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The harp and the viol, the tabret and

pipe and wine are in their feasts; but
they regard not the work of the Lord
neither consider the operation of his
bands.

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VI.

T
appears

from many passages in the SERM.
writings of this prophet, that in his
days great corruption of manners had
begun to take place among the people
of Israel. Originally a sober and a re-
ligious nation, accustomed to a simple
and pastoral life, after they had en-
larged their territories by conquest,
Vol. IV.

H

and

VI.

ages which

SER M. and acquired wealth by commerce,

they gradually contracted habits of
luxury; and luxury soon introduced
its usual train of attending evils. In
the history of all nations, the same
circulation of manners has been found;
and the age in which we live resem-
bles, in this respect, the
have
gone

before it. Forms of iniquity may vary; but the corrupt propensities of men remain at all times much the same ; and revolutions from primitive fimplicity to the refinements of criminal luxury have been often exhibited on the stage of the world. The reproof directed in the text to the Jews of that antient will be found equally applicable to the manners of many, in modern times. In discoursing from it, I Thall first consider the character of those who are described in the text, and show the guilt that is involved in it. I shall next consider the duties which persons of that character are fupposed to have

neglected;

age,

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neglected; to regard the work of the SERM. Lord, and to conhder the operation of his m bands.

VI.

I. When we take into view the character pointed at in the text, it is evident that what the prophet means to reprove is, the spirit of inconsiderate dissipation, of intemperate indulgence, and irreligious luxury. It is not the feast and the wine, the harp and the viol, which he means to condemn. Music and wine are, in themselves, things of innocent nature: Nay, when temperately enjoyed, they may be employed for useful purposes; for affording relaxation from the oppressive cares of life, and for

promoting friendly intercourse among men. The opulent are not prohibited from enjoying the good things of this world, which providence has bestowed upon them. Religion neither abolishes the distinction of ranks, (as the vain philosophy of some would teach us to do), nor interferes with a modest and decent indulgence of pleasure. It is the

criminal

H2

SERM.criminal abuse of pleasure which is here mo censured; that thoughtless and intem

perate enjoyment of it which wholly absorbs the time and attention of men; which obliterates every serious thought of the proper business of life; and effaçes the fense of religion and of God.

It may be proper to remark, that it is not open and direct impiety, which is laid to the charge of the persons here characterised. It is not said, that in their feasts they scoffed at religion, or blafphemed the name of God. To this summit of wickedness these persons had not yet arrived; perhaps, the age

in which they lived gave not its countenance to this wantonness of impiety. It is merely a negative crime of which they are accused; that they regarded not the work of the Lord, neither confia dered the operation of his hands. But this absence of all religious impressions is here pointed out, as

fufficient to stigmatise their characters with guilt. As soon as the sense of a Supreme Being is loft, the great check is taken .

off

VI.

off which keeps under restraint the paf- SERM. fions of men. Mean desires, and low pleasures, take place of the greater and nobler sentiments which reason and religion inspire. Amidst the tumult of the wine and the feasi, all proper views of human life are forgotten. The duties which as men, they have to perform, the part they have to act in the world, and the distresses to which they are exposing themselves, are banished from their thoughts. To-morrow shall be as this day, and more abundantly, is the only voice. Inflamed by fociety, and circulated from one loose companion to another, the spirit of riot grows and swells, till it end in brutal excess.

Were such diforders rare and occafional merely, they might perhaps be forgötten and forgiven. But, nourished by repetition and habit, they grow up among too many, to become the bulinefs and occupation of life. By these unfortunate votaries of pleasure, they are accounted essential to happiness. Life appears to stagnate without them.

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