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Men are, indeed, too apt to despise what are called little advantages, common comforts, daily pleasures, hourly conveniencies; 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 tranquility 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 ach, no sickness, why do we not enjoy our tranquility 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, 66 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 labours 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.
* Matt. xi. 28.
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 shew us any GOOD?"* Jesus Christ has shewn us our SUPREME GOOD.
At his departure from us, he left us not alone; but sent his comforter to us
Sthe 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 Holy Spirit. In adversity, in prosperity, in sickness, and in health, our joys will be pure, our sorrows 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
• Psalm iv. 6.
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 hightening effect on the enjoyment of life. Business and diversions can afford no delight comparable to the sweet sensations of a soul composed and tranquillized by divine grace. In this state, a charming serenity diffuses itself over the mind, which becomes like those happy climes of poesy, where every breeze is gentle as a zephyr, the spring perpetual, and the earth teems, at the same time, with flowers of the finest hue, and fruits of the most delicious flavour. Nothing sublunary, indeed, is perfect; but there is every reason to believe, that the state of the regenerated Christian approaches as nearly to the bliss of Heaven, as it is possible, while the soul is encumbered with a mortal body.
We set out in search of happiness, and here we have found it. The question “who will shew us any good?"* is now answered. The CHIEF GOOD of man is a state of grace. Other pretentions to it are like shadows to the substance; which they may resemble in shape, while they want its essence, its duration, its solidity. What we have found, let us never lose. Let us build upon a rock. Let us daily grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus shall our happiness in this life, founded, as it will be, in piety, virtue, and the consequent favour of God, rise to more perfect happiness in a future state, where the passions and appetites of a mortal body shall not weigh down the pure ethereal Spirit that; in its present state, with
* Psalm iv.
wings all too feeble, continually.aspires at its native clime.
Come then, ye who have wandered like bleating sheep, distressed and famished, without a shepherd, come to Jesus Christ, to the shepherd of your souls, who shall feed you in a green pasture, and by the river side. Come unto him, for he calls you, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and he shall give you rest; rest, in your passage through this turbulent scene; and not only rest, but fulness of joy at his right hand, when your wearied bodies shall lie down in the peaceful grave.
Apologetical Conclusion; with a Recapitulation, and Addi
tion of a few Particulars respecting the preceding Subjects.
THE world, on a superficial view of it, presents an appearance of gaiety. Deeply engaged in the pursuit of gain, honour and amusement, few men would lament, like Calypso in Telemachus, if they were immortal, and doomed to remain, in everlasting youth and health, on this lower orb, wretched as it is represented. But as all are conscious that this is impossible, the next endeavour is to drown thought in the whirlpools of dissipation. Most persons, however, choose to be called Christians, and would be not a little disgusted with the officious monitor, who should venture to suggest to them that, as they seldom or never bestow on Christianity the least solicitude, they can have no just pretentions to the name.
But busy as men are, in pursuits foreign to piety, it is certain, that after a few short years, the principal con