Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

purpose to be the light and the life of men; who came in the fulness of grace and truth, to repair the desolation of many generations, to restore order among the works of God, and to raise up a new earth and ner heavens, where, in righteousness should dwell for ever,

Under his tuition let us pút ourselves; and amidst the storms of passion to which we are here exposed, and the slippery paths which we are left to tread, never trust presumptuously to our own understanding. Thankful that a Heavenly Conductor vouchsafes his aid, let us eara nestly pray, that from him may descend divine light to guide our steps, and divine strength to fortify our minds. 'Let us pray, that his grace may keep us from all intemperate passions, and mistaken pursuits of pleasure: that whether it shall be his will to give or to deny us earthly prosperity, he may bless us with a calm, a sound, and well regulated mind; may give us moderation in success, and fortitude under disappointment;

and

may enable us so to take warning from the crimes and miseries of others, as to escape the snares of guilt.

While we thus maintain a due dependence on God, let us also exert ourselves with care in acting our own part. From the whole of what has been said, this important instruction arises, that the happiness of every man depends more upon the state of his own mind, than upon any one external circumstance; nay more than upon all' external things put together. We have seen, that inordinate

passions are the great disturbers of life; and that, unless we possess a good conscience, and a well-governed mind, discontent will blast every enjoyment, and the highest prosperity will prove only disguised misery. Fix, then, this conclusion in your minds, that the destruction of your virtue is the destruction of your peace. Keep thy heart with all diligence ; govern it with the greatest care ; for out of it are the issues of life. In no station, in no period, think yourselves secure from the dangers which spring from your passions. Every age

and every station they beset; from youth to grey hairs, and from the peasant to the prince.

At your first setting out in life, especially when yet unkcquainted with the world and its snares, when every pleasure enchants with its smile, and every object shines with the gloss of novelty ; beware of the seducing appearances which surround you, and recollect what others have suffered from the power of headstrong desire. If

you allow any passion, even though it be esteemed innocent, to acquire an

[ocr errors]

absolute ascendant, your inward peace will be impaired. But if

any

which has the taint of guilt, take early possession of your mind, you may date from that moment the ruin of

your tranquillity. Nor with the season of youth does the peril end. To the impetuosity of youthful desiré, succeed the more sober, but no less dangerous attachments of advancing years; when the passions which are connected with interest and ambition begin their reign, and too frequently extend their malignant influence, even over those periods of life which ought to be most tranquil. From the first to the last of man's abode on earth, the discipline must never be relaxed, of guarding the heart from the dominion of passion. Eager passions, and violent desires, were not made for man. They exceed his sphere. They find no adequate objects on earth ; and of course can be productive of nothing but misery. The certain consequence of indulging them is, that there shall come an evil day, when the anguish of disappointment shall drive us to acknowledge, that all which we enjoy availeth us nothing.

You are not to imagine, that the warnings which I have given in this discourse, are applicable only to the case of such signal offenders as he was, of whom the Text treats. Think

VOL. I.

not, as I am afraid too many do, that because your passions have not hurried you into atrocious deeds, they have therefore wrought no mischief, and have left no sting behind them. By a continued series of loose, though apparently trivial gratifications, the heart is often as thoroughly corrupted, as by the commission of any one of those enormous crimes which spring from great ambition, or great revenge. Habit gives the passions strength, while the absence of glaring guilt seemingly justifies them; and, unawakened by remorse, the sinner proceeds in his course, till he wax bold in guilt, and become ripe for ruin. For, by gradual and latent steps, the destruction of our virtue advances. Did the evil unveil itself at the beginning; did the storm which is to overthrow our peace, discover, as it rose, all its horrors, precautions would more frequently be taken against it. But we are imperceptibly betrayed ; and from one licentious attachment, one criminal passion,' are, by a train of consequences, drawn on to another, till the government of our minds is irrecoverably lost. The enticing and the odious passions are, in this respect, similar in their process; and though by different roads, conduct at last to the same issue. David, when he first beheld Bathsheba, did not plan the death

of Uriah. Haman was not delivered

up

all at once to the madness of revenge. His passions rose with the rising tide of prosperity ; and pride completed what prosperity began. What was originally no more than displeasure at Mordecai's disrespect, increased with every

invitation he received to the banquet of the Queen; till it impelled him to devise the slaughter of a whole nation, and ended in a degree of rage which confounded his reason, and hurried him to ruin. In this manner, every criminal passion, in its progress, swells and blackens; and what was at first a small cloud, such as the prophet's servant saw, no bigger than a man's hand rising from the sea, is soon found to carry the tempest in its womb.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »