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his own character; or when, drawing to-SERM. wards the clofe of life, his passions subfide, his pleasures withdraw, and a future state comes forward to his view ; in such fituations it often happens, that the past follies and crimes of such a man appear to him in a light most odious and shocking; and not odious only, but terrifying to his heart. He considers that he is undoubtedly placed under the government of a just God, who did not send him into this world for nought; that he has neglected the part assigned to him; has contemned the laws of heaven; has degraded his own nature; and instead of being useful, having been hurtful and pernicious to those among whom he lived, is about to leave a detestable memory behind him. -What account shall he give of himself to his maker? Self condemned, polluted by so many crimes, how can he expect to find mercy in his fight ? Hence, an overwhelmed and dejected mind; hence; dismal forebodings of punishment; hence, that wounded spi
- . rit,
SER M. rit. which, when it is deeply pierced, can becomes the forest of all human evils,
and has sometimes rendered existence a burden which could not be endured.
Such distresses as these, arising from moral internal causes, may be made light of by the giddy and the vain ; and represented as confined to a few persons only of distempered imagination. But to those whose professions give them occafion to see men under various circumstances of affliction, they are known to be far from being unfrequent in the world; and, on many more occasions than is commonly imagined, to throw over the human mind the blackest gloom of which it is susceptible. Religious feelings, be assured, have a deep root in the nature of man. They form a part of the human constitution. They are interwov. en with many of those fears and hopes which actuate us in the changing situations of fortune. During the gay and active periods of life, they may be smothered; but with most men, they are smothered rather than totally obliterated:
And if any crisis of our condition shall S ER M. awaken, and bring them forth, in their full force, upon a conscious guilty heart, woe to the man, who, in some disconfolate season, is doomed to suffer their extreme vengeance !
But, while under such distresses of the mind not a few may be said to labour and to be heavy laden, greater still is the multitude of those who, from natural external causes, from the calamities and evils of life, undergo much suffering and misery. The life of man is not indeed wholly composed of misery. It admits of many pleasing scenes. On the whole, there is reason to believe that it affords more joy than grief. At the same time, the unfortunate, as I before observed, form always a numerous class of mankind; and it may be said with truth, that fore travel is ordained for the sons of men. Though the burden is not equally laidon all; some there always are, on whom it falls with oppressive weight. Unexpected disappointments have crushed their
SE R M. hopes, and blasted the plans which they
. V. i had formed for comfort in the world.
The world had, perhaps, smiled upon them once, only to give them a sharper feeling of its miseries at the last. Struggling with poverty, unable to support their families whom they see languishing around them, they, at the same time, are obliged by their situation in society to conceal their necessities; and under the forced appearance of cheerfulness, to hide from the world a broken heart. They are ftung, perhaps, by the unkindness of friends ; cast off by those in whom they had trusted ; or torn by untimely death from real friends, in connexion with whom they might have flourished and been happy; at the same time borne down, it may be, with the infirmities of a fickly body, and left to drag a painful life without affistance or relief. How many fad scenes of this nature, on which it were painful to infist, does the world afford?
When we turn to those who are ac-SERM. counted prosperous men, we shall always, V. find many sorrows mingled with their pleasures? many hours of care and vexation, wherein they acknowledge themselves classed with those who labour and ; are heavy laden. In entering into some gay festive assembly, we behold affected chearfulness displayed on every countenance; and might fancy that we had arrived at the temple of unmixed pleasure and gladness of heart. Yet, even there, could we look into the bofoms of these apparently happy persons, how often would we find them inwardly preyed upon by some tormenting suspicions, some anxious fears, some secret griefs, which either they dare not disclose to the world, or from which, if disclosed, they can look for no relief? In short, amidst that great company of pilgrims, who are journeying through life, many there are whose journey lies through a valley of tears; and many to whom that Vol. IV. G