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better you are upon the Whole than they, it may perhaps be neither eafy nor safe for you to judge. But be they ever fo bad, Providence may over-rule them, and keep them from executing their bad Purposes, or may use them for its Inftruments, to correct the Faults of others that are as bad, or exercife 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 Excufe for it to others and yourfelf?
You will probably reply, that however that be, had had fuch and fuch 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. But it may be you would not have been able to do the Good you fancy, and would only have brought Difquiet 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 Perfons; and we often do
not prove to be what we fully imagined we fhould.
Still, at least, you will fay, what you with for would make you very happy: and therefore · you regret the Want of it. But regret it as little as poffible, and be as happy as you can without it. Perhaps you would be fcarcely, perhaps not at all, happier than you are. Multitudes find this to be true every Day: they obtain what they defire; and very foon after, if not instantly, perceive that their Condition is never the better for it. But they are thought happy, you will fay, and admired or envied : and that alone is a defirable Thing. Now furely it is very poor Comfort, indeed it is rather an Aggravation of Sorrow, when we feel our Condition wretched or infipid, to have it thought joyful and defirable: to be congratulated on our Situation, when we know it is a Subject of Condoleance; and fo to have Pity from none, but the ill Will of many, to load us with more Uneafinefs, when we inwardly groan under too much already. The wife King faith; Wrath is cruel, and Anger is outrageous: but who can stand before Envy ? Our Defire of producing it in others is im
b Prov. xxvii. 4.
But whatever may happen to others, you think you should enjoy all the Benefits of these Pre-eminences, and avoid all the Evils incident to them. But why do you think fo? You are just of the fame Make with the rest of Mankind, and liable to all their Frailties. Your Confidence in yourself is a Mark, not of Ability, but of Weaknefs and Ignorance in a Point of the greatest Confequence. If you were but humbler, you would be much fafer: and one material Source of Safety would be Content. For Discontent brings People into Mischiefs innumerable. It is a painful State in itself: preys upon the Spirits, deadens the Senfe of every Enjoyment in Life, fours the Temper, and produces great Wickedness, as well as Mifery.
Displeasure with their own Condition tempts many to aim at bettering it unlawfully, by Force or Fraud; and dreadful must the Uneafinefs be, which can drive them to a Method of Relief, fo evidently criminal. For however some may pretend they cannot see what Right others have to enjoy fo much more of the World than themfelves; yet let but any one, who hath lefs Enjoyment of it, apply this Reasoning to them, and act upon it, then they
they can perceive exceeding plainly, that his Diflike of his own Circumftances in any Respect, is no Manner of Reason, or Excuse, for his using other than honest Means to mend them. For why should their Property, their Character, their Quiet, fuffer, because he is uneafy? And yet, what dreadful Havock is there often made of all these from no better a Motive! The Kings and Princes of the Earth ravage Nations, murder and diftrefs Millions; the powerful and wealthy, of lower Degree, opprefs and injure their Fellow-creatures in more Ways, than can be reckoned up, merely to obtain Advantages, perhaps to which they have no Title, certainly which they of all Men least need, folely because they cannot rest without them; though at the same Time they have no Satisfaction, worth naming, from them. And in lower Life, what Numbers are there, who difturb their Neighbours, to a great Extent sometimes, and put Things in a Ferment all around them, only to carry fome Point, which poffibly they ought not to carry, or which is of little Ufe to them; nay, it may be, only to grieve fome innocent Object of their Refentment, or to find any EmployVOL. V.
moral; for it is a Defire of giving them Pain and the Imprudence fully equals the Guilt. For all Pre-eminences, especially when accompanied with Oftentation of them, or too vifible Complacence in them, to which all who have them are extremely subject, stir up Malignity in the Obfervers of them: who often find Means to make those very miserable, whom they would have let alone, and suffered to go on quietly, if they had not been provoked by thinking them over-happy.
But fuppofing the Advantages, which you pine for, whatever they be, would raise no Malice against you, but only Admiration of you: how often hath that, nay even the Shadow of it, mere Flattery, made Perfons vain and indiscreet, misled them into great Errors, and plunged them into grievous Mifery!
Indeed, without either, all Sorts of Superiority carry their Dangers along with them. If you were placed in a higher Station, perhaps you would be at a Lofs how to behave in it; for there are many Difficulties in all fuch; you would be found by others, you would find yourself, in one Refpect or another, unequal to it or if not, it might tempt you to Pride and Abufe of Power.
If you were