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Of generous love is often misapplied; this favourable bias of humanity is often perverted; sometimes by that general and indiscriminate good nature which looks upon all men as alike; sometimes by frivolous attachments, founded upon a conformity, of trifling dispositions; and sometimes by a more criminal alliance, by a partnership in iniquity. In the course of business, indeed, we must converse with persons of all kinds. No man has the choice of the companies into which he may fall; but every man has the choice of the friends with whom he cultivates more intimate connections. In forming these connections, therefore, let us look forward to the time when they shall be dissolved, and let us live only with such persons with whom we would desire to die.
This thought should also check us in the animosities which we are apt to entertain. In the preseqt state of things, where men think so differently, where opposite passions are felt, and interfering interests occur, dissensions will naturally arise. And, where men have not the aid of philosophy to restrain, or the influence of divine grace to subdue, their passions, these will often be attended with dismal effects. From this root proceeds the wormwood which embitters the cup of human life. But when the blood begins to cool, when the passions grow calmer, reason re-assumes its office, greater moderation will prevail; things will appear in a different light; honest and candid men will then look back with pain upon those excesses to which they have been carried by the impetuosity of passion. However some men choose to live, all men would wish to die at peace with their neighbours; there is no enmity in the grave ; there is no discord in the house which is appointed for all living': there friends and foes rest together in peace, and the ashes of those who were mortal enemies mingle together in friendly alliance. Let us, therefore, now cultivate those benevolent dispositions to all men, and live in those habits with our neighbours, which we would wish to prevail' in us at the hour of death.
These exhortations, my young friends, I addre3$ particularly to you. You are apt to reckon yourselves privileged "from death; you put the evil day far off; you promise to yourselves a length of happy days, and think that melancholy reflections upon mortality, are ill suited to the bloom of your years, and the gaiety of your spirits. "Let the old," you say, "think upon death; let those who are drawing nigh "to the grave, prepare for that better world to which "they are advancing; but sure it is the duty of "the young and the gay to make the most of life." True ; and in order to make the most of life, you must conquer the fear of death. The king of terrors, when not subdued, is the most formidable of all foes. In every path of life he will meet you, and haunt you like a ghost: even at the banquet his form will appear ; he will blast you in the midst of your joy, and turn the house of mirth into a house of mourning. Trust not, O man, to thy youth, nor presume upon impunity from the destroyer. How often, when the tree puts forth buds, and spreads its blossoms to the sun, does the wind of the desert come and blast the hopes of the year? The widow of Nain wept over her son, who died, fair in the prime' of life ; and many a parent hath followed his child to the grave, crying with bitter lamentation, "Would to God that "1 had died for thee, my son ! my son!" Your own experience may enforce this truth. None who now hear me, but have seen their equals ia age cut off, and younger than they laid in the grave. As, therefore, you are always in danger, be always on your guard. Instead of filling you with gloom and melancholy, this is the true way to prevent them. Having subdued the last enemy, you have none other to fear. Adopted into the family of God, interested in the merits of Christ, entitled to the glories of immortality, you go forward through life -and death, conquering and to conquer. Then all things are yours; death is a passage to a better life, and the gate to immortality." ...
Much more is it incumbent on you, my aged friends, to consider your latter end. Why stand you here all the day idle? Consider how vain, and foolish, and sinful, it is to be forming schemes of long life, when you are within the threshold of the house of death ? Consider how terrible will be the hour, if you have never thought of death till you come to die; like Jonah, to be awakened from a sound sleep, and to be cast into the ocean. Look into life, behold a young generation rising around you, and you yourselves left alone in a new world. Look into the records of mortality, into the repositories of the dead, and hear your equals in age calling to you from the tomb, and warning you to prepare for that fate which is theirs to-day, and may be yours to-morrow. Embrace, therefore, the opportunities of grace which you now enjoy. Whilst the Prince of Peace extends the golden sceptre, kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and Jje perish from his presence. Be wise, and consider your end that is so near.
Matthew xi. 30.
JESUS hath lately been addressing to you the gracious invitation which here he gives to penitent sinners. With his invitation you have testified your compliance. Last Lord's day you confessed at these tables, that you were weary and heavy laden with the yoke of the world; that you came to Jesus in hopes of finding rest to your souls; and that you were resolved to learn of him, and to take his yol$e upon you. The good confession, my friends, which you then witnessed, the happy choice which you then made, you will never have cause to repent. The world, indeed, will represent religion to you as a heavy burden and a galling yoke; but I assure you, upon the authority of Jesus Christ, and upon the testimony of all his disciples, that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light; that his commandments are not grievous, and the ways he points out to his followers, are ways of pleasantness and paths of peace.
The ease and pleasure of the Christian life, is to be the subject of the present discourse. But, before I enter upon it, 1 have one observation to make, which is, That in order to taste the joys of religion, we must have been accustomed to its government, and made advances in the divine lite. We never can have a taste for any pursuit till we be acquainted with it: we can never enter into the spirit of any science, till that science be familiar to us. To those who have long engaged in a course of wickedness, the duties of religion will at first be grievous and irksome, because they oppose strong prejudices and confirmed habits of vice: But when these bad habits are removed, and good ones are contracted, when a man Acquires the temper, and enters into the spirit of religion, he then feels the joy which a stranger intermeddles not with. Give a musical instrument to an unskilful person, we hear nothing but harshness and' discord from every string: the artist alone makes music and harmony accompany all the motions of his hand. Religion is an art, and like an art is to be learned before it be understood.
In the first place, the Christian life is A life of ease and pleasure, on account of the principle from which the Christian acts.
The Christian is not a slave who obeys from compulsion, nor a servant who works for hire ; he is a Son who acts from ingenuous affection and filial Iovei When the Christian contemplates the goodness, and tender mercies, and loving-kindness of God, particularly his inexpressible love in the redemption of the world by Christ Jesus, he is constrained to new obedience, by the most powerful of all ties, by the Cords of love, and the bands of a man; thus reasoning, and thus feeling; that if one died for all, then they which are alive ought not to live to themselves, but to him who died for them. Gratitude to a benefactor, affection to a father, love to a friend, all concur to form the principle of evangelical obedience, and to strengthen the cord that is not easily broken. Love, then, is the principle of the Christian life; love, the most generous passion that glows in the breast of man, the most active principle that works in the human frame , the key that unlocks every finer feeling of the heart, the spring that puts in motion every power of the soul. Pleasant are the labours of love. Short is the path, and cheerful the journey, when the heart goes along. A determined mind. enamoured of the object it pursues, removes mountains, and makes the crooked paths straight: the fire cannot extinguish, nor the waters quench its force; it reigns supreme in the
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