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dom inspires, so there is a hatred of the world, that ariseth from evil dispositions. We may be disgusted with life from a principle of melancholy —from a, principle of misanthropy--from a principle of discontent-and, which is still more singular, we may be disgusted with the world through an excessive esteem for the world, and hate life through a too violent attachment to it.
1. We may hate life because we are melancholy. Only he, whose ideas are disconcerted by a dark and gloomy temper, can say fully and without qualification, I hate life. To attribute such a disposition to the wise man is to insult the Holy Spirit who animated him. All the advantages of life, I grant, cannot procure us perfect happiness, yet every one may procure us some satisfaction, transient but real, provided we enjoy each with such moderation as wisdom prescribes. Instead of exclaiming in melancholy mood against society, What friends ! What friendships ! Enjoy the innocent pleasures of society, and you will find that they can contribute to suspend your pain, to dissipate your anxieties, and to relieve your wearisome attention to your misfortunes. Instead of exclaiming against fortune, and saying, riches and honors, what are they good for ? Enjoy, as far as justice and benevolence will allow, the advantages of fortune, and
will experience that they may procure you some agreeable accommodations, which you are permitted, yea commanded to relish. Instead of exclaiming against reputation, and saying, what doth it signify_to be known, and esteemed among mankind ? Enjoy the advantages of reputation, and you will experience some satisfaction in being respected by intelligent persons in society. Though, in general, the world is unjust in estimating ability and virtue, yet there are many
rational members of society, who know how to distinguish gold from tinsel, and real ability from parade.
2. Some are disgusted with life from a principle of misanthropy. What is a misanthrope, or a hater of mankind ? He is a man, who avoids society only to free himself from the trouble of being useful to it. He is a man, who considers his neighbors only on the side of their defects, not knowing the art of combining their virtues with their vices, and of rendering the imperfections of other people tolerable by reflecting on his own.
He is a man more employed in finding out and inflicting punishments on the guilty than in devising means to reform thein. He is a man, who talks of nothing but banishing and executing, and who, because he thinks his talents are not sufficiently valued and employed by his fellow citizens, or rather because they know his foible, and do not choose to be subject to his caprice, talks of quitting cities, towns and societies, and of living in dens or in deserts. Intercourse with mankind is disagreeable, you say. Very well,' I grant it. But do you know what would make it infinitely more disagreeable? I will tell you. It would be, if all the members of society were animated with your spirit. What a society would that be, which should be composed of people without charity, without patience, without condescension ?
My text doth not inculcate such sentiments as these. The wise man had met with a great many disagreeable events in society which had given him a great deal of pain, but, far from being driven out of it, he continued to reside in the world, and to amend and improve it by his wise counsel and good example. Read the book of Proverbs, and this of Ecclesiastes, and observe how he endeavors
to preserve society from damage by exposing the snares, into which he himself had fallen. Behold, being converted himself he endeavors to strengthen his brethren, and to teach transgressors the ways of God! How accurately doth he describe all conditions of life! With what charity doth he condescend, If I may venture to speak so, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop upon the wall, so that there is no profession so mean, nor any man so obscure in his profession, that he doth not either direct or improve. Disgust with the world should never prevent our assisting the inhabitants of it, and our contempt of life should always be accompanied with charity for the living.
3. Sometimes a spirit of discontent produces disgust with the world, and contempt of life. To hear the people I mean, one would think it was impossible that this world should be governed by a wise being, because, forsooth, they are doomed with the rest of mankind to live in a valley of trouble. But who art thou, thou miserable man, to conceive ideas so false, and to form opinions so rash! Learn to know thyself, and to do thyself justice! If thou shouldst be required by the rigorous judgment of God to expiate thy crimes, it would not be in the vanity of this world, it would be in the flames of hell! It would not be in the society of men, faithless in trade, inconstant in friendship, insipid in conversation, troublesome in applications, perfidious in contracts, it would be in the society of the devil and his angels ! It would not be in the narrow compass of this life, the brevity of which may be justly compared to a vapor lost in the air, a flower fading in the sun, a dream vanishing in the morning, it would be in a succession of ages, in the boundless gulfs of eternity.
4. Į said finally, my brethren, that we are sometimes disgusted with the world through an excess of fondness for the world, and hated life through an over valuation of it. ( heart of man, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ! Jer. xvii. 9. Who would not think, to hear some men exclaim, Ah human life, I only wish to free myself from thy connections, and thou, wicked world,
I detest thee! Who would not think that these people were convinced of the vanity of the world ! But undeceive yourselves. Man enters the world as an enchanted place. While the charm lasts, the man I speak of is in raptures, and thinks he hath found the supreme good. He imagines that riches have no wings, that splendid fortune hath no reverse, that the great have no caprice, that friends have no levity, that health and youth are eternal : but as it is not long before he recovers his senses, he becomes disgusted with the world in the same proportion as he had been infatuated with it, and his hatred of life is exactly as extravagant as his love of it had been: that is to say, these sentiments, which seem so just and respectable, do not proceed from serious reflections on the views, which an immortal soul ought to have : that is to say, you would have consented to renounce all hopes of future happiness, and to be for ever separated from God, had not the spring of your life passed away with so much rapidity, had your connections been more durable, had your interest at court been better supported.
How pitiable is your condition! In it you unite the misfortunes of time with the miseries of eternity. You disclaim both heaven and earth, you are disgusted with the vanity of one, and you have no taste for the other. A worldling indemnifies himself by present enjoyments for the loss of future bliss, of which he hath no prospect ; and a christian indemnifies himself by enjoying pleasures in prospect for the loss of sensual delights: but you! At what do you aspire ? Your condition is the height of misery, as it is the height of absurdity.
It is not in any of these senses that the wise man saith, I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me. He would have us understand, that the earth hath more thorns than flowers-that our condition here, though incomparably better than we deserve, is however inadequate to our just and constitutional desires that our inconveniences in this life would seem intolerable, unless we were wise enough to direct them to the same end, that God proposed by exposing us to suffer them in a word, that nothing but hope in a future state formed on another plan can render the disorders of this world tolerable. So much may serve to explain the meaning of the wise man.
II. Let us now proceed to justify the sense given, and to this I shall devote the remainder of this discourse, and all the moments of attention, which we shall take the liberty yet to require of you.
I will make use of no artifice to obtain my end. I will not affect, in order to detach you from the world, to exhibit only the odious things of the world ; nor will I combat an excessive love of life by opposing against it the pains and the miseries of the living : but I mean to attack your idols in their fort, decry life by shewing its most amiable sides, and to endeavor to disgust you with the world by exposing the most desirable objects in it.
The phantoms, that seduced Solomon during his dissipation, may be reduced to two classes. The first suppose in the dissipated man very little know