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trived; for even Aristotle's perfection of virtue, as well as what the Stoics fancied concerning their wise man, are mere fictions. They are nothing but dreams and fancies, that ought to be banished to Utopia. For what they describe is no where to be found among men, and, if it were, it would not constitute complete felicity. So far, indeed, they are to be commended, that they call in the mind from external enjoyments to itself; but in this they are defective, that when the mind is returned to itself, they carry it no further, nor direct it to ascend, as it were, above itself. They sometimes, it is true, drop such expressions as these, “ That there can be no good disposition of the mind without God *;" and that, in order to be happy, the soul must be raised up to divine things: they also tell 66 That the wise man loves God most of all, and for this reason is the most happy man t." But these
expressions they drop only at random, and by the bye. O! how much fuller and clearer are the instructions of the Teacher sent down from heaven : Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matt. v. 3.
But because the purest minds of the saints, while they sojourn in this earth, still retain some mixture of earthly dross, and arise not to perfect purity; therefore, they cannot yet enjoy the full vision of God, nor, consequently, that perfect happiness which is inseparably connected with it. For they see only darkly, and through a glass. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. But with the advantage even of this obscure light, they direct their steps, and go on cheerful and unwearied. The long-wished-for day will at length come, when they will be admitted into the fullest light. That day, which the unhappy men of this world dread as their last, the sons of light wish for, as their nativity into an endless life, and embrace it with the greatest joy when it comes. And this, indeed, seems to me to be the strongest argument for another life and an immortality to come. For, since no complete or absolutely perfect happiness
* Nullam posse esse sine Deo bonam mentem
is to be found in this life, it must certainly follow, that either there is no such thing to be had any where, or we must live again somewhere after our period here is out. And, O! what fools are we, and how slow of heart to believe, who think so rarely, and with such coolness, of that blessed country; and that, in this parched and thirsty land, where even those few who are so happy have only some foretastes of that supreme happiness. But when they remove hence, they shall be abundantly satisfied (or, as the word ought to be translated, inebriabuntur, intoxicated,) O Lord, with the fatness of Thy house, and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. Psal. xxxvi. 9. Thus the divine Psalmist expresses it ; and, to be sure, it is very surprising, that the great and ancient philosopher Pythagoras, in communicating his thoughts upon the same subject, should happen to fall upon the
very same figure; for he used to promise those of his disciples who conducted themselves right in this life, that they should be continually drunk* in that which is to come.
But what we have said formerly, of the felicity of the life to come, and all that we could say, were we to treat of the same subject over again, is but mere trifling. And yet, it is not disagreeable to hear children speak, even with stammering, about the dignity of their father, and of the riches and magnificence of his inheritance. It is pleasant and decent to speak of our native country, even while we are sojourning in a foreign land. But, for the present, I shall insist no longer on this subject, but, turning the tables, lay before you that dreadful punishment which stands in opposition to this happiness, by presenting you only with a transient view of the future misery of the wicked. And though this is indeed a most unpleasant task, yet nothing but our own carelessness and inattention can render it useless.
Here, first of all, it is to be observed, that as, in this life, there is no perfect felicity; so neither here is there any com
* Melny asyvaoy.
plete misery. Those whom we look upon as the most wretched in this world, have their sufferings checquered with many intervals of ease. But the misery to come admits of no abatement; it is all of a piece, without admitting any mixture of relief. They are surely mad with their notions, who here talk of the advantages of being or existence, and contend that it is more desirable to be miserable, than not to be at all*. For my part, I am fully satisfied they can never persuade any man of the truth of their assertion; nor even believe it themselves, when they think seriously on the subject. But, not to insist on this, it is certain, that all kind of delights are for ever banished from that eternal and frightful prison. There is there no light, no day, nor sleep, which is the blessing of the night, and, indeed, nothing at all but places full of darkness, precipices, nakedness, and all kinds of horror ; no entertainments, merry meetings, nor any sensible pleasure: and to be for ever separated from all such must be no small misery especially to those who used to pass their time amidst such scenes of mirth and jollity, and imagined themselves in some measure happy therein. And that the remembrance of this may distress them the more, they will be continually haunted with a thought, that will cleave to them like a worm devouring their bowels, and constantly keep them in mind, that, out of a distracted fondness for these fleeting pleasures, which have now flown away, without hope of returning, they have lost those joys that are heavenly and eternal, whereof they will have some knowledge, but what kind of knowledge that will be, and how far extended to enhance their torments, is not ours to determine. But who will attempt to express the excess of their misery, or describe those streams of brimstone, and eternal flames of Divine wrath ? Or rather, who will not tremble, I say not, in describing them, but even in thinking of them, and be quite overpowered with an idea so shocking ?
That I may no further attempt to speak things unutter
* Miserum esse quam non esse.
able*, and to derogate from a grand subject by inadequate expressionst, behold now, my dear youths, if you believe these things, behold, I say, you have now life and death laid before you ; choose for yourselves. And that you may not put off a matter of such importance, consider these things, I pray, seriously, and say to yourselves, concerning the vanishing shadows of external things, How long will these enjoyments last ? O! how soon will they pass ! Even while I am speaking these words, while I am thinking of them, they fly past me. Is any one oppressed with calamities ? Let them say cheerfully with a remarkably good man, “ Lord, while I am here, kill me, burn me, only spare me there." Is there any one among you of weak capacity, unhappy in expressing himself, of an unfavourable aspect, or deformed in body? Let him say with himself, It is a matter of small consequence: I shall soon leave this habitation, and, if I am but good myself, be soon removed to the mansions of the blessed. Let these thoughts prevent his being dejected in mind, or overcome with too much sorrow. one is distinguished by a good understanding, or outward beauty, or riches, let him reflect, and seriously consider, how soon all excellencies of this kind will pass away, that he may not be vain, or lifted up with the advantages of fortune. Let it be the chief care and study of you all, to avoid the works of darkness, that so you may escape utter and eternal darkness ; and to embrace with open and cheerful hearts that Divine light which hath shone from Heaven, that, when you are divested of these bodies, you may be received into the glorious mansions of that blessed and perfect light.
* Τα αλαλητα λαλεισθαι. .
Domine, hic ure, cæde, modo ibi parcas.
Of the CHRISTIAN Religion, and that it is the true way to
Happiness. I CONFESS, young gentlemen, that whenever I think on the subject, I cannot help wondering at the indolence and madness of mankind. For though we boast that to order our affairs with prudence and discretion, and conduct our lives according to the principles of reason, is the great privilege and ornament of our nature, which distinguishes us from the brute creatures ; how few are there, who, in this respect, act like men, who propose to themselves an end, and direct all their actions to the attainment of it! It is very certain, that the greatest part of mankind, with a folly something more than childish, go in quest of painted butterflies, or commonly pursue the birds with stones and clods. And even those who spin out their lives to the utmost extent of old age, for the most part gain little by it, but only this, that they may be called lãides zoneXpòvio, very aged children ; being as ignorant as infants why they came into the world, and what will become of them when they leave it. Of all questions, therefore, none can be more properly proposed to you, who are just upon the verge of manhood, I mean entering upon a rational life, than this, Whither are you going? What good have you in view ? To what end do you propose to live? For hence, possibly, your minds may be excited within you to an earnest desire after that perfect and supreme good; and you may not content yourselves with cool speculations upon this subject, as if it were a logical or philosophical problem, that falls in your way of course, but with that application which is proper in a question concerning a matter of the greatest moment, where it highly concerns us to be well informed, and where the highest rewards and greatest dangers are proposed to our view. And in this hope, I have often addressed myself to you upon the subject of happiness, or the supreme good, at different periods of time; entertaining