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WHY AM I NOT HAPPY:
Why am I not happy? exclaims one surrounded by all the gaieties and amusements of the world ; I am placed in the centre of earthly delight, and all that can gratify the senses is mine. Yet in the midst of profusion I am restless and discontented; a worm is at the root of every enjoyment, and bitterness in every cup of pleasure. With all my efforts to appear satisfied, insatiable desire, like a vulture, sits gnawing at my heart, and still craves for something more. Oh! there are seasons when the mind falls back upon itself, and frequently in the hours of calm reflection after the fever of revelry has subsided, and the merriment of the banquet has ceased, conscience will raise her still small voice, and taunt me with the question, “ Why art thou not happy?”
Why am I not happy? is the secret and frequent ejaculation of another, of more refined worldliness indeed, but yet equally a stranger to true happiness. He is, we will suppose, a man of education and taste, whom an indulgent Providence has placed in circumstances of opulence, where he can carry out his favourite pursuits. He is enthusiastically fond of nature, and has an exquisite perception of the sublime and the beautiful, but never does he “rise from nature up to nature's God." Rocks, hills, and valleys, the floods and fountains of water, with all the rich variety of creation, have a powerful influence on his mind; they generate a deep and beautiful sentimentality; but ah! they inspire not the feelings of a pure and evangelical devotion ! He cannot, as the Christian can, enjoy the “ delightful scenery,” he cannot call it “ all his own,” he cannot
“ With filial confidence inspired, Lift up to heaven an unpresumptuous eye,
And smiling say, “ My Father made it all!" He may admire the breathing canvas, and the art which can give a more than mortal beauty to marble lips," he may thoroughly enjoy painting, sculpture, poetry,—his soul may be kindled into enthusiasm, or melted to tenderness by the witching voice of song; but oh! something more is still required to make him truly blessed.
If he be merely a man of education and taste, excellent as these are in their place, (and none are greater advocates for them than ourselves) we hesitate not to pronounce him an unhappy man; we appeal to his secret experience, and ask, whether he does not frequently from the depths of an aching heart exclaim, Why, O why, am I not happy ?"
We might, were it necessary, descend in the scale of society, and observe the habits and condition of the lower orders, until we came to the very lowest of all, and we should find that not one was truly happy who was not at the same time truly religious. Why am I not happy? is an inquiry heard not only in the mansions of the rich and noble, not only in the classic haunts of literature and genius, but in the crowded mart, in the manufactory, and the workshop; while even amid the scenes of rural life, over which poetry has flung a fictitious purity and innocence, the ignorant and angodly peasant, simple child of nature as he is, will occasionally pause in his labour, and passing his hand across
his brow, ask the important question, “Why am I not happy ?”
In each of these cases, happiness has been sought in this world. Now all that is in the world, as we are taught by an inspired apostle, may be comprehended in “ the lust of the flesh,” “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life.” But these can never produce real and permanent happiness. They may be modified and refined into ten thousand forms of seeming good ; but they are too gross in their nature, too precarious in what little appearance of enjoyment they may afford, and too brief in their duration, to satisfy the deathless longings of the immortal soul. “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof.”
Man, let it be remembered, however corrupt and sinful; however perverse his tastes, habits, and pursuits, is still destined to live for ever; and, beyond the narrow verge of time, beyond the allotted space of threescore years and ten, will pass at dissolution into a state of endless bliss or everlasting woe. His future happiness or misery, moreover, will depend on his state and circumstances in the present life; they will depend upon a certain formation of moral and spiritual character : “ He that is holy, let him be holy still,” “he that is unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still;" in one word, we may, according to the spirit of this declaration, pronounce, “and let him that is unhappy, be unhappy still.”
By nature, every man born into the world is born in sin, and under sentence of condemnation; and this is increased and aggravated by personal transgression of various extent and malignity. Wherefore, if any one die in this awful condition,-impenitent, unbelieving, carnally-minded; he is, he must be, wretched for ever. For what is the condemnation of sin, of sin unatoned for, unforgiven? It consists in the “bitter pains” of the second and eternal death; not annihilation of existence, not the destruction of consciousness,—thought,--memory. No! that were comparatively no condemnation at all, when contrasted with interminable duration ; but a perpetual exile, an everlasting banishment from the “presence of God and the glory of his power," and the “ fulness of joy,” to a place where, in the awful phraseology of Scripture, “ their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” But oh! human language is too weak, and too weak imagination to tell, or even to picture the misery of a lost soul. This, however, we do know; it is unmixed, perpetual, ever-increasing misery; and such misery will be the portion of all who live and die mere men of the world! How, then, shall a wretched sinner flee from the wrath of God and escape everlasting burnings ? The answer is, by flying for refuge to Christ; by“ laying hold of the hope set before him in the gospel ;" by looking to the “ Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world;" in one word, by believing in Him who saith, “ He that believeth in me shall never perish, but obtain everlasting life.”
Permit us, then, to urge every unhappy person to listen to the encouraging invitation of the compassionate and merciful Redeemer: “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and Christ will give you rest.” Believe in Him, cast all your burdens, your disappointed hopes, your hitherto unsatisfied desires, at the foot of the cross; look up to Him, who there poured out his soul unto death, and be ye lightened; have but faith in Christ, and you shall possess a “peace which passeth understanding," and a "joy