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from principle they can derive no support, SERMON so in a temper corrupted by prosperity they find no relief. They have lost that moderation of mind which enables a wise man to accommodate himself to his situation. Long fed with false hopes, they are exasperated and stung by every disappoint
Luxurious and effeminate, they can bear no uneasiness. Proud and presumptuous, they can brook no opposition. By nourishing dispositions which so little suit this uncertain state, they have infused a double portion of bitterness into the cup of woe; they have sharpened the edge of that sword which is lifted up to smite them. Strangers to all the temperate satisfactions of a good and a pure mind; strangers to every pleasure except what was seasoned by vice or vanity, their adversity is to the last degree disconsolate. Health and opulence were the two pillars on which they rested. Shake either of them; and their whole edifice of hope and comfort falls. Prostrate and forlorn, they are left on the ground, obliged to join with the man of Ephraim in his abject lamentation, They bave taken away my gods which I have
SERMON made, and what have I more*?_Such are
the causes to which we must ascribe the broken spirits, the peevish temper, and impatient passions, that so often attend the declining age, or fallen fortunes, of vicious men.
But how different is the condition of a truly good man in those trying situations of life! Religion had gradually prepared his mind for all the events of this inconstant state. It had instructed him in the nature of true happiness. It had early weaned him from the undue love of the world, by discovering to him its vanity, and by setting higher prospects in his view. Afflictions do not attack him by surprise, and therefore do not overwhelm him.
He was equipped for the storm, as well as the calm, in this dubious navigation of life. Under those conditions he knew himself to be brought hither, that he was not to retain always the enjoyment of what he loved : And therefore he is not overcome by disappointment, when that which is mortal, dies; when that which is mutable, begins to change; and
* Judges, xviii. 24. 13
when that which he knew to be transient, SERMON passes away.
All the principles which religion teaches, and all the habits which it forms, are favourable to strength of mind. It will be found, that whatever purifies, fortifies also the heart. In the course of living righteously, soberly, and godly, a good man acquires a steady and well-governed spirit. Trained, by Divine grace, to enjoy with moderation the advantages of the world, neither lifted up by success, nor enervated with sensuality, he meets the changes in his lot without unmanly dejection. He is inured to temperance and restraint. He has learned firmness and self-command. He is accustomed to look up to that Supreme Providence, which disposes of human affairs, not with reverence only, but with trust and hope.
The time of prosperity was to him not merely a season of barren joy, but productive of much useful improvement. He had cultivated his mind, He had stored it with useful knowledge, with good principles, and virtuous dispositions. These resources remain entire, when the days of
SERMON trouble come. They remain with him in
sickness, as in health ; in poverty, as in the
His mind is a kingdom to him; and he can still enjoy it. The world did not bestow upon him all his enjoyments; and therefore it is not in the power of the world, by its most cruel attacks, to carry them
II. The distresses of life are alleviated to good men, by reflections on their past conduct; while, by such reflections, they are highly aggravated to the bad. During the gay and active periods of life, sinners elude in some measure, the force of con
'science. Carried round in the world of af- SERMON fairs and pleasures; intent on contrivance, or eager in pursuit; amused by hope, or elated by enjoyment; they are sheltered, by that crowd of trifles which surrounds them, from serious thought, But conscience is too great a power to remain always suppressed. There is in
every man’s life, a period when he shall be made to stand forth as a real object to his own view : And when that period comes, woe to him who is galled by the sight! In the dark and solitary hour of distress, with a mind hurt and sore from some recent wound of fortune, how shall he bear to have his character for the first time disclosed to him, in that humiliating light under which guilt will necessarily present it? Then the recollection of the past becomes dreadful. It exhibits to him a life thrown away on vanities and follies, or consumed in flagitiousness and sin; no station properly supported; no material duties fulfilled. Crimes which once had been easily palliated, rise before him in their native deformity. The sense of guilt mixes itself with all that has befallen him. VOL. I. D