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XLI. The Pleasures of Religion and Virtue,
LIII. The same subject, continued,...
PLEASURE'S the mistress of ethereal powers;
As pleasure was ordained of God for the use of man, its lawful and moderate enjoyment is not a vice, but an amiable virtue. It cheers and strengthens his physical and moral nature; it fits him for the performance of the duties of life; and it excites him to a rational and manly preparation for a better world, where pleasure, in its most exalted character, exists without alloy. Holy Writ encourages man to rejoice in all his honest labours, for it is his portion under the sun; yet so to enjoy life's present good, as never to forget the account which he must finally render of its use. Indulgence in the corrupt and mistaken pleasures of life, was never sanctioned ↳ any of the wiser heathens. Pleasure that imp s our abilities, that leaves a sting behind, and brings with it sorrow and remorse, was censured by Epicurus himself; but legitimate gratification, lawfully used, is,
without doubt, an emanation of goodness from a beneficent Creator, for the blessing and consolation of mankind. In that course of conduct, therefore, which, with a little fleeting pleasure, entails future and perhaps eternal misery, a prudent man will never engage.
To assist the young, the inexperienced, and the ignorant, in the true enjoyment of life,-to point out what is really to be sought after, and what to be avoided,―to guard them against errors, which, in the pursuit of this universal good, too frequently imbitter its enjoyment,-is the object of the present work. The ideas and sentiments of the most esteemed authors, are blended with the subjects, as they proceed. Where the quotations are direct, the authorities are generally given; but in a few cases, where the original has been condensed, and the language necessarily altered, to adapt it to this volume, such acknowledgments are omitted. In the compilation, some hundreds of books have been consulted; and in the arrangement of the whole, the author has endeavoured to form such a compendium as may be read with delight and improvement by persons of both sexes, and of every degree. He has endeavoured to trace man from the cradle to the tomb, cautioning him against the thorns and briers with which his path is interspersed, and pointing out the innocent flowers that variegate and enliven it. His aim has been to diminish the pains, whilst contributing to the pleasures of human life: but how far he may have succeeded in his design, he leaves to the determination of a discerning Public.
Doncaster, October 1st, 1822.
CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH
Youth, sweet season of delight,
PROVIDENCE has with a bountiful hand prepared a variety of pleasures for the various stages of life. When the infant man first makes his entrance into the world, all things look fresh and gay; and every little glitter, or gaudy colour, charms the enraptured stranger. The pleasures of childhood and youth are cheap, and easy of access; they are attended with the most pure and guiltless joy. They exalt the spirits, produce health to the body, and satisfaction to the mind. Great indeed are the delights attending the gradual
openings of the imagination, and the dawnings of reason. The most blooming hopes assist the infant soul in the ascent of life; and whatever may be the lot of the future man, childhood is careless and sportive, "a stranger yet to pain." Whatever clouds remain for the brow of manhood, the forehead of youth is usually clear and smooth. The first years of almost every life are sunshine and serenity. Then, at least, every pulse is health; every pillow is peace; every feeling, rapture; every object, novelty; every prospect, hope. Of children, Gray observes :
Gay hope is their's, by fancy fed,
There is a captivation in the smile of infant innoence, in its smooth and benign features,-and in its unwrinkled brow, which touches every tender chord of the human heart, and inspires the breast with the soft flow of those benevolent sensations, which language fails in describing :
in youth's gay morn,
The benevolent Saviour of the world looked upon little children with delight. He admired their artlessness and innocence, and gladly saw in them the seeds of qualities most congenial with his own disposition, and most resembling the natural fruits of his religion. Nor will the sight of playful childhood ever fail to excite in the breast of the true followers of Jesus, strong sensations of sympathy, complacency, and fondness.-Trifles please and delight children and youth :
Behold the child, by nature's kindly law,