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tion from the affairs, or total contempt of the amusements of life. But it inspires humility. It enforces dependence on divine aid ; and calls forth the voice of supplication to Heaven. In a situation so critical, and where interests so important are at stake, every reasonable person must confess, that seriousness ought to temper rejoicing Were there in human life
fixed point of stability and rest, attainable by man; could we, at any one moment, assure ourselves that there remained no latent source of danger, either to our temporal or our spiritual state; then I admit we might lay trembling aside, and rejoice in full security. But, alas! No such safe station, no such moment of confidence, is allowed to man during his warfare on earth. Vicissitudes of good and evil, of trials and consolations, fill up his life. The best intentioned are sometimes betrayed into crimes; the most prudent overwhelmed with misfortunes. The world is like a wheel, incessantly revolving, on which human things alternately rise and fall. What is past of our life has been a chequered scene. On its remaining periods, uncertainty and darkness rest.
Futurity is an unknown region, into which no man can look forward without awe, because he cannot tell what forms of danger or trial may meet him there. This we know well, that in every period of our life, the path of happiness shall be found steep and arduous; but swift and easy the descent to ruin. What, with much exertion of care and vigilance, we had built up, one unwary action may, in an evil hour, overthrow. The props of human confidence are, in general, insecure. The sphere of human pleasures is narrow.
While we form schemes for strengthening the one, and for enlarging the other, death, meanwhile, advances. Life, with a swift though insensible course, glides away; and, like a river which undermines its banks, gradually impairs our state, Year after year steals something from
till the decaying fabric totter of itself, and crumble at length into dust. So that, whether we consider life or death, time or eternity, all things appear to concur in giving to man the admonition of the text, Rejoice with tremhling
I have now shewn, in what respects religion both promotes joy, and inspires seriousness. It places us in the most favourable situation, which human life affords, for joy ; and it gives us every assistance, for relishing that joy. It renders it our duty to cultivate the satisfaction which it yields. It demands a cheerful spirit, in order to ascertain the sincerity of our principles, and to confirm us in good practice.
At the same time the joy which it inspires, is tempered with fear by the genius of religion itself; by the danger to which unguarded joy would expose us ; and by the impropriety of indulging it, in a situation so mixed as the present. The trembling which is here enjoined, is not to be understood as signifying a pusillanimous dejection. It imports no more than that caution and sobriety, which prudence dictates, as belonging to our state. By connecting such trembling with our joy, religion means to recommend to us a cheerful but a composed spirit, equally remote from the humiliating depression of fear, and the exulting levity of joy. Always to rejoice, is to be a fool. Always to tremble is to be a slave. It is a modest cheerfulness, a chastened joy, a manly seriousness, which becomes the servant of God.
But is this, it may perhaps be said, the whole amount of that boasted satisfaction which religion bestows? Is this all the compensation which it makes, for those sacrifices it exacts ? Are not the terms which vice holds out far more enticing, when it permits us to gratify every desire; and in return for our surmounting the timorous scruples of conscience, pro