« PreviousContinue »
Necessity of Industry, even to Genius.
1. FROM the revival of learning to the present day, every thing that labor and ingenuity can invent, has been produced to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge. But, notwithstanding all the Introductions, the Translations, the Annotations, and the Interpretations, I must assure the student, that industry, great and persevering industry, is absolutely necessary to secure any very valuable and distinguished improvement. Superficial qualifications are indeed obtained, at an easy price of time and labor; but superficial qualifications confer neither honor, emolument, nor satisfaction.
2. The pupil may be introduced, by the judgment and the liberality of his parents, to the best schools, the best tutors, the best books; and his parents may be led to expect, from such advantages alone, extraordinary advancement. But these things are all extraneous. The mind of the pupil must be accustomed to submit to labor, sometimes to painful labor.
3. The poor and solitary student, who has never enjoyed any of these advantages but in the ordinary manner, will by his own application emerge to merit, fame, and fortune; while the indolent, who has been taught to lean on the supports which opulence supplies, will sink into insignificance.
4. I repeat, that the first great object is, to induce the mind to work within itself,-to think long and patiently on the same subject, and to compose in various styles, and in various meters. It must be led, not only to bear, but to seek occasional solitude. If it is early habituated to all these exercises, it will find its chief pleasure in them; for the energies of the mind affect it with the finest feelings.
5. But is industry, such industry as I require, necessary to genius? The idea that it is not necessary, is productive of the greatest evils. We often form a wrong judgment in determining who is, and who is not endowed with this noble privilege. A boy who appears lively and talkative, is often supposed by his parents to be a genius. He is suffered to be idle, for he is a genius; and genius is only injured by application.
a Fa-cil'-i-tate, to make easy.
6. Now it usually happens, that the very lively and talkative boy is the most deficient in genius. His forwardness arises from a defect of those fine sensibilities which, at the same time, occasion diffidence and constitute genius. He
c E-mol'-u-ments, profit, gain.
d Ex-tra'-ne ous, foreign, not intrinsic
ought to be inured to literary labor; for, without it, he will be prevented, by levity and stupidity, from receiving any valuable impressions.
7. Parents and instructors must be very cautious how they dispense with diligence, from an idea that the pupil possesses genius sufficient to compensate for the want of it. All men are liable to mistake in deciding on genius at a very early age; but parents more than all, from their natural partiality.
8. On no account, therefore, let them dispense with close application. If the pupil has genius, this will improve and adorn it; if he has not, it is confessedly requisite to supply the defect. Those prodigies of genius which require not instruction, are rare phenomena: we read, and we hear of such; but few of us have seen and known such.
9. What is genius worth without knowledge?—But is a man ever born with knowledge? It is true that one man is born with a better capacity than another, for the reception and retention of ideas; but still the mind must operate in collecting, arranging, and discriminating those ideas which it receives with facility. And I believe the mind of a genius is often very laboriously at work, when to the common observer it appears to be quite inactive.
10. I most anxiously wish that a due attention may be paid to my exhortations, when I recommend great and exemplary diligence. All that is excellent in learning depends upon it. And how can the time of a boy or a young man be better employed? It cannot be more pleasantly; for I am sure, that industry, by presenting a constant succession of various objects, and by precluding the listlessnesse of inaction, renders life at all stages of it agreeable, and particularly so in the restless season of youth.
11. It cannot be more innocently; for learning has a connexion with virtue: and he, whose time is fully engaged, will escape many vices and much misery. It cannot be more usefully; for he who furnishes his mind with ideas, and strengthens his faculties, is preparing himself to become a valuable member of society, whatever place in it he may obtain; and he is likely to obtain an exalted place.-Knox.
Religion the only Basis of Society.
1. RELIGION is a social concern; for it operates powerfully on society, contributing, in various ways, to its stability and
In-u-red, hardened by use. b Com'-pen-sate, to make amends. c Prod'-i-gies, surprising things.
d Phe-nom'-e-na, appearances.
e List'-less-ness, indifference,inattention. fBa'-sis, foundation, support.
prosperity. Religion is not merely a private affair; the community is deeply interested in its diffusion ;a for it is the best support of the virtues and principles, on which, the social order rests. Pure and undefiled religion is, to do good; and it follows very plainly, that if God be the Author and Friend of society, then the recognition of him must enforce all social duty, and enlightened piety must give its whole strength to public order.
2. Few men suspect -perhaps no man comprehends -the extent of the support given by religion to every virtue. No man perhaps is aware, how much our moral and social sentiments are fed from this fountain,-how powerless conscience would become, without the belief of a God,-how palsied would be human benevolence, were there not the sense of a higher benevolence to quicken and sustain it,-how suddenly the whole social fabric would quake, and with what a fearful crash it would sink into hopeless ruin,-were the ideas of a supreme Being, of accountableness, and of a future life, to be utterly erased from every mind.
3. And, let men thoroughly believe that they are the work and sport of chance, that no superior intelligence concerns itself with human affairs,-that the weak have no guardian,d and the injured no avenger,-that there is no recompense for sacrifices to uprightness and the public good,-that an oath is unheard in heaven,-that secret crimes have no witness but the perpetrator, e-that human existence has no purpose, and human virtue no unfailing friend,—that this brief life is every thing to us, and death is total, everlasting extinction,once let them thoroughly abandon religion,-and who can conceive or describe the extent of the desolation which would follow!
4. We hope, perhaps, that human laws and natural sympathy would hold society together. As reasonably might we believe, that were the sun quenched in the heavens, our torches would illuminate, and our fires quicken and fertilize the creation. What is there in human nature to awaken respect and tenderness, if man is the unprotected insect of a day?— And what is he more if atheism be true?
5. Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite, knowing no restraint, and suffering, having no solace or hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of hu
a Dif '-fu-sion, spreading, dispersion.
6 Re-cog-ni'-tion, an acknowledgment. CE-ra'-sed, scratched out, effaced. d Guard'-i-an, one who has the care of another.
e Per-pe-tra'-tor, one who does, or cor
JA-the-ism, disbelief in God.
man laws. Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds. A sordid self-interest would supplant every other feeling; and man would become in fact, what the theory of atheism declares him to be,-a companion for brutes. Channing.
On the reasonableness of Devotion.
1. TRUE devotion is rational, and well founded. It takes its rise from affections which are essential to the human frame. We are formed by Nature to admire what is great, and to love what is amiable. Even inanimate objects have power to excite these emotions. The magnificent prospects of the natural world, fill the mind with reverential awe. Its beautiful scenes create delight. When we survey the actions and behavior of our fellow creatures, the affections glow with greater ardor; and if to be unmoved in the former case, argues a defect of sensibility in our powers, it discovers in the latter, an odious hardness and depravity in the heart.
2. The tenderness of an affectionate parent, the generosity of a forgiving enemy, the public spirit of a patriot or a hero, often fill the eyes with tears, and swell the breast with emotions too big for utterance. The object of these affections is frequently raised above us in condition and rank. Let us suppose him raised also above us in nature. Let us imagine that an angel, or any being of superior order, had conde scended to be our friend, our guide, and patron: no person, sure, would hold the exaltation of his benefactor's character, to be an argument why he should love and revere him less.
3. Strange! that the attachment and veneration, the warmth and overflowing of heart, which excellence and goodness on every other occasion command, should begin to be accounted irrational, as soon as the Supreme Being becomes their object. For what reason must human sensibility be extinct toward him alone? Are all benefits entitled to gratitude, except the highest and the best? Shall goodness cease to be amiable, only because it is perfect ?
4. It will perhaps be said, that an unknown and invisible being is not qualified to raise affection in the human heart.. Wrapt up in the mysterious obscurity of his nature, he es capes our search, and affords no determinate object to our love or desire. We go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but we cannot perceive him,-on the left hand
In-an'-i-mate, void of life.
O'-di-ous, very offensive, hateful,
where he worketh, but we cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that we cannot see him.
5. Notwithstanding this obscurity, is there any being in the universe more real and certain, than the Creator of the world, and the Supporter of all existence? Is he in whom we live and move, too distant from us to excite devotion? His form and essence, indeed, we cannot see; but to be unseen and imperfectly known in many other instances, precludes" neither gratitude nor love. It is not the sight so much as the strong conception, or deep impression of an object, which affects the passions.
6. We glow with admiration of personages who have lived in a distant age. Whole nations have been transported with zeal and affection for the generous hero, or public deliverer, whom they knew only by fame. Nay, properly speaking, the direct object of our love is in every case invisible; for that on which affection is placed is the mind, the soul, the internal character of our fellow creatures,—which, surely, is no less concealed than the Divine Nature itself is from the view of sense.
7. From actions, we can only infer the dispositions of men ; from what we see of their behavior, we collect what is invisible; but the conjecture which we form is at best imperfect; and when their actions excite our love, much of their heart remains still unknown.
8. I ask, then, in what respect God is less qualified than any other being, to be an object of affection? Convinced that he exists; beholding his goodness spread abroad in his works -exerted in the government of the world -displayed in some measure to sense, in the actions of his Son Jesus Christ, are we not furnished with every essential requisite which the heart demands, in order to indulge the most warm, and at the same time the most rational emotions.
9. If these considerations justify the reasonableness of devotion, as expressed in veneration, love, and gratitude, the same train of thought will equally justify it when appearing in the forms of desire, delight, or resignation. The latter are indeed the consequence of the former. For we cannot but desire some communication with what we love; and will naturally resign ourselves to one, on whom we have placed the full confidence of affection. The aspirations of a devout man after the favor of God, are the effects of that earnest wish for happiness which glows in every breast.
10. All men have somewhat that may be called the object of their devotion-reputation, pleasure, learning, riches, or a Pre-cludes', hinders, prevents.