Page images

behalf, that same prayer which St. Paul offered for his flock at Colosse : “ that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;" through Jesus Christ our Lord.



St. MATTHEW xi, 28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

I DOUBT not, my christian brethren, that the greater part of you who hear me, feel yourselves addressed in the words which have just been read to you; I mean, that almost every one here present may say within his own heart, I labour and am heavy laden, and therefore shall be most happy to listen to any one, who can insure me the rest of which I stand so much in need.” And I do not say this to you because I think there is any thing peculiar in your condition,- I do not say it, because I suppose that your case is worse than that of the generality of mankind,-I do not say it from having the slightest reason to believe that you are more visited by the afflictions

and miseries of human life 'than the rest of your fellow creatures,—but I say it, because I am persuaded that I could say it with equal truth to any congregation that I might happen to address; because I am persuaded that there is scarcely a man, who does not at times feel himself to be a poor wretched being, who requires some other consolation, some more solid happiness, than this world is able to supply him with.

Human life is of such a nature, that it does not, cannot, in itself, and from its own resources, give any thing like uninterrupted satisfaction to a single individual that possesses it. Observe, I do not say that no man is or can be contented with his condition; on the contrary, every man ought to be so, and may be so, and every religious man is so; what I assert is, that without the hopes of religion, without the expectation of a more happy state of existence in another world, life would be at times a burthen to every one; that there is not a person, who does not want something better than mere earthly happiness ; that there is not a person, who could possibly be satisfied, if his whole existence were limited to the present life.

If you could enquire throughout all the different ranks, and examine every condition of life, I am sure you would find what I have said to be true. You would discover every where some cause of dissatisfaction with the present state of things. You would hear every one complain of some drawback to happiness in his own circumstances, whatever those circumstances might be. One man would tell you, “I am suffering under poverty and persecution; with all my labour and industry, I can scarcely obtain food enough to support me, or clothing to keep me warm. How can you ask me therefore, if I am satisfied with my condition? I see all the luxuries and ease which others enjoy, without the least hope of ever tasting them myself. Oh, that I was in his situation, who without the necessity of toil and exertion, is clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasts sumptuously every day,” who can say to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.”

Go then and enquire of this apparently happy man, whom the other so much wishes to resem. ble, whether he thinks himself worthy of this envy? Perhaps you will find him labouring under some bodily infirmity, which he would give all his wealth to be relieved of; or mourning for the loss of some dear friend, whose return to life he would gladly buy with all his possessions; or perhaps you would find him vexed and irritated

« PreviousContinue »