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into a becoming diffidence.
Such will be
the effects of religion upon your heart, if you are properly impressed with its influence. If you have not the spirit of Christ, you are none of his. This is a criterion by which to judge of your progress in virtue. Is your temper improved by the consideration of your obligations to God, and the idea of his presence? Do you in the general tenour of your behaviour follow the bent of your inclinations, or do you in every action consider how you may please him? If you are inclined to form an uncharitable opinion of your companions, do you check the first unkind suspicion, by the recollection that Christ has enjoined you not to behold the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but first to pull the beam out of thine own eye? Are you ready to make up any disagreement when your passions would dispose you to increase the anger of the contending parties? Because your Master has blessed the peace-makers, and promised that they shall be called the children of God. In short, to sum up all, examine impartially on what motives you have proceeded hitherto; and if you find that your best deeds have been rather the result of a favourable
situation, than owing to any particular merit in the design, and that you have usually been guided by that desire which at the time was most powerful; it will become you to be more vigilant for the future, since such a degree of goodness may be called fortu. nate, rather than pious, and implies little merit in the performer. A good Christian will be the same in his disposition, however his outward circumstances may change. He will suit his behaviour to his trials; and he who is grateful, benevolent, and humble in a prosperous state, would not fail in his duty from any change of situation; because he considers his condition as appointed by God, and whether he is happy or afflicted, whether he bestows good on others, or receives assistance from them, it can make no difference in his heart; his conduct must be accommodated to his state; but the governing principle which actuates him is still the same, to conform to the will of God, and to practise every virtue which is in his power. However difficult such a constant regulation of temper may appear, we should always aim at perfection. The best men you have seen have yielded to their infirmities; but it is only the wicked who
suffer these infirmities habitually to prevail. Peter never after denied his Lord: but Saul permitted his dislike of David to increase, though it could not prevent him from becoming the king of Israel. Our base designs may ruin our own souls, but cannot alter the determinations of Providence. Therefore it is wise, as well as virtuous, to be kind and tender-hearted; and be persuaded, whatever difficulties may beset you, "not to be weary in well doing, for in due shall reap if you faint not."
ON GOOD TEMPER.
AMONG the qualities which recommend
esteem, there is more pleasing, It is indeed a
a young person to general no one more essential, or than sweetness of temper. powerful and attractive charm, that binds us to those who possess it at every period of life; and when joined to excellence and virtue, it is truly irresistible. Good nature will of itself atone for the want of many personal graces and excuse a thousand in
advertent actions, which would without it occasion anger and disgust. But to be effectual and lasting, it must be founded on a firm basis: it must arise from a sense of duty, and be seated in the heart. liness of spirit, and gaiety of deportment very common in youth, and arising from high health and unconcern, may exist for a time, and shoot forth the bright flashes of unmeaning mirth; but it will be darkened and obscured by the vexations of life, it will be soured by disappointment, enraged by provocation, and sickened by envy. In the hour of disease and calamity it will languish, and all its placid smiles and gentle demeanour be changed into the frown of discontent, and the language of petulance. But where such an alteration takes place, however delightful may have been the former appearance, it was the shadow, not the substance of a good temper. This amiable principle is one of those gifts which come down from the Father of light; and, like the Divine Author, has no variableness, or shadow of turning. It may be ruffled for a moment, but cannot be long interrupted. Its brightness, like the sun, may admit a passing cloud, but will soon break out with
new effulgence, and cheer every object within its reach: while I endeavour to paint the excellence of this engaging quality, look round, my young friend, on all with whom you are connected or acquainted, and ingenuously acknowledge who are most the objects of your love. Without waiting for the slow decisions of reason, or the cool arguments of prudence, does not your heart. immediately answer in favour of those whom you imagine to be the best tempered? Reflection may correct your judgment, and point out excellencies truly valuable in those who are unhappily of less amiable manners; but good-nature is so striking in its effects, and its influence is so universally felt, that every vote must be unanimous to allow its claim, and own it is the disposition, of all others, that mankind the most delight to honour.
Yet although a good temper is so generally commended, it is not so commonly seen. We often praise the virtues we want` resolution to imitate; and it is easier to be. stow applause than to be steady in practice. Every one has sensibility to feel the wounds of a bitter reply, and the warmth of spirit to kindle into resentment at an injurious