« PreviousContinue »
tivity and idleness, which are the parents, the nurseries, and fore-runners of the most pernicious vices and the most degrading crimes. If a person eat to excess but seldom, or even but once, he destroys his own comfort, sins against God, and wounds both soul and body. How does excessive eating render a person unfit for rational reflection! what an enemy to cheerfulness and mental improvement! and what a flood-gate to every kind of vain imaginations ! How important, then, for those who would regard their own comfort and promote their health, to be constantly temperate in the participation of their daily food. In opposition to the indulgence of gratifying an irregular and vitiated appetite, the word of God teaches, That the righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul. He becomes not a slave to appetite, nor does he satiate and increase sensual cravings; but he exercises reason and judgement concerning the portion or quantity of food, which at any time, may be suitable.
Says Solomon in his Proverbs, Put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. This striking caution will serve to evince, that the effects of excessive eating must be most pernicious indeed. But temperance in this respect, is the mother, the nurse, and friend of a constant train of virtuous and rich blessings. How very important then, for the promotion of human happiness, that we be temperate in eating, and not yield to the excessive indulgence of appetite.
3d. The refraining from vicious courses, is neces. sary to the promotion of human happiness. All those faults and offences, which are opposite to a course of virtue, may be denominated vice. Therearesome, who shun openly gross and notorious vices; but they practise others, though directly opposed to their own peace. To be guilty of lying, or of telling an untruth, in what some would deem trifling concerns, is a sin against God and man; and cannot but plant thorns in a rational and conscious breast. To cheat or over.
reach a fellow mortal, may afford a momentary pleasure, in view of the dishonest gain; but how often will conscience sting, and render an unhappy one more wretched. To backbite, or speak evil of another, may gratify some sinful disposition; but the mere sight or reflection of the person reviled, will afterwards cause the reviler to be pained with shame and conscious guilt. Profanity, scenes of riot, dissipation, and debauchery, are sins which must now and then pierce the breasts of the guilty, as if a dagger were entering their heart.. Let us beware then of every vice. But whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
4th. The forming of early and regular babits, is very important for the promotion of human happiness. By the term habit, is to be understood the power or ability of doing any thing easily and naturally, in consequence of the frequent repetition of the same action. Man is said to be made
of bundle of habits, and these have a powerful sway either for enjoyment or distress. The habit of industry in some honest calling, or of study in some useful profession, is important for young persons. To be trained up to cleanliness of person, decency of dress, and engaging manners, is certainly worthy of attention. The habit of rising early in the morning, is of vast benefit; as it is so well calculated to promote our daily comfort and prosperity, our health and wealth. Our natural and civil pursuits, all moral virtues and religious duties, may, by frequent and regular repetition, and proper attention, become habitual. Habits of temperance and vigilance, of methodising and reasoning, are very advantageous. The pains and labour bestowed in forming early and noble habits, are thousands of times repaid in this present state
by the pleasure and profit which they produce. How most desirable and essential to human happiness are good habits!
5th. To seek the preservation or promotion of health, is an important step in the path of human happiness. Such is the union of soul and body, and their mutual influence upon each other, that they have constantly mutual sympathies and mutual enjoyments or distresses. Hence it is that the activity and vigour of the body give energy and hilarity to the mind. Bodily health is most closely connected with serenity and joy in the soul. The degree of enjoya ment of all things around us, is greatly in proportion to the measure of the health of any person, and the flow of spirits which are a concomitant. How insipid are our lawful pleasures, when the body is enfeebled and in a languishing state. The satisfaction and delight from food and raiment, from the arts and sciences, from friends and relatives, are greatly diminished and dried up, to those who are afflicted with bodily infirmities. The mind is debilitated and prospects blighted, when the corporeal system is diseased and enervated. How careful then should each one be, not to do any thing unnecessarily, or indulge in any pursuit or gratification, that wonld tend to injure their bodily health, and how readily pursue those methods which are calculated for its preservation and promotion.
6th. An easy and social conversation is rery favourable to human happiness. The gift of speech is an inestimable blessing, for the mutual instruction and consolation of the great human family. Parents of a sociable turn, and who are apt to teach, may not only do much for the welfare of their children, but also for their own enjoyment. The instrueter of children and youth who delights to communicate useful instruction, not only interests his pupils, but must himself take much satisfaction from his own labours. The minister of the gospel who has the talent of readily introducing religious conversation, and of comforting the afflicted, must have his own heart gladdened from the benevolent counsels of his own words. Youth, who cultivate an easy, encouraging, and instructive conversation, are not only acceptable and respected by their friends and companions, but they are active in the path of their own happiness. As he that watereth shall himself also be watered; so words fitly spoken, are evidence of a generous breast and joyful heart. As a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, so is it favourable to human happiness for human and social beings to cultivate an easy, social, and instructive conversation.
7th. To cultivate a spirit of contentment is very important for human happiness. The phrase, a contented mind, may be clearly understood, if we consider it as the contrast of a fretful and restless disposition. It depends more on the state of the mind, than on external things, whether a man be contented or discontented with his present lot; or whether he attend to the avocations of life with quietness and content, or with uneasiness and discontent. Persons, who indulge a peevish and fretful disposition, not only render those unhappy around them; but they are constantly rendering themselves miserable. A person's circumstances may be ever so favourable, and his prospects ever so promising ; still, if discontent rankle his breast, he is a poor man, for he is an unhappy man. What can wealth, friends, or education avail any one, who has a spirit so uneasy and unhappy as not to be able to enjoy them? The spirit of contentment may be cherished not only in a high but also in a low estate. St. Paul observes, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Contentment is for the health of the body, favours cheerfulness of mind, and promotes
, happiness in every breast, wherever it is found.
8th. To bear afflictions, losses, and bereavements, with patience and submission, is necessary for them that would promote human happiness. The present probationary state, is a world of trial, of disappointment, of sickness, pain, and separation; and to bear up with manly fortitude under these calamities, is the part of wisdom. When suffering any affliction, to be unsubmissive, and to give up to impatience, is only to add grief to grief, and greatly to enhance our difficulties. When the Lord chastens, to murmur and repine, and to spurn at the rod, is not only a sin, but an aggravation of our own distress. When Job was most grievously afflicted with all the calamities of life, how would he have increased his own burdens, had he been unhumbled, and not submissive to the divine Providence. Some afflictions are very grievous, and may cause human beings to weep bitterly, and fill their souls with anguish; but let them beware, lest their hearts fret against God, and their trials be turned into a judgement and curse. When patience and submission to the divine will are exercised in view of the calamities that fall upon us, they are sanctified, and work out the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Then to bear afflictions, losses, and bereavements, with patience and submission, is necessary for them that would promote human happiness.
9th. Engagedness in the pursuit of some desirable object, tends greatly to the promotion of human happiness. As human beings are made for activity and improvement, so when they are suitably engaged in some useful pursuit, they are cheered and delighted as an encouragement to exertion, and a reward for their labour. Attention to any pursuit or calling, that is innocent and serviceable, is calculated to afford enjoyment; but the more noble the pursuit, or the more extensive the utility of the object of our engagedness, the greater is the prospect in favour of human happiness.
The lawful acquisition of property, the education of children, or attention to some