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SERMON of virtue, and not the least important half, would be lost to the world. our present imperfect state, any virtue which is never exercised is in hazard of becoming extinct in the human breast. If goodness constantly proceeded in a smooth and flowery path; if, meeting with no adversary to oppose it, it were surrounded on every hand with acclamation and praise, is there no ground to dread that it might be corrupted by vanity, or might sink into indolence? This dangerous calm must therefore be interrupted. The waters must be troubled, lest they should stagnate and putrify. When you behold wicked men multiplying in number, and increasing in power, imagine not that Providence particularly favours them. No; they are suffered for a time to prosper, that they may fulfil the high designs of Heaven. They are employed as instruments in the hand of God for the improvement of his servants. They are the rods with which he chastens the virtuous, in order to rouse them from a dangerous slumber; to form them for the day of adversity, and to teach them how to suffer honourably.


IN the next place, the mixture of the SERMON bad among the good serves not only to give exercise to the passive graces, but also to improve the active powers and virtues of man. It inures the righteous to vigilance and exertion. It obliges them to stand forth, and act their part with firmness and constancy in evil times. It gives occasion for their virtues to shine with conspicuous lustre; and makes them appear as the lights of the world amidst surrounding darkness. Were it not for the dangers that arise from abounding iniquity, there would be no opportunity for courage to act, for wisdom to admonish, for caution to watch, nor for faith to exert itself in overcoming the world. It is that mixture of dispositions which now takes place, that renders the theatre on which we act so busy and stirring, and so much fitted for giving employment to every part of man's intelligent and moral nature. It affords a complete field for the genuine display of characters; and gives every man the opportunity to come forth and show what he is. Were the tenour of human conduct altogether regular and uni F 2 forrn,


SERMON form, interrupted by no follies and vices, no cross dispositions and irregular passions, many of our active powers would find no exercise. Perhaps even our life would languish, and become too still and insipid. Man is not yet ripe for a paradise of innocence, and for the enjoyment of a perfect and faultless society. As in the natural world, he is not made for perpetual spring and cloudless skies, but by the wintry storm must be called to exert his abilities for procuring shelter and defence; so in the moral world, the intermixture of bad men renders many an exertion necessary, which in a more perfect state of the world would find no place, but which in the present state of trial is proper and useful.--The existence of vice in the world assuredly testifies our present corruption; and, according to the degree of its prevalence, is always, more or less, the source of misery. It is a standing proof of the fall and degeneracy of man. But as long as that fallen state continues, the wisdom of Providence eminently appears in making the errours and frailties of the wicked subservient to the improve



ment of the just. Tares are for that reason SERMON suffered at present to grow up among the wheat.

THESE observations on the wisdom of Providence in this dispensation will be farther illustrated, by considering the useful instructions which we receive, or which at least every wise man may receive, from the follies and vices of those among whom we are obliged to live.

First, They furnish instruction concerning the snares and dangers against which we ought to be most on our guard. They put it thereby in our power to profit by the errours and misconduct of others. By observing from what small beginnings the greatest crimes have arisen; observing how bad company has seduced this man from his original principles and habits ; how a careless indulgence of pleasure has blinded and intoxicated that man; how the neglect of divine institutions has, in another, gradually paved the way for open profligacy; much salutary instruction is conveyed to the virtuous. Tracing the dangerous and slippery paths by which


SERMON SO many have been insensibly betrayed into ruin, their views of human nature are enlarged; the sense of their own imbecility is strongly impressed upon them; accompanied with the conviction of the necessity of a constant dependence on the grace and assistance of Heaven. All the crimes, which they behold disturbing society around them, serve as signals hung out to them, beacons planted in their view, to prevent their making shipwreck among those rocks on which others have split. It has been justly said, that not only from the advices of his friends, but from the reproaches of his enemies, a wise man may draw instruction. In the same manner, it is not only by the examples of good men, but likewise by those of the wicked, that an attentive mind may be confirmed in virtue.

Next, THESE examples of bad men, while they admonish the virtuous of the dangers against which they are to guard, are farther profitable by the views which they exhibit of the evil and the deformity of sin. Its odious nature never appears

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