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our confidence has been abused. Then are opened some of the deepest springs of bitterness in the human heart. Behold the heart of the parent, torn by the unworthy behaviour and cruel ingratitude of the child, whom he had trained up with the fondest hopes ; on whom he had lavished his whole affection; and for whose sake he had laboured and toiled through the course of a long life. Behold the endearments of the conjugal state changed into black suspicion, and mistrust; the affectionate spouse, or the virtuous husband, left to mourn, with a broken heart, the infidelity of the once-beloved partner of their life. Behold the unsuspecting friend betrayed in the hour of danger, by the friend in whom he trusted; or in the midst of severe misfortune, meeting nothing but cold indifference, perhaps scorn and contempt, where he had expected to find the kindest sympathy. – Are these, let me ask, uncommon scenes in the world ? Are such distresses peculiar
rank or station? Do they chiefly befall persons in humble life, and have the great any prerogative which affords them exemption? When the heart is sorely wounded by the ingratitude or faithlessness of those on whom it had leaned with the whole weight of affection, where shall it turn for relief? Will it find comfort in the recollection of honours and titles, or in the contemplation of surrounding treasures? Talk not of the honours of a court. Talk not of the wealth of the East. These, in the hours of heartbitterness, are spurned as contemptible and vile; perhaps cursed, as indirect causes of the present distress. The dart has made its way to the heart. There, there it is fixed. The very seat of feeling is assailed; and in proportion to the sensibility of the
sufferer's heart, and the tenderness of his attections, such, unfortunately, will be his degree of anguishi. A good conscience, and hope in God, may indeed bring him consolation. But under such distresses of the heart as I have described, fortune, be it as flourishing as you will, is no more than an empty pageant. It is a feeble reed, which affords no support. It is a house of straw, which is scattered before the wind.
Thus, you see this doctrine mecting us, from many quarters, that the heart knows a bitterness and joy of its own, altogether distinct from the uneasiness or the pleasure that is produced by the circumstances of external fortune; arising either from personal character, and the state of a man's own mind; or from the affections excited by the relations in which he stands to others. This joy and this bitterness are each of them of so much greater consequence than any
distinctions of fortune, that, blessed with the former, one may be happy, as far as human happiness goes, in a cottage; and afflicted with the latter, he must be miserable in a palace. — Let us now proceed to an important part of the subject, the practical improvement to which this doctrine leads.
First, Let it serve to moderate our passion for riches, and high situations in the world. It is we!! known that the eager pursuit of these is the chief incentive to the crimes that fill the world. Hence, among the middle and lower ranks of men, all the fraud, falsehood, and treachery with which the competition for gain infests society. Hence, in the higher stations of the world, all the atrocious crimes flowing from ambition, and the love of power, by which the peace of mankind has so often been broken, and the earth stained with blood. IIad these coveted advantages, the power, when obtained, of ensuring joy to the heart, and rendering it a stranger to bitterness, some apology might be offered for the violence to which they have given occasion. The prize might be supposed worthy of being acquired at a high expence, when so much depended on the attainment, But I have shown, I hope with satisfactory evidence, that the contrary is the truth. I say not, that the advantages of fortune deserve no regard from a wise or a good man. Poverty is always distressing. Opulence and rank are both attended with many comforts, and may be rendered subservient to the most valuable purposes.
But what I say is, that it is a great. errour to rate them beyond their just value. Secondary advantages, inferiour assistances to felicity, they are ; and no more. They rank below every thing that, immediately affects the heart, and that is a native source of joy or bitterness there. If a man be either unhappy in his dispositions, or unhappy in all his connections, you heap upon him, in vain, all the treasures, and all the honours which kings can bestow. Divest these things, then, of that false glare which the opinions of the multitude throw around them. Contemplate them with a more impartial eye. Pursue them with less eagerness. Above all, never sacrifice to the pursuit any degree of probity or moral worth, of candour or good affection ; if you would not lay a foundation for that bitterness of heart, which none of the goods of fortune can either compensate or cure.
Secondly, Let the observations which have been made, correct our mistakes, and check our complaints, concerning a supposed promiscuous distribution of happiness in this world. The charge of injustice, which so often, on this account, hath been brought against Providence, rests entirely on this ground, that the happiness and misery of men may be estimated by the degree of their external prosperity. This is the delusion under which the multitude have always laboured; but which a just consideration of the invisible springs of happiness that affect the heart is sufficient to correct. If you would judge whether a man be really happy, it is not solely to his houses and his lands, to his equipage and his retinue, you are to look. Unless you could see farther, and discern what joy, or what bitterness, his heart feels, you can pronounce nothing concerning him. That proud and wicked man whom you behold surrounded with state and splendour, and upon whom you think the favours of Heaven so improperly lavished, may be a wretch, pining away in secret with a thousand griefs unknown to the world. That poor man, who appears neglected and overlooked, may, in his humble station, be partaking of all the moral and all the social joys that exhilarate the heart; may be living cheerful, contented and happy. Cease then to murmur against dispensations of Providence, which are, to us, so imperfectly known. Envy not the prosperity of sinners. Judge not of the real condition of men, from what floats merely on the surface of their state. Let us rather,
THIRDLY, Turn our attention to those internal sources of happiness or misery, on which it hath
been shown that so much depends. As far as the bitterness or joy of the heart arises from the first of those great springs which I assigned to it, our own conduct and temper, so far our happiness is placed, in some measure, in our own hands. What is amiss or disordered within, in consequence of folly, of passion, or guilt, may be rectified by due care, under the assistance of divine grace. He who thereby attains to a tranquil and composed state of heart, free from ill-humour and disgust, from violent passions, and from vexing remorse, is laying a foundation for enjoyment of himself, much surer and broader than if he were amassing thousands to increase his estate.
With regard to the other spring of joy or bitterness of leart, arising from our connections with others, here, indeed, we are more dependent on things not within our power.
These connections are not always of our own forming; and even when they have been formed by choice, the wisest are liable to be disappointed in their expectations. Yet here too it will be found, that the proper regulation of the heart is of the utmost importance, both for improving the joys which our situation affords, and for mitigating the griefs which our connections may render unavoidable. As far as the choice of friends or relatives depends on ourselves, let their virtue and worth ever direct that choice, if we look for any lasting felicity from it. In all the habits and attachments of social life, after they are formed, let it be our study to fulfil properly our own part. Let nothing be wanting on our side, to nourishi that mutual harmony and affectionate friendship which, in every situation of life, has been shown is