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HE great pursuit of man is after happiness; it is the first and strongest desire of his nature;-in every stage of his life he searches for it as for hid treasure ;— courts it under a thousand different shapes; d, though perpetually disappointed-still persists-runs after and inquires for it afresh-asks every passenger who comes in his way, "Who will show him any good;—who will assist him in the attainment of it, or direct him to the discovery of this great end of all his wishes?"
He is told by one, to search for it among the more gay and youthful pleasures of life; in scenes of mirth and sprightliness, where happiness ever presides, and is ever to be known by the joy and laughter which he will see painted in her looks.
A second, with a graver aspect, points out to him the costly dwellings which pride and extravagance have erected; tells the inquirer that the object he is in search of inhabits there; that happiness lives only in company with the great, in the midst of much pomp and outward state. That he will easily find her out by the coat of many colors she has on, and the great luxury and expense of equippage and furniture with which she always sits surrounded.
The miser wonders how any one would mislead and wilfully put him upon so wrong a scent-convinces him that happiness and extravagance never inhabited under the same roof;-that, if he would not be disappointed in his search, he must look into the plain and thrifty dwelling of the prudent man, who knows and understands the worth of money, and cautiously lays it up against an evil hour. That it is not the prostitution of wealth upon the passions, or the parting with it at all, that constitutes happiness-but that it is the keeping it together, and the having and holding it fast to him and his heirs forever, which are the chief attributes that form this great idol of human worship, to which so much incense is offered up every day.
The epicure, though he easily rectifies so gross a mistake, yet, at the same time, he plunges him, if possible, into a greater; for, bearing the object of his pursuit to be happiness, and knowing of no other happiness than
what is seated immediately in his senses-he sends the inquirer there; tells him it is in vain to search elsewhere for it, than where nature herself has placed it--in the indulgence and gratification of the appetites, which are given us for that end: and in a word-if he will not take his opinion in the matter-he may trust the word of a much wiser man, who has assured us-that there is nothing better in this world, than that a man should eat and drink, and rejoice in his works, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor-for that is his portion.
To rescue him from this brutal experiment-ambition takes him by the hand and carries him into the worldshows him all kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them-points out the many ways of advancing his fortune, and raising himself to honour-lays before his eyes all the charms and bewitching temptations of power, and asks if there be any happiness in this world like that of being caressed, courted, flattered and followed.
To close all, the philosopher meets him bustling in the full career of this pursuit-stops. him-tells him, if he is in search of happiness, he is gone far out of his way :That this deity has long beeu banished from noise and tumults, where there was no rest found for her, and was fled into solitude, far from all commerce of the world; and, in a word, if he would find her, he must leave this busy and intriguing scene, and go back to that peaceful scene of retirement and books, from which he first sets out.
In this circle, too often does a man rua, tries all experiments, and generally sits down wearied and dissatisfied with them all at last-in utter despair of ever accomplishing what he wants-not knowing what to trust to after so many disappointments-or where to lay the fault, whether in the incapacity of his own nature, or the insufficiency of the enjoyments themselves.
In this uncertain and perplexed state-without knowledge which way to turn, or where to betake ourselves for refuge so often abused and deceived by the many who pretend to show us any good-Lord! says the Psalmist, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us. Send us some rays of thy grace and heavenly wisdom, in this benighted search after happiness, to direct us safely to it.
O God! let us not wander forever without a guide, in this dark region, in endless pursuit of our mistaken good; but enlighten our eyes that we sleep not in death-open to them the comforts of thy holy word and religion-lift up the light of thy countenance upon us-and make us know the joy and satisfaction of living in the true faith and fear of Thee, which only can carry us to this haven of rest, where we would be-that sure haven where true joys are to be found, which will at length not only answer all our expectations-but satisfy the most unbounded of our wishes, forever and ever.
There is hardly any subject more exhausted, or which at one time or other, has afforded more matter for argument and declamation, than this one, of the insufficiency of our enjoyments. Scarce a reformed sensualist, from Solomon down to our own days, who has net, in some fits of repentance or disappointment, uttered some sharp reflection upon the emptiness of human pleasure, and of the vanity of vanities which discovers itself in all the pursuits of mortal man. But the mischief has been, that, though so many good things have been said, they have generally had the fate to be considered, either as the overflowings of disgust from sated appetites, which could no longer relish the pleasures of life, or as the declamatory opinions of recluse and splenetic men, who had never tasted them at all, and consequently were thought no judges of the matter. So that it is no great wonder, if the greatest part of such reflections, however just in themselves, and founded on truth and knowledge of the world, are found to have little impression where the imagination was already heated with great expectations of future happiness; and that the best lectures that have been read upon the vanity of the world, so seldom stop a man in the pursuit of the objects of his desire, or give him half the conviction that the possession of it will, and what the experience of his own life, or a careful observation upon the life of others, does at length generally confirm to us all.
I would not be understood as if I were denying the reality of pleasures, or disputing the being of them, any more than any one would the reality of pain; yet I must observe, that there is a plain distinction to be made be
twixt pleasure and happiness. For though there can be no happiness without pleasure-yet the reverse of the proposition will not hold true. We are so made, that from the common gratifications of our appetites, and the impressions of a thousand objects, we snatch the one like a transient gleam, without being suffered to taste the other, and enjoy the perpetual sunshine and fair weather, which constantly attend it. This, I contend, is only to be found in religion-in the consciousness of virtue-and the sure and certain hopes of a better life, which brightens all our prospects, and leaves no room to dread disappointments-because the expectation of it is built upon a rock, whose foundations are as deep as those of heaven or hell.
And though in our pilgrimage through this worldsome of us may be so fortunate as to meet with some clear fountains by the way, that may cool for a few moments the heat of this great thirst of happiness-yet our Saviour, who knew the world, though he enjoyed but little of it, tells us, that whosoever drinketh of this water will thirst again; and we all find by experience it is so, and by reason, that it always must be so.
1 conclude with a short observation upon Solomon's evidence in this case.
Never did the busy brain of a lean and hectic chymist search for the philosopher's stone, with more pains and. arlor, than this great man did after happiness. He was one of the wisest inquirers into nature-had tried all her powers and capacities; and after a thousand vain speculations and idle experiments, he affirmed at length it lay hid in no one thing he had tried; like the chymist's projections, all had ended in smoke, or, what was worse, in vanity and vexation of spirit. The conclusion of the whole matter was this-that he advises every man who would be happy, to fear God and keep his command
V.-On the Death of Christ.—BLAIR.
HE redemption of man is one of the most glorious works of the Almighty. If the hour of the creation of the world was great and illustrious; that hour,. when, from the dark and formless mass, this fair system
of nature arose at the divine command; when "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy ;"-no less illustrious is the hour of the restoration of the world; the hour when, from condemnation and misery, it emerged into happiness and peace. With less external majesty it was attended, but is, on that account, the more wonderful, that, under an appearance so simple such great events were covered.
In the hour of Christ's death, the long series of prophecies, visions, types and figures, was accomplished. This was the centre in which they all met; this, the point towards which they had tended and verged,throughout the course of so many generations. You behold the Law and the Prophets standing, if we may so speak, at the foot of the cross, and doing homage. You behold Moses and Aaron bearing the ark of the covenant: David and Elijah presenting the oracle of testimonybehold all the priests and sacrifices, all the rites and ordinances, all the types and symbols, assembled together to receive their consummation. Without the death of Christ, the worship and ceremonies of the law would have remained a pompous but unmeaning institution. In the hour, when he was crucified, "the book with the seven seals" was opened. Every rite assumed its significancy; every prediction met its event; every symbol displayed its correspondence.
This was the hour of the abolition of the Law, and the introduction of the Gospel; the hour of terminating the old, and of beginning the new dispensation of religious knowledge and worship throughout the earth. Viewed in this light, it forms the most august era which is to be found in the history of mankind. When Christ was suffering on the cross, we are informed by one of the Evangelists, that he said, "I thirst" and that they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it to his mouth. "After he bad tasted the vinegar, knowing that all things were now accomplished, and the scripture fulfilled, he said, "It is finished," that is, This offered draught of vinegar was the last circumstance, predicted by an tcient prophet, that remained to be fulfilled. The vis ion and the prophecy are now sealed; the Mosaic dispensation is closed. "And he bowed his head and gave up