페이지 이미지

ministry, and, to divert himself at bis leisure hours, has laid all these lime twigs for his neighbour Coningsby that keeps that precious bird in the cage, out of which himself slipped so cunningly and easily.

Things and the way of men's judging them vary so much here that it is impossible to give you any just account of some of our friends' actions. Roffen is more than suspected of having given up his party as Sancho did his subjects, for so much a head, l'un portant l'autre. His cause, therefore, which is something originally like that of the Lutrin, is opposed or neglected by his ancient friends, and openly sustained by the ministry. He cannot be lower in the opinion of most men than he is; and I wish our friend Harwere higher than he is.

Our young Harley's vice is no more covetousness than plainness of speech is that of his cousin Tom. His lordship is really amabilis, and Lady Harriet adoranda.

I tell you no news, but that the whole is a complication of mistake in policy, and of knavery in the execution of it; of the ministers (I speak) for the most part, as well ecclesiastical as civil; this is all the truth I can tell you, except one, which I am sure you receive very kindly, that I am, ever, your friend and your servant,

M. PRIOR. Friend Shelton, commonly called Dear Dick, is with me. We drink your health.-Adieu.



Stratton, July, 1706. WHEN I take my pen to write this, I am, by the goodness and mercy of God, in a moderate and easy state of health-a blessing I have thankfully felt through the course of a long life, which (with a much greater help), the contemplation of a more durable state, has maintained and upheld me through varieties of providences and conditions of life. But all the delights and sorrows of this mixed state must end; and I feel the decays that attend old age creep so fast on me, that, although I may yet get over some more years, however, I ought to make it my frequent meditation, that the day is near when this earthly tabernacle shall be dissolved, and my immortal spirit be received into that place of purity, where no unclean thing can enter; there to sing eternal praises to the great Creator of all things. With the Psalmist I believe, “ at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore:” and what is good and of eternal duration must be joyful above what we can conceive; as what is evil and of like duration, must be despairingly miserable. And now, my dear child, I pray, I beseech you, I conjure you, my loved son, consider what there is of felicity in this world, that can compensate the hazard of losing an everlasting easy being; and then deli. berately weigh, whether or no the delights and gratifications of a vicious or idle course of life are such, that a wise or thoughtful man would choose

or submit to. Again, fancy its enjoyments at the height imagination can propose or suggest (which yet rarely or never happens, or if it does, as a vapour, soon vanishes); but let us grant it could, and last to fourscore years, is this more than the quickest thought to eternity ? Oh, my child ! fix on that word, eternity! Old Hobbs, with all his fancied strength of reason, could never endure to rest or stay upon thought, but ran from it to some miserable amusement. I remember to have read of some man, who, reading in the Bible something that checked him, he threw it on the ground; the book fell open, and his eye fixed on the word eternity, which so struck upon his mind, that he from a bad liver became a most holy man. Certainly, nothing besides the belief of reward and punishment can make a man truly happy in this life, at his death, and after death. Keep ivnocency, and take heed to the thing that is right; for that shall bring a man peace at the lastpeace in the evening of each day, peace in the day of death, and peace after death. For my own part, I apprehend, I should not much care (if free from pain) what my portion in this world was,-if a life to continue, perhaps one year or twenty, or eighty ; but then to be dust, not to know or be known any more,—this is a thought has something of horror in it to me, and always had ; and would make me careless if it were to be long or short: but to live, to die, to live again, has a joy in it; and how inexpressible is that joy if we secure an humble hope to live ever happily, and this we may do if we take care to live agreeably to our rational faculties, which also best secures health, strength, and peace of mind, the greatest blessings on earth. Believe the word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the promises and threats contained in them: and what most obstructs our doing so, I am persuaded, is fear of punishment. Look up to the firmament, and down to the deep, how can any doubt a divine power? And if there is, what can be impossible to infinite power ? Then, why an infidel in the world? And if not such, who then would hazard a future state for the pleasure of sin a few days? No wise man, and, indeed, no man that lives would deserve to see good days; for the laws of God are grateful. In his Gospel the terrors of majesty are laid aside, and he speaks in the still and soft voice of his Son incarnate, the fountain and spring whence flow gladness. A gloomy and dejected countenance better becomes a galley-slave than a Christian, where joy, love, and hope should dwell. The idolatrous heathen performed their worship with trouble and terror; but a Christian, and a good liver, with a merry heart and lightsome spirit: for, examine and consider well whence is the hardship of a virtuous life? (whence we have moderated our irregular habits and passions, and subdued them to the obedience of reason and religion). We are free to all the innocent gratifications and delights of life; and we may lawfully, nay, further, I say we ought to rejoice in this beautiful world, and all the conveniences and provisions, even for pleasure, we find in it; and which, in much goodness, is afforded us to sweeten and allay the labours and troubles incident to this mortal state, nay, inseparable, I believe, by disappointments, cross accidents, bad health, unkind returns for good deeds, mistakes even among friends, and, what is most touching, death of friends. But in the worst of these calamities, the thought of a happy eternity does not alone support, but also revive the spirit of a man; and he goeth forth to his labour with inward comfort, till the evening of his day (that is, life on earth), and, with the Psalmist, cries out, “ I will consider the heavens even the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou shouldest so regard him?" Psalm viii. “ Thou madest him lower than the angels, to crown him with glory.” Here is matter of praise and gladness. “The fool,” as the Psalmist expresses it, “hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Or, let us consider the man, who is content to own an invisible power, yet tries to believe, that when man has done living on this earth he lives no more: but I would ask if any of these unhappy creatures are fully persuaded, or that there does not remain in these men, at times (as in sickness, or sober thoughtfulness), some suspicion or doubt, that it may be other than they try to think? And although they may, to shun such a thought, or be rid of such a contemplation, run away from it to some unprofitable diversion, or, perhaps, suffer themselves to be rallied out of such a thought, so destructive to the way they walk in ; yet, to be sure, that man does not feel the peace and tranquillity he does who believes a future state, and is a good man. For, although this good man, when his mind may

« 이전계속 »