Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ne eye

rice, superstition, despair, love, with the like cares and pas. sions that infest human life.

13. I here fetched a deep sigh : Alas, said I, man was made in vain ! how is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and swallowed up in death! The genius being moved with compassion towards me, bid me quit so uncomfortable a prospect. Look no more, said he, on man in the first stage of his existence, in his setting out for eternity ; but cast on that thick mist into which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall into it..

14. I directed my sight as I was ordered, and (whether or no the good genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or dissipated part of the mist that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate) I saw the valley opening at the farther end, and spreading forth into an immense ocean, that had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it, and dividing it into two equal parts. The clouds still rested on one half of it, insomuch that I could discover nothing in it; but the other appeared to me a vast ocean planted with innumerable islands that were covered with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them.

15. I could see persons dressed in glorious habits with garlands upon their heads passing among the trees, lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers: and could hear a confused harmony of singing birds, falling waters, human voices, and musical instruments. Gladness grew in me at the discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats; but the genius told me there was no passage to them, except through the gates of death that I saw opening every moment upon the bridge.

16. The islands, said he, that lie so fresh and green before thee, and with which the whole face of the ocean appears spotted as far as thou canst see, are more in number than the sand on the sea shore; there are myriads of islands behind those which thou here discoverest, reaching further than thine eye, or even thine imagination can extend itself. These are the mansions of good men after death, who according to the degree and kinds of virtue in which they excelled, and distributed among these seva eral islands, which abound with pleasures of different kinds and degrees, suitable to the relishes and perfections of those who are settled in them; every island is a Paradise accommodated to its respective inhabitants.

17. Are not these, O Mirza, habitations worth contending for? Does life appear miserable, that gives thee opportunities of earning such a reward ? Is death to be feared that will convey thee to so happy an existence? Think not man was made in

vain, who has such an eternity reserved for him. I gazed with inexpressible pleasure on these happy islands. At length, said I, shew me now, I beseech thee, the secrets that lie hid under those dark clouds, which cover the ocean on the other side of the rock of adamant.

18. The genius making me no answer, I turned about to address myself to him a second time, but I found that he had left me; I then turned again to the vision which I had been so long contemplating: but instead of the rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw nothing but the long hollow valley of Bagdat, with oxen, sheep and camels grazing upon the sides of it.

Riches not productive of Happiness ; the Story of Ortogrul of

Basra.

IDLER, No. 99. 1. S Ortogrul of Basra was one day wandering along the

dise which the shops offered to his view, and observing the different occupations which busied the multitudes on every side, he was awakened from the tranquillity of meditation by a croud that obstructed his passage. He raised his eyes, and saw the chief visier, who having returned from the divan, was entering his palace.

2. Ortogrul mingled with the attendants, and being supposed to have some petition for the visier, was permitted to enter.

He surveyed the spaciousness of the apartments, admired the walls lung with golden tapestry and the floors covered with silken carpets, and despised the simple neatness of his own little habitation.

3. Surely, said he to himself, this place is the seat of happiness where pleasure succeeds to pleasure, and discontent and sorrow can have no admission. Whatever nature has provided for the delight of sense, is here spread forth to be enjoyed. What can mortals hope or imagine which the master of this palace has not obtained; The dishes of luxury cover his table, the voice of harmony lulls him in his bowers; he breathes the fragrance of the groves of Java, and sleeps upon the down of the cygnets of Ganges.--He speaks, and his mandate is obeyed, he wishes, and his wish is gratified! all whom he sees obey him, and all whom he hears flatter him.

4. How different, Ortogrul, is thy condition, who art doomed to the perpetual torments of unsatisfied desire, and who hast no amusement in thy power that can withhold thee from thy own reflections. They tell thee that thou art wise, but what does wisdom avail with poverty ? None will flatter the poor, and the wise

have very little power of flattering themselves. That man is surely the most wretched of the sons of wretchedness who lives with his own faults and follies always before him, and who has none to reconcile him to himself by praise and veneration. I have long sought content, and have not found it; I will from this moment endeavour to be rich.

5. Full of his new resolution, he shut himself in his chamber for six months, to deliberate how he should grow rich; he sometimes proposed to offer himself as a counsellor to one of the kings of India, and sometimes resolved to dig for diamonds in the mines of Golconda. One day, after some hours passed in violent fluctuation of opinion, sleep insensibly seized him in his chair ; he dreamed that he was rạnging a desert country in search of some one who might teach him to grow rich; and as he stood on the top of a hill shaded with cyprus, in doubt whether to direct his steps, his father appeared on a sudden, standing before him.

6. Ortogrul, said the old man, I know thy perplexity; listen to thy father; turn thine eyes on the opposite mountain. Ortogrul looked, and saw a torrent tumbling down the rocks, roaring with the noise of thunder, and scattering its foam on the impending woods. Now, said his father behold the valley that lies between the hills.

7. Ortogrul looked and espied a little well, out of which issued a small rivulet. Tell me now, said his father, dost thou wishi for sudden affluence, that may pour upon thee like the mountain torrent, or for a slow and gradual increase, resembling the rill gliding from the well ? Let me be quickly rich said Ortogrul ; let the golden stream be quick and violent.

8. Look around thee, said his father, once again. Ortogrul. looked, and perceived the channel of the torrent dry and dusty; but following the rivulet from the well, he traced it to a wide lake, which the supply, slow and constant, kept always full

. He awaked, and determined to grow rich by silent profit and persevering industry.

9. Having sold his patrimony, he engaged in merchandise, and in twenty years purchased lands on which he raised a house, equal in sumptuousness to that of the visier, to which lie invited all the ministers of pleasure, expecting to er.joy all the felicity which he had imagined riches able to afford. Leisure soon made him weary of himself, and he longed to be persuaded that he was great and happy. He was courteous and liberal ; he

all who approached him hopes of pleasing him, and all who should please him hopes of being rewarded. Every art of praise was uried, and every source of adulatory fiction was exhausted.

gave

10. Ortogrul heard his flatters without delight, because he found himself unable to believe them. Ilis own heart told him

its frailties, his own understanding reproached him with its faults. How long, said he, with a deep sigh, have I been labouring in vain to amass wealth which at last is useless. Let.no man hereafter wish to be rich, who is already too wise to be flattered.

Of the Scriptures, as the Rule of life. 1. S you advance in years and understanding, I hope youChristian religion, and that you will be convinced on rational grounds, of its divine authority. At present such inquiries would demand more study, and greater powers of reasoning, than your age admits of. It is your part therefore, till you are capable of understanding the proofs, to believe your parents and teachers, that the holy scriptures are writings inspired by God, containing, a true history of facts, in which we are deeply concerned-a true recital of the laws given by God to Moses, and of the precepts of our blessed Lord and Saviour, delivered from his own mouth to his disciples, and repeated and enlarged upon in the edifying epistles of his Apostles—who were men chosen from amongst those who had the advantage of conversing with our Lord, to bear witness of his miracles and resurrection-and who,.. after his ascension, were assisted and inspired by the Holy Ghost.

2. This sacred volume must be the rule of your life. will find all truths necessary to be believed; and plain and easy directions for the practice of every duty-Your bible then must be your chief study and delight; but as it contains many various kinds of writing, some parts obscure and difficult of interpretation, others plain and intelligible to the meanest capacity, I would chiefly recommend to your frequent perusal, such parts of the sacred writings as are most adapted to your understanding, and most necessary for your instruction..

3, Our Saviour's precepts were spoken to the common people amongst the Jews ; and were therefore given in a manner easy to be understood, and equally striking and instructive to the learned and unlearned; for the most ignorant may comprehend them, whilst the wisest must be charmed and awed by the beautiful and majestic simplicity with which they are expressed. Of the same kind are the Ten Commandments, deli red by God to Moses ; which as they were designed for universal laws, are worded in the most concise and simple manner, yet with a majesty, which commands our utmost reverences: 4. I think you will receive great pleasure,

as well as improvement, from the historical book of the Old Testament provided. you read them as an history, in regular course, and keep the ibread of it in your mind as you go on. I know of none, true

In it you.

or fictious, that is equally wonderful, interesting and affecting; or that is told in so short and simple a manner as this, which is of all histories the most authentic.

5. I shall give you some brief directions, concerning the method and course I wish you to pursue, in reading the Holy Scriptures. May you be enabled to make the best use of the most precious gift of God--this sacred treasure of knowledge ! May you read the Bible, not as a-task, nor as the dull employment of ihat day only in which you are forbidden more lively entertainments, but with a sincere and ardent desire of instruction; with that love and delight in God's word, which the holy Psalmist so pathetically felt and described, and which is the natural consequence of loving God and virtue.

6. Though I speak this of the Bible in general, I would not be understood to mean, that every part of the volume is equally interesting. I have already said, that it consists of various matter, and various kinds of books which must be read with different views and sentiments.

7. The having some general notion of what you are to expect from each book may possibly help you to understand them. I shall treat you as if you were perfectly ignorant of the whole; for so I wish you to consider yourself; because the time and manner in which children usually read the Bible, are very ill calculated to make them really acquainted with it; and too many people who have read it thus, without und rstanding it in their youth, satisfy themselves that they know enough of it, and never afterwards. study it with attention when they come to a mature age.

8. If the feelings of your heart, whilst you read, correspond: with these of mine whilst I write, I shall not be without the advantage of your partial affection, to give weight to my advice; for, believe me, my heart and eyes overflow with tenderness, when I tell you how warm and earnest my prayers are for your happiness here and hereafter.

Of Genesis. 9. I NOW proceed to give you some short sketches of the matter contained in the different books of the Bible, and of the course in which they ought to be read.

10. The first book, Genesis, contains the most grand, and to us, the most interesting events, that ever happened in the universe : The creation of the world and of man; The deplorable fall of man from his first state of excellence and bliss, to the distressed condition in which we see all his descendants continue:The sentence of death pronounced on Adam, and all his racewith the reviving promise of that deliverance, which has since been wrought for us by our blessed Saviour: The account of the

« ForrigeFortsett »