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and therefore he advises the Corinthians to S E R M* forgive him, and confirm their love to him, X. lest, fays he, such a one should be swallowed up of overmuch sorrow. But, the true reason why the sorrow duly limited, or rather the serious temper of mind, which accompanies calm and deliberate thoughts of mortality is in itself eligible, and actually chosen by wise men, rather than a thoughless levity of mind, and an uninterrupted merriment in sensual enjoyment, the reason, I say, is, because it is a good means of making the heart better: Better in a moral fense, that is, more virtuous and religious. It is acknowledged by us all, that there is a reality in religious virtue, and that it is absolutely necessary j but the people of a gay turn of mind will think and say, "we hope inno"cent mirth is not inconsistent with it," which indeed is true; but let them consider that the mirth which excludes serious thoughtfulnefs concerning religion and the future state, or indisposes them for it, is not innocent, though it should be free from what is in it's own nature vicious.
More particularly, the advantages of what I have shown to be the meaning of sorrow in the text, are, frji} that it naturally leads
ErM.us to an attentive meditation on God, and X. providence, and a future state. When orife, sedately, and with a solemn composure of mind, sets death before himself as the end of all men, and his own end, he cannot avoid looking up to the supreme directing cause of this event which is the great, wife, just, and good governor of the world, who having placed man upon earth for an appointed time, turns him again to destruction, and fays, return ye children of men, leave this stage to account for the several parts you have acted in it. Now, these sentiments entering deeply into the mind, every one sees, are productive of true piety, of reverence for the supreme Being, the irresistible ruler of all things, feat of offending him, confidence in his mercy as our only refuge, obedience to his laws, and submission to his will. From the fame fountain will proceed a dispassionate indifference to the things of this world, both what is called good and evil in it, or prosperity and adversity, since they are so transitory, -and the effect of them is confined to the .present state, they do not reach to the grave, where, asj^says, the weary are at reft; And
cease for ever, for, their purposes are broken S off", even the thoughts of their heartj^Æ xvii. H. and, verse 16, their desires anil„ hopes of that kind go down to the bars of the pit, where men however distinguished in life, rest together in the dust; in other words, this affecting consideration produces temperance, humility, and patience, virtues of great importance to a religious life, and the only solid foundation of true inward peace and serenity of mind.
„1 shall conclude with the following reflections. First, the great and ruling design which we should constantly pursue, and take our measures according to its direction, is the bettering of our hearts, or, the improving ourselves in wisdom and virtue. That our scheme of life may be consistent, and becoming such creatures as we are, it is necessary that some principal end should be always aimed at, and all our deliberations terminate in it. Now, what can be more worthy of our character as intelligent and moral agents, what more suitable to our profession, than this I have proposed? To abandon ourselves wholly to the pursuit of present pleasures, without any further view, is not to act either as men or chrifr tians j but to make it our chief study, and
SERM.the main intention which shall govern our X. counsels, and our course of action, that we 'may grow wiser and more virtuous, this is what our own minds will approve, and we profess to believe that the happy effects of it will abide with us for ever. And where is the man that must not acknowledge he needs to have his heart made better, that he is not yet perfect, neither has already attained that practical knowledge, and those measures of piety and goodness which he ought, and may arrive to?
Secondly, in order to so great and valuable a design, let us with firm resolution lay a necessary restraint on our senses and imagi-J nation, the most unfit counselors in fuchfah^ affair. Let us leanv to deny their most itHportunate cravings, to retrench their pleasures, to silence their tumults, and reconcile ourselves to what may appear to them ft^7 vere, particularly to inure our minds to the thoughts of death, and have our hearts often in the house of mourning.
Isaiah iii. 10.
Say ye to the Righteous, that it Jfoall be well with him.
£"\ CARCELY can one.imagine amoreSER calamitous and dismal state of things XI V^Jr in any nation or city, than the pro-*-""*" phet here describes, as actually the condition of Judah and Jerusalem, a state of extreme poverty, and even famine; the,fiay of bread and the stay of water was taken away; the foundations of civiL government were destroyed, and their defences against dangers, either from abroad, or from within, the defences both of wisdom and strength, utterly ceased, as well as those arts and improvements which adorn human life, and are the beauty and strength of society.