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SERMON

XIX.

IN the fifth place, How little, in point of interest, can be gained by the favour of the multitude, and how much will certainly be lost, by following them to do evil. We may, thereby, render ourselves more agreeable to some with whom we are connected; and by artful compliances, may please ourselves with the prospect of promoting our fortune. But these advantages, such as they are, remain doubtful and uncertain. The wind of popular opinion is ever shifting. It will often leave us at a loss what course to steer; and, after all our trouble and anxiety to catch the favourable gale, it may on a sudden forsake us. For the versatility of character, the meanness and inconsistency of conduct, into which a dependant on the multitude is betrayed, frequently render him in the end, an object of contempt to those whom he sought to please. But supposing him successful in his views, no worldly advantages, which are purchased by dishonourable means, can be either solid or lasting. They bring no genuine satisfaction to a man, scious to himself of having

who is con

given up his

principles

XIX.

principles to serve the world. As long as SERMON he could be satisfied with his own conduct, he might bear up under undeserved discouragement; but when he becomes despicable in his own eyes, worldly honours lose their lustre.-What can the multitude do for you, after you have followed them in evil? They cannot restore to you the peace of an innocent mind, nor heal the sorrows of a wounded spirit, nor shield you from the displeasure of God. They can do little to support you in the hour of affliction, and nothing to deliver your souls in the day of death. Forsaken and disconsolate, the world, for the most part, casts off its votaries in the end; and when you compute the final amount, it will prove a very small consolation, that, as you have had sharers in guilt, you shall have companions also in punishment.

Look forward to the issue of things. The multitude of men possess now, in a great measure, the distribution of praise and censure, of success and disappointment, according to their caprice. But this confused and promiscuous distribution is not always to subsist. The day cometh, when we all are to appear before a more discerning Judge, VOL. IV. Cc

and

XIX.

SERMON and a more impartial tribunal. The day cometh, when our Lord Jesus Christ shall descend from heaven in all the glory of his Father, to unveil every character, and to render to every man according to his works. At that day, how shall he lift up his head, who hath been all his life the slave of the world's opinion; who hath moulded his principles, and his practice, solely to please the multitude; who hath been ashamed of his Saviour and his words; and, to gain favour with men, hath apostatised from the native sentiments and dictates of his heart? -To say all in one word: there is a contest. now between God and the world. These form the opposite sides. which divide mankind. Consider well, to which of these you ⚫ will choose to adhere. On the one side, lie your allegiance, your honour, and your interest; on the other, lie your guilt and your shame. For the one, conscience and reason; for the other, passion and inclination, plead. On the one hand are the approbation of God, immortal honour, and divine rewards; on the other, remember and beware!--are the stings of conscience, endless punishment, and endless infamy.

SERMON XX.

On the WISDOM of GOD *.

I TIMOTHY, i. 17.

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory, for ever and ever! Amen.

IT

XX.

T is of the highest importance to reli- SERMON gious conduct, that our minds be filled with suitable conceptions of the attributes of God. They are the foundations of our reverence for him; and reverence is

*This concluding discourse was chiefly intended to be a general recapitulation of instances of the wisdom of Providence, several of which have been more fully illustrated in other discourses contained in this or in some of the preceding volumes.

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SERMON the foundation of religion.

XX.

religion. All the divine perfections are interesting to man. Almighty power, in conjunction with Eternity and Omnipresence, naturally inspires solemn awe. Infinite Goodness relieves the mind from that oppression which Power alone would produce; and, from our experience of present benefits, and our remembrance of the past, creates love, gratitude, and trust. In the middle between these stands the contemplation of Divine Wisdom, which conjoins impressions of awe with those of comfort; and, while it humbles us into profound submission, encourages, at the same time, our reliance on that King eternal, immortal, and invisible, who is justly styled in the text, the only wise God.

Among men, wisdom is a quality entirely different from cunning or craft. It always supposes good and fair intention in the person who possesses it; and imports, that laudable ends are pursued by proper and justifiable means. In like manner, wisdom in the Supreme Being cannot be separated from the rectitude of his nature. It is, in him, an exertion of benevolence;

and

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