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secondly, the best men would be often the most miserable: I mean, as far as happiriess or misery aire to be measured from pleasing or painful senfations; and, supposing the present to be the only life we are to lead, I see not, but that this might be esteemed the true measure 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 enloy greater sensual pleasures, and feel fewer corporal pains, and are utter strangers to all those anxious antj tormenting thoughts which perpetually haunt and disquiet mankind, .. • r. - ,.
The pleasures of fense are probably relished1 by beasts in a more exquisite degree than they are by men; for they taste them sincere and pure always, without mixture or alloy, without being disti acted 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 appetite is not destroyed or dulled, by being gratisied, but returns always fresh and vigorous to its object. Hence their organs are generally better disposed than ours, for receiving grateful impressions from sensible objects j 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 Use that l'vu round us. Kor are the pleasures,
j ect to be leflened 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 pri'vi
fufficiently blessed, to create trouble to themselves, by needless comparisons.
They are under no checks from reason and reflexion, which, by representing perpetually to the mind of man the meanness of all sensual gratissications, do, in great measure, bliiht the edge of his keenest desires, and pall atl his enjoyments; They are not aware of a superior good, or of any higher end, to Which they might be ordained. They seel no inward reproaches for transgressing the bounds of their duty, and the laws 6f their nature. They have no uneasy presages of a suturo reckoning, wherein the pleasures they now taste triust be accounted for; and may, perhaps, b4 Outweighed by the pains, which shall then lay hold of them. None of tneir satisfactions are impaired by the sear of losing them, by that dreact 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 lise-timesubjeFl unto bondage;
state of mind. In a word, they have ho concern for what is past, no uneasy expectations of what is to come; but are ever tied down to the present moment, and to the present enjoyment, and in lhat they are vigorously and totally employed. In these respects, it may be truly affirmed; that,
Tege of thinking bei'
mean, dejected, slavish
if we had hope in this life only, men would be really more miserable than beasts i and on the fame account.
Secondly, The best of men would be often the inost 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 sit as loose from those pleasures, and be as modenite 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 subjection to the reasoning powers of the other. No small part of virtue consists in abstaining from that, wherein sensual men place their felicity; in "mortifying the deeds of the bodv, and making no provision for the flesh to fulsil the lusts thereof," Rom. xiii. 14. A truly good man thinks himself obliged, not only to forbear those gratissications, 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 os being further betrayed into what is not so, or would breed matter of osfence 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 enclosed; and gives the reins, therefore, to his, appetites no further, than the indulging them is
consistent with the genes al good and happiness of soceity.
He is so far from grasping at all the advantages and fatisfactions of this world, which are possible to be attained by him, that he thinks the bounding of his desiresand designswithin the line which his birth and fortune have marked out, to be a great and indispenfable 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 fatisfactions of life: It is as manifest, 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 inslexible in his uprighmess, and unalterable in his purposes; nothing can make him remiss in the practice of his duty, no prospect of interest cart allure him, no fear of danger can dismay him.
It will be his lot often, to look singular, in loose
and find licentious times. and to become a by-word and a reproach on that account among the men of wit and pleasure, f/e is net sor our turn, (will they say, as their words are represented in the book pi IVi/ otn) *' 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 js not like other mens, his ways are of another fashion," Wis. ii. 12,14, 15. And these ill thoughts, once entertained, will (we may be sure) as occasipn offers, be followed by worse usage.
Some Christian virtues (sor instance, humility and meekness) do, as it were, invite injuries: for it is an encouragement to base and insolent 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; 111 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 (11 accidents of lise, as well as .greater .stranger^ to the pleasures and advantages of i,t, than other less confeientous men are: And, on both these accounts, what the apostle lays down in the text is evidently and experimentally true; that, "If in this lise only they had hope, * • they were of all men most miserable.