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each of us, as is necessary to thy views and to our welfare! Might we be continually acquiring juster notions of human happiness and of the way that leads to it, and learning better how to distinguish it from semblance and deception, and with ever greater circumspection be walking that way! Might we even now, that we are about to meditate on these matters, pursue our reflections with that seriousness and attention which the importance of the subject demands. Enlighten us by thy light, and guide us by thy holy spirit. Let thy truth dispel our prejudices and errors, and grant that we may obediently follow its directions and precepts.
Oh hearken to our supplications, which we present unto thee in the name of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ, reposing our entire confidence in his promises, and further invoking thee in his words : Our father, &c.
LUKE, xii. 15.
A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things
which he poffefseth.
VERY living and thinking creature, my pious
hearers, is panting in the pursuit of happiness, the child and the youth, as well as the ripened man and the hoary head, the rough uncultivated man of nature and the more civilized and polished member of society, the ignorant as well as the learned, the
volatile as well as the grave, he who has reflected on happiness and explored its various sources, as well as he to whom both the term and the idea are alike unknown and strange. Every one is desirous to rejoice in the life and the faculties which he feels within him ; every one to enjoy as much property, as many accommodations and pleasures, as he knows and can acquire ; every one abhors and shuns all disagreeable, painful ideas and feelings; every one wishes to augment the sum as well as the vivacity and force of his agreeable ideas and feelings. If the one acts with consciousness and consideration; the other, in the same pursuit, follows merely an inward irresistible instinct, an obscure sensation. If the one acts upon principles and determinate views; the other suffers himself to be blindly led by the impressions and collisions of outward things, or by his sensual animal feelings. Al run after the same object : but the ways they strike into to that end, tend very far asunder. None even entirely miss of their purpose: but most of them attain to it along very toilfome roads, after long and dangerous deviations, after many
vexatious disappointments; attain to it only late, only very imperfectly, and pains and for. rows mark most of the steps they have made.
But, since the longing and the endeavouring after happiness is so natural to man, and is so inti. mately blended with all that he thinks and wills and does; it is undoubtedly of the utmost moment, that he should give them the proper direction; that direction whereby he may the most certainly, the mot fafely, the most completely accomplish his desire. Whoever is once arrived at that stage of human culture that he can reflect on happiness and misery, and on the means and fources of it, and is frequently and cogently summoned to reflect upon them, should not satisfy himself with obscure and confused ideas on these subjects. Otherwise he would be still farther from the mark than his unenlightened, entirely sensual brother. He should rather strive to adjust and always more accurately to adjust and to determine his ideas on this important matter. We, my pious hearers, we are at that stage of civilization: as persons who are acquainted with their intellectual faculties and understand the use of them; and as christians, who have a superior light to enlighten and to guide them on the way of truth. Let us assert our privileges by forming to ourselves just conceptions of human happiness. This is the de.
my present discourse. A man's life, says Jesus in our text, consists not in, no man lives, no man is rendered happy, by the abundance of his possessions. This expression of our divine teacher points out to us the track by which we are to seek, or not to seek our happiness. Let us pursue this track by circumstantially inquir. ing wherein our happiness confifts or does not consist, and by what way we may most surely arrive at it. Subjects of reflection certainly meriting our ut. most attention and our most cordial participation.
A man's life consists not in the abundance of his poffessions; therefore, human happiness consists not in the possession of outward endowments and advantages, not in wealth and affluence, not in elevation and power, not in these things that mankind reckon worldly prosperity. Experience teaches us that a man may have all these things, that he may possess them in an ample, a superfluous degree, and yet be unhappy; and that on the other hand he may be destitute of all or of the greatest part of these things, and yet be happy. Or, are all, are even most of the rich and great and powerful happy? Are they content, pleased, satisfied ? Are they truly comfortable in what they have and possess ? Do they find in the use and enjoyment of it, all that they hoped and expected from it ? Do they enjoy it without apprehensions and without cares? Do these advantages shield them from all the troubles and vexations of life, from pains and ficknesses, from the effects of envy and jealousy, from the pernicious violence of irregular and destructive passions ? Are not their wants very often only so much the more numerous and great, their desires and appetites the more violent and insatiable, in proportion as they have more means and opportunities to comply with them, and to hearken to their impetuous cravings? Does not frequently their dependence on others, their servitude, their actual slavery, increase in proportion as they want more things and persons to the gratification of their desires and to the execution of their projects? On the other hand, are all those unhappy, who live in an inferior station, who are destitute of the goods of fortune and outward ad. vantages ? Are all, are many of the sources of pleafure, shut up against them? Are peace of mind, fatisfaction, joy unknown and foreign to them? Do they not frequently enjoy them in a far superior degree, far more carelessly and freely, than those pretended favourites of fortune? Does not the lowliness and obscurity of their station secure them from a thousand dangers and troubles? Have they not all that nature and religion offer to the man and the christian, in common with the rich and the mighty? is not generally their taste less vitiated, and their fenfibility stronger and more lively? Is not their happiness dependent on much fewer accidental and tranfient objects ? Cannot a man very often be far more blithe in himself and his existence, in filence and in folitude than in noise and tumult? No, my dear friends, outward welfare, wealth, superfluity, elevation, power, pomp and splendour may in themfelves confilt with happiness; they do not always exclude it; they have a tendency rather, when rightly estimated and used as subordinate means, to promate it : but they form no necessary, no effen. tial part of it. The absence of them is not always, is not in most cases, attended by the want of happinefs. This can very well subsist without them, it is feen very