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sert that lay before him, he seemed as if he wished to stop, but was impelled forward by some invisible power. His features, however, soon settled again into a calm melancholy; his eyes were again fixed on the ground, and he went on as before, with apparent reluctance, but without emotion. I was struck with this appearance; and turning hastily to the angel, was about to inquire, what could produce such infelicity in a being, surrounded with every object that could gratify every sense; but he prevented my request: "The book of nature," said he, " is before thee; look up, consider it, and be wise." I looked, and beheld a valley between two mountains that were craggy and barren. On the path there was no verdure, and the mountains afforded no shade; the sun burned in the zenith, and every spring was dried up: but the valley terminated in a country that was pleasant and fertile, shaded with woods, and adorned with buildings. At a second view, I discovered a man in this valley, meagre indeed and naked, but his countenance was cheerful, and his deportment active. He kept his eye fixed upon the country before him, and looked as if he would have run, but that he was restrained, as the other had been impelled, by some secret influence. Sometimes, indeed, I perceived a sudden expression of pain, and sometimes he stepped short as if his foot was pierced by the asperities of the way: but the sprightliness of his countenance instantly returned, and he pressed forward without appearance of repining or complaint.
I turned again towards the angel, impatient to inquire from what secret source happiness was derived, in a situation so different from that in which it might have been expected; but he again prevented my request: "Almet," said he, "remember what thou hast seen, and let this memorial be written upon the tablet of thy heart. Remember, Almet, that the world in which thou art placed, is but the road to another; and that happiness depends not upon the path, but the end. The value of this period of thy existence, is fixed by hope and fear. The wretch who wished to linger in the garden, who looked round upon its limits with terror, was destitute of enjoyment, because he was destitute of hope, and was perpetually tormented by the dread of losing that which yet he did not enjoy. The song of the birds had been repeated till it was not heard, and the flowers had so often recurred, that their beauty was not seen; the river glided by unnoticed, and he feared to lift his eye to the prospect, lest he should behold the waste that circum
scribed it. But he that toiled through the valley was happy, because he looked forward with hope. Thus, to the sojourner upon earth, it is of little moment whether the path he treads be strewed with flowers or with thorns, if he perceives himself to approach those regions, in comparison of which the thorns and the flowers of this wilderness lose their distinction, and are both alike impotent to give pleasure or pain.
What then has eternal wisdom unequally distributed? That which can make every station happy, and without which every station must be wretched, is acquired by virtue; and virtue is possible to all. Remember, Almet, the vision which thou hast seen; and let my words be written on the tablet of thy heart, that thou mayst direct the wanderer to happiness, and justify God to man.
While the voice of Azoran was yet sounding in my ear, the prospect vanished from before me, and I found myself again sitting at the porch of the temple. The sun was gone down, the multitude was retired to rest, and the solemn quiet of midnight concurred with the resolution of my doubts, to complete the tranquillity of my mind.
Such, my son, was the vision which the prophet vouchsafed me, not for my sake only, but for thine. Thou hast sought felicity in temporal things; and therefore thou art disappointed. Let not instruction be lost upon thee; but go thy way, let thy flock clothe the naked, and thy table feed the hungry; deliver the poor from oppression, and let thy conversation be above. Thus shalt thou "rejoice in hope,' and look forward to the end of life, as the consummation of thy felicity.
Almet, in whose breast devotion kindled as he spoke, returned into the temple, and the stranger departed in peace.
I HAD lately a very remarkable dream, which made so strong an impression on me, that I remember every word of it; and if you are not better employed, you may read the relation of it as follows.
I thought I was in the midst of a very entertaining set of company, and extremely delighted in attending to a lively conversation, when, on a sudden, I perceived one of the most shocking figures that imagination can frame, advancing towards me. She was dressed in black, her skin was contracted into a thousand wrinkles, her eyes deep sunk in her head, and her complexion pale and livid as the countenance of death. Her looks were filled with terror and unrelenting severity, and her bands armed with whips and scorpions. As soon as she came near, with a horrid frown, and a voice that chilled my very blood, she bade me follow her. I obeyed, and she led me through rugged paths, beset with briers and thorns, into a deep solitary valley. Wherever she passed, the fading verdure withered beneath her steps; her pestilential breath infected the air with malignant vapours, obscured the lustre of the sun, and involved the fair face of heaven in universal gloom. Dismal howlings resounded through the forest; from every baleful tree, the night raven uttered his dreadful note; and the prospect was filled with desolation and horror. In the midst of this tremendous scene, my execrable guide addressed me in the following manner.
"Retire with me, O rash, unthinking mortal! from the vain allurements of a deceitful world; and learn, that pleasure was not designed the portion of human life. Man was born to mourn and to be wretched. This is the condition of all below the stars; and whoever endeavours to oppose it, acts in contradiction to the will of heaven. Fly then from the fatal enchantments of youth and social delight, and here consecrate the solitary hours to lamentation and wo. Misery is the duty of all sublunary beings; and every enjoyment is an offence to the Deity, who is to be worshipped only by the mortification of every sense of pleasure, and the everlasting exercise of sighs and tears.'
This melancholy picture of life quite sunk my spirits, and seemed to annihilate every principle of joy within me. I threw myself beneath a blasted yew, where the winds blew cold and dismal round my head, and dreadful apprehensions chilled my heart. Here I resolved to lie till the hand of death, which I impatiently invoked, should put an end to the niseries of a life so deplorably wretched. In this sad situation I espied on one hand of me a deep muddy river, whose heavy waves rolled on in slow, sullen murmurs. Here I determined to plunge; and was just upon the brink, when found myself suddenly drawn back. I turned about, and was
surprised by the sight of the loveliest object I had ever beheld. The most engaging charms of youth and beauty appeared in all her form; effulgent glories sparkled in her eyes, and their awful splendours were softened by the gentlest looks of campassion and peace. At her approach, the frightful spectre, who had before tormented me, vanished away, and with her all the horrors she had caused. The gloomy clouds brightened into cheerful sunshine, the groves recovered their verdure, and the whole region looked gay and blooming as the garden of Eden. I was quite transported at this unexpected change, and reviving pleasure began to gladden my thoughts; when, with a look of inexpressible sweetness, my beauteous deliverer thus uttered her divine instructions.
"My name is RELIGION. I am the offspring of TRUTH and Love, and the parent of BENEVOLENCE, HOPE, and Joy. That monster, from whose power I have freed you, is called SUPERSTITION: she is the child of DISCONTENT, and her followers are FEAR and SORROW. Thus, different as we are, she has often the insolence to assume my name and character; and seduces unhappy mortals to think us the same, till she, at length, drives them to the borders of DESPAIR, that dreadful abyss into which you were just going to sink."
"Look round, and survey the various beauties of the globe, which heaven has destined for the seat of the human race; and consider whether a world thus exquisitely framed, could be meant for the abode of misery and pain. For what end has the lavish hand of Providence diffused innumerable objects of delight, but that all might rejoice in the privilege of existence, and be filled with gratitude to the beneficent Author of it? Thus to enjoy the blessings he has sent, is virtue and obedience; and to reject them merely as means of pleasure, is pitiable ignorance, or absurd perverseness. Infinite goodness is the source of created existence. The proper tendency of every rational being, from the highest order of raptured seraphs, to the meanest rank of men, is, to rise incessantly from lower degrees of happiness to higher. They have faculties assigned them for various orders of delights."
"What!" cried I, "is this the language of RELIGION? Does she lead her votaries through flowery paths, and bid them pass an unlaborious life? Where are the painful toils of virtue, the mortifications of penitents, and the self-denying exercises of saints and heroes ?”
"The true enjoyments of a reasonable being," answered she mildly, "do not consist in unbounded indulgence, or luxurious ease, in the tumult of passions, the languor of indulgence, or the flutter of light amusements. Yielding to immoral pleasures, corrupts the mind; living to animal and trifling ones, debases it: both in their degree disqualify it for its genuine good, and consign it over to wretchedness. Whoever would be really happy, must make the diligent and regular exercise of his superior powers his chief attention : adoring the perfections of his Maker, expressing good-will to his fellow-creatures, and cultivating inward rectitude. To his lower faculties he must allow such gratifications as will, by refreshing, invigorate his nobler pursuits. In the regions inhabited by angelic natures, unmingled felicity forever blooms; joy flows there with a perpetual and abundant stream, nor needs any mound to check its course. Beings conscious of a frame of mind originally diseased, as all the human race has cause to be, must use the regimen of a stricter self-government. Whoever has been guilty of voluntary excesses, must patiently submit both to the painful workings of nature, and needful severities of medicine, in order to his cure. Still he is entitled to a moderate share of whatever alleviating accommodations this fair mansion of his merciful Parent affords, consistent with his recovery. And, in proportion as this recovery advances, the liveliest joy will spring from his secret sense of an amended and improved heart. So far from the horrors of despair is the condition even of the guilty.-Shudder, poor mortal, at the thought of the gulf into which thou wast just now going to plunge.'
"Whilst the most faulty have every encouragement to amend, the more innocent soul will be supported with still sweeter consolations under all its experience of human infirmities, supported by the gladdening assurances, that every sincere endeavour to outgrow them, shall be assisted, accepted, and rewarded. To such a one, the lowliest selfabasement is but a deep-laid foundation for the most elevated hopes; since they who faithfully examine and acknowledge what they are, shall be enabled under my conduct, to become what they desire. The Christian and the hero are inseparable; and to the aspirings of unassuming trust and filial confidence, are set no bounds. To him who is animated with a view of obtaining approbation from the Sovereign of the universe, no difficulty is insurmountable. Secure, in this pursuit, of every needful aid, his conflict with the seve