After having mention’d these two great Principles, which are destructive of Chearfulness in their own Nature, as well as in right Reason, I cannot think of any other that ought to banish this happy Temper from a Virtuous Mind. Pain and Sickness, Shame and Reproach, Poverty and old Age, nay Death it self, considering the Shortness of their Duration, and the Advantage we may reap from them, do not deserve the Name of Evils. A good Mind may bear up under them with Fortitude, with Indolence and with Chearfulness of Heart. The tossing of a Tempest does not discompose him, which he is sure will bring him to a Joyful Harbour.
A Man, who uses his best endeavours to live according to the Dictates of Virtue and right Reason, has two perpetual Sources of Chearfulness; in the Consideration of his own Nature, and of that Being on whom he has a Dependance. If he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that Existence, which is so lately bestowed upon him, and which, after Millions of Ages, will be still new, and still in its Beginning. How many Self-Congratulations naturally arise in the Mind, when it reflects on this its Entrance into Eternity, when it takes a View of those improveable Faculties, which in a few Years, and even at its first setting out, have made so considerable a Progress, and which will be still receiving an Increase of Perfection, and consequently an Increase of Happiness? The Consciousness of such a Being spreads a perpetual Diffusion of Joy through the Soul of a virtuous Man, and makes him look upon himself every Moment as more happy than he knows how to conceive.
The second Source of Chearfulness to a good Mind, is its Consideration of that Being on whom we have our Dependance, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint Discoveries of his Perfections, we see every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find our selves every where upheld by his Goodness, and surrounded with an Immensity of Love and Mercy. In short, we depend upon a Being, whose Power qualifies him to make us happy by an Infinity of Means, whose Goodness and Truth engage him to make those happy who desire it of him, and whose Unchangeableness will secure us in this Happiness to all Eternity.
Such Considerations, which every one should perpetually cherish in his Thoughts, will banish, from us all that secret Heaviness of Heart which unthinking Men are subject to when they lie under no real Affliction, all that Anguish which we may feel from any Evil that actually oppresses us, to which I may likewise add those little Cracklings of Mirth and Folly that are apter to betray Virtue than support it; and establish in us such an even and chearful Temper, as makes us pleasing to our selves, to those with whom we converse, and to him whom we were made to please.
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No. 382. Monday, May 19, 1712. Steele.