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dominion over all things on this side of the river; and, (to add to my happiness) Peace was on all sides round about me- In this prosperous situation, I gathered Silver and Gold, in rich abundance into my treasury, from all the Kings and Provinces tributary to me—And lastly, to crown my Festivity, the enchanting Voice of Music lent its aid. My Palaces and Gardens, and my Bowers of Joy, were rendered Vocal with the Syren strains of Men-Singers, and Wo. men-Singers, collected out of all my dominions; and the melodious warblings of every instrument of Music joined in the accompaniment.-In short, whatever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, nor withheld my heart from any joy; neither the Pleasures of Love, nor the Luxuries of Taste-I encreased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem, yet tempered and regulated all my enjoyments by the maxims of Wisdom; for all this while, my Wisdom remained with me!"
Come now, ye Sensualists and Voluptuaries of the present day; ye who bask in the sun shine of Fortune, and are mounted on the pinnacle of Grandeur and Power! Strain your imaginations to the utmost pitch! Call in every Earthly Joy and Refinement, which your labouring fancy can suggest; and say, what can you add to this picture of our Preacher's Bliss ? If ever Happiness, complete and satisfactory, could fix her abode with mortal man, must she not have been found a contented Guest, in the courts of Solomon? Will she not make some permanent abode with him ; allured by the dulcet sounds of Music, by the captivating Call of Wisdom, by the intoxicating
Splendour of Wealth, by the dazzling Pomp of Power; all surrounding and embracing him in their fullest raptures and assemblage ? Oh! no!
Hear his own Answer. Upon far more experience and more deliberate inquiry, than any of the Voluptuaries and Votaries of worldly Bliss, of the present day can boast, He discards all those Enjoyments ono by one, as Vanity of Vanities; contributing nothing to substantial Happiness, but leading directly to Disappointment and Misery, even in this life; except so far as they are regulated by the “ Fear of God, and made subservient to the Keeping of His Commandments."
I looked, says he, on all the works I had wrought, and all was Vanity—Of my Wisdom, which I accounted my Chief Good, I said in my Heart, (when referred to this world), what availeth it to me? " As it happeneth to the Fool, so it happeneth to Me. Both of us die alike, and there is no more Re. membrance of the one, than of the other;-nay, as little remembrance as there is of the beast of the field, if our portion is to be only in this world; for all are of the Dust, man as well as dumb beast, and all turn to: the Dust again.
Then, as to Feasting and Mirth, the next kind of fancied Bliss, I am cloyed and satiated with their constant round, and all the frantic noise and toilsome extravagance, which follow in their train. " I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what doth it ; being satisfied, from my own Experience, that better is a Handful with quiet; than both Hands: full with travail and vexation of Spirit.”
Again, as to the Riches and Wealth which I had heaped up," I soon bated all my labour I had taken to acquire them under the Sun; because I must leave my Wealth to the man that shall be after me; and who knows whether he shall be a Wise man or a Fool; notwithstanding he shall rule over all my labour, wherein I have been accounted wise under the Sun."
Lastly, as to Power and Authority; What are they? They place us on a dangerous Preeminence, and few men can use them without their abusing them. “For I saw under the Sun the place of Judgment, and Wickedness was there I saw the place of Righteousness, and lo, Iniquity was there--I saw also the poor groaning under the Rod of the Mighty-the Tears of the Oppressed, and they had no Comforter, while Power was on the side of the Oppressors; so that I was ready to praise the dead, as happier than those who live, under such Misery!
Thus Solomon, by an Estimate of the Good Things of this world put in the balance with the Evil Things; and by the soundest arguments of Reason, Wisdom and Experience (which cannot be equalled or excelled by the Arguments and Experience of any other Philosophers either ancient or modern), has drawn the Conclusion for me, viz. “ that no Enjoyments here can yield permanent Happiness, or so attach us to this World, as to make us consider our Release from it as an Evil, or increase the Terrors of Death, which is the certain portion of every man that is born of a woman.” And if, by these arguments, the best which can be offered by Reason and Philosophy, our Souls can be weaned from too great an attach
ment to our Good Things here, and but partly allay the Fear of Death; a complete Victory will be obtained, when, under the following heads of my Text, we proceed to the arguments of one greater than Solomon, who has brought Life and Immortality to Light by his Gospel.
In the meantime Solomon's last argument, on the Use and Abuse of Riches, will lead me to a natural Conclusion of this Discourse, by an application to your Charity and Benevolence in the Collection to be made for the poor and needy of these Congregations at this rigorous season of the year; and when the wants of many are greatly increased by the Loss of employment, and by the deeper Loss of Friends and Relatives, and the accumulated family distress arising out of the late awful Calamity.*
To minister to the wants of others, according to the measure of our abilities, is a duty enjoined upon us by the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; and Solomon tells us in the conclusion of his estimate of the Good Things of this Life, that there is nothing better for a man, to make his Soul enjoy the fruit of his labours, than “ to rejoice to do good in his life; for there is not a greater Evil under the Sun than what I have seen.”-Riches kept by the Owner thereof, to his own Hurt-A man wanting nothing for his Soul's desire, and without power to eat thereof (or to bid others eat;) while this man returneth naked as he came forth of his mother's womb, and of all his labour taketh nothing which he can carry away in his hand. This is well said by Solomon, to express his Abhorrence of those miserable and narrow-minded men, to whom God hath given Plenty, but who have not the heart to use or to do good with it, either to himself or others. In my next discourse we will come to arguments of an Evangelic Nature, opening our hearts to compassion, by carrying us forward to its reward in Heaven“Come ye Blessed of my Father,” &c.
* This Sermon was preached on a day appointed for a Collection in Christ-Church, for the above pious purposes.