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In the fourth place, we may learn from this obfervation which we made on the mind of man, to take particular care, when we are once fettled in a regular courfe of life, how we too frequently indulge ourselves in any of the most innocent diverfions and entertainments, fince the mind may infenfibly fall off from the relish of virtuous actions, and, by degrees, exchange that pleafure which it takes in the performance of its duty, for delights of a much more inferior and unprofitable nature.
The laft ufe which I fhall make of this remarkable property in human nature, of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is to fhow how abfolutely neceffary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in, this life, if we would enjoy the pleafures of the next. The ftate of blifs we call heaven will not be capable of affecting thofe minds, which are not thus qualified for it; we muft, in this world, gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to tafte that knowledge and perfection, which are to make us happy in the next. The feeds of thofe fpiritual joys and raptures, which are to rife up and flourish in the foul to all eternity, must be planted in her, during this her prefent ftate of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect of a religious
On the other hand, thofe evil fpirits, who by long cuftom, have contracted in the body habits of luft and fenfuality, malice and revenge, an averfion to every thing that is good, juft or laudable, are naturally feafoned and prepared for pain and mifery. Their torments have already taken root in them; they cannot be happy when divefted of the body, unless we may fuppole, that providence will, in a manner, create them anew, and work a miracle in the rectification of their faculties. They may, indeed, taste a kind of malignant pleasure in thofe actions to which they are accuftomed, whilft in this life; but when they are removed from all thofe objects which are here apt to gratify them, they will naturally become their own tormentors, and cherish in themfelves thofe painful habits of mind, which are called, in fcripture phrafe, the worm which
never dies. This notion of heaven and hell is fo very conformable to the light of nature, that it was difcovered by feveral of the most exalted heathens. It has been finely improved by many eminent divines of the laft age, as in particular by Archbishop Tillotson and Dr. -Sherlock: but there is none who has raifed fuch noble fpeculations upon it as Dr. Scot in the first book of his Chriftian Life, which is one of the finest and most rational schemes of divinity that is written in our tongue, or in any other. That excellent author has fhewn how every particular cuftom and habit of virtue will, in its own nature, produce the heaven, or a state of happiness, in him who fhall hereafter practise it: as on the con- trary, how every cuftom or habit of vice will be the naItural hell of him in whom it fubfifts.
Directions how to spend our Time.
[Spectator, No. 93.]
E all of us complain of the fhortness of time, faith Seneca, and yet have much more than we - know what to do with. Our lives, faith he, are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do: we are always complaining our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. That noble philofopher has described our inconfiftency with ourfelves in this particular, by all thofe various turns of expreffion and thought which are peculiar to his writings.
I often confider mankind as wholly inconfiftent with itself in a point that bears fome affinity to the former. Though we feem grieved at the fhortness of life in general, we are wifhing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of bufinefs, then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honours, then to retire. Thus, although the whole of life is allowed by every one to be fhort, the several divifions of it appear long and tedious. We are for lengthening
lengthening our fpan in general, but would fain contract the parts of which it is compofed. The usurer would be very well fatisfied to have all the time annihilated that lies between the present moment and next quarter day. The politician would be contented to lofe three years in his life, could he place things in the pofture which he fancies they will ftand in after such a revolution of time. The lover would be glad to strike out of his existence all the moments that are to pass away before the happy meeting. Thus, as faft as our time runs, we should be very glad in most parts of our lives that it ran much faster than it does. Several hours of the day hang upon our hands, nay, we wish away whole years; and travel through time as through a country filled with many wild and empty waftes, which we would fain hurry over, that we may arrive at those feveral little fettlements or imaginary points of rest which are difperfed up and down in it.
If we may divide the life of moft men into twenty parts, we fhall find that at least nineteen of them are mere gaps and chafms, which are neither filled with pleasure nor bufinefs. I do not however include in this calculation the life of thofe men who are in a perpe. tual hurry of affairs, but of those only who are not always engaged in scenes of action; and I hope I fhall not do an unacceptable piece of fervice to thefe perfons, if I point out to them certain methods for the filling up their empty spaces of life. The methods I fhall propose to them are as follows.
The first is the exercife of virtue, in the moft general acceptation of the word. That particular scheme which comprehends the focial virtues, may give employment to the most induftrious temper, and find a man in business more than the most active ftation of life. To advife the ignorant, relieve the needy, comfort the afflicted, are duties that fall in our way almoft every day of our lives. A man has frequent opportunities of mitigating the fierceness of a party; of doing justice to the character of a deferving man; of foftening the envious, quieting the angry, and rectifying the prejudiced; which are all of them employments fuited to a reasonable nature, and
bring great fatisfaction to the person who can bufy himfelf in them with difcretion.`
There is another kind of virtue that may find employment for thofe retired hours in which we are altogether left to ourselves, and deftitute of company and converfation; I mean that intercourfe and communication which every reasonable creature ought to maintain with the great Author of his being. The man who lives under an habitual fenfe of the divine prefence, keeps up a perpetual chearfulness of temper, and enjoys every moment the fatisfaction of thinking himself in company with his dearest and beft of friends. The time never lies heavy upon him: it is impoffible for him to be alone. His thoughts and paffions are the most busied at fuch hours when thofe of other men are the most unactive: he no fooner fteps out of the world but his heart burns with devotion, fwells with hope, and triumphs in the confcioufness of that prefence which every where furrounds him; or, on the contrary, pours out its fears, its forrows, its apprehenfions, to the great fupporter of its existence.
I have here only confidered the neceffity of a man's being virtuous, that he may have fomething to do; but if we confider further, that the exercise of virtue is not only an amusement for the time it lafts, but that its influence extends to thofe parts of our existence which lie beyond the grave, and that our whole eternity is to take its colour from thofe hours which we here employ in virtue or in vice, the argument redoubles upon us, for putting in practice this method of paffing away our time.
When a man has but a little ftock to improve, and has opportunities of turning it all to good account, what fhall we think of him if he suffers nineteen parts of it to lie dead, and perhaps employs even the twentieth to his ruin or difadvantage? But because the mind cannot be always in its fervour, nor ftrained up to a pitch of virtue, it is neceffary to find out proper employments for it in its relaxations.
The next method therefore that I would propose to fill up our time, fhould be useful and innocent diver
fions.. I must confefs I think it is below reasonable creatures to be altogether converfant in fuch diverfions as are merely innocent, and have nothing else to recommend them but that there is no hurt in them. Whether any kind of gaming has even thus much to fay for itself, I fhall not determine; but I think it is very wonderful to fee perfons of the best fense paffing away a dozen hours together in fhuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no other converfation but what is made up of a few game phrafes, and no other ideas but thofe of black or red fpots ranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of his fpecies complaining that life is fhort?
The ftage might be made a perpetual fource of the moft noble and ufeful entertainments, were it under proper regulations.
But the mind never unbends itself fo agreeably as in the converfation of a well-chofen friend. There is indeed no bleffing of life that is any way comparable to the enjoyment of a difcreet and virtuous friend. It eafes and unloads the mind, clears and improves the understanding, engenders thoughts and knowledge, animates virtue and good refolution, fooths and allays the paffions, and finds employment for most of the vacant hours of life.
Next to fuch an intimacy with a particular perfon, one would endeavour after a more general converfation with fuch as are able to entertain and improve those with whom they converfe, which are qualifications that feldom go afunder.
There are many other ufeful amufements of life, which one would endeavour to multiply, that one might on all occafions have recourfe to fomething rather than suffer the mind to lie idle, or run adrift with any paffion that chances to rife in it.
A man that has a tafte in mufick, painting, or architecture, is like one that has another fenfe when compared with fuch as have no relifh of thofe arts. The florift, the planter, the gardener, the hufbandman, when they are only as accomplishments to the man of fortune, are great reliefs to a country life, and many ways useful to those who are poffeffed of them.