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desired confidant: she soothes the indolence, and gratifies the vanity of her friend, by reconciling her to her faults, while she neither keeps the understanding nor the virtues of that friend in exercise ; but withholds from her every useful truth, which by opening her eyes might give her pain. These obsequious qualities are the soft green”'* on which the soul loves to repose itself. But it is not a refreshing or a wholesome repose: we should not select, for the sake of present ease, a soothing flatterer, who will lull us into a pleasing oblivion of our failings, but a friend, who, valuing our soul's health above our immedi. ate comfort, will rouse us from torpid indulgence to ani. mation, vigilance, and virtue.
An ill-directed sensibility also leads a woman to be in. judicious and eccentric in her charities ; she will be in danger of proportioning her bounty to the immediate effect which the distressed object produces on her senses : and she will be more liberal to a small distress presenting itself to her own eyes, than to the more pressing wants and better claims of those miseries, of which she only hears the rela. tion. There is a sort of stage effect, which some people require for their charities ; she will be apt also to desire, that the object of her compassion shall have something in. teresting and amiable in it, such as shall furnish pleasing images and lively pictures to her imagination, and engaging subjects for description ; forgetting, that in her charities, as well as in every thing else, she is to be a follower of Him who pleased not himself;" forgetting, that the most coarse and disgusting object is as much the representative of Him, who said, “Inasmuch as ye do it to one of the lcast of these, ye do it unto me,” as the most interesting: nay, the more uninviting and repulsive cases may be better tests of the principle on which we relieve, than those which abound in pathos and interest, as we can have less suspicion of our motive in the latter case than in the for. mer. But, while we ought to neglect neither of these sup. posed cases, yet the less our feelings are caught by pleasing circumstances, the less will be the danger of our indulging self-complacency, and the more likely shall we be to do what we do for the sake of Him who has taught us, that no deeds but what are performed on that principle, "shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
* Burke's "Sublime and Beautiful,."
But through the want of that governing principle which should direct her sensibility, a tender-hearted woman, whose hand, if she be actually surrounded with scenes and circumstances to call it into action, is
Open as day to melting charity; nevertheless may utterly fail in the great and comprehen. sive duty of Christian love, for she has feelings which are acted upon solely by local circumstances and present events. Only remove her into another scene, distant from the wants she has been relieving; place her in the lap of in. dulgence, so entrenched with ease and pleasure, so im. mersed in the softness of life, that distress no longer finds any access to her presence, but through the faint and dull medium of a distant representation; remove her from the sight and sound of that misery which, when present, so ten. derly affected her—she now forgets that misery exists; as she hears but little, an sces nothing of want and sor. row, she is ready to fancy that the world is grown happier than it was: in the mean time, with a quiet conscience and a thoughtless vanity, she has been lavishing on superfluities that money which she would cheerfully have given to a charitable case, had she not forgotten that any such were in existence, because pleasure had blocked up the avenues through which misery used to find its way to her heart; and now, when again such a case forces itself into her presence, she laments with real sincerity that the money is gone which should have relieved it.
In the mean time, perhaps, other women of less natural sympathy, but whose sympathies are under better regula. tion, or who act from a principle which requires little stim. ulus, have, by an habitual course of self-denial, by a con. stant determination to refuse themselves unnecessary in. dulgencics, and by guarding against that dissolving PLEAS. URE which melts down the firmest virtue that allows it. self to bask in its beans, have been quietly furnishing a
regular provision for miseries, which their knowledge of ¿ the state of the world teaches them are every where to be e found, and which their obedience to the will of God tells
them it is their duty both to find out and to relieve ; a general expectation of being liable to be called upon for acts of.charity, will lead the conscientiously charitable always to be prepared.
On such a mind as we have been describing, novelty also will operate with peculiar force, and in nothing more than in the article of charity. Old established institutions, whose continued existence must depend on the continued bounty of that affluence to which they owed their origin, will be sometimes neglected, as presenting no variety to the imagination, as having by their uniformity ceased to be interesting, there is now a total failure of those springs of mere sensitive feeling which set the charity a-going, and those sudden emotions of tenderness and gusts of pity, which once were felt, must now be excited by newer forms of distress. As age comes on, that charity which has been the effect of mere feeling, grows cold and rigid, on account also of its having been often disappointed in its high expectations of the gratitude and subsequent merit of those it has relieved; and by withdrawing its bounty, because some of its objects have been undeserving, it gives clear proof that what it bestowed was for its own gratifica. tion; and now finding that self-complacency at an end, it bestows no longer. Probably too the cause of so much disappointment may have been, that ill choice of the ob. jects to which feeling, rather that a discriminating judgment has led. The summer showers of mere sensibility soon dry up, while the living spring of Christian charity flows alike in all seasons.
The impatience, levity, and fickleness, of which women have been somewhat too generally accused, are perhaps in no small degree aggravated by the littleness and frivolousness of female pursuits. The sort of education they com. monly receive, teaches girls to set a great price on small things. Besides this, they do not always learn to keep a very correct scale of degrees for rating the value of the objects of their admiration and attachment; but by a kind of unconscious idolatry, they rather make a merit of loving supremely things and persons which ought to be loved with moderation, and in a subordinate degree the one to the other. Unluckily, they consider moderation as so neces. sarily indicating a cold heart and narrow soul, and they look upon a state of indifference with so much horror, that either to love or hate with energy is supposed by them to proceed from a higher state of mind than is possessed by more steady and equable characters. Whereas it is in fact the criterion of a warm but well-directed sensibility,
that while it is capable of loving with energy, it must be enabled, by the judgment which governs it, to suit and ad. just its degree of interest to the nature and excellence of the object about which it is interested; for voreasonable prepossession, disproportionate attachment, and capricious or precarious fondness, is not sensibility.
Excessive but unintentional flattery is another fault into which a strong sensibility is in danger of leading its posses
A tender heart and a warm imagination conspire to throw a sort of radiance round the object of their love, till people are dazzled by a brightness of their own creating. The worldly and fashionable borrow the warm language of sensibility without having the really warm feeling; and young ladies get such a habit of saying, and especially of writing, such over obliging and flattering things to each other, that this mutual politeness, aided by the self-love so natural to us all, and by an unwillingness to search into our own hearts, keeps up the illusion, and we get a habit of taking our character from the good we hear of ourselves, which others assume, but do not very well know, rather than `from the evil we feel in ourselves, and which we therefore ought to be thoroughly acquainted with.
Ungoverned sensibility is apt to give a wrong direction to its anxieties ; and its affection often falls short of the true end of friendship. If the object of its regard happen to be sick, what inquiries ! what prescriptions ! what an accumulation is made of cases in which the remedy its fondness suggests has been successful! What an unaffected tenderness for the perishing body! Yet is this sensibili. ty equally alive to the immortal interests of the sufferer? Is it not silent and at ease when it contemplates the dear. est friend persisting in opinions essentially dangerous; in practices unquestionably wrong? Does it not view all this, not only without a generous ardour to point out the peril, and rescue the friend; but if that friend be supposed to be dying, does it not even make it the criterion of kindness to let her die undeceived? What a want of true sensibility, to feel for the pain, but not for the danger of those we love! Now see what sort of sensibility the Bible teaches ! “ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, but thou “shalt in any wise rebuke him, and shalt not suffer sin upon “him."* But let that tenderness which shrinks from the
Leviticus xix. 17.
idea of exposing what it loves to a momentary pang, figure to itself the bare possibility, that the object of its own fond affection may not be the object of the Divine favour! Let it shrink from the bare conjecture, that “the familiar “ friend with whom it has taken sweet counsel,” is going down to the gates of death, uprepenting, unprepared, and yet unwarned.
But mere human sensibility goes a shorter way to work. Not being ableto give its friend the pain of hearing her faults or of knowing her danger, it works itself up into the qui. eting delusion that no danger exists, at least not for the objects of its own affection; it gratifies itself by inventing a salvation so comprehensive as shall take in all itself loves with all their faults; it creates to its own fond heart an ideal and exaggerated divine mercy, which shall pardon and receive all in whom this blind sensibility has an interest, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
In regard to its application to religious purposes, it is a test that sensibility has received its true direction when it is supremely turned to the love of God : for to possess an overflowing fondness for our fellow.creatures and fellowsioners, and to be cold and insensible to the Essence of goodness and perfection, is an inconsistency to which the feeling heart is awfully liable. God has bimself the first claim to the scnsibility he bestowed. Ile first loved us :" this is a natural cause of lore. 66 lle loved us while we
were sinners :" this is a supernatural cause. tinues to loro us though we neglect bis favours, and slight his mercics : this would wear out any earthly kindness. He forgives us, not petly neglects, not occasional slights, but gricvous sins, repeated offences, broken Fows, and un. requited love. What human friendship performs offices so calculated to touch the soul of sensibility ?
Thosc young women in whom feeling is indulged to the exclusion of reason and examination, are peculiarly liable to be the dupes of prejudice, rash decisions, and false judg. ment. The understanding having but little power orer the will, their affections are not well poized, and their minds are kept in a state ready to be acted upon by the fluctuations of alternate impulses ; by sudden and varying impressions ; by casual and contradictory circumstances; and by emotions excited by cvcry accident. Instead of being guided by the broad views of general truth, and bay,