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secondly, the best men would be often the most miserable : I mean, as far as happiness or misery are to be measured from plealing or painful fena sations; and, supposing the prefent to be the only life we are to lead, I fee not, but that this might be esteemed the true mcasure of them.
First, Were there no life after this, men would be more miserable than beasts : for in this life, it is plain that beasts have, in many respects, the advantage of them; inasmuch as they enjoy greater tensual pleasures, and feel fewer corporal pains, and are utter ftrangers to all those anxious and tormenting thoughts which perpetually haunt and difquiet mankind.
The pleasures of fense are probably relished by bearts in a more exquisite degree than they are by men; for they taste them sincere and pure al. ways, without mixture or alloy, without being distracted in the pursuit, or disquieted in the use of them.
They follow nature in their desires and fruitions, carrying them no further than she directs, and leaving off at the point at which excess would grow troublesome and hazardous; so that their apfetite is not destroyed or dulled, by being gratified, but returns always fresh and vigorous to its object. Hence their organ's are generally better disposed than ours, for receiving grateful impresa lions from fenfible objects; being less liable to be vitiated by diseases, and other bodily accidents, which disorder our frame, and extremely lessen the complacence we have in all the good things of this life that für round us. Nor are the pleasures,
But of think others; iferable un
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which the brutal part of the création enjoy, füba ject to be leffened any way, by the uneasiness which arises from fancy and opinion. They have not the art of growing miserable upon the view of the happiness of others; it being the peculiar privilege of thinking beings, when they are otherwise fufficiently blessed, to create trouble to themselves, bý needless comparisons.
They are under no checks from reason and reflexion, which, by representing perpetually to the inind of man the ineanness of all sensual gratific cations, do, in great ineasure, blunt the edge of his keenest desires, and pall'all his enjoyments. They are not aware of a superior good, or of any higher end, to which they inight be ordained. They feel no inward reproaches for transgressing the bounds of their duty, and the laws of their nature. They have no uneasy presages of a future reckoning, wherein the pleasures they now taste must be accounted for; and may, perhaps, be outweighed by the pains, which shall then lay hold of thein. None of their fatisfactions are impaired by the fear of losing them, by that dread of death, which hangs over the mere natural man; and, like the hand-writing on the wall, damps all his mirth and jollity; and by which he is, as the apostle speaks, all his life-time fubje£t unto höndage; Heb. ii. 15. that is, in a mean, dejected, slavila state of mind. In a word, they have no concern . for what is past, no uneasy.expectations of what is to come; but are ever tied down to the pretent moment, and to the present enjoyment, and in that they are vigorously and totally employed.
In these respects, it may be truly affirmed; that,
if we had hope in this life only, men would be really more miserable than beasts; and on the same account.
Secondly, The best of men would be often the most misereable. For their principles give them not leave to taste so freely of the pleasures of life, as other men's do ; and expose them more to the troubles and dangers of it.
The principles of good men give them not leave to taste so freely of the pleasures of life, as other men's do: for their great and prevailing principle is, to fit as loose from those pleasures, and be as moderate in the use of them, as they can; in order to maintain the empire of the mind over the body, and keep the appetites of the one in due subjectiun to the reafoning powers of the other. No small part of virtue consists in abstain. ing from that, wherein sensual men place their felicity; in “mortifying the deeds of the body, and making no provision for the flesh to fulfi the lusts thereof,” Rom. xiii. 14. A truly good man thinks himself obliged, not only to forbear those gratifications, which are forbidden by the rules of reason and religion, but even to restrain himself in unforbidden instances, when, by allowing himself in what is innocent, he would either run the risque of being further betrayed into what is not so, or would breed matter of offence to his weak and misjudging neighbour. He lives not for himself alone, but hath a regard in all his actions to the great community wherein he is enclofed; and gives the reins, therefore, to his appetites no further, than the indulging them is
consistent with the general good and happiness of soceity.
He'is so far from grasping at all the advantages and satisfactions of this world, which are possible to be attained by him, that he thinks the bounding of his desires and designs within the line which his birth and fortune have marked out, to be a great and indispensable duty: He hath “ learned, in whatsoever state he is therewith to be content;" Phil. vi. 11. and doth not, therefore, eagerly aspire after an higher condition of life, is not over-solicitous to procure to himself a larger sphere of enjoyment.
From these and many other considerations (which I need not mention) it is manifest, that the best of men do generally enjoy least of the pleasures and satisfactions of life: It is as manifeft, that they are most exposed to the troubles and dangers of it.
They are determined to live up to the holy rule, by which they have obliged themselves to walk, whatever may be the consequences of it, though fore evils and great temporal inconveniencies should sometimes attend the discharge of their duty. The hypocrite hath the art of bending his principles and practice always to whatever is for his convenience, and of falling in with the fashion of a corrupt and wicked world : But the truly upright man is inflexible in his uprightness, and unalterable in his purposes; nothing can make him remiss in the practice of his duty, no prospect of intereft can allure him, no fear of danger can disinay him.
It will be his lot often, to look singular, in loose
And licentious times, and to become a by-word and a reproach on that account among the men of wit and pleasure. He is not for our turn, (will they say, as their words are represented in the book of Wif.om) " He is clean contrary to our doings; he was made to reprove our thoughts, he is grievous unto us, even to behold ; for his life is not like other mens, his ways are of another fashion,” Wil ji. 12,14, 15. And these ill thoughts, once entertained, will (we may be sure) as occafion offers, be followed by worse usage.
Some Chriftian yirtues (for instance, humility and meekness) do, as it were, invité injuries : For it is an encouragement to base and infolent minds to outrage men, when they have hopes of doing it without a return. "If it be a man's known principle, to depart from his right in a small matter, rather than break Christian peace ; III men will be tempted to make illegal and unjust encroachments upon him. He who resolves to walk by the gospel-rule of forbearing all attempts, all desires of revenge, will probably have opportunities every now and then given to exercise his forgiving temper. : Thus good and pious persons are, by the nature and tendency of their principles, more exposed to the troubles and ill accidents of life, as well as greater strangers to the pleasures and advantages of it, than other less conscientous men are : And, on both these accounts, what the apostle lays down in the text is evidently and experimentally true ; that, “ if in this life only they had hope, " they were of all men moft miserable.