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and while yet one throb belongs to virtúe, turn back from the verge of destruction. · Think of the joyful morning that rises after a victory over fin, reflection thy friend, memory stored with pleasant images, thy thoughts like good angels announcing peace and presaging joy.
Or, if that will not fuffice, turn to the shades of the picture, and behold the ruin that false pleasure introduces into human nature. Behold a rational being arrested in his course. A character that might have shone in public and in private life, cast into the shades of oblivion; a name that might have been utiered with a tear, and left as an inheritance to a race to come, consigned to the roll of infamy. All that is great in human nature sacrificed at the shrine of sensual pleasure in this world, and the candidate for im. mortality in the next, plunged into the irremediable gulf of folly, dissipation and endless misery.
... SERMON XXVII.
DANIEL xi. 32.
The people that do know their God fall be strong.
THE follies and vices which disfigure human life, do not always proceed from a principle of depravity. The thoroughly abandoned, who fin from forethought and contrivance, who commit iniquity upon a fixed plan, and who are wicked merely from a love of wickedness, I hope and believe are not a numerous class. The indiscretions and vices into which men fall, I am apt to imagine proceed of. ten from a weakness of mind rather than from a badness of heart. There is a certain feebleness in the fprings of actions, a facility of disposition, a filliness of soul,, which marks the character, and runs through the life of many men, as pernicious to them in the conduct of life, as a principle of actual depravity could be. Persons of this class, properly speaking, sustain no character at all. They affert not the rights of an independent being, they make no original efforts of mind, but patiently surrender themselves to accident, to be guided by events, and to be fashioned by those with whom they live. They have not strength of mind to stand alone, they dare not walk in a path unless it is beaten. Feebleness, Auctuation, timidity, irresolution, fill up the period of their insignificant days, and often betray them in. to crimes as well as indiscretions.
This weakness of mind is not only pernicious but criminal. There are mental defects that are incon. sistent with a state of virtue. The Sacred Scriptures never draw the line of distinction between intellectu. al and moral qualities, but prescribe both as requi. site to form the character of the righteous man. Hence a sound mind, as well as a good heart is men. tioned as an ingredient in the character of a saint. Hence, in the sacred books, religion and virtue go under the name of wisdom, vice and wickedness un. der the name of folly. Hence intellectual qualities become the subject of divine precept, and we are called upon to be wife and to be strong, as well as to be holy and to be pure. In opposition to the feeble-minded, it is said in the text, that they who know their God, or are truly religious, are strong. Religion, when rightly understood, and virtue, when properly practised, give nerves and vigour to the inind, infuse into the soul a secret strength, and, presenting a future world to our faith, make us superi. or to the dangers and temptations of the present.
To show what this strength is, I shall set before you some of the most remarkable scenes in human life in which the feeble-minded give way, and in which they who know their God are strong. This strength then inspired into the mind by the knowledge of God, makes us superior to the opinion and fashion of the world, superior to the difficulties and dangers of the world, superior to the pleasures and temptations of the world, and superior to desponding fears at our departure from the world.
In the first place, It makes us superior to the opinion and fashion of the world. .o
To sustain an amiable character so as to be belov. ed by those with whom we live, to maintain a sacred regard to the approbation of the wise and good, and to follow those things which are of good report, when at the same time they are pure and lovely and hon. ourable, is the duty of every honest man. But unhappily the bulk of the world is not composed of the wise and good ; religion and virtue are not always in the fashion ; to fix the rule of life, therefore, by the public approbation or dislike, is to make the standard of morality uncertain and variable. According to this doctrine, the Christian life would be the work of mere caprice, there would be a fashion in inorals as well as in dress, and what is virtue, or vice in one age or country, would not be so in another. In such critical cases, when truth is to be defended, or integrity to be held fast against the current of popular opinion, the feeble-minded are apt to make shipwreck of the faith. The feeble-minded man rests not up. on himself, he has nothing within to support him, he thinks, and acts, and lives by the opinion of others. “What will the world say ?” is the question that he puts to himself on all occasions. Thou fool! look inwards, thine own heart will tell thee more than all the world. This pufillanimous deference to the opinions of others, this criminal compliance to the public voice, will make you lose your all, your soul.
Hence, in certain companies, men are ashamed of their religion. They lend a pleased ear to arguments that shake the foundations of their faith : they join in the laugh that is raised at the expence of all that they hold sacred and venerable, and themselves affume the spirit, and speak the words of profaneness, while the heart often secretly agonizes for the liberties of the tongue. In opposition to such characters, the man who is truly religious, performs his duty through bad report as well as through good. The applause of such fools as inake a mock at sin, he despises. His standard of moral conduct, is his own conscience well informed by the word of God. He knows that the fashion of the world passeth away, and vice or folly is not recommended to hiin by being practised by others. He remembers the words of his Master, “ Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, of him “ shall the Son of man be ashamed.” He dares to be fingular and good : “ Though all men forsake " thee, yet will not I.”
In the second place, This strength inspired by true religion, makes us superior to the difficulties and dan-, gers we meet with in the world.
The feeble-minded man is intimidated upon the slightest occasion : he starts at difficulties, and shrinks from dangers, whenever they present themselves. Happy to catch at any subterfuge, he finds or makes a thousand obstacles to the discharge of his duty; and when any thing great is to be done, there is “ a “ lion in the way." What infinite mischief has this pufillanimity done in the world ! How often has the best and most generous cause been loft by the weakness of its defenders ! How often have the most innocent and worthy characters suffered by the shameful cowardice of their friends! How often have men purchased to themselves an inglorious ease, an infamous tranquillity, at the expence of character and conscience, and every thing great and good!