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Increase, but often a Diminution, of SelfEnjoyment: though indeed were this otherwife, bringing down our Wishes to Reason is so much the furer and more practicable Method of being easy, than bringing every Thing to yield to our Wishes, that it scarce needs the further Recommendation of being the more virtuous Method also.
Still, paying some Attention to our worldly Interests, is a requisite Part of Wisdom : and it may be very
blameable, not to stretch out our Hand and take what Providence offers. But to covet with Earnestness, and pursue with Impetuosity, an Object that seems to fly from us, when God alone knows what it may prove, if we should overtake it, is generally, if not universally, presumptuous and rash. Yet this is the. Course that we commonly take. Whatever we see others follow, we follow too, just as fast, without asking ourselves why ; encourage our wild Fancies, instead of checking them ; fill our Hearts with imaginary Wants, and become as eager for Multitudes of Things one after another, all which we might do very well without, as if the whole Felicity of our Being consisted in them. If Men allow themP 3
selves in such Behaviour, all that Success can do for them, is to engage them ftill deeper in the same Folly, For these Cravings have no End, and therefore should be curbed and quieted in the Beginning.
But though Men are not vehemently agitated by Discontent, yet if they are dejected and suņķ by it, mourn over the Disadvantages of their Condition, and live in a State of Affliction, be it ever so calm Amiction, on Account of them, even this is by no means right. It may indeed sometimes be in a great Measure, mere bodily Disease: or it may, when the Degree of it is low, be the Fault of one, who is, on the Whole, virtuous and good. But still it sheys an undue Attachment to this World, yet unfits Persons at the same Time both for the Comforts to be enjoyed, and the Duties to be done in it, If indulged to any considerable Length, it may disorder not only the Temper, but the Understanding. And to strange Lengths it sometimes runs in People, of whom one must think, that if they have Cause to lament, it is hard to say, who hath Cause to be satisfied,
Or fuppofe the various Disadvantages of Men to be as great as they think them ; yet Happiness doth not arise from outward Circumstances, or the Accomplishments usually admired : else how unspeakably happy would the rich and great, the learned and ingenious, the beautiful and gay be, who all, at Times, con- . fess themselves to be far from it; and how miserable the rest of Mankind, who, God be thanked, relish their Being very comfortably! Every State hath not only its Inconveniences, but its Consolations: and the discontented would see this, if they did not perversely look solely at the former in their own Case, and the latter in that of others : magnify what they themselves want, and under-rate what they have ; over-value what their Neighbours enjoy, and forget to make Allowance for what perhaps they suffer. We know the worst of the Condition we are in : but what Evils belong to that which we wish to be in, we know not. Besides, every one cannot have every Thing, that he desires : and where is the greater Hardship, that we should fail of it, than that others should ? Many appear or succeed better, it may be : but many also not near so well. Would they have Cause to be
wretched, were they in our Circumstances ? If not, why have we ?
But further yet: perhaps our Disadvantages proceed from ourselves : possibly it is our Virtue and our Honour that keeps us back from what we long for: and surely, the Pofsession of good Qualities ought to give us more Pleasure, than any Disappointments owing to them should give us Pain. Or possibly some Fault of ours produces what we complain of: our Negligence or Expensiveness brings us into Straits, our Imprudences create us Difficulties, our ill Temper makes Things uneasy round us, our Irregularities impair our Health and Spirits : correct these Errors, instead of repining at their Consequences, and all will be well.
It may be you will say indeed, that you have endeavoured to correct your Faults, but without Success; and your chief Discontent is at yourselves. Now if this be really your Case, it is a very uncommon one. Many are dissatisfied with other Persons and Things, some with almost all about them; but few with their own Temper and Conduct. Such as really take Pains to amend it, deserve great Esteem ;
and, when they find the Work peculiarly difficult, as they often may, especially after long Indulgence, great Pity likewise. But, though they should never be so far contented with themselves, as to cease from the Attempt of Reformation, yet, while they are sure they ats tempt it in Earnest, they should acquiefce very calmly, notwithstanding that their Progress is but flow. The Nature of all Men is both imperfect and corrupt: and that of some much more than of others. The Disparity of the Faculties of our Minds and the Dispositions of our Hearts is as great, as of our bodily Qualifications or external Circumstances : and every one must submit to his Lot in the former, as well as the latter ; for grieving and murmuring will make Nothing better in either. Those Creatures, which cannot at all improve themselves, appear to be content with being what they are : but we can improve ourselves greatly; and if we labour, to do it chiefly in what best deserves our Labour, Goodness and Virtue, we shall out of Weakness be made
. strong, provided we trust not presumptuously to our own Efforts, but humbly join with them, Faith in