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The miser blesses God ;-wonders how any one would mislead, and wilfully put him upon so wrong a scent-convinces him that happiness and extravagance never inhabited under the same roof that, if he would not be disappointed in his search, he must look into the plain and thrifty dwelling of the prudent man, who knows and understands the worth of money, and cautiously lays it up against an evil hour : that it is not the prostitution of wealth upon the passions, or the parting with it all, that constitutes happiness ;-but that it is the keeping it together, and the having and holding it fast to him and his heirs forever, which are the chief attributes that form this great idol of human worship, to which so much incense is offered up every day.
The epicure, though he easily rectifies so gross a mistake, yet, at the same time, he plunges him, if possible, into a greater ; for, hearing the object of his pursuit to be happiness, and knowing of no other happiness than what is seated immediately in his senses, he sends the enquirer there, tells him 'tis in vain to search elsewhere for it than where nature herself has placed it in the indulgence and gratification of the appetites, which are given us for that end : and, in a word, if he will not take his opinion in the matter, he may trust the word of a much wiser man, who has assured us, That there is nothing better in this world, than that a man should eat and drink, and rejoice in his works, and make his soul enjoy good in his labour ;--for that is his portion.
To rescue him from this brutal experiment, ambition takes him by the hand, and carries him into the world,--shews him all the kingdoms of the
earth and the glory of them,--points out the many ways of advancing his fortune, and raising himself to honour ;lays before his eyes all the charms and bewitching temptations of power, and asks if there can be any happiness in this world like that of being caressed, courted, flattered, and followed ?
To close all, the philosopher meets him bust. ling in the full career of this pursuit,stops him tells him, if he is in search of happiness, he is far gone out of his way :--that this deity has long been banished from noise and tumults, where there was no rest found for her, and was fled into solitude far from all commerce of the world ; and, in a word, if he would find her, he must leave this busy and intriguing scene, and go back to that peaceful scene of retirement and books, from which he at first set out.
In this circle too often does man run, tries all experiments, and generally sits down weary and dissatisfied with them all at last,
-in utter despair of ever accomplishing what he wants-nor knowing what to trust to after so many disappointments,-or where to lay the fault, whether in the incapacity of his own nature, or the insufficiency of the enjoy. ments themselves.
In this uncertain and perplex'd state-without knowledge which way to turn or where to betake ourselves for refuge,--s0 often abused and deceived by the many who pretend thus to shew us any good, -Lord ! says the Psalmist, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us ! Send us some rays of thy grace and heavenly wisdom, in this benighted search after happiness, to direct us safely to it! O God! let us not wander forever without a guide, in this
dark region, in endless pursuit of our mistaken good, but enlighten our eyes that we sleep not in death ;-open to them the comforts of thy holy word and religion ;- lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, and make us know the joy and satisfaction of living in the true faith and fear of thee, which only can carry us to this haven of rest where we would be that sure haven, where true joys are to be found, which will at length not only answer all our expectations,mbut satisfy the most unbounded of our wishes forever and ever.
The words thus opened, naturally reduce the remaining part of the discourse under two heads. The first part of the verse,-" There be many that
say, Who will shew us any good ?"-To make some reflections upon the insufficiency of most of our enjoyments towards the attainment of happi. ness, upon some of the most received plans on which 'tis generally sought.
The examination of which will lead us up to the source and true secret of all happiness, suggested to us in the latter part of the verse :- Lord ! lift 66. thou up the light of thy countenance upon us,”that there can be no real happiness without religion and virtue, and the assistance of God's grace and Holy Spirit to direct our lives in the true pursuit of it.
Let us erquire into the disappointments of human happiness, on some of the most received plans on which 'tis generally sought for and expected by the bulk of mankind.
There is hardly any subject more exhausted, or which, at one time or other, has afforded more mata ter for argument and declamation than this
the insufficiency of our enjoyments. Scarce a reformed sensualist, from Solomon down to our own days, who has not in some fits of repentance or disappointment uttered some sharp reflection upon the emptiness of human pleasure, and of the vanity of vanities which discovers itself in all the pursuits of mortal man.-But the mischief has been, that, though so many good things have been said, they have generally had the fate to be considered either as the overflowings of disgust from sated appetites, which could no longer relish the pleasures of life ; or, as the declamatory opinions of recluse and splenetick men, who had never tasted them at all, and, consequently, were thought no judges of the matter. So that 'tis no great wonder, if the greatest part of such reflections, however just in themselves and founded on truth and a knowledge of the world, are found to leave little impression where the imagination was already heated with great expectations of future happiness ; and that the best lectures that have been read upon the vanity of the world, so seldom stop a man in the pursuit of the object of his desire, or give him half the conviction that the possession of it will, and what the experience of his own life, or a careful observation upon the life of others, do at length generally confirm to us all.
Let us endeavour then to try the cause upon this issue ; and, instead of recurring to the common arguments, or taking any one's word in the case, let us trust to matter of fact ; and if, upon enquiry, it appears that the actions of mankind are not to be accounted for upon any other principle but this of the insufficiency of our enjoyments, 'ıwill go further towards the establishment of the truth of this part of the discourse, than a thousand speculative arguments which might be offered upon the occasion.
Now, if we take a survey of the life of man from the time he is come to reason, to the latest decline of it in old age,we shall find him engaged, and generally hurried on in such a succession of different pursuits, and different opinions of things, through the different stages of his life, as will admit of no explication but this. That he finds no rest for the sole of his foot, on any of the plans where he has been led to expect it.
The moment he has got loose from tutors and governors, and is left to judge for himself, and pursue this scheme his own way, his first thoughts are generally full of the mighty happiness which he is going to enter upon, from the free enjoyment of the pleasures in which he sees others of his age and fortune engaged.
In consequence of this,-take notice how his imagination is caught by every glittering appearance that flatters this expectation.-Observe what im. pressions are made upon his senses by diversions, musick, dress, and beauty, and how his spirits are upon the wing, flying in pursuit of them, that you would think he could never have enough.
Leave him to himself a few years, till the edge of appetite is worn down, and you will scarce know him again. You will find him entered into engagements, and setting up for a man of business and conduct, talking of no other happiness but what centers in projects of making the most of this world, and providing for his children and children's children after them. Examine his notions, he will tell you, that the gayer pleasures of youth are only fit for