Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

procure us pleasure and delight, when our appetites are flattered, when our animal cravings are satisfied, when we feel and enjoy the value of health, of bodily strength, of riches, of outward festivity? Are we not as much, and more so, as often as we apply our mental faculties with consciousness, and not without successful effects ; as often as we meditate on important matters, or matters we hold to be important; as often as we discover any traces of truth; as often as we adjust or increase our knowledge of whatever kind? Are we not also happy as often as we apprehend the dignity of our nature, the grandeur of our destination, our blessed connections with the deity; as often as we maintain, like rational free agents, the dominion over ourselves, and over the things that are without us; as often as we thence obtain a victory over evil; as often as we observe that we are drawing nearer to christian perfection ? Are we not so, as often as we form a good design, or bring it to effect; as often as we are actuated by benevolence and affeca tion towards others; as often as we are employed in beneficence ; as often as we have completed some useful work, or faithfully discharged our duty ? Are we not so even then when we sacrifice something to duty and to virtue, or to the common interest; when we bear and suffer for others from magnanja mity or friendship; when we endure adversity and misfortunes with fortitude, and become wiser and better by them; in the sentiment of progressive

virtue

2 2

virtue and approving heaven? Oh, how much more contented, how much more happy is oftentimes the obscure, but reflecting and virtuous moralist, the suffering but pious chriftian, than the opulent and dignified voluptuary, who is all flesh, and knows no other pleasures than what his senses procure him! How much more real and lasting pleasure does often one hour of calm and luminous contemplation on serious subjects, and the sedate enjoyment of our mental powers, afford us, than whole days of noisy and tumultuous mirth! How much more does one generous or goodnatured act contribute to our satisfaction, than a round of transient sensual amusements! And yet how seldom are these purer pleasures, these sublimer joys, brought into the account, in taking estimates of human happiness!

Wouldst thou lastly, o man, calculate properly thy own and thy brother's happiness; consider the human creature not barely in certain epochas or times, but in the whole capacity of his life and fortunes. Connect the past, the present and the future, so together in thy thoughts, as in the nature of things they are connected together. If this or that period of the life of a man appears cloudy and dark, another will cast - more light upon it, and evince more happiness enjoyed. The first entrance on business, on active life, is generally difficult and laborious, and its progress brings fatisfa&tion and pleasure. Sometimes youth, sometimes manhood,

is

is wealthier in happiness. Oftentimes there is more enjoyment in this life, often more qualification and preparation for future enjoyment. Wouldst thou ascertain the sum of thy own or thy brother's happiness ; fet all these against each other, reckon all agreeable and cheerful sensations together, the innocent sportive delights of childhood, the livelier joys of youth, the more rational, nobler pleasures of the mature and advanced age. Think on all thou hast enjoyed and art still enjoying of agreeable and good, and also what thou mayst hope to enjoy in future ; on all that thou art and hast and dost, that is good and profitable, and that thou mayst and wilt be and have and do in all succeeding times. Forget not that thou art immortal, that thou art ordained to everlasting happiness, that thou art already happy in hope; and, from the first-fruits, conclude of the full harvest ; from the sweets of the foretaste, of the deliciousness of complete fruition. These rules will guide thee safely in appreti. ating human happiness, and enable thee to perceive its true nature and magnitude,

On the whole, my christian brother, conclude, that man was not made for misery by his creator and father, but was formed for happiness; that to this end he is endowed with dispositions and capaci. ties for it ; that he finds in himself and without him the most various and abundant sources of satisfaction and pleasure ; and that it is almost always his own fault when he does not draw from them fatif.

2 3

faction

faction and joy. Farther conclude, that human happiness is no insignificant, contemptible matter, as the unfortunate and the melancholy at times re. present it to be, that none but the misanthropist can wholly be blind to it, none but the inconfiderate and thoughtless can hold it for a trifling object. And assuredly conclude, that there is far, far more agreeable than disagreeable sensation, far more happiness than misery among mankind, far, far more good than evil in the world. In fine, exalt this comfortable idea by the just and grand sentiment; that in the kingdom of God, the God of love, hapa piness will always abide, and be augmenting and spreading; and that on the other hand, misery will be ever diminishing and at length entirely cease, and be succeeded by perfection and bliss. So wilt thou think worthily of God, and justly of the state and destination of man. So wilt thou be always cheerful in the present life, and be constantly more fitted for the future.

SERMON XLIII.

Settlement of our Notions concerning human Happiness,

GOD, eternal, inexhaustible fountain of life, of

joy, of happiness! from thee flow life and joy and happiness on every part of thy immense creation. Whatever thou, Allgracious, hast created, thou hast formed for happiness, and thy wisdom never fails of its ends. However various the me. thods by which thou leadest thy creatures to their destination, they by one way or another, sooner or later, infallibly reach it. Us too, thy children on earth, hast thou, our merciful Father, destined to happiness, made us susceptible of it, and pointed out and opened to us numerous and exuberant sources both within us and without us, from which we may draw fatisfaction and pleasure. To none of us all are these sources entirely shut, none draw from them in vain. Might we but seek our happiness there alone where it is really to be found, and as thankfully, as cheerfully enjoy, and as properly use that portion of it which thou hast decreed to

each

24

« ForrigeFortsæt »