« السابقةمتابعة »
templation and retirement. At the same time, my brethren, there are many circumstances which shew, that an occasional retreat from the hurry of our lives is agreeable to our natural dispositions ; and however the worldly habits which we have fostered may obstruct the cultivation of these dispositions, they are yet seldom entirely eradicated.
It is not often that the world possesses so strong a hold of our thoughts as to make us unwilling to quit it, at least in imagination. We may not have the courage really to seclude ourselves from its enticements, but we feign to ourselves pictures of seclusion which seem to us more delightful than all that ambition or vanity can offer; and in the works of fiction, and the descriptions of poetry, we are pleased to contemplate those representations of humble life, which, remote from the strong glare of society, reposes amidst
the simple forms of rural and domestic tranquillity.
The same general taste appears, likewise, from the attachment which all men, in some degree, possess for the beauties of Nature, and for the Country. Long habits of intercourse with the world may, indeed, frequently incapacitate us from enjoying these with a true relish, yet we look back with regret upon the time when they were delightful to us; and we are often willing to hope that the time may again arrive, when we shall -retire from all the labours and all the dissipations of men, into those quiet scenes which still reflect from their bosom the infant innocence of Creation.
Even while we are ourselves incapable of sharing in these pleasures, we yet admire those who have hearts alive to them we believe that in their minds the seeds of genius and of taste are sown; and
we reckon upon finding in their charac ters the amiable and the gentle virtues. We admire them when they have their minds in harmony with Nature in all its aspects; when they not only delight to contemplate its softer and more regular features, but even to be "led up of the "Spirit into the wilderness," and can find in desolation itself, something which touches the higher chords of their souls. It is in the world of Man, indeed, that we are conscious we ought to act; but to those who love at times to retreat from that crowded stage, and to give a scope to their thoughts in the boundless World of Nature, we are apt to ascribe spirits of a loftier cast, and to believe that they will bring into their conduct among men, the character and the temper of a more exalted order of beings,
There is still another principle which gives to Retirement a charm, which we
might not at first expect to find in it: I mean the principle of our social nature itself. Man is indeed born for society, but how often does human society fail of accomplishing its true purposes! It is in it that all the malignant and all the selfish passions find their scope; and it is frequently in retirement alone, that a mind, disgusted with the spectacle of human folly and crime, can recover its tone, and can again be restored to the genuine sympathies of the heart. What Man has exasperated and inflamed, the benignity of Nature soothes and appeases, and insinuates into the heart the milder feelings of charity and candour!-There is, too, a society which follows us into retirement, that, to hearts of sensibility, possesses a peculiar charm: The society of those who are no longer to be met with among men ; the wise and the good who have left us for higher scenes; the parents whom we
venerated, or the companions whom we loved, and with whom, in our hours of retreat from the vulgar current of existence, we still seem to enjoy a pure and sacred
Such, my brethren, are some of the feelings which force even the most dissipated to acknowledge, that occasional seclusion is congenial to the mind of man, and which evidently point out the intention of his Creator to be, that this tendency is not to be thwarted, but to be improved. It is, indeed, liable to much perversion. Some minds, of a delicate texture, indulge it to an extent, which unqualifies them for the business and the enjoyments of social life. Others quit the world from disappointed ambition, and, amidst the peace of nature itself, brood over their gloomy discontent. It is only when they contribute to moral improvement, that our various natural dispositions