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narrow capacities; yet surely implies no effort beyond the reach of infinite power, joined with infinite wisdom and goodness.
Hence arises a degree of fortitude and constancy to good men, which can upon no other grounds be attained. Faith, in these principles of the Gospel, erects for them a fortress impregnable to the assaults of the world, into which they can at all times retreat. Sitting under the shelter of Divine protection, they calmly here the storm, when it blows with its utmost violence around them. The floods have lifted up their voice; they have lifted up all their wares. But the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters ; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.
. * Of the man who possesses such principles, it is justly said, His heart is established; he shall not be afraid of evil tidings ; his heart is fired, trusting in the Lord. Tranquillity, order, and marnanimity, dwell with him; while all is confusion and trepidation among those, who have nothing to look to but the apparent disorders of the world.
The doctring of Christ not only arms us, in this manner, with fortitude against the approach of evil; but, supposing evils to fall upon us with their heaviest pressure, it lightens the load by many consolations to which others are strangers. While bad men trace, in the calamities with which they are visited, the hand of an offended Sovereign, Christians are taught to view them as the well-intended chastisements of a merciful Father. They hear, amidst them, that still voice which a good conscience brings to their ear; Fear not, for I am with thee ; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. They apply to themselves the comfortable promises with which the Gospel abounds. They discover in these the happy issue decreed to their troubles ; and wait with patience till Providence shall have accomplished its great and good designs. In the mean time, devotion opens to them its blessed and holy sanctuary : that sanctuary in which the wounded heart is healed, and the weary mind is at rest ; where the cares of the world are forgotten, where its tumults are hushed, and its miseries disappear; wbere greater objects open to our view than what the world presents ; where a more serene sky shines, and a sweeter and calmer light beams on the afflicted heart. In those moments of devotion, a pious man, pouring out his wants und sorrows to an Almighty Supporter, feels that he is not left solitary and forsaken in a vale of wo. God is with him, Christ and the Holy Ghost are with him; and though he should be bereaved of every earthly friend, he can look up in Heaven to a friend who will never die.
To these present consolations, the religion of Christ adds the joyful prospect of that future state, where eternal rest remaineth
• Psalm scüii. 3, 4.
† Psalm cxii. 7, 8.
# Isaiah, lxi. 10.
for the people of God. This life they are taught to consider as only the house of their pilgrimage; the temporary mansion of pain. ful though necessary discipline. But let them endure for a little, and the pilgrimage shall end, the discipline shall be finished ; and all the virtuous be assembled in those blissful regions which are prepared for their reward. Such a prospect cheers the darkest hours of life; and affords a remedy to every trouble.
The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.* They appear in this comparative view, as no more than a distressing dream of the night, from which one awakes into health, and light, and joy. Peculiar is this high consolation to the religion of Christ. It is what all nations had eagerly wished for; what all philosophy had anxiously sought to discover ; bụt what no research, no philosophy were able to ascertain to mankind, till Christ brought the assurance of life and immortality from Heaven; and conferred on his disciples this noble and inestimable gift.
Thus, on the whole, the Christian doctrine is found to be the great medicine of life. It is the balm of human sorrows and cares. In our present state, where so many are suffering actual distress, of one kind or other, and where all have reason to dread the approach of distress, it is religion only that can alleviate the burdens of life, and smooth our passage through this evil world.
-Let this view of religion persuade us to improve the sacred ordinance of our Lord's supper for coming unto Christ in the way before explained: that is, joining ourselves to him as his disciples; his disciples, not in words and professions only, but in heart and in truth; taking upon us his yoke, as is added in the words immediately following the text: and learning of him who is meek and lowly in heart. Let those who labour under the sense of remembered follies and crimes, come unto Christ with penitent dispositions, and they shall obtain pardon. Let those who labour under the suffering of present, or the apprehension of future sorrows, come unto Christ, and they shall receive consolation. All who are in any sense heavy laden, coming unto him, shall find rest to their souls.
BEFORE concluding this discourse, there is another set of men not yet mentioned, to whom I must also address the exhortation in the text; those I mean who, labouring under none of the distressful burdens of life, are surfeited of its pleasures; who labour under the burden only of languid ease, and the load of insipid prosperity. You drag, my friends, but a miserable existence. Oppressed by no sorrow, you feel vacuity and dissatisfaction within; you are often weary of life; and in your solitary hours,
are disposed to confess that all you have experienced is vanity. Wherefore should you any longer spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? Come to the waters which are now offered to you, and drink. Hear, and your souls shall live. Retreat from the corrupting vanities of the world to Christ, to religion, and to virtue. New sources of enjoyment shall then be opened to you. A world yet untried shall display itself to your view. You shall be formed to a relish for the quiet and innocent pleasures of piety and deyotion; of friendship and good affections; of useful knowledge, and virtuous activity; of calm society, and seasonable retirement; pleasures of which at present you have no conception; but which, upon trial, you shall find superior to the trifting or turbulent amusements, in which you have hitherto passed your days.The true satisfaction of the human mind is only to be found in religion and goodness; in a purified heart and a virtuous life. All other plans of happiness are fallacious, and pregnant with disappointment. It is only by acquainting ourselves with God that we can find peace : And those who are weary and heavy laden now, shall be weary and heavy laden to the end, unless they come to him who only can give them rest.
ON LUXURY AND LICENTIOUSNESS.
The harp, and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and wine, are in
their feasts ; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.-ISAIAH, v. 12.
It appears from many passages in the writings of this prophet. that in his days great corruption of manners had begun to take place among the people of Israel. Originally a sober and a religious nation, accustomed to a simple and pastoral life, after they had enlarged their territories by conquest, and acquired wealth by commerce, they gradually contracted habits of luxury; and luxury soon introduced its usual train of attending evils. In the history of all nations the same circulation of manners has been found; and the age in which we live resembles, in this respect, the ages which have gone before it. Forms of inquity may vary; but the corrupt propensities of men remain at all times much the same ; and revolutions from primitive simplicity to the refinements of criminal luxury have been often ex. hibited on the stage of the world. The reproof directed in the text to the Jews of that ancient age will be found equally applicable to the manners of many in modern times. In discoursing from it, I shall first consider the character of those who are described in the text, and shew the guilt that is involved in it.
I shall next consider the duties which persons of that character are supposed to have neglected ; to regard the work of the Lord, and to consider the operation of his hands.
I. When we take into view the character pointed at in the text, it is evident that what the prophet means to reprove is the spirit of inconsiderate dissipation, of intemperate indulgence, and irreligious luxury. It is not the feast and the wine, the harp and the viol, which he means to condemn. Music and wine are,
in themselves, things of innocent nature: Nay, when temperately enjoyed, they may be employed for useful purposes; for affording relaxation from the oppressive cares of life, and for promoting friendly intercourse among men. The opulent are not prohibited from enjoying the good things of this world, which Providence has bestowed upon them. Religion neither abolishes the distinction of renk, (as the vain philosophy of some would teach us to do ;) nor interferes with a modest and decent indulgence of pleasure. It is the criminal abuse of pleasure which is here censured ; that thoughtless and intemperate enjoyment of it which wholly absorbs the time and attention of men; which obliterates every serious thought of the proper business of life; and effaces the sense of religion and of God.
It may be proper to remark, that it is not open and direct impiety, which is laid to the charge of the persons here characterised. It is not said, that in their feast they scoffed at religion, or blasphemed the name of God. To this summit of wickedness these persons had not yet arrived ; perhaps the age in which they lived gave not its countenance to this wantonness of impiety. It i is merely a negative crime of which they are accused, that they regarded not the work of the Lord, neither considered the operation of his hands. But this absence of all religious impressions is here pointed out, as sufficient to stigmatize their characters with guilt. As soon as the sense of a Supreme Being is lost, the great check is taken off, which keeps under restraint the passions of men. Mean desires and low pleasures take place of the greater and nobler sentiments which reason and religion inspire. Amidst the tumult of the wine and the feast, all proper views of human life are forgotten. The duties which, as men, they have to perform, the part they have to act in the world, and the distresses to which they are exposing themselves, are banished from their thoughts. To-morrow shall be as this day, and more abundantly, is the only voice. Inflamed by society, and circulated from one loose companion to another, the spirit of riot grows and swells, till it ends in brutal excess.
Were such disorders rare and occasional merely, they might perhaps be forgotten and forgiven. But nourished by repetition and habit, they grow up among too many, to become the business and occupation of life. By these unfortunate votaries of pleasure, they are accounted essential to happiness. Life appears to stagnate without them. Having no resource within themselves, their spirits sink, and their very being seems annihilated, till the return of their favourite pleasures awaken within them some transient sparkles of joy. Idleness, case, and prosperity, have too natural a tendency to generate the follies and vices now described. Because they have no changes, said the Psalmist, therefore they