« AnteriorContinuar »
through the whole year, as believe that s ER M. human affairs are to continue, for to day Xvitt and to-morrow, for this year and the next, proceeding in the same tenor. To render this reflection still more serious, think, I pray you, on what small and inconsiderable causes those changes depend, which affect the fortunes of men, throughout their whole lives. How soon is evil done! There needsno great bustle or stir, no long preparation of events, to overturn what seems most secure, and to blast what appears . most flourishing. A gale of wind rises on the ocean; and the vessel which carried our friends, or our fortunes, is overwhelmed in the deep. A spark of a candle falls by night in some neglected corner ; and the whole substance of families is consumed in flames before the morning. A casual blow, or a sudden fall, deranges some of our internal parts;
and the rest of life is distress and misery. · It is awful to think, at the mercy of how many seeming contingencies we
SER M. perpetually lie, for what we call hap+ XVIII: piness in this world.
In the midst, however, of all thefe apparent contingencies, plans and defigns for the future are every day formed; pursuits are undertaken ; and life proceeds in its usual train. Fit and proper it is, that life should thus proceed. For the uncertainty of to-morrow was never designed by Providence, to deter us from acting or planning to day ; but only to admonish us, that we ought to plan, and to act, foberly and wisely. What that wife and fober conduct is which becomes us, what the rules and precautions are, which, in such a state as ours, respect futurity, I now proceed to shew. They may be comprehended in the following directions. Boaft not thyself of to-morrow; Despair not of tomorrow; Delay not till to-morrow what is proper to be done to-day; Prepare thyself for whatever to-morrow may bring forth; Build thy hopes of happiness on fomething more folid and lasting than
what either to-day or to-morrow will SE RM. produce.
I. In the words of the text, Boast not thyself of to-morrow.; that is, never presume arrogantly on futurity; in the most fair and promising state of fortune, beware of pride and vanity ; beware of resting wholly upon yourselves, and forgetting Him who directs the changes of this mutable state. If there be any virtues, which the uncertain condition of the world inculcate on man, they are assuredly, moderation and humility. Man was, for this end, placed in a world, where he knows. fo little of what is before him, that he might be impressed with a sense of his dependence on the Ruler of the world; that he might feel the importance of acquiring favour and protection from Heaven, by a life of piety and virtue; and that, not knowing how soon his own condition may be the same with that of the most wretched, he might be prompted to act towards all his brethren the humane and
Vol. IV. B b friendly
SE R M. friendly part.-The favours which ProXVl; vidence bestows upon him at prefent,
he ought to receive with thankfulness, and may enjoy with chearfulness.
Though commanded not to boast bimself of to-morrow, the meaning of the precept is not, that he must be sad to day. Rejoice he may in the day of profperity: but certainly, Rejoice with trembling, is the inscription that should be written on all human pleasures.
As for them who, intoxicated with those pleasures, become giddy and infolent; who fattered by the illusions of prosperity, make light of every serious admonition which the changes of the world give them, what can I say too strong to alarm them of their danger ?
They have said to themselves, My mountain stands strong, and Mall never be moved. To-morrow shall be as this day, and more abundantly. I shall never see adverhty.-Rash and wretched men! are you sensible how impious such words are? To the world, perhaps you dare not utter them; but they speak the seçret language of your heart. Know,
you are usurping upon Providence ; SERM. you are setting Heaven at defiance ; your are not only preparing sharper stings for yourselves, when the changes of life shall come, but you are accelerating those changes ; you are fast bringing ruin upon your own heads. For God will not suffer pride in man; and the experience of all ages hath shown, how careful he is to check it. In a thousand memorable instances, the course of his government has been vifibly pointed against it. He meweth strength with his arm, and scattereth the proud in the imaginations of their hearts. The day of the Lord is upon every one that is proud and lifted up; to humble the lofty looks of man, and to stain the pride of all glory*. Some of the ministers of divine pleasure are commissioned to go forth; and to humble without delay, the boasters of to-morrow,
Bb2 : II. As
* Luke i. 15.
Ifaiah ii. 11. xxiii. 9.