the good; of men, whose advice you would ask or follow in any transaction which affected your temporal interest ? Does it consist of persons for whom you have the least esteem? No: but it is made up of the idle, the impertinent, and the profligate ; men whose understandings are commonly as contemptible, as their morals are depraved. The greatest number of sinners, though they neglect to imitate, will approve your conduct. For virtue is so lovely, that it forces applause even from them, who violate its duties. But if you do not reform, the whole world, including the despicable fragment of it which I have mentioned, will condemn you. The wicked will openly slander you, and even represent your crimes as worse than they are; and the good, if they do not openly blame you, will at least censure you in their hearts. Whence proceed the severe observations on abandoned characters which you sometimes hear? You do not find that the vicious are disposed to treat the faults of their erring brothers with compassion, and much less with commendation. I repeat it: you have no reason to be afraid of the world, when you are conscious that you are doing what is right; for though the world, through misinformation and prejudice, may condemn for a time what it ought not to condemn, yet in general its opinion becomes correct at last.

The most powerful cause, which prevents your reformation, is pride. You are ashamed to acknowledge that in


you are too obstinate to give up a mode of life, which you have once pursued. It is pride, and not a fear that God wants mercy, which detains so many persons in the way of sin. They are too haughty to bend their knees to the Father of mercies ; they disdain to ask forgiveness even at his hands. There

way ;

you are

a false

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

are persons who confidently pronounce, that they never
did anything which is wrong. They acknowledge that
human nature is frail; but they insinuate that they are
exempt from fault. In all altercations with their fellow
men, in all clashings of interest, they pertinaciously
maintain, contrary to justice, and sometimes to the con-
victions of their own consciences, that they have done
nothing, which they ought not to repeat in like circum-
stances. From such tempers we cannot expect repent-
ance. The obdurate heart must be softened, before it can
receive the impressions of virtue. You, whose souls are
exalted by pride, may glory in your dignity of character;
but your elevation is imaginary, and without any foun-
dation for its support. The tear of contrition, the bend-
ed knee, and the supplicating hands are more honorable
to the man who has sinned, than the disdainful eye and
the haughty brow.

Since then there are other causes, and not a fear that
the mercy of God is limited, which induce you to post-
pone your reformation, impute not your perseverance in
vice to this motive. The merciful God is ever ready to

you, if you will venture to return to him. Dare not to plead this excuse in justification of your delay. You

may abuse the mercy of God, presuming that it is not necessary to apply for it at present, and that it will be time enough to solicit it in a future day. But remember, that in the meanwhile you are adding to your wretchedness, that you are treasuring up accumulated wrath, and that you are rendering your conversion more and more difficult. The task of acquiring good habits must be performed at last, when it will be more laborious, and when you will have less strength than at present. Your pride must be conquered, your will must be

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

subdued, before you can be made happy. Should that future day, which you promise yourself, never arrive, should you be taken out of the world in the midst of your sins, what have you not to fear ? Unless God affords you another trial beyond the grave, you will be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. A possibility so serious ought to alarm you; it should warn you to flee from the wrath to come; and prevail on you to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

201 ed

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


The words now read are part of the speech of the wise

young man, Elihu, to Job. They are in the form of a question ; but when they are changed into an affirmation, they express this truth, that God regardeth not the rich more than the poor ; for they all are the work of his hands. This sentiment is the subject of the present discourse.

It is not my intention to utter a declamation against wealth ; nor shall I attempt to prove, that the poor are happier than the rich. Such an opinion probably would not be admitted by my auditors; and it is not maintained in the text.

All which it asserts is, that God does not regard the rich more than the poor ; which assertion implies only, that the one is regarded as much as the other. That wealth may be productive of happiness, that it is a blessing which descends from heaven is evident. God bestows it on man as the instrument of good; and the evil of it consists in its abuse. To say nothing

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

of the physical enjoyments, which riches enable a man to purchase; of the respect which they obtain ; of the rank, which they give him in society ; of the power, which they confer on him of indulging his taste for the fine arts and elegant literature; all which are innocent pleasures, when the love of them is confined within the bounds of moderation : to say nothing of these things, must not that condition be desirable, which affords to the patriot the means of increasing the strength and welfare of his country; to the encourager of learning, of endowing schools and colleges; to the philanthropist, of adding to the comforts and alleviating the miseries of the indigent; and to the Christian, of advancing the interests of religion, and erecting a temple to the Most High ?

Nor do I mean to assert, that there is no evil in poverty ; for poverty in the extreme must be allowed to be a serious calamity, which calls for the sympathy and be. nevolent aid of all, who are able to afford it relief. Hunger, and thirst, and cold, and nakedness, cannot by any charm of eloquence or poetry be converted into blessings. Like sickness, and the death of friends, they are afflictions, to which it is the duty of a Christian to submit with patience and pious resignation ; but it is not required of any one, that he should view them as pleasures. That God regards even this lowest class of the poor, that he has wise and gracious designs in the sufferings, which he inflicts on them, must be admitted, if we take into consideration, that there is a future, as well as a present, world; and that the Author of both worlds is a benevolent Being, who hates nothing, which he has made, who delights not in the misery of his creatures, but like a tender Father pities the wretched. I speak

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »