Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

What repose, what freedom, what genial relaxation after the burden and heat of the day, what recompense for toilfome labour and the fatigues of business, what a variety of pure enjoyment of nature, of innocence, of truth await him in the little circle of his family and friends whom he loves and by whom he is beloved ! How can his heart refuse to open all its avenues, to expand, to impart, and surrender itself to every agreeable idea and sensation, every noble sentiment of his inherent dignity, of his virtue, his proficiency in goodness, his faithfully discharged duty, his daily talk completed! How much fatiffaction and pleasure may here be given and received! And how much light, how much comfort, how much encouragement and consolation does he find in the enjoyment of friendship! What troubles does it not alleviate, what pain not mitigate, what cares and disquietudes does it not assuage! And how greatly does it heighten and multiply all his ad. vantages and joys! How often do the comforts of domestic life and the tender assiduities of friendship compensate superabundantly the want of all the outward goods of fortune, and render the poor

and humble man an object of envy to the rich and great, who have no knowledge of those comforts! And is it not generally our own fault if we know them not, possess them not, enjoy them not, and are not happy in the enjoyment ? Can it ever be entirely the case with the wise man, the virtuous man, the christian, who is in deed and in truth a christian ? CC3

Does

Does he not always bear about with him the faireft dispositions, the acutest sensibility, the richest materials, and can it be very difficult for him to furmount by degrees the obstacles he meets with, and by a mild, affectionate temper, by generous fentiments and actions to conquer whatever may be at variance with the enjoyment of these delights !

In this survey of the sources of human happiness, how is it possible for us to pass over one of the purest and most exuberant of them all, I mean the joys of devotion, and the prospect of everlasting continuance and everlasting happiness? What absence of outward privileges and endowments, what privation of them cannot this fupply! What enjoyment of good do they not sweeten and elevate, what apprehension of evil, what load of affliction, do they not weaken and alleviate! Yes, when I foar in spirit to the realms above ; when I behold all in its dependence on God, in its connection with him ; when I contemplate all as the work, as the arrangement, as the difpenfation of his hand, as subfervient to the greatest possible perfection; when I meditate on the intimate, the blessed relation in which I stand to the Almighty, the Allwise, the Allbountiful ; when I think and feel that I am his creature, his subject, his fon, that I am allied to angels, and of divine descent; when I pour out my heart before him, as to my father, who is essential love and benignity, commend my fortunes and those of all my brethren to his supreme disposal, and relign

myself

myself to his providence and to his promises; when I rejoice before him in my immortality, when I rejoice in the hope of approaching continually nearer to him, the Infinite, the Supremely Perfect, and of eternally growing in knowledge, in virtue, in happiness: how great indeed, how blissful must I then feel myself! What pure, what sublime delight then overflows my heart ! How great the preponder. ance then of my agreeable ideas and sensations over the disagreeable ones! How inconsiderable must the latter be in comparison of the former! And who hinders you, men, christians, who hinders you

from drawing daily your fill from this source of fatisfaction and pleasure ?

No, in sources of happiness you are not wanting, my dear friends; the brief survey we have now been making is a proof of it. They stand open to

No human power can shut them against you without your consent, they invite you all to enjoyment. They offer you all refreshment, comfort, satisfaction, pleasure, to the poor as well as to the rich, to the low as well as to the high, to the un. learned as well as to the learned. They are no less beneficial than innoxious, as pure as they are copious. Every one may draw from them in full measure, without the least detriment to another; none can drain them dry ; none can find them tasteless but by his own fault. No, nought but our own inattention and perverseness, nought but follies and fins can shut them against us, or disturb and atteCC4

nuate

you all.

nuate them and deprive them of their efficacy. Surely, my dear friends, he that, surrounded by these several sources of satisfaction and pleasure, pants for satisfaction and pleasure in vain ; he that, with all these means of happiness, is yet unhappy : he is so by his own fault; let him not accuse nature, not the author of nature, not any dire neceffity, but only himself. Prosperity and adversity rarely depend on us : but happiness and unhappiness are always in our power ; they entirely depend on our mind and manners, on the estimates we form of ourselves and of external objects, and on the use we make of them. Attention and reflection, wisdom and virtue and piety as certainly render us happy, as certainly as we resign ourselves to their influence and direction. Under the conduct therefore of these guides, make use, my dear friends, of the sources of happiness which your bountiful Father in heaven has opened and allotted to you; use them with dili. gence and fidelity ; taste and see in the enjoyment of them, how gracious the Lord is ; and glorify him, your sovereign benefactor, by a grateful, con- . tented and cheerful enjoyment of his bounties, which are not less various than they are great,

SERMON XLVI.

The Christian Doctrine concerning Happiness.

GOD, thou hast designed us all for happiness, and

furnished us with all the capacities and means for becoming actually happy. But how few of us reach this glorious object! How slowly we approach it! How frequently, fascinated by error and sin, do we mistake the way to it! In what obliquities and intricate mazes do we often pass the greater part of our lives! And then we complain of a deficiency of happiness ; perhaps censure thy wise settlements and disposals, murmur at thy difpensations, and bewail the melancholy lot of humanity. And yet it is we who load ourselves with the heaviest burdens of life, and the misery under which we so often figh, is misery of our own seeking, most of the sorrows that oppress us are the fruits of our own folly. Ah God, compassionate Father, have pity upon us ; do thou lead us back from our deviations. Yes, thou hast not abandoned thy erroneous, thy guilty children; thou hast

not

« ForrigeFortsæt »