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formed; and man is cemented to man by every feeling of nature, and every tie of the heart. But, as we abuse and corrupt every thing, the blessing of society is often turned into a curse. To innocent cheerful. ness, a wanton levity succeeds, which banishes sober thought, and laughs at every thing that is serious. How often, in life, do we meet with the fons and daughters of folly, whose sole business is amusement; whose life is one continued scene of idleness and dis. sipation ; everlasting triflers, whose volatile minds are perpetually on the wing, as if they had been sent to this earth merely to play the fool ?
Not that I condemn cheerful society and innocent enjoyment. When God gives, let man enjoy. Let us drink from the fountain of joy, when we are sure there is no poison in the cup. But, my brethren, I must remind you, that but a narrow interval, often but a single step, lies between enjoyment and excess; between the voice of mirth, and the roar of riot ; between innocent entertainment, and a loose and licentious indulgence. Look back on your past life, and tell me, O man! when was it that yourself most strongly inclined to go astray? When was it that you found yourself seduced in thought, to wander from the paths of purity and uprightness ? Was it not in the hour of levity and indulgence ? Did not your heart betray you when your spirits were elevated; when you had banished sober recollection, and delivered yourself over to the delirium of excelfive joy? Here then is the advantage of seriousness and reverence. It places a guard upon the heart. It keeps the world and its temptations at a due distance. It consecrates the mind in which it resides, as
with the presence of the Deity. A heart thus im. pressed with the fear of God will not so readily be afsaulted by the tempter ; nor so easily yield to the temptation. An impure and profane guest will hard. ly venture upon hallowed ground, or dare to violate the fanctity of a temple. The presence of a good man is a check upon the turbulence and uproar of the giddy ; they are inspired with a reverence for his character; they feel how awful goodness is, and teftrain themselves from those indecent levities to which they are accustomed. If a regard for man has such influence upon the mind, what may the fear of God be supposed to have? The man who is possesed of this holy fear, sets the Lord always before him. He enters beforehand into heaven, and dwells in the presence of God. And canst thou, O man! defile the purity of heaven with the deeds of hell ? Darest thou violate the law in the presence of the Lawgiver ? Darest thou fin in the very face of thy Maker? Wilt thou make the Judge of all the earth the witness of thy wicked actions, the beholder of thy looie moments ? No. In such a presence thou wilt banish all impure thoughts, and all unhallowed affections, like Moses at the burning bush, because the place whereon thou standast is holy ground.
hus, of itself, this serious frame of mind is the guardian and the protector of religion; and it also associates with other virtues which belong to the Christian character. Those who are acquainted with the nature of the mind, know the influence and extent of association upon human life and manners. It is not a single quality that marks and characterizes a man; the virtues and the vices come in a train ; it is the temper of the soul which is all in all in the conduct of human life. But to the temper and disposition here recommended, the most respectable attributes of the mind, and the most amiable qualities of the heart, are allied and peculiar.
In the first place, this serious frame of mind cherishes those higher virtues of the soul, which, in the emphatic language of the Sacred Scripture, are called “ the armour of God." In the folemn silence of the mind are formed those great resolutions which decide the fate of men ; that magnanimity which rises superior to the events of life; that fortitude which bears up under the pressure of aflliction ; and that Christian heroism, which, neither moved with the threatenings of pain, nor with the blandishments of pleasure, holds on rejoicing to the end; are all of them but expressions of this character, varied and dia versified according to the occurrences of life. They are the light, the giddy, and the volatile, who are the sport of caprice, or the prey of passion. Persons of such a character have no permanent principle of action; they are the finners or the saints of accident; and assume every folly to which the fashion of the world gives its fan&ion. Very different is the seri. ous man who communes with his own heart. He follows not the multitude. He possesses that strenuous and steady mind, which walks by its own light, which holds its purpose to the last; that self-deciding spirit which is prepared to act, to suffer, or to die, as duty requires. Being thus, by the grace of God, the master of his own mind, he is above the world; and through prosperity or adversity, through life or death, goes forth conquering and to conquer. He is not guided by events like the giddy multitude, who fall into any form by the fortuitous concourse of accidents; but, imitating the Providence of Heaven, he takes a direction of events, and makes the course of human affairs bend to his purposes, and terminate in his honor.
Further, this temper and disposition is no less favourable to the milder virtues of humanity. A serious mind is the companion of a feeling heart. It is akin to that virtuous sensibility, from which all the sympathetic emotions are derived; and readily associates with those good affections which constitute the most amiable part of our nature. The thoughtless and the dissipated are unconcerned spectators of human happiness or misery; they mar not their enjoyments by rushing into foreign wo; and are never so mach in earnest, as to give a tear to the distresses of mankind. “They lie upon beds of ivory,” saith the Prophet; “they stretch themselves upon their couch
es; they chant to the sound of the viol; and they “ anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but " they are not grieved for the affliction of their breth“ .” But he who feareth God will also regard man. The hour of incense has always been the hour of almsgiving. Whilst the heart is lifted up in devotion to God, the hands will be stretched out in beneficence to man. Think not, my friends, that these are duties of inferior importance, and not proper to be called up to your remembrance upon this occasion. The ordinance which you are soon to celebrate, is the communion of saints, and the feast of love. The cup of blessing which we bless, faith the Apoftle, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ? As we are all partakers of that one bread, so by that participation, we being many, become one body. Being thus the members of one body, the great law follows, which he afterwards lays down, that if one member suffers, all the members should suffer with it; and if one member rejoices, all the members should rejoice.
The second thing proposed, was to thew you the suitableness of this temper of mind to our present Itate.
And, in the first place, it is suited to that dark and uncertain state of being in which we now live. Human life is not formed to answer those high expectations, which, in the era of youth and imagination, we are apt to entertain. When we first set out in life, we bid defiance to the evil day; we indulge ourselves in dreams and visions of romantic bliss; and fondly lay the scene of perfect and uninterrupted happiness for the time to come. But experience foon undeceives us. We awake, and find that it was but a dream. We make but few steps in life, without finding the world to be a turbulent scene; we foon experience the changes that await us, and feel the thorns of the wilderness wherein we dwell. Our hopes are frequently blasted in the bud; our designs are defeated in the very moment of expectation, and we meet with sorrow, and vexation, and disappointment, on all hands. There are lives beside our own, in which we are deeply interested ; lives in which our happiness is placed, and on which our hopes depend. Just when we have laid a plan of happy life ; when, after the experience of years, we