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most powerful principles of human ac- SERM. tion. Let a man be firm in the belief that y_. .^l^j he is acting under the immediate protection of Heaven, and that through all eternity he shall be rewarded for what he now performs; and, as far as this belief is prevalent, his conduct will be steady and determined. Wherever religion directs him to hold his course, he will advance with intrepidity. He will submit to restraints without reluctance. He will meet dangers without fear. To every motive which reason suggests in favour of virtue, the hope of eternal life adds supernatural strength.—Accordingly, in the behaviour os many holy men, under the most trying circumstances of distress, we behold this effect eminently exemplified. It appears, with much lustre, in the spirited and magnanimous sentiments of the Apostle Paul, when he had the prospect of death before him. Behold I go bound in the spirit to "Jerusalem, not knowing 4he things that jhall befal me there, save that the Holy Ghofi witnefeth that bonds and ajJliSlions
S E R M. abide me. But none of these things move vJ^L* me; neither count I my life dear unto myself so that I may finish my course with joy*.—I am now ready to be ojfer ed, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good sight', I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which she Lord, the righteous Judge, Jhall give me at that day-f.
Thus I have endeavoured to shew in what manner the integrity of the upright guides them j and what the advantages are of placing ourselves under its guidance! If it be the line of safety, or the line of honour, which we chuse to pursue; if we consult our present comfort, or look forward to future rewards; in all these respects, the course which integrity points out is by far the most eligible. *
It is a great recommendation of the guidance offered to us by integrity, that it is easily understood by all men. Plans
• Acts xx. 22. f 2 Timothy iv. 6.
©f worldly policy are deep and intricate; s E RM. and experience shews how often the yj^j ablest persons are mistaken in the measures which they adopt for carrying them on. But when men's intentions are fair and upright, it will be found that a moderate share of understanding and attention is all that is requisite, for conducting themselves with safety and propriety. Providence never intended, thatv the art of living happily in this world should depend on that deep penetration, that acute sagacity, and those refinements of thought, which few possess. It has dealt more graciously with us; and made happiness to depend on uprightness of intention, much more than on extent of capacity. For the most part, the first sentiment which strikes a good man, concerning what he ought, or ought not to do, is the soundest, and suggests the best and wisest counsel. When he hesitates, and begins to deliberate how far his duty, or his honour, can be reconciled to what seems his interest, he is on the point of deviating into a dangerous
6 e R M. gerous path.—At the fame time, it is of ^^j great consequence, that he who seeks to surrender his conduct to the direction of integrity, should be well apprized of what true integrity requires. Let him guard against burdening conscience unnecessarily; lest a superstitious regard to trifles lead him to relax in matters of higher obligation. Let him avoid minute scrupulosity, on the one hand. Let him keep at a distance from loose casuistry on the other. But when he is satisfied that his conscience has been well informed, let him, without wavering, adhere to its dictates in the whole of his conduct. This will prove the truest wisdom both for this world and the next. For he who walketh uprightly nvalketh surely. The path of the just is as the silking light: And it (hall shine more and more unto the perfett day.
—Shall we receive good at the hand os God, and shall we not receive evil f
FEW subjects of religious exhorta- s E R M. tion are of more general concern XVI. than those which respect the distresses incident to human life. For no society, no family, no person, can expect to be long exempted from them; and when we speak of the prosperous, we can only mean those who are more rarely subject