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THINGS OPPOSED TO THE PLEASURES OF HUMAN
In vain, alas! from shore to shore,
In search of bliss we roam,
Our best reside at home.
Our truest joys we find;
And leave no sting behind.
HAPPINESS does not consist in worldly advantages. Many seem to be unhappy, and yet are not so. Oft have you been shocked at the lot of the upright and virtuous man. His whole course of life is a pattern of the purest virtue and piety. He is a sincere and zealous worshipper of God, a rational and undissembling Christian. He is a model of temperance, of industry, of justice; all unlawful means of becoming rich and great, all the arts of craft and fraud, are an abomination to him; an incorruptible integrity dwells in his heart, and characterizes all his actions. He is a general philanthropist, dedicating his faculties to the good of his country and that of his fellow-citizens, with heartfelt pleasure. Notwithstanding all this, he may sit in the dust; his services may be unrequited and forgotten. This wise, this righteous man, is under the authority of a fool or a tyrant, and his virtue is despised, while the wickedness of the more powerful is crowned with honour. Himself and his family are involved in difficulties, and he has not much more than a bare sufficiency for the sustenance of life. You pity his hard fate; you compassionate his seemingly
bad circumstances; you wish him better, and his virtue a worthier lot: but you deceive yourselves; appearances have blindfolded you. He is happier than the vicious prince on the throne. He is free from the bondage of the passions, and is master of himself. His innocence covers him; he wraps himself up in his virtue; and his dwelling is the dwelling of peace. He knows that God is bis father and his friend, who wil. never forsake him, never withdraw his favour fron him. His days flow on without any anxious cares" his happiness is not dependent on any events. The good testimony of his conscience attends him whereve he goes ; it alleviates the most pungent amictions He can lift up his eyes to heaven in confidence and joy, and rely on the mercy and help of the God who dwells therein. His soul is serene, and enjoys the peace of God which surpasses all conception. He finds, in the consciousness of his integrity, in the approbation and grace of the Almighty, and in the expectation of a future life, far more sources of joy than that imaginary darling of fortune can meet with in all his dissipations. Content gives a relish to his food, and makes his labour easy and pleasant. He falls into the arms of sleep with an unruffled spirit, and tastes the sweets of it undisturbed and entire. He can think with terror on death and the grave. He has the loveliest prospects before him, and the approach of his end is welcome to him, as announcing the enjoyment of ineffable and interminable felicity.
And, indeed, how much more contented, how much more happy is oftentimes the obscure but reflecting and virtuous moralist, the suffering but pious Christian, than the opulent and dignified voluptuary, who is all flesh, and knows no other pleasure than what bis senses procure him! How much more real and lasting pleasure does one hour of calm and luminous contemplation on serious subjects, and the sedate enjoyment of our mental powers, often afford us, than whole days of noisy and tumultuous mirth! How much more does one generous or good-natured act contribute to our satisfaction, than a round of transient
ment of on on serious wh! Of calm and imi and lastsensual amusements! and yet bow seldom are these purer pleasures, these sublimer joys, brought into the account, in forming an estimate of human happiness!
Als, in all ranks, melancholy and unhappy persons are to be found, so there are likewise in all ranks others who are pleased and happy; and it is no easy matter to decide whether, all things considered, more pleasure and happiness subsist among the bigher or among the lower classes of mankind. In order to be happy, great riches, splendid distinctions, various accommodations and amusements, are by no means so requisite as well-regulated' affections, and a cheerful contented disposition; and this frame of mind is not necessarily attached to any particular station, to any one class of men. It is partly a boon of Providence, not dispensed according to rank and dignity, and partly the result of a rational upright carriage, which every man may obtain. Happiness has its seat within uś, and not without us. It depends far more on our temper and conduct, than on the externals that we have or have not. Pleasure is every where to be found, but it shews not itself every where in the same form. As the tastes of men are various, various also are their pleasures. One man seeks it in mmerous brilliant companies, another in the circle of his family and friends; one in noise, another im retiremert; the former in sprightly discourse and trials of wit or sagacity, the latter in familiar conversations on domestic affairs. If the former is charmed with the fascinating power of music, the latter is delighted with the melodious warbling of birds. If the former entertains himself in contemplating the works of art, the other is delighted with the magnificent scenes of nature. If the former is transported at the sight of his riches, his treasures of silver and gold; the latter rejoices no less in the blessing of a plentiful harvest or vintage. Children have their sports; the populace have their diversions; the wealthy citizen his pastime; the courtier his festivities; the sage his hours of recreation.
The following sentiments of an old poet are worthy of attention:
My conscience is my.crown,
Contented thoughts my rest; My heart is, happy in itself,
My bliss is in my breast.
That mean, the surest lot,
Too low for envy's shot.
All easy to fulfil:
The bounds unto my will.
I fear no care for gold,
Well-doing is my wealth; My mind, to me, an empire is,
While grace affordeth health. I clip high-elimbing thoughts,
The wings of swelling pride; Their fall is worst, that from the height
Of greatest honour slide. Since sails of largest size
The storm doth, soonest tear; I bear so low and small a sail
As freeth me from fear. I wrestle not with rage,
While fury's flame. doth burn; "It's vain to stop the stream
Until the tide doth turn. But when the flame is out,
And ebbing wrath doth end,
Intoja, quiet friend.
A temper'd calm I find
Best cure for angry mind.
My clothes more fit thąn fine; I know I'feed and clothe a foe,
That, pamper'd, would repine. I-envy not their hap,
Whom favour doth advance; I take no pleasure in their pain,
That have less happy chance.
To rise by others' fall
I deem a losing gain;
To ruin run amain.
Can cast my comforts down :
How quickly she will frown.
She prov'd an angry foe,
Less loss to let her go. Would we then learn contentment, we must study to form just conceptions of the value of things, and of human perfection and happiness. Neither the glare of honour, nor the lustre of gold, nor the noise and pomp of lofty station, nor the riotous mirth of the gay and thoughtless, who run from one amusement and diversion to another, should be permitted to deceive us. We should learn to distinguish reality from appearance, truth from disguise. Let us not trust to every occasion, every person, that promises us felicity, or that pretends to possess it. Let us not seek contentment on the theatre and on the tumult of the great world ; not in the circles of brilliant company, where scarcely any one is that which he seems to be, and where scarcely any one feels that which he pretends to feel. We should seek her not there, where the senses and the mind are stunned,—the tender sensibilities of the heart obtunded. No! she loves the retired and silent walks of life; scenes of innocence, simplicity and nature; mild, serene, domestic joys;she dwells where animated thought, bright consciousness of unassuming exertion, undisguised and free communication of sentiments and feelings, are found. At the same time we should beware lest we confound means and ends together; or hold that wbich may contribute somewhat to our perfection and happiness, for perfection and happiness itself. They are entirely within us, depending wholly on our judgment and apprehension, on the degree of wisdom, of virtue, of