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ought to be corrected, and which, at one time or other, they intend to correct; some headstrong passion, which they design to subdue; some bad habit, which they purpose to reform; some dangerous connection, which they are resolved to break off. But the convenient season for these reformations is not yet come. Certain obstacles are in the way, which they expect by-and-by to surmount; and therefore they go on in peace for the present, in their usual courses, trusting, at a future day, to begin their designed improvement. In the mean time the angel of death descends; and, in the midst of their distant plans, executes his commission, and carries them away. -Guard against delusions of this kind, which have been fatal to so many. - Thou art now in tranquillity, in health, in possession of a calm mind. Improve these advantages, for performing all that becomes thee, as a man, and as a Christian; for, who can tell how long thou shalt be permitted to enjoy them? New alterations of fortune may be just coming forward; new troubles in public, or in private life, about to arise; new exigencies ready to throw thee into some condition, which shall leave thee neither leisure nor opportunity to execute any of the good purposes thou hast at present in thy mind. Wherefore, trifle no longer with what is so serious, and what may be so critical; but to-day, while it is called to-day, listen to the voice of God, and do his works. Do now, as the Wise Man advises, with thy might whatsoever thy hand findeth to do; for there is no work, nor device, nor wisdom, in the whither grave thou goest*. Instead of delaying till to-morrow what ought to be done to day, let me exhort you,
* Eccles. ix. 10.
IV. To be every day prepared for whatever to-morrow may bring forth. There is a certain preparation for the vicissitudes of life, in which the multitude are sufficiently busied; providing, as they think, against whatever may happen, by increasing their riches, and strengthening themselves by friends, connections, and worldly honours. But these bulwarks which they erect, are totally insufficient against the dreaded storm. It is to some other quarter we must look for our defence; for when it is the world itself, whose changes we have reason to dread, the world, and the things of it, cannot afford us protection. The best preparation for all the uncertainties of futurity consists, in a well-ordered mind, a good conscience, and a cheerful submission to the will of Heaven. You know not what shall be on to-morrow. But there is one who knows it well; for his decree hath fixed it. To him look up with reverence; and say, "Not my will, but thine be done; what thou "appointest is ever wise, and just, and good." Seek to fulfil the part which he hath assigned you; to do the things which he hath commanded you to do; and leave all the rest to him. Whatever to-morrow brings forth, let it find you employed in doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God; and then you shall meet to-morrow without fear, when you meet it without the upbraidings of guilt.
If it shall bring forth to you any unexpected good, prepare to receive it with gratitude, temperance, and modesty. If it shall bring forth evil, prepare to receive it with manly fortitude. Let no events of any kind derange your equanimity, or shake your constancy. Contract your desires, and moderate your hopes. Expect not more from the world than
it is able to afford you. Take it for granted, that what is naturally mutable, will one day change; that what was designed to be transient, will pass away. Look forward to futurity without impatience. Be not desirous to know it. It belongs to God. Let him bring forward the events of the world, in his own way. Imagine that you continually hear those words, which our Lord once addressed to Peter, when he was enquiring about what was to happen to a fellowdisciple, What is that to thee? Follow thou me. Amidst all the uncertainty of future events, this road of clear and plain duty lies before you; follow Christ, and enquire no farther. Seek no crooked path, in order to avoid impending dangers. Turn not to the right hand, nor to the left; but commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring to pass the desires of thy heart.
V. BUILD your hopes of happiness on somewhat more solid and lasting than what either to-day or to-morrow are likely to produce. From what has been said, you may clearly perceive, that he who rests wholly upon this world, builds his house upon the sand. This life, by means of wisdom and virtue, may be rendered to a good man, a tolerable, nay, a comfortable state. But he who expects complete. ness from it, will be greatly deceived. Man, in his most flourishing condition, were much to be pitied, if he was destitute of every higher hope.. Rolling from change to change, throughout all the days of his life, with a dark and unknown prospect always before him in futurity, what would avail a few short interrupted glimpses of happiness, which, from time to time, he was permitted to enjoy? Can
we believe, that only for such a state as this, man was designed by his great and good Creator ?—No: Let us bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Here is the Rock on which the mind, however tossed by the storms of life, can securely rest. Here is the object to which a wise man will bend his chief attention, that, after having acted his part on earth with fidelity and honour, he may be enabled, through the merits of his Saviour, to look for a place in the mansions of eternal and untroubled peace. This prospect is the great corrective of the present vanity of human life. It gives significancy and importance to its most transitory scenes; and, in the midst of its mutability, discovers one fixed point of rest. He who is habitually influenced by the hope of immortality, will be able to look without dismay on the changes of the world. He will neither boast of to-morrow, nor be afraid of it; but will pass through the varieties of life with a manly and unbroken mind; with a noble superiority to those fears and expectations, those cares and sorrows, which agitate the multitude. Such are the native effects of Christian faith and hope. To them alone it belongs, to surmount all the discouragements to which we are now exposed; to render our life comfortable, and our death blessed; nay, to make the day of our death better than the day of our birth.
On following the MULTITUDE to do EVIL.
EXODUS, Xxiii. 2.
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.
IN this world, we are placed as companions and
assistants to one another. Depending, for most of the comforts of life, on mutual intercourse and aid, it was necessary, that we should be formed to desire the company, and to take pleasure in the good-will, of our fellows. But this sociability of man, though essential to his present condition, has, like many other good principles, been unhappily warped from its original purpose; and in the present state of the world, has proved the cause of much evil. For, as vice has abounded in every age, it hath propagated itself much more easily by the assistance of this social disposition. We naturally mould ourselves on the pattern of prevailing manners; and corruption is communicated from one to another. By mutually giving, and taking, the example of sinful liberties, licentiousness spreads and grows; each justifies himself by his neighbour; and the multitude of sinners strengthens one another's hands to commit iniquity. In all the ages of the world, custom has had more power than reason. Few take the trouble of enquiring what is the right path; the greater part