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Let not those who are in wealthy and flourishing circumstances, complain of the restraints which religious doctrine attempts to impose on their enjoyments. For, to what do these restraints amount? To no more than this, that, by their pleasures, they would neither injure themselves, nor injure others. We call not on the young, to relinquish their gaiety; nor on the rich, to forego their opulence; nor on the great, to lay aside their state. We only call on them, not to convert gaiety into licentiousness; nor to employ opulence in mere extravagance; nor to abuse greatness for the oppression of their inferiors: While they enjoy the world, not to forget that they are the subjects of God, and are soon to pass into another state. Let the motive by which the Apostle enforces the exhortation in the text, present itself to their thought; Use this world as not abusing it: for the fashion of the world passeth away. Its pomp and its pleasures, its riches, magnificence, and glory are no more than a transient show. Every thing that we here enjoy changes, decays, and comes to an end. All floats on the surface of a river, which, with swift current, is running towards a boundless ocean. Beyond this present scene of things, above those sublunary regions, we are to look for what is permanent

The world passes away; but

and stable. God, and heaven, and virtue, continue unchangeably the same. We are soon to enter into eternal habitations; and into these, our works shall follow us. The consequences shall for ever remain of the part which we have acted as good or bad men; as faithful subjects of God, or as servants of a vain world.



PROVERBS, iv. 27.

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left.

I Will behave myself wisely, said the Psalmist David, in a perfect way. Wisdom is no less necessary in religious, and moral, than in civil conduct. Unless there be a proper degree of light in the understanding, it will not be enough that there are good dispositions in the heart. Without regular guidance, they will often err from the right scope. They will be always wavering and unsteady; nay, on some

Psalm ci. 2.

occasions, they may betray us into evil. This is too much verified by that propensity to run into extremes, which so often appears in the behaviour of men. How many have originally set out with good principles and intentions, who, through want of discretion in the application of their principles, have in the end injured themselves, and brought discredit on religion? There is a certain temperate mean, in the observance of which piety and virtue consist. On each side there lies a dangerous extreme. Bewildering paths open; by deviating into which, men are apt to forfeit all the praise of their good intentions; and to finish, with reproach, what they had begun with honour. This is the ground of the wise man's exhortation in the text. Let thine eyes look right on, and thine eye-lids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; remove thy foot from evil. In discoursing from these words, I propose to point out some of the extremes into which men are apt to run in religion and morals; and to suggest directions for guarding against them.

With regard to religious principle in general, it may perhaps be expected, that I should warn you of the danger of being, on the

one hand, too rigid in adhering to it, and on the other hand, too easy in relaxing it. But the distinction between these supposed extremes, I conceive to have no foundation. No man can be too strict, in his adherence to a principle of duty, Here, there is no extreme. All relaxation of principle is criminal. What conscience dictates is to be ever obeyed. Its commands are universally sacred. Even though it should be misled, yet as long as we conceive it to utter the voice of God, in disobeying it we sin. The error, therefore, to be here avoided, is not, too scrupulous or tender regard to conscience, but too little care to have conscience properly enlightened, with respect to what is matter of duty and of sin.

Receive, not without examination, whatever human tradition has consecrated as sacred. Recur, on every occasion, to those great fountains of light and knowledge, which are opened to you in the pure word of God. Distinguish, with care, between the supersti tious fancies of men, and the everlasting commandments of God. Exhaust not on trifles that zeal which ought to be reserved for the weightier matters of the law. Overload not conscience, with what is frivolous and unnecessary. But when you have once drawn the line with intelligence and precision, between

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