Daily experience affords ample proof, that there is no such thing as real satisfaction in any earthly enjoyments. Pleasure happiness, what are they but empty names? visionary forms! romantic scenes, which never had existence but in fancy! Of this reason and reflection fully convince us, and sighing we confess the melancholy truth! And yet (unaccountable folly) we eagerly pursue the airy fleeting shadows, and vex ourselves that we cannot overtake them!
Our first parents sinned and lost their earthly paradise, and in vain do their wretched posterity seek for bowers of bliss! no shades of sweet repose and undisturbed tranquillity are to be found on earth! Let us then sit down and seriously enquire what is the highest happiness mortals can enjoy? Be gone ambition, nor let vanity appear; fame, wealth, and pleasure hide your heads, ’tis not in your united power to bestow. – It is content! ’tis this alone which bears a true resemblance of happiness so often sought, so rarely found! – How easy, how cheerful, and how blest is the contented man! a stranger to the busy cares and restless anxieties of the ambitious, the covetous, and the gay; pleased with his little share of earthly good, he moves calmly on in the sphere assigned by providence, nor minds the noisy bustle round him, nor envies all the gaudy blaze of grandeur; nor follows the tempting gay delusive forms of pleasure. He enjoys a little heaven below, in the hope of that consummate bliss prepared for him in the mansions of glory: bliss which will for ever flourish in immutable perfection, when all those glittering appearances are vanished and forgotten. Divine content! inestimable blessing! How shall I attain the enjoyment of so desirable a state? Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Gracious God, who hast in thy sacred Word encouraged thy poor creatures to ask those blessings which thy unmeasured goodness can bestow, give me, O give me from thy exhaustless treasures of grace in Jesus the Redeemer, that sweet content, that inexpressible satisfaction which flows from the hope of thy favour, and delightful views of my interest in thy everlasting love through him! Let the peace of God which passeth all understanding fill my heart and mind! Then shall I be easy and cheerful in the distributions of thy Providence, nor suffer a repining thought at the want of lesser comforts.
Father I wait thy daily will,
Thou shalt divide my portion still,
Grant me on earth what seems thee best,
’Till death and heaven reveal the rest.
Text: STE 3/4, no. 8, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse and Prose, 1780, pp. 168-70; also Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 2, ed. Julia B. Griffin, pp. 225-26.