« הקודםהמשך »
abandoned being that now grovels there, if he could trace back the history of his sin and wretchedness, would find it beginning in some slight deviation; in some doubtful liberty; in some questionable indulgence; or in some wary or guarded yielding to the “ voice of the charmer,” which, at the time, seemed all but venial, or too trilling to be noted.
The same general principle is to be recognised in regard to what are commonly called Little Virtues. Not only is it true, that there is always more genuine religious principle in the silent, unobtrusive, unknown, habitual, conscientious fullment of the smaller duties of our place and station, than in the performance of those more signal acts, which the world, in the plenitude of its wisdom, commonly recognises as great;but it is also to be remembered, that the pilgrimage of this world can only be accomplished by successive steps; and that babits,- those adamantine chains of the soul,- are formed by the repetition of single acts, each in itself so trilling as to escape rernark; and that, therefore, if the great rules of Duty be not carried into their minute application among the small cares, unimportant engagements, trifling pleasures, humble aims, and “proximate purposes ” of the passing hour, life and all its opportunities will be lost.
And a similar train of remark is applicable to the Smaller Trials, and Lesser Adversities to which we are exposed. These, whether they arise from our own or others' infirmities of temper or demeanor, or from cross and untoward events of comparatively little importance, or from the milder forms of suffering either of body of mind, will be found numerous and various beyond description. They meet us at every turn, they are with us at all hours, they assail us in the midst of our earnest efforts and leading purposes, and, still more, in our hours of repose, of negligent watching, and of strenuous idleness. They present themselves when they are least desired, and we least prepared for them; they make all the engagements and relaxations, all the circumstances and connexions of life, the medium of their approach ; and cannot therefore be passed by, either wisely or safely, in any comprehensive scheme of duty or enjoyment.
We consider the part of the treatise before us relating to this subject as valuable, though we cannot but think ihat the long extract from Reinhard, marked as it is, by those all but endless divisions and subdivisions which are one of the
characteristics of this otherwise excellent thinker and writer, should have been curtailed or condensed in work purporting to be original. This is followed by a quotation from Zollikoffer on the same subject, which, though also objectionable on the ground of its length, is yet so just and beautiful, that we should be unwilling to part with it. The admirable section of Fenelon, in bis “Euvres Spirituelles," on fidelity in small things, is also referred to, and miglit fitly, perhaps, have taken the place of both the former.
The peculiar Situation or Condition of man in this world, viewed as a subject of the Kingdom of God, the Object proposed to bim in this relation, and the best Mode of fulfilling this object having been thus detailed, the author, in the fourth and last part of his treatise, proceeds to consider the “ Rules and Maxims of a Good Life; that is to say, he intends to offer a representation or picture, under general heads, of that degree and style of excellence which seems competent to man, and which every human being, consequently, by a due use of his powers, is capable of realizing.
The difference between the objects aimed at in the third and in this last part, is the same as between pointing out the path which must be followed, and giving such rules as may enable him, wbo is disposed to enter upon it, to pursue his course with steadiness and success.” And, in order to avoid a vast number of particular rules, branched out under technical divisions, which are justly considered of very little practical use, since, if a disposition to conform to them already exists, they will not be needed, and, if it do not, they will not be consulted,- the Author, with the view of exhibiting such a picture of a good life as will present a clear idea to the reader, takes the conduct of a day as an illustration of bis “ Plan.” He describes the natural expressions given to the different parts of a day by Nature herself, and indicates the corresponding style of conduct, by the exhibition of which, man should accommodate himself to the intimations of nature. We deem this part of the book eminently beautiful and valuable, and give an extract as a specimen, which is redolent of the very spirit of repose, calm thought, and solemn musing, which are in perfect keeping with the hour and place described.
“ EVENING. Nature herself, as in the other seasons of the day, has given to this portion of it a character which significantly points out the duties appropriate to it. The splendid light of day begins to decline; a softer coloring spreads itself over the face of creation; beauteous tints surround the path of the declining sun, - and beaven opens its resplendent glories to the eye and hea t of nian.
“ The general duty appropriate to this season, like that of the morning, is that of a careful composing of the mind after the tumult and irritation of the day ;- but the morning, as we formerly remarked, speaks chiefly of labors about to be executed, while evening points more emphatically to those future and invisible issues to which all human labors are subservient. — Vol. II. pp. 330, 331.
Then, after speaking of “ Serious Meditation," and careful “Self-Examination," as appropriate means of thus composing the mind, he proceeds:
“ In the third place, pleasing thoughts respecting the beauty of Nature, and enjoyment of those lovely scenes, which the evening, in all countries, presents to the eye of man.
This contemplation of the beautiful aspects of Nature may generally be best done by solitary musing ; – but, to those who have been agitated or depressed by the contentions of the day, a more beneficial employinent of the evening may sometimes be gained by a quiet enjoyment of rural wandering in the company of a friend. But, however indulged, this study of the aspects of Nature is one of the most healthful occupations, not for the body alone, but for the mind, in which we can be employed, and the Author can state, from his own experience, that there is no occupation that will be recollected with more pure delight.
"A valley of much simple, but picturesque beauty, - a long-withdrawing vale,' — as the poet has characteristically expressed it, — marked by hoary ruins at one extremity, and stretching towards the other, along the course of a winding stream, into a fine expanse of open and variegated country, characterizes his home. The landscape is bounded, at distance, by a range of elegantly-formed and finely-verdured hills ; – the whole forming one of those interesting, diversified, and extensive prospects, - with a rich and deep-set foreground, a softer distance of wooded and upland country, marked first by scattered country-seats, — and, farther west, by moorland farin-houses, — and, lastly, with the elegant but towering outline of its “ boundary of bills," – which can be imaged only by those who have been accustomed from infancy to the picturesque forms of Scottish landscape, -or who have, at least, inhabited some district where Nature assumes her bolder
3D . VOL. II. NO. III. 38
aspects, — and unites, in her creative but fantastic moods, the grandeur of mountain scenery with the rich setting of quiet valleys, or of softly-expanded landscape views.
“For years it has been the practice of the Author to enjoy the ever-changing beauty of this landscape, during a few moments of quiet contemplation, before beginning the business of the day, — and, indeed, in some of the first moments which the morning permits him to enjoy. And before the shades of evening fall' on the landscape, the same indulgence of quiet meditation on the forms and colors of Nature is repeated; no day, throughout the course of the year, presents the same aspect of this ever-lovely picture; - and whether these morning and evening studies be regarded as mere indulgences of taste, -as philosophical meditations, -- or as pious communings with Nature, the image and visible expression of Nature's God, — the Author cannot help stating in this public manner, that there are no hours of his life which return to him with such a fresh and fondly-cherished relish of enjoyment, - or which he is more anxious to bring before the notice of his readers, as a sample of the manner in which every one of them may most profitably and delightfully spend some portion of the hours of every day. There is no person who may not find some aspect of Nature, around his home, which may thus bring to him many and healthful thoughts,' — and the remembrance of which may be a source of satisfaction and of great endearment to him, throughout all the future years of his life." - Ibid.
pp. 331 - 334. These rules, which are adapted to the ordinary tenor of life, are varied to meet the exigences of those days, which, in the providence of God are peculiarly marked, and by which the uniform course of our existence is diversified. Thus, specific directions are given for the fitting use of days of Rejoicing, of Affliction, of peculiar Exertion, of Religious Exercises of the Sabbath, of Seasons devoted to the Remembrance of the leading Facts of Christianity and to a Review of Life.
These directions are rendered still more definite and available by considering man in the various relations he sustains to his immediate family; to his friends; to his neighbours ; to the distressed ; to wrong-doers; to society at large; and to the human race.
And, again, as life is presented to us, not merely in the detail of current hours, but as offering "General Appearances peculiar to each individual;” and as these are also to be taken into view in the conduct of a Good Life, they are here placed before us under the following relations ; - the present condi
tion of existence regarded as a Struggle for the mastery between the lower and higher powers of our nature; as a Scene of Labor and Care; as a Series of connected Events, involving Unexpected Issues; and as an Unfinished Scene.
The Treatise is concluded by certain “ Estimates of Life,” in reference to its happiness and misery, its Virtue and Vice; of the comparative Value of Melancholy or Cheerful Views of it; of the Heathen and Christian idea of a perfectly Good or Wise man; and of the relative Worth of the Argument for a Future State.
These topics are obviously too multifarious to admit of any condensed account, and too miscellaneous in their character to be properly illustrated by any extracts which could be crowded into our narrowing limits. They seem to us to present very sensible, judicious, and practical trains of remark; and, though they should be thought by any to be not very original or suggestive, or even to border sometimes on that large and well-frequented field of practical religion and ethics, which
may be called common-place, yet it must be admitted that their spirit is generally benign, and their tendency always practically useful.
We have thus carefully followed our author over the broad ground of speculation and practice, which he has opened be
It is broad indeed, since it embraces an enlarged and comprehensive estimate of that “KINGDOM OF GOD of which man is a component part; of the “OBJECT,” which, in consequence, is thus proposed to him; of the best “MODE" of accomplishing this object; and offers those “Rules and MAXIMS OF A GOOD LIFE, which will enable him to carry this 66 mode” of conduct to the most successful issue.
We hope to find some apology in this circumstance for the extent to which our own remarks have reached ; if, indeed, an apology can ever be needed for any effort to make better known that most profound of all deep sciences, and most excellent of all good arts, the Science and the Art of Living Worthily and Well.
However this may be, we think it due to the writer of this treatise, before taking final leave of him; to bring into bold relief, and place prominently before our readers, what we deem to be the distinctive feature, and the especial excellence, - the
very head of the corner" of his “ Living Temple. ” We