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S E R M. tures. While we regard the work of the y_ y**,__, Lord, we are also to consider the never ceasing operation os his hands. We are to look up to an awful and irresistible Providence, stretching its arm over our heads; directing the fate of men, and dispensing at its pleasure happiness or misery. In the giddy moments of jollity, the wanton and thoughtless are apt to fay: "Let us eat and drink, for "to-morrow we die. Nothing is bet"ter for man, than to rejoice as much "as he can all the days of his vain life; "and to keep himself undisturbed by ** superstitious terrors. He who sit** teth in the heavens bestows no mi"nute attention on the sons of earth. "He permits all things to come alike to "all; one event to happen to the righte"ous and to the wicked."—Be assured, my brethren, it is not so. You greatly deceive yourselves, by imagining that your Creator and Governor is indifferent to the part you are now acting; or that the distribution of good and evil, which now takes place, has no
relation to your moral conduct. InSERM. some instances, that relation may not ^^L^j be apparent, because the moral government of God is not completed in this world. But a multitude of proofs show government to be already begun; and point out to you the train in which you may expect it to proceed.
In the history of all ages and nations, you cannot but have observed athousand instances, in which_ the operations of the divine hand has been displayed; overtaking evil doers sooner or later with punishment, and bringing on their own heads the ruin they had devised for others. You are not to imagine that this displeasure of Providence is exerted only against the ambitious, the treacherous, and the cruel, who are the authors of extensive misery to the world. Under this idea, perhaps, you may be desirous to shelter yourselves, that your excesses are of a harmless kind; that you seek nothing more than the enjoyment of your own pleasures; that your feast and your wine interfere not with the
S E R M. order of the world; and that therefore
\^^^mJ you have done nothing which should awaken the sleeping thunder, and bring it down from heaven on your heads. Though not stained with the blackest colours of guilt, your conduct may nevertheless be highly offensive to the Ruler of the world. His government is not of that indolent inattentive kind, which allows impunity to every lesser criminal. He beholds with displeasure the behaviour of those who degrade their nature by vitious disorders; and contaminate, by their example, every society with which they are connected. His measures are taken, that in one way. or other, they shall suffer.
Look around the circle of your acquaintance, and observe, whether they are not the sober, the industrious, and the virtuous, who visibly prosper in the world, and rise into reputation and influence; observe whether the licentious and intemperate are not constantly humbled and
checked by some dark reverse either in 3 E R M. their health or their fortune; whether u^l^ the irreligious and profligate are ever suffered to escape long, without being marked with infamy, and becoming ob.? jects of contempt.—I ask, to what cause this is to be ascribed, but to that opera* tion of the hand of God, which I am now calling you to consider? Does it not obvi.i oufly carry the marks of a plan, a system of things, contrived and fore-ordaihedby Providence, for rewarding virtue, and punishing vice in every form of its disorders?—^.The Governor of the world need not for this purpose step from his throne, of put forth his hand from the clouds k With admirable wisdom he hath so or* dered the train of human affairs, that, in their natural course, men's own wickedt ness Jhall reprove them, and their backjlidings correSt them; that they jhall be made to eat the fruit of their doings, and to fall into the pit which themselves had digged. Vol. IV, I . These
Serm. These things have been always so apJO^j parent to observation, that though a man may have heen seduced into irregular and evil courses during his life, yet, at the close of it, it seldom happens but he discerns their pernicious nature, and condemns himself for them. Never, perhaps, was there a father, who, after he had spent his days in idleness, dissipation, and luxury, did not, when dying, admonish the children whom he loved, to hold a more honourable course, to follow the paths of virtue, to fear God, and to fulfil properly the duties of their station.—To yourselves, indeed, I can confidently appeal, whether what I am now saying, be i not confirmed by your own testimony. After you have been guilty of some criminal acts, in the course of those riotous pleasures which you indulge, have you not, at certain times, felt the stings of remorse? Were you not obliged to confess to yourselves that a fad prospect of misery was opening before you, if such excesses were to continue? Did you not