« AnteriorContinuar »
for rewarding virtue, and punishing vice SERMON in every form of its disorders?—The Governor of the world need not for this purpose step from his throne, or put forth his hand from the clouds. With admirable wisdom he hath so ordered the train of human affairs, that, in their natural course, men's own wickedness shall reprove them, and their backslidings correct them; that they shall be made to eat the fruit of their doings, and to fall into the pit which themselves. had digged.
These things have been always so apparent to observation, that though a man may have been seduced into irregular and evil courses during his life, yet, at the close of it, it seldom happens but he discerns their pernicious nature, and condemns himself for them. Never, perhaps, was there a father, who, after he had spent his days in idleness, dissipation, and luxury, did not, when dying, admonish the children whom he loved, to hold a more honourable course, to follow the paths of virtue, to fear God, and to fulfil properly the duties of their station.-To yourselves, indeed, I can confidently apI 4 peal,
SERMON peal, whether what. I am now saying, be not confirmed by your own testimony, After you have been guilty of some criminal acts, in the course of those riotous pleasures which you indulge, have you not, at certain times, felt the stings of remorse? Were you not obliged to confess to yourselves that a sad prospect of misery was opening before you, if such excesses were to continue? Did you not hear an inward voice upbraiding you, for having sunk and degraded your character so far below that of many of your equals around you?-My friends, what was this but the voice of God, speaking, as the Governour of his creatures, within your heart; testifying loudly, that your course of life was displeasing to him; and warning you of punishments that were to follow. If his displeasure against you is already begun to be testified, can you tell where it is to stop, or how long it may continue to pursue you, throughout future stages of your existence? Who knoweth the power of his wrath? -To this awful, this warning voice, will you not be persuaded reverently to listen? Im
pressed by the dread authority which it car- SERMON ries, shall you not fall down on your knees before your Maker, imploring his mercy to pardon your past offences, and his grace to rectify your future way?
SUCH ought to be the effects of the consideration of God as the Governour of the world. It leads to thoughts of a very serious nature. When we regard the work of the Lord, and contemplate him as the Author of the universe, such contemplation prompts devotion. But when we consider the operation of his hands in providence, and contemplate him as the Governour of mankind, such contemplation prompts humiliation before him for offences committed. The former addresses itself to the ingenuous sentiments that are left in the heart; and awakens a sense of our unworthiness, in neglecting the Author of nature amidst our riotous pleaThe latter addresses itself to our regard for safety and happiness; and awakens fear and dread, from consciousness of the guilt we have contracted. Hence springs up in every thoughtful mind, an anxious concern to avert the displeasure, and regain
SERMON the favour of that Supreme Being to whom we are all subject. This, among unenlightened nations, gave rise to sacrifices, expiations, and all the rites of humble though superstitious worship. Among nations, who have been instructed in true religion, sentiments of the same nature pave the way for prayer, repentance, faith, and all those duties, by means of which we may hope, through a divine Mediator and Intercessor, to be reconciled to heaven. Natural and revealed religion here appear in concord. We behold the original dictates of the human heart laying a foundation for the glad reception of the comfortable tidings of the gospel,
I HAVE thus endeavoured to shew in what manner, by regarding the work of the Lord, and considering the operation of his hands, we may prevent the dangers arising from a thoughtless indulgence of pleasure; we may be furnished with an antidote to the poison which is too often mixed in that intoxicating cup.-Human life is full of troubles. We are all tempted to alleviate . them as much as we can, by freely enjoying the pleasurable moments which Provi
dence thinks fit to allow us. Enjoy them SERMON we may: But, if we would enjoy them safely, and enjoy them long, let us temper them with the fear of God. As soon as this is forgotten and obliterated, the sound of the harp and the viol is changed into the signal of death. The serpent comes forth from the roses where it had lain in ambush, and gives the fatal sting. Pleasure in moderation is the cordial, in excess it is the bane, of life.