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does it happen that the very air breathes pestilence, and that the breeze which refreshes the soul is filled with the poison of death!
How similar to this is the comparative state of the rich and of the poor! But as there are few who would prefer the rigours of a northern winter, with all its security, to the luxuries of a warm climate with all its dangers -, so likewise are there few who would prefer a state of poverty to that of wealth; a clear proof that the desire of happiness is stronger than the dread of misery v
The desire of happiness is indeed the most powerful motive to exertion. And by him who is the God of nature, no principle which he had originally implanted was ever afterwards destroyed. The desire of happiness had been implanted in the human breast, at the time when we are told in Scripture, "God saw "his work, and behold it was very "good!"*
But though '* God made man up"right, he sought out many inven"tions." All these inventions were in search of happiness, but never was the search crowned with acknowledged success. The most obvious and common course was to seek for her in the indulgence of those appetites and passions which man has in common with the brute creation. But here invention was soon found to be of very little use. It is the intellectual part of our nature that is alone susceptible of improvement. The pleasures of sense are in their nature transient; and if we would prolong their existence, it must be by adding something from the mind. A drove of pigs may probably have as much pleasure in a feed of acorns
* Genesis, i.
as ever any right honourable glutton enjoyed in devouring the nicest dainty. If the latter has any superiority to the former, that superiority must be derived from sources purely mental. It is therefore evident, that the pleasures of sense cannot, by all the ingenuity of man, be converted into means of real and permanent happiness. Neither is it in the gratification of any selfish passion that true happiness is to be found, though it is in these that it has, in all ages of the world, been sought for with most unremitting ardour.
Experience declared the search to be fruitless; and philosophy exhorted her votaries to relinquish the vain pursuit. But religion forbids the pursuit to be relinquished, and proclaims that happiness is no chimera; that it has a real existence; and that it will to a certainty be found by all who
take the path that leads to it. To that path religion offers herself as an infallible guide. She shews that it is accessible to all, and that it has never been missed by any who aspired to reach it through a medium not obviously limited, and confined within the narrow span of mortality.
Happiness is in its nature immortal; we cannot, therefore, find it by means of aught that does not partake of immortality. The passions and affections which are bounded by this terrestrial scene are in their nature finite and perishable: beyond this life they cannot exist; for there they can have no objects, no possibility, of gratification. But who shall dare prescribe bounds to the benevolence of the heart, or to the light of the understanding? These are so evidently capable of being improved to a degree infinitely superior to all we
vox-. II. L now
now experience, as to have given rise, in some sanguine minds, to the vain hope, that even in this imperfect state they might attain perfection. Religion, as exhibited in the Gospel, gives no sanction to such vain delusions. It leads us, not to expect that we can in this world attain to perfect wisdom or to perfect virtue, any more than perfect happiness; but it points to a state where we shall attain them all. The Messenger of immortality enforced no precepts, enjoined no duties, that were not adapted to improve those powers which he knew to be capable of infinite improvement; but he never represented this world as the scene in which they were to be perfected. He did not, like some of the heathen philosophers, prohibit all enjoyment of the pleasures of life, but he warned us against permitting our hearts to be