Imatges de pÓgina

On the Sources of Human Happiness.

315 health and vigour as well as in many of idleness to concentrate the thoughts other things of much greater impor- on self, in a manner which is utterly tance. The idle man is commonly inconsistent with the cultivation of low-spirited, peevish and splenetic; any elevated or enlarged sentiment, every little inconvenience or obstacle and destructive of all real enjoyment; to the accomplishment of his desires, while on the other hand, an active vexes him and ruffles his temper; but disposition is continually carrying us since he is not thus excited to exert beyond these narrow bounds; and himself in its removal, his life is ren- thus, as it is often first excited by bedered an endless scene of petty trou- nevolent and amiable feelings, so it bles and vexations, which if he had has commonly the happiest effect in any habits of enterprise or activity continuing, enlivening and purifying would be removed without difficulty these feelings, converting them into as soon as they made their appearance, habitual states of mind, and ruling and before they had had time to principles of conduct.

“ The necesoccasion any material inconvenience. sity of action,” says Dr. Johnson, " is But when allowed to remain and not only demo!isirable from the fabric accumulate, they grow up to a serious of the human body, but is also evident amount; which one more accustom- from the universal practice of maned to look difficulties in the face kind; since all men, for the presermight contemplate with apprehen- vation of their health, for pleasure sion, and which fill him with ab- and enjoyment, even when exempsolute despair. Sull, though he des- ted by circumstances from the necespairs of getting rid of them, they are sity of pursuing any kind of lucrative not on that account the less felt ; they labour, have invented sports and diproduce a permanent effect upon his versions which though not equally temper, he contracts a sour, morose, useful to the world with the mechas complaining disposition; and thus, nical or menial arts, yet equal them from being at first merely indolent, in the fatigue they occasion to those he becomes a thoroughly discontent- who practise them; differing from ed, dissatisfied creature, caring for no them only as acts of choice differ from one but himself, and despised or dis- those which are attended by the pain. liked by every one else. Even when ful sense of compulsion.” Even this it does not operate in this manner; sense of compulsion which is the when circumstances are not such as general subject of complaint, may to throw any of these petty miseries nevertheless be of considerable serin his way, yet the necessary effect vice, by excluding that undecided, of laziness is to bring on ill-humour vacillating state of mind which often and disquiet; a temnper of mind which attends those who are aware that their is most destructive of his own peace, laborious exertions are merely the and must greatly impede his usefulness objects of their own free choice, and to others.

than which nothing can be more To correct this unhappy disposition, montifying and humiliating to those there is no remedy more effectual than who are conscious of its influence employment; perhaps no sovereign re- yet cannot shake off its power. This medy but this. In so far as its effi- is another reason why it is a most cacy' in promoting this object is con- wise and excellent appointment of cerned it is of litile consequence what Providence, that in most cases it is the employment is; provided it in- not left to our own choice whether terests the mind and presents it with we will exert ourselves or no; but some other object on which it can that we are most of us compelled, in dwell with more than order to gain the means of comforton its own grievances and complaints. able subsistence, to devote ourselves If the employment be one which is to some regular employment. Dr. fitted at the same time to answer Johnson hiiseli seems to have fur. some valuable end, to contribute to nished a striking illustration of the his own comfort or convenience; to truth of this remark ;--though abunpromote his improvement in useful dantly active in the earlier part of knowledge; or sell more to promote his life, his latter years which were the comfort or relief of others; so spent in ease and comparative afflumuch the better. It is scarcely neces- ence were clouded with melancholy, sary to dwell on the obvious tendency occasioned it would scém in a great

measure by the absence of imperious ever, these qualities are sometimes seen inotive to exertion. I bave no doubt separated, and may easily be distinthat he was much happier when guished from each other. There are compiling his Dictionary, or even many persons of great and eminent when writing the parliamentary de worth, and who possess abundance bates in a garret in Grub Street, of benevolence, or who are at leaf than in the luxurious indolence of continually performing acts of the Streatham.

most disinterested and even profuse I have said that employment, con- beneficence, who are yet destitute of stant regular employment of any kind, all command of temper; who either cannot fail to have a most beneficial administer their good offices with a effect upon the spirits and teinper; sour moroseness of manner which but it is evident that this effect must takes from them their most powerful be greatly heightened, if it be direct- charms, or are liable to sudden fits ed towards honourable pursuits, or and starts of passion which sometimes arise from the prosecution of objects induce them to inflict serious evils suggested by a generous and benevo- upon the very persons whom but a lent disposition. It may therefore moment before they had cherished be added in the second place, that the and assisted. Thus their kindness happiness of man must materially even towards those whom they wish depend on the gratification of the to serve, is interrupted or prevented, more enlarged and benevolent feel- and all its happy effects both on ings of his nature. It is scarce pos- the giver and the receiver are in a sible for any man to be happy in a great measure destroyed. A temper state of absolute solitude. I do not of this kind is one of ihe greatest bars speak here of those occasional seclu- to happiness in those who are afflicted sions from social intercourse which with it :-it becomes therefore one of are useful to promote meditation and our most important personal duties to thought, and which may thus tead be strenuous in our endeavours to regreatly to exalt and improve the be- strain and sweeten it. There is an nevolent feelings, and suggest to us apology, but a very imperfect one, additional opportunities and modes which is sometimes made for this unof calling them into action, but an happy irritability of temper, which entire and permanent separation from ascribes it to a morbid sensibility in all intercourse with our fellow-crea- the original constitution of such pertures. The happiest men probably sons. This apology might be made are they who enjoy the most frequent with nearly equal justice for every moand constant opportunities of culti- ral defect and for every intellectual vating the sentiments which belong folly whatever ; and if admitted, puts to and arise out of domestic society, a stop to all sorts of improvement. What picture of human felicity can It is true that original temperament, equal that which is often enjoyed in or rather, perhaps, improper managethe simple scenes of private life; ment in early life, may occasionally wilere every one is deeply interested give rise to an unusual degree of this in the general welfare; where every disposition; but this can be no justiheart glows with delight in contem- fication of it; it cannot render it less plating the enjoyment of all; where inconsistent with our enjoyment of every one is actively employed in mic life and society; and rather furnishes nistering to the general good of the an additional motive to such persons liule society. Such feelings thus as have laboured under these disadgenerated and improved, in a mind vantages, to be more than ordinarily Otherwise well disposed, are the best solicitous to keep it in check. And nieans of introducing and nourishing let no one imagine that this is imposinore exalted and extensive affections sible;—that his own case is so pecuand of leading to a complete forget- liar as not to yield to the ordinary infuluess of se!' in an habitual regard fuence of moral medicine. There is through the whole conduct of life a course of discipline before which the to the general welfare and improved most inveterate mental disorders will ment of the human race.

give way. The remedy, however, it Closely allied to benevolence is must be admitted, is ofien more easily what is commonly called a good tem- perceived and pointed out than applied. Der. Though nearly connected, how. To perceive it only requires good sense On the Sources of Human Happiness.

817 and discerninent; to apply it steadily disposition to observe with satisfaction and effectually requires often a great and duly to appreciate such good quashare of self-government and self- lities as are possessed even by the denial, and the frequent mortification worst men, and to place in their due and disappointment of our strongest light all the excellencies of the really propensities.

deserving, and which when justly esBy the unreflecting at all times, and timated are sufficient to cast into the by some sects among pilosophers, shade the infirmities or failings by much more than their jor weight is which they may be accompanied. attributed to original disserences in Candour in acknowledging all these mental and bodily constitutions. That would greatly contribute to the formasuch differences do exist, no one I tion of an even and gentle disposition. think can doubt who observes the very Again, a habit, which may soon be great variety of character and disposi- acquired by care and practice, of tion, which frequently appear in per. checking the external signs of those sons whose circumstances and educa- emotions of contempt and anger to tion, so far as we have been able to which we feel ourselves peculiarly liatrace, or as human means were able ble, will succeed in time in preventing to controul them, have been as nearly the inordinate rise of the emotions similar as possible. We are not either themselves. Such efforts at first proformed or educated after one common duce nothing more than the external standard ; nor is it desirable that we appearance of decorum and propriety should: a dull, uniform sameness of behaviour; but the influence soon would doubtless take away greatly becomes more extensive. Between the from the enjoyment of human life, outward signs and the feelings which and would be inconsistent with the are represented by then, there is a surproper discharge of the various duties prising connection ; and as, on the one which the convenience or the subsis- hand, the assumed language of violent tence of mankind requires. Though emotion will, in many cases, excite. however we admit that such original a considerable degree of the emotion diversities do exist, yet by inuch the itself—so, on the other, the constant greater part of the actual diversity ob- endeavour to check the external sympservable in human character is to be toms, soon chokes up and even enascribed to those circumstances which tirely removes the source frem whenco we call accidental or adventitious; they flow. that is, they are the result of educa. The species of ill-humour which tion and experience, and are in some arises from a morbid sensibility to our considerable measure subject to go- own miseries, is equally inconsistent vernment and controul. The contrary with real enjoyment. Nothing is opinion appears not only inconsistent more destructive of pleasure than a with a just theory of the history of the constant liabit of coinplaining and human mind, but also leads to dan. grumbling; which leads a man to look gerous practical consequences, and in preference on those circumstances ought therefore to be diligently guard- of his lot which are the least inviting, ed against. But to return to our pro and is eternally branding over tirem go per subject.

as to preclude all attention to those The weakness and irritability of which are more favourable and encoutemper which I have alluded to, is so teuing, and to magnify the others to inconsistent with our happiness, that such a degree in his disordered imagiit is necessary to take all possible me- nation, that what might have been but thods to restrain it. For this purpose trifting grievances are exalted into it is very desirable to cultivate a habit evils of the first magnitude. A habit of looking always in preference on the therefore of dwelling on whatever is bright side of every character, and in- in its nature fitted to give pleasure, deed of every object which attracts our and of endeavouring to look out for notice. I would not recommend a the beneficial consequences witch are total blindness to the defects und errors to flow even from those which cannot of others, for that might be fatal to in the first instance, be regarded with our own personal security, and inju- satisfaction, is exceedingly well cal. rious to the important interests of wulated to secure and inércase our those whose welfare it is our more happiness. This is the disposition immediate duty to promote ; but a which every sincere Christian, every VOL. XI.


believer in the constant superinten- which are most difficult to be procured,
dance of an infiniiely wise and kind In absolute enjoyment we are nearly
Providence, will naturally cherish; upon a level; but the difference in
and he will be led to this, by a sense our favour consists in this, that our
1100 merely of its propriety, but of its pleasures are more secure and perma-
immediate and direct intluence on his ment than theirs, and also that almost
present enjoyments. Let the more every change is with us a change from
serious afilictions of life then teach us contented tranquillity to a state of
patience and resignation. As for the high enjoyment, while they; having
Highter grievances and petty miseries foolishly placed their habitual station
by which so many suffer their tempers at the summit of all, cannot remove
to be ruffled and their cheerfulness from it without descending.
destroyed, let them be regarded as

Such then are some of those sources filter subjects of a laugh or jest than of from which the wise and prudent any graver reflections. A very anius- man may, in ordinary cases, depend ing book-which had a great run upon deriving an abundant and soinc years ago, but seems now almost securc supply of happiness ;--from forgotten the “ Miseries of Human innocent, or still better, froin benefi Lilc," may perhaps show us the right cent, activity—from the exercise of way of dealing with these minor trou- the benevolent affections either to bles. To allow them to destroy one's wards those with whom he is pecu. comfort would be the extreine or folly; liarly connected by the ties of kindred and to talk about philosophy or resig- or friendship, or as delighting in the nation in connexion with such trifles more enlarged, expanded views of would be equally absurd ; the only universal philanthropy---from a serene method left therefore is to treat thein and even temper, unruffled either by with their own characteristic levity: trilling offences on the part of others,

Another circunstance of great im- or by those petty miseries and vexajortance to human happiness, is a tions which occasionally occur to him. wise management and distribution of self. From these, and such as these, our habits. The capacity of acquiring the wise man may draw a never-failhabits, both bodily and mental, is a ing supply of enjoyment. Not that lię most important and valuable part of is to be always in transport or extacy, our constitution. By its means we for this is inconsistent with human acquire and continually improve our nature, and indeed is not in itself de skill in those occupations which are sirable ; but a steady, uniform chcerto be the means of our subsistence or fulness and tranquillity which, from its the source of our usefulness to our permanence and security, will certainfeHow-creatures; and our various ne- ly furnish in the end a much greater cessary employments become, through sutn of real happiness. The enumethe operation of the same general prin ration is not by any means complete; ciple, not only easy but agreeable to for such is the admirable constitution us. Every thing however depends on of things, that, to the truly wise man, the right application of this principle. every object in nature, and almost It may minister to virtue or be made every circumstance of life, may be subservient to vice; it may contribute made the source of pleasure. All the to happiness or greatly aggravate our provinces of external nature

all the misery, according as it is wisely, or powers, desires and affections of his injudiciously directed. The object own mind, will contribute to his felitherefore in the regulation of our ha- city: the powers of taste and imagina. bits must be that those things be ren- tion--the search after, and discovery dered easy and agreeable through fre- of, knowledge the interest he takes quent practice, which are most essen- in the events which diversify the his tially requisite to our comfort and tory of his species, -all these, and a permanent well-being; and that we thousand other pleasures of the mind, render our pleasures dependent, as which, though nothing can in this nruch as possible, on those sources uncertain state be pronounced abso which are most easily attainable. lutely imperishable and constantly Now all this may be done by habit. within reach, may yet be said to be ing A habit of inoderation in our desiro general firmly secured to wise and good will enable us to take as much delight men as a just reward of intellectual and in the cheaper, more ordinary means moral happiness.

gratification, as others do in those

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Mr. Wright on Dr. Adum Clarke's Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 319Mr. Fright's Remarks on Two Pássages can be conscier.ciously such? And in Dr. Adam Clarke's Notes on the if conscienciously Jew's, according to Holy Scriptures.

the law of Moses, will they not be I of

Doctor relates two Jewish stories ciently acquainted with the conduct to illustrate the faithfulness of God: of all the Jews, to justify the censure the following is one of them :-"Rab- he passes upon them? bi Simeon, the son of Shetach, bought In his notes on i Cor. xvth. chap. an ass from soine Edomites, at whose the Doctor says, “One remark I canneck his disciples saw a diamond hang- not help making; the doctrine of the ing: they said unto him, Rabbi, the resurrection, appears to have been blessing of the Lord maketh rich, Prov. thought of much more consequence X. 22. But he answered, The ass I among the primitive Christians than have bought, but the diamond I have it is now ! l'low is this? The apasnot bought; therefore he retured the les were continually insisting on it, diamond to the Edlomites.” To this and exciting the followers of God to story Dr. C. has added the following diligence, obedience and cheerfulness illiberal remark :-"This was an in- through it. And their successors in stance of rare honesty, not to be pa- the present day seldom mention it! ralleled among the Jews of the present So apostles preached, and so primitive day; and probably among few Gen- Christians believed: so we preach; biles." Onwhat authority the Gen- and so our hearers believe. There is diles are supposed to be so much better not a doctrine in the gospel on which than the Jews, and the whole of the more stress is laid: and there is not latter, as well as the greater part of a doctrine in the present system of the former, to be destitute of strict ho- preaching which is treated with more niesty, the Doctor has not stated. It neglect !" is not this an acknowledgis certain every strictly honest man ment that what is called evangelical would act as Babhi Simcon is said to preaching in the present day is essenhave acted. It has been too much the tially different from the preaching of practice for Christians to speak of the the apostles ? Dr. C. asserts that the Jews, because they do not believe that doctrine which the apostles were conJesus is the Christ, as men destitute tinually insisting on, is seldom menof all piety and virtue ; though proofs tioned by those he calls their succesof the contrary might be produced. sors; but he does not state the reasons To treat a whole people as altogether for this difference. He will not say depraved and worthless, is the way to the doctrine of the resurrection is of debase them, and injure their moral less importance now than it was in the character. It is inconsistent with days of the apostles. He does not Christian charity, and even with com- attempt to justify the neglect of their mon justice, to represent a whole na- doctrine by modern preachers. Surely tion as not furnishing, in the present if those who take to themselves the day, a single instance of the strictest name of evangelical ministers in the honesty. I have been credibly in present day had the same views of the formed of an instance of what the gospel as the apostles had, they would Doctor calls rare honesty, in the con- preach as the apostles preached. duct of a Jew, with whom I was well Daght not Dr. C. and his readers to acquainted, which may be paralleled inquire whether the primitive docwith the case he has stated. The Jew trine of the gospel be not neglected I referto, travelling with his box, hap- on account of other doctrines being pened to call at a house where he was insisted on, as leading articles of faith, asked if he would purchase a watch which the apostles did not preach, which was presented to him: he in- and which cannot be found in their quired what price the person who discourses, of which we have an acoffered to sell him the watch rcquired' count in the book of Acts? There for it, and being told, he asked if the are ministers, but I fear the Doctor seller knew what the watch was, and would hardly allow them to be evanwas answered "Yes, it is a gilt one;" gelical, who insist more on the doche replied, " No, you are mistaken, trine of the resurrection than all their it is a gold one, and worth much more numerous brethren who disown. more than you ask for it."—Will Dr. them as legal teachers. C. take upon himn to say that none of

R. WRIGHT. ibe Jews, in the present day, are or


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