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litude, and fill up that uncomfortable blank in the heart in such a situation; for notwithstanding all we meet with in books, in many of which, no doubt, there are a good many handsome things said upon the sweets of retirement, &c.
yet still "it is not good for a man to be alone :”nor can all which the cold-hearted pedant stuns our ears with upon the subject, ever give one answer of satisfaction to the mind;- -in the midst of the loudest vauntings of philosophy, Nature will have her yearning for society and friendship. A good heart wants some object to be kind to; and the best parts of our blood, and the purest of our spirits, suffer most under the destitution.
Let the torpid monk seek heaven comfortless and alone-GOD speed him! For my own part, I fear I should never so find the way. Let me be wise and religious, but let me be MAN: whereever thy providence places me, or whatever be the road I take to get to thee, give me some companion in my journey, be it only to remark to, How our shadows lengthen as the sun goes down, to whom I may say, How fresh is the face of nature! How sweet the flowers of the field! How delicious are these fruits!
Alas! with bitter herbs, like his passover, did the Levite eat them: For, as they thus walked the path of life together, she wantonly turned aside into another, and fled from him.
It is the mild and quiet half of the world,.who are generally outraged and borne down by the other half of it: `But in this they have the advantage, whatever be the sense of their wrongs, that pride stan's not so watchful a centinel over their forgiveness, as it does in the breasts of the fierce and froward: We should all of us, I believe, be more forgiving than we are, would the world but give us leave; but it is apt to interpose its ill of fices in remissions, especially of this kind: The
truth is, it has its laws, to which the heart is not always a party; and acts so like an unfeeling engine in all cases, without distinction, that it requires all the firmness of the most settled humanity to bear up against it.
Many a bitter conflict would the Levite have to sustain with himself, his concubine, and the sentiments of his tribe, upon the wrong done him; much matter for pleading, and many an embar rassing account on all sides. In a period of four whole months, every passion would take its empire by turns; and, in the ebbs and flows of the less unfriendly ones, PITY would find some moments to be heard,- -RELIGION herself would not be silent,-CHARITY Would have much to say; and, thus attuned, every object he beheld on the borders of mount Ephraim,every grot and grove he passed by, would solicit the recollection of former kindness, and awaken an advocate in her behalf, more powerful than them all.
"I grant-I grant it all," he would cry"it is foul! it is faithless!-but why is the door "of mercy to be shut forever against it? and, 66 why is it to be the only sad crime that the in"jured may not remit, or reason or imagination 66 pass over without a scar? Is it the blackest ?"In what catalogue of human offences is it so "marked? Or is it, that, of all others, it is a "blow most grievous to be endured? -The "heart cries out, It is so but let me ask my own, "What passions are they which give edge and "force to this weapon which has struck me? "and, whether it is not my own pride, as much "as my virtues, which at this moment excite "the greatest part of that intolerable anguish in "the wound which I am laying to her charge? “But merciful heaven! was it otherwise, why is 66 an unhappy creature of thine to be persecuted "by me with so much cruel revenge and ran
"corous despite, as my first transport called for? "Have faults no extenuations ?-Makes it no"thing, that, when the trespass was commited, "she forsook the partner of her guilt, and fled "directly to her father's house? And is there no "difference betwixt one propensly going out of
the road, and continuing there thro' depravity "of will, and a hapless wanderer straying by "delusion, and warily treading back her steps? "-Sweet is the look of sorrow for an offence (( in a heart determined never to commit it <C more !-Upon that altar only, could I offer up my wrongs. Cruel is the punishment which an "ingenuous mind will take upon itself, from the 66 remorse of so hard a trespass against me; and, "if that will not balance the account-just God! "let me forgive the rest. Mercy well becomes "the heart of all thy creatures, but most of thy servant, a Levite, who offers up so many daily "sacrifices to thee, for the transgressions of thy "people.
66 But to little purpose," he would add, "have "I served at thy altar, where my business was to (C sue for mercy, had I not learned to practise it." Peace and happiness rest upon the head and heart of every man who can thus think.
So he arose, and went after her to speak friendly to her-in the original, "to speak to her heart ;" to apply to their former endearments, and to ask, how she could be so unkind to him, and so very unkind to herself?
Even the upbraidings of the quiet and relenting are sweet Not like the strivings of the fierce and inexorable, who bite and devour all who have thwarted them in their way; but they are calm and courteous, like the spirit which watches over their character. How could such a temper woo the damsel, and not bring her back? or, how could the father of the damsel, in such a scene,
have a heart open to any impressions, but those mentioned in the text?-that when he saw him, he rejoiced to meet him; urged his stay from day to day, with that most irresistible of all invitations" Comfort thy heart, and tarry all night, and "let thine heart be merry."
If Mercy and Truth thus met together in settling this account, Love would surely be of the party : Great-great is its power in cementing what has been broken, and wiping out wrongs even from the memory itself: And so it was,-for the Levite arose up, and, with him, his concubine and his servant, and they departed.
It serves no purpose to pursue the story farther; the catastrophe is horrid, and would lead us beyond the particular purpose for which I have enlarged upon thus much of it, and that is, to discredit rash judgment, and illustrate, from the manner of conducting this drama, the courtesy which the dramatis persona of every other piece, may have a right to. Almost one half of our time is spent in telling and hearing evil of one another: Some unfortunate knight is always upon this stage, and every hour brings forth something strange and terrible, to fill up our discourse and our astonishment, "How people can be so foolish !"—and it is well if the compliment ends there: So that there is not a social virtue, for which there is so constant a demand,-or consequently, so well worth cultivating, as that which opposes this unfriendly current;— -many and rapid, are the springs which feed it, and various and sudden, God knows, are the gusts which render it unsafe to us in this short passage of our lives. Let us make the discourse as serviceable as we can, by tracing some of the most remarkable of them up to their source.
And first, there is one miserable inlet to this evil, and which, by the way, if speculation is sup
posed to precede practise, may have been derived, for aught I know, from some of our busiest inquirers after Nature, and that is, when, with more zeal than knowledge, we account for phenomena, before we are sure of their existence.-It is not the manner of the Romans to condemn any man to death (much less to be martyred) said Festus ;and doth our law judge any man, before it hear him and know what he doeth ? cried Nicodemus; and he that answereth, or determineth a matter before he has heard it,-it is folly and a shame unto him.We are generally in such haste to make our own decrees, that we pass over the justice of these ; and then the scene is so changed by it, that it is our own folly only which is real, and that of the accused, which is imaginary: Thro' too much precipitancy it will happen so, and then the jest is spoiled, or we have criticised our Own shadow.
A second way is, when the process goes on more orderly, and we begin with getting information, but do it from those suspected evidences, against which our SAVIOUR warns us, when he bids us "not to judge according to appearance ;"in truth, it is behind these, that most of the things which blind human judgment, lie concealed: And, on the contrary, there are many things which appear to be, which are not.-Christ came eating and drinking,-behold a wine-bibber -he sat with sinners; he was their friend :- -In many cases of which kind, Truth, like a modest matron, scorns art, and disdains to press herself forwards into the circle to be seen :- -Ground sufficient for Suspicion to draw up the libel, for Malice to give the torture, or rash Judgment to start up and pass a final sentence.
A third way is, when the facts which denote misconduct, are less disputable, but are commented upon with an asperity of censure, which a huVOL. III. R