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tial and endures for ever! In your thirst after SERM.
III. felicity here, ye may be disappointed, but your exertions after that which is to come, cannot but be crowned with success!
But perhaps the miseries of the poor are not even here so great as they imagine ; perhaps there are advantages attached to their situation, which beyond all propor. tion overbalance them.
Human happiness is in general merely comparative, and it is not so much from the evils which themselves feel, that the poor complain of their lot, as from their conceiving that those whom fortune has more highly favoured are more happy. But in this comparison they are very often deceived: they see generally only the outside of what belongs to their superiors; the splendour of rank, the glitter of riches, fall alone under their observation ; they are apt to think that where these are, all must be calm and happy, and suspect not,
SERM. what is really the case, that very frequently III.
under such flattering appearances is concealed an aching heart. Could they follow one of these objects of their envy to his retirement, could they penetrate into the bosom of him whom they suppose to be surrounded by every thing which constitutes felicity, could they view him when all disguise is thrown aside, they would but too often discover how little the gifts of fortune are to be depended on: they would see anguish more extreme than any which they have ever felt, and discover causes of vexation which would amaze them by their number and strangeness. The truth is, that though the great may be exempt from some distresses which the poor feel, they are subject to many others, of which the poor have no idea : as the sphere of their hopes is larger, so is the probability of their disappointments; as they have more to lose, their anxieties and
terrors are more tormenting; their passions SERM. rage with greater violence, and they are more harassed by that little, which they conceive wanting to their felicity, than their inferiors are from the want of every thing. Ahab, the wealthy, the potent king of Israel fell sick for a garden of herbs; and the Amalekite Haman, who was the favourite of his prince, and the first subject of a mighty empire, because an obscure stranger refused to join with an whole nation in doing him homage, himself owned, that all which he possessed availed him nothing.
But supposing that the poor were decidedly in this world more miserable than the rich, and that there really were as much happiness in grandeur, as there appears out. wardly, there is yet an inestimable advantage attached to poverty, which would greatly outweigh any temporary inferiority. Blessed,” says our Saviour, "are the poor, Vol. I.
SERM. “ for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” BeNU.
fore a consideration of this kind all human griefs fade away; the condition of the lowly renders them more likely to embrace the gospel, and to live up to its precepts; the occasions of vice with them are fewer; they have no opportunities of fostering their sensual passions by indulgence, they are quite out of the reach of that heinous and most unchristian vice, pride; they are more peculiarly the objects of God's care and protection.
Let them then, instead of grieving, rejoice at their lot, when such important privileges are annexed to it, and let them above all things beware how they seek to improve it by a sacrifice of their integrity; let them learn this wholesome lesson from the prayer of Agur, that the two sins, which most easily beset them, are dishonesty and discontent, and let all their efforts be exerted to