صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

guarded by the providence of God, but that honesty is in its own nature the freest from danger.

First, because such a one lays no projects, which it is the interest of the other to blast, and therefore needs no indirect methods or deceitful practices to secure his interest by undermining others. The paths of virtue are plain and straight, so that the blind, persons of the meanest capacity, shall not err.-Dishonesty requires skill to conduct it, and as great art to conceal-what 'tis every one's interest to detest. And I think I need not remind you how oft it happens in attempts of this kind—where worldly men, in haste to be rich, have overrun the only means to it,--and for want of laying their contrivances with proper cunning, or managing them with proper secresy and advantage, have lost for ever, what they might have certainly secured with honesty and plain-dealing.–The general causes of the disappointments in their business, or of the unhappiness in their lives, lying but too manifestly in their own disorderly passions, which, by attempting to carry them a shorter way to riches and honour, disappoint them of both for ever, and make plain, their ruin is from themselves; and that they eat the fruits which their own hands liave watered and ripened.

SERMON XXVIII.

THE MERCIFUL MAN. Look into the world-how often do you behold a sordid wretch, whose strait heart is open to no man's affliction, taking shelter behind an appearánce of piety, and putting on the garb of religion,

[ocr errors]

which none but the merciful and compassionate have a title to wear! Take potice with what sanctity he goes to the end of his days, in the same selfish track in which he at first set out-turning neither to the right hand nor to the left-but plods on-pores all his life long upon the ground as if afraid to look up, lest peradventure he should see ought wbich might turn him one moment out of that straight line where interest is carrying him; or if, by chance, he stumbles upon a hapless object of distress, which threatens such a disaster to himdevoutly passing by on the other side, as if unwilling to trust himself to the impressions of nature, or hazard the inconveniences which pity right lead him into upon the occasion.

SERMON III.

MOURNING.

Let us go into the house of mourning, made so by such afflictions as have been brought on, merely by the common cross accidents and disasters to which our condition is exposed,—where, perhaps the aged parents sit broken-hearted, pierced to their souls with the folly and indiscretion of a thankless child

- the child of their prayers, in whom all their hopes and expectations centered :

-perlaps a more affecting scene- -a virtuous family lying pinched with want, where the unfortunate support of it, having long struggled with a train of misfortunes, and bravely fought up against them,- -is now piteously borne down at the last-overwhelmed with a cruel blow which no forecast or frugality.

[ocr errors]

could have prevented.-0 God! look upon his afflictions-Behold him distracted with many sor. rows, surrounded with the tender pledges of his love, and the partner of his cares—without bread to give them, unable, from the remembrance of better days, to dig ;-to beg, ashamed.

When we enter into the house of mourning such as this it is impossible to insult the unfortunate even with an improper look-Under whatever levity and dissipation of heart, such objects catch our eyes,—they catch likewise our attentions, collect and call home our scattered thoughts, and exercise them with wisdom. A transient scene of distress, such as is here sketched, how soon does it furnish materials to set the mind at work! how necessarily does it engage it to the consideration of the miseries and misfortunes, the dangers and calamities to which the life of man is subject! By holding up such a glass before it, it forces the mind to see and reflect upon the vanity-- the perishing condition, and uncertain tenure of every thing in this world. From reflections of this serious cast, how insensibly do the thoughts carry us further ! and from considering what we are what kind of world we live in, and what evils befal us in it, how naturally do they set us to look forwards at what possibly we shall be, for what kind of world we are intended what evils may befal us there

-and what provisions we should make against them here, whilst we have time and opportunity! If these lessons are so inseparable from the house of mourning here supposed-we shall find it a still more instructive school of wisdom when we take a view of the place in that more affecting light in . which the wise man seems to confine it in the texts in which, by the house of mourning, I believe he means that particular scene of sorrow, where there is lamentation and mourning for the dead. Turn hither, I beseech you, for a moment. Behold a dead man ready to be carried out, the only son of his mother, and she a widow! Perhaps a more affecting spectacle, a kind and indulgent father of a numerous family, lies breathless-snatched away in the strength of his age-torn in an evil hour from his children and the bosom of a disconsolate wife! Behold much people of the city gathered together to mix their tears, with settled sorrow in their looks, going heavily along to the house of mourning, to perform the last melancholy office, which, when the debt of nature is paid, we are called upon pay each other! If this sad occasion which leads him there has not done it already, take notice to what a serious and devout frame of mind every man is reduced, the moment he enters this gate of affliction. The busy and fluttering spirits which in the house of mirth were wont to transport him from one diverting object to another-see how they are fallen ! how peaceably they are laid ! In this gloomy mansion, full of shades and uncomfortable damps to seize the soul,--see, the light and easy heart, which never knew what it was to think before, how pensive it is now, how soft, how susceptible, how full of religious impressions, how deeply it is sniitten with a sense and with a love of virtue! Could we, in this crisis, whilst the empire of reason and religion lasts, and the heart is thus exercised with wisdom, and busied with heavenly contemplations—could we see it naked as it:

to

is stripped of its passions, unspotted by the world, and regardless of its pleasures—we might then safely rest our cause upon this single evidence, and appeal to the most sensual, whether Solomon has not made a just determination here in favour of the house of mourning? not for its own sake, but as it is fruitful in virtue, and becomes the occasion of so much good. Without this end, sorrow, I own, has no use but to shorten a man's days— nor can gravity, with all its studied solemnity of look and carriage, serve any end but to make one half of the world merry, and impose upon the other.

SERMON II.

MISFORTUNE AND CONSOLATION.

THERE is not an object in this world which Gov can be supposed to look down upon with greater pleasure, than that of a good man involved in misfortunes, surrounded on all sides with difficultiesyet cheerfully bearing up his head, and struggling against them with firmness and constancy of mind. -Certainly, to our conceptions, such objects must be truly engaging :—and the reason of so exalted an encomium from this hand, is easily to be guessed: no doubt the wisest of the heathen philosophers had found, from observation upon the life of man, that the many troubles and infirmities of his nature, the sicknesses, disappointments, sorrows for the loss of children or property, with the numberless other calamities and cross accidents to which the life of man is subject, where in themselves so

« السابقةمتابعة »