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mortal man. The possession of our senses entire, of our limbs uninjured, of knowledge and skill, of friends and companions, is often overlooked, though it would be the ultimate wish of many, who, as far as we can judge, deserve it as much as ourselves.
Men always compare themselves with those who are above them, without once looking into the vale below, where thousands stand gazing at them with envy and admiration. By this unfortunate comparison, their own good things lose much of their value in their own esteem, and sometimes become totally insipid.
When we consider the number and variety of evils, almost intolerable, in the life of man, we should learn to esteem every disaster incident to human nature, which has not yet fallen to our lot, as a just cause of self-congratulation, complacency, and gratitude. But, through envy, we turn from the misfortunes of others; and think only of those advantages which give them a superiority over our own condition. If we see a man deaf, or dumb, or blind, or lame, or poor, or in disgrace, we do not derive comfort from the consideration of our own exemption from his defects and calamities; but if we observe another adorned with beauty, endued with strength, elevated to a high rank, or loaded with riches, we secretly repine that we have not been equally blessed with worldly prosperity.
But let us consider how many there are, who would envy every one who has but health and liberty. Go into an hospital. Visit a poor-house. Inspect a prison. Compare your own health, your own competency, your own liberty, hard as you deem your lot, with the friendless wretch, who
lies in the agony of pain, or languor of disease, with no help but the cold hand of official charity. No kind relative to sooth with his bland voice, to close his eyes, and shed a tear on his departure. Compare your lot with his who is loaded with chains, where the iron enters his soul, in a cold and damp dungeon. Compare it with that of your poorer neighbours, at the next door. Compare it with that of all the sons and daughters of affliction, a large family-every where to be found.
Men are, indeed, too apt to despise what are called little advantages, common comforts, daily pleasures, hourly conveniences; whereas they are often of the highest importance; as the general happiness of life is usually made up of particulars, which appear minute, but the sum of which makes a great total. -We wait till to-morrow to be happy; alas! why not to-day? Shall we be younger ? Are we sure we shall be healthier ? Shall we see better, hear better, taste better? Look at some aged miser, and judge. Then why, in the name of reason, cannot we be happy to-day, with a competency and a clear conscience ? .
We are unwilling to be satisfied with the pleasures of simplicity, and the delights of nature. The beasts around us are contented. The lark soars, and sings in exultation; but man, forgetful of nature, must have recourse to art, to procure satisfaction; and things seem to have little relish, which are not seasoned by difficulty of attainment. The greater part of worldlings, especially gamesters, esteem mere tranquillity of mind, and ease of body, a state of insipidity,
But, considering the number of evils in life, man should learn to esteem every one which he has escaped, a just cause of self-congratulation and of gratitude. The absence of evil is a real good. Peace, quiet, exemption from pain, should be a continual feast. The aching of a tooth may deprive us of all complacency in the midst of plenty and magnificence. A fit of the gout or stone may make a crown of gold and emeralds, a crown of thorns. Then while we have no pain, no ache, no sickness, why do we not enjoy our tranquillity with pious exultation ?
Here seems to be the grand error. There is a more general desire to appear happy, than to be so. Men live in the eyes of their neighbours. They wish to possess a glittering happiness, careless of its solidity. They are desirous of being envied, talked of; and, in reaching after the shadow, they drop the substance.
Such, and many more, are the mistakes of men, in the pursuit of happiness. They all originate from a desertion of truth and simplicity ; from a neglect of God and grace; from vanity, pride, folly, and vice.
But even the wise, the virtuous, the religious, and the comparatively happy, are still no more than men; and, being men, are subject to much real misery, to bodily pains, diseases, infirmity, decay, and worldly losses and crosses. The gardens of the world produce only deciduous flowers. Perennial ones must be sought in the delightful regions of heaven. Roses without thorns are the growth of Paradise alone.
Thither then let us repair. And, happily, we are called by an invitation, no less urgent than kind and merciful. 'Come unto me,' says a friendly voice, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'' Let us consider the words properly, and allow them their full weight upon our hearts. The Redeemer of mankind, commissioned from the Creator, utters from his own mouth, the gracious summons, • Come unto me.' As if he had said :
“ Your own wisdom, your own endeavours, unassisted, are insufficient to secure your happiness, and rescue you from misery. 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'” And who is there among us that does not labour ? and who is there that is not heavy laden ? and who does not want rest in the pilgrimage of life? The burden of our sins, the burden of our diseases, the burden of our years, press heavily on us, and gladly would many resign their lives in weariness, if there were no danger of a world unknown; where heavier burdens may await him who impatiently throws down the load of life.
Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ will either lighten our load, or give us strength to bear it. He has reconciled us to God; he has taught us to consider our Maker as our friend and father; and that all things will work together for our good.
Who will show us any good ?'? Jesus Christ has shown us our supreme good.
At his departure from us, he left us not alone; but sent his Comforter to us—the Holy Spirit of God; who will continue with all true Christians, even to the end of the world. It is he who preserves a lively, energetic devotion in us; and not
only sanctifies and comforts, but illuminates our souls with the beams of grace. The happiness of man, after all that has been said upon it, depends upon a participation of this holy assistance ; upon the divine Paraclete, the God of consolation : and the misery of man is spiritual desertion.
Here then let us rest. Adieu to the distraction of philosophy; the never-ceasing disputes of unassisted reason; the dogmatical decisions of learned pride and empty vanity. To be happy, we must be blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit. In adversity, in prosperity, in sickness, and in health, our joys will be pure, our sorrow lightened with this holy emanation of the Deity in our bosoms. Natural evil we must feel; moral evil, and its effects, we shall often experience; but there will still remain in our hearts, if regenerated, a cordial drop, a source of sweet enjoyment, of which no external circumstances can utterly deprive us.
The method of obtaining this blessing, is to perform our duty to ourselves, our neighbours, and our God, with pure hearts, and a sincere desire to conform to the will of our Maker. Much time must be given to devotion; more to the offices of charity ; much to works of industry in our calling or profession; while some may be indulged to innocent diversion. The heart will thus be renovated, and that change produced in our dispositions, which is termed in Scripture, the becoming a new man; and, in the language of theology, regeneration.
Little do they know, who are involved in the continual hurry and dissipation of the world, of this wonderful change in human nature, and its