« ForrigeFortsæt »
there may fall into fome generous hearts, there strike root, spring up in concealment, and in time bear fruit. He therefore that hath ears to hear, let him hear! Amen.
Rules for forming proper Estimates of Things.
GOD, who art essential love and benignity, and
intendest and promotest only happiness, how many capacities, how many means for being happy hast thou also granted to us! Our senses and our mind, nature and religion, the visible and the invi. sible, the present and the future, all open to us numberless sources of fatisfa&tion and pleasure, all promise and procure us delight, all are designed and adapted to render us progressively more perfect and happy. Yes, thou, the affectionate, beneficent
parent of the universe, providest for our body and for our soul, for our animal and for our intellectual wants, for our outward welfare, and for our inward perfection, for our first, terrestrial, and for our superior, eternal life, for whatever has a tendency to render easy and agreeable our course to the mark, and to secure to us the actual attainment of it. Father eternal, how condescending, how gracious thou art! How much hast thou done for us !
F F 2
With what parental care provided for our welfare! Oh that we but loved ourselves as thou lovest us, and provided as carefully for our own happiness, as thou providest for it! Thou hat made us rational, free agents. Thine is to decree, our's to chuse between the good and the bad, between the better and the worse, to distinguish between specious appearance and reality, to elevate ourselves above the fensible and the visible, to learn to connect the futúre with the present, and in all things to do thy will. Our happiness is to be the consequence of our wise and good behaviour ; and this is to give it firmness and stability, and sweeten to us the enjoyment of it. But we frequently err in our judgment and in our choice ; we frequently suffer ourselves to be deluded by the specious appearance of objects; we often let sensuality get the better of our reason; often prefer deceitful, fugacious, transient goods and pleasures, to the most effential and durable advantages and bleilings. And therefore it is that we are so often discontented and wretched; therefore we are so often urged to complain of the want of fatisfa&ion and happiness. God, merciful God, lead us back from our deviations. Teach us better to understand thy kind, beneficent purposes, and to think and act more conformably with them. Cause the light of thy truth to pour increasing radiance on our path of life, that we may walk it with increasing intelligence and safety. Grant that we inay be always learning to form juster estimates of
the various privileges and endowments that we meet with on it, offering us fatisfaction and pleasure, joy and felicity, and always more discreetly to chufe between them. Bless to this end our reflections on the doctrines of religion which are now to be de livered to us.
Let us perceive and feel their truth, and ernploy them as a clue to guide us in the whole of our future conduct. We ask it of thee as chril. tians with filial confidence, addressing thee further in the name of thy fon, after whom we are called : Our father, &c.
PSALM, iv. 6.
There be many that fay, Who will shew us any good ?
MAN may possess a variety of endowments, en
joy various pleasures, acquire various privile. ges, seek and obtain various kinds of perfection and happiness; but all of them are not of equal value, and rarely can we possess and enjoy them all, and much feldomer all in the same proportion or degree. These several endowments, these pleasures, these privileges, these several kinds of perfe&tion and happiness, are not always compatible with each other. The acquisition and the possession of one frequently militates with the possession and the acquisition of another. The one frequently cannot be purchased
or acquired without the loss or the voluntary sacrifice of the other. There are cases where I can neither duly cultivate and improve my mind, nor enjoy the pleasure arising from the proper discharge of my duty, without weakening my body and hurt. ing my health ; cases where I cannot maintain and secure my peace of conscience and ferenity of mind, without manifest loss of some earthly interest ; cases where I am under the necessity of chusing between the good pleasure of God and the approba. tion and esteem of mankind, between inward perfection concealed from the notice of the world, and outward splendid distinctions; between sensual and intellectual pleasures, between present and future happiness ; and must relinquish the one for the fake of the other. Persons who act not upon firm principles, who neglect to take wisdom and virtue and piety for their guides, are very liable in such cases to be confused and thrown into distress. The less a man knows of the value of things; the more he suffers himself to be dazzled by outside appearance and show; and the more wavering his sentiments and inclinations are: the more uncertain will he be in this election ; and the oftener will he prefer the bad to the good, the worse to the better. To guard you against this tormenting and dangerous uncer. tainty, my pious hearers, and to furnish you with sure motives of determination in such cases, is the scope of my present discourse. Accordingly, I mean to answer the question in our text: “There be ma