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ceed; and indeed exacerbation implies remission. Nor ought it to be forgotten, that these intervals are often amongst the sweetest and most valued moments of existence, the preceding pain giving a keen and exquisite relish for enjoyment; while the thoughts with which the mind amuses itself in sickness, the hope of recovery, and the attentions of kind and tender friends, greatly lesson and counterbalance the actual sum of misery endured. Indeed, disease, taking the most extensive view of it, seems destructive to the life rather than to the enjoyment of the sentient being; and in fact, the first is the final cause of disease, the second is only an accidental consequence.
These observations may be applied with equal justice to the afflictions of the mind. Whatever be the nature or magnitude of the calamity with which it is visited, it is never constantly, nor even for a long period together, under its influence. Whoever will consider the conduct of his mind under the severest misfortune, will soon be convinced of this fact. He will perceive that a thousand objects came in to attract his attention from the subject of his sorrow, of which he was unconscious at the time, and to which he yielded without knowing it: that the mind has numberless sources of pleasure to which in its most gloomy hour it soon spontane. ously betakes itself, and that it is impossible to chain it down to perpetual afflictive thought. If he will carefully compare the number of minutes in which he is sure that his attention was fixed on the subject of his misfortune, with those in which he is satisfied that it was occupied with other objects, he will be so far from believing he contemplated it incessantly, that he will wonder he thought of it so little. At particular periods, indeed, he dwelt upon and felt all his wretchedness: these periods, perhaps, are distinctly marked in his memory, but he has forgotten the hours of abstraction from his sorrow which intervened, and for the same reason that he has forgotten so many of his peaceful days. Now the bestowment of this constitution of mind is of the very essence of benevolence. Language cannot express the kindness there is in it, nor are we at all able to estimate the relief we owe to it from the afflictions which befal us.
Thus, then, it appears, that pleasure not only preponderates over pain, but that this is often the case even in the most unhappy periods of existence. And in the ordinary circumstances of life, how great is that pleasure; how various, how exquisite, how far surpassing our ability to estimate! Contemplate a person placed in the ordinary circumstances of life ; suppose him addicted to no particular vice, nor practising any exemplary virtue; neither highly favored with the gifts of understanding nor of fortune; of
what pleasure is he capable, and what pleasure does he actually enjoy! What gratification does he every hour receive from his different senses ; from the exercise of his intellectual faculties from his social affections; from the relations which connect him with his fellow-beings, those relations so dear and sacred, which constitute him a father, a husband, a brother, a friend !
But suppose him not only addicted to no vice, but highly virtuous, to feel a deep sense of his obligations to the Supreme Being, to love him, to take a sincere pleasure in learning and obeying his laws, and in preparing to meet him in those blissful regions, where he will enjoy such superior displays of his perfections and glory : suppose him to consider all his fellow-creatures as brethren, to feel for them a real and fraternal affection, and to delight in doing them all the good offices in his power : in a word, suppose him to be a sincere disciple of Jesus Christ, what exquisite felicity does such a being enjoy! How sublime in its nature ! How immortal in its duration ! How nearly does it assimilate him to the Supreme Being himself ! Who can believe that such faculties and such happiness can be bounded by the current of time, or swept away amidst the low and frivolous objects which it is bearing to eternal oblivion; that they are imparted only to give dignity to the triumph of death, and importance to the spoil of the grave, and that the very benignity of their author is questionable ?
There is yet another circumstance in the constitution of our nature, which proves both the benevolence of the principle on which it is constructed, and the preponderance of happi. ness actually experienced, namely, the pleasure afforded by retrospection and anticipation. The fact that the recollection of the places we have visited, the persons we have seen, the compapanions with whom we have associated, the occupations in which we have engaged, and the general train of events which have befallen us, and which constitute the little history of ourselves is pleasurable, is seldom denied. And there are places and persons and periods, periods in some cases comprehending months and years, which we can never think of without extreme delight. Hence the magic there is in the name of country, home, and friend : and hence the pleasure, perhaps the most exquisite the mind ever tastes, with which it dwells on some bright and blissful moments of existence, or on some spots with the recollection of the objects of which are inseparably associated its own thoughts and emotions. Recollection, it is true, does not in general afford this acute and exquisite pleasure, but in general it does afford pleasure. But recollection is only the compound vestige of all the pleasures and pains
which have been associated with the objects contemplated. If, therefore, recollection be upon the whole pleasurable, the balance must of necessity have been in favour of pleasure.
And the feeling with which we look forward to the future is, for the most part, not only pleasurable but exhilarating. Hope is the balm of life. As many pains which once produced considerable suffering are softened and even converted into actual pleasures, so the fear which occasionally mingles with hope is seldom sufficient to deprive it of its charm. But in fact we live in the past and in the future: the pleasures and pains produced by present circumstances have a very inconsiderable influence on present feeling: that feeling depends almost entirely on recollection and anticipation, and these faculties are made the sources of pleasure. There is nothing in the structure of the bodily frame more indicative of wisdom, than this mental constitution is demonstrative of goodness.
The constitution of our social nature also is such as to ensure the continual augmentation of happiness. We are made mutually dependant. It is an essential part of the plan of the Deity, that the highest happiness enjoyed by man should be communicated by man. But the happiness one person receives from another, endears to him the author of his pleasure, and makes him wish to shew to his benefactor the like kindness: if, on