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oracle could be consulted, its value would be less. But it is a mistake to imagine that its responses are seldom given.
5. Hardly is there any material transaction whatever in human life-any important question that holds us in suspense as to practice-but the difference between right and wrong will show itself; and the principle of integrity will, if we listen to it impartially, give a clear decision. Whenever the mind is divided in itself, conscience is seldom or never neutral. There is always one scale of the balance, into which it throws the weight of some virtue, or some praise; of something that is just and true, lovely, honest, and of good report.
6. These are the forms which rise to the observation of the upright man. By others they may be unseen or overlooked; but in his eye, the luster of virtue outshines all other brightness. Wherever this pole-star directs him, he steadily holds his course.- -Let the issue of that course be ever so uncertain; let his friends differ from him in opinion;-let his enemies clamor ;-he is not moved;-his purpose is fixed.
7. He asks but one question of his heart,-What is the part most becoming the station which he possesses,-the character which he wishes to bear,-the expectations which good men entertain of him? Being once decided as to this, he hesitates no more. He shuts his ears against every solicitation. He pursues the direct line of integrity without turning either to the right hand or to the left. "It is the Lord who calleth. Him I follow. Let him order what seemeth good in his sight."- -It is in this manner, that the integrity of the upright acts as his guide. Blair.
The happiness of animals a proof of divine benevolence.
1. THE air, the earth, the water, teem with delighted existence. In a spring noon or summer evening, on which ever side we turn our eyes, myriads of happy beings crowd upon our view. "The insect youth are on the wing." Swarms of new born flies are trying their pinions in the air. Their sportive motions, their gratuitous activity,-their continual change of place, without use or purpose,-testify their joy, and the exultation which they feel in their lately discovered faculties.
2. A bee, among the flowers in spring, is one of the most cheerful objects that can be looked upon. Its life appears to
c Gra-tu'-i-tous, free, without reward
a Re-spons'-es, answers.
be all enjoyment,-so busy and so pleased,-yet it is only a specimen of insect life, with which, by reason of the animal's being half domesticated, we happen to be better acquainted than we are with that of others. The whole winged insect tribe, it is probable, are equally intent upon their proper employments, and under every variety of constitution, gratified, and perhaps equally gratified, by the offices which the Author of their nature has assigned to them.
3. But the atmosphere is not the only scene of their enjoyment. Plants are covered with little insects, greedily sucking their juices. Other species are running about, with an alacrity in their motions, which carries with it every mark of pleasure. Large patches of ground are sometimes half covered with these brisk and sprightly natures.
4. If we look to what the waters produce, shoals of fish frequent the margins of rivers, of lakes, and of the sea itself. These are so happy, that they know not what to do with themselves. Their attitudes-their vivacity-their leaps out of the water-their frolics in it,-all conduce to show their excess of spirits, and are simply the effects of that excess. Walking by the seaside, in a calm evening, upon a sandy shore and with an ebbing tide, I have frequently remarked the appearance of a dark cloud, or rather very thick mist, hanging over the edge of the water, to the height perhaps of half a yard, and of the breadth of two or three yards, stretching along the coast as far as the eye could reach, and always retiring with the water.
5. When this cloud came to be examined, it proved to be so much space filled with young shrimps, in the act of bounding into the air from the shallow margin of the water, or from the wet sand. If any motion of a mute animal could express delight, it was this: if they had designed to make signs of their happiness, they could not have done it more intelligibly. Suppose, then, what there is no reason to doubt, each individual of this number to be in a state of positive enjoyment, what a sum, collectively, of gratification and pleasure have we here before our view!
6. The young of all animals appear to receive pleasure, simply from the exercise of their limbs and bodily faculties, without reference to any end to be attained, or any use to be answered by the exertion. A child, without knowing any thing of the use of language, is in a high degree delighted with being able to speak. Its incessant repetition of a few articulate sounds, or perhaps of a single word which it has learned to pronounce, proves this point clearly.
c Shrimps, small shell fish.
a Do-mes'-ti-ca-ted, made tame.
b At-ti-tudes, postures, gestures.
7. Nor is it less pleased with its first successful endeavors to walk, although entirely ignorant of the importance of the attainment to its future life, and even without applying it to any present purpose. A child is delighted with speaking, without having any thing to say,—and with walking, without knowing whither to go. And previously to both these, it is reasonable to believe, that the waking hours of infancy are agreeably taken up with the exercise of vision, or perhaps more properly speaking, with learning to see.
8. But it is not for youth alone that the great Parent of creation has provided. Happiness is found with the purring cat, no less than with the playful kitten,-in the arm-chair of dozing age, as well as in the sprightliness of the dance, or the animation of the chace. To novelty, to acuteness of sensation, to hope, to ardor of pursuit, succeeds, what is in no inconsiderable degree an equivalent for them all, "perception of ease."
9. Herein is the exact difference between the young and the old. The young are not happy but when enjoying plea sure; the old are happy when free from pain. And this constitution suits with the degrees of animal power which they respectively possess. The vigor of youth was to be stimulated to action by impatience of rest; while to the imbecility of age, quietness and repose become positive gratifications. In one important respect the advantage is with the old. A state of ease is, generally speaking, more attainable than a state of pleasure. A constitution, therefore, which can enjoy ease, is preferable to that which can taste only pleasure.
10. This same perception of ease oftentimes renders old age a condition of great comfort; especially when riding at its anchor, after a busy or tempestuous life. It is well described by Rousseau to be the interval of repose and enjoyment, between the hurry, and the end of life. How far the same cause extends to other animal natures, cannot be judged of with certainty. The appearance of satisfaction with which most animals, as their activity subsides, seek and enjoy rest, affords reason to believe, that this source of gratif cation is appointed to advanced life, under all, or most, of its various forms.
11. There is much truth in the following representation given by Dr. Percival, a very pious writer, as well as excel lent man:-"To the intelligent and virtuous, old age presents a scene of tranquil enjoyments, of obedient appetites, of well regulated affections, of maturity in knowledge, and of
E-quiv-a-lent, what is equal in worth.
c Rous-seau', a French philosopher.
calm preparation for immortality. In this serene and dignified state, placed as it were on the confines of the two worlds, the mind of a good man reviews what is past with the complacency of an approving conscience; and looks forward, with humble mercy in the confidence of God, and with devout aspirations, toward his eternal and ever-increasing favor." Paley.
PERSONS of reflection and sensibility, contemplate with interest the scenes of nature. The changes of the year impart a color and character to their thoughts and feelings. When the seasons walk their round,-when the earth buds, the corn ripens, and the leaf falls,-not only are the senses impressed, but the mind is instructed; the heart is touched with sentiment, the fancy amused with visions. To a lover of nature and of wisdom, the vicissitudes of the seasons convey a proof and exhibition of the wise and benevolent contrivance of the Author of all things.
a As-pi-ra'-tions, ardent wishes. Re-ta-tion, turning as a wheel.
2. When suffering the inconveniences of the ruder parts of the year, we may be tempted to wonder why this rotation is necessary-why we could not be constantly gratified with vernal bloom and fragrance, or summer beauty and profusion. We imagine that, in a world of our creation, there would always be a blessing in the air, and flowers and fruits on the earth. The chilling blasts and driving snow,-the desolated field, withered foliage, and naked tree,-should make no part of the scenery which we would produce. A little thought, however, is sufficient to show the folly, if not impiety, of such distrust in the appointments of the great Creator.
3. The succession and contrast of the seasons, give scope to that care and foresight, diligence and industry, which are essential to the dignity and enjoyment of human beings, whose happiness is connected with the exertion of their faculties. With our present constitution and state, in which impressions on the senses enter so much into our pleasures and pains, and the vivacity of our sensations, is affected by comparison, the uniformity and continuance of a perpetual spring, would greatly impair its pleasing effect upon our feelings.
4. The present distribution of the several parts of the year, is evidently connected with the welfare of the whole, and the
c Vern'-al, belonging to spring.
& Fo-li-age, leaves of trees.
production of the greatest sum of being and enjoyment. That motion in the earth, and change of place in the sun, which cause one region of the globe to be consigned to cold, decay, and barrenness, impart to another heat and life, fertility and beauty. While in our climate the earth is bound with frost, and the "chilly smothering snows" are falling, the inhabitants of another behold the earth planted with vegetation and appareled in verdure, and those of a third are rejoicing in the appointed weeks of harvest.
5. Each season comes, attended with its benefits and pleasures. All are sensible of the charms of spring. Then the senses are delighted with the feast that is furnished on every field, and on every hill. The eye is sweetly delayed on every object to which it turns. It is grateful to perceive how widely, yet chastely, nature has mixed her colors and painted her robe,-how bountifully she has scattered her blossoms and flung her odors. We listen with joy to the melody she has awakened in the groves, and catch health from the pure and tepida gales that blow from the mountains.
6. When the summer exhibits the whole force of active nature, and shines in full beauty and splendor,-when the succeeding season offers its "purple stores and golden grain," or displays its blended and softened tints,—when the winter puts on its sullen aspect, and brings stillness and repose, affording a respit from the labors which have occupied the preceding months, inviting us to reflection, and compensating for the want of attractions abroad, by fireside delights and home-felt joys,-in all this interchange and variety, we find reason to acknowledge the wise and benevolent care of the God of seasons.
7. We are passing from the finer to the ruder portions of the year. The sun emits a fainter beam, and the sky is frequently overcast. The gardens and fields have become a waste, and the forests have shed their verdant honors. The hills are no more enlivened with the bleating of flocks, and the woodland no longer resounds with the song of birds. In these changes we see evidences of our own instability, and images of our transitory state.
8. Our life is compared to a falling leaf. When we are disposed to count on protracted years, to defer any serious thoughts of futurity, and to extend our plans through a long succession of seasons,-the spectacle of the "fading manycolored woods," and the naked trees, affords a salutary admonition of our frailty. It should teach us to fill the short year of our life, or that portion of it which may be allotted
e Trans'-1-to-xy, fleeting.
Tep'-id, moderately warm.
b E-mit to send out.