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Why is the bill of the sparrow drawn to a sharp, straight point, while that of the hawk is curved and hooked ? Because the sparrow is to pick out the minute seed from its hiding place in the flower, and the hawk is to rend the flesh of the animals it feeds upon. We know all this, and we admire it, and admit the wisdom and beauty of the arrangement. It would seem to us a thing most strange, perverse, and ludicrous, that the frog, abiding in the muddy pool, should sigh to be invested with the pheasant's tail ; that the finned trout should propose to be flying through the air, and the cabbage to be nursed and stifled in the green-house. But, alas ! bears it no resemblance to the things we hear and see elsewhere; to something that we feel and in our folly utter?
The same Being who created the animal and the vegetable race, determined for us our powers, our characters, and circumstances. So exactly right in those, can it be here only he is wrong? Can he have placed one of us in a situation in which we ought not to be, denied us any natural advantages it would be desirable we should possess, or given us powers and faculties unsuited to the part he means us to perform? It is impossible. Our pride suggests it; our folly gives it utterance almost as often as we speak of ourselves or our affairs : scarcely any one among us thinks he is by nature and fortune where and what he should be. Yet not more absurd are the complaints and wishes we have imagined in the wiser brute, than those we hear from the lips of beings capable of knowing and reflecting on their absurdity; professing too to be aware from whom all things are, and by whose will all things are determined.
It is most true, indeed, that by man's defection, confusion has been introduced into the Creator's
perfect work ; and that in one sense we are not and cannot be what we ought to be, and what we should desire to be. But while to this moral perversion we are sufficiently insensible, our murmurs and complainings are ever breathed against the natural and providential portions assigned us upon earth. To hear the language of society, one might suppose that every individual in it had been wronged by not being or having something, that he is not or has not. How unfitted he is for the station he is in, how unfortunate it is that he happens to be so placed; how happy and how useful he might have been under other circumstances; how hard is his portion, how unequal the distribution of things; how blind is fortune, how unjust is fate; how unequitable is the world in his behalf. What is all this but the language of creatures who think they could arrange the affairs of the world better than he who does it, and understand the nature and propensities of men better than he who made them?
But far from understanding what is best for each other, we may be asured we do not understand it even for ourseives. We come into the world very differently moulded and endowed ; our minds as little resembling each other as our persons: and equally various are the portions to which we are born. The circumstances of after life, as much the arrangement of our Maker as our first introduction to it, make even more difference perhaps than our original constitution. The result is, that each one has character, talents, powers, habits, feelings, necessities, and capabilities, as peculiarly his own and distinct from others as his station in life, which, as we know, can be occupied but by one. Now, whatever these be, we may rest assured we have no right whatever to complain: no injustice has been done us, and no un.
fitness is imposed on us: where Providence has placed us, is where we ought to be; and except, in so far as by our sin we may unfit ourselves, of which we have little right to complain, we are what for our situation, it is best we should be. As much right has the worm to complain that he has not the beetle's wings, or the raven that he is not as small as the linnet; as we to complain that we have not the talents, the beauty, or the fortune of another. As reasonable is it for the ox to desire to sit
the tree and sing, while the blackbird tills the soil, as for men to envy and malign each other for being differently placed and differently accommodated. We cannot read, indeed, the fitness and propriety of things in the affairs of men as we can in the natural world; because we know not our own hearts; the cause and consequence, and eternal issues of God's dealings with us; but are we not bound to believe it? And if to believe it, to act, and speak, and feel, as if we did so? Are we at liberty to suppose
that we alone of all created things are misformed, mismanaged, and misplaced?
Such was my
The searcher after hidden wealth has sometimes found a treasure scarcely less valuable, though not the same, as that which he looked for. The blighted autumn leaf encloses a bud of future promise ; and the hour of disappointment is the birth-time, not seldom, of a hope more fair than that which it extinguishes. Even so do the defeats of our baffled wisdom bequeath to us a jewel of no common price—a lesson of humility, self-knowledge, and forbearance.
reflection, as I considered that selfesteem, which makes to itself an idol of the things that are its own, and desires to conform to them the things of others. And I determined to make it the subject of admonition to those, who even now are setting out on the passage of life, with these Penates in their bosoms ; prepared to immolate to them every thing that is most lovely, most excellent, and most generous in human intercourse-justness, forbearance, concord, good-humour, kindness, liberality, affection, harmony and peace.
An opposition of interests, each one's selfishness taking arms in defence of its own, is undoubtedly
the source of much of the misery of life, and much of the contention with which it is distracted. But if we observe the various sources of disunion and disagreement that break the peace of families and the harmony of society, we shall find that opposing interests are not the only, nor perhaps the most frequent cause. We see the members of a family teasing, contradicting, and annoying one another perpetually, when all their real interests are in common: we see the members of society traducing, despising, and maligning one another, when it is the interest of all to live in sociability and peace. One very fruitful source of these disorders—but I would be. lieve not one that is irremediable, since a better knowledge and better government of our own hearts might surely correct it—is that self-esteem of which I spoke; that making of our own ideas the standard of all excellence: Hear a fable :
The beasts of the earth, and the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, were living once—I do not think it was in Noah's ark—in peaceful community together; that is, they might have been peaceful if they would; being all fully provided and secure in possession of their
own. But peace, it appears, was not to their mind. The Rein-deer, taking a walk one day to refresh himself, and being accustomed then, as now, to walk upon four legs, met with a Heron, who, as every one knows, walks upon two. “ Yonder is a fine bird,” said the Rein-deer to himself, “ but the fellow is a blockhead; why does he not go on as many legs as I do? I'll e'en knock him over, to convince him of his mistake;" and forthwith he ran his sturdy sides against the slender limbs of the bird; and if he did not break them, it was no fault of his.
A frolicsome Colt, playing his morning gambols,