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There is hardly any subject more exhausted, or which, at one time or other, has afforded more matter for argument and declamation, than this one, of the insufficiency of our enjoy. ments. Scarce a reformed sensualist, from So. lomon down to our own days, who has not, in some fits of repentance or disappointment, uttered some sharp reflection upon the emptiness of human pleasure, and of the vanity of vanities which discovers itself in all the pursuits of mortal man. But the mischief has been, that though so many good things have been said, they have generally had the fate to be considered either as the overflowings of disgust from fated appetites, which could no longer relish the pleasures of life, or as the declamatory opinions of recluse and splenetic men, who had never tasted them at all, and, consequently, were thought no judges of the matter. So that 'tis no great wonder if the greatest part of such reflections, however juft in themselves, and founded on truth, and a know, ledge of the world, are found to leave little impression, where the imagination was already heated with great expectations of future happiness; and that the best lectures that have been read upon the vanity of the world, so
seldom stop a man in the pursuit of the object of his desire, or give him half the conviction that the possession of it will, and what the experience of his own life, or a careful observation upon the life of others, do at length generally confirm to us all.
Let us endeavour, then, to try the cause upon this issue; and, instead of recurring to the common arguments, or taking any one's word in the case, let us trust to matter of fact; and if, upon enquiry, it appears that the actions of mankind are not to be accounted for upon any other principle, but this of the insufficiency of our enjoyments, 'twill go further towards the establishment of the truth of this part of the discourse, than a thousand speculative arguments which might be offered upon the occasion.
Now, if we take a survey of the life of man, from the time he is come to reason, to the latest decline of it in old age- we shall find him engaged, and generally hurried on in such a succeflion of different pursuits, and different opinions of things, through the different stages of his life--as will admit of no explication but this, that he finds no rest for the sole of his
foot, on any of the plans where he has been led to expect it.
The moment he is got loose from tutors and governors, and is left to judge for himself, and pursue this scheme his own way- his first thoughts are generally full of the mighty happiness which he is going to enter upon, from the free enjoyment of the pleasures in which he sees others of his age and fortune engaged.
In consequence of this— take notice, how his imagination is caught by every glittering · appearance that flatters this expectation.
Observe what impressions are made upon his senses, by diversions, music, dress and beautyand how his spirits are upon the wing, flying in pursuit of them; that you would think he could never have enough.
Leave him to himself a few years, till the edge of appetite is worn down—and you will scarce know him again. You will find him entered into engagements, and setting up for a man of business and conduct, talking of no other happiness but what centers in projects of making the most of this world, and providing
for for his children, and children's children after them. Examine his notions, he will tell you, that the gayer pleasures of youth, are fit only for those who know not how to dispose of themselves and time to better advantage. That however fair and promising they might appear to a man unpractised in them they were no better than a life of folly and impertinence, and so far from answering your expectations of happiness, 'twas well if you efcaped without pain. That in every experiment he had tried, he had found more bitter than fweet, and for the little pleasure one could fratch-it too often left a terrible sting behind it: besides, did the balance ly on the other fide, he would tell you, there could be no true fatisfaction, where a life runs on in so giddy a circle, out of which a wise man should extricate himself as soon as he can, that he may begin to look forwards. That it becomes a man of character and consequence to lay afide childifh things, to take care of his interests, to establish the fortune of his family, and place it out of want and dependence : and, in a word, if there is such a thing as happinefs upon earth, it must confift in the accomplishment of this; and, for his own part, if God should
prosper his endeavonrs, so as to be worth such a sum, or to be able to bring such a point to bear-he shall be one of the happiest of the sons of men.In full assurance of this, on he drudges-plots-contrives-rises early-late takes reft, and eats the bread of carefulness; till at length, by hard labour and perfeverance, he has reached, if not outgone, the object he had first in view. When he has got thus far-if he is a plain and sincere man, he will make no fcruple to acknowledge truly, what alteration he has found in himself if you ask him he will tell you, that hisimagination painted something before his eyes, the reality of which he has not yet attained to : that with all the accumulation of his wealth, he neither lives the merrier, fleeps the founder, or has lefs care and anxiety upon his spirits, than at his first setting out. iiiiii
Perhaps, you'll say, fome dignity, hodour, or title only is wanting-Oh! could I accomplish that, as there would be nothing left then for me to with, good GOD! how happy should I be? 'Tis still the fame-the dignityor title+ though they crown his head with honour --add not one cubit to his happiness. Upon