« AnteriorContinuar »
SERMON. That discipline, therefore, which corrects
the eagerness of worldly passions, which fortifies the heart with virtuous principles, which enlightens the mind with useful knowledge, and furnishes to it matter of enjoyment from within itself, is of more consequence to real felicity, than all the provision which we can make of the goods of fortune. To this let us bend our chief attention. Let us keep the heart with all diligence, seeing out of it are the issues of life. Let us account our mind the most important province which is committed to our care ; and if we cannot rule fortune, study, at least to rule ourselves. Let us propose for our object, not worldly success, which it depends not on us to obtain ; but that upright and honourable discharge of our duty, in every conjuncture, which, through , the divine assistance, is always within our power. Let our happiness be sought where our proper praise is found; and that be accounted our only real evil, which is the evil of our nature; not that, which is either the appointment of Providence, or which arises from the evil of others.
But, in order to carry on with success SERMON this rational and manly plan of conduct, it is necessary, in the last place, that to moral we join religious discipline. Under the present imperfection of our minds, and amidst the frequent shocks which we receive from human evils, much do we stand in need of every assistance for supporting our constancy. Of all assistance to which we can have recourse, none is so powerful as what may be derived from the principles of the Christian faith. He who builds on any other foundation, will find in the day of trial that he had built his house on the sand. Man is formed by his nature to look up to a superiour being, and to lean upon a strength that is greater than his own. All the considerations which we can offer for confirming his mind, presuppose this resource, and derive from it their principal efficacy.
Never then let us lose sight of those great objects which religion brings under our view, if we hope to stand firm and erect amidst the dangers and distresses of our present state Let us cultivate all that connection with the great Father of Spirits which our condition admits ; by piety and prayer; by dependence
SERMON on his aid, and trust in his promises ; by a.
devout sense of his presence, and a continual endeavour to acquire his grace and favour. Let us, with humble faith and reverence, commit ourselves to the blessed Redeemer of the world, encouraged by the discoveries which he has made to us of the divine mercy, and by the hopes which he has afforded us of being raised to a nobler and happier station in the kingdom of God. So shall virtue, grounded upon piety, attain its full strength. Inspired with a religious spirit, and guided by rational principles, we shall be enabled to hold a steady course through this mixed region of pleasure and pain, of hopes and fears; until the period arrive when that cloud which the present vanity of the world throws over human affairs, shall entirely disappear, and eternal light be diffused over all the works and ways of God,
PSALM xxiii. 4.
shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou
comfort me. VT VHIS Psalm exhibits the pleasing picture SERMON
1 of a pious man rejoicing in the goodness VIII. of Heaven. He looks around him on his state, and his heart overflows with gratitude. When he reviews the past part of his life, he contemplates God as his shepherd, who bath made him lie down in green pastures, and led him beside the still waters. When he considers the present, he beholds his divine benefactor preparing a table for him in the presence of his enemies, and making,
SERMON his cup run over. When he looks forward by to the future, he confides in the same
goodness, as continuing to follow him all the days of his life, and bringing him to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Amidst these images of tranquillity and happiness, one object presents itself, which is sufficient to overcast the minds and to damp the joy of the greatest part of men; that is, the approach of death. But on the Psalmist it produced no such effect. With perfect composure and serenity, he looks forward to the time when he is to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. The prospect, instead of dejecting him, appears to heighten his triumph, by that security which the presence of his almighty Guardian afforded him. I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; and pursuing the allusion with which he had begun, exults in the hope that the shepherd who had hitherto conducted him, would support him with his staff, while he passed through that dark and perilous region, and with his rod, or pastoral crook, would guard him from every danger.
Such is the happy distinction which good men enjoy, in a situation the most formidable