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temper. You will see one man undergo, with scarce the expense of a sigh,-what another, in the bitterness of his soul, would go mourning for all his life long:-Nay, a hasty word, or an unkind look, to a soft and tender nature, will strike deep. er than a sword to the hardened and senseless.— If these reflections hold true with regard to misfortunes, they are the same with regard to enjoyments: We are formed differently ;-have different tastes and perceptions of things;--by the force of habit, education, or a particular cast of mind, it happens, that neither the use or possession of the same enjoyments and advantages, produce the same happiness and contentment; but that it differs in every man almost according to his temper and complexion ;-so that the self-same happy accidents in life, which shall give raptures to the choleric or sanguine man, shall be received with indifference by the cold and phlegmatic;-and so oddly perplexed are the accounts of both human happiness and misery in this world,-that trifles, light as air, shall be able to make the hearts of some men sing for joy; at the same time that others, with real blessings and advantages, without the power of using them, have their hearts heavy and discontented.
Alas! if the principles of contentment are not within us, the height of station and worldly grandeur, will as soon add a cubit to a man's stature, as to his happiness.
This will suggest to us how little away we have gone towards the proof of any man's happines,-in barely saying,- Lo! this man prospers in the world, and this man has riches in possession.
When a man has got much above us, we také it for granted that he sees some glorious prospects, and feels some mighty pleasures from his height; whereas, could we get up to him-it is great odds whether we should find any thing to
make us tolerable amends for the pains and trouble of climbing up so high.-Nothing, perhaps, but more dangers and more troubles still ;-and such a giddiness of head besides, as to make a wise man wish he was well down again upon the level. To calculate, therefore, the happiness of mankind by their stations and honors, is the most deceit ful of all rules.Great, no doubt, is the happiness which a moderate fortune, and moderate desires, with a consciousness of virtue, will secure a man. Many are the silent pleasures of the honest peasant, who rises cheerfully to his labor.Look into his dwelling,-where the scene of every man's happiness chiefly lies;-he has the same domestic endearments,- as much joy and comfort in his children, and as flattering hopes of their doing well,-to enliven his hours, and glad his heart, as you could conceive in the most affluent station And I make no doubt, in general, but if the true account of his joys and sufferings were to be balanced with those of his bettersthat the upshot would prove to be little more than this, that the rich man had the more meat,but the poor man the better stomach;--the one had more luxury,-more able physicians to attend and set him to rights;-the other more health and soundness in his bones, and less occasion for their help ;-that, after these two articles betwixt them were balanced,- -in all other things they stood upon a level that the sun shines as warm, the air blows as fresh, and the earth breathes as fragrant, upon the one as the other; and that they have an equal share in all the beauties and real benefits of nature. These hints may be sufficient to show, what I proposed from them, -the difficulties which attend us in judging truly either of the happiness or the misery of the bulk of mankind, the evidence being still more defective in this case (as the matter of fact is hard VOL. III. Na
to come at)than even in that of judging of the true characters; of both which, in general, we have such imperfect knowledge, as will teach us candor in our determinations upon each other.
But the main purport of this discourse, is, to teach us humility in our reasonings upon the ways of the Almighty.
That things are dealt unequally in this world, is one of the strongest natural arguments for a future state,and therefore is not to be overthrown: Nevertheless,I am pursuaded the charge is far from being as great as at first sight it may appear; or if it is-that our views of things are so narrow and confined, that it is not in our power to make it good.
But suppose it otherwise, that the happiness and prosperity of bad men were as great as our general complaints make them, and, what is not the case-that we were not able to clear up the matter, or answer it reconcileably with GOD'S justice and providence ;-what shall we infer ?Why, the most becoming conclusion is,—that it is one instance more, out of many others, of our ignorance. Why should this, or any other religious difficulty he cannot comprehend,-why should it alarm him more than ten thousand o ther difficulties, which every day elude his most exact and attentive search ?-Does not the mean. est flower in the field, or the smallest blade of grass, baffle the understanding of the most penetrating mind?-Can the deepest inquirers after nature tell us, upon what particular size and motion of parts, the various colors and tastes of vegetables depend;-why one shrub is laxative,another restringent ;-why arsenic and hellebore should lay waste this noble frame of ours, or opium lock up all the inroads to our senses,-and plunder us, in so merciless a manner, of reason and understanding ?-Nay, have not the most ob
vious things that come in our way, dark sides, which the quickest sight cannot penetrate into? and do not the clearest and most exalted under standings find themselves puzzled, and at a loss in every particle of matter?
Go then,-proud man!-and when thy head turns giddy with opinions of thy own wisdom, that thou wouldst correct the measures of the Almighty, go then,-take a full view of thyself in this glass: Consider thy own faculties,-how narrow and imperfect ;-how much they are chequered with truth and falshood;-how little arrives at thy knowledge, and how darkly and confusedly thou discernest éven that little, as in a glass : -Consider the beginnings and endings of things, the greatest and the smallest, how they all conspire to baffle thee ;—and, which way ever thou prosecutest thy inquiries,what fresh subjects of amazement,-and what fresh reasons to believe there are more yet behind, which thou canst never comprehend.-Consider,-these are but a part of his ways,-How little a portion is heard of him! Canst thou, by searching, find out God?-wouldst thou know the Almighty to perfection ?—It is as high as heaven, what canst thou do?It is deeper than hell, how canst thou know it?
Could we but see the mysterious workings of providence, and were we able to comprehend the whole plan of his infinite wisdom and goodness, which possibly may be the case in the final consummation of all things ;—those events, which we are now so perplexed to account for, would probably exalt and magnify his wisdom, and make us cry out with the apostle, in that rapturous exclamation,-! the depth of the riches both of the goodness and wisdom ofGOD !-how unsearchable are his ways, and his paths past finding out! Now to GoD, &c.
The Ingratitude of Israel.
2 KINGS Xvii. 7.
For so it was,that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their GOD, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt.
HE words of the text account for the cause of a sad calamity, which is related, in the foregoing verses, to have befallen a great number of Israelites, who were surprised in the capital city of Samaria, by Hosea king of Assyria, and cruelly carried away by him out of their own country, and placed on the desolate frontiers of Halah, and in Haber by the river Gozan, and in the city of the Medes, and there confined to end their days in sorrow and captivity. Upon which the sacred historian, instead of accounting for so sad an event merely from political springs and causes, such, for instance, as the superior strength and policy of the enemy,-or an unseasonable provocation given,-or that proper measures of defence were neglected ;-he traces it up, in one word, to its true cause:For so it was, says he,that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their GoD, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt.-It was surely a sufficient foundation to dread some evil,that they had sinned against that Being who had an unquestionable right to their obedience.-But, what an aggravation was it, that they had not only sinned simply against the truth, but against the GoD of mercies, who had brought them forth out of the land of Egypt ;- -who not only created, upheld, and favored them with so many advantages in common with the rest of their fellow creatures, but who had been particularly kind to them in their misfortunes ;-who, when