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itself, however fraught with enjoyment, is vanity of vanities, if made a substitute for that which constitutes the great, abiding, and eternal good of man. Nor is it any depreciation of earthly happiness thus to designate it; since it is only rating it according to its true value. It is good in itself; adapted to the purposes for which it was designed ; and it has only become vanity by the folly of man, who has attempted, in opposition to the will of God, to derive from it his sole happiness.
The following may be considered as an enumera. tion of the chief sources of earthly enjoyment.
The exercise of the understanding and the attainments of wisdom, the gratification of the social affections, the pleasures of the senses, the possession of honour and fame, and the command and use of riches.
I. The exercise of the understanding, and the attainments of wisdom, form an element in the happiness of man, but not his chief and abiding good. It is unnecessary to say how great and refined are the pleasures which accompany the exercise of the intellectual faculties, in the pursuit of knowledge, in the discovery of truth, and in cultivating any of the sciences to which the human mind has given existence. They are pleasures not confined to the few who attain the high eminence of enlightening the world by their wisdom, and associating their names with the literary history of our race; but common to all who are capable of learning from their discoveries and labours. They have besides a peculiar value from their saving multitudes from that languor and fretfulness of temper,
which arise from the mere want of occupation as often as from any other cause. The very interest which the mind feels in the objects presented to it by a book or by a science is itself pleasure, and pleasure that continues as long as the objects contemplated or pur. sued awaken interest. When early impressions are favourable to cheerfulness and virtue, and when the imagination is pure and strong, it is impossible to estimate the sum of enjoyment, which from this source is always at the command of the individual.
But, then, even the exercise of the mind, and the attainments of wisdom, conducive as they are to the happiness, honour, and dignity of man, are, when separated from God and religious and moral excellency, vanity of vanities. When human literature and wisdom are possessed in a high degree, how many circumstances may exist to disturb the tranquillity of the mind. They are insufficient to shew the way in which sin may be pardoned, and peace and reconciliation with God obtained; they cannot exempt from the ills of life; they furnish no comfort and support in death; they form no preparation for appearing before the judgment-seat; and melancholy is the reflection, that their possession is quite compatible with an everlasting exclusion from the abode of pure and glorified spirits. It is on these and on other grounds that the Royal Preacher declares them to be emptiness. “ I gave my heart,” says he, “ to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked
cannot be made straight : and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. - In much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."
This description of the grief and sorrrow which accompany the labours of those who make extensive acquirements in human wisdom is not exaggerated, when we consider the fatigue of body and mind with which every acquisition of this kind is made ;--the disappointments and mortifications to which we are liable in this as well as in all other pursuits ;-the scenes of misery, moral and physical, which our knowledge of the world will place before us ;-the want of satisfaction which must be felt in the re. view of many subjects, arising from the very limited nature of our faculties ;-and above all, the bitter reflection in the hour of death, or the moment the spirit passes beyond it, of talents perverted and abused, and of having lived without God in the world. The pursuit of this, like all earthly good, is attended with labour, and the attainment with uncertainty. The pain issuing from disappointment, or the disquietude which the envy of others occasions us, impairs, if it does not outweigh the pleasure arising from manifold successes. We cannot by the greatest extent of human knowledge bend the course of human affairs to our own wishes ; alter the perverseness of those on whose conduct we depend in some degrec for our usefulness and happiness ; divest events of their untowardness; and ensure the most benevolent plans from being frustrated by unforseen accidents. Nor can we by any attainments of wisdom make up that which, in every case, is required to
constitute happiness; nor transform this wilderness of sin and sorrow into a paradise in which nothing will be wanting.
II. If the chief and abiding good of man cannot arise from the exercise of the understanding, and the attainment of human wisdom, neither does it proceed from the gratification of the social affections as united with knowledge. Much enjoyment, doubtless, flows to mankind from this source. The loye of country and of kindred, and of all the objects that are endeared to our hearts, is pleasurable in its very exercise. This pleasure is enjoyed by all, because the affection which gives rise to it is universally operative. Never does man, till the heart is lost to virtuous feeling, become indifferent to the land which gave him birth, or forsake its shores without regret and emotion. After he has passed many years in other climes, and wandered over the globe, by an affecting species of instinct, he likes to return, and sit for a moment on the borders of his grave, under the trees which overshadowed his youth. Even the conqueror, before whose power the hosts of kingdoms melted away, and who earried the eagle in triumph over territories in which the name of Rome was before unknown, could not view the rocky coasts of his native land unmoved; and he who at Pharsalia contended for the sovereignty of the world, shewed himself true to the emotions of the human heart, as he pensively gazed in his flight on the receding hills of the country from which he had derived his being *. See the passages on Patriotism in a former part of this work.
Nor can we, on this subject, forget the large share of enjoyment which is flowing almost every moment, and to almost every human being, from the pleasures of hope. He who has consulted our happiness in the constitution of our frame has made us prone to anticipate good and good alone. Hope leads us, indeed, to anticipate far higher degrees of happiness than experience ever realizes; but its design in this is, not only to conceal from our view those ills, the knowledge of which would impair our peace without adding to our virtue, but to make us the occasional inhabitants of regions of ideal beauty and loveliness, where the nobler affections of our nature are exercised on objects and scenes by which they are still more refined and exalted. It is hope that gives rapture to the emotions of the mother, as she gazes on her infant, and sees in the bright career which he is to run, all that will constitute him her honour and happiness: but how kindly does Providence conceal from her all the ills of the future, and the thousand entanglements by which her child may be ensnared to vice, and terminate, in the darkness of guilt and crime, that being which she gave him. Anticipating only good, she looks forward to the sunshine of his days, and in her parental fondness forgets that many a cloud may rise to darken them, and that the source from which she promises herself so much happiness may be the occasion of bringing her down with sorrow to the grave.
But while there are enjoyments to a large amount, issuing to man from the exercise of the kindly affections, these cannot form his chief and permanent