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Integritya the guide of life. 1. Every one who has begun to make any progress in the world, will be sensible, that to conduct himself in hunan affairs with wisdom and propriety, is often a matter of no small difficulty. Amidst that variety of characters, of jarring dispositions, and of interfering interests, which take place among those with whom we have intercourse, we are frequently at a stand as to the part most prudent for us to choose. Ignorant of what is passing in the breasts of those around us, we can form no more than doubtful conjectures concerning the events that are likely to happen.
2. They may take some turn altogether different from the course in which we have imagined they were to run, according to which we had forined our plans. The slightest incident often shoots out into important consequences, of which ye were not aware. The labyrinth becomes so intricate,
hat the most sagacious' can lav hold of no clue to guide him through it: he finds himself embarrassed, and at a loss how to
het.— In public and in private life, in managing his own conberns, and in directing those of others, the doubt started by lhe wise man frequently occurs; Who knoweth what is good for man in this life?
3. While thus fatigued with conjecture, we remain perplexed and undetermined in our choice; we are at the same lime pulled to different sides by the various emotions which belong to our nature. On one hand, pleasure allures us to what is agreeable; on the other, interest weighs us down toward what seems gainful. Honor attracts us to what is splendid; and indolence inclines us to what is easy. In the consultations which we hold with our own mind concerning our conduct, how often are we thus divided within ourselves,puzzled by the uncertainty of future events, and distracted by the contest of different inclinations !
4. Il is in such situations as these, that the principle of integrity interposes to give light and direction. While worldly men fluctuate in the midst of those perplexities which I have described, the virtuous man has one oracled to which he resorts in every dubious case, and whose decisions he holds to be infallible. He consults his own conscience; he listens to the voice of God. Were it only on a few occasions that this
e Integ'-ri-ty, uprightness.
Sa ga'-cious, wise, discerning. d Or-a-cle, a Pagan deity.
oracle could be consulted, its value would be less. But it is a mistake to imagine that its responsese 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 bright
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 hrart, - 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. Heshuts 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.
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 continu. al change of place, without use or purpose,-testify their oy, 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
a Re-spons'-es, answers.
e Gra-tu'-i-tous, free, without reward
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 attitudest—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.
6 Shrimps, small shell fish. At'-ti-tudes, postures, gestures.
. Do mes'ti-C3-ted, made tame
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 equivalenta 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 pleasure; 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 imbecilityb 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,d seek and enjoy rest, affords reason to believe, that this source of gratification is appointed to advanced lise, 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
4 E-quiv'-a-lent, what is equal in worth. b Im-be-cil'-i-ty, weakness.
c Rous-seau', a French philosopher. d Sub-sides', sinks, ceases, ends.
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."
The Seasons. 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.
2. When suffering the inconveniences of the ruder parts of the year, we may be tempted to wonder why this rotation b 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,d 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 score 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 a As-pi-ra'-tions, ardent wishes.
c Vern-al, belonging to spring. 6 Ro-ta'tion, turning as a wheel.
d Fo'-li-age, leaves of trees.