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observe, whether they are not the sober, the industrious, and the virtuous, who visibly prosper in the world, and rise into reputation and influence ; observe whether the licentious and intemperate are not constantly humbled and checked by some dark reverse either in their health or their fortune; whether the irreligious and profligate are ever suffered to escape long, without being marked with infamy, and becoming objects of contempt. - I ask, to what cause this is to be ascribed, but to that operation of the hand of God which I am now calling you to consider ? Does it not obviously carry the marks of a plan, a system of things contrived and fore-ordained by Providence, for rewarding virtue, and punishing vice, in every form of its disorders ? - The Governour of the world need not for this purpose step from his throne, or put forth his hand from the clouds. With admirable wisdom he hath so ordered the train of human affairs, that, in their natural course, men's own wickedness shall reprove them, and their backslidings correct them; that they shall be made to eat the fruit of their doings, and to fall into the pit which themselves had digged.
These things have been always so apparent to observation, that though a man may have been seduced into irregular and evil courses during his life, yet, at the close of it, it seldom happens but he discerns their pernicious nature, and condemns himself for them. Never, perhaps, was there a father, who, after he had spent his days in idleness, dissipation, and luxury, did not, when dying, admonish the children whom he loved, to hold a more honourable course, to follow the paths of virtue, to fear God, and to fulfil properly the duties of their
station. - To yourselves, indeed, I can confidently appeal, whether what I am now saying, be not confirmed by your own testimony. After you have been guilty of some criminal acts, in the course of those riotous pleasures which you indulge, have you not, at certain times, felt the stings of remorse? Were you not obliged to confess to yourselves that a sad prospect of misery was opening before you, if such excesses were to continue ? Did you not hear an inward voice upbraiding you, for having sunk and degraded your character so far below that of many of your equals around you ?- My friends, what was this but the voice of God, speaking as the Governour of his creatures, within your heart; testifying loudly that your course of life was displeasing to him ; and warning you of punishinents that were to follow. If his displeasure against you is already begun to be testified, can you tell where it is to stop, or how long it may continue to pursue you, throughout future stages
of your existence ?
existence? Who knoweth the power of his wrath? - To this awful, this warning voice, will you not be persuaded reverently to listen? Impressed by the dread authority which it carries, shall
you not fall down on your knees before your Maker, imploring his mercy to pardon your past offences, and his grace to rectify your future way?
Such ought to be the effects of the consideration of God as the Governour of the world. It leads to thoughts of a very serious nature. When we regard the work of the Lord, and contemplate him as the Author of the universe, such contemplation prompts devotion. But when we consider the operation of his hands in providence, and contemplate him as the
Governour of mankind, such contemplation prompts humiliation before him for offences committed. The former addresses itself to the ingenuous sentiments that are left in the heart; and awakens a sense of our unworthiness, in neglecting the Author of nature amidst our riotous pleasures. The latter addresses itself to our regard for safety and happiness; and awakens fear and dread, from consciousness of the guilt we have contracted.
Hence springs up in every thoughtful mind, an anxious concern to avert the displeasure, and regain the favour of that Supreme Being to whom we are all subject. This, among unenlightened nations, gave rise to sacrifices, expiations, and all the rites of humble, though superstitious worship. Among nations, who have been instructed in true religion, sentiments of the same nature pave the way for prayer, repentance, faith, and all those duties, by means of which we may hope, through a Divine Mediator and Intercessor, to be reconciled to heaven. Natural and revealed religion here appear in concord. We behold the original dictates of the human heart laying a foundation for the glad reception of the comfortable tidings of the Gospel.
I have thus endeavoured to show in what manner, by regarding the work of the Lord, and considering the operation of his hands, we may prevent the dan'gers arising from a thoughtless indulgence of pleasure; we may be furnished with an antidote to the poison which is too often mixed in that intoxicating cup. - Human life is full of troubles. We are all tempted to alleviate them as much as we can, by freely enjoying the pleasurable moments which Pro
vidence thinks fit to allow us. Enjoy them we may: But, if we would enjoy them safely, and enjoy them long, let us temper them with the fear of God. As soon as this is forgotten and obliterated, the sound of the harp and the viol is changed into the signal of death. The Serpent comes forth from the roses where it had lain in ambush, and gives a fatal sting. Pleasure in moderation is the cordial, in excess it is the bane, of life.
On the PRESENCE of God in a FUTURE STATE.
PSALM Xvi. 11.
Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence
is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are plea
sures for evermore. THE apostle Peter, in a discourse which he held
to the Jews, applies this passage, in a mystical and prophetical sense, to the Messiah. * But, in its literal and primitive meaning, it expresses the exalted hopes by which the Psalmist David supported himself amidst the changes and revolutions, of which his life was full. By these hopes when flying before Saul, when driven from his throne, and persecuted by an unnatural son, he was enabled to preserve his virtue, and to maintain unshaken trust in God. - In that early age of the world, those explicit discoveries of a state of immortality, which we enjoy, had not yet been given to mankind. But though the Sun of righteousness was not arisen, the dawn had appeared of that glorious day which he was to introduce. Even in those ancient times, holy men, as the Apostle writes to the Hebrews, saw the promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them; and, confessing that they were strangers and
* Acts, ii, 25-28.