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storm, went bleating up to the sobbing shepherdess, and laid its head on her knees.
The evening had sunk down upon the glen, but the tempest was over, and though the torrents had not yet begun to subside, there was now a strong party, and no danger in their all journeying homewards together. One large star arose in heaven—and a wide white glimmer over a breaking mass of clouds told that the moon was struggling through, and in another hour, if the upper current of air flowed on, would be appārent. No persuasion could induce little Flora to leave the Shealing—and Hamish Frazer was left to sit with her all night beside the bed. So the company departed -and as they descended into the great glen, they heard the wild wail of the pipe, mixing with the sound of the streams and the moaning of cliffs and caverns. It was Hamish Frazer pouring out a lament on the green before the Shealing—a mournful but martial tune, which the old soldier had loved, and which, if there were any superstitious thoughts in the soul of him who was playing, might be supposed to sooth the spirit yet lingering in the dark hollow of his native mountains.
LESSON CLXI. Religion and Superstition contrasted.--Mrs. CARTER. 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 hands 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 vapors, 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 as 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 endeavors 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 miseries 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 mur
Here I determined to plunge ; and was just upon the brink, when I 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 splendors were softened by the gentlest looks of compassion 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 pārent 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 goodwill to his fellow-creatures, and cultivating inward rectitude. To his lower faculties he must allow such gratifications as will, by refreshing, invigorate him for nobler pursuits. In the regions inhabited by angelic natures, unmingled felicity for ever 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 Pārent 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 endeavor to outgrow them, shall be assisted, accepted, and rewarded. To such a one, the lowliest self-abasement 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 insepa rable; 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 severest pains and trials, is little more than the vigorous exercises of a mind in health. His patient dependence on that Providence which looks through all eternity, his silent résignation,* his ready accommodation of his thoughts and behavior to its inscrutable ways, are at once the most excellent sort of self-denial, and a source of the most exalted transports. Society is the true sphere of human virtue. In social, active life, difficulties will perpetually be met with ; restraints of many kinds will be necessary; and studying to behave right in respect of these, is a discipline of the human heart, useful to others, and improving to itself. Suffering is no duty, but where it is necessary to avoid guilt, or to do good; nor pleasure a crime, but where it strengthens the influence or bad inclinations, or lessens the generous activity of virtue. The happiness allotted to man in his present state, is indeed faint and low, compared with his immortal prospects, and noble capacities : but yet whatever portion of it the distributing hand of heaven offers to each individual, is a' needful support and refreshment for the present moment, so far as it may not hinder the attaining of his final destination.
* Pron. réz-zig-na'-tion.
“ Return then with me from continual misery, to moderate enjoyment, and grateful alacrity: return from the contracted views of solitude, to the proper duties of a relative and dependent' being. Religion is not confined to cells and closets, nor restrained to sullen retirement. These are the gloomy doctrines of Superstition, by which she endeavors to break those chains of benevolence and social affection, that link the welfare of every particular with that of the whole. Remember that the greatest honor you can pay the Author of your being, is a behavior so cheerful as discovers a mind satisfied with his dispensations.”
Here my preceptress paused; and I was going to express my acknowledgments for her discourse, when a ring of bells from the neighboring village, and the new risen sun darting his beams through my windows, awoke me.
Rolls through the woods—they send its accents back,