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SERMON world and its snares, when every pleasure
-'enchants with its smile, and every object
shines with the gloss of novelty ; beware of the seducing appearances which surround you, and recollect what others have suffered from the power of headstrong desire. If you allow any passion, even though it be esteemed innocent, to acquire an absolute ascendant, your inward peace will be impaired. But if any which has the taint of guilt, take early possession of your mind, you may date from that moment the ruin of your tranquillity. Nor with the season of youth does the peril end. To the impetuosity of youthful desire, succeed the more sober, but no less dangerous attachments of advancing years; when the passions which are connected with interest and ambition begin their reign, and too frequently extend their malignant influence, even over those periods of life which ought to be most tranquil. From the first to the last of man's abode on earth, the discipline must ; never be relaxed, of guarding the heart from the dominion of passion. Eager passions, and violent desires, were not made for man,
They exceed his sphere. They find no SERMON adequate objects on earth ; and of course can be productive of nothing but misery. The certain consequence of indulging them is, that there shall come an evil day, when the anguish of disappointment shall drive us to acknowledge, that all which we enjoy availeth us nothing.
You are not to imagine, that the warnings which I have given in this discourse, are applicable only to the case of such signal offenders as he was, of whom the Text treats. - Think not, as I am afraid too many do, that because your passions have not hurried you into atrocious deeds, they have therefore wrought no mischief, and have left no sting behind them. By a continued series of loose, though apparently trivial gratifications, the heart is often as thoroughly corrupted, as by the commission of any one of those enormous crimes which spring from great ambition, or great revenge. Habit gives the passions strength, while the absence of glaring guilt seemingly justifies them; and, unawakened by remorse, the sinner proceeds in his course, till he wax bold in guilt, and
SERMON become ripe for ruin. For by gradual
and latent steps, the destruction of our virtue advances. 'Did the evil unveil itself at the beginning ; did the storm which is to overthrow our peace, discover, as it rose, all its horrours, precautions would more frequently be taken against it. But we are imperceptibly betrayed; and from one licentious attachment, one criminal passion, are, by a train of consequences, drawn on to another, till the government of our minds is irrecoverably lost. The enticing and the odious passions are, in this respect, similar in their process; and, though by different roads, conduct at last to the same issue. David, when he first beheld Bathsheba, did not plan the death of Uriah. Haman was not delivered up all at once to the madness of revenge. His passions rose with the rising tide of prosperity; and pride completed what prosperity began. What was originally no more than displeasure at Mordecai's disrespect, increased with every invitation he received to the banquet of the Queen; till it impelled him to devise the slaughter of a whole nation, and ended in a degree of rage
which confounded his reason, and hurried SERMON him to ruin. In this manner, every cri- * minal passion, in its progress, swells and blackens; and what was at first a small cloud, such as the prophets servant saw, no bigger than a man's hand rising from the sea*, is soon found to carry the tempest in its womb.
* , Kings, xyiii, 44,
:: SERMON VIII.
On our IGNORANCE of Good and Evil
... in this Life.
Eccles. vi. 12.
Who knoweth what is good for man in this
life, all the days of his vain life, which be spendeth as a shadow ?
SERMON THE measure according to which
knowledge is dispensed to man, affords conspicuous proofs of divine wisdom. In many instances we clearly perceive, that either more or less would have proved detrimental to his state ; that entire ignorance would have deprived him of proper motives to action ; and that complete discovery would have raised him to a 'sphere too high for his present powers. He is, therefore, permitted to know only in part ; end to see through a glass, darkly. He is