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LUKE VI. 20.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said, Blessed be ye poor, for your's is the kingdom of God.
IN the same strain, and in the verses im- SERM. mediately following my text, our Saviour XVI. announces blessings to various other descriptions of persons; "Blessed are ye that "hunger, for ye shall be filled; blessed are that weep now, for ye shall laugh," and so on. There is nothing that has more constantly and generally engaged the attention of men of reflection, than to find out what they call man's chief good; I speak of those speculative reasoners who
SERM. have thought that the human nature might
manent happiness established, by some
ever, and in a more exalted manner, all Serm. the innocent and interesting pleasures of XVI. our mortal state, should our life here have been more prosperous than otherwise; or, if we shall have been doomed to misery and woe here, then by removing these far from us, wiping the tears of sorrow for ever from our eyes, and raising us from the grave of death to the kingdom of God, which is joy and peace. It is not to be wondered at that men have thus always been found curious and inquisitive about the nature and attainment of happiness; for let appearances be what they may, there is no man that has not this object always at heart. The most careless and thoughtless to all outward appearances are perhaps as anxiously and busily engaged in this pursuit, as the most studious philosopher that ever applied himself to such abstruse speculations. Let us regard for a moment the dissipated, the idle, the intemperate, and see what pains they take to compass this great end. Does not the prodigal ruin his fortune, his fame, his credit? Does he not sometimes sacrifice his family and his friend,
SERM. friend, to possess himself of luxuries and XVI. superfluities which for a time he thinks bring pleasure and happiness with them? Does he not assume an air of gaiety and ease? Does he not seem to think it certain that he is really happier than his neighbours, when perhaps he is squandering what, in a very few years, nay less possibly, months, he may want to buy food for his famished children, raiment to cover his own nakedness, or to save him from the horrors and misery of a loathsome prison ? Does not this man take great pains to compass happiness? Turn then to the idle. He feels himself happy so often as he can get released from the labours and drudgery of life; those whom he sees earning their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, he pities and perhaps despises; he thinks it better to set in the sunshine and sing; happy indeed if he is ever half so innocently occupied. All this while let it be allowed his hours pass on smoothly; he is free from care and fatigue, from hunger and thirst ; but when old age creeps upon him, or sickness befals him, when the vanities of life
begin to lose their relish, and he cannot SERM. stir abroad in search of them, where are XVI. then the fruits of industry laid up in store for the evil day? Where is the reflection on a life well spent to cheer his spirits and raise his hopes; and who shall he expect to labour for him now; who would not labour for himself when he had strength to do it? At all events, where is his happiness, when he is become a dependent pensioner on his fellow creatures, instead of having to enjoy the fruits of his own industry with credit and reputation? Here then also is much sacrificed to purchase what is thought happiness. Lastly, view the intemperate man. He finds great pleasure in the gratification of his senses; his belly is his God; he is careful only to eat and to drink, and to wanton in all sorts of rioting and debaucheries. This man also is in search of happiness, and see where he finds it: behold him in the hour of intoxication-his senses bewildered, his reason gone, his form and countenance distorted and swoln; a disgrace to his family and friends, a nuisance and annoy