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and the dark cloud is to arise ; and how soon that period is to come, you cannot tell. In

your health, or your fortune, or among your connections and friends, be assured that some trial awaits you. For human life never stands still for any long time. It is by no means a fixed and steady object, like the mountain or the rock which you always find in the same situation, it is a river continually moving and flowing. Neither is it the still and smooth stream which glides along with the same constant tenor; but a river which for a time may hold a regular course within its banks, till, being interrupted by rocks, it foams into a torrent, or, swoln by foreign currents, it lays waste the neighbouring plains. Amidst such vicissitudes of time and life, who has any title to reckon upon the future? - To faults, all are subject; to troubles, all are exposed. As that man is the most virtuous who can be charged with the fewest faults, so that life is the happiest which suffers the fewest troubles. To look for entire exemption from them, is to court disappointment.

At the same time, I do not mean to hold it forth as any precept of religion or wisdom, that we ought always to sadden the present hour by dwelling on the thoughts of future disappointment. What is given us, let us cheerfully enjoy, and render thanks to Him who bestows it. Virtue, conjoined with prudence, may reasonably afford the prospect of good days to come; for God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.* Such a prospect therefore he may innocently indulge, if he preserve always that temperance and moderation, that

* Eccles. ii. 26.

modesty and humility, which become one who knows that his state is ever in hazard of changing. But I mean to warn those, who, giving way to the elation of giddy hopes, lose the command of themselves, that by this intoxication of mind they are preparing the way for an alteration of state ; they are pushing forward the wheels of advancing change; they are accelerating their own downfall

. To them belongs that admonition of the wise man, would they seri. ously listen to it; If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many : all that cometh is vanity.*

II. We are not to expect, from our intercourse with others, all that satisfaction which we fondly wish. What the individual either enjoys or suffers by himself, exhibits only an imperfect view of his condition. In the present state of human affairs, we are all so closely interwoven with one another, that a very material part of our happiness or misery arises from the connections which we have with those who are around us, and the relations in which we stand to them. These, therefore, open a field within which our wishes and expectationss find an ample range. One of the first objects of wish to every one is to maintain a proper place and rank in society ; not to fall behind his equals ; but rather, if he can, to surpass them, so as to command consideration and respect from his neighbours. This, among the vain and ambitious, is always the favourite aim. With them it arises to immoderate expectations, founded

* Eccles. xi. 8.

on their supposed talents and imagined merits. But perhaps, in the hearts of all men, some wish of this nature lurks; some wish not to be overlooked in the crowd, but to attain that degree of distinction which they conceive they might reasonably claim.

With respect to claims of this sort it is to be apprehended that, among persons of all characters and descriptions, many an expectation must perish, and many a disappointment be endured. For such is the power which the sophistry of self-love exercises over us, that almost every one may be assured that he measures himself by a deceitful scale ; that he places the point of his own merit at a higher degree than others will admit that it reaches. All are jealous of the high pretensions of others. He who suspects a rival in his neighbour, will study every method of bringing him down to what he takes to be his proper level; nay, often of depreciating him below it. Hence the endless mortifications which the vain and self-conceited suffer. Hence the spleen and resentment which is so often breaking forth, disturbing the peace of society, and involving it in crimes and miseries. Were expectations more moderate, they would be more favourably received. Did we more rarely attempt to push ourselves into notice, the world would more readily allow us, nay, soinetimes assist us, to come forward. Were we content sometimes to remain in the shade, we would with more advantage come forth into sunshine, and find the brightness interrupted by fewer clouds.

In the closer connections which men form of intimate friendship and domestic life, there is still more reason for due moderation in our expectations and hopes. For the nearer that men approach to each other, the more

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numerous the points of contact are in which they touch, the greater indeed will be the pleasure of perfect symphony and agreements of feelings ; but, at the same time, if any harsh and repulsive sensations take place, the more grating and pungent will be the pain. — If you look for a friend or a partner of your life, in whose temper there is not to be found the least inequality, who upon no occasion is to be hurt or offended by any frailțies you discover, whose feelings are to harmonise in every trifle with yours, whose countenance is always to reflect the image of your own, you look for a pleasing phantom, which is never, or, at most, very rarely, to be found ; and if disappointment sour your mind, you

have

your own folly to blame. You ought to have considered that you live in a region of human infirmity, where every one has imperfections and failings. You assuredly have your own.

What reason had you to imagine, that the

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love and esteem was to be the only exception from the common fate? Here, if any where, it becomes you to overlook and forbear; and never to allow small failings to dwell on your attention so much as to deface the whole of an amiable character. From trifling misunderstandings arising from the most frivolous causes, springs much of the misery of social and domestic life. Hence is blasted many a pleasing blossom of hope; and many an expectation, which once promised unbroken har. mony, is left to perish. I shall only mention,

III. ANOTHER instance of what we are not to expect in the ordinary course of human affairs; that is, constant gratitude from those whoń we have most obliged and served. - I am far from saying that

gratitude is an unknown, or even a rare virtue among mankind; I think not so ill of human nature. On the contrary, it is my belief, that grateful sensations for favours received are very generally felt; and when no strong passion counteracts those sensations, that grateful returns are generally intended, and often are actually made. But then, our expectations of proper returns must be kept within moderate bounds. We must not carry them so far as to imagine, that gratitude is to produce unlimited compliance with every

desire which we choose to indulge; or that they whom we have obliged will altogether desert their own interest for the sake of their benefactors. Many circumstances, it is to be remembered, tend to cool the grateful emotion. Time always deadens the memory of benefits. Sometimes they are considered as having being fully recompensed, and the debt of gratitude repaid. As benefits conferred, are often under-rated by those who receive them, so they are sometimes over-valued by those who confer them. On persons of light and careless minds, no moral sentiment makes any deep impression; with such, the remembrance of both benefit and benefactor is apt to pass speedily away. With the proud spirit, which claims every thing as its due, gratitude is in a great measure incompatible. From persons of this character, we are never to expect it; and indeed from persons of any character, we are not to be surprised, if, in the present state of the world, it rises not so high as we thought we had reason to hope.

HAVING thus shown in some material instances, what we have no reason to expect in the ordinary course of human affairs, I turn next to the brighter side of

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