The Illustrated London Reading Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

Men of austere principles look upon mirth as too wanton and dissolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and insolence of heart that is inconsistent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers.  Writers of this complexion have observed, that the sacred Person who was the great pattern of perfection, was never seen to laugh.

Cheerfulness of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions; it is of a serious and composed nature; it does not throw the mind into a condition improper for the present state of humanity, and is very conspicuous in the characters of those who are looked upon as the greatest philosophers among the heathen, as well as among those who have been deservedly esteemed as saints and holy men among Christians.

If we consider cheerfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to those we converse with, and the great Author of our being, it will not a little recommend itself on each of these accounts.  The man who is possessed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculties of the soul; his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed; his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action or solitude.  He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him, tastes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured about him, and does not feel the full weight of those accidental evils which may befall him.

If we consider him in relation to the persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and good-will towards him.  A cheerful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good-humour in those who come within its influence.  A man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the cheerfulness of his companion:  it is like a sudden sunshine, that awakens a secret delight in the mind, without her attending to it.  The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into friendship and benevolence towards the person who has so kindly an effect upon it.

When I consider this cheerful state of mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant, habitual gratitude to the great Author of nature.

There are but two things which, in my opinion, can reasonably deprive us of this cheerfulness of heart.  The first of these is the sense of guilt.  A man who lives in a state of vice and impenitence, can have no title to that evenness and tranquillity of mind which is the health of the soul, and the natural effect of virtue and innocence.  Cheerfulness in an ill man deserves a harder name than language can furnish us with, and is many degrees beyond what we commonly call folly or madness.

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The Illustrated London Reading Book from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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