Imágenes de páginas

SERM,nerate multitude themselves. "This is J^J^j " the man," their conscience will oblige them to acknowledge, "whom we are ** unable to bend to mean condescensi"ons. We fee it in vain either to flat"ter or to threaten him? he rests on a "principle within, which we cannot "shake. To this man you may, on "any occasion, safely commit your . " cause. He is incapable of betraying "his trust, or deserting his friend, or "denying his faith." Thus his righteousness comes forth as the light, and hisjudgment as the noon-day.

It is, accordingly, this steady inflexible virtue, this regard to principle, superior to all custom and opinion, which peculiarly marked the characters of those, in any age, who have shone as saints or heroes; and has consecrated their memory to all posterity. It was this that obtained to antient Enoch the most singular testimony of honour from heaven. He continued to walk with God, when the world apostatised from him. He pleased God, and was beloved of him; so that, living


living among sinners, he was transtated S E R M. to heaven without seeing death; Tea, J^^\

speedily was he taken away, lejl wickedness should have altered his understanding or deceit beguiled his soul.* When Sodom

'could not furnish ten righteous men to save it, Lot remained unspotted amidst the contagion. He lived like an angel among spirits of darkness j and the destroying flame was not permitted to go forth, till the good man was called away by a heavenly messenger from his devoted city. When allsejh had corrupted their way upon the earth, then lived. Noah, a righteous man, and a preacher of righteousness. He stood alone, and was scoffed by the profane crew. But they by the deluge were swept away; while on him, Providence conferred the immortal honour, of being the restorer of a better race, and the father of a new world. Such examples as these, and such honours conferred by God on therrj who withstood the multitude of evil doers, should often be.present to our minds. Let us oppose them to the Vol. IV. D d numbers

* Wisdom of Solomoo, iv. Ij.

S E R M. numbers of low and corrupt examples, Kr-r^t which we behold around us; and when we are in hazard of being swayed by such, let us fortify our virtue, by thinking of those who, in former times, shone like stars in the midst of surrounding darkness, and are now mining in the kingdom of heaven, as the brightness of the firmament, for ever and ever. .—As our honour is thus deeply concerned in our acting a stedfast and virOus part, let us also consider,

In the fifth place, How little, in point of interest, can be gained by the favour of the multitude, and how much will certainly be lost, by following them to do evil. We may thereby, render ourselves more agreeable to some with whom we are connected ; and by artful compliances, may please ourselves with the prospect of promoting our fortune. But these advantages, such as they are, remain doubtful and uncertain. The wind of popular opinion is ever shifting. It will often leave us at a loss what ccurse to steer; and, after all our trou• /'.. ble ble and anxiety to catch the favourable S gale, it may on a sudden forsake us. For the versatility of character, the meanness and inconsistency of conduct, into which a dependent on the multitude is betrayed, frequently render him, in the end, an object of contempt to those whom he sought to please. But supposing him successful in his views, no worldly advantages, which are purchased by dishonourable means, can be either solid or lasting. They bring no genuine satisfaction to a man, who is conscious to himself of having given up his principles to serve the world. As long as he could be satisfied with his own conduct, he might bear up under undeserved discouragement but when he becomes despicable in his own eyes, worldly honours lose their lustre.— What can the multitude do for you, aster you have followed them in evil? They cannot restore to you the peace of an innocent mind, nor heal the sorrows of a wounded spirit, nor shield you from the displeasure of God. They can dp little to support you in the hour of afD d 2 fliction,

SERM. fliction, and nothing to deliver your { ^^ _ souls in the day of death Forsaken and disconsolate, the world, for the most part, casts off its votaries in the end; and when you compute the final amount, it will prove, a very small consolation, that, as you have had sharers in guilt, you shall have companions also in punishment.

Look forward to the issue of things. The multitude of men possess now, in a great measure, the distribution of praise and censure, of success, and disappointment, according to their caprice. But this confused and promiseuous diftribution is. not always to subsist. The day cometh, when we all are to appear before a moj?e discerning Judge, and a more impartial tribunal. The day cometh, when our Lord Jesus Christ, /hall descend from heaven in all the glory of his Father, to unveil every character, and to render to. every man according to his works. At that day, how shall he list up his head, who hath been all his life the slave of the world's opinion j who hath moulded hi? principles and

« AnteriorContinuar »