Page images

THE USE OF HISTORY. To teach and to inculcate the general principles of virtue, and the general rules of wisdom and good policy which result from such

details of actions and characters, comes, for the most part, and always should come, expressly and directly into the design of those who are capable of giving such details : and, therefore, whilst they narrate as historians, they hint often as philosophers; they put into our hands, as it were, on every proper occasion, the end of a clue, that serves to remind us of searching, and to guide us in the search of that truth which the example before us either establishes or illustrates. If a writer neglects this part, we are able, however, to supply his neglect by our own attention and industry : and when he gives us a good history of Peruvians or Mexicans, of Chinese or Tartars, of Muscovites or Negroes, we may blame him, but we must blame ourselves much more, if we do not make it a good lesson of philosophy. This being the general use of bistory, it is not to be neglected. Every one may make it who is able to read, and to reflect on what he reads; and every one who makes it will find, in his degree, the benefit that arises from an early acquaintance contracted in this manner with mankind. We are not only passengers or sojourners in this world, but we are absolute strangers at the first steps we make in it. Our guides are often ignorant, often unfaithful. By this map of the country, which history spreads before us, we may learn, if we please, to guide ourselves. In our journey through it, we are beset on every side. We are besieged sometimes, even in our strongest holds. Terrors and temptations, conducted by the passions of other men, assault us; and our own passions, that correspond with these, betray us. History is a collection of the journals of those who have travelled through the same country, and been exposed to the same accidents : and their good and their ill success are equally instructive. In this pursuit of knowledge an immense field is opened to us: general histories, sacred and profane; the histories of particular countries, particular events, particular orders, particular men; memorials, anecdotes, travels. But we must not ramble in this field without discernment or choice, nor even with these must we ramble too long.


Whatever is best is safest ; lies out of the reach of human power; can neither be given nor taken away. Such is this great and beautiful work of nature, the world. Such is the mind of man, which contemplates and admires the world, whereof it makes the noblest part. These are inseparably ours, and as long as we remain in one, we shall enjoy the other. Let us march, therefore, intrepidly wherever we are led by the course of human accidents. Wherever they lead us, on what coast soever we are thrown by them, we shall not find ourselves absolutely strangers. We shall meet with men and women, creatures of the same figure, endowed with the same faculties, and born under the same laws of nature.

1 What a beautiful idea, “the world our country-all mankind our countrymen." When this verUiment shall be practically realized, (and the day seems to be fast drawing near when it will be,) rul restrictions upon trade will be everywhere removed; Intercourse between nations will be as frec do bet w cea individuals of the same nation; and national governments will be supported as local go vernments now are-by direct taxes according to property-the only eqnitable mode. I cannot ba tere quote a fine remark from that valuable book entitled "Guesses at Truth," by the brothers Hare: "A statesman may do much for commerce.--most by leaving it alone. A river never flows wo smoothly as when it follows its own course, without eilber aid or check, Let it make its oro ded: It wil do so better than you can."

We shall see the same virtues and vices, flowing from the same principles, but varied in a thousand different and contrary modes, according to that infinite variety of laws and customs which is established for the same universal end, the preservation of society. We shall feel the same revolution of seasons, and the same sun and moon will guide the course of our year. The same azure vault, bespangled with stars, will be everywhere spread over our heads. There is no part of the world from whence we may not admire those planets which roll, like ours, in different orbits, round the same central sun; from whence we may not discover an object still more stupendous, that army of fixed stars hung up in the immense space of the universe ; innumerable suns, whose beams enlighten and cherish the unknown worlds which roll around them : and whilst I am ravished by such contemplations as these, whilst my soul is thus raised up to heaven, it imports me little what ground I tread upon.


The sudden invasion of an enemy overthrows such as are not on their guard ; but they who foresee the war, and prepare themselves for it before it breaks out, stand without difficulty the first and the fiercest onset. I learned this important lesson long ago, and never trusted to fortune, even while she seemed to be at peace with me. The riches, the honors, the reputation, and all the advantages which her treacherous indulgence poured upon me, I placed so, that she might snatch them away without giving me any disturbance. I kept a great interval between me and them. She took them, but she could not tear them from me. suffers by bad fortune but he who has been deceived by good. If we grow fond of her gists, fancy that they belong to us, and are

No man

perpetually to remain with us; if we lean upon them, and expect to be considered for them, we shall sink into all the bitterness of grief, as soon as these false and transitory benefits pass away; as soon as our vain and childish minds, unfraught with solid plea. sures, become destitute even of those which are imaginary. But, if we do not suffer ourselves to be transported with prosperity, neither shall we be reduced by adversity. Our souls will be proof against the dangers of both these states : and having explored our strength, we shall be sure of it; for in the midst of felicity we shall have tried how we can bear misfortune.

PHILIP DODDRIDGE. 1702–1751. æord ** Few men have exerted a more happy, holy, and wide-spread influence upon the world, than the “dissenting” ininister, Philip Doldridge. He was born in London, in 1702, and at an early age he became the pupil of Mr. John Jennings, who kept an academy at Kibworth, in Leicestershire, and in 1722 he entered upon the ministry at the same place. On the death of Mr. Jennings he succeeded to bis place, but in 1729, being invited by the “ dissenting" congregation of that place to become their pastor, he removed there. Here for nearly twenty-two years he labored with great zeal and most exemplary piety, as pastor of the church, and as the principal of the academy, with the highest credit to himself, and benefit to those under his care. But his health declining in consequence of his great labors, he took a voyage to Lisbon, in the hope of deriving benefit from the relaxation and change of air and climate. But all in vain; and he died at Lisbon thirteen days after his arrival, October 26, 1751.

of the writings of Dr. Doddridge, too much, we think, can hardly be said in praise. His « Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul," forms a boily of practical divinity and Christian experience that has never been surpassed by any work of the same nature. Like the works of Baxter, Bunyan, and Watts, it is a classic of the religious world. His « Sermons on the Eclucation of Children,” Sermons to Young People," “ Ten Sermons on the Power and Grace of Christ," u A Course of Lectures on the Principal Subjects in Pneumatology, Ethics, and Divinity,'2 are held in the highest estimation by all ranks of Christians. Another work, still popular, is “ Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of Colonel James Gardiner, who was slain by the Rebels at the Battle of Preston Pans, September 21, 1745."'3 But his most elaborato

[ocr errors]

1 * Doddridge's heart was made up of all the kindlier affections of our nature; and was wholly devoted to the salvation of men's souls. Whatever he did, he appears to have done to the glory of God.' He read, he wrote, he preached-with a zeal which knew of no abatement, and with an earnestness which left no doubt of the sincerity of his motives. He was snatched from his flock and the world—both of which had been enlightened by his labors-in the prime of his life, and in the full possession of his faculties: but He who has left such fruits behind him, cannot be said to have imma turely perished."-Dibelin.

q " And first, as a universal storehouse, necessary to him in the conduct of his theological pur. suits, Doddridge's Lectures."Bishop of Durham's Charge.

* This Colonel Gardiner was a brave Scottish officer, who had served with distinction under Marlborough. Proin the life of a gay libertine he was suddenly converted to one of the suictest piety, by what he considered a supernatural interference, namely, a visible representation of Christ upon the cross, suspended in the air, amidst an unusual blaze of light, and accompanied by a declaration of the words, "Oh, sinner! did I suffer this for thoe, and are these the returns " From the period of this vision till his death, twenty-six years afterward, Colonel Gardiner maintained the life of a sincere Christian, so far as the military profession is compatible therewith. But the time is to come when the Christian will say what was said by those in the first and second centuries when called to enlist in the Roman armies, "I am a Christian, and therefore cannot fight." The time is to come when the military profession will be deemed not only disreputable but criminal : for what can be more diametrically opposite than the spirit of the gospel and the spirit of war!

work, the result of many years' study, was « The Family Expositor, containing a Version and Paraphrase of the New Testament, with Critical Notes, and a Practical Improvement of Each Section.” This admirable compendium of Scriptural knowledge has, from its solid learning, critical acuteness, and the persuasive earnestness of its practical reflections, ever been held in the highest estimation by the Christian world, and has been translated into several languages. To Doddridge, also, are we indebted for some of our best sacred lyrics, and for that epigram which Dr. Johnson calls “one of the finest in the English language."2 His letters, also, are admirable specimens of epistolary writing, and for their easy and natural style are not unlike those of Cowper.

COUNTRY LIFE-LETTER TO A FEMALE FRIEND. You know I love a country life, and here we have it in perfection. I am roused in the morning with the chirping of sparrows, the cooing of pigeons, the lowing of kine, the bleating of sheep, and, to complete the concert, the grunting of swine and neighing of horses. We have a mighty pleasant garden and orchard, and a fine arbor under some tall shady limes, that form a kind of lofty dome, of which, as a native of the great city, you may perhaps catch a glimmering idea, if I name the cupola of St. Paul's. And then, on the other side of the house, there is a large space which we call a wilderness, and which, I fancy, would please you er. tremely. The ground is a dainty green sward ; a brook runs sparkling through the middle, and there are two large fish-ponds at one end; both the ponds and the brook are surrounded with willows; and there are several shady walks under the trees, besides little knots of young willows interspersed at convenient distances. This is the nursery of our lambs and calves, with whom I have the honor to be intimately acquainted. Here I generally spend the evening, and pay my respects to the setting sun, when the variety and the beauty of the prospect inspire a pleasure that I know not how to express. I am sometimes so transported with

1 "In reading the New Testament," says the Bishop of Durliam, "I recommend Doddridge's Family Expositor, as an impartial interpreter and faithful monitor. I know of no expositor who uultes so many advantages as Doddridge."

2 Live whtle you live, the epicure would say,
And seize the pleasures of the present day.
Live while you live, the sacred preacher cries,
And give to God each moment as it flies.
Lord, in my views let both united be,
I live in pleasure when I have to Thee.

these inanimate beauties, that I fancy I am like Adam in Paradise; and it is my only misfortune that I want an Eve, and have none but the birds of ihe air, and the beasts of the field, for my companions.


for you,

I hope, my dear, you will not be offended when I tell you that I am, what I hardly thought it possible, without a miracle, that I should have been, very easy and happy without you. My days begin, pass, and end in pleasure, and seem short because they are so delightful. It may seem strange to say it, but really so it is, I hardly feel that I want any thing. I often think of you, and pray

and bless God on your account, and please myself with the hope of many comfortable days, and weeks, and years with you; yet I am not at all anxious about your return, or, indeed, about any thing else. And the reason, the great and susficient reason is, that have more of the presence of God with me than I remember ever to have enjoyed in any one month of my life. He enables me to live for him, and to live with him. When I awake in the morning, which is always before it is light, I address myself to him, and converse with him, speak to him while I am lighting my candle and putting on my clothes ; and have often more delight before I come out of my chamber, though it be hardly a quarter of an hour after my awaking, than I have enjoyed for whole days, or, perhaps, weeks of my life. He meets me in my study, in secret, in family devotions. It is pleasant to read, pleasant to compose, pleasant to converse with my friends at home; pleasant to visit those abroad—the poor, the sick; pleasant to write letters of necessary business by which any good can be done ; pleasant to go out and preach the gospel to poor souls, of which some are thirsting for it, and others dying without it; pleasant in the week-day to think how near another Sabbath is ; but, oh! much, much more pleasant, to think how near eternity is, and how short the journey through this wilderness, and that it is but a step from earth to heaven.

I cannot forbear, in these circumstances, pausing a little, and considering whence this happy scene just at this time arises, and whither it tends. Whether God is about to bring upon me any peculiar trial, for which this is to prepare me; whether he is shortly about to remove me from the earth, and so is giving me more sensible prelibations of heaven, to prepare me for it; or whether he intends to do some peculiar services by me just at this time, which many other circumstances lead me sometimes to hope ; or whether it be that, in answer to your prayers, and in compassion to that distress which I must otherwise have felt in the absence and illness of her who has been so exceedingly dea:

« PreviousContinue »