Page images


writers upon

DISC. not be impeded. To do this, she cannot

take a inore effectual way, than to establish and preserve in herself a cheerful disposition. The influence which the mind hath upon the body is well known; insomuch that the

health and long life never fail to take the pasons into consideration, of which, they tell us, that the more sudden and violent ones produce acute diseases, and the slow and lasting ones those which are styled chronical. Among these latter, it is certain, that no one is more prejudicial to the health of the body, than grief, when long indulged, and settled into a habit, whatever may

have been it's cause, great or little, real or imaginary. It contracts and enfeebles the animal spirits, preys upon the strength, and eats out the vigour of the constitution; the radical moisture is consumed, and the unhappy subject of this passion droops like a flower in the scorching heat of summer. “ A broken spirit,” says Solomon in the words following those of the text, “ drieth the bones.” And what is worst of all, it prevents the good effects of



those medicines, which it renders necessary. DISC. On the other hand, a cheerful disposition of mind always seconds the endeavours of the physician for the service of the body, and will do half the work in the cure of a diftemper. It dilates and invigorates the animal spirits, quickens the Auids, repairs the solids, and maketh the bones fat. Such extensive influence, in the little world of man, as well as in the larger one of creation, do the superior parts exert upon those which are inferior. Let “ the heavens rejoice,” and “ the earth will be glad.” He, therefore, who would enjoy health while he lives, and live long to enjoy it, must learn to be cheerful.

Nor, secondly, does cheerfulness bear an aspect less friendly on the mind itself, which by melancholy is dejected and broken, and becomes unfit for the performance of it's functions. Under the dominion of such a temper, a man finds himself unable to bear up against the evils of life, or to taste it's blessings, poured in ever so great a profusion


G 3


[ocr errors]

DISC. around him. He cannot be a partaker of

the light which shineth upon others, but
walketh on still in darkness. “ All his

days are evil.” The duties of his station
are unperformed; he can neither be of fer-
vice to his brethren, nor help himself. His
judgment is perplexed and confounded; it is
difficult for him to make a resolution, and
still more so to keep it. His imagination is
haunted with fears and terrors; his memory
serves only to recal the ideas which feed
and increase the disorder; and he becomes
a burthen to himself, and to his friends.
But how grievous and pitiable a case is this!
Perhaps there are few cases more so in the
world. Losses and calamities, pain and sick.
ness, may be, and often are supported,
without any great difficulty or inconve-
nience, by a sound and vigorous mind. But
when the supporter itself falls, and covers
the ground with it's ruins, then the desola-
tion is complete. • The spirit of a man can
“ sustain his infirmity; but a wounded

spirit who can bear?”. Would we then avoid fo fad a catastrophe? We must shun

[ocr errors][merged small]

: the


the steps that lead to it. Would we be disc. easy in our thoughts, and masters of ourselves; would we escape from the tyranny of the most pernicious of passions; would we possess a clear imagination, an undisturbed judgment, and an unruffled temper ; would we perform all the social offices with alacrity and' pleasure; would we relish the comforts of life, and not feel the weight of its troubles; would we, in a word, enjoy serenity and complacency of mind ourselves, and diffuse them around us, wherever we go? All these are the privileges of cheerfulness, and unanswerable reasons why we should cultivate that disposition in our own hearts, and press the necessity of so doing on all our acquaintance.

A third argument in favour of cheerfulness may be deduced from a survey of the world in which we live, and in which we find things framed not only for necessity, but pleasure ; not only for use, but beauty. The lights which God hath “ set in the fir“mament of heaven, to divide the day from " the night, to be for signs, and for seasons,

" for



DISCO “ for days, and for years,” while they answer

all those purposes, according to his ordinance, do, at the same time, cheer and delight us, by their splendid appearance. The blossoms of the spring, which serve to protect the infant fruit; the glories of summer, which mature and bring it to perfection ; and the riches with which autumn overspreads the face of a country, contribute as much to the satisfaction of the beholder, as they do to the husbandman's advantage. The same genial power which brings food out of the earth for the nourishment of the animals that walk


it in a colour the most agreeable and refreshing to the eye of

man. And let any one, who walks forth, at the proper season of the year, to contemplate the creation in its beauty; who beholds the brightness of the sun, the clearness of the sky, the verdure of the earth, well watered pastures clothed with flocks, valleys covered over with corn, and woods resounding with the music of birds; let such an one determine (to use the words of an elegant and pious writer upon

the subject) “ whether Providence designed, this world

<< should

it, arrays

« PreviousContinue »