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how oft it happens in attempts of this kindwhere worldly men, in haste to be rich, have over-run the only means to it, and for want of laying their contrivances with proper cunning, or managing them with proper fecrecy and advantage, have loft for ever, what they might have certainly fecured by honesty and plain-dealing. The general caufes of the disappointments in their business, or of unhappiness in their lives, lying but too manifestly in their own diforderly paffions, which by attempting to carry them a fhorter 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 have watered and ripened.
Confider, in the third place, that as the religious and moral man (one of which he cannot be without the other) not only takes the fureft courfe for fuccefs in his affairs, but is difpofed to procure a help, which never enters into the thoughts of a wicked one: for being conscious of upright intentions, he can look towards heaven, and with fome affurance recommend his affairs to God's bleffing and
direction: whereas the fraudulent and difhoneft Man, dares not call for God's bleffing upon his defigns, or if he does, he knows it is in vain to expect it.-Now a man who believes that he has God on his fide, acts with another fort of life and courage, than he who knows he ftands alone;-like Efau, with his hand against every man, and every man's hand against his.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Confider, in the fourth place, that in all good governments who understand their own interest, the upright and honeft man stands much fairer for preferment, and much more likely to be employed in all things when fidelity is wanted: for all men, however the cafe stands with themselves, they love at least to find ho-. nefty in those they truft; nor is there any ufage we more hardly digest, than that of being outwitted and deceived. This is so true an obfervation, that the greatest knaves have no other way to get into business, but by counterfeiting honesty, and pretending to be what they are
not; and when the impofture is discovered, as it is a thousand to one but it will, I have just faid, what must be the certain confequence:-for when fuch a one falls, he has none to help him,-fo he feldom rifes again.
This brings us to a fifth particular in vindication of the text,—that a virtuous man has this strong advantage on his fide (the reverse of the last) that the more and the longer he is known, fo much the better is he loved,-fo much the more trusted ;-so that his reputatition and his fortune have a gradual increase:— and if calamities or crofs accidents fhould bear him down, -(as no one stands out of their reach in this world)-if he fhould fall, who would not pity his distress, would not stretch forth his hand to raise him from the ground! -wherever there was virtue, he might expect to meet a friend and brother.-And this is not merely fpeculative, but fact, confirmed by numberless examples in life, of men falling into misfortunes, whose character and tried probity have raised them, helps, and bore them up, when every other help has forfook them. Laftly, to fum up the account of the tem
poral advantages which probity has on its fide, -let us not forget that greatest of all happiness, which the text refers to,—in the expreffion of all its paths being peace,-peace and content of mind, arifing from the conscioufness of virtue, which is the true and only foundation of all earthly foundation; and where that is wanting, whatever other enjoy. ments you beftow upon a wicked man, they will as foon add a cubit to his ftature as to his happiness. In the midst of the highest enter tainments, this, like the hand-writing upon the wall, will be enough to fpoil and dif-relish the feaft;-but much more fo, when the tumult and hurry of delight is over, when all is ftill and filent,-when the finner has nothing to do but attend its lashes and remorfes ;-and this, in fpite of all the common arts of diverfion, will be often the case of every wicked man ;-for we cannot live always upon the ftretch;-our faculties will not bear conftant pleasure any more than conftant pain ;-there will be some vacancies; and when there are, they will be fure to be filled with uncomfortable thought and black reflections. So that,
fetting afide the great after-reckoning, the pleasures of the wicked are over-bought, even in this world.—
I conclude with one obfervation upon the whole of this argument, which is this—
Notwithstanding the great force with which it has been often urged by good writers,-there are many cafes which it may not reach,— wherein vicious men may feem to enjoy their portion of this life, and live as happy, and fall into as few troubles as other men :-and, therefore, it is prudent not to lay more stress upon this argument than it will bear :-but always remember to call into our aid, that great and more unanfwerable argument, which will answer the most doubtful cafes which can be stated,—and that is, certainty of a future life, which christianity has brought to light. -However men may differ in their opinions of the usefulness of virtue for our present purposes, no one was ever so abfurd, as to deny it ferved our best and last interest,-when the little interefts of this life were at an end::upon which consideration we should always lay the great weight which it is fittest to bear,