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strengthened and confirmed by principle; it requires them to be supported by justice, temperance, fortitude, and all those other virtues which enable us to act with propriety in the trying situations of life.

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It is very possible for a man to possess the kind affections in a high degree, while at the same time he is carried away by passion and pleasure into many criminal deeds. Almost every man values himself on possessing virtue in one or other of its forms. He wishes to lay claim to some quality which will render him estimable in his own eye, as well as in that of the public. Hence it is common for many, especially for those in the higher classes of life, to take much praise to themselves on account of their sensibility, though it be, in truth, a sensibility of a very defective kind. They relent at the view of misery when it is strongly set before them. Often, too, affected chiefly by the powers of description, it is a feigned and pictured distress, more than at real misery, that they relent. The tears which they shed upon these occasions they consider as undoubted proofs of virtue. They applaud themselves for the goodness of their hearts; and conclude that, with such feelings, they cannot fail to be agreeable to Heaven. At the same

VOL. III.

time, these transient relentings make slight impression on conduct. They give rise to few, if any, good deeds; and soon after such persons have wept at some tragical tale, they are ready to stretch forth the hand of oppression, to grasp at the gain of injustice, or to plunge into the torrent of criminal pleasures. This sort of sensibility affords no more than a fallacious claim to virtue, and gives men no ground to think highly of themselves. We must enquire not merely how they feel, but how their feelings prompt them to act, in order to ascertain their real character.

I shall conclude with observing, that sensibility, when genuine and pure, has a strong connection with piety. That warmth of affection and tenderness of heart, which lead men to feel for their brethren, and to enter into their joys and sorrows, should naturally dispose them to melt at the remembrance of the divine goodness; to glow with admiration of the divine Majesty; to send up the voice of praise and adoration to the Supreme Being, who makes his creatures happy. He who pretends to great sensibility towards men, and yet has no feeling for the high objects of religion, no heart to admire and adore the great Father of the

universe, has reason to distrust the truth and delicacy of his sensibility. He has reason to suspect, that in some corner of his heart there lodges a secret depravity, an unnatural hardness and callousness, which vitiates his character. Let us study to join all the parts of virtue in a proper union; to be consistently and uniformly good; just and upright, as well as pitiful and courteous; pious, as well as sympathising. Let us pray to him who made the heart, that he would fill it with all proper dispositions; and rectify all its errors; and render it the happy abode of personal integrity and social tenderness, of purity, benevolence, and devotion.

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SERMON III.

ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF TIME.

GENESIS, xlvii. 8.

And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old
art thou?

TIME is of so great importance to mankind, that it cannot too often employ religious meditation. There is nothing in the management of which wisdom is more requisite, or where mankind display their inconsistency more. In its particular parcels, they appear entirely careless of it; and throw it and throw it away with thoughtless profusion, But, when collected into some of its great portions, and viewed as the measure of their continuance in life, they become sensible of its value, and begin to regard it with a serious eye. While day after day is wasted in a course of idleness or vicious plea

sures, if some incidents shall occur which leads the most inconsiderate man to think of his age or time of life-how much of it is gone; at what period of it he is now arrived; and to what proportion of it he can with any probability look forward, as yet to come; he can hardly avoid feeling some secret compunction, and reflecting seriously upon his state. Happy if that virtuous impression were not of momentary continuance, but retained its influence amidst the succeeding cares and pleasures of the world! To the good old Patriarch mentioned in the text, we have reason to believe that such impressions were habitual. The question put to him by the Egyptian monarch produced, in his answer, such reflections as were naturally suited to his time of life. And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, the days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage. But the peculiar circumstances of the patriarch, or the number of his years, are not to be the subject of our present consideration. My purpose is to shew how we should be affected in every period of human life, by reflection upon our age, whether we be young or advanced in

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