Imatges de pàgina
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The dangerous and destructive consequences which are generally attendant on them.

If we could set bounds to our appetites and pafsions; if we could say unto them, thus far shall ye go and no further; we might then perhaps enjoy our pleasures without guilt, and reflect on them without vexation: but when we are wandered into the delightful labyrinth of error, we are lost in the agreeable maze of folly, and every step we take but involves us in more danger, and leaves us in more perplexity. The allurements of vice steal infenfibly on our hearts, and lead us into the paths of fin and forrow. If our pleasures then can only be purchased at the dear expence of our innocence and virtue, will Reason permit us to indulge in, will Religion warrant our pursuit of them?

The inevitable consequence of guilt we know is remorse, forrow, and vexation; the wicked, as the prophet says, are like the troubled sea qehen it cannot rejt; there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. The worst of men may indeed find out methods of deceiving themfelves for a time, and lull their senses into a ihort and momentary tranquility. Mirth and gaiety may drown for a while the voice of conscience, but they will only make the return of it louder and more diffonant. Pleasure, that grand specific, is but a kind of opiate, which humbs the distempered foul into a short slumber, and then awakes it to horror and to mad. ness; to remove the cause is far beyond the powers of medicines so weak and insignificant. Nothing indeed can administer true and solid

satisfaction

fatisfaction to a mind that is stained with fin and blotted with corruption. The despiser of God's laws, the contemner of his word, the avowed diffolute and abandoned man, cannot possibly be happy,

But, to increase our sorrows and enhance our misfortune, it will become us to recollect, that not only that pleasure which arises from an indulgence in sensual gratifications, which partake of guilt and folly; but even those which have the sanction of reason to authorize, and the seal of innocence to protect them: even those also are chastised by danger, and em. bittered by disappointment. How often do our own truth and sincerity make us dupes to the artifice and diffimulation of others! and how often do we enter into the strictest friendships, the tendereft connections with such as milerably deceive and betray us? It is indeed the hard lot of mankind, that though the commission of evil is generally attended with pain and forrow, the avoidance of it is by no means certain to bring forth immediate joy or plea. fure. Vice doth for the most

part make us iniserable, but it is not always in the even of Virtue itself to make is happy,

But, thirdly and lastly, let us remember, That all the pleasures of human life are short, fleeting, and transitory.

Even if they could impart that true and folid happiness which it is not in their power to bestow, they would scarce be worthy our acceptance, because the pain of quitting would

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more than compensate the fatisfaction of enjoyment.

In our earlier years, when almost any thing will serve to amuse and divert, pleasure may trick herself for a time in borrowed charms, and allure the weak and thoughtless; but as we advance in the course, the generally loses her dazzling lustre, and betrays her decaying beauty.

Happiness may indeed with propriety be compared to a bird of passage, which visits us for a little time in the spring of life; but when our winter approaches, is glad to leave the joyless desart, and wander forth in search of other 1prings and a warmer climate.

Have we not seen whole families one day smiling in the bofom of plenty and prosperity, funk down and oppressed the next by fome unexpected stroke, and weeping in bitterness and anguish? Wealth in a moment changed to penury, health to fickness, and life to death?

Therefore, hear now this, as the prophet faith, thou that dwellest carelessly, thou that art given to pleasure, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else besides me; I shall not fit as a quidowneither Mall I know the loss of children; bit these tre'o thing's fhall come unto thee in a nument. In one day the loss of children and widowhood, they shall come upon thee.

Are we doomed to toil through the weari. fome pilgrimage of this life, without the least remillion from our cares, or the least refreshment on our journey! without one medicine to fotten the disease, or one cordial to sweeten

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the draught? Hath the hand of nature diffused her sweets on every side, and shall not man be suffered to gather them? Hath the God of nature formed us with appetites that are never to be indulged, and passions which are never to be gratified? Is there, in short, no pleasure without vanity, no enjoyment without vexation?

This doubtless is an abstinence which the beneficent Author of our being doth not require; this is a sacrifice, which a God of mercy cannot be well pleased with: doubtless there are pleasures, even in this life, which we may enjoy without transgressing his laws, or incurring his divine wrath.

Many and delightful are those pleasures which have the fančtion of reason to authorize, and the seal of innocence to protect them; many are those which flow from the endearing ties and social connections of human life. Na. ture, ever liberal and bounteous to those who walk within her bounds, pours forth her flowers with a lavish hand; they spring up on every side of us, adorn and beautify every short season of our existence, and if properly cultivated and improved, may be gathered even in the winter of our days.

There is always left for us the exalted pleafure of acting up to the dignity of our nature, and the happiness which ariseth from the uniform and steady practice of religion and virtue: pleasures which can never be called vanity, and joys which are never attended by vexati, on; pleasures which are not palled by satiety, and happiness that is not subject to decay. Въ

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Mirth indeed may boast her charms, and Luxury may glory in her allurements; but there is no mirth like the cheerful serenity of innocence, no luxury equal to the luxury of the benevolent heart, which overflows with generous sympathy, and pours itself forth in acts of mercy and beneficence. Virtue has a thousand charms which the sensualift hath never experienced, and a thousand beauties which he hath never contemplated; why then will the thoughtless libertine pursue the beaten road of folly and intemperance? why will he disgust himself with the repetition of the same tasteless pleasures, whilft there are joys which he hath never felt to allure, whilst there are sensations which he has never known to in. vite him; even such as his eye hath not seen, nor his ear heard; neither hath it entered into his heart to conceive them ?

Lastly, my brethren, there is always left for us the supreme pleasure of doing good, of lessening the calamities and removing the wants of our fellow-creatures,

To conclude:-Satisfied as we must be, that all human pleasures are ever vain, fruitless, and unworthy, that they are nothing, in short, but vanity, and vexation, let us quit them for something more durable and permanent.

God, of his infinite wifdom and goodness, hath purposely made all the enjoyments of this life, insufficient, dangerous, fleeting and transitory, that man, finding by fatal experi, ence that they are all unsatisfactory, might fix his heart where only true joys are to be found,

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