Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

such as Eve was in the state of innocence, and there is
a paradise around her.
When we meditate on the miseries of prodigality, it
is natural to turn our eyes about us, and examine how
it is with us, as a nation, in respect of our oeco-
nomy, And here we cannot but discover, that it is
the error of all orders of people amongst us to live at
a more expensive rate, than can consist with the pros-
perity of themselves, or the public. The ill effects of
this are manifest and undeniable; and I see more than
it may be prudent to speak of. In the rich, it pro-
duces distress within doors, and the oppression of the
poor without: in the poor it produces hopeless debt,
and promotes profligacy of manners. If our nobility
and gentry, who form what is called the landed in-
terest, live upon too large a scale, they must find such
resources as they can. Their rents must be raised to
an immoderate height; which the farmer cannot pay,
unless corn is dear; and then, if any artificial scarcity
should take place annually, either by connivance, or by
trifling with the laws, and making a breach between
the constitution of the country, that must be a very
great evil; for if there is a just human right upon
earth, and which ought to be religiously attended to,
it is a right in the poor to have bread for their labour;
and so long as they have bread cheap, we shall never
hear any complaints from them: and this, I say, they
ought always to have, except when scarcity is from the
visitation of God. Why is there such a demand for
money, anyong the rich P is it to support two families
instead of one No; but that one samily may live at
the expence of two : that they may be able to lead a
dissipated, unprofitable, unhealthy life; which, while
it seems to benefit some individuals (among whom we
shall find the most useless members of the community)

[ocr errors]

hurts themselves and the public in general. Our metropolis is swollen to a monstrous size, like a body that is dropsical: and we may consider it. as a scale; whereby our expensiveness, as a people, is to be measured; for its magnitude has been rendered excessive, chiefly by a change of manners, in those who have exceeded the bounds of their oeconomy.

And the poor follow the rich according to their measure. Many of them have departed from a cheap and manly diet, to admit articles of luxury, on which they live worse for more money. The terms they are upon, under the present laws, and the ill management of parish officers, tempt them to idleness and profligacy. It would be a dangerous experiment to render the maintenance of the poor discretionary, at a time when all the rich are outliving themselves: but certainly it is of bad consequence, that the mamtenance is fixed by the laws; depending on which, many people make themselves poor by idleness and drunkenness, and apply for relief when they ought rather to be sent to the house of correction. When the high price of the necessaries of life brings a poor industrious family into difficulties, so that they are obliged, after all their labour, to live upon what credit they can get; harassed with small debts, and dejected at the sight of their creditors; then my heart bleeds for them: I wish. I was rich enough to relieve them all. I lament that there is not more ceconomy in their betters; and I pray that God will some time shew them a better world than this they now live in. When we compare the wants of many honest poor people, some under difficulties, some in distress, some in sorrow and lamentation, with the thousands which are squandered away for no one good purpose by the rich; a sum, perhaps, in the adventures of a single night, is hazarded and lost, sufficient to clear and set up an hundred poor families for life :*when we compare these things, what shall we say, hut that wickedness and folly united, cannot shew us a worse case? If he who gains the world, and loses his soul, he a fool, what is he who loses both! For here I am to warn all christian people, that God giveth to as, that we may be able to give to others. He is no respecter of persons; his ways are equal; his mercy is over all his works; and all men must account strictly to his justice. Then the prodigal, who hath tormented and ruined himself, will discover that he has also robbed the poor, and that the Almighty is their Avenger. Therefore, let the poor be frugal, that they may lessen the troubles of the present life; and let the rich be prudent, that they may be charitable; so shall they find the blessing of God upon themselves and their affairs in this world, and secure an interest in the world to come.

SERMON XV.

HOW IS IT THAT YE DO NOT DISCERN THIS TIME?

Luke xii. 56.

Vjod never calls upon us to discern the ways of his Providence, without giving us some signs, to direct and assist us in our judgment; who can no more comprehend the Divine counsels, without the Divine light, than we can behold the sun, without the assistance of his own rays.

When our blessed Lord required the people to examine, and judge for themselves, from the signs which attended his coming, he called them to a pleasant as well as a profitable enquiry: for as he then came tor save the world, all the signs given to confirm his mission, explained the end of it, and were signs of salvation. The blind received their sight, the ears of the deaf were opened, the sick were healed, the dead were raised. Even the heathen poets, according to the expectation they had of so desirable an event, represent it under the most beautiful imagery, as the restoration of a golden age, in which man should recover that purity and happiness, of which he had so long been deprived by the corruption of his nature. And when these things were about to be fulfilled, we hear the servants of God, who were better informed, Congratulating each other on the times they had lived to see; Blessed art thou among women, said Elizabeth to the holy Virgin: Blessed are your eyes, said the Lord to his disciples: many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them. The wise men of the east rejoiced with exceeding great joy, when they saw the star which directed them: the shepherds glorified and praised God for all the things which they had seen and heard: even the heavenly host uttered a song of triumph: the heavens rejoiced, and the e/irth was glad, when the Saviour was ushered into the world: all the signs of his birth, and of his ministry, were favourable and salutary, and inspired with hope and gladness all those who were wise enough to understand them.

Such were the sentiments of men and angels at his first appearance. His second coming, to judge the world, hath also its signs; but none of them are pleasant: they are all alarming, all terrible; all partaking of the natui'e of that tremendous event in which they are to terminate: earthquakes, famines, pestilences, distress of nations: insurrections and tumults; disturbing the world, as storms agitate the wide waters of the sea: these are the things we are to look for. As bodily death is preceded by symptoms of a deadly sort; by terrors and faintings, and pangs, and convulsions; we have every reason to expect, that the world's death will be brought on by sins and disorders, upon a great scale, and of a new species. And here it is worth observing, that while men, by their perverseness, are making the miseries of the time, they are marking its characters: but, in ignorance; they know not what they do.

« AnteriorContinuar »