THE SWEETS OF SOLITUDE!
Directions to Mankind how they
may be Happy in a
By A. Wilson
a.k.a. the “Pennsylvania Hermit”
IN this “Miserable World” (so termed by a great portion of mankind,) HAPPINESS appears to be their general pursuit: yet how few are there who have approached the goal of their constant pursuit and wishes! The only man who can be considered happy, is he who can reconcile himself to his circumstances, be they what they may; who can wean himself from the fashionable follies of the world and content himself to live within the limits of his income. But how few are there who have the fortitude and resolution to pursue such a plan of conduct! the lust of power, the blandishments of wealth, the phantom of honour, are so stumbling blocks to their felicity.
Discontent is the universal bitter of human life: there are but very few who do not complain of some want or other, though the want arises only from the caprice of their will; things go not right if they run not on the wheels of their fancy, and turn about with the windmill of their brain. Not to amuse ourselves with hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with our present circumstances, in alone the way to contentment, for he who wants nothing, possesses everything. It is a contented mind that will give us happiness, as it will give us a constancy in all conditions.
It is the part of a prudent man, not to be elated with prosperity, not irresolute in misfortune. The good man, like the valiant soldier, will, act up to his character, and behave bravely amid his trails; knowing them to be the hand of God, therewith he will be content, and scorning to repine, will make himself happy.
The greatest cause of discontent is, that men have no definitive measure to their desires, is it not the supply of all their real wants that will satisfy them: their appetites are precarious, they hunger not because they themselves are empty, but because others are full. Ahab, one would think might well have been contented with the kingdom of Israel, without Naboth s vineyard; and Hamand with the obeisance of all the Persian court, without the additional bow of a poor Jew. A low condition in the world seems to all a terrible misfortune-but how many are really poor amid their riches; and want in the midst of plenty!
The true felicity of life is to be free from perturbations! to understand our duty towards God and man; to enjoy the present without any anxious dependence upon the future. Not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, is abundantly sufficient; for he that is so, wants nothing. The great blessings of mankind are within us, and within our reach; but we shut our eyes, and, like people in the dark, we fall foul upon the very thing that we are in search of without finding it.
One of the greatest secrets in life is that of knowing how to soften our uneasiness, and if it be not in our power to disengage ourselves from trouble, to weaken at least the impression of it; without this we must resolve frequently to be miserable, for being exposed to numberless evils, hardly a day passes but we feel some new distress. Now I know of no remedy more effectual than pre-consideration, and whoever has made an exact reflection upon the traverses of life, will find himself at least consolable in his misfortunes. I would have every one so far consider and expect all kinds of evil, as not to be surprized at any calamitous event. Let the happy courtier possess the favour of his Sovereign, and enjoy to his wish the pleasures of his good fortune! yet let the example of so many falls incline him to mistrust the security of his seat: let him not although on the summit of the wheel, forever cast his eye upwards, but sometimes look down; let him view the place he began to rise from, let him consider the first degree of his advancement, as a precipice, from which he may every moment be tumbled. Let not a Prince be too fond of his empire; let not the obeisance of such a world of people easily flatter his self love; in four and twenty hours kings have been seen on a throne and behind a chariot; in a few days we have seen the same prince triumph and led in triumph; the revolution of the people, or the loss of a battle may ravish his crown from his head, and place his sceptre in the hand of a Stranger.
Never pronounce any man happy who depends upon fortune for his happiness; for nothing can be more preposterous than to place the good of a reasonable creature in unreasonable things; if I have lost any thing, it was adventitious: and the less money the less trouble. It is a common mistake to account those things necessary that are superfluous, and to depend upon fortune for the felicity of life, which arises only from religion and virtue; there is no trusting to her smiles, that which she gives us this hour, she may deprive us of the next; and he who trusts to her favours, shall either find himself deceived, or if he be not, he will at least be troubled because he may be so. Whatsoever our lot is in this world we ought to bear it without a murmur; a good man can never be miserable who cheerfully submits to the will of Providence, although he may possess but a small portion of the riches of this life-to be truly happy in this world, a man must be content with his lot in a cheerful and quiet resignation to the appointments of an impartial God. The joy of a sincere christian stands firm without interruption-in all places, at all times and in all conditions his thoughts are cheerful and quiet.
Whether necessity or inclination has placed us in a secluded life, let us forbear admiring the labors of men, to contemplate the works of the Great Creator-let us remove our thoughts from the pride and pomp of a court, and innocently enjoy the delights we find in SOLITUDE. The Heavens, the sun, the stars, the elements, have they not beauties to satisfy the mind that contemplates them? The waste of plains, the course of rivers, the meads, the flowers, the rivulets, have they not charms to enchant the eye. Do we ever want the music of birds in our groves?- We may live contented every where if we changeour pleasures with our abode. We find our account in this world in the study of nature-it directs our thoughts to him who is the Great Author of it-our senses meet with delights, and whoever is capable of moderation, will have full enough to content him.
The most cruel tyrants can find no dungeon for our soul; they cannot be masters of it any farther than we are willing to serve them:-their chains cannot bind it, and in whatever place the body be shut up, the soul never changes its place or dwelling. Thus we may find contentment even in the meanest hovel if we will only endeavor to make ourselves so. Let the man of a firm health not account himself happy only in the enjoyment of this good, but may the thought of suffering nothing among so many calamitous objects which are about him make him yet more content; let him enjoy himself not only from the good circumstances that are his lot, but from the evils too, which do not befal him-may the pleasures he tastes, and the pain he suffers not, afford him equal satisfaction.
In reality, however innocent they may appear, Excess is ever criminal, and produces not only infamy, but sickness and pain;-a man who loses his reputation by a debauch, very often loses his health too, and wounds his constitution no less than his honor. It becomes every man to live with restriction-pleasure is the view of our actions, and although we pursue different plans, we aim at the same point-let every man live as is most agreeable to his innocent inclinations and enjoy all the delights that offer, when they are consistent with the principles of conscience and honour.
It is preposterous for any one to expect to be truly happy in this world, unless he is truly pious; he who aims to be happy with all his earthly possessions if he possesses not religion, he is indeed a miserable inhabitant of what he is pleased to call a miserable world. True happiness is not to be found in the excesses of wine, or of women, nor in the largest prodigalities of fortune. He who would perfectly know himself, let him set aside his money, his fortune, his dignity, and examine himself naked. It is dangerous for a man too suddenly or too easily to believe himself, wherefore let us examine, watch, observe and inspect our own hearts. We should every night call ourselves to an account-what infirmity have I mastered to day? or what passion opposed? what temptation resisted? what virtue acquired?-our vices will abate of themselves if they are brought every day to the shift. What can be more reasonable than this daily review of a life that we cannot warrant for a moment? There is a great variety in our lives, but all tends to the same issue-nature may use her own bodies as she pleases, but a good man has this consolation, that nothing perishes which he can call his own. We are born to lose and to perish; to hope and to fear; to vex ourselves and others: and there is no antidote against a common calamity but Religion and Virtue.
We find implanted in our minds many virtuous and kind affections, which are overlooked in the hurry of life, and which is our duty to cherish with the utmost care and diligence-he who examines his own heart with attention, will see that it is not a sterile soil-the more he becomes acquainted with his weakness and strength, the more he will see the necessity of exerting the one to assist the other; and with an humble heart, contemplate his own dignity and importance, as a being formed for happiness and immorality. When he exalts his views to the nobler powers of reason, understanding and judgement, and examine their strength and extent, the prospect becomes more pleasing–he then sees that he is a compound of that terrestrial and celestial natures that his present imperfection arises from his connexion with this world; a connexion that will soon be broken; and that, when released from the imprisonment and the influence of these elements, he will shine forth in all his dignity as an immortal creature of God.
Then he considers the force and extend to his intellectual powers, even when clothed with this mortal vesture of decay, and reflects on their more glorious expansion in the world of spirits, it will elevate his views: lead him to aspire after the perfection of his nature and the true end of his being. He will see that his connexion with God, the source of his happiness in time and throughout eternity; although we are all the children of the Universal Parent by creation, there is a nearer relation in which we stand to him. Hence the man who knows, will from a just sense of his dignity, reverence himself. Although sensible of human weakness, he will see his consequence and feel his intellectual strength; and be conscious whence he derived it. He will not be content himself with the amusements and acquisitions which terminates with time and sense and mortal life, but aspire after higher degrees of refinement and perfection.
We indeed behold the Deity in that beautiful display of his works which nature exhibits-the whole earth is full of his wonders-all things declare his praise–but the knowledge of him, as our preserver, our strength, and refuge in this world, and the source of eternal blessedness in this world, and life that is to come can only be attained by an humble, reverend attention to the dictates of his spirit of grace, manifested in the conscience of all men as their only sure guide and director in the way to his kingdom. Whoever follow this guide, this word nigh in the heart, will at the close of his race her be qualified to inhabit eternal life.
Whoever seriously and meekly attends to the operations of his own mind, may soon find sufficient evidence there to convince him that there is a God who made him; to whose goodness he owes all the faculties of his soul; to whose providence he owes all the blessings of his life, and by whose permission it is that he exercises and enjoys them- that he is placed in this miserable world so termed, but as a creature of a day, hastening to the place from which he shall not return-that he is accountable for his conduct to the greatest and wisest of Beings, from the strictness of whose justice he must have every thing to fear; but that he is exhorted to be humble and penitent, and cast himself in hope upon the infinitude of mercy and the infinitude of goodness!
The Creator of the universe, in the sublime and beautiful order which he in his wisdom hath established, seems to have appointed continual lessons of instructions to his rational creature man. If the luminaries of the sky shine with superior splendor over our heads, it seems as though they were principally intended to diffuse light and heat, and impart joy and gladness beyond themselves.
How little cause shall we find to murmur, let our situation in life, be what they may, if we reflect for a moment on the eternal weight of glory which is laid up for us, on condition of our keeping the word of divine patience, to the end of our journey! How amazing is the goodness of our Heavenly Father that after a life of domestic tranquility (if compared with the lives of real christians) we shall be admitted to the redeemed society of the deeply persecuted apostles and servants of God in all ages; who after sustaining a life of sorrow and unutterable tribulation in this miserable world have worn the crown of martyrdom into immortality! How animating the reflection to a feeling mind, and how productive of a refined gratitude, that after a life of comparative ease and pleasure, as a reward for our choosing to be made happy in this world we shall be received into the company of JESUS CHRIST himself forever.
My dear reader, whatever may be thy rank in life, if though would wish to be happy in this world, and to secure a certainty of being infinitely more so in the world to come, I pray thee cherish Religion. Where can any object be found so proper to kindle all the benevolent and tender affections as the Father of the Universe, and the author of all felicity? Unmoved by veneration, can you contemplate that grandeur and majesty which his works every where display? Untouched by gratitude, can you view that profusion of good, which at this pleasing season of life, his beneficent hand pours around you? happy in the love and affection of those which whom you are connected, look up to the Supreme Being as the inspirer of all the friendship which has ever been shewn you by others: himself your best and your first friend: first the supporter of your infancy, and the guide of your children; and next the guardian of your youth, and the hope of your coming years. View religious homage, as a natural expression of gratitude of Him for all your goodness. Consider it as a service of the God of your fathers; of him to whom your parents devoted you: and by whom they are now rewarded and blessed in heaven. Connected with some tender sensibilities of the soul, let Religion be with you, not the cold and barren offspring of speculation, but the warm and vigorous dictates of the heart.
The world which we now inhabit is a world of trials and temptations, and if we suffer our passions to take possession of us, it is no easy matter to break their force. If we once give a loose to our appetites we know not when to hold the reign; nor is it in our power always to stop short of vice; so frail is human nature so strong the force of habit, that it is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it. is a maxim, the truth of which, many unthinking youth has, too late, been forced to acknowledge. How many have we known, who from the indulgence of innocent amusements, have been, led to excesses and crimes which have stained a reputation which would otherwise have been fair and irreproachable; and which have sometimes brought themselves to a shameful end. Innocent pleasures are as necessary to the support of the constitution and health, as salutary medicines-but in keeping with bounds, there lies the task; we progress by slow degrees till we arrive at the gulf of sensuality. As well may the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots, as those long hacknied in the ways of vice, to reform; the drunkard to become temperate, the gambler to lose a relish for cards and dice, or the sensualist to give up his carnal desire. How important then is it that those who have the care of youth, should warn them both by precept and example to shun the excessive indulgence of pleasure (falsely so called, a sure precursor of loss of health, reputation, fortune, and peace of conscience) and to pursue the paths of sobriety, honesty, frugality and industry; to lead godly lives, in the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of knowledge! thus will their lives be serene and happy , and their exit peaceful.
In my solitary abode, secluded from the society of mankind, with pleasure have I enjoyed in contemplating the goodness of the Almighty; and should my life be prolonged to double the number of years which I have already passed, I would prefer a secluded life to that of mingling with the inhabitants of a world producing so many temptations calculated to beguile them from the paths of virtue and morality. Heaven is witness that in this rocky cavern, I enjoy more happy moments than where I passed in my laughing youth in the pursuit and indulgence of what is termed worldly pleasures-if I am not sooth in flattery, I am not wounded by ingratitude-if I have it not in my power vainly to boast of superior life, I am not the object of calumniating envy and I am not too far removed into the shade of scorn to point its finger at me; my hopes no longer rest on vain, idle, fallacious objects, on private friendship or public justice; they have now a more durable foundation-they rest on Heaven.
Well did an ingenious writer say of SOLITUDE, that in it the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon herself: in the world it sees or accepts a few treacherous supports; the feigned compassion of one, the flattery of a second-the civilities of a third-the friendship of a fourth! they all deceive, and bring the mind back to retirement, reflection and books! But although mankind read so many excellent maxims of wisdom and their judgements are so fully convinced of the lasting advantages of true philosophy; how frail, how forgetful, how much under the influence of the passions are men of superior accomplishments found; But they are living monitors to teach us wisdom by their weakness!
Whilst we remain in the world, we are all fettered down more or less, to one common level, and have neither all the leisure, nor all the means to soar above it, which we may procure to ourselves by breaking the fetters of retirement. To talk of abstracting ourselves from matters, laying aside body, and being resolved as it were, into pure intellect is proud, metaphysical, unmeaning jargon; but to abstract ourselves from the prejudices and habits and pleasures and business of the world is no more than many are, though all are not capable of doing;-they, who can do this, who can become weaned from the world, and content themselves to spend a portion of their lives in solitude, may in their retreat elevate their souls to a higher station, and may take thence such a view of the world as the second Scipio took in his dream from the seats of the blessed when the whole earth appeared so little to him that he could scarcely discern that speck of dirt, the Roman Empire. Such a view as this will increase our knowledge by shewing us our ignorance, and will teach us to establish our peace of mind, where alone it can rest securely in resignation-such a view will render life more agreeable and death less terrible.
The idea of God, and the precepts of his holy religion (says a celebrated writer) are never so little remembered as in the ordinary intercourse of society. Engaged in a multiplicity of absurd pursuits, intranced in the delirum of gaiety, inflamed by the continual ebriety which raises the passions and stimulates the desires, every connexion between God and man is dissolved; the bright and noble faculty of reason obscured; and even the great and important duties of religion, the only source of true felicity, totally obliterated from the mind, or remembered only with levity. On the contrary, he who, entering into a serious self-examination, elevates his thoughts in silence toward his God.
In the last moments of life, it is certain, that we all wish we had passed our days in greater privacy and solitude, in stricter intimacy with ourselves, and in closer communion with God. Pressed by the recollection of our errors, we then clearly perceive that they were occasioned by not having shunned that snares of the world, and by not having watched with sufficient care over the inclinations of our hearts. Oppose the sentiments of a solitary man, who has passed his life in pious conference with God, to those which occupy a worldly mind, forgetful of its Creator, and sacrificing its dearest interests to the enjoyment of the moment: compare the character of a wise man, who reflects in silence on the importance of eternity, with that of a fashionable being, who consumes his time in the idle amusements of the world; and we shall then perceive that solitude and dignified retirement, can alone afford true pleasure, and give us what all the vain enjoyments of the world will never bestow, consolation in death, and hope in everlasting life. But the bed of death discovers most clearly the difference between the just man, who has quietly passed his days in religious contemplation, and the man of the world, whose thoughts have only been employed to feed his passions and gratify his desires. A life passed amidst the tumultuous dissipations of the world, even when unsullied by the commission of any crime, concludes alas, very differently from that which has been spent in the bowers of solitude, adorned by innocence, and rewarded by virtue.
Firm and untainted virtue cannot be so easily and efficaciously acquired, as by practicing the precepts of Christianity in the bowers of solitude. Religion refines our moral sentiments, disengages the heart from every vain desire, renders it tranquil under misfortunes, and humble in the presence of God. A life passed in the practice of virtue, affords us a rich reward from all the hours we have consecrated to its duties, and enables us, in the silence of solitude to raise our pure hands and chaste hearts in the pious adoration of our Almighty Father!
Virtue is of intrinsic value and good desert, and of indispensable obligation! Not the creature of will, but necessary and immutable; not local and temporary, but of equal extend and antiquity with the divine mind; not a mode of sensation, but everlasting truth; not dependent on power, but the guide of all power. Virtue is the foundation of honor and esteem, and the source of all beauty, order and happiness in nature. It is what confers value on all the other endowments and qualities of a reasonable being, to which he ought to be absolutely subservient, and without which the more hideous deformities, and the greater curses they become.
The use of it is not confined to any one stage of our existence, or to any particular situation we can be in; but reaches through all the periods and circumstances of our being. Many of the endowments and talents mankind now possess, and of which they are too apt to be proud, will cease entirely with the present state; but virtue will be our ornament and dignity, in every future state to which we may be removed. Beauty and wit will die, learning will vanish away, and all the arts of life be soon forgot; but virtue will remain forever. This unites to the whole rational creation, and fits us for conversing with any order of superior natures, and for a place in any part of God s works; it makes God our friend, assimilates and unites our mind to him, and engages his almighty power in our defense. Superior beings of all ranks, are bound by it no less than ourselves.
It is the law of the whole universe; it stands firm in the estimation of the deity; its original is his nature; and it is the very object that makes him lovely.
Such indeed is the importance of virtue;-of what consequence therefore, my dear reader, is it that you practice it! There is no argument or motive in any respect fitten to influence a reasonable mind, which does not call you to this. One virtuous disposition of soul is preferable to the greatest natural accomplishments and abilities, and of more value than all the treasures of the world. If you are wise, then study virtue and contemn every thing that can come in competition with it. Remember, that nothing but virtue and religion deserves your anxious thought or wish. Remember that this alone is honor, glory, wealth and happiness, even in what you are pleased to term a miserable world.
Were mankind to examine on what their hope of future bliss is founded, and anticipate that day of discovery and decision which is hastening upon them, it would excite diligence and weaken their attachment to inferior objects. To a mind conscious of it native dignity and immorality, this employment cannot be either unpleasing or unprofitable. It is the highest proof of wisdom so to act in our present situation, that when removed to another, the change may be as happy as it will be lasting. We need not fear that this will diminish our present happiness. The Gracious Bing who formed us requires no service at our hands, but what will tend to promote our present good. Godliness is profitable to all things; by living in conformity to its rules, we escape many evils, and are preserved in virtue and innocence. We enjoy every gratification that can give delight to a reasonable mind. Were mankind generally influenced by this noble principle how happy then would be the state of human society. They would give cease to be miserable in a Miserable World. The voice of discord would then be no longer heard. The various rank and classes of men would be connected in the strongest and most pleasing band of union. Righteousness and peace would kiss each other, and the present state of existence would be only a happy prelude to one still more exalted and glorious in the realm of eternal day.
However visionary or puritanical these reflections may be deemed by the gay, the inconsiderate and the licentious, a time is approaching when such will discover and own them to be the language of truth. When the dream of folly is ended, then life will appear a barren waste, and every pursuit, which terminates with it, unprofitable. But those who have early applied their hearts unto wisdom, and made her precepts the governing rule of action, will possess that substantial treasure which can never fail. They will approach the confines of the grave with a hope that is full of immortality, and, in the last hour of adversity be joyful.
Take but fast held of instruction, let her not go, keep her, for she is thy life -was the counsel of a wise and tender parent to his sons. Were parents in general as anxious to impress the tender minds of their children with a reverential sense of the name and attributes of the Deity, and a desire of pleasing him by a virtuous life, as they are to procure for them honor and riches, it would have a pleasing influence upon the rising generation. To see all from a sense of their obligation to their common parent cheerful and active in his service, while each one in the particular station which providence allots him, strives to render others happy; must afford a beautiful prospect. Whoever considers the nature and capacities of the human mind, and the great variety of means our beneficent Creator has given us to obtain the knowledge of his will, must be sensible that no one can be truly happy without religion. The objects which first demand our attention, are the wonderful display of divine wisdom, power and goodness in the works of creation. Here is an ample field for all sorts of men to exercise their genius, and find entertainment-from the infinite variety of flowers in this field, the philosopher, the divine, the statesman, the husbandman, yea every person may extract sweets agreeable to his peculiar taste. The divine operations, as they are displayed in his works, his providence, and his admirable plan to save the human race! are ever reading lessons of the most useful instruction to the inquiring mind-and if wisely improved, will lead it to that knowledge and bliss which was originally designed for us, as rational immortal beings.
By experience I will know, that the highest happiness which is capable of being enjoyed in this miserable world, consists in the peace of mind and a strict adherence to the principles of the Christian religion-and by experience, I can assure my dear readers, that the rich and the poor, the happy and the miserable, the healthy and the sick, in short, all descriptions of persons, whatever may be their station or their circumstances in this life, will experience infinite advantage in a religious retirement of the world. Solitude, when it has ripened and preserved the tender and humane feelings of the heart, and created in the mind a salutary distrust of our vain reason and boasted abilities my be considered to have brought us nearer to God. Humility is the first lesson we learn from reflection, and self distrust the first proof we give of having obtained a knowledge of ourselves. The wisdom that teaches us to avoid the snares of the world, is not to be acquired by the incessant pursuit of entertainment; by flying, without reflection from one party to another; by continual conversation on low and trifling subject; by undertaking every thing and doing nothing.
A pursuit after happiness almost entirely engrosses the attention of man in his social state; and though his visionary fancy may place her at a distance, yet, like the ignis-fatuus to the benightened and bewildered traveller she will constantly recede from the grasp, in proportion to the eagerness of our pursuits, till death puts an end to our career-The contending passions of man; render the acquirement of true happiness in a state of society abortive; but the Recluse, retiring from the caprice of a vain world, by reflecting on the beauties of nature and the bounties of nature s God, enjoys a tranquility which the social world cannot bestow:
That man is capable in private of an intercourse with his Maker, there are many living witnesses to prove, without having recourse to the visions of fanatics, or to the dreams of enthusiasts; it may be proved to spring from natural or philosophic causes. God is a spirit: so is the mind; bodies can have intercourse, so can soul; when minds are in an assimilating state of purity, they have union with their Maker. Thus disposed, the Creator communicates himself to the soul, in a manner, which is as insensible to the natural eye, as are the falling dews. Enthusiasm has swelled with unnatural conceptions, and obtruded a spurious offspring on the world, instead of the engaging child of reason and truth-whilst the lukewarm have rested in a few outward duties, which have had no vigour, and as they spring not form the heart, never entered the temple of the Most High. Real piety is of a very different and of a much more animated nature: it looks up to God, sees, hears, feels him in every event, in every vicissitude, in all places, at all seasons, and upon all occasions. It is theory verified by experience; it is faith substantiated by mental enjoyment; it is heaven transplanted in the human bosom; it is the radiance of the divinity warning and encircling man. It is a spiritual sense gratified by spiritual sensations-without this all ceremonies are inefficacious.
A fellow being with a cultivated mind enjoys peculiar satisfaction in the hours of solitude; and the most popular subject on which he can meditate, and employ his attention and observation when alone, is the thought of Deity. Not that he may doubt the existence of a Supreme Being, but he can naturally, and with more perspicuity meditate on his Almighty Power, Justice, Mercy and Benevolence towards poor frail creatures of mortality.
The sick, the sorrowful, and the discontented, may find equal relief in Solitude; it administers a balm to their tortured souls, heals the deep and painful wounds they have received, and in time restores them their prestine health and vigour. Sorrow, misfortune, and sickness soon render Solitude easy and familiar to our minds. How willingly do we renounce the world, and become indifferent to all its pleasures, when the insidious eloquence of the passions is silenced, and our powers are debilitated by vexation of ill health! It is then we perceive the weakness of those succours which the world affords-the mind then seeks a balm in Religion, and becomes more disposed to seek its Guardian Angel and its God.
Thus, my dear readers, have I endeavored as far as my feeble powers would permit, to satisfy you of the blessings of Solitude and of the vast importance of cherishing Religion, in this world, that you may be fitted for another and a better. When you peruse these few pages, containing the best advise that I am able to give you, I shall have paid that debt, which you must sooner or later pay-my only prayer therefore is, that you may receive the advice contained in the foregoing pages with as much pleasure, as it is given, and that it may ultimately operate as powerfully on your minds as it has on that of the author.
Mysterious are the ways of Providence; the same wheel which raises you to day, on the smooth, unruffled ocean of prosperity, may, before the morrow, roll you in the stormy sea of adversity; the scenes of life are continually shifting, and the fashion of this world passeth away! Mankind in this world are ever subject to ills, infirmities and disappointments-pains and perplexities are the long lived plagues of human existence-but Religion is the balm that heals those wounds;-it was this that preserved me and prevented my committing violence on myself, at the melancholly moment when I doomed to experience one of the severest trails of this life-when doomed to witness the melancholly fate of an affectionate and only sister, the companion of my youth, torn from the bosom of her fond parents, and for many months confined within the thick walls of a gloomy prison, and from thence conveyed (at the very moment that a pardon was obtained for her) to the gallows, there to suffer like one of the greatest monsters of human depravity, an ignominious death!-to view her lifeless corpse suspended in the air, surrounded by a throng of spectators!- but alas! It was the will of God to which we must submit-it was at this trying moment that he sent Religion and reason to my aid, and bid me no longer grieve for her who I could not and ought not wish to recall to this troublesome world-for her whom I had just reason to believe had gone to the regions of eternal day, above the reaches of sorrow, vice and pain.
The consideration of the sorrows of this life, and the glories of the next, is our best support-dark are the ways of providence while we are wrapped up in mortality;–but, convinced there is a God, we must hope and believe, that all is right.
I am fully sensible, my dear fellow mortals, that our lives are strewed with difficulties, troubles and disappoint- ments, that we daily experience the rod which furnishes to us a lesson highly worthy of instruction; it is in the very nature of things requisite that we meet trouble while here below, in order that we better know how to prize the felicity which awaits us in the heavens above; and he that bravely encounters the trails and misfortunes of this world outbraves them all counting them but as momentary afflictions comparatively to the joys which are set before him in futurity; we are too apt to find fault and conclude we are possessed of a greater share of worldly afflictions than our fellow men; or more than our proportion in the scale of justice, and are ready as it were to call heaven to witness our petition; but I am persuaded mankind are not so unequally provided for in this world, as many imagine, God is no respecter of persons, he favours one man no more than another, and his blessings are equally showered upon all his offspring.
As regards my own situation, few, very few of my fellow creatures it is probable could be found willing (after experiencing so many severe trails) to retire from the busy world, and be contented to abide alone for the space of almost nineteen years within the walls of a solitary cave, as I have myself done-my situation has no doubt been pronounced unhappy and miserable by many of my fellow beings-but, secluded as I have been from the society of man, depriving myself of the superfluties of life, I solemnly declare that I have enjoyed more real happiness in retirement, than what all the riches and superfluities of this world, could have afforded me.
My dear readers I must now bid you all an affectionate farewell-may the remainder of your days be spent in the faithful discharge of the duty you owe to the supreme disposer of all events–as your days shorten, may the sun of Righteousness brighten over you, till you arrive at the new Jerusalem where tears are wiped away from every eye, and sorrow is no more!……………………………………….AMOS WILSON.