« السابقةمتابعة »
THIS learned divine once preaching on human inability a gentleman present was much offended, and took him to task for degrading human nature. "Pray, sir," said the doctor, "what do you think men can contribute to their own conversion?" He enumerated a variety of particulars. "And have you done all this?" said the doctor. "Why, no; I can't say I have yet; but I hope I shall begin soon." "If you have these things in your power, and have not done them, you deserve to be doubly damned; and are but ill qualified to be an advocate for free will, which has done you so little good."
THE JOURNEY OF LIFE.
As I was lately travelling in a waste howling wilderness, where every step was attended with difficulty and danger, I retired to a shady covert to seek that repose which the fatigues of my journey had rendered desirable; and no sooner had sleep, with its refreshing influences, closed my eyes, than fancy, ever on the wing, again conducted me to the scenes in which I had so lately toiled.
Methought I saw two travellers, both in the full glow of youth and vigor, just entering upon a vast desert, in which three several paths presented themselves to their choice. For a time, they kept company together, and each of them was busily employed in communicating to the other the projects he had formed respecting the progress, the success, and final end of the journey. It was not long, however, before their views and desires began considerably
to vary; and, finding themselves unsuitable companions, they mutually agreed to separate, and severally to follow that path which appeared to each most likely to lead to the object of their pursuit, viz. happiness.
The first took a winding path, which was every where adorned with the most beautiful flowers, at once charming the eye with the variety of their tints, and regaling the smell with the richness of their perfume. Here he was at no loss for companions; a prodigious multitude of people being collected, who were all walking in the same path, and engaged in the same pursuits. At one time, they amused themselves by forming nosegays of the finest flowers to decorate their bosoms, or adorn their brows; at another, they lay reclined in the enchanting arbors, which art had formed; and, in all the indulgence of the most effeminate indolence, listened to the warblings of the birds, who carolled in the surrounding trees. Here you might see a party of nymphs and swains, who danced in concert to the softest music; and there a group, who were pampering their appetites with all the delicacies they could invent. I could not, however, help observing, that our traveller and his gay friends were frequently surprised in the midst of their delights, with an unexpected misfortune; sometimes, while they were encircling their temples with chaplets of the finest roses, the thorns which environed them would pierce their flesh, and occasion the most agonizing smart; at others, dangerous serpents, who lay concealed among the flowery meadows, would fix their envenomed stings. in the most vital parts, and cause excruciating tortures, and, sometimes, instant death.
These disastrous events at length made our adventurer grow weary of scenes which exposed him to such painful
accidents; and he turned aside, about the middle of the desert, into another path, which, though not so pleasant as that he had forsaken, was nearly as much thronged with passengers as the former; but they appeared, in general, farther advanced in years, and of a graver cast than his late associates. Here he employed himself, in common with his new friends, in collecting together immense quantities of shining dust, or curious pebbles; and, strange to tell, cach seemed to value himself in proportion to the load of these encumbering trifles which he carried with him; though, as their strength continually decreased as they ad. vanced towards the end of their journey, they were often ready to sink under the weight of their burdens. I perceived too, that this path was every where covered with two noxious weeds called Care and Suspicion, which spread a pestilential vapor through the air, and soon injured the strongest constitution.
Here I left him for a while, and turned to take a view of the youth with whom he at first set out. I observed, that he was walking in a very narrow path, which he had entered by a small gate, which, though at intervals it presented a few flowers, was so overrun with briars and thorns, that his progress was rendered extremely difficult and inconvenient; there were likewise several bogs and sloughs, into which he was in great danger of falling; dark clouds often intercepted the rays of the sun, so as to occasion almost total darkness; and the distress and perplexity occasioned by all these circumstances, received no small addition from the scorn and contemptuous usage of those who were walking in the pleasant paths before described; who, being within sight and hearing, would frequently ridicule him in the most cruel and insulting terms, for what they called his
-folly and madness in choosing a road so beset with hazard and inconvenience. It is true, he met with some compan. ions, who endeavored to encourage him in his arduous undertaking; but these were very few, when opposed to the multitudes who were travelling the other roads; and, as they were all exposed to the same trials as himself, they - could do little more than sympathize and condole with each other. Notwithstanding these discouragements, our traveller continued to advance; and, though he met with frequent trips from the roughness and unevenness of the way, he speedily rose again, and pursued his journey. At first, I was astonished at his perseverance; but I soon perceived that a hand, which before I had not seen, was constantly reached from above to support him in all his trials; when he met with an accidental fall, this hand quickly lifted him up; when he slackened his pace, it urged him forward; and when, as was sometimes the case, he was so worn out by the fatigues he had to encounter, as to be ready to turn aside, it instantly caught his arm, and kept him in the right path. I saw, likewise, that he had a map of the country to which he was going, which he often considered with great delight; and he eagerly embraced every mean in his power, of improving himself in the language spoken by its inhabitants. The desert, too, was not wholly destitute of enjoyments; and I observed that these appeared more abundant the farther he advanced. He frequently met with streams of the purest water, at which he would drink, with a satisfaction that seemed infinitely to exceed that of the travellers in the other paths, even when they were rioting in all the profusion of luxurious indulgence. Sometimes, the very briars, contrary to nature would proVOL. I. *14
duce the most exquisite fruits; and I particularly remarked, that when a little group of these scattered pilgrims happened to meet, they conversed together with such affection, and described the land to which they were travelling with such transports, that all their troubles were forgotten; and those very persons who derided them, could not help envying the happiness which was depicted on their coun
In this manner our traveller continued to proceed till he came within sight of the farther side of the desert, which was bounded by a river, whose tide was amazingly rapid; when he arrived here, I looked to see whether there was any bridge, but found none; and was quickly informed, that every person, when they reached this side of the desert, were under an unavoidable necessity of fording the river. Our traveller accordingly prepared to enter it; but I could plainly see that the courage he had manifested by the way, began here to fail, and he hesitated as irresolute; when instantly a form, more lovely than any of the sons of men, appeared on the other side of the river; and, casting on him a look of divine benignity, said, “Fear not, for where I am, there shall you be also." Animated by this sweet promise, he looked upwards with tranquil smile; and, instantly plunging into the water, the same supernat ural hand that had guided him in his journey, held him fast till he had got quite through the river. How great now was my astonishment at the change which appeared in him the moment he set his foot on the opposite shore! His countenance shone with angelic lustre, his garments were whiter than snow, and more glorious than the beams of the meridian sun; millions of heavenly forms came to wel. come his arrival; and the light which emanated from their