Page images

actions. Guilt always seeks to shelter itself in one of the extremes, and is fometimes attended with both.


с нА Р.




HAVE always preferred Cheerfulness to Mirth. The

latter I consider as an act, the former as a habit of the inind. Mirth is short and transient, cheerfulnəfs fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest tranfports of mirth, who are subject to the greatest depressions of melancholy : on the contrary, cheerfulness, though it does not give the mind such an exquilite gladness, prevents us from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment ; cheerfuluess keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind, and fills it with a steady and

perpetual serenity

Men of austere principles look upon mirth as too wanton and dissolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and infolence of heart that is inconfiftent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers. Writers of this complexion have observed, that the facred Person who was the great pattern of perfection, was never seen to laughi.

CHEERFULNESS of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions ; it is of a serious and composed nature ; it does not throw the mind into a condition improper for the present ftate of humanity, and is very conspicuous in the characters of those who are looked upon as the greatest philosophers among the Heathens, as well as among those who have been


[ocr errors]

deservedly esteemed as faints and holy men among Christians,

If we consider cheerfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to those we converse with, and to the great Author of our being, it will not a little recommend itself on each of these accounts. The man who is poffeffed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculties of his foul : his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed : his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action or in folitude. He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him, tastes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured upon him, and does not feel the full weight of thofe accidental evils which may befal hin.

If we consider him in relation to the persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and good-will towards him. A cheerful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good-humour in those who come within its influence. A man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the cheerfulness of his companion : it is like a sudden sunshine that awakens a sacred delight in the mind, without her attending to it. The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into friendship and benevolence towards the person who has so kindly an effect upon it.

WHEN I consider this chearful state of mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual gratitude to the Author of nature. An inward cheerfulness is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its dispensations. It is a kind of acquiescence in the state


E 5

wherein we are placed, and a secret approbation of the Divine will in his conduct towards man.

A MAN, who uses his beit endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two perpetual fources of cheerfulness in the consideration of his own na. ture, and of that Being on whom he has a dependence. If 'he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that existence, which is so lately bestowed upon him, and which, after millions of ages, will be stiil new; and still in its beginning How many felf-congratulations naturally rise in the mind, when it reflects on this its entrance into eternity ; when it takes a view of those improveable faculties, which in a few years, and even at its first setting out, have made so confiderable a progress, and which will be still receiving an increase of perfection, and consequently an increase of happiness? The consciousness of such a being spreads a perpetual diffusion of joy through the soul of a virtuous man, and makes him look



moment as more happy than he knows how to conceive.

The second source of cheerfulness to a good mind, is its consideration of that Being on whom we have our dependence, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint discoveries of his perfections, we fee every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves every where upheld by his goodness, and surrounded with an immensity of love and mercy. In short we depend upon a Being, whose power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodnefs and truth engage him to make those happy who desire it of Irim, and whose unchangeableness will secure us in this happiness to all eternity,


Such considerations, which every one should perpetually cherish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that secret heaviness of heart which unthinking men are subject to when they lie under no real affliction; all that anguilh which we may feel from any evil that actually oppresses uk , to whicke I may likewise add those little cracklings of mirth and folly that are apter to betray virtue than support it ; and establish in us such an even and chearful temper, as makes us pleasing to ourselves, to those with whom we converse, and to him whom we were made to please.


[blocks in formation]

TRUTH "RUTH and fincerity have all the advantages of appearance,


many more. If the shew of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure the reality is better ; for why does any man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is not, but because he thinks it good to have the qualities he pretends to ? For to counterfeit and diffemble, is to put on the appearance of some real excellency. Now the best way for a man to seem to be any thing, is really to be what he would seem to be. Besides, it is often as troublesome to support the pretence of a good quality, as to have it; and if a man have it'not, it is most likely he will be discovered to want it, and then all his labour to seem to have it is loft. There is something unnatural in painting, which a skilful eye will easily discern from native beauty and complexion. . It is hard to personate and act a part long; for where truth is not at the bottom, nature will always be endeavouring to return, and will betray herself at one time or other.

E 6


Therefore if any man think it convenient to feem good, let him be fo indeed, and then his goodnefs will appear to every one's fatisfa&tion ; for truth is convincing, and carries its own light and evidence along with it, and will not only "commend us to every man's conscience, but, which is much more, to God, who searcheth our hearts. So that


all accounts fincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hath many advantages over all the artificial modes of diffimulation and deceit, It is much the plainer and easier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world : it has less of trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it : it is the fhortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line, and will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and cunning continually grow

weaker and less effectual and serviceable to those that practise them ; whereas integrity gains strength by use, and the more and longer any man practiseth it, the greater fervice it does him, by confirming his reputation, and encouraging those with whom he hath to do, to repofe the greatest confidence in him, which is an unspeakable advantage in business and the affairs of life.

A DISSEMBLER must always be upon his guard, and watch himself carefully, that he do not contradict his own pretensions ;. for he acts an unnatural part, and therefore must put a continual force and reitraint upon himselt. Whereas he that acts fincerely hath the easiest task in the world ; because he follows nature, and so is put to no trouble and care about his words and actions; he needs not invent any pretences before-hand, nor make excuses afterwards, for any thing he hath said or done.


« PreviousContinue »