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to act,-has his own interest to consult,-has affairs of his own to manage,-which his neighbor has no call to scrutinize.«
3. Human life then proceeds in its most natural and orderly train, when every one keeps within the bounds of his proper province,-when, as long as his pursuits are fair and lawful, he is allowed, without disturbance, to conduct them in his own way. That ye study to be quiet, and do your own business, is the apostolic rule, and indeed the great rule for the preservation of harmony and order.
4. But so it is, that in every age a set of men have existed, who, driven by an unhappy activity of spirit, oftener, perhaps, than by any settled design of doing ill, or any motives of ambition or interest, love to intermeddle where they have no concern,—to inquire into the private affairs of others, and, from the imperfect information they collect, to form conclusions respecting their circumstances and character. These are they who, in Scripture, are characterized as tattlers and busy bodies in cther men's matters, and from whom we are called to turn away.
5. Though persons of this description should be prompted by nothing but vain curiosity, they are, nevertheless, dangerous troublers of the world. While they conceive themselves to be inoffensive, they are sowing dissension and feuds.b Crossing the lines in which others move, they create confusion, and awaken resentment.--For every man conceives himself to be injured, when he finds another intruding into his affairs, and, without any title, taking upon him to examine his conduct. Being improperly and unnecessarily disturbed, he claims the right of disturbing, in his turn, those who have wantonly troubled him.
6. Hence many a friendship has been broken; the peace of many a family has been overthrown; and much bitter and lasting discord has been propagated through society. While this spirit of meddling curiosity injures so considerably the peace and good order of the world, it also nourishes, among individuals who are addicted to it, a multitude of bad passions. Its most frequent source is mere idleness, which, in itself a vice, never fails to engender many vices more. The mind of man cannot be long without some food to nourish the activity of its thoughts.
7. The idle who have no nourishment of this sort within hemselves, feed their thoughts with inquiries into the con(uct of their neighbors. The inquisitive and curious are alvays talkative. What they learn, or fancy themselves to bive learned, concerning others, they are generally in haste Scruti-nize, to examine closely.
Feuds, quarrels, contentions.
to divulge. A tale which the malicious have invented, and the credulous have propagated,' --a rumor, which arising among the multitude, and transmitted by one to another has in every step of its progress gained fresh additions,-becomes in the end the foundation of confident assertion, and of rash and severe judgment.
8. It is often by a spirit of jealousy and rivalry, that the researches of such persons are prompted. They wish to discover something that will bring down their neighbor's character, circumstances, or reputation, to the level of their own; or that will flatter them with an opinion of their own supe riority.
9. A secret malignity lies at the bottom of their inqniries. It may be concealed by an affected show of candor and impartiality. It may even be veiled with the appearance of a friendly concern for the interest of others, and with affected apologies for their failings. But the hidden rancor is easily discovered.--While, therefore; persons of this description trouble the peace of society, they at the same time poison their own minds with malignant passions.
10. Their disposition is entirely the reverse of that amiable spirit of charity, on which our religion lays so great a stress. Charity covereth the multitrule of sins ; but this prying and meddling spirit seeks to discover and divulge them. Charity thinketh no evil; but this temper inclines us always to suspect the worst. Charity rejoiceth not in iniquily; this temper tri umphs in the discovery of errors and failings. Charity, like the sun, brightens every object upon which it shines: a censorious disposition casts every character into the darkest shade it will bear.
11. To be entirely unemployed and idle, is the prerogative of no one in any rank of life. Even that sex, whose task is not to mingle in the labors of public and active business, have their own part assigned them to act. In the quiet of domestic shade, there are a variety of virtues to be exercised, and of important duties to be discharged. Much depends on them for the maintenance of private economy and order,-for the education of the young, and for the relief and comfort of those whose functions engage them in the toils of the world.
12. Even where no such female duties orcur to be performed, the care of preparing for future usefulness, and of attaining such accomplishments as procure just esteem, is laudable.d In such duties and cares, how far better is time employed than in that search into private concerns,—that circulation o
Di-vulge', to disclose, publish. d Prop'a-gated, generated, spread
c Functions, offices, employments d Laud'-a-ble, praiseworthy.
rumors,—those discussions of the conduct, and descants on the character of others which engross conversation so much, and which end, for the most part, in severity of censure.
13. In whatever condition we are placed, to act always in character should be our constant rule. He who acts in character is above contempt, though his station be low. He who acts out of character is despicable, though his station be ever so high. What is that to thee what this or that man does? Think of what thou ought to do thyself, or what is suitable to thy character and place,-of what the world has a title to expect from thee. Every excursion of vain curiosity about others, is a subtraction from that time and thought which are due to ourselves, and due to God.
14. In the great circle of human affairs, there is room for every one to be busy and well employed in his own province, without encroaching upon that of others. Art thou poor?Show thyself active and industrious, peaceable and contented. Art thou wealthy ?-Show thyself beneficent and charitable, condescending and humane. If thou livest much in the world, it is thy duty to make the light of a good example, shine conspicuously before others.
15. There is, indeed, no man so sequestered from active life, but within his own narrow sphere he may find some opportunities of doing good, -of cultivating friendship, promoting peace, and discharging many of those lesser offers of humanity and kindness, which are within the reach of every one, and which we owe to one another.-In all the various relations which subsist among us in life, as husband and wife, master and servant, parents and children, relations and friends, innumerable duties stand ready to be performed ; innumerable calls to virtuous activity present themselv's on every hand, sufficient to fill up, with advantage and honor, the whole time of man.'
The miseries of Men mostly of their own procuring. 1. As far as inward disquietude arises from the stings of conscience, and the horrors of guilt, there can be no doubt of its being self-created misery - which it is altogether impessible to impute to Heaven. Put even when great crimes and deep remorse are not the occasions of torment, how often is poison infused into the most flourishing conditions of fortune, by the follies and the passions of the prosperous ?
2. We see them peevish and restless,-corrupted with luxa Des'-cants, comments, remarks.
6 Se-ques'-ter-ed, secluded, set apart.
ury, and enervated" by ease,-impatient of the smallest disappointment,-oppressed with low spirits, and complaining of every thing around them. Dare such men, in their most discontented moments, charge the providence of Heaven with miseries of their own procuring? Providence had put into their hands the fairest opportunity of passing their lives with comfort. But they themselves blasted every comfort that was afforded, and verified the prediction, that the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
3. As it is man's own foolishness which ruins his prosperity, we must not omit to remark, that it is the same cause which aggravates and imbitters his adversity. That you suffer from the external afflictions of the world, may often be owing to God's appointment; but when in the midst of these you also suffer from the disorders of your mind and passions, this is owing to yourselves; and they are those inward disorders which add the severest sting to external afAictions.
4. Many are the resources of a good and wise man under the disasters of life. In the midst of them, it is always in his power to enjoy peace of mind and hope in God. He may suffer ; but under suffering he will not sink, as long as all is sound within. But when the spirit has been wounded by guilt and folly, its wounds open and bleed afresh, upon every blow that is received from the world. The mind becomes sensible and sore to the slightest injuries of fortune; and a small reverse is felt as an insupportable calamity.
5. On the whole, the farther you search into human life, and the more you observe the manners and the conduct of .men, you will be the more convinced of this great truththat of the distresses which abound in the world, we are the chief authors. Among the multitudes who are at this day bewailing their condition and lot, it will be found to hold of far the greater part, that they are reaping the fruit of their own doings.
6. Unattainable objects foolishly pursued, intemperate passions nourished, vicious pleasures and desires indulged, these are the great scourges of the world the great causes of the life of man being so embroiled and unhappy. God has ordained our state on earth to be a mixed and imperfect state. We have ourselves to blame for its becoming an insupportable one. If it bring forth nothing to us but vexation and vanity, we have sown the seeds of that vanity and vexation; and as we have sown we must reap.
& Ener'-va-teni, deprived of vigor.
Ver'-i-8-ed, proved to be true.
The Creator's works attest his greatness. 1. We find ourselves in an immense universe,a where it is impossible for us, without astonishment and awe, to contemplate the glory and the power of Him who created it. From the greatest to the least object that webehold;—from the star that glitters in the heavens, to the insect that creeps upon the ground;- from the thunder that rolls in the skies, to the flower that blossoms in the fields ;-all things testify a profound and mysteriousb Wisdom,-a mighty and all powerful Hand, before which we must tremble and adore.
2. Neither the causes nor the issues of the events which we behold, is it in our powerto trace; neither how we came into this world, nor whither we go when we retire from it, are we able of ourselves to tell; but, in the meantime, find ourselves surrounded with astonishing magnificence on every hand. We walk through the earth as through the apartments of a vast palace, which fill every attentive spectator with wonder. All the works which our power can erect, all the ornaments which our art can contrive, are feeble and trifling in comparison with those glories, which nature every where presents to our view.
3. The immense arch of the heavens, the splendor of the sun in his meridiano brightness, or the beauty of his rising and setting hours,—the rich landscape of the fields, and the boundless expanse of the ocean,-are scenes which mock every rival attempt of human skill or labor. Nor is it only in the splendid appearances of nature, but amidst its rudest forms that we trace the hand of the Divinity. In the solitary desert and the high mountain,-in the hanging precipice, a the roaring torrent, and the aged forest,-though there be nothing to cheer, there is much to strike the mind with awe, -to give rise to those solemn and sublime sensations, which elevate the heart to an Almighty, All-creating Power.-Blair.
The advantages of a taste for Natural History. 1. When a young person who has enjoyed the benefit of a liberal education, instead of leading a life of indolence, dissipation, or vice, employs himself in studying the marks of infinite wisdom and goodness, which are manifested in every part of the visible creation,-we know not which we ought a U'-ni-verse, the whole system of creat- c Me-rid'-i-an, midday, noon,
d Prec'-i-pice, a stcep descent, Mys-te'-ri-ous not easily understood.