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great variety of bye-paths, seeking the way to make a proper improvement of life, almost always hunting for that chief good where it is not to be found. They must first be recalled from this rambling and fruitless course, before they can possibly be directed into the right road. I shall not spin out this negative proposition by dividing the subject of it into several branches, and insisting separately upon every one of them; but consider all these errors and mistakes, both vulgar and practical, speculative and philosophical, however numerous they may be, as comprehended under one general head, and fully obviate them all by one single proposition, which with Divine assistance, I shall explain to you in this lecture, and that very briefly.

The proposition is, That human felicity, or that full and complete good that is suited to the nature of man, is not to be found in the earth, nor in earthly things.

Now, what if, instead of further proof or illustration, I should only say—If this perfect felicity is to be found within this visible world, or the verge of this earthly life, let him, I pray, who hath found it out, stand forth; let him tell who can, what star, of whatever magnitude, what constellation or combination of stars, has so favourable an aspect, and so benign an influence, or what is that singular good, or assemblage of good things in this earth, that can confer upon mankind a happy life. All things that, like bright stars, have hitherto attracted the eyes of men, vanishing in a few days, have proved themselves to be comets, not only of no benign, but even of pernicious influence : according to the saying, “ There is no comet but what brings some mischief along with it *.” All that have ever lived during so many ages that the world has hitherto lasted, noble and ignoble, learned and unlearned, fools and wise men, have gone

in search of happiness: has ever any one of them all, in times past, or is there any one at this day that has said, Eugnia, I have found it? Different men have given different definitions and descriptions of it, and according to their various turns of mind, have

'Ουδείς γαρ κομήτες όστις ου κακόν φέρει,

painted it in a great variety of shapes ; but, since the creation of the world, there has not been so much as one who ever pretended to say, Here it is, I have it, and have attained the full possession of it. Even those from whom most was to be expected, men of the utmost penetration, and most properly qualified for such researches, after all their labour and industry, have acknowledged their disappointment, and that they had not found it. But it would be wonderful indeed, that there should be any good suited to human nature, and to which mankind were born, and yet that it never fell to the share of any one individual of the sons of men : unless it be said, that the things of life, in this respect, resemble the speculations of the schools; and that, as they talk about objects of knowledge that were never known, so there is some good attainable by men, which was never actually attained.

But to look a little more narrowly into this matter, and take a transient view of the several periods of life. Infants are so far from attaining to happiness, that they have not yet arrived at human life; yet, if they are compared with those of riper year, they are, in a low and improper sense, with regard to two things, innocence and ignorance, happier than men; for there is nothing that years add to infancy so invariably, and in so great abundance, as guilt and pollution; and the experience and knowledge of the world which they give us, do not so much improve the head, as they vex and distress the heart. So that the great man represented in the tragedy embracing his infant, who knew nothing of his own misery, seems to have had some reason to say,

“ That those who know nothing enjoy the happiest life." And to be sure, what we gain by our progress from infancy to youth, is, that we thereby become more exposed to the miseries of life, and, as we improve in the knowledge of things, our pains and torments are also increased : for either children are put to servile employments, or mechanic arts: or if they happen to have a more genteel and liberal education,

* Το γνώναι μηδέν εστιν ήδιστος βιός; ;


very thing turns to a punishment, as they are thereby subjected to rods, chastisements, and the power of

parents and instructors, which is often a kind of petty tyranny; and, when the yoke is lightened with the greatest prudence, it still seems hard to be borne, as it is above the capacity of their young minds, thwarts their wishes and inclinations, and encroaches upon their beloved liberty.

Youth, put in full possession of this liberty, for the most part ceases to be master of itself; nor can it be so truly said to be delivered from its former misery, as to exchange it for a worse, even that very liberty. It leaves the harbour, to sail through quicksands and Syrens; and when both these are passed, launches out into the deep sea. Alas! to what various fates is it there exposed! How many contrary winds does it meet with! How many storms threatening it with shipwreck ! How many shocks has it to bear from avarice, ambition, and envy, either in consequence of the violent stirrings of those passions within itself, or the fierce attacks of them from without! And amidst all these tempests, the ship is either early overwhelmed, or broken by storms; and, worn out by old age, at last falls to pieces.

Nor does it much signify what state of life one enters into, or what rank he holds in human society; for all forms of business and conditions of life, however various you may suppose them to be, are exposed to a much greater variety of troubles and distresses, some to pressures more numerous and more grievous than others, but all to a great many, and every one to some peculiar to itself. If you devote yourself to ease and retirement, you cannot avoid the reproach and uneasiness that constantly attend an indolent, a useless, and lazy life. If

you engage in business, whatever it be, whether you commence merchant, soldier, farmer, or lawyer, you always meet with toil and hazard, and often with heavy misfortunes and losses. Celibacy exposes to solitude; marriage, to solicitude and cares. Without learning, you appear plain and unpolished; but on the other hand, the study of letters is a matter of immense

labour, and, for the most part, brings in but very little, either with regard to the knowledge you acquire by it, or the conveniences of life it procures. But I will enlarge no further.

. You find the Greek and Latin poets lamenting the calamities of life, in many parts of their works, and at great length: nor do they exaggerate in the least; they even fall short of the truth, and only enumerate a few evils out of many.

The Greek epigram ascribed by some to Prosidipus ; by others, to Crates the Cynic philosopher, begins thus, “What state of life ought one to choose?” and having enumerated them all, concludes in this manner : 66 There are, then, only two things eligible, either never to have been born, or to die as soon as one makes his appearance in the world*.”

But now, leaving the various periods and conditions of life, let us, with great brevity run over those things which are looked upon to be the greatest blessings in it, and see whether


of them can make it completely happy. Can this be expected from a beautiful outside ? No; this has rendered many miserable, but never made one happy. For suppose it to be sometimes attended with innocence, it is surely of a fading and perishing nature, “the sport of time or disease t." Can it be expected from riches ?” Surely no; for how little of them does the owner possess, even supposing his wealth to be ever so great! What a small part of them does he use or enjoy bimself! And what has he of the rest but the pleasure of seeing them with his eyes? Let his table be loaded with the greatest variety of delicious dishes, he fills his belly out of one; and if he has a hundred beds, he lies but in one of them. Can the kingdoms, thrones, and sceptres of this world, confer happiness? No; we learn from the histories of all ages, that not a few have been tumbled down from these by sudden and unexpected revolutions, and those not such as were void of conduct or

* Ποιην τοι βιότοιο τάμοις τρίβον.-Εσταρω τοϊν δυοϊν ένος αιρεσις ή το γενεσθαι μεδεποτ' ή θανείν αυτίκα τικτoμαινον. ,

* Χρόνου ή νόσου παιγνιον.

courage, but men of great and extraordinary abilities. And that those who met with no such misfortunes, were still far enough from happiness, is very plain from the situation of their affairs, and, in many cases, from their own confession. The saying of Augustus is well known: “I wish I had never been married, and had died childless *.” And the expression of Severus at his death, “I became all things, and yet it does not profit met." But the most noted saying of all, and that which best deserves to be known, is that of the wisest and most flourishing king, as well as the greatest preacher, who, having exactly computed all the advantages of his exalted dignity and royal opulence, found this to be the sum total of all, and left it on record for the inspection of posterity and future ages, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

All this may possibly be true with regard to the external advantages of men; but may not happiness be found in the internal goods of the mind, such as wisdom and virtue? Suppose this granted; still that they may confer perfect felicity, they must, of necessity, be perfect themselves. Now, shew me the man, who, even in his own judgment, has attained to perfection in wisdom and virtue: even those who were accounted the wisest, and actually were so, acknowledged they knew nothing ; nor was there one among the most approved philosophers, whose virtues were not allayed with many blemishes. The same must be said of piety and true religion, which, though it is the beginning of felicity, and tends directly to perfection, yet, as in this earth it is not full and complete itself, it cannot make its possessors perfectly happy. The knowledge of the most exalted minds is very obscure, and almost quite dark, and their practice of virtue, lame and imperfect. And indeed, who can have the boldness to boast of perfection in this respect, when he hears the great Apostle complaining of the law of the flesh, and pathetically exclaiming, Who shall deliver me from

* "Αιθ όφελον άγαμός τ' έμεναι άγονός σ' απολεσαι.
* Πάντα εγενόμην και ου λυσιτελεί.

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