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great societies of men torn in' pieces by intestine dissensions, tumults, and civil commotions. We see mighty armies going forth, in formidable array, against each other, to cover the earth with blood, and to fill the air with the cries of widows and orphans. Sad evils these are, to which this miserable world is exposed. -- But are these evils, I beseech you, to be imputed to God? Was it he who sent forth slaughtering armies into the field, or who filled the peaceful city with massacres and blood? Are these miseries any other than the bitter fruit of men's violent and disorderly passions ? Are they not clearly to be traced to the ambition and vices of princés, to the quarrels of the great, and to the turbulence of the people ? Let us lay them entirely out of the account, in thinking of Providence ; and let us think only of the foolishness of men. Did man controul his passions, and form his conduct according to the dictates of wisdom, humanity, and virtue, the earth would no longer be desolated by cruelty; and human societies would live in order, harmony, and peace.

In those scenes of mischief and violence which fill the world, let man behold, with shame, the pictures of his vices, his ignorance and folly. Let him be humbled by the mortifying view of his own perverseness; but let not his heart fret against the Lord. - From the external condition, let us proceed,

II. To consider the internal state of man. It is certain that much disquiet and misery may be found there, although his outward condition appear undisturbed and easy. As far as this inward disquietude arises from the stings of conscience, and the horrors

of guilt, there can be no doubt of its being selfcreated misery; which it is altogether impossible to impute to Heaven. But even when great crimes and deep remorse are not the occasions of torment, how often is poison infused into the most flourishing conditions of fortune, by the follies and the passions of the prosperous ? We see them peevish and restless; corrupted with luxury, and enervated by ease ; impatient of the smallest disappointment; oppressed with low spirits, and complaining of every thing around them. How many Hamans, Hazaels, and Herods, are there in the world, who, from what they suffer within, pass their days in more vexation and misery, than they who undergo the hardships of poverty ? Dare such men, in their most discontented moments, charge the providence of Heaven with miseries of their own procuring? Providence had put into their hands the fairest opportunity of passing their life with comfort. But they themselves blasted every comfort that was offered ; and verified the prediction, that the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.*

As it is man's own foolishness which ruins his prosperity, we must not omit to remark, that it is the same cause which aggravates and embitters his adversity. That you suffer from the external afflictions of the world, may often be owing to God's appointment; but when, in the midst of these, you also suffer from the disorders of your mind and passions, this is owing to yourselves; and there are those inward disorders which add the severest sting to external afflictions. Many are the resources of a

* Prov. i. 32.

good and a wise man, under all the disasters of life. In the midst of them, it is always in his power to enjoy peace of mind, and hope in God. He may suffer ; but under suffering he will not sink, as long as all is sound within. But when the spirit has been wounded by guilt and folly, its wounds open, and bleed afresh, upon every blow that is received from the world. The mind becomes sensible and sore to the slightest injuries of fortune ; and a small reverse is felt as an insupportable calamity.

On the whole, the farther you search into human life, and the more you observe the manners and the conduct of men, you will be the more convinced of this great truth, that of the distresses which abound in the world, we are the chief authors. Among the multitudes who are, at this day, bewailing their condition and lot, it will be found to hold, of far the, greater part, that they are reaping the fruit of their own doings; their iniquities are reproving them, and their backslidings correcting them.

Unattainable objects foolishly pursued, intemperate passions nourished, vicious pleasures and desires indulged, God, and God's holy laws forgotten; these, these are the great scourges of the world ; the great causes of the life of man being so embroiled and unhappy. God hath ordained our state on earth to be a mixed and imperfect state. We have ourselves to blame for its becoming an insupportable one.

If it bring forth nothing to us but vexation and vanity, we have sown the seeds of that vanity and vexation; and as we have sown, we must reap. - I now proceed to make improvement of those truths which we have been considering

In the first place, let us be taught to look upon sin as the source of all our miseries. It may sometimes assume the gentler names of folly, irregularity, or levity ; but under whatever form it appears, it always imports a deviation from that sacred law which ought to regulate our conduct. It is still the root that beareth gall and wormwood *; and in exact proportion to the quantity of this poisonous weed, which we ourselves have infused into our cup, we must expect to drink the waters of bitterness. If the foolishness of man did not pervert his ways, his heart would have no occasion to fret against the Lord. He would enjoy competent satisfaction in every situation of life; and, under its unavoidable evils, would derive consolation from religion and virtue. Indeed, of every evil which we now endure, of those evils which we look upon to be the appointment of Providence, as well as of others, sin is ultimately the cause ; as it was man's revolt from God, which gave rise originally to those evils, and which rendered the chastisements we undergo, in this state of discipline, necessary, even for the sons of God. But at present, we confine our obseryation to those miseries of which men are the immediate procurers to themselves; and from them alone, we find sufficient reason to consider sin as the capital foe to man; as the great troubler and disturber of his life. To Providence, then, let us look up with reverence. On sin let our indignation be vented ; and, what is of more consequence, against sin and all its approaches, let our utmost caution be em

* Deut. xxix. 18.

ployed. As we proceed through the different paths of life, let us accustom ourselves to beware of sin, as the hidden snake lurking among the grass, from whose fatal touch we must fly in haste, if we would not experience its sting.


bave no just apprehensions of this danger. Fools, said the wise man, make a mock at sin. A fool indeed he must be, who dares to think lightly of it. He shews not only the depravity of his heart, but, what perhaps he will be more ashamed to be charged with, he shews his ignorance of the world. He shews that he knows not, he understands not, even his worldly interest, nor the interest and happiness of human society.

In the second place, let us learn from what has been set forth, one of the most awful and important of all truths, the reality of a Divine government exercised over the world. Blind must that man be who discerns not the most striking, marks of it, in the doctrine which has been under our review. If there be a sceptic, who contends that unrestrained liberty in the gratification of desire is given to man; that, in the sight of his Creator, all actions are equal; and that no rule of moral conduct hath been prescribed, or by any penalty enforced ; in order to confute such a man, we have not recourse to reasonings, but simply appeal to plain and obvious facts. We bid him look only to the life of man; and take notice how every vice is, by the constitution of things, connected with misery. We bid him trace the history of any one, with whose conduct he had particular occasion to be acquainted ; and observe, whether the chief misfortunes which pursued him were not brought upon him by his own misbehaviour.

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