Imágenes de páginas

having times without number, trampled upon the divine laws of his nature, loft his understanding, and was suffered to partake of every grovelling and degrading pleasure. Is this declamation? Alas! it is fact. O thoughtless man, how often hast thou eagerly engaged in a second diversion to drive as way the reflection, the painful reflection which the guilt contracted in a former occafioned! I see the cup in the drunkard's hand, and he greedily swallows the poison, in order to drown the remorse of his mind for last night's intemperance. The unwary youth, once initiated into sinful pleasure, unwilling now to hear the counsel of virtue, but unable to repress it, seeks for the witnesses and advisers of his transgressions ; and from the laugh of levity, and the madness of impiety, he believes wisdom overcome, and acquires new spirits to rush upon his ruin. This day you begin to take undue advantages of your neighbour : you begin without daring to refolve that you will persist. When you impose upon your secure brother, your tongue falters, and a small degree of attention, (but honesty is always unsuspicious) would discern the alterations in your countenance. But to


become more expert, you herd with the more experienced in villainy, and never allow yourselves a moment to reflect, till you be a proficient in that worst of trades, in which, at first, you was a backward scholar. Thus hurrying from vanity to vanity, and from vice to vice, the wicked multiply acquaintance, and attach companions in iniquity, strangers, utter strangers all the while, to what it behoves them most to know, strangers to themselves. Ye fons of folly, fain would I introduce you to a new acquaintance, fain would I engage you to take pleasure in a new kind of conversation. Cultivate an acquaintance with your own hearts, and I will change your name, and with reason : listen to the improving language of your consciences. Though you should meet with rebukes, prefer them to the flattering voice of those foes to your improvement, peace and happiness, which approach you under the insinuating, but false appearance of pleasure. For in the religious retreat, with every passion stilled, and every desire quieted, behold holy reason feated on her throne, and exerting her full power. Here you form just judgments of your own conduct, and of that


of others, of the proper and lawful pursuits of life, and the means of attaining lawful ends. When, removed from the eye of the world, we converse with our own hearts, then every man is upon a level. The external marks of dignity are removed, power is fufpended, and riches make no difference. These things, which are so apt to intoxicate the human mind, being abfent, the fins which we committed in the hurry of life are remembered, considered and lamented. Then is it that recollection executing the office of the prophet of old, can thus address the man in the most exalted station : 0 King, let my counsel be acceptable to thee. Break off thy fins by righteousness, and thy iniquity by shewing mercy to the poor, if so be it may be a lengi hening of thy tranquillity. Let but the unjust judge review the sentence for which his injured brother complains of him ; and will not the remorse this occasions prevent him from pronouncing a like one? Ye who spend the night in revelling and drunkenness, whom the morning sun (which the children of temperance rise to behold with rapture, and which enables them to pursue the various, honest occupations of life) just shines



upon as you are finishing your debauch ; tell me seriously, if you are not persuaded, that you would curb your licentious appetites, and walk in the paths of fobriety, if you set apart but ten minutes of every day for reflection, meditation and prayer ? Would ambition ravage the world, or engage men in projects for pulling down states, ruining families, or reducing to misery particular persons, if those who feel its impulses would often calmly consider the vanity, uncertainty, and short duration of all temporal enjoyments ? If this were the case, would ambition be any other thing in the human breast, but an honest defire of obtaining the means of promoting public, or private happiness? Would avarice hoard by every infamous method, if due scope were given to meditation, in order to convince us of the worthlessness of those riches which often make themselves wings, of the folly of purchasing the accommodations of a pilgrimage, at the risque of losing an everlasting citizenship? It is in retirement that objects lose the false glare with which passion colours them, and that our own characters appear in a just point of view. Man will, no doubt, be partial to himself. I allow that the vanity of individuals is great. I allow

that whole

that the blindness of man, with regard to bis own vices, is astonishing: but let any person, considering himself under the awful influence of God, and praying earnestly to him that he would open his eyes to make him discern his faults, but once seriously reflect upon his temper and practice, and I maintain that he will not remain so vain, or so blind, as he was before. Had David obeyed his own direction before Nathan came to him, he had not heard fo apt an allegory without sparing the resolute but charitable application, Thou art the man. Whence proceeds it, but from want of serious consideration, that if I were to ask your characters at the most candid of your neighbours, and mark down what they told me, that I should present you with a list of several vices which you could readily apply to some of those with whom you converse every day; but before you discerned that they belonged to yourself, it would be necessary directly to inform you, ye are the men. The pharisee whom our Saviour describes in the parable, was a stranger to his own proper character, because, though he seemed to be religiously employed, yet he had not sufficient impressions of the holiness of that Being in

« AnteriorContinuar »