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separable, in some degree, from every state on earth. Were it in the power of the world, to render those who attach themselves to it, satisfied and happy, you might then, I admit, have some title to complain if you found yourselves placed upon worse terms in the service of God. But this is so far from being the case, that among the multitude who devote themselves to earthly pleasures, you will not find a single person who has completely attained his aim. Inquire into the condition of the high and the low, of the gay and the serious, of the men of business and the men of pleasure, and you shall behold them all occupied in supplying some want, or in removing some distress. No man is pleased with being precisely what he is. Everywhere there is a void; generally, even in the most prosperous life, there is some corner possessed by sorrow. He who is engaged in business pines for leisure. He who enjoys leisure, languishes for want of employment. In a single state, we envy the comforts of a family. In conjugal life, we are chagrined with domestic cares.
In a safe station, we regret the want of objects for enterprise. In an enterprising life, we lament the want of safety. It is the doom of man that his sky should never be free from all clouds. He is, at pre
sent, in an exiled and fallen state.
The objects which surround him, are beneath his native dignity. God has tinged them all with vanity, on purpose to make him feel, that this is not his rest ; that here he is not in his
proper place, nor arrived at his true home.
If, therefore, you aim at a condition which shall be exempted from every disquiet, you pursue a phantom ; you increase the vanity and vexation of life, by engaging in a chase so fruitless. If you complain of virtue, because there is incident to it a portion of that uneasiness which is found in
every your complaint is most unreasonable. You claim an immunity from evil, which belongs not to the lot of man. Reconcile yourselves, then, to your condition; and, instead of looking for perfect happiness any where on earth, gladly embrace that state which contains the fewest sorrows.
II. Though no condition of human life is free from uneasiness, I contend, That the uneasiness belonging to a sinful course,
greater than what attends a course of well-doing. If you be weary of the labours of virtue, be assured, that the world, whenever you try the exchange, will lay upon you a niuch heavier load. It is the outside only of a licentious life, which
is gay and smiling. Within, it conceals toil and trouble, and deadly sorrow. For vice poisons human happiness in the spring, by introducing disorder into the heart. Those passions which it seems to indulge, it only feeds with imperfect gratifications; and thereby strengthens them for preying, in the end, on their unhappy victims.
It is a great mistake to imagine that the pain of self-denial is confined to virtue. He who follows the world as much as he who fol. lows Christ, must take up his cross; and to him, assuredly, it will prove a more oppressive burden. Vice allows all our passions to range uncontrolled ; and where each claims to be superior, it is impossible to gratify all. The predominant desire can only be indulged at the expence of its rival.
of its rival. No mortifications which virtue exacts, are more severe than those which ambition imposes upon the love of ease, pride upon interest, and covetousness upon vanity. Self-denial, therefore, belongs, in common, to vice and virtue; but with this remarkable difference, that the passions which virtue requires us to mortify, it tends to weaken; whereas those which vice obliges us to deny, it, at the same time, strengthens. The one diminishes the pain of self-denial, by moderating the demands of passion; the other increases it, by
rendering those demands imperious and violent. What distresses, that occur in the calm life of virtue, can be compared to those tortures which remorse of conscience inflicts on the wicked; to those severe humiliations, arising from guilt, combined with misfortunes, which sink them to the dust; to those violent agitations of shame and disappointment, which sometimes drive them to the most fatal extremities, and make them abhor their existence ? How often, in the midst of those disastrous situations, into which their crimes have brought them, have they cursed the seductions of vice; and, with bitter regret, looked back to the day on which they first forsook the path of innocence ?
But perhaps you imagine, that to such miseries as these, great criminals only are exposed; and that, by a wary and cautious management, it is possible to avoid them. Take vice and virtue, then, in the most general point of view. Compare God and the world as two masters, the one or other of whom you must obey; and consider fairly, in whose service there will be reason for your being weary soonest, and repenting most frequently. The world is both a hard and a capricious master. To submit to a long servitude, in the view of a recompence from which they are excluded in the end, is known to be often the fate of