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body, its appetites and passious, to the neglect of God, and religion, and the care of his immortal part; but substantial happiness could no wbere be found. He run through the whole circle of worldly and sensual pleasures; happiness bowever, and ease of mind still fled before him, and eluded bis pursuit. And after having made a large number of experiments for a long season, and to no manner of purpose, he stops and looks back upon wbat he had been doing ; and the book of Ecclesiastes contains his experienceWishing to warn his fellow creatures against the mistakes which he himself had committed in life, be turns preacher, and gives us a sermon upon the insufficiency of worldly things to make us happy. The text of this discourse seems to be: Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
He begins bis sermon by shewing, that all human courses and pursuits are vain, and do not yield full satisfaction to the mind. All things, says he, are full of labour : cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing; nor the ear filled with hearing.
From this general assertion the royal preacher proceeds to shew, that wisdom, and knowledge, and learning could not make him happy.
I the preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem : and I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven : this sore travail hæth God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and veration of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to a great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know made ness and folly: I perceived, that this also is veration of spirit.
Not finding rest for his soul in the pursuits of knowledge and learning, the wise man deserts them to try if the pleasures of drinking, planting, building, music, and dancing could make him happy, and afford him that satisfaction which he had hitherto sought for in vain. I said in mine heart, go to now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is canity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, IThat doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting my heart with wisdom, and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. I made me great works; I builded me houses, I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards, and planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the kwood that bringeth forth trees: I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house ; also I had great possessions of great and small catite, above all that were in Jerusalem before me : I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces : I gat me men-singers, and women-singers; and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour; and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do; and, behold, all was vanity and verution of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
After making many other observations upon human life, and human pursuits, and shewing how utterly insufficient they all are to constitute any of us truly easy, content, and happy; the royal preacher finishes his excellent sermon by pointing out, in a few words, what is the statè, the duty, and the true interest of man: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole maiter : Fear God, and keep his commandments ; for this įs the whole duty of mun. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be eril.
This is the sum of SOLOMON'S experience and knowledge of men and things; and this is the experience of all the world. Religiou 'is always our last resource.
We must come to it one time or other, or we are undone for ever, and hid better never have been born. Nothing can stipply--its
place. The fear, the love; the service of God, can alone make us happy. All other things; all other pursuits; all other pleasures; all other enjoyments, leave us restless, uneasy, discontent, unhappy,
“ The soul uneasy, and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a world to come.” If, to this scriptural sketch, we were disposed to add still more instances from among our own countrymen, of religious wisdom, amidst all the honours, luxury, and hurry of public station, we might observe, that Lord Chancellor PARKER, Earl of Macclesfield, and WILLIAM PULTNEY, Earl of Bath, devoted many of their leisure hours to prayer, reading, and studying the Bible, and afterwards, died with a hope full of immortality.
I might call your attention here likewise to a character much more splendid in life, but much less honourable in death. You recollect the extorted and affecting declaration of the degraded, and almost expiring Cardinal:
“ Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal
Have left me naked to mine enemies."
“ What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,
Is Virtue's prize.”
brated Madame de MAINTENON: “ Oh! that I could give you all my experience ; that I could shew you the heaviness which preys upon the spirits of the Great*, and how hard they will find it to put out their days! Don't you see that I pine away with melancholy, in the midst of a fortune, that one could hardly have inagined, and which nothing but God's assistance keeps me from sinking under it?- I protest to you, that all stations leave a frightful void, an uneasiness, a wear ness, a desire to know something else, because in all worldly attainments there is nothing which gives full satisfaction. We find no rest till we have given ourselves to God.-Then we find, that there is nothing farther to be sought; that we have attained to that, which is the only good thing in this world. We meet with vexations, but we have at the same time a solid consolation and peace of heart in the midst of the greatest afflictions t."-If this, or any thing like this, be your experience, why will you any longer spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not?
“ In vain we seek a heav'n below the sky;
We lose the pleasing dream.” But the grand objects which Religion holds forth to our acceptance are adequate to the largest desires of the human mind. They are calculated as well for the present as the future world. We may be as happy here, in spite of all the ills of life, as is for our real good, and hereafter our happiness shall know neither measure nor end. Be not like the peple then described by the weeping Prophet :--Thus saith
* An anecdote to this purpose occurs to my mind, concerning one of our present Noblemen, who, being in conversation with a certain gentleman, said, “Oh! how weary am I of this d-d attendance upon Court ! Had Providence cast my lot among peasants, I had been a happy man!"
“ Beware what earth calls happiness; beware
All joys, but joys that never can expire." + Letters of Madame de MAINTENON, and other eminent perthe LORD, Stand ye in the wys, and see, and ask for the old paths, Where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.---But they said, WE WILL NOT WALK THEREIN. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet.—But they said, We WILL NOT HEARKEN.
Laugh not at this simple relation, neither despise the warning given. Stop rather for one moment, and consider upon what foundation you are building your future expectations. Though you reject Christianity, I should hope you are not so far gone as to disbelieve a state of future rewards and punishments, of some kind or other*. Your master, ThoMAS PAINE, and, indeed, most other Deists, profess thus much at least. Take then into your serious consideration, whether you think your actions, tempers, and state of mind such, as will, upon your own principles, stand the test at the great day of account. It can do you 130 great harm to reflect upon your condition, to be serious for a season, and to suspect you may be wrong. Consider, that you differ essentially from some of the greatest and best men that ever lived. You stake your ETERNAL ALL upon the justness-Of what? -Your opinion :--an opinion, in confutation of which multitudes have sacrificed their lives, and which many of the first characters now upon earth would controvert with the last drop of their blood! This should stagger your confidence. Myriads of the most learned and moral persons of all ranks and degrees, and of all sects and denominations, would this moment burn at a stake in coufirmation of the truth of the Bible, and the divine mission of JESUS CHRIST. Are they all deceived? Are you the only wise men upon earth? Aud would you this moment burn at a stake in proof of Christ's being an impostor? Nothing, surely, but the most palpable demonstration in favour of Infidelity should suffer
| * For the natural and philosophical arguments in tavour of a future state see Bishop BUTLER'S Analogy, part 1. Bishop PorteUS has brought them into a very striking point of view in three discourses on the subject in the first volume of his Sermons. Dr. CRAVEN, too, Professor of Arabic, and Master of St. John's College in Cambridge, has published eight discourses on the evidence of a future state of rewards and punishinents, which are worth the attention of all who have any doubt.