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It is our comfort, while we are obnoxious to so many accidents, that we are under the care of one who directs contingencies, and has in his hands the management of every thing that is capable of annoying or offending us; who knows the assistance we stand in need of, and is always ready to bestow it on those who ask it of him.
The natural homage, which such a creature bears to so infin. itely wise and good a being, is a firm reliance on him for the blessings and conveniencies of life, and an habitual trust in him for deliverance out of all such dangers and difficulties as may befal us.
The man, who always lives in this disposition of mind, has not the same dark and melancholy views of human nature, as he who considers himself abstractedly from this relation to the Supreme Being. At the same time that he reflects upon his own weakness and imperfection, he comforts himself with the contemplation of those divine attributes, which are employed for his safety and his welfare. He finds his want of foresight made up by the omniscience of him who is his support. He is not sensible of his own want of strength, when he knows that his helper is almighty. In short, the person who has a firm trust on the Supreme Being, is powerful in his power, wise by his wisdom, happy by his happiness. He reaps the benefit of every divine attribute, and loses his own insufficiency in the fulness of infinite perfection.
To make our lives more easy to us, we are commanded to put our trust in him, who is thus able to relieve and succour us; the divine goodness having made such a reliance a duty, notwithstanding we should have been miserable, had it been forbidden us.
Among several motives, which might be made use of to recommend this duty to us, I shall only take notice of these that follow.
The first and strongest is, that we are promised, He will not fail those who put their trust in him.
But without considering the supernatural blessing which accompanies this duty, we may observe that it has a natural tendency to its own reward, or in other words, that this firm trust and confidence in the great disposer of all things, contributes very much to the getting clear of any affliction, or to the bearing it manfully. A person who believes he has his succour at hand, and that he acts in the sight of his friend, often exerts himself beyond his abilities, and does wonders that are not to be matched by one who is not animated with such a confidence of success. I could produce instances from history, of generals, who out of a belief that they were under the protection of some invisible assistant, did not only encourage their soldiers to do their utmost, but have acted themselves beyond what they would have done, had they not been inspired by such a belief. I might in the same manner shew how such a trust in the assistance of an almighty being, naturally produces patience, hope, chearfulness, and all other dispositions of the mind that alleviate those calamities we are not able to remove.
The practice of this virtue administers great comfort to the mind of man in times of poverty and affliction, but most of all in the hour of death. When the soul is hovering in the last moments of its separation, when it is just entering on another state of existence, to converse with scenes, and objects, and companions that are altogether new, what can support her under such tremblings of thought, such fear, such anxiety, such apprehensions, but the casting of all her cares upon him who first gave her being,
To the bearing it. When the participle with the preceding article the, is made use of, it becomes a substantive, and should, therefore, be followed by the genitive, not the accusative, case. He said before" to the getting clear of," which was right: he should here have said "to the bearing of it."—H.
who has conducted her through one stage of it, and will be always with her to guide and comfort her in her progress through eternity?
David has very beautifully represented this steady reliance on God Almighty in his twenty-third psalm, which is a kind of Pastoral Hymn, and filled with those allusions which are usual in that kind of writing. As the poetry is very exquisite, I shall present my reader with the following translation of it.
The lord my pasture shall prepare,
When in the sultry glebe I faint,
Tho' in the paths of death I tread,
Tho' in a bare and rugged way,
Through devious lonely wilds I stray,
Thy bounty shall my pains beguile:
The barren wilderness shall smile
With sudden greens and herbage crown'd,
And streams shall murmur all around.
The author's devout turn of mind, and exquisite taste, mutually as
No. 445. THURSDAY, JULY 31.
Tanti non es ais. Sapis, Luperce.
MART. Epig. 1. 118.
You say, Lupercus, what I write
I'n't worth so much, you're in the right.
This is the day on which many eminent authors will probably publish their last words.' I am afraid that few of our weekly historians, who are men that above all others delight in war, will be able to subsist under the weight of a stamp, and an approaching peace. A sheet of blank paper that must have this new imprimatur clapt upon it, before it is qualified to communicate any thing to the public, will make its way in the world but very heavily. In short, the necessity of carrying a stamp, and the improbability of notifying a bloody battle, will, I am afraid, both concur to the sinking of those thin folios, which have every other day retailed to us the history of Europe for several years last past. A facetious friend of mine, who loves a pun, calls this present mortality among authors, the fall of the leaf.'
I remember, upon Mr. Baxter's death, there was published a sheet of very good sayings, inscribed, The Last Words of Mr.
'The allusion is to a stamp duty of a half penny for every half sheet, which was to go into force on the next day, Aug. 1. "Have you seen the red stamp" writes Swift. "Methinks the stamping is worth a half penny. The Observator is fallen: the Medleys are jumbled together with the Flying Post: the Examiner is deadly sick. The Spectator keeps up and doubles its price."-V. Swift's Works, vol.-p.—G.
sisted each other in composing these divine hymns, of which we have several specimens in the course of the Spectator. As the sentiments are highly poetical in themselves, and taken, for the most part, from inspired scripture, his true judgment suggested to him, that the splendour of them was best preserved in a pure and simple expression: and the fervour of his piety, made that simplicity pathetic.-H.
Baxter. The title sold so great a number of these papers, that about a week after, there came out a second sheet, inscribed, More Last Words of Mr. Baxter. In the same manner, I have reason to think, that several ingenious writers, who have taken their leave of the public, in farewel papers, will not give over so, but intend to appear again, though perhaps under another form, and with a different title. Be that as it will, it is my business, in this place, to give an account of my own intentions, and to acquaint my reader with the motives by which I act in this great crisis of the republic of letters.
I have been long debating in my own heart, whether I should throw up my pen, as an author that is cashiered by the act of parliament, which is to operate within these four-and-twenty hours, or whether I should still persist in laying my speculations from day to day, before the public. The argument which prevails with me most on the first side of the question is, that I am informed by my bookseller he must raise the price of every single paper to two-pence, or that he shall not be able to pay the duty of it. Now as I am very desirous my readers should have their learning as cheap as possible, it is with great difficulty that I comply with him in this particular.
However, upon laying my reasons together in the balance, I find that those which plead for the continuance of this work, have much the greater weight. For, in the first place, in recompence for the expence to which this will put my readers, it is to be hoped they may receive from every paper so much instruction, as will be a very good equivalent. And, in order to this, I would not advise any one to take it in, who, after the perusal of it, does not find himself two-pence the wiser, or the better man for it; or who, upon examination, does not believe that he has had two-pennyworth of mirth or instruction for his money.
But I must confess there is another motive which prevails