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• It is scarcely possible to pass an hour in honest conversation, without being able, when we rise from it, to please ourselves with having given or received some advantage: but a man may shuffle cards, or rattle dice, from noon to midnight, without tracing any new idea in his mind, or being able to recollect the day by any other token than his gain or his loss, and a con. fused remembrance of agitated passions, and clamorous altercations.'
The beneficent Author of our existence has, for the best of purposes, graciously interwoven in our nature an insatiable thirst after happiness. In pursuit of this happiness all descriptions of men are anxiously engaged; and were we to act consistently with our high origin, we should see both the wisdom and the goodness of God, not only in the implantation of this ever active principle, but in the frustration of every hope that centres in terrestrial enjoyment.
• For not in vain, but for the noblest end,
But ever since the introduction of moral evil into the world, men have changed the object of happiness. They have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters, and have loved and served the creature instead of the Creator. The cry of all is, indeed, Who will shew us any good? but it is a good which, if not suited merely to the animal nature, is always confined to the present life, and which, when enjoyed, is ever found inadequate both to our desires and our expectations. The truth is, we form a wrong estimate of this good, and expect from fruition that which it was never designed to communicate : so that by raising our hopes too high, we lose the pleasure which might be lawfully indulged, and then complain of disappointment and vexation, without considering that the fault lay, not in the object itself, but in the unwarrantable expectations it was intended to gratify. But, though perpetually foiled on every hand,
Yet still for this we pant, on this we trust,
Nothing can quenchour thirst forearthly good, nor damp the ardour of pursuit. No suspicion is entertained that the means and the end are at variance. Miscarriage is not ascribed to the real, but to other causes. Happiness, though distant, is still thought attainable; we therefore change the scene, contemplate other objects, equally vain, with fresh rapture ; resume the chase with redoubled vigour, pant with ardour for the moment of possession, and if divine goodness do not interpose, go on from stage to stage, till death puts an end to the career of hope, the sinner awakes from his delirium, looks round with horrour and expires !--For
• Let changing life be varied as it will,
any one of
readers has looked with so little attention on the world about him, as to ima. gine this representation exaggerated beyond pro
bability, let him reflect a little upon his own life; let him consider what were his hopes and prospects ten years ago, and what additions he then expected to be made by ten years to his happiness: those years are now elapsed: have they made good the promise that was extorted from them, have they advanced his fortune, enlarged his knowledge, or reformed his conduct, to the degree that was once expected ? I am afraid, every man that recollects his hopes must confess his disappointment; and own, that day has glided unprofitably after day, and that he is still at the same distance from the point of happiness,
Such is the general dream in which we all slumber out our time: every man thinks the day coming, in which he shall be gratified with all his wishes, in which he shall leave all those competitors behind, who are now rejoicing like himself in the expectation of victory; the day is always coming to the servile in which they shall be powe erful, to the obscure in which they shall be eminent, and to the deformed in which they shall be beautiful.'
In the vigour of youth and in the bloom of beauty, surrounded by all that can flatter hope, or stimulate to action, Lavinia entered the avenues of sublunary pleasure in quest of happiness; but the lovely enchantress was not to be found in the regions of terrestrial delight. All the sources of felicity were explored in vain : emptiness was stamped on every enjoyment. Our young votaress soon discovered that her expectations were fallacious; that many of her pursuits were not only triling but criminal. A conviction of guilt filled her breast with tumult: terrifying ap hensions agitated her soul: she beheld with astonishment the precipice on which she stood, the imminent danger with which she was surrounded -that there was but a step between her and everlasting ruin: and trembling on this preci. pice, she first uttered that inexpressibly important query-What shall I do to be saved ??To answer this inquiry the following Letters were first written,
The question, let it be remembered, is always proper, because it is of infinite importance. Surely it cannot be imagined that the present world