« PreviousContinue »
SERM, wherewithal to satisfy the wants of nature, IX.
but no more. It follows then, as you would not destroy the whole happiness and dignity of the human kind, that you must allow men to retain what they acquire by their own abilities or industry.
Hence, immediately will arise an inequality which will be perpetually increasing ;so that if you were to make all men equal in riches now, unless you could at the same time make them all equal in abilities, industry, and good fortune, within the of a very few years, the business would be to be done again: all the confusion, all the misery, all the bloodshed, which must naturally attend such a flagrant violation of justice and equity, would be again to be endured. I say nothing now of the great advantages which men reap from this inequality of ranks, my only object being to point out to you--that in the nature of things it must exist,
This being the case, it is evident that it SERM.
IX. is no more an hardship on one man to be poor and low than it would have been upon another. I allow perhaps, one of you will say—that some must be rich and some must be poor, but why is it my lot to be among the latter?--consider that every one might say the same! self-love may perhaps carry you to fancy that your merits intitle you to have been among the highest; it is probable that you are mistaken ; but if not, you must remember that it never was intended that men should be placed in this world according to their different degrees of virtue:-poverty is your lot, and therefore you ought to rest contented with it; why it is your lot it might be difficult to say, except that it is the will of God! It is probable, however, that if any of your immediate forefathers had been eminent for their abilities and industry, or if some of them had not been idle and extravagant,
SERM. that you might have been in a better situ
Do you endeavour to make up what was wanting in them; be sober, be industrious: you may improve your condition beyond what you can foresee, at least you will leave an excellent example to your children, by which they may be incited to improve theirs, and in the mean time you yourself will live more comfortably and happily.
But it is time that I proceed to what I proposed, in the second place, to prove that the poor are free from many evils, which the rich suffer, and that they enjoy some comforts which the rich want; and that there is the greatest reason to believe that their state is as happy on the whole.
The first evil that torments the rich, from which the poor are exempt, is care ! The sleep of the labouring man is sweet, but the abundance of the rich will not suf
fer him to sleep; his wealth is a continual SERM.
IX. subject of anxiety to him ; he is anxious how he may increase ; he is fearful lest he should diminish it. The bosoms of too many of this description are ever labouring with anxiety, distrust, apprehension.
Another evil from which the poor are free is, want of employment. The labouring man has always avocations, which fill up his time, while the time of the rich is often a most weighty burthen upon their hands.
This is a much more severe evil than those who have never felt it can conceive. It is a great evil in itself, as none, it is generally allowed, enjoy life so little, as those who have nothing to do; and it is the source of many other evils ! Into what degrading and destructive employments are the rich often driven, merely to fill up
their time! Employments which are prejudicial to their health, their character, their eternal K 4
SERM. salvation! Idleness is almost always the
source of vice; and therefore the more sen. sible and best principled among the rich always find out some innocent or useful employment, to which they frequently apply themselves with as much industry and perseverance as those who labour for their daily bread.
This is a plain confession of the advan. tage of employment ; which Providence mercifully for the poor has provided to their hands. Hence arise several other advantages, which should not be passed over in silence. From the constant employment of the labouring man arise health, appetite, sleep: all these the poor, for the most part, enjoy in a greater and sweeter degree than the rich! The luxuries, which the rich have so much at command, few of them have the selfdenial to withstand; hence they are afflicted with languors, painful diseases, and premature old age! their want of suf