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and then, after he had ascended, till he had reached the highest pinnacle to which he dared to aspire, should he not feel as dissatisfied as ever, or, rather, more dissatisfied than ever, with the nature and the amount of his enjoyments? What though he rose, not to be a monarch merely, but to be the sovereign of many monarchs, and the possessor of many crowns and many realms, where, or how could his ambition be gratified when he had subdued the world, and when there remained for him no other world to subdue?
Is his ultimate end literary fame :--this seemis a nobler object than the former, and one from which, in the estimation of many, greater satisfaction might be derived. But in reality, it is not less criminal, and not less injurious to the happiness of the individual who devotes himself to it. Though he should succeed in acquiring celebrity in the district in which he resides, or even in the kingdom to which he belongs, or through the whole of the civilized world, what is this to the universe? Would he not find, after he had gained the highest literary reputation, that the enjoyment which he had promised to reap from it had eluded him, and that all was vanity and vexation of spirit ?
The dissatisfaction of the ambitious man must increase in proportion as he advances in his career, because, however successful, there will be wealth and power which he cannot attain. The king of Israel could not enjoy his kingdom, because he coveted the vineyard of one of his subjects. The captive Haman, whom the Persian Monarch made his prime-minister,
and who had honours, and places, and provinces at his disposal, was discontented and miserable, merely because an obscure Jew refused to pay him homage. * The queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet, that she had prepared, but myself, and to-morrow am I invited unto her, also, with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting at the king's gate.”
III. Let us observe the evils of which ambition is always productive. Within the narrowest limits in which it is cherished, it leads the individual under its control to sacrifice his principle, his peace, and his future and eternal well-being.
His heart is away from God; and whatever be the object on which it is fixed, it is the idol to which he gives his homage, and from which he promises to derive his happiness.
When indulged on a more extended scale, how ruinous is its influence on the best interests of mankind! Does it aim at literary honour and distinction :-how often has ambition, in this way, sought its object at the expense of truth; by disparaging, if not denying the character, the government, and the providence of God; by vilifying the revelation which he has given of his will, and of his merciful designs; and by flattering the vanity, and stimulating the sen. kuality and corruption of man! It is this guilty principle that has filled the world with a species of literature with which it is dangerous to be acquainted, which is the vehicle of infidelity in all its forms of refinement and coarseness, and which addresses itself in sarcasm, in wit, in ridicule, in polluting insinuation, to the passions of the reader. It exists under
the garb of history, of poetry, of philosophy, and of periodical journals ;-assailing the highest interests of man as a moral, a religious, an immortal being.
Does ambition seek political distinction and power: -- how destructive has it been in this way in all ages of the world! Animated and carried along by this principle, to what madness and crime has it led individuals both in ancient and in modern times! How many thousand human beings have been sacrificed to gratify the ambition of a single Cæsar! If we beheld hamlets and cities in ruins, the means of subsistence, the domestic enjoyments of multitudes wasted, and war spreading misery and death over the face of that world on which the Creator lavishes his bounty, we should only witness some of the evils which cruel and hard-hearted ambition voluntarily produces.
Nor let us deceive ourselves by thinking that in our humble station we are beyond the reach of its influence. There is no principle that has so wide a control over mankind. Paltry as the object may be which we covet, and to which we give the homage of our heart, it will prove, should we love it to the neglect of God and of our true interests, our certain and everlasting ruin. While many are ever saying, Who will shew us any good-may it be the unfeigned language of our hearts, “ Lord lift thou up upon us the light of thy countenance. Whom lave I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee."
ANOTHER of the duties which we owe to ourselves is the cultivation of fortitude; or that virtue, in the exercise of which we are enabled to conduct ourselves with propriety in regard to the difficulties and dangers of life; so as neither to betray ourselves by unreasonable fear, nor rashly to put ourselves in the way of evil. It is by fortitude that we can guard from injury those rights which the Creator has given us, and employ them in advancing the great end of our being; it is by the self-command which proceeds from it that we can prepare to meet the evils which threaten us at a distance; and it is the same virtue which keeps the mind from sinking under present and unavoidable calamities, and animates it to endure, with patience and resignation to the will of God, what it can neither control nor remove. No man can be truly virtuous who is not in some degree courageous ; since all the evils of life,-pain, and poverty, loss of property, of friends, or of reputation, and all the allurements of unlawful pleasure and profit, give occasion to the exercise of christian fortitude. It is closely connected with self-control, without a considerable share of which, none can be eminently good or great; and it is nearly allied to contentment, which consists not in divesting ourselves of all inclination for what we do not enjoy at present, but in not VOL. II.
indulging any, without the authority of conscience and of God, and in possessing that tranquil and grateful state of mind which will lead us to give thanks always for all things, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“ With respect to fortitude, the fourth in the enumeration of cardinal virtues, we may observe that, in every active nature, there is a measure of force required to support their active exertions, and a measure of weakness sufficient to frustrate the purpose of nature, or to betray the confidence that may be placed in the highest measures of skill and of good disposition.
“ Force of mind has a peculiar reference to the state of man, to the difficulties, hardships, and dangers, in the midst of which he is destined to act. In the support of what is honourable and just, he has sometimes occasion to suffer what is inconvenient or painful to his animal frame. In espousing the cause of the just, he may incur the animosity and opposition of the wicked. In performing the offices of beneficence to others, he may encounter with hardship or danger to himself. But this circumstance, which seems to restrain or limit his activity, serves rather to whet his spirit, and increase his ardour in the performance of worthy actions. The difficulty he surmounts becomes an evidence of the disposition which he approves, and actually endears the object for whose sake he exposes himself. Hence it is, that ingenuous minds are confirmed in the love of virtue, in proportion as it becomes a principle of elevation, of heroism, or magnanimity* "
* Ferguson's Prin. of Mor. and Pol. Science, v. ij. p. 43, 44