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now delivered is, that man's happiness S or misery is, in a great measure, put into his own hands. In vain he complains of Providence. If his heart fret againfi the Lord, it is only because his foolishness had perverted his way: for on himself, and his own behaviour, it depends, to be free of those miseries which harrass the wicked.—But alas! when we fay that this depends upon man, on what uncertain ground do we place his security? Is man, when left to himself, equal to this high trust that is reposed in him, this important charge that is committed to him, of at-, taining happiness, by wife and irreproachable conduct? Inconstant as he is in virtue, variable in his resolutions, soft and yielding in his nature to a thousand temptations; how shall he guide himself through such slippery and. dangerous paths as those of human life; where many hidden precipices surround him; many false lights lead him astray; and where the consequence of every step he takes may be destruction and
SERM.ruin?—Thankful let us be to heaven, that in this situation, a merciful guide stretches out his hand to aid us; that a celestial light shines upon us from above; that a divine Spirit is promised to illuminate and strenghten us. Let us humbly request of Heaven, that this Spirit of the Almighty may ever be our/ guide; never presumptuously trusting in pur own wisdom; but listening attentively to the voice of God; and in all our ways acknowledging Him who only can direSl our Jleps.—Upon the whole, let . us hold fast the persuasion of these fundamental truths;—that in all his dispensations, God is just and good; that the cause ps all the troubles we suffer is in ourselves, not in him; that virtue is the surest guide to a happy life; that he who forsakes this guide, enters upon the path of death; but that he who walketh uprightly, walketh surely; and that he who keepeth the commandment, keepeth his own foul.
Chi Integrity as the Guide ofLiFE,
Proverbs xi. 3.
The integrity of the upright Jhall guide them.—
RIGHTEOUSNESS and sin are, in s \* M. 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 hard. Honour is represented as attending the
SERM.one, while shame is the portion of the ^^^^ other. The path of the one leads to life; that of the other to destruction. In the text, an advantage of righteousness is specified, which is not commonly attended to, and which some will not readily allow that it possesses. We are told by the wife 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 uprightsliallguide them; or, as it is added, to the fame purpose, in a following verse, the righteousness of. the perfeff Jhall direSl 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 conduct. They hold, that a certain artful sagacity, founded upon knowledge of the world, is the best conductor of every one, who would be a successful adventurer in life; and that a strict attention to integrity, as his only guide, would often lead him into danger s and distress. In opposition to tenets of this kind, I now purpose to shew, that amidst all perplexities and dangers, there is no guide we can choose so 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 sys-r tern 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