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ο Ν Χ. we reason ourselves into being miserable, and resolve not to be the better for any Thing, because we have not this or that? Perhaps indeed
you will allow, that grieving merely because you are not possessed of Things, that are plainly above you, is very blameable; and will alledge, that you are not guilty of it ; that you are willing to be inferior both to what you might have been, and to what many others are. But still
you that such and such have no Title to Pre-eminence over you, or even Equality with you: yet they have obtained it, and that you cannot bear. Now consider ; these very Perfons, who give you Dissatisfaction and Envy, if you knew all, you might see Cause to pity. You know not how little Delight they may have in all their seeming Advantages ; or what Sufferings they may on one Account or another undergo ; nay, how dearly they may pay for what you imagine to be a principal Part of their Felicity. For usually there are great Deductions to be made from all Appearances of Prosperity amongst Men; and often they, whose outward Shew is most admired, are the most wretched within. Indeed, though doubtless there are many, with whom you would
wish to change some Things, there are few, if
any, with whom you would consent to an intire Change ; and take their Person, their Age, their Health, their Temper, their Situation, their. Employment, their Connections, their Vexations, their Hazards, their Circumstances of all kinds, for yours. And if you scarce know, with whose Condition, upon the Whole, you would be better pleased ; why are you not pleased with your own ? For furely, it would be too unreasonable to desire, that you should pick and chuse from each only what you like, and unite it all in yourself.
But further, your Condition is just what it is, let that of others be what it will : supposing they enjoy more, or suffer less, than you;
still your Enjoyments and Sufferings are just the same, as if this were quite the Reverse. And why do you set yourself to think the contrary, and disquiet yourself with a false Imagination ? There will, and there must be Inequalities in the World. Nothing can prevent it, but continual Miracles : and if it were prevented and we were all on a Level, we should probably, on the Whole, have great Cause to be sorry. Think then : why is it
harder, that you should be inferior to others, than that they should be inferior to you? Would your
State be ever the better, if theirs were made worse? Would you wish theirs to be worse, that you might have Comfort in the Comparison ? If you would, yours is already much better than you deserve. Impatience and excessive Agitation, under great Pain, Sorrow, Fear, Provocation, is at some Times, and in fome Degree, hardly possible to be avoided, and therefore excusable. But the Discontent of those, who have no such Evils to complain of, is of their own Choice : they might be easy if they would. And resolving not to be so, because they imagine others are more fo than they, is not only Unreasonableness, but Ill-will and Malice. The Torment, which they feel, is a guilty one : it punishes them justly here; and they will be liable, for indulging so unchristian, so inhuman, a Temper, instead of rejoicing with them that rejoice a, to far feverer Punishments hereafter.
But you will say perhaps, that your Inferiority in this or that Particular makes you despised : and who can hear Contempt ? But indeed scarce any one is despised for being a Rom. xii. 15.
what what he is, and cannot help being, but only for affecting to be what he should not or can not be. The lowest in all Respects may be useful; and if they behave properly, will be valued according to their Usefulness. At least they can never deserve Contempt : and the Consciousness that they do not, will enable them to flight and overlook the little they may meet with : and indeed often to despise those who defpise them.
For worldly Advantages only serve to lessen the Esteem of such as use them ill: and some of the greatest, and, in their own and the vulgar Opinion, the most accomplished, are often the farthest of all People from being truly respectable.
But probably you will plead further, that the Persons, who excite your Dissatisfaction, are vicious, or at least unworthy of their Preeminences : and they will do Harm with them, or however little or no Good. Now in all Likelihood
think them worse, or less worthy than they are: they may have good Qualities with their Faults, though you are unwilling to see them; and
you certainly have Faults with your good Qualities, though you are desirous to overlook them: and how much better you are upon the Whole than they, it may perhaps' be neither easy nor safe for you to judge. But be they ever so bad, Providence may over-rule them, and keep them from executing their bad Purposes, or may use them for its Instruments, to correct the Faults of others that are as bad, or exercise the Virtues of others, who are much better ; poffibly to correct and exercise you. Therefore do not fail under the Trial. But is this Fear of their doing Harm the real Motive of your Discontent, or only an Excuse for it to others and yourself?
You will probably reply, that however that be, had you had such and such Advantages, which
you have not, you would have done a great deal of Good. But perhaps others will do it in your Stead : and you may if you will, and
you certainly should, take Pleasure in it, by whomsoever done, and not repine at it.
would not have been able to do the Good you fancy, and would only have brought Disquiet on yourself by attempting it. Nay, it may be, you would not have attempted it: for Difference of Circumstances makes a great Difference in the Ways of thinking of the fame Persons ; ' and we often do
But it may