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result of so much wisdom, that the queen of Sheba was beyond measure astonished at the sight—Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Where the greatest wisdom was, there was found also the greatest order; and with it the greatest dignity and splendor. Yea, and our blessed Lord "himself, a greater than Solomon, with tie business of heaven always before him, was yet never regardless of order and ceconomy upon earth. He was exact in observing days and hours, times, places and persons, set apart for the services of the church. When he fed five thousand people at once, there was no tumult, no interruption, in so great a company. They were all exactly divided into parties of a certain number: what was to be distributed amongst them, was given first to the disciples, and from them to the multitude: and when they were all fed, the fragments were carefully gathered up, that nothing migh the lost or wasted. This was done by him, who could so easily supply all defects^ who could even create and multiply with his word/ for a pattern of attention and consideration to us, in the use we make of the things of this world. After the two examples of Solomon and our blessed Saviour, I can only say, that no man should pretend to be wise, or great, or good, or happy, whose life is not conducted with order and regularity.
All the lessons of the moralist may be reduced to this short one: "vice is evil, tor it makes us miserable; virtue is good, for it makes us happy." The truth of this is no where more apparent than in our present subject; when we compare together the man of extravagance, and the man of moderation. The Apostle admonishes us, to use this world, as ?wt abusing it. The happiness of man depends on his atten
VOL. IV. P
tion to this distinction: for every creature of God, all the elements of the world, all the gifts and riches of his Providence, all the senses of the body and the faculties of the mind; all are good, as they are used; all disappoint and torment us when they are abused. In this respect, beasts are in a safer way than men, being restrained by that instinctive wisdom, which hinders them from abusing what God hath given. They pass through life, without having the command of tire, or the use of gold and silver, which are so dangerous to man. They cannot burn their own stalls, nor bring themselves to beggary, by purchasing articles of luxury or vanity. From these dangers and temptations they are free: some things they cannot abu*se, and they are not disposed to abuse other things: but live contented within the bounds of temperance ; and their instinct is an infallible direction for their preservation. They rise when the light appears, and lie down to rest when it is departing; they eat what is natural, they decline what is hurtful, and observe such measures as secure to them the benefit of health and strength. But man is committed to his appetites, and is subject to the delusions of an imagination, in which causes and effects are falsely represented. He has no rule within him to direct him, no instinct to restrain him; and, if he is without religion, and the checks of prudence, he lives iu absurdity and uneasiness, and contradicts all the ends of Ins being, lie goes to a fire, not to warm himself, but to be burnt; he eats, not to be nourished, but to be bloated and surfeited; he drinks, not to be refreshed, but intoxicated; he sleeps, not for rest, but for sloth and stupidity: lie spends his wealth on what will destroy him, and with that unthinking profusion which turns it into poverty, in short, he abuses all the gifts of God, and all his creatures; and in so doing he turns the world upside down. This world ought to be a place of preparation for the blessedness of heaven; but he converts it into a place of disappointment and torment; as if it were intended only for au introduction to the kingdom of darkness, where man will associate with those evil spirits, who threw away the glory they possessed, and by reason of their own ill management found heaven itself insufficient to their happiness. *
Physicians have a way of curing distempers, by enquiring into their causes, and counteracting them by others of a contrary effect. The method is good, and often proves effectual: I would, therefore, recommend it iu the present case. We have seen the causes of prodigality; that it arises from intemperance, affectation of appearance, gaming, love of novelty, of fame, of pleasure.
To guard against intemperance, we are to consider as Christians, that we are not sent hither for a life of .pleasure, but into a world of danger, to be surrounded with enemies, and wrestle with principalities and powers, who are snatching from us the prizes of eternity. If men in contests of little peril, and for objects of little value, are temperate in all things; how shall we be intemperate, who are striving for the salvation of our souls?
As to the love of shew and finery, how ridiculous is all extravagance of dress, when we remember that clothing was not known, till the innocence of man, and with it his happiness, was lost: that, as sin hath brought death, all our splendid equipages must terminate in the hearse; and, that as we came naked into the world, we must go naked out of it. i his is the real state of man. The pride of life throws u disguise over it for a time, which death takes off and lays aside for the moths to devour.
Gaming will be no snare to those who avoid the company of gamesters, which hath very little to recommend it. This will be most easy to such persons as have learned to amuse themselves more rationally than they do, with reading, conversing, and following sucti works and pursuits as are worthy of a man. Gamesters often lose all by coveting all; which danger he will be sure to escape who covets nothing, but makes himself contented with what his diligence earns or God gives.
Curiosity ^s another cause of ruin. It is always seeking some new object: let us chuse that which is • good, and hold it fast, and we shall not want to change it. Buy the truth: it will not cost much; and we shall never wish to be selling it again. Great things may be had for little cost. A Bible, value five shillings, is of more use, and will do us more good, and, if we understand it, give us more pleasure, than all the other books that can be bought for five thousand pounds. A Christian, from the great objects he hath before him, will not want new things like a child; and, from the humble state of his mind, will not be tempted by the pride of purchasing.
The expensive love of fame and popularity will never do any hurt, where the approbation of the wise and virtuous, and the favour of God, is sought after. The praise which is paid for is very uncertain and deceitful, and may turn against us to-morrow. The praise of God is not to be obtained by all we can lay out;. not even by selling all we have, and giving it to the poor: but by an affectionate mind, performing small and cheap things, according to our ability, oq great motives. t
As to pleasure, the last, and perhaps the most universal cause of ruin to the bodies, souls, and fortunes of men; the surest method will be to seek that pleasure which is good, and then we shali not wish to destroy ourselves by that which is evil. The body hath its pleasures, and the mind hath its pleasures: the latter only are the pleasures of a man; and many of them are so cheap, that they may be had for nothing.
I told you of one, who ruined himself by beautifying a
seat which did not belong to him ; and you wondered at his folly: but the moral is better worth considering than the fact: for this is true of us all, when we waste our substance in forming scenes of grandeur and pleasure upon this earth; we are beautifying what does not belong to us, and must soon be left behind. There is a pride in being the owner of fine places; but the thoughtful mind may have great pleasure in them, without being the owner of them; and so far as God hath beautified the world, he hath done it for the common pleasure of us all : and the saint or the philosopher, who contemplates it as a scene which God hath adorned, partakes of a pleasure as sincere, perhaps as great, but certainly more pure and lasting, than the possessor who calls himself the owner of the soil. When he sees the wood towering upon the hill or hanging over the vale, his happiness does not depend on his being able to cut down the timber in it, but in admiring its verdure and rejoicing in its shade. The garden of pleasure is planted and adorned at a great expence; but, to the botanist, the world is his garden, and God is the planter of it. I might go on to shew you, from other like instances, how the greatest pleasures are frequently enjoyed by those who spend least upon them. Vicious pleasure is a deceitful harlot, who smiles at us and ruins us; virtuous pleasure is