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We bid him remark in the history of nations whether public virtue has not always exalted them; and whether licentiousness and crimes have not paved the way for their ruin. These are testimonies to the truth of religion which cannot by any sophistry be evaded. This is a voice, which speaks its warnings loud and strong to every heart.

The system upon which the Divine government at present proceeds, plainly is, that men's own wickedness should be appointed to correct them; that sinners should be snared in the work of their hands, and sunk in the pit which themselves had digged; that the backslider in heart should be filled with his own ways. Of all the plans which could have been devised for the government of the world, this approves itself to reason, as the wisest and most worthy of God; so to frame the constitution of things, that the Divine laws should in a manner execute themselves, and carry their sanctions in their own bosom. When the vices of men require punishment to be inflicted, the Almighty is at no loss for ministers of justice. A thousand instruments of vengeance are at his command; innumerable arrows are always in his quiver. But such is the profound wisdom of his plan, that no peculiar interposals of power are requisite. He has no occasion to step from his throne, and to interrupt the order of nature. With that majesty and solemnity which befits Omnipotence, He prónounces, Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone. * He leaves transgressors to their own guilt, and punishment follows of course. Their sins do the work of justice. They lift the scourge; and with every stroke which they inflict on the criminal, they mix this * Hosea, iv. 17.

severe admonition, that as he is only reaping the fruit of his own actions, he deserves all that he suffers. From what has been said, I might take occasion,

IN the third place, to shew the injustice of our charging Providence with a promiscuous and unequal distribution of its favours among the good and the bad. That unequal distribution takes place in appearance only, not in reality. The whole conduct of Providence sufficiently marks, which of those classes of men it blesses and protects. The prosperity of sinners is no more than a deceitful show. The great materials of happiness are provided for the virtuous; and evil never fails to pursue the wicked. I shall close the discourse with observing,

IN the fourth and last place, the necessity which plainly arises from our present condition of looking up to God for direction and aid in the conduct of life. The result of the whole doctrine I have now delivered is, that man's happiness or misery is, in a great measure, put into his own hands. In vain he complains of Providence. If his heart fret against the Lord, it is only because his foolishness hath perverted his way: for on himself, and his own behaviour, it depends, to be free of those miseries which harass the wicked. But, alas! when we say, that this depends upon man, on what uncertain ground do we place his security? Is man, when left to himself, equal to this high trust that is reposed in him, this important charge that is committed to him, of attaining happiness, by wise and irreproachable conduct? Inconstant as he is in virtue, variable in his resolutions, soft and yielding in his nature to a thousand temptations; how

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shall he guide himself through such slippery and dangerous paths as those of human life; where many hidden precipices surround him; many false lights lead him astray; and where the consequence of every step he takes may be destruction and ruin ? Thankful let us be to Heaven, that, in this situation, a merciful guide stretches out his hand to aid us; that a celestial light shines upon us from above; that a Divine Spirit is promised to illuminate and strengthen us. Let us humbly request of Heaven, that this Spirit of the Almighty may ever be our guide; never presumptuously trusting in our own wisdom, but listening attentively to the voice of God; and in all our ways acknowledging Him who only can direct our steps. — Upon the whole, let us hold fast the persuasion of these fundamental truths; that, in all his dispensations, God is just and good; that the cause of all the troubles we suffer is in ourselves, not in Him; that virtue is the surest guide to a happy life; that he who forsakes this guide, enters upon the path of death; but that he who walketh uprightly, walketh surely; and that he who keepeth the commandment, keepeth his own soul.




The integrity of the upright shall guide them.

RIGHTEOUSNESS and sin are, in this book of

Proverbs, frequently contrasted with each other, and the advantages of the former displayed. The righteous man is shewn to be more excellent than his neighbour, as the ways in which he walks are ways of pleasantness, while the way of transgressors is hard. Honour is represented as attending the one, while shame is the portion of the other. The path of the one leads to life; that of the other to destruction. In the text, an advantage of righteousness is specified, which is not commonly attended to, and which some will not readily allow that it possesses. We are told by the wise man, that it affords light and direction to conduct, and will prove our best guide through all the intricacies of life. The integrity of the upright shall guide them; or, as it is added, to the same purpose, in a following verse, the righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way. There are many who will admit, that integrity is an amiable quality; that it is entitled to much respect, and in most cases ought to influence our behaviour; who nevertheless are unwilling to allow it the chief place in the direction of their worldly conduct. They hold that a certain artful



sagacity, founded upon knowledge of the world, is the best conductor of every one who would be a successful adventurer in life; and that a strict attention to integrity, as his only guide, would often lead him into danger and distress. In opposition to tenets of this kind, I now purpose to show that, amidst all perplexities and dangers, there is no guide we can choose so safe, and so successful on the whole, as the integrity of an upright mind; and that, upon every trying occasion, principles of probity and honour will conduct a good man through life with more advantage, than if he were to act upon the most refined system of worldly wisdom.

Ir will not take much time to delineate the character of the man of integrity, as by its nature it is a plain one, and easily understood. He is one who makes it his constant rule to follow the road of duty according as the word of God, and the voice of his conscience, point it out to him.

He is not guided merely by affections, which may sometimes give the colour of virtue to a loose and unstable character. The upright man is guided by a fixed principle of mind, which determines him to esteem nothing but what is honourable, and to abhor whatever is base and unworthy in moral conduct. Hence you find him ever the same; at all times, the trusty friend, the affectionate relation, the conscientious man of business, the pious worshipper, the public-spirited citizen. He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him; for he acts no studied part; but he is in truth what he appears to be, full of truth, candour, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no part but the fair and

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