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On INTEGRITY as the Guide of Life,
· Proverbs xi. 3. The integrity of the upright shall guide
them. D IGHTEOUSNESS and fin are, in SERM. N this book of Proverbs, frequently contrasted with each other, and the advantages of the former displayed. The righteous man is shown to be more excellent than his neighbour, as the ways in which he walks are ways of pleasantness. while the way of transgressors is hord. Honour is represented as attending the
SER M. one, while shame is the portion of the · XV. other
other. The path of the one leads to life; that of the other to destruction. In the text, an advantage of righteoufness is specified, which is not commonly attended to, and which some will not readily allow that it possesses. We are told by the wise man, that it affords light and direction to conduct, and will prove our best guide through all the intricacies of life. The integrity of the upright shall guide them; or, as it is added, to the same purpose, in a following verse, the righteousness of the perfect shall dire&t his way. There are many who will admit, that integrity is an amiable quality; that it is entitled to much respect, and in most cases ought to influence our behaviour ; who nevertheless are unwilling to allow it the chief place in the direction of their worldly condući. They hold, that a certain artful fagacity, founded upon knowledge of the world, is the best conductor of every one, who would be a successful adventurer in life; and that a ftrict attention to integrity, as his only
guide, would often lead him into danger S ERM and distress. In opposition to tenets of a this kind, I now purpose to shew, that amidst all perplexities and dangers, there is no guide we can choose fó safe, and so successful on the whole, as the integrity of an upright mind; and that upon every trying occasion, principles of probity and honour will conduct a good man through . life with more advantage, than if he were, to act upon the most refined fyftem of worldly wisdom,
It will not take much time to delineate the character of the man of integrity, as by its nature it is a plain one, and easily understood. He is one, who makes it his constant rule to follow the road of duty, according as the word of God, and the voice of his conscience, point it out to him. He is not guided merely by affections, which may sometimes give the colour of virtue to a loose and unstable character. The upright man is guided by a fixed principle of mind, which determines him to esteem nothing but •
SER M. what is honourable; and to abhor what· XV.
ever is base and unworthy, in moral conduct. Hence you find him ever the fame; at all times, the trusty friend, the affectionate relation, the conscientious man of business, the pious worshipper, the public spirited citizen. He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no malk to cover him; for he acts no stupid part; but he is in truth what he appears to be, full of truth, candour, and humanity. In all his pursuits,' he knows no path but the fair and direct one ; and would much rather fail of success, than attain it by reproachful means. He never shows you a smiling countenance, while he meditates evil against you in his heart. He never praises you among your friends ; and then joins in traduçing you among your enemies. You will never find one part of his character at variance with another. In his manners, he is simple and unaffected; in all his proceedings, openand consistent.--Such
is the man of integrity spoken of in the • text. Let us now proceed to show, in
what manner, and with what effect, in-S ER M. tegrity serves for the guide of his life. XV.
Every one who has begun to make any progress in the world, will be senfible, that to conduct himself in human affairs with wisdom and propriety, is often a matter of no small difficulty. Amidst that variety of characters, of jarring dispositions, and of interfering interests, which take place among those with whom we have intercourse, we are frequently at a stand, as to the part most prudent for us to chuse. Ignorant of what is passing in the breasts of those around us, we can form no more than doubtful conjectures concerning the events that are likely to happen. They may take some turn altogether different from the course in which we had imagined they were to run, and according to which we had formed our plans. The slightest incident often shoots out into important consequences, of which we were not aware. The labyrinth becomes so intricate, that the most faga