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our felicity? Pride is the contrast of humility, as meanness is to dignity. It is not only a sin, but it is foolish and vain.
3d. From this subject we may see, that to work for God, is very honourable. They who are engaged in his service, are joining hands with angels. And how frequently do those exalted, invisible spirits, come down to earth, as messengers and servants to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Does not their still whispering voice, frequently inspire believers with alacrity in the service of God ? Do believers earnestly pray for the prosperity of Zion? How are hovering, attending angels solicitously waiting and watching for her interests? What a glorious work! what union of exertion with the powers above! Then the service of God is not only reasonable, but it is very honourable to be engaged in his work. Amen,
LITTLE THINGS BLIGHT THE FAIREST PROSPECTS OF MAN,
Solomon's Song, ii. 15. Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines : for our vines have tender
grapes. HIGHLY figurative is the book, from which these words are taken. It contains peculiar beauties, and invites the delicate and refined mind to a close search for their discovery and excellence. Christ and the church are the general subject of discourse; and the prospects and glory of both may be considered
Whatever is for the honour or dishonour of the church, has a direct bearing on the person, character, and offices of Christ. And although believers are primarily intended in the wonderful theme of Solomon's Song, yet the instruction should be improved by all mankind. The words of the text will admit of a varied and highly interesting explanation. The fox is an animal, noted for his cunning, craft, and mischievous tricks. Foxes used to injure the vines by trampling on them, and they destroyed the
of the vintage.
And little foxes would spoil the vines, which were loaded with clusters of tender grapes. Hence not only the old and cunning fox, but little foxes must be taken and secured, lest they destroy the labours of man. Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines : for our vines have tender grapes. This figurative expression teaches this simple truth, That little sins, little failings, and little things do sometimes blight the fairest prospects of human happiness, and destroy the fondest hopes and dearest privileges of man. The subject will apply
to rational, social, civil, and religious duties and prospects.
1st. The mind may be considered as a vine, capable of bringing forth tender grapes; but if little foxes are suffered to make it their den, and to run at large, they will spoil the vine, and destroy the tender and precious truit. If, instead of cherishing and cultivating virtuous principles and social affections, we suffer evii passions to predominate but in a small degree, how is inward peace destroyed. Then in vain may we look for fruit ripe and delicious, whilst nettles and thorns overspread the ground. Our minds, by proper culture, will yield the fruits of peace, encouragement, and animation; but if they are neglected, there will spring up the sad crops of uneasiness, discouragement, and dejection. It is for the want of a little reflection and consideration, that a fretful and restless disposition takes the place of a peaceable and quiet mind. If we guard the vine, shooting buds, pleasant flowers and fruit, which is sweet to the taste, will be produced in rich abundance. The pains or labour which we bestow in taking the little foxes, and preventing their pernicious tricks, will be amply repaid by a rich and glorious harvest. Then let anger and jealousy, hatred and envy, malice and revenge, be checked in their first risings; before they are fanned into a flame, intolerable to the soul. The happiness of every person depends very much on the proper government of himself, and the forming of such habits of reflection as tend to alleviate the common distresses of life. Some dispositions are naturally more generous, humane, and contented than others; but those, which are most unfavourable, by seasonable attention and proper management, may be rendered very agreeable. It is important to consider our acquaintances in a favourable point of view, and to reflect much on the varied blessings daily confered upon us.
And whilst we would guard against grossly sinful and
pernicious thoughts, let our meditations be such as our own consciences and our God will approve. May we keep our hearts with all diligence, that our minds may be fruitful vines, bringing forth the choicest grapes in the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
2d. Society may be considered as a wide spreading vine, whose rich clusters are liable to be destroyed by little foxes, unless they be taken and secured. So varied are the natural dispositions and pursuits of mankind, that mutual forbearance is essential to the peace and prosperity of community. Offences do not only arise from flagrant acts of injustice; but trivial faults or failings do sometimes occasion serious difficulties. Sometimes a trifling misunderstanding is the means of wide spread and lasting evils.
Little things do now and then cause divisions amongst young people, and draw forth foolish and hard sayings. Small faults or failings are suffered to interrupt their union, to break their peace, and mar all their enjoyments. Perhaps some one has made a michievous observation, and others for want of wisdom give it aggravated colourings, and let it rancour their breasts. Even imaginary evils do break the repose of some, and fill their hearts with disquietude. But it is truly pitiable, that youth should suffer such little foxes to blight their fairest prospects of present enjoyment, and beset their ways with unnecessary perplexities. A little discretion and reflection might preyent the mischiefs; and a little sympathy and benevolence would soothe the minds, and heal those differences, which may exist in the social circles of the young.
But shall trivial misdemeanours interrupt the harmony and make of no avail the social privileges of persons of age and experience? Shall the slightest provocations separate friends, cause bitter animosities, and sharp contentions to arise? Shall the spreading vine of society, its varied branches, and numerous clusters, be suffered to be overrun and den
stroyed by little foxes? Rather let them be taken, when young,
and their mischiefs prevented. Let not the middle aged suffer mere trifles to wound their own souls, and to give poignant an uish to others for the want of a little wisdom and faithfulness. Did a worm at the root of Jonah's gourd wither and blight its fairest prospects? How affecting and melancholy, if in like manner little foxes run at large, and consume the tender grapes, and spoil the various branches of the vine of society. Caution, in words and actions, is necessary; but especially heed should be taken in relating unpleasant reports, would whehold the vine green and flourishing A charitable spirit and words fitly spoken, administer sap and life to its withered and decaying branches. How varied and endearing the goodly prospects of social circles and civil life. Then may our actions say, Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines ; for our vines have tender grapes, which must flourish, and come to maturity.
3d. Parents may be considered as a vine ; and their offspring, its branches. Hence their mutual prospects may be represented by clusters of tender and choice grapes. But the ties of parental and filial affection are so interwoven into their very natures, we should hardly imagine, that small failings could be the means of very serious and lasting evils. Yet thousands of parents have seen their children brought to disgrace and ruin, and have accused themselves as being the authors, by their little indulgencies in those things and ways which their consciences could not call right. Some, who have not been taught obedience at an early age, have, in their youth, proved the shame and painful mortification of their parents by their disobedience and unblushing impudence. On the other hand, some parents, instead of governing their children, do only provoke them to wrath. Instead of making an unruly temper yield, they do but excite the most violent anger, and in