« PreviousContinue »
E have already exercifed our Speculations on the Tombs, and Flowers; furveying Ne ture, covered with the deepest Horrors, and arrayed in the richest Beauties. Allegory taught many of the Objects to speak the Language of Vir tue; while Imagination lent her Golouring to give the Leffons an engaging Air.And this with an humble View of imitating that divine Inftructor, who commiffioned the Lilly*, in her Silver Suit, to remonstrate in the Ear of unbelieving Reafon: Who fent his Difciples, Men ordained to teach the Universe, to learn Maxims of the last Importance, from the most infignificant Birds*, that wander through the Paths of the Air; from the very meaneft Herbs*, that are scattered over the Face of the + Ground.
Imboldened by the kind Acceptance of the pre ceding Sketches, I beg Leave to confide in the fame Benevolence of Tafte, for the Protection and Support of the two remaining Essays; which exhibit
*** Matt. vi. 26, 28, 29, 30.
+ Celebrated Writers, as Demofthenes and Cicero, Thucydides and Lioy, are obferv'd to have a Style pe culiar to themfelves-Now whoever confiders the Difcourfes of Chrift, will find a Style by which he remarkably distinguishes himfelf, and which may preperly be called HIS OWN. It confifts in Teaching this followers the Sublimeft Truths, by fpiritualizing
exhibit a Profpect of ftill Life, and grand Ope ration: which moralize on the moft compofed, and moft magnificent, Appearances of Things.-In which, Fancy is again fuffered to introduce her Imagery; but only as the Handmaid of Truth : in order to dress her Perfon, and difplay her Charms; to engage the Attention, and win the Love, even of the Gay, and of the Fashionable. Which is more likely to be effected, by forming agreeable Pictures of Nature, and deriving inftructive Obfervations; than by the laborious Method of long-deduced Arguments, or close connected Reafonings. As the Contemplation of the Heavens and the Earth, of their admirable Properties and beneficial Changes, affords the most delightful Gratification to the human Mind; I have attempted to extract Virtue, from those Sources of refined and exalted Pleasure; to gather Wisdom,
on the most common Occurrences; Which, befides its being level to the lowest Apprehenfions; and admirably adapted to fteal into the moft inattentive Heart; is accompanied with this very regular Advantage, That it turns even the Sphere of Business into a School of Inftruction; and renders the most ordinary Objects a Set of Monitors, ever folliciting our Regard, because ever prefent to our Senfes. So that I believe, it may be faid of this amiable Method, in which our LORD Conveyed, as well as of that powerful Energy, which attended his Doctrines, That never Man fpake like this Man.-The Harvest approaching, He admonishes his Difciples once and again of the Spiritual Harvest, John iv. 35. In Al
Wifdem, from the ftupendous Theatre, and variegated Scenery of the Universe.
The Evening, drawing her Sables over the World, and gently darkening into Night, is a Seafon peculiarly proper for sedate Confideration. All Circumftances concur, to hush our Paffions, and foothe our Cares; to tempt our Steps abroad, and prompt our Thoughts to ferious Reflection. Then is the Time, For thofe, whom Wisdom, and whom Nature charm,
To fteal themfelves from the degenerate Croud,
The Favour I would follicit for the first of the following Compofitions, is, That it may be permitted to attend in fuch retired and contemplative Excurfions. To attend, if not under the Character of a Friend; at leaft, in the humble Capacity of a Servant, or a Page :-as a Servant, to the Door of Meditation, and remove every Impedilafion to the prefent Seafon of Fruits, he admo: nifhes his Difciples about knowing Men by the Fruits, Matt. vii. 16. To the Fishermen he speaks of Fishers of Men, Matt. iy. 10.-But for a farther Illuftration of this no lefs useful, than curious Subject, I would refer my Reader to a most valuable Note in Sir Isaac Newton's Observations on the Prophefies, p. 148. 4to, Edition.
* Thomf. Autumn. I. 973. laft Edit. 12mo.
Impediment to these beft Exercises of the Mind which mingle Advantage with Entertainment, and improve, while they delight :-as a Page, to gather up the unstable, fluctuating Train of Fancy; and collect her fickle Powers into a confiftents regular, and useful Habit of Thinking.
The other, converfant among the ftarry Regions, would lead the Imagination through thöfe. beautiful Tracts of unclouded Azure; and point out to the Fudgment some of those aftonishiag Particulars, which fo eminently signalize the celestial Worlds. A Profpect this, to which Curiofity attrafts aur Eyes, and to which Scripture itself often directs our Study. A Profpect, of all others moft excellently calculated, to enlarge the Soul, and enoble its Conceptions;to give the highest Apprehenfions of the everlasting GOD, and create Sentiments of becoming Superiority, with relation to all tranfitory Interefts; in a Word, to furnish Faith with the firmest Foundation, for a steady Affiance, and true Magnanimity of Spirit; to afford Piety the strongest Motives, both for a lively Gratitude, and profound Veneration.
While Galilæo lifts his Tube, and discovers the prodigious Magnitude of thofe radiant Orbs; while Newton measures their amazing Difftances, and unites the whole Syftem, in harmoni