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lerable comfort who has not learned to practise it. His prosperity will be continually disturbed, and his adversity will be clouded with double darkness. He will be uneasy and troublesome to all with whom he is connected; and will be more troublesome to himself than to any other.Let me particularly advise those who wish to cultivate so necessary a virtue, to begin their cultivation of it, on occasions when small offences and provocations arise. It is a great but common error, to imagine, that we are at liberty to give loose reins to temper among the trivial occurrences of life. No excuse for irritation and impatience can be worse, than what is taken from the person being inconsiderable, or the incident being slight, which threw us off our guard. With inconsiderable persons we are surrounded. Of slight incidents the bulk of human life is composed. In the midst of these the ruling temper of the mind is formed. It is only by moderation and selfcommand, then acquired, that we can inure ourselves to patience, when the great conjunctures of life shall put it to a severer trial. If neglected then, we shall afterward solicit its return in vain. If thou hast run with footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land
of peace wherein thou trustest, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan!*
In order to assist us in the acquisition of this grace, let us often contemplate that great model of it, which is displayed in the whole life of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Whose temper was ever tried by more frequent provocations, more repeated disappointments, more flagrant injuries, or more severe distresses? Yet amidst them all, we behold him patiently enduring the contradiction of sinners; to their rudeness, opposing a mild and unruffled, though firm, spirit, and, in the cause of mankind, generously bearing with every indignity. Well might he say, Learn of me, for I am meek, and lowly in heart. † Having such a high example before our eyes, let us be ashamed of those sallies of impatience which we so often suffer to break forth in the midst of prosperity. By a more manly tranquillity and selfcommand, let us discover to the world, that, as men, and as Christians, we have learned in patience to possess our souls.
* Jer. xii. 5.
+ Math. xi. 29,
PHILIPPIANS, iv. 5. +
Let moderation be known unto all men. your
HE present state of man is neither doomed to constant misery, nor designed for complete happiness. It is, in general, a mixed state of comfort and sorrow, of prosperity and adversity; neither brightened by uninterrupted sunshine, nor overcast with perpetual shade; but subject to alternate successions of the one and the other. While such a state forbids despair, it also checks presumption. It is equally adverse to despondency of mind, and to high elevation of spirits. The temper which best suits, is expressed in the
text by moderation; which, as the habitual tenor of the soul, the apostle exhorts us to discover in our whole conduct; let it be known unto all men. This virtue consists in the equal balance of the soul. It imports such proper government of our passions and pleasures as shall prevent us from running into extremes of any kind; and shall produce a calm and temperate frame of mind. It chiefly respects our conduct in that state which comes under the description of ease, or prosperity. Patience, of which I treated in the preceding discourse, directs the proper regulation of the mind, under the disagreeable incidents of life. Moderation determines the bounds within which it should remain, when circumstances are agreeable or promising. What I now purpose is, to point out some of the chief instances in which Moderation ought to take place, and to shew the importance of preserving it.
I. Moderation in our wishes. The active mind of man seldom or never rests satisfied with its present condition, how prosperous soever. Originally formed for a wider range of objects, for a higher sphere of enjoyments, it finds itself, in every situation of fortune, straitened and confined. Sensible of deficiency in
its state, it is ever sending forth the fond desire, the aspiring wish, after something beyond what is enjoyed at present. Hence that restlessness which prevails so generally among mankind. Hence that disgust of pleasures which they have tried; that passion for novelty; that ambition of rising to some degree of eminence or felicity, of which they have formed to themselves an indistinct idea. All which may be considered as indications of a certain native, original greatness in the human soul, swelling beyond the limits of its present condition, and pointing at the higher objects for which it was made. Happy if these latent remains of our primitive state served to direct our wishes towards their proper destination, and to lead us into the path of true bliss!
But in this dark and bewildered state, the aspiring tendency of our nature unfortunately takes an opposite direction, and feeds a very misplaced ambition. The flattering appearances which here present themselves to sense; the distinctions which fortune confers; the advantages and pleasures which we imagine the world to be capable of bestowing, fill up the ultimate wish of most men. These are the objects which engross their solitary musings, and stimulate their active labours; which warm the breast of the young, animate the industry