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can be in Aicted, rather than purchase de liverance at the expence of integrity what words can do justice to the greatness of foul conspicuous in such a behaviour
At first fight indeed it feems beyond the reach of humanity; and yet you know it has been reached, not merely by a few refined and transcendent spirits, but by the whole army of martyrs : nor by them only. Let us do justice to our common nature, which is the work of God, as well as that divine institution which was ordained to improve and complete it: let us acknowledge, that pagan history abounds with memorable examples of heroic resolution. We pity the bigotry that would exclude them from their hare of merited renown. Were not they the offspring of God, as well as we? And if he inspired them with dispositions worthy of praise, why should not we own it? If their motives were defective, or sometimes improper, let us be thankful for a religion
that has taught us better : but let us also beware, left, while we boast higher prin. ciples than were known to those brave heathens, we should fall beneath them in our practice. What ! my hearers, shall we, surrounded with the splendor of evangelic light, shall we 6 walk in darkness,”. or fink into despair? Shall we, by facrificing our duty to our safety, our honour to our ease, the glorious triumphs of immortality to the poor 'passing vanities of time, leave room for a Socrates, a Phocion, a Decius, or a Regulus, to $ rise up in 56 the day of judgement, and condemn" us? God forbid.
. Though I never could admire the sternness of the Stoic fect, when it proceeded so far as either to deaden the feelings of Nature, or to disguise thein ; I must yet confess, that the preference clearly given by many of the ancients to the idea of: what became them, above the enjoyment of riches, of ease, or of life itself, mani.
fested a force of resolution, but feldom, comparatively speaking, found in these days. of luxurious indulgence. Some examples we have seen, and without question there are more which we have not seen, of great: fortitude in maintaining the post of Vire tue, against the most dangerous assaults of an adverse world. In truth, it requires no common magnanimity, for young minds. especially, to remain undaunted by the persecutions of bad men, at a period when : to be sober is in many companies to seem particular, and to be serious the certain means of incurring ridicule, and exciting opposition. How beautiful to behold ai. modest youth persevering, with inflexible determination, in the path which his reae son and his heart have chosen ; marching on undismayed, through all the shafts of malice, and of scorn, that can be levelled at him, while both of his own age, and. of those who are farther advanced, “ thou-, 6. fands fall on his right hand, and ten «6 thousand on his left.!"
By the same erect and superior Spirit, fuch a person is enabled to resist the tors rent of ill example, with which the weak and the wavering are carried away, and the continual whirl of diffipation, that absorbs the light and the thoughtless. " It is equally,” says Plato, “ the office “ of virtuous constancy, to withstand the « attacks of pain, and the blandishments " of pleasure ;" we may add, neither to be overborne by noise and numbers on the one hand, nor drawn aside by folicitation or art, on the other. Here, my friends, here indeed is the grand trial; nor was it ever fo formidable as now : for in the first place, we have before discovered, there never was so great a majority openly on the side of vice; and in the next, we have observed, that even the good are every day more slackened in their resolves by the soft insinuation of effeminacy. They still retain many laudable sentiments, but have not the spirit to avow them. They would willingly live to their better feelings, but are afraid of being charged with singularity. They are alarmed at the thoughts of appearing to depart too far from the beaten track, even in the pursuit of wifdom and happiness. From mere pufillanimity they often comply with follies which they cannot justify, and fatigue themselves with amusements which they do not enjoy. They are secretly disgusted at the ways of the world, but dare not express their dislike, left they should be deemed unfashionable. They hate cards, and continue to play at them. They are fick of perpetual assemblies, and regularly frequent them. They can witness licentiousness and impiety without a frown. They can hear the scoffs of infidels, and the oaths of the prophane, without the slightest mark of disapprobation. Shall I speak it? They can actually smile, with an air of cool indifference, at the deep' corruption of a venal and a vicious age. Not that they are destitute of worth; but their worth is deftitute of vigour :