel the sacrifice of these advantages, when they cannot be obtained by upright conduct. The worldly wise may act well, because they find it most expedient in the furtherance of their views; but to the mass of mankind a more powerful aid to virtue is indispensable: religious wisdom and religious feeling must be its sheet-anchor, and its solace, under the trials and sacrifices it may exact. Upon this we may cast our temporal happiness, with more chance of safety than can be even hoped for by enclosing it in
the strongest hold of which prudence can boast; and also by this only can we realise that hope in futurity which smooths life's dreariest passage, and renders the hour of its close more blessed than that of its commencement.
I lament my inability to express to you, as forcibly as the subject demands, the value of habitual piety. To regard our Creator as also our benefactor and friend, to whom we refer all the blessings and pleasures we enjoy ; to live under the consciousness of His omnipresence; to rely without doubting, that so long as we continue intent on well-doing He will never utterly forsake us; and to have our hearts always prepared to worship, and our lips to praise Him, will produce so pleasurable and composed a state of mind, that to neglect its attainment can only be considered as an act of selfdenial worthy the character of human folly.
Some minds are more prone to religious fervour than to that tranquil state of feeling which results from the habit of devotion, but to this it is not comparable: fervour may rouse the mind to greater occasional exertions, and these, by producing good resolutions, may tend to lessen an attachment to the world; but this excitation will remit, and during the intervals, the world will resume its influence over the heart. The religion, however, which has taken unremitting hold of the affections will maintain over them a constant and almost equal government; and even should they swerve from this government, and transgress in duty, compunction and contrition will follow, and render them less liable to err again.
To cultivate habitual piety is true wisdom, and, although this important task may be best learned early in life, it is not at any season unattainable. In its commencement we should first endeavour to acquire, and at all times to maintain, such just notions of the nature and perfections of the Being we worship, as the dim sight we obtain of Him will allow These will enable us to perceive that our worship is rational, and calculated to advance our natures towards the Being who is our great centre of perfection. We shall perceive, that to obey His laws is not only to promote our own individual welfare, but also to enable us to communicate good to others, though in a limited degree, even as He imparts good to all.
Besides satisfying our understanding with regard to the reasonableness of our worship, our hearts should be deeply impressed with a sense of its duty. If gratitude be due to an earthly benefactor, who bestows favours sometimes from ostentation; from secret views for his own advantage or credit, and never, perhaps, with perfect disinterestedness; if ingratitude to such a benefactor be considered base and unworthy, the characteristic of degeneracy, what epithet can be given to ingratitude towards a benefactor perfect beyond our comprehension; who, knowing our infirmities, our omissions, and transgressions of his laws, yet withholds not from us the hand of support, mercifully extends it in forgiveness, and sheds upon us every supply our necessities demand? His mercy descends upon the just and upon the unjust.