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Full text of "Sermons on the dignity of man : and the value of the objects principally relating to human happiness"


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ON THE 



DIGNITY OF MAN, 



AND 



THE VALUE OF THE OBJECTS PRINCIPALLY RELATING tCr 

HUMAN HAPPINESS. 

FROM THE GERMAN OF THE LATE 

REV. GEORGE JOACHIM ZOLLIKOFER, 

«»^INISTER OF THE REFORMED CONGREGATION AT LEI?SICKV 



BT THE REVEREND 

WILLIAM TOOKE, F. R. §, 




VOLUME II. 



FIRST AMERICAN EDITION, 



Vv^GRCESTER : 

PRINTEP BY THOMAS & STURTEVJNT, 

Foil ISAIAH THOMAS, Jun. 

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CONTENTS 

OF THE 

SECOND VOLUME, 

SERMON XXVL 
The Value of Social and Public Worship, 

-?5ALM xxvii. 4.- One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I v/ilt 

require : Even that I. may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days 
of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit his tem- 
ple. -«_-„-__ .---- Page 1 

SERMON XXVil. 
The Value of Solitude^ 

Mark i. i«. — And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness, j 7 

SERMON XXVIIL 

The Value of Social Life. 

Epmes. v. 15, 16. — See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as 
wife, redeeming the time because the days are evil. = --,-.- 32 

SERMON XXIX. 

The Value ef Social Life, continued, 

E?HES. V. 15, i6.— See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise 
redeeming the time, because the days are evil. ----»,. ^y 

SERMON XXX. 

The Value of a Busy Life, 

Rom, xii. 1 1 .—Not slothful in business, -------..gj 



iv CONTENTS, 

SERMON XXXI. 

7116 Value of Commerce, 

IsAiAK xxiii. 8. — Whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are tne 
honorable of the earth. -_--»-_--=-- __8» 

SERMON XXXII. 

The Value of a Country Life, or the edifying So- 
journ in the Country. 

Math. xiv. 13.— -Jesus departed thence into a desert place apart. - - 9S 

SERMON XXXIII. 

The Value of Domestic Happiness. 

Math. xxL 17.'— And he left them, and went out of the city ipto Bethany, 
and he lodged there. -------.------- i©6 

SERMON XXXIV. 

The Value of Friendship o 

f «.GV= xviii. 24.-— There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. % sj 

SERMON XXXVo 
The Value of Civil and Religious Liberty, 

1 (Cor. vii. 23.?— Be not ye the servant of men. ------- j^a 

SERMON XXXVL 

The Value of Learnings 

c Kings x. 8- — Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which 
stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom, - - - 163 

SERMON XXXVII. 

The Value of more enlightened Thnes, 

SfKK. r. 8.— Now are yoti light in the Lord ; walk as children of light. iSg 



€ O N. T E N T'S. ^ 

SERMON XXXVIII. 
The Value of AMiciions and Tribulations^ 

Hebrews xii. 13. • — ^^■■J'o chastening for the present seeireth to be jovons, but 
greivous : Nevertheless,' afterwards it y^eldtth die peaceable fruit cf right- 
eousaess unto them which are exercised thereby. - ~ - _ _ . 205 

SERMON XXXIX, 
The Value of a ^cod Reputation. 

?RPVERBS xxii. 1. — A good name is rather to be. chosen than great riches, 
and loving favor rather than silver or gold. -----_,, 2*4 

SERMON XL. 
Of Coiwersion from a had Course of Life, 

Luke xv. 18, 19. — I will arise and go to my father, and wiil say unto him, 
Father, I have sinsied against heaven, and before thee, and am no more wor- 
thy to be called thy son ; make ine as one of thy hired servants. - - 242 

SERMON XLL 
The Blessedness, of Beneficence, 

Acts xx. 35. — It is more blessed to give than to receive. - - - _ 260 

SERMON XLII. 

The Value of Human Happiness itself 

P«ALM civ. 24. — The earth is full of thy riches. -____„ 28© 

SERMON XI.III. 

Settlement of our Notions concerning Human Hap- 
piness. 

Luke xii. 15. — A man's life consjstcth not in the abundance of the things 
■which he possesseth, --------->..,_.. o^g 



▼i CONTENTS. 

SERMON XLIV. 

The Difference between Prosperity and Hat>piness. 

P«.ov. vi. 20, 2r, 22. — My son, attend to my words ; incline thine ear unt« 
my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes ; keep them in the midst 
of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to 
all their flesh. --_- = _-_-__. _.«_2ij 

SERMON XLV. 

Vieni) of the Sources of Human Happiness* 

Psalm xxxiv. 8. — Oh taste and see how gracious the Lord is ! - - 32,^ 

SERMON XL VI. 

The Christian Doctrine concerning Happiness. 

Math, v, 2, 3, 4 — 10. — And he opened his mouth and taught thent, saying. 
Blessed are the poor in spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bles- 
sed are they that mourn ; f©r they shall be comforted. Blessed are the 
meek ; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger 
and thirst after righteousness ; for they thall be filled. Blessed are the mer- 
ciful ; for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they 
shall see God . Blessed are the peace makers ; for they shall be called the 
children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' 
wke ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ....'^•.. 33S 

SERMON XL VII, 

Arguments against Vanity. 

Phiiipp. ii. 3— Let nothing be done through vain glory. - -- - 353 

SERMON XL VIII. 

Rules for rightly appreciating the Value of Things. 

Psalm iv. 6.— There be many that say, Who will shew us any good ? 371 

SERMON XLIX. 

The Vanity of all Earthly Things. 

EcLEs. i. 2. — Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is 
vanity. - „«---- -- -------- 385 



e O N T E N T S, Vii 

SERMON L. 

Of the practical Character of Jesus Christ. 

I*HiLiPr. ii. 5.— Let this mind be in you which was in also Christ Jesus. 405 

SERMON LI. 

Of the Imitation of the Example of Jesus. 

?HiLiPf.ii. 5.— 'List this mind be in you, which was also ia Christ j«sus. 42I 

SERMON LIL 
Of the Pastoral Oflce, 

EfH ES I ANi iv. II,— Ks gave soias—paeto;sssd teachers. - - » - 4^^ 



SERM'ON XXVL 
The Value of Social and Public PForshtp. 



GOD, to meditate on thee, to worship thee, 
to have communion with thee, how honorable, how blessed an 
employment ! How far it exalts us above the other inhabi- 
tants of the dust ! How near it brings us to thy worshippers in 
heaven,and to thee thyself, who art all in all, both to them and 
to us ! Yes, in meditating on thee, we meditate on all that 
is good, that is great, that is exalted, that is venerable and 
amiable ! In praying to thee, we pray to the creator and sov- 
ereign of the universe, the wise and benign ruler,the gracious 
father, the great benefactor of us and of all mankind I In 
having communion with thee, we have communion with the 
eternal, inexhaustible source of all light, of all life^ ©f all hap- 
piness ! In employing ourselves in thy service, we feel 
the whole dignity of the man and of the christian ; feel 
that we are thy offspring, thy children, that we are capa- 
ble of high employments, and are ordained by thee for such i 
O might then the sentiment of thee and of communion with 
thee, ever be. and procure to us what it may and should be 
and procure to mankind and to christians i Oh might 
we never enter the place which is consecrated to this 
divine employment without reverence, and never leave it 
without a blessing ! Let us, then, O Omnipresent, let us here 
ever intimately feel thy presence, and ever powerfully experi= 
ence the influences of thy holy spirit ! Let light and life, and 
energy and comfort flowdow^n upon us from thy throne, when 
in the sentiment of our manifold and urgent necessities, we 
here invoke thee for supplies of thy bounty. Let it be our 
constant aim in assembling here in thy presence, ever more 
Vol, IL B 



2 The Falue of Social and Public Worship.' 

plamly and Gonvincingly to discern the truth, to confirm our- 
selves in the belief in thee and in thy son Jesus, ever to ad°' 
vance in piety and goodness^dn content and Batisfaction, tO' 
consolidate our hopes^to bring us nearer to our vocation, and 
to become eonstaiitly moi'e capable of the superior life ; and:' 
let this be the fruit w^e shall reap from our attendance in this 
place 1 Teach us, to that end, ever to gain juster concep- 
tions of the value of social and public worship, ever higher 
to prize it ; and ever to make a more faithful application o£ 
it. Bless even now our reflections on these important ob' 
jects, and hearken to our prayer, through Jesus Christ, in 
whose name we farther address thee, saying : Our fa- 
ther. Sec, 



PSALM xxvii. 4, 

07ie thing have I deftrei of the Lord^ which I will require : Even that I may dwelt 
in the houfe of the the Lord all the days of my lifc^ to hth^ld thefair beauty oj 
the Lord^ arid to vi/it his tempkc 

SOCIAL and public worship j as employ mg 
botK the liiitid- and the heart of man, and" that with 
the important doctrines of religion, is a matter en- 
tirely peculiar to dhristianity. Every religion had its 
rites, its solemnities, its festivals ; all of them assem- 
bled their confessors at stated times, and on certain 
occasions, in their temples and at the altars of their 
gods ; all of them spread fear and terror, more or 
less, about them; all of them employed and dazzled 
the senses of tHeir worshippers witS more or less pomp 
arid magnificence. But in none of them was sound 
and wholesome nourishment administered to the 
mind and heart of thinking and sentimental persons i 
none provided for their information and instruction, 
for their moral improvement, for their comfort and 
repose. No where was man made acquainted with 
his end and origin, informed of his duties, and 
guided in hi^ conduct ; no where taught the rational 



Ths Faluc of Social and Public fVorship. S 

worship and adoration of God ; no where incited to 
virtue and directed to happinesSo All this is the 
peculiar bbast of the religion of Jesus. And how 
great are iipt these advantages ! Who can estimate 
all the good that has accrued from them, and still 
accrues ? — I ani sensible that public and congrega^ 
tional worship, even where it is the least perverted 
from its proper object, is not always prodiietive of 
what it might effect. It is administered by men ; 
and who knows not how frequently the best and 
most excellent institutions of creatures, so liable to 
fall into error, may be misapplied ? And as it is 
dispensed by men, so it is likewise attended and used 
by men ; and how easily do we not lose sight of the 
true end of things, and make them adrninister to out 
indolence or our passions ! But is it reasonable 
to deny any thing its value, because of eventual 
abuse ? No ; public and social w^orship is undoubt« 
edly of very great value, belt as frequently and as 
shamefully abused as it may. It is, and will ever re- 
main an excellent means of instruction, of improve- 
iiient, of comfort, of awakening and exercising 
devotidii and piety, of serving the caiise of hu- 
manity, and of promoting^ universal and brotherly 
love. And, if the psalmist in our text could 
jusdy say, '^One thing hare I desired of the 
Lord, which I will require i Even that I may dwell 
in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to 
behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to Visit his 
temple," we. Christians, have greater^ far greater 
reason to prize our national, established, social wor- 
ship, and to frequent it with inward satisfaction and 
delight! Of this I heartily hope to convince you in 
iny present discourse^ To this end, let me examine 
with you, the value of social and public worship. 
But let us, in the research, proceed with the greater 
caution and impartiality j vs we are very liable to be 



4 The Value of Social and Public Worship, 

misled in it by superstition and prejudice. Let us, 
therefore, at the same time see, as well, wherein the 
value of worship cannot consist, as likewise w^herein it 
actually does consist ; or, as well what it cannot be and 
cannot perform, as what it really is and does aftbrd. 

Social and pilblic worship, as w^ell as all worship 
in general^ has no value whatever as an ultimate 
^wd^ but only as a means to some higher purpose* 
As eating and drinking, bodily motion and exercise^ 
are not ends, but means of preserving our terrestrial 
life, of estal3lishing our health, and of improving 
our faculties ; so likewise instruction and reflectioHj, 
all w^orship and exercises of piety, are no more than 
means of nourishing our spirit, of inspiring us with 
desire and ability to goodness, and thereby of pro- 
moting our perfection and happiness. The same 
holds good of private worship, and of all that we 
observe and practise in divine service. We there 
worship God;, not for the sake of worshipping him ; 
for he wants not our homage and our service ; but 
we worship him, from the deep and lively sense we 
h^ve of his greatness and perfection, and our de- 
pendance upon him^ to invigorate every pious sen- 
timent, to vanquish every turbulent passion, to dis- 
miss every corroding care, and to increase our readi* 
ness and aptitude to do what is just and good, what 
is generous and great. We there pray, not for the 
sake of praying '^ ^ov God knows what we w^ant, 
and does continually what is best ; But we pray, for 
the sake of elevating our mind, of purifying and 
composing our heart, and of rendering ourselves fitter 
for the mercy of God, and more susceptible of the 
influence of his spirit. We allow ourselves to be 
instructed there in our duties, in the design of our 
existence, and in the will of the Most High, not for 
the sake of being instructed in these matters : But 
that we may the better fulfil our duties, more cer- 
tainly answer the end of our being, ^ and more faith- 



The Value of Social and Public Worship. 5 

fully comply with the will of our Lord. We there 
reflect upon the doctrines of religion and christianitj, 
not for the sake of reflecting on them, but to expe- 
rience their force to our tranquillity and amendment 
by these reflections. We there renew our most sa- 
cred resolves, our most solemn vows, not so much 
for the sake of renewing them, as to imprint them 
the deeper in our hearts, and to reduce them to 
practice with more fervor and zeal. We there 
make a public profession of our belief and our hope, 
not for the sake of making this profession, but there- 
by to confirm ourselves in that faivh, to strengthen 
our confidence in those promises, and to live more 
conformably to them both. And thus are the several 
acts of worship not ends but means. We use them, 
not on their own account, but for the good effects and 
consequences they may and ought to have. In these, 
and not in those, consists all the value of worship. 
It possesses this value, secondly, only in so far as 
it is rational, so far as it is founded on truth, on just 
conceptions of God and his will and our relations 
towardfi him, and on such dispositions as are con- 
sonant to these conceptions ; only in so far as it em- 
ploys the understanding and the heart of the wor- 
shipper in a manner worthy of his nature, and the 
ends of his creation. The worship of the christian 
must be rational, his adoration of God must be in 
spirit and in truth. A worship which only occupies 
and amuses the senses, which dazzles or beguiles by 
art and ornament, by pomp and sound, which con- 
sists in empty ceremonies and rites, affords nothing 
for the mind to think on, and communicates no true, 
no generous, no noble feelings to the heart ; such a 
worship can possess no higher value than other the-^ 
atrical exhibitions, which attract the ej^es of the muL 
titude, and furnish them with entertainment or dis- 
traction. Still less real value does a superstitious 



6 The Value of Social and Fublic tTorship. 

worship possess, which gives us low and false con^ 
ceptions of the deity ; which spreads servile fears 
and slavish terror among its followers ; conceals the 
Father of mankind from their sight, and substitutes 
in his place an austere and irnplacable despot, an in» 
exorablc judge ; at the same time flattering their 
passions, emancipating them from indispensable 
duties, presenting them with the palhatives of false 
repose, and attributing a force and efficacy to mere 
outward actions and bodily exercises, which they 
have not and cannot have. It is written, *' In vain 
do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the 
commandments of meuo-' 

As littie advantage, thirdly, can we derive from 
our worship, if we have not regard to the disposition 
of mind in which we frequent it, the views we have 
therein, and the use to which we apply it. It is not 
our attendance on its offices, but the solid purport pf 
this attendance, that renders it agreeable to God, 
and a source of blessings to ourselves. Acts of de- 
votion do not operate upon us like the incantations 
of magic, without our p-articipation or concurrence ; 
they improve us neither against our will, nor without 
our cooperation ; they are performed in the presence 
of God, the searcher of hearts ; and he is not to be 
imposed on by outv/ard appearance, like men. No^ 
only the consciousness an«i the consideration, the 
earnestness and the reflection, with which we per- 
form our devotions ; only rei-erence for God, love 
towards him, .delight and confidence in him ; the 
desire to please and. to resemble him; only positive 
purposes of becorning wiser ancj better ; only these 
can confer any real value on our acts of devotion. 

Hence, therefore, it follows, that our worship can 
neither repair our former transgressions, nor supply 
the place of a virtuous and pious life, nor procure 
us particular blessings and testimonies of favor 
from God 3, without re^^ard to its consequences and 



The Value of Social and PubUc Worship. 7 

,<fFects. He that expects these from divine worship^ 
ascribes to it a power which it does not possess ; he 
therefore forms superstitious notions both of its des- 
tination and its value. To such an one is applica- 
ble the address of God by the proplieto " To what 
purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices untO:me?*'^ 
To what purpose is the hypocritical reverence you 
shew me ? Your worship is disagreeable to me, I 
am weary to bear it. ** And when ye spread forth 
" your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you : Yea, 
when ye make many prayers, I v/ill not hear ; your 
hands are full of blood ;" your hearts and your lives 
arc contaminated with vice* No, neither pray- 
ing, nor singing, nor communicating, nor keeping 
festivals ; only actual amendment, only restitution 
pf property unjustly obtained, only earnest endeavors 
t-o counteract every kind of depravity, and to correct 
it as much as possibly, only this can efface our sins, 
and remove their pernicious efiects from ourselves 
and from others. Only redoubled industry in virtue 
and piety can in some degree compensate for the 
negligence we have hitherto shewn. Only inno- 
cency ,oi heart ^nd probity of life, only uprightness 
and integrity, can render us capable of the favor 
of God, and pa^tabers of his distinguished blessings. 
Take heed then, my pious hearers, of expecting 
from worship in general, and from public and sociaj 
worship in particular, more than it is able to per- 
form, and of thus ascribing to it a value which it 
does not possess. Learn rather its true, its peculiar 
worth, and strive ever more fully to enjoy the 
benefits it is able effectually to procure you. 
Wherein then consists this worth ? What are the 
benefits it procures us ? Instruction, amendment? 
serenity and comfort, the incitement and the exer= 
cise of devotion, the promotion of humanity, and 
universal brotherly love : This is what we may r^a- 

4 



8 7hs Value of Social and Public Worship, 

sonably expect from public and social worship. 
And what a great and inestimable value must not 
this confer upon it! 

First then instruction, and that on the most im- 
poitant matters, matters of the highest concern to 
all mankind ; instruction concerning God, his willj 
our own destination, our duties, and the M^ay to 
happiness ; instruction on what God is in regard to 
us, and what we are in respect to hirn, on what 
we at present are, and ^vhat we shall hereafter be ; 
instruction in all that can captivate the curiosity of 
man and most agreeably employ both his under- 
standing and his heart. Let these instructions be as 
defective as they may ; let them be never so much 
mingled with error; yet how much is not the 
knowledge of truth and the conviction of truth, 
considered at large, promoted thereby 1 How much 
light is thus diffused amongst all classes and condi- 
tions of men ! What incitement to reflection, what 
diversified exercise does it not occasion to the mental 
powers ! One person is reminded of what he al- 
ready knew and believed, and will thus be con« 
firmed in his knowledge and faith ; another Vvill 
clearly perceive what was totally concealed from him 
before, or only floated about in the obscurer recesses 
of his mind ; a third Vvull be rendered attentive to 
some doctrine of importance, feel the full weight of 
its truth, and be led to think it over again ; a fourth 
views some truth he had already discovered in a 
clearer light, on a different side, in other and more 
various connexions, and thus acquires a plainer and 
completer knowledge of it ; another combines it 
with his habitual way of thinking, learns to apply it 
more pointedly to himself, and thus to turn it to the 
best accountc One is freed from a doubt, and an- 
other from an error. A careless and inattentive per- 
son is brought to reflect, and indifi'erence is quick- 
ened into concern. At least some sort of impression 



The Fcdue of Social and Public ^Forship, 9 

must be made of God, of. religion, of duty and vir^ 
tue, of our future expectations, and the ultimate 
end of man. And how is it possible for impressionr> 
so frequently retouched and repaired to be totally 
obliterated and effaced? Certainly no truth, no 
sound and wholesome doctrine delivered with energy 
can be delivered abselutely in vain. They are grains 
of wheat strewn by the servants of the Lord of the 
church under his own inspection, which will spring 
up, some sooner, and others later, and produce fruit, 
more or less, according to the richness ©f the soil 
into which they are cast ; and at the day of the har^ 
vest it will be seen how w^eil founded v^'ere the 
hopes of the sower, and how prolific the seed he 
sovved. 

Encouragement and incitement to duty and virtue 
is another advantage we may expect from our at^ 
tendance on divine worship, and which undoubtedly 
gives it a great value. And in how many various 
ways are we not there incited and encouraged to 
duty and to virtue ! The commands, the promises, 
the denunciations of God ; the benefits and example 
of Jesus ; the fitness and reasonableness of duty ; the 
beauty, the amiableness, the necessity of virtue ; the 
infamy and pernicious effects'of vice ; the dignity of 
man, and the dignity of the christian ; joyful and ter^ 
rifying views of the present and the future life; the 
inward sentiment of what is is right and good ; our 
own experiences and those of others ; self love ;; 
desire of applause ; philanthropy ; hope and fear ; 
life and death ; misery and happiness ; what motives 
to duty and virtue are not here displayed and en- 
forced ! What motives of the human mind not set 
in motion ! What emotions of the human heart not 
excited I What passions are not in unison with vir- 
tue and truth 1 And what prejudices against practi^ 
cal Christianity are here left unconquered, what pre^ 
tences of sloth not refuted, what cavils^ and evasions 



^ The Falue of Social and PuUic W&rship^ 

onanswered ? And if, in addition to this, the possi« 
bility and easiness of the matter is shewn, the way an^ 
manner in which it is to be performed pointed out, 
and the best means provided to that end : Must not 
all this be productive of good, of much good ; must 
it not be highly advantageous to the performance of 
duty, and to the practice of virtue ? Must it not oc- 
casion thousands and thousands of good sentiments 
and actions amongst mankind I 

Indeed experience allows us as little to doubt of 
it as the nature of the case itself. No, all do not 
depart unimproved from these schools of christiaii 
w^isdom and virtue. Many haye to thajik them for 
inducement and excitation to amendment, many for 
their return to the way to duty, many for precau- 
tions against sin, for taste and inclination to good- 
ness. How often does some truth, important to the 
religion or the morals of a man, dart like a pure 
ray of light into his benighted soul, touch him to the 
quick, thorougly affect him with hope or fear, with 
trouble or with joy ; discover to him the true state 
of his heart, the real frame of his life ; beget in him 
the noblest wishes, the best resolutions ; accompany 
him home, attend him in all his affairs, pursue him 
in all the companies he frequents, and let him have 
no rest till he surrender himself to its influence, anci 
fully experience its improving and blessing energy ! 
—How many a wicked purpose is rendered abor- 
tive, because he who conceived and cherished it in 
\i\s breast, led by the kindness of providence exactly 
to hear some certain doctrine or precept of religion, 
particularly suited to him, delivered with sentiment 
and force, is struck and alarmed by it, brought to 
reflection, and moved to an alteration of mind ! 
iiow many a good and christian deed, how many a 
reconciliation with adversaries and foes, how many a 
resolution to lead a new life, how many a step to^ 
wards virtue, how many acts of liberality have been 



^Jxe Value of Social and Public Worship, H 

occasioned by such discourses and acts of worship ! 
How many sallies of violent, brutal passions been 

thus prevented ! And even if these effects fall 

out but rarely, if it be only now and then that a 
wicked person is induced to forsake the error of his 
ways ; yet who can den}'- his having been strength- 
ened by these means in good purposes, that he 
jhas been rouzed to zeal and perseverance in good-- 
ness, that he has been made happy in the more 
lively sentiment of his truly christian dispositions, 
the comfort of an approving conscience, the assur- 
ance of divine approbation and favor, has a foi:ie- 
taste of the blessed reward of his fidelity, and thence 
feels the acquisition of fresji courage and resolution 
to complete the work he has begun, to pursue his 
course with confidence, and to allow nothing to de- 
prive him of the prize appointed for him that over- 
comes ? Yes, it is indisputable, that public and so-* 
cial worship throws the most salutary impediments 
in the way of wickedness and vice, and prevents 
numberless disorders and crimes in human society ; 
it is not to be denied, that it animates the true 
christian to more strenuous efforts in goodness and 
virtue, and keeps him from becoming weary and 
disheartened in integrity and beneficence. And 
what great advantages are not these ! 

How much tranquillity and comfort does not, 
thirdly, tliis worship diffuse over the hearts of men ! 
How many anxious cares, how many consuming 
vexations, does it not mocjerate or remove ! How^ 
differently do they not there often learn to judge of 
thp world and their own condition! How totally 
different to think of what are usually termed success 
and misfortune ! How much more calmly and re- 
signedly to bear their troubles, how much more con- 
fidently and cheerfully to hope in God in the midst 
of want and misery, how much more undismayed to 
encounter every danger and even death, when ajl 



12 The Value ef Social and Public PTorship* 

these things appear to them in the light of religion 
and Christianity, when they have learnt to consider 
them in their dependency on the will of the all wise 
and all gracious ruler of the world, and in their con- 
nexion with human perfection and happiness ! And 
when forgiveness of sins is there announced to the 
contrite and returning sinner, the promises of assist- 
ance and support held out to the feeble, a better and an 
eternal life displayed before the wretched, a compen- 
sation and reward beyond the grave assured to the 
oppressed and innocent sufferer, what a healing balm, 
what refreshment and restoration, must not this shed 
into the soul that is thirsting and panting after com- 
fort ! 

I here address myself to your own experience, ye 
who in sincerity of heart and design frequent the 
public v/orship. Say, my christian brothers and sis- 
ters, have ye not often come into the assembly of the 
worshippers of God, with heavy hearts and troubled 
minds? Has not often a secret pain, a sorrow of 
soul, attended you thither? Were ye not often 
languishing in search of comfort and repose ? ^ And 
have ye not there often found this comfort, this re- 
pose ? Has not the burden that oppressed you, there 
fallen off from your heart ? Has not a cheerful beam 
proceeded thence, that has enlightened your glooniy 
path, and shewn you an issue from the labyrinth in 
which you were involved ? Have ye not often re- 
turned home, comforted, strengthened, and revived? 
— And what well disposed christian has not there re- 
joiced in the paternal love of God, in the fraternal 
affection of Jesus, in his relation towards God and 
Jesus, in his destination to a blessed immortality, in 
his approximation to the mark of his high c:\lling ; 
and, in the enjoyment of these delights, has he not 
learnt to endure, to despise, to forget all the troubles, 
all the sufferings, all the evils of the present life? 
Oh, who can recount all the comfort and serenity of 



The Value qJ Social and Public Worship. IS 

mind that mankind have derived from christian wor- 
ship, all the tears of sorrow and pain which there 
have ceased to flow, all the cheerful and blessed sen« 
sations which have there been taught to rise i What 
a diminution of human misery, what an augmenta== 
tion of human happiness has not arisen on all hands, 
in cottages and in palaces, among all classes and con- 
ditions of men ; and what an inestimable value must 
not this confer on public worship in our sight ! 

Public and social worship acquires, fourthly, anew 
value, as it kindles and inflames our devotion, and 
gives more life and dignity to our personal worship. 
What is not the solemn and public w^orship capable 
of producing, and how much does it often actually 
produce ! How^ often does it inspire even the vola- 
tile and giddy with seriousness, the scoffer with rever- 
ence, and the insensible and careless w^ith sentiment 
and reflection ! Hov/ readily does it impart senti» 
ments ; how principally the sentiments of piety and 
devotion ! Like an electrical fire they frequently 
seize on men of the most different tempers and opin- 
ions, infusing into their hearts a spiritual life. And, 
if I attend a worship where prayer, psalmody, the 
discourse of the minister, all combine to impress me 
with pious sentiments and reflections ; where a pro- 
found silence, a general and continued attention 
prevails around me, drawing oflf my mind by de- 
grees from all outward things, and fixing it entirely 
on itself and on God ; when I there perceive my 
friends and acquaintance, or even unknown persons, 
of every age, either sex, and each condition of life, 
absorbed in serious meditation , and impressed with 
pious emotions ; when I join there a great assembly, a 
whole congregation, humbly prostrate before the be- 
ing who dwells in heaven, and who fills with his 
majesty both heaven and earth, imploring grace and 
mercy and help of him from one mouth ; when I 
SQe them under a lively sense of their weakness and 



14 The Value of Social and Public PForship. 

their manifold spiritual wants, open their hearts arid 
minds to the infiuehce of Christianity and religion, 
and with eagerness of soul imbibe light and consola- 
lion and repose and power to goodness ; when I hear 
them celebrate the praises of the All bountiful and 
All wise for their existence and his bounties, rejoice 
in their connexion with him, and renew their vows 
of fidelity and obedience : What an impression must 
it not make upon me ! How forcibly must I not 
then feel my own imbecility, my entire dependance 
on that sovereign spirit, how intimately feel his pre» 
sence 1 How strongly feel myself penetrated with 
reverence, with love towards him, with submission 
to his will, with confidence in him, with joy at all 
the instances of his mercy I How important must 
not religion then appear to me ! How light and 
cheerful must not I there find myself, humbling my^ 
self in the dust, with all my brethren and sisters, high 
and low, rich and poor, in the presence of our com- 
mon creator and father, adoring his infinite greatness, 
and drawing life and happiness from his sufficiency I 
And must not this incitement, this ardency of de- 
votion, though it should not always have place 
in an equal, and still less always in a superior degree, 
must it not give a great value to public and social 
worship ? 

What a value, in short, must it not receive from 
hence : That by it the sentiment of the natural equal- 
ity of mankind and their mutual affinity, is main- 
tained and invigorated, and that they are brought 
into so close a connexion and so intimate a union to- 
gether by its means I Every thing that is here trans- 
acted and taught reminds us of our common origin, 
of our common wants and infirmities, of our com^ 
mon destination. Every thing that passes here must 
humble the pride of the great, and inspire courage 
and confidence into them of low degree;^ every 
thing must promote tiie interests of humaniky and- 



?%e Value of Social and Public Worship. \$ 

love. And what binds men more together than the 
community of faith, of hope, of religious worship I 
Here we all present ourselves as feeble, dependent 
creatures, as creatures that are in want of instruction, 
of ability, of support and assistance, who cannot sub= 
sist of themselves ; all as frail, sinful beings, who are 
asking for grace and pity. Here we all humble our- 
selTCs before him who only is wise,, only mighty 5 only 
great, and to whom all rnen, all nations, all?, worlds, 
are as nothing. Here we all eat of the same breads 
drink of the same cup, and, as the children of one 
father, all enjoy at one table the repast of christian: 
love. Here the distinction of rank and dignity falls 
totally away, or meets with no peculiar regard. We 
are here, and feel ourselves, not as powerfiilor weak, 
not a-s superior or inferior, but as men, as christians ; 
are alt subjects, all children of God, all the redeemed 
of Jesus, the prince as the vassal, the rich as the poor,- 
the learned as the ignorant. The prince now hears 
himself thus addressed : — Thou art a god upon the 
earth, but thou wilt die like any child of man. 
Abuse not thy power, for thou hast a master, ajudge^ 
in heaven, with vv^hom there is no respect of persons. 
And the poorest, the lowest of the people, is thus at 
the same time admonished : — Even thou art formed 
after the image of thy God, thee too hath Jesus re- 
deemed, and thou art immortal ; thee likewise an 
eternal, life awaits ; forget not thy dignity, and by a 
generous and independent conduct shew thyself wor- 
thy of thy origin and thy destination. And a divine 
service, which may contribute, and actually does 
contribute so much to our instruction, to our im- 
provement, to our repose, to the exciting and inflam- 
ing of our devotion, to the advancement of humanity 
and brotherly love, must surely possess a great, an 
inestimable value. 

Yes, ever shall ye be hailed, ever blessed shall ye 
l>e of me, ye places consecrated to th.e adoration of 



16 ^he Value of Social and Public Wonhip^ 

God, ye solemn assemblies of his worshippers on 
earth ! With the profoundest reverence, with a 
thankful and cheerful heart will I enter your gates, 
and celebrate with my brethren the worthiest, the 
noblest solemnities, that mankind can perform on 
earth. Here will I wholly surrender myself to the 
sentiment of what God is and of what he is to me ; 
and while I fulfil the duties of a worshipper and a child 
of God, will at the same time enjoy the blessedness of 
being so. Here will I enter into the closest bands of 
affection with all who know and love God, and Jesus 
Christ whom he has sent, and enjoy my own felicity 
and theirs. Here will I seek nourishment for my 
mind and my heart, deeply imprint every lesson of 
truth, every word of exhortation, of comfort and 
peace, that shall be delivered to me, and thence re- 
turn to my business in the %vorld with invigorated 
powers, more joyfully discharge every duty of life, 
and bear every burthen of it with more submissive 
resignation. Here will I take on my pilgrimage, the 
comforts that refresh and restore my soul ; I will 
consider my way, represent to myself the prize for 
which I am striving, and then with new courage pur- 
sue my course. Here will I enjoy in foretaste the 
blessedness of that better world, where I shall be 
surrounded by a purer emanation of day, where my 
faith shall be changed into sight, where, with the just 
made perfect, with spirits of a superior order. I shall 
adore him, and celebrate his praises who lives for 
ever and ever ! 

These, my dear brethren, must be the sentiments 
with which vou are impressed by the considera- 
tion of the great importance of social and public 
worship ; these the dispositions and views in which 
you must frequent it ; this the generous fruit you 
will gather from it. So will it constantly become 
more estimable, more venerable, more delightful to 
you, never be irksome or unpleasant, and will procure 
you never ending felicity and bliss. 



SERMON XXVIl 
The Value of Sdhuden 



-^ 



GODy thou hast elevated tis to the rank 
«f intelligent beings, niade us creatures who have a 
clear inward consciousness of themselves and their condi- 
tion, who can act with consideration and from perspicuous^* 
ly knoifn principles, who can make ever farther progress 
in wisdom and virtue, who can feel thy being and thy pres« 
€nce, and have communion with thee the father of spirits^ 
Oh that we might never mistaks these our privileges, never 
leave them unemployed) and constantly make the best uss 
«f them 1 We are still, alas, oppressed by the yoke of sen« 
suality, we still too often and too easily are indticed to with- 
ilraw from ourselves and from thee our creator and father, anot 
wander about, unconscious of ourselves, beguiled by sensual 
Justs among thifigs that kave more semblance than reality 1 
Alas, but too seldom is it so bright in our mind, so silent 
in our heart, so quiet around us, that we can thoroughly 
rejoice in thy existence and our own, thoroughly feel out 
•uperior destination, and think and act in complete consist- 
ence with it I O Godj th® father of our spirits, grant us 
then more to feel, more highly to prize our connexion with 
thee, and render us more susceptible of thy influence upon 
us, more frequently to collect our scattered thoughts, to 
«eek retirement, to exercise ourselves more in reflection and 
thus come nearer to thee and to our superior appointment- 
Teach us to be jealous of the prerogative we possess as in- 
telligent creatures, and let us find so much pleasure and 
happiness in the proper application of xt^ that we may nev«» 
V©*, II G 



13 The Value of Solitude* 

er be wanting in incitement and inclination to It. Strength- 
en also now cnir niind that it may perceive the truth in- 
tended to inform and to impr©ve it, in a perfepicuous light ; 
let it dissipate our prejudices and errors, and enable us by 
its lustre, more securely and happily to continue and to 
complete our journey of life. We ask it of thee in the 
»amc of Jesus, saying : Our father, 8cc, 



MARK i. 12. 

And immediately the Spirit drivetk him into the w'Uernefs. 

CONVERSE with mankind, and converse 
with oneself ; the gaieties of social, and the serious- 
ness of solitary life ; diffusive, beneficent activity 
among many, and the application of the entire at- 
tention on oneself; vivacity in business and vivacity 
in reflection ; noise and silence ; dissipation and re- 
<:ollection, are always to be interchangeably follow- 
ed, if we would attain the true end of our being, ful- 
fil our several duties, and arrive at a certain degree 
of wisdom and virtue. If we confine our existence 
to either sort exclusively of the other, we shall neg- 
lect either our own most important concerns, or the 
concerns of our brethren. In the uninterrupted 
bustle of business and dissipation, we may easily for- 
get ourselves ; and by too severe a pursuit of solitary 
silence, we may as easily become indifierent and in- 
sensible to otliers. But, if we combine them both 
together, we shall live as much for others as for our- 
selves, promote as far as w^e are able our own feli- 
city no less than that of other men, and shall neither 
be seduced to folly by levity and habitual distraction, 
nor to misanthropy by the gloomy and querulous 
Austerity of the recluse* Two side ways,, by whick 



f/ie Fake ofSotitude. If 

too many have missed of the proper end of their be- 
ing, and still mistake it, with only this difference, that 
now the one and then the other has been more 
thronged and frequented. At present, at least in 
our regions of the world, those times are past, when 
the solitary life, devoted to meditation, was so highly 
esteemed, and a total seclusion from the work] wagt 
thoupht the sole means of access to heaven* ' Now 
the opposite path is more universally trodden : Com* 
pany is every thing ; and silence and retirement are 
fallen, with the majority, into evil report. But wheth* 
er they merit this report ? Whether, under prop» 
er limitations, they still are not worthy of the use 
and esteem of the sage and the christian ? Wliether 
we have not cause, in this particular likewise, to imi- 
tate our Savior Jesus, and like him to be led of the 
spirit, to be led by the sentiment of our spiritual 
w^ants, into the wilderness, or into retirement ? This^ 
my pious hearers, is what we shall now endeavor to 
discuss* I mean to discourse to you on the value and 
the discreet use of solitude ; first stating the subject^ 
then shewing its utility, and lastly adding a few rules 
lor the prudent employment of it. 

By the solitude I recommend, 1 mean not a life 
passed in absolute seclusion from all commerce with 
the world and all intercourse w^ith mankind, not the 
life of the coenobite, nor that of the hermit* Sucli 
a life is plainly in. opposition to the destination and 
felicity of man, and at most is adapted only to the 
feeble, such as the weight of misfortunes has entirelr 
borne down and rendered unfit for the business and 
joys of social life. And he who thinks by such a 
life to serve God, or to promote the salvation of his 
soul, neither knows God, nor understands what the 
term of saving his soul implies, and cannot be acquit- 
ted of the charge of superstition. No, to serve God 
Hieans^ from love and obedience to him^ to serve his 

2 



20 The Falue of Solitude^ 

creatures of the human race, and to fulal all the du- 
ties of Fife ; and the saving of the soul consists in the 
application of all our faculties and powers to do the 
will of our creator ; and by the best and most useful 
means to eiiect as much good with them as we always 
are able. 

No, the solitude I mean is every place, every re- 
treat, where a niao, for a longer or a shorter time, 
is alone and apart from the company of other per- 
sons, that he may be at liberty to make reflections 
on himself and his more important concerns, wheth- 
er It be in a sraail room of his house, or in the spacious 
and open plain ; in the blaze of the meridian sun^ 
or by the milder light of the nocturnal moon. Nei- 
ther darkness nor confinement^ but silence and free- 
dom from such matters and absence of such persons, 
as mip^ht interrupt or disturb our thoughts, is the es- 
sence of solitude. The more extensive however the 
sphere of our sight and sentiment; the farther our 
eyes can reach ; the freer our breast can respire ; the 
moi^ our heart can comprehend ; and the more un- 
impeded it may expand ; so much the more produc- 
tive to us is solitude in great, in generous, fn pious 
thoughts and sentiments ; so much the more likely 
is it to be and to procure us what it ought to be and 
to procure. Even the presence of a mind in har- 
mony with ours, of a heart pursuing and loving such 
objects as our own, is frequently, not only no hin- 
drance, but rather an advantage to it.^r^ To such a 
solitude we ascribe great worth and manifold utility* 
And this for various reasons. 

In solitude we think more sedatelv, more undis- 
turbed and free ; and thinking, my pious hearers, is 
the grand prerogative of man, the foundation of his 
utmost perfection and happiness. In society, and in 
the midst of our affairs, it frequently happens, that^ 
in this respect, w^e ai'e more passive than active, Wc 



I'hs Value of'Eoliiude^ 51 

most take the impressions of outward things as fee j 
fall upon us ; . our mental representations will be ex- 
actly modeiled on what surrounds us, on whatever 
We see and hear^ on what we have to do. They c o rn « 
monly glide away from before iis as quickly a. ., ;- 
arise ; one presses upon the other ; their irnpetooos 
torrent carries iis away with it. But seldom can we 
choose from- amon^ them ; but seldom can we detain 
such as are most agreeable and important to us ; sel- 
dom can we dismiss such as promise us neither profit 
nor pleasure ; but seldom can we disting'uish between 
truth and falsehood, between rea arance. 

We there collect more materials icr tnougiit, than 
we are able to give our mental application to in all 
its force. 

When we enter into retirement ; when we par, : 

solitude, we are then, in regard of -ht, mcr- 

active than passive. We act more liom ourselves, 
and by our proper energy , than allow other thiiigi 
to act upon us. Our attention is less interrupted, is 
more continued and strong;. We may select fronis 
among the objects of our reflection ; tarry as long as 
we will with those that, in present circumstances, are 
most profitable and pleasant ; consider them on more 
sides than one, in more than one combination; com- 
pare them with our farther perceptions^ with our oth- 
er thoughts ; apply them more calmly to ourselves ; 
imprint them^deeper into our memory and our heart ; 
and revolve them so long and in such various ways, 
till they diffuse a pure light upon our minds, and 
shed a genial warmth into our hearts, and thus be- 
come so fixed that they cannot be forgotten. Thus 
may we, by silent, solitary rejection, oriC while ex- 
tend and rectify certain notions in religion, at anoih^ 
er uuravel some difficulties which perplexed our 
mind on the theatre of the v/orld, iiov/ quiet cur 
troubles and cares by a clearer conception of their 



22 The Value of Solitude* 

causes, and the best grounds of comfort, then collect 
new forces for the performance of our duty, and for 
making progress on the way of perfection, then again, 
by more attentively considering our wordly affairs 
and concerns, learn more wisdom and prudence for 
carrying them on. At all events, we exercise and 
strengthen our mental powers ; many obscurities that 
render pur path hard to pursue, disperse and retire ; 
and we return^ with more cheerfulness and content, 
to active ^nd social life. The sphere of our sight 
becomes enlarged by reflection ; we have learnt to 
survey more objects, and to connect them together ; 
we carry with us a clearer sight, a juster judgment j 
^nd firmer principles, into the world wherein we live 
and act ; and are then able, even amidst various dis^ 
tractions, so much the longer to arrest our attention, 
and to think and determine more rightly, in propor- 
tion as we have accustomed ourselves to this exer* 
cise in retirement. 

In the silence of solitude, we have, secondly, a 
more intimate consciousness of ourselves, of our ex^ 
istence, of our faculties, of our dignity. How often 
and how easily do v* e forget ourselves in the hurry 
of business, in the distractions of company, in the 
eddy of a' bustling life! How apt are we there to 
exist far more in others than in ourselves, to esteem 
far more the judg-ment and approbation of others, 
than the judgments and approbation of our hearts, 
take far rnore pains to give satisfaction to others than 
to satisfy ourselves, rejoice much more in being 
thought wise and good, rich and great, by others, 
than in the intimate conviction that we intrinsically 
are so \ But, the more a man exists and lives in 
public and the less to himself; so much the less 
frequently aild less perfectly does he enjoy his life; 
m mugh the more does it resemble a dream, m^ 



li'he Value of Solitude* ^3 

so much the more easily will he be deceived by every 
error and appearance that offers. 

Whereas in solitude, my dear brethren, our mind, 
as it were, returns home ; there she collects her scat- 
tered forces, and concentrates them within herself. 
There we wake, as it were, from a dream ; there we 
sepai'ate ourselves from all that is without us and 
is not properly our own ; there we separate our veiy 
thoughts from that which thinks within us. There 
we intimately feeh that we are, that we live, that we 
think, that we are intelligent, free, spontaneously 
acting creatures, capable of great things, immortal 
And what a blessed sentiment is noi: this ! It is the 
joyful sentiment of one awakening from a trance, 
whose senses had been fast locked up, who had lost 
all arbitrary movement, all consciousness, and now 
opens his eyes to the clear light of day, is sensible to 
his internal facultiesj exerts them freely and with 
perspicuous consciousness, and, impressed with these 
delicious sensations, praises his great preserver, that 
he still exists and lives, and can in spirit raise him- 
self to him ! 

How much nobler, how much more blessed is 
tliis sentiment of ourselves and our ability, than the 
deceitful view of our figure, our apparel, or|r outward 
circumstances, our riches, our borrowed beauties and 
prerogatives, which so frequently transports ys from 
ourselves, without allowing us to discern what actu- 
ally belongs to our proper being, what gives us our 
true worth and dignity, from among the multitude of 
things to which we falsely attribute them ! And 
when thus, in the solemn hour of solitude, the senti- 
ment of self is quick within us ; when thus the daz- 
zling glare of what is foreign to us, what is only for 
a short period connected with us, vanishes from be- 
fore our eyes ; when thus our mind, as it were, looks 
into the depths of its nature : What capacities, what 
4 



34 ^hc Value ofSotitudc^ 

powers, what dispositions for higher perfection and 
happiness, does it not discover in itself ! With what 
a lively sentiment is it not then convinced, that its 
present state is not the completest mode of its exist- 
ence, not the ultimate end of its being ; that it is not 
and becomes not here, what it may be and become ; 
that an ever active faculty dwells within it, constant. 
ly embracing more, and constantly aiming at remo- 
ter things, which is ever struggling to burst its nar- 
row bounds, and to produce, in other circumstances, 
in other connexions with the visible and with the 
spiritual world, totally different effects, and to pro- 
cure for itself the enjoyment of quite other satisfac» 
tions and fruitions ! And what a glorious presenti- 
ment is this 1 What views it opens of everlasting 
being, and of everlasting progress ! Yes, then does 
a man truly rejoice in his existence and his life ; re- 
joice in them far more than in all the externals that 
belong to him ; feels his entire Morth, his inherent 
dignity, feels what he is capable of doing and per* 
forming ; and feels himself suHiciently strong to ac^ 
complish everjr duty of life, to sustain its afflictions 
and troubles, to bear every privation of outward 
things, and to quit this life itself, the first step of 
his existence, without reluctance, and press for- 
wardj with resolution and ardor, into the superior 
life.. 

In the silence of solitude, we not only acquire and 
keep up a more intimate consciousness of ourselves 
in general, but we learn likewise, thirdly, to know 
ourselves, and particularly our failings and infirmities, 
far better than in the tumult of society. What a 
number of checks and hindrances does not this sal- 
utary knowledge of ourselves meet with in social 
life ! Here are multifarious and intricate affairs ; 
there alluring diversions and fascinating pleasureSj, 
which entirely draw off our attention from oursely^s^ 



The Value of Solitude^ 25 

tnd fix it altogether on externals. Here we meet 
with flatterers, who, from interested views or from 
%veakness and exuberant complaisance, pronounce 
us to be better than we are ; there partial judges, 
who think to excuse their own faults and extrava- 
gancies by justifying ©urs. Here are testimonies of 
politeness, and others of friendship which bias our 
j u dgment of ourselves and our actions. Here are pre- 
vailing 'maxims and customs ; theiQ fascinating ex^ 
amples, which prevent us^from, inspecting cur fail- 
ings and feeling our defects. 

On coming into silence, on entering into solitude^ 
the illusions of self love disperse. The attention is 
fixed on ourselves ; the flatterer holds his peace ; no 
partial or corrupted judge, no civil friend takes our 
judgment by surprize ; the force of example is 
weakened or evaded ; the common excuses lose all 
their validity. A man is more familiar with him- 
self, investigates closer, scrutinises deeper, tries him- 
self upon sounder principles, and pronounces more 
impartially on the value of himself and his actions. 
There he will neither be led into error by the dread 
of betraying him^self before others, nor by the hope 
of obtaining from them a more advantageous opinion 
of himo There self conceit gives way to rational 
self love. There nothing is more natural than for a 
man to ask hjis own heart, Am I really that for 
which I am taken ? The wise, the virtuous, the sin- 
cere, the upright, the beneficent, the well disposed^ 
the useful man, which I am reputed to be by my 
friends ? Have I done so much good, have I per- 
formed so much service to society as they ascribe to 
me ? Am I actually exempt from those failings, 
which I know how to conceal in company, and 
from which I am thought to be exempt ? Are these 
failings so insignificant, are they so unavoidable, so 
inseparable from human infirmity, as they ai'e said 



26 The Value of SoUtude. 

to be ? Can I reflect on myself and on my moral 
condition with as much complacency, and be as sat- 
isfied with myself and my conduct, when I am not 
disturbed in reflecting on them, when nothing be- 
guiles me, nobody flatters me, when I consider what 
I am and what I do, in the clear light of truth, in 
the presence of him who sees in secret ? Oh how 
totally different, my dear brethren, do we not ap- 
pear to our ourselves, how many weak places in our 
heart, how many infractions in our virtue, how 
many defects in our l^est dispositions and actions, do 
we not then perceive, which we almost always over- 
look in the ordinary dissipations of our lives, or only 
discern them, as it were, in the shade 1 And must 
not such discoveries as these be of inestimable mo- 
ment to us, must they not render solitude, which 
enable us to make them, delightful to us I 

But solitude must become still dearer to us, if we 
consider, in the fourth place, that we there feel the 
being of God, and his nearness, far more intimately 
and acutely than it is possible for us in other cir- 
cumstances to do. Indeed he is every where present, 
every where near, near to every one of us, he per- 
vades and animates all, he works in all and by all ; 
and the sentiment of him never absolutely forsakes the 
wise man and the christian, even in the noise and 
hurry of an active and social life. He has the Lord 
always before him and walks continually in his pres- 
ence. But how frequently will this greatest, this 
most blessed of all sentiments be obscured by the 
unavoidable distractions and businesses which en* 
gross our whole attention ! How seldom can we en* 
tertain it properly, or dwell long enough upon it ! How 
much oftener is it then only like a feeble, transient 
gleam, or the cold, unfruitful light of the moon, 
than the strong beams of the sun, warming, invigo^ 
rating, illuminatingj and enlivening nature ! 



The Value of Solitude* 27 

No, only in the silence of solitude, only in those 
solemn hours and moments, when all around us is 
still, when we hear nothing in nature but the voice 
of God, the voice of God in our hearts, the voice 
of God in kis word, only there do we learn to ob- 
serve the revelations of the Deity within us and with- 
out us, see ourselves surrounded with the effects of 
his power and goodness, and cordially feel that he is 
not far from every one of us, that he is all in ajl. 
There our reflections are perspicuous and certain: 
If I be, then God is ; if I be and operate here, then 
God is and operates here, by whom I subsist and 
live. Am I encompassed by creatures all around 
me, by beauties, by blessings, and powers ? Then 
am I encompassed all around by God, the flither of 
these creatures, the source of these beauties and 
powers, the giver and preserver of these bounties. 
Where force, where motion, where life, where intel- 
ligence, where freedom and activity is. there is God, 
there he * reveals himself, there he acts ! How nigh, 
how inexpressibly nigh then must he not be to me, 
and to every thing that is and lives and thinks and 
moves I What can I be and think and will and do 
and enjoy, that does not afford me a demonstration 
of the existence and the presence of God, vvithout 
whom nothing is and nothing will be, nothing can 
be, and nothing happen ? No, I have no need to soar 
into the heights of heaven, to search for him, the 
Omnipresent, nor to dive into the abysses of the 
deep, neither to look for him in the splendor of the 
sun nor in the darkness of the night, neither through 
the boundless regions of the sky nor in the temples 
of his votaries, neither in this nor in that peculiar 
spot of his immeasurable domain ; he is in the height 
and in the depth, in the splendor of the sun and in 
the obscurity of night, among the hymning choirs of 
superior spirits^ and in the midst of his worshippers 



The Value of SQlhude 



KJ 



on earth ; he is here and at the same time there^ in 
me and in each of his creatures, is every where, and 
every where equally great, equally powerful^ equally 
good;^ every where perfection and love itself! Noth- 
ing can conceal me from his inspection, nothing de- 
prive me of his vivifying and blessing influence, 
nothing of his paternal tenderness ; nothing remove 
and part me from him, without whom I should not 
fecj and without whose power and will I could not 
continue for a moment! — And now when these 
thoughts are strong and vigorous in me ; when I 
thus feel the nearness of my God, my creator and 
father; feel that I life and move and am in him; 
what a light must not then diffuse itself upon all 
things round me^ what brightness in my mind ! 
What are the cares and what the troubles that will 
not then vanish away ! What strife of the p^issions 
will not then subside I What tumult not sink into 
peace ! What hopes, what assurance, what joy will 
not animate and pervade my frame ! What a fore- 
taste not bless me of purer and everlasting pleasure ! 
And shall not the solitude that promises and pro- 
cures me such advantages be dear to me ? 

O solemn silence, be thou hailed of me ! Hailj 
sacred solitude ! Sacred to wisdom, to self possession, 
to supernal joys, sacred to the complacency of God j 
ever be thou blessed of me, ever'letme find thee the 
restorative, the comfort, the solace of my soul \ 
Take me into thy bosom, when stunned with the noise 
of the world and weary of its pleasures, I am only 
alive to my intellectual wants! Oh shed thy mild 
reviving influence on me, when I feel the weariness 
of the traveller, overtaken by night, while yet a great 
way from the place he endeavored to reach, or has 
had the misfortune to stray from his path ! Shield 
me from the derision of the vain, from the unmerited 
^oni and the unchai'itable judgment of the envious^ 



The Value of Solitude ^ 2 f 

from the melancholy view of the follleSj the crimesj 
and the miseries, which so often disfigure the scene 
of busy and social life ! Be thou niy sanctuary and 
resting place against the hostile attacks of infidelity 
and doubt ; dart light around me when my path is 
obscure ; appease my swelling heart, abate the rage 
of every wild and furious passion, establish serenity 
in my breast; give me to feel the intimate presence 
of my creator and father, to taste the ravishing joys 
of exalted devotion, and be to me the gate of heaven ! 

But, wouldst thou, my christian friend and broth- 
er, wouldst thou that solitude should be and procure 
to thee what it is and procures to the wise man and 
the christian ; then let the following maxims of pru- 
dence be recommended to thee in the use of it. 

Seek not solitude from disgust or misanthropy ;' 
not that thou mayest give freer scope to thy suIImi 
and gloomy reflections, or the furious sallies of thj 
wounded pride^ thy alFronted vanity ; not for break- 
ing forth in sad complaints, or for indulging some 
secret sorrow or some unruly passion ; not for with- 
drawing thyself from thy brethren, for dissolving thy 
intercourse with them 5 and depriving them, as un- 
worthy, of thy services and converse. No, this were 
to profane the solemn silence that surrounds thee, a 
criminal abuse of so excellent a means of improving 
and calming thy hearts And every folly tlpu com- 
mittest there ; every depraved sentiment or sensa^^ 
ion thou induigest there, will so much the more de« 
grade thee, as it was more easy for thee to avoid or 
to suppress it. 

Seek not solitude, wlien thy duty, the duty of thy 
station and calling summons thee to active life, wheu 
thy friend, thy brother, is in need of thy succor,, 
when thou canst perform something useful to society. 
To do good is always better than to think well: 
Useful employment preferable to the loftiest repoic? 



go 'The Value of Solitude. ' 

a magnanimous sacrifice for the benefit of othem^ 
more meritorious than the noblest sentiments. Be- 
ware then of preferring the pleasures of solitude, in- 
nocent and respectable as they are^ to the pleasures 
of beneficence, and, under the pretence of promoting 
thy own internal perfection, to neglect the advance- 
ment of the general welfare. 

Seek not solitude, thirdly, as a punishment on thjr* 
self, as a penance for thy numberless dissipations and 
amusements. Thus it would soon become burdeh^ 
some to thee. Thus it could neither be useful nor 
agreeable to thee, and the oppressive languor that 
would haunt thee there would soon deliver thee a 
prey to every foolish and dangerous dissipation and 
pleasure, that bids fair to free thee from this hateful 
incumbrance. No, the sentiment of thy spiritual 
wants, the sentiment of thy superior vocation, the 
desire of becoming wiser and better, and of having 
more communion with God, should drive thee into 
retirement, and should direct thy thoughts and thy 
employment there. It should be the nourishment 
and recreation of thy mind and heart, the soother of 
thy cares, the reward of thy industry and fidelity in 
business, thy refreshment after wearisome assiduity, 
and thy preparative and strengthener to every fi'esh 
exertion requisite to thy station in life. 

If in these views thou enter into solitude, then let 
thy thoughts and sentiments flow unrepressed, so 
long as they are innocent and good, suitable to thy 
present temper of mind and thy immediate necessities. 
Lay no restraint upon thyself, unless particular pur- 
poses require it. Let the sentiment of thyself, the 
clear internal consciousness of what thou art and 
dost, be active in thee ; hide thee not from thyself; 
fepel no sentiment or thought merely because it is 
strange or unusual tp thee ; let thy mind exert its 
Vigor without restraint* The more freely, naturally 



*fhe Value of Solitude^ %1 

and calmly thou thinkest and feelest, the more \^^l}l 
the recesses of thy heart disclose themselves to thee ; 
truth will* shine upon thee with a brighter beam ; 
and the farther advances wilt thou make in self- 
knowledge, in wisdom and virtue. 

Lastly, never depart out of solitude without taking 
with thee into social and active life sonie good and 
lucid notion, some noble and pious sentiment, some 
virtuous resolution, or some ground of comfort. 
Retirement should not be so much an ultimate end 
as a means te higher aims. Let not thy attachment 
to solitude render thee morose and quexulous, dis- 
pirited in goodness, sullen, or unsocial, shy and un- 
friendly to mankind. Return to thy brethren with an 
open countenance, a cheerful heart, and with firmer 
affection ; and then apply the force thou hast collect- 
ed, the perceptions thou hast acquired, the serenity 
thou hast restored within thee, the satisfaction and 
hopes thou hast confirmed, the sentiment of the di- 
vine presence and nearness wherewith thou hast im- 
pressed thy heart ; apply all these to the more ready 
and cheerful prosecution of thy business, to greater 
circumspection in thy conduct, to a happier enjoy- 
ment of the bounties of thy God, apply it to the pur- 
poses of beneficence and the advancement of human 
happiness. Proceed 'On thy way towards the mark 
of the prize of thy high calling, whicli riow shines 
brighter before thee ; proceed undismayed and firm, 
and practise, as thou goest, what thou hast learnt in 
this school of wisdom and virtue. So wilt thou 
completely fulfil thy vocation, and neither be slothful 
and idle in solitude, nor trifling and negligent in the 
huny of the world. 



SERMON XXVHL 

The Value of Social Life* 



O GOD, who art the father of us all, ho^- 
closely hast thou not connected us with each other I Ho^ 
intimately, how indissolubly interwoven our concerns, our 
wants, our sorrows and joys together ! No one can dispense 
with others; no one can be accomplished and happy for, 
liimself alone ; every on© may be useful to others in num^ 
crous ways. How were it possible for us here, most mer- 
ciiul father, to mistake thy call to be kindly affectioned one 
to another with brotherly love, and our destination to social 
life ? No, it is thy appointment that we should consort to- 
p-ether along the path of life, mutually bear each others bur* 
dens and facilitate the way to each other, that we should 
commute thy various gifts and blessings with one another> 
impart to others of our substance, and mutually rejoice in 
the interchange of benefits. By planting strong social dis- 
positions in our hearts, what sources of generally useful 
activity and of generous pleasure hast thou uot made them ! 
Oh that no sordid selfishness, no misanthropic passion 
^ight weaken or disturb these sources of satisfaction and 
delight ! Might they ever flov/ more clear and pure, ever 
issue more copiously, and diffuse around abundance of true 
happiness and joy I Do thou then grant us the understand* 
ing, the wisdom, the integrity and virtue which in this res- 
pect we want. Do thou penetrate and replenish our hearts 
■with the gentle, generous, aifectionate emotions and dispo- 
sitions, with the zeal to serve and benefit others, with that 
warm participation in the prosperity and adversity of all, 
wiuch alone can confer a real value on social life» I^et us 



The Value of Social Life* %% 

more and more plainly perceive and prize this valae, and 
behave in regard to it as is agreeable to thy will and to our 
vocation. Bless to that end the reflections we are now about 
to begin on that subject. Let us thoroughly comprehend 
the lessons of wisdom that are to be delivered to us, impar- 
tially apply them to ourselves^ and make a faithful use of 
them in our future conduct. For these blessings we implore 
thee, fully trusting in the promises given us by Jesus, and, 
as his followers, farther address thee, in filial confidence, 
asj Our Father, Sec, 



EPHESIANS V. 15, 16. 

%U then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time^ 
because the days are evil, 

THERE are blessings known, esteemed, ad- 
mired, and used by all, and in the use of which every* 
person finds pleasure and profit, to the use of which 
therefore none need excitation or encouragement, 
and yet which require a certain recommendation if 
we would perceive their entire value, use them in 
the best manner, and obtain as much pleasure and 
profit from them as they are calculated to afford. Of 
this kind, undoubtedly, is social life. Who does not 
know and feel that man is formed for intercourse 
with his brethren, for communicating to them of 
what he is and has, for the exchange of his thoughts 
and sentiments with theirs ? Who has not tasted the 
pleasures and joys of social life, and been charmed 
with the sweets of them ? Who does not prefer it to 
absolute and constant solitude ? Who then does not 
find in himself sufficient impulse to the use and en- 
joyment of it ? How seldom is it necessary, compar- 
atively speaking, to caution our acquaintance against 
Voj.- IL D 



t4 The Value of Social Life. 

too strong a propensity to retirement, or to exhort 
them to go into company, in the ordinary sense of 
the word ! How much more easily, and how much 
more frequently, upon the whole, do we not run into 
the extreme on this side than on the other ! 

But vfhether this sociability is and procures us all 
that it might be and procure ? Whether we prize 
and aifect it, not merely from blind impuke, not 
merely to fly from ourselves, not merely for follow- 
ing the prevailing fashion, but on plain and acknowl- 
edged principles ? Whether we understand and 
feel what it is that gives it its really great value ? 
And whether it is of that value to us, or affords us all 
those satisfactions and advantages, which we may 
seek in it, and expect from it ? These are matters 
w^hereoa, notwithstanding the universally strong pro- 
pensity to social life, perhaps but few people ever re- 
flect, and in regard to which probably but few are 
able to give themselves a satisfactory account. Man. 
is a social being, since he naturally possesses dispo-- 
sitians and capacities for society, and finds pleasure 
in it ; since he hears sociability praised, and readily 
complies with the fashion that is most prevalent at 
certain times and among particular people. But, 
whether he be social in the best and most honorable 
manner to the wise and virtuous man, to the christ- 
ian, and reap from his sociable turn the greatest 
utility possible, the most harmless and most noble 
pleasures, about this he too seldom concerns himself j 
and hence it is that this very instinct is so often a 
burthen, even to its admirers and encomiasts, and sa 
seldom comes up to their expectations. My design 
at present is to give you a few directions in reflect^- 
ing on sociableness, towards a sounder judgment 
and a better use of it. Accordingly, we will inves- 
tigate together the value of social life. 



The P'alue of Social Life. 5$ 

For more accurately ascertaining it, we shall have 
two questions to answer. The first is, How must 
social life be managed in order to render it of a cer- 
tain value ? The other, What gives it this value, or 
wherein consists the value of it ? 

These investigations will teach us how we are to 
Walk circumspectly, according to the apostolical ex- 
hortation in our text, and not to behave as fools in 
regard of social life, but as wise^ adapting ourselves 
to times or circumstancesj and making the best use 
of both. 

Sociableness, my pious hearers, is always bettef 
than unsociableness ; a defective use of this natural 
impulse, dr this propensity founded in education and 
improved by intercourse, is better than the total dis- 
use of it. But all sociableness is not rational and 
christian, every kind of social life is not of great 
value. . Neither all sociableness nor every kind of 
social life is able to procure us lasting advantage and 
real pleasure. Principally, by the absence and 
avoidance of several defects and imperfections ; prin- 
cipally by the presence and the united activity of 
several good properties and virtues, does social life 
become and afford what it may and ought ; by this 
means does it principally acquire that value which 
renders it worthy of our high esteem and participa- 
tion. And what are then the good properties, the 
virtues, we are to bring v/ith us into social life, and 
exert therein ; what the faults we have to avoid, if 
we would have it of great value to us ? 

Honesty and openness of heart is the first good 
property, the first virtue we must introduce with us 
and exercise in social life ; to be destitute of all re- 
straint and all circumspection, is, on the other handy 
the first fault we must avoid, and therewith the 
grossness which is its inseparable attendant. To 
be tociable implies to communicate to one an^ 



36 The Falue of Social Life. 

other our thoughts, our sentiments, to compare 
together our opinions and views, to barter them 
against each other, and to rectify and improve them 
by each other. Would you reap this benefit from 
it, rnv pious hearers ? Then must truth be in your 
discourses, in your gestures, in your looks, in the 
tone of your voice, and in your Vvhole attitude and 
behavior ; then must you actually think and feel 
what you pretend to think and to feel, be that in 
reality for which you are desirous to be taken. 
Then must you therefore not lock up your thoughts 
within your own breasts, and not reject every reflec- 
tion and sentiment, every opinion which is not yet 
marked with the stamp of the mode, ©r the prevail- 
ing fashion of the day, and is not thoroughly and 
universally current ; then rnust you not sedulously 
strive to conceal yourself from others ; not torment 
yourself vv^ith a scrupulosity that kills all the vivacity 
and sprightliness of conversation, at every word you 
utter, every sentiment that arises in your bosom, 
every feature of your face, every gesture of your 
body, as if you were afraid of betraying the true 
state of your mind ; then must you neither regard 
social life as an intercourse of impostures, nor use it 
as a school of dissimulation. This would not be a 
fair, honorable, and obliging commutation of what 
we are and have, but an artful and fraudulent in- 
tercourse, imposing upon others what we are not 
and do not possess, and yet would appear to be and to 
have. By this means social life would be turned 
into a low farce ; and what value could it then be of 
to thinking and sensible men ? 

Beware, however, of imagining that honesty and 
openness of heart is incompatible with circumspection 
and prudence. Though you communicate freely 
and honestly with others, you have no need on that 
account to repose a blind confidence in all you meet ; 



The Value of Social Life. 57 

to disclose to every one the inmost thoughts and sen- 
timents of your heart. Though you do not dis. 
senible, do not give yourself out for better than you 
are, you are not therefore unnecessarily to reveal all 
your infirmities and failings. Though you say to 
others nothing but what you think and feel, you 
need not therefore directly tell every one v/hatever 
you think and whatever you feel. Though you 
shun the anxiety of excessive scrupulosity about 
whatever you speak and do, you need not therefore 
speak and act without prudence and circumspection. 
Othervf^ise you will injure many, give offence to 
many, keep numbers of weak but well intentibned 
persons aloof from you, prevent many good designs, 
but not yet ripe for execution, fiom coming to 
effect, cause the truth to be suspected which is not 
comprehensible to every one, and bring contempt on 
your ill timed expressions of sentiment. Your frank- 
ness will become folly, and your sincerity degenerate 
into rudeness. 

The use of a generous freedom is another good 
property, another virtue, which we must take with 
us and display in social life ; absolute licentiousness 
and effrontery, on the other hand, is another fault 
we must avoid. Would you run no risk of finding 
social life burdensome to you ; would you have it 
to be not so much labor and toil as refreshment and 
recreation ; then, by all means, you should breathe 
freely, think freely,judge freely, act freely; you should 
venture, in most cases, to follov/ your own innocent 
humor and your irreproachable inclinations ; you 
should not decline to appear what you are, and to 
do what you find agreeable ; you should not tliink 
yourself bound to comply with the self conceit and 
the humor of others, to model yourself by other 
persons in all things, and absolutely to say and to do 
nothing but what has been heretofore received and 

% 



38 ^he Value, of Social Life, 

is handed down, or what every one sa} s and does^ 
This v/ould be introducing an insipid uniformity 
and an oppressive languor into social life. 

But, on the other side, if you would have it as 
little burdensome and disagreeable to 3^our company 
as to yourself; then you must not pretend to preside 
alone, not constantly lay down the law, not always 
endeavor to arrange and control the pleasures, the 
affairs, and the connexions of others ; you must 
allow others the same liberty you use yourself, and 
they allow, make them the same httle sacrifices of 
complaisance and indulgence which they at other 
times make you ; and therefore interchangeably di- 
rect and obey, now follow others, and then be fol- 
lowed. In short, you must set bounds to the use of 
your freedom, whenever it would be injurious to 
others, or they might reasonably take offence at it ; 
particularly whenever it might have a tendency to 
lead the younger members of society into error or 
sin. The unlim.ited use of one's liberty in social 
intercourse is criminal licentiousness, is actual ty- 
ranny and disgusting arrogance. 

Graceful, polite, and agreeable manners are a third 
requisite %vhichvv^e should carry into social life, and 
attend to the observance of ; artificial constraint, on 
the contrary, and a stiff and formal carriage, is a third 
fault we are to avoid; and even the christian, who 
in every respect ought to be the most accom- 
plished as well as the best of men,, should not imagine 
that matters of this kind are indifferent to him, or 
unworthy of his attention. To be agreeable to others, 
and even to please by the exterior, is a purpose of 
social lifcj and one pf the principal sources of the 
pleasures it procures us. The eye must not there be 
hurt by any thing repugnant and shocking in mien, 
gestures, or in apparel; no harsh, discordant, shriek- 
ing tones must grate upon the ear ; the taste for the 



Vhe Value of Social Life. S^ 

beautiful must be satisfied and entertained, by the 
natural, the becoming, the proper, the captivating^ 
in the figure, the posture, the voice, the garments, 
and the whole demeanor. Would you, my pious 
hearers, attain and promote these views ; then adorn 
your persons, but overload them not with borrowed 
ornaments; follow the fashion so far as is consistent 
with propriety and a cultivated taste ; but run not 
into the extravagant or ridiculous ; let a graceful 
ease and a noble freedom, not an artificial formality, 
a childish levity, or an offensive ferocity, be the rule 
of your movements and outward appearance. Let 
the tone of your voice be natural and firm, and soft, 
and suitably modulated to the subject of your dis- 
course, but never so as to become inaudible by an 
excessive modesty, or disgusting by an affected sua- 
vity ; study to acquire elegant and complacent man- 
ners, but let them be your pivn, and not a close, ser- 
vile, and thereby a ridiculous imitation of extraneous 
behavior. Whatever relates to decorum and out- 
ward address must not be the effect of affectation and 
artifice, but the genuine result of an inward sense of 
the beautiful and becoming, and receive animation 
from that sentiment alone ; and even the outward 
deportment, the very garb of wisdom and virtue, 
must give a lustre to intrinsic worth, and thus render 
it more amiable. 

Benevolence and philanthropy is a fourth good 
property, a fourth virtue, which we must carry with 
us and practise in social life ; envy, coldness, indif- 
ference, and jealousy, on the contrary, or flattery and 
affected sensibility, compose a fourth class of the 
faults we should there avoid. And, indeed, would 
you receive pleasure from the countenance of your 
brethren, and from your conversation with them ; 
then must you enjoy their welfare, and be delighted 
vith their good fortune. Otherwise every better 

4 



40 The Value of Social Life. 

quality you perceive in them, every mark of appro- 
bation conferred on them by others, every praise they 
obtain, must give you uneasiness. Would you hav© 
your intercourse with them not irksome or painful, 
would you support it with pleasure ; then must you 
take part in all that relates to them ; you should not 
be indifferent to whatever befalls them, whether good 
or bad \ then must you rejoice with them that do 
rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Would you 
procure sustenance and employment for your heart 
by your converse with others ; then must you ex» 
pand it to the feelings of humanity and friendship ; 
then must you let it be animated by correspondent 
estimation and love ; then must self interest, self 
love, and misanthropy be eradicated from it. Cold- 
ness, indifferency, insensibility, envy, hatred, are 
the death of all social pleasures ; are what constantly, 
Biore or less, impair and weaken these satisfactions, 
and are the causes that disgust, displeasure and lan= 
guor so often prevail in company. 

But in avoiding these mistakes, take care not to 
boast of dispositions which are foreign to you, or to 
testify a sensibility which you do not possess. Seek 
not to compensate die defects of your benevolence 
and affection by the base arts of flattery. Put not on 
the semblances of gladness, or sorrow, while your 
heart neither feels the one nor the other. Accost not 
with pretended friendship those from whom your 
heart is averse. Feign not to shed tears of compas- 
sion, of sympathy, of joy, or of tenderness. Be not 
lavish in particular protestations of friendship to any 
man that is not the friend of your soul, the confident 
of your heart. Rarely can artifice conceal the defects 
of nature, and the want of veracity ; and people in 
general would rather you let your coldness appear, 
than be duped by the semblance of a cordial concern. 
Would you avoid these errors ; then be christians; 



Vhe Value of Social Life. 41 

for the christian is animated by unfeigned lov€ ; that 
is the prime motive of all he thinks and speaks and 
does. 

Affabihty is a fifth good quality, which we should 
bring and employ in social life ; loquacity, on the 
contrary, is a fifth failing which we should avoid. 
The affable man entertains, but the loquacious con- 
founds. The former speaks with reflection, and se- 
lects the most profitable and agreeable from what he 
has to say ; the latter delivers every thing that comes 
into his mind without consideration or choice, and 
shakes out his wallet of good things and bad, proper 
and improper, windy conceits and stupid dreams, in 
every man's face he meets. The former actually 
converses with others, and hearkens when they speak 
with the same attention he, in his turn, requires from 
them ; the latter is constantly speaking, never has 
time to hear, and his perpetual torrent of words 
rushes over all, like a deluge, deprives the intelligent 
of the desire and the opportunity to speak, and both 
the wise and the unwise of all power to hear. The 
former, in short, knows the fit time for holding his 
tongue, and is not ashamed of his silence ; the other 
had rather have recourse to idle reports, or slander, 
or lies, than allow himself to be robbed of the iraae^- 
inary honor of possessing an inexhaustible fund of 
entertainment. 

Strive therefore to maintain and heighten the 
pleasures of society by a rational and discreet affabil- 
ity ; but do not heedlessly spoil them by loquacity. 
Learn to hear as well as to speak. Distinguish your- 
self more by the truth, the justness, the moral good- 
ness of what you say, by the delicacy of your re- 
marks, and the fit manner in v^hich you produce 
them, than by the redundant verbosity, and stupi- 
fying vehemence of your speech. Let your dis- 
courses be seasoned with salt, according^ to the pre» 



$% The Value of Social Life, 

-eept of the apostle ! Let them be ever inoiFensive^ 
conducive to edification, and constantlj?- so ordered, 
that the claims of truth, of virtue, of religion, of 
Christianity, be never infringed. Be not distressed 
in those moments when the vivacity of conversation 
gives place to profound silence, frequently unavoid- 
able, and often so salutary to the support and im- 
provement of reflection. Rather submit to the re- 
proach of unsociableness, or of poverty in materials 
of entertainment, than escape this reproach at the 
expense of truth or philanthropy, virtue or decorum. 

Mirth, harmless, temperate mirth, is a sixth good 
quality which we should carry with us into social 
life, and put in practice there ; dissolute mirth, on 
the other hand, and extravagant jollity, is a sixth 
fault we have to avoid. The former, decent mirth, 
recreates and strengthens both the health of the mind 
and that of the body ; it is really recreation ; is even 
worthy of the wise man and the christian; and gives 
to every thing that is spoken or transacted an agree- 
able aspect, a heightened value; the other, dissolute 
mirth, enervates and perplexes the mind, frequently 
distorts the body, commonly debases the character, 
excludes every finer and more generous satisfaction, 
corrupts the taste, and leaves nothing behind but 
confusion and wild uproarc 

Avoid these faults, and acquire these good quali- 
ties, if you would give and receive much real pleas- 
ure in social life. Let serenity accompany you in 
the society of your brethren ; let gaietj- and cheer- 
fulness animate you there ; let inoffensive wit and 
harmless raillery season your conversation ; enjoy 
allowable and innoxious mirth. But enjoy them with 
prudent moderation. Beware of every thing that 
benumbs your reason, that deprives you of the con^ 
sciousness of yourself and the respect that is due to 
others, of every thing that distresses others or de-= 



The Value of Social Life. 4| 

grades them in their own eyes, of every thing that is 
in opposition to the dignity of the man and the 
christian. Rejoice in the Lord ahvay ; that is, con- 
stantly so as becomes a christian. Only that cheer- 
fulness which is consistent with the thoughts of God 
and your duty, and which you will reflect upon with 
pleasure in the silence of retirement, or at least in 
your hours of solitary meditation v/ill not be a cause 
of regret ; only this cheerfulness should be approved, 
sought after, enjoyed, and encouraged by you. 

If we take with us these good qualities, these vir- 
tues, into social life, and exercise them there, at the 
same time avoiding their opposite defects ; if there- 
fore sincerity and frankness, but not indiscretion and 
rudeness ; generous freedom, but not licentiousness 
and arrogance ; graceful, refined, and agreeable man- 
ners, but not foppery, affectation and incivility ; be- 
nevolence and philanthropy, but not coldness and 
jealousy, or flattery and artificial sensibility ; aflabili- 
ty, but not garrulity ; miith, but not licentiousness; 
prevail in social life ; then certainly it has a great va- 
hie, it then procures us complete and diversified pleas- 
ures, solid and lasting utility* However, the more 
particular statement of the pleasures and benefits 
arising from sociability, and the arrangement of them 
in their proper light, as the matter is so copious, wo; 
must defer to another opportunity. In the mean 
time, we will just draw a few inferences from Vv hat 
has been already remarked. 

Collect from the foregoing causes, how it hap- 
pens that society is so often irksome to you ; that it 
so seldom answers your expectations ; that you so 
frequently go into company, as it were against your 
inclination ; and much oftener leave it, with a heart 
dissatisfied or totally empty. Either you yourself 
are deficient in those good qualities and virtues, tq 
which social life is indebted for all its value^ or you 



^ The Value of Social Life. 

miss them in others. Either you sufFer yourself to 
be overtaken and beguiled by those failings, which 
diminish or destroy the pleasures of society, or you 
are obliged to experience the disagreeable effects of 
them in others. More carefully combat or avoid 
these failings, more strenuously strive to acquire 
those good qualities and virtues, and exercise your- 
self in the practice of them ; so will the principal 
causes of languor and disgust be certainly banished 
from your converse with others, and that source of 
satisfaction and pleasure will be open to you. 

Learn farther from what has been observed, that, 
although, to the best use and most solid enjoyment 
of social life, outward appearance, genteel and agree- 
able maimers, and what is only to be acquired by 
frequenting polite circles, are very requisite ; yet 
that likewise these things do not constitute the sole, 
nor even the principal requisites ; but that depends 
on good moral qualities, on real virtues, on christian 
dispositions, on actual and distinguished merit both 
of mind and heart. Thence conclude, that he who 
comes to his brethren with an empty head and a cold 
heart, has no reason to expect either pleasure or pro- 
fit from his intercourse with them, and that he who 
brings with him no disposition for harmless, elegant 
gaiety, can likewise have no pretensions to the en^ 
joyment of such satisfactions, and has no right to 
complain at the want of them. Forget not, that the 
satisfactions and pleasures of social life consist in the 
mutual interchange and communication of what each 
person possesses and knows that is eminently beau- 
tiful, good, and agreeable; that they depend on 
a reciprocal giving and receiving ; and that he 
who has nothing, or but little, to give, is only 
capable of receiving as little, and has no right to 
require any more. The greater stock, therefore, 
the more wealth in good thoughts, sentiments, opin. 



The F^alue of Social Life^ 4S 

ions, perceptions, various kinds of knowledge, views 
and accomplishments, you take with you, so much 
the more opportunity and means will you meet with 
for exchanging your riches against the commodities 
that others possess, and at the same time improve 
and augment your stock. 

Learn, thirdly, from what has been said, that the 
wise, the virtuous man, the real christian, whether 
in society or solitude, is in his proper place ; that 
he constantly carries about him the most copious 
sources of pleasure, which he imparts to others 
and enjoys himself; that he every where runs the 
least hazard of either doing or suffering wrongs 
of affronting others or of being affronted by 
them ; that he is every where eminently good and 
eminently happy; and that he has always the 
means at hand, in his reflecting mind, his honest 
heart, and his contented disposition, of rendering 
very indifferent, and in many respects, disagreable 
company, pretty tolerable. His trained under- 
standing finds even there more materials for thought, 
his benevolent and philanthropic heart discovers 
there more of the beautiful and the good, over- 
looks and excuses more failings and follies, enjoys 
every pleasure and satisfaction in greater purity and 
perfection ; and his temperate desires, his modest 
pretensions, are far more easily satisfied, than if he 
brought wdth him into company an empty head, a 
drowzy mind, an austere or envious eye, a misan- 
thropical, discontented heart, or ungoverned de- 
sires and proud pretensions. 

Learn, lastly, that solitary and social life must be 
mutually interchanged for each other, if we would 
receive the greatest possible advantage from both, 
and that the social alone, without the solitary life, 
can have no great value. In the silence of solitude 
we should qualify ourselves for the satisfactions and 



4fi ^ The Value of Social Life. 

pleasures of society. There we should learn to 
think jucliciouslj in the christian sense of the term^* 
if we would here speak rationally and agreeably. 
We sl>Quld there collect and adjust the knowledge, 
acquire the tirtues and the good qualities w6 are 
here to use, and by which we are to merit esteeirt 
and approbation and love. There we should form 
our taste to the beautiful and good, which we are 
here to cherish and apply. We must there procure 
our heart that peace, and fill it with those benevo- 
lent, generous sentiments arid dispositions, which 
we find so necessary here, and afford so much satis= 
faction and delight both to ourselves and to others. 
We should there fight against the obstacles and 
temptations which may here lead us into error or 
plunge us into guilt. Combine them therefore to-= 
gether, and labor in solitude at the cultivation of 
your understanding and the improvement of your 
moral condition, with so much the more zeal, as it 
is so necessary to yOu in social life, that you may 
be so much the more useful and agreeable to others,^ 
and that you may reap again in return more profit 
and satisfaction from your intercourse with them. 
Yes, belicYe me, my dear friends, wisdom and vir- 
tue and piety, ard and continue in all places, at alJ 
times, in all circumstances, in domestic and iii 
social, as well as in solitary life, the best, the surest 
guides of man, the most solid basis of his satisfac- 
tion, the richest, the only inexhaustible sources of 
his pleasure and his happiness. 



SERMON XXIX. 

I'he Value of Social Life^ contlnuedo 



V_y GOD, h6w much more might we not be 
ai^d alTord to others than v*e actually are and do !' How much 
more contented and cheerful and happy might we live to- 
gether than it commonly happens 1 How much farther 
proceed in virtue and perfection ! What incitement, what 
means and opportunities to that end hast thou not granted 
to us in social life ! Every reciprocal office we perform, 
every business that we pursue in common, and every pleas- 
ure that we commonly enjoy, might and should at the 
Same time be an exercise in virtue and an approximation 
to perfection ; every assistance we afford our brethren, 
every satisfaction we procure them^, at the same time be a 
benefit and a blessing to ourselves ! Yes, if we so much 
miore esteemed each other as we might and should, so 
much more loved each other, so much more readily served 
each other, so much ynore closely connected our wants and 
businesses and pleasures together ; if sincerity and affec- 
tion accompanied us in every scnciety, there animated all 
our discourses and actions ; if we there looked not merely 
at our own things, but also and still more on the things of 
others, and our thoughts and sentin:^ents were constantly in 
unison with our words and deeds : What a source of virtue 
and happiness would not social life be to us ! What a pre- 
paration to that better superior life, that will unite all wise 
and good persons together, tjiat kingdom of reason and vir- 
tue to come 1 O God, teach us them properly to under- 
stand and to use our advantages. Grant us ever more and 
more to be kindly affectioned one to another. Inspire into 



48 The Falue of Social Life. 

us all a constantly greater avidity and zeal to serve and to 
assist each other, and to promote our reciprocal happiness 
to the utmost of our power. Grant that we may ever take a 
greater interest in the concerns and fortunes of our brethren, 
and so cordially rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep 
with them that weep^ Let our intercourse with each other 
be constantly more edifying, more useful, and the satis- 
factions we mutually ersjoy, be constantly more inno- 
cent, more generous and fruitful in good works. Oh 
that in this respect the spirit of Christianity might animate 
and guide us, and dignify all that we think and do ! Bless 
to this end the considerations in which we are now to be 
employed, and hear our prayer through Jesus Christ, our 
lord, in whose name v/e farther implore thee, saying, Our 
father, Ss;c, 



EPHESIANSv, 15, 16. 

Ste then that ye walk circumspectly^ not as fools ^ hut as wise ^ redeeming the time, k^^ 

cause the days are evil. 

THAT social life has a particular value, that it 
is good and desirable, is a matter whereof no one 
doubts ; of this, my pious hearers, our own experi- 
ence assures us. But how is it to be ordered, what 
we are to observe, and what avoid in it, if we desire 
it to be of great value ; and what peculiarly gives it 
this value, are questions we do not often enough con- 
sider, though the solution of them is of the utmost 
importance in the use and enjoyment of it. The 
first of these questions I have answered in my preced- 
ing discourse. We thence saw what good qualities, 
what virtues, we are to bring with us into social life, 
and there employ, and at the same time what faults 
we should avoid, if we desire it to afford us real pleas- 
ure and solid advantage. It must be, namely, hon- 



The Value of Social Life. 43 

esty and openness of heart, but not rudeness ; gen- 
erous freedom, but not licentiousness and arrogance ; 
polite, elegant, engaging manners, but not foppish- 
ness, or formal and constrained behavior ; it must be 
benevolence and philanthropy, but not coldness and 
jealousy, not flattery, not artificial sensibility ; it must 
be rational and discreet affability, but not babbling 
and loquacity ; innocent mirth, but not petulance 
and dissolute merriment % that must prevail in social 
life, if it be to procure us pleasures no less diversi- 
fied than pure, advantages no less durable than solid. 

The questions that still remain to be answered are. 
What confers this value on social life ? Wherein 
does it consist ? What is the utility, what are the 
pleasures it procures us ? To reply expressly to these 
questions is the object of my present discourse. Hap- 
py he who shall learn from it more justly to prize, 
and more circumspectly to use, the value of the rich- 
es it possesses, the means of improvement and hap- 
piness it offers I 

Social life is, first, the most natural and the most 
abundant source of the knowledge of mankind . And, 
without the knowledge of characters, we can neither 
be so useful to our brethren nor they to us, as our 
duty and our common interest require. The sage^ 
who in the silence of retirement refiects upon man- 
kind, and at the same time narrov/ly observes himself 
may certainly make great progress in the knowledFe 
of human nature : He may make acute and just re- 
marks on the capacities and powers of the human 
mind, on the process and connexion of its ideas, on 
its present and future destination, on human passions 
prejudices, virtues and vices ; he may investigate the 
motives of human actions, and weigh the intrinsic 
value of their sentiments and actions. But it is only 
in intercourse with them, it is only in social life, that 
he will learn to apply the principles and rules br 

Vol. II. E 



50 The Value of Social Life. 

which he judges of mankind, to a thousand particu- 
lar persons and occurrences, and put their precision 
to the proof. There will he first learn to judge of 
the infinite variety of human minds, the difference of 
manners, of human dispositions and tempers. There 
he perceives every feature of human nature multi- 
plied and diversified a thousand ways, sees every 
faculty of the human mind as differently exerted ; 
every human propensity and passion shew itself under 
the most variegated and dissimilar aspects, and pro- 
duce as manifold and different effects. There will 
he find combinations and mixtures of strength and 
weakness, of wisdom and folly, of good and bad 
qualities, of virtues and failings, which, remote from 
the actual world, he would* scarcely have thought 
possible. And how much must not this extend and 
rectify his knowledge of mankind! How many phae- 
nomena in the moral world will it not elucidate, how 
many mysteries unravel, which were inexplicable to 
him, and which by mere meditation he could never 
have solved ! 

In society we learn, not only to know mankind ia 
general, but in particular those persons among whom 
we live, and with whom we are obliged to associate, 
Our acquaintance, our fellow citizens, our friends, 
every person with whom we are connected by busi- 
ness, by oliice and employment, and by ordinary af- 
fairs. There, on numberless occasions, their princi- 
ples, their prejudices, their errors, their propensities, 
their passions, their sound and their weak side, dis- 
cover themselves to us by degrees. There we learn 
to knovv^ the measure of their mental faculties, the 
sphere of their comprehension, their way of acting, 
the proportions of their strength or their weakness, 
the avenues to their heart, and the influence which 
certain persons or things have on them. There wc 
may consequently learnj how far we may reckon up- 



The Value of Social Life, SI 

On tliem, or whether reckon upon them at all, trust 
ourselves to them or not, what we have and what we 
have not to expect from them. 

And how useful, how necessary to us is this know- 
ledge, if we would neither deal unjustly by oursel/es 
or others, require neither too much nor too little of 
any, injure none by ungrounded distrust, nor by too 
much confidence tempt or perplex them, if we would 
prosecute our affairs with prudence and success, dis- 
charge our duty towards every man by the fittest 
means, make use of others to promote our designs, 
and in return contribute our means to the advance- 
ment of theirs, afford others the most useful services, 
and obtain similar services from them ! From how 
many mistakes and errors should we not be saved by 
such a knowledge of mankind ! How much more 
speedily and securely, in numberless cases, should 
we not gain our ends ! How mucli more certainly 
know where to be firm, and where to yield ; when 
we should go strait forward, and where reach our 
aim by a circuitous w^iy i what maxims we should 
here use, and what there, for producing the best ef- 
fects ; how take in hand such a case, how manage 
such a business, how deal with such a person, how 
behave in such an occurrence ! With how much 
greater ease and safety discharge our duty on one 
hand, and on the other promote our own lawful and 
honest designs ! How much more good be able to 
perform, and how much more to enjoy ! And must 
not then the social life that enables us to acquire this 
knowledge of mankind be of great value to us ? 

Yes, certainly great is its value ! For, at the same 
time that it improves us in the knowledge of man- 
kind, it in the second place supplies us with the most 
excellent means of exercising our mental faculties, of 
enlarging the sphere of our views, of rectifying and 
bringing into action the knowledge we have already 

% 



S2 the Value of Social Life. 

acquired, and of increasing it with new discoverleSo 
If we wish to impart our sentiments on any subject 
to others, in a manner satisfactory to them ; then 
we must represent the case at the same time in 
a more perspicuous method to ourselves, and more 
precisely discriminate our conceptions of it, and 
weigh them apart, than we commonly do when we 
reflect upon them only for ourselves. If we would 
hearken to others with intelligence, perfectly under- 
stand them, and apprehend their opinion or their 
judgment on any subject with full conviction, or op- 
pose them with solid arguments; then must we more 
strenuously 'exert our attention, and more strictly 
Investigate the matter, than if v/e were to determine 
upon it merely for ourselves by the suggestions of 
sensations that are at once imperfect and obscure. If 
we would accornpany others in their train of reflec- 
tionss or folio w*them in their arguments ; then we 
must place ourselves^ as it were, in the orbit of their 
view, and thus alter or enlarge our ov/n. If v/e be 
desirous that others should readily communicate 
their rejections to us ; then must we let theni see 
that we perceive the truth and justness of them^ 
and must repay them by some equivaleut thoughts of 
our own» Generally speakings in social life we bar- 
ker our experiences, our«perceptions, our knowledge,. 
against those of otbers, vvhile all are gainers by this 
species of traiiic, not excepting even him who gives 
far more than he receives ; because we can never 
teach others v/ithout learning ourselves, and because 
every person in his lins and circumstances, has seen 
much, heard much, experienced much, considered- 
much, that another, in a quite diilerent line, and 
quite other circumstances, could not have seen, not 
have heard, not have experienced, and not have 
thought on. We there learn to see things on new- 
sides, unobserved by us before, in new connexions 



^'h$ Value of Social Life. S3 

and different relations ; learn to judge of them inore 
liberally, and therefore with less partiality and injas- 
tice. We there meet with opportunities of freeing 
ourselves from numberless prejudices against certain 
stations., or businesses^ or pleasures, or modes of life^ 
or other objects, by which such.as Iiv€ at too great 
a distance from the world are shackled and led into 
mistake; we learn to compare more things together^, 
to comprehend more and to survey more objects at 
once, and thus likewise to j.udge more justly of the 
whole. 

And how frequently, in social lifCg does not one 
intellect rouse and excite another ! How often one 
light kindle another, one brilliant thought elicit an- 
other 1 How oft does a splendid ray of light, a vivid 
particle of celestial fire, dart into a mind where dark- 
ness and cold had fixed their reign, and awaken all 
its torpid powers to motion and activity 1 How often 
does even a pensive and enlightened head there find 
the solution of some difiiculty, or the clue to some 
labyrinth of human thought, which it had long been 
seeking for in vain ! — -And at what point does the 
series of reflection stop, that a happy moment, an 
animated conversation with some friend to truth, has 
once given rise to ? What sentiment is there that 
does not beget a thousand others ; VN^iich does not 
multiply itself a thousand fold in every head that ad- 
mits ^and comprehends it ; which does not return 
upon the mind ten thousand times, as occasion of- 
fers, influencing its ideas and judgments ! How fre- 
quently does it not happen, that some just and good 
sentiment, some right and proper judgment, some 
generous principle, some im.portant rule of prudence, 
some pious sentiment or emotion, uttered by the 
wise man, the christian, in conversation with his 
brethren, how oft does it not sink, imperceptibly 
even to ourselves, into our hearts, and there germi* 



3 



54 The Value of Social Life. 

nate in concealment, like a rich grain of wheat, and 
sooner or later bear fruits of wisdom, of virtue, of 
happiness, in an increase of an hundred fold ! How 
oft does not some good word of this kind enlighten, 
direct, animate^ determine us, long after it was men- 
tioned in familiar conversation, and to which we af- 
terwards paid no farther regard, and now presents it- 
self to us in all its energy and truth, as a friend, as a 
counsellor, as a guide ! How manifold, in short, how 
copious are not the materials we there collect for our 
own reflections, which we may work up afterwards 
in retirement as our views and wants require ! Cer- 
tainly, if solitude be indispensable for giving justness 
and solidity, firmness aacl consistency, to our reflec- 
tions ; social life is no less so for adding to the num- 
ber of their objects, for giving perspicuity to them, 
and for rendering theni serviceable by their proper 
application. 

A third circumstance which confers a great value 
on social life is this ; by it we are brought nearer to- 
gether, gain the affection, and learn how to obtain 
more reciprocal satisfaction from each other. When 
a man lives remote from his fellow creatures, he is 
apt to judge too harshly of thern ; seldom takes much 
interest in what concerns them, and his heart very 
often retires from them in proportion as he withdraws 
himself from their society and converse. Humanity, 
human affairs, human misery, human happiness, in 
general and in the aggregate are nothing more than 
barren ideas, frequently mere words, which leave the 
heart unmoved and cold, unless at the same time 
they present us with lively images of several particular 
persons who share in this humanity, to whom these 
concerns are of consequence, who groan under this 
misery, or rejoice in this happiness. These ideas only 
then become living motives to generous sentiments 
^nd actions. But this vivacity and this energy they 



T^he Value of Social Life. 55 

jcan scarcely other\vise acquire than by means of so- 
cial life, and the closer connexion we thereby con- 
tract with our fellow creatures. There alone we feel 
how much \ve all possess in common ; how littlfe one 
man can dispense with the help of another ; of how 
much value one is to the other ; how important this 
link is of the great chain which embraces and holds 
them all together. There we mutually discover many 
good qualities, many happy dispositions, many capa- 
cities and abilities, much acuteness and aptitude, 
which we did not suspect in each other ; and how 
much must not this contribute to increase our recip- 
rocal esteem and aifection ! How much generous 
satisfaction procure us ! There we frequently hear 
individuals of each condition, each age, each sex, 
each way of life, deliver such just opinions, express 
such truly christian sentiments, and see them conduct 
themselves so prudently, that our mind energetically 
feels its affinity, and our heart entirely sympathizes 
with them ; and how closely, how intimately must 
not this connect us together ! How extensively pro- 
mote the cause of humanity and brotherly love ! 

In social life we likewise learn to think more reas- 
onably of the weaknesses, the failings, and the aber- 
rations of our fellow mortals ; we learn to consider 
them not only in and of themselves but in relation 
to the particular individual, to the situatioa and cir- 
cumstances of that individual; we learn to judge of 
them by their grounds and occasions ; we learn to 
compare them with the good that so often counter- 
balances, nay, which so often outweighs them ; and 
how much more disposed must not this render us to 
each other, to bear and to pardon one another in 
christian love^ and to admonish one another in m^eek- 
ness of spirit ! 

By social life we acquire more sociable dispositions, 
transact more social affairs, enjoy more social pleas' 



§6 The Value of Social Lif€, 

ures and satisfactions, encourage ourselves more bj 
common prospects and expectations ; and by all this 
we are undoubtedly brought much closer together, 
into stricter and more intimate connexions, and are 
therefore, if we be well disposed and inclined, far 
more ready to serve and assist one another, and to 
promote our mutual happiness. I'o the calls of hu- 
manity, to the arguments of religion and christianityj 
are there superadded the particular impulses of ac- 
quaintance and frequent intercouse, the sacred im- 
pulse of friendships the impulse of social pleasures, 
and the common honor of society ; and bow much 
more must not the united force of all these arguments 
and incentives elFect in the man who does not harden 
his heart against them, than if he were reduced barely 
to follow the general and cold precepts of reason ! 

In social Ufe we have, fourthly, the most diversified 
opportunities for exercising ourselves in many good 
dispositions and virtues ; and every thing that con- 
firms us in good dispositions and induces us to prac- 
tise the virtues, is indisputably of very great valuCo 
In the stillness of retirement 1 certainly may and 
should reduce the propensities of my heart to order, 
give them all their proper direction, kindle and in- 
flanae my love for whatever is true and beautiful and 
good ; that is, to virtue. But only in social life, in 
converse with my brethren, can I confirm my pro- 
pensites in this good direction, and settle my love 
of truth, of moral beauty, of virtue, by a ready and 
faithful obedience to its precepts. Good sentiments 
that remain locked up in the heart, virtues that never 
exhibit themselves in action, can possess no signal 
value, but may easily appear better and greater than 
they really are; In social life they are put to the test; 
there we are summoned to bring them forth ; there, 
in the practice of them, we meet with obstacles to 
vanquishj diiRculties to surmount, and oppositions t© 



^he Value of Social Life. ^f 

encounter ; and the oftener we stand out these trials, 
obey these summons^ and come oiF victorious, or at 
least maintain our ground, so much the better and 
more virtuous shall we be, and so much the more 
safely may we rely on our virtue. 

And how various are the opportunities thus afford^ 
ed us in social life ! Here are weak brethren, whom 
I may easily offend, and who therefore exercise me 
in circumspection in my discourses and judgments : 
There are numberless defects and failings, which call 
for my little forgivenesses, my patience and indulg- 
encco Here I perceive eminent qualities of mind and 
heart, the advantages of person, of station, of fortune, 
which raise others above me, which I should respect 
and admire without jealousy or envy, but with in» 
ward satisfaction, with hearty delight ; there I dis- 
tinguish myself from others by similar advantages, 
receive approbation from others, conciliate their af=- 
fection ; and this esteem and affection should neither 
subject me to a false humility, nor lead me into fooL 
ish pride. Here I may be surprised into displeasure, 
betrayed into anger, into violence, or ill humor, and 
should learn from thence to govern myself; there 
irregular desires and concupisence may be excited in 
me, which I should encounter and subdue. Here I 
may be called upon to speak with undaunted resolu- 
tion in some good cause, to be ashamed of the truth 
before no man, to plead the cause of the person un- 
justly accused or calumniated, without respect of 
persons ; there will prudence and humanity impose 
an uninterrupted silence on me, bidding me repress 
any sally of wit, though never so happy, any jest, 
though never so pleasant, which may vex or injure 
another. Here 1 meet with a perverse being, to 
whom I must yield for the sake of peace ; there a 
quarrelsome person, whose passion 1 must restrain. 
Here some great or proud man, before v/hom I sliali.; 



§S Yhe Value of Social Life. 

not cringe ; and there an humble, timid creature^ 
whom I must not despise or confound. Here a man 
of high desert, whom I shall respect, though desti- 
tute of rank or station ; there an injurious, a con- 
temptible person, whom I shall not flatter, though 
surrounded by glittering pomp. Here I have an op- 
portunity to let another shine when I might shine 
myself; there an opportunity to sacrifice my own 
pleasure and conveniency to the pleasure and conve- 
niency of another, and thus to exercise myself in self 
denial and magnanimity. And who can reckon up 
all the opportunities and occasions that present them- 
selves in social life for confirming as in some good 
sentiment, for exercising ourselves in some virtue, 
for resisting and weakening some bad propensity, 
and thereby for promoting our intrinsic, our spiritual 
perfection t Certainly he who makes his own amend- 
ment his main concern, will find opportunities and 
incentives to it in every company, in his intercourse 
with every person. 

No less numerous are, fifthly, my pious hearers, 
the opportunities afforded us by social life for being 
useful to others in various ways ; and this also must 
give it a great value in the eyes of the benevolent and 
affectionate man. And, in reality, how vast a mul- 
tiplicity of services may we not there render to each 
other, and thus advance our mutual welfare ! And 
how important are they not frequently in their con- 
sequences ! We are there enabled, by instructive, 
entertaining, and familiar discourse, to free one per- 
son from an error, to clear up some doubt to an- 
other, and to remove from a third some scruple that 
gave him pain, conduct a fourth into the track of 
truth, and furnish him vv^ith an elucidation of mat- 
ters it higl^Iy concerned him to know. There may 
we often raise the dejected, encourage the timorous, 
l^heer the desponding, advise the wanderer, give reso^ 



The Value of Social Life. 59 

llition to the irresolute, information to the ignorant, 
warmth to the cold, and fresh vigor to the almost 
expiring. There may we often bring the giddy to 
reflection, the slothful to activity, the frail to the sen- 
timent and abhorrence of their failings, comfort the 
fallen, and animate those that are humbled by their 
fall to a cheerful prosecution of their course. 
There one while, a prudent and timely admonition, 
at another an affectionate suggestion, at another a 
friendly intreaty, at another a discreet remonstrance, 
at another deserved praise, at another a powerful 
word of comfort, at another an encouraging and ani- 
mated address, at another a hearty concurrence in 
the designs, an interest in the concerns and actions 
of others, may obviate many faults and transgress 
sions, may ward off many a misfortune, prevent many 
an uneasiness, restrain and abate many a hurtful pas- 
sion, or occasion and reward many a good deed, 
unite many hearts together, and open to them vari= 
ous sources of happiness and joy. There often, by 
the presence and operation of eminently intelligent 
and virtuous men, the noblest qualities of the human 
heart are displayed, and purposes brought to matu- 
rity in actual effects, which otherwise would have 
remained in the intention alone. And how much 
may we not there effectuate by our example ! What 
influence may we not obtain on others ! When they 
see and observe the beauty, the complaisance, the 
generosity, the gentleness of virtue in the lineaments 
of our face, in our judgments, in ©ur whole deport- 
ment; when they perceive the harmony subsisting in 
all the parts of our conduct, how tranquil, how sat- 
isfied, how cheerful the enjoyment of a good con-^ 
science and the assurance of the divine approbation 
render us ; how cheerful our hopes, and rational our 
devotion ; how respectable, how amiable, must not 
f irtue and piety appear to them ! \^^hat an impressiou 



#0 The Falue of Social Life p 

must not these observations, this sight, make on th^ 
good and the bad, on the strong and the weak, on 
the wavering and the resohite ? What a salutary 
compunction must it not excite in one, what a gen- 
erous emulation in another, what firmness and perse- 
yerance in a tliird ! 

Social life, in short, when properly used, is pro- 
;ductive of very many innocent and real pleasures to 
lis. The various advantages it procures us, is al» 
ready the richest and the purest source of them^ 
This greater knowledge of mankind, this extension 
of our perceptions and sphere of observation, this 
approximation of our hearts and minds to each 
other, this inward sentiment of our mutual relation- 
ship, this discipline in the noblest sentiments and 
virtues, this opportunity to do good and to promote 
felicity ; what pleasure must it not procure to the 
friend of truth, the friend of virtue, the friend of 
mankind ! And how many other sources of pleas- 
ure are not opened to us by the reciprocal confi- 
dence, the greater freedom, the natural endeavor 
to please, and to present ourselves on the most ad^ 
vantageous side, the various exertions and proofs of 
the benevolence of our brethren, the gaiety of con- 
versation, the charms of mirth, the many agreeable 
occupations and amusements of our senses and 
minds, which are the property of social life and give 
it all its worth ! And how the prudent, conscious, 
and sentimental enjoyment of these pleasures re- 
freshes and revives our hearts ! It recruits our 
spirits after finishing some laborious work ; it re- 
wards us for our industry and fidelity in the prose- 
cution of an arduous calling and the duties of life ; 
it furnishes relaxation to our assiduous intellect, by 
giving a freer and easier scope to its activity. Jt is 
fepose^ and yet not an inactive, not an irksome 



fhe Value of Social Life. 61 

fest ; it is employment, and yet not violent, not 
toilsome business. We there enjoy our existence 
in common, our distinctions, our goods, our pros- 
pects and connexions ; we there enjoy in common 
and with gladness of heart, the various gifts and re- 
creations which providence has granted us to enjoy ; 
we there feel the value of the mutual esteem and 
affection and friendship, that connects us together ; 
we there find ourselves encouraged and recompensed 
by the applause that is given to our projects, our 
sentiments and our actions ; we there calm and de- 
light ourselves in the idea of the manifold assistances 
and services we may expect from each other, and 
the number of things we may accomplish by united 
efforts ; we there find a variety of food for our 
taste, for our mind ; we there walk a smooth and 
pleasant path, bestrewed v\^ith flowers, and thus 
acquire fresh cheerfulness and vigor for pursuing 
the rougher and thorny parts of our progress. And 
must not this be an agreeable mode of existence, a 
desirable enjoyment of a diversified and substantial 
pleasure ? Must not the social life be of great value 
which procures all these advantages ? 

Judge then for yourselves, my dear brethren, what 
social life might be and procure to us, what a 
school of wisdom and virtue, what a source of hap^ 
piness it is capable of being rendered, if we con- 
stantly turned it to the best account; and thence 
you will conclude, that it is commonly our ovvii 
fault, when it is comparatively of small advantage 
to us. In the mean time, you are not to require of 
it all these benefits, all these pleasures, in an unin« 
terrupted succession, and always in an equally high 
degree. In that case your expectations would sel« 
dom be fully satisfied, and social life would become 
ungrateful to you. It is sufficient, that it is adapt- 



$2 The Value of Social Life. 

ed to procure us these advantages and pleasure.% 
and actually does, in a greater or less proportion,* 
Nothing more is requisite for demonstrating its ex» 
celleiit wortho 

Feel and confess then this value of social life. 
Rejoice in the natural faculties and dispositions the 
Creator has granted you for it. Beware of slight- 
ing or rejecting what is so deeply implanted in the 
nature of man, and is so well calculated to promote 
his perfection and happiness. Much rather follow 
this impulse of your nature. Give into the enjoy- 
ment of social life ; but use and enjoy it so as be- 
comes the wdse man, the christian. Never let either 
the affairs of your vocation, or your domestic du- 
ties, or your christian profession, or the prudent 
practice of silent contemplation and rational devotion 
be injured by it. Call yourself frequently to ac- 
count concerning the temper of mind you cany 
with you into social life and in which you partake 
of it, upon the advantages and pleasures you pro- 
cure from it. Be not negligently and coldly con- 
tented with every little advantge, with every 
trifling pleasure you may there obtain by chance • 
Endeavor to extract from it all the benefit, all the 
pleasures it is able to yield. Provide therein not 
only for your senses^, but likewise for j^our heart, 
for your understanding, for your reflections and 
feelings; and reap from social life such fruits as 
may be serviceable to you in your business, and so- 
lace you in retirement. 

Beware of considering social life as a matter to the 
use and enjoyment v/hereof neither attention nor 
consideration, neither wisdom nor virtue are re- 
quired, to which every one is equally adapted and 
prepared, and from which every one may promise 
himself a like advantage, Noy only the attentive 



V^he Value of Social Life. SS 

and thoughtful, only the good, the sensible, the viiv 
tuous man. can enjoy all the benefits and pleasures 
of social life which we have been considering, or 
even in a superior degree. The benefits and pleasures 
which the taougaJess^ the giddy, the wicked man 
enjoys therein, are commoniy very deceitful, or are 
of no great value. Connexions that are founded on 
self interest, on humor, or dishonest projects, are of 
no long duration ; they are as suddenly impaired or 
dissolved as they arose. Pleasures that proceed not 
from a good, humane and tender heart, which depend 
merely on chance, tend solely to pastime, and to 
soothing the senses ; pleasures wherein virtue and 
friendship are unconcerned, may possibly be inno- 
cent, but can never be desirable in any important de- 
gree, never wholly employ the soul in any worthy 
and honorable manner. 

No, use social life to the end to which it is adapt- 
ed and ordained. Strive by it to increase and to 
rectify your knowledge of mankind, to enlarge the 
circle of your observation, to enrich your stock of 
useful notions, and to confirm you in every worthy 
sentiment, to discipline yourself in every virtue. 
There learn to enjoy the intercourse with your fel- 
low creatures ; learn to love them, shew them your 
affection by numberless services and various gratifi- 
cations ; communicate freely and abundantly and 
generously to others of what you possess, if you 
would partake in what they have to bestow. There 
enjoy the pleasure of instructive, entertaining dis- 
course, the pleasure of friendship and confidence, 
the pleasure of social gladness in the bounties of 
God ; exalt and sanctify these pleasures, by the 
cheerful recollection of God, the donor of them ; 
and then let the benefits and pleasures you obtain 
from mutual converse with your brethren, give you 



54 ^he Value of Social L ife. 

fresh incitement and vigor to the discharge of every 
duty of busy, of domestic, of solitary life. So will 
your turn for society be not only harmless, but every 
way profitable to you. So will it fit you for entering 
hereafter, in a higher state, into a closer and more 
blissful connexion with the wisest and best of menj, 
and from your intercourse with them draw still mor^ 
copious portions of perfection and happiness* 



S£RM0N XXX. 
ns Value of a Busy Lip, 



\3 GOD, thou hast ordained us all to an ac-s 
tive, busy life. To this end thou hast granted us all the 
necessary capacities and powers, and the strongest incent- 
ives. To this end hast thou subjected us to so many wants, 
and rendered their demands so urgent in us; To this end 
hast thou connected us all so closely together, and placed 
us in such a state of dependence on each other* It is thy 
gracious appointment that we, as rational and free agents, 
should enjoy the honor and the pleasure, of being, under 
thy inspection and by thy assistance, the stay and benefac- 
tors of our brethren, and that by doing good we should re- 
semble thee, who from eternity to eternity art always doing 
good and constantly the best* Far be it then from us to 
misemploy these advantages or to leave them unemployed I 
Far be it from us to addict ourselves to a slothful, inactive, 
idle life ! Far be it from us to be ever weary in well doing I 
No, to use the capacities and energies which thou hast im- 
parted to us, and ever Xo use them in the best arid worthiest 
manner, to perform the business thou hast given us to do^ 
and to perform it with diligence and fidelity ; ever to effect 
and to promote more good among mankind ; that should be 
our pleasure and our boast, as the way on which we should 
Atrive after perfection and happiness ! Strengthen us thv- 
feelf, O merciful God, in these good dispositions, and grant 
that they may be brought into action in deed and in truth. 
Let us even now be convmced of the advantage of a conduct 
So consistent with such dispositions, that we may be awak- 
ened and powerfully eyxited to it, or confirmed in it, Ble,^& 
Vol. IL F 



65 ^lic Value of a Busy Life. 

in this view our reflections on the doctrines that are now t©^ 
be delivered to us, and hearken to our supplications, through 
Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord, in whose name we farther 
address thee, sayings as he taught us : Gur Father, &c. 



ilOMANS xii. li. 

Not Slothful in Business » 

BUT too many people sigh after rest as their 
supreme felicity, complain of the multiplicity of af- 
fairs and concerns thiat press upon them ; wish they 
were discharged from them ; long to be freed from 
all necessity of employment in any stated way ; that 
they might apply their time and their faculties to 
some agreeable pursuit, and make such a use of 
them as might be most conformable to their taste 
and disposition; Such men seldom know rightly 
\vhat it is they would have $ they commonly wish 
to e^^change a few light and very tolerable incum- 
brances and evils for a far greater burden. Rest is 
indeed a very desirable object ; but it consists not 
in indolence, in slothful inaction. It is founded on 
moderation, on regularity, on inward contentment. 
It is consistent with the busiest life ; and no man 
understands and enjoys it less than the idle and un- 
employed. No, to a man that is in possession of 
his health and faculties, a life of business is far pref- 
erable to one spent without occupation. It pro-^ 



fhe Value of a Busy Life. 67 

turcs him infinitely more satisfactions and pleasures, 
and tends more to his perfection and happiness. The 
sacred writings therefore, which know our real wants, 
and best understand what can make us good and 
happy, every where incite us to industry, to dilig- 
ence, to the exertion of our abilities. ** Be not 
slothful in business," says the apostle Paul in our 
text. Perform the business of your office, of your « 
calling, not from compulsion, not with reluctance, 
not in an indolent, negligent w^ay ; but execute it 
with care and zeal. Let us, my pious hearers, in 
order to awaken in us a more ready obedience to this 
apostolical precept, consider the great value of a busy 
life ; and to that end, first, inquire how such a life 
should be conducted for having a great value ; and 
then, what confers this value on it, or wherein it 
consists. , .. . 

•By a busy life we are to understand a life, wherein^ 
by our station, our office, our calling, and our con- 
nexion with other persons, we have to manage and 
execute such works and businesses, mostly stated, 
as our time and abilities will allow us to manage and 
execute* 

In order that such a life may be really and highly 
valuable to us, in the first place, these works and 
businesses must be proportionate to our powers of 
mind and body. We should know and understand 
what we have to do and to manage ; we should pos- 
sess the capacities, the abilities and the skill, that are 
requisite ; we should, at least generally speakings 
be able to proceed with facility and a certain confi- 
dence in ourselves ; we should therefore have been 
long and early exercised in them, so as to have ac- 
quired a ceitain dexterity in them. If we are plagued 
and perplexed, and obliged to stop every moment, 
as it were, in our work and affairs, either through 
ignorance of what they demand of us, or from hesi* 



id The Falue of a Busy Lije« 

tations and doubt concerning the best method of be- 
ginning or of prosecuting a matter, or from the sen- 
timent of our inablity to complete it ; • such a life can 
indeed be of no great value to us ; it is a burden, an 
oppressive burden, under which we may easily sink. 
In order, farther, that a life of business should be 
highly valuable to us; the business we carry on 
♦ must be lawful, and we must be fully convinced of 
the lawfulness of it. We must be able to transact 
it without inward uneasiness, without any reproaches 
©f eonsciencej without any servile apprehension of 
God. Neither must it give us cause to be ashamed 
before men; and we have no occasion to be so^ 
whenever our work or employment is neither at va- 
fiance with integrity nor with the love of our neigh- 
bor, neither in opposition to divine or human laws, 
let it be in all other respects as mean and insignifi=. 
cant as it may. On the contrary, if we are entangled 
in affairs which our own conscience disapproves, or 
which we cannot in direct terms pronounce to be 
fight r in affairs en which we dare not bespeak the 
approbation and blessing of the supreme being, and 
while employed in them murst drive off all thoughts 
df him, and his presence ; in affairs which are held 
to be degrading and dishonorable by all intelligent 
and honest men, or are reckoned unworthy of the 
pains and the time we bestow upon them ; then, in- 
deed, such a life has so much the less value for be- 
ing so busy. Affairs which a man is forced to con- 
ceal from the face of God, from the world, from? 
himself, the scope and design whereof he must cover 
with the veil of secrecy, of artifice, of misrepresen- 
tation ; of which a man dare not give account to 
others and scarcely to himself; and from which he 
has reason to fear, sooner or later, disgrace or pun* 
ishment ; such affairs must necessarily embitter th© 



The Value ef a Busy Life. 69 

^viiole life of the wretch that is engaged in thenij 
and can produce nothing but trouble and remorse. 

For rendering a busy life highly valuable, thirdly, 
regularity should preside in our affairs. We should 
know how one business follows on another, how 
they are conjoined together, how one is complicated 
in the other, how one conduces to the alleviation^ 
the dispatch, and the execution of another, W^ 
should be able to take a just, and as far as possible^ 
a complete survey of the whole, and know deter mi^ 
nately what we have to do and to provide for in every 
portion of time, in every place, in every department, 
in every respect. Regularity lightens even the most 
complicated and the most troublesome affairs. With 
that they seldom come upon us unawares, seldom 
find us unprepared ; and even the accidental and un= 
expected always find leisure and room where regu- 
larity prevails. Regularity enables us to do all things 
with ease, composure, and calmness ; and no labor 
exhausts us less, none better succeeds, than what we 
perform in this temper of mind- On the otlier hand, 
where all is in disorder, there perplexity, contradic- 
tion, vexation, and discord, establish their sway ; 
there a man knows not where to begin, how to pro- 
ceed, or when to leave off; there one business 
crowds upon another; there one is forgotten, and 
another neglected ; there a man will be one while 
over hurried, and at another over loaded with busi- 
ness ; there a man has so many forgotten or neglect^ 
ed affairs to recollect, that he can scarcely attend to 
the present ; there a man must at one time exert 
himself till he is fatigued and exhausted, and knows 
not at another what he shall first undertake ; there a 
man has no fixed point to which he tends, and knows 
not how near he is to the end of his labors ; and ail 
this must necessarily render his business disagreeable 
and difficuLt to him. 

3 



70 The Value of a Busy Life. 

Would we, lastly, have a life of business to be of 
great value to us, then must we pursue such affairs 
as we may probably expect will be productive of 
utility to ourselves or to others ; though it is by no 
means necessary that we should foresee and previously 
ascertain this utility, or always immediately or visibly 
reap from it proportionably to our desires and en- 
deavors. Constantly to be running on the course at 
random, and without hopes of reaching the goal, at 
length must weary the most indefatigable racer. To 
be always working and never to see the fruit of our 
labor advancing to maturity, never to be able tp 
gather it, must at length render the most industrious, 
the most persevering workman dull and dispirited. 
It seldom however happens, and seldom without our 
fault, that lawful business, conducted with prudence, 
with application and regularity, can fail of being 
useful to ourselves and to others. Only we must be 
neither selfish nor covetous ; nor look solely to our 
own advantage, but also to the general good; not 
only to outward, visible, present advantage, but also 
take into the account the remoter good consequences 
of our affairs, and their influence on our spiritual 
perfection ; and then, with a very moderate share of 
success, we can neither fail of an incitement to busi- 
ness, nor of the rewards attending it. 

If then a life of business be so framed, if the affairs 
incumbent on us be proportionate to our faculties 
and powers ; if they be innocent and lawful ; if we 
carry them on with order and regularity ; if we may 
promise ourselves advantage from them ; then we 
must ascribe real and great value to such a life ; we 
must prefer it infinitely to a life of indolence. 

And now what gives it this value ? Wherein does 
it consist ? That we may be able to answer these 
questions, we have only to weigh the consequencef 
and effects of a life thus employed. 



The Value of a Busy Life. 71 

A busy life is, in the first place, the best, the only 
sure preservative from that languor of mind we 
feel whenever time hangs heavy on our hands ; and 
that languor is incontestably a grivous burden. 
Never is the busy man at a loss to know how he shall 
employ the present day, the present hour, with what 
he shall employ or amuse himself. No sooner does 
he awake from sleep but he goes to his daily labor, 
sees it already before him, and disposes and conects 
the several parts of it togethefo Every period of the 
day has its particular aUotment ; one business suc- 
ceeds another, one is constantly replaced by the next 
in order ; every hour brings with it, as it were, its 
particular contribution ; and the leisui^ his affairs 
allow him, is usually too short to let him fail In the 
opportunities and means of passing it both pleasantly 
and profitably. And thus the hours, the days, thui 
weeks, the years elapse, without ever being tedious, 
ever being burdensome to him ; and yet they are by 
no means vanished away ; he knows he has used 
them, that he has employed tliem in a lawful and ben«. 
eficial way, that he has turned them to an honest 
and just account, and that, in regard to their conse- 
quences, they are not lost. — On the other hand, how 
unhappy is the indolent man and the loiterer ! How 
often is he utterly at a loss to know with what he 
shall begin the day, how he shall pass the first, tlie 
best, the most of its hours ! How anxiously does he 
strive to divert hiraseif I How restless, how dispirit- 
ed does he run from one object to another, from one 
place to another, from one business to anotlier, now 
beginning this, then that, finds nothing to his taste . 
and is satisfied with none ! How much do his grati- 
fications and pleasures depend on the most triSing 
accidents, and how easily does the privation of any 
of his customary dissipations and diversions render 
Jiina wretched! How hard is he often put to it, 



f^ T/ie Value of a Busy Llfel 

to what dreadful labor is he often reduced, for 
driving on, or, as he calls it himself, for killing his 
time ! How impatiently does he long for the hour 
when he may lay down the load of dulness he has 
endured all day^ and sink into the arms of sleep, if 
haply he may even there enjoy repose ! 

A busy life is, farther, a sure preservative from a 
thousand follies and sinful excesses, which the man 
who leads an indolent and lazy life can seldom avoid. 
He that has no settled business, who is consequently 
oppressed and persecuted by languor of mind, who 
feels himself unhappy, readily falls into every thing 
that promises him distraction, entertainment, or 
pleasure, intq any thing from which he may hope for 
an alleviation of his condition. And, since he has 
so many hours, whole days and weeks, and years to 
occupy, he need not be nice in chsooing the means 
and the persons that may assist him in this design ; 
must often while away his time with the lowest and 
most insipid amusements, and seek a kind of satis- 
faction from the grossest pleasures ; and, since the 
better, the busy class of mankind, neither wish nor 
venture to associate with him, he is generally confin- 
ed to the company and conversation of such as, like 
him, are a burden to themselves and to others, who 
are as ignorant as himself how to make a good and 
worthy use of their faculties and their time. And 
from what follies and extravagances can such an one 
be safe ? Into what folly, into what vice will he not 
readily plunge, whenever they promise him pastime 
or sport ? Far different is the case with the busy 
man, as above described. His business allows him 
too little liesure, and gives his mind too manly, too 
serious a^turn, to let him fall into the temptation of 
misapplying the few minutes he has to spare. The 
love of order that accompanies him in his affairs, for- 
sakes him not in his periods of recreation. An^ 



The Value of a Busy Life. 73 

these, from his good character and conduct, he may 
pass in the company of the best and most deserving 
persons, which he necessarily prefers to the conver- 
sation of the fooUsh and the frivolous, w^ith men whq 
must appear to him contemptible and noxious, 

A busy life is, thirdly, the most powerful incenr 
tive, and the best means of unfolding our abilities, 
of displaying, of exercising, and of invigorating our 
faculties, and accordingly of promoting our real per- 
fection. Without attention, without consideration, 
without reflection, without comparing and connects 
ing several things together, without a constant refer- 
ence to the past and the future, no business that is 
not nierely mechanical can be effectually carried on \ 
and the more complicated, the more multifarious, 
the more important it is, the more unremittedly 
must we confine our attention and reflections to it, 
and keep all our mental powers in action. Neither 
are the obstacles and difficulties that accompany, 
more or less, every species of affairs, ever to be con- 
quered, without industry, without regularity, with- 
out persevering patience, without firmness, without 
foresight and prudence. How powerful then must 
not the motives of duty, necessity, profit and honor, 
be to the application, and not unfrequently to the 
exertion of our abilities! And how much farther 
must we not proceed in the good, in the best appli. 
cation of them ; how much more justly shall we 
learn to think ; how much more intelligent, circum- 
spect, prudent, discreet, wary, dextrous and virtu- 
ous, shall we not become ; how much more useful 
to others than we could possibly be by a lazy and in- 
active life ! Hov»r much does the man of business 
learn to comprehend with his understanding, to re- 
tain in his memory, and to execute with his pow- 
ers ! How rapidly and how easily does he survey, as 
it were at one glance, a long train of events^ a whole 



f4 The Value of a Susy Life, 

scries of things ! How justly does he not hit thcr 
point in which they all unite ! How perspicuously 
does he unravel the most intricate matters ! How 
many events and revolutions of things does he not 
foresee ; and how much does he adopt in his plans 
and projects, which would frighten the ignorant or 
inexperienced, and throw them into pale astonish- 
ment ! And what obstacles will he not at length 
overcome, what difficulties will he not vanquish, by 
courage and confidence ! And must not these ad- 
vantages be held for desirable by all men ? Will they 
be too dearly purchased by a busy, a laborious life ? 
Can we exercise our powers without the exertions 
to which they are adapted, and can we strengthen 
and improve them without exercise ? Are capacities 
and powers, which we possess indeed, but do not 
manifest, do not apply, do not know how properly 
to use, of any great value ? Does not our inward 
spiritual perfection consist in the fittest, easiest, best, 
and happiest use, in the greatest possible improv-e- 
ment of them ? Is it not the only species of perfec- 
tion that remains with us for ever ? And shall we 
rather let these noble powers, p'owers by which we 
are able to elFect so much, shall we rather let them 
sleep and stagnate, than awaken and invigorate them 
by activity and industry ? 

A life of business is, fourthly, the best means of 
being useful to others in numberless ways, and of 
having a great and manifold influence on the general 
welfare. For the subsistence and advantage of society 
it is necessary that various businesses and works be 
executed by its members, and that they be executed 
with assiduity and faithfulness. The one must in 
this manner, and the other in that, provide for the 
wants, the conveniences, the elegances, and the 
pleasures of his brethren. The more works and bu- 
sinesses of these kinds, therefore, w^ undertake and 



Vhe Value of a Busy Life. %B 

/complete, so much the more useful are we to so- 
ciety ; so much the more serviceable do we render 
ourselves to it; so much the more ample is the con- 
tribution we bring to the common welfare. The 
busy man alone is grateful to the community which 
supports and protects him, and procures him a thous- 
and advantages ; he repays, and often repays with 
interest, the services it does him. Whereas the un- 
employed, the idler, is a mean spirited creature, who 
is always receiving, and never gives, who is profit- 
able to none, and yet requires service from all men ; 
an abject debtor, daily increasing his debt, and never 
intending to pay it.-— And how extensively dees the 
busy man operate around him ! For what numbers 
of his brethren, near him and afar oiF, known to him 
and unknown, of all classes and conditions, mediate- 
ly or immediately, does he not think and provide 
and labor ! What services does he not render them, 
by his counsel, by his assistance, by his perceptions, 
by his dexterity, by his industry, by his integrity ! 
How many others does he not set on to the most 
useful activity by means of his own business ! How 
much evil does he not thus prevent, how much good 
not promote ! How often is he by this means the be- 
nefactor, not only of the present race of men, but al- 
so of future generations ! And must not such a Hfe 
be of great value, must it not be far preferable to a 
life of inaction and idleness ? 

But, if a life of business be highly useful, so must 
it also, fifthly, on that very account, be an abundant 
spring of pleasure and happiness to ourselves. And 
in fact, my pious hearers, how great the pleasure to 
exert our talents, to display our abilities with skill, 
and in the most generally useful way! What a pleas- 
ure to vanquish impediments, to conquer difficulties, 
to plan extensive projects, to finish useful v/orks, to 
J^rhig good designs to perfection ! What a ple^.sure, 



76 The Value of a Busy Life 9 

when a man makes out his reckoning to himself at 
the end of the day, or the week, or the year, of the 
application of his faculties and his time, and can 
console himself in the reflection that he has not suf- 
fered them to lie idle, that he has not squandered 
them away, that he has not misemployed them, but 
has made them answer to the will of God, and has 
accomplished many good and useful matters with 
them ! What a pleasure, when a man can say to him- 
self, that he has discharged his duty, worthily filled 
his post, that he has served and assisted many of his 
fellow creatures, that he has been the benefactor of 
his brethren ! What a pleasure, when a man may 
promise himself the respect, the affection, the grati- 
tude of the whole society, and can accept and em- 
ploy their reciprocal services, their testimonies of 
esteem, and the reward of his merits^ with a good 
conscience, and with the grateful sentiment that he 
is not unworthy of them I And how greatly must not 
all these pleasures contribute to the felicity of the 
man ! How pleasant to him must be the retrospect 
on his past, the enjoy m^ent of his present, and the 
prospect of his future life ! With what confidence 
may he not think on God, and how freely and openly 
converse with men ! How contented, how satisfied 
must he not be in the consciousness of his growth in 
inward perfection, and the survey of the good he has 
effected about hirn ! How sweet must not ^ach longer 
or shorter recreation be to him, the enjoyment of 
each innocent pleasure, either sensual or intellectual, 
to which he has obtained a right by useful employ- 
ment, and to which his appetite is not blunted by 
too copious an indulgence in this seasoning of life ! 
Pure advantages, pure pleasures and joys, unknown 
to the unemployed and the idle. To them their fa- 
culties and povvcrs are often a downright burden. To 
them every day, every week, every year of their lives. 



^'he Value of a Busy Life. 77 

Is alike empty of actions and events that might glad- 
den and refresh their minds. Them the past afHicts, 
the present perplexes, and the future confounds,^ 
And as often as they are forced to reflect upon them- 
selves, they must stand ashamed before God and 
man. Their very pleasures are uniform and taste- 
less. And hoiv often must they be an incumbrance, 
how often disgustful to them ! How great then must 
be the advantage in this respect of the industrious 
over the idle ! 

To conclude, a busy life, conducted with intelli- 
gence, with regularity, conscientiousness, and direct- 
ed to the common welfare, is the best preparation 
for a superior, a more perfect, and a more blissful 
state in the future world. The more we here unfold 
our faculties, and elevate and improve our talents 
by practice, in so much greater and more important 
matters shall we there employ them ; so much the 
more shall we there be able to do w ith them ; so 
much the more quickly and easily shall we there 
proceed towards the mark of supreme perfection. 
The more carefully and earnestly we do in this pro- 
vince of the kingdom of God, what he has delivered 
us to perform ; so much the more will he confide to 
us to transact and to use in other provinces of his 
kingdom. The more extensively we here operate 
about us in views of general utility, so much the 
larger is the sphere of operation he there will assign 
us. The better w^e here allow ourselves to be edu- 
cated and formed by our heavenly father, the better 
will he be able to employ us there when we shall have 
exchanged this state of childhood for the manly age. 
Rest and refreshment without previous toil, payment 
without service, perfection without the best and 
faithfuUest use of our powers, bliss without an active, 
busy life, can no more be thought of in heaven than 
it can upon earth, can there no more exist than here. 



7B The Value of a Busy Life. 

What an encouraging prospect for the man that leads' 
a life of business ! And what a comfortless, melan- 
choly idea for the slothful, who passes his days in 
loitering and idleness. 

And now take all this into your minds at one 
view. Reflect that a busy life exempts a man from: 
the oppressive load of languor of spirits ; that it se- 
cures him from a thousand follies and sinful ex- 
cesses 5 that it most cogently incites him to unfold 
his capacities, to exert and exercise his faculties, and 
thereby to advance his perfection ; that it furnishes 
him with means and opportunities of being useful 
to mankind in the greatest variety of ways, and of 
acquiring a vast influence on the general welfare ; 
that it is a rich source of pleasure and happiness to 
himself; that, in short, it prepares and fits him for 
a higher and better state ; and say, after all, whether 
a life of business is not of real and of great value ; 
whether it is not far preferable to an inactive, unem- 
ployed, and lazy life. 

Certainly, my dear brethren, this is the best and 
noblest use of life. Hereto are we ordained and 
called ; hereto has God entrusted to us capacities^ 
and powers, and given us so many urgent wants. 
By this alone can we become as perfect, as happy as? 
man can be in the present state of things, and extract 
from this, usually sa short and uncertain a life, as 
much advantage as it is able to afford. Thus no mo- 
ment of it passes empty and unenjoyed away. Thus 
a man, as it were, multiplies his existence, and 
lengthens his life. Thus a man lives and operates 
by others as well as himself, and frequently even to 
the latest posterity. Render therefore thanks to God 
if he has placed you by his providence in a busy sta- 
tion, proportionate to your powers, and adequate ta 
your time. Complain not of the quantity and trouble 
Qf ite Be not sluggish and slothful in the performw 



The P'alue of a Busy Life. 79 

irice of it. It is proper for the state of exercise and 
education wherein we live at present ; and if yoii 
carry it on with understanding, with regularity and 
conscientiousness, if you treat and manage it as work 
committed to you by God, you will pursue it with 
fcomfort and pleasure, and not without advantage. 
Therefore, long not after the imaginary happiness of 
an inactive repose, or you will soon severely pay for 
the foolish wish. Let it rather be to you, as it was 
to our Saviour, your meat and your pleasure, to per^ 
form what God has given you to do, to work indefa- 
tigably while yet it is day, lest the glodmy night of 
affliction and sorrow, or the impenetrable shades of 
death, come on before you have finished your task. 
Be like the faithful servants, whom their lord at his 
coming, be it late or early, finds employed in his 
service. 



SERMON SiXXt 

The Value of Commerce. 



\J God, who art the governor and ruler oi 
all, the parts as well as the whole, the sniall as well as the 
great, what connexion, what order and harmony prevail not 
throughout the whole of thy immense domain ; and how 
much more should we not be lost in profound astonishment 
and joyful transport, could we survey and comprehend in 
our minds a larger portion of it 1 But even on our terrestrial 
globe, even in the government which thou exercisest over 
us men^ what traces of the wisest, benignest inspection and 
providence are not discoverable ! How exactly adapted is 
every thing to the greatest possible welfare of all living 
creatures 1 How intimately all is connected and interwoven 
together ! What an all embracing, indissoluble chain of 
causes and effects, the ultimate aim and consequence where» 
of is life and happiness ! To every one of us hast thou al- 
lotted his place, to every one given his appointed measure 
of capacities and powers, to every one assigned his sphere 
of operation, to every one committed his particular affairs ;- 
and if every one of us do that which thou callest him to do, 
then every one provides and works for all, and all provide 
and work for every one, and thus the whole innumerable 
family of thy children on earth, are Jprought constantly 
Bearer to their perfection. How worthy likewise in this 
respect is the vocation to which thou hast called us ! How 
worthy that we should fulfil the several duties of it with 
cheerful mirids, with unabated zeal, with inviolable fidelity ! 
O teach us then likewise herein to acknowledge and revere 
thy purposes as those of the wisest and kindest parent ; let 
us by constantly esteeming the business of our station and 



The Value of Commerce. %\ 

ialling an earth as highly important, be strongly incited to 
prosecute them with ever increasing care and dignity. Bless 
to this end our meditations on the lessons of truth that are 
now to be delivered to us. Let our perceptions be increased 
and our sentiments elevated and ennobled by them. In this 
behalf we olFer up unto thee our suppUcations in the name 
•f Jesus Christ our Lord, and address thee farther, trustxag 
in his promises, as— Our Father, 8c6. 



ISAIAH xxiii. S. 

Whit mirclmts atc princes, whose traffickers ere the henorable ejthe iarth 

IT is of great importance for a man to know 
how to dignify his vocation, the profession he 
is engaged in, or the business he carries on. Tliis 
' lightens to him all the troubles and disagreeableness 
attending it ; this repays him for the painful indus- 
try and the unremitted cares he bestows upon it ; 
this stimulates him to do all that relates to it with 
alacrity and exactitude, and to neglect no part of it 
as unworthy of his attention; though never so insig- 
nificant or trifling in itself. And how is this to be 
done ? How does a man dignify his calling ? Hovf 
does he make it of greater value to him ? On one 
hand, by considering it as an eiiect of the order and 
arrangement established in the world by God ; say- 
ing to himself: — It is the will of God that mankind 
should be so connected together, so labor for each 
other, and thus mutually contribute to the public ben- 
efit ; and that I in particular should act in the sta- 
Vol. IL G 



fe ^he Value of Commerce. 

don, the department I fill, in such a manner as mf 
vocation demands » But also on the other hand by 
discerning the value of his calling, or discovering 
what it is that renders it really important and esti- 
mable, by representing to himself its connexion with 
tiie welfare of society at large, and its beneficial in- 
fluence upon it. By this means every man may con- 
fer a dignity on the calling he pursues, so that it be 
but lawful. And this is indisputably the best means 
and the strongest inducement to walk, as the apostle 
exhorts us, worthy of our vocation. What may be 
advanced of every profession holds good in a parti- 
cular manner when applied to commerce. And, as 
the generality of you are one way or other concern- 
ed in this vocation, it will not be thought unsuitable 
if I deliver a few considerations which will enable 
ycti to think adequately of it. Having then, in the 
foregoing discourse, investigated the value of a busy 
life in general, I shall now proceed particularly to 
examine into the value of commerce, as a particular 
species of it. In this design we must first shcM^, what 
gives to commerce, in and of itself, a considerably 
great value ; and then, how and by what means this 
its value is enhanced in regard to those by whom 
Commerce is carried on. 

When we ascribe a distinguished value to com- 
merce, we consider it not barely as a means of pro- 
viding for our own support. This property it has in 
common v/ith every profession, even the meanest 
calling of life, that it procures us food and raiment^ 
and supplies the wants of nature. Neither do we 
consider it basely as the means of acquiring wealth, 
and of living more conveniently and elegantly than 
others, or of playing a more distinguished part in so- 
ciety. For these likewise are advantages that belong 
not exclusively to this state of life. They may fall 
to the lot of the artist^ the mechanic, the husband- 



^he Value of Commerce, ^% 

man, the man in public trust, and even to per'sohs 
of the learned professions. No, if we would rightly 
consider and appreciate the eminent value of com- 
merce, and thence acquire for it the respect it de- 
serves, we must take into the account its beneficial 
influence on the general prosperity, ^^hat it contri- 
butes towards the stock of human perfection and 
happiness ? And now, what are its pretensions in 
this respect? 

First, it sets mankind upon a far greater, a far 
more diversified, and thereby a more useful activity ; 
and every thing that promotes useful activity among 
mankind, promotes their benefit. For only thus are 
our torpid capacities and powers, as it were, roused, 
developed, exercised, and by degrees brought to that 
point of strength and perfection which they are de- 
signed to attain. And how greatly does not com- 
merce contribute to this elFect ! What numbers of 
hands, what numbers of heads it employs ! To how 
many kinds of trades and manufactures does it not 
give life ! To how many others does it not commu- 
nicate a weight and value, which but for it they 
could never acquire, and which without it vv^ould be 
carried on in a more careless and superficial manner I 
How many sorts of industry, of dexterity, of art, does 
it not quicken and support, encourage and reward I 
How alert and busy does it not render, in number- 
less respects, the inventive faculties of man ! What 
a powerful and far operating spring in the whole of 
sociaf and busy life ! How many wheels of this 
grand machine, large and small, does it not set in 
motion ! And what fatal stoppages and obstructions 
arise where its impulse is checked or impeded ! How 
many people it requires, how many people must 
strenuouslv exert their abilities in various ways, in 
rearing* and obtaining the products of nature, in 
working them up, in improving them, in stowing 



M The Value of CommereK 

them, ill transporting them from one place to asii* 
other, and often to the remotest regions of the habit- 
able earth ! How much less diligently and industri- 
Gusly would not all this be done, how much fewer' 
people be employed in it, if all these products re- 
ceived not additional value from every man's hand 
through Vvhich they pass, if by means of commerce 
they were not exchanged for other products of na- 
ture, or disposed of to profit I How much less life, 
agility, industry, diligence and address, is percept- 
ible, where little or no commerce exists, than where 
it flourishes ! How many hands and heads are there 
almost inactive, vdiich here would be employed in 
various useful ways ! Would you convince your- 
selves of the life and activity which commerce excites 
among mankind, transport yourselves in imagination 
into the midst of a famous mercantile city, visit its 
exchange and its harbor ; or only represent to your* • 
selves a populous and much frequented market 
place ; what a multitude and diversity of busy per- 
sons of all ranks and conditions will you not ther& 
perceive I And yet this is extraordinary activity 
limited to a short portion of time, and confined to a 
narrow space; activity very inconsiderable, compared 
to that which is an endless, uninterrupted consequence 
of commerce in the generality of countries on the 
habitable globe. And must not this give it a real 
and a great value I 

Commerce, farther, connects men more together, 
brings them nearer to each other, and lets their mu- 
tual dependence on each other be more sensibly felt ; 
and every thing that brings and unites mankind 
more closely together is a source of pleasure and hap- 
piness to them^ and may be likev/ise an incitement 
to virtue. Mutual wants, social businesses, social 
views and advantages ; what strong ties of- connex- 
ion \ If the merchant be in want of the irudustryj 



7he Value of Commer^. 6S 

the labor, the mechanical and mental powers, the 
service and assistance of a tliousand men ; these in 
return stand in need of his protection, his support, 
his encouragement, his pay. If the former would 
execute his designs and attain his purposes, a thous- 
and others must cooperate with him to that end. 
If he would reap the profit he expects from his busi- 
ness, he must let a thousand others obtain a propor- 
tionate advantage. That trade may be carried on 
with success 5 handicrafts, arts and agriculture, must 
flourish also ; all ranks and conditions of men must 
then have more concerns together, work more for 
each other, and enter into closer connexions. And 
how far do not these connexions extend! How 
many classes and descriptions do they not embrace:! 
What nation is so remote that is not brought nearer 
to the rest by commerce ? Along what pathless wil- 
derness, over w^iat steep and craggy mountains, 
across what untried stormy seas and oceans, does not 
the merchant find his way to his remotest brethren 1 
Allow it to be self interest and the love of gain that 
teaches him to despise these dan^-ers and to conquer 
these difficulties; yet the effect is always that man is 
thereby more connected with man, that social dispo- 
sitions are awakened and supported in them, that an 
interest in their reciprocal prosperity and misfortunes 
is strengthened and increased ; and must not all these 
considerations taken together redound to the advan- 
tage of mankind, and tend insensibly to their improve- 
ment and perfection ? 

By the same means, my pious hearers, commerce 
facilitates to mankind the communication of their 
perceptions, their inventions and discoveries, their 
goods and advantages, to each other. It occasions 
a constant and universal circulation and exchange of 
all these thing's amone them. It indeed likewise dis- 
semuiates many fauhs and vices» and opens many 



;i6 The Value of Commerce. 

sources of calamity where they would else have beeia 
ijnknown. But do not those manifold and great 
benefits far exceed these accidental disadvantages ? 
How far behind would the human race have been 
in every particular ; how little w^ould they have ad- 
vanced above the condition of infancy ; with how 
much labor and toil must they have supplied the 
prime wants of nature ; how slowly would they have 
proceeded in civilization ; if every nation, every pro- 
vince, had been confined to its own experiences, ob- 
serv^ious^ discoveries and inventions ! How much 
is learnt by one people of another, in necessary and 
useful as well as in r.greeable and entertaining mat- 
ters, in mechanics and the fine arts, in iigriculture 
and husbandry, as well as in the sublimer sciences \ 
How many steps farther are not all these advanced at 
various times by the communication of some single 
idea, some curious instrument, or some new device ! 
What important revolutions may not some frosh 
branch of commerce, a new kind of manufacture, an 
introduction of new articles of trade, a new scope to 
the genius, occasion by promoting arts and sciences 
among a whole people ! And how quickly is useful 
knowledge now^ conveyed from one extremity of the 
inhabited and cultivated earth to the other ! How 
soon may the luminous thoughts, which now occupy 
the soul of one of my brethren in the most distant 
regions of the northern or southern hemisphere, be- 
come likewise mine, and diffuse light into my mind 
and satisfaction into my heart, or introduce more 
order into my conduct and my affairs ! How much 
more easily and rapidly, by means of this great con- 
nexion and extensive communication, may not even 
the weightiest matters of religion be disseminated, 
and the most salutary, the most comfortable truths 
be transplanted thither where ignorance, error, and 
baleful superstition, have hitherto prevailed ! And is 



. The Value of Commefce. 87 

it not commerce that promotes and facilitates this 
connexion and communication of mankind with 
each other ? 

Besides, commerce procures mankind numberless 
conveniences, numberless kinds of pleasure and de- 
light, which else they must be without, or must ob- 
:tain with far greater difficulty, "Jess frequently, and 
with much more labor and expense. Scarcely any 
sort of natural productions and fruits of the earth, 
of the works of art and industry, are at present the 
exclusive property of any one cauntry. Now what- 
ever either of them has that is eminently good and 
beautiful is reciprocally an article of exchange. We 
may now see the wonders of nature, in their 
^ost diversified and delightful forms ; may enioy 
the products of every region ; make use of the intel- 
ligence, the abilities, the work of every nation ; and 
may accumulate and employ as our own ^vhatever 
can flatter the taste and charm the sight, whatever 
can add ornament to our dwellings, beautify our 
gardens, give neatness and warmth to our raiment, 
or embejljsh our condition ; whatever can employ 
our mind or gratify our curiosity, from the remotest 
and most dissevered districts of the globe ; and this, 
in a hundred respects, is within the reach of the poor 
as well as the rich. And who can be so insensible to 
all these advantages, as to ascribe no value to com- 
merce by which he procures them ? Or who will 
allow himself to be deten^ed from pronouncirig it 
^estimable and desirable, because these conveniences 
.and elegances of life may be abused, as indeed they 
but too often are ? 

Lastly, by all these means, commerce contributes 
in no small degree to soften and polish the manners 
of mankind, to form their taste, and to promote mu- 
tual toleration and forbearance among them. The 
more mankind converse together, and the more 

4 



BS The Falue of Commerce, 

closely they are connected among themselves ; so 
much the move attention will they shew to what may 
displease or please another; so much the more assi= 
duously will they remove every difficulty in the way 
of their intercourse with each other, avoid every thing 
that may disturb their connexion, and sedulously 
avoid whatever may give umbrage or offence to one 
another. The more good and beautiful articles they 
compare with others and offer for them, and the oft- 
ener they are necessitated to choose between them ; 
so much the more will their taste be rectified and re- 
fined ; so much more impartial is their judgment of 
what is beautiful and good. In short, the more di- 
versity they perceive in the sentiments and usages of 
mankind, and the more they observe how little influ- 
ence they have on their general and most important 
judgments and actions, so niuchthe more justly will 
they learn to judge of these things ; so much more 
will the distance and dislike which these causes might 
have occasioned be weakened; so much the more will 
tliey be accustomed to look' upon a man as a man, 
and to affectionate every good man, to esteem every 
intelligent and honest man, to whatsoever nation he 
may belong, whatsoever language he may speak, 
whatsoever religious opinions he may hold, whatso- 
ever customs he may choose to observe. Accordingly 
this mutual toleration and esteem is always far greater 
^nd more universal among mercantile nations, than 
among such as are more confined to their own terri- 
tories, and have less intercourse with others. 

And this, my dear brethren, this it is, that gives 
commerce in general and on its own account a great 
and intrinsic value, what renders it important and 
honorable in the eyes of the thinking man. It even 
possesses this value, in a greater or less degree, when 
the man that carries it on thinks narrowly and acts 
selfishly, when he regards it merely as relative to \\\^ 



The Value of Commerce, B^ 

^wn personal profit, and cares not how little advan- 
tageous it may be to others. But in that case, and 
in regard to him, it is of extremely little, or indeed 
of no value, as he degrades and debases it, by his sen- 
timents and conduct, to a low and despicable means 
of gaining a livelihood. A great distinction there- 
fore is to be made between the value of commerce, 
taken intrinsically and at large, and the worthiness 
it confers on such as carry it on. The former is ang 
ever remains very great ; the latter but too frequently 
is extremely small. Would you therefore, who ex- 
ercise this calling, dignify it likewise in regard to 
yourselves, and render it a means to you of greater 
perfection and more durable happiness ; then allo\y 
yourselves to be guided by the following admoni- 
tions and precepts. 

Exercise your understanding in habits of reflec- 
tion, and strive to enrich it by augmenting your stock 
of useful knowledge, particularly such as relates to 
your affairs and undertakings. Study the matters 
in which you are daily concerned, their nature and 
quality, their utility, the purposes to which they may 
be applied, their modifications and transmutations, 
their influence on the general weal of the community ; 
study the ways and methods in which they are pro- 
duced, obtained, wrought up, improved, and applied^ 
study the state of the countries and nations with 
which, by means of your occupation, you are medi- 
ately or immediately connected ; study the persons 
with whom you are concerned in business, or vvhom 
you employ, and on the character of whom so much 
depends in the prosecution of it; vso will you con= 
stantly find in all you do more employment and food 
for your mind ; always more clearly understand 
what and wherefore and to Vv-hat end you do it ; and 
thereby a thousand objects, which in ihemL.elves rnay 
be very insignificant, will acquire a greater worth 



f The Value of Cmnmej-cel 

and importanqe in your sight. You will execute as 
thinking, as enlightened men, with complacency and 
pleasure, what otherwise you would only perform. 
as day laborers, from necessity, and probably with 
dislike. 

Enlarge therefore the orbits of your views, the cir- 
cuit of your knowledge and perceptions, in propor- 
tion as you enlarge your sphere of action. Pursue 
the affairs that offer themselves to you, not in a mere 
mechanical manner; work and operate, not as it 
were blindfolded, or merely by old maxims and cus- 
toms handed down from father to son, but upon well 
digested principles and generous plans. Strive more 
and more to comprehend the whole of the concern 
wherein you are engaged, and to comprehend it with 
more participation and interest. Revolve frequently 
in your mind the nearer and more remote, the pres- 
ent and future consequences of your transactions and 
dealings, the influence they may and will have, in a 
thousand ways and manners, on the conduct, the 
fortunes, the happiness of vast numbers of mankind 
of all classes and conditions. This also will confer 
great weight and dignity on all you undertake and 
execute. 

Expand your heart too in this re-spect by benevo- 
lent, philantliropical sentiments and feelings. Let not 
covetousness, nor mean self interest, nor vanity, but 
genuine, universal philanthropy and brotherly love, 
be the chief instigators of your diligence and indus- 
try. Think it your duty and your glory, not barely 
to labor for your own, but likewise for the general 
profit ; and do this not solely according to the na- 
tural combination of things, and without peculiarly 
thinking on it, but do it with consciousness and con- 
sideration, and so as that this view may be always 
present to your mind. Hesitate not therefore to en» 
counter difficulties, to take trouble, to perform bus|c. 



The Value of Commerce. 9i 

jaesses from which you have little particular advari- 
tage to expect, but which you know will bring prof- 
it to others, to .tend to the support and the good of 
the whole; and reckon not as labor in vain, as pure 
loss, whatever is attended by such consequences and 
effects. The idea that all you do in your lawful vo- 
cation, and by lawful means, is a part of the chain of 
businesses vv^hereby the general welfare is upheld 
and advanced, whereby the sum total of life, of activ- 
ity, of pleasure, of happiness, which is or may be 
among mankind, is augmented and put in circula- 
tion; this idea will give you satisfaction and courage 
in ail your affairs, and fill you with an honest com- 
placency at the sight of every consequence of your 
good endeavors. By such a way of thinking, every 
business you transact, petty and troublesome as it 
may be, will become an honorable employm.ent, a 
labor of love. And thus will you degrade yourselves 
by nothing, think nothing a loss of time, or a dissi. 
pation of your powers, which in any way may be of 
advantage to society. 

In fine, add a dignity to your calling, you who 
pursue commerce as rational, intelligent and well in- 
tentioned men, by considering yourselves as instru- 
ments in the hand of providence, whereby the cul- 
tivation of the earth and the civilization of its inhab- 
itants are carried on and advanced ; ajs instrument^ 
whereby God diffuses and multiplies his manifold 
gifts and blessings, more intimately connects the 
whole of his family, so widely extended, together, 
brings them closer to each other, and in such vari- 
ous methods animates, sustains, benefits and cheers 
them all. Do therefore v/hatever you are called to 
do by your profession in reference to this honorable 
appointment ; do it from obedience and love to God^ 
pur universal Father in heaven ; do it as by commis- 
sion from him, and in the manner rnost conforTxiabl^ 



^^ fke Value ofCommene, 

to the wise and benign purposes of -his gavemmcnt,, 
By this means you will confer the greatest dignity 
on all your employments and labors, and exalt the 
faithful discharge of your calling" into actual piety. 
You will serve God by serving your brethren ; ac- 
jcompli^i his will by fulfilling the duties of your vo- 
cation; carry on his work by prosecuting your own; 
and so may you also, as men worthily filling a station 
assigned ihem by God, promise yourselves a cheerful 
^xit from this scene of things, and the enjoyment of 
a happy, a blessed futurity^ 



SERMON XXXII. 

€ Value of a Country Life ; or^ the JEdtfyin^ 
Sojourn in the Country » 



\J GOD, thou art not far from eTery oiie of 
lis. Wherever we perceive the work of thy hands, there 
art thoUj there actest thou ; there revealest thou thyself tc> 
lis the prime source of all that is and lives, as sovereign 
wisdom and goodness. And wherever thcu art and actestj, 
there speakest thou to u^ by thy works, there thcu inform- 
est us of thy will ; there warnest thou us of misery, and 
shewest us the means and way to be happy, O then tha^ 
we sought and found thee, the Omnipresent, every where, 
that we saw^and worshipped thee in all thy v/orks, and never 
lost the sentiment of thy presence ! O that we every where 
and at all times attended to thy voice, readily submitted to- 
be taught of thee, and willingly followed thy call to happi- 
ness ! How totally otherwise, how much wiser and better 
should we then not think and judge and act ! What light 
•?«^ould then not be diffused over all our ways ! How safely^ 
how confidently, how cheerfully should we not then pursue 
our course ! How calm should we not be under thy fatherly 
inspection, how cheerful and happy in the sentiment of 
communion with thee ! Teach us to kaow this, to know it 
with intimate conviction, O gracious Father, and let it be 
promoted by the considerations in which we are now a^cut 
to be employed. We invoke thee for it in the name of our 
Lord and Savior Jesus, concluding our petitions in his com:- 
^rehensive words : Our Father, &c. 



The Value of a Country Life,. 



MATTHEW xiv. IS. 

Ani, Jesus departed thence into a Desart Place, apart, 

CITIES, large and populous cities, have in- 
eontestibly their benefits as well as their disadvan- 
tages. The foundation of them, and the concourse 
of their inhabitants, are means in the hand of Provi- 
dence for attaining its views with regard to mankind. 
And to this they greatly conduce in various ways. 
The closer aggregation," the more intimate connex- 
ion of so many individuals together, strengthens 
their p6wers, and renders them capable of many en- 
terprises and businesses, for which a greater disper- 
sion or separation v/ould absolutely incapacitate them. 
Trade and commerce, arts and sciences, are brought 
by such closer connexions, by such a union and re- 
ciprocal communication of designs, abilities, talents^ 
and aptitudes, to a higher degree of perfection than 
they could otherv/ise reach. By the daily intercourse 
of ^uch numbers of men, of such various tempers 
and dispositions, the natural genius and faculties are 
more quickly, more easily, more considerably un- 
folded, set in motion, and applied. Emulation and 
ambition are more excited and employed, and pro- 
duce more diversified and vigorous effects than in 
solitude, or in the narrow circle of a fev/ acquaint- 
ances and neighbors. The manners will be refined ; 
the conveniences and elegances of life improved; the 
means and opportunities of social pleasure will be 
multiplied ; and the sallies of inordinate and violent 
passions will less and seldomer offend. Striking 
advantages, for which, in conjunction witll many 



The Value of a Country Life* ^^ 

others, we stand indebted to civil life, and whicfe 
eertainly are of no small value. 

On the other side, in great and populous cities^ 
bad example is more contagious ; the temptations 
to folly and vice are far greater,, and harder to 
avoid ; the prevalence of fashion is universal and ty- 
rannical; the implicit imitation of the noble, the 
great, and the rich is servile ; the sway of received 
manners and customs, severe and oppressive. Inno- 
cence, truth, and sincerity, there more quickly dis- 
appear ; the simplicity of nature is stifled by art; 
integrity is there obliged to yield to artifice; simpli- 
city is ridiculed as puerile inexperience ; the passions 
are concealed, but act with greater impetuosity and 
danger in their concealment. The taste will be re- 
fined, but at the same time be enervated and fasti- 
dious ; pleasures will be multiplied, but the faculties 
for enjoying them obtusedc Besides all this, the 
multiphcity of affairs, the noisy bustle, the nu- 
merous dissipations which prevail in populoHS cities, 
are powerful obstacles to coUectedness of mind, to 
consideration, to vigilance over oneself, to frequent 
and animated aspirations towards heaven, and con- 
sequently are pow^erful obstacles to wisdom, to vir- 
tue, and to devotion. 

The more therefore a man is smitten with the lov© 
of nature, and his Creator and Father ; the more 
charms he sees in innocence, truth, integrity, and 
simple manners ; the more taste he has for silent 
reflection ; the more he is able to entertain himself; 
the dearer to him wisdom and virtue and cordial 
devotion are ; the more agreeable will it be to him 
at times to exchange the tumult of the town for the 
quiet of the country ; as he there can breathe and 
think and live more freely ; as he there can com- 
pletely retire within himself and converse with his 
©WH heart, can hearken to the voice of God in na« 



M The Value of a Country Life. 

tiire, and in less artificial, less corrupted men, and 
Indulge himself in the most natural and unadulter- 
ated meditations and feelings without reluctance or 
restraint. This, my pious hearers, has been, in all 
ages of the world, the nutriment of the mind and 
the wages of industry to the wisest and best among 
the sons of men. 

Our Savior likewise, that sublime exemplar to all 
the wise and good, seems thus to have thought and 
Judged on this material point. He withdrew not in- 
deed from the company of his brethren, nor from 
populous towns and cities, not even from the capital 
itself; as he could there best prosecute the work his 
father had commissioned him to carry on, the work 
5f enlightening and improving his contemporaries 
and mankind in general. Yet these populous cities 
and towns were not his constant residence. At times 
he forsook them, and retired, as it is said in our text,- 
to the desart, that is, to some unfrequented or less 
frequented place. At times, as we are likewise told 
in the chapter whence our text is taken, he ascended 
the mountain, and there past the evening alone. 
There lie recruited his spirits after the v/earisome 
labors of the day ; thought upon his grand concern % 
collected, by contemplation and prayer, by familiar 
intercourse v»/ith his heavenly Father, fresh energies 
for accomplishing his work on earth ; recreated him^ 
self in thinking on what he had already done, and 
what remained for him still to do ; and was happy 
in the sentiment of his dignity and his proximity to 
him that sent him. 

Few of us, my dear brethren, are deficient in op- 
portunities for making similar experiences, and en- 
joying similar satisfactions.' Many are so circum* 
stanced as to be able to pass a longer or a shorter 
period of the summer in the enjoyment of their gar- 
dens or the pleasures of the country. But whethci" 



fhe Value of a Country Life. ^t 

we turn these excursions to such account as becomes 
rational and wise persons ; whether we extract as 
much utility and instruction from them as they are 
capable of yielding ; is what I shall now strive ta 
render easy for you to answer. To that end, I shall 
point out to you in a few short observations, how 
instructive a stay in the country is and may be to the 
man of reflection, the christian. 

The time we spend in the country is, in the first 
place, instructive in regard to God and our behav^ 
ior towards him; instructive in regard to the dig- 
nity and destination of man ; and instructive in re- 
gard to our notions of happiness. 

It is instructive, I say, first, in regard to God and 
our behavior towards him. In the tumult of towns^ 
in the hurry of a Busy life, in the giddy circles of 
amusement, meditations on God and the sentiment 
of his presence are but too easily prevented or effac- 
ed ; there the knowledge v/e have of him is too 
frequendy but a dead letter, and the use we make of 
it only a mechanical operation of the mind» But in 
the midst of the great theatre of his works, sur^ 
i'ounded by the striking effects of his wisdom and 
bounty, in the enjoyment of rural tranquillity ; in the 
open and free viev/ of his heaven and his earth, there 
a man's feelings are quite altered, there he intimate- 
ly feels that in him he lives and moves and has his 
being ; that he inhales his air, is enlightened and 
warmed and cheered by his sun, that he is invigor- 
ated by his power, and elevated to him, and is en- 
compassed on all sides with the bounties and bles- 
sings he has prepared for us. There the deity is in 
a manner close to us, though he be no v^'here far 
from any one of us. His existence is there mora 
certain to us ; it is demonstratively apparent ; and 
all doubts that may possibly arise in us at other 
times, here lose their force. God is, and he is the 

Vol. II. H 



$^ The Value of a Country Life. 

Creator and Father of thee, and of all beings ; thxs' 
every thing around us declares in a language that 
Cw^nnot be mistaken. We there see him, in a man- 
ner, acting, working, imparting of himself, and dif- 
fusing benefits about him with a liberal hand, and 
employed in the preservation and welfare of every- 
thing that exists and lives. The less v/e behold of 
human art, the more we see of nature, and the more 
beautiful she presents herself to us, the more does 
she lead us up to God ; the more do all objects ani- 
mate and exalt our ideas and sentiments of him. 
Every blade of grass, every flower of the field, every 
plant, every tree, every insect, every beast, the ris- 
ing and the setting sun, the mild refreshing breath 
of evening gales, and the majestic violence of the 
storm, the serenely smiling sky,: and the dark tem- 
pestuous night — all, all announce to us the presence 
of the Alniighty, the supremely wise, the supremely 
good ; all render him, as it were, sensible and ap- 
parent ; all call us to bow down before him to adore 
his sovereignty, and to rejoice in his existence. 
There every thought on God will, with the good 
and sensible man, be accompanied by correspondent 
feelings ; and every sentiment on supreme v/isdoni 
and goodness must be attended' by reverence, by 
love, by gratitude, by joy, by hope and confidence. 
And here interrogate thyself, O man, O christian, 
Bow near, or how remote, how natural, or how for- 
eign to Xh^Q is the sentiment of God, what impres- 
sion it makes upon thee, what other retlections and 
sentiments it excites within thee. Ask thyself; how 
ivert thou disposed, what didst thou think, how didst 
thou feel, as thou walkedst alone across the smiling 
fields, or through the flowery mead, or down the ver- 
dant lawn, or along the shady grove, or by the se- 
rene and placid lustre of the moon. Did not a gende^ 
reverential tremor, did not the sacred sentiment o£ 



The Value of a Country Life. §0 

the proximity of thy God, affect thee ? Did it nevef 
happen to thee as if thou sawcst the Lord, as form- 
erly he was seen in paradise, tvalking amongst his 
creatures, as if thou heardest him talking to thee, 
and explaining to thee his will and his designs ? 
And if this holy sentiment have fallen to thy share, 
if it have ever penetrated thy heart ; what love to 
thy Creator and Father, what trust in his benignity 
and providence, wliat zeal to do his will and to pro- 
mote his views, what benevolent dispositions to- 
wards all thy fellow creatures, what aspirations after 
r> jperior perfection and bliss, must it not have excited 
in thee I Happy they, who are able to recollect ma- 
ny such blessed moments ! To them the thought of 
God is not a foreign thoughto It lives and governs 
in their soul, and secures them a succession of com- 
plete satisfactions and of unsullied pleasures. 

Rural life is, secondly, very instructive in regard 
to the real worth and destination of man. Here, my 
christian brother, here man appears to thee more in 
the character of man, stripped of all outward and 
dazzling distinctions ; here mayest thou better learn' 
to esteem him for what he is ; learn what is proper- 
ly hiir own as a human creature, what gives him real 
worth. A robust and healthy body ; a sound and 
vigorous mind ; a cheerful temper ; an honest heart/ 
glowing with love towards God and man i' a prudent 
^nd active industry in his. profession; wisdom, 
founded on years and experience ; virtue, that con- 
sists more in actions than in words ; piety, not \x\^ 
deed making us more learned, but better and more 
tranquil; these are of greater account than birth and 
rank and station, superior to all the borrowed splen- 
dor, with w*hich the rich and great make such pa- 
rade ; and these alone, both here and every where, 
compose the true worth of man. Learn then to es- 
timate thvself and the inhabitants of tou ns by this 



100 The Value of a Count ry Life-. 

standard; so wilt thou judge differently and far morr 
justly both of thyself and others. No empty pride 
in things that are not of thyself will inflate thy mind; 
no excessive admiration of merely outw^ard distinc- 
tions will degrade thee into a flatterer and a slave. 
Thou wdlt esteem and love every one as thy brother 
who acts and thinks like a man, and acknowledge 
only intrinsic and substantial excellence as honorable 
in thyself and others. 

But there mayest thou likewise learn more justly 
to judge of the destination of man. When thou there 
considerest how many and how various the toilsome 
and continued labors, how many the hands and fac- 
ulties that are requisite for fertilizing the earth, for 
procuring food and clothing for its inhabitants, and 
for supplying their primary most pressing wants ;: 
eanst thou then possibly doubt that man was design- 
ed for an active and busy life, for a just and due ap» 
plication and exertion of his powers ? Canst thou 
then possibly think, that he sufficiently fulfils the in- 
tention of his being, when he sedulously ehuns 
v*'hatever bears the name of labor ; accounts all stated 
and renev/ed work for violence and trouble ; passes 
his days in slothful ease, in a delicate reservation of 
his faculties ; or employs himself barely in fruitless, 
speculations or idle researches, which have no influ- 
ence on the welfare of human society ? Canst thou^ 
possibly imagine that men who thus think and act,, 
can claim any just precedence above the husband, 
man? Or canst thou then doubt of the great import- 
ance both of him and his vocation ? Canst thou re- 
fuse him the esteem and the gratitude he deserves I 
No, the cultivation of the earth is the first, the most 
natural, the most necessary, the noblest and most 
honorable condition and calling of man; and he that 
despises this station of life, despises the ordinance oi' 
God, and forgets to what purposes man was design ^^ 
ed by his Creator.. 



^he Value of a Country Life. 101 

O thou, who consiimest in town the products of 
ih^ country, forget not from Vvhence the food thou 
lenjoyest, the beverage that refreshes thee, the cloth- 
ing thou wearest, proceed, whence and by whom 
they are prepared and adapted to thy use ; and des- 
pise them not who render thee this essential, this in- 
•dispensable service ! Honor the husbandman as thy 
steward and provider ; oppress him not with hard 
services, with severe exactions, and still less witli 
the burden of contempt, so hard to be borne; for he 
too has the manly, the moral sentiment, and that ve- 
ry frequently less impaired or vitiated than the gen- 
erahty of the inhabitants of populous towns. Honor 
him as thy elder brother, who provides for the whole 
family, prosecutes their most laborious affairs, and 
thereby leaves his younger brethren time and leisure 
and ability, to provide ibr the conveniences rather 
than the necessaries of life, and to invent and to en- 
joy a variety of more refined pleasures. Yes, honor 
agriculture as the prime, the peculiar source of 
wealth, as the firmest support of the commonweal, 
without which neither arts, nor sciences, nor trade, 
without which even thy city luxury and splendor 
could not subsist ; and, if thou hast no means, no 
calling, no occasion, to pursue arts and sciences, 
trade and commerce, or to serve in what are term^ed 
the higher circles of the world ; then haste thee back 
to thy primitive vocation, to the culture of the 
ground ; and believe that thou art more agreeable in 
the sight of God, thy Lord, and far more honorable 
in the eyes of thy intelligent brethren, than if, re- 
plete with vanity and pride, thou squander away thy 
time and thy faculties, and require to reap where 
thou hast not sown ! 

This is not all, mv christian brother ! Even in 
respect to the superior destination of man v;hen we 



102 f he Value of a Country Life. 

have done with this terrestrial life, our sojourn ii^ 
the country, and our converse with its inhabitants, 
jnay be very instructive. How many mental powers, 
how many great and happy dispositions, how many 
generous sentiments, wilt thou not there discover, 
of which, in their confined and narrow sphere, in 
their simple and uniform train of affairs, but lew can 
be exerted, applied employed, or used in the degree 
and extent to which they are adapted ! How many 
heads, which for sagacity, for ingenuity, for docility, 
for extending or improving some of the sciences, or 
by state policy, would have rendered themselves 
conspicuous, had they been produced in different 
circumstances, and in other connexions 1 How ma- 
ny hearts, susceptible of the noblest and most effect- 
ive benevolence, which might have felt and provided 
for the happiness of many thousands, if they were 
not thus totally destitute of the proper means and 
opportunities ! How many persons, who live and die 
in the deepest obscurity, that would have attracted 
the attention or admiration of all beholders, had they 
been placed on a more spacious stage ! And shall 
not these powers, these dispositions, be unfolded in 
another life ? Shall these generous sentiments never 
be ab^e to exert themselves in action ? Shall all these 
active and improveable minds, all these sensible 
hearts, all these eminently good and useful human 
creatures, shall they never be what, from the ground 
plot of them, they might be and become ? Has their 
Creator made such great preparatives for so poor a 
purpose ; can he have lavished away so much power 
of production for such trifling effects ? Couldst thou 
expect this of him whom all nature proclaims to be 
supremely wise ? No, the more undeveloped capa- 
cities, the more restricted faculties, the more unfin- 
ished human intellects, thou meetest among thy 
l3rethren, so much the more certain mayest thou be 



*rhe Value of a Country Life. 105 

of their immortality and of thine own, of their and 
thine everlasting progress towards higher perfection. 
Very instructive to the reflecting man, is, thirdly, 
his abode in the country, in regard to what is termed 
happiness. Here seest thou, O man, thousands of 
of thy brethren and sisters, dwelling not in palaces, 
not in houses adorned with the beauties of art ; who 
partake of no costly dishes artificially prepared; who 
wear no sumptuous and splendid appareh who loll on 
no luxurious couches ; who yet in their numble cot- 
tages, with their ordinary food, in their sim.ple attire, 
on their hard beds, fmd much comfort and jo}/, and 
nourishment and recreation ; who probably find in 
all these, a greater relish, than thou in the enjoyment 
of afiluence and superfluityo Here seest thou thous- 
ands of thy brothers and sisters, who are daily em- 
ployed in the most laborious, toilsome, and which 
appear to thee the niost disagreeable and painful oc- 
cupations ; and who yet are cheerful at their work, 
and contented with their condition ; persons who are 
totally unacquainted with all thy exquisite delicacies, 
and with the generality of thy refined pleasures, and 
yet complain neither of languor, nor of the want of 
pleasures and pastimes ; men whom the glad senti^ 
ment of their health and powers, the view of beauti- 
ful nature, the prospect of a plentiful harvest, an 
abundant production of the fruits of the orchard, the 
peaceful enjoyment of the refreshing evening breeze, 
the familiar table talk, and the animated rejoicings 
on festivals and Sundays, more than compensate for 
the want of thy splendid distinctions ; men, in short, 
who may be very confined even in their religious no- 
tions, and probably are erroneous in many respects ; 
but adhere to what they know and believe, and con- 
sole and refresh themselves by meditations on God 
and the world to come, on numberless occasions, 
^herein thou who knowest, or pretendest to kngiv 

4 



104 The Value of a Country Llfe^ 

more, art driven and tossed from doubt to douht, 
.and know where findest peace. 

Here, O learn what real happiness is, by what 
means and in what path thou mayest seek and find 
it. Here learn that happiness is not confined to af- 
fluence ; does not consist in outward glare ; not in 
rank and titles ; not in a soft, luxrious, idle, and in* 
active life ; not in an eternal round of diversions ; 
not in the unhappy means of hearkening to every 
childish foolish fancy, and in exploring the methods 
of its gratification. No, learn to find it in the cheer-, 
ful sentiment, and the alert application of our pow- 
ers, in an active and busy life, in the due discharge 
of the duties of our calling, in setting bounds to our 
desires, and in the diminution of our artificial wants ; 
to know that it consists in contentedness of heart, 
and in comfortable reflections on God, and on the 
better world of futurit}^ ; that it therefore is far more 
dependent on ourselves and our manner of seeing and 
judging of things, than on our outward circumstan- 
ces and the regard we draw ; and that no man is ut- 
terly secluded from the possession and enjoyment of 
it, be his station in life what it may. 

Learn therefore to dismiss thy complaints, and no 
longer accuse the Creator and Father of the world ; 
accuse thyself and thy froward taste, and thy irregu- 
lar desires, and thy servile propensity to imitation, 
and thy false, perverted judgment on the worth of 
things, and the weakness by which thou suiferest 
thyself to be deceived by appearance and show, or 
swayed by the senseless fashion of the times, and the 
waste or abuse of thy more extensive knowledge — 
of these things thou mayest complain ; but, from 
complaints proceed to alteration and amendment, if 
thou art not happy, or only happy in a slight degree ; 
since thou mayest drink at every source of happiness 
which nature, art, society, and religion, open to thee. 



The Value of a Country Life. 10^ 

And when thou hast learned this, thou hast learned 
the science which is the most important of all, the 
science of being cheerful, pleased, and happy, and 
of ever becoming more so. 

So instructive, my pious hearers, may the time 
w^e pass in the country be to us, and so instructive 
it actually is to reflecting persons. To such an one 
\vhat appears to be no more than recreation and 
pleasure, w^ill prove a copious spring of wisdom. 
Thus will he at once invigorate both his mind and 
his body, the health of the one, and at the same time 
the health of the other. Thus does he draw nigh 
unto his Creator, his Father, his God ; learns to be- 
hold and feel him in all his works ; and rectifies his 
judgment on the worth and destination of man, and 
on his real felicity. May we all reap these experi^ 
ences from our excursions into the country ; and on 
ey^ry fresh occasion in more abundant measure I 



SERMON XXXIIL 

The Value of Domestic Happiness^ 



U Go4, the eternal, inexhaustible fountaift 
^i all Qomfort and happiness, how various, how abundant 
are the sources of satisfaction and pleasure which thou hast 
opened to us thy children, and to the enjoyment whereof 
thou invitest us by thy good providence ! If thou have beset 
our path of life with numerous impediments and difficulties 
for our discipline and correction, yet hast thou embellished 
it with numberless beauties and satisfactions which impart 
to us courage and energy to overcome those difficulties. If 
thou lay upon us sometimes heavy duties, toilsome busi= 
nesses, severe afflictions ; thou softenest and alleviatest 
them to us by still more various and greater recreations and 
comforts. Yes, we may, we should be even here on earth 
contented and happy ; and if we are not so, it is by our own 
fault. In capacities, in means, in opportunities, in encour- 
agements to it, thou lettest none of us be wanting. But too 
frequently we let ourselves be wanting in the wise and faith- 
ful use of that v/hich can and should make us happy ac- 
cording to thy will ! But too often we allow ourselves to be 
cheated by the semblance of things ; slight truth and wis- 
dom and virtue, the only sure guides to happiness ; and let 
ourselves be misled by error, by folly and vice on the road 
of trouble and misery. And then we doubt of thy good- 
ness, murmur at thy decrees and dispensations, and com- 
plain of the lamentable lot of humanity ! O God, how un- 
just are we frequently against thee, and how inimical to, 
ourselves ! Ah, forgive us our transgressions, most merci- 
ful father, and lead us back from our deviations. Let the 
light of truth dissipate the errors and prejudices that so. 



^he Value of Domestic Happiness. lOT 

pften misguide us. Teach us ever better to know and more 
worthily to use the wise and kind dispositions thou hast 
made for our happiness. Grant that we may all seek and 
iind it there where thpu wilt that we should seek and find 
it, and let us all became constantly more intelligent and 
good, and thereby more capable of its enjoyment. Bless to 
this purpose the meditations that are Tiow to employ our 
thoughts. Let us perceive the happiness of domestic life, 
to which we are called by thee, in its real form, and derive 
from it all the blessedness that it is capable of procuring us. 
Grant our requests thou father of mercies, which we im- 
plore of thee in the name of our Savior Jesus, and, entirely 
relying on his promises, and resigned to thy v/ill, we farther 
address thee as- — Our Father, &:c« 



MATTHEW xxi. 17. 

And he left them^ and went out of the city into Bethany, and he lodged there,. 

IT not unfrequently happens, that a man is 
looking at a distance for what lies by him, for what 
is inviting him at home to immediate enjoyment ; 
and this is commonly the cause that he either does 
not find what he seeks for at all, or pot so complete 
as he could wish. Thus all mankind are in quest of 
satisfaction and happiness. But probably they least 
search for it where it would be the most easily, the 
most certainly, and the most completely found. 
They overlook or despise the sources of it which 
lie nearest to them, and are already in their posses- 
sion ; which no man can shut up from them, no 
man can render tasteless or contestable ; which flow 



108 l^hc Value of Domestic Happ'tnes^m 

indeed w'Uhout noise, but in a copious and uninter- 
rupted stream ; and rove about in anxious perplex- 
ity after others, whieh can only be discovered with 
great labor, only sparingly enjoyed, from which they 
cannot always, from which they can but seldom 
draw undisturbed, can never entirely slake their 
thirst, and often run the hazard of taking in bitter- 
ness and death with the waters of them. I will 
speak without a metaphor. Mankind too often seek 
their principal pleasure, their whole felicity, in what 
is called the great v/orld, in numerous and brilliant 
companies, in distracting and fascinating diversions, 
in extensive connexions with such persons as are 
distinguished by their rank, their train, their opu- 
lence, their luxuries, and their magnificence, and 
live sumptuously every day, or rather seem as if they 
lived. Too often do they run from one such glitter- 
ing circle to another, from one such company of 
counterfeit freedom and joy to another, in hopes of 
assuaging their thirst after pleasure and happiness. 
But how seldom do they find what they seek ! How 
much seldomer do they find it so pure, so complete, 
as they expected ! Hovv^ often do they there mistake 
the shadow for the substance, appearance for reality, 
and find themselves lamentably and shamefully de- 
ceived in their most flattering hopes ! And how 
much more easily and satisfactorily, how much mere 
sincerely and completely might they have found and 
enjoyed this pleasure and happiness, if they had been 
contented to look for it, not so far off, but nearer at 
hand ; not in noise, but in quiet ; not in what de- 
pends on mere accidents, but is in their own power; 
in short, if they had sought for it in domestic life ? 

Yes, in this little unrenowned circle, there is far 
more real solid joy, than in grand and brilliant com-^ 
panics ; more happiness and greater variety of it is 
tQ be found in this small round of employments and 



The Value of Domes tie Happiness, 10^ 

tjkasures than on the vast theatre of glaring sho\v«i 
and tumultuous diversions. Here, in the enjoyment 
of domestic happiness, it is that the wise man, the 
christian, principally seeks and finds refreshment^ 
recreation, and pleasure. Here even, our Lord, whose 
taste and sentiments were in all respects so humane 
and generous, sought and found them. Wearied by 
the labors of the day, and the contradictions of his 
enemies, he left them, as our text informs us, and 
went out of the city into Bethany, there to partici- 
pate in the peace and comfort of a family united to- 
gether by the tenderest affection, the family of Laz- 
arus and his sisters, and to increase their satisfac- 
tions by his presence and converse. This humble 
abode of domestic happiness he preferred to the lof- 
ty palaces of the great, to the festivities of the rich, 
and the riotous mirth of the voluptuous. Happy 
they, vv'ho in this respect likewise are so minded as 
Jesus was ! They can never be deficient in real 
felicity. 

Yes, my dear brethren, great, uncommonly great, 
is the value of domestic happiness! But infinitely 
greater to them who know it by experience, than tp 
such as are only acquainted with it from description.. 
May I be enabled to do justice to it at least in my 
representation ! In order to this, let us enter upon 
two inquiries. The first, how should domestic life 
be constituted, that it may have a great value ? The 
other, v/hat gives it this value; or, wherein does it 
consist ? 

Domestic hfe, like all other external goods, is not 
necessarily and of itself, but only under certain con- 
ditions, in particular circumstances, a real advantage 
and a source of actual felicity. Home is but too fie- 
quently rendered the seat of tiresomeness and dis- 
gust ; the scene of low and ungoverned passions i 
the abode of vexation, of ill humor, of various dia- 



ilD T'he Value of Domestic HappittesSi 

sensions, of petulance and malice ; not seldom arf 
actual place of torment. This is always more or 
less the case, where wisdom and virtue are not of 
the party, and do not animate the businessess and 
pleasures of domestic life. Only there where wisdom 
and virtue dwell, where intelligent and good persons 
live together, only there dwell peace, satisfaction, 
and joy ; it is they alone that render either a cottage 
or a palace the receptacle of pleasure ; only by their 
means is any family, whether great or small, render- 
ed capable of happiness. For only the intelligent 
and good can tell what solid happiness implies ; none 
but they ha/e either the taste or sentiment proper for 
it ; it is they alone that estimate things by their real 
value, and know how to enjoy above all things what 
is true and beautiful and good, unesteemed and un- 
known as it may be in the great world, and among^ 
such as are not susceptible of the more delicate sen- 
sations." To them a word that overflovv^s irom the 
fulness of the heart, a look that indicates the soul, 
an inconsiderable but guileless action, an unimport- 
ant kindness but performed from real affection, a" 
calm and silent sentiment of friendship, a free effu- 
sion of one's thoughts and sentiments into the bosom 
of one's family, is of more worth than the reiterated 
protestations of civility and regard, than all the flat- 
tering encomiums and blandishments, than all the 
friendly meins and gestures, than all the splendid 
entertainments in which the glory and happiness of 
the generality of large companies consist. 

Wherever domestic happiness is found, it shews 
us persons who are connected together by real, in- 
trinsic love and friendship, who live entirely by each 
other, and v\/ho seek their happiness, their honor, 
and their force, in the mutual union of their hearts,- 
Only to persons of this description can and must 
every thing be of importance which each has and 



^Iie Value of Domestic Happiness, 111 

*ays, and does and enjoys, how he is inclined, and; 
whateA^er befalls him. They alone know how to 
consider the advantages of one with undeviating 
complacency ; to observe the infirmities and failings 
of another without dislike ; to reprove the indiscre- 
tions of a third with inoffensive gentleness ; to under- 
stand the looks of each ; to prevent the wants and 
wishes of all ; mutually to comply with the designs 
of each other ; to harmonize with the feelings of the 
rest; and to rejoice heartily in all the successes^ even 
the most inconsiderable, that happen to each other. 
Wherever frigidity of temper and untractableness, 
where jealousy and envy prevail, there no real hap- 
piness is possible, in the narrow circle of daily in--' 
ter course. 

Lastly, domestic liappiness supposes a taste for 
truth, for nature, for a noble simplicity, for serene 
repose; as they are in contrast with error and art, 
studied and forced pleasures, and the more ostenta- 
tious and poignant diversions. That pure and gener- 
ous taste alone can give any value to the comforts 
of domestic life, and, to such as understand and en- 
joy it, render all its concerns important and delight- 
ful, as the sources of satisfaction and pleasure. Fory 
in this case, they arise, not so much from the ob- 
ject, as from the eye that beholds them, and the 
heart that feels them ; not so much from the im- 
portance of the transactions and incidents them- 
selves, as from the natural and spontaneous manner 
in which they arise,, and the pleasing interest taken 
in them. To persons of a sound judgment and an 
uncorrupted heart, the cheerful countenance of the 
spouse, the lisping of the infants, the mirthful sports 
of the children, the sight of reason in its bud and in 
its blossom ; to them the earnest curiosity of one, 
the innocent vivacity of another, the growth and inr- 
provement of a third, the contentedness of all, is a 



112 l^he Value of Domestic Happiness i 

jscene far preferable, with all its privacy and simpli- 
city, to any other, however intricately conducted, or 
splendidly performed ; to them the silent and placid 
existence in a society of open aifection, of unrestrain- 
ed and unobtrusive benevolence and love, to hearts 
that are able to melt, is a kind of being which they 
would not exchange lor any of those that are so 
much prized and envied by the multitude. 

This once premised, the happiness of domestic 
life has doubtless a great, a conspicuously great val- 
ue. Let us now see what srives it this value, or 
wherein it consists. 

The comfort of domestic life is, in the first place, 
the most agreeal^le relief from the burden and heat 
of the day and its frequently tiresome business ; the 
sweetest recompense for the work we have finished, 
probably after much toil, great exertions, much op- 
position, and at last finished without success. Here 
peace, recreation and repose, await the father, the 
mother, the individuals of the family, after they have 
finished, perhaps in the sweat of their brow, the la- 
bors of the day. And the cool dusk of the evening' 
cannot be more welcome to the weary traveller than 
the relaxation they enjoy in the bosom of their fami-^ 
ly. Here the man of profound science unbends his 
mind, amuses himself with the agreeable images he 
receives from without ; lowers himself to the com- 
prehension of the chattering infant, to the under- 
standing of each of his children ; watches and cher- 
ishes every indication of a sound mind and a good 
heart as it springs forth, and accommodates himself 
to every thought and sentiment that unexpectedly 
presents itself to him. Here the man of business* 
forgets his intricate concerns ; dismisses his troubles 
for a time ; if he cannot entirely banish them, re- 
ceives comfort and encouragement from the partner 
of his soul ; and his heart expands, his countenance 



^he Value of Domestic Happiness . 113 

briglitens, and troubles and cares flee away, till he 
has collected fresh vigor to resume his burdens, or 
rid himself of them. Here the scholar breaks off the 
thread of his investigations ; steps out of the labyrinth 
in which he had probably entangled himself ; and 
often finds, in the enjoyment of the innocence and 
noble simplicity of his offspring, more truth and 
more tranquillity, more aliment for his mind and 
heart, than all the learning and all the arts in the world 
could give him. Here every man sees and is sensible 
for whom he has been at work, for whom he has been 
exerting his faculties ; and rejoices the mere over 
what he lias done, as those who are to reap the fruits 
of it are the dearer to his soul. Here every man re- 
ceives the praise and applause he deserves, arid re- 
ceives it from the persons whose approbation and 
praise are every thing to him. Here the drooping 
are raised, the faulty corrected, the slothful excited, 
the afflicted consoled, and satisfaction, by degrees, is 
diffused over all. And where, then, my friend and 
my brother, where wilt thou, where canst thou seek 
and find this happiness, this recreation, this reward, 
if thou find it not in domestic life ? 

The^ happiness of domestic life is, farther, quiet, 
peaceful self enjoyment ; a self enjoyment that is 
multiplied and ennobled by the intimate participa- 
tion of all the concernments of this trusty society. 
Here a man returns from distraction and dissipation 
to himself ; feels his existence ; has a clear, distinct, 
internal consciousness of what he is and possesses^ 
and lives more in himself and for himself, and in 
them and for them who are nearest to his personal 
being, than in outward things. Here what we are 
with regard to the society at large, and for which we 
must so often forget what we are in and of ourselves, 
comes into no consideration ; we put off our titles 
and posts and dignities and borrowed distinctions, as 

Vol. II. I 



I14f The Falue of DojneBtk Happine$s\ 

robes of ceremony, which are as often an incuiH-* 
brance as an ornament to us ; we return to our natur^ 
al state of liberty, play no artificial character, repre» 
sent no strange personage ; think, speak, act entire- 
ly according to pur own peculiar turn, as our sensa- 
tions arise, and appear what we actually are, and 
nothing else. Here a man feels and presents him- 
self as a man, the spouse as the spouse, the parent as 
the parent, the child as the child, the friend' as the 
friend ; but no one as sovereign or as subject, no one 
as the statesman, or as the prelate, or as the public 
teacherj or as the merchant, or in any other reference 
to station and calling. And how blessed is not this 
inward unadulterated sentiment of humanity, this 
serene enjoyment of real intrinsic perfection and dig- 
nity, independent on outward things ! How much 
more blessed than any participation in the fallacious 
turbulence and dazzling splendor of the great world ! 
How many innocent, humane, and generous emotions 
here arise and are displayed, which, in the ordinary 
hurry of business and dissipation, slumber in the re- 
cesses of the soul, as if in covert from the scorn and 
derision of the vain or the wicked ! And is not this 
to be property called, living, fully to enjoy one's life, 
and to be glad and rej oice in it, like a rational being, - 
with consciousness and consideration ? 

The happiness of domestic life is, tliirdly, the de- 
lightful, free,, and intimate association between har- 
monious and mutually loving souls. Hence vanish 
all the constraints of art, of fashion, of received usages 
and ceremonies; all fear of cruel censure, of galling 
reproof, or biting jeers ; all uneasy constrairit; all 
wearisome attention to a thousand indifferent, insig- 
nificant things. Here every one shews himself in his 
own native colors, without needing to conceal even- 
his harmless weaknesses, his actual imperfections- 
and failings. Here one heart unfolds itself to an- 



r ■ - ■ , ■ ■ ■ _ , ^. 

The Value of Domestic Happiness, \1% 

other ; and every reflection, every sentiment, is trans- 
ferred, undisguised, unaltered in its full truth and 
force, from one to the other. Here no sorrow, no 
care, no wish, no joy, no hope, remains shut up in 
the recesses of the heart ; but, by free and recipro= 
cal communication, every sorrow is mitigated, every 
care diminished, every worthy desire encouraged, 
every joy redoubled and heightened, every hope be- 
comes actual enjoyment. Here each exchanges what 
he has, for what another possesses, alternately bes- 
towing and receiving information and comfort, and 
force and satisfaction, and serenity ; while all feel 
themselves richer and greater, and stronger and hap- 
pier, for what they are and possess in common. And 
where, I beseech you, where can these effusions, 
these communications of the heart have place, with 
so much careless freedom, and to so wide an extent, 
as in domestic life ? What a value then must not the 
happiness of it thus acquire in the eyes of every man 
wiio loves nature and truth, who has a humane, a 
tender, a communicative heart, and yet finds so lit- 
tle matter for its nourishment beyond the circle of 
his familiar friends ! 

And still how many more agreeable circumstan- 
ces and advantages are not connected with this hap- 
piness, which greatly enhance the value of it. 

The happiness of domestic life is, fourthly, inex- 
haustible. It renews itself daily, it multiplies itself 
without end. As much as nature is more diversifi- 
ed and' richer than art, so much more various and 
abundant in pleasures and joys is this happiness than 
any other. Here are no settled boundaries, no de- 
terminate way and manner, how and to what extent 
a man shall please and delight himself. As various 
as are the employments, the transactioris and the 
events of human life, and as various as the revolu- 
tions that daily obtain in regard of all these things ; 
2 



116 The Value of Domestic Happiness, 

just so various also are the objects of friendly inter- 
course, and the familiar converse of domestic lifco 
As inexhaustible as the thinking principle of the hu- 
man mind, and the sensitive faculty of the human^ 
heart, so inexhaustible are the sources of delight that 
here stand open. Here no good word that is uttered 
falls to the ground ; here no effect is without its re- 
ciprocal consequence ; no sentiment that is not con- 
ceived, no testim.ony of affection that is not returned, 
no civility that is not repaid, no satisfaction that is 
not enjoyed by all, no emotion that is not transfused 
into every heart. Here the recollection of the past, 
and the prospect of the future, are intimately com- 
bined in the enjoyment of the present ; all together 
form but one highly interesting v/hole ; all take a 
lively part in all ; and how much must not the agree- 
able employment and the pleasures of each by this 
means be multiplied! How much more than there, 
where only certain kinds of pleasures or amusements 
are to be found, which always wear the same aspect, 
and always return with the same restrictions ; where 
a man is so seldom thoroughly understood ; must so 
often give his words to the wind ; so often exhibits 
thoughts and feelings, wherein none coincide cither 
in sentiment or sensation ; so often excites envy by 
his contentedness, and dark looks by his cheerful 
mien ; and where commonly the most separate, and 
not unfrequently the most opposite interests actuate 
all the individuals of the society ! No wonder then, 
if pleasure often fails, and its dull monotony renders: 
it still oftener insipid. 

The happiness of domestic life compensates the 
want of any other ; but no other can compensate the 
want of that. Let the world, let thy countrymen 
withhold from thee the justice, the respect, and es- 
teem that are due to thy merits ; repay thy services 
with indifference and ingratitude ; how speedily wilt 



$%<? Falite of Domestic Happiness, lit 

^hou forget these slights, or these injuries, on return- 
ing to the bosom of thy family, on being received 
by them with open arms and open hearts, and in pas- 
sing among them for what thou really art, obtaining 
the approbation which is truly thy desert, and in 
feeling the whole worth of their attachment and love ! 
Has all the glittering tinsel of the great world, all 
the magnificence of the courtj all the triumph of 
eminence and power, left thy heart empty and cold ; 
has the farce of dissimulation, of artifice, of falsehood,, 
of childish vanity that was there performed, wearied 
and disgusted thee ; how soon does thy deadened 
heart expand itself as thou enterest the doors of thy 
house ; how soon does it feel a mild and genial 
warmth in the circle of thy wife and tliy children 
and friends ; how soon do the sincerity, the frank- 
ness, the affability, the innocence which there pre- 
vail, restore thy soul, and reconcile thee to the hu- 
man race ! On the other hand, be as full as thou wilt 
of the bounties of fortune ; be the darling of the 
great ; be the idol of the people ; be the oracle of 
the politest companies ; be even great and rich thy- 
self; preside over as many others as thou canst; 
but if thy habitation be the seat of discord and jea- 
lousy, and thy domestic life deny thee the peace, the 
satisfaction, the pleasure it yields to the wise and 
good ; how little will every outward and dazzling 
circumstance of fortune make thee amends for this 
essential inward defect ! How much will this one 
defect embitter the enjoyment of every species of 
success ! How hard and intolerable will the burden 
of it be. 

Hence it is, that the enjoyment of domestic hap^ 
piness is always not less edifying and useful than 
pleasant. It is here a man learns the true ends of 
his being ; here he is taught rightly to appreciate the 
yalue of all the goods of life; here he is convinced 
3 



J. 18 The Value of Domestic Happiness. 

of the emptiness of grandeur, of pomp, of rank and 
station. Here he is taught to think, and feel, and 
act hke a reasonable creature ; learns to forget his 
outward distinctions, and to see them in their proper 
light, more as toys and baubles, or even incumbran- 
ces, than as things in themselves covetable. Here 
all hearts are united, and ever uniting closer; the 
one becomes still dearer to the other, each is ever 
more ready and willing to assist and serve the rest ; 
all collect new avidity, and new powers to ^fulfil the 
duties of their calling, more and more to deserve the 
esteem and applause of the others, and thereby to 
promote the welfare of the whole community, which 
1^ but one heart and one soul. With what zeal must 
not the father and the mother of the family be ani- 
mated in their affau's, of what perseverance will they 
not be capable, while they taste the fruit of their in- 
dustry in the enjoyment of domestic happiness, in 
jocund converse with their children, and provide 
themselves daily, by continued industry, with suc- 
cessive pleasures and renewed delights ! What an in- 
citement must not this be to the faithful discharge of 
rfieir duties. And must not those pleasures be of 
extraordinary value, which instruct and improve 
whosoever enjoys them ? 

Still more. To the enjoyment of domestic happi- 
ness, no troublesome, no expensive preparations and 
arrangements are needful. It may be enjoyed at all 
seasons, in every moment of life. No sooner does 
the hour of social recreation, the hour of meetirig 
again, the moment of finished labor arrive, but with 
them enter cheerfulness and mirth into this happy 
circle. No sooner does the want of this pleasure 
make itself felt, but the means of satisfying it are 
ready at hand. Selfishness and ill humor, and a 
thousand pretended or real obstructions and res- 
traints, w^hich defeat the schemes of pleasure among 



* The Faille of Doinestle Hctpplness. 119 

people of fashion have little influence here. The in- 
^clination of one is the inclination of the other. This 
cheerfully bestows what he has, and as cheerfully 
and gratefully accepts what another gives him« 
When one is glad, gladness inspires them all ; when 
one of them enters to the rest with a brightened as- 
pect, joy beams from the faces of ail. When one 
has done some good or obtained some success, and 
imparts it to the objects of his affection, it is as if all 
as well as he had done or enjoyed it. What advan- 
tages have not such pleasures and joys above those 
that often require whole weeks to be spent in plan- 
ning, arranging, and expecting them ; then by ca- 
price or accident are still longer postponed ; and at 
last, in a few hours, are over and gone, and very 
seldom produce what they promised. 

To the enjoyment of domestic happiness as little 
of art and dexterity is requisite as of preparation and 
arrangement. It is entirely the work of nature and 
sincerity; not the eifect of preconcerted devices, of 
studied parts, of a troublesome observance of the 
rules of behavior, and the modes that prevail for 
the day. A sound mind, and a good affectionate 
heart, is all, my dear brother, that is required to the 
enjoyment of this felicity. The less constraint thou 
here puttest on thy mind and thy heart, the more 
freely thou alio west them both to act ; so much the 
more ptirely and perfectly wilt thou enjoy this hap- 
piness. Though, in the great world, both of them 
must crouch under the yoke of fashion, and the 
mind can seldom venture to think aloud, and the 
iieart seldom dares resign itself to its feelings ; yet 
here they may both follow their bent unimpeded and 
free, and exert their powers and qualities, in such 
manner and degree as is suitable to the inward im« 
pulse and the present occasion. 
4 



120 The Value of Domestic Happiness* 

This also, my pious hearers, gives the happinesss 
of domestic life a great advantage, that the enjoy- 
ment of it is never attended^by surfeit or disgust, by 
sorrow or remorse. It is real enjoyment ; and the 
sincerity of it constantly maintains its worth. It is 
innocent enjoyment ; and innocence fears no re- 
proach. It is social, affectionate enjoyment, which 
excites no jealousy, and attracts no envy ; by which 
no one is injured, with which none are unsatisfied, 
from which none are sent empty away, and all are 
contented with each other. It is an enjoyment that 
is grateful to our Father in heaven, which is not dis- 
turbed, but exalted by reflecting on his presence, 
and which often consists in pious joyfulness for his 
bounty, in the heartfelt worship and praise of the 
Supreme eternal source of being. After this pure 
enjoyment, these lofty pleasures, you have nothing 
to fear in calling yourself to account ; you need not 
be ashamed of what you have spoken or done ; you 
will have no cause to think of appeasing those you 
have affronted, or of repairing the injury you havQ 
done to your brother ; will cheerfully think on Godj 
on your immortality, and on the world to come 
Rest and sleep will not shun your embraces ; but yoii 
will the more completely relish the comforts of them 
both, and delightful visions of the innocent pleasures 
you have enjoyed, will frequently, even there, be 
floating in your mind. And can you boast of this, 
you that seek your solace and 4iappiness principally 
in great and shining companies, in loud tumultuous 
pleasures, in places of thronged resort ? Have ye 
never lamented the preparatives, the expense, the 
time, the pains you have bestowed upon them ? Are 
ye not frequently far more languid and heavy on re- 
turning from them than when you went to them ? 
Have not often perturbation and concern about the 
consequences of what has passed, or reproaches for 



The Value of Domestic Happmess. 12^ 

your indiscretions, accompanied you to your dwell- 
ing ? Have they not often, for a longer or a shorter 
time, destroyed your peace ? Have they not often 
incapacitated you for prayer, or rendered it irksome 
to you ? And if you have experienced this, and do 
so still, then confess the advantages which the quiet, 
innocent joys of domestic life possess over yours. 

Lastly, the happiness of domestic life is restricted 
to no class of men. It is attached neither to station, 
nor to opulence, nor to elevation and power ? Con- 
fined neither to the palace nor to the cottage. It may 
be enjoyed by all mankind, by persons of very rank, 
of every age, in every place. The sources of it stand 
open to all ; to the poor no less than to the rich, to 
the low as well as to the high ; to youth and age 
alike ; every one may draw from these wells, 
and every one draw pleasure to his heart's de- 
desire. And which is that external boon that in this 
yespect may be compared to the happiness of domes- 
tic life ? How fe\v persons are able to acquire an as- 
cendancy over others ! How few to shine in the 
splendors of exalted station ! How few to obtain 
wealth and opulence ! How few to raise themselves 
above others by personal distinctions, or by arts and 
erudition, or by great and heroic exploits, and sor 
lace themselves with the applause and adpmiration of 
their contemporaries 1 But all intelligent and good 
persons, the servant as well as his lord, the country- 
man as well as the citizen, the unlearned as well as 
the scholar, all may enjoy the happiness of domestic 
life, and may enjoy it in its full perfection. It is hu- 
man sentiment, it is human happiness, which every 
creature that is human has an equal right to enjoy, 
and the same means to obtain. And what a great, 
what an eminently great value must not tiiis confer 
upon it. 



3.22 . The Value of Domestic Happiness. 

Now lay all this together. Consider what an agreed 
able relaxation from labor, and requital for it, what a 
isilent and serene self enjoyment, what a free, delight- 
ful communication of our inmost thoughts and feel- 
ings, the enjoyment of domestic happiness is ; con- 
sider that it is as diversified as inexhaustible ; that it 
makes up for the want of every other happiness, but 
can never be itself supplied by any ; that while it is 
so pleasant, it is. also instructive and useful ; that to 
the enjoy nient of it neither great preparations nor pe- 
culiar dexterity and address are required ; that it 
draws after it neither disgust nor remorse ; and that, 
in fine, it is peculiar to no condition of men, but is 
capable of being enjoyed by all ; and say, after all 
this, whether you know of any other external that has 
a greater worth than this, or even a worth so great ? 

No, my dear brethren, if you would enjoy pleas- 
ure, innocent, pure, daily renewing, never disgracing, 
never cloying ; delights worthy of the man and the 
christian ; then seek them not at a distance from you, 
since they lie at home ; seek them not in things 
which are not in your power, but in what is more 
your own; seek them in the happiness of domestic 
life. If you may venture to expect them any where. 
it is certainly there they must be found. 



§ERMON XXXIV 

The Value of Friendship, 



U GOD, the eternal, inexhaustible source of 
all affection and happiness, what joys, what felicities hast 
thou not prepared for us, by making us capable of affection 
towards each other, and of elevating that affection to pur^ 
and generous friendship 1 What a counterbalance to all th^ 
troubles and burdens of life hast thou not given us therein ! 
Affording us a *'enial light through the roughest and gloomi- 
est paths of it ! Yes, all the dispositions, all the energies, 
all the propensities and instincts which thou hast planted in 
our nature, are good ; they all testify that thou lovest us 
with parental tenderness, that thou hast not ordained us to 
grief, but to joy ; not to misery, but to happiness ! Might 
only all these dispositions be unfolded, these energies be so 
exerted, these propensities acquire such a direction, and 
these instincts be so enobled as is conformable to thy gra- 
cious and paternal intentions towards us ! Might wisdom 
and virtue, might the light of religion direct and guide us 
all in this, and lead us all to the perfection and happiness 
whereof we are capable ! How many unjust and criminal 
complaints of human misery would not then be done away ! 
How satisfied, how blessed should we not then be in the so- 
cial and cheerful enjoyment of thy bounties ! How greatly 
facilitate to ourselves by mutual affection and friendship 
our progress on the way of duty and virtue, and how much 
more certainly and completely reach the end of our being ! 
O God, do thou send the spirit of love, of pure and gener- 
ous love, into our hearts ! Opfen them to the charms of vir- 
tuous friendship. Enable us clearly to perceive, and inti- 
■mately to feel its great value, and purify Ub ffom all low, 



124 fhe Value of Friendship. 

selfish inclinations and passions that are in opposition to it. 
O God, to approach nearer to thee, the father of spirits, and 
to unite ever closer the one to the other, is -what all intelli= 
gent, sensible beings are perpetually striving after, is also 
longed for by human spirits ! May we ever be becoming 
more susceptible of this happiness in both respects, and be 
ever drawing more felicity from this source of life. Bless 
to that end the contemplations we now propose to begin up- 
on it. Strengthen our reflections, and enable them to pene-^ 
Irate us with virtuous, generjous sentiments and feelings. 
For this we present our supplications to thee, as the vota- 
ries of thy son Jesus, our ever blessed Deliverer and Lord ; 
and, firmly relying on his promises, address thee farther as 
he prescribed— Our Father, Sec. 



PROVERBS xviii. 24. 

There is a Friend that stickcth closer than a Brother. 

CHRISTIANITY has frequently been re^ 
proached as unfavorable to friendship, since it does 
not expressly inculcate it ; prescribing indeed to its 
followers benevolence towards all, universal kind- 
ness and brotherly love, but not discriminate friend- 
ship. Friendship, however, is not properly a duty, 
Bot an indispensable obligation for all ; it is not to 
be commanded, like justice and general kindness ; 
its rise, its direction, very frequently depends on cir- 
cumstances and incidents that are not in our own 
power ; and even very intelligent and worthy per- 
sons, of a sensible and friendly heart, may and often 
must^ without any faidlt of theirs, forego the happi- 



^he Value of Friendship* 12^ 

^ess of friendship, I mean strict and cordial friend- 
ship. At the same time it must be confessed, that 
the more a man opens his heart to universal benevo- 
lence, to philanthropy and brotherly love, those great: 
commandments of the christian law ; the more he 
allows himself to be governed by the spirit of them^ 
so much the more adapted and disposed vvill he be 
to even the most noble and most exalted friendshipo 
Nay, friendship would be a very general virtue, and 
the whole society of christians a band of friends in- 
timately united together, if they all inviolably con- 
formed to the precepts of that doctrine which they 
confess, ;and suffered themselves to be animated by 
its spirit. 

Of this, what we know of the founder of christi- 
anity and of its primitive confessors, will not allow 
us to doubt. When we see Jesus repay the gentle,^ 
tender, affectionate disposition of his disciple John 
with distinguished affection and confidence, when we 
see this disciple so often leaning on his breast, and 
hear him continually called the disciple whom he 
loved, when we see our Lord selecting the house of 
his friend Lazarus as his place of refuge and recrea- 
tion ; when we hear him say to his attendants, "Our 
friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go to awake him ;'^' 
when he afterwards hastens to his grave, weeps at 
the sight of his body, and the beholders exclaim^ 
*' See how he loved him !" how can we entertain the 
least doubt of the friendly disposition of Jesus, or 
think that such a disposition is at variance with his 
spirit and his doctrine ? And the connexion that 
subsisted between Jesus and his disciples and follow- 
ers in general, certainly presents us with an example 
of the most generous friendship. Hov/ indulgent, 
how affectionate, how familiar, was his converse with 
them! How great his concern for them! ** If ye 
seek me," said he to the guards who came to seize 



126 The Value of Friendship. 

hirri, ** then let these go their way." It is recordec? 
of him, that J " having loved his own, he loved thent 
unto the end." And when he was shortly to be sep- 
arated from them, how he soothed, comforted, en- 
couraged them ! How he seemed entirely to forget 
himself and his most important concerns, in his atten- 
tion to them ! How tenderly he takes leave of them 
at the last supper, and enjoins them the commemo- 
ration of him ! How he bears them in mind even 
during the whole course of his sufferings, and in the 
last sad scene of therh interests himself in their wel- 
fare i And how he hastened, as it w-ere, on his res- 
urrection from the dead to shew himself to them, 
and to dry up their tears ! Was not this friendship, 
was it not the most exalted friendship ? And the 
first christians, who animated and inspired by the 
spirit of Christianity, were but one heart and one 
soul, who had all things as it were, in common, who 
were daily of one accord together; did they not com- 
pose a band of the most intimately connected friends,^ 
cemented together by the love of God and the love 
of Jesus, and the love of each other ? 

No, Christianity is by no means unfavorable to' 
real, virtuous friendship. It, on the contrary, inspires 
us with all the dispositions, incites uis to all the ac- 
tions, and makes us ready for all the sacrifices' 
wherein the characteristics and the glory of friendship 
consist. Only w^e must learn how properly to under- 
. stand and appreciate it. And this is the purport of 
my present discourse. In it I will inquire with you' 
into the value of friendship, one of the greatest bles- 
sings of life. To that end I wdll first shew you how 
friendship should be constituted in order to have a 
great value ; then, wherein the value of it consists ; 
and lastly, how we should behave in regard to it, iii 
order that it may be and procure to us what it is ca- 
pable of being and procurhig to us. 



The Value of Friendship. ISf 

This will enable us to feel the truth of Sdlomon's 
sentence which we have taken for our text ; *' There 
is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.'- 

Friendship, w-hat a sacred, what a venerable name 
— and how abused and profaned ! Now the most 
captivating garb of virtue ; now the mask of vice. 
Now the indissoluble band of generous and noble 
souls ; and now the most dangerous snare of the be- 
trayer of innocence. Here the parent of truth, of 
frankness, of sincerity; there the disguise of the most 
artful treachery, and the deepest cunning. One while 
a powerful incentive to the fairest and most magnani- 
mous atchievements ; at another, the sordid means 
of prosecuting and attaining the most selfish designs. 
And all this while real friendship still maintains her 
station, and supports her dignity. She preserves the 
exalted place she has obtained among the virtues and 
prerogatives of human nature, among the sources of 
our felicity. But not every thing which bears her 
name, not every thing that borrows her garb, is she 
herself. Let us therefore, for her vindication, rightly 
discriminate between appearance and reality. 

When I speak of the value of friendship, I mean 
not to comprehend under that term what the general 
abuse of it implies ; not every extensive or more lim- 
ited connexion that may be founded on relation- 
ship, or on business, or on conviviality, or on social 
resort to pleasures and diversions, wherein neither 
intrinsic affection, 'nor tenderness, nor confidence, 
has part. This is generally nothing more than a self- 
ish intercourse of trifling civilities and services, in 
which the heart has little or no concern ; and often a 
low traffic of mutual profit, which subsists for so 
long a time as each can find his account in it. No, 
real friendship is pure and generous affection, is the 
close and complete union of hearts, which is testified 
by an actual paiticipation in all the joys and sorrows 



i^i The Value of Friendship. 

df the other, a mutual and unreserved confidence, 
and the most disinterested oiiiciou^ness, and so con- 
nects a man with his friend in regard to sentiments 
and sensations^ that they both of them make but 
one self. 

Neither is similarity or ccnformity of disposition, 
of taste, of propensities and pursuits, nor the strong 
attachment thence arising, the only, nor even the 
principal material for raising the structure of that 
friendship which truly deserves the name. This simi- 
larity, this conformity, this mutual propensity, may 
likev/ise subsist among fools and rogues, and do con- 
nect them. together for a longer or a shorter time. 
But who will decorate such combinations and con- 
nexions as these with the sacred name of friendship ! 
They are not unfrequently conspiracies against the 
general welfare, confederacies for social depredation 
or debauchery. No, it is only the similarity of dis- 
position and sentiment, grounded on mutually good 
inclinations and propensities, on generous and bene- 
ficial designs and pursuits, that can so draw men to- 
gether, and unite them so intimately to each other, 
that they shall become in a manner one heart and 
one soul ; and only in this union can real and exalted 
friendship consist. 

In order then, that friendship should have a great 
and solid worth, it must be built on real excellencies 
of mind and heart ; on intelligence and virtue, and 
on reciprocal esteem. Both heart and mind are alike 
necessary to it. The good heart alone is not suffi- 
cient to the happiness of friendship* It must be guided 
by a sound, well regulated mind, if we would not 
frequently occasion our friend, against our will, more 
dissatisfaction than comfort, more harm than profit. 
The light that should enlighten us, and the warmth 
that should animate us, as friends, must not be like 
the dazzling flash of the lightning, and the scorching 



the Value of Friendship. 129 

heat of the summer's sun, but like the light of the 
day, and the mild and cheering breath of the spring* 
But even the best regulated understanding and the 
most soft and tender heart are but weak and frail 
supports of friendship without the aid of virtue. The 
friendship which is not founded on virtue, on recip- 
rocal love to all that is beautiful and true, and right 
and good, cannot be of long stability. It is incapa- 
ble of any generous and magnanimous sacrifice. The 
unprincipled man is always at certain periods inter- 
ested and selfish. His views, his preferences, change 
with his inclinations, and take the color of his pas- 
sions ; and as often as these press into action, the 
voice of friendship is heard no more, and its most 
sacred rights '^re trampled under foot. Friendship 
' between the bad only lasts till one has had his ends 
of the other in the prosecution of his plan, in the 
gratification of his sensual desires, or in the oppres- 
sion and the ruin of a third. Only the virtuous man 
remains true to his friend even when he can procure 
him no more profit^ and afford him no more assist- 
ance^ when he has nothing left to return him for all 
his civilities and services, but a heart that confesses 
and feels their value. It is virtue alone, in fine, that 
can beget in me a solid and lasting esteem towards 
my friend. And what is friendship without esteem ? 
The creature of self interest, of humor, of sensuality, 
or of a blind mechanical impulse, that is liable to as 
many alterations and accidents as the foundation 
whereon it rests. 

Farther ; if we would render friendship of actual 
and great value, it must be disinterested, generous, 
and at the same time impartial. He that courts my 
friendship, only tha.t he may promote and effect, 
through my means, certain purposes advantageous 
to him, or hopes to execute some plan of ambition 
with greater facility ; who is only so flir and so lone* 

Vol. II. K ' * 



ISO ^he Value of Frkndship. 

my friend as he finds his account or his pleasure iri 
it ; he profanes the venerable name under which he 
conceals his base and selfish schemes. The true friend 
looks more to the welfare of his friend than to his 
own, and feels himself much happier when he can 
give him any thing, can help himj can work for him, 
or suffer for him, than when he receives assistance 
or benefits from him. He honors and reveres the 
mind, the heart of his friend, that which makes him 
a respectable and amiable man, and not his station, 
his wealthy his figure, his influence over others, or 
any outward advantagesi But with all this, he is 
impartial. He overlooks not the greater accomplish- 
ments and merits of others, with whom he is less 
closely connected ; does them ample justice ; shews 
them, if they deserve and want it, still more respect, 
still more reverence, still more assistance, than to the 
friend of his heart ; places them, not only in thought 
but in deed, above him^ and furthers their views and 
their prosperity, even to the apparent detriment of his 
friend, whenever truth and justice, and the common 
interest require it of him. 

Yes, in order that friendship should be truly and 
highly valuable, should be morally good, then, third- 
ly, it need not be at variance either with general hu- 
manity, or with the benefit of the whole society of 
which I am a member, or with the particular relations 
wherein I stand towards my parents and family, and 
my fellow citizens* Friendly affection, any more 
than patriotism, need not degenerate into misanthro^ 
py^ I am neither to sacrifice to my friend my duty^ 
nor the claims of the innocent, nor those of the pub- 
lic welfare ; not so exclusively to attach myself to 
him, and to live for him alone, as to deprive of my 
esteem and affection, my benevolence, or my con- 
verse and services, others who have equal demands 
Bpon them. This neither will nor can be required 



The Value of Friendship. 131 

by the Friensdhip that is founded on wisdom and vir- 
tue; nay, it would be injured, dishonored, dis- 
graced, by so doing. On the contrary, the more 
pleasure generous friends shall sacrifice to their duty, 
the more worthily each maintains his post in human 
and in civil society, so much will the tie of friend- 
ship, that holds them together, be more closely 
drawn. 

Lastly, friendship receives its greatest value froni 
real heart felt piety. This binds a man to his friend 
by all that is venerable, holy, and comfortable in re- 
ligion. This renders every thing that is of most 
consequence to mankind, their common concern. 
This cleanses their hearts from all sordid motives 
and low propensities. . This binds them together as 
fellow worshippers of God, as fellow disciples of Jesus, 
as coheirs of the future felicity, by the strong ce- 
ment of faith and hope. This opens to them a pros- 
pect into a superior state, where aifection will be 
everlasting, and where they will incessantly be striv- 
ing after perfection with united powers. And of 
what fidelity, of what sacrifices must this not make 
them capable ! What grand exalted sentiments in- 
terchangeably impart to them f What a value must 
it communicate to their friendship f 

Friendship thus framed, and resting on such a bot- 
tom, has a great, an inestimable value : Let us see 
what gives it this value, or wherein it consists. 

In the first place, friendship is the most intimate 
and happy conjunction of two souls of the same gen- 
erous temper in heart and mind. All things in na- 
ture, my pious hearers, as well in the spiritual as in 
the material world, are continually striving to unite, 
to obtain a closer and completer union. As all the 
particles of matter reciprocally follow the law of at- 
traction, so do spirits likewise, so do human souls, 
m all things tend and endeavor t© assimilate wLtk 
2 



132 The P^alue of Friendship. 

whatever is or appears to be homogenous to therii. 
This is the foundation of love ; this the ground of 
friendship. Some have sensual and gross, others 
spiritual and noble conjunctions in view. The wiser, 
better, and more perfect two friends may bp, so 
much the more perfect is their union also. When 
both of them are of a sound and vigorously reflect- 
ing mind, have a capacious and sentimental heart ; 
Vv'hen both have a widely extended knowledge, great 
and elevated notions, pure and generous feelings ; 
both great activity in goodness ; they then possess, 
as it were, more points of contact, so much the 
greater similarity or homogenity, incessantly draw- 
ing them closer, and binding them more indissolu- 
bly together. They see so many objects on the 
same side, from the same point of view, in the same 
combinations ; they think and judge of so many im- 
portant matters in the same way.; they are on such a 
number of occasions penetrated by the very same sen- 
timents; employ themselves so frequently and so earn- 
estly about the very same things, that each sees the 
ether in himself; is sensible to himself in the other, 
and both so think, and will, and feel, and act, as though 
they were but one. Friendship is, in fact, a redu- 
plicated or multiplied mode of existence, and of ef- 
fecting and enjoying good« Each exists at the same 
time in>the other, is operative and effective by him* 
The good which one does, is done by both ; the sat- 
isfaction that one enjoys, is enjoyed by the other 
likewise ; the merit of one is also set down to the 
account of the other. Both are animated bv the 
same common interest, and are set upon the most 
diversified activity. And how much must not all 
this concur to unite like constituted souls ; and how 
happy muot not the sentiment, the enjoyment of this^ 
union be! 



The Value of Friendship. 133 

True friendship is, farther, the most intimate 
^community of all the joys and sorrows of life i ^ 
community, which as much improves and heightens 
the one, as it diminishes and alleviates the other. 

' No joy is of any great value which remains entirely 
locked up within my heart, which I cannot impart 
to a being of my kind, which I cannot enjoy with 
him ; even the most exalted, the divinest of all joys^ 
even the joys of piety, would cease to be what they 
are, if I could not enjoy them in the sentimeri: of the 
presence of God, and of my connexion with him ; 
and every, even the slightest sorrows may become 
oppressive, may be intolerable, if I be forced to bear 
them alone, if none of all that surround me, will suf- 
fer with me, qr if I am not supported under them by 
the sentiment of the presence of the Almighty. But 
what joy will not be iniproved and multiplied, what 
joy will not frequently be augmented into transport, 
by communicating it to the friend of my heart, when I 
know that he feels it as much as I do myself, that he will 
call my attention to every circumstance, every conse- 
quence, every effect of it that can increase its value, 
and that he will, for me, and with me, give praise 
for it, from the fullness of my heart, to God, the 
giver of joy ! And what solid and good reflections^ 

"what humane and generous sentiments, what honor- 
able purposes, what useful employments, what cir» 
cumspect prosecution of them, what innocent enjoy- 

, ment of nature, what improvements in knovv^ledge or 
in virtue, what progress towards our common aim, 
must not this produce in friends thus connected to- 
gether, and augment their satisfactions in it ! How 
must not all be enobled in their eyes by the pleasure 
they mutually take in it, by the heart of sentiment 
and affection wherewith they enjoy it ! And their 
sorrows, how much more tolerable, how much lighter 

must they not be to them, by not being abandoned 
• 3 t 



1S4 The Value of Friendship. 

to their own violence and fury, by their not remain* 
ing locked up in the recesses of the heart, where 
^they would rankle, and the more deeply inflict their 
stings, but are shaken forth from the bosom of the 
one into that of the other; all that tormented and 
pained him is entrusted to the other without reserve, 
not even concealing that which probably no danger, 
no torture, would' have extorted from him ! No, 
neither suffers for himself alone ; neither bears alone 
the burden that oppresses him; each obtains from 
the other all the comfort, all the counsel, every as- 
isistance he ever has it in his power to give him. 
And what a sweet is friendship able to infuse even 
into the bitterest sorrows of human life \ What a 
light it diffuses over the darknesses that surround it I 
What vigor and courage it inspires into the weary 
and heavy laden heart! What little circumstances 
does it not apply to cheer and revive it ! With what 
a lenient hand it binds up its wounds ! What atten- 
tion, what ofRciousness, what complacency, what 
indulgence, what sacrifice, is too troublesome or too 
dear to this end ! And what repays and rejoices them 
more than when they see the suffering friend suffer 
less, suffer more composedly, or suffer no more ; 
when they can see him restored, strengthened, cheer- 
ied, and satisfied, again in possession of the comforts 
of life. 

Real, virtuous friendship is, thirdly, an united 
pursuit of one and the same end, an animated en- 
deavor after ever increasing perfection. And how 
much must not their united endeavors be thus facil- 
itated in the glorious attempt I Hand in hand they 
walk the path of wisdom and virtue ; with united 
hearts, with combined forces, they labor at their 
improvement and happiness. One quickens and 
encourages the other to proceed ; one incites thd 
other to industry and perseverance, one kindles the 
other to penerous and noble deeds. Each watches 



^hc Value of Friendship. 135 

over the other, as much as over himself; warns 
him of this danger, reminds him of that duty, sup- 
ports him in each toilsome, each painful enterprise, 
and affectionately recalls him from every indirect 
and devious way. If one stumble or fall, the other 
raises him again ; if one grow slack and weary on 
his course, he is inspired with new firmness and 
courage by the voice and the example of the other. 
Each finds in the other the skill, the ability, the 
dexterity on an hundred occasions, which he would 
never have found in himself, They never are weak- 
ened or retarded by low self interest ; but a generous 
emulation animates them both, and allows neither 
one or the odier to be left behind. They fight in 
conjunction against every disorderly passion that stirs 
within, against every attack of envy and derision, 
against the baleful influence of prevailing principles 
and practices, against every carking care and every 
mining sorrow. And how much must not this facil- 
itate the conquest over all their foes I The more 
impedinients and perils they meet with on the. way, 
the more difficulties they have to encounter : So 
much the faster will the knot that connects them 
be drawn \ so much the more will their fidelity be 
exercised and secured ;. so much the more poignant 
will the mutual sentiment of friendship be ;= and so 
much the more effectual their united efforts to van- 
quish every obstacle, to surmount every difiiculty, 
and to force their way through dangers and calam- 
ities to the prize of their high calling, and to seize 
it with concurrent ardor. The severest penury, 
the most manifest danger, the hardest and most cost- 
ly sacrifices, are at once the sustenance and the 
test of their generous friendship ; and the more a 
friend can do and risk and sacrifice and suffer and 
laboriously acquire for his friend, so much the hap- 
pier is he in the sentiment of his friendship. And 
- 4 



136 The Value of Friendship. 

of what actions and what enterprises are not such 
friends capable ! What degree of virtue, what per^ 
fection is unattainable to them ! 

And what a value, what an inestimable value 
must not all this confer on friendship ! What ter- 
restrial happiness, what outward distinction, can be 
compared to it ! None ; it is of far greater value 
than wealth and honor and elevation and power 
and all the splendor of earthly thrones. With it, 
a man may be deprived of them all, and yet be 
happy ; without it, though he had them all, his 
heart would never be satisfied, nor his thirst after 
happiness be assuaged.— Even love must yield the 
palm to friendship. Sensual love is consumed and 
destroyecl by enjoyment ; and when it is not raised 
upon friendship, or does not change into it, it in- 
evitably draws after it satiety, disgust and aversion. 
The joys of friendship alone neither droop nor de- 
cay, and the fruition of them never deadens desire. 
If friendship be less lively and vehement than love. 
It is therefore the more lasting and pure. Its ob- 
jects are capable of continued advancement, of in- 
cessant perfection ; on which new beauties, new 
charms, new blossoms and flowers, for ever appear. 
It combines not flowers which bloom today and arc 
withered tomorrow; it incorporates not frail ma- 
terials of dust and corruption ; but its connexions 
are of souls, of spirits, of immortal beings ; beings 
for ever raising themselves higher above the dust, 
for ever approaching nearer to the Father of spirits, 
the original source from whence they sprung. Love 
generally dies on this side the grave; but friendship 
extends to the regions beyond it, into the better 
world to come ; death only transplants it into a new 
scene, Vv^here its satisfactions will be purer and more 
perfect, and it will display itself in still nobler ef« 
forts and more glorious actions. 



The Value of Friendship. 137 

Great as the value of friendship is, however en- 
viable the person that enjoys it, yet is it by no means 
the prerogative of ,the darling of fortune, a benefit 
to which only persons of superior stations can make 
pretension. No, friendship seldom takes up her 
abode with the rich, still seldomer with the high 
and mighty. She prefers the cottage to the palace, 
the simple manners of the private person contented 
with his moderate circumstances, to the pom.p and 
luxuries of the great ; often does she rather choose 
the house of sorrow than the seat of festivity. Men 
of the inferior classes keep more together, are more 
sensible to their natural equality, cross and circum- 
vent each other less in their views and enterprises, 
are less frequently competitors for the same pre- 
eminence, ai'e not so dissipated and relaxed, nor so 
often forget themselves amidst a multitude of extra- 
neous objects ; and the sufferer is in want of a sym- 
pathising being, one into whose breast he may pour 
out his sorrows, whose presence and participation 
will comfort and cheer him, and in whose conver- 
sation he may forget his distresses and his painso 
Thus friendship very frequently is a counterpoise to 
misery, while the want of it deprives the most 
shining circumstances of the greatest part of their 
worth* 

Plain considerations; which will not allow us to 
doubt that friendship is a highly covetable bless- 
ing, that it is the choicest and best privilege of life. 
Happy he who possesses this rare advantage, who has 
learnt to prize it as it deserves, and is sensible to 
the felicity it confers. To him it is a never failing 
sprin^^ of tranquillity and comfort, of satisfaction 
and joy. To him must the path of life be far 
smoother, more luminous and pleasant, than to the 
wretch who is obliged to wander through his; course, 
without a companion, without a friend to observe 



15S Hhi Valn€ of Friendship,, 

his ways and partake of his pleasures, who must 
bear its troubles without assistance, and may often 
fall for want of a support. 

Wouldst thou, my cliristian brother, know the 
happiness of friendship from experience ; then be 
cautious in choosing thy friend. Herein let wisdom 
and virtue conduct thee. Let not the outward gra- 
ces, nor friendly looks, nor a smiling countenance^ 
nor flattering speeches, nor studied civilities, nor the 
first impression of complacency, nor every similarity 
in sentiment or taste beguile thee. Give not care^ 
lessly thy heart to any one that applies for it, or who 
procures thee present pleasure. Place not thy con* 
fidence in any thoughtless, inconsiderate person, any 
convivial jester, any witling, any scorner of relig^ 
ion and severe morality. Connect not thyself with 
any to whom the band of wedlock, the ties of do^ 
mestic and of social life, and the still more awful re- 
lation that unites the creature with the Creator, are 
not sacred. In thy choice, prefer understanding and 
probity to all the glare of riches and the pomp of 
station, candor and openness of heart to the most 
polished sentiments and the most amusing wit ; pre- 
fer even the severest reprover to the most agreeable 
flatterer. Choose for thy friend, the friend of truth, 
the friend of virtue, the friend of humanity, the 
friend of God. Rather forego a while longer the 
happiness of friendship, than run the least risk of 
finding wretchedness and misery where thou sought- 
pst for the purest of human delights. 

Wouldst thou, farther, enjoy the happiness of 
friendship, and that in a rational and lasting manner ? 
Then form no extravagant, no romantic conceptions 
of it. Amuse not thyself with the notion of a 
friend that no where existed, or who must hav^ 
been a useless or a worthless member of society if 
he did so exist. Be reasonable in ^thy demands on 



The Value of Friendship. 13f 

jthy friend. Require no perfection more than hu- 
tnan, no infallibility^ of him. Forget not that he is a 
man, a frail, circumscribed creature, liable like thee 
to err and to mistake, and must and will be so while 
he is a man. Forget not that he is a father, a hus- 
band, a brother, a citizen, head or member of some 
larger or less society, and stands in various connex- 
ions with a thousand others. Require not therefore, 
that he should always judge exactly fight, give thee 
constantly the best advice, have his countenance al- 
ways equally bright, his behavior always alike agree- 
able and pleasing, his heart ever equally open and 
sensible, or his interest in whatever concerns thee, 
equally active and warm. Demand not of him that 
he should live only for thee, converse with thee 
alone ; still less, that he should wound his conscience 
for thy service, or sacrifice to thee the welfare of 
those who look up to him for protection and support. 
No the firmest tie of friendship is mutual exactitude 
and integrity in the discharge of our duties, as well 
as mutual indulgence and patience- 

Wouldst thou, thirdly, render the enjoyment of 
this happiness [lasting as well as complete ? Then 
deal circumspectly with thy friend. The flower of 
friendship must be reared and tended with a gentle 
hand ; it has need of nurture and refreshment, to 
preserve it from fading and withering away. Bear 
then with the harmless weaknesses of thy friend, 
though probably distasteful to thee. Impose on hini 
ho burden that he may find difficult to bear. Give 
him as freely, at least, as thou receivest of him. Put 
him not to trials which may imply distrust or awake 
suspicion. Extort no ^services or attentions ; and 
force not from him the secret with which he is not, 
willing to entrust thee. Beware of imputing to him. 
each look, each word, each trifling action, which 
might not, probably, Imve been accompanied with -i 



140 The Value of Friendship, 

sufficient degree of energy, as a breach of friendships 
when thou art once become sure of his heart. 
Let not the power thou hast over him degenerate 
into authority and rigor ; or the freedom and famiL 
iarity that subsists between you, into a total neglect 
of the rules of good breeding and propriety, 

Wouldst thou lastly, enjoy the happiness of friend- 
ship, and learn its full value from experience ; then 
be punctual and exact in the discharge of all the du- 
ties thou owest to thy friend. Pay a sedulous atten- 
tion to his wants, his views, and his connexions ; 
think nothing that concerns him to be indifferent to 
thee, but consider his interests as inseparable from 
thy own. Be before hand with him, as often as thou 
canst, in what he may expect or require from thy 
friendship ; and let cheerfulness and pleasure ac- 
company and animate w^hatever thofi dost in his be- 
Jbalf. Thank him for the civilities and services he 
accepts from thee, as much as for those thou receiv- 
est from him. Above all things be scrupulously ex- 
act and faithful in the most impoi.tant and generous 
demonstrations of virtuous friendship. Exhort, in- 
cite, encourage, and stimulate him to every thing 
that is laudable and good ; and be not deterred from 
it by the fear of forfeiting his esteem and affection c 
The friendship that will not stand this trial, that will 
not be the firmer for it, is not deserving of that hon-- 
orable name, deserves nc;t to be cherished with ail 
possible care, as the chief.est felicity of life. Indeedj, 
thou must not be discou.raged by the first unsuc- 
cessful attempt. Thou must even endeavor to pro= 
cure admission and audience to thy admonitions, 
thy warnings and thy veprehensions, by every thing 
that is persuasive anc\ prevaling in friendship. Thou 
jQust even repeatedly bear with the displeasure of 
thy once more equi table friend, and bear it with un- 
diminished afTeclion. But, wdien he v/ill by no mean^ 



The Value of Friendship* I4i 

allow himself to be admonished, to be cautioned, ta 
be reprehended by thee, if he will only endure to be 
flattered ; then, let the bond of attachment between 
you be cancelled for ever. It was not dictated by 
wisdom and virtue, and might easily have led thee 
into a snare. But, if thou art justified in requiring 
this of thy friend, then likewise, on the other hand^ 
take the admonitions, the suggestions, the remon- 
strances and reproofs of thy friend in good part, and 
with a grateful resentment. Respect and love him 
the more, that he may have less frequent occa- 
sions of giving thee such testimonies of his esteem 
and affection; and so run with him towards the 
mark of human perfection, to which every virtue, 
every species of happiness, and therefore friendship^ 
mfallibly conducts. 



SERMON XXXV. 

The Value of Ch'il and Religious Lihertp 



J , Kj GOD, the creator and father of mankind/ 

hx hast thou elevated us above the beasts of the field ! Of 
greater perfection and happiness hast thou rendered us ca^ 
gable. Thou hast imparted to us reason and liberty. And 
what blessings hast thou not granted us by them. What 
mcans of becoming ever better, ever wiser, ever happier ! 
Yes, thou hast formed us after thy own image, and imprint- 
ed on us; thy children,' evident marks of our origin from 
thee. By reason and liberty we can have communion with 
thee, and ever approach nearer to thee, ever gain a greater 
resemblance to thee, the first, the most perfect being, O 
God, with "v^^hat privileges hast thou not endowed us, the 
inhabitants of thfe earth 1 How. happy are we, in being that 
"which thy love has ordered us to be ! O might we but ever 
become more intinaately sensible to our dignity and that of 
our brethren, and ever think and act in greater conformity 
with it ! We are all thy children, all of divine descent, all 
endotved by thee with the same privileges, all ordained by 
thee to perfection and happiness ; and as such we should 
all esteem and love each other, all live together as brethren 
and sisters, and none mislead another from his vocation or 
degrade him from his dignity, but all be aiding to each 
other towards the attainment and maintenance of it. This 
is thy will, thou gracious Parent of us all ; and to do thy 
will is our glory and our felicity, O teach us then, with 
ever increasing fidelity to accomplish thy will, and ever- 
more completely to enjoy that felicity. Worthily to use 
our own liberty, and to respect and promote the liberty of 
«ur brethren, should be the honor, the most zealous endeav- 



The Vatue of Liberty ^ Chil and Religious. 14-1 

•r of us all. Do thou, most irterciful Father, put a stop to 
the oppression and tyranny of every kindj under the burden 
■whereof so many of thy children on earth continue to sigh; 
break the bonds that disfigure and degrade the work of thy 
hands ; revive and raise the sentiment of their dignity, al- 
most extinct in such numbers of mankind, and let the tri- 
ilmphs of freedom over thraldom, be more conspicuous and 
glorious from day to day. Bless the meditations on thy 
word which we are now about to begin. Teach us all duly 
to estimate the value of liberty, and let the sentiment of it 
inspire us with all generous dispositions, with dispositions 
worthy of the man and the christian. Dispel by thy Holy- 
Spirit, every prejudice that may weaken these good effects 
of truth ; and hear our prayer, through Jesus Christ, by 
whom thou hast called us to the glorious liberty of the sons 
of thee, our God. With filial confidence we implore it of 
thee, as his disciples, and address thee farther in his name : 
Our Father, &;c»- 



1 CORINTHIANS, vu. 33, 

Me not ye the Servants of Men, 

THE spirit of Christianity is a spirit of liberty. 
Of this its doctrines, its precepts, as well as th© 
character of its founder, and the whole temper it 
communicates to its true professors, allow us no 
room to doubts Where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
says the apostle, there is liberty, Christianity pro- 
motes liberty of each kind, evil as well as religious, 
among mankind. If it any where is not so apparent- 
ly favorable to it ; if any where it seems to require 



144 The Value of Liberty^ Ch'il and Religious^ 

of its followers an unlimited and implicit obedience 
towards magistrates and governors ; this was ex- 
tremely necessary in the primitive times, for tlie 
confirmation and extension of it. The christian 
doctrine must have been clear of every thing that 
might excite suspicion of worldly aims, op fear of 
civil commotion. It must first disseminate more 
instruction and morality among mankind, before it 
had need to give incitement and encouragement to 
the vindication of their rights. A vigorous and lively 
sentiment of liberty in men who are but little culti- 
vated, and have no firm principles, is often, gener- 
ally speaking, more prejudicial than useful. But the 
spirit of Christianity, the whole system of thought 
and temper it inculcates, has indisputably the ad- 
vancement of both kinds of liberty in view. No 
doctrine whatever, causes a man to feel more forci- 
bly his natural equality with all others ; none more 
expressly preaches to him humanity and brotherly 
love, universal kindness and beneficence and gener- 
osity ; none inspires him with a livelier sentiment 
of his dignity as a man ; none is more fertile in 
great, generous, and elevated thoughts and senti- 
m.ents of mind and heart ; none teaches a man to 
consider death with greater composure, and to meet 
it with more firmness ; none makes him readier to 
die for his brethren and for the public good, as Jesus 
died for mankind ; and who sees not that no dis- 
positions can be more manifestly at variance with 
slavery and bondage, and none more favorable to 
freedom than these ? O were they but more general 
among christians, and that even rulers and govern- 
ors would but learn to think in a more christian 
manner ! How much advantage would accrue to the 
cause of freedom, and consequently of human hap- 
piness ! Far be it from me to preach disorder in tlie 
state, or disunion and schism in the church 1 But to 




The Value of Liberty^ Cml and Religious, 14S 

preach and to promote liberty, and to render the 
greater or the smaller proportion of it you enjoy the 
dearer to you, is a duty of mankind^ a christian du- 
ty, and to contribute something to the discharge of 
this duty, is the scope of my present discourse. In 
it I shall inquire into the value of liberty, civil and 
religious, and its influence on human happiness, and 
therein lay before you the importance of the apostol- 
ical admonition in our text; '* Be not ye the serv- 
ants of men." In this design, I shall, first, make a 
few observations for ascertaining the true notion of 
liberty, and its real value ; then examine into the 
peculiar value of the two kinds ; and, lastly, sub- 
join some suggestions in regard of our behavior to- 
wards it. 

Civil liberty is there in its greatest perfection wliere 
we are only subject to the laws, and choose our own 
representatives in enacting those laws* In other con= 
stitutions of government there exists always so much 
the greater or less degree of freedom as the laws more 
or less bear sway, and as even the arbitrary will and 
power of the ruler is circumscribed by them. So 
likewise religious liberty is there in its greatest per- 
fection where a man is subject in religious matters, 
to no other laws than the precefits of reason and his 
own conscience, and unimpededly may follow their 
impulses and injunctions. And when likewise here 
limitations are setj then does so much more or less 
liberty of this kind obtain as such limitations are 
more extensive or confined, as they relate to essen- 
tial or unessential matters. 

That we may rightly estimate the value of this 
liberty, it is necessary to make several remarks, and 
accurately to distinguish it from what is often called, 
but is not liberty. 

Liberty, in the first place, is not licentiousness, not 
anarchy. To be free, does not imply, to act with* 

Vol. IL L 



146 T^he Value of Liberty^ Chil and Religious ^ 

out principles, without views, according to the dic- 
tates of unbridled inclination ; not to break through 
and despise all restraints ; not to reckon every law as 
a violent imposition and burden, and to reject it as 
soon as we think or feel it in the least degree incon- 
venient to us ; not to set aside all that is fit, and to- 
get over all that is decent ; not to exist and live 
barelv for oneself, without rearard to others. No^ 
laws accurately defined, inviolable, obligatory on all 
states and conditions of men, on princes and magis- 
trates as well as on subjects, are the first and firmest 
foundation of liberty. Wouldst thou enjoy a liberty 
controled by no law, limited by no authority, in the 
full power of doing merely what thou art pleased 
to do ; then get thee from the society of men ; re- 
turn to the woods, to the pretended state of nature ; 
live among the animals thy relations, the beasts of 
the field j or lead the life of a hermit, divest thyself 
of all the privileges, and renounce all the comforts 
of social life. For, where men live together, and 
would live securely and happily together^ there must 
be law, there must law bear sway, there must every 
one sacrifice a part of his natural liberty to the peace- 
ful possession of what he retains. No, the greater 
the freedom of the citizen, so much the more sacred 
should all the laws of the state, the first as well as 
the last, be to him. The more freely the worshipper 
of God may think, the less he is tied to forms and 
confessions ; so much the stricter and more consci- 
entiously should he conform to the eternal and un- 
changeable laws of reason, and be guided by the pre- 
cepts of a revelation which he confesses to be divine. 
Farther, The love of liberty is not a querulous 
disposition, is not a spirit of opposition to all laws and 
ordinances, to all received notions and doctrines, a 
repugnance to all institutions, establishments, and 
usages, introduced into civil life and the public wor- 



?7/<? Falue of Liberty, Ciml and Religidus, 14f 

ship. No, the more sensible a person is to the value 
of his own liberty, the less will he be disposed au- 
thoritatively to set bounds to the liberty of others. 
The more unmolestedly he may follow the dictates 
of his own conscience, so much the more does he 
respect the conscience, even the erroneous conscience 
of his brother. The less he is tied down to opinions 
and formularies of doctrine himself, and the more 
sensibly he is hurt when his faith and his persuasions 
are made the objects of derision; so much the more 
indulgent is he to the opinions and persuasions of 
others, and the less will he allow himself to contro- 
vert or to rectify them otherwise than by argument, 
and in the spirit of humility and meekness. The 
unseasonable reprover, the biting scoffer in this way, 
is not solicitous for the cause of liberty, but for his 
own ; he is not animated by the love of liberty, but 
by pride, and the lust of dominion. 

Lastly, it is with liberty, as with all the other bless- 
ings of life ; it is only of great value to them w^ho 
know how to use it properly. Often is it made a 
fertile source of disturbance, division, tumult, and 
confusion to the citizen as well as to the worshipper, 
in the church no less than in the state. Often is it 
made instrumental to the passions, to pride, to vanity, 
to self interest, to pertinacity, to ambition ; often 
does it degenerate into arrogance, into licentiousness, 
into fury ; and then it can certainly produce noth- 
ing but misery. In the hands of weakness and 
vice, every thing becomes dangerous, even wisdom 
itself. But this detracts nothing from the value of 
liberty any more than of wisdom. 

No, great, inestimably great, is the value of it ! 
The happiness it procures or promotes, far outweighs 
the accidental evils that attend it. The subsequent 
considerations, intended to set its value in a proper 
light, cannot fall to convince us of this truth, 
2 



148 ^he Value of Liberty^ Chit arid Religious, 

Liberty is the natural state and the warmest wish 
of man* Every thing that lives and thinks is pant- 
ing and striving after freedom. The beast bears not 
the trammel v/ithout violence, and struggles under 
the yoke we lay upon his neck ; and the more senti- 
ment of self, the more reflection a man posseses above 
a beast, so much the more oppressive and intolerable 
must it be to him to bear similar or heavier shackles, 
and to sigh under a similar or a more galHng yoke. 
No, man is not born for siavery> he is not designed 
for bondage. This appears from his dispositions, his 
capacities, his faculties, and the consciousness he has 
of them all, and the voluntary and deliberate uses to 
which he can apply them. Every man has these 
dispositions, these capacities, these faculties, and this 
consciousness, in common with all other men. No 
man is essentially distinguished from the others. No 
one belongs to a higher species or order of beings. 
All are equal with each other, as men ; all are broth- 
ers and sisters in the properest sense of the words. 
To determine ourselves, to act by our own percep- 
tions, is what exalts mankind above the beasts of the 
field, and makes us what we are. He who despoils 
him of this liberty, or arbitrarily circumscribes it^ 
therefore degrades and debases humanity^ and rend-* 
ers himself guilty of treason against the human race* 
He usurps a preeminence over his brethren, over 
creatures of his kind and nature, which only beings 
of a superior order to man can claim, like that which 
man maintains over the beasts of the field. This 
natural equality of men, and the rights that are 
grounded on it, are undeniable and unalienable. 
The unessential but accidental difference of weak and 
strong, of greater or less mental and bodily powers 
of men, may and should occasion mutual dependence, 
various connexions and regards, but not tyranny and 
slavery. Even the feeblest, the most limited man. 



7he Value of Liberty -, Chil and Religious, 149 

is still a man, who indeed is in want of a guide, a 
cousellor, an overseer and provider, but not a ty- 
rannical lord. Civil as well as religious society 
should be that in the large, which domestic society 
is in the little. In them, as in this, should be father 
and children, teacher and scholar, leader and follow- 
er, head and members, lawgiver and subjects ; but 
neither there nor here should tyranny and bondage 
be. This is the voice of nature, speaking aloud to 
all intelligent beings, and her behests and decrees 
should ever be sacred to every one who is still alive 
to the sentiment of himself. 

Liberty, civil and religious liberty, brings, second- 
ly, the mental powers of men into greater play, sets 
them in greater and more diversified action, and 
thus furthers their perfection. The more diversified 
and important the affairs which occupy the human 
mind, and whereon it is free to think, to judge, and 
to discourse ; the more incitement has it from within 
and from w^ithout, to display, to use, and to exert its 
povv^crs, and to strengthen them by these uses and 
exertions. And what can be more important to a 
man than the concerns of the state to which he be- 
longs on one hand, and the concerns of the religion 
he professes on the other ? To whom can his own 
personal happiness, and to whom can the means and 
ways by which it is advanced or retarded, be indif- 
ferent ? And who can reflect and discourse on these 
subjects, if he be allowed to do so at all, without great 
attention and participation, without a manifold ap- 
plication and exercise of his mental powers? He, 
indeed, who is not allowed to think and to know 
more of matters of state or religion, than it is held 
expedient to let him think and know ; he who is 
obliged to judge of what is true and right and good 
by prescriptions and fixed formularies ; he has soon 
excogitated the matter ; lie will shortlv become in- 
3 



150 The Value of Liberty^ Civil and Religious, 

different both to the state and to reHgion ; will let 
others think and determine for him ; will decline all 
research after truth ; will suppress every doubt ; and 
his mind soon sinks, in regard to his most important 
concerns, into a careless slumber, into absolute 
^inaction. Only whei'e freedom reigns, only there 
reigns the true life of the mind. There all its con- 
ceptions are brought forth, all its capacities unfolded 
and applied. There it takes a cordial interest in 
whatever happens, in all that relates to mankind. 
There it shrinks from no obstacle, is deterred by no 
difficulty that it meets with in its reflections and scru- 
tinies, by no chimera of superstition, by no dread of 
man. There is unimpeded communication, unem- 
barrassed circulation of every truth, of every doubt, 
of every thought that once excites attention ; and 
each ray of light is reflected on a hundred benighted 
minds, each spark of celestial fire is communicated 
to a hundred generous hearts ; one mind assists an- 
other in its investigations and efforts. And if mental 
perfection be thus promoted among mankind, who 
can refuse to acknowledge the value of liberty by 
means of which it is effected ? 

Liberty, civil as well as rehgious liberty, is, in the 
third place, the only efficacious preservative against 
servility, with all its baleful and degrading consequen- 
ces. Where the former, where civil libertv is want- 
ing, there station and rank supply the place of merit, 
gold and silver, gi'eatness and power, dignities and 
titles, avail much more than the intrinsic qualities of 
the man whom they decorate or invest ; there abso- 
lute command usurps the place of reason, arbitrary- 
punishments and presents, that of all inward incite- 
ment and proper determination to act in this manner 
or in that ; there the lowly crouch before the lofty, 
the poor in the presence of the rich, and the subject 
$tands terrified at his prince ; there one blindly ap- 



The Value of Liberty^ Chil and Religions. 151 

proves what is said, and admires what is done by the 
other ; there each thinks and lives far more in the 
opinion and the judgment of others, than in himself, 
and from his own feeling's ; there the art of flatter- 
ing, the art of dissembling, the art of misreprcsentmg, 
are the most important arts of life ; there no one 
undertakes or performs more for the national benefit 
than he is absolutely obliged to do; there every one 
seeks to evade the laws, to neglect his duty, to shrink 
from his obligations with impunity, and to seize on 
the reward of merit without desert ; there men who 
are in ail respects equal, there brethren live so to- 
gether as if they w^ere perfectly alienated from each 
other^ as if they were creatures of a qiute diiferent 
kind. And how can this fail of stilling in the very 
bud every species of generous sentiment and action j 
how effectually must it not eradicate all philanthropy 
and patriotism ! Where the other, where religious 
liberty is wanting, there religion appears generally 
under a gloomy and a horrid aspect ; there is she by 
no means the familiar friend of man, his best and 
firmest comforter, but a woeful disturber of his peace, 
a severe and haughty despot, ever threatening and 
dictating, and arrogating an implicit credulity, an 
implicit obedience; there must her confessors be 
constantly doing violence to themselves, suppressing 
their natural feelings, and contradicting and counter- 
acting the plainest declarations of their reason ; there 
must they be filled more with a slavish dread of God, 
and of the future world, than with filial love towards 
their heavenly Father, and cheered by delightful pros- 
pects in a better life; there must they testify to men, 
as weak and as frail as themselves, the reverence and 
' submission which are only due to God and truth ; 
there will a man be ©ften in thraldom to the most 
shameful superstition, and must groan under all the 
terrors and humiliations of it. And how can relig- 
4 



152 The Value of Liberty^ Chil and Religious, 

ion appear venerable and amiable to him ? How 
can it be and afford to him what it is ordained to be 
and to afford to mankind ? No, there alone where 
civil liberty prevails, a man is of that consequence a 
man should be ; there understanding and honesty 
pass current for more than all outward distinctions ; 
tjiere mankind live together as so many brothers and 
sisters; there every one shews himself for what he is, 
and is accordingly esteemed ; there truth and open- 
ness in the visage and in the manners, in words and 
deeds, may venture to appear ; there, by a secret 
impulse, the laws are honored and observed ; there 
manly, generous, and patriotic sentiments prevail ; 
there each man understands and promotes, accord- 
ing to his means, the public welfare, and offers up 
to it, with satisfaction, his personal advantages and 
pleasures. There alone where religious liberty pre- 
vails, will religion be truly important to the under- 
standing and the heart of man ; there it employs 
them both ; th^^re it coincides with his whole system 
of sensation and thought ; there it gives light and 
animation to them both; there it may become the 
constant guide and conductor of mankind, having 
reason and liberty for its companions ; there it casts 
around neither fears nor terrors, but imparts courage 
and confidence to its votaries ; there it exalts the 
mind of man, and expands and composes his heart ; 
there it condescends to his comprehension, is in no 
contradiction to the actual world, with his natural 
feelings and experiences, requiring nothing of him 
which he is unable to grant, and interdicting' him 
nothing that is harmless and good; there it ennobles 
all things in his eys, inspires him with comfortable 
and filial sentiments towards God, and makes him 
regard every duty as a pleasure. And how distant 
is not all this from that servility which is one conse- 
quence of oppression and bondage! And what a 
value must it not give to liberty I 



The Value of Liberty y Cml and Religious, 155 

For the same reason, liberty is, fourthly, favora= 
ble to every species of virtue. A slave, as such, 
cannot be virtuous. He can obey ; but he obeys, 
not from inclination, but from compulsion. He can 
abstain from evil and do good ; but he has neither 
an inward abhorrence of the one, nor a perponderant 
love to the other. He abstains from the wrong and 
does the right, only insomuch as he is obliged to ab- 
stain and compelled to do. Thus does the man who 
is not animated by liberty observe the laws of the 
state, thus does he observe the precepts of religion. 
Both are oppressive, as a heavy burden forced upon 
him, which he would fain shake off if it could be 
done without danger. He accordingly discharges 
himself of it as often as he is unobserved, and can in- 
dulge the hope of escaping correction.— No, liberty 
is the principle, the soul of all real virtue, of all great 
endeavors and truly glorious actions. When I may 
myself examine and judge what I do orneglect, what 
I think and believe, what I am authorised to hope 
and vi^hat I ought to fear ; w hen I may convince my- 
self by rational and free disquistion, of the truth of 
my belief, of the equity and reasonableness of my 
duties, of the solidity of my hope or my fear, and then 
may follow my pr^ceptions and convictions ; then 
it is my own heart that impels me i then 1 adhere 
£rmly to that which I acknowledge for truth ; then I 
do that which I ought to do, w illingly and readily, ac- 
cording to my best abilities ; then actual hatred arises 
in me against every thing evil; and real, cordial love 
towards whatever is beautiful and right and good ; 
then I am deterred neither by obstacles nor difficul- 
ties from hearkening to conscience, from the dis- 
charge of my duty; then do I, not barely that which 
I am obliged to do, but all that I am able to per- 
form ; then I think and act in secret, just as in the 
sight of the world y then harmony subsists in all that 



154 I'he Value of Liberty^ Civil and Religious ^ 

I think and will and do ; then I strive constantly af^ 
ter purer and higher perfection ; and then alone I act 
virtuously and am truly virtuous. And where has 
virtue shone in greater lustre, where has she under- 
taken and achieved more glorious deeds, where has 
her sense and spirit more generally prevailed, where 
has she left fairer monuments of disinterestedness, of 
generosity, of fortitude, of painful and magnanimous 
sacrifices, of most extraordinary vigor and great- 
ness of mind, than in places where she has enjoyed 
the benign influence of liberty, and been totally an- 
imated by its energy ? 

Liberty, civil as well as religious liberty, is, fifth- 
ly, the parent, the guardain of arts, of sciences, of ev- 
ery kind of public and private prosperity. He that 
would attain to any considerable degree of proficien- 
cy in some liberal art, or carry it to a certain degree 
of perfection, must have a free and generous mind ; 
his understanding must not be fettered by prejudice, 
his genius not cramped by any dread of man, nor 
retarded in its arduous flight by traditonal authori, 
ties. He must give full scope to his reflections, to 
his feelings, and to his fancy ; must go in quest of 
truth, of beauty and perfection, on all sides, with un- 
bounded liberty ; their images, their presence alone 
should inspire him with respect, their laws alone be 
sacred to him.- — With the most important, the most 
exalted of all sciences, with the science of religion, 
the case is precisely the same. All violence, con. 
straint and coercion are averse to her spirit. She is 
the daughter of heaven, and allows of no controul 
from men. The friend of liberty is her friend. To 
him she confides her secrets ; to him she appears in 
her native, her celestial form. The slave only perr 
ceives her in a tawdry disguise, tricked out in a garb 
of human texture, uiider which her true figure is con- 
cealed. There alone where reflection on religious 



T:he Value of Liberty^ Chil and Religions. 155 

matters is not confined by established rules, not 
chained to human confessions of faith ; there alone 
where the right of free inquiry is retained by her 
confessors ; there alone can the knowledge of relig- 
ion be constantly becoming plainer, more correct and 
complete ; there alone can it be purified from human 
interpolations, secured against human abuses, and 
become that universal dispeser of light and life it was 
ordained to be. — -And, as religion, as arts and scien- 
ces flourish under the fostering energies of liberty, 
so also every species of public and private prosperi- 
ty is cherished by the same genial influence. She 
communicates life and activity to all. She strength- 
ens the weak, she quickens the slothful, she encour- 
ages and requites the active and industrious, facili- 
tates and promotes the effects of all public spirited 
undertakings, the success of all kinds of manufactures 
and trade, and shews us fertile and smiling fields, 
and diligent and cheerful employment, where be- 
fore was the gloomy wilderness and the uninhabited 
desert. 

Yet more. Only in, the sentiment and enjoyment 
of liberty, of civil as well as religious liberty, can a 
man support his real dignity as beseems the man and 
the christian. What more distinguishes the man 
from the brute ? What is his boasted preeminence, 
if it be not liberty ? That he needs not blindly fol- 
low an irresistible instinct ; that he is not obliged 
merely to move by mechanical law s ; that he can 
consider, reflect and choose ; that he can resolve and 
do that which he accounts the best accordins: to his 
perceptions : Is not this the true dignity of man ? 
And how can the slave assert and enjoy it ; the slave 
who is loaded with ponderous and oppressive chains, 
who must implicitly follow the will of another, who 
feels himself thwarted in thought and manacled in ac- 
tion, by arbitrary prescriptions and control ? How 



. 156 The Value of Liberty^ Ciml and Religious ». 

differently is the dignity of the man and the 
christian supported by him who knows the hap- 
piness of liberty ! The freer a man is as the 
member of a community, the stronger, the greater, 
the weightier is the consciousness of himself, What-^ 
ever he thinks, and says and does, as such, acquires 
thereby a certain value. He is no indifferent or 
useless member of the state ; he takes an interest 
in all that happens to it ; has an influence, or thinks 
he has an influence, on it all ; feels the prosperity 
of the whole society as if it were his own, and the 
damages it sustains as a detriment to himself ; he 
works and toils for posterity as well as for his con- 
temporaries, and hopes, in his descendants, or by 
his public spirited institutions and enterprises, to be 
the benefactor of his brethren long after his death. 
And hov/ great must he not thus feel himself to be ! 
What a dignity must it not give him in all his labors 
and actions ? And thus likewise it is with religious 
liberty. The freer a man is, as a worshipper of God, 
as a christian, so much the more is he alive to the 
privilege of being so, so much the more worthily will 
he support it. He alone worships God in spirit and 
in truth, with understanding and sentiment. He 
alone is impelled by his real wants to all the duties 
of religion and worship, to every act of piety, arid 
every exercise of devotion. He alone completely 
feels the happiness and the honor of the relation in 
which he stands with the Creator as his creature. 
To him alone is it the true food and recreation of 
his spirit, when he is busied in silent meditations on 
religion, when, with a tranquil mind, with a mind 
unfettered by prejudice and the dread of man, he 
can proceed farther and farther in investigating and 
applying the most important truths, when he can 
elevate himself with joy and reverence to the first, 
and most perfect being, and can entirely repose in 



The Value of Liberty^ C ml and Religious, 157 

his idea of him, and in the sentiment of his love. 
The more freely mafikind in general think and acty 
so much the more intimate and cheerful conscious- 
ness have they of the faculties and aptitudes of their 
nature, of their grand destination, of their affinity 
with beings of a superior order, and v/ith the deity 
himself, of all that they at present are and shall here- 
after be. And should not the liberty that exalts them 
thus, which unfolds and maintains this conscious-^ 
ness in them, be of infinite value in their eyes ? 

Liberty^ is lastly, the truest, the most comfortable 
enjoyment of life. No slave can be thorougly satis- 
fied with his life ; too often it is a burden to him ; 
too often does he voluntarily cast it off, as an insup- 
portable load; his faculties, his goods his time, his 
very life is not his own; the possession, the use, the 
continuance of them depend upon the caprice of his 
lord. What he yesterday earned by the sweat of his 
brow, is ravished from him today ; and the plans 
and designs he is busied with today, will be defeat- 
ed and frustrated tomorrow. He is, and has, and 
does, and enjoys, only Vvhat his o^vner will have him 
to be, and to have, and to do, and to enjoy. What 
great value then can any thing be of to him ! How 
tasteless, or rather how bitter to him must not the 
enjoyment of them be I No, none but the free man 
can peaceably enjoy, and thoroughly relish their 
sweets. If he have civil liberty ; then as a man, and 
a member of the community, he has neither violence 
nor oppression to fear, while he is obedient to the 
laws. What he is and has, that he is and has, not 
for the stranger, but for himself and his. What he 
has invented, wrought, or earned, is his, of it he 
reaps the fruits. He can pursue any lawful employ- 
ment without molestation, prosecute any innoxious 
design at pleasure, and, even when he is working 
for his descendants, for futurity, has even then a far 



i58 The Value of Liberty^ Civil and Religious 

greater assurance that his labors will not be in vain^ 
that his purpose will not be defeated. He is neither 
forced to swell the treasures of the tyrant, nor to sa- 
tiate the rapacity of his servants, nor to consume his 
faculties and his life in low and creeping slavery. He 
can dwell in his hut in security and peace, follow his 
employment in the calm of obscurity, enjoy at his 
ease the comforts of domestic and social life, and is 
not tormented with fears of being arrested unawares by 
some arbitrary order of government, or of being des- 
poiled, by the machinations of any secret and powerful 
adversary, of his goods, of his honor, of his children, of 
the natural use of his freedom. Does he enjoy liberty 
of religion and conscience ; then the religion he pro- 
fesses is actually his own religion, and the conscience 
he reveres is likewise his own. The considerations 
and reasons that have led and determined him, are 
his own considerations and reasons. His faith is the 
effect of his reflections, the result of his conviction. 
He needs not be alarmed at every error, at every 
doubt, at every novel idea, at every deviation from 
the beaten track, at every unusual elucidation so 
terrifying to the servile formalist. He is neither af- 
frighted at the ghastly spectre of error, nor the su- 
perior brightness of truths but little know^n. He has 
principles to which he adheres, by which he tries all 
thinp-s, which console him and guide him safely, 
even while they leave him undetermined and doubt- 
ful. Whatever he knows of religious matters, he 
knows thoroughly; whatever he believes, he be- 
lieves firmly ; w4"iatever he hopes, he hopes with 
confidence ; whatever he thinks and does in all these 
respects, he thinks and does with earnestness and 
joy. And thus does the happy man, who has been 
nursed in the lap of liberty, who enjoys his proper 
freedom as a man and as a christian, pass his life in 
cheerfulness and comfort, uses and enjoys the goods 



^he Value of Liberty^ C mil and Religious, 15f 

and advantages of it with confidence and courage ; 
and in that enjoyment has.no fear of being disturb- 
ed by the arbitrary orders of a spiritual or temporal 
superior. 

And now, my dear bretheren, judge for your- 
selves, whether liberty, whether civil and religious 
liberty, be not of great value, since it is the natural 
state of man, and the warmest wish of his heart ; 
since it so much promotes the activity and perfec- 
tion of his mental faculties ; since it secures him 
from all servility ; since it is so favorable to virtue ; 
since it is the parent of arts, of sciences, of public 
and private prosperity ; since it is the firmest sup- 
port of the dignity of man and of the christian, and the 
most deliciousenjoyment of life. Yes, liberty is an 
inestimable blessing ; a possession without which 
almost all others would lose the greatest part of their 
worth, and by which they are all of them multiplied 
and enhanced. 

But the knowledge, the conviction of the value 
of liberty, should not lie dormant in our breasts ; it 
should have an influence on our conduct. 

If ye confess and feel the value of liberty, my pi- 
ous hearers, patrouize and protect it wherever it 
subsists ; enjoy your o^vn happiness, but seek not 
to destroy or circumscribe the freedom of others. 
He that by any means undermines or diminishes 
liberty ; he that forges fetters for his bretheren, or 
brings them under a yoke, or prevents them from 
breaking and casting it off ; is an enemy of mankind, 
a traitor to the human race, an ignominious slave, 
who would fain reduce and debase all men to the 
same servile dispositions with himself. No, the lib- 
erty of our brother should be just as sacred to us as 
his property, as his honor, as his life, as his sum of 
happiness ; since, that once gone, all the others lose 
frequently the whole of their value. Ofallcrimi- 



160 The Value of Liberty^ Chil and Religious* 

ftals, the tyrant is the most atrocious', the little ty- 
rant as well as the great, the servant of the prince as 
well as the prince himself; and no crime must draw 
after it more humiliation and shame and torment, in 
the future world, than this, as none is more mani- 
festly in direct opposition to to the will of God. to 
all his views and commands, to the spirit of true re- 
ligion and Christianity, to the whole of human hap- 
piness, than this. 

This, however is not enough. If you confess 
the value of liberty, then also promote and advance 
it. Do so especially, you who shine in polished 
circles, w^ho fill the higher stations, you that are in 
the classes of the learned, who are teachers and 
guides of the people, who as fine writers influence 
the taste and the principles of the times, or are dis- 
tinguished above others by superior talents, and 
more generous sentiments. It is an indispensable 
duty incumbent on you to support and advance the 
cause of liberty. You are the curatcrs of the nation/f 
the guardians of its constitution, the interpreters of 
its laws, the arbiters between the government and 
the subject ; and sad is your case if you do not em- 
ploy the deference and respect and authority you 
possess, to the ends for which the Father of man- 
kind, the Judge of the world, has invested you with ^ 
them! Maintain then and protect the unalienable 
rights of mankind ; defend and support the equally 
sacred rights of conscience. Neither degrade your- 
selves by a blind and slavish obedience, nor by a ' 
superstitious submission to the ordinances and tra- 
ditions of men. Beware of becoming, either in one 
respect or the other, the servants of men. In both 
respects tiy all things, and cleave to that which, ac- 
cording to the soundest dictates of your judgment, 
is the best. Shew respect to the great and mightjr^ 
of the earth ; but flatter them not ; shrink not iiT 



^he Value of Liberty^ Chil and ReUgtoiis, 161 

their presence, as if they were creatures of a superior 
order. Judge of their actions with discretion ; but 
judge of them by the selfsame laws as you pronounce 
upon the actions of other men ; and neither applaud 
nor approve of any thing merely because it has been 
said or done by a man that is surrounded by parti- 
cular pomp. Reverence the religion of the realm ^ 
and its teachers, and its rites. But decline not to 
examine the doctrines of that religion, to discuss the 
decisions of those teachers, and to judge of the pro- 
priety or impropriety of those rites. Allow full scope 
to the progress of human knowledge ; discounten- 
ance no decent investigation of received maxims 
and doctrines, be the consequence what it may* 
Truth can at kngth be no loser by it; and one 
perspicuous thought, thoroughly understood and 
deeply felt, is of more value, and does more good, 
than ten others, heard of one man and repeated to 
another, and understood of neither from principle 
and conviction. 

Lastly, the more' liberty ye enjoy, the more let it 
effect that good which it is able and ought to pro- 
duce* If you may worship God after your ovv n prin- 
ciples, then worship hun with so much the greater 
cheerfulness and ardor; adore him so much the 
more in spirit and in truth, with understanding and 
sentiment. Are you allowed to think and to judge 
for yourselves in religious matters ; then refiect so 
much the more on those important concerns ; let it 
be so much the more your most pleasant employ- 
ment to explore and to know^ them ; then endeavor 
the more to assure yourself of your faith by reason. 
Woe to him whom freedom to think, whom liberty 
of religion and conscience, renders indifferent to re- 
ligion and truth, or inattentive to the voice of con- 
science ! Instead of being free, and of being better 
and happier by liberty, he only barters to his los^- 
' Vol* IL M 



162 The Value of Liberty^ Chil and Retigious. 

one slavery for another ; and though he be not op- 
pressed bv man, yet is he in bondage to his own 
lusts and passions. No, he who w^ould not render 
himself unworthy of the privilege of seeing with his 
own eyes, and of pursuing his object in the way he 
has chosen for himself, should use his eyes with so 
much the more assiduity, and walk on his way wdth 
the greater circumspection- Do you enjoy civil lib- 
erty ; then observe the laws of the state and of the 
society to which you belong, with so much the read- 
ier and stricter obedience ; for the maintenance and 
observance of the lau^s is the ground of all freedom. 
Promote the welfare of that state, of that society, 
with so much the more zeal, as it is the more inti- 
mately connected with your own, as you have, and 
may have so much the more influence on its pros- 
perity, as you find and enjoy in it so much the more 
protection and peace, security and happiness. Think 
and act in all respects with so much the more liber- 
ality and public spirit, the farther you are exalted 
above the state of slavery. Strive all of you, in the 
last place, my dear brethren, after that greater, that 
still more essential liberty of the wise man and the 
christian, of him who governs himself, who controls 
his desires and passions, seeks his happiness, not so 
much in externals, as in his intrinsic perfection, for- 
gets not his dignity, supports it in every condition, 
uninterruptedly follows the precepts of his reason 
and his conscience, and wills nothing but what God 
wills, and does nothing but what is in conformity to 
the will of God. Yes, this the liberty which will 
compensate the want of any other, and will be con- 
stantly bringing us nearer to the mark of our high 
vocation. 



SERMON XXXVL 
7he Value of Learning c 



\J GOD, from thee proceed intelligence ancl 
ifrisdom ; from thee proceed all the knowledge and sciences* 
which lead and conduct mankind ; which bless and rejoice 
them in numberless ways. From thee, who dwellest in 
inaccessible light, and art thyself pure light, pure truth and 
perfection, from thee flow light and truth and happiness on 
us, and on all intelligent beings ! Thou hast planted in us 
all an ever active curiosity, a burning thirst after the knowl- 
edge of truth ; given us all capacities and powers for seek- 
ing and investigating it ; opened to us all various sources 
for assuaging our thirst. And how many benefits, ho^¥• 
many recreationsj how many satisfactions, how many bless- 
ings, have not thy children of mankind, already drawn from 
these sources ; and how much blessing and delight do they 
not daily and hourly draw from them I Thanks and praise 
be to thee, the Father of all beings, of all spirits, for hav- 
ing made us rational, intelligent creatures, capable of knowl- 
edge and. wisdom, and afforded us so many incentives and 
means for constantly more unfolding these our noblest ca- 
pacities, and for proceeding ever farther in knov/ledge and 
wisdom ! Still indeed, in various respects, vailed and op- 
pressed by night and darkness ; still often deceived by sen- 
suality and error ; still only lisping children, still only fee- 
ble beginners in the school of wisdom ; yet capable of an 
incessant progress, of an ever advancing perfection ! And 
what does not this allow us to hope ! What prospects does 
it not open to us in all future times and eternities ! Yes, the 
truth that comes from thee, and leads to thee, should be 
2 



164 The Value of Learning, 

ever dearer to us, its investigation and its knowledge be ever 
more important ; and nothing should render us dispirited 
and slothful in our pursuits after higher attainments in wis- 
dom and perfection ! And the more perfect here our knowl- 
edge is, the less we here can quench our thirst for truth 
and our longing after thee, its eternal source ; so much the 
more should we rejoice in the hope of immortality to which 
thou hast raised us through Jesus Christ ; so much the 
more zealously ought we to strive, by the best, the most 
faithful use of the light thou hast now caused to shine upon 
tis, to render ourselves capable and worthy of a far greater 
and brighter light in the future world. Teach us thyselff 
O gracious God, ever to value more justly the worth of the 
advantages thou hast at present in this respect vouchsafed 
to us, ever to prize them higher, and ever to apply them 
more to the greatest possible promotion of human happi- 
ness. Bless to this end the considerations we purpose now 
to begin upon this subject^ and let our prayer be well pleas» 
ing in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose 
blessed name and words, we sum up all our petitions, say-' 
ing — Our Father, &c. 



i KINGS, X. 8. 



Uabby are iky Men, happy are these thy Servants, which stand continually befoH 
thee, arid that hear thy Wisdom. 



LEARNING, like the other prerogatives and 
advantages of mankind, is seldom judged of with- 
strict propriety^ i'^ seldom taken :^r v^hat it actually 
is. It has its panegyrists^ who exaggerate its 
value, as well as its ignorant or haughty despisers^ 
who refuse it the importance it deserves. Consid- 



7he Value of Learning. 165 

jgred in its universal extent, to speak impartially, it 
has occasioned as much harm as good ; has so fre- 
quently appeared under the most venerable aspect, 
and so frequently in the most ridiculous figure ; 
and is compounded, in flict, of such a curious mix- 
ture of important and unimportant matters ; that, 
as well in regard to the various sides it has, and the 
various effects it produces, as in respect to the va- 
rious persons that profess it, it must necessarily un- 
dergo various and opposite sentences, one while de- 
serving applause and admiration, and at another re- 
proach and contempt.— Taken at large, it seems 
to have been more highly prized, and more honor- 
ed, in the' early ages of antiquity, than in modern 
times. Probably because it was less common ; 
probably because the necessity and utility of it were 
in many respects more readily felt, and the helps it 
afforded were more indispensable ; or, perhaps, be- 
cause it w^ore a more venerable or more mysterious 
countenance, and was attributed to a sublimer ori- 
gin. Accordingly, the queen that we read of in 
our text, as coming from the w^ealthy Arabia to 
converse with Solomon, had a very high opinion of 
its value. She left her throne and her people, to 
hear and to improve by the wisdom, or, which in 
the language of those times is just the same, the 
learning or that monarch. Report having brought 
the fame of it into those distant regions, it at once 
excited her appetite for novelty and instruction ; 
and now, on findins: the truth of the matter to ex- 
ceed even v, hat report had made it, she exclaims in 
.admiration, " Happy are thy men, happy are these 
thy servants, which stand continually before thee, 
and that hear thy wisdom ;" Thus shewing that she 
preferred the erudition of Solomon before all his 
treasures, before all the splendor and magnificence 
#f his court. And this judgment does her the more 
3 



166 7 he Value of Learning, 

honor, as it , is so very seldom that the great and 
mighty of the earth are impartial enough to do jus- 
tice to eminent endowments of the mind, and to es- 
teem them more than their own dazzling distinc- 
tions* 

Let us, then, my pious hearers, endeavour also 
to settle our judgment on this matter. Many of my 
audience are learned themselves, or make literature 
their principal employment ; and most of the rest 
have much connexion and intercourse with that 
description of men. For both the one and the other 
it is highly important to acquire a due estimation of 
learning; and though I may possess but a small 
share of it myself, yet its properties, nature and 
quality, and its influence on human happiness, can- 
not be utterly unknown to me ; and it is more than 
possible that I may be able to pronounce the more 
impartially upon it, by renouncing, on that score, 
all pretensions to fame. Let us, therefore, investi- 
gate the value of learning ; and to this end, first, 
make some remarks for properly stating its worth ; 
then set that value in its proper light ; and, lastly, 
thence draw some rules for our conduct towards it. 
By erudition or learning, I here understand the 
whole circle of human sciences and knowledge, that 
do not immediately relate to the satisfying the first 
wants of nature ; all knowledge and sciences that 
are generally more necessary and peculiar to a cer- 
tain class or body of men, than to mankind at 
large ; whether otherwise they be distinguished for 
diversity and extent, or fqr solidity and method, be 
they of the historical or philosophical species and of 
more or less general utility. Every one that addicts 
himself to any one class or kind of such know ledge 
and science, devotes the greater part of his time and 
faculties to it, and thus distinguishes himself above 
others, bears and deserves the name of a man of 



The Value of Learning, 167 

learning. And, for rightly appreciating the value 
of this learning, we must previously make several 
remarks. 

The first and most important is this : The value 
that learning has is no otherwise, for the greatest 
part, due to it, than as being a means to higher 
aims, and not as an ultimate object itself ; and this 
it has in common with the s:eneralitv of the other 
privileges and advantages that relate to human 
happiness. Particular kinds of knowledge, certain 
branches of learning, have, indeed, in themselves, 
a value, an intrinsic and lasting value ; but these are 
few in number. Under this head we may, perhaps, 
reckon most of our mathematical and astronomical 
knowledge, several of the deeper philosophical 
studies, a part of our religious notions \ whatever is 
eternal, unalterable, and everlastingly useful truth ; 
all propositions and ideas that are of account in 
heaven as well as upon earth, among superior bemgs 
as well as among mankind ; and though we may not 
possess a great many such propositions and ideas, 
yet are v^^e not totally destitute of them, and they 
indisputably compose the most precious part of our 
knowledge. All that fall under this denomination 
besides has no value whatever, as an end, but only 
as means. It is only so far desirable, and is only so 
far deserving of our esteem, of our attention and our 
application, as it exercises the faculties of our mind, 
procures ourselves and others innocent and elevated 
pleasurer,, guides us in tlie track of truth and facili- 
tates the knowledge of it, diiFuses activity among 
mankind, improves their outv/ard Vvclfare, provides 
for their accommodatiouj promotes their security, 
and helps them in the prosecution of their business, 
or procures them any other adventitious benefit. 
Hereto belong the generality of historical, most of 
the mechanical and philological sciences, and the 
4 



168 The Value of Learning. 

greatest part of the learning of the theologian, the 
physician and the lav^^yer. They are only means, 
no more than implements, by which we may for- 
ward and attain certain good purposes in our present 
state ; and which when these ends are once ob- 
tained lose absolutely all their value ; and become 
useless, like old scaffoldings. That man, however, 
would think foolishly, who should suppose we might 
despise and reject them, while they are necessary to 
the prosecution of the building we are carrying on, 
before the structure be completely finished. 

Hence spontaneously arises a second rule, of ser- 
vice to us in forming a right judgment of learning, 
and the several branches of it. It is this : The greater 
service and general utility it is of, the greater is like- 
wise its value. Studies, absolutely unprofitable, 
when considered at least as means to farther views, 
are, indeed, no part at all of learning ; many parts 
of it however, are unworthy of the painful and in- 
defatigable industry the great application of time 
and ablities that are bestowed upon them. Many 
debase and weaken the mind of a man, instead of 
elevating and strengthening it ; and benumb and 
contract his heart, instead of enlarging it, and 
quickening it to great and generous sentiments. 
Many lead off such as employ themselves in them 
from tine design of their creation, from their proper 
perfection, rather than facilitate them in the pros- 
ecution of it. Such learned attainments and occu- 
pations are, indeed, of but trifling value ; often of 
much le^s value than the attainments and occupa- 
tions of the artificer or the laborer ; and he that 
makes them his principal employment has no right 
to complain, if he be neither more respected, nor 
more happy, than so many others of the unlearned, 
who trifle away their time like him, and dissipate 
Aeir powers. No, he alone deserves to be so, and 



The Value of Learning, 16f 

that in a high degree, whose learning is, in any ob- 
servable way, beneficial and generally useful ; who 
can give an account to himseif, and to others, of 
what he has done and performed for the advantage 
of his fellow creatures ; who effectually has kindled 
more light, and called forth more activity, in him- 
self and about him ; who has learnt to think and to 
live better himself ; and has likewise, mediately or 
immediately, been the occasion that others think 
more justly, and live more prudently or happily. 

A third circumstance, which fails under consider- 
ation in our researches into the real value of learn- 
ing, especially in regerd to particular persons, is 
this ; the more modesty and true wisdom it has to 
accompany and guide it, so m.uch the greater is its 
value. If learning allow room to pride, it soon de- 
generates into arrogance and tyranny ; not unfre- 
qu^ntly prevents its possessor from making greater 
progress in knou ledge and science ; often renders it 
unserviceable to others, or of but little use ; and 
how very much must this detract from its worth ! 
Still less value has the learning which has no morally 
good influence on the mind and temper of the 
learned man ; which ailo\vs him to think as meanly, 
and to act as perversely and foolishly, and as slavishly 
to follow the calls of his lusts and passions, as the 
ignorant and the unlearned ; and in proportion as it 
procures but little real and durable advantage to 
himself, so much must this defect diminish its utility 
in regard of others, and weaken its influence on hu- 
man happiness. No, then alone does learning dis- 
play herself in her native dignity, in her full splen- 
dor, and suffer none to doubt of her high value, 
when she appears in the company of modesty and 
wisdom ! when she is not blind to her own infirmi- 
ties and failings, and is not ashamed of her limita- 
tions ; when she readily communicates herself to 



170 7he Value of Learning , 

others ; when she rather informs in the spirit of 
meekness, than decides in a haughty imperious 
tone; when she exerts herself in penerous sentiments, 
in a beneficent and active zeal in the cause of truth, 
of virtue, of liberty, of human happiness, and by an 
eminently wise, manly, virtuous behaviour, worthy 
of the enlightened man. 

This once premised, let us more closely examine 
wherein the real value of learning consists, and on 
what grounds it merits our respect. 

Erudition is, first, mental perfection, and pro- 
motes mental perfection ; and, if this be a real and 
CO vetable privilege of mankind, them must erudition 
be so too. The man of learning, who deserves that 
name, knows more of truth, sees farther into the 
principles and connexions of truths, goes more sure- 
ly to work in the investigation of them, and is there- 
fore less liable to be imposed upon by appearance. 
His acuter sight takes in more objects, his trained 
eye explores much farther ; he thinks more perspic- 
uously, more profoundly, more justly, than the gen- 
erality of mankind can do ; and who but must con- 
fess this to be a perfection, a prerogative ? Allow 
that he sometimes misses of his niark ; allow that 
he is liable to false conclusions and errors ; let the 
whole amount of the highly useful truths he has made 
out, clearly explained, or first discovered, be, com- 
paratively, never so small ; yet he has been all that 
time exercising his mental powers, learning to use 
them better, to use them with greater dexterity, and 
has thereby been advancing their essential and last- 
ing perfection, — A thousand things, it must be read- 
ily confessed, a thousand things that relate to gram- 
mar, to the history of nations, of nature and arts, and 
to other sciences, the knowledge of which comes un- 
der the article of learning, are in and of themselves 
not at all deserving of any pains in the study and 



The Value of Learning. 171 

investigation of them ; bat, not to mention the close 
connexion wherein they frequently stand with other 
more important matters, they cannot be investigated 
and known, cannot be reflected on, methodized, 
combined, and applied, without employing our un- 
derstanding, our acuteness, our wit and our memo- 
ry, without exercising our mental faculties and 
strengthening them by that exercise ; and this, un- 
doubtedly, gives a great value and utihty to every 
kindof knowledge which we acquire, not barely in a 
mechanical and thoughtless way, but by considera- 
tion and reflection ; it must give it a value and utii- 
X^ which will still abide by us, even when that very 
knowledge has vanished from our remembrance, and 
passed into complete oblivion. Thus, we all learn, 
in our younger years, numberless things which wx 
can turn to no account whatever when we are advan- 
ced in life, and yet the learning whereof has been of 
great consequence to us, as we at the same time 
learned to think, to draw inferences, to determine, 
to revolve many subjects, to comprehend many, and 
connect many together. — Never neglect then, oh in- 
genuous youth, to learn any thing that exercises thee 
in thought, if thou have ' time and faculties and op- 
portunity for it, though thou perceive not tHe utility 
it may be of to thee, and though probably thou may 
not use it. The real^ the greatest utility it can be 
of to thee is, that, at all events, thou wilt be the 
more rational and the wiser for it. — Therefore, let 
no man peremptorily despise him v/ho is apparently 
pursuing with too much earnestness, and too much 
industry, matters that, in and of themselves, are ut- 
terly insignificant, and promise no pleasure or ad- 
vantage to any. All depends on the way and man- 
ner in which he employs himself about them, if he 
do it with intelligence and reflection, he may there- 
by learn to think as consecutively and justly as anoth- 



17^ The Value of Learnings 

er, who busies himself on the most elevated objects, 
In this respect, even an inferior art, an ordinary 
trade, may be as profitable to the man that duly ex-? 
ercises and carries it on as learning itself. Both the 
one and the. other are,' in more than one consideration, 
nothing else but the scaffold whose valjjye must be 
adjusted by the edifice to the buildis^Miereof it 
serves. 

Learning acquires, secondly, a great value from 
the noble and never ceasing pleasure the investiga- 
tion and the knowledge of truth brings with it. So 
great as the pleasure of the traveller is, who leaves a 
perplexed and tortuous way, overgrown vv^ith thorns 
and briars, through a dismal and mazy forest, for an 
even and luminous path, or after the darkness of the 
night, perceives the first rays of the sun ; so great, 
and far greater still, is the pleasure of the thinking 
man, on perceiving light and order, and consistency 
in his reflections, and that he can thereby proceed 
nearer to the knowledge of truth. And this pleasure 
the man of learning enjoys, not indeed absolutely, 
but in an eminent degree. Every application of his 
mental faculties that is not totally fruitless, every en- 
largement of his horizon, every augmentation of his 
knowledge and perceptions, every adjustment of his 
ideas and conceptions, every additional view he gets 
into the immense regions of truth, and every ray of 
light thence falling on his eyes, procures him this 
pleasure. And how diversified, how inexhaustible 
it is ! Each stone, each mineral, each plant, each 
animal, each man, each part of man, the whole ma- 
terial and spiritual world, the visible and the invisi- 
ble, the past, the present, and the future, the possi- 
ble and the actual, the creature and the Creator ; all 
charm, all employ the curiosity, the spirit of obser- 
vation, and inquiry of the thoughtful scholar; all 
guide him forward on the track of truth ; all poinj^ 



^he Value of Learning* 1?S 

out to him more or less of it ; all shew him arrange- 
ment and harmony in the whole, and in the parts y 
all lead him to the prime, eternal source of being, of 
life, of power, of perfection ; and by these very 
means procure him satisfaction, the purest, the nob- 
lest pleasure. A pleasure that often rises to ecstasy, 
when he has overcome any matcral impediment that 
retarded him in his reflections, has obviated some 
difficulty that bewildered him, solved some knotty 
point on which he had exercised his perspicacity in 
vain ; when he is enabled to fill up any considerable 
chasm in his knowledge, to see through a series of 
ideas with greater clearness, to comprehend more ful- 
ly some part of human science, to find some impor- 
tant and fertile argument or exposition, to make any 
striking application, any profitable use of his knowl- 
edge, or to detect a trace of the truths that ensure 
him a remarkable progress in tilling the field he has 
chosen to cultivate. How often, and how amply, 
must these pleasures requite the naturalist, the as- 
tronomer, the geometrician, the philosopher, the 
chemist, and every other inquisitive mind, for all its 
exertions and toils in the search after truth ! And 
how little has such an one to fear, lest the sources 
of these pleasures should ever fail, or the enjoyment 
of them be turned into disgust ! No, here are foun- 
tains of pleasure that never fail, which flow through 
all times and all eternities, and become the more 
bounteous, the more pellucid and pleasant, the oft- 
ener and more copiously we draw from them. And 
must not learning, which procures us pleasures of 
this kind, be of great value ? 

Learning, thirdly, possesses a great value, as a 
means whereby the general welfare of the whole 
community is promoted. How greatly have naviga- 
gation and commerce been benefited by astronomical 
observations ! How much have chemical researches 



174 The Value of Learning, 

contributed to the improvement and perfection of 
manufactures ! How much are architecture, tactics^ 
and every species of mechanical knowledge, indebt- 
ed to mathematics ! What implement is there of the 
artist, of the artizan, or of the husbandman, that is 
not more or less improved and perfected by them ? 
How many productions of nature are understood, 
wrought up, and rendered useful to many important 
purposes, by the industry of the naturalist ! What 
iDcneficial institutes in common and civil life, what 
conveniences in regard of lodging and furniture, of 
order and safety, of trade and barter > are we not in- 
debted for to learning, and particularly to geometry 
and the sciences related to it ! How much is due to 
the study of law for peace and quiet, and to medi- 
cine for life and health, however great the inconven- 
iences of the one may be, and the imperfections of 
the other ! How much agreeable and useful knowl- 
edge, how many means of refined, social pleasure, 
and noble entertainment, have not been diffused 
from all these sources among all classes and condi- 
tions of men ! Compare the condition of a country 
where ignorance and superstition prevail, with the 
state of another where learning and sciences flourish : 
How much more barbarism and ferocity, how much 
more imperfection and confusion, will ye not find in 
one than in the other ! How many channels of in- 
dustry, of art, of pleasure, of domestic and social 
happiness are not closed to the former, which run 
and disperse themselves throughout our happy coun- 
try, bringing life and activity, profit and satisfaction, 
into all our borders ! And how much more profit 
and pleasure of these various kinds may not the 
whole society promise itself in future from learning, 
since all men are at present far more disposed to 
render it more generally useful and more serviceable, 



The Value of Learning, 175 

to all ranks and descriptions of persons than ever 
they were before. 

Sound learning has, fourthly, a great value, as a 
means of security against all kinds of superstition and 
fanaticism. It cherishes and extends the light of 
truth, which that brood of darkness cannot endure, 
and which often scares it back into the obscurity 
from whence it sprung c It promotes clear thought, 
nice investigation, sagacious doubt, modest and dis- 
passionate inquiry into the causes, the designs, the 
connexion of things. It arms us against the decep- 
tion of the senses, of the imagination, of the feelings ; 
against the fallacious charms of the extraordinary, 
the wonderful, the mysterious ; against the imposing 
vizor of a peculiar pensiveness and hidden wisdom, 
under which ignorance and fanaticism so often lurk. 
Wherever real learning and solid science lose their 
respect and influence, superstition is sure to rise upon 
their ruins, with all its lamentable and disastrous at- 
tendants, ignorance, dastardly fear, intolerance, the 
spirit of domination, persecution, spreading terror and 
thraldom and misery of various kinds throughout a 
land. Curiosity never totally forsakes the human 
mind. If a man cannot employ it in regular and ra- 
tional meditation, he endeavors to satisfy it by con- 
ceits and reveries. The invisible, the world of spirits, 
the future, are always momentous to him. If, in 
his flights into that world unknown, he has not for 
his guide an enlightened and trained reason, but 
trusts only to obscure sensations, he is then liable 
to follow every bye way, every devious track that 
offers ; he runs the hazard of becoming the sport of 
every artful deceiver, or every dupe of imposture. 
But who can think on all the hurtful and ruinous 
effects of superstition and fanaticism, and not as- 
cribe great praise to erudition, which is always 



ii6 7 he Value of Ldarning. 

€Oiintencting them, and setting bounds to their 
dominion ? 

Yet more. Considered as a stay of religion, learn- 
ing which is not unworthy of that appellation, is of 
veVy great value ; and this should render it eminently 
dear to us, who profess and revere religion. The 
credibility and the divine authority of the christian 
doctrine rest at least in part on historical arguments ; 
and these can neither be defended nor known, nor 
duly weighed, without the help of learning. The 
understanding of the sacred books, which we revere 
as the sources of this doctrine, presupposes a knowl- 
ledge of languages of antiquity, and of many other 
kinds within the province of learning. If we wish to 
see these doctrines defended against the objections of 
the infidel and the scorner ; if we would see their 
reasonableness evinced, see them purified from all 
human commixtures ; more unfolded and reduced 
to a connected and consistent whole ; delivered in a 
manner suitable to the wants of mankind and the 
exigencies of the times ; and if we would have them 
likewise worthy of all acceptation to the deep think- 
ino- man and the mind addicted to doubt ; would 
we hope to see them in security from all abuse ; our 
hopes and desires vrould be vain, without the means 
of various sorts of learned knowledge ; they can never 
be accomplished without the assistance of philosophic 
cal perspicacity, without an enlightened and habitu^ 
ated reason. Were it not for learning and solid 
science, religion would speedily degenerate into su- 
perstition and fanaticism. Whereas, the more 
flourishing and the more general they become, in a 
country or among a people ; so much the greater 
light is diiFused over religion ; so much the more is 
it cherished in its native simplicity and its majestic 
dio-nity ; and so much the more general must its in- 
fluence be on human perfection and happiness. Is 



The Value of Learning. \11 

religion founded on truth, and does it comprehend 
all truth ? Tiisn every thing must of necessity be 
favorable and helpful to it, by which the scrutiny 
and the knowledge of truth is generally advanced. 
And what a value must accrue from hence to erudi- 
tion, in the sight of every man to whom religion 
and truth are not indifferent objects I 

Lastly, learning, when it is and effects what it may 
and ought to be and effect, is an excellent prepara- 
tive to the employment and pleasures of a higher 
condition after death. Much, perhaps even the 
greatest part, of our knowledge, and the sciences as 
they are termed, will fall away as totally useless in the 
future life, as the toys and playthings of our childish 
years ; yet must much of tlie rest btill remain, such 
as are of a nobler kind, of eternal, unchangeable 
truth, of universal utility ; and afford them, who take 
them with them into that better world, a greater or 
less advantageous outset, beyond those who are des- 
titute of them.' Though, for instance, what the as- 
tronomer knows concerning the heavenly bodies and 
their relations towards each other, be ever so little 
in comparison with what in the immense system of 
the universe is concealed from him, yet at least he 
understands some few letters in the alphabet of the 
skies, and seems in those superior regions somewhat 
less a stranger than the absolutely ignorant. But, if 
this be no more than a mere flight of fancy, yet, 
in all cases, the scholar, who in fact supports that 
name, is always exercising his mental faculties in a 
far superior degree ; learns to survey, to comprehend, 
to combine more things together ; raises himself in 
meditation farther above what is sensible and visible ; 
habituates himself to more intellectual employments 
and nobler pleasures ; acquires a greater love for 
truth than for all things else ; finds in the research 
and knowledge of it the purest delight ; feels mort 

V©L. IL N 



178 The Value of Learning. 

sensibly the vanity and emptiness of all earthly things ; 
feels himself more forcibly attracted towards the 
things that are invisible, towards such as are infinite 
and eternal, towards God, the original source of all 
light and all truth, and proceeds on his way to his 
superior state with brighter prospects, with greater 
expectations. And must not this be a very suitable 
.preparative to it ? 

If such be then the case, my pious hearers ; if 
learning be an excellent habit and perfection of the 
human mind ; if it procure a man real pleasure, and 
the noblest and purest kinds of pleasure ; if it pro- 
mote, by various ways, the general welfare of society ; 
if it be an efficacious preservative froin superstition 
and fanaticism ; if it be a support to true religion, 
and a means of advancing it in the world ; if it be 
adapted to fit us, in more than one respect, for our 
future superior state ; then is it incontestable that it 
is of real and high value, that it may contribute and 
actually does contribute greatly to human happi- 
ness. 

And, now, how ought w^e to behave in regard to 
it? The learned, as well as the unlearned, have 
several duties incumbent on them in this respect. In 
conclusion, allow m*e to address a fevv^ words to the 
consideration of them both. 

YoU; therefore, my dear friends, who devote your- ' 
selves to learning, or employ j^ourselves in it. take it 
for neither more nor less than it really is. Prize and 
pronounce upon it, in the whole, as in its particular 
parts, according to their proper worth ; use it accord- 
ing to its true destination. Acknowledge that the 
generality of it, though serviceable, and in many re- 
spects useful and necessary, j^et is not near so import-^ 
ant as prejudice and selflove would probably induce 
you to believe. Know and feel and confess the im- 
perfection, the uncertainty of all human knowledge 



The Value of Learnings 179 

and science. Frequently balance what you knoWj 
against what you do not and cannot know ; what 
you know with assurance, against what is only hypo- 
thetical and slightly probable ; w hat you can actually 
make use of, against what is barely instrumental and 
matter of exercise, or even deception and error ; 
what you may hope to carry with you into eternity, 
against what will be buried with you, and be lost in 
the night of oblivion ; and let all this teach you mod- 
esty and meekness. Let the sound intellect, the 
uncorrupted feelings of the heart, the wisdom that 
is grounded on experience, and shews itself in an ac. 
tive and busy life, have ample justice. Reverence 
and pursue learning only so far as it makes you bet» 
ter, more intelligent, more wiscjand more useful ; and 
prefer the important to the less important, the ser- 
viceable to the less serviceable, as often and as much 
as your circumstances and the duties of your vocation 
w^ill ali0Vv\ Be not jealous of your acquirements, nor 
parsimonious of your information ; rather study to 
incorporate all you know that is good and useful, 
every truth that is of service to mankind, by all the 
w^ays and means in your povrer, into the common 
stock of human know eldge. Let that greater light, 
which gladdens you, enlighten others also ; and hide 
it not, out of slothfalness or timidity, or selfinterested 
motives, from the eyes of the world. Herein, how- 
ever, take heed that you do not shake the founda- 
tions of morality, or weaken the bands of religion. 
This, as the friend of mankind, you would not 
venture to do, even though you were persuaded that 
the former were false and the latter chimerical ; at 
least, not till you could furnish your brethren with 
more stable supports to their faith and repose. No, 
w^hatever promotes human perfection and happiness 
should be sacred to you ; and true rejigion, which 
^rtainly promotes it most, should be most sacred. 
2 



180 ^ he Value of Learning. - 

Content not yourself simply with being learned, biii 
endeavor to be so in a respectable and amiable 
manner. Beware of the ordinary failings attendant 
on learning ; of, unsociableness, of misanthropy, of 
despising and depreciating whatever lies not within 
vour sphere^ or relates not to your pursuits. Be not 
haughty nor domineering ; bear with the weak, the 
ignorant, the erroneous, in the spirit of love ; put 
them not to shame, but convey to them instruction ; 
decide not on all things, and never decide without 
reason ; lov/er yourself to each man's capacity ; 
hearken to their modest contradictions with calm- 
ness ; and learn, even from the unlearned, as readily 
as you teach others. Respect the perceptions, the 
advantages, tlie useful occupations of other persons, 
though they should even seem strange to you. Do 
honor, in fine, to learning, by the salutary influence 
you allow it to have on your character and conduct ; 
distinguish yourself even more by generous senti- 
ments and employments of general utility, than by 
diffusive science ; and ever prefer doing to under^ 
standing, that is, virtue to knowledge. 

And you, my friends, who belong not to the class 
of the learned, despise not that with which you are 
unacquainted, or of which you have only a glimmer- 
ing and faint conception. Rather esteem and prize 
that of which you are able to discern a little by a few 
reflections, sufficient hov/everto shew you that it is 
of great and various service to you and to the whole 
community. Contemn not the thing itself, because 
of its accidental abuses. Attribute not the faults and 
imperfections of the learned to learning itself. Re- 
quire not of persons who, in general, lead and are 
forced to lead a solitary life, and who seldom have a 
mind totally free, the vivacity, nor the polished breeds 
ing, nor the agreeable manners, nor the interest in 
all that passes, which you may expect from persons 



Th€ Value of Learning. 18 

who live ill the great world, and are present in all 
public diversions and pleasures. Respect the body 
of the learned, though perhaps all that belong to it 
are not respectable^ Countenance and promote 
learning of every kind, by the esteem you shew to 
the learned, by the Kelps you afford them, by the 
assistance wherewith you facilitate their frequently 
expensive undertakings and pursuits, by the honor 
and rewards you bestow on their industry, and for 
the service they render the public. But profit, like- 
wise, by the greater light which learning diffuses a- 
round you. Avail yourselves of it for rectifying and 
extending your knowledge, as far as is consistent 
with your calling and your other duties. But strive 
not after such learning, as in your station cannot be 
acquired without neglecting your most important 
occupations and affairs, and which, in the degree you 
would probably wish to possess it, would more con- 
fuse than settle you, would be of more prejudice 
than benefit to you. Neither pretend to an acquaint- 
ance with such kinds of knowledge and science as 
are either totally unknown to you, or of which you 
scarcely know more than the name ; at most, have 
only some general notions. In many cases, it is far 
better to be ignorant, and not to be ashamed of 
one's ignorance, than to put up with superficial 
knowledge, and then to be as prou^ of It as if it 
v/ere real learning. 

Lastly, let all, both learned and unlearned, so 
think and so live as men sedulous to promote the 
benefit of one and the same family ; as members of 
one body, whereof one is the eye, another the ear, a 
third the hand, and a fourth the foot, and who are 
all equally necessary to the support and well being 
of the whole body, whereof none can dispense with 
any of the others. So shall we all fulfJ our duty, 



182 ^he Value of Learning, 

all worthily maintain our station, and reach the 
superior design of our existence ; all learn to love 
and esteem each other more and more, and 
each by means of the other become constantly more 
happy. 



SERMON XXXVIL 

^he Value of more Enlightened Times* 



vJ GOD, the father of lights, from whom 
€very good and every perfect gift proceeds, we likewise,^ 
surrounded by thy light, are cheered by the light of truth, 
as well as by the light of the sun ; and how much brighter 
shines not the former among us, than among so many oth- 
€r people and nations, who scarcely discern a few faint 
emanations of it. Yes, thou hast imparted to us, as men 
and as christians, many eminent means of instruction, of 
knowledge, of ever increasing improvement and intellectu- 
al perfection 1 Thou hast transplanted us from the king- 
dom of darkness into the realms of light* And how much 
happier are we not thus become, and how much happier 
may we not be ! How greatly has thy kindness thus facilitated 
to us the path of life, alleviated the accomplishment of our 
duties, the attainment of our destination ! From what 
tormenting solicitudes, from what oppressive burdens, from 
what servile fear, from what terrors has it not freed us I 
By having brought us to the light, thou has called us to lib- 
erty, to serenity of mind, to purer virtue, to higher happi- 
ness. If this light be yet not so generally diffused among 
us, not so unclouded, not so strong as entirely to dispel the 
darkness, still the dawn allows us to hope for the briglit rays 
of the morning, and then for the meridian sun. Yes, thanks 
be to thee, O Father of light, for the cheerful rising and the 
gradual progress of it. Oh cause it to shine ever bright-^ 
*r, to spread ever farther j and grant us by its iiiiiuence to 

4 



184 The Value of more Enlightened Times, 

become ever wiser and better ! Grant that none of us may 
ever shut their eyes against it ; none of us hinder its activ- 
ity and progress ; none of us abuse it to sin, none oi us 
walk in darkness ! But let each of us zealously strive to 
advance ever farther in the knowledge of the truth, and by 
the truth to become ever more free, ever more virtuous, 
i and ever more accomplished ! Let each of us in his place, 
and according te his station, prove a burning and a shining 
light enlightening far around him, and promoting the great- 
er intellectual improvement of his brethren as far as he is 
able ! Assist us powerfully to this end, most gracious 
Father. Teach us to understand our privilege, and ever 
more faithfully to use it. Grant that we may all walk be- 
fore thee as children of light, and thus assert the dignity to 
which thou hast raised us as men and as christians. Bless 
the reflections we are now about to make on these impor- 
tant objects. Let them awaken in us the sentiments of 
gratitude and joy for them , let them excite in us a desire 
and zeal in the unwearied endeavors after our proper per- 
fection. These our supplications we offer up unto thee in 
the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord ; and, stedfastly relying 
on his promises, address thee farther as he prescribed us : 
Our father. Sec. 



EPHESIANS. V. 8. 



^aw art you light in the Lord : Walk as children ef light. 

THE times wherein we live are frequently- 
called enlightened times ; and, in fact, they are not 
absolutely undeserving of that epithet. Less igno- 
rance in general pre vails at present, less superstition 



The Value of more Enlightened Times. 185 

and blind credulity, than in the days of our forefathers. 
At present, undoubtedly, far more persons reflect 
upon moral and religious subjects than perhaps ever 
did before. There are now a hundred persons 
who employ diemseives ui reading, and in acquiring 
some notions and science, for one that did so, 
I will not say in the days of yore, but even at the 
commencement of the present, and in the course of 
the last century. Many kinds of knowledge are 
now disseminated amongst all classes and conditions 
of men, which were heretofore confined to the learn- 
ed. In our times a man is aj-hamed of many errors, 
many prejudices, many superstitions, childish opin- 
ions and usages, which formerly were held sacred by 
princes as well as their subjects, by nobles as well as 
the vulgar. At present the pursuit of truth, and the 
free investigation of it, are more general than for- 
merly. Accordingly there actuall}^ is more intellec- 
tual light, there is a greater proportion of knowledge, 
there are more means and incentives to it among 
mankind, though neither the one nor the other be 
near so great and so general as numbers pretend.-— 
But does this greater intellectual light give our times 
a real precedence above the foregoing ? Are they 
actually more valuable on that account ? On this 
head the judgments are extremely various, accordinr 
to the point of view from which the matter is 
beheld. 

Indeed this accession of light, particularly at first, 
and before it be come to a certain degree of perfec- 
tion, is attended with many evils of various magni- 
tudes. It excites doubt ; it makes the faith of many 
weak persons to totter ; it puffs up tlie proud ; it 
often begets scoffers ; it occasions at times sad con- 
fusions and disturbances ; it is often misused by the 
wicked, for excusing and palliating their vices and 
follies ; in some respects it promotes or fiivors a dis- 



186 The Value of more Enlightened Times. 

position to luxury and ostentation, too great a pro- 
pensity to dissipation and public diversions ; it prob- 
ably weakens and enervates many, by re&iing their 
taste, and employing their mind to the detriment of 
their body ; it misleads numbers to meddle with 
things quite out of their sphere, with which they have 
no concern whatever, and thereby to neglect more 
important affairs ; it frequently renders certain ser- 
viceabie and useful institutions, methods, customs, 
and writings less effective » as people are enabled to 
spy out their defects and faults, but are not yet able 
to supply their places with better. All this is un- 
deniable. And yet the greater proficiency of a nation 
in knowledge remains, notwithstanding, a real and 
desirable advantage ; it is always far preferable to its 
opposite. The evils of the former are not general ; 
they are at least only transient, and will be far over- 
balanced by the good Vv hich is the natural conse- 
quence of that proficiency. And this, my piou§ 
hearers, is the matter that \ intend now to discuss. 
We are doubtless a people greatly enlightened, and 
we begin to enjoy the advantages of our proficiency. 
As the apostle in our text says to the christians : 
" Now are you light in the Lord : Walk as children 
of light :" As christians ye are brought to the knowl- 
edge of truth, think and live as persons who know 
|he truth ; so may we also address you : As men ard 
as christians, you are in possession of more means of 
instruction and improvement than many other, per= 
haps than the generality of persons and nations ; you 
are already, then, capable of being Utrther enlight- 
ened than \k\^Y ? ^t, therefore, behoves you to con- 
duct yourself conformably to these privileges. In 
order to incite you to this, I m ill represent to you the 
value of the greater intellectual improvement of a 
people or community ; and then draw from it a few 
rules for your conducto 



7he Value of more Enlightened Times » 18f 

The gradual improvement of mankind is a natural 
effect of the dispositions and arrangements which 
God has established in the world, and the course he 
has prescribed to the human mind. As, in nature, 
the djwn succeeds the night, which likewise gives 
place to the shining day, and every creature feels 
itself produced anew to life, incited to the fresh ex- 
ertion of its powers, and proceeding nearer to the 
desiGrn of its existence : So likewise the knowled2:e 
and perceptions of mankmd are ever increasing in 
extent and perspicuity, and their minds are constantly 
striving after greater activity, after higher perfection, 
whenever the progress of the form.er and the en- 
deavors of the latter are not forcibly impeded and 
limited. This general proficiency in knowledge is 
therefore perfectly in the order of providence, as a 
part of the plan laid down by God, in his govern- 
ment of the world. It must, therefore, be good ; 
it must have a real and great value, even though we 
should not allow it. In this manner are v/e taught 
by religion to judge of it, and our reflections con- 
vince us that this judgment is true. For, what vari- 
ous and considerable advantages accrue from a more 
copious accession of light to mankind, to the nation 
that has it to rejoice in 1 

First, wherever it exists, it begets a far greater and 
more complete exertion and application of the facuL 
ties of the human mind. This no man will denv. 
But is not this use, this exercise, this improvement 
of our noblest faculties, highly desirable ; and must 
it not be highly desirable in regard of all mankind ? 
Is not the destination of ail mankind, in essentials, 
the same ? Are they not, in this stage of their ex» 
istence, to rise from sensual to rational creatures ? 
Are they not all to think, justly and truly to think, 
and to study to raise themselves more and more 
above the visible and the present ? Are they not all 



188 The Value of more Enlightened Times, 

capable of a continual progress ? Have they not all 
the same natural dispositions, capacities and powers ? 
Can that which brings these dispositions into form, 
which unfolds and exercises these capacities and 
powers, be bad and hurtful ? Or are they only to 
be formed, to be unfolded and exercised by the 
learned, by men of superior stations ? Why then 
do ail men possess them in common i Or is it right, 
and fit that formation, this expansion,\ this exercise 
of the powers of the human mind, should be arbi- 
trarily limited and controled ? Who may arrogate 
to himself this right over his brethren ? Do not these 
limitations, so far as they are just or expedient, neces- 
sarily arise from the particular condition of persons, 
of times, of circumstances, of means, and the actual 
state of things ? And if, in general, these limitations 
were more dilated, what harm would ensue I Or is 
truth perhaps the exclusive property of the learned, 
or of the ruler, or of the opulent and noble ? Is not 
every man ordained and called to the knowledge of 
truth ? Is it not honorable and salutary to every 
man ? Granting that it is liable to be mistaken by 
some, to be abused by others. Is it always to be 
mistaken, always to be abused ? Does not the morn- 
ing succeed to the dawn, and to that again the full 
light of noon ? Should there then be no dawn, lest 
any deceived by its feeble light, should stumble, or 
lose their way ? Is then the night more favorable 
to the traveller than the dawn ? Is error, is igno- 
rance, always harmless ? Are not the evils that at- 
tend them much greater, and more various than 
those that may arise from the misuse of truth ? No, 
whoever esteems and loves mankind, his brethren, 
who understands their nature and appointment, will 
spread light around him whenever he can, and is 
unconcerned about the consequences it may produce ; 
since this he knows for certain, that light is better 



T^he Value of more Enlightened Times ^ 18^ 

than darkness. No, it is only the impostor, only 
the tyrant in the state and in the church that are in- 
terested in it ; it can only be necessary to the attain- 
ment of their despotic designs, that men should be 
kept in blindness and error, should be withheld from 
approaching the light, lest they should see through 
the vail flung across their intentions and actions. It 
is written, and may well be applied to this subject, 
" every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither 
cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reprov- 
ed." And for the same reason it is, that he hin- 
dreth others from coming to the light, as far as lieth 
in his power. 

Farther. Where a greater improvement of the 
intellectual faculties prevails, there is a more com- 
plete and more elevated use and enjojment of the 
beauties and blessings w herewith God has embellish- 
ed our earth, and by which he has revealed to us his 
greatness and glory. What are ail the beauties, all 
the wonders of nature, all its bounties and delights, 
to the unthinking man, who lives amongst an unen- 
lightened people ! How little will they be observed 
by him ! How much less will they be enjoyed in 
rational consciousness and cheerful elevation of the 
mind to God ! How seldom used to the ends for 
which they present and olFer themselves to him ! 
How vainly do the heavens and the earth declare to 
him the glory of God, the Creator and Father of the 
world ! Cold and' thankless he sees them with bar- 
ren surprize ; he diverts himself with them, indeed, 
as a child is amused with the bright sparks he per- 
ceives in the firmanent at night, and the varieo-ated 
colors with which the face of the earth is adorned ; 
he tramples under foot with equal indifference, 
plants and flowers and creeping things ; and takes 
no farther interest in them all, than as they bring im- 
mediate advantage or detriment to him. '* His belly 



i90 272^ Falue of more EnUghimed Times. 

cleaveth unto the ground," and so does his spirit 
also; he seldom raises himself above the visible and 
the present ; and remains much closer allied to the 
beasts of the field than to spirits and superior beings. 
Confined to the narrow circle of his terrene occupa- 
tions, and the pleasures of sense, he leaves the sun 
and the moon and the stars to rise and set, the parts 
of the day and the seasons of the year to perform 
their stated revolutions, one wonderful display of the 
scenery of nature to follow on another, without ask- 
ing himself a single question about the causes, the 
designs and the connexions of these things ; with= 
out rejoicing in them with consciousness and reflec- 
tion ; without being sensible to the greatness of God, 
to the bounty of his heavenly Father and to his own 
happiness. And is this truly a state, this the beha- 
vior w^orthy of a man ? Does he thus, maintain the 
post he fills on earth as a rational creature, as the 
priest of nature ? Does he thus, indeed^ reach the 
end for which God has encompassed him with so 
many beauties and blessings, with so many demon- 
strations of his power, of his wisdom and of his good- 
fless, and granted him a mind to understand them, 
and a heart to feel them ? And must not the great- 
er intellectual improvement, which promotes this 
end, and opens to every not absolutely inattentive 
man, at once the book of nature and his own eyes 
to peruse it, be comformable to the will of the Crea- 
tor, and to the nature of man ! Must it not possess 
a real and great value. 

A greater intellectual improvement, thirdly, de^ 
livers mankind from many of the degrading and 
oppressive shackles of superstition and servile fear. 
Allow, if we must allow it, that the lower and more 
numerous class of men require narrower limits and a 
tighter rein, if we would have them not abuse their 
faculties nor neglect their duties ; yet to this endi 



The Value of more Enlightened Times. 19i 

neither superstition nor thraldom are necessary, and 
evils that could only be guarded against by such 
means would cease to be evils. No, even in this re- 
spect we are not permitted to do evil that good may 
come. Superstition and bondage far too deeply de- 
grade the human creature ; obscure by far too much 
the image of God, his Creator, in him ; keep him 
by much too remote from the end of his being ; are 
much too manifestly at strife with his perfection and 
happiness ; for us not to prize, revere and promote^ 
as raatters of the highest moment, whatever can se- 
cure or deliver him from them ; and this a greater 
degree of light undoubtedly does. It dissipates a 
thousand and a thousand idle terrors, which formerly 
perplexed and tormented mankind; a thousand 
kinds of imposture and error which formerly held 
them in cruel bondage. It is only by such intellec- 
tual improvement, that the childish and pernicious 
belief in spectres, in necromancy and witchcraft, in 
supernatural arts and sciences, in the authority and 
iniiuence of evil spirits^ is weakened and destroyed. 
And how much does not this belief dishonor and dis- 
grace the man, the christian, the worshipper, of the 
only true God ! How contradictorily does it not 
cause him to think, and how inconsistently and fool- 
ishly to act r How often does it not deprive him of 
all spirit to good actions, and how often lead him to 
shocking crimes ! What anxious perturbations tor- 
ment him on all sides, and how seldom can he re- 
joice in existence ! And how can true religion and 
solid piety find place, where superstition and servile 
dread prevail ! But are true religion and solid piety^ 
are filial love to God and filial satisfaction in him, is 
the rational and cheerful enjoyment of life, the heri- 
tage of only a chosen few, or at most, of some ranks 
and classes of men ? Are they not the property of 
mankind as men ; of the christian as a christian ? 



192 The Value of move Enlightened Times, 

Gail their sway become ever too general, or be too 
firmiy established ? Can their influence on human 
conduct and on human happiness ever be too great ? 
And, if that be not possible, who can deny the value 
of that intellectual improvement, whereby they are 
so much advanced, or who shall presume to prescribe 
its bounds ? No, whoever does so, must himself, 
though probably he will not confess it, must himself 
doubt of the truth, and hold the grounds of religion 
to be very fluctuating and uncertain, or the fear that 
either the one or the other might suffer by it Vv ouid 
never enter his mind; 

The more the times are enlightened, the more fa- 
vorable they are to true religion. Indeed, not to 
every religion ; not to the appendages by which 
even the true religion has been in all times encum- 
bered and disfigured. These must assuredly by de- 
grees fall off, where greater lights and free investi- 
gation obtain. But is this to be set to the account 
of profit or loss .' Is it to be dreaded or desired by 
the friend of truth, the friend of mankind ? Is it 
not the additions of men which so much restrain and 
enfeeble the effects of true religion, that render what 
is called religion so unproductive, and to many 
even hurtful ? Examine the religion of an unen- 
lightened nation, of a nation w^here implicit faith 
prevails. In regard of the generality of its profes- 
sors, is it any thing more than a string of sentences 
repeated by rote, a round of ceremonies, lip service^ 
and selfdeceit ? The grossest conceptions of the 
deity, with a low, servile ^ and childish conduct to- 
wards him ; the most superstitious notions of the 
miraculous effect of certain words and solemn rites 
and outward actions, and a totally blind confidence 
in these words and rites and actions ; a tormenting 
scrupulosity about indifferent things, and inconsider- 
ate disregard to the most important ; slavish fears and 



The Value of more Enlightened Times. 193 

idle hopes ; zeal without knowledge ; faith without 
virtue ; devotion without philanthropy ; austere ob- 
servance of arbitrary impositions arni injunctions, 
and a general relaxation of indispensable obligations ; 
this is, generally speaking, the religion of every na- 
tion where men shun the light, and refuse it admission 
to the human mind. And is, then, such a religion 
indeed so respectable, so salutary, that I should esteem 
it inviolable and unimprovable, that it must be se- 
cured against all free investigation, and guarded 
from the light ? Admit, to our sorrow, that this 
investigation, that this light, may be attended by un- 
belief in one person, a disposition to cavil in another, 
and in a third indifferency. Will this be the fruit 
of them in all men, must they have these effects for 
ever ? Will they not produce in many, will they 
not probably in time be productive of sound knowl- 
edge of the truth, and of inward conviction of it, in 
the generality of men ? And do we not find, that 
where darkness and ignorance prevail, as much at 
least is found of unbelief, of doubt, of indifferency 
in regard of the most esstential points, and perhaps 
still more ? And if the number of the outward pro- 
fessors of religion were reduced, what would it lose 
by the defection of such false or cold friends ? 
Would not the rational faith, the belief, founded on 
discussion and conviction, of the rest, be productive 
of more benefit, promote real virtue and happiness 
in them and around them, so much the more ? — No, 
true religion needs never to shun the light ; and he 
that diffuses this, is at the same time extending the 
reign of happiness and virtue. The christian, says 
our text, is light in the Lord ; if, then, he would 
maintain this character, he must behave like a child 
of light, as a friend and promoter of it. 

Enlightened times are, fifthly, f ivorable to vir- 
tue. It is true that proficiencv in knou ledge and 

Vox. II. O 



194 T^he Value of more Enlightened Times, 

virtue do not always proceed with equal pace. Nay^ 
the former may eventually be detrimental to the lat- 
ter ; but assuredly not upon the whole. The virtues 
of the coenobite, the virtues of the hermit, the virtues 
of the fiuiatic of every denomination, if any will call 
them by that name, are confessedly sufferers by the 
dissemination of knowledge ; they are plants that 
thrive better in the bosom of darkness than bv an 
influx of light. But certainly not the virtues of the 
useful citizen, of the sensible man, of the true chris- 
tian ! What is virtue, if it be not founded on scru- 
tiny and choice, but is the effect of necessity, of con- 
straint, of servile fear, or merely of mechanical habit? 
Does it deserve that venerable name ? Is it indbed 
consistent with itself ? Can it have much inward 
strength and firmness ? Does it confer any honor 
upon a man ? Will it guide and govern him in con- 
cealment as well as in the eyes of the world, in com- 
mon and familiar life as well as in the solemn offices 
of devotion or in civil affairs, in the enjoyment of 
liberty and pleasure as well as under the heavy hand 
of power, or beneath the pressure of misfortunes ? 
No, only that virtue is thoroughly deserving of the 
name which is a daughter of light, the result of plain 
research and intimate conviction, which is founded 
on a true knowledge of our nature, our present and 
future appointment, our conduct tow^ards God and 
man, towards visible and invisible things. She alone 
is always equal ; rests upon firm, im.moveable foun- 
dations ; is ever the same in all times, in all places, 
in all conditions; exalts and dij^nifies whatever a 
man does ; accompanies him wherever he is, and 
never deprives him of her counsel and support. She 
alone v/ants neither outward coercion ndi* mechani- 
cal impulse, and finds in herself inducement and 
ability enough for doing constantly what is right and 
good, what is fair and generous, what is the best in , 



The Falue of more Enlightened Times, 19 



jt. ^ tj 



every event. Admit that we may suppose such a 
virtue where there is no great degree of intellectual 
improvement: Bat miistnot whatever promotes and 
extends the latter be, sooner or later, favorable to 
the fomier ? Hovv^ much more sensible and tender 
must the moral sense, the conscience of the enlight- 
ened man be ! How many more arguments, and 
hoAV much higher and nobler arguments must he not 
bring forward to his mind, as often as he has to 
choose between good and evil, or between good and 
better ! How much farther must not his sight pierce 
into the remoter consequences of his undertakings 
and actions ! How much more' accurate!}' must he 
not apply the general rules of his conduct to every 
particular circumstance ; how much more easily con- 
nect the present with the future ! How much m.ore 
nicely will he not discern semblance from truth, what 
has only the looks of virtue, from virtue herself ! 
How much less v.dll he be satisfied w ith only the in- 
ferior degrees of it ! No, fear not, ye friends of 
Virtue, that the respect of your friend can be dimin- 
ished among mankind, or her dominion contracted, 
by your enlargement of the kingdom of light. 

j Truth and virtue are sisters, they are inseparably 
connected tosrether ; the true votaries of the one are 
also true votaries of the other ; the pre\^a]ence of the 
latter is so much the more unrestrained, by how much 
the former is extended and advanced ; iheir empire 
is one and the same. 

In enlightened times, sixthly, mankind are more 
sociable, are brought nearer together, connect them- 

\ selves more intimately with each other, and by more 

i various ties. Their manners are rendered milder, 
more agreeable ; their conversation more entertain- 
ing; their intercourse more pleasant and aifcctionute ; 
their desires and endeavors to ingratiate theniselvcs 

' with each other are greater. The higher and Icnver 
2 



i96 The Fultie of more Enlightened Times » 

stations and classes of men are less dissevered, in-- 
termingle more, have more common pursuits and 
pleasures ; and thus the pride of the one is abated^ 
and the decent confidence of the other encouraged* 
Social pleasures are multiplied, refined, and dignified 
in enlightened times. They are, in part, derived 
from sources absolutely shut up to an unenlightened 
people. The history of nature and art, of the gener- 
ations of men and the planting of nations, personal 
and foreign experiences and observations, in one case, 
furnish the richest and most ample materials for dis- 
course, for a useful as well as agreeable exercise of the 
understandingjthe sagacity, the discernment, the wit, 
the imagination, for the maintenance and support of 
rational cheerfulness and mirth. Every man is more 
earnest to present himself on the most favorable 
side, to exchange information of one kind for in- 
formation of another, and to impart as much satis- 
faction and delight, as to receive. And must not 
this be a covetable privilege above the condition of 
unenlightened men, whose manners are generally 
rude and ferocious, whose pleasures are altogether 
sensual, whose diversions are merely riotous and 
noisy, whose perceptions are to the last degree con- 
tracted, whose conversations are commonly trifling, 
whose mental faculties are undeveloped and unexer* 
cised, and whose deportment is seldom agreeable, 
but much oftener arrogant and disgusting r And 
must not the advantages of the former be in perfect 
harmony with the intentions of religion and nature ? 
Is it not the aim of both to unite men progressively 
more, to inspire them with more and more love an<i| 
esteem for each other, to render them continuallyi 
more useful and agreeable to one another, ever more 
inclined to unfold their mutual capacities and 
powers by social wants and propensities, by social' 
businesses and pleasures, by all these means to im-j 



l^he Value of more Enlightened Times. 197 

prove the sum of their social happiness, and thus 
constantly to approximate them to the purposes of 
their existence, as one single closely ccnnected fam- 
ily of relatives, dwelling together and making each 
other happy ? Grant, however, that this greater socia- 
bleness, this refinement ofmanners, this intermixture 
of ranks, this extended action and activity, may 
have their unavoidable inconveniences and disadvan- 
tages. Grant that they often degenerate into vanity 
and frivolity ; that they frequently are accompanied 
by dissimulation and falsehood ; allow that they dis- 
sipate too much the attention and the faculties of 
many ; allow that at times they infringe on the rules 
of strict propriety. Upon the whole, they always ef- 
fect by far more good than harm, occasion far more 
happiness than misery ; are always a step in advance 
towards the perfection of human nature an alleviation 
and sweetener of the troubles of this terrestial life. 
Enlightened times are productive of still more 
good. The stations and affairs of men are more 
dignified ; and therefore we have fresh incitements 
to fill more worthily the former, and better to trans- 
act the latter. Indeed the first beams of stronger 
light often produce quite contrary effects. The 
youth who has acquired some knowledge, and 
thinks he has refined his taste, may easily be induced 
to despise the condition and calling of his fore- 
fathers, and to r.eglect their concerns, as thinking 
himself capable of greater and more elevated affairs. 
But is this evil, which only obtains in particular oc- 
currences, and for the most part is soon remedied 
by the punishment that follows it, or by maturer 
judgment, is this to be comp:\red with the general 
and lasting evils which the defect of improvement in 
this respect naturally brings on ? How deplorable 
is the moral condition of a people, where no one 
sees farther than the contracted sphere of his own 
3 



198 The Value of more Enlightened Times, 

art, liis own work, or his own trade ;, where none 
is interested about what happens otiierwise than as it 
res:ards himse-i ; none thinks on the connexion of 
the whole, and on his own inRuence upon it ; none 
acquires any knowledge but what he absohitely 
must ; none ventures to tread out of the road which 
his sires and c^randsires trod before him : Where 
every one works and employs himself more by com- 
pulsion than inclination ; where every one is only 
animated by self interest, and guided by custom ; and 
if he have any more time or means than what his me- 
chanical labors require, he knows not what to do 
with either, and loses them both ! But, on the 
other hand, let light but once have made consider- 
able progress amongst a people ; let men'of all classes 
and conditioi^ have learnt to refiect more ; let them 
h ive acquired greater knowledge of their appoint- 
rp.ent and that of their brethren ; be better acquaint- 
ed with the wise economy of God upon earth, with 
the true value and coherence of things ; be better 
informed in what real honor and dignity, in what 
perfection and' happiness consist ; let them set about 
whatever they undertake and do, less mechanically, 
with more rational consideration : How quickly will 
every man learn to prize his station, to understand 
the needfulness and utility of it, to carry on the 
business it requires in a more liberal manner, to en- 
joy the benefits it procures him more rationally and 
cheerfully, and to be in all respects more useful to 
the community ! And how much more will he 
thus promote his satisfaction and his mental perfec- 
tion ! How differently will he find himself repaid | 
for his diligence and industry ! When can he be 
deficient in opportunities of useful employment, 
and sources of elevated recreation, even out of his 
peculiar circlp ! How important, how agreeable ;« 
must the laborjs and affairs of the countryman, thC'' 



i 



7 he Value of more Enlightened Times, 199 

artist, the merchant, the artizan, by this means be- 
come, when he prosecutes them with a hberai mind, 
free fiom prejudices, with a cultivated understand- 
ing and accustomed to rcfiecticn, and feels the \ahie 
of all he does ! And how considerably will not all 
thus be gainers ! Indeed we are still \ery far short 
of this degree of culture. But, if it be desirable, 
then must likewise the way that leads to it be good, 
though it be beset with many obstacles. Even the 
best field is not free from every kind of weeds ; 
mxuch less that which has so long lain fallow, Vv hich 
has scarcely been begun to be tilled, and which is 
sown with grain that can never be perfectly clean 
and umnixed. 

More enlightened times are, lastly, preparative to 
that better state which awaits us after death ; and 
this so surely as, in that state, knowledge of truth 
and spiritual perfection are the foundation of our su- 
perior felicity. I am sensible that at present v. e can 
frame but very dark and indefinite conceptions of 
our future state, and can know but extremely little 
of the peculiar occupations and pleasures of it. I 
am firmly persuaded, as I observed in a late dis- 
course, that most of our knowledge, considered as 
knowledge, of whatever species or kind it may be, 
must there fall away as totally useless ; and that, 
in this respect, the enlightened man, the man en- 
riched wdth all the treasures of learning, will have 
no great advantage over the unlettered and ignorant. 
This, however, is very certain, that our future life is 
connected to the present, that it is a sequel of it, 
that the degree of inward perfection we here attain 
will determine the point of perfection of which w^e 
shall there be capable. This is y^rj certain, that 
in that, as well as in the present state, we shall 
think, shall strive to find out truth, shall advance in 
llie knowledge of truth ; that we shall do all this as 

' 4 



200 The Value of more Enlightened Times* 

men, and that it will be so much the more easy or 
difficult for us to do ; that we shall advance more 
rapidly or more slowly, as v\ e have more or less ex-.. 
ercised ourselves in them here ; accordingly, what- 
ever exercises us in thought, whatever promotes in- 
ward spiritual perfection; therefore greater proficien- 
cy in intellectual improvement as the strongest in- 
centive and the best means to that end, must be 
preparatives to that superior state ; therefore must 
enlightened times have a real and great value in this 
respect also. Are we already, in this world, the 
children of light ; do we here already live in the 
kingdom of light ; are we eager to imbibe every ray 
of it, however feeble ; then must we become the fit- 
ter for its brighter influx, for its perfect splendor, 
in a better \v Olid ! 

This will suffice for displaying the great value of 
a considerable progress in intellectual acquirements, 
and place it beyond all doubt. I shall now proceed 
to draw from it a few suggestions in regard to our 
conduct. 

If you are sensible to the worth of this advantage^ 
then use all diligence to turn the portion you are 
blessed with of it to the most profitable account ; and 
let it, by 5^our means, be productive of that good it 
may and ought to produce. The more enlightened 
the times and the men, in which, and among whom 
you live ; so much the more should you be asham- 
ed of ignorance, of superstition, of blind faith, of 
thoughtlessness and indifference in respect to matters 
which it behoves all men. and consequently you, to 
know. Therefore, shut not your eyes against the 
light that shines around you. Walk not in darkness, 
since the day begins to appear. In regions where 
all is dark, where ignorance and superstition prevail 
without control ; there no man indeed need be 
ashamed of being ignorant and superstitious, to grope 



The Value of more Enlightened T'lmcs.^ 201 

his way in the dark, and to stumble or fall a[t every 
step he takes ; for there one is as weak and wretched 
as another, and yet neither believes himself either 
wretched or weak. But, to prefer darkness to the 
light that beams upon our eyes ; to stumble and to 
fall in a path enlightened by the sun, as tliough it 
were shrouded in the deepest night ; to remain still 
ignorant and superstitious amidst all the means to 
knowledge and a rational faith ; this indeed degrades 
a man, this renders him grossly criminal. And this, 
my dear friends, may be more or less the case with 
you. *' The night is far spent," may we likewise 
exclaim to you with an apostle, the night is far 
spent ; ** the day is at hand," the dawn has already 
appeared : '' It is high time to awake out of sleep." 
The time is over and gone, when free reflection and 
inquiry was a crime, and implicit belief meritorious ; 
none of you, except by his own fault, can be defi- 
cient in means and inducements to reflection, to re- 
search, to the augmentation and improvement of his 
knowledge. Avail yourselves of these means and 
inducements, use them like men endowed with rea- 
son, and as christians who are roused to freedom. 
Remain not supine on the couch of tradition, in the 
place where prejudice and former instruction left 
you, as if they were the boundaries of all human 
knowledge. Implicitly follow no human leader; 
from children proceed to be men, who thinking for 
themselves, go alone, and have learnt to proceed 
with a firm and steady step along the path of truth. 
To think and act upon thoroughly tried and sure 
principles ; constantly to be striving after greater 
light, after farther certainty ; to love truth above all 
things, and to receive it with an open heart, with- 
out regard to prevailing opinions and outward cir- 
cumstances, as it is exhibited to you ; is what 
«kpuld distinguish you from less enlightened men, 



^02. ^Ths Value of more Enlightened Times, 

and your times fiom the times of ignorance and 
darkness. 

Farther. If you confess the great value of intel- 
lectual improvement to a nation, then let every one 
promote it according to his station and in proportion 
to his abilities. Particularly you who are teachers of 
the people, or are farther advanced in knowledge 
than the rest. But do ic with that prudence and af- 
fection, which should guide and animate us in all 
our aifairs, and most in the most important. Every 
man is' not capable of every truth. Every manner 
of producing and of disseminating even the most gen- 
erally useful truths, is not the best. Few persons 
are strong and liberal minded enough at once to 
comprehend and adopt and rightly use truths hither- 
to unknown to them, or even a considerable part of 
them. A bright eiFulgence of light, not making its 
approaches by degrees, but suddenly intromitted in 
all its force, frequently dazzles more than it en- 
lightens. No, in the moral as well as in the natural 
world, the transition from the darkness of night to 
the full blaze of noon must come on by degrees, if 
we would have mankind enjoy that light, and not 
be forced to shut their eyes against it. Take heed 
then not to favor falsehood and error by any means i 
and still more, not to profess and to teach them 
as truths. This is an infamous act of high 
treason against truth, and debases every man that 
does so, even if he do it in really good intentions.-— 
But you need not therefore directly contend against 
every error ; not furiously attack every thing that 
either is or appears to you to deserve that name ; 
otherwise, you may at the same time shake the 
foundations of truth, which is often in more than 
one respect connected with error, and thus prevent 
its admission intoi:he heart. As little may you ven- 
ture to bestov/ or to obtrude every truth, without 



The Value of more Enlightened Times. 205 

distinction or exception on every human mind. As 
every kind of grain will not flourish in every soil, so 
neithv-r is every truth adapted to the comprehension 
of every person. Even the proper field requires 
previous culture before it can be sown with any rea- 
sonable expectation of a copious harvest. If you 
would contribute to the intellectual improvement of 
your brethren, begin by setting their attention and 
curiosity in motion ; bring them to the sentiment of 
their imperfections and intellectual wants ; induce 
them to think, and assist them ia their thoughts ; 
conduct them into the footsteps of truth, and re- 
move the principal impediments out of their way ; 
make them see what they already know and believe 
in a clearer light, or understand it with greater per- 
spicuity, and thus accustom them to clear and calm 
reflection, which will incite an eagerness after greater 
information. By this means you will best carry on 
your attacks against levity, sloth, sensuality, indif- 

ferencv in religious matters, the low, servile fear of 

"^ ... -11 

man, false scrupulosity, hypocritical piety ; and tnus 

stop up the springs of error and superstition. Ren- 
der truth respectable and amiable to all men, by the 
modesty and meekness with which you deliver it, 
hy the hilarity and serenity with w hich you possess 
and display it, by the influence it has on your tem- 
per and manners. Recommend and disperse all good 
writings, that promote reflection among mankind, 
and are favorable to the knowledge of truth. Pay 
particular attention to the instruction and formation 
of young persons, and thus lay the foundation of 
greater proficiency for the next generation. 

In fine, if you confess the value of greater intel- 
lectual improvement, and actually enjoy the beneiits 
of it, then walk, as we are exhorted to do in our 
text, as children of light. Let your light so shine 
before men,, that they, seeing your good works, 



204 The Value of more Enlightened Times. 

may glorify your father who is in heaven. Conduct 
yourselves as men who profess the truth, and are 
become wise and free by the knowledge of it. Let 
its light not merely have an influence on your mind, 
but let it govern your heart and actuate your whole 
behavior. Live as you think. Exhibit your char- 
acter as much, and even more, by generous senti- 
ments and good deeds, than by just conceptions. 
Light, that does not at once animate, warm and 
fertilize, knov/ledge that does not make us wiser 
and better, is of no great value, is frequently fnore 
prejudicial than useful to us. Your progress in 
knowledge should be not so much an ultimate ob- 
ject, as means to higher aims ; means to purer vir- 
tue, to greater perfection and happiness. The 
truth that prevails in your ideas must likewise pre- 
vail in your feelings, in your views and endeavors, 
in your dispositions and actions, in your whole de- 
portment. Only by judging in every concern, by 
being disposed in every circumstance, and by act- 
ing in every occurrence, as the nature of it requires, 
and is consistent with your correlative situation, will 
you be ever drawing nearer to perfection and to its 
supreme and eternal original, the deity ; only thus 
the knowledge of truth can and will become to you 
a never failing, a constantly augmenting source of 
happiness. 



SERMON XXXVIII, 



The Value of Afflictions and Tribulations, 



U GOD, thou hast placed us here in a state 
6f discipline and exercise. Here we are never entirely that 
which, according to our dispositions, according to our facul- 
ties and capacities we may and should be. But it is thy 
gracious will that these dispositions, these faculties, these 
capacities should here be gradually unfolded, formed, and 
brought into action. Here we are in the state of child- 
hood, but by it we are gradually to grow up to maturity. 
Yes, here thou wouldst educate us for a better, a superior 
life, and prepare us, by various exercises to the employ- 
ments and blessings of it. All that we here are and do, 
that we enjoy and suffer, all that happens to us, are so ma- 
ny means to this exalted purpose. All is calculated to ren- 
der us more intelligent, wiser, better, more perfect. , In this 
view hast thou, in thy wisdom, subjected us and all that is 
around us to so many accidents and vicissitudes, for our tri- 
al and exercise. To this end hast thou strewn our course 
with so many difficulties and impediments that call forth 
every effort every exertion of our faculties. To this end 
hast thou so closely and so variously interspersed light and 
darkness, joys and sorrows, progress and opposition, pros- 
perity and adversity in our present state, leading us to our 
destination one while on a plain and even path and then by 
rugged ways. Oh might we suffer ourselves ever to be 
led and guided by thee, our Father, as obedient children I 
Even then submit to thy guidance, when it is at variance 



206 The Value of Afflictio7is. 

with our inclinations and designs, when v/e are unable to dis- 
cover the end and aim of it ! Knowing that even thy severest 
correction is the correction of a father, of the wisest and 
kindest of fathers ; assuredly convinced that thy purpose 
can never fail, and that thy purpose is and can be no other 
than to render us happy ! Yes, in this assurance we will re- 
sign ourselves entirely to thee with fihal confidence en- 
tirely rest in thee and thy will ; and thankfully re- 
ceive from thy hand as benefactions, good and evil, 
joys and sorrows. Oh lead and guide us by thy counsel 1 
Thy counsel is ever wise and good. Conducted by thee, we 
shall never go astray, under thy protection and thy guid- 
ance we shall infallibly reach the mark of our high calling. 
O God, strengthen ami confirm in us these pious sentiments 
and grant that the mfeditations we are nov/ about to begin 
in this view may be blessed. This v/e implore of thee as 
the votaries of thy son Jesus, who has taught us to know 
and to love thee as our common parent ; including our pe- 
titions in his w^ords : Our father, Sec. 



HP:BREWS xif. 11. 



No chajiening fur ihe preferd feemeth to he joyous, hit grievous ; neverthekfs ^ af- 
terward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteoufnefs unto them which are exer^ 
cifed thereby* 

GOD loves his creatures of the human race. 
This all nature proclaims aloud. This is declar- 
ed by all the capacities and powers that God has 
given us, all the arrangements he has made in the 
moral and the physical world. Happiness is our 
true, our total destination ; the destination of all 
that exists and lives, and is susceptible of hap- 
piness. To this end has he made us ; to this 



i'he Value of Afflictions, 207 

end has he assigned us this part of hi dominion 
for the place of our abode, and embellished it 
with so many beauties and blessings ; to this end 
has he placed us in the various connexions wherein 
we stand with the material and the spiritual world. 
He has likewise excited in us all a thirst, ah ardent 
thirst after happiness ; and how is it possible that he, 
the Allgracious, should have raised in us this thirst 
and not have furnished us with the means ofassuag- 
ins: it !— No, we are surrounded on all sides with 
sources of pleasure and delight, mvitmg us to enjoy- 
ment, no less diversified than copious, and which we 
can never entirely exhaust, nor each of their several 
kinds. 

And yet man, this creature so beloved of God, 
and so evidently ordained to happiness, frequently 
meets with grievous afflictions ; and no one yet of 
all our race has ever passed his life without having 
suffered more or less. Are then these afflictions at 
strife with our destination ? Do they block up our 
w^ay to felicity ? Do they defeat the gracious designs 
of our Creator, the plans of Almighty goodness ? 
No, that is impossible ; even these afflictions must 
tend to something good, must possess a certain val- 
ue, must contribute to the advancement of our happi- 
ness ; otherwise God, who loves us with paternal 
tenderness, and would have us happy and joyful as 
his children, certainly would never allow them to 
befall us. 

And thus the matter stands. Even afflictions, 
even tribulations are good ; are benefactions of our 
heavenly Father. They are means, harsh and un- 
pleasant indeed, but efficacious and salutary means, 
for our purification, for our amendment, our higher 
perfection. They lead us a rough and dreary way, 
a way often moistened with tears and the sweat of 
our brov/s ; but a way that terminates in happiness- 



208 The Value of Afflictions. 

Of this our own reason and experience will not per- 
mit us to doubt ; and the sacred books confirm what 
they teach us, in a manner the most express. *' No 
chastening," says the apostle in our text, **for the 
present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous :" All se- 
verity is repugnant and disagreeable to us while we 
feel it. "Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the 
peaceable fruit of righteousness to them w^hich are 
exercised thereby :" In the sequel it produces the 
best effects to them w^ho allow themselves to be cor- 
rected by it, by rendering them good and virtuous. 
" It is good forme," says the psalmist, " that I have 
been afflicted, that 1 might learn thy statutes." And 
the apostles of Jesus, in their own ^name and in that 
of their fellow christians, glory also in tribulations, 
knowing that " tribulation worketh patience ; and 
patience experience ; and experience, hope ; and 
hope maketh not ashamed." May we then, my dear 
friends, learn to take the affliction and tribulations 
of our lives, no less than the proper blessings and joys 
of them, for what they are and may become, and 
apply them to the advancement of our happiness i 
My design is, by my present discourse, to give some 
direction to your reflections upon them. To which 
purpose I shall examine with you the value of afflic- 
tions and tribulations in regard to human happiness, 
and to that end first shew, how^ and to what amount 
afflictions and tribulations have a real value ; and 
then what gives them that value, wherein it consists, 
how they may further our happiness. 

Afflictions and tribulations have no value at ulti- 
mate objects but only as means. They are not in 
and of themselves either good or wholesome, but 
only in regard of their effects. Afflictions are and 
must ever continue to be afflictions ; disagreeable, 
painful sensations. Tribulations are and must ever 
remain tribulations ; accidents and occurrences that 



the Value of Afflictions. 209 

arc adverse to our nature, and hostile to our views 
and desires. While they are present, we think them 
unpleasant and grievous ; and this, of themselveSj 
they actually are. They are medicines, bitter med- 
icines, which are not prescribed on account of the 
pleasantness of their taste, but only as good against 
diseases, and which probably we must be long 
plagued and tormented with before we are complete- 
ly recovered. They are exercises, not enjoined us 
on their own account, but for the sake of their ef- 
fects. The schools, considered as schoolr., have no 
great value. It is not the restraints they impose on 
our liberty ; it is not the toilsome application they at 
one time induce and at another compel us to exert ; 
not the chastisement they bestow on the negligent 
scholar, for his punishment and correction, that 
make them desirable. It is only the good conse- 
quences of these hard restraints, of this laborious as- 
siduity, of this grievous chastening ; only the use- 
ful knowledge, the better dispositions, the good hab- 
itudes, we thereby acquire, that give its whole val= 
lie to every thing we do and suffer therCj ^ So also 
sicknesses, misfortunes, losses of goods and honors, 
losses of patrons and friends, ^he failure of plans and 
undertakings, poverty, humiliations, persecutions, 
and whatever else oppresses and aiSicts mankind, 
have only so far any real worth, as by their means 
we become wiser, and better, and happier. 

Hence it naturally follows, secondly, that they ac- 
quire this value only by the use we make of them. 
Not every man to whom medicine is administered, 
or who voluntarily takes it of himself, will thereby 
be healed. There must be vital powers yet rem.c>in= 
ing in him ; he must not purposely hinder and di- 
minish the effects of the medicine he has taken ; he 
must do or abstain from many things, which at other 
times he need not do or abstain from, and so frame 

Vol. IL P 



210 The Value of Affliction s^i 

his whole conduct as is befitting his present condi- 
tion. Not every one who frequent the schools, and 
allows himself to be instructed or is forced to be 
taught, will learn what they are adapted to teach.— 
Many a one will leave them as ignorant and unqual- 
ifiedy probably more corrupted and vicious than he 
was before. It is only the attentive, the studious, 
the obedient scholar, who willingly imbibes instruc- 
tion and profits by discipline, that returns from them 
enriched with the treasures of wisdom, and blesses 
the man that entered him there. If we would have 
afflictions and tribulations to be of real value to us ; 
then we must use them aright ; we must account 
them for Vv^hat they are ; must consider them in their 
dependency on God and his will ; must reflect upon 
them, view them on their moral side, attend to the 
design of them, and demean ourselves in all respects 
according to our situation, as it is altered by them* 
In short, afflictions and tribulations have a value 
only comparatively, only inasmuch as they snatch u» 
from the dangers of an uninterrupted prosperity, and 
teach us what that could never inform us of, or lead 
us to a ^d!nt of wisdom and virtue to which pros- 
perity could never conduct us. On this principle 
they are not necessar}^ to all men in the same kind 
and to the same degree. There are children who 
may be educated by pure affection ; there are others 
that require a stricter discipline. The former have a 
tender and sentimental heart j feel the whole value 
of every kindness shewn to them ; think nobly ; and 
find no duty, no sacrifice too painful whereby they 
may testify their gratitude to their benefactors, their 
friends, their tutors and guides ; The latter sort are 
obstinate, selfwilled, and perverse ; are by far less 
tractable, much harder to be governed, and therefore 
require to be more forcibly agitated, must be often 
feelingly chastised, before they can be brought to 



fy^(? Falue of Afflictions. ill 

aubmission and obedience. So likewise there are men 
of generous and noble souls, whom prosperit}^ neither 
fascinates nor hardens, neither seducing them into 
folly, nor plunging them in vice ; who find in every 
benefit they receive from the hand of God, fresh in- 
citement to justice and fresh energy to beneficence j 
and who, thoroughly impressed with the love of God 
and man, require no other motives to make the best^ 
the most generally useful application of aH that they 
are and have. But possibly there may be a much 
greater proportion of such as know not how to bear 
uninterrupted success, who by it would run the risk 
of losing all sentiment of duty and virtue, all regard 
for religion, and all the feelings of humanity, and 
fall by little and little into the most abandoned prof- 
ligacy ; and, if these persons are snatched from this 
danger by afflictions and tribulations ; if by their 
means every deadened sentiment to what is beautiful 
and good be restored to motion ; then certainly must 
afflictions and tribulations be to them of far greater 
value than the most flourishing prosperityo 

And this, my pious hearers, is the true state of the 
©asCi To convince ourselves of it^ w^e need only 
proceed to examine a little more circumstantially 
what it is that gives human sufferings and tribula- 
tions this value, or w^herein it consists, and how they 
can advance our happiness. 

Afflictions and tribulations are, in the first place, 
much adapted to lead a man to serious reflections on 
himself, on his destination, on his condition and the 
way to happiness, to imprint those reflections on his 
mind, and actually to set him forward on that wava 
How rarely are these reflections made amidst die cap- 
tivating splendor, amidst the confused noise, the 
dizziness, the deceitful charms, the intoxication that 
eommonly attend on prosperity ! How seldom there 
»an serious thoughts obtain a hearing ! How quicks 



212 7/k Value of Affiictiouj, 

ly are they scared away by the ostentation of the vain^) 
th^ scoffs of the wanton, or the voice of the flatterer ! 
Plow seldom there does a man descend into himself [ 
How easily does he overlook and forget all his inward- 
defects, ail his spiritual wants, in the possession and 
enjoyment of so many outward advantages ! How 
apt is he there to exchange reality for appearances, 
to confound what he is with m hat he has, and to lose 
sight of himself and his proper felicity amidst the en- 
chanting visions that float upon his mind ! But^ 
W'hen the scene changes ; when all these shining 
images disappear from his view ; when the compan- 
ionable buffoon, the scoffer, the sycophant, the fidse 
friend, forsake his unhappy house ; when all is hush 
and quiet around him, and all diings awe him into 
solemn gravity ; then he stands still, avvakes from 
his dream, grows attentive to himself, discovers the 
emptiness of his heart, and the instability of fortune ; 
and what is more natural than for him to enter upon 
these or similar considerations : What is it then 
properly that is so much altered within me, or of 
me, or about me? Is it myself, or is it the things 
that are without me ? Do they essentially belong to 
me, or do they only stand in a certain relation to- 
wards me for a period of time ? Does my whole, 
does my principal happiness consist indeed in them ? 
Is the loss of them utterly irreparable I The riches 
I possessed, were they myself ? Were the honors 
and the magnificence that surrounded me, were they 
me ? My ruined health, was that myself ? Am I 
not just what I was yesterday and the day before ? 
Just as sensible, or just as senseless, just, as good, or 
just as bad, as heretofore ? And what is, now, the 
purport of my existence ? Am I here that 1 may be 
rich and great, that I may shine and glitter among 
my brethren, that I may gratify all my sensual de- 
sires, that I may fare sumptuously and live joyously 



The Value of Afflictions, 21 S 

every day ? That does not depend upon me, that is 
subject to a thousand accidents ! That neither can 
all men be and do ! That neither can any be and do 
so long as they could wish ! Would providence have 
permitted all these things to be liable to so many 
revolutions and changes, if they were our sovereign 
good, if we v/ere to fulnll the design of our being on 
earth by the possession and enjoyment of them ? No, 
that must be attainable ia every station ; it must be 
within the reach of the poor as well as the rich, of 
the low^ as well as the high, of the sick as w ell as the 
healthy, of the unfortunate as well as the prosperous ; 
it must therefore consist in more essential, more 
permanent things. And must not wdsdom and vir- 
tue, must not spiritual perfection, be this sovereign 
good ? They are indeed intimately and inseparably 
eonnected with myself, with me. Of them no mis- 
fortune can rob me ! They necessarily adhere 
neither to riches nor to poverty ; neither to inferior 
nor to superior station, neither to health nor sick- 
ness ! These I may possess, enjoy, and infinitely 
augment, in the humblest obscurity as w^ell as in the 
blaze of a court, in a cottage as well as in a palace, 
in solitude as well as in the most numerous and 
brilliant assemblies ! They can render me serene, 
contented, happy, in every condition \ Even death 
itself cannot deprive me of them ! I take them with 
me into the grave and into the future world ! And 
can I then purchase them at too dear a rate ? Can 
that be detrimental to me, can that be a misfortune 
which makes me a sharer in those goods, or which 
allows me to enjoy them more, and to a larger ex- 
tent ?~If then tribulations, my pious hearers, rouze 
and lead a person to such reflections, to such consid- 
erations, to such conclusions, what a value must they 
not be of to him ! 

Afflictions and tribulations teach us, farther, to 



^14 -The Value of Afflictions. 

prize more justly the goods of the earth, to moderate 
our desires after them, and our love for them- How 
many a person, whose heart was entirely wrapped up 
in these goods, who was the slave of them, who knew 
no happiness but what they procured or promised 
him, has learnt in this school to esteem them as what 
they actually are ! When, confined to the bed of 
sickness, and tormented with pain, he can no longer 
enjoy them ; when trouble and anxiety reader them 
tasteless and insipid ; when he suffers under the loss 
of them ; when a change of circumstances has shaken 
the proud edifice of his fortune, and threatens him 
with its fall ; when deadi has ravished from him his 
patron or his friend ; then the scales fall off from his 
eyes ; he then intimately feels how much these goods 
were transitory and worthless, how incapable they 
are to render a man wholly and constantly happy, 
and how inadequate to the vehement endeavors 
that are made to procure them. Now the bonds that 
bound him to them are unloosed. Now he trusts 
no longer to the support of a frail reed, as though 
he leaned against a rock. Now he depends no more 
upon goods that were only lent him, as if they were 
his unalienable property ; confides no more in dis- 
tinctions that every accident may annul, in strength 
that may so suddenly be lost, in nien that may die to- 
day, in a life that is so short and uncertain. And, 
since his avidity for happiness still remains equally 
keen, equally insatiable ; he therefore directs it to- 
wards other goods, that are more durable, and more 
worthy of his endeavors. Now he learns to prefer 
internals to externals, wisdom and virtue before hon- 
ors and wealth, intellectual joys before sensual 
pleasures, the invisible to the visible, the Creator to 
the creature. And how greatly must he not thus be 
the gainer ! How much seldomer now does he ex- 
mt his faculties in vain ! Hew much more rarely d© 



ne Value of Afflictions, t\% 

his liopes and expectations fail him ! How much firm- 
cr is iiis welfare iixt ! And must not the tribulations 
which have helped him to this situation, be of great 
value to him ? 

In like manner, afflictions and tribulations very 
frequently teach us temperance, self government, and 
the art of dispensing with many things. This we are 
first forced to by necessity. We cannot, we sliould 
not any longer do certain things, any longer lead a 
certain kind of life, any longer partake of certain 
amusements. We have lost the means and the right 
to them. We must now submit to certain restric- 
tions. By degrees we become used to them ; they 
grow easy, agreeable to us ; we find many consider- 
able advantages in them. Now we act from inclina- 
tion, from principle ; we now feel ourselves more 
free, more independent on outward things ; find our- 
selves less affected by the inconstancy, and less liable 
to the strokes of fortune ; learn to endure quiet, to 
c^steem privacy, to love and profit by retirement, and 
by all these things become better and more accom- 
plished. What numbers have for the first time 
learnt to govern themselves, and to understand and 
€njoy true freedom, in these schools of tribulation I 
What numbers have been snatched, indeed against 
their will, but to their real happiness, from a round 
of deceitful dissipations and diversions where they 
could never be right minded, could never enjoy their 
lives in complete consciousness, never be cheerful 
like rational beings, wliere they were the lamentable 
sport of their own passions and the passions of others ! 
How many have there been taught to subdue those 
desires to which they were formerly forced slavishly 
to obey, and to deprive themselves of a thousand 
things, and to forego them without uneasiness, which 
till now were to them urgent wants ! They are now, 
m several respects, more circumscribed, but on th« 
4 



216 The Value of Afflictions. 

whole, more free ; are left more alone, but are more 
satisfied with themselves, and happier in the silent 
enjoj'ment of their own hearts. 

Aiilictions and tribulations are, fourthly, ver}^ of- 
ten a school of humanity, and the milder virtues of so- 
cial life ; and what a value must this also confer upon 
them ! But too frequently does uninterrupted suc- 
cess render us obdurate, insensible, unfeeling to the 
necessities ©f others. The prosperous man can sel- 
dom form to himself a iiist renresentation of the mis- 
eries of the distressed ! His station, his affairs, his 
companies,. keep him commonly far away from the 
sight of them- The healthy and robust very fre- 
quently imagine the compluiiUs of pain and disease 
to be exa£?"ii'erated or affected, have had no similar 
sensations, and if they do not absolutely dispute those 
of others, yet their strong nervous system is but little 
moved at the recital of them. He with whom all 
things succeed, is but too apt to blame another, who 
laments over defeated plans, thwarted expectations, 
or frustrated labors and endeavors, and to charge 
him with imprudence and bad management. And 
how^ much must this not \\ eaken his compassion ! 
But the man that has suffered himself,my dear friends, 
oh he feels the sorrows of his brother in a different 
way ; he smarts at the very sight of the sufferer of 
pain, he mingles his tears with the tears of the 
mourner, he feels every stroke that falls on another, 
as if he were smitten himself. Ev ery scar his past 
sufferings have left upon his heart pains him afresh, 
and gives him so quick a sense of the sufferings of 
another, as will certainly not leave him either indif- 
ferent or inactive. He who has himself borne the 
burden of misfortune, feels also how hard it presses 
when he hears another groan beneath it, and finds 
within him the strongest impulse to alleviate that 
burden, if he cannot totally remove it» He who has 



The Value of Ajflictions. 217 

himself experienced how easily the wisest plans may- 
be frustrated, how often the best undertakings fail, 
how often swiftness will not succeed in the race, nor 
strength in the conflict, nor prudence in business, 
how much in all these respects depends on fortune 
and favorable circumstances, he will certainly deem 
otherwise of him who actually suffers under these 
experiences, will judge him with much more lenity, 
not condemn him with severity, not impute his mis- 
fortune to him as a crime, and not shut up his heart 
to compassion for him. He who has himself experi- 
enced how sweet tne participations, the comfort, the 
assistances of a friend are in distress ; how the heart 
is thus relieved, the prospect cleared up, the hopes 
revived, when a man can pour out his sorrows into 
the bosom of another, Vv^hen he feels that he is not 
abandoned by all men, that he is not left to suffer 
alone, and may venture to assure himself of a guide 
and support even along the ruggedest path of life ; 
whoever has made trial of this, oh how will he run 
to open his heart to the sufferings of his friend and 
his brother, to give him a vent for his sorrov/s, to 
receive his complaints, and to dry up his tears ; how 
eagerly will he do all that in him lies to throw some 
light upon his darkness, and to console and revive 
him ! And how gentle, how complacent, how ser- 
viceable, how humane, how beneficent, must not 
these experiences and sensations render him in gen- 
eral to all mankind ! 

Afflictions and tribulations are often a school of 
many other virtues, and particularly of the sincerest 
devotion. How can we better learn resignation, ab- 
solute, unlimited submission to the will of God, than 
when his will is in opposition to our own, and he 
demands of us the sacrifice of such things as had the 
whole attachment of our heart ; and yet v/e submit 
to his will, and acknowledge his will to be right and 






T/ie Falue of Afflictions, 



good and unblamable ; and yet without hesitatioa 
make him these sacrifices, let them be never so dear 
to us, and say to him in sentiments of the most per- 
fect sincerity : — ^' Father, not as I will, but as thou 
wilt — Father, thy will be done !" How can we 
more strongly testify our confidence in his sovereign 
wisdom and goodness, how shew our filial and full 
compliance with all his arrangements and dispensa- 
tions, how our conviction that his thoughts and ways 
are far, far exalted above our thoughts and ways, 
and are infinitely better and more perfect than ours ; 
than when, even in the midst of misfortunes, we 
adore him as the allwise and the allbountiful, accept 
without reluctance whatever he ordains, or permits, 
or does> and compose ourselves by reflections on his 
superintendency, that he has nothing but perfection 
and felicity in view, and that his purposes can never 
fail ! How can we exercise ourselves more in faith 
towards the Almighty, than when we hold it fiist and 
will not let it go, even when reduced to the depth of 
distress, even then believe and hope, though we do 
not see, though all about is darkness, though we 
seem to be forsaken by all, and every thing threatens 
us with perdition and ruin ? And if we are thus 
exercised and streifgthened, by sufferings and tribu- 
lations, in resignation to the will of God, in con- 
fidence in him, in satisfaction with his ways ; if, by 
their means, we learn the hardest, but at the same 
time the noblest kind of obedience, the rarest but 
the purest devotion ; must not this evidently promote 
our advantage and perfection ? Must is not bring 
us nearer to the Deity, and render us more fit for his 
complacency and for the tokens of his favor ? Must 
it not prepare an ample recompcnce for our fidelity 
in a better world ? And must not this give a great 
value to every affliction and tribulation ? 
Yet more. How important, how de^ir to a man 



The Value of Afflktions. 21§ 

must afflictions and tribulations render the doctrines 
and comforts of religion I Religion, to which hci 
formerly perhaps paid little regard, probably restrict- 
ed it to certain opinions, or ceremonies and practi- 
ces, which he but too often thought he could very 
well dispense with, or which only presented itself to 
him under a gloomy and uninviting form, and which 
he never understood as the friend, the guide, and the 
comforter of the human race ! When we are af- 
flicted, what is more natural than too look out for 
help ? And how seldom with any certitude can we 
expect it from men ! How much seldomer do we 
actually obtain it from that quarter ! And to whom 
then shall we apply for it but to him who alone can 
constantly and certainly afford assistance, and does 
most readily grant it ? Yes, Lord, when tribulation 
comes on, then does a man turn himself to thee \ 
Then does the sentiment of an Almighty, an allwise 
and allgracious ruler of the world, a father in heaven, 
which had probably long lain dormant in the soul, 
again revive ; then the inclinations and desires once 
more take their natural turn ; they turn to their Creator 
and preserver, to the eternal source of being and be- 
nignity, to him in whom we live and move and are \ 
Now has the troubled spirit, the soul tossed to and 
fro upon the billows of adversity, once more found 
a fixed point, to which she may adhere, from whence 
she may proceed, and to which she may return, a 
prop on which she can rely, a source of comfort 
from which she may draw refreshment. How dif- 
ferently does she now feel her dependence on the 
sovereign being, and the intimate and blessed rela- 
tion that subsists between the creature and the Crea- 
tor ! She is now no more forsaken, no longer forci- 
bly torn and severed from her former connexions, no 
more a solitary existence in the land of the living ! 
She has now the Lord alway before her, and knows 



220 The Value of Afflictions, 

and feels that she walks in his sight, and is protected 
by his arm, that she lives in his kingdom, is one of 
his children and subjects, and is associated in the most 
various and intimate manner with the visible and the 
invisible, the material and the spiritual world, by him 
who comprehends and unites all things in himself. 
In what an altered light must she now view the doc- 
trine of an all directing Providence and the govern- 
ment of the Most High ! What comfort must she 
be inspired with, which she never tasted before ! She 
now no longer appears to be the spore of chance and 
the creature of fortune ; no more complains in sullen 
murmurs of the injustice she has undergone ; is no 
longer tormented by rage and rancor against the 
proximate causes of her sufferings ; no longer har- 
rassed by forming plans and devising means of re- 
quitting evil with evil. No, it is the Lord's doing ; 
all things are under his supreme control ; he dis- 
tributes both prosperity and adversity, riches and 
poverty, health and sickness, life and death, accord- 
ing to his good pleasure, amongst the children of 
men ; he elevates and he depresses, he wounds and 
heals, conducts to the grave and out of it again, and 
w^hat he ordains and does must necessarily be right 
and good, must, sooner or later in this way or in 
that, turn to my advantage, and to the advantage of 
his whole family on earth ! And this, my dear 
friends, this tranquillizes ! This pours balm into 
the wounded heart ! This gives all our sufferings 
a quite different, a much less terrible aspect ! 

And how important, how precious must not the 
doctrine of our immortality, of the future and better 
life be to the sufferer ! When he so acutely feels 
the emptiness and insufficiency of the present, with 
all its goods and advantages and joys ; when so 
many ties that bound him to it are dissolved or re- 
laxed ; when the part of his course that still lies be- 



the Value of Afflictions. 221 

fore him is lost in obscurity and darkness ; when he 
meets with so many stumblins; blocks, so many im- 
pediments and difficulties m it ; how reviving must 
be the prospect into a superior and a better life ! As 
reviving as when the weary, fainting, persecuted 
traveller descries from afar the term of his pilgrim- 
age, the spires of his native land. And \vith how 
much greater ease, with how much greater fortitude 
will he not^now bear the troubles of life ! How 
much more strenuously and cheerfully will he not 
now complete his course, when he runs not as un- 
certainly, but expects at the end of it the richest re- 
compence for all, the glorious reward of his faith and 
perseverance ! Oh what a value must religion hence 
acquire in his sight ! And what a value must afflic- 
tions and tribulations have, which discovered to him. 
the excellency of it, and caused him to apply to its 
comforts ! 

Afflictions and tribulations are, lastly, often the 
most efficacious means of improving mankind in gen- 
eral, of rousing them to a total change in their 
minds and manners. Vv^hat all the arguments of 
reason and religion, what all the bounties of God, 
what all the remonstrances, exhortations, and intrea- 
ties of teachers and friends, v/hat neither the stilly 
small voice of conscience, nor its louder alarms and 
reproaches could ever effect ; has often been done 
by afflictions and tribulations. The former not un- 
frequently slide over the heart of the thoughtless and 
hardened offender, like water over the smooth sur- 
face of a rock, and leave no trace behind. The lat- 
ter terrify and stop the inconsiderate wretch that is 
running headlong to destruction ; they forcibly and 
suddenly arrest him in his wicked career ; they 
strike more deeply into the recesses of his heart ; they 
withdrew, obscure, and dissipate, like dust before the 
wind, all the visionary forms of happiness that floated 



S^3 fhe Value of Afflictions. 

in his mind and cheated his hopes ; and will permit 
him no longer to doubt that he is not what he took 
himself for, that he has not what he thought he had, 
that he is unhappy and wretched. His seducers for^ 
sake him, or laugh at his distress ; his flatterers are 
silent, and take themselves away ; the snares that 
surround him stand exposed to his view ; the p reci- 
pice he was approaching strikes him dumb with 
amazement. He stands petrified with horror ; he 
turns his eyes inward ; he must bethink himself^ 
must retreat, must seek other comforts, other pleas- 
ures, other friends, must find out some other way 
to happiness. No longer dazzled and deceived by 
outward things, he is and sees himself full of defects 
and infirmatives, sees himself all disorder and confu- 
sion. And now, when reduced to this condition, 
with such experiences and feelings, if he hear the 
voice of religion, if her calls to amendment strike 
upon his mind, encouragement and instruction enter ; 
if the good providence of God supply him with some 
peculiar assistance, commission to him some messen- 
ger of peace, send to him some hearty and honest 
friend ; how much more disposed must he not be to 
listen to that voice, to follow that call, and to employ 
these means to his amendment ! — I will not, howev- 
er, pretend, that afflictions and tribulations do always, 
that they very often, produce such effects in vicious 
men. They frequently exasperate, frequently harden, 
frequently pervert them still more. Yet many have 
got the rudiments of reflection and amendment in 
this school. Many have here received the primary 
incitement, many have embraced the first resolves, 
have made the first steps of their return to the path 
of duty and virtue. Many have been forced to ex- 
claim with the psalmist : It is good for me that I 
have been afflicted. Before I was afflicted I went 
wrong, but now have I learnt thy judgments. I 



The Value of Afflictions, ^ 223 

tliank thee, O Lord, for having humbled me by suf- 
ferings, for having thus mortified my vanity, taught 
me to tame my violent passions, brought me to a 
lively sense of my weakness and imbecility, and in- 
structed me to keep thy statutes. 

Thus chastening is productive of salutary effects 
in them that are exercised thereby, by rendering them 
virtuous and good. Thus, therefore, even afflictions 
and tribulations are of real and often of very great 
value. Thus are they the benefactions of Providence, 
and sources of happiness. If storms and tempests in 
the natural world drive destructive diseases away 
from our dwellings, and bring life and health and 
fertility with them ; so likewise may the blasts of 
misfortune in the moral world rouse the supine from 
their dangerous slumber, drive away mists and va- 
pors from the eyes, and awaken the torpid to new 
powers and action, sharpen the dull feehngs of the 
palsied sinner, and restore to life the spiritually dead* 
Far be it then from us to let sufterings and tribula- 
tions slacken our confidence in the unalterable and 
neverfailing goodness of our Father in heaven ; 
No, even they are effects and proofs of it. No, with 
filial reverence will we accept the cup of sorrow from 
his parental hand, and never doubt, even whilst drinks 
ing out its bitter dregs, that it is wholesome medi- 
eine, by which he restores us to health and life. 



SERMON XXXIX. 



The Value of a good Reputation. 



\_J GOD, who art the father and benefactor ol 
ns all ! Who hast given us and still art ever giving us, poor 
and mean as we are of our ourselves, so many proofs of thy 
peculiar esteem and providence, intimating thereby that we 
should likewise mutually esteem, cordially love, and recipro- 
cally promote, as far as in us lies, the happiness of each 
other, as thy children, as members of one family. To this 
end hast thou so intimately connected us together ; made us 
all in so many respects dependent on each other, and plant- 
ed in our hearts so powerful an impulse to sympathy and 
benevolence. How kind and righteous is thy will, O God, 
and how happy were it for us, if we constantly fulfilled it 
with pleasure and fidelity ! Forgive us, merciful Father, 
that we so frequently behave as disobedient children towards 
thee, and as foes to each other. Teach us better to under- 
stand our common connexions and our proper advantages, 
and m.ore strictly to observe the duties of justice, of equity, 
of humanity. Replenish us with a sincere esteem for what- 
ever our brethren may possess of good and excellent ; and 
grant that we may never be misled by levity, by envy, by 
hatred or by vanity, to speak or to do any thing that may 
disturb them in the possession of the endowments and bles- 
singsbestowed on them by thee,ormay injure or offend them 
in any other respect. Bless to this end the meditations we 
are now about to begin. Cause us to be so convinced of the 



The Value of a good Re put au on. 






Yalue of the good reputation of our neighbor, that we may 
henceforth make it to us an inviolable law never purposely 
to injure it in any manner whatever. This we implore of 
thee as the disciples of Jesus Christy our blessed lord and sa- 
vior, humbly concluding our petitions in his name and 
words ; Our father, Sec. 



PROVERBS xxii. 1. 



..,4 j"a«a Tiamt is rathsr to It ckofen than great riches, and loving favor rather tfian 

Jiluer ~ar gold. 



VERY often it happens that a roan is nej^Ii- 
gent and careless about matters of great importaiice, 
only because he is ignorant of their value, or not suf- 
ficiently attentive to it ; or because he conceives not 
the privation of them to be so prejudicial and irre- 
parable as it really is. This is b^it too frequently 
the case in regard to the time allotted us to pass on 
earth. It is not believed or considered to be destin- 
ed to alFairs, on the successful transacting whereof, 
not only our welfare in this world depends, but like- 
wise our condition in that which is to come. It is 
not believed or considered, that this precious time is 
very liable to be lost, that lost time can never be re- 
called, and that the beneBts v\/hich v/e sulfer to es- 
cape us by the waste or the abuse of it can be com- 
pensated by nothing. It is not believed or consider- 
ed, that each day, each hour of life, when regarded 
in its connexion vv^ith futurity, is of the utmost im- 
portance, that it may frequently be decisive. Hence 
it is that most men are so prodigal of their time ; 
Vol. LI. Q 



225 7he Value of a good Repiitatmu 

hence so great a part of it is trifled away either lii 
doing nothing, or in childish amusements ; hence it 
is that concerns of the greatest consequence are so 
much neglected ; hence it is that one day is suffer- 
ed to pass after another, one inonth after another, 
one year after another, before a man seriously sets^ 
about his improvement and his everlasting salvation; 
Just as we do with our time, so do we not unfre- 
quently with the good name of our neighbor. It 
not always happens, it happens indeed but rarely, 
that we say and do such things as are prejudicial to 
our neighbor's fame from wickedness and a desire 
to hurt. But it is not beheved or considered that sq 
much depends upon it ; that it is so easily injured or 
lost, aild that this damage can so seldom be repaired 
or made good* It is not believed or considered, 
that thereby not only the well being and cotnfort of 
the particular persons against whom the offence is 
committed are disturbed, but even the good of the 
whole society is injured in Various ways. Hence it 
is, that a man so often gives full licence to his 
tongue in judging of his neighbor ; so often sacri- 
fices truth to wit, and christian affection and for- 
bearance to the desire of pleasing ; so often utters 
harmful or ambiguous expressions of others, without 
being fully persuaded that they are well founded, or 
making himself the slightest reproaches thereon^ 
This being, the case, my friends, there can be no 
better means of attacking this failing, and of ren= 
deringus more circumspect on this matter, than by 
representing it in its real complexion, and thus ta 
excite in our minds a lively sentiment of its impor- 
tance. This is what I now purpose to attempt. 

I will thew you the great value of a good reputa- 
tion; and remind you of the duties we ow e in this 
respect to ourselves and to our neighbor. This 
consideration \'ii!l, I doubt not, thoroughly convince 



Tlis lvalue of a good Reputation. ^26 

J-iDii of the truth of Solomon's expression in our text : 
'* A good name is rather to be chosen than great 
riches, and loving favor rather than silver or gold." 

By the reputation or good name of a man, I un- 
derstand the general consideration wherein he stands 
with all those that know him personally or by the 
report of others ; and this consideration is grounded 
on the good opinion the public has of his under- 
standing, of his integrity, of his temper and way of 
thinking, of his skill in certain businesseSj artSj and 
sciences, or is supported by other advantages and 
merits attributed to him. On this good character, 
I say, extremely much depends ; it is of very great 
value ; for by it w^e are rendered much happier, 
much more generally useful, and not unfrequently 
morallv better, than w© should or could be with- 
out it. 

Our good name, in the first place, promotes our 
happiness, especially, so far as it depends on our out- 
ward w elfare. To this happiness thousands of persons 
must contribute out ofw hat they have. It is a large 
and spacious edifice, that w^e indeed must plan our- 
selves, must lay the foundation of, to the carrying on 
and consolidation whereof we must constantly labor; 
we can neither bring to any considerable degree 
of perfection vvithout the assistance of others, nor 
properly maintain it when finished. One while we 
are in want of the sagacity and advice, then of the 
greater abilities and force, now of tlie assistance and 
support, then of the encouragement of our fellow- 
beings, for effecting our designs, for successfully 
prosecuting our affairs and undertakings, for quietiv 
enjoying our possessions and profits, or for consolin^^>* 
us under adverse events. 

But shall our fellow creatures serve us with their 
perceptions and advice ; shall they employ their abil- 
ities and force to our benefit ; sliall thev assist, suo» 

^ 'J. 

2 



^7 The Value of a good Reputation, 

port, and encourage as ? Then must they have a 
stronger incitement to it than mere selfinterest can 
give them. These advantages are not always ; they 
are but seldom ; and some of them can never be 
purchased. They are the fruit of the esteem and 
the benevolence with which our brethren are affect- 
ed towards us ; and this esteem, this benevolence,^^ 
is founded on the good opinion they entertain of uso 
In proportion as this good opinion is counteracted 
and enfeebled, as suspicion or disesteem take place ; 
in the same proportion will their readiness and ardor 
to promote our happiness be diminishing, and their 
benevolence and obliging behavior tovv'ards us willi 

change into coldness and indifference. Only 

put the questiour to yourselves, my tr-iends ; why do 
you so readily, why is it so agreeable to you to af- 
ford all possible service to certain persons ; and why 
do you find it so unpleasant, why are you forced to 
use so much constraint and self denial, to do for 
others any thing beyond what the strictest justice re- 
quires of you ? Does it not principally proceed 
from this, that you have a good opinion of the form- 
er, and a bad opinion of the latter ; that you es» 
teem= the one sort, and despise the other ? How 
readily does a man communicate his intelligence and 
his best advice to him whom he accounts a sensible 
and an honest man, that knov/s how to esteem and 
to use good counsel 1 How cheerfully does a man- 
lend a part of his consequence or his property to the 
person on whose sincerity and uprightness he can 
safely depend ! How willingly do we afford help 
and support to him whom we believe to have no* 
other than lawful intentions and projects, and would 
be ready, in similar cases, to afford the same help 
and support to us ! How heartily does a man com- 
fort him whose misfortunes carmot be imputed to 
his own faulty conduct, but ta unavoidable and un- 



The Value df a good Reputation. 228 

accountable events, and whom he could smcerely 
wish to have been successful, for the sake of his good 
qualities and deserts ! On the other hand, w4io 
w ould offer advice to the fool, or open himself to 
the artful ? Who would trust his property or his 
countenance to the deceiver ? Who would readily 
afford help and support to the base or the ungrate- 
ful ? Who w^ould endeavor to comfort the Vv^ilful 
transgressor ? Certainly then a great part of our 
happiness or of our outward weltare, depends on 
the behavior of our fellow creatures towards us ; 
certainly likewise their behavior tov/ards us is de- 
termined by the good or the bad reputation we have 
in their estimation. 

This is not ail. We are designed for social life, 
for intercourse Vvith other persons, for participation 
in our reciprocal joys and pleasures. Apart from ail 
our rational fellow creatures, secluded from their so- 
cieties and pleasures, left alone to ourselves and our 
solitary rejections and feelings, we could either not 
be happy at all, or not in so high a degree. The 
genial sentiment of benevolence and friendship, that 
pure and abundant source of pleasure, would soon 
be extinct, for want of a supply ; and the opposite 
sensations of spleen, vexation, and misanthrophy, 
would succeed in its place. But if social life should 
have charms for us ; if intercourse with others should 
be agreeable, if they are to take part in w'hat befals 
us, and to admit us to a shar(^ in their joys and their 
pleasures ; then must we stand in good repute with 
them. They must ascribe to us such qualities or 
dispositions as are of some value in their eyes, that 
render us not unw^orthy of their friendship and con- 
verse. At least they must not charge us with any 
thing, they must not believe us to be capable of any- 
thing that merits contempt or abhorrence. 
3 



229 The Fahic of a good Reputation- 

A natural and unconstrained behavior, a free and 
easy communication of our sentiments and feelings ; 
a frank but not injurious opinion of what we see and 
hear, of what is said and done ; a mutually earnest, 
but not a studied and troublesome erideavor to be 
agreeable ; are undoubtedly the real delights of so- 
cicrt life, the greatest charms of friendly intercourse^ 
But can these subsist where the members of the so- 
ciety are not connected by reciprocal esteem ? Will 
any one, who, whether by his own fault or not, 
stands in bad repute among the rest, be admitted 
to the enjoyment of these satisfactions ? Will not 
people shun the conversation of one that lies under 
the imputation of a weak understanding or a wicked 
heart, who is reckoned a hypocrite, or a slanderer, 
or a harsh and sarcastic censor, or a sower of dissen- 
tion, or to whose charge any other bad dispositions 
or actions are laid ? And if w^e cannot absolutely 
avoid his company on account of our circumstances 
and situation, can it be imagined that we shall take 
much pains to promote his pleasure ? Will people 
do justice to his character, his judgments, and his 
conduct ? Will people shew themselves to him in 
their natural colors, and by that means furnish hiru- 
vvith opportunity and encouragement to do so too ? 
Will they not rather interpret his most indifferent 
gestures, his most harmless words and actions, nay 
his most insignificant looks, by the j^repossessions 
they have imbibed against him ? Will not his ac- 
quaintance be either utterly cold and reserved to- 
wards him, or, by a forced regard and friendship, 
rather confound than comfort him ? Certainly, let 
a man have what eminent capacities and endowments 
of mind, what good qualities, what great merits so» 
ever ; but let malice or levity spread injurious reports 
about him, reports which possess a certain degree of 
credibility ; and he will soon be deprived of the besf; 



7he Value of a good Reputation, 230 

part of the social satisfactions and pleasures which 
his talents, his qualities, his deserts, gave him great 
right to expect ; he v. ill probably soon be reduced 
to live entirely alone, or at least to confine his con- 
versation to the persons dependent upon him ; and 
how much must not this impair his happiness, how 
many sources of it must it exclude him from enjoy- 
ing ! While to him, on the other hand, who is in 
possession of a good reputation, all these sources of 
pleasure and delight stand open ; and he may even 
with far less talents and merits, with far greater fail- 
ings and infirmities, than the other has, receive from 
them various kinds of satisfaction and happiness. So 
certain is it that a good name is preferable to wealth, 
and favor to silver or gold. 

But, as a good reputation contributes much to our 
happiness, inasmuch as our outward welfare and our 
intercourse with others depend upon it, so shall we 
thereby become more generally useful than we other- 
wise could be, and may contribute much more to 
the happiness of others, than we otherwise could do ; 
and this in yarious ways. 

For being useful to society, it is not enough th^t 
we possess certain capacities and skill m piany res- 
pects ; that we are masters of certain arts or sciences, 
or certain kinds of trade and commerce ; that we 
execute with industry and punctuality the concerns 
intrusted to us ; but others must likewise believe and 
know that we have these capacities and aptitudes, 
that we understand these matters, and that we may 
safely be trusted with them. And, as generally 
speaking we are not the on!}' persons who can ren- 
der these or other services to society, then mankind 
must be induced to accept them at our hands ; and 
to this end thev must ascribe to us such qualities and 
distinctive merits by which we may attract their re- 
gardand conciliate their esteem. At least, we must 

4 



23 1 The Value of a good Reputation. 

not have a base or doubtful character m the eye of 
the public, and our conduct must be irreproachable^ 
if our services are to be preferred to those of others. 
We must therefore have a good name among our 
fellow creatures ; they must have a good opinion of 
us. 

Of what service, in this respect, is wisdom to the 
wise, to the scholar his learning, to the patriot his 
vigilant and generous ardor for the common wel- 
fare, if men will not elect them to such offices, and 
place them in such stations as may enable them to 
shew their wisdom, their learning, their patriotic 
dispositions, and apply diem to pui"poses of import- 
ance ? But will men ordinarily confer these offices 
and posts upon them, if they entertain a mean opin= 
ion of them ; if they take the v/ise man for an ob- 
stinate and fantastical fellow, the scholar for a cross- 
grained, upstart pedant, the patriot for a selfin- 
terested or ambitious pretender ; or though they 
should indeed allow their eminent qualities, yet at 
the same time should charge them with any such 
blemishes in their character as should take away 
all their lustre ? ' 

The case is exactly the same with the artist, with' 
the artificer, with the merchant, with the lawyer, 
and ot'ners. That the artist or the artificer may exert 
himself in his art or profession ; that he may bring 
himself to a certain degree of perfection in it, and so 
render himself truly useful to society ; he must have 
much v^^oik of art or industry to execute ; and this 
vAM not be given him, if they who are to employ 
him have not a good opinion of his talents or hiis 
skill, or a regard for him on account of his personal 
or moral qualities. That the merchant may pursue 
his affairs v/itii success ; that, by an extensive and 
gainful comxmerce, he may promote the welfare of 
his countrymen, and of human society in general ; he 



The Value of a good Reputation, 23S 

must be taken, both at home and abroad, for an in- 
telligent, sagacious, active, and upright man ; he 
must be thought to understand his business well, and 
to transact it with carefuhiess and caution ; and in 
the degree that this belief is weakened or diminished, 
to the same degree will his activity for the general 
advantage be reduced, and his influence on the 
whole be lessened. That, lastly, the lawyer may be 
really useful by. his knowledge of the laws of the 
land, and of the manner of proceeding in litigations, 
or even by his eloquence ; he should stand, with 
the parties as well as with the bench, in the reputa- 
tion of a well informed, acute, and solid man, as a 
friend to truth and justice, as a foe to all sinister 
evasions, every species of subterfuge and corruption ; 
and the more general and unquestioned this reputa- 
tion is, so much the more is he in a capacity, by 
discreet dissuasions from perilous suits or by friendlj 
accommodations of controversies already begun, or 
by a resolute prosecution of right, to contribute to 
the common good. In short, without the help of a 
good reputation, no man will easily find opportunity 
to afford considerable service to human society ; and 
by the loss of it, all the capacities and means a man 
may possess to that end will generally be rendered 
useless. 

Still more. Though by means of the place wc 
hold, or the office we fill in society we have the 
most frequent occasions of applying our talents to 
the general welfare ; yet we shall seldom be able to 
do so with success, unless we bear a good reputation. 
The purity of our intentions will always be called 
into doubt ; our best proposals will be rejected. 
Our most public spirited endeavors will fail, for 
want of countenance and support, or will even be 
attacked by violent and obstinate opposition. We 
shall very frequently exert our abilities and faculties 



233 TAe Falue of a good Reputation. 

in vain, and always, even with the most sincere 
application of them, efFect comparatively but little^ 
Whereas the better the opinion men have of us ; 
the more confidence they repose in our skill and in- 
tegrity ; with so much better success shall we do 
what we ought in virtue of our office and vocation ; 
so much the fewer hindrances and difficulties shall 
we meet with in the execution of our good designs, 
or in the prosecution of salutary projects. Good 
men will support and animate us in them according 
to their means ; an.d bad men will not easilv venture 
to commence hostilities with us. 

Of how great importance, in this respect, for ex- 
ample, is the good fame of a prince, of a minister, 
or a magistrate ! So long as the ruler or the persons 
entrusted with the public administration are reputed 
to be the wise and good fathers of the people ; so 
long as the public ascribe eminent abilities and vir- 
tues to them ; so long as they are generally thought 
to be honest and faithful ; so loag will it be easy for 
them to govern the subjects according to their plea- 
sure ; to give currency and weight to their laws and 
ordinances ; to accomplish their aims without oppo- 
sition ; and to unite, if not all, yet the majority of 
the members of the state, in the prosecution of 
them. But do men once begin to doubt of their 
abilities, or of their steadiness and integrity, and 
these doubts become general ; do men once charge 
them with selfinterestedness, or tyrannical disposi- 
tions, or even indifferency to the common welfare i 
they will find but litde support, even though they 
are sincerely acting consistently with their duty, and 
are laboring for the prosperity of the country ; but 
will meet w^ith much opposition. Mankind will not 
trust to their most express declarations and asser- 
tions; w^iil find fault with their wisest measures; dea^ 
pise and transgress their most salutary laws ; mur- 



The Value of a good Reputaiion* 234 

l\iur at their most reasonable demands ; and pay 
tiiem no other than a forced, and of consequence a 
very imperfect and defective obedience. 

How much, in this respect, depends on the repute 
wherein a public teacher of religion stands with 
his auditory ! Do they doubt of his integrity ; do 
they think they discover a contradiction between his 
doctrine and his conduct ; does he fall under the 
reproach of a hireling, who, for the sake of lucre 
or of an empty honor, maintains v/hat he does not 
believe, and extols what he does not choose to per- 
form ; then, let his talents be never so eminent, his 
discourses be never so excellent and melting, his 
diligence and zeal in discharging the duties of his 
function be never so great ; yet with all this he will 
accomplish but little ; it is likely he will effect not 
half so much as another, who, with far meaner 
ialents, discourses not near so elegantly composed 
antl delivered, and exerting a far more moderate 
zeal and industry, has a reputation for sincerity and 
an exemplary conduct. 

And the case is just the same v. ith us all, my 
friends, in whatever station we are pkiced. The 
better the opinion mankind entertain of us, the miore 
easily and effectually may we be useful to others, and 
promote the general welfare ; so much the readier 
acceptance will our advice obtain ; so much the 
deeper impression will our exhortations, admonitions 
and corrections, make ; so much the greater in- 
fluence will our good example have. Let the man 
who has once lost his good name, who, for instance, 
has once been pronounced a bigot or a hypocrite, 
let him perform never such generous actions ; let 
him never so feelingly exhort to virtue and piety ; 
let him exhibit never so much devotion, or meek- 
ness, or moderation, in his words and deeds, whom 
will all this move ? Whom will it allure to imita- 



23S The Fahic of a geod Reputation. 

tion ? Oil the other hand, who does not account it 
his glory to follow him whom he himself esteems, 
and on whom a favorable judgment is passed by 
the \vhole community ? So very much depends the 
success of our endeavors, of the best use of our ca- 
pacities and powers, and the ability of doing as 
much good in the world as we are able, on the good 
or bad repute wherein we stand ! 

Hence, in fine^ it arises, that a good reputatiou 
may even contribute much to our moral improver 
ment and perfection ; and that, on the contrary, the 
loss of it often misleads a man into the grossest pro- 
fligacy, into a completely immoral and dissolute 
conduct. This, my pious hearers, is a circunistance 
that deserves your utmost attention, and sets the 
great value of a good reputation beyond all manner 
of doubt. If we know that we are generally allow- 
ed to possess certain abilities, good qualities, and 
virtues; that we are held incapable of any unjust, 
or base, or sinister actions ; that much good is said 
of our understanding and our heart ; that we are ac- 
knowledged to be upright and estimable members of 
society ; what a strong incitement must it be to exert 
these abilities and good qualities ; actually to exercise 
these virtues ; carefully to avoid these bad actions ; 
to do honor to our understanding and our heart ; 
and to preserve the estimation wherein we stand by 
an inoffensive and a prais© v/orthy conduct ! 

I am not ignorant, that he who is incited to 
goodness, and refrains from what is wrong, from 
these considerations alone, does not yet deserve the 
name of a virtuous man ; w^e neither can, however, 
nor ought to be indifferent to the judgment of 
our fellow creatures ; and when the concern for the 
preservation of our good name is accompanied and 
supported by some more noble motives, it may very 
lawfully be a means of facilitating us in the discharge 



^he Value of a good Reputation. 13^ 

of our duties, and so, by rendering iis more atten- 
tive to all our discourses and actions, promote our 
perfection. At least, the wrong is left undone, and 
the good is done ; and the more frequently, even in 
views that are not of the very first quality, we omit 
the one and do the other, so much in proportion 
must our disposition to the one be weakened, and our 
aptitude to the other be increased^ and so much the 
more easily shall we be acted upon by the nobler in- 
citements to integrity and virtue. 

On the other hand, is the good name once lost ; 
then, with most men, that is lost which to them 
w^as the strongest preservative from follies and sins. 
They had before abstained from many obliquities of 
conduct to which they had sullicient inclination and 
appetite, for the sake of preserving the character of 
honest men, or of being respected by others ; they 
probably have done violence to themselves ; have 
performed many a just, reasonable, beneficent, gen- 
erous action, in direct opposition to their own 
principles and propensities ; have probably, at dif- 
ferent times, made a surrender of their private ad* 
vantage to the public benefit, for the pleasure arising 
from fame ; they hcive, at least, avoided every thing 
that might be oiensive to others and excite indigna- 
tion. At present, finding they have missed of their 
aim, since mankind refuse them what they had a 
right to pretend to as a compensation for the vio- 
lence they did to tliemselvcs ; since they are judged 
and treated as if they had done just the reverse ; 
they now no longer keep any measures, bat v^diclly 
abandon themselves to their propensities and passions. 
They at once give up all hope of maintaining the re- 
putation of honest, worthy men, and useful citizens ; 
concern themselves no more therefore about their 
fame ; despise the censures of their fellow beings ; 
and never inquire any more whether an action b^ 



237 



^he Value of a good Repuiation. 



offensive or inoifensive, laudable or scandalous ; and 
thus, by constantly making farther advances in foU 
lies and disorders, they are ever becoming more 
averse to all good, and more incapable of it, till 
at length they sink into a state of insensibility and 
hardness of heart, that renders their amendment 
nearly impossible. So much depends in this respect 
likewise on the preservation or the loss of a good 
name ; and so certain is it that the worth of it far 
exceeds that of riches and all other outward posses- 
sions and advantages. 

And now what conclusion are we to draw from 
all this ? How ought we to frame our behavior 
according to this truth, which we cannot deny ? 
It imposes a variety of important duties upon us ; 
and 1 will wind up this discourse with a few words 
of exhortation to the observance of them. 

Is a good reputation of so great a value ? Does 
it contribute so much to the promotion of our wel- 
fi\re and pleasures ? Without it, can we, even with 
the best intentions, neither duly exercise our gifts 
and abilities, nor be really useful to mankind ? Oh 
strive tKen to your utmost to preserve this precibus 
jewel, you that are in possession of it ! Set a wa|ch, 
in this respect, over all your words and actions, and 
sedulously avoid every thing that may weaken the 
good opinion you hold in the minds of others. Sup- 
pose not that this concern is unbecoming a virtuous 
and noble minded man. It will be unbecoming if 
the desire of pleasing be the great motive of your 
actions ; if you only regulate your behavior, with- 
out regard to the rules of justice and equity, by the 
judgment of other men ; or if you prize their esteem 
and their applause more than the approbation of your 
conscience and the favor of God. 

No, our first question must ever be. What is right 1 
What is good ? What is consistent with my nature 



The Value of a good Reputation. 



23j 



and the will of God ? What is my obligation as a 
man, as a christian, as a citizen, as a father of a fami- 
ly ? And, in determining these questions, neither 
the approbation nor the censure of mankind must be 
of any account whatever. We must act by certain 
principles^ and to these we must ever adhere. By 
this means, however, we shall infallibly secu 'e to our- 
selves the esteem of the best and worthiest part of the 
community j and, in the generality of occasions, shall 
obtain their approbation, without anxiously seeking 
it, or making it our principal aim. 

But, an action in regard to that falls under no 
particular law,''that we may eitherperform or neglect, 
wherein we may proceed in this manner or in that ; 
if in that case we direct our conduct so as best to 
conduce to the confirming of our good reputation : 
By so doing, we not only are not chargeable with 
any criminal passion for fame ; we act not only with 
prudence, but in perfect consistence with our duty, 
which enjoins us to do every thing by which we may 
immediately become useful to others, or acquire a 
greater and surer influence on the advancement of 
the general good. A good name may be weakened 
and lost not only by the actual commission of evil, 
but even by the appearance of it ; not only by unjust 
and base, but even by innocent yet imprudent dis- 
courses and actions. Abstain then from all appear- 
ances of evil, and walk, as the apostle recommends, 
with circumspection and prudence ; not as fools, 
but as wise. 

If, farther, a good reputation be so highly valua- 
ble, then imprint it deeply on your minds, that you 
Cannot attack the good name of your neighbor, or 
bring it by any means into contempt, without causing 
great harm to the whole society, and rendering youi* 
self guilty of the most crying injustice, and frequent- 
ly of the uttermost degree of inhumanity and cruelty. 



239 The Value of a good Reputation, 

Rather rob your neighbor of his goods ; wound 
him in his person ; pkmge him into poverty and in- 
digence ! You will generally hurt him less, and do 
him a more supportable injury, than by infamously 
depriving him of the esteem he possesses amongst 
his fellow beings. By this esteem he may repair the 
other wrongs you do him ; without it, as it fre- 
quently happens, neither opulence, nor station, nor 
life itself, have any charms for him. Regard not, 
therefore, the reputation of your brother, be his 
condition in life what it may, as a matter of sport, 
as a subject for merriment, on which we may boldly 
display our wit. Constantly reflect how easily the 
good name of the inoffensive may be injured, and 
how difficult it is to heal the wounds vv^e give it. An 
ambiguous word, a mysterious look, an eloquent 
silence, a sneering smile, a malicious but, is more 
than sufficient to make the most unfavorable im- 
pression of the character or the conduct of a person 
on the unthinking, the credulous, or the malicious 
hearer, to occasion the most disadvantageous reportSj 
or to undermine the credit of a harmless or deserving 
member of the community. Unhappily such a re- 
port may so quickly spread, the raised suspicion may 
so rapidly gain confirmation, it may collect so many 
circumstances together which render it credible, that 
it is ofiai immediately no more in your power to 
repair the injustice you have done. In vain would 
you now recall your imprudent expressions ; in vain 
attempt to slur over the matter as a misunderstanding, 
aninadver tent escape, a jest, or an insignificant spor- 
tive conceit j in vain will you even implore forgive- 
ness of the injured man ! Probably this alteration of 
your language or your behavior will be attributed 
to fear, or to complaisance, or to selflove, or to cer- 
tain private agreements or compromises since made ; 
it will be long ere you can effect a persuasion that 



The Value of a good Eeputation* 240 

■ there was nothing at all in the matter, and probably 
it may require whole years before you can, even by 
the most earnest endeavors, be able to efface the 
impression you have made upon others to the preju- 
dice of your neighbor. And if, with ail your pains, 
you are unable to do this ; then have you, probably 
forever destroyed the peace of an innocent man ; 
sapped the foundation of his happiness and of those 
that belong to him ; rendered a useful member of 
civil society unprofitable or of little service ; you 
have probabl}- deprived him of all heart to amend- 
ment had he been so inclined ; and him whom a 
concern for his Sfood name retained within the bounds 
of moderation and honor, you have rendered alike 
indifferent both lo honor and to shame. What a 
flagrant enormity ! How dreadful will it be to you 
in the hour of serious reflection, or in your dying 
moments ! Can we then ever be too circumspect, 
too conscientious, when we have to do with our 
neighbor's fame ? Surely no ; the greater the val- 
ue, and the more irreparable the loss of it, so much 
the more sacred should it be to us ; and so much 
the more should we abstain from every thing 
that may lessen or impair it. Let us then bridle our 
tongue and keep a v/atch at the door of our lips, and 
banish from our heart all envy, all hatred, all bitter- 
ness and animosity against our brethren. Let Us ab- 
hor and detest not only manifest lying and slander- 
ing, but likewise regard and avoid ali base defama- 
tion, all hard and severe judgments on our neigh- 
bor, as sins which can by no means be made to con- 
sist with the philanthrophy and the character of a re- 
al christian. Let us put on the bowels of compas- 
sion, friendliness, meekness, gentleness and patience, 
as becomes the children of God and the disciples of 
Jesus ; bearing and forgiving one another with the 
Vol. IL K 



241 The Value of a good Reputation. 

most cordial afiection ; and so act with all men, 
and so judge of every one, as we should desire, in 
similar circumstances, that they would act by us 
and judge of our behavior. But, above all things, 
let us clothe ourselves with love, which is the bond 
of perfection. 



SERMON XL. 



Of Conaiersion from a bad course of Life. 



kJ god, we present ourselves before thee thw 
day to acknowledge our sins and transgressions. We would 
not conceal them, we would not attempt to justify ourselves 
in thy sight ; we could not answer thee one of a thousand. 
Notwithstanding all that thou hast done for us, most mercir 
ful father, to draw us to thee by making our duty a delight, 
■we have yet refused to obey thee, and have swerved from, 
thy commandments. Virtue and religion are not of so 
much weight with us as they ought to be with the wise, 
with christians ; sensuality, unbelief and doubt have weak- 
ened their respect and rendered some of us indifferent to- 
wards them , the world and its deceitful, fugacious pleasures 
too forcibly attract our inclinations and desires; we are more 
bent upon gratifying our inordinate lusts and passions than 
on rendering ourselves worthy of the glorious name of chris- 
tians. We are thy creatures ; but rebellious and guilty 
creatures : We presume to call thee our Father ; but we 
are mostly disobedient ungrateful children, who will not 
■submit to thy chastening hand, who offend thee in thought, 
in words, in deeds. Neither thy benefactions nor thy chas- 
tisements have been effectual to br-ng about thy gracious 
designs upon us. Often have we vowed amendment ; but 
•ur vows yet remain unpaid. Often have we attempted t© 

2 



^4S Of Connie rsion from a had course of Life i 

set about the performance of our good resolves ; but they 
still remain unperformed. O God, of what unfaithfulness 
of what reiterated sins and transgressions are we not guilty 
in thy sight ! Yes, we confess them, we bewail them, we 
are ashamed of them. Our own consciences condemn 
tis. How then could we subsist before thee, wert thou to 
enter into judgment with us ; before thee, who art a right- 
eous judge, and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity ? Lo, 
as criminals worthy of death, we prostrate ourselves at the 
foot of thy throne. Spare us, O Lord, and be gracious un- 
to us 1 Remit the punishment we deserve for ©ur sins, and 
deliver us from the power and dominion of them. Thou 
desirest not the death of the sinner, but that he should be 
converted and live : Thou rejectest not the prayer and sup- 
plication of those v/ho flee to thee for succor : Thou hast 
sent thy son into the world, that the world by him might be 
saved : Let us also be partakers of his salvation, and for his 
sake, forgive us all our transgressions ! 

And that we may no more have the misfortuneto displease 
thee, O God, grant tis the assistance of thy holy spirit 1 
That it may operate and reside within us, dissipate all our 
prejudices and errors, cleanse and sanctify all our inclina- 
tions. Do thou eradicate from our hearts whatever is dis- 
pleasing to thee ; rescue us from the violence of all base in- 
ordinate lusts and passions, let the sincere, effective desire, 
the earnest endeavor to please thee and to do thy will, gov- 
ern the whole of our future behavior. Remove from us, 
by thy wise ?.nd kind providence, all temptations and allure- 
ments to sin ; and, if we be tempted, grant that v/e may 
not fall under the temptation, but that, strengthened by thy 
spiritj we may conquer all and persevere to the end in our 
fidelity to thee» Hearken to our supplications, O merciful* 
God, for the sake of thy everlasting love, by Jesus Christy 
in whose comprehensive words we conclude our prayers s 
Our father, 8cc. 



Of Comer si on from a bad course ef Life* 244 



LUKE XT. 18, 19< 



/ will arise and go to my father, and zuifl say unto him^ F&ther, I have sinnsd against 
heaven, and before thee, and am no more vjorthy to bt (alUd thy son : Maki ms 
*s ene of thy hired fervants. 



IT would lead us too far from the particular 
appointment of this day, were we to enter upon a 
circumstantial investigation of the prejudices and er- 
rors which furnished our Savior with an occasion 
for delivering the parable to which our text belongs. 
Let it suffice, in general to observe that Christ justi- 
fies himself by it against the unjust accusations of 
the Scribes and Pharisees, who imputed it to him as 
a crime that he conversed w^ith sinners, took a con- 
cern in their condition, and vouchsafed them his in- 
struction. And how could our Lord better refute 
the unfounded suspicion of a criminal intercourse 
with sinners which that accusation was intended to 
excite, and at the same time more confound his ma- 
licious accusers than by shewing them in several easy, 
beautiful and alFecting parables, that nothing is in 
stricter conformity with sound reason, with the sen- 
timents and conduct of all mankind, than to be prin- 
cipally concerned about that which is lost, to take 
all possible pains to recover it, and when that object 
is attained, to rejoice more over it, than over what 
we have long quietly possessed ? Who must not, 
judging impartially, naturally draw this conclusion, 
that it was by no means unbecoming in the Savior 
of the world to concern himself about the informa- 

3 



245 Of Comer sion from a bad course oj Life, 

tion, the improvement and the consolation of such 
persons as were utterly despised and neglected by 
their hypocritical teachers, though, as it appears, 
they were more sincerely desirous of the salvation of 
God, than their haughty despisers ? Was not Christ 
sent into the world by God for the very purpose of 
preaching to the wretched, of announcing good tid- 
ings to the meek, of binding up the broken heart- 
ed, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to seek that 
which was lost ? Was it not rather the sick and the 
infirm that were in need of a physician, than the 
really or imaginary healthy and strong ? This, my 
dear hearers, is the connexion wherein the words of 
our text stand with the purport to vihich they were 
delivered by our divme instructor. Let us now pro- 
ceed to make a more general application of them, by 
considering the narrative of the forlorn son as the 
similitude of a penitent and converting sinner. 

This edifying parable contains three particulars 
extremely interesting. The first comprehends what 
passed previous to the return of the prodigal son to 
his father. This will afford us an opportunity to 
speak of the motives to conversion, and of the pre- 
paratives to it. The second particalar relates tlie 
actual return of the lost son to his father, and the 
manner and nature of it. This w ill teach us wherein 
true penitence and conversion properly consist. The 
third particular, lastly, represents to us the happy 
consequences of this conversion ; and this represen- 
tation will inform us of the various and great advan- 
tages of true penitence and conversion- 

O God, let us not receive this instruction in vain. 
Grant that we may attend to it with dihgence and 
with an unfeigned desire of salvation. We are thy 
children, but children that have rebelled against thee, 
their lord and father, that have forsaken thee, whose 
loving kindness is better than life, and thus rendered 



Of Cormier sion from a had course of L ife» 246 

themselves without thy aid undone. Ah grant that 
we may return to thee again, earnestly implore thy 
pardon, heartily apply to the performance of neglect- 
ed duties, and henceforth pay thee a grateful obedi- 
ence. 

'' When he came to himself," says the parable, 
he said, " how many hired servants of my father's 
have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with 
hunger. I will arise and go to my father, and will 
say unto him. Father, I have sinned against heaven, 
and before thee." This, my dear brethren, it was 
that incited the forlorn son to his return ; and these 
or similar sentiments and emotions are what awaken 
the sinner to conversion, and prepare him for it. — 
The lost son first becomes sensible of his misery. 
Till now he thought himself happy in having shaken 
off the authority and withdrawn himself from the 
vigilance of his father. The unbounded freedom 
he enjoyed, the extravagant and dissolute life he 
led, the tumultuous pleasures he met with on all 
hands, flattered his appetites. They beguiled his 
soul ; they concealed futurity from his view, and he 
thought he had no reason to repent of his senselesjf 
choice. But now hav^ing run through all his means, 
fallen into the extremes of poverty and contempt, 
obliged to put up with the vilest servitude, and to 
content himself with the coarsest fare, and with all 
scarcely able to support his life : He waives from his 
wretched delusion. The intoxicating visions of 
pleasure and happiness by which he has been hitherto 
deluded, are now vanished av/ay. He finds himself 
cheated in his expectations. He can no longer con- 
ceal his wretchedness from himself. He severely 
feels the deplorable consequences of his foolish con- 
duct ; he groans under the burden of it ; and these 
painful sensations compel him to think seriously on 
freeing himself from them. 



347 Of Conversion from a had course of Life. 

Just so it is with the man that awakes frcmni the le- 
thargy of vice. He proceeds for a long time secure 
and careless in his wicked ways, breaks every tie of 
religion and virtue,, refuses due obedience to bis cre- 
ator and Lord, and takes that for freedom which is in 
fact the hardest and most infamous bondage. The 
sinful appetites which he blindly follows, captivate 
him with their deceitful charms ; they promise liim 
a round of pleasures and joy ; and he fondly imag- 
ines he has found out the way that leads to true fe- 
licity. The violent calls of passion stifle the voice of 
reason and conscience ; the affairs and dissipations 
of this world guard the entrance to his soul against all 
sedate reflection, and, like a man intoxicated with the 
fumes of drink, sees not the danger that awaits him. 
But when the poison of sin has had its effect ; when 
disquiet, vexation and disgust take place of pleas- 
ure ; when pain and sickness, or other adverse 
events, stimulate him, as it were, to reflect on him- 
self and his moral condition ; when the loss of his 
property, the sudden deatlj of his friend, the unex- 
pected failure of his plans, or other striking occur- 
rences fill him with dismay ; when the light of truth 
in this suspension of the passions, in this silence of 
the he:irt, darts upon his mind, and the darkness of 
prejudice and error, which had hitherto blinded him, 
is disoeiled : He then bco-ins to understand the de- 
ceiifulness of sin, then its fascmatmg cnarms are dis- 
sipated before him. It appears to him in all its de- 
formity, as ghastly and detestable as it really is ; and 
he is seized with the utmost astonishment that he 
could ever be imposed on by such empty impostures. 
He now feels the degrading, the cruel shack els by 
which he is bound, and sees that he, who thought 
himself erewhile so free, is in fact the most wretched 
of slaves. He now tastes the bitterness of the fruits 
of sin, and experiences what sorrow and anguish gf 



Of Con'oerslon from a bad course of Life, 248 

heart it occasions when a man forsakes the Lord his 
God, and esteems any thing but him as his sove- 
reign good. His false repose is now come to an 
Qnd ; his security makes way for trouble and afiright ; 
his foolibh hopes are vanished ; his conscience goads 
and condemns him. He now shudders at the dan- 
ger be before derided with arrogant scorn ; he feels 
the manifold misery he has brought on himself by 
his^ sins, and the disorder that prevails in his soul ; 
he confesses that nothing can render him more de- 
plorably wretched than he is ; and this confession 
begets in him an earnest desire to be delivered and 
happy. 

But to make this acknowledgment effective, and 
these desires wholesome, he must now faithfull}^ fol- 
low the light that has dawned upon him. He must 
carefully cherish the good emotions that have suc- 
ceeded to his insensibility, and apply himself to such 
considerations as may move him to adopt firm and 
unchangeable resolutions. The poor unhappy youth 
in the parable was not only sensible to his misery, 
but he compared his forlorn condition with the va- 
rious and great advantages which he might have en- 
joyed in the house of his father. *' How maiiy hired 
servants,'' says he, " of my father, have breiid 
enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger !" if 
he had gone thoughtlessly on before, he now reiiecty 
with the greatest concern on the past, the present, 
and the future. Ko^v happy, thought he, how 
happy I formerly was, when I lived in my father's 
house, and under his inspection, when I was cher- 
ished by his complacency, and nurtured bv his care ! 
How tender was his affection for me ! Kow active 
and unwearied his zeal for promoting my welfaie ! 
What would have been wanting to 'my happiness, 
had I but known how to prize and employ my ad- 
vantages ! How tranquil, how securely, how con- 



/ 

249 Of Cou'Dersion from a bad course of Life. 

tentedly could I have past my days had I but beeii 
prudent I Dismal reflection ! How sadly are my 
circumstances altered ! How low am I fallen ! The 
pursuit of imaginary freedom has made me a slave ; 
my contem.pt for paternal authority has subjected me 
to the dominion of a strange and severe control ; my 
discontentedness with what 1 had has brought me to 
the extremest distress. And what dreadful prospects 
lie before me ! Soon must I perish with hunger. 
Death approaches me with hasty strides ; and I per- 
ceive him in his most dreadful form. Yet I still live ; 
all hope of deliverance is not yet extinct c I still 
discern a little escape before me, by which 1 may 
perhaps avoid my ruin. Have I not a father ; and 
is not a father endov/ed with indulgence and com- 
passion ? Had I not better try all things than give 
myself up to despondency, or sink into comfortless 
despair ? 

So thought the lost young man ; and so the re- 
pentant sinner thinks, who is in earnest, and anxious 
about his salvation. Vvhat a blessing says he to 
himself, have I voluntarily rejected by my sins and 
my follies ! Happy had it been for me if I had 
hearkened to the voice of God and of my conscience, 
if I had observed their affectionate admonitions and 
susrorestions, if I had retained mv innocence, and re- 
mained faithful to my duty ! How rational, h©w 
equitable, how reasonable are all the commands of 
God and how happy would the observing of them 
have made me ! 'llie inestimable favor of the Su- 
preme Being, peace of mind, contentment of spirit, 
the consciousness of my integrity, the esteem and love 
of all the good, the certain hope of everlasting hap- 
piness, w^ould have delighted all my days ; they 
would. have s^veetened the cup of life, and have alle- 
viated the burden of its cares ; they would have shed 
divine transport upon my soul. Under the protec» 



Of Con'Dtrsionfrom a bad course of Life. 25G 

tion of my heavenly Father I should have dwelt in 
safety ; and in the shadow of his wings have had no 
want or misfortune to fear. And these blessings 
have I sacrificed to the fallacious pleasures of sin ! I 
have shaken oiF the mild authority of my creator and 
benefactor, and am now under the cruel sway of the 
most shameful and the most corrupt desires. All 
the powers of my mind are debilitated ; disorder and 
contradiction disturb my soul ; wickedness is become 
as it were, a second nature to me ; and 1 feel myself 
too weak, to enter the lists against it, and recover the 
freedom I have lost. God has hid his gracious 
countenance from me. I have brought upon myself 
his terrible displeasure, and live at a most deplorable 
distance from him. And what will become of me if " 
death overtake me in this condition, if I am cited to 
appear in this isad condition before the judge of the 
living and the dead ? Hov.^ can I support this look ? 
How can I stand before him, the Omniscient ! \¥itl> 
what excuses can 1 palliate my premeditated and so 
often repeated violations of his law, or extenuate my 
ingratitude and my defection ! What a severe but 
righteous condemnation have I to dread ! Eow hor- 
rible vvill be my portion for eternity ! Oh that I 
had never sinned ! Oh that I had never forsaken 
my Father and my Redeemer ; never cast off the fear 
of God ! Who Vvdll now redeem me from this 
misery ! Where shall 1 find help and deliverance ! 
— But, continues the contrite sinner, is there then 
no precious gleam of hope, no ray of comfort, to 
my amazed soul ? Is no remedy at hand to resciie 
me from deserved condemnation", for still becominp- 
happy ? Oh, I have read that the Lord is gra- 
cious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy ; that 
he will not despise the broken and contrite heart ; 
that such as return to him he will in no v/ise cast out 
that he will graciously look to him that is poor and 



251 Of Conversion from a had course of Life, 

of a contrite spirit, and trembles at his word. I 
have read that he sent his son to be the savior of 
men ! and that ail who trust in him, and follow his 
sacred precepts, he will again receive as his children ! 
Perhaps then he will have compassion on me, and 
give me grace for justice, if I humble myself before 
him, and turn to him with my whole heart. No> my 
misery is too great \ The danger I am in is too 
imminent, to allow me room to hope that any thing 
can snatch me from it. 

Such are the agitations and fears of the returning 
sinner ; till, his spirit worn out widi woe, his eyes 
dissolved in tears, and his heart all rent with com- 
punction, he takes up the resolution which we maj. 
consider as the third sta^re of his conversion. 

^' I will arise," says the contrite youth, '' and ^q 
to my father, and will say^unto him. Father, I have 
sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no. 
more worthy to be called thy son ; make me as one 
of thy hired servants.'^ I will immediately embrace 
the only means still left me to employ, for avoiding 
utter ruin, before it be too late and all repentance 
be in vain. I will exert the little strength I have re- 
maining, to hasten from the abyss that lies open be- 
fore me. The smallest delay may be fatal to me^ 
To regain my lost contentment shall from this instant 
be my sole concern ; and nothing shall be too hard 
for me to undertake that can favor my design. Let 
the shame and confusion be as great as it may, into 
which the consciousness of my follies and the sight 
of my injured father will throw me ; let the re- 
proaches I have to expect from him be as cutting as 
thev will to my vanity and pride ; cost what labor 
and self denial it may at first to renounce my wicked 
habits, and to satisfy my so long neglected duties ; 
nothing shall prevent me from returning to him 
whom I have so senselessly forsaken and asking sue- 



Of Conquer sion from a bad course of Life. ^52 

tov of bim who alone is disposed and able to help 
me. I will go and threw myself at his feet ; I will 
prevent his reproaches by an humble and frank con- 
fession of my transgressions and failings; and, instead 
of thinking on evasion or excuse, will condemn my- 
self, and cast myself entirely on his mercy. It is not 
an austere, an inexorable master ; it is a compassion- 
ate and tender father with whom I have to do* 
What has not a son to hope for from such a father ? 
Yes, his own heart will speak pity for me, he will 
shew mercy towards me ; and this shall be my in- 
ducement to testify my gratitude to him by a willing 
and faithful obedience, and to render myself worthy 
of his favor by a total alteration of my sentiments 
and my conduct i 

The repentant sinner takes up the same resolutions* 
He trusts not to a deceitful and inefficient sorrow. 
He is not contented with making bitter lamentations 
on his wretched condition, or barely wishing to be- 
come better, without putting his hand to the work. 
He wastes not his time in useless doubt or in danger- 
ous hesitation. My life, says he, is passing quickly 
away ; it may unexpectedly come to an end. Death, 
j udgment,and eternity, are ever advancing towards 
me ; they may seize me at unawares. Shall not I 
then hasten to deliver my soul ? Shall 1 not work 
while it is day ere the night come when no man can 
work ? There is but one way left to avoid the perdi- 
tion. Shall I hesitate one moment about betaking 
myself to it ? Life and death, blessing and cursing, 
are now before me. Still I have an oppcrtunity of 
choosing between them. Who can tell whether that 
will continue to me if I stand longer doubtins: ? Is 

o o 

it difficult for me now to subdue my sinful desires, 
to quit my bad habits, break with my bad compan- 
ions, and reform my dissolute life ; will it not every 
day become still harder ? Will not my servitude be 



25 3 Of Conversion from a bad course of L ife, 

growing constantly more severe, my propensity to 
vice more strong, my soul more corrupt, and con- 
sequently my amendment still more impracticable 1 
Shall I not by these means be heaping sin upon sin, 
and punishment upon punishment, and so at length 
deprive myself of all hope of forgiveness ? No ! to 
day, that I hear the voice of God, while his grace 
is yet offered to me, to day will I follow his affec- 
tionate call, and earnestly implore that divine com- 
passion which alone can make me happy. My re- 
solution is taken, and nothing shall hinder me from 
bringing it to effect. I will arise and go to my heav- 
enly Father, from whom 1 am now at so great a 
distance, whose favor and protection I have so mad- 
ly cast off. I will bow myself before his offend- 
ed majesty, acknowledge my transgressions, and 
intreat his compassion with a broken and contrite 
heart. I will solemnly renounce every sin, and de- 
vote myself to the service of God and the practice 
of virtue. Have I hitherto shaken off his just and 
gentle authority ; it shall now be my greatest de- 
light and my glory to pay him an unreserved obedi- 
ence, and faithfully to fulfil the duties of a subject in 
his kingdom. Have I hitherto directed my life by 
my irregular desires and the corrupted principles of 
the men of the world ; henceforw^ard the law of the 
Most High shall be the sole and unalterable rule of 
my conduct. Have I hitherto provided only for my 
body and my earthly condition ; henceforward, the 
care of my soul and my happiness in the future 
world, shall be the ultimate aim of all my endeav- 
ors. The support which God has promised to the 
sincere will be mighty in my weakness. He will 
assist me in conquering every difficulty ; and I trust 
assuredly that I shall find his yoke to be easy, and 
his burden light ; that I shall experience tiiat his 
commandments are not grievous. 



Of Conversion from a had course of Life, 254 

If the resolutions of the repentant sinner be thus 
formed ; if they be grounded on self inspection, on 
consideration and firm conviction ; if they be taken 
with seriousness and sincerity ; then will they cer- 
tainly be brought to effect. The lost son suffered 
himself not to be turned aside from his purpose. — 
He immediately began to put it in execution. He 
arose and came to his father, and said unto him, 
** Father, I have sinned against heaven and before 
thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." 
I have outrageously offended both God and thee ; I 
have rendered myself utterly unworthy of thy paren- 
tal love* Thus did he humble himself before hisf 
father. He acknowledged his past offences, and 
sought no subterfuges, no extenuations of his guilt, 
but confessed them for what they really were. He 
owned that he had forfeited all pretensions to the 
priveleges he had before enjoyed in his father's house. 
He manifested a sincere remorse at his enormities, 
and petitioned for grace and pardon, He submitted . 
himsel anew to the discipline and authority of his 
father, promised fresh obedience to all his commands 
and returned effectively to his duty. And in this par- 
ticular consists the true repentance and conversion ^ 
which God requires from man. He must confess the 
multitude, the greatness, the enormity of his sins, and 
instead of thinking on his justification, must display 
in the most submissive humility all the circumstances 
that render his guilt most detestable. In the utmost 
dejection of soul he must cast himself doivn before 
his sovereign judge, address himself to his justice, 
and acknowledge that he has deserved nothing but 
displeasure and indignation, death and condemimtion. 
He must confess his transgressions to the Lord, and 
give himself up to the shame and confusion which 
the sight of them produces in him. It must be a 
sensible affliction to him, that he has thus offended 



SB5 Of Conversion from a had course of Life ^ 

so good, so gracious, so amiable a being ; that 
he has affronted his creator, his father and ben- 
efactor ; that he has transgressed such righteous ^ 
such wise, such reasonable laws ; that he has coun- 
teracted the great end of his existence, so perverted 
and degraded his nature, and so far neglected the 
purposes for which God created him. These con- 
siderations must fill him with unfeigned and painful 
remorse at his sins. They must incite him to take 
refuge in the mercy of God, and to implore his grace 
and pardon. They must inspire him with a deep 
abhorrence of all iniquity, a mortal aversion to vice* 
'I'hev must strengthen him in the resolution of quit- 
ting the service of sin, and of living to righteousness ; 
and to the execution of this purpose he must now 
set immediately and earnestly to work. He must 
effectually cease to do evil, and study to do good^ 
He must settle his conduct on quite other principles 
and rules ; or in the figurative language of the scrip* 
tures, become a new creature. Nothing now must 
be of so much consequence to him^ as to combat the 
unruly appetites and passions that have hitherto had 
the dominion over him, to fulfil the duties he has 
hitherto neglected, and to exercise himself in all the 
virtues, though never so much against his corrupt 
propensities and his worldly advantages. This mj 
brethren, this is the essential article of conversion, 
without which all previous sentiments and practices 
of repentance will be utterly vain. The unjust man 
must restore the property he obtained by unlawful 
means to its rightful owner ; the unchaste, the adul- 
terer, must burst the chains with which his lusts have 
bound him mortify his desires, and cleanse himself 
from every defilement of flesh and spirit ; the avari- 
cious man must alter his terrestial disposition, must 
learn to regard the treasures of the earth with a gen- 
erous disdain, and direct his thoughts, his wishes. 



Of Conversion from a had course of L ife. 25 7 

and desires to invisible things ; the haughty must be- 
come humble, the rancorous gentle and forgiving, 
and the worldly become heavenly minded. Thus 
must every one abandon the perverse ways he has 
hitherto walked, forsake the vices and sins he has 
hitherto served, avoid all inducements and oppor- 
tunities to them, and strive after holiness in the fear 
of God. That is what God, by the prophet required 
of his people. *' Wash ye," says he, ''make you 
clean, put away the evil of your doings from before 
mine eyes ; cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek 
judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, 
plead for the widow. Then come and let us reason 
together, saith the Lord ; though your sins be as 
scarlet, they shall be white as snow ; though they be 
red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Yes, when 
our conversion is thus effected, when it brings forth 
the fruits of amendment and righteousness ; theu 
may we promise ourselves the greatest benefits from 
it. 

We learn from the parable, that the ready return 
of the prodigal son was productive of the most happy 
effects* He found himself not disappointed in his 
hopes. On the contrary, the kind reception his fath- 
er gave him surpassed his most sanguine expecta- 
tions. No sooner did this tender parent descrv his 
son, '* while he was yet a great way off, but he was 
moved with compassion towards him. He ran to 
meet him, fell on his neck and kissed him." He 
forgot all his failings and transgressions. He im- 
mediately provided for all his wants. He restored 
him to his forfeited right of filiation, shewed him the 
most positive marks of his paternal clemencv and 
love, and his heart overflowed with the liveliest emo- 
tions of satisfaction and joy. " Like as a father pit- 
ieth his children, so the lord pitieth them that fear 
him. He is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, 
Vol. n. S 



258 Of Conversion from a had course of Life* 

and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Though 
he dwell in the high and holy place, yet with him aU 
so that is of a contrite and humble spirit to revive 
the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the 
contrite. He looketh on him that is poor and of a 
contrite spirit, and that trembleth at his word. He 
is inclined to pity and to spare. He hath no pleas- 
ure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked 
turn from his way and li\^e.'' "Is not Ephraim 
n^y dear son," says God to his people, " is he not a 
pleasant child ? Since I spake against him I remem- 
ber him still ; therefore my bowels are troubled for' 
him ; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the 
Lord.'' As soon as the sinner draws nigh unto 
God with a truly repentant heart ; as soon as he for- 
sakes his sinful courses, and turns himself wholly to 
him ; so soon does God also graciously turn towards 
Mmc H€ forgives hinv his sins, he remits the evil con- 
sequences of them, he takes them again into favor,, 
and imparts to him as his son, the free enjoyment 
of the goods of his house. And how manifold, how 
great are the benefits and blessings this happy alter- 
ation procures to the convert ! His guilt is effaced, 
his sins are done away, his inquities are pardoned, 
and will be remembered no more. His conscience is 
restored to peace. God vouchafes him his compla- 
cency. Access to the throne of grace is open to 
him, and there he may and will find help and com- 
fort so often as they are needful to him The inhab- 
itants of heaven rejoice at his conversion ; thej 
rejoice at having in him a new sharer in their bliss* 
Heaven is now no longer shut to him. Death and 
the grave have laid by their terrors for him. Futu- 
rity is no longer dreadful to him. It shews him the 
immarcessibie crown of glory in the hand of his re- 
conciled judge. It promises him a felicity which no 
mortal eye has seen, \vh;ch no ear has heard, and 
which is above the conceptions of the human mind* 



Of Comersion from a had course of L tfe, 259 

It assures him of the plentitude of joy and an eter- 
nity of blissful existence at the right hand of God. 
In the mean time, till his glorious hopes be fulfilled 
the convert lives more securely, as he lives in inno- 
cence. Peace and contentment accompany him, 
since he has God for his protector and friend, and is 
Aionscious of the rectitude of his heart. His moral 
corruption will daily decline, and every victory he 
gains over it gives him fresh cause to extol the grace 
of his Redeemer, and to feel tiie value of his re- 
gained freedom. His ability to goodness is ever in- 
creasing, and the practice of it grows daily more easy 
and pleasant. He advances from one degree of per- 
fection to another ; his habits of virtue will be con- 
tinually improving ; and with his virtue, his pleas- 
ures and his hopes increase. Happy situation ! 
Inestimable advantage ! W-ho would not take all 
possible pains to obtain it ! Who would delay one 
moment to enter upon the way of repentance and 
conversion, which'alone conducts us to the possessioa 
of this felicity ! May we, my brethren, readily and 
in solemn earnestness resolve upon it. May we all 
put this resolve into immediate execution, and from 
this instant walk the path of virtue and piety with 
persevering fidelity. How blessed will then this day 
be to us ! In what tranquil delight w ill the rest of 
our lives flow on ! How sedately may we see our 
dissolution approaching ! How confidently may we 
expect the glorious recompenses that are prepared 
for the righteous in heaven ! 

Every thing calls us to hearken to the voice of 
God, so affectionately inviting us to repentance and 
amendment. We yet live to hear this voice ; but 
how long it may be allowed us, none of us can tell. 
Woe to us if we put off from day to day, till it be 
too late to devote ourselves obediently to it ! Only 
with him, only in his service and in aompliancq w ith 

2 



260 Of Conversion from a had course of Lift i 

his commands, are light and Ufe and joy and felicitj^ 
to be found ; remote from him, darkness and bond- 
age, misery and death, are our only portion. Mer- 
ciful father, into what perils has not sin beguiled us ! 
We haste to escape from them, and to seek grace 
and help from thee who alone canst help and save^ 
Lo, we return to thee, unworthy to be called thy, 
sons, but firmly resolved by a better conduct to ren- 
der ourselves deserving of that glorious name* We 
are thine, O Lord, thine by creation, and thine by 
redemption. We will give ourselves up to thee as 
our only proprietor. Thee will we only and con- 
stantly obey. In thee will we seek our whole felicity. 
Oh do thou supply our weakness ; keep us by thy 
mighty arm from falling back into sin ; grant us to 
advance in goodness, give us to overcome the worldjj 
and by thy support to persevere unto the end. 
Preached on a Fast day. 



SERMON XLI. 



The Blessedness of Beneficence. 



'.^M 



vJ GOD, who art all benignity and love, wh* 
3irt always more ready to bless than to punish, and display-^ 
est thy infinite greatness by infinite bounty ; daily and 
hourly openest thou thy liberal hand and fillest all things 
living with plenteousness. Daily and hourly givest thou 
to us fresh proofs that thy mercy is over all thy works ; 
that thou lovest with parental tenderness ; that as a father 
thou providest for us and our real welfare. Lord, with 
admiration and humility we adore the riches of thy grace 
and love ; we rejoice in the multitude and the exceeding 
value of the unmerited gifts of thy bounty ; we are ready 
to render thee the thanks for them which thou requirest of us. 
Thou requirest, as a proof of our acknowledgement, that we 
should be kind, compassionate, charitable and bountiful like 
thee, that we should be followers of thee as dear children ; 
that we should share as it were, with thee the blessedness of 
benificence. To obey thee O Grod,is our glory and our hap- 
piness. Thy commands are Ufe and peace to all that keep 
them. Ah, let us ever confess it, and ever willingly be 
faithful to that confession. Do thou eradicate all seeds of 
avarice, of selfishness, of obduracy and cruelty from our 
hearts ; and fill them with the gentle, compassionate, aftec- 
tionate, officigus and disinterested dispositions which alone 
3 



262 The Blessedness of Beneficence, 

can render us worthy to be called thy children and disci 
pies of thy son. Bless, in this view, the lessons we arc 
now to receive from thy word, iand let the efficacy of them, 
be manifest in abundant fruits of christian beneficence. — 
Thou father of an infinite majesty, let these our supplica- 
tions find acceptance with thee, for the sake of Jesus Christ 
thy honorable, true and only son, our mediator and redeem- 
er, in obedience to whose express command we address 
thee thus ; Our father, Scg» 



ACTS XX. 35. 

It IS more blessed to give tJmn to receive. 

THERE are times and circumstances, whea 
we your ministers, ascend this place with heavy 
hearts, as having but little hope of the desired suc- 
cess in delivering to you the word of truth, and of 
reaping much fruit from our labor. This happens 
whenever our office, and a zeal for your real wel- 
fare, require us to lay before you your sins and fail- 
ings, and among them such particularly as are the 
most rife among us, which are the least condemned 
by the world, and in behalf whereof self love, pride, 
custom, and fashion, have invented the most ex- 
cuses, and the most plausible palliations. It hap- 
pens whenever we have to deliver to you such doc- 
trines and precepts as are manifestly at variance with 
the prejudices of the times in which we live, with 
the prevailing manner of thinking and acting ; and 
of such doctrines and precepts Christianity, which 
derives its origin from heaven, and is ordained t® 



The Blessedness of Beneficence, ^63 

|8pnduct us thither, comprises not a few. It hap- 
pens especially whenever we labor to inspire you 
with the humble, the gentle, the compassionate, the 
heavenly dispositions, which are the distinctive char- 
acteristics of the di^^ciples of Jesus, and which yet 
are so rarely found among those who call themselves 
his disciples. In these and the like cases, we are 
tempted at times to despondency, as having but lit- 
tle hope of reaching the aim of our exertions. And 
whence does this proceed ? Our own sad experi- 
ence but too strikingly informs us, how much the 
corrupted heart, and the uniaiiy passions of men, 
op[>ose these doctrines and precepts ; and how quick- 
ly the good impressions, they may occasionally 
make upon us in the house of the J^ord, are oblite- 
rated in the tumult of the world. 

But there are likewise other times, my beloved, 
when with bold and cheerful spirits we appear before 
you, because animated with the pleasing expecta- 
tion, that we shall effect our good designs, if not with 
all, yet certainly with many. In such a frame of 
mind, in such delightful hopes, I meet you in this 
sacred place to day. I am to be the advocate, the 
intercessor, with you, for the poor, the friendless, 
and the wretched : I shall apply to you in their name; 
in their name did I say, I shall apply to you in the 
name of Jesus Christ, who ovv'ns these needy for his 
brethren, and in the most forcible manner recom- 
' mends them to you, in the name of that exalted and 
beneficent Lord, our unalterable Savior, 1 shall in- 
tercede with you in their behalf. I shall in particu- 
lar recommend to you the encouragement of a very 
necessary and useful institution ; I meaa the pro. 
vision now set on foot for the correction of the dis- 
solute, and the maintenance of the poor in this place ; 
certainly a generous and agreeable employment I 
Happy shall I be, happy will it be for you, if I ex^ 

4 



264 " The Blessedness of Beneficence, 

ecute it with that success I promise myself from 
your christian tenderness ! Nay, I know that there 
are many compassionate hearts among you, to whom 
discipline and order, reUgion and virtue, and the 
happiness of mankind that is founded upon them, 
are no indifferent things. I have on similar occa- 
sions addressed you with similar petitions ; and to 
the honor of your christian profession, you have not 
been regardless of them. Why then may I not 
hope, under the blessing of the Almighty, to reach 
my design to day I In the mean time, though I 
presume upon these beneficent and generous dis- 
positions in the generality of you, it will not be use- 
less to employ the remainder of the time usually al- 
lotted to these discourses in endeavoring to con- 
firm them in our hearts, and to awaken them in 
those with whom they are still dormant. And 
how can we better do this, than by calling to mind 
the blessedness of beneficence ? To this end the 
consideration of the beautiful saying of our Savior 
in the text may greatly couduce ; *' It is more 
blessed to give than to receive.'' We will first state 
to you the justness of the assertion, and then reply 
to some objections that may be brought against it. 
It is more blessed to give than to receive, is now 
become, as it were, proverbial among christians ; so 
little is the truth of it in general called in question. 
Is it not then, may some one probably think, is it. 
not unnecessary to demonstrate a proposition which 
every one holds for proved and undeniable ? No, 
niy friend, that is by no means the case with such 
general propositions and rules of conduct. In order 
that they should have a due influence on our be- 
havior, and on that every thing depends, it is not 
enough that the truth of them is not doubted, the 
reasons should be often and forcibly stated why they 
are held to be true ; we should examine the parties 



The Blessedness of Beneficence, 265 

ular ideas they comprehend, or the observations 
and experiences Avhereon they rest, we should bring 
home the application of them to ourselves ; we 
should view them in a various and perspicuous light 
if we would be convinced, aifected, animated by 
them. And this is the purport of my following 
considerations. 

, It is more blessed to give than to receive ; since 
the former, in the first place, implies a happier con- 
dition than the latter. To the former belongs a 
certan degree of power, of aiHuence, of independ- 
ence ; the latter has weakness, want, penury, de- 
pendence for its foundation. I will not say, that a 
man may not be happy in all stations. No, fear 
God ; keep his commandments ; maintain a good 
conscience ; secure yourself of the grace and loving 
kindness of the Almighty ; follow temperance and 
keep content ; think and live like persons who have 
here no abiding city, and whose country is heaven : 
So will you never be deficient in true felicity, be 
you otherwise high or low, rich or poor, in abund- 
ance or in want. But certain as this is, so certain 
is it likewise, that he is still the happier wdio, with 
all these essential advantages, has also the means of 
doing good to others in a larger or smaller propor- 
tion. In what does the supreme felicity of God 
consist? Undoubtedly in this, thathis power of doing 
good is infinite, and that he continually exerts it in 
the best and most perfect manner. Undoubtedly in 
this, that from his exalted throne, full streams of 
benefits and blessings incessantly Bow on every part 
of his immense domaiuj- devolving light and life, 
joy, energy and bliss on all the inhabitants of it. — 
Wherein consists the happiness of the righteous in 
the future world ? An enlarged capacity of doing good 
and of communicating with others in the most useful 
manner, will undoubtedly compose a considerable 



^6 The Blessedness of Beneficence. 

portion of it. Here it not unfrequently happens^ 
that men of the most humane, the most benevolent, 
the most patriotic sentiments, are destitute of almost 
all the means for acting in conformity to them ; and 
if they had less veneration for the dispensations of 
divine providence, would probably be often tempted 
to complain of the narrow limits that are prescribed 
them in these particulars. Yonder, in that better 
world, all these limitations will not indeed be re- 
moved ; they, however, will be considerably en- 
larged. There will these generous spirits unimped- 
edly pursue their beneficent inclinations, and be able 
to apply in a far worthier manner all their faculties 
to the benefit of their less perfect fellow creatures. 
As having been faithful in the adrninistratjon of the 
little that was entrusted to them, they will be ap- 
pointed to the management of much. They will 
reign with Christ, and share in his glory, his power 
of doing good. The more therefore a man can dis- 
pense here on earth about him in any respect to the 
benefit of his brethren ; the more serviceable he can 
be to them ; the less need he has to set bounds to 
his generosity ; the greater means he has of encreas- 
ing the wordly or the spiritual, the temporal or the 
eternal welfare of his neighbor, and of diffusing 
comfort, satisfaction and joy around him : So much 
the nearer does he bring his condition to that of 
the blessed in heaven ; so much more resplendent iii 
him is the image of God and Christ ; nay, so much 
the greater part has he even in the felicity of the first 
and most perfect of beings. 

It is more blessed to give than to receive ; the for- 
mer being, secondly, combined with a various, with 
a truly godlike pleasure, whereas the latter is com- 
monly connected with unpleasant and painful sensa- 
tions. How extremely grating is it not often, even 
to the humblest of those who suffer penury and iiv 



%he Blessedness of Benejlcence* 267 

digence, how distressing is it not to them to make 
known their penury and their indigence, to ask for 
succor and relief, and thus to expose theniselves to 
the risk of hash censures, of cutting reproaches, of 
bitter scoffs, and at length to a sharp refusal of all 
pity and assistance ! What wretchedness, what mis- 
ery, therefore, do they not often prefer to such 
dreadful situations as these, which oppress their 
souls, and fill them with grief and dismay ! Never 
forget this, ye whom God has blessed with earthly 
goods, and thereby constituted you, as it were, the 
guardians and fathers of the poor and needy. Ren- 
der not the load that already oppresses them still 
heavier by your unfriendly and cruel behavior. — 
They are already enough to be pitied, that they are 
obliged to be dependant on you, who are men as 
well as they. Oh let them not feel this dependence 
in a manner injurious to human nature, and offen- 
sive to their creator ! Beware that at the very time 
when you are granting the succors they implore, 
you degrade and insult them ; and attach not your 
benefactions to such conditions as deprive them of 
all their value. Though they be benefactions in re- 
gard to those .to whom you shew them ; they are 
not so in regard to God, Avho has imposed them as 
a duty upon you. Though yournecessitious breth- 
ren cannot demand them of you as their due, yet 
God, from whom you have received whatever you 
possess, has a right to demand them of you, and he 
actually does demand them. But the mere act alone 
cannot satisfy him, the Omniscient, only the manner 
in which you perform it can procure you his ap- 
probation. Give therefore freely ; give liberally ; 
give in pure and good intentions ; give in a generous 
and engaging manner ; give as one friend gi\'es to 
another, as a father gives to his children : Then, and 
Rot till then, will you taste the pleasure which is 



26^ The Blessedness of Beneficence^ 

connected with such bounty. And ho\v diversified^ 
how great, how subhme, is not that pleasure 1 You 
know it, christians, you who exercise yourselves in 
beneficence with genuine christian sentiments ; you 
know what your hearts enjoy, what pure and heav- 
enly transports pervade them, when you weep with 
them that weep, and are so happy as to dry up the 
tears of the mourner ; when you can take the for- 
saken to your care, and can administer help to the 
destitute ; when you have an opportunity to rescue 
the innocent, to feed the hungry, to give drink to 
the thirsty, to alleviate the distresses of the poor, to 
mitigate the pains of the sick and to assuage the an- 
guish of the afflicted soul ; when you can compen- 
sate as much as in you lies, the widow for the loss 
of her spouse, and the orphan for the privation of 
his parents ; when you convey some rays of light, of 
comfort, of hope, of satisfaction, into the abodes 
where darkness, dismay and wretchedness,prevailed. 
You recollect the feelings of your heart, what 
streams of pure and sacred transports filled it, w hen 
you have been able to contribute somewhat to the 
advancement of discipline and order, of the glory 
of God and of religion, to the instruction, to the im- 
provement, to the correction, to the spiritual and 
everlasting happiness of your brethren; and then 
formed an idea of the blessed consequences these 
labors of love might have, and, under the blessingj 
of the Most High, infallibly will have, in all the gen- 
erations to come. Oh then it was you truly felt 
the exquisite worth of the earthly goods wherewith 
God has blessed you ; then you thanked him with 
tears of joy for the honor and happiness of being 
permitted, as it were, to occupy his place among 
mankind, and in his stead to revive them with 
what his providence has been pleased to granc you ; 
then your heart expanded, and could scarcely con- 



The Blessedness of Beneficence. 26^ 

tain the heavenly delight that rushed into it* 
Where, where is there an earthly, sensual pleasure 
to be found, that can be brought into comparison 
with this ! 

It is, lastly, more blessed to give than to receive % 
it having, when properly performed, the most glo- 
rious retributions to expect both in the present and 
in the future world. Already the pleasure that is 
connected with itj and which I have now rather 
pointed at than described, since it admits of no 
description ; this pleasure alone, to a sensible and 
generous heart, is reward enough. But the merci- 
ful God, to whom beneficence is so highly grateful 
has decreed it still greater advantages and blessings. 
Hear how the Psalmist describes them : " Unto the 
upright," says he, peculiarly to the humane and boun- 
tiful ** there ariseth light in the darkness ! He is 
merciful, loving and rigihteous: The Almighty com- 
forts him in his afRictions, and delivers him out of 
them all." *' Happy the man who pitieth and 
lendeth, and guideth his w^ords with discretion ; for 
he shall never be moved x The righteous shall be had 
in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid at 
any evil tidings, for his heart standeth fast and 
trusteth in the Lord. His heart is stablished, and 
will not shrink. He hath dispersed abroad and 
given to the poor : His righteousness remaineth for 
ever;" the blessing of his beneficence abides ever 
upon him ; " his welfare shall be exalted with hon- 
or." And all this, my friends, is but little in 
comparison with the glorious rewards \vhich the 
bountiful man may promise himself in the future 
world. Represent to yourselves that awful day, the 
day of judgment and of retribution which shall de- 
cide our lot for ever ; and admire the glory and feli- 
city that will then be the portion of christians who 
have here employed themselves in acts of beneficence* 



S7b The Blessedness of Benejlcence. 

The judge of the world> the son of God, will say td 
them, before the whole assembly of angels and of 
mankind : *' Come, ye blessed of my father, in- 
herit the kingdom prepared for you from the be- 
ginning of the world. For I was hungry, and ye 
gave me meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me 
drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; I was 
naked, and ye clothed me ; I was sick, and ye 
visited me ; I was in prison, and ye came to me. — 
Verilj I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it 
unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have 
done it unto me." Oh transporting scene ! Oh in- 
expressible reward ! Let us then do good, my 
brethren, and never be weary, that we may reap, 
in due time, this glory and this felicity. Let 
us not reckon that for lost which we give to the 
poor and needy, but for gain ; since certainly it is 
far more blessed in all respects to give than to re- 
ceive. 

Unhappy men, by whom this is neither felt nor 
understood, who start objections against the per- 
formance of that duty which of all others is the 
most agreeable and blessed ! However, we will hear 
your objections ; we will try them ; probaby we 
may be so fortunate as to convince you of the weak- 
ness and futilitv of them. 

It is true, you probably imagine it is more blessed 
to give than to receive. But, if we guide ourselves 
by this maxim, if we follow our propersity to benef- 
icence, we shall injure ourselves and our families ; 
instead ofencreasing our property, we shall diminish 
it. Yes my friends, so you would, if the preserva- 
tion and the augmentation of your substance de- 
pended solely on yourselves ; solely on your diligence 
on your dexterity, on your frugality, your objection 
would be well founded. But if, as both reason and 
scripture assure us, most, if in in some sort all depend* 



Th$ Blessedness of Beneficence, 271 

6n the blessing of the Almighty ; if without it the 
most sedulous application, the utmost dexterity, the 
strictest frugality, are utterly fruitless; and if this 
blessing be annexed to beneficence ; then this objec- 
tion loses all its force. And, for the confutation of 
it, may I not venture to appeal to your own obser« 
vation and experience ? Do you know any person, 
who, merely by beneficence duly allied with pru- 
dence, has fallen into indigence or poverty ? May 
you not, on the contrary, be acquainted with several, 
w^ho have constantly sought their satisfaction in be- 
neficence, and yet, by the blessing of heaven, have not 
only preserved, but considerably augmented, their 
property ? No, '* he that giveth to the poor," says 
the wise man, " shall not lack." *' There is that scat- 
tereth, and yet increaseth ; and there is that with- 
holdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. '^* 
Suppose, however, that it should not seem good to 
the Almighty to reward your beneficence with 
worldly profusion ; suppose, that you leave behind 
you no great riches for your children ; is it then 
necessary for their happiness that they should inherit 
large possessions from you ? Are they always truly 
happy, who enjoy great wealth ? Does not experi- 
ence rather teach you the contrary ? How dangerous 
to children at all times, how ruinous often, are the 
treasures they inherit from their parents I Are there 
not far more honest ingenious, useful, virtuous and 
prosperous men, among those who are indebted to 
their fathers and mothers for little more than a good 
education and a virtuous example, than among those 
who have received from them much property, or 
even great affluence ? Is not this property, is not 
this affluence, most commonly a snare to them ? Do 
they not usually hinder them from employing their 
natural capacities and talents, and from becoming 
as useful and deserving members of society as thej 
might have been ? 



272 The Blessedness of Bene^cence, 

O ye whom God has blessed with children, and 
who so tenderly love your offspring as to be ever 
afaaid they should miss of any thing, bequeath them 
the invaluable blessing that God has annexed to 
beneficence ; leave them the love and the pious 
wishes of the wretched whom you have revived, of 
the infirm whom you have supported, of the inno- 
cent whom you have delivered, of the poor whom 
you have relieved, of the forlorn whom you have 
adopted, of the orphans who, by your assistance, 
have been rendered useful members of the commu- 
nity, of the low among the people, whom you, by 
instruction, by prudent counsel, by effective suc- 
cors, have lifted from the dust ; leave them the ex- 
ample of the fear of God, of industry, of content- 
edness, of discretion, of modesty, of moderation : So 
may you be far more certain of their future pros- 
perity ; so may you hereafter part with them with a 
far more tranquil mind, than if, with the want of 
these advantages, you left them the greatest treasures. 
These treasures may, as the wase man says, take to 
themselves the wings of an eagle, and quickly for- 
sake tham ; nay on the slippery path of life they may 
easily overset them and plunge them into ruin. But 
that blessing of the Lord endures for ever ; those 
pious wishes open to them the treasures of heaven 5 
those poor and mean, those wretched and forlorn, 
who have so much to thank you for, who stand in- 
debted to you for their preservation, or theit welfare, 
will afford them numberless agreeable and useful 
services ; those examples of virtue and piety will 
secure them from innumerable deviations, and make 
them wise to everlasting felicity. 

Neither let it be said : It is true, it is more blessed 
to give than to receive, but the times are no longer 
#f such a complexion, as to allow us to distribute relief 



The Blessedness of Beneficence^, £73 

v/ith a liberal hand among the poor and necssitous. 
Oiie is obliged to retrench in all manner of ways ; we 
are forced to deny ourselves a great many convenien-. 
cies and pleasures, which we might otherwise have en- 
joyed without hesitation ; and therefore it is perfectly 
natural for a man to confine his liberality to narrower 
bounds. But, my dear friend, ifyou are obliged to 
retrench, and actually do limit yourself in all man- 
ner of ways and in all respects ; if you do and are 
obliged to do this in regard to your table, to your 
furniture, your clothes and your pleasures : Then we 
neither will nor can impute it to you as a sin, if the 
same thing happen, in due proportion, in regard to 
your alms and your acts of charity. But, if you do 
this barely, or principally, in this and not in the 
other respects ; if you are as profuse for yourself and 
your family in all, or in the generality of particulars, 
as your better days allowed you to be, and are only 
become more frugal and sparing in regard to the 
poor and needy: Then, my beloved, you undoubt- 
edly commit a crime that no circumstances of time 
are able to excuse. You seize on the substance of 
the poor, on that portion of what you have in trust, 
to which your less prosperous brethren have, both 
from nature and religion, the most righteous claim, 
and of which you cannot, without cruelty, deprive 
them. You can no lons:er be called true and faith- 
ful stevv^ards of the goods committed to your charge, 
since vou emnlov them solelv to your own advantase, 
and not to the benefit of those, whom he to whom 
they absolutely belong, lias expressly recommended 
to your providence and help. 

The christian, who rightfully bears that title, the 
christian in whose soul the genuine love of his neigh- 
bor abides and prevails, in similar cases acts qnire 
otherwise. If the circumstances of the times require 
him to limit hiscxpences : He complies, he does it 
Vol. IL T 



2 74 The Blessedness of Beneficence. 

without reluctance ; because he has learnt to be coii.- 
tent with his lot, and to be satisfied under all events : 
he begins not, however, with .the poor and needy y 
he begins with himself. He rather dispenses with 
many superEuous delicacies, m any unnecessary ac- 
commodations^ many innocent, but merely sensual 
and fugacious pleasures, than while he is in the en- 
joyment of plenty, the wretched should be left, who 
fly to him as a shelter from the storm and a refuge 
from distress, should be left to their misery ; and he 
himself be deprived of the godlike pleasure of reliev- 
ing them. No nothing but necessity, nothing but 
actual indigence, can force him to do so much vio- 
lence to his humane and benevolent affections, and 
to neglect that which has hitherto been his purest, 
Ms supreme delight. 

Lastly, let it not be said : True, it is more blessed 
to give than to receive ; but who knows, whether 
those to whom we give will make the best, that they 
will make a proper use of it I Who knows whether 
the noble institutions we are called upon to support 
are effectually of that utility we arc promised will 
arise from them ? Who knows whether in times 
to come they may not be perverted to quite other 
designs ? Oh, my friends, in what a lamentable 
plip'ht should we be, if God, whom we are bound to 
imitate his as children, were to deal with us accord- 
ing to these lessons of parsimony ! Do we always 
employ the bounties of his munificent hand to the 
ends for v^hich they are bestowed ? Do we manage 
them so carefully, so faithfully, so conscientiously, 
as we might and ought to do ? Would not num- 
bers, would not tiie majority, nay, would not all of 
us be divested of the capacities, the faculties, the 
goods of fortune, the privileges we possess, if God 
should resolve to strip us of all that we do not con- 
stantly employ to the best, or even that we at times 



'The Blessedness of Beneficence* 27 B 

enipley to evil purpose ? iVnd yet this kind and clem- 
ent God leaves us these capacities, these faculties, 
these goods of fortune, these privileges ; and yet he 
gives us from day to day fresh tokens of his unweari- 
ed beneficence. And should we be so much more 
austere with our fellow creatures, with our brediren, 
than God is tow^ards us, his creatures and subjects ? 
Shall we, merely for fear lest they should misemploy 
our bounty, withhold our hand from doing them 
good ? Shall we leave numbers languishing in mis= 
ery without their fault, uncomforted and unrelieved, 
because there are criminals who deserve no comfort 
and no relief ? Shall we punish the innocent, 
the upright, at once with the wicked, because we 
cannot at all times distinguish the one from the 
other ? Shall we refuse to support noble establish- 
ments and public spirited institutions, to the utmost 
of our ability because we have no complete assurance 
that the views to which they are destined will be at. 
tained, or that these establishments will in all future 
times be conducted on the most excellent rules ? No, 
my friends, this as christians you will not, you can- 
not do. Make use of a prudent circumspection in 
the distribution of your bounty ; this is your duty. 
Be obdurate, be inexorable towards those who } ou 
know for certain will misemploy it ; this the safety 
and welfare of human society demand* But be not 
rash in the judgments you form concerning the de- 
serts, the sentiments and views of the necessitous. 
Be not an austere, but a compassionate and indulgent 
censor of your brother's conduct ; judge him so as 
you may reasonably desire that God should judge 
you. As it is far better that ten guilty should be 
absolved, than that one innocent person should be 
condemned ; so it is likew^ise far better that you 
should do good to ten undeserving persons, than for 
the sake of avoiding this possibility, thatvou §hould 

2 



276 I' he Blessedness of Behejlcence, 

let one T^^orthy sufferer that applies to you for relief; 
be sent away without it. Require not in fine> that 
Hamuli institutions and establishments, should attain 
to a perfection which perhaps may exceed our hu- 
man faculties ; and refuse not to promote and en- 
courage things which are good or generally useful, 
because they might perhaps be better and more gen- 
erally useful. Consider too, that God, whose good 
pleasure must be always of the utmost moment to 
us, looks more to the pious and christian intention 
in which we distribute our benefactions, than to the 
effects they actually produce ; and that, in his retri- 
butions, he guides himself more by them than he 
does by these. Ourgood works in numberless instan- 
ces, resemble the seed that lies long concealed in the 
ground, and which at length shoots upward, and 
brings forth fruit, though even we may probably 
Have forgot that ever we sowed it. Let us but do 
our duty ; let us do it with cheerfulness and without 
being weary, and leave the consequences of it to that 
God who knows and governs all things, and under 
whose administration no good deed can be done in 
vain. 

Let us then at present make no account of these 
futile objections that arise from avarice or unseason- 
able parsimony, but fulfil the sweet and blessed duty 
of beneficence, according to our utmost abilities, now 
when I have to recommend to you a contribution 
towards the erection of work houses and houses of 
correction— now, when the f^andation of an estab- 
lishment is to be laid, which many of you, with the 
greatest reason, have so cfcen wished for, and the 
utility whereof may extend to all future times, be- 
coming greater and more various from day to day. 
And Vv'hat arguments are Vvanting, on this occasion^ 
to be liberal, and to lead us to expect from our lib- 
erality the most blessed effects ? The harder the times 



The Blessedness of Beneficence, 2111 

and the dearer provisions may be ; the more certain 
it is that numbers of the poor look out for w ork in 
vain, and the more easily may they be tempted to 
unlawful attempts, and to predatory attacks on the 
public safety : The more undeniable, in short, it is, 
diat wicked or unhappy men, by painful and igno- 
minious punishments, usually become still more 
wicked and unhappy, and, on the other hand, by disr 
cipiine and labor, often better ; so much the more 
needful are institutions like the present, and so much 
the less should we shrink from contributino; of what 
we possess to the foundation and endowment of 
them. 

The poor, who from no fault of their own arc 
poor, and would willingly work, had they the means 
and opportunity, most certainly compose a class of 
human society that is entitled to all possible consid- 
eration and regard : But also those who by their own 
inadvertencies, or from the want of a good educa- 
tion are fallen into poverty, or even by poverty have 
been betrayed into acts of injustice and theft, are not 
totally unworthy of our care and compassion. They 
may probably be still capable of amendment ; they 
may probably still be made useful members of soci- 
ety ; they may at least be checked in their disorderly 
course of life, and be preserved from yet greater and 
more flagrant enormities. They have like us im- 
mortal souls that are capable of everlasting happi- 
ness ; and these soals may be brought to reflection 
by discipline and labor, may be penetrated with re- 
morse and repentance at the sight of dieir sins and 
vices, awakened to better and more christian senti 
ments, and thus be rescued from that horrible per- 
dition which awaits the hardened and impenitent 
sinner. And shall we not cheerfully do all that in 
us lies to the promotion of this generous design ? 
Wherein can we better employ the goods that God 

3 



273 The Blessedness of Beneficence. 

has given us, than in providing for and in reforming 
so many poor and wretched objects who are still our . 
brethren, both as men and as christians ? Indeed^ # 
what we are now able to do cannot at once, and prob- 
ably can never wholly, supply the various wants of 
this too numerous class of mankind, indeed, the 
fruits of the good institutions we are now to promote 
cannot be so remarkably abundant in the first years 
of their foundation. But do not the best human 
regulations and attempts only by degrees attain to 
their perfection ? Must we not first sow before we 
can reap ? May not that, which at its commence- 
ment can only be serviceable to a few, in the future 
be useful and a blessing to thousands ? Would not 
almost every charitable institution and generally use- 
ful establishment, have soon fallen to the ground if 
it had not been supported from other motives than 
the complete assurance of the best effects ? 

Oh let us then look not only at the present, but 
also at the future ; and place our perfect confidence 
in the providence of God, that whatever is good he 
will certainly prosper. Let us frequently indulge in 
such animating reflections as these : I am now com- 
mitting good seed to the earth, I now contribute, with 
an honest heart and in sincere intentions, what I can 
to the maintenance of discipline and order ; that 
idleness, and the innumerable miseries and crimes 
that grow out of it, may be restrained ; that the in- 
nocent may be rescued ; that the trangressor may 
be chastened and reformed ; that the poor who is in 
want of breads or is obliged to acquire it by beg- 
ging, may find a proper support. What numbers 
may hereafti^r bless die kind institutions I am now 
encouraging, that his dreadful pains and torture did 
not quite overwhelm him,* and that his innocence 

* The abolition of the torture in 1771 gave the first occasion to the erec- 
tion of these houses of cprrection and v/ork hou£«e. 



T/^^ Blessedness of Beneficence. 279 

was brought forth as clear as the day. What num- 
bers will owe it to these iaslitutions, that they were 
deterred from the ways of sin and ruin, or recovered 
from them ; that they were snatched from the ex- 
treme of misery and from despair ; that they found 
food for their body, and help and deliverance for 
their soul. What prospects ! Who can remain un- 
moved and cold at the bare idea of the manifold 
good that may and will arise from these institutions ? 
What generous, what christian heart will not make 
it his duty aiid his joy to contribute what he is able 
to the realizing of these glorious hopes ? This is 
what you wall do ; I expect it from your christian 
and beneficent dispositions : And if ye do it heartily 
and in sincere intentions, I can confidently promise 
you in the name of God, w^ho through me is incit- 
ing you to beneficence, that you will be acceptable 
to him, and that he will give you his blessingo 



4 



SERMON XLII. 



"The Value of Human Happiness itself. 



O 



GOD, the eternal, inexhaustible source of all 
life tind happiness, on us thy children, life and happiness 
of various kinds and in rich abundance incessantly flow 
down from thee ; and in which we here rejoice before thee , 
for this we thank thee with united hearts. No, thou hast 
not doomed any of thy creatures, any of mankind to mis- 
ery ; thou hast devoted and called them all to happiness \ 
and even the misery that with or without our fault befalls 
TiSj miust be and is the means and way to that desired end. 
This we are taught by the various dispositions and capaci- 
ties of our nature ; this we learn Irom the several arrange- 
ments that thou hast made in the m?terial and in the intel- 
lectual world ; of this we are cert'fied by what thy son Je- 
sus has communicated to us and done for us. Innumera- 
ble sources of pleasure and delight are daily opened around 
us, whence we may all draw, and which we never can ex- 
haust. We daily receive from thy liberal hand innumera- 
ble benefits and blessings, demanding of us gratitude and 
joy. And if sometimes those sources of delight are troub- 
led by our tears, and these benefits lose a part of their value 
to us by suiferings ; yet the agreeable and the good with 
which thou dost bless and gladden us, retains a great pre- 
ponderance over the disagreeable and evil that thou findest 
good to dispense among us. Yes, O Godj thou art love it» 



The Value.ef Human Happiness itself. 281 

^elf ! Thy Mdll and operations tend solely to happiness ; 
and thou dost will and effect it even «vhen we least think so. 
Thanks and praise and adoration ever be to thee, the All- 
gracious, the Father of mankind 1 Happiness and salvation 
to us and all thy creatures in heaven and on earth 1 Ob 
that we were ever more attentive to thy bounties, ever more 
sociable in the enjoyment of them, ever more satisfied with 
thy dispensations and ordinances, ever more faithful and 
blithe in the use of thy benefits. May even now our re- 
flections on these important subjects shed a clear light up- 
on our minds and much serenity and joy in our hearts I 
Bless them to these ends O gracious God, and hearken to. 
our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whose name 
we farther address thee, saying : Our father. &c. 



PSALM civ. 24. 



The earth is full of thy riches. 



IT is a matter of great consequence to know 
how to form a right estimate of human happiness, or 
of the stock of dehght and pleasure, of the sum of 
agreeable sensations subsisting among mankind. He 
that makes the amount of it too great, he that looks 
on the earth as a paradise, and the present state of 
man as a state of continued enjoyment, must be so 
ofcen and so grievioasly deceived in his expecta- 
tions as to become dispirited and impatient. On the 
other hand, he who overlooks, if not the whole, yet 
at least the greatest part of the various kinds of ben- 



BB2 The Value of Human Happiness itself, 

efit that are in the world and amongst mankind^ or 
does not ascribe to them the vahie they really de- 
serve ; he that imagines he perceives, on all sides, 
nought but imperfection, wretchedness and want, 
near and at a distance around him ; who sees, as it 
w^ere, tears gushing from every human eye, and sighs 
arising from every human breast; how can he revere 
the creator of himself and all mankind as the all 
bountiful parent of the world ! Hov/ can he rejoice 
in his existence and the existence of his fellow crea- 
tures ! How enjoy the advantages and benefits, the 
satis&ctions and comforts of life, with a grateful 
and a cheerful heart 1 And how prejudicial must 
not this be to virtue and piety, to his inward per- 
fection ! How negligently at times will he fulfil his 
duties I How easily will he grow languid and weary 
in acts of justice and beneficence ! We should be 
on our guard against this gloomy and pernicious way 
of thinking, my pious hearers, if we would enjoy 
our lives, and faithfully fulfil the duties of them. 
Let us not charge God, the best the most beneficient 
being, the father of mankind, with being deficient in 
kindness. Let us not shut our eyes and our hearts 
to the beautiful and good that is difiiised throughout 
the world and distributed among mankind, nor mis- 
apply our discernments to the vilification of it. Let 
us appreciate human happiness for what it actually 
is, and in the sentiment of its copiousness and mag» 
nitude exclaim with the psalmist in our text, *' The 
earth is full of thy riches." Indeed it is difficult, it 
is even impossible, exactly to weigh the satisfaction 
and the disgust, the pleasure and the pain, the hap- 
piness and the misery, which subsist among mankind 
ap-ainst each other, so as to obtain the just amount 
of either. This can only be done by him who holds 
in his hand the balance that contains them both, 
who proportions them among his creatures accord- 



The Value of Human happiness itself. 283 

ing to his wise and good pleasure, who comprehends 
them both in his almighty mind, and perceives all 
their possible and actual effects in every event. We 
may, however, form ajuster estimate of human hap- 
piness than is usually done. We may survey it on 
many sides but little noticed, and direct our atteation 
to many collateral circumstances and things which 
we probably have hitherto overlooked. And this is 
the design of my present discourse. I would offer 
you a few suggestions on the proper evaluation of 
human happiness. To this end I shall do two things 
first, lay before you some considerations on the na- 
ture and magnitude of human happiness in general ; 
and then deliver you a few rules for rightly appre- 
ciating it in particular occurrences. 

There is, absolutely, happiness among mankind. 
Of this our own experience, of this what we see and 
observe in regard to others, will not permit us to 
harbor a doubt. For, how can v/e refuse to say, 
we and other men have various agreeable concep- 
tions and sensations ; w^e see, hear, feel, think and 
perform many things with satisfaction and delight; 
we and others frequently enjoy pleasure and mirth ; 
we and others are often contented with our condi- 
tion, and we are comfortable in the consciousness and 
contemplation of it ? And is not all this, w^hen taken 
together, happiness ? 

Indeed human happiness is not unalloyed ; it is 
not perfectly pure. Not one of us all possesses purely 
agreeable conceptions and sensations ; no one enjoys 
pure pleasures and delights ; no one is perfectly and 
at all times satisfied with whatever he is and does, 
and with every thing that befalls him ; no one expe- 
riences purely desirable occurrences. To every per- 
son is distributed his measure of dislike, of displeas- 
ure and pain from adverse events. Every one must 
taste of the cup of sorrow as well as of the goblet of 



^84 ^lic Value cf Human happiness itself, 

joy. Even our most agreeable representations and 
iieelings are adulterated with a greater or less com- 
mixture of ingredients that are distasteful and bitter. 
But this is the necessary and unavoidable consequence 
of our nature^ and the present constitution of things ; 
and so must it be, unless it were proper for man to 
be dazzled by happiness and intoxicated with joy. 

As human happiness is not unalloyed, so neither 
is it uninterrupted, it does not fill up each day, 
each hour, each moment of our earthly existence. 
As light and darkness alternately succeed each other 
in the natural world, so likewise in the moral, but 
much seldomer, bad days succeed to good, and 
.misery to happiness. Pleasure and pain, joys and 
sorrows, tread very closely on each other; often 
suddenly interchange, and often arise from each other 
^Excessive pleasure becomes pain, immoderate joy 
turns into sorrow ; superabundant happiness is fre- 
quently overwhelming. Our connexions with out- 
i-vard things, their relation to us, and their influences 
upon us, are not always the same may tomorrow 
be quite different from what they yesterday were ; 
and these very things are all fluctuating, transitory, 
and of short duration. So far as our happiness is 
built on outsvard things, so far must it be frequently 
interrupted. And even in ourselves, in our train of 
thought and dispositions, in our own mutability, arc 
causes already sufficient to prevent its consisting in a 
stated, firm and linked series of purely agreeable 
representations and feelings. 

Hura?ai happiness is, thirdly, not equally great to 
all men, and cannot be so. All cannot inhabit the 
same zone, and enjoy the same goods and the same 
amenities ; all cannot have the same education, be 
invested wdth the same station, carry on the same 
business, or attain to the same degree of politeness 
suid intelligence. All have not the same disposition 



"The Value of Human happiness itself. 285 

find capacity for pursuing, for finding and for enjoy- 
ing a certain greater proportion, or certain nobler 
kinds of happiness ; as all have not the same atien« 
tive and regulated understanding, the same formed 
and refined taste, the same sentimental and partici* 
pating heart. All, in fine, do not conduct them- 
selves in the same manner ; and but too many think, 
and act in such a way as if they were determined hf 
no mer!ns to be happy, but ever to become more 
wretched. As great, therefore as the difference m 
between all these circumstances and things, so great 
must likewise be the difference of the portions of 
happiness atnong mankind. 

But even the same person is not alaways equallf 
sensible to the happiness allotted him, nor always 
alike satisfied v/ith it. Time and enjoyment but too 
often weaken the sentiment of the goods we possess^ 
Little uneasinesses and vexations not unfrequentlT 
deprive all the advantages and comforts we have in. 
our power of their value. And, then, neither our 
body nor our mind is constantly attuned to the same 
lively and vigorous sensations, as to enable us to en- 
joy, with consciousjiess to enjoy, the beautiful and 
the good v/ithin us and without us, at all times alike* 
In this respect all depends either on the degree of 
our natural sensibility, or on the particular humor 
and temper of mind in which we are at tb.e time. 

But though human happiness be neither mu* 
mingled, nor uninterrupted, nor equally greats for 
every man, nor even for its possessor equally sensible 
and satisfying at all times ; yet it is still real ; it is 
manifold ; it is great, abundantly great ; it is capable 
of a constantly progressive augmentation. Four par- 
ticulars that will place its nature a^^^sd value in a clear 
point of view. 

It is real. Human happiness is neither fancy, nor 
i.mpostare nor self deceit. It is founded on repre- 



^86 The Value of Human happiness itsct/o 

sentations and feelings, of which we are as positive!}^ 
and intimately conscious as we are of our existence 
and our life ; and when these representations and 
feelings are agreeable, when they occasion us satis- 
faction and pleasure, then no man will make it a mat- 
ter of dispute, that it is well with us, that we are 
more or less happy. And where is he that has not 
had, that has not frequently had such representations 
and feelings, and has not felt himself happy in the 
consciousness of them ? Human happiness will also 
stand the test of reflection and consideration. It is 
not the \^'ork of deception, not an agreeable dream, 
that on our awaking vanishes away. It does not 
shun serenity and silence, willingly takes reason for 
its companion, and always remains what it previously 
was. Nay, only under these circumstances does it 
appear to the thinking and sentimental man in its 
full capacity and its real magnitude. Recount, 
O man, recount, in some calm and tranquil hour of 
life, all the benefits thou possessest, and which en- 
dow thy mind, thy person, and thy outward station; all 
the advantages in temporals and spirituals thou hast, 
and mayst acquire ; all the pleasures and delights 
thou enjoyest, and art capable of enjoying ; all the 
good that is in thee, and is effected by thy means ; 
all the prospects into a better futurity that lie open 
before thee : Reckon all these together, examine 
them as severely, as impartially, as thou wilt ; ask 
thyself whether these benefits are not real benefits, 
these advantages not real advantages, these pleasures 
and delights not real pleasures and delights, this good 
not actually good, these prospects not desirable and 
consoling ; and if thou canst not deny it, then it 
remains clear, that the happiness flowing from them 
is real happiness. 

No less diversified is human happiness than it is 
real. It is as diversified as the necessities, the capa- 



57z<f Falue of Human happiness itself. 28'T 

cities, the inclinations, the behavior, the temper, the 
eircLimstances, of mankiiid require. A thousand 
kinds of benefit and advantage are common to us 
all ; a thousand sources of satisfaction and pleasure 
stand open to us all. Are we not all enlightened by 
the same sun ? Are we not all cheered by its light 
and its heat ? Are not the beauties of nature dis- 
played before us all in their splendor and glory ? 
Are we not all transported with the vi^wofthemj 
when we regard and observe them ? Does not every 
thing that lives and moves inspil^e us with joy, when 
we open our ears and our hearts to its voice. Does 
not every thing elevate our mind to the creator and 
father of the world, and invite us to praise him as 
the allboutiful God ? Do we not all find the most 
agreeeable most delicious taste in the food and the 
drinks which his providence has granted us for our 
recreation and refreshment ? Are we not suscepti- 
ble of numberless agreeable sensual impressions and 
feelings ? Are not thousands and thousands of the crea- 
tures of the universe of service to us all ? Are not 
earth, water, air, fire, are not all the powers of na= 
ture devoted to our welfare, and employed in the 
advancement of it ? Are v/e not all a thousand 
times gladdened by the shining sky, the mild refresh- 
ing breeze, the field clothed with food and smiling 
with plenty, the tree fragrant with blossoms or 
laden with fruits, the shady forest, the limpid stream 
the rising joy of every living thing ? And how varie- 
gated is the pleasure that we all enjoy ! Do we 
not all enjoy the pleasure of life, and of free and 
voluntary motion ; the pleasure of thought and con- 
sideration, of investigation and discovery; the pleas- 
ure of labor and of rest ; of prudent designs, and 
of their successful execution ; the pleasure of the re» 
tired enjoyment of ourselves and of social converse 
with others ; the pleasure of received or aiibrded 



28S 57z^ Value of Human happiness itself i 

assistance ; the pleasure of cautiously avoided or of 
heroically conquered danger ; the pleasure of love 
and of friendship ; the pleasure of rational piety and 
devotion ? What sources of happiness ! How dif- 
ferent, and yet how rich and common I From whom 
are they totally debarred ? \\ hat mail has not used 
them ? Who may not daily draw from these foun- 
tains of pleasure t And how various must not the 
happiness be that is daily drawn from them ! Does 
not each age, each sex, each station, each course of 
life, each charge, eax^h connexion ; does not every 
season of the year, every climate, every country, 
every greater or smaller society, derive from them, 
its peculiar advantages, pleasures and joys, its own 
causes of agreeable sensations, of happiness ? And 
who, amid this diversity of sources and means of 
pleasure and good, need go eriipty away ? Who, but 
by his own fault can be wholly unhappy ? No ; Lord, 
the earth is full of thy riches ! 

If human happiness be various, so likewise is it 
great, abundantly great. Great in regard of the 
multitude of agreeable sensations ; great in regard of 
the vivacity and strength, as well as of the continu- 
ance of them. Who can enumerate the agreeable 
conceptions and sensations, which only one man has 
in one year, which only one man has in the whole 
course of his life ? Who is able to reckon up the 
multitude of agreeable ideas and sensations which at 
once exist in all living men in every hour, in every 
moment. To what a sum of happiness must not 
the whole result amount ! And how often do not 
these sensations proceed to transport ! How often do 
they not burst forth in tears of jov, in hearty mirth, 
in shouts of jubilation ! And how often do not whole 
years, and still longer periods of life, glide away in 
calm satisfaction to a man, wherdn he constantly 
feels pleased with his existence, and finds no cause of 



The Value of human Happiness itself, 289 

dissatisfaction or complaint ! Indeed, at the same 
time a thousand sorts of unpleasant ideas and feel- 
ings take place among mankind ; indeed, at the 
same time the tears of pain and sorrow are flowing 
from a thousand and a thousand eyes j but if this 
seem to diminish the bulk of human happiness, yet 
does it not remove it ; it still remains not only great 
but preponderatively great. Where is the man, who, 
in the aggregate, has had more disagreeable than a- 
greeable ideas and feelings, that has experienced more 
pain than pleasure ? And if there be such persons, 
how small is their number in comparison with the 
number of those that have had the contrary to re- 
joice in ! No, the preponderance of happiness above 
that of misery is great, and so sure as that there is 
more life than death, more health than sickness, more 
superfluity and satiety than hunger and want, more 
free and unimpeded exertion of mental and bodily- 
powers than total inaction or painful restriction of 
them, more love than hatred, more hope than fear, 
more dtisire for prolongation of life than for its ab- 
breviation amongst mankind I No, for one mourn- 
ful hour we pass in sighs, we may serenely and 
cheerfully live an hundred ; for one tear extorted 
by pain, we may shed a thousand tears of generous 
sensibility, or of sedate and pious joy ; for one mis- 
fortune that happens to us, a thousand of knov\n and 
unknown benefits fall to our lot. 

Lastly, human happiness is capable of an ever pro- 
gressive increase. And this uncommonly enhance^ 
its worth ; this puts all complaint of short sorrows 
and tranjsient misery to silence. Human happiness 
is not confined to the narrow limits of this life ; it is 
immortal, like the man that enjoys it. The happi. 
ness we here enjoy, enjoy as rational and good be- 
ings, is the path to still purer and higher happiness 
in a better world ; ^and the enjoyment of that capaci- 

VOL. II. U 



f 90 The Value of human Happiness itself. 

tatesus for the enjoyment of this purer and superior 
happiness. Let therefore human happiness be never 
so much alloyed at present, never so much inter- 
rupted, never so much circumscribed, what an im- 
portance, vi^hat a sweetness must it not receive from 
the prospect of its never ceasing, but always continu- 
ing, always improving, always becoming greater and 
more perfect, and at length totally vanquishing all 
evil and misery \ 

These, my pious hearers, are the general ideas 
which reason and experience give us of the nature 
and magnitude of human happiness. Allow me to 
subjoin a few rules for rightly appreciating and judg- 
ing of it in particular cases, or in regard to particu- 
lar persons. 

Wouldst thou, then, my christian brother, wouldst 
thou justly pronounce on the value of human happi- 
ness in particular cases, and poize it against human 
misery; tlien confound not prosperity and happiness 
together. Argue not from the defect of the one to 
the w^ant of the other. That is far more rare than 
this : That consists in outward advantages and goods 
that adorn us, and are sometimes beneficial to us, 
and sometimes hurtful ; this, in images of the mind 
and sensations of the heart, which procure us satisfac- 
tion and pleasure ; that is not in our power, this de- 
pends greatly on ourselves : Either may subsist inde- 
pendently on the other, they are often divided 
asunder; and as prosperity is not always attended 
by happiness, so neither is the former a necessary re- 
quisite of the latter. Indeed, if only the rich, the 
eminent, the great, the mighty, only such as are sur- 
rounded by splendor and opulence, only them that 
fare sumptuously every day, and pass their lives in 
tumultuous pleasures, are to be and to be accounted 
happy, tjien wilt thou fmd but little happiness a- 
mongstthesonsof men ; for, comparatively but few 



The Value of human Happiness itself, 291 

can be rich and eminent and great and migiity ; but 
few can distinguish themselves from others by- 
pomp and splendor, or by a luxurious and volup- 
tuous life, if, however, there be but few such dar- 
lings of fortune, then are there so many more hap- 
py, so many more cheerful and contented persons ; 
and whom thou mayst find in every station, among 
all the classes of mankind ; whom thou mayst and 
wilt very often find in the meanest cottage of the 
countryman, in the unornamented habitation of the 
artificer, not ufifrequently in the tattered garb of 
poverty^ and even under the squalid appearance of 
woe. 

Wouldst thou, farther, judge rightly of human 
happiness in particular instances ; then take as much 
care, on the other hand, not to account misfcr^tune 
and unhappiness as one and the same, or always 
from the presence of the one, to conclude on the 
presence of the other. No, misfortune does not al- 
ways imply, does not with wise and good persons 
imply unhappiness ; and our heavenly Father, who 
has ordained us to happiness has so constituted our 
nature and the nature of things, that we may expe- 
rience much misfortune and yet be happy, and still 
rejoice in his bounty and in our present and future 
existence. Let it be, that by untoward events, I 
suffer loss in my property, in my outward distinc- 
tions, in my health, in my fame, that some sources 
of my pleasure fail, that my friends and intimates 
forsake me ; let it be, that all this shakes the stem of 
my happiness, that it weakens and brings it to the 
ground ; is it therefore wholly and forever destroyed 
and overthrown ? May it not still, like the tree which 
has been bent by the storm to the earth, lift up its 
head again, and again be rich in blossoms and 
fruits, when the tempest is over and gone, and seren- 
ity and peace are once more restored I Have I, then, 



^92 The Value of Human Happiness itself. 

by these adverse events lost all the agreeable ideas 
and feelings I formerly had? With these outward 
goods and advantages, am I then likewise despoiled 
of my inward spiritual perfection, and the conscious- 
ness of what I am, and shall hereafter be ? Are, 
then my relations with God and the future world, 
which afforded me so much comfort and repose, dis- 
solved ? Do not, then, a thousand other sources of 
delight and joy still stand open to me ? Do not time 
and reflection and business heal the most painful 
wounds inflicted by misfortune ? Beware, then, of 
supposing every unfortunate man to be unhappy ! 
Misfortune is transitory : Happiness can stand out a 
thousand attacks of it, ere it can be torn from the 
spot where it has once taken root. On the same 
principle, beware too of always supposing trouble 
and misery to be wherever thou seest tears to flow. 
They flow as often, and probably oftener, from sour- 
ces of delight than of pain ; and we have commonly 
mingled sensations, in which the disagreeable is far 
over balanced by the pleasant ; sensations arising 
from the most cordial feelings of benevolence and 
affection to the human race, of virtue and greatness 
of mind, and not unfrequently are connected with 
the most enchanting recollections of blessings already 
enjoyed, and with the most delightful prospects of 
future bliss. 

Wouldst thou, thirdly, my christian brother, judge 
rightly of human happiness in particular cases, and 
in regard of particular persons, and not overlook the 
greater proportion of it ; then do not dwell merely, 
not principally on the extraordinary, the shining 
kinds and scenes of happiness, which attract the eye 
of every beholder : They are not indeed extremely 
frequent in the world ; but take likewise, and still 
more, into consideration, the placid, domestic pleas- 
ures and joys which lie concealed from the view. — - 



The Value of human Happiness itself, 29^ 

Bring into the account the permanent advantages 
and benefits a man enjoys, though because of their 
being constant, they excite in him no very strong 
emotions of joy and deHght. Seldom indeed can we 
enjoy the lively pleasure of returning health and of 
resiored life ; but dail) the calmer pleasure of the 
uninterrupted continuance of both. Seldom indeed 
are we able to bring great matters to effect, rarely to 
taste the delight of being the benefactor and the re- 
deemer of our brother ; but daily may we comfort 
and cheer ourselves in the reflection on having per- 
formed something good and useful in our station and 
calling. Rarely indeed can B'^e accomplish such re- 
markable and desirable alterations in our condition, 
as shall fill us with a peculiar and hitherto unknown 
delight ; but daily may we enjoy the innumerable 
agreeablenesses and advantages of it. Seldom can 
we perhaps, partake of public diversions, more rare- 
ly approach the bright and dazzling lustre of the 
fashionable circles of persons far above us in rank ; 
but daily may we eiij^y the pleasures of domestic 
life, of familiar ixitercourse, and the friendly conver- 
sation of our family, walk daily in the genial light 
which peace and satisfaction shed aroundus. Seldom 
perhaps, does our devotion kindle into transport ; 
but daily may it procure us comfort and repose and 
tranquil joy. And is only that, is not this likewise 
happiness ? Shall the good and the agreeable that 
we may so often, that we may daily enjoy, lose its 
value for the very reason that it so often, that it daily 
procures us satisfaction and pleasure ? Ought not 
this circumstance to render it so much the more 
precious to us ? Does it not therefore contribute so 
much the more to the sum of our a2:reeable ideas 
and feelings, and therefore to our happiiiess ? 

Wouldst thou, fourthly, my christian brother, 
rightly appreciate and rightly judge of human hap- 

% 



394 T^'he Value of human Happiness itself. 

piness, and that especially in regard of particular 
cases and persons ; then consider man not merely as 
a sensual, but likewise as an intelligent and moral 
creature, and take also into die account the benefits, 
the advantages, the pleasures he enjoys as such. — 
Or have we only then agreeable representations and 
feelings, are we happy only then, w hen our senses 
procure us pleasure and delight, when our appetites 
are flattered, when our animal cravings are satisfied, 
when we feel and enjoy the value of health, of bodily 
strength, of riches, and outward welfare ? Are we 
not as much and more so, as often as we apply our 
mental faculties with consciousness, and not without 
successful elTects : As often as we meditate on im- 
portant matters, or matters we hold to be important ; 
ias often as Vv^e discover any traces of truth ; as often 
as we adjust or increase our knowledge of whatever 
kind ? Are we not also happy as often as we feel 
the dignity of our nature, the grandeur of our destin- 
ation, our blessed connexions with the deity ; as 
often as we maintain, like free and rational beings, 
the dominion over ourselves, and over the things 
that are without us ; as often as we thence obtain a 
victory over evil ; as often as we observe that we 
are drawing nearer to christian perfection ? Are we 
not so, as often as w^e form a good design or bring it 
to effect, as often as we are actuated by benevolence 
and affection towards others ; as often as we are 
employed in beneficence ; as often as we have com- 
pleted some useful work, or faithfully discharged 
our duty ? Are we not so even then w hen we sacri- 
fice something to duty and to virtue, or to the com- 
mon interest ; when we bear and suffer for others 
from magnanimity or friendship ; when we endure 
adversity and misfortunes with fortitude, and become 
wiser and better by them ? Oh, how much more 
contented, how much more happy is, frequently^ 



T^he Value ef human Happiness itself, 295 

the obscure> but reflecting and virtuous moralist, the 
suffering but pious christian, than the opulent and 
dignified voluptuary, who is all flesh, and knows no 
other pleasures than what his senses procure him i 
How much more real and lasting pleasure does often 
one hour of calm and clear contemplation on im- 
portant objects, and the sedate enjoyment of our 
mental powers afford us, than whole days of noisy 
and tumultuous joys ! How much more does one 
generous or beneficial deed contribute to our satis- 
faction, than the ru shins: torrents of sensual amuse- 
ments which quickly pass away ! And yet how 
seldom are these purer pleasures, these sublimer 
joys brought into the account, in taking estimates of 
human happiness ! 

Wouldst thouj lastly, O man, evaluate properly 
thy own and thy brother's happiness ; then consider 
the human creature not barely in certain epochas or 
times, but in the whole capacity of his life and for» 
tunes. Connect the past, the present and the future 
so together in thy thoughts, as in the nature of things 
they are connected togethen If this or that period 
of the life of a man appears cloudy and wretched; 
another will cast the more light upon it, and evince 
more happiness enjoyed. The first entrance on busi- 
ness, on active life, is generally difiicult and toil- 
some, and its progress brings comfort and pleasure. 
Sometimes youth, and sometimes manhood is wealth- 
ier in happiness. Often is there more enjoyment 
in this life, often more qualification and preparation 
for future enjoy mento Wouldst thou state the sum 
of thy own or thy brother's happiness ; then set all 
these against each other, reckon all agreeable and 
cheerful sensations together, the innocent sportive 
delights of childhood, the livelier joys of youth, the 
more rational, nobler pleasures of the mature and 
advanced age. Think on all thou hast enjoyed^ and 

4 



296 The Value of human Happiness Itself » 

still enjoyest, of agreeable and good, and also wha^ 
thou may St hope to enjoy in future ; and all that thou 
art and hast and dost, that is good and profitable, 
and that thou mayst and wilt be and have and do ill 
all succeeding times. Forget not that thou art im- 
mortal, that thou art ordained to everlasting hap- 
piness, that thou art already happy in hope ; and, 
from the first fruits, conclude of the full harvest ; 
from the sweets of the foretaste, of the delicious- 
ness of complete fruition. These rules will guide 
thee safely in appreciating human happiness and 
enable thee to perceive its true nature and magni- 
tude. 

On the whole, my christian brother, conclude, 
that man was not made for misery by his creator 
and father, but was formed for happiness ; That to 
this end he is endowed with dispositions and capaci- 
ties for it ; that he finds in himself and without him 
the most various and abundant sources of satisfac- 
tion and pleasure ; and that it is almost always his 
own fault when he does not draw from them con- 
tentment and joy. 

Farther, conclude that human happiness is no in- 
significant, contemptible matter, as the unfortunate 
and the melancholy at times represent it to be, that 
none but the misanthropist can wholly be blind to 
it, none but the inconsiderate and thoughtless can 
hold it for a trifling object. And assuredly con- 
clude, that there is far, far more agreeable than dis- 
agreeable sensation, far more happiness than misery 
among mankind, far, far more good than evil in the 
world. In fine, exalt this comfortable idea by the 
just and grand sentiment ; that in the kingdom of 
God, the God of love, happiness will always abide, 
and be augmenting and spreading ; and that, on 
the other hand, misery will be ever diminishing 
and at length entirely cease, and be succeeded by 



^he Value of Human Happiness itself, 2§7 

perfection and bliss. So wilt thou think worthily 
of God, and justly of the state and destination of 
man. So wilt thou be always cheerful in the pres- 
ent life, and be constantly more fitted for the fu- 
ture. 



SERMON XLIIL 



Settlement of our Notions concerning Human Happi- 
ness, 



KJ GOD, the eternal, inexhaustible source of life 
of joy, of happiness,from thee flow life and joy and happiness 
on every part of thy immense creation. Whatever thou, 
AUgracious, hast created, thou hast formed for happiness^ 
and thy wisdom never fails of its ends. However various 
the methods by which thou leadest thy creatures to their 
destination, they by one way or another, sooner or later in- 
fallibly reach it. Us, too, thy children on earth, hast thou 
our merciful Father, destined to happiness, made us suscep- 
tible of it, and pointed out and opened to us numerous and 
rich sources both within and without us, from which we 
may draw satisfaction and pleasure. To none of us all are 
these sources entirely shut, none draw from them in vain, ^ 
Might we but seek our happiness there alone where it is 
really to be found, and as tvorthily use, as thankfully and 
cheerfully enjoy that portion of it which thou hast decreed to 
each of us as is necessary to thy views and to our welfare ! 
Might we ever better understand, what human happiness 
really is, ever form sounder notions of the way that leads 
to it, rightly distinguishing it from semblance and decep- 
tion, and learn with ever greater circumspection to walk 
that way ! Might we even now, that we are about to medi- 
tate on this subject, pursue our reflections with that seriousr 
ness and attention which the importanee of the matter de- 
wiands. Enlighten us by thy light, and guide us by thy 



True notion of human Happiness. 299 

holy spirit. Let thy truth dissipate our prejudices and 
errors, and grant that we may obediently follow its direc- 
tions and precepts. Oh hearken to our supplications, 
which we present unto thee in the name of our Lord and 
Savior Jesus Christ, reposing our entire confidence in his 
promises, and farther invoking thee in his words : Our 
lather, &c. 




LUKE xii. 15. 



A man's life cmsisteth mi in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 



EVERY living and thinking creature, my 
pious hearers, is striving and panting after happiness, 
childhood and youth, maturity and hoary age, the 
rough uncultivated man of nature and the more civ- 
ilized and polished member of society, the ignorant 
as well as the learned, the volatile as well as the 
grave, he who has reflected on happiness and ex- 
plored its various sources, as well as he to whom 
both the term and the idea are alike unknown and 
strange. Every one is desirous to rejoice in the life 
and the faculties which he feels within him ; every 
one to enjoy as much property, as many accommo- 
dations and pleasures, as he knows and can acquire ; 
every one abhors and shuns all disagreeable, painful 
ideas and feelings ; every one, on the other hand, 
wishes to augment the sum as well as the vivacity 
and force of his agreeable ideas and feelings. If the 



300 V^ruc notion of human Happiness* 

one acts with consciousness and consideration ; the 
other, in the same pursuit, ioIlo\^ s merely an in- 
ward irresistible instinct, an obscure sensation. If the 
one acts upon principles and determinate viev/s ; the 
other suiFers himself to be blindly led by the impres- 
sions and collisions of outward things, or by his 
sensual animal feelings. All run after the sam.e ob- 
ject ; but the ways they strike into to that end, tend 
very far asunder. None even entirely miss of their 
purpose ; but most of them attain to it along very 
toilsome roads, after long and dangerous deviations, 
after many vexatious disappointments ; attain to it 
only late, only very imperfectly, and pains and sor- 
rows mark most of the steps they have made. 

But, since the longing and the endeavoring after 
happiness is so natural to man, and is so intimately 
blended with all that he thinks and wills and does ; 
it is undoubtedly of the utmost moment, that he 
should give them the proper direction j that direction 
whereby he may the most certainly, the most safely > 
the most completely accomplish his desire. Who- 
ever is once arrived at that stage of human culture 
that he can reflect on happiness and misery, and on 
the means and sources of it, and is frequently and 
cogently summoned to reflect upon them, should 
not satisfy himself with obscure and confused ideas 
on these subjects. Otherwise he would be still far- 
ther from the mark than his unenlightened, entirely 
sensual brother. He should rather strive to adjust 
and ever more accurately to ascertain his ideas on 
these important matters. We, my pious hearers, 
w^e are at that stage of civilization ; as persons who 
are acquainted with their intellectual faculties and 
understand the use of them ; and as christians, who 
have a superior light to enlighten and to guide them 
on the vv^ay of truth. Let us assert our privileges 
by forming to ourselves just conceptions of human 



True notion of human Happiness. i>6\ 

happiness. This is the design of my present dis- 
course. 

A man's life consists not, says Jesus in our text^ 
no man lives, no man is rendered happy, by the 
abundance of his possessions. This expression of 
our divine teacher points out to us the track by 
which we are to seek, or not to seek our happiness^ 
Let us pursue this track by circumstantially weigh- 
ing wherein our happiness consists or does not con- 
sist, and by what way we may most surely arrive at 
it. Subjects of reflection, certainly meriting our ut- 
most attention and our most cordial participation. 

A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of 
his possessions ; therefore, human happiness consists 
not in the possession of outward goods and advan- 
tages, not in wealth and affluence, not in elevation 
and power, not in those things that mankind reckon 
worldly prosperity. Experience teaches us that a 
man may have all these things, that he may possess 
them in an ample, a superfluous degree, and yet be 
unhappy ; and that on the other hand he may be 
destitute of all or of the greatest part of these things^ 
and yet be happy. Or, are all, are even most of 
the rich and great and powerful happy ? Are they 
content, pleased, satisfied ? Are they truly comfort- 
able in what they have and possess ? Do they find 
in the use and enjoyment of it, all that they hoped 
and expected from it ? Do they enjoy it Vvithout 
apprehensions and without cares ? Do these advan- 
tages shield them from all the troubles and vexations 
of life, from pains and sicknesses, from the eflects of 
envy and jealousy, from the pernicious violence of 
inordinate and corrupt passions ? Are not their 
wants very often only so much the more numerous 
and great, their desires and appetites the more vio- 
lent and insatiable, in proportion as they have more 
means and opportunities to comply with them, and 



502 True notion of human Happiness, 

to give ear to their impetuous cravings ? Does not 
frequently their dependence on others, their bond- 
age, their actual slavery, increase in proportion as 
they want more things and persons to the gratifica- 
tion of their desires and to the execution of their 
projects ? On the other hand, are all those un- 
happy who live in an inferior station, w'ho are desti* 
tute of the goods, of fortune and outward advan- 
tages ? Are all, are many of the sources of pleas- 
ure, shut up against them ? Are peace of mind, 
content, delight unknown and foreign to them ? 
Do they not frequently enjoy them in a far superior 
degree, far more carlessly and freely, than those 
pretended favorites of fortune ? Does not the low- 
liness and obscurity of their station secure them from 
a thousand dangers and troubles ? Have they not 
all that nature and religion offer to the man and the 
christian, in common with the rich and the mighty \ 
Is not generally their taste less vitiated, and their 
sensibility stronger and more lively ? Is not their 
happiness less dependent on accidents and vicissi- 
tudes ? Cannot a man very often be far more 
blithe in himself and his existence, in silence and in 
solitude than in noise and tumult? No, my dear 
friends, outward welfare, wealth, superfluity^ eleva- 
tion, power, pomp, and splendor may in and of 
themselves consist with happiness ; they do not al- 
ways discard it ; they may rather, as means, wheii 
rightly estimated and used, "promote it : But they 
form no necessary, no essential part of it. The ab- 
sence of them is not always, is 'not in most cases, at^ 
tended by the want of happiness. This can very 
well subsist without them,^.it is seen very often with- 
out them. Of this neither reflection nor observation 
will allow us to doubt. A man's life consists not in 
the abundance of the things that he possesses. 



True notion of human Happlmss^ 305 

Just as little necessary is it to human happiness, 
that all our undertakings should succeed, that all 
our plans and designs should be accomplished, all 
our wishes fulfilled, ail our desires be gratified. 
Our desires arc but too often sordid and corrupt, 
our wishes foolish, our plans and designs injurious to 
ourselves and others, our undertaknigs unjust, or 
incoherent, or impracticable. Were it not for the 
various bounds prescribed us by the nature and the 
course of things and thfe overruling providence of 
God, there would certainly be far more pain and 
suffering, more grief and misery among mortals ; 
and never would creatures who see no farther than 
w^e do be more happy than if all went with them 
according to their wishes. Were it not for the nu- 
merous obstacles and difficulties that we meet with 
in the world, were it not for the opposition that 
checks us on all sides, and forces us to reflection and 
consideration, were it not for the painful experiments 
we so frequently make of our weakness, of our 
temerity, of our ignorance and folly, and of the 
facility with which we err, and are deceived, we 
should never become intelligent and wise, never 
rightly judge of our faculties and capacities, and 
never use them in the best manner, never distinguish 
between semblance and reality, the shadow and the 
substance, and consequently never learn to build 
our happiness on a firm and durable foundation. 
No, even unsuccessful attempts and efforts, even 
frustrated plans and designs, even unaccomplished 
wishes and ung-ratified desires mav well consist Vv'ith 
human happiness. By that means many greater 
and more continued evils and pains, injuries a- d 
impositions are removed or averted from us. By 
that means we are exercised in the use and applica- 
tion of our faculties in the most diversified manner, 
and they acquire an ever truer and firmer direction. 



504 ^rue notidn of hwftian Happiness o 

By that means our reason is ever gaining a completer 
mastery and authority over our sensuality, and at 
every step by which we approach towards perfection 
we at the same time approach towards happiness. — 
By that means, in short, we learn ever better to 
understand the mark after which we are striving 
and the way that leads to it, and ever more cir- 
cumspectly and cautiously to walk that way. 

Hence it follows, that human happiness cannot 
consist in a state of purely agreeable ideas and sensa- 
tions, much less in the enjoyment of merely raptur- 
ous delight and lively pleasure. Both the one and 
the other would be manifestly at variance with our 
nature, and with the nature of the other things that 
surround us and with which we are in connexion.- — 
A body, formed of dust, destructible in its nature, 
which is so liable to injury, to harm, to dissolution; 
a place of abode that is subject to so many alterations 
and vicissitudes, on which all is unstable, all as it 
were in a perpetual ebb and flow ; a mind that iii 
regard to perceptions and faculties is so limited, 
vrhich so often mistakes and errs, and whose opera- 
tions depend in so many respects on that earthly and 
frail body ; a life that has such a variety of wants and 
imposes on us so many duties which we cannot ade- 
quately perform without great pains and toil ; a so- 
ciety of persons, in short, who are as limited, as 
v/eak and frail as ourselves ; all this renders it ut- 
terly impossible that we could have none but agree- 
able ideas and sensations, or could endure a state of 
uninterrupted, continual, ecstatic pleasure, if it were 
even possible. We ourselves and all the objects 
that surround us must be quite otherwise constituted ; 
we must not be men, the place of our abode must 
not be the earth, our goods and possessions must not 
be transitory, our perceptions and faculties must be 
far greater and more independent, for rendering 
such a state conceivable. And whoevej: should ac- 



True notion of human Happiiiess, 30^ 

tbunt that to be human happiness and '^trive after it, 
would deceive himself, and pursue a vision which he 
would never be able to attain. 

No, human happiness, summarily to comprize what 
has been said, human happiness depends more on 
what Vv'e ourselves are, what we think, feel and will, 
than on what is without us, or what we possess of 
outward goods and advantage : It depends more on 
the use and the application of our faculties them- 
selves and on the method in which we use and apply 
them, than on those things that we perform and 
execute by them : And it consists in the prepon- 
derance of our agreeable ideas and sensations over 
the disagreeable. If order and tranquillity prevail 
within us, in our sentiments and feelings, in our 
desires and affections, then no kind of disorder and 
dissention from without can make us really un- 
happy, though they may weaken and disturb our 
pleasure : If by the application of our faculties we 
exercise and expand them, and do so with conscious- 
ness and consideration, we feel that we are thus be- 
coming more intelligent, more expert, more perfect, 
that we are proceeding from one step of culture to 
another, and this sentiment must procure us delight, 
even when we do not produce the alterations with- 
out us, to the production whereof we applied our 
faculties in each particular case : If, in short, we 
experience and enjoy more good than evil; are of- 
tener able than unable to employ our faculties ; find 
more opportunities and means than obstacles and 
opposition to our improvement and perfection ; and 
have more causes for being satisfied than dissatisfied 
with ourselves and our condition, then our agreea- 
ble ideas and sensations thus gain the preponderance 
over the disagreeable, and the more remarkable 
this preponderance is, so much the greater and more 
complete is the human happiness which we can here 
Vol. 1L W 



S06 True notion of human HappinesL 

on earth enjoy. As various and different as the 
sum and the vivacity and strengtli of agreeable and 
disagreeable ideas and sensations are in human souls; 
so various and different are also the degrees of hap- 
pim ss which they enjoy. Perfectly pure and unal- 
loyed happiness is peculiar to the most perfect mind 
alone. The greater the distance of any kind and 
class of beings from this supreme perfection ; so 
much the greater is also the mixture of the good 
and the evil, the agreeable and the disagreeable in 
their condition and in the ideas and sensations which 
they have. Human happiness is therefore not out- 
ward prosperity, not the accomplishment of all our 
wishes and designs, not the uninterrupted enjoyment 
of pleasure and delight, but a state that procures us 
more satisfaction than dissatisfaction, more pleasure 
than displeasure, more agreeable than disagreeable 
ideas and sensations. 

And how arises, whereon is grounded this pre- 
ponderance of the good over the evil, the agreeable 
over the disagreeable in human souls ? On what 
therefore rests their happiness ? It is grounded and 
it rests on wisdom, on virtue, on piety. These, my 
dear friends, are the three principal and most abun- 
dant sources of human happiness. Let us approach 
these sources, more circumstantially observe theif 
salutary efficacies, and see in what connexion they 
stand with our happiness and w^hat influence they 
have upon it* 

The first source, the first ground of human happi- 
ness is wisdom : The good use of the understanding 
and the proper application of it to all the occur- 
rences, businesses, advantages and goods, joys and 
sorrows of this life. This wisdom teaches us to esti- 
mate the objects that surround us, with which we 
are in connexion, which we enjoy or have not, after 
which we strive or do not strive, and to esteem or 



%'ue ?iotion of human Happiness, 30? 

despise, to love and seek or to abhor and avoid them, 
pr:)nortionabIy to their value, their destination, their 
relations, towards us and others^ and towards the 
whoie to wliich tley and we belong. It teaches us 
to distinguish semblance from reality, form from 
substance, momentary pleasure from permanent 
satisfaction, transient often salutary pain from actual 
misery, the means from the end, possession from en^ 
joyment and use ; it teaches us to hold every object 
for what it really is, for as dispensable or as indis- 
pensable, for as transitory and fugacious, or for as 
iintransitory and permanent, for as important and 
grccit, for as insignificant and small, for as covetable 
or for as indifferent, as, in regard to its real nature 
and quality and the whole scope of its consequences 
and effects, it is. And if we learn this, w hat an in^ 
fluence must it not have on our happiness ! How 
very much must it not facilitate and smiOoth to us 
the path to its sanctuary ! How much seldomer 
should w^e be deceived in our expectations ! How 
much seldomer exert our faculties in vain and fail 
of our designs ! How much seldomer be surprised 
or impatiently grieve at what happens to ourselves 
and to others ! How much more carfily dispense 
with what has only the semblance of good, and en- 
; dure what has only the outward form or is only the 
' first advertisement of evil ! How much more com- 
pletely enjoy the good that is and remains good in 
itself! Is not the v/ant of this wisdom, this just 
judgment of the value of tilings^ one of the primary 
sources of all the defeated hopes, all the frustrated 
; expectations, all the disappointments, all the fruitless 
undertakings and exertions, all the sorrow and all 
the remorse, all the discontent and all the misery of 
mankind ? They seek what is no where to be found, 
j or seek it where it is not to be had ; they expect 
, from mankind and things, far more than either the 
2 



308 True notion of human Happiness, 

one or the other is capable of alFording ; they rim 
in quest of every deceitful phantom, ^Ytvy empty 
shadow, with as much eagerness as if they were in 
chase of the substance itself, and then break forth 
into bitter lamentations on discovering their error 
too late. Wouldst thou avoid these mistakes on the 
career of happiness, O man ; incline thine ear unto 
wisdom, apply thy heart to understanding, let them 
guide and conduct thee ; so shalt thou make but 
few unavailing steps towards the mark. 

Another source, another ground of human happi- 
ness is virtue ; the overbalancing, predominant love 
for whatever is true and beautiful, right and good, 
the constant readiness to act conformably to truth, 
to order, to the nature and relations of 'things, and 
to do the will of God. This virtue reduces all our' 
inclinations to order and harmony, directs them all 
to the best, worthiest, most permanent objects, gives 
them all their proper pitch, and strengthens and 
weakens them according to the nature and import- 
ance of the subject. Virtue secures us from innu- 
merable follies and puerile wishes, from vain, extrav- 
agant affections, from inordinate violent passions ; 
she helps us to the mastery over ourselves and out- 
ward things, and teaches us to make a good, in 
every case the best, use of all that we have and be- 
falls us. And how much, how infinitely much do 
we not thus gain in regard to happiness ! What 
sources of disappointment, of uneasiness and vexa- 
tion, of dissatisfaction are annihilated where neither 
envy, nor pride, nor selfishness, nor covetousness^, 
nor sordid ambition contract and infect the heart I 
And what sources of satisfaction are not opened j 
where modesty and affection, where generous, mag- 
nanimous sentiments and inclinations bear sway ! 
How many things cannot the virtuous man dispense 
with without trouble ! How many others lose with-* 



True notion of human Happiness. 309 

jOUt vehement pain ! How easily is he pleased, with 
what satisfaction does he not behold all that is con- 
sistent with the laws of order, \vith the lavs of the 
greatest possible good ! How miJtiphed, how en- 
hanced are his satisfactions, his pleasures, his advan- 
tages by the share he takes in the pleasures, the sat- 
isfactions, the advantages of his brethren ! How 
easy a matter he finds it to bear, to suffer, to work 
for others, and how agreeable to him are not fre- 
quently the sacrifices he makes to the general benefit, 
to the welfare of any of his fellow creatures ! Yes^ 
the less virtue, so much the more misery ; the more 
virtue, so much the more happiness. Both con- 
stantly increase in the same proportion ; boih are 
susceptible of infinite augmentation. 

The third source, the third ground of human 
happiness is piety, or the virtue that is founded on 
religion, which does and endures, dispenses with 
and enjoys all things from obedience and from love 
towards God. It calls us to consider all things, the 
evil as well as the good, the adverse as well as the 
desirable, in its dependency on God, to revere them 
all as ordinances and dispensations of his sovereign 
wisdom and goodness, as infallible means to the at- 
tainment of his all comprehending designs, as the 
way xo superior perfection. It teaches us, in all that 
happens and does not happen, in whatever befalls 
us and others, in small matters as in great, in the. 
deepest night of affliction as in the splendor of pros- 
perity, to adore the hand of our Father in heaven 
as holy and unblameable, and to expect from him 
only good, and constantly the best. It opens to us 
prospects into a better world, where the ways of 
God with mankind will be more discovered, where 
we shall better perceive the combination of our for- 
tunes, where many disquieting difficulties and mys- 
teries will be solved, where at last pure truth, pur© 



• 



310 True notion of human Happiness. 

order, pure happiness will prevail ; prospects that 
even here already greatly enhance the value of w hat- 
ever good the pious man enjoys, and considerably 
diminish the pressure of all the evil he experiences 
and beholds. Yes, in his eyes most objects acquire 
a quite different aspect. He stands firm and undis- 
mayed amidst a thousand formidable appearances 
cind events, by which others are stupificd and over- 
thrown. In favor of him many restrictions and 
troubles are converted into benefits, many sorrows 
into joys, many evils into sources of greater good. 
Darkness itself is often lio-ht to him ; and he sees 
causes and reasons for calmness and content^ where 
others find onlv matter for lamentation and com- 
plaint. So true it is that in this respect also godti- 
ness is profitable to ail things, and is the firmest 
ground, the richest source of human happiness. 

Yes, wisdom, virtue, piety, to you will we expand 
our hearts ; you shall be or guides and companions 
on the way of happiness. You shall teach us rightly 
to judge, rightly to choose, circumspectly to act. 
You shall dispense light to our minds, peace and 
tranquillity to our hearts, truth to our thoughts and 
sensations, order and harmony to our whole deport- 
ment. You shall teach us to understand our facul- 
ties and our destination, to use the former in the best 
manner, and to advance towards the latter by the 
directest way. Under your guidance and conduct, 
in confidence and courage, we will pursue our 
course towards the mark, and ever be as sure of 
seizing it as if we had hold of it already. 



SERMON XLIV. 



^he Difference between Prosperity and Happiness, 



\J GOD, thou hast ordained us to happu 
ness and made us capable of the enjoyment of it. We are 
constantly longing and striving after happiness and thy pa- 
rental kindness is ever opening to us the most various and 
abundant sources of it. Might we not so often thought- 
lessly and negligently pass them by, but draw from them 
as much pleasure and delight as they are able to afford \ 
Alas, we are too often deceived by appearances ! We 
are often dazzled and misled by the glittering forms of 
pleasure and happiness, which are not and yield not, what 
they pretend to be and to yield ! Yes, we frequently spend 
our strength in vain, and -with wearisome, fruitless ardor, 
seek our happiness where it is not to be found. We fre- 
quently shun and avoid, as misery and ^nhappiness, what 
would prove a real benefit, a permanent blessing to us. 
We too often pursue the shadow with childish impetuosity, 
and let the substance escape. And yet complain of misery 
and want of happiness as of inevitable evils, as necessary 
consequences of the present constitution of things. No, 
Lord> thou art righteous, thou art benignity and love, but 
we think and act often foolishly^ often confound semblance 
with reality, and seek not so much what is really true and 
good and remains true and good forever, as what glitters 
and shmes, and promises us transient, fugacious joys and 
advantages. O God, do thou thyself draw us back ever 
more from these deviations. Teach us rightly to think 
*Tid to judge of what may make us happy or unhappy, and 



312 The Difference betiveen 

to choose between them with true christian wisdom. Let 
thy hght, the light of truth, enlighten us, and thy spirit 
guide and conduct us in all our ways. Bless, to the fur- 
therance of these designs, the exercise of reflection we are 
i)ow about to begin on these important subjects. Let thy 
holy spirit in ail things direct and rule our hearts, and 
hearken to our prayer through Jesus Christ, our blessed 
Lord, in whose name and words we address thpc as wc 
ought : Our father, Sec, 



PROVERBS iv. 20, 21, 22. 



^y sen, atttndto my words ; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not de* 
part from thine eyes ; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life 
unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 



COULD I call your attention, and make it a 
matter of consequence to you, my pious hearers, 
to remark the difference between some few words 
and the objects they denote, which in all languages 
are more or less confounded, and used as synoni- 
mous, I think I should very much contribute to your 
moral improvement and your happiness. These 
words are Prosperity and Happiness, Adversity and 
Unhappiness, Fortunate and Happy, Unfortunate 
and Unhappy. That the objects thereby signified 
are essentially different, may and must be presently 
discovered by every reflecting person. Reflecting, 
however, as well as unthinking persons but too 
frequently confound >vords and things in their 



Prosperity and Happiness* 313 

minds and judgments, in their discourses and ac- 
tions ; and thus the former as well as the latter, 
though in an inferior degree, ar^^ led into numberless 
errors, false and shallow judgments, into transgres- 
sions and follies, into anxieties and troubles. Who- 
.ever should constantly avoid this confusion, avoid it 
in thinking as well as in speaking, in common life 
as well as in scientific exercises ; whoever in this 
respect should think precisely and speak precisely ; 
such an one would certainly, in point of satisfaction 
and happiness, of wisdom and virtue, far excell every 
other who should not do so. The subject therefore 
well deserves that we should employ ourseiv^es some- 
what longer upon it. It seems at first to relate 
merely to words ; but they are words that have an 
extraordinary influence on morals, that do far, far 
more good or harm among mankind, than is usually 
imagined. And therefore the siguification and use 
of them is not an object of idle curiosity, but must 
stand in the closest connexion with whatever we are 
most concerned in. May these remarks excite you 
to attention, to continued attention to my present 
discourse and to the careful application of it ! My 
design is accurately to state the manifold and essen- 
tial difference between prosperity and happiness and 
the words and objects relating to them ; and then 
point out to you, what a beneficial influence this dis- 
tinction must have on your judgments, dispositions 
and actions. If, in pursuance of the admonition in 
our text, in this respect too, we let not wisdom de- 
part from our eyes ; if we hearken to her dictates, 
and follow her precepts, we shall be prudent and 
happy, or intelligent persons. 

By prosperity we understand all outward goods 
and advantages, all vicissitudes and events that are 
conformable with our wishes and views, that can 
promote our welfare, that promise us the gratification 



314 The Differ€7ice between 

of our wants, or the removal of our troubles and 
the cessations of our sufferings, or means of accom- 
modation, of pleasure and joy ; and the greater and 
more covctable these things appear to us, the more 
we feel the want of them, the less reason we have to 
expect them, and the more unexpectedly they fall 
to our lot : So much the greater, in our estimation, 
is the prosperity that we experience. To such goods 
of fortune belong riches, superfluity, station, rank, 
eminence, power, honor, authority, health, strength, 
success in our businesses and undertakings, deliver- 
ance from danger and distress, execution of our pro- 
jects, attainment of our views, and the like. Ad^ 
versity is the opposite to ail this. It is loss of our 
property and advantages, loss in health and strength, 
in influence and power : It consits in adverse events, 
unforeseen impediments and difficulties, in pain and 
sicknesses, enemies and perils, and the like. — Hap- 
piness or unhapplness, on the contrary, is the state 
of pleasure or displeasure, of content or of discontent, 
in which the man is ; and which is principally- 
determined by the thoughts, sentiments, desires, pro- 
pensities, views, appetites, that predominate in him 
and over him, by the degree of his moral goodness 
and perfection. Hence, my pious hearers, it already 
plainly appears, that prosperity and adversity, happi- 
ness and unhappiness, are not necessarily connected 
together, that they are not the same things, that they 
rather are essentially different from each other. There 
are cases enough where every man makes the proper 
distinction between these words, because there the. 
mutual interchange of them would be too glaringly 
absurd : And this shews, that they are really distinct 
from each other, and in like manner in all other cases 
ought to be distinguished. Let us now consider 
this difference on several other sides, in order to im- 
print them more deeply on our minds, and then 



Prosperity and Happiness, 315 

proceed to draw from them consequences of the 
greatest importance to us, which may have the most 
influence on our judgments and on our behavior. 

Prosperity and adversity are somewhat without us ; 
happiness and unhappiness somewhat that is within 
us. Riches and poverty, elevated and humble sta- 
tion, health and sickness, progress and opposition, 
are without us, relate to our outward condition, to 
the relations and connexions in which we stand to- 
wards the rest of mankind and visible things, to our 
body, which is not ourself, but which our soul at 
present inhabits and employs as its instrument. 
Pleasure and displeasure, on the other hand, content 
and discontent, are within us, relate to our internal 
condition, to the way of thinking and temper of our 
soul, to its relation towards truth and virtue, towards 
God its creator, and the invisible the spiritual world ; 
they are peculiar to our spirit, and determine its be- 
ing, its life, its activity. 

Again : Prosperity and adversity depend not al- 
ways, and never entirely on ourselves, on our own 
will and endeavor, but on a thousand accidental 
circumstances and things, that are not in our power, 
that we can seldom forsee, seldom bring to pass, 
seldom combine with our views, and as seldom em- 
ploy to the furtherance and attainment of them ac- 
cording to our Vvishes. It never depends on us in 
what station we shall be born and educated, in what 
character we shall appear on this scene of things ; 
and seldom, extremely seldom is it, to any consid- 
erable degree, in our choice, to become as rich, as 
powerful, as great, to be as healthy and strong, and 
to pursue our way to this or the other aim, as un- 
impeded, as we might wish. Neither prosperity nor 
adversity is so combined with the moral character 
and the moi^al conduct of mankind, as to enable us 
to draw conclusions from the one to the other, and 



316 The Difference between 

to consider them both as cause and effect. Their 
are goods and evils distributed by the father of man- 
kind among his children, from reasons very diverse, 
and for the most part concealed from us. Happi- 
ness and unhappiness, on the other hand, depend 
mostly, depend in some sort entirely upon us. Ac- 
cording as we think and judge thus, or otherwise, 
are thus or otherwise disposed, thus or otherwise be- 
have towards God and man : So are we pleased or 
displeased, contented or discontented ; so all sur- 
rounding objects appear to us thus ox otherv/ise, 
with a brilliant or with a gloomy aspept ; so troubles 
and evils change for us into advantages and benefits 
but likewise goods and joys into want and pain. — : 
Though it frequently does not depend on us to be 
prosperous, that is, to be rich, eminent or mighty ; 
Yet it certainly depends on us to be happy, that is, 
to be contented and pleased, and to rejoice in our 
lives. Though we cannot avert and remove from 
us all misfortune, all adverse events, yet certainly 
we can avoid unhappiness or misery, if we do but 
earnestly resolve on it. If we are notable to change 
outward things according to our pleasure ; yet can 
we so altar our represantations of them, our whole 
turn of thought and temper, as reason and our own 
benefit require us to do. 

Yet more. Prosperity and adversity are somewhat 
transitory, somewhat extremely changeable and tran- 
sient : Happiness and unhappiness, on the other 
hand, are far more stationary and lasting. The aspect 
and the w^orth of the former vary with every altera- 
tion of age, of health, of mode of life, of taste, of the 
outward connexions and relations of the man. Ac- 
cording to the variety of these circumstances, pros- 
perity often changes into adversity, and the latter 
into the former. Power and distinctions are fre- 
quently but splendid burdens, and the loss of thenr^ 



Prosperity and Happiness, 317 

procures freedom and repose. And is not all that 
is termed prosperity and adversity subject to the 
greatest instability, to the most various and sudden 
vicissitudes ? Is it not entirely confined to this ter- 
restial life ? Will not both of them be buried with 
us ? Do not both the one and the other remain be- 
hind, on our passing over to another state ? Happi- 
ness and unhappiness, on the other hand, how much 
more unchangeable and lasting ! Pleasure and dis- 
pleasure are and remain everlastingly pleasure and 
displeasure, in recollection as in enjoyment ; content 
and discontent are and remain everlastingly content 
and discontent in every age, in every station j in 
every mode of life, in every connexion, while we 
live and when we are dying, on this side and beyond 
the grave, in this and in the future Vv^orld. The 
habit of mind and temper of the man alter not so 
easily as his outward condition. The former make 
deeper, more durable impressions on the soul than 
the latter ; impressions which neither death nor the 
grave efface, which accompany him into eternity, 
and there form the basis of his superior felicity, or 
Jiis greater misery. Be we as fortunate or unfortu- 
nate as we may, yet we must at one time cease, yet 
we must soon cease to be so ; happy or unhappy 
we may be and continue for a whole eternity. Not 
prosperity, but happiness, passes over with us in all 
future worlds and eternities : Not adversity, but 
unhappiness and misery, can also pursue us thither. 
This is not all. Prosperity and adversity have 
their stated magnitude, a highest summit w hich 
they cannot overtop. The nearer they approach to 
that, the nearer they draw to their end, the more 
sure and infallible is the declension of one and the 
cessation of the other. Plappiness, on the other 
hand, knows no bounds ; it is, like the perfection 
whereon it rests, capable of an augmentation and 



518 ^he Difference befmeeH 

elevation to infinit}^ The sources of pleasure and 
of content are no less various than inexhaustible lo 
every intelligent mind, that has learnt to prize and to 
use them ; and their enjoyment is not attended 
with satiety and surfeit, vidiile the possession of 
prosperity easily excites languor and disrelish. But 
likewise unhappiness may arise to a very high de- 
gree, so as to exceed by far all the hardships and 
pressures of adversity. It can overpower all the 
capacities and faculties of the man, and fill them all 
with pain and anguish. It attacks him in his very 
heart, and is as closely, as intimately connected with 
him as his own thoughts and sensations. 

To conclude : Prosperity is a means ; happiness 
is an ultimate end. Happiness is the mark at which 
we all run ; unhappiness the abyss we all endeavor 
to avoid. We seek riches, honor, and various out- 
ward advantages, in order to be happy ; we shun 
poverty, lowness of station, contempt and the like, 
in order to be not unhappy. We seek those goods, 
and shun these evils only in so far as we hold them 
to be fit means for leading us to that mark, or for 
preserving us from this abyss. As certainly, then^ 
and essentially as means and end, mark and way to 
the mark, are different from each other ; so certainly 
and essentially are prosperity and happiness, adver- 
sity and unhappiness different from each other. 

From the difference bet^veen these words and ob- 
jects, which after considering it on various sides, we 
have found to be undeniable on allj let us proceed ta 
deduce some of the most important of consequences^ 
and make the application of them to our judgments 
and our behavior. 

One perfectly natural consequence of the differ- 
ence we have observed between these words and the 
objects signified by them is this: Not everyone 
can be prosperous ; but every one can be happy.— 



Prosperity and Happiness. SID 

Not every one can escape adversity, or remove ail 
adversity from him j but every one can avoid unhap« 
piness, and defend himself from misery. The mat- 
ter is selfevident, and needs no demonstration. Not 
every one can be healthy, strong, beautiful, rich/ 
powerful, great ; but every one can think reasonably 
and judge justly, every one can learn lo v/ill and to 
seek only what is best, every one can get the mastery 
over himself and his sensual appetites, square his life 
by the precepts of wisdom, addict himself to virtue 
and piety, and by these means lay a firm foundation 
for lasting content and durable pleasure. Not every 
one can avert from him want, loss, meanness of con» 
dition, scorn, pain, bondage, adverse events ; but 
every one can weaken the unpleasant, hurtful effects 
and impressions of these things upon him, can learn 
to bear them with patience and fortitude, can use 
them to his moral improvement, and maintain not- 
withstanding them, the cheerfulness of his mind and 
the serenity of his soul. If prosperity and adversity 
depend on a thousand accidental things that are 
without us ; yet happiness and unhappiness depend 
on our own choice, on our own will and endeavor, 
purely on things that belong to ourselves, and over 
which we have at least more power than over any 
thing else. 

Another consequence, Rowing no less naturally 
from it, is this : The prosperous man is not ahvavs 
happy, and the unhappy not always unprosperous* 
If the nature of the thing itself did not inform us 
of this, history and experience would not allow us 
to doubt it. Or is then every rich, every powerful, 
every titled, every healthy and strong man happy I 
Is, on the other hand, every poor, ^wi^rj indigent, 
every low, every sick and weak man, every manser- 
vant, every maidservant, all of those called the vul- 
gar, unhappy ? Are then the former always content 



320 7he Difference between 

and pleased, always brisk and merry ; and the latter 
always displeased and dissatisfied, always sad and 
dejected ? How frequently do not the former envy 
the better lot of the latter ? How often do they not 
wish to exchange their splendid misery, their glit* 
tering burdens for the seeming penury and the un- 
noticed obscurity of the latter! How frequently 
does not the gaiety, the tranquillity of mind, the un- 
solicitous content of these, put to shame the corrod- 
ing care and disquietude, the anxious solicitude, 
that prey upon the others. No, here semblance and 
reality, form and substance, are not always perhaps, 
but rarely found together. So easily do prosperity 
and adversity blind and deceive us, so easily do hap- 
piness and unhappiness lie concealed from our eyes. 
The former attract and effect observation and noise : 
The latter love, and seek silence and retreat, and are 
apt to withdraw from every prying observer. 

A third consequence from our foregoing remarks 
is this : The prosperous may indeed be at the same 
time happy, but he will not be so and is not so 
merely by the possession of his good fortune ; where- 
as the happy man is not necessarily in want of pros- 
perity in order to his happiness ; he can be happy 
without it. Indeed the rich, the powerful, the great 
man, may be also happy, he may be pleased and 
contented. But he is not and will not be so, at least 
he is not and wall not be so for any long time, not 
in a lasting and substantial manner, merely because 
he is rich, because he is powerful, because he is great. 
In order to be and to become thus happy, he must 
be also intelligent and wise, virtuous and pious, he 
must understand, possess and enjoy nobler, more 
durable goods and advantages, he must make the 
best, the worthiest use of his outward prosperity. 
Whereas, if the man, by a just, noble way of think- 
ing and acting, by v/ell regulated affections andap- 



Prosperity and Happiness, 52 1 

petltes, by an innocent, virtuous life, by true, chris- 
tian piety, has brought peace and serenity within, 
and expanded his heart to the influences of the love 
of God and man : Then he needs neither to be rich 
nor powerful, nor great, nor healthy and strong, nor 
to possess other outward advantages, in order to be 
happy, and to be ever becoming happier. He can 
dispense with all those things, can be divested of 
them all, and yet be at his ease ; and yet be con- 
tented, cheerful and gay. 

Not prosperity therefore, this is a fourth conse- 
quence, not prosperity, but happiness is the mark 
after which w^e should strive ; not adversity, but un- 
happiness is the evil that we should shun and avoid 
with all our care. Unless we observe this distinc- 
tion, and regulate our behavior accordingly^ we 
shall waste our powers to no purpose, we shall miss 
of our aim, and shall sooner or later repent of our 
error. Thus it frequently happens that we strive 
with unwearied eiforts after riches and abundance, 
as after the sovereign good of man. But are then 
riches and abundance one and the same thing w ith 
happiness ? Can we then tell before hand, whether 
riches and abundance will be profitable or pernicious 
to us, ^vhether we can and shall, with them be happy, 
pleased and contented ? Thus w^e frequently exert 
all our faculties, in working upw^ards from obscurity 
and humbleness of station, and to rise into eminence, 
as though we could only live and be happy in that 
eminence. But is then eminence and happiness one 
and the same thing ? Do we then know before hand 
whether eminence orlowness of station be better for 
us, whether ^ve should not turn giddy on the pin- 
nacle of prosperity, and tumble headlong down in 
shame and misery. 

No, my dear brethren, would ye make the proper 
use of these considerations ; then never confound the 

Voi. II. X 



3^2 ^lie Difference betiveen 

'means with the end, the mark with the way to tlic 
mark. Strive more after happiness than after pros- 
perity. Seek the former as your ultimate object, the 
latter as means. At no time sacrifice the former to 
the latter. Be more afraid of unhappiness than of 
adversity. Never consider that as a necessary con- 
sequence of this, and never this as a necessary cause 
of that. Therefore do not immediately think your- 
self unhappy, when adversity meets you ; fancy not 
that you have lost all, not the principal, by the loss 
of outward goods and advantages ; do not refuse 
yourself all the sources of pleasure, if by chance 
some of them are drained or troubled. Neither, 

^ however, rejoice at every prosperous event, as you 
would have reason to rejoice at true and lasting hap- 
piness. Carefully discriminate prosperity and hap- 
piness, adversity and unhappiness, in your reflections 
and judgments, as well as in your efforts. This is 
the foundation of all true wisdom, of all genuine 
virtue, of all lasting content. 

Do the same also in the judgments you form con- 
cernmg others. Esteem, if ye will, the rich, the 
powerful, the great as prosperous ; but esteem them 
not happy. With all their advantages, they may as 
probably be wretched as happy, if they are deficient 
in wisdom and virtue and piety. So, on the other 
hiaiid, pity the poor, the indigent, the low conditions 
ed man as unprosperous, as a man to whom outward 
cilrcumstances are not favorable. But pity him not 
as unhappy With all these deficiences, he may 
still be pleased and contented, may be happy, if he 
have wisdom and virtue and piety for his compan 
ions on the road of life. Gh may they accompany 
and guide us all on our plain or rugged, or obscure 
or shining path ! How totally otherwise, how much 
Biore justly shall we then regard riches and poverty, 



Prosperity and Happiness, 5^3 

elevation and lowness, health and sickness, life and 
death ; how differently shall we learn to judge of 
them, to desire or to dread, to seek and to use them ! 
How certainly and safely attain to the goal of hap- 
piness ! 



2 



SERMON XLV. 



Fiew of the Sources of Human Happim^k 



\J GOD, our most gracious and affectionate f)a= 
f ciit, how happy might not we all be even here on earthy 
did we but so prize and employ the sources of satisfaction 
and pleasure which thou openest to us, as men and as chris- 
tians, in a manner suitable to their destination and to thy 
gracious will ! How manifold, how rich^ how inexhaustible 
are these sources ! How great the preponderance of the 
agreeable and good over the disagreeable and evil, that sub- 
sists in the natural and in the moral world, -within us and 
"without us 1 Yes, on all sides we are surrounded by the 
most diversified, the most glorious demonstration of thy 
paternal providence and love* On all sides we behold thee, 
the Allbountiful, diffusing life and energy and joy of num-« 
berless kinds over all thy creatures. On all sides we 
find the commodious, the agreeable, the delightful^ intimate- 
ly connected with the necessary and indispensable. Heaven 
and earth, mankind and brutes, nature and religion, reflec- 
tion and experience, all exclaim with an audiable voice^ 
that perfection and happiness is the ultimate, the only aim 
of all that th©u ordainest and dost, that thou dost decree and 
permit, that thou commandest and forbiddest^ that thou giv- 
est and takest and away. Yes, thou wouldst that we should 
allbe happy, that we should be already so even here on earth 
and if we are not so it is solely by our own fault. Alas^ 
how do the purest, the richest sources of satisfaction and 
pleasure, invite us to enjoyment in vain, how often do they 
Sow to us unused and unobserved, or are rendered turbid 



Fieiv of the Sources of Human Happiness. 325 

and tasteless to us by follies and sins ! Oh might we better 
understand our riches, and more worthily use therai ! — 
Might we more plainly perceive, more sensibly feel the 
multitude and the value of the benefits with which thou art 
daily and hourly blessing us, and honor thee by a cheerful 
and grateful enjoyment of them 1 Bless then, most gracious 
God, bless the considerations which we are proceeding to 
ente r upon concerning these objects, Let them call forth 
pur utmost attention to the manifold and abundant sources 
pf happiness which thou hast prepared for us, and quicken 
us to a diligent and faithful use of them. We ask it of thee 
in fiUal confidence, as the votaries of Jesus, and address_ 
thee farther in the form he gave us : Our father, &c« 



FSALM xxxiv. S. 



^ taste and see how gracious the Lord is ! 



BUT too often, my pious hearers, a man 
i^eckons himself poor, because he is ignorant of his 
wealth, or has not learnt to prize it, and to calculate 
it properly. But too often he accounts himself not 
happy, or even unhappy, merely because he does not 
observe, or does not attend to the various, ever flow- 
ing sources of satisfaction and pleasure that are open 
to him on all sides, and seeks with great trouble at a 
distance what lies close beside him, offering itself to 
his enjoyment. But too often he reckons only par- 
ticularly fortunate incidents, particularly desirable 
and satisfactory events, only exceedingly agreeable 
3 



326 Fiew of the Sources of Human Happiness. 

ideas, or rapturous, extatic sensations, as forming 
what he terms his happiness, without taking into the 
account a hundred other things, which just as well, 
though in an inferior degree, procure him satisfac- 
tion and pleasure. If he have surmounted obstacles, 
or conquered difficulties, which he held to be unsur- 
mountable and unconquerable ; if he be fieed frora 
certain troubles and afflictions that pressed him long 
and pained him sorely ; if he obtain some particular 
advantage for which he had been hitherto longing 
to no purpose ; if some of his peculiar hopes be ful- 
filled, the accomplishment whereof he would not 
think very probable ; if certain events happen, which 
he wished indeed, but could hardly expect ; if he 
enjoy pleasures and delights that captivate his whole 
soul, and in the moment of enjoyment leave him noth- 
ing to wish for more ; yes, then, but only then, he 
thinks himself happy. All these things, however, 
cannot frequently happen, can but seldom occur. 
Not every day, not even every year of our life on 
earth, can be marked by such fortunate events, by 
such wished for occurrences, by such ravishing joys, 
by such signal alterations in our conditions and for- 
tunes. Therefore the man in whose eyes this alone 
is happiness, perhaps accounts himself, during the 
greater part of his life, to be not happy, or even to 
be unhappy. And all this while there stand open 
before him and beside him, always, today as yester- 
day, and tomorrow as today, sources of satisfaction 
and pleasure, no less pure than copious, courting him 
to enjoyment. But he esteems them not, overlooks 
them, passes by them, or draws from them without 
clear consciousness, without consideration. Would 
we be happy, my dear friends ; then let us avoid 
these but too common errors and mistakes. Let us^ 
to this end, take a slight view of the principal sources 
of our happinessj and calculate the amount of our 



Fiew of the Sources of Human Happiness. 327 

gctiial riches ; omitting all the unusual, the extra- 
ordinary and rare, from the account, and only setting 
down what is constantly in our possession, what is 
always in our power, what can daily procure us sat- 
isfaction and pleasure. So shall we certainly, ac= 
cording to the expression of our text, taste and see 
how gracious the Lord is, how bountiful and kind 
our maker is, and how liberally he has provided for 
the happiness of his intelligent creatures. 

The consciousness of self ; the actual use of our 
faculties ; the enjoyment of nature ; the pleasure of 
reflection ; the pleasure of virtue and beneficence ; 
the agreeableness of social, the comforts of domes- 
tic life ; and the joys of piety ; these, my pious 
hearers, are the chief sources of our happiness ; 
sources that stand open to us all, and from whence 
\re may draw satisfaction and pleasure from day tQ 
day. 

First, then, the consciousness of self, or the senti- 
ment of what we are, and what we may and should 
become -, the sentiment of the natural and moral en- 
dowments that we have, the faculties and capacities 
that w^e possess, the relations wherein we stand with 
God and wdth the world ; what an abundant, never 
failing source of agreeable ideas and sensations, of 
happiness, must it not be to persons of reflection ! 
As the rich man is fialtered in counting his riches, 
in measuring his acres, in reckoning up his means of 
pleasure ; so much and greatly more must it rejoice 
the reflecting man, vv^hen he feels the dignity of his 
nature, and holds himself to be that which he really 
is. But would we draw pleasure and delight from 
this source, my pious hearers ; then should we fre- 
quently reflect upon ourselves ; we should not, in 
the multitude of outward objects that occupy and 
distract us, lose sight of ourselves ; we should not, 
like the generality of mankind, exist and live more 
4 



S28 Fie'm of the Sources of Human Happiness, 

without than within us. We should rather cherish 
and sharpen, by reflection, the consciousness of self. 
We should frequently say to ourselves, in silence : 
What am I, what have I, what can I not do, how- 
ever little and mean, however weak and feeble I may 
be in other respects ! What powers, what advan- 
tages, do I not possess, as a man, as a reasonable, 
free, and moral creature, as a citizen, as a member 
of a polished, enlightened society, as a christian, as 
an heir of immortality and of everlasting life ! How 
far does not all this raise me above the whole inani- 
mate and the brute creation ! How far even above a 
considerable part of my brethren on earth, who are 
less fortunate than myself ! And of what enterprizes 
and affairs, of what great matters, of what ever pro- 
gressive improvement, am I not capable ! To what 
lengths may I not proceed in the knowledge of truth, 
in the command of myself and of outward things, in 
the most arduous and generous virtues ! And shall 
I know and feel this, without hearty satisfaction, 
without cheerful gratitu4e to God, my creator and 
father ! And shall I not daily rejoice in it, since all 
this essentially appertains to me, since I have and am 
and remain ail this, at one time as well as at another, 
let my condition and my outward circumstances be 
constituted and alter as they may. 

Another source of our happiness is the manifold 
actual use of our capacities and abilities, and the 
pleasure that is connected with the legitimate, useful 
application of them, and particularly with an indus- 
trious, busy life. What alterations and eflfects, within 
and without us, may we not all, each in his station 
and in his place, with our intellectual and corporeal 
faculties, daily produce ! How many matters, useful 
to ourselves and to our brethren, commence, continue 
and complete ! When passes a day in which wc 
fsannot think, contrive, do, promote, perform much 



View of the Sources of Human Happiness, 329 

real good. And if we did it with more conscious- 
ness and consideration ; if we felt and reflected more 
that we are the favored, the eminently endowed 
creatures, that can think and contrive and do and 
perform all this ; if we more frequently thence drew 
conclusions of the excellency of our nature, of our 
dispositions, of our capacities and powers, of the gran- 
deur of our destination, and more resigned ourselves 
to the joyous presentiments, the beautiful prospects 
into futurity, which this yields and opens to our 
view ; how very much would not the sum of our 
agreeable ideas and sensations be augmented ! How 
much happiness should we not already enjoy in the 
proper use, in the good application of our capacities 
and faculties, without regard to the consequence ! 
How seldom should we then complain of exertion, 
toil and labor ! How much pleasure should we 
not find even in this exertion, this toil and labor ! 
How easily should we pacify ourselves on every 
fruitless or apparently fruitless undertaking or at- 
tempt, by the reflection ; I have, however, thought 
and acted as an intelligent, reasonable being ! I have, 
however, felt my preeminence over the inferior 
classes of creatures and my relationship with spirits 
of a higher order ; I have maintained the post allot- 
ted me by my maker ; exercised the faculties he 
gave me, and strengthened them by exercise ; la- 
bored at my improvement, and forwarded myself 
more or less towards my completion ! And may 
not the enlightened, the reflecting, the well disposed 
man, daily say this, and daily find satisfaction in the 
sentiment ! Let him be otherwise busied as he will, 
employing his faculties to what purpose he will, 
whether he perform much, or little, or nothing with 
them ; yet he has used them conformably to the 
ends for which they were given, conformably to tlic 
ivill of God ; and if he do it with intelligence and 



/ 

/ 

/ 



S30 Fiew of the Sources of Human Happiness » 

consideration, then he has not employed them ia 
vain, he has thereby farthered his perfection, and 
this is the straitest, the surest way to happiness. 

A third source, in confluence with the last men- 
tioned, is reflection ; the reflection, on whatever we 
feel and think and do, on whatever we see and hear 
and learn, on all that surrounds us and happens to 
ns. The more we reflect on ail things ; so much 
the more light is shed on all ; so much the more do 
chimerical and imaginary difiicuities vanish from be- 
fore our eyes ; so much the brighter and plainer is 
the path of our life ; so much the more connexion 
and order and wise design do we discover in what 
otherwise would perplex and disturb us. This re- 
flection, when we are once expert in it. and have 
tasted its sweetness, is a perpetually flowing source 
of happiness, in the profoundest silence as well as in 
the midst of noise and tumult, in the most perfect 
solitude as in the most numerous company, in the 
darkest night as in the splendor of the meridian sun. 
It is the source of delight, which least of all depends 
on outward things, on events and turns of fortune ; is 
most of all in our own power ; is continually nearest 
at hand ; is most seldom and never entirely dried 
up ; to the use whereof we least of all are in want 
of extraneous help, and the enjoyment whereof 
most of all makes us feel our dignity, raises us 
highest above visible and transitory things, and 
brings us nearest to superior beings, even to 
the deity himself. From this source have all the 
wise and good of every age and every nation, drawn 
that repose and contentment, that consolation and 
joy, by which they distinguished themselves from 
other men, by which they were enabled to dispense 
with and to lose so many things, without uneasiness 
and without regret, to bear and to suffer so many 
things with calmness and serenity of mind, to d^. 



FieiD of the Sources of Human Happiness, 331 

and to perform so many things with complacency 
and delight ; and, in every station, in all the vicissi- 
tudes of outward fortune, to be pleased and happy. 
Oh draw from this source, all ye who live amongst 
polite and enlightened persons, and have so many 
means and incentives to reflection. Cultivate your 
understandings cultivate all your mental faculties 
with diligence and care ; give a new edge to your 
attention and your observation, be on your guard 
against heedlessness and levity; view, remark, enjoy, 
do all things as thinking, rational creatures ; pursue 
every ray of light that touches you, every track of 
truth that presents itself to you ; so w ill you never 
experience the oppressive burden of langour and dis- 
gust, so destructive to happiness ; so will you under- 
stand how to be continually employed, and how to 
be ever agreeably employed ; and, instead of lead- 
ing a dream like life, your life will be truly joyous 
in the clear consciousness of whait you think and do. 
The pleasure of virtue and of beneficence is a 
fourth source of human happiness, which stands 
open to us all, and whence we may daily draw. 
And how pure, how abundant is this source ! What 
day passes by without affording us an opportunity of 
strengthening ourselves in some good disposition ; of 
combating and controling some bad propensity, of 
stifling some inordinate inclination, some corrupt 
passion in its very rise ; of gaining some victory over 
ourselves and the v/orld ; of exercisinp; ourselves in 
some manly virtue, in the fulfllment of some arduous 
or painful duty ; of bringing some offering to God, 
of making some sacrifice of conscience ; and thereby 
of giving proof of our fliith fulness and iiitegrity, and 
likewise of advancing our moral perfection ! What 
day affords us not opportunity for doing various of- 
fices of civility and acts of kindness to others ; for 
freeing them from some difficulties and burdens ; for 



332 Fievi) of the Sources of Human Happiness, 

alleviating their troubles, their labors, their busr« 
nesses in various ways ; for contributing, now in this 
manner, then in that, one while more, at another 
less, to their support, to their comfort, to their plea- 
sure, to their satisfaction ; and therefore of being 
variously useful and beneficial to society in general, 
and to many individuals of it in particular ! And, 
if we understand and feel the m orth of virtue, the 
worth of a generally useful life, how much solid and 
pure satisfaction must not every victory gained over 
ourselves, every duty faithfully discharged, every 
good deed performed, every proper application of 
our faculties and ingenuity, every greater or smaller 
contribudon to the happiness of a brother, every ap- 
proximation to perfection, procure us ! And how 
very much does not the enjoyment of this source of 
happiness depend on our own behavior ! How 
much more is it not in our power, than all outward 
goods and distinctions, after which we so ardently- 
strive, and which we yet so seldom obtain ! 

A no less copious source of satisfaction and plea- 
sure, is fifthly, the contemplation and the enjoy- 
ment of the beauties and productions of nature* 
And surely, whoever pays attention to the energies, 
the activity, the course, the designs of nature, in the 
whole and in the parts ; whoever considers her 
works with open eyes and an attentive mind, and 
has a taste and feeling for her no less striking than 
numberless beauties and charms ; whoever, v^ith a 
benevolent and expanded heart, takes an interest in 
the existence, in the life, in the manifold occupations 
and pleasures, in the various exhibitions and expres- 
sions of joy of all living creatures ; whoever opens 
his heart to the agreeable sensations which the view 
of the heavens and the earth, which the scenery and 
activity of the day, and the solemn stillness of the 
night, which every revolution of the sun and the 



Pleiv of the Sources of Human Happiness, S5S 

moon, every return of the seasons, which the breath 
of the spring, the magnificence of the summer, the 
profusion of the autumn, and the greater repose of 
the winter, excite in sentimental souls, and then 
Raises his thoughts to God, the creator, the govern- 
or, the father of the w^orld, and beholds him dis- 
pensing all around with so liberal a hand, life and 
energy, bounties and joys, of innumerable kinds, 
over all his creatures ; what sources of satisfaction 
and delight must not offer themselves to him which 
way soever he turns his eyes ! With how much 
greater alacrity and satisfaction must he not continue 
to pursue the path of his life ; how many more 
agreeable ideas and sensations must not offer them- 
selves to himj and as it were press upon him, than 
if he did not attend to all this, did not see anv value 
iipon it, and walked with an inattentive mind and 
an insensible heart amon^ all the bounties and beau- 
ties of naturCj without acknowledging and honoring 
the traces of the benign presence of their author ! 
No, my dear brethren, would you taste and see 
how gracious the Lord is ; so far from being indif- 
ferent to his works in nature, the frequent atten- 
tive contemplation of them, and their silent enjoy- 
ment should be one of the principal sources from 
w^hence you derive your happiness. It stands open 
to the poor as well as to the rich, to the low as well 
as to the high, refreshing and rejoicing every one 
who seeks from it refreshment and joy. 

Add to this a sixth source of human happiness, I 
mean the various comforts and satisfactions of social 
life. A source of delight, entirely shut against no 
man, and which stands more open to us, who have 
attained to a higher degree of cultivation, and live 
in the middling stations, than to many others, if 
withal we are truly sociable, and susceptible of the 
nobler satisfactions arising from social intercourse. 



334 Fiew of the Sources of human Happiness, 

Yes, my pious hearers, if we frequent the society of 
our brethren with a capacity for happiness ; that is, 
with an unenvious, benevolent, affectionate heart, 
with a heart that takes an interest in all that others 
have and do and enjoy that is amiable and good ; 
with a heart that readily rejoices with the joyful, 
and laments with the moumer, and unrekictantly 
opens itself to others ; if we bring with us an eye 
more inclined to spy out the good than the bad, rath- 
er the advantae^es than the defects of a fellow crea- 
ture, and had rather dv/ell upon the former than 
upon the latter ; if in our intercourse with others, 
we are modest, discreet, complaisant, officious wil- 
ling and ready to contribute what we can to the 
pleasure of the company, and kindly accept and use 
what they afford us in return : What sources of 
agreeable ideas and sensations do we not find I How 
much of what is beautiful and good do we not see, 
hear, experience, enjoy, communicate and receive ! 
What a charming drama to the friend of mankind 
does the diversity of abilities, of talents, of ingenui- 
ties, of advantages, of the expressions of joy and 
pleasure he observes amongst his brethren, present ! 
What bright and lively prospects does it not open to 
him in regard to their future appointment and destiny. 
What may he not hope and expect from such crea- 
tures ? How clear and brilliant in them often appear 
to him the lineaments of the image of God, the 
traces of his higher origin, the dispositions to future 
greatness ; and what delight must not all this procure 
to his humane and generous heart ! 

And then, my pious hearers, the comforts of do- 
mestic life, as well as the charms of friendship, what 
sources of satisfaction and pleasure do they not of- 
fer to the man who knows how to value and to use 
them ! What repose, what freedom, what genial 
relaxation after the burden and heat of the day, what 



Fiew of the Sources of Himicih Happiness, S2B, 

i-ecompense for toilsome labor and the fatigues of 
business, what a variety of pure enjoyment of na- 
ture, of innocence, of truth await Jiim in the little 
circle of his family and friends w horn he loves, and 
by whom he is beloved ! How can his heart refuse 
to expand, to enlarge, to impart, and surrender it- 
self to every agreeable idea and sensation, every no-^ 
ble sentiment of his inherent dignity, of his virtue, 
his progress in goodness^ his faithfully discharged 
duty, his finished day's work ! How much satisfac- 
tion and pleasure may not here be given and re- 
ceived ! And how much light, how much comfort^ 
how much encouragement and consolation does he 
not find in the enjoyment of friendship ! What 
troubles does it not alleviate, what pain not mitigate^ 
what cares and disquietudes does it not assuage ! — ^ 
And how much does it not heighten and multiply 
all his advantages and joys ! How often do not the 
comforts of domestic life and those of friendship 
compensate superabundantly the want of all the out- 
ward goods of fortune, and render tiie poor and 
humble man an object of envy to the rich and great 
who know not those comforts ! And it is not gener- 
ally otir own fault if we know them not, possess 
them not, enjoy them not, and are not happy in the 
enjoyment ? Can it ever be entirely the case with the 
wise man, the virtuous man, the christian who is in 
deed and in truth a christian ? Does he not always 
bear about with him the fiurest dispositions, the 
greatest sensibility, the richest materials, and can it 
be very difficult for him to surmount by deq;rees the 
obstacles he meets with, and by a mild, affectionate 
teniper, by generous sentiments and actions to con- 
quer every thing that may be at variance with the 
enjoyment of these delights ! 

In this survey of the sources of human happiness 
how can we pass by one of the purest and mosl^ 



336 F^iew of the Sources of Hiiman Happbiess. 

abundant of them all, I mean the joys of piety, and 
the prospect of everlasting continuance and everlast- 
ing happiness ? What absence of outward goods 
and advantages, what loss of them cannot this sup- 
ply ! What enjoyment of good do they not sweeten 
and elevate, what sentiment of evil, what load of af- 
fliction do they not w^eaken and alleviate ! Yes, 
when I soar in spirit to the realms above ; when I 
behold every thing in its dependence on God, in its 
connexion with him ; w hen I contemplate all as the 
work, as the arrangement, as the dispensation of his 
hand, as means to the greatest possible perfection ; 
when I meditate on the intimate, the blessed relaxa- 
tion in w^hich I stand to the Almighty, the Allwise, 
the AUbountiful ; when I think and feel that I am 
his creature, his subject, his child, that I am related 
to angels, and of divine descent ; when I pour out 
my heart before him, as to my father who is pure 
love and benignity itself, commend all my fortunes 
and those of all my brethren to his supreme disposal 
and resign ipyself to his providence and to his prom- 
ises ; when I rejoice before him in my immortality, 
when I rejoice in the hope of drawing ever nearer to 
him, the Infinite, the supremely perfect, and of 
eternally increasing, in knowledge, in virtue, in hap- 
piness ; how great, how blissful must not I then feel 
myself 1 What pure, what sublime delight then 
overflows my heart ! What preponderance then do 
not my agreeable ideas and sensations acquire over 
the disagreeable ones ! How inconsiderable must 
the latter be in comparison of the former ! And 
who hinders you, men, christians, who hinders you 
from drawing daily to the full out of this source of 
satisfaction and pleasure. 

No, in sources of happiness you are not wanting, 
my dear brethren ; the brief survey we have now 
been making is a proof of it. They stand open t^ 



Fiew of the Sources of Human Happiness. 53 T 

you all. No human power can shut them against 
you without your consent. They invite you all to 
enjoyment. They oiFer you all relVeshment, ccm* 
fort, satistaction, pleasure, to the poor as well as to 
the rich, to the low as well as to the high, to the 
unlearned as well as to the learned. They are no 
less beneficial than innoxious, as pure as they are 
copious. Every one may draw from them in full 
measure, without the least detriment to another ; 
none can draine them dry ; none can find them taste- 
less but by hisovvn fault. No, nought but our own 
inattention and perverseness, nought but follies and 
sins can shut them against us, or disturb and weaken 
them and deprive them of their efficacy. Surel}% 
my dear brethren, he that, surrounded by all these 
sources of satisfaction and pleasure, pants for satis- 
faction and pleasure in vain ; he that, with all these 
means of happiness, is yet unhappy ; he is so by his 
own fault ; let him not accuse nature, not the 
author of nature, not any dire necessity, but only 
himself. Prosperity and adversity rarely depend on 
us ; but happiness and unhappiness, are always in 
our power ; they entirely depend on our temper and 
mode of thinking, on the judgment we pass on our- 
selves and on ©utward things, and on the use we 
make of them all. Attention and reflection, wisdom 
and virtue and piety so certainly render us happy, 
as certainly as we resign ourselves to their influence 
and their direction. Conducted then by these 
guides, make use, my dear brethren, of the sources 
of happiness which your bountiful Fatlier in heaven 
opens to you, and points out to you in his scriptures ; 
use them with caution and perseverance ; taste and 
see, in the enjoyment of them, how gracious the 
Lord is ; and glorify him, your sovereign benefac- 
tor, by a grateful, contented, and cheerful enjoyment 
of his bounties, which are not less various than they 
are great. 

Vol. II. Y 



SERMON XLVI. 



The Christian Doctrine concerning Happt7tesS* 



K^i- 



O 



GOD, thou hast ordained us all to happi-^ 
l^ss, and furnished us v;ith all the capacities and means for 
becoming actually happy. But how few of us reach this 
glorious object ! How slowly we approach it 1 How fre-^ 
queiitly, frscinated by error and sin, do we mistake the way 
to it ? In what byeways and mazes do we not often pass the 
greater part of our lives ! And then we complain of a de- 
ficiency ofiiappiness ; proceed to censure thy wise arrange- 
ments and ordinances, murmur at thy dispensations, and be- 
wail the melancholy lot of human nature. And yet it is we 
who load ourselves with the heaviest burdens of life, and th6 
misery under which we so often sigh, is misery of our own 
seeking, most of the sorrov/s that oppress us are the fruits 
of our own folly. O merciful God, O compassionate Fa- 
ther, have pity upon us ; do thou lead us back from our de-« 
viations. Yes, thou hast not abandoned thy erroneous, thy 
guilty children ; thoH hast not left them to themselves. Thou 
hast sent as thy son from heaven, in him thou hast given us 
an infallible teacher of happiness, a safe and faithful guide 
to felicity, a mighty deliverer from all misery ! Oh might 
•we justly acknowledge thy parental Idndness, and gratefully 
and worthily use it. Might we hearken to the voice of Je- 
sus, whd warns us, from thee, against every devious an^ 
erroneous path, and calls us back to the way of life ; might 
we entirely submit to his guidance, and willingly follow hi* 



Christian Doctrine of Happiness, 33^ 

directions to happiness. We are met in thy presence, O 
God, to imbibe his instruction on this subject ; grant that it 
may be salutary to us all. Let us learn from it the way to 
true happiness, and then walk cheerfully and resolutely on 
it. We implore these blessings of thee in the name ol thy 
son Jesus ; and, as he condescended to teach us, we Carthef 
address thee : Our father, Sec, 



MATTHEW V. 2, 3, 4—10. 



Ani he opened his mouth and taught than saying. Blessed are the poor in spirit ; 
Jor their' s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shali 
be comforted. Blessed are the meek ; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed 
are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness ; for they shall hefdled. 
Blessed are the merciful ; for thev shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in 
heart ; for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace makers ; for they shall be 
called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteous^ 
ness sake ; for their' s is the kingdom of heaven. 



IT is somewhat singular that the notions en- 
tertained by mankind concerning v/hat belongs to 
happiness, and the means by which it is to be at- 
tained should be so various and contradictory, while 
they agree together in nothing more than in the de- 
sire, the earnest, the ever active desire of being 
happy and of ever becoming more happy. All are 
running and striving after one and the same object, 
after happiness ; all imagine they are pursuing the 
direct road to it ; think they perceive that object 
before them ; think themselves quite near to it ; and 
yet proceed such very different w^ays, frequently 
ways that are as directly opposite as evening t^ 
2 



140 Christian Doctrine of Happineiss, 

morning, as darkness to light. How then can there 
be any other than deceived and weary travellers on 
the pilgrimage of life, how can it be otherwise than 
that most of you should fail of their mark, and when 
they think they are on the point of seizing the prize, 
discover, to their great astonishment, that they are 
farther from it than ever ? — But why then do 
you venture v»dthout a guide in a wilderness, where 
there is only one right and safe way, and ten thou- 
sand devious turnings ? Or why do you make choice 
of guides, who are themselves unacquainted with 
the right w^ay, or suffer themselves to be drawn a- 
side, by every lure, by every glimmering and deceit- 
ful light t Why do ye rather choose to go where 
you are carried awT^y by the clamor of sensual ap- 
petites, the impetuous cravings of violent passions, 
the torrent of prevailing manners and opinions, and 
the tyrannical example of the multitude, than- where 
the light of reason shines before you, where you see 
the footstepts of the most venerable of mankind, 
where you are accompanied by calm consideration, 
authentic certainty and the serene expectation of a 
desirable issue ? Why not avail yourselves of the 
directions, the encouragements, the example of the 
guides and harbingers whom God has sent you from 
heaven for the express purpose of conducting you 
through this labyrinth, of teaching you to avoid 
every devious turning, and to strive after the mark 
of the prize along the smoothest, the safest path,. 
and thus to be your light in darkness, your fafc- 
guard in danger, your staff and support under all 
impediments and difficulties, your precedents in 
doubtful cases ? Why not follow Jesus, who, along 
the very v/ay thett you are called to go, has actually 
attained to the summit of glory, and will take to 
himself all those who voluntarily and resolutely fol- 
low him, and will make them partakers of his glory I 



Christian Doctrine of Happiness. 341 

Oh submit to be taught by him what bliss implies, 
and how we may attain to the possession and enjoy- 
ment of substantial permanent bliss. He is viorthy 
of your entire confidence ; the only infallible teach- 
er of truth ; a shepherd who lays down his life for 
his sheep, a guide, a ruler, who sacrificed himself 
for those whom the father gave to him, who died for 
them, and who will as certainly guide us aright, as 
certainly as God has raised him from the dead, and 
has placed him over all at his right hand in heaven. 
Receive then his doctrine in our text, concerning 
what confers real prerogatives on man, and promis- 
es him permanent bliss. Observe how widely his 
doctrine on this matter dlFers from the general no- 
tions of mankind, compare them both together, and 
then try whether his declarations do not commend 
themselves to the sound judgment and the con- 
science of all reflecting persons. It is the christian 
doctrine concerning happiness that I now intend to 
lay before you. We will discuss the important 
question : Wherein Christianity teaches us to place 
our greatest prerogatives and to seek our bliss. 

Come hither then, all ye who ar£ panting after 
happiness, and perhaps have been long panting after 
it in vain ; come and hear what suggestions and di- 
rections heavenly wisdom gives you thereupon by 
tier chief authentic teacher, Jesus. 

Perhaps, (she calls to you by this her confident) 
perhaps ye think that to be happy riches are neces- 
sary, that a man should live in superfluity in order 
to live pleased, that he requires a large store for 
many years or even for centuries, that he may have 
no solicitudes about future days. Perhaps you are 
dazzled by the splendor that surrounds the wealthy, 
the elegance of their dress, the magnificence of their 
dwelling, the privileges that are granted them in so-, 
ciety, the deference that is paid them, the respect 



342 Christian Doctrine of Happiness, 

that; they generally procure. But beware of mis-^ 
takes ; let not this failacious outside deceive you, 
Means to happiness are not happiness ; and the more 
easily those means may be misemployed, so much 
the farther do they commonly lead men off from 
that object. No, blessed are the poor, for their's is 
the kingdom of heaven. Though wealth, as wealth 
excludes no man from the kingdom of heaven; 
though of itself it renders no man either incapable 
of being a christian, or of enjoying the bliss of the 
future life : Yet it renders both difficult to but too 
many of its possessors. To too many it is a burden, 
indeed a splendid burden, still however a burden, 
that weighs theiti to the earth, renders their progress 
on the path of life extremely dangerous, causing 
them to make a thousand trips, and misleading them 
into the grossest iniquities. To them the injunc- 
tions of Christianity are but too often an unsupportable 
yoke, its promises have but few charms for them, 
and their sensual, v/orldly taste incapacitates them 
for the enjoyment of the purer delights of heaven. — ' 
And when Christianity brings sufferings on its con- 
fessors, when it requires costly sacrifices of them, 
it must be extremely difficult for the rich man, it 
must be often impossible for him to prefer his du- 
ty to all things else, and by self denial and fidelity to 
secure to himself the recompences of the future world, 
it is well for the poor in spirit at such times, well 
for them wdiose desire of riches is moderate, whose 
hearts cleave not to earthly things, who know how to 
be content with a little ! Their expectations will far 
seldomer fail them, their desires are far more easily 
and completely gratified. The road is free from a 
number of snares and stoppages ; no anxious cares 
pursue them on it -, to them the commands of Chris- 
tianity are far easier ; to them no sacrifice of earthly 
goods that virtue or religion may require, appears 



Christian Doctrine of Happiness, o4S 

too burdensome ; to them the better futurity pre^ 
sents itself in the most charming form, and the treas- 
ures of heaven even now attract their principal in- 
clinations. 

Perhaps you think, (celestial wisdom farther ad- 
dresses us by Jesus) perhaps you think that they 
alone deserve to be accounted happy, who live surap^ 
tuously and convivially every day, who shun every 
serioug thought, ever}^ sentiment of sadness and woe, 
who turn away their eyes and their heart from ev- 
ery thing like trouble and misery, who are con. 
tinually roaming about in a larger or smaller circle 
of noisy and fascinating amusements, and as it were 
sport, laugh and trifle away the whole of their lives. 
But be not deceived ; this is not the road to real, 
lasting happiness. Levity is the character of fools, 
and folly degrades and lessens the man, and punish- 
es him sooner or later with remorse and trouble. — 
Mere sensual pleasure is seldom harmless, still sel- 
domer lasting, is frequently pernicious. Wild tu- 
multuous joys are generally attended with surfeit, 
disgust, painful sufferings ; and all these things, 
even when they are the most innocent, leave the 
heart empty, and never satisfy the mind, which re- 
quires nobler food and employment. No, blessed 
are they that mourn ; for they shall be comforted. 
Blessed is the man to whom seriousness and reflec- 
tion are neither strange nor burdensome, who fre- 
quently in the solemn hour of solitude bewails his 
sins and failings and those of his brethren, is indif- 
ferent and insensible to no species of human misery, 
is not ashamed of the tears of repentance and re- 
morse, of grief, of pity, of affection, which a tender 
conscience, a sensible, a sympathising heart and the 
ardent aspiration after superior perfection, so fre- 
quently cause him to shed I His serioiisness propiis- 
«s and procures him far more real unadulterated 
4 



344 Christian Doctrine of Happiness* 

pleasure tlian the levity and wantonness of the fool. 
His sorrow will procure him lasting joy ; his gen- 
erous and humane tears will open to him the richest 
sources of comfort. The testimony of a good con- 
science wall bless him, peace and serenity will reign 
within his breast and when the w^orld w^ith its lusts 
are passing away and the pleasure of the sinner is 
changing into pain, then will joy embrace him, and 
his happiness will begin to be truly great. 

Perhaps you think, thirdly, my pious hearers, that 
in order to be happy, in order to maintain our con- 
sequence and to live securely in the world, we 
should not patiently put up with any injury, should 
let no affront pass unresented, should submit to none, 
yield to none, assert all our rights to the uttermost, 
and hearken to the demands of every roused or 
irri tilted passion. But be not deceived, calls Jesus 
to us ; this is not the way that leads to content and 
peace of mind. Thus you will open to yourselves 
inexhaustible sources of disquietude, of trouble, of 
perplexity and remorse. Thus will you repulse 
your brethren from you, and close their hearts against 
you. Thus you can never have the true enjoyment 
of life. No, blessed are the meek, for they shall in- 
herit the earth. Blessed is the man, who has the 
command over him^self, w ho knows how to control 
his anger, to subdue his aversions, and is not under 
the authority of any violent passion ! Blessed is he 
who is of a friendly meek and inolFensive spirit, who 
has learnt to have indulgence, to overlook failings, 
to support losses, to suffer wrong, to forgive injuries. 
He will live far more securely, will enjoy his life 
far more quietly and fully, will love more and be 
more beloved ; and the blessedness of love and the 
sweetness of peace of mind and the elevating senti- 
ment of self command, will make every sacrifice easy 
to him and superabundantly compensate every loss. 



Christian Doctrine of Happiness. S45 

Perhaps you may hold, fourthly, all the bounds 
in general which the precepts of religion and virtue 
set to your appetites and passions, as troublesome, as 
obstacles to your happiness ; perhaps you may im- 
agine, that you would be completely happy, if you 
could with impunity break these bounds, if you 
could entirely give the rein to your desires and en- 
deavors after worldly goods, after outward distinc- 
tions, after sensual pleasures, if you could throw off 
the restraints of religion and virtue ; perhaps you 
pity them as unhappy who have nothing so much at 
heart as to be ever becoming wiser and better and 
more pious. But how little are they, how much are 
you to be pitied ! You seek your liberty in bondage, 
your honor in what degrades mankind, your satiety 
in things that are ever w^hetting your desires, but 
never satisfy them. No, blessed are they which do 
hunger and thirst after righteousness ; for they shall 
be filled. Blessed are they who understand the whole 
value of virtue and piety, feel their entire beauty and 
loveliness, resign themselves entirely to their service 
with whom their intrinsic spiritual perfection is ev- 
ery thing, and who as earnestly long after it, and as 
strenuously strive after it as the hungry and the 
thirsty after food and refreshment. Their desires are 
directed towards the worthiest objects, towards ob- 
jects that are worthy of their most cordial affection 
and their most zealous endeavors, and never are 
these noble desires deceived, never does God, the 
protector and rewarder of righteousness aed virtue, 
allow them to want means for their gratification. 
They are sure not to miss of the mark after which 
they strive, and as they eternally proceed from one 
stage of perfection to another, so they advance from 
one degree of happiness to another. 

Perhaps, fifthly, (celestial wisdom addresses us by 
Jesus) perhaps you imagine, that the man who would 



S 46 Christian Doctrine of Happiness, 

be happy should think merely on himself, care solely 
about himself, concern himself about others only in 
so far as his own interests permit, shut his heart 
against all disagreable sensations which the sight of 
misery may excite in him, and not siiiFer himself to 
be disturbed in the enjoyment of pleasure by any 
participation in the distresses of another. But be- 
lieve me, this is not the way to happiness. By this 
means you contract your heart and the sphere of your 
activdty. By this means you exclude yourselves 
from many ample and pure sources of pleasure. By 
this means you can neither promise yourselves the 
good pleasure of God nor the love and assistance of 
your fellow creatures. No, blessed are the merciful ; 
for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed is the man 
whose heart is pervaded by benevolence and com- 
passion and ofiiciousness towards all his brethren, is 
moved at the misery of another as at his own, wha 
is apt to weep with them that weep, hastes to relieve 
the wants of the poor and needy, and does good to 
all men according to his ability. Thus both his 
heart and his sphere of operation expand alike, he 
lives in others as well as in himself, multiplies as it 
were his existence, and he enjoys the purest, the 
divinest joys ; the joys of beneficence. Him God 
will not be extreme to judge, him will the merciful 
parent of mankind treat far more graciously and in- 
dulgently still than he treated his brethren, and all 
his fellow creatures will vie with one another to shew 
him justice and indulgence, and to afford him help 
and relief in the time of need. 

Perhaps you think fa'rther, my pious hearers, that 
a continued attention to one's ^^olf^ an unremitted vig- 
ilance over all the desires and appetites of our hearts, 
the care to submit them all to the will of God and 
to keep them all innocent and pure, the defeat and 



Christian Doctrine of Happiness. 347 

mortification of ail inordinate fieshly lusts, which re- 
ligion and virtue enjoin, that these are endeavors 
and performances that set the most grievous bounds 
to your pleasure and are not compatible with your 
happiness. But from what follies and iniquities, 
from what enormities, from what thraldom and what 
misery will you be secure, unless order, innocence, 
purity prevail in your minds, unless you keep your 
heart, that primary source of human happiness and 
human misery, with all diligence ? No, blessed are 
the pure in heart ; for they shall see God ! Blessed 
are they who keep free from evil thoughts and de- 
sires as well as from bad words and works, ^yho war 
against all falsehood and impurity, who think and 
live in a godly manner, keeping clean from all filthi- 
ness of the flesh and spirit ! Their virtue is not mere 
outside show ; it is real and effective ; it is firmly 
grounded, is immoveable ; and just as real and dura- 
ble is the peace of mind and the happiness that ac- 
company it. They may comfort themselves with 
the eminent favor of God, the purest and holiest be- 
ing, are capable of his more intimate communion, of 
his peculiar influence, and will hereafter in a better 
world be among his confidents, and be vouchsafed a 
nearer access to him, the fountain of all truth and 
perfection. 

Perhaps you think, seventhly, you who wish and 
strive to be happy, that the peaccableness v.hich 
religion and virtue recommend is incompatible v. ith 
this happiness, that it betrays weakness of mind, 
that you cannot thus be sure of your property, of your 
honor, your distinctions, that for the preservation 
of them you should avoid no uneasiness, no troubles, 
no strife or contention, that by patience ar.d forbear- 
ance you debase yourselves and should demand sat- 
isfaction for every injury. But mistake not, (says 
Jesus, the teacher of happiness sent from God) 



Sis Christian Doctrine df Happiness. 

this way can never lead to that object. It will carry 
you ever farther from it. Every advantage that you 
thus acquire, that you purchase with the loss of your 
peace of mind, the violation of your brotherly love, 
wliich is so rich in blessedness both to you. and to 
your brethren ; and strife and discord are inexhaust- 
ible sources of confusion^ of trouble, of misery. No, 
blessed are the peacemakers ; for they shall be called 
the children of God. Blessed are they who have pa- 
tience with the failings and infirmities of their neigh- 
bor^ who love and promote concord, to whom all 
that connects man with man and confirms reciprocal 
love and harmony among them is sacred, and who 
are ever ready, even at their own cost, to cement 
again the friendship that has been dissevered, and to 
knit faster the tie that binds friends together. They 
are like minded with God, the parent of us all, in 
regard to mankind they imitate him, the original of 
all perfection ; they are ever gaining a nearer resem- 
blance to him in benignity and love ; they are his 
followers, are his children in an eminent significa- 
tion, and as such may assure themselves of his pe- 
culiar favor. 

Perhaps you think, (heavenly wisdom thus ad- 
dresses us by Jesus) perhaps you think, that every loss 
of worldly property, every trouble, every affliction is 
in direct opposition to happiness, and that the ad- 
vantages and satisfactions of virtue and piety are 
much too dearly purchased by the sacrifices they 
sometimes demand of their votaries. You lament 
over the virtuous, the pious, when under the pressure 
of unmerited poverty and contempt, if they are rid- 
iculed, slandered, persecuted, if they are obhged to 
take up their cross and follow their master in pa- 
tience and sufferings. But how little do they stand 
in need of pity even when God leads them along dark 
and rugged ways to perfection ! How much happier 



Christian iDoctrine of Happiness^ S49 

are they even then than the vokiptuary, who views 
every affliction with horror, sinks under ty^rj bur- 
den, confines all his hopes and prospects to this mo« 
mentary life, and for every trifling advantage or 
transient pleasure denies the truth and acts against 
his conscience ! No, blessed are they which are per- 
secuted for righteousness' sake, for their's is the king- 
dom of heaven ! Blessed are they who adhere faith* 
fully to truth and virtue, to whom no affliction, 
which they cannot avoid without sin, is too heavy, 
no sacrifice w^hich God and their conscience demand 
of them, is too dear ; who look more at invisible 
things than at visible, more at the crown of the con* 
queror than at the pains and toil of the conflict, and 
count all things for gain which brings them nearer 
to the mark of perfection. Great hereafier will be 
the reward of their fidelity, exuberant the compen- 
sation for the losses they have sustained, glorious die 
recompense of their sufferings, the prize of their for* 
titude and perseverance ! To share in the privileges 
of the victor will be their portion ; lofty, divine joys 
will they reap from having sov/n in tears, be the 
most blissful among the blessed, and take the highest 
ranks of honor, of power, of glory, in the kingdom 
of God. 

These, my dear friends, these are the lessons, 
these declarations of the teacher sent from God, the 
restorer of human happiness. What conclusions are 
we now to draw from all this ? How^ learn from it 
the way that leads to real happiness ? How folIoViT 
along it our divine leader and precursor ?— Learn— > 
thus all these his lessons and declarations say to 
us — learn rightly to discriminate between prosperi* 
ty and happiness, between prosperous and happy- 
persons. All outward distinctions and property 
are prosperity ; all inward perfection and the 
content and satisi'action founded upon it is hap* 



$50 Christian Doctrine of Happiness. 

piness. Jesus is not our conductor to prosperity ; 
his doctrine promises us neither riches> nor high sta- 
tion, nor power and authority, nor a soft, voluptu- 
ous life. But he is our conductor to happiness ; 
his doctrines procure us rest, content, satisfaction, 
spiritual perfection. Prosperity, of all changeable 
inconstant things, is the most changeable and incon- 
stant ; it falls to the lot of the fool as well as to the 
wise, to the wicked as to the good ; forsakes the 
man frequently in his life time, forsakes him certain- 
ly at his death, remains for ever locked up in his grave, 
and nothing but the good use of it accompanies him 
into the future world. Happiness is the end of the 
possession and the enjoyment of all the goods of for- 
tune ; the only thing that is entirely and for ever 
our's ; the only thing that caa be the exclusive pro- 
perty of the wise and good ; the only thing that, if 
it be once firmly fixed, neither death nor the grave 
can ravish from us ; the oiily thing that we can take 
with us into eternity, and that we there may inces- 
sently enjoy, incessantly increase. Strive therefore 
not so much to be prosperous as to be happy. The 
former rarely depends, the latter always depends 
on ourselves. The former is a gift of providence, 
generally dispensed without regard to merit; the lat- 
ter is the fruit and reward of wisdom and of virtue. 
Seek therefore your happiness, not in earthly, 
transitory things, not in riches, not in elevation and 
power, not in a soft voluptuous life. Seek it within 
you, and not without you. Seek it in the qualities 
and advantages of your mind and your heart, and 
not in the advantages of station, of rank, of honor 
and of respect. Reduce your appetites, your desires, 
your inclinations, your passions to order. Submit 
them all to the laws of truth and of Christianity. Set 
bounds to your desires in regard to worldly things, 
give all your inclinations the best direction, let rea- 



Christian Doctrine of Happiness. 35 1 

son, let the love of God and man bear rule over all 
your passions. 

Seek your happiness in virtue, in the willing and 
resolute performance of your duty, in the UDremit- 
ted endeavor after higher perfection, in innocence of 
heart and purity of life, in a meek and gentle spirit, 
in the enjoyment and promotion of peace and con- 
cord, in benevolence and beneficence towards all 
men, in magnanimous sacrifices for truth and integ- 
rity.— -Seek it in whatever is profitable to you and 
promises you pleasure, not only in this world, but 
also in that which is to come, in whatever has the 
approbation of your conscience, the approbation of 
all the wise and upright, the approbation of God, and 
secures to you the loving kindness and the gracious 
retributions of your lord and judge, your father in 
heaven. -^^ — Seek, in short, not to seem happy, 
but actually to be so. Be not so merely in the opin- 
ion and in the judgment of others, but in deed and 
in truth. Prefer the quiet, unobserved enjoyment 
of real and lasting goods and advantages, the enjoy- 
ment of rational, sedate and cheerful reflection, the 
enjoyment of a good and quiet conscience, the enjoy* 
ment of a virtuous heart and life, the enjoyment of 
the satisfiictions of beneficence, the enjoyment of a 
fervent devotion, the enjoyment of an assured and 
joyful prospect into a better world, prefer these cn« 
joyments to all the marks of respect, ail the pleasures 
and amusements that occupy the senses more than 
the mind, gratify the eyes more than the heart, af- 
ford more tumult than serenity, and shed more false 
lustre than gendc light around them. Seek only 
that, revere and love only that, strive only after that 
which can calm, rejoice, and bless you at every time, 
in every state, in silence as well as in noise, in the 
hour of reflection and devotion as in the hour of rec- 
reation, in death as in life, in the future as in the 



353 Christian Doctrine of Happiness. 

present world. By these means, with such senti- 
ments and efforts, ye will as certainly be happy and 
ever become more happy, as certainly as God, the 
father and giver of all happiness has promised it bi" 
his son Jesus. 



SERMON XLVII. 



Arguments against Fanity. 



\J GOD, our destination is gteat ; and thy 
goodness leaves us in no want either of means or encour- 
agements for being and ever more completely becoming 
that to which thou hast destined us. Intelligent, wise, vir- 
tuous beings ; creatures, raising them-seives from one stage 
of perfection and blessedness to another, thus ever coming- 
nearer to thee their creator and father, and e-ver farther ca- 
pacitating themselves for a superior better life, and for 
communion with thee ; is what we ail might and should be- 
come. Hereto hast thou called us as men and as christians* 
Hereto hast thou given us, in thy son Jesus, the most per- , 
feet pi^cursor and leader. But alas, too frequently, O 
God, too frequently we lose sight of him and of our destin- 
ation, and of the dignity of our nature and the grand de- 
signs of thy wisdom and bounty ; unmindful of what we 
are and ought to be ; think, judge, act, as ignobly, as rnean^ 
ly as though we were creatures of a quite different, far in- 
ferior kind ; instead of allowing ourselves to be guided by 
that generous ambition, that avidity for real, durable per fac- 
tion, which thou hast planted in our hearts, submitting to 
be governed by childish Vanity ; and thus instead of rising, 
are ever falling lower 1 O God of all mercies, do thou pre- 
serve our nature, the Avork of thy hands, from its total 
downfall. Do thou raise it again, by teaching us to think 
more justly, to strive after better and worthier objects and 
to hasten with unabated ardor towards the glorious mark 
which thou hast set before us. Let us ever perceive mere 
Vol. II. Z 



S54 Arguments against Vanity, 

more plainly the folly and the danger of whatever might re- 
move us from itj and ever avoid it with greater caution. — . 
Bless to this end the lessons now to be delivered. Grant 
that we may thoroughly perceive and feel their truth, ac- 
cept them freely, lay them up in a good heart and make vi. 
faithful use of them. For all this we beseech thee as the 
votaries of thy son Jesus, addressing thee farther in his 
iiame and words : Our father, Sec. 



PHILLIPPIANS ii. 5. 

Let nothing he done through vain glory. 



^ THERE are faults and vices, which so mafi- 

ifestly appear to be what they really are, and the 
shameful nature and injurious effects whereof pre- 
sent themselves so clearly to the eyes of every per- 
son not totally destitute of thought, that none will 
venture a word in their behalf ; which all men eve- 
ry where, wherever they are found, and under what- 
ever form they assume, immediately pronounce to 
be faults and vices, and abhor them as such, or at 
least account them worthy of detestation and abhor- 
rence. This is the case, for example, with robbery 
murder, perjury, avarice, lying, open vengeance, 
the grosser and more depraved kinds of gluttony 
and voluptuousness. Their very name is infamy ; 
the bare suspicion of them pollutes ; and their 
baleful influence on the welfare of the whole com- 
munity is so undeniable and apparent that they are 



Arguments against Faulty, SBS 

ever opposed by the majority, and therefore can 
never become universally prevalent, nor dare to hold 
tip their heads in public without exciting horror. 

But there are also other faults and vices, my pious 
hearers, that are so seldom entirely taken for what 
they are ; that artfully lurk under such a variety of 
harmless, or agreeable* and seducing forms ; and 
whose pernicious consequences are so little striking, 
and so little effect the generality of mankind : That 
we see therii spring up, extend, multiply, and by 
little and little become more prevalent and universal, 
without shewing the smallet^t concern whether so- 
ciety in general, or individuals in particular, are 
likely to be injured by them. To this class, for in- 
stance, belong levity, a propensity to a life of dissi= 
pation, an extravagant fondness for social pleasures 
and pastimes, pomp, luxury, pride, vanity. All of 
them faults and vices which the moi-e easily strike 
root, and may the more surely become predominant 
as their exterior is so very deceitful ; as the ideas 
we are apt to form of them are so vague and fluctu- 
ating ; as they excite so little dread and detestation, 
and consequently meet with so little resistance. But 
do they therefore cease to be what they are ? Do 
they therefore effect less mischief, because they do 
not occasion it directly, not immediately, not in 
so shocking and disgusting a w'ay, but more silently 
more slowly, and more unobservedly ? Are not their 
attacks on our vielfare so much the more dangerous, 
as they do not openly lay siege to it, but undermine 
it by stealtli ? And now, if, understanduig all our 
security and indifference, there be still real danger, 
hearer or remoter danger, ought not, at least, the 
public teachers of wisdom and religion to advertise 
tis of it ? Nay, they should not only watch with us, 
but even for us ; and watch even then when the 
2 



Q56 Arguments against Vanity, 

generality abandon themselves to an improvident 
and heedless slumber ! 

Well then, allow me to do my duty this day ill 
regard to one of the fore mentioned faults ; and this 
fault is Vanity. To me it appears more dangerous 
than perhaps it may seem to you. Probably 1 may 
have reflected more u])on it, and more impartially 
than many of you. At least, it is my duty to tell 
you what bad and mischievous effects I fear it may 
occasion ; and it is your parts to see that they be 
prevented or removed. It is not petulance, but 
love, that may you firmly believe, sincere and real 
love for you, my dear hearers, an earnest desire of 
promoting your intrinsic perfection, which has sug- 
gested to me all I have to say on the subject ; and in 
same dispositions I hope you will hear and employ 
it. I shall by all means avoid particular applications^ 
They shall be entirely left to your own judgment. 
The faults af which the apostle Paul warns chris- 
tians in our text, are the faults whereof I intend to 
warn you. He says to them, " Let nothing be done 
through vain glory,'' or from a vain propensity to 
please. For making the properest use of this admo- 
nition, I shall now do too things : First, shew what 
Vanity is, how it exhibits itself, and how it becomes 
criminal and vicious ; and then lay before you its 
mischievous eiFects, and thus provide you with the 
necessary weapons for v/arring against it. 

Goafaund not vanity with allowable and generous 
emulation. This impels us along the w^ay of wis- 
dom, of virtue, of a beneficent and generally useful 
life, with a laudable ardor for obtaining the esteem 
of our countrymen and of mankind, or rather to 
make ourselves worthy of it, whether we succeed or 
not : The other, vanity inclines us to seek preemi- 
nence in all things, and particularly in trifling, little^ 
estimable, or quite insignificant matters ; to be ever 



Arguments against Vanity. 257 

hankering after approbation and praise ; and accord- 
ingly to place every thing that has any value only 
in regard to us, and only in any way belongs to us^ 
or stands in connexion with us, in the most favora- 
ble point of view, and by all manner of means to 
give it consequence. 

Confound not likewise vanity with pride or 
haughtiness. They are both faultSj but faults not 
entirely alike ; and do not always go together.—- 
Kach may subsist of itself alone. If pride be not un^ 
frequently connected with vanity, yet does it as of- 
ten, probably still oftener, exclude it ; as vanity in 
return, is very frequently, nay, generally, without 
pride. Many are too proud to be vain ; many, 
vecy many, are only therefore vain, because they are 
not proud enough, or have not materials enough for 
pride. Pride founds itself more on the sentiment of 
inward power, and is the excessive digciiiication and 
evaluation of it : Vanity has more to do with out- 
ward things, which do not belong to ourselves, and 
possess no intrinsic valLier^-itTs on this account a 
still meaner fault, a still more ignoble quality than 
pride, and on the whole, occasions much more harm. 
However, the boundaries of these two faults cannot 
always be defined with exact precision ; thej^ fre- 
quently run into one another ; are often confounded 
together in common conversation ; and if in com- 
bating them we should likewise confound them, we 
shall always be only taking one foe to our welfare 
for another, but never mistake a foe for a friend. 
Therefore, to the point ! 

What is vanity, and how docs it appear ? Vanity 
has a very ample range ; it shews itself in very va- 
rious ways. It in general consists in the fondness 
for and the endeavor to attract regard, to be distin- 
guished from others, to set its advantages in the ful- 
lest light, and to give them an air of importance.— 



358 -Arguments against Vanity, 

As various as these advantages are, so various are 
the kinds and exhibitions of vanity. Thus the witty 
cause their wit, the rich their riches, the great their 
grandeur, to shine before men. Thus will beauty 
make o:hers feel its sw^ay, accomplishments their 
charms, talents their claims on admiration, science 
its iniiuence on the human mind, and at times, even 
virtue her inherent authority over the human heart, 
and by the display and use of their privileges demand 
esteem, approbation, praise, submission, reverence ; 
and if from such motives, and in such views, they 
speak, keep silence, act and shew themselves, then 
vanity mixes with the behavior of the virtuous, the 
learned, the skilful, the accomplished, or the fair ; 
and, if these motives, these views determine fre- 
quently, if they habitually influence their discourses 
and actions, if they have greater weight with them, 
and act more forcibly upon them, than love tow^ards 
what is good and true, more than the desire to 
please God, and to be useful to their fellow beings ; 
then does this vanity with them become a vice, and de- 
prive theiradvantages of the greatest part of their value! 
We should closely attend to this distinction, my 
pious hearers. The desire of pleasing is natural to 
us all ; it incites us all to shew ourselves to others 
on the best side ; and to it w^e are urioubtedly in- 
debted for many gratifications and advantages, more 
especially in regard to social intercourse. It prevents 
many sallies of base and hurtful passions ; spares us 
the disgusting sight of many indecent and vulgar 
scenes ; lessens the number of scandals and offen- 
ces in the world ; frequently gives rise to good ac- 
tions ; may even by imperceptible degrees, have a 
salutary influence on the dispositions, of mankind ; 
and is always a homage we pay to virtue and to the 
dignity of our nature. So long as the propensity is 
not the principal, not the predominant propensity, in 



Arguments against Fanity. S5^ 

0ur soul, so long as it is kept in due subordination 
to what we owe to God and to religion, to truth and 
to duty ; so long as it employs no lawful means 
of gratification, none that injure and disunite man- 
kind ; so long may we account it a good princi^ 
pie of action, and need not pronounce it criminal 
vanity. 

But if this lust of pleasing has once got so far the 
command oyer us, that we no longer ask, what is 
true, what is right, what is agreeable to the will of 
God and to our particular duty ; but only, what 
will please ; what will procure us approbation and 
praise ; what will set our advantages in the most 
favorable light ; if it govern us so, that we strive 
to please every man, the fool as well as the wise, 
the vicious no less than the virtuous, such as arc 
children in understanding, as well as those that 
think like men ; does it govern us so that we en- 
deavor not only to display our advantages, but at the 
same time to obscure and diminish the advantages 
of others, and to bring them into suspicion ; does it 
govern us so as that v/e make serious business of 
whatever relates to outward figure, ornament, pre- 
sentation and address, or the like, and bestow much 
time and care on such generally insignificant things; 
does it in fine, so govern us, that, for the sake of 
pleasing others we allow ourselves to be persuaded 
to do even what is bad, at least what is ambiguous, 
that we dare not say and do what is right and fit, be- 
cause probably it is not quite current, and adapted 
to the taste of the multitude, and not perform the 
duty, not adequately perform it, the neglect and 
omission whereof is probably thought an honor : 
Then, indeed our desire of pleasing, and of display- 
ing our advantages is highly criminal ; then is it 
base and mean vanity ; vanity that is totally unwojv 
thy of the man and the christian | 
4. 



360 Arguments against Vanity* 

And now how much do I \'i ish to convince you 
my pious hearers, of what a multitude of corrupt 
and baleful consequences are produced by vanity m 
general, and in particular the propensity to please 
by outward things ! Accompany me in these con- 
siderations with silent attention, and thus lay up ma- 
terials for farther reflection. 

Vanity commonly deprives a man of what he in- 
herently possesses, of that originality which makes 
him to be personally that and no other individual ; 
the turn of mind which causes him to view and to 
judge and to treat the things that are without and 
around him, on this and not on another side, and 
Vv'hereby he accordingly gives occasion to others to 
consider hundreds of things on a new and unob- 
served side, or in new and unusual combinations, 
and by that means to enlarge their horizon, to cor- 
rect their judgment and their taste, and the like ; all 
this is generally impracticable among men that are 
swayed by vanity* No one will venture to be and 
to appear that which he actually is; so to see, to 
judge, to treat other men or things as they all actu- 
ally appear to him ; so to walk and to behave, as 
prompted by his sagacity, his dispositions, his taste, 
and bis wants. Each will direct himself by the pre- 
vailing fashion ; each v/ili be, or appear to be, what 
others aie or seem to be. Accordingly, one will 
judge as the other judges ; and all of them so, as 
some -few persons do, whose hap it is to prescribe 
the tone. Accordingly, one will behave himself 
like the other, manage his looks like the other, 
dress himself like the other ; and all so as chance, or 
the humor of some unknown person, or the folly 
and levity of a stranger, has thought fit to determine 
that men shall behave, and demean and dress them- 
selves. Accordingly each man a hundred and a 
hundred times belies his taste, his understanding, 



Arguments against Vanity, 361 

his feelings, for the sake of doing what others do ; 
is thoroughly sensible of the burden that oppresses 
him ; sighs under it in secret ; knows not properly 
who it was that laid it upon him ; and y < t does not 
dare to cast it from him. Accordingly, he always 
frames and models himself by others ; is continually 
circumscribing himself on all sides more and more ; 
allows himself continually to be bound with more 
bands ; is continually becoming more and more un- 
like himself; and shows himself a hundred times in 
his borrowed mask, for once that he appears in his 
natural mein. And hence necessarily arises a tire- 
some, disgusting uniformity in discourses, conversa- 
tions, judgments, manners, and usages ; a perni- 
cious stop, or a very slow progress, in the develope- 
ment of the human faculties and capacities ; nature 
is stifled by art, and the man is lost under the mul- 
titude of cases and coverings in which he is envel- 
oped and disguised. 

Vanity, particularly, in regard to outward and 
borrowed things, usually implies weakness, want of 
real merit, a deficiency in truly respectable quali- 
ties ; it is almost always the fault of empty heads, 
and little souls. Whoever is alive to personal Vvorth, 
as a man, as a citizen^ as a christian, as an upright 
father of a family, as a worthy mistress of a house, 
whoever knows and feels that he -duly fills his sta- 
tion, does honor to his office, conscientiously dis- 
charges his duty, performs useful service to socie- 
ty : He likewise knows and feels that he merits ap- 
probation, esteem and honor ; he therefore does not 
seek it with anxiety, makes no parade of outward, 
little, insignificant advantages, which, Vvhen brought 
into qompetition with the former, are mere nothings, 
and W^ich he himself can never regard as meritori- 
ous, "But whoever is destitute of such real advuntiig- 
es ; feels no inward vigor and force in himseli ; dis- 



S62 Arguments against Vanity, 

tinguishes himself from others, neither wisdom, np^ 
virtue, nor a generally useful life ; possesses no act- 
ual merit ; and finds himself neither fitted nor inclin- 
ed to acquire them, and yet would make some figure 
in human society, play a certain part, and force him- 
self into attention and regard : He must indeed have 
recourse to such little artifices, and endeavor, by 
his pomp, his garb, his decorations, his figure, his 
outward carriage, to conceal, or in some measure to 
compensate the want of real adyantageis and intrin- 
sic desert. A consideration that ought to deter 
every person, in whom one spark pf generous fire 
is left, any sentiment of native dignity and power, 
from all vanity, and cover him with shame as often 
as he is tempted to seek his worth or his fame, in 
outward accidental things, that form no part of himself. 
Vanity is, thirdly, the parent of innumerable er- 
rors ; it hinders a man from rightly perceiving and 
appreciating the value of things, and from honor- 
ing himself and other men according to the proper 
standard, and from judging of every object by what 
it really is. Vanity is the sworn enemy of truth, 
and the manly sentiment. Wherever that prevails, 
there will all deceive, and all be deceived ; there 
semblance will rarely be distinguished from reality ; 
every one is dazzled by show, takes art for nature, 
grimace for sincerity, lives more in an imaginary 
than in an actual world. What does not glitter is 
despised, rejected, though it were even the most 
procious of gems ! That alone which strikes the 
eye, which sparkles, is esteemed and prized, though 
it were even the flimsiest tinsel ! Where vanity pre* 
vails, there will wisdom, in her simple attire, there 
will virtue in her native beauty, pass unnoticed and 
unknown ; and if they venture to step forth into ob- 
servation, they run the hazard of being hooted and 
derided. But folly, in her party colored, tawdry 



Arguments against Fa7iity, S63 

dress, and vice in her pomp, and with her gorgeous 
train, will command attention, approbation, esteem, 
encomiums and reverence, from all ranks and con- 
ditions of the vain unthinking crowd. I will speak 
more plainly. Where vanity prevails, and gives 
the law, there will a man not be esteemed as a man ; 
there the rich man will be respected because he is 
rich, and the poor man be slighted because he is 
poor ; there no inquiries will be made about wis- 
dom^ none about virtue, but about appearance, in- 
comes, and refined, engaging manners ; there it is a 
matter of no concern, who is the humanest person, 
the usefulest citizen, the best christian, but who is 
the most agreeable companion, has the finest taste, 
is the most perfect echo of the prevailing fashion ; 
there no one entertains a thought about merii, but 
about the semblance of merits ; there the clothes de- 
termine the worth of the man ; there are amiable 
vices, and odious virtues ; there will ten moral faults, 
ten really bad actions, be more readily overlooked, 
than one sin against the rules of good breeding and 
fashionable deportment. 

Vanity is, fourthly, a manifest and continued af- 
front to the whole society. The vain man is seek- 
ing for ever to blind us, to impose upon us, and to 
lead us into errors ; to distort, to disguise every ob- 
ject, and to exhibit it in a false point of view. We 
are- to take him for more than he is worth ; to at- 
tribute to him more than he has ; to trust him be- 
yond his means ; to have a better opinion of him 
than he deserves. He is ever busied in extorting 
from us the esteem and reverence due only to mer- 
it ; ever striving to appropriate the deference and re- 
spect, which of right belong only to wisdom and vir- 
tue, to himself and his clothes and his equipage and 
his borrowed outward splendor ; or to steal away 
himself and his person from our merited contempt, 



564f Arguments against Vanity.^ 

amidst the bustle and glare that surrounds hhn* 
Certainly an alTront that should induce every wise 
and good man to be so much the more on his guard 
not to suiFer himself to be cheated, and never to bow 
the knee before the idols of vanity. 

This is not all : Vanity enervates a man : Renders 
him delicate and soft ; deprives him of ail taste for 
what is really great, what in itself, and at all times, 
is beautiful and respectable, the taste for a noble and 
exalted simplicity ; it unfits him for all difficult, 
toilsome, magnanimous actions^ from which no 
praise, no renown is to be expected, all the domestic 
tranquil virtues, all generally useful activity in con- 
cealment ; supports and feeds him with impertinen- 
ces and trifles ; teaches him to play with words 
and sentiments with v^^hicli he has no concomitant 
thoughts and feelings ; deludes him with lying flat- 
teries ; conceals from him the deficicnces and wants 
of his understanding, and robs him at length of all 
sentiment of intrinsic dignity, and a superior destin- 
ation. It keeps him constantly amused with airy 
bubbles ; ever artfully rendering them of greater im- 
portance, and by that very means making w^hat is 
really important ever more indifferent or more diffi- 
cult to him* It gives every trifle, every transient 
glare, every fleeting charm, so much value in his 
eyes, that he has neither time nor abilities left for 
caring about any thing of consequence, any thing 
lasting, any thing valuable. 

Hence it follows, sixdily, that vanity, and in par- 
ticular that which regards externals, degrades the 
man, and is in opposition to his dignity. And in- ' 
deed my pious hearers, when I represent to myself 
a creature such as man, a creature that is formed 
after the image of God, that is so capable of greater 
thins:3, that is immortal, that is ordained to strive 
after ever improvmg perfection ; a creature that is 



Argiifnents against Vanity. 365 

ible to proceed so far in knowledge and in virtue, 
and may make such various, noble, and in their con- 
sequences unceasingly profitable uses of his time and 
his faculties : When I represent to myself man, as he 
truly is, and then call to mind one v/ho employs a 
great part of the day, and consequently a great, and 
that the best part of his life, in attending to his 
perishable body, in giving his figure some additional 
charm, in properly adjusting himself in regard to his 
dress, his<lecoration, his whole exterior, exactly ac- 
cording to the newest predominant taste and fashion ; 
how earnestly he reflects, attentively considers, ad- 
vises with himself, chooses, rejects, and chooses a- 
gain ; when I thus figure to myself a man, I must 
avow it — I am tempted to be ashamed of this man, 
of my brother ; I pity him for being so deeply fallen 
from his dignity ; so far beneath his destination, so 
very forgetful of his high descent, of his aiiinity with 
superior beings, and with God himself, and that he 
is so little that which lie might and was designed to 
be! 

Yet more. Vanity, particularly in regard to cut- 
ward things, is the strongest nourishment to levity. 
He who has been frequently, so long, so eamestlv, 
occupied v/ith trifles, who ascribes to them so much 
value, is ever living and moving in trifies and amonr 
trifles, coiistantly making them the subject of his 
conceits and fancies, taking a zealous part in all the 
vicissitudes the}^ undergo, as well as in all kinds of 
j^ensual amusements, often making them his princi- 
pal business, how can he ever have a taste for serious, 
truly great and elevated objects ? How perceive tind 
feel their worth,.their importance ? How ever become 
a man, and learn to think in a manly way ? Is not 
his life, how far soever he may have past the vears 
of youth, a progressive, an ever renewing childli'cod ? 
How can the thoughts of God, of religion, of a fu- 



366 Arguments against Vanity, 

ture and better life, find access to him, acquire his 
utmost attention, entirely occupy his thoughts, and 
present themselves to his mind in their full effect ? 
How can these thoughts comiect themselves with all 
his affairs and business, with all he thinks and does 
in ordinary life, at home and abroad, and thus be 
efficient to his improvement and happiness !— How 
often, on the contrary, will not his vanity call him 
off from the practice of domestic devotion ! How 
often prevent him from participating in the public 
worship of God ! How often distract him when 
there, and turn his attention to quite different objects 
from those to which it ought to be directed ! How 
quickly will the sight of some object of vanity efface 
the good impressions he has there received ! How 
insipid will every thing imperceptibly become to him, 
that does not relate to splendor, show, gentility, 
elegance, sport, amusement, and the like ! And 
where levity prevails how can a person become wise 
and virtuous, how a christian, how can he labor with 
intense application at his improvement, how at- 
tain the ends of its being, how qualify and prepare 
himself for that superior life, which most assuredly 
does not consist in fopperies ? 

Where vanity prevails my pious hearers, and this 
too is a highly corrupt effect of it ; where vanity 
prevails, there also prevails envy, jealousy, harsh 
judgment and slander. The man w^ill not only 
shine, but he will shine more than others, he will 
shine alone. He will have the handsomest figure, 
the most agreeable manners, the genteelest carriage, 
the finest taste, the best manner of life, the newest 
mode ; is determined to outdo, but not to be out- 
done. With what acute and piercing eyes does he 
therefore contemplate those who have the same pre- 
tensions ! How curiously does h^ spy out their fail- 
ings ! How eagerly swell them \ How willingly 



Arguments against Canity, S67 

floes he hearken to the ill that is said of them ! 
How artfully does he diminish or disguise what is 
good or beautiful or eminent in them ! And when 
he is not able to do this, when he is forced to do 
them justice, whether he will or no; does he se6 
them with the same hearty^ brotherly benevolence 
with which the wise man and the christian behold 
w^hatever is beautiful and good ? Dees he then feel 
no mortifications of his self love ? Is he not thus 
frequently deprived of all social pleasure ? And 
may then no emotions of hatred and animosity arise 
in his heart, no secret grudge have birth ? May 
not the aifection we owe to each other, as men and 
as christians, be weakened ? Are not, however, all 
these low, disgraceful passions ; and must not vani- 
ty, which engenders and feeds them all, be low and 
disgraceful too ? 

In fine, vanity is in direct opposition to the spirit 
of Christianity. Christianity, which every where 
preaches to us modesty and meekness ; w hich re- 
quires us to be virtuous in silence, and to endeavor 
more at pleasing God than man, to look more at in- 
visible than visible things* What beautiful precepts 
on this head do the apostles of our Lord particular- 
ly address to the professors of the christian doctrine 
that are of the softer sex ! They are to distinguish 
themselves from others, not by the putting on of cost- 
ly apparel, but by good and generous actions. And 
whoever does so, whoever aims at this distinction, 
needs none of the arts of vanity for procurin^^ es- 
teem and honor. They are to adorn the hidden 
man of the heart, that- which is not corruptible, to 
adorn their minds with knowledge, with wisdom, 
with virtue, and to excell others in the ornament of 
a meek and quiet spirit. This, says the apostle, is 
in the sight of God of great price ; this is, even in 
his eyes, of great value ; this pleases him^ on whos« 
judgment and complacency all depends. 



368 Arguments against Faulty. 

And what an example on this head has Jesus als6 
left us ! Not only of no foreign, borrowed, exterior 
privilege did he boast ; no, he boasted not of even 
real, intrinsic, actually great prerogatives : He rather 
concealed them ; used them not in empty views ; 
never did any thing for the sake of being admired ; 
displayed his wisdom and his superior perceptions, 
not for astonishing, but for awakening his hearers. 
Were it possible, that a vain man should possess but 
even a small portion of the power and prerogatives 
of Jesus, wdiat regard, what noise, would not he ex- 
cite with it ! Kow much would he obscure, con- 
found, and lay prostrate all about him ! How far 
was our Lord from all faults and weaknesses of this 
kind ! How justly did he judge of the value of 
men and things 1 No semblance could deceive him ; 
no approbation, no praise could dazzle him ; truth, 
intrinsic goodness, sincerity and uprightness were all 
with him. And how little did he seek his own ! 
How much he forgot himself in his zeal for the sal- 
vation of his brethren ! ■ And we, how are w^e 
to be christians, the scholars, the followers, the 
friends of this Jesus, in some sort filling his place 
^mong mankind, while we allow ourselves to be 
governed by vanity ; while v/e are anxiously pro- 
truding and displaying, by all possible means, every 
true and false, every personal and borrowed advantage, 
and more particularly outward and most insignificant 
things, and thus losing time and ability and inclina- 
tion for better and more noble concerns, for truly 
christian exercises and actions! No, no, vanity is 
manifestly in opposition to Christianity, as well as to 
reason ; is in opposition to the dignity of human na- 
ture, to our intrinsic perfection, to the good of the 
whole community. 

And now, let every man judge, whether it be sq 
slight a fault as is generally imagined ; whether it is 



Arguments against Fanhy, ts^^ 

hot attended with the most corrupt and pernicious 
effects ; whether we have not the weightiest reasons 
for cautioning such as we love from this terrible 
source of folly and evil. I am well aware that vani- 
ty does not yet prevail among us to such a degree 
as it may elsewhere in cities and larger towns, and 
that therefore all its bad consequences are not yet so 
conspicuous among us as they may be there, and as 
I have represented them to be in its natural effects- 
But, what it is not, and does not yet, it may and 
will, sooner or later, become and do, if it meet with 
no restraint. I likewise very well know, that thq 
generality of outward diings, that, in particular, 
whatever relates to dressing and decorating the body, 
in and of themselves are quite indifferent ; but in 
their principles, in the manner of regarding and 
treating them, and in the influence they may and 
actually have upon our way of thinking, they cer^ 
tainly cease to be indifferent. I, lastly, very well 
know, that the single expression, " one should not 
distinguish one's self, one ought not to be particular," 
is sufficient of itself, with the generality, to defeat at 
once all that the teacher of wisdom and religion 
can say on this subject. But how pointless soon 
would all these terrible weapons of vanity be, if 
only a few, truly wise, good and respectable persons 
would unite together to stem the torrent, and con^ 
tent themselves with the sentiment of their own in- 
trinsic worth, and the approbation of a small num- 
ber of eminently intelligent and virtuous persons ! 
What a mortal blow would not thus be given to van^ 
ity ! And may not this, soon or late, be expected, 
be hoped for among christians ? \n the mean tiu-e, 
however, I will, as I said at the begimiing, mak.j no 
particular application, censure none, prescrif)c no 
laws to any, not peremptorily condemn or V)lame 
what, abstractedly considered, is totally indifferent, 
Vol. II. A a 



370 Arguments against P'afiity. 

My design has been only to furnish matter for re- 
llection to such as are able and willing to think, 
and to strew seed, that probably here and there 
may fall into some generous hearts, there strike 
root, spring up in concealment, and in time bear 
fruit. *' He therefore that hath ears to hear, let hint 
hear*'' 



SERMON XL VIII. 



Rules for rightly Appreciating the Value of Things^ 



:•»!«■:'! 



o 



GOD, who art pure love and benignitf^. 
and intendest only happiness, how many capacities, how 
many means for being happy hast thou also granted to us ! 
Our senses and our mind, nature and religion, the visible 
and the invisible, the present and the future^ all numberless 
sources of satisfaction and pleasure, all promise and prftcure 
us delight, all are ordained and adapted to render us con- 
stantly more perfect and happy. Yes, thou, the affection* 
ate, beneficent parent of the universe, provident for our body 
and for our soul, for our animal and for our intellectual 
wants, for outward welfare, and for our inward perfection, 
for our first, terrestrial, and for out* superior, eternal life, 
for what may facilitate and render agreeable our course to 
the mark, and what can secure to us the actual attainment 
of it. O God, how gracious, how bountiful thou art I How 
much hast tboii done for us ! With vvhat parental care pro- 
vided for our welfare ! Oh that we but loved ourselves as 
thou lovest us, and provided as carefully for cur own hap- 
piness, as thou providest for it ! Thou hast made us ration- 
al freely acting creatures. It is our busineSl; to choose be- 
tween the good and the bad, between the better and the 
worse, to distinguish between semblance and reality, to ele- 
vate ourselves above the sensible and the visible, and to 
learn to connect the future with the present. Our happi- 
ness is to be the consequence of our wise and good behav- 
2 



572 Rules for Appreciating the Value of Things, 

ior ; and this must give it firmness and stability, and 
sweeten to us the enjoyment of it. But we frequently err 
in our judgment and in our choice ; we frequently suffer 
ourselves to be deluded by the semblance of things ; we of- 
ten let sensuality get the better of our reason ; often prefer 
deceitful, fugacious, transient goods and pleasures to the 
most essential and durable advantages and blessings. And 
therefore it is that we are so often discontented and wretch- 
ed ; therefore we are so often compelled to complain of 
the want of satisfaction and happiness. O God, O merciful 
God, lead us back from our deviations. Teach us better to 
understand thy kind, beneficent designs, and to think and 
act more conformably with them. Let the light of thy truth 
shine constantly more on the path of our life, that we may 
■walk it with ever increasing intelligence and safety. Grant 
that we may ever judge more justly of the various goods 
and advantages that we meet with on itj offering us satisfac» 
tion and pleasure, joy and felicity, and learn ever more wdse- 
1) to choose betwieen them. Bless to this end our reflec- 
tions on the doctrines of religion which are now to be deliv- 
ered«to us. Let us perceive and feel their truth, and make 
use of them as a light unto our feet and a lantern to bur 
paths in the whole of our future deportment. We ask it of 
thee as christains with filial confidence, addressing thee far- 
ther in the name of thy son, after "Whom we are called i 
Our father. ?cc. 



PSALM ir, 6. 

There be many that say^ Who will shew us any good t 



MAN may possess a variety of goods, en- 
joy many pleasures, acquire many advantages, seek 
and obtain many kinds of perfection and happine ss ; 



Rules for Appreciating the Value of Things* 373 

but all of them are not of equal value, and rarely can 
we possess and enjoy them all, and much seldomer 
all in the same proportion or degree." These 
goods, these pleasures, these advantages, these 
kinds of perfection and happiness, are not always 
compatible with each other. The acquisition and 
the possession of one frequently militates with the 
possession and the acquisition of another. The one 
frequently cannot be purchased or acquired without 
the loss or the voluntary sacrifice of the other. 
There are cases where I can neither duly cultivate 
and improve my mind, nor enjoy the pleasure arising 
from the proper discha'ge of my duty, without 
weakening m,y body and hurting my health ; cases 
wherein I cannot maintain and secure my peace of 
conscience and serenity of mind, without manifest 
loss of many earthly advantages ; cases wherein I 
must choose between the gbod pleasure of God and 
the approbation and esteem of mankind, between in- 
ward perfection concealed from the notice of the 
world, and outward splendid distinctions ; betvvcen 
sensual and intellectual pleasures, between present 
and future happiness ; and must i-elinquish one for 
the sake of the other^ Persons who act not upon 
firm principles, who neglect to take wisdom and vir- 
tue and piety for their guides, are very liable in such 
cases to be confused and thrown into distress. The 
less a man knows of ine value of things ; the more 
he suffers himself to be dazzled by outside appeaf- 
ance and show ; and the more wavering his senti- 
ments and inclinations are ; so much the more un- 
certain will he be in this election ; and so much the 
oftener will he prefer the evil to the good, the worse 
to the better. To guard you against this tormenting 
and dangerous uncertainty, and to furnish you with 
sure motives of determination in such cases, \t the 
scope of my present address. Accordingly, I mean 



374 Ruhsfor Appreciating the lvalue of Things, 

to answer the question in our text : " There be ma-^ 
ny that say, Who will shew us any good," or What 
good, What is the best on every occasion ? 

We have ah*eady, at various opportunities, poized 
the vahie of the principal objects that relate to human 
happiness, or such ae are generally thought to belong 
to it. We have investigated the w orth and excel- 
lence of life, of health, of riches, of honor, of sen- 
sual, of intellectual pleasure, of piety, of virtue, of de- 
votion, of religion, of public worship ; we have ex- 
amined the advantages of solitary, of social, of busy, 
of rural life, of domestic happiness, of friendship, 
of liberty, of learning, and others ; and we have found 
that they all in and for themselves deserve our re- 
gard and esteem, that they all more or less contribute 
to our happiness. Let us now compare these things 
together, or see which of them we should prefer to the 
other, which we ought to sacrifice or relinquish for 
the sake of the other, when we cannot obtain or pos- 
sess them at once. Wouldst thou proceed safely in 
thy choice, my christian brother, then let the follow- 
ing rules and decisive arguments be the guide of 
thy conduct. 

In the first place, prefer the necessary to the agree- 
able and convenient. That is the foundation of hap- 
piness ; this a part of the structure thou art to erect 
upon it. Of that thou canst not be deprived, w ithout 
being miserable ; the want of this only lessens thy 
prosperity and thy pleasure. It is agreeable to 
increase riches and to live in opulence : But neces- 
sary to have unsullied conscience, and not need to be 
ashamed before God or man. It is agreeable to be 
esteemed by all men ; but necessary to be assured 
of the good pleasure of God, and to be satisfied with 
one's self. It is agreeable to acquire a various and 
extensive knowledge of all that can content and gratify 
the inquisitive mind ; but necessary to be concerned 



Rules for Appreciathtg the Value of Things, S75 

about acquiring solid notions of the affairs of our sta- 
tion and calling. It is agreeable to form various con- 
nexions with many other people, and to enlarge our 
sphere of action ; but necessary conscientiously to 
comply with the demands of the closer connexions 
in which we stand, as parents, as spouses, as citizens, 
and to be active and useful in the narrower circle 
wherein providence has placed us. It is agreeable to 
live long, and in the enjoyment of a vigorous health ; 
but necessasy to live virtuously and piously and 
generally useful. It is agreeable to be decked 
with outward distinction, and to be surrounded with 
a certain splendor ; but necessary to apquire intrin- 
sic perfection, and to provide for its constant im- 
provement. It is convenient to be free from all 
kinds of constraint, to follow one's inclinations of 
every sort, to have others at one's service, and to di- 
vide one's time between pleasure and repose ; but ne- 
cessary to discharge faithfully the duties of our station 
and calling, and to repay, by reciprocal service, the 
services we receive from society. All the former 
we may dispense with, and not be unhappy ; 
but with the latter not. Prefer, therefore, in all 
cases, what is necessary, that without which thou 
canst not be happy, to what is merely agreeable and 
^convenient, what merely in certain respects increases 
or raises thy happiness ; prefer a good conscience 
to all riches ; the beiiig well pleased to God, to all 
human applause ; the knowledge necessary to thy 
po3t and calling, to every other kind of knowledge j 
thy domestic and civil connexions and relationships, 
to all other connexions and relationships ; a virtu- 
ous and generally useful, to the longest and health- 
iest life without virtue and general utility ; thy in- 
trinsic perfection, to all outward distinctions ; thy 
duty, to all conveniences and independency : — 
Be readv to sacrifice all these with joy whenev^ 
4 



&16 Ruld^for Appreciating the P'alue of filings* 

er thou art obliged to choose between them. — 
The former are necessary and essential to thy hap». 
piness ; of the latter thou canst be deprived and yet 
be happy. 

Prize, farther, if thou wouldst rightly judge and 
choose, prize those benefits and advantages which 
thoLi hast thyself acquired as the consequences and 
recompense of thy wise and good behavior, at a 
much higher rate than such as have fallen to thee, 
without thy procuring and without thy desert, by 
means of som*e favorable concurrence of outward 
things ; even though they may be in and for them- 
selves far greater and more brilliant than the for men 
A moderate livelihood, that thou hast earned by pru- 
dence and honest skill, by assiduity and labor, is of 
far more value than the greatest riches thou hast in- 
herited, or hast acquired by any fortunate occurrence. 
The lowest dignity, the most inconsiderable import- 
ance, to which thou art raised by thy own abilities, 
and the services thou hast rendered to society, con- 
fers upon thee more real honor than all the lustre 
accruing to thee, however great by birth, or that 
can reverberate upon thee from the high and mighty 
with whom thou art connected. The advantages of 
mind and heart, which thou may est consider as the 
fruit of thy virtuous efforts, of thy unremitted strug- 
gles after higher perfection, should be dearer to thee 
than ail the gifts and talents, though never so great, 
for which thou art indebted to nature or the first ru- 
diments of education. The testimony of a good 
conscience, founded on the inward sentiment of thy 
integrity, and the recompense of thy blameless and 
prudent conduct, should be of more account with 
thee than the flattering approbation and the loudest 
applause of men, who seldom know thee thoroughly, 
and who, for the most part, judge more from sem- 
blance than from reality. The esteem and affection 



Rules for Appreciating the Value of Things. 377 

shewn thee on thy own account, on account of what 
thou actually art and dost, which is bestowed upon 
thee as an intelligent and good person, as a useful 
member of society, should be of far more worth to 
thee than the profoundest reverence paid thee on 
account of thy quality, thy office, or thy w^ealth. 
For all the goods and (distinctions that accrue to 
thee more from thyself than from fortune, thou 
canst neither obtain nor preserve without the use and 
application of thy nobler capacities and powers, with- 
out becoming actually wiser and better, and more 
perfect ; and this Avisdom, this moral benefit, this 
perfection remains with thee forever, abides by thee 
even when thou hast lost all those outward goods 
and privileges, when thou passest ov^er into a state 
wherein they will no longer avail, and cease to have 
any worth. 

Prefer, thirdly, my christian brother, who wouldst 
form a right judgment of the goods, the pleasures, 
the advantages of this life, of what belongs, or is 
deemed to belong to human happiness, and wouldst 
choose from amongst these things like a wise man, 
prefer what is in thy power to those things which 
depend not on thee, but purely on outward circum- 
stances and accidental causes. After the former 
thou wilt not strive in vain ; they are what thou 
mayst assuredly, thou mayst constantly have and en- 
joy : Whereas, in pursuit of the latter, thou wilt fre- 
quently throw away thy time and dissipate thy fac- 
ulties, and wilt never be sure of their continuance. 
It is in thy power to maintain the command over 
thyself, to shake off the yoke of error, of prejudice, 
and of moral servitude ; but it depends not on thee 
whether thou shalt rule over others, or be in sub- 
serviency to them ; whether thou shalt fill the post 
of commander, or that of a subordinate. It is in thy 
power, by a wise and christian temper, to acquire 



378 Rules for Appreciating the Value of Things, 

the blessedness of a serene and contented heart ; but 
it depends not on thee to enjoy the boon of wealth, 
of might, or, of exalted station. It is in thy power 
to cultivate thy mind, to purify and to improve thy 
heart ; but it depends not on thee to render thy out- 
ward circumstances as flourishing and brilliant as 
thou couldst wish. It is in thy power to do what 
thy station and calling exact, with consciousness and 
integrity ; but it depends not on thee to eifect so 
much good by it, about thee, and to have so much 
influence on the general welfare, as thou fain wouldst, 
It is in thy power to distinguish thyself above oth- 
ers by sincerity and virtue ; but it depends not al- 
ways on thee to exalt thyself over them by extraor- 
dinary talents and endowments, or by peculiar mer- 
its. It is in thy power to enjoy the complacency of 
God, thy sovereign ruler and judge, and to rejoice 
in his favor ; but it depends not on thee to obtain 
the applause of thy contemporaries, or to secure the 
favor of the great and powerful of the earth. It is in 
tliy power to gain the love of thy fellow creatures by 
gentleness, kindness and beneficence ; but it depends 
not on thee to be honored, admired or promoted by 
them, or even to be esteemed and rewarded accord- 
ing to thy desert. It is, finally, in thy power to live 
virtuously and piously, and thus to prepare thyself 
for a superior state, but it depends not on thee to 
]jerform a great and shining part on the theatre of 
this world, or to attain to tlie cxtremest pinnacle of 
the age of man. Waste not, therefore, thy time and 
thy abilities in striving after goods, after eminencies, 
after pleasures that depeiid not on thee, and which as 
ofcen and still oftener fall to the lot of those who 
have never sought nor deserved them, than to such 
as have earned tliem, and to whom they are due ; 
b'Jt apply them to Vvhat is in tliy power, so wilt thou 



Rules for Appreciating the Value of T/ihigs. ^79 

riever employ them in vain, and thy aimj thy felicity, 
will infallibly be thy reward. 

Prefer, fourthly, if thou wouldst judiciously deter- 
mine between the objects that relate to human hap- 
piness, or are reckoned of that number, prefer ac- 
tivity to rest. Rest, inactive rest, is properly only 
defect, only limitation, only the effect and indication 
of v/eakness. Activity alone is life, is enjoyment, is 
happiness. The more active thou art and the more 
prudent, the more beneficial thy activity is; so much 
the more perfect art thou, so much the more dost 
thou resemble the deity. Wilt thou then triumph 
in existence, wait thou be happy, and ha])py in an 
eminent degree ; then strive not after rest as thy 
object, but enjoy it only as the means to greater ac- 
tivity ; and prefer always that which occupies thy 
faculties in a proportionate degree, and wliich prom- 
ises thee recompence and enjoyment after labor and 
toil, to that which leaves thy powers unemployed, 
which lulls thee into sloth, and promises thee pleas- 
ure or benefit that costs thee nothino-. Think there- 

■ o 

fore for thyself, and decline not study and research, 
rather than barely let others think for thee, and 
simply repose in their opinions and decisions. Kathcr 
labor thyself, and by laboring exercise th}- talents, 
than merely let others labor for thee, and enjoy the 
fruits of their labors in indolent repose. Prefer a 
busy mode of life, an office, a trust, that keeps thy 
mind in greater activity, and leaves thee little leisure 
to any other mode of life, to any other charge that 
employs thee but little, or not at all, even though 
this be far more profitable and considerable than the 
other. Prize the pleasure that is the uptural fruit 
of thy reflection and industry, that thou hast pur- 
chased with labor and toil, in the sweat of thy brow, 
far before any other presented thee by chance, 
and ^vhich thou mayst simply enjoy, without any 



580 Rules for Appreciating the Value of Things,^ 

previous preparation and any desert of thy own. — 
The former will render thee far more perfect, far 
more contented and happy than the latter ; and no 
endeavors, no toil is lost, which conduces to this 
end ; but thou wilt find it gain, and gain still abid- 
ing with thee, when the languor of inactive repose, 
and its surfeiting enjoyment, leaves thee nothing 
but melancholy refiections behind. 

Wouldst thou, fifthly, my christian brother, learn 
rightly to deem of the goods, the privileges, the 
pleasures that constitute human happiness, or are 
reputed to do so, and wouldst choose between them 
as a prudent man ; then prefer the intellectual to 
the sensual, that which renders thy spirit more con- 
tented and perfect, to what procures thee pleasure 
and delight by means of thy senses alone, or pro- 
motes thy outward w^eljare. Animal life, health, 
and vigor of body, abundance of earthly goods, are 
undoubtedly desirable things ; but intellectual life, 
health and vigor of mind, riches in knowledge, in 
Vv^isdom and virtue, are far, far more desirable. — 
The former may as easily become prejudicial as 
profitable to us ; may as probably render us wretch- 
ed as happy, and a thousand accidents may deprive 
us of them ; these are and constantly remain sub- 
stantial goods ; can never be pernicious to us ; but 
render us continually and forever happy. The for- 
mer are without us, belong not necessarily to our- 
selves ; are only connected with us for a longer or a 
shorter time : These belong essentially to self, are 
indissolubly connected with us, and subsist as long 
as we ourselves subsist. Never hesitate then, to 
sacrifice the health of thy body to the health and the 
life of thy soul, the riches that consist in gold and 
silver to the riches of Vvdsdom and virtue, thy out- 
ward circumstances to thy inward perfection, if thou 
art obliged to choose from between them, if thou 



Rules for Appreciaiing the Value of Thing s- 381 

canst not possess and preserve them together. The 
former are only the occasions, the means of happi- 
ness : These are happiness itseh". Beware of pre- 
ferring the means to the end^ or of striving as ear- 
nestly after them as after these. Station, rank, might 
and authority, are certainly brilliant distinctions ; 
but a cultivated understanding, preserved integrityj 
uncorrupted faith, pious, christian dispositions, a 
pure heart, a blameless, beneficent life, greater sim- 
ilarity to Jesus, greater similarity to God, are far, 
far more valuable distinctions. The former belong 
to thy outward condition, and change immediately 
with it : These adorn thy spirit, and are, like thy- 
self, immortaL Let not them then, but these be 
the ultimate aim of thy endeavors and desires.— 
Sensual pleasures are undoubtedly real pleasures, 
and, when they are moderate and harmless, are 
worthy of thy wishes and thy proportionate endeav- 
ors ; but far purer, far nobler still are the pleas - 
ures of the mind and the heart ; the pleasure which 
the knowledge of truth procures, the discharge of 
our duty, beneficence towards our brethren, ad- 
vancement in goodness, communion with God, and 
gladness in him, the animating prospect of a better 
life. The former we hold in common v/ith the 
beasts of the field ; the latter connect us with sur 
perior existences, and with the deity himself. Those 
frequently leave heaviness, disgust, and pain behind 
them ; these are as beneficial as innocent, and never 
lose of their value nor their sweets. Therefore let 
them not hinder thee in the acquisition and enjoy- 
ment of these ; let not sensuality, but reason, be thy 
guide in the selection of thy pleasures ; prize that 
which satisfies and cheers thy mind and thy heart 
far above all that flatters thy senses ; and make no 
hesitation to oiler up these when thou canst not en- 
joy them both. So wilt thou prefer reality to ap- 



(^S'2 Rules for Appreciating the P'atue of Things, 

pearance, the essential to the agreeable, and fix thy 
happiness on a solid basis, 

Woaldst thou, in the last place, rightly appreciate 
the advantages, the pleasures that relate to humart 
happiness, and discreetly choose between them, in 
eases where they cannot subsist together ; then pre- 
fer the durable to the transient, the eternal to the 
temporal. Thou wishest not merely for a few days 
or years, thou wishest to be happy forever. Seek 
therefore thy happiness, not in what lasts only for a 
iQ\Y days or years, and then vanishes away ; seek it 
principally in such objects as are unfading and ever 
permanent. All outward things that now favor 
and please and delight thee, are transitory, and of 
short duration ; only thy inward perfection, the per- 
fection of thy spirit remains forevef. What is 
more uncertain than the possession of Mches ? What 
more transient than earthly elevation, than the re- 
spect and the honor of men ? What is more de- 
ceitfulthan their favor? What more fleeting and 
vain than sensual pleasure ? What more perishable 
than health and strength, than life itself ? To what 
accidents, what changes and revolutions, are not all 
these advantages and possessions liable ? Who can 
confide in them but for a year, but for a day, but 
for an hour with perfect assurance ? And how in- 
evitable is, sooner or later their total loss ! Nothing 
of them all will remain \vith thee in death and in the 
grave ; nothing of all these will accompany thee into 
eternity ; nothing of all these will retain even the 
smallest value in that better world to which thou 
art hastening ! No thither thou wait be only attend- 
ed by thy intellectual advantages, thy good disposi- 
tions and actions ; there nothing will avail thee ex- 
cept wdsdom. virtue, integrity, a sound understanding, 
a well regulated heart, and a happy alacrity in the ex- 
ercise of justice and mercy. These alone are last- 



kuksfor Appreciai'mg the Fahie of Things, 383 

ing advantages and possessions ; advantages and 
possessions that are not subject to the vicissitudes 
of things which neither death nor the grave can rav- 
ish from thee. If thou learn here to think rational- 
ly and nobly ; if thou learn here to govern thyself, 
to conquer thy lusts ; if thou learn here to use all 
thy faculties and capacities according to his will who 
gave them to thee, and to the good of thy brother ; 
if thou learn to love God above all things, and thy 
neighbor as thyself ; if thou acquire here an abund- 
ant, effective inclination to all that is right and good, 
to all that is beautiful and great ; if thou make at 
pi^sent the discharge of thy duty, thy joy, and be- 
neficence thy pleasure ; then art thou happy, 
and wilt remain so forever, even though thou art 
neither rich, nor great, nor powerful, nor healthy, 
nor vigorous, nor of long lite. Oh never forget 
then, that all visible things, however brilliant and 
charming, are transient, and only remain for a lit- 
tle while ; but that thy mind is immortal, that thy 
future destination is great, that this life is only 
a preparation for a higher, and that therefore in 
regard to thy real felicity, thy whole concern is this, 
that thou advance the perfection of thy mind, answer 
to thy grand destination, and render thyself capable 
and worthy of that superior life. 

And these, my pious hearers, are the decisive 
reasons, these the rules that should guide us in our 
judgment and our choice of the objects which re- 
late to human happiness, or, are so reputed, and 
will certainly guide us aright. If, in regard to 
all the goods, the affairs, the advantages, the pleas- 
ures and joys of this life, we prefer the necessary, 
to the merely convenient and agreeable, what v e 
acquire by reflection and skill, to what accident 
and fortune bestow, what is in our povvcr to what 
does not depend upon us ; if v.e prefer activity 



384 Rules for Appreciating the Value of Things. 

to rest, the spiritual to the sensible, the lasting 
to the transient, and eternals to temporals : Then 
shall we make no step in vain on the way that 
leads to happiness, and as certainly lay our hand on 
the glorious prize as we pursue that way. 



SERMON XLiX. 



The Vanity of all Earthly Things i 



V-/GOD, the inexhaustible foimtainof being,of lifcj 
of happiness, thee we adore in the profoundest humility as 
the one Eternal and immutable ; and the thought of theej our 
creator and father prevents us even under the deepest convic- 
tion of our vanity and the vanity of all earthly things, from, 
being spiritless and dejected. Yes, we feel that we are ex- 
tremely feeble and frail^ and that all that surrounds us, is 
as weak and transitory as ourselves. By every day that we 
pass we approach nearer the term of our course, and with 
it the moment, when every thing visible vanishes from our 
view and sinks into night. Though here thou conferrest 
on us many blessings, many satisfactions and pleasures ; 
yet their possession is extremely uncertain, their enjoyment 
is but of short duration. Nothing could console us amidst 
this manifold vicissitude, nothing satisfy our minds ever 
panting after happiness, were we unacquainted v/ith thee 
and thy gracious dispositions towards uSj did we not believe 
and know that thou art goodness and love from everlasting 
to everlasting. Yes, in this sentiment we have a firm, iiii- 
moveable ground of serenity and content, B> thee vrc are, 
by thee we subsist, by thee we already enjoy innumeraWe 
benefits, and by thee we may hope to contir.ue eternally, 
and be eternally happy. Oh might this grand, this bles- 
sed sentiment be coustantiy present to us ; might it be our 
guide, our teacher, our comforter on every path of our lives! 
How justly should we not then judge of all things, how 
wisely use ail things, how safclv and cotifideiitly Drocced 

Vol. IL B b ' 



386 The Vanity of all Earthly Things. 

to our destination ; Ob teach us then to hold the things of 
this world for what they are, to moderate our wishes and 
desires in regard to them, and to look mo're at the invisible 
than at the visible. Bless likewise to the promotion of 
these views the meditations we are now about to begin. 
Lead us to know the truth, and by the knowledge of it to 
become wise and blessed. We implore it of thee with fil- 
ial confidence, as the votaries of Jesus ; and, reposing a 
firm faith in his promises, farther address thee saying : 
Our fatherj 8cc. 



ECCLESIASTES i. 2. 

Vnnity ofvanitits, sdiih the preacher, vanity ofvmities, all is vamty. 



SOME truths there are which every pefsoa 
allows to be as certain as they are important ; and 
yet, in regard of most men, are as barren and unfruit- 
ful as if they deemed them trifles, or doubtful hy- 
potheses. We ought not to be surprized at this. 
Man, corrupted man, is a creature seldom con- 
sistent with himself, and whose actions are gener- 
ally in contradiction to his knowledge. Whence 
does this arise ? He hardly stops at common notions^ 
v/hich, because they are common, affect him but 
little, or even not at all. He loses himself aJnidst 
the prodigious multitude of the objects to which 
they relate. He gives himself no concern about the 
particular relation every truth has to him and his 
inoral situation, knowing beforehand that such in- 
yestigations must end in his humiliation, his con- 



The Vaniiy of all Earthly Things. S8^7 

fusion, his embarrassment, and his disquiet. Who 
doubts, (that I may explain what I advance by a fa- 
miliar example) who doubts for a moment about 
the vanity of all earthly things ? Who does not be- 
lieve that our lives are uncertain and short ; that all 
the preeminences^ possessions and pleasures of the 
earth, are frail and transient ; and that, at length, 
the figure of this world passes away ? But, does 
the acquiescence that all men give to these truths 
produce the fruits of virtue and piety it is so na- 
turally adapted to bring forth ? Does it, in general, 
render them humble, and heavenly minded ? Does^ 
it moderate their attachment and love for that which 
is visible and transitory ? Does it teach them to 
make a fliithful and conscientious use of the advan- 
tages which God has given them, and of the inesti- 
mable time he affords them ? Does it inspire them 
with a true zeal in providing for futurity, and in- 
duce them to prepare for that never ending life, to 
which they are every hour, evefy moment approach- 
ing ? Does it move them to hold such a conduct as 
becomes the citizens of heaven and the candidates 
for a blessed immortality ? No^ tlie moat v. oeful ex- 
perkiKC demonstrates the reverse. These truths are 
sufficiently believed ; but they are not thought upon, 
v/ith stedfastness and frequency enough ; they are 
too soon lost sight of ; they are sometimes purposely 
banished from the mind ; at least, VvC do not often 
with sufficient attention and impartiality turn our re- 
flections on ourselves and our conduct : And hence 
it arises, that we feel not their salutary inOiicnee, 
I conceive it, therefore, my duty, pious licaitrs, to 
admonish you and myself of th'jse truths ; and to de- 
vote the present moments to th>e subject of the ran- 
nitv of all earth! v thino;«. Mav these meditations 
make a deep and lasting impression on our hearts ; 
may tbev have a blessed influence on the Vvholc of 
2 



588 The Vanity of all Earthly Things. 

our future conduct, and render us wise to everlast- 
ing happiness ! 

You know who was the author of this just and 
well known sentence which we have taken for cur 
text ; and when you consider the principal circum- 
stances of his life, it will not be difficult for you to 
perceive that his judgment in this matter ought to 
have great weight ; as it is grounded on an accurate 
knowledge of earthly things, and a long experience 
of their agreeableness, on one side ; and of their in- 
sufficiency and emptiness on the other. Were it some 
gloomy moralist, some anchorite or misanthropist^ 
who, destitute of all the conveniences of life, from 
his dismal solitude, surrounded by the shades of 
death, called out to you, that all was vanity ; you 
would probably vouchsafe no attention to his voice. 
His testimony would make little impression on you. 
You would be more disposed to pity him, than to 
submit to his precepts, and take his word in such a 
matter as this. You would pronounce him incom- 
petent to decide on the value of things, which per- 
haps- he had never seen, had never possessed, had 
never enjoyed ; and which he only reviled, as you 
might imagine, because he vv^as obliged to forego 
them. Is not this very often the precipitate and 
partial judgment you pass on the admonitions of 
your teachers^ and by which you not un frequently 
destroy their effect ? When we represent to you all 
that is terrestial and visible as empty and vain; 
when we discourse to you of the honors, of the 
possessions, of the joys of this world, as of things 
that deserve but small estimation and love ; when 
we maintain that the possession and enjoyment of 
such things can procure no real happiness to a ration- 
al and immortal creature ; when we tell you, that we 
are here upon earth in a state of exercise and dis- 
cipline, and that this is not the place of our destina- 



Ithe Vanity of all Earthly Things, . ^%% 

tion ; when we exhort you principally to aspire after 
what is heavenly and eternal, and to provide for fu- 
turity ; with how many persons do these declarations 
and admonitions lose all their weight, because they 
imagine and that frequently without the slig-itcEt 
foundation, that it is in a manner from constraint, 
and more from duty than from conviction, that we 
so judge and discourse ; and that we probably should 
soon change our language, ^vere we thrown into an- 
other way of life, or if v. e were placed in different, 
and, according to the general opinion, more for- 
tunate circumstances ! I will not now examine the 
weakness and insufficiency of these evasions and ex- 
cuses ; I will not say, that truth, virtue and religion, 
always remain truth. , virtue and religion ; and that 
they therefore always, as such, deserve our esteem, 
our obedience, and our submission, let their teachers 
and defenders conduct themselves as they will. I 
shall at present only appeal to the expression of the 
author of our text, against whose testimony no one, 
not even the corruptest of the worldly minded, can 
bring any specious accusation either of ignorance or 
partiality. It is Solomon who makes his appearance 
as the teacher of the human race, calling out to de- 
luded mortals, '* It is all vanity, it is all vanity !*' 
And who was this Solomon ? Was he some unfor- 
tunate prince, who met unsurmountable difSculties 
in whatever he undertook ; v.ho was hated of his 
subjects, harassed and persecuted by his neighbors ; 
who, by a long series of disappointments, had lost all 
heart and taste for every beautiful and charming ob- 
ject of the earth ; or who knew not the more refined 
and nobler pleasures of life ? No. He was, as histo- 
ry informs us, the wisest and the happiest monarch 
of his times. Beloved of his subjects, feared by his 
neighbors, respected by remoter nations, he enjoy- 
ed a flourishing and uninterrupted prosperity. Thfe 

o 



€90 The Fariity of all Earthly Things. 

most extensive and uncommon knowledge adorned 
his mind ; and his power left him in want of no re- 
source for executing and extending his views, and 
for satisfying his desires, if they vrere to be satisfied. 
The splendor and magnificence of his court, the ex- 
uberance of his treasures, and the wisdom he dis- 
played in his actions and discourses, made his very 
name renowned in foreign lands. *' His wisdom, as 
the scripture speaks, excelled the wisdom of all the 
children of the east country, and all the wisdom of 
Egypt. Nay, he was wiser than all men." With 
these advantages he possessed whatever can flatter the 
senses, all that his heart could desire to satiate him 
with joy in superfluous abundance. To him no kind 
of pleasure was unknown ; and his days were spent 
m jollity and mirth. Hear how he expresses himself 
on this subject : '''I made me great works ; 1 build- 
ed me houses ; I planted me vinej^ards ; 1 made me 
gardens and orchards, and planted trees in them of all 
kinds of fruits, I made me pools of water, to water 
therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees : I got 
me servants and maidens, and had servants born in 
my house ; also I had great possessions of great and 
small cattle, above all that were in Jerusalem before 
me : I gathered me also silver and gold, and the pe- 
culiar treasure of kings and of the provinces : I got 
me men singers and women singers, and the delights 
of the sons of men. And whatsoever mine eyes 
desired I kept not from them ; I withheld not my 
heart from any joy." But hear likewise what judg- 
ment he passes upon all his pleasures : '* Then I 
looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, . 
and on the labor that I had labored to do ; and 
behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and 
there was no profit under the sun." This is what 
lie also maintains in other passages, and indeed 
throughout the whole of his book whence our text 



The Vanity of all Earthly Things. 3 CM 

Js taken. Ye who love the world and what is in the 
world, more than God, who place your highest fe- 
licity in the possession and enjoyment of earthly 
things, and seek your entire satisfaction in them, 
what have ye to offer against such testimony as tliis f 
With what arguments can you invalidate it ? Kow 
can you excuse and justify your folly ? Should it 
not make the deepest impression upon you ; should 
it not awaken you from your carnal lethargy, and 
bring you to reflection, when you hear so wise, so 
powerful and fortunate a monarch ; when you hear 
the acutest judge, the most tranquil possessor of 
whatever is beautiful and charming that the earth 
contains, declare, " that all is vanity ; that ;,all is 
vanitv ?" 

Yet his evidence, strong and incontrovertible as it 
is, is not the only, is not the firmest foundation oii 
w hich the truth of this position rests. The very na- 
ture of the thing, the constant, and unvarying expe- 
rience of all mankind and of all ages, pur own sen- 
sations, and the testimony of our own hearts, set it 
beyond a doubt. We need only to turn a glance 
of observation on the quality of the matters we treat 
of ; we need only compare them together on their 
different sides ; we have only to ask ourselves how 
far they contribute to make us haj^py, for acquiring 
a perfect conviction of the justice of Solomon's as- 
sertion. Riches and l>ciiors, the pleasures of sense, 
wisdom and knowledge, life itself, all is vanity. 
That is, all these advantages are fleeting and incon- 
stant ; they last but a short time ; tht- y are not capa- 
ble of satisfying the human teart, of coming up to 
its desires, and of filling it with a real and durable 
felicity. Let us examine them somewhat more par- 
ticularly apart. 

The greatest riches are vain. I will not here take 
notice how much labor and toil, how many sleep- 
4 



S92 7he Vanity of all Earthly Things, 

less nisrbts, how many base and servile actions, how 
many abnegations of the most innocent pleasures, 
it costs the generality of mankind, to acquire a su^ 
perfluit}'* 1 will not remark what a considerable 
portion of their life is spent before they have reach- 
ed their aim, how often they lavish their abilities in 
vain, and how often they miss of the goal towards 
which they run with the most anxious solicitude. 
We will allow that they have surmounted all these 
difficulties, and that they are in actual possession of 
the greatest treasures. What sort of treasures are 
they ? Are tliey not, in their very natisire, fleeting 
and inconstant ? Are they not treasures which moth 
ancj rust corrupt, which thieves break in to steal ? 
Are they not treasures which, as the sagacious mon- 
arch observes, often make themselves wings, and 
<[uickly leave their possessor ? May not a man be 
deprived of them by a thousand disastrous events, 
which he is neither able to foresee nor prevent; may 
he not, when he is least aware of it, be plunged 
from the height of opulence down to the depths of 
poverty and indigence ; and is he ever perfectly sure 
that this will not happen ? And will these treasures 
folio v/ him into the other world ? Must he not at 
his death forsake them for ever ? As he came naked 
jnto the world, is it not certain that he can carry noth- 
ing out ? Can these things satisfy their possessor, 
be they of long or of short duration ? Can they 
make him truly happy ? Does not constant experi- 
ence convince us, that the thirst of gold and silver 
is always increasing in violence, and that it is never 
to be allayed ; that '' he who loveth silver shall not 
be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance 
with increase ?"r — Or can these possessions assuage 
our pains ? Can they give us health and strength 
when we lie languishing in disease ? Ca*i they heal 
our spirit when it is wounded, or remove cares ancj 



The Vanity of all Earthly Things, S93 

disquietude from our hearts ? Can they restore us 
the loss of a darling spouse, an only son, or a trusty 
friend ? Can they shield us from the terrors of 
death ? Must they not rather make the sight of the 
grave more hideous to us than it is in itself ? How 
true it is, in ail these respects, that a man's life con- 
sisteth not in the abundance of the things which he 
possesseth ! 

But, perhaps, the honor of this world Is less vain 
than riches ? Perhaps that may be more adapted 
to procure us an essential and Jasting felicity than 
they ? How egregiously, my friends, should we err, 
were we to pay the slightest attention to this suppo- 
sition ! Wherein, then, consists the honor of this 
world ? In the advantageous judgments which other 
men form of our advantages, of our endowments 
and abilities, of our virtues and merits. And on 
what is this judgment founded ? But seldom is it 
the effect of a mature and impartial consideration, a 
true knowledge of our character and conduct, an 
undissembled esteem for the worth and virtues we 
possess. It is founded in general on the outward ap- 
pearance we make, which vanishes away on a closer 
inspection, or upon some fortunate incident, or on 
mean • selfinterest, or on treachery and falsehood. 
One will honor us, that we may do honor to him in 
return. Another v/ill praise our accomplishments, 
that he may acquire the reputation of being a dis- 
cerner and a patron of merit. A man will applaud 
virtues in others, that he may conceal the want of it 
in himself, and that he may be reputed among the 
number of her friends. W^e are frequently flattered 
for the sake of gaining our favor, our assistance, 
our support, or for more effectually doing us an in- 
jury. And who are they whose approbation and 
applause compose what is usually called the renown 
oi the world ? They are for the most part men that 



$91 The Vanity of all Earthly Things, 

^re destitute of ali respectable and praise worth}: 
qualities themselves ; who suffer themselves to be 
guided by their fancies, their passions, their fear^ 
and their hopes ; with whom prejudice and caprice 
do the office of principles j who trust to every am- 
biguous or doubtful report, and never afford it their 
investigation ; who frequently know not what is 
either truly great, or honorable, or noble ; and there- 
fore, according to the expression of the prophet, 
call light darkness, and darkness light. They are 
men who, for the most part, only pronounce on the 
generality of actions according to their success, with- 
out attending to the motives and the intentions of 
them ; who admire and revere whatever is uncom- 
mon, whatever makes noise and parade, but disre- 
gard unostentatious virtue, and value not the truly 
magnanimous actions which the wise and good man 
performs in the noiseless tenor of his life. What 
then is more fickle and inconstant than the judgment 
of mankind ? How small a matter is necessary for 
making you forfeit their favor ? How often dees it 
happen that they dislike, reject, depreciate, and con- 
demn today, the very things they yesterday approved 
and extolled ? Is not history full of examples of 
such persons as have been for some time the darlings 
of the people, and on a sudden have become the ob- 
jects of their bitterest hatred and most implacable 
fury ? Shall then the honor and applause of this 
world, which commonly rests upon so slight a foun^ 
dation, which is distributed by such partial judges, 
which is so easily lost and turned-into disgrace, 
which procures us no essential advantage, which or- 
dinarily, on the contrary, poisons our hearts, and 
render us insensible to the infinitely more precious 
approbation of God and our conscience, pufts us up 
with a ridiculous but criminal pride, which at length 
must fade and be buried with us in the grave, can it 



The Vanity of all Earthly Things. ^9B 

satisfy our spirits, and secure us a real and lasting 
felicity ? Can it be any thing bat fancy, folly and 
vanity ? 

And must we not pronounce the same of sensual 
pleasures, which such numbers of deluded mortals 
take for their greatest comforts ? How vain, how 
fleeting, how instantaneous are they ? They elude 
us the moment we begin to enjoy them ; they die, 
as it were, in their birth j and never answer the ex- 
pectation of him that pursues them. We look to- 
wards them with the greatest desire, we seek them 
with painful anxiety, we promise ourselves the most 
ravishing joy in their possession, and esteem ourselves 
happy in the prospect ; but no sooner is our desire 
assuaged than we find ourselves cheated ; we awake, 
and the shadowy vision, that delighted us in our 
dream , is gone ; our rapture is turned into surfeit, 
aversion and uneasiness ; very often giving place to 
the deepest confusion, the most pungent sorrow, and 
the sharpest stings of conscience. The most ex- 
quisite sensual delights, by repeated enjoyment, lose 
their charms ; and the narrow circle of worldly joys 
is so soon run through, that no diversification is able 
to compensate their intrinsic defects. Our senses 
become enfeebled by degrees, our powers exhausted, 
our passions less active, and what caused us at first 
the most delightful sensations, becomes shortly indif- 
ferent to us, or even extremely burdensome. We 
all find ourselves obliged, sooner or later, to '' say 
of laughter, it is mad ; and of mirth, what doth it ?" 
But can pleasures of such a nature satisfy our soul ? 
Can they suffice our capacious desires which expand 
to infinity ? Can we, without purposely deceiving 
ourselves, seek in them a true, a durable happiness, 
a happiness suited to our capacities ? Ye who follow 
your inclinations, and lead a sensual life, we appeal 
to your own experience. Can you deny it, that the 



5i&6 The Vanity of all Earthly Things. 

pleasures you so eagerly pursue very often deceive 
yoii, that they very often border on dissatisfaction, 
and that it commonly follows them close behind ? 
Can you deny it, that you frequently feel a secret 
remorse disturbing you in the midst of your de- 
lights, and embittering their enjoyment; and that 
vour heart, amidst every thing delicious and charm- 
ing this earth can afford you, remains empty and 
unsatisfied ? And, if y^u cannot deny this, you 
confess that all sensual pleasures are vain, and in- 
capable of procuring a solid felicity to man. 

But may not the pleasures of the mind, which 
promise human wisdom and knowledge to their vo- 
taries, be exempt from these defects, may not they 
be adapted to procure us what the others are unable 
to bestow ? No, my friends, they are likwise 
vain ; 'Mn much wisdom is much grief," says 
the preacher, *' and he that increaseth knowledge, 
increaseth sorrow." And indeed when we consider 
how much time and toil, how much reflection, how 
much difficult, and sometimes unpleasant inves- 
tigation, are necessary to acquire what is called 
wisdom and knov/ledge ; and how little we ob- 
tain by the most unremitted application, and the 
most strenuous efforts, how short wc fall of our 
designs, after the exertion of all our powers ; and 
what a task it is to distinguish ourselves by discov- 
eries important and useful to human society, discov- 
eries that tend to its real improvement, from the 
great mulitude of such as are. called the wise and 
learned ; when v/e reflect how many insurmountable 
difficulties and obstacles, hov/ many enemies and 
dangers we meet with on the v/ay that leads to truth, 
how often our understanding deceives us, obscured 
by prejudice, or blinded by passion, how apt we are 
to take appearance for reality, how often one single 
ray of light points out to us the vanity of what wfe 



I'he Vanity of all Earthly Things, 597 

have been laboring upon for several years, and re- 
presents the most ingenious system, which vve held 
to be immoveable, as having no foundation at all 
but in the flimzy materials of our own imagination ; 
when we consider the weakness of our reason, the 
shortness of our view, and to what narrow limits, all 
our faculties are circumscribed, how imperfect and 
insignificant is human knowledge, in comparison of 
what v/e do not, aiid of what we cannot know", and 
how obscure, how vague, how doubtful and in- 
complete the most of our conceptions are ; when 
we, in short observe tliat the wisest of mortals are 
most sensible of their weakness, and most clearly 
perceive the scantiness of their perceptions, that new 
depths are continually opening before them which 
they cannot fathom, and that nothing is competent 
to satisfy their unbounded curiosity : I say when Va e 
ponder these things, \ve cannot deny the vanity of 
human wisdom, we are forced to confess, that /* it 
is hidden from the eyes of all living creatures." 
** The thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and 
all their judgments are uncertain.'* And how 
much is not the value of this wisdom lessened bv its 
being, like all other things, subject to inconstancy^ 
and of very short duration ? Let the scholar, the 
philosopher, collect ever so great a stock of emious 
knowledge ; let him understand all languages, all 
the works and monuments of antiquity, the whole 
compass of ancient and modern history, all the ex- 
periments mankind have made for explaining the 
latent operations of nature ; all the conjectures that 
have been formed upon them ^ let him comprehend 
all the arts and sciences, as perfectly as they can be 
understood ; we will acknowledge his merits, and 
not refuse him the honor that is so justly his due ; 
but will he retain this knowledge in the grave ? 
Will he take it with him into the other \Toild i 



.39B The Vanity of all Earthly "things. 

Will it there appear to him either so great or so im- 
portant as he now thinks it to be ? Certainly not. 
He will forget the greatest part of it for ever. He 
will, if he still recollect it, blush at his childish er- 
rors, his precipitate judgments, his perverse deci- 
sions. He will consider most subjects in a quite 
other manner, and then, for the first time, come 
out of darkness into light. In this respect v hat the 
Preacher elsewhere says is true ; " There is no 
work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in 
the grave whither we go." 

And how soon are not mortals overtaken by this 
revolution ! Our life itself is altogether vanity. It 
lasts but a very short time ; and the greatest part 
of it glides imperceptibly away, unused, and unen- 
joyed. We are continually advancing to the silent 
tomb, and to the endless ages of eternity ; and 
before we are aware of it, we are standing on the 
verge of our earthly career. We are on no day, at 
no hour, in no moment, secure from death. Neither 
youth, nor health, nor strength, neither riches, 
nor honors, can defend us from this king of ter- 
rors. The unconscious child, the blooming youth, 
the vigorous man, as well as decrepid and trem- 
bling age, must obey his call. But few reach the 
extreme period of human life ; and the greatest 
part must away before they have tasted the coin^ 
fortSj the advantages, and the pleasures of it ; be- 
fore they have well begun to live. And how far 
then is this period from us ? Is it peniaps a thou* 
sand years remote, is it v/hole epochas before us, 
which yet, when compared to eternity, would be 
but as the tw^inkling of an eye ? No, '' the days 
of our age are threescore years and ten ; and 
though men be so strong 4hat they come to four- 
score years, yet is their strength then but l^bof 
and sorrow ; so soon passeth it away, and we are 



ne P'amty of all Earthly Things. b^ 

gone." Can we then, in any of these respects^ 
doubt in the smallest degree of the truth of Sol. 
omon's exclamation, '* All is vanity ; ail is van- 
ity ?" 

But shall we stop short at the mere confession of 
these truths f Should we content ourselves with 
the conviction of their certainty ? A lamentable 
certainty this would be, if it were of no fartlier 
utility to us ! A certainty that would in that case 
embitter our whole life, render all its pleasures in- 
sipid, deject us at every the least misfortune, repre- 
sent death to us under the most frightful images, 
and entirely overwhelm us at its approach. If we 
would render this truth salutary to us, we should 
make a totally different use of it. It should be 
continually present to our mind, and have a per- 
manent and practical authority over our life and 
conduct. It should moderate our esteem and afiec- 
tion for the goods and advantages of the world» 
and make us treat them with a generous contempt. 
It should induce us to seek our happiness and joy 
w^here they are only to be found, and to pursue with 
all our ardor the possession and enjoyment of those 
things that are constant and everlasting. And 
what are these things ? God, my friends, God is 
eternal. He has always been, and wiii for ever be.^ 
His mercy is unchangeable ; it is the inexhaustible 
source of light, of life and happiness. Whoever as 
in communion with him, of the number of his 
friends, may promise himself an eternal, an uninter- 
riipted felicity. Our spirit is everlasting. If it had 
a beginning, yet it will know no end. It vi ill never 
discontinue to think, to will, to be happy or ur.v. 
happy. It will live when our body is crumbled in 
the grave, and reduced to dust and ashes. Truth 
and virtue are eternal ; no change of time can des- 
troy them. They will survive the destructioa of 



400 'The Vanity of all Earthly Things. 

the world. They will be in the new heaven and on 
the new earth, what they are at present. They will 
then be the perfection and happiness of all rational 
creatures. These are things that merit all our atten- 
tion, and all our cares. They should therefore be 
the object of all our desires, our views, and exer- 
tions. If we place ourselves in the way of repent- 
ance, of faith and sanctification, we assure ourselves 
of the favor and complacency of the Supreme Be- 
ing ; if we make the redemption and the salvation 
of our immortal spirit our principal business ; if we 
seek in earnest the kingdom of God and his righte- 
ousness ; if we strive ever farther to advance in the 
knowledge of revealed truth, and in the practice of 
the christian virtues, and to become rich in good 
works ; then our happiness rests upon a sure found- 
ation ; then we walk the way that leads to true en- 
joyment, to solid and eternal bliss ; then may we be 
tranquil amid the vicissitudes of all earthly things, 
and behold with indifferent eyes their emptiness and 
vanity. Then, let the heavens and the earth pass 
away, let the elements melt with fervent heat, and 
every work of man be destroyed ; we shall still re-- 
main ; we shall rise above the ruins of a demolish- 
ed world, and our hopes will never be put to confu* 
sion. 



SERMON L. 



Of the practical Character of Jesus Christ. 



kJ god, we are here assembled before thee t© 
awaken in our minds such ideas and sentiments as may fit 
us for worthily celebrating the holy communion. Of what 
important, what salutary transactions does not this season 
remind us ! How ungrateful, how insensible should we not 
be were we to remain cold and unaffected at it ! It is con- 
secrated to the commemoration of Jesus and his great work 
on earth ; to the commemoration of our authentic teacher 
and guide, our magnanimous deliver and savior. And in 
this commemoration we find whatever can appease, comfort, 
quicken and rejoice us ! Light in darkness, strength under 
the sentiment of our weakness, fortitude in afHictions, i:ope 
in death ! Oh might the image of our loving, suffering, 
dying Lord, who by his love, by his sufferings and by his 
death brought salvation to the world, be ever before our 
eyes ! Might all, and particularly his last discourses and 
actions, be deeply engraven on our hearts, bringing forth 
in them fruits of amendment and comfort an hundred fold ! 
Yes, blessed be to us the commemoration of our divine teach- 
er, who has brought down to us from heaven every truth 
that can improve and comfort us, and has transplanted us 
from the regions of darkness into the kingdom of light ! 
Through him we know thee, the only true God ; and know 
thee as our Father, who loves us, provides for us, and even 
vouchsafes his grace to his disobedient, prodigal children. 
Vol. II. C c 



4©2 Of the practical Character of Chrut. 

when they amend and return to thee. Through him tv© 
know the %vay that leads to thee and to eternal bliss. He 
jhas discovered to us the way ; has cleared and smoothed it 
for us ; has gone before us on it ; has impressed it with his 
renerable footsteps ; has confirmed his doctrine by his en-^ 
tire life, and by his most holy deatfe, and thus secured us 
against all fear of deception. Yes, may his doctrine be ev^ 
cr dear to us as divine truth ; may it be the guide of our 
Jife and our comfort in death 1 Blessed be to us the com-^ 
memoration of the Harmless, the Holy and the Just, in 
whose mouth was no guilc,who never did wrongrwho never 
did any thing but the best ! Who went about doing good, 
taking under his care the ignorant, the erroneous, the sor- 
rowfuljthe wretched ! Whom compassion and philanthropyj 
light, liberty, relief, deliverance and joy accompanied in all 
his v^'sys ; whqse words were pure truth and wisdom, 
whose deeds the expression of the sublimest virtue 1 O 
God, what a pattern of the height of human perfection 
hast thou not given us in the example of thy son Jesus ! 
How venerable, how amiable does innocence of heart, love 
towards thee and all mankind, and entirely virtuous, holy 
generally useful life appear to us in the person and in the 
conduct of our Lord I Assist us then, most merciful God, 
in following him, in striving after him, in ever gaining a 
near resemblance pf him, in ever becoming more conform- 
able to him ! For these unspeakable benefits we cannot 
worthily address thee but in that form of prayer which he 
himself vouchsafed tx> give us. Lord, teach us to pray, 
^ray thou thyself in us. Our father, Sec. 



PHILLIPPIANS ii. 5. 

J^et this M»W be in you wkieh loas also in Christ yesus. 

IN the words of our text, the temper and 
conduct of Jesus Christ are proposed to us as a model 
lor our own, to tlie imitation of which we are under the 



Of the practical Character of Christ, 40S 

strongest obligations, and which we should constantly 
endeavor more and more to resemble. This is a 
proposition which in the scriptures of the New Tes- 
tament very frequently occurs, is repeated on all oc- 
casions, and earnestly inculcated on christians. Cer- 
tainly it must be of the greatest importance ; it must 
be very closely connected with the design of Christi- 
anity ; it must be an essential part of it. No doubt 
but it is. Wp render ourselves unworthy of the 
name of christians, we forfeit all title to the privileg- 
es and blessings combined with it, if we follow not 
the example of our Lord and Master, and use not 
all diligence to express it in our whole deportment. 
Indeed Christ had many prerogatives that elevated 
him far above us and all mankind, and which render 
it impossible for us to do what he did in all particu- 
lars. He was the Son of God ; he was an extraor- 
dinary prophet and teacher : The Mediator and Ke- 
deemer of mankind. As such be transacted many 
affairs and performed many actions which we cannot 
imitate, as neither our abilities, nor the relations in 
which we stand towards God and man, nor our vo- 
ipations, nor the circumstances in which we are placed 
^re adapted to them. But the virtuous, the pious, 
the beneficent and magnanimous temper, which is 
the principle of all the discourses andaction qf Christ; 
the pure and generous views he bad in them ; the 
ardor, fidelity, and resolution with which he execut- 
ed the will of his heavenly Father, and the purport 
of his mission on earth ; the humility, the meek- 
ness, the patience, the philanthropy he displayed in 
his whole behavior ; Tliesc are what we should 
propose for our pattern and rule in every part of our 
conduct. In these particulars we may and should 
have that mind in us which was also in him ; and 
«o walk as he also walked. To excite you, pious 
hearers to this, I shall endeavor by the divme as- 

2 



404 Of the practical Character of Chrht, 

sistance, to collect the principal features in the prac- 
ticable or moral character of our Savior whicli are 
dispersed in the evangelical histor}% and hold up 
to your view the charming portrait of his virtue and 
piety. May this picture, incomplete and defective 
as it will be, affect our hearts and be continually be- 
fore our eyes ! May it render virtue and piety truly 
venerable and amiable to us, and forcibly impel us 
to the practice of them ! 

I feel the difficulty, my friends, I feel how hard 
It is to delineate the great, the exalted, the amiable 
character of our Lord and Master, and to place it in 
its proper light ; and, if I were ever desirous of 
greater abilities and talents, of a nicer sensibility to 
moral beauty and excellence, it is at this moment 
when I am venturing on such an astonishing object. 
In it ever}' thing that is great, that is beautiful, that 
is crood, that is excellent blend and unite. It is a 
portrait without a flaw ; a virtue without defect ; an 
entire life, composed of unspotted rectitude, of un- 
sullied dignit}^, of unremitted beneficence in senti- 
ments and actions. 

Christ was perfectly free from all faults and fail- 
ings. No sin, no infirmity, no mean views, no low 
desires, no negligence or inactivity in goodness, ev- 
er once obscured the lustre of his resplendent merit. 
*' He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate 
from sinners." *' He did no sin, neither was guile 
found in his mouth." He could, with the greatest 
unreserve, appeal even to the testimony of his ene- 
mies ; and say to them as he did, '* Which of you 
coavinceth me of sin ?" Peruse the history that the 
evangelists have transmitted to us of, his life ; and 
you Vtdll not find either in his speech or his actions, 
any the slightest indication of pride, or ambition, or 
hatred or revenge, or sensuality, or any other baleful 
passion ; but you will always meet with the plainest 



Of the practical Character of Christ. 405 

demonstrations of the virtue that is in opposition to 
every fault. 

How pure, how exalted, how constant and active 
was tlie piety of our dear Redeemer ! The pro- 
foundest veneration, and the tendereit love towards 
God, his heavenly Father, filled and employed all 
the capacities of his soul. They animated and di- 
rected the Vvhole of his conduct. Solitarv arid famil- 
iar converse with his sovereign Being Vv'as the nour- 
ishment and invigoration of his spirit. He not only 
attended carefully and regularly the public worship 
while he sojourned among mankind ; he not only 
observed all the established usages of it ; but he 
walked always in the presence of God. His tliouglits 
and affections vv^ere incessantly directed to him; he 
was constantly engaged in meditation and secret 
prayer ; and neither the wearisome labors of the 
day, nor the terrors of darkness could hinder him 
from passing whole nights in devotion. 

His obedience towards God, his heavenly Father, 
was as voluntary as it was constant and unchangea- 
ble. '^ Behold, I come says he, to do thy will, 
O God ! Yea, thy law is within my heart." He 
reckoned it *' his meat and his drink to do the will, 
of him that sent him, and to fmish his work." It 
was his pleasure his delight, to fulfil the designs of 
divine compassion, and to accomplish tiie redemp- 
tion of mankind ; and this he inllnttely preferred to 
all sensible pleasures and eartlily joys. His will 
^vas entirely submissive to the vvill of his heavenly 
Father. He humbly adored the divine providence 
in all its ways ; he reverenced the wisdom of the 
Most High in all the dispositions it had made forthq 
deliverance and the salvation of sinners : He rejoic- 
ed in it, and rested entirely in the good pleasure of 
his Father. *' Yes, Father," was he heard to say 
on various occasions, *' yes Father, for it bO i.ccmtth 
3 



406 Of the practical Character of Christ ^ 

good in thy sight." Even in the last and dreadful- 
est scene of his life, when he saw nothing but op- 
probrium and shame, sorrow and torment before 
him ; when he was surrounded by the terrors of deaths 
encompassed by the pains of hell ; even then he re- 
mained stedfast to the purpose of perfecting the 
will of God. He overcame the horrors the sight 
of these agonies occasions to human nature, and said, 
with the most absolute submission, *' Father, if it 
be possible let this cup pass from me : Neverthe- 
less, not as I will, but as thou wilt.'' 

What a pure, Vvhat an active zeal for the honor 
of the Most High shines through all his discourses 
and actions ! How exact, how careful, how inde- 
fatigable was he in the performance of the weighty 
business he had to do I How worthily did he main-v 
tain the character he bore ! No slander, no malice 
of his enemies could once turn him aside from his 
course, or impede him in fulfilling the duties of his 
office in their largest extent, and \vith the most 
punctual precision. No obstacles, no difficultiesy 
were able to deter him from it, no opposition to dis- 
hearten or dismay him. His business, as the savioi^ 
of the world, was to seek the lost, and to preach the 
gospel to the poor. As the physician of Israel, he 
was to heal the sick and to support the weak. And 
this he did at all times and in all circumstances, 
though the" pharisees and theologues despised and 
insulted him for it, calling him the companion of 
publicans and sinners^ Never did he lose the ob- 
ject of his mission from his view. Never did he 
neglect an opportunity of calling the attention of his 
hearers to it, and of instructing them in the purpose 
of his appearance in the world. If he heal the sick, 
he requires them to have confidence in him as a con- 
dition of their recovery, as all the surprising action* 



&f the practical Character of Christ. 4Qi 

he performed were directed to this end, to recom- 
mend his person and his doctrine to mankind, and 
to convince them that he was sent from God, diat he 
was the Messiah. Do they bring him word : "Be- 
hold thy mother and thy brethren stand without, de- 
siring to speak with thee ;" he immediately replies, 
*' Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which 
is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and 
mother." Do they give him the account of the un- 
happy people whose blood Pilate had mingled with 
their sacrifices ; he makes no observation upon it, 
but gives a weighty admonition to his hearers :— 
*^ Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above 
all the Galileans because they suffered such things ? 
I tell you, Nay ; but except ye repent^ ye shall all 
likewise perish.'' Do they ask him from a crimin- 
al or an idle curiosity, '' Lord, are there few that be 
saved?" He gives them no direct reply^ but en- 
deavors to call the attention of those that ask him, 
as well as those who stand byj to more essential con- 
cerns : " Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for 
many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and 
shall not be able^ Thus had Christ his high voca^ 
tion constantly before his eyes ; and he was concern- 
ed about nothing but the glory of his father, and the 
work he had given him to finish* 

But, if the piety of our Savior was so pure, so 
lofty, so active, it must necessarily have produced the 
noblest fruits in his dispositions and deportment to- 
wards mankind. i\nd here the amiable character 
of our Lord displays itself in the most radiant colors. 
The most sincere, the most ardent, the most uncon- 
querable benevolence had full possession of his soulo 
'* Mercy is better than sacrifice. It is more bles» 
sed to give than to receive." These were the grand 
principles on which he built the whole of his con- 
duct ; and he. testified the importance of them ou 



403 Of the practical Character of Christ, 

all occasions, both to his friends and his foes. The 
view of the miserable condition of his countrynnen, 
in regard to their knowledge^ their religion, and 
their morals, excited in him the tenderest compas- 
sion. The burdens their teachers imposed on them, 
the wretched instruction they gave them, the dis- 
ordered state of their public affairs at that period, 
and the far greater calamities he saw approaching, 
touched him uncommonly near, they filled his whole 
heart with emotion, they drevv^ tears from his eyes. 
"When he sav/ the multitudes," says Matthew, 
" he was moved with compassion on them, because 
they fainted and were scattered abroad as sheep hav- 
ing no shepherd. Come unto me," says he, there- 
fore to them, " all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest,*' Even in regard to their 
corporeal wants he was by no means indifferent or 
insensible, " I have compassion on the multitude," 
says he to his disciples, " because they continue 
with me now three days, and have nothing to eat ; 
and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint 
in the way.*' Does Christ pronounce a woe upon 
Chorazin and Bethsaida ; it is only as a warning to 
the inhabitants of those tovrns, to " call them to re- 
flection and amendment, to deplore their unhappy 
condition, and to show that he takes a compassionate 
concern in their welfare. Does he speak of the 
righteous punishment that is shortly to overtake 
Jerusalem and its inhabitants ; dees he represent to 
them their obstinate opposition to all the pains he 
takes for their salvation, he is heard to s?.y v\ ith cor- 
dial tenderness and sorrow^, '* O Jerusalem, Jerusa- 
lem, how often would I have gathered thy children 
together even as a hen gaihereth her chickens under 
her wings;" how often have 1 offered you grace 
and deliverance, ho v often have I invited you to be- 
come subjects of my kingdom, and to take part in 



Of the practical Character of Chrht. 4 09 

the benefits of it ; *' and ye would not !" V/hile 
describing* the calamities he foresaw advancing to- 
wards this famous but in the highest degree cor- 
rupted city, he displays the most animated compas- 
sion towards it. He laments that their prcbcnt cir- 
cumstances would prevent their escaping thembj 
a hasty flight. He even wishes them Vvho stiil ad* 
hered to the Jew^ish ceremonies, and consequently 
were enemies to his doctrine, not only no harm, 
but he gives them the most wholesome ac^vice ; — 
" Pray ye that your Fiiglu be not in the winter, nei- 
ther on the sabbath day." Nay, even when he was 
bearing the burden of the cross ; when he was go- 
ing to meet the most ignominious death, when he 
had the eTcatest cause to complain of the inhuman 
procedures of his brethren after the flesh ; eventheu 
these tender and compassionate sentiments were pre- 
dominant in his heart : " Weep not for me," said 
he to them that w^ere affected by the lamentable sit- 
uation he w^as in ; "^ but v^eep for yourselves and 
for your children." And who but mjjst admire the 
greatness of his love ; who is not forced into aston- 
ishment at the energy of it, when he hears the cruci- 
fied Jesus in the midst of the most cruel torments, 
addressing himself to God, " Father forgive theoi ; 
they know not what they do ^!''' 

Bat perh.y ps the philanthropy of our Redeemer was 
barren and dead ? Perhaps it consisted barely in 
good dispositions, in tender words and pious wishes ? 
No. It appeared in a universal, in the most liberal, in 
the most un^.^ earied beneficence. He went about all 
the cities and villages, tcachuig in their schools, and 
preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing 
every sickness and every disease among the people, 
or, as the apostle Peter expresses it : " Vvlio Vveiit 
about doins: C;Ood, and healins; all that v. ere oppres- 
sedof the devil." He went about, doing good, 1$ 



4i0 Of the practical Character of Ciirhi, 

the abbreviated liistory of his whole life. Helpini^ 
the miserable, healing the sick, comforting the sor- 
rowful, instructing the ignorant, reforming the wick- 
ed, promoting the temporal and eternal felicity of 
mankind ; this was his principal, his peculiar em- 
ployment. Never did he refuse his assistance to 
any that applied to him for it : Never did he waste 
a moment ii\ hesitation about granting whatever he 
was asked for, unless it were bad or unseemly in it- 
self. Does an afflicted father come and solicit his 
aid for a dying daughter ; it immediately follows, 
*' And Jesus rose up and went with him." Does a 
humane and compassionate master address him to 
heal his slave ; his answer is, "I will come apd 
heal him.'- Do they bring little children to him^ 
that he may lay his hand upon them, and give them 
his blessing ; he says to his disciples^ who testified 
some displeasure at it, ** Suffer the little children to 
come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the 
kingdom of heaven. " The kingdom of God con* 
sists in simple hearts like theirs. And he embraced 
and blessed them. Instead of terrifying the timid, 
or rejecting the feeble in mind, Jesus like a tender 
father, speaks courage and confidence to them. — » 
*' Be of good cheer," says he to the poor afflicted 
creature, who, from modesty, would not venture 
publicly to lay her situation before him ; " Daugh- 
ter be of good cheer, thy faith hath made the whole j 
go in peace." ** Fear not," said he to an elder of 
the synagogue, to whom they brought the dismal 
tidings of his daughter's death ; " believe only> 
and she shall be made whole." 

Even to the most unworthy our Savior was benef- / 
icent and kind. He had an affection for his very 
enemies, and did them more good than we can some- 
times afford to our friends. He knew from the 
£rst, says his historian, John, who it was that should 



Of the practical Character of Christ, 4li 

betray him. And yet be did not strike out this base 
betrayer from the number of his disciples. And yet 
he vouchsafed him, for several years, his instructionj 
his attention**, his intercourse, his friendship. And 
yet he honored him with the important commission 
of announcing the kingdom of God, as well as his 
trusty followersj and imparted to him no less thanr 
to them, the gift of shewing signs in his name. How 
ought this magnanimous conduct of Jesus to have 
aiFectedthe heart of the ungrateful disciple, and have 
inspired him with more virtuous and generous sen- 
timents, if he had been capable of them ! Yet, in 
the evening, when he designed to execute his hor- 
rid purpose, our affectionate Lord endeavored ta 
make him privately feel his reproof, and bring him 
to a better mind. " Woe to the man,'' how griev- 
iously I pity the man, *' by whom th^ son of man 
is betrayed.*' And with what wonderful meeknesa. 
does our Master accost him when he comes to de- 
liver him into the hands of his cruel enemies !— 
*' friend," says he to him, '* wherefore art thou 
come ? Dost thou betray the son of man w ith a 
kiss !" — Nay, what an extraordinary proof of his 
magnanimous, his unconquerable love, that he should 
die for mankind, and voluntarily sacrifice himself 
for our salvation I His beneficent affection, his un- 
alterable tenderness, triumphed over opprobrium 
and pain, it stood unchanged and undismayed in the 
Valley of the shadow of death, and mounted thereby 
to the summit of perfection. 

As uncircumscribed, as universal, as unremitted 
as his philanthropy and beneficence were to the hu- 
man race, so tender and constant was his friendship, 
*' Lazarus, our friend, says he is aslee]> ; I go to 
awaken him." And how full of affection was his 
gentle heart, vv hen he came up to the grave of his 
friend ! This sight, and the lively idea of humaR 



412 Of the practical Character of Christ, 

misery tha*^ it suggested, drew tears from his eyes. 
He wept ; and the stauders by exclaimed, ** See 
how he loved him !" — With what a firm and gen- 
^erous friendship did he unite himself to his disci- 
ples ! A friendship which all their failings, all their 
infirmities could neither dissolve nor diminish. — 
Having once loved any, he loved them to the very 
last. How pungently was his soul afflicted on think- 
ing that one of the twelve, one of so small a number, 
whom he had hitherto honored with his confidence, 
should betray him, by discovering to his persecutors 
the place of his nightly solitude ! Hov/ great was 
his solicitude for the welfare of his friends in those 
alarming circumstances ! " If ye seek me," said he 
to those who were come to take him, " then let 
these go their w^ay." And what a strong instance of 
the most exalted friendship did he not give but a few 
hours previous to his sufferings ! Forgetful, as it 
were of himself, and the dreadful sorrows that now 
surrounded him ; unmindful of the ignominious and 
painful death that now a^vaited him, that he might 
comfort, strengthen, prepare and preserve them 
against the terror of his crucifixion. " Let not 
your hearts be troubled," says he to them, '* you 
believe in God, believe also in me." You have 
confidence in God, have confideDce also in me. — 
Ye now have sorrow ! Eut I will see you again, 
and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no man 
taketh iiom you. Peace I leave with you ; my 
peace I give unto you ; not as the world giveth give 
I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither 
let it be afraid." — Only read yourselves my ])ious 
hearers, the last discourses of our Savior, which 
John has left us. I think you \vill not read them 
without tears. I am sure j^ou cannot without emo- 
tion, if your hearts are capable of generous and 
friendly feelings. 



Of the practical Character of Christ, 413 

But we must proceed to remark something of th^ 
other amiable qualities and conspicuous virtues of 
our Lord and Master ; yet, as the magnitude and 
excellency of the object will not allow us to trace a 
perfect likeness of it, we must be contented with 
detached and leebie 'Strokes. 

How condescending, how friendly, how aiTabIs 
was Christ in his social manners ! The dignified 
gravity he displayed in all his actions and discourses 
so consistant with his character, hindered him not 
from being accessible and social. He shunned not 
human society ; he condemned not the indifierent 
customs he found in it ; he denied himself not its 
innocent pleasures. On the contrary, he sometimes 
participated in them ; he honored with his presence 
the marriage at Cana in Galilee. He aimed at noth- 
ing particular in his daily converse ; but conform- 
ed on these occasions to the established usages when- 
ever they were neither sinful nor superstitious. *' I 
am come eating and drinking," says he ; 1 eat and 
drink as other men do, that is, without distinguish- 
ing himself from them by an austere and extraordin- 
ary abstinence. 

How admirable were his gentleness and indul- 
gence towards his disciples, as well as towards the 
Jews of his time I Thev,no less than these were imbu- 
ed with the grossest and most servile prejudices in 
matters of religion ; and all his remonstrances, and 
apposite representations were not only incapable of 
removing, but insufficient to weaken those prejudices 
in any degree. They, as well as these, had such 
rude conceptions so little perspicacity and obser- 
vation, that they frequently mistook his plainest pro- 
positions, and could not comprehend his easiest apo- 
logues. Was he therefore fatigued with instructing 
and explaining ? Did he deliver himself up to the 
impatience and dejection which any other teacher^ in 



414. Of the practical Character of Christ, 

similar circumstances, would have felt and sunk 
tinder ? No. He bore with patience their infirmi- 
ties and failings. He even did not always rebuke 
wickedness, when that rebuke would have been pro- 
ductive of irritation rather than amendment or ad^ 
vantage. He thought it better to redouble his zeal 
in instructing ; he accordingly repeats his doctrines, 
one while delivering them in this manner, and then 
in another to adapt them to the capacities of his 
hearers. And when, notwithstanding his scholars 
did not yet comprehend what he meant ; when they 
still, after all he had done, and all he had said, en- 
tertained a reprehensible distrust of his pretensions ; 
he shewed that he had more compassion for their 
mistakes than anger or displeasure at their inconsid- 
crateness and levity. *' O ye of little faith ! " said he 
on one of these occasions, " why reason ye among 
yourselves, because ye have brought no bread ? Do 
ye not yet understand, neither remember the five 
loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets 
ye took up ?" 

What a generous and noble impartiality Christ ex- 
hibited in his judgments on all occasions ! He esr 
teemed, he applauded integrity and virtue wherever 
he found them* Very far from condemning all 
such as were not in communion with the Jewish 
church, very far from pronouncing that all their 
virtues were but splendid sins, we hear him publicly 
admiring the pious dispositions of a heathen officer, 
and proposing him as a pattern to others. ** I have 
iK)t found," bays he, " so great faith, no not in Is- 
rael." ** O woman 1" (thus he addresses the Ca- 
naanite, who, with persevering constancy, implores 
him to relieve her daughter) ''great is thy faith ; 
be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Though that 
young man who asked him, " Good master, what 
shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life," was still 



Of the practical Character of Ch r ist^ 41^ 

far short of perfection ; had yet such failings as ren- 
dered him unfit to be a follower of Christ, and im- 
proper for the apostolical office ; it is however said, 
Jesus, beholding him, loved him ; he was well 
pleased at the high veneration he had for the divine 
law, at his desire to become happy ; and he rejected 
not these good qualities, though they were not suffi- 
cient to happiness. 

What a disinterested sincerity and openness of 
heart shone forth in all the actions and discourses of 
our Redeemer ? Does he endeavor to conceal or 
extenuate the dangers that awaited his disciples, 
though he found them still so weak in faith, so deeply 
imbued with numberless prejudices, and so totally 
destitute of courage and fortitude ? Does he endeav- 
or to attach them to him by cherishing their i^ilsc 
but specious hopes of temporal prosperity ? No. He 
tells them expressly : '* I send you forth as sheep 
among wolves. You will be brought before gov- 
ernors and kings for my sake ; you shall be hated of 
all men for my name's sake." And as for me; 
" the son of man must suffer many things, and be 
rejected of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, 
and be slain.'* Or, does he strive to bring entirely 
over to him such as had some esteem for him, who 
were not altogether alienated from him, at least by 
tacitly upholding them in their erroneous notions of 
his kingdom, and by concealing from them the hard- 
ships that were the unavoidable consequences of be- 
corning a follower of him ? Nothing of all this. He 
tells them plainly ; "If any man will come after me, 
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and 
follow me ;" that is, he that will follow me, must 
renounce all worldly pleasures, and be ready to tread 
the thorny path which I pursue. " Foxes have holes 
and birds of the air have nects, but the son of man 
liath not where to lay his head." ** Whosoever he 



416 Of the practical Character of Christ, 

be of yoia, that forsaketh not ail that he hath, he can- 
not be my disciple.'* 

But, though the sincerity of our Lord and Savior 
was so great ; yet his prudence and circumspection 
were no less conspicuous. How often did he escape 
from the mahce of his enemies ; how often would 
they have laid hands on him ; how often would they 
have put him in prison ; how often did they attempt 
to stone him ; so often did he defeat their aim ! How 
many captious questions did they propose to him, 
and how dexterously did he escape their wiles ! He 
used the means true prudence prescribes on such oc- 
casions. He frequently withdrew himself from his 
opponents, he retired from their fury, he betook 
himself for a time into a solitary region, and forbad 
on such occasions even those he had healed to speak 
of what he had done, lest that should irritate the 
spirit of persecution in his wicked foes against him ; 
that they might not deprive him, before the time, of 
the power of doing good, and of preaching the 
kingdom of God. How careful was he to prevent 
whatever might incite the populace to tumult, or to 
any violent enterprize ! So soon as he observed, that, 
astonished at his actions, they were desirous of mak- 
ing him their king, he went and concealed himself 
among the mountains. And what a divine wisdom 
did he shew in the answers he gave to the insidious 
questions of the theologues and pharisees, who fre- 
quently attacked him in the design of taking him by 
surprise, and of having an occasion to make him hat- 
ed by the people, or guiky before the procurator of 
Rome ! At the same time, it was no worldly wis- 
dom he put in practice, no criminal subtlety, no 
mean device, for palliating the vices and failings of 
men, that he might gain or preserve their friendship. 
Whenever the cause of God, the cause of truth and 
virtue, was in question, then our Redeemer discov- 



0} the practical Character of Christ. 417 

gred the liveliest ardor, though he knew before- 
hand that he should thus draw upon him the hatred 
and malice of the mightiest and foremost of the 
nation. Read the xxiii chapter of the Evangelist 
Matthew, and admire the heavenly zeal, the majestic 
gravity, the heroic constancy, with which he warns 
the deluded people of the pretended sanctity of their 
superiors ; and, taking from them the mask of hy» 
pocrisy and feigned devotion, overv/helms them with 
shame and confusion. 

But, if his zeal on such occasions were just and 
laudable, So also in the highest degree respectable 
were the gentleness and patience life displayed on 
Other occasions, that related, not so much to the 
honor of God his father, as to his own person and 
his own concerns. His whole life wa3 a continued 
exercise of this excellent virtuCn Was he traduced 
by his enemies, and loaded with the vilest abuse j 
was he withstood by them in the most opprobrioiis 
manner ; did they take up stores to throw at h'm ; 
he never returned evil for evil ; when he v;as reviled, 
he reviled not again 5 but met their fury with a sedate 
and sublinle tranquility j Und opposed their unjust 
accusations by rational principles and solid replies. 
Would the disciples, from too quick a sensibility at 
a slight cHence, have him call fire from heaven to de- 
stroy the Samaritans ? He rebukes theiu for their 
violence, and sternly says to them, " Ye know not 
what manner of spirit ye are of. For the son of 
man is not corne to destroy men's lives, but to save 
them/' Do the disciples shew so much indifference 
and insensibility at the very time when his heart was 
full of grief and affliction, and when he had most 
need of their comfort and support, and notwith- 
standing his repeated admonitions to watclifulness^ 
as to suffer themselves to be overcome by sleep ? 
He reproves them for it indeed, but at the same 

Vol. n, D d 



418 Of the practical Character of Christ, 

time excuses it himself ; and his very reproof \% 
without anger, only proceeding from friendship and 
compassion. *' What, could ye not watch with me 
one hour ! The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh 
is weak." Your bodies are oppressed by fatigue* 
Is he at length unjustly accused and condemned? Is 
he the greatest benefactor to his brethren, most 
shamefully insulted by them^ derided, crucified and 
slain ? Is he suspended, as a transgressor, between 
two malefactors, on the accursed tree, to be a mark for 
the general scorn and the most cruel sport ? Even in 
these dreadful circumstances he preserves his spirit iii 
a perfect calm, and free from all the disorder of 
passion. No angry, no malicious, no vindictive ex- 
pression, proceeds from his mouth ; he prays for the 
barbarous instruments of his unmerited sufferings ; 
he comforts a sincere^ though late repenting sinner ; 
he provides for his deserted mother, and for the dis- 
ciple who had always been his favorite ; and then 
surrenders his spirit, full of confidence and fortitude^ 
into the hands of his heavenly Father. 

All these virtues, pious hearers, all these merits 
were accompanied with the greatest humility, and 
thence acquired additional splendor. Our Redeemer 
was not ostentations of those prerogatives which ele- 
vated him so far above all mortal beings^ He held 
it not robbery, says the apostle, after the words of 
our text, he boasted not that he res^hibled God, that 
he was his son, his beloved, and iii intimate union 
with him. On the contrary, having these preemi- 
nences, he laid them all aside, and took upon him 
the office of a minister. He concealed his preroga- 
tives, he never made use of them, except when the 
nature of his office, and the design of his mission, 
required. He sought not his own glory, but the 
glory of -him that sent him. He ascribed those won- 
derful acts he performed, not so much to himself, as 



Of the practical Character of Christ, 419 

to his heavenly Father, from whom he received the 
power. The son, says he, can do nothing of himself 
but what he sees the father do. The doctrine that 
I preach, is not mine, but his that sent me. The 
Father who is in me, he doth the works. I seek 
not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent 
me, and w^hat an effecting instance of his humility did 
he give but a short time before his sufferings, by 
washing the feet of his disciples, and by condescend- 
ing to such services as are only becoming to the 
meanest domestics ! Nay, how plainly did his whole 
conduct shew that the son of man came not to be 
ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life 
a ransom for many ! . 

These my dearest friends are the principal fea- 
tures in the venerable and amiable character of our 
Savior Jesus. This is the charming example of pi- , 
ety and virtue he ha^ left us ; and to w hich he has 
so forcibly enjoined us to conform. I am perfectly 
sensible that the picture I have presented to you is 
far, very far inferior to the excellency of its origin- 
al ; and I am inclined to believe, that it is not pos- 
sible for creatures so feeble, so frail, and so cor- 
rupted, as M'e are, to do it complete justice. Can 
we, however, contemplate this picture, all imper- 
fect as it is, without astonishment, Vv^ithout gentle 
transports ? Can we contemplate it without having 
the highest veneration for Christ and his holy relig- 
ion, without being enamored with die piety and 
-*/irtue that appears in every part of it, w ithout feeling 
a fresh zeal to act up to the bright example with all 
possible firmness and perseverance ? Unhappy they 
who can consider such a pattern of moral goodness 
and inteeritv without emotion, or without beine in- 
spired with the most ardent desires of becoming like 
it ! Such insensible, such groveiilng souls, must be 
lost to every thing that is beautiful, that is good, that 

2 



420 Of the practical Character of Christ, 

is generous and noble ; they must be lost to virtue 3 
to religion, to heaven. Yes, my friends, if we 
vv^ould be the disciples of Jesus, if we would be hap- 
py, we must thus be affected by the example of our 
Lord. It must by degrees destroy in us all the 
seeds of inordinate desires ; it must produce and 
strengthen in us every good, every amiable, every 
generous disposition ; it must inspire us with a well 
conducted ardor in the beneficent actions which 
are well pleasing in the sight of God. To this end 
we should keep this example constantly before our 
eyes, frequently examine ourselves by it, and make 
it the model of our whole carriage and demeanor. — 
We should be like minded with Jesus, and so v/alfc 
even as he walkedc Happy for us if we sincerely 
do so, and persevere in it even unto death I Christ 
will then acknowledge us for his relations and sue- 
eessors ; and as such we shall live and reign witfe 
him in the other world forever, 

Qood Friday, 



■SERMON LI. 



Qf thp Imitation of the Example of Jesus, 



:4S-:- 



\J GODj whe hast given us thy son Jesus, to be 
a teacher, a guide and precursor on the way of virtue and 
happiness, grant that his doctrine may continually manifest 
its divine energy in us ; grant that his example may at» 
tract us to the imitation of it. As thou didst commit to 
him the noblest, the most salutary wprk, the w^ork of th^ 
redemption of mankind^ thou hast likewise committed to 
every one of us his particular business to transact on earth» 
Thou hast assigned to each of us his station, his calling, 
his sphere of operation, in which we may -exercise our fac- 
ulties, be useful to ourselves and to others, and promote the 
welfare of the whole. Grant that we, lijie our great Pre- 
cursor, may perform our work with fidelity and fortitude, 
that we, like him, may ever have our mark before our eyes^ 
and be ever advancing towards it. Let us not indulge in 
sloth, but lay aside all irresolution, all thoughts of fatigue. 
Strengthen us by thy good spirit in our endeavors after per- 
manent perfection and happiness. Let us constantly look 
to thee and to thy will, and faithiuHy and gladly perfoim it. 
Bless to the promotion of these views, the considerations 
that are now to employ us, and hear our prayer through 
Jesus Christ, in whose name we farther call upon thee, as, 
Our Father) &c, 

3 



4^2 Of the Imitation of Christ. 

PHILIPPIANS ii. 5. 

Let this mind be in yea which was also in Christ yesus. 



THE important precept of the apostle Paul, 
which we have read to you, and which we should 
consider as a fundamental law of Christianity, has 
already lately furnished us with an opportunity for 
entering upon some meditations on the moral char- 
acter of our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ : 
On that occasion we held up to you the charming 
picture of his piety and yirtue, shewing you what 
his mind and his conduct were towards God and 
man. The purest devotion, the profoundest vener- 
ation, the most ardent love, the most cheerful obe- 
dience towards God, the completest submission 
to his will, the liveliest zeal for his honor, and uni- 
versal and unconquerable philanthropy, and unwear- 
•. led beneficence, the noblest magnanimity, the ten- 
derest friendship, the greatest affability and conde- 
scension, the most perfect impartiality, sincerity, 
open heartedness, prudence, gentleness, humility 
and patience : These, pious hearers, were the prin- 
cipal lineaments of the pictuie that we presumed to 
trace of the excellent character of our Redeemer.-- 
Though this portrait was extremely defective and 
imperfect ; though far beneath the beauty and the 
lustre of its original : Yet was it, however, in its 
very nature adapted to attract our attention, to affect 
us and to excite emotion in pur hearts. I confi- 
dently hope likewise, that, at least with some, it pro- 
duced correspondent effects, by making a good im« 
pression on them. We must indeed to a very great 



Of the Imitation of Christ » 425 

degree be corrupt ; we must have lost all sentiment 
for what is beautiful, what is good, what is sublime, 
if we are unmoved by the temper and conduct of 
Jesus Christ, if they fail of filling us with esteem, 
with reverence and love towards him, if they con- 
firm not our faith in him and his divine doctrine, if 
they convince us not of the excellence of virtue and 
fail not of rendering it venerable and amiable to us. 
But this is not enough. We should not only es- 
teem and love virtue, but actually praise it. We 
should not only admire the example of our Lord, 
but actually follow it. This mind should be in you 
as our text says, which was also in Christ Jesus. On 
this every thing depends. This is the primary ob- 
ject of the holy life of Jesus, and the proper use that 
should be made of it. This it is to which we are 
particularly bound by a participation in the holy com- 
munion, since we thereby publicly proclaim our- 
selves the disciples of Jesus, and acknowledge him 
as the chieftain and lord. It will therefore be perfect- 
ly suitable to the design of our meeting to day, if we 
endeavor, under the divine assistance, to excite you 
to the imitation of the excellent example of virtue 
and piety given us by our Savior. 

The method in which we should imitate this ex- 
ample, and the reasons that oblige us to it, are the 
two particulars in the consideration whereof your 
attention and devotion v/ill be employed. How 
happy will it be for us, my friends, bow boldly may 
we present ourselves at the table of the Lord, and 
there receive the pledges of his love, if these consid- 
erations produce in us the sincere resolution to pro- 
ceed henceforth in the footsteps of our Savior, and 
so to walk as he also walked ! 

We lately remarked that Christ performed many 
things wherein we cannot pretend to imitate him. 
He was placed in various relations and circumstancesj 

4 



424 Of the Imitation of Christ. 

as the son of God, as an extraordinary prophet, and 
teacher, as the mediator and Redeemer of mankind, 
in which we can never be. As such, he possessed 
prerogatives and abilities far superior to ours. He 
could and was to do such works as we neither can 
nor should. But it is not so much the particular 
actions of our Savior, as the way and manner in 
which we performed them ; it is his disposition of 
mind, and his whole character, which we are to pro- 
pose for our example. We are to regulate our con- 
duct by the same rules of righteousness, of philan- 
thropy, of magnanimity ; we should be actuated by 
the same pure and generous views to the honor of 
the Most High, and to the promotion of the general 
welfare ; the same spirit of humility, of gentle- 
ness, of patience, of reconciliation that animated 
Christ, must animate us also. We are to practice 
the virtues he practiced, though we cannot in all par- 
ticular cases give the same or so powerful a demon- 
stration of them. Every one of us should strive to 
fulfil the duties of his calling, and the end of his 
existence, with the same fidelity with which Christ 
accomplished the design of his mission upon earth. 
We should, like him, employ ail our faculties in 
conformity to the will of God, and earnestly seize all 
opportunities for doing good, and for rendering our- 
selves useful to others, though these faculties and 
these opportunities be very different, or though they 
be seldom or never totally alike. Like our Savior 
we should bear all the trials v.hich God lays upon 
lis, all the sufferings he dispenses to us, with stedfast 
patience, and meek submission to his will, though 
these trials and these sufferings be, neither in their 
nature and quality, nor in respect of their intention 
exactly similar to those our Redeemer met with.-- ^ 
This is to imitate the example our Lord ; and thus 
even such of his actions as were extraordinary^ 



Of the Imitanon of Chrisu 42| 

.^nd superior to our abilities, serve us for instruc- 
tion and example. However various then and great 
were the prerogatives which he possessed ; however 
difterent his station and calling from ours ; notwith^ 
standing this, his life may and should be the pattern 
and rule of ours. The condition of a menial servant 
is doubtless very much inferior to the station of his 
master; we may, nevertheless, with the greatest 
propriety exhort him to imitate the example of his 
prudent and beneficent master ; Not that he can 
give the very same proofs of prudence, of benefi- 
cence, and of love ; but because he may display the 
same prudent, affectionate, and beneficent disposi- 
tions in all those actions that are suitable to his con- 
dition. The case is the same in regard to the ex- 
ample of our venerable and amiable Redeemer.— A 
few particular exemplifications will set this matter 
in the clearest light, 

Christ came into the world to seek the lost, and 
to render them happy. He came to announce to 
mankind the will of God, to deliver and redeem 
them from their aberrations, and to conduct them to 
the supreme felicity ; and to this purpose he devoted 
his whole life. We cannot indeed do exactly the 
same. We are not all called to the pastoral office, 
much less can we promote the salvation of men to 
the very same degree as he did. But does it thence 
follow that we can contribute nothing to that end ; 
or, that we may be quite indifferent to the salvation 
of our brethren ? May we not, on one hand, do 
harm to our acquaintance by our imprudent and 
sinful behavior, seduce them into wickedness, or 
harden them in it ? May A\'e not, on the other hand, 
edify and incite them to goodness by our advice, by 
our example, and by our affectionate suggestions, 
admonitions, and exhortations ? May we not, by our 
conduct, render religion and Christianity either con- 



426 Of the Imitation of Christ^ 

temptible or respectable, and is it not incumbent 
upon us to avoid the one, and to do the other ? 
Have we not relations, friends, acquaintances, for 
whose spiritual and everlasting welfare we are par^ 
ticularly bound to provide ? Can we not then, and 
should we not imitate our Savior in this respect, so 
as to promote, each of us, according to his circum- 
stances and abilities, the salvation of our brethren, by 
contributing and striving as far as M^e are able, to 
prosecute these endeavors with upright intentions 
and a willing heart, and to allow no difficulties to de- 
ter us from them ? 

Farther ; Christ humbled himself to the lowest 
degree. He quitted heaven, and the glory he had 
"with the Father ; he submitted voluntarily to all the 
hardships and miseries of life ; even to a painful 
and ignominious death ; and thus afforded the most 
astonishing proofs of humility, of denial, and of obe- 
dience to God, his heavenly Father. It is certainly 
impossible for us to give such strong demonstra- 
tions of these virtues, since our circumstances are 
totally different ; and therefore we are not called to 
do so. Nevertheless, we can and should endeavor 
to imitate our Savior also in this respect, and we ef- 
fectually do so when we testify the meekness and 
modesty in all our words and actions, and never 
boast of our advantages, or magnify ourselves upon 
them ; when w^e prefer the good pleasure of God, 
to all the satisfactions and delights of the world, wil- 
lingly submit to all his dispensations, and never mur- 
mur at them ; in short, when we are ready and firm- 
ly resolved rather to forego all things, and even to 
forsake whatever is most agreeable and delightful 
here on earth, than to transgress the commands of 
God, and to act against our duty. 

Still more : Our Redeemer, as we lately saw, trav- 
elled about from one place to another, every where 



Qf the Imitation of Christ, 4Sf 

doing good. He restored the dumb to their speech 
he gave sight to the blind, health to the sick, hte to 
the dead, and reduced the insane to reason. All his 
time, all his abiUties were devoted to further the spir- 
itual and temporal welfare of mankind, and his gen- 
erous and helpful love sanctified every day and every 
hour, as it were of his public ministry by fresh proots 
and eifects. Now, though it be utterly impossible 
for us to perform the same acts of beneficence which 
he performed ; impossible for us to afford the same 
assistance to our brethren, to administer to them the 
same relief as he did ; yet w^e can and should have 
like him, a sincere, a constant and effective desire 
to do good. Like him, we can and should endeavor 
at becoming as useful to others, and to afford them 
as much and as important services as our capacities 
admit, we can and should, like him, make the sac- 
rifice of our personal advantage to the general good, 
and promote our neighbor's real happiness to the 
utmost of our power ; and, when we do so, w^e imi- 
tate the philanthropy, the compassion, and the gen- 
erosity of our Redeemer, though we evince these 
virtues according to the various circumstances in 
which we arc placed, by different instances and de- 
monstrations. And thus it is in sceneral with the 
other particulars of the life of Jesus. The imitation 
consists not so much in our leading the same man- 
ner of life that he led, and performing the same ac- 
tions that he performed ; as in every event that be- 
falls us, being so minded as he w^as minded, in let- 
ting our mind be guided and governed by his, in 
framing our moral character upon his, in making 
his way of thinking and acting the model of ours. 
And what manifold and cogent reasons have we not 
for such an imitation of the excellent example of Je- 
sus \ 



428 Of the Imitation of Christ, 

First, this was one of the principal purposes for 
which our Savior appeared in the world, and dwelt 
for a time among mankind; He came not only to 
purchase for us by his expiatory death a blessed im- 
mortality and everlasting life ; he came not only to 
instruct us, by his divine doctrine in the gracious 
will of the Most High, and to admonish us of our 
duties ; but he was likewise to give us a perfect and 
engaging pattern of behavior towards God, our 
neighbor and ourselves. He was to place the beau- 
ty and the value of virtue in the clearest light by 
his example, that he might incite us to the love 
and practice of it. He was to shew, by his own 
conduct, that it is not impossible, even in a corrupted 
world, to lead a holy and godly life ; and that hu- 
man nature, under the guidance and support of the 
spirit of God, is capable of attaining to a very 
high degree of moral perfection. The express de- 
clarations of our Lord himself, as well as the reiter- 
ated testimony of his apostles, leave us no room to 
doubt that this was the design of his conversation 
on earth. How clearly the Savior explains himself 
hereupon, in saying i - ' If any man will come after 
me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and 
follow me. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly 
in heart. I have given you an example, that ye 
should do as I have done to you. Whosoever will 
be great among you, shall be your minister ; and 
whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the 
servant of all ; for even the son of man came not to 
be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his 
life a ransom for many. This is my commandment, 
that ye love one another, as I have loved you." The 
apostles of our Lord are ever enforcing the same. — 
Would they incite us to holiness ; they give us the 
precept : '* As he which hath called you is holy, so 
be ye holy in all manner of conversation." Would 



Of the Imitation of Christ, 429 

tiiey encourage us to patience and firmness in af- 
flictions ; they bid us, " Look unto Jesus, the 
author and finisher of our faith ; who, for the joy 
that was set before him, endured the cross, despising 
the shame." They remind us, that " Christ also 
suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should 
follow his steps." Would they inspire us with an 
humble disposition ; *' they say, *' Let this mind be 
in you which was also in Christ Jesus ; who, being 
in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be 
equal with God," or, gloried not in being equal 
with God. Would they incite us to love, to gen^ 
tleness, to placability ; they exhort us to *' Walk 
in love, as Christ also hath loved us. Bearing one 
another, and forgiving one another, if any man have 
a quarrel against any ; even as Christ forgave you, 
so also do ye. If any man have not the spirit of 
Christ, he is none of his. To be conformed to the 
image of the sou of God, we must live not to our- 
selves, but to him. We must be pure even as he is 
pure. He that saith, he abideth in himy ought him- 
self also to walk even as he walked. Because he 
laid down his life for us ; we ought to lay down our 
lives for the brethren." Thus runs the language of 
Christ and his apostles. Could they have expressed 
themselves more plainly and pointedly on this mat- 
ter than they do ? Can we therefore doubt for one 
moment, that such is the purpose and the will of 
God, and consequently that it is our duty, to follow 
the example of our Redeemer, and to be constantl j 
approaching nearer to a resemblance with him ? 

The extraordinary excellence of this example is 
another conr^ideration, inviting us to the imitation of 
it. It is a pattern entirely blameless and complete, 
free from all imperfection and defect, beautiful, con- 
sistent, and harmonious in all its parts, which we may 
safely follow without fear of danger, by which wi 



450 Of the Imitation of Christ 

may guide ourselves without hesitation in all Hxt 
events of life. While we tread in the footsteps of 
Ghrist, we cannot possibly err ; and so surely as we 
are persuaded that God was satisfied with his con- 
duct, so certainly may we be assured that he likewise 
will be graciously pleased with ours, if we form it up- 
on that model. It is also the noblest and the grandest 
example that was ever proposed to the world. Noth- 
ing can more dignify our nature ; nothing can pro- 
cure us more real greatness of mind ; nothing can 
bring us nearer to the deity, and make lis more ca- 
pable of communion with him, than the being ani- 
mated with that mind which we admire in our Sav- 
ior. It is a universal and most instructive exam- 
ple, adapted to all times and places, to all ranks and 
orders of men, which may constantly guide and im- 
prove us, be we high or low, rich or poor, fortunate 
or unfortunate. While our Lord was amongst us, 
he was in such a variety of circumstances ; he stood 
in such a diversity of relations ; his whole life, during 
the time of his ministry, was so busy and active, that 
we may learn from him how we ought to behave 
towards God and man, what v/e have to do both in 
regard to the present and the future, in all the vicis^ 
situdes and events of life. It is, in short, an exam- 
ple of the greatest, the most necessary, the most use- 
ful and most beneficent virtue; an example of such 
virtue as in part to appear very difficult, as to be to- 
tally disregarded by the generality of men, and yet 
is indispensably necessary to our happiness, and to 
the practice of which we are every day, on one ac- 
count or other, repeatedly called. But can we think 
this example so excellent as it actually is, and yet 
doubt of our ol^ligatioa to adopt it ? W^ould not 
this argue great inconsistency ? Should we not thus 
deny by our conduct what we confess with our lips I 
Should we not betray a sordid disposition, and shew 



Of the Imitation of Christ, 431 

ourselves as enemies and traitors to virtue, in refusing 
to conform to a rule which we ourselves confess to 
be faultless, a model which we are obliged to admire 
and revere ? 

The relations in which we stand towards Christy 
and the benefits we have received from him, are a 
third reason forcibly impelling us to the imitation of 
him. Even the example of a mean and obscure 
person, of a stranger to us, one with whom we have 
no intimate connexion or relationship, who has net 
the smallest power over us, to whom we owe neither 
obedience nor gratitude, even the example of such 
an onCj if it were good and virtuous, should incite 
us to imitation* How much more then ought it to 
do so in a case directly the reverse of all this ? The 
pattern of virtue and piety which our religion holds 
out, is the example of a person invested with the 
highest prerogatives, and the greatest authority, who 
merits our utmost esteem and affection, with whom 
we are connected by the most indissoluble bands, to 
whom we owe the most willing and the most cheer- 
ful obedience. It is the example of our lord and 
master, our chieftain and savior, the founder of our 
religion, the author and finisher of our faith, the 
judge of the living and the dead, under whose sove- 
reignty we stand, whose subjects we are, on whose 
sentence our everlasting lot depends. It is the ex- 
ample of our best friend, our magiianimous and 
faithful Redeemer, who condescended for us to the 
deepest humiliation, who laid down his life for us» 
who did and suffered for us while we were his ene- 
mies, far more than any friend ever did and suiTered 
for another, it is the example of our greatest bene- 
factor, without whose aid we should have been to- 
tally ignorant, vicious, comfortless and wretched ; to 
whom we stand indebted for all the light, all the 
comfortj and all the happiness we enjoy, and w hich 



452 Of the Imitation of Christ i 

we have in future to expect. Every virtue we should 
learn of him, he has himself exemplified in the most 
glorious maimer. He that commands us to do good 
to others, has himself done us infinitely more good, 
than we could have ever hoped for. He who re- 
quires that we should love our enemies, and forgive 
them their failings, loved his enemies, and shed his 
own blood for the remission of our sins. How much 
are we bound by all this to the imitation of him ! 
How insensible, how ungrateful, how despicable 
must we be should we refuse it ! Certainly we 
should render ourselves utterly unworthy of being 
called the disciples of Jesus ; we should forfeit all 
the advantages and blessing that are promised us 
under that distinction. 

We have^ fourthly, the same cause to lead a pious,- 
a holy, a godly, an humble, a heavenly minded life^ 
as Christ had so to do ; and consequently we are^ 
for this reason, bound to follow his example. Or^ 
do we not stand in the same relations towards the 
supreme being in which Christ himself stood, consid» 
ered as a man ? Have we not the very same nature 
as he had ? Ought not the honor and glory of God 
to be the ultimate end of our whole behavior, and 
his will the only and unalterable rule of it ? Are we 
not just as much strangers and sojourners here on 
earth, as our Lord and Savior was ? What greater 
reasons have we to love the world and the things of it 
more, and more highly to prize them, than he had ? 
Are riches, honors, and sensual pleasures more our* 
peculiar and highest good than they were his ? Can 
they contribute more to our true and everlasting fe- 
licity, than they could contribute to his ? Are they 
less dangerous to us than they v/ere to him ? Is it an 
easier matter for us to conquer our corruption, to 
perfect our holiness, and to work out our salvation, 
than it was for him to do the work the Father had 



Of the Imitamn of Chrhu 433 

^Iven him to do ? Have we L-^ss need of devotion, of 
zeal and application, of seUUciiial, and of vigilance 
to that purpose than our bavior had for the accom- 
plishmtnt of his ? Can the humility, the gendeness, 
the patience, which sat so gracefully on Christ, the 
son of God, and redounded so much to his glory, 
be unbecoming or disgraceful to us, miserable sin- 
ners ? Can what rendered his character so beautiful 
and venerable, degrade ours, or militate with our 
condition ? Is it less salutary and needful to us than 
to him, to be made perfect through trials "and suffer- 
ings ? i\re we too great to desire to render ourselves 
acceptable to the Most High, and to be huppy by the 
same way that Christ obtained the c.'j[ /citation of his 
heavenly Father, and entered into his glory ? But^ 
since we cannot assert this-, as every man must allow, 
without the greatest absurdity, then neither can vve 
deny that we arc under the strongest obligations to 
make die pious, holy, godly, humble, and heaven- 
lyminded life of Jesus the pattern and rule of our 
own. 

Our future destination obliges us, lastly, in like 
manner, to imitate the example of Christ, and to let 
that mind be in us which v/as also in him. We are 
made for immortality. We are to quit this worldj 
after a short and uncertain abode in it, and then to 
pass into a better and more perfect state. As chris- 
tians, we have the lofty hope, that, after death, wc 
shall go to Christ, our chieftain and savior, that we 
shall be with him for ever, that we shall be closely 
united with him, and be partakers in the glory he 
possesses at the right hand of God. We are, as the 
scripture tells us, heirs of God, and joint heirs with 
Christ. We are to live and reign with him. As 
we here have borne the image of the earthly Adam, 
so shall vve hereafter bear the image of the heavenly. 
But how can we hereafter bear his likeness, if we 
Vol. H. Ee 



454 Of the Imitation of Christ 4 

have not here done our utmost to resemble him I 
How can we have fellowship with him, and enjoy his 
blessed society, if our mind and desires be in oppo- 
sition to his ? How can we share in his authority, if 
we have not sought it in the way of obedience and 
fidelity, of piety and virtue, by which he obtained it, 
as our forerunner and guide ? Can we be capable of 
the holy, the divine life he leads in heaven, unless 
we study purity and holiness here on earth ? Or^ 
can we imagine that he will acknowledge us to be 
his, and as such admit us into his heavenly kingdoiSi, 
if we stand in no other connexion w4th him, and 
have no farther similarity with him, than that we 
are called by his name, hold his doctrine to be true, 
and shew him an outward reverence ? What have 
we, in this case, to expect, but that dreadful, yet 
righteous sentence, " Depart from me, ye workers 
of wickedness ; I knovv^ you not !"'' 

So many and such strong reasons have we for fol- 
lowing the example of our Redeemer, and for being 
like minded with, him. And so certain is it, that 
unless Vvc do so, we neidier support the name of 
christians, nor can be happy. These are doctrines 
so essentially inherent to religion and Christianity, 
that we cannot refuse our assent, to them, without at 
once rejecting all religion and all Christianity. And 
yet how little are these important doctrines thought 
of ! How slender is the influence they have on our 
conduct ! Do all our v^^ords and works testify, do all 
the effects of our capacities testify, that we are the 
disciples and followers of the holy and righteous, 
the humble and gentle, the beneficent and divine, 
the heavenly minded Jesus ? O christians, how far 
inferior are we still to the pattern of virtue and piety- 
set us by our Lord and Savior ! How little resem- 
blance there is between his way of thinking and 
acting, and ours I How little conformity between 



Of the Imitation of Christ, 43 S 

Qur lives and the sanctity of the doctrine we confess^ 
or the conduct of the Lord to whom we belong I 
How cold and unfruitful the love we bear to Christj 
our Redeemer, and how imperfect and inconstant 
the obedience Vv-e pay him 1 May these reflections 
awaken and alarm us ! May they fill us with the 
most sensible remorse and trouble at our negligence 
and ingratitude ! May they excite in us a lively 
zeal to walk worthy of our vocation, and to dis- 
charge our duties with more carefulness and fidelity ! 
Yes, my christian brethren, here at the table of our 
Lord let us renew these sacred resolutions with all 
possible sincerity and devotion. Here, where we 
shall receive the symbols and pledges of hismagnan- 
imous love, let us solemnly vow to our beloved 
Redeemer, no longer to live to ourselves, but to him, 
and to conform to his likeness. Here let us leara 
the gentleness, the philanthropy, the selfdenial, the 
contempt of the world, the obedience towards God^ 
the zeal for his honor, the perseverance in good- 
ness, of which our Savior has set us so bright an 
example by his life and by his death. Here let us 
offer up to him our bodies and our souls, which he 
purchased so dearly and are his, by solemnly and for 
ever renouncing all the sinful lusts, all the sordid 
maxims and wicked customs of the world, that are 
at variance with his mind. So shall we actually do 
honor to our Redeemer, who has so loved us as to 
lay down his life for us. So shall we give him the 
thankfulness that is his due, and which he has such 
a right to demand. So shall we adorn the name of 
christians ; we shall make it an object of esteem and 
reverence ; we shall edify others by our behavior, 
and shine as lights in the midst of the corrupt gen- 
eration of this world. But so likewise shall we ar- 
rive at the end of our faith, everlasting felicity. If 
we, like Christ, our leader and head, be dead unto 
2 



435 Of the Imitation of Christ. 

sin, and alive unto God ; if we, like him, overcome 
the world, and, by perseverance in good works, 
strive after praise, and honor, and immortality ; then 
shall we also, like him, be exalted to glory. We 
shall, like him, be filled with joy and bliss at the 
right hand of God ; we shall find, in his blessed so- 
ciety, and in the closest intercourse with him, the 
(completion of all our wishes. 
Communion, 



SERMON LII. 



Of the Pastoral Office. 



GOD, the Father of mankind, how iiiiick' 
liast thou not dotie in lis J:hy children, and how much dost 
thou not daily for us ! Every thing reveals to us thy glory 
and grandeur, thy grace and parental affection towards us. 
Every thing infornas us of thy will and of our grand destin- 
ation. All things incite us to the accomplishment of thy 
will, and to the ever completer attainment of our desina- 
tion. Nature as well as religion ; the reason with which 
thou hast endowed us, as well as thy more immediate rev- 
elation. Thanks and praises be to thee, the All bountiful 
for the various means of instruction and knowledge thoii 
hast imparted to us ! Thanks and praises be to thee, more 
especially for the advantages which thou hast vouchsafed 
to us in this respect as christians I Yes, by thy son Jesus 
thou hast caused a brighter light to rise upon us. By him 
we are come nearer to thee, our Father, and to the knowl- 
edge of the truth. By him we have learnt to form juster 
conceptions of numberless important, consolatory objects. 
By him we have attained to greater certainty concerning 
thy will and thy gracious dispositions towards us, more 
hope and assurance both while living and dying. By him 
hast thou insti,tuted amongst us the pastoral office ;" and 
what means, what incitements, ever to proceed farther in 
knowledge and virtue, hast thou not thus bestowed upon us I 
How greatly facilitated to us the way to perfection and hap* 
piness ! Oh might this important office l*e ever more faith- 

3 



438 Of the Pastoral Office. 

fully administered by all who bear it, and ever difTuse more 
light and comfort and joy, ever more good dispositions and 
actions among mankind \ Do thou cleanse and sanctify thy 
ohurch, most gracious God, that both teachers and hearers 
Tnay be ever advancing together towards that which thou 
wouldst have them to be. Oh pour out thy spirit and en- 
ergy upon us all who are ordained to declare thy will to our 
brethren, and lead them to thee and to happiness ; teach 
us rightly to discern the truth, to believe it firmly, to fol- 
low its dictates faithfully , to deliver it with conviction to 
others ; and thus open to it an access to the understand- 
ings and to the hearts of them that hear us. Cause our 
hearers also to bring with them ever greater docility and at- 
tention to the discourse of their teachers, and ever to applj^ 
it with greater care to their improvement. Oh might thus 
the kingdom of thy son Jesus, the kingdom of truth and 
virtue, of liberty and happiness, come, ever farther extend^ 
ever more be established, and ever gain more glorious vic- 
tories over error, and vice,and misery 1 Bless to the further- 
ance of these vie«vs, our reflections on the wise preparatives 
thou bast made to that end ; and hear us, through Jesu& 
Christ, our Lord, in whose name we fayther call upon thee, 
sj^ying : Our Father, £^c. 



EPHESIANS vi. 11. 

lie gave some — pastors and teachers. 



THE pastorial office, which is every m henp 
introduced into the christain church, and dates its 
origin from the times of the apostles, is certainly an 
institution of extreme utility ; an institution which 
would insure to Jesus and his disciples one of the 



Of the Pastoral Office. 439 

foremost ranks among the benefactors of the human 
race, were we only to consider them as \vise men, 
and not as peculiar plenipotentiary ambassadors from 
God to mankind. No where do we find in the an- 
cient world, as far as it is known to us, any such 
teachers of the people ; teachers that instructed their 
brethren, without distinction of ranks, of ages, of 
sexes, or manners, in their obligations tow^ards God 
and man, in their duties, and the objects that con- 
cern their present and their future state ; who in- 
structed them at stated times, not far asunder, on 
the most important subjects ; w ho led them to con- 
sideration and virtue, comforted them in their sor- 
rows, and in such various ways promoted their con- 
tentment and happiness, — But we find priests of 
idols, and ambitious leaders of the people, every 
where, throughout the ancient and modern, the 
heathenish, or the not christian world ; men who 
could make use of the ignorance and w^eaknesses of 
their fellow creatures to the establishment of a tyran- 
nical and cruel power, to the extorting of rich pre- 
sents and hard tributes, or to the attainment of other 
selfish views, who spread fear and terrors around 
them, and by all the solemnities of their religion and 
worship promoted neither wdsdom nor virtue, but 
were favorable to superstition and vice. — 1 am well 
aware my pious hearers, that even the christian 
pastorate has been very often and very shamefully 
misused, and is still misused ; that it not always, and 
not thoroughly, is and effects what it might '"and 
should effect and be : And this is not at all surpris- 
ing, since it is supplied by men, who are subject, like 
all others, to mistakes and errors, and are so liable to 
be deceived by the passions. At the sam.e time, it 
has certainly done an infinite deal of good ; still, 
upon the whole, does much good ; and will — as 
we may assuredly hope — in die course of time effect 
4 



440 Of the Pastoral Office, 

still far more c-ood. The christian teaclier iindoiibt» 
cdly therefore merits esteem, on account of the office 
he bears, and the usefuhiess he thereby obtains. 
But, for rendering this a rational esteem, and giving 
it a salutary influence on our conduct; if we are de- 
sirous that it should neither degenerate into supersti- 
tion, nor gradually give place to disrespect and con- 
tempt ; it should be grounded on right notions of 
it, and on what christian teachers are and oug-ht to 
be. We should not require and expect more from 
them, than we can with justice require and expect. 
And to settle these notions, and to render them more 
common, is the design of my present discourse. It 
is^aidin our text, that Christ appoints r_^ or ordain- 
ed some in our text to be pastors and teachers. 
These are the very persons whom we at present 
commonly call preachers ; and purport of whose 
institution we will study more clearly to understand. 
To this end, we will investigate the relations wherein 
a preacher stands to his flock ; or shew you what the 
preacher properly is and ought to be in regard to his 
congregation. In order to ihis, we must first re- 
move the false notions that are formed of the rela- 
tions, and then shew the true nature of them. 

\xi the first place, the preacher is no priest in the 
strict and usual acceptation of the vvord, but only in 
that sense wherein it is used by the compilers of our 
liturgy. He is not a person that stands in any nearer 
degree of aiSnity with God, or has a closer and more 
familiar intercourse with him than the rest of his 
worshippers ; he is not a person v.ho, when we ha\ e 
sinned, can free us from the merited consequences 
of the sin, by offerings, or rites, or intercessions, 
and reconcile us again with our offended Maker. 
He may and ought to announce to us favor and 
life on the part of God, set the value of his bounties 
and blessings both in nature and religion in their 



Of the Pastoral Office. 441 

proper light, and excite us to be glad end rejoice 
therein ; but he cairnot dispen.se either the one or the 
other according to liis pleasure. He may and ought 
to promise us the pardon of our sins and e\erlasting 
happiness, on certain conditionSj in the name of 
God; but he cannot actually confer them. He 
may and ought to explain and inculcate the divine 
commandments ; but he cannot discharge any from 
the observance of them. Of his own authority he 
can neither imoose nor invalidate any vow, any obli- 
gation, or any duty. He is, therefore, no such 
manager between God and man, as that he can give 
a greater value to our acts of worship than they 
would otherwise have ; or impart, by certain sancti- 
fied words, to the v/ater in baptism, and to the signs 
of the body and blood of Jesus in ih.^ holy commu- 
nion, any povv^er or efficacy which they had not be- 
fore ; or, lastly, whose prayers are more acceptable 
tmd eiFectual Vvith God, tlvan the prayers of any 
other sincere and upright christian.—- Jesus Christ 
is represented to us in the writings of the apostles, 
and particular in the writings of tlie apostle Paul, 
as the sole hie-h priest and mediator between God 
and man, for tranquillizing mankind, and more es- 
pecially the Jews, on the recent abolition of the 
priestly office and the sacrifices in use, by the intro- 
duction of Christianity, for inspiring them with a 
filial confidence in God, and for assuring them, in a 
sensible manner, adapted to their comprehensions, 
of his protection and favor. All notions of peculiar 
priests and sacrifices, that haA^e been adopted in the 
christian religion and the christian worship, are super- 
stitious ; they are in direct opposition to the scope 
and the spirit of our holy religion, and of this piu'c 
and rational worship ; they mislead us from the God 
to whom Jesus has opened us free access, and 
whom lie has taudit us to re«:ard and to love as our 



442 Of the Pastoral Office. 

father ; they are relicts of the feeble Jewish way of 
thinking, which the christian doctrine by degrees 
abohshed, and of w^iich, among christians, who are 
no longer children, but should be men in knowledge 
and in faith, no traces ought now to remain. 

The preacher is, secondly, no curate of souls, in 
the strictest meaning of the word, and as it implies 
a person on w^hose pains and behavior the salvation 
or the happiness of the rest, if not altogether, yet 
greatly depends ; who can and should contribute as 
much or still more than themselves to their moral im- 
provement, to their spiritual and eternal welfare ; 
and whose future lot is indissolubly connected with 
the lot of the souls entrusted to his care. No, every 
individual must be the curate of his own soul, bear 
his own guilt, and give an account to God for him- 
self. Every person must fulfil his duty according 
to the utmost of his power ; but none can be secu- 
rity for the consequences, much less fulfil it for 
another. And what sensible man w^ould take the 
postoral office upon him, if he should thereby oblige 
himself to answer for the conduct of ail such as be- 
long to his congregation, or to concern himself for 
the happiness of each of thena in particular, as a fa- 
ther concerns himself for his children, or a domestic 
tutor for his pupil ? If this were to be the case, he 
ought to be thoroughly and intiniately acquainted 
with every person in his parish ; they should at all 
times and in all circumstances exhibit themselves to 
him as they really are; they should make him the 
confidant of their most secret dispositions and senti- 
ments ; he should be the witness of their conduct in 
domestic as well as in civil society ; he should have 
the right and the licence to give them the most de- 
terminate precepts on all their concernments : And 
even if all this were done, which yet is not, and will 
not, and cannot be done, still it must be an effect of 



Of the Pastoral Office. 443 

the most audacious termerity for a man to assume to 
himself the peculiar and sole guidance of so many 
persons of such various capacities and tempers, and 
to stand as surety for them in the day of judgment. 
No, my pious hearers, when jo\x call us, preachers, 
your curates, you cannot reasonably exact any thing 
more of us, than that, according to our best insights 
and to your necessities, we should shew you what 
you ought to do, and how you are to set about it, 
for delivering your soul from the captivity of error, 
of sensuality, of vice, or to caution you against them; 
for adornins: it with wisdom and virtue ; for ren- 
dering it both in this and in the future world as 
perfect, as happy, and as agreeable to God, as it is 
capable of becoming. In this design, with no less 
earnestness than affection, we are to instruct, to ex- 
hort, to admonish, to reprove, and to intreat ; to call 
your attention to v/hatever may be in an eminent 
degree useful or prejudicial to you at all times, and 
on every alteration of your condition ; and all this 
for sincerely promoting the cause of truth, of virtue, 
and your happiness ; and never to be weary and dis- 
heartened in so doing, though attended by the worst 
consequences. Thus we are to care for your souls, 
as we must give an account how we have instructed 
you, and of the use we have made of the times, the 
circumstances, and the occasions afforded us for that 
purpose. 

We may also, in a stricter sense, be considered as 
your curates, if you afford us opportunity and en- 
comsagement to make what we here deliver and teach 
in public more profitable to you by friendly and 
private conversation, apply it more closely to 
your station and your present occasions, remind you 
of your particular duties, failings, and transgressions ; 
to labor with you in maintaining or restoring do- 
n^estic harmony, or to supply you with stated pre- 



444 Of the Pastoral Office. 

cepts and means for your proficiency in knowledge 
and virtue. At the stimetime, as every one readily 
perceives, the preacher cannot -execute^ this duty of 
fraternal admonition and particular exhortation to 
goodness, without the concurrence, or against the 
will, of his parishioner. Neither is this a duty pecu- 
liarly incumbent on him : He possesses it in common 
with every other christian ; only in so much as in 
particular cases and with certain persons, from the 
greater respect they have for him, and the greater 
sagacity they may allow him to possess, he may 
fulfil it with better success than another. 

The mistaken and vsuperstitious idea annexed to 
the office of a clergyman is in nothing so apparent as 
in regard to the sick and dyingo But too frequently 
almost the whole hope of the salvation of a man is 
built on the presence, on the discourse, on the prayer 
of the curate. How sadly are the assistants con- 
cerned, that the sick person should die without 
this preparation or succor ! What can we conclude 
from hence, but that they attribute to the clergy- 
man far greater ability and influence than he actually 
has ? We are by no means disinclined to attend 
when called to the sick and the dying ; and when 
we can excite or cherish any good, any christian re- 
flections and sentiments in them, when we are able 
to administer any thing to their comfort, or for sooth- 
ing their passage from this into the future world, . 
we do it with all our heart. But it is absolute- 
ly impossible for us, or any other man, at such a 
time, to make a good man of a bad one, or as it 
were to open the gates of heaven to a sinner who 
has been a slave to iniquity and vice his whole life 
long, and to be security for him against the penalties 
he has to dread. And then tlie visitation of the sick 
is a duty not obligatory on us alone, but we have it 
in common with all other christians. It is their duty 



OJ the Pastoral Office, 445 

mutually to support, to comfort, and to exhort and 
encourage each other, in their afflictions and troubles, 
and to make supplications for all men. In the pri- 
mitive church, in the times of the aposdes and their 
immediate successors, when it was better seen, or 
more believed, that the portion of a man after death 
depended not on the manner how he spent the last 
days or the last hours of his life, but was to be de- 
termined by his predominant dispositions and the 
whole of his foregoing behavior ; it was not then 
peculiar to the office of the teacher to visit the sick 
and the dying, but it was the duty of the elders and 
the prefects of the flock ; and in regard to the other 
sex, it was the duty of the matrons or widows to 
perform that office. These took charge of the sick 
and the dying with cordial effection as brothers and 
sisters, consoled them, prayed with them, provided, 
if they were poor, for their support and nourishment, 
tended them, and did them numberless personal ser- 
vices. And these are undoubtedly the best offices that 
can be afforded a person at such times, and which 
every one should perform according to his means. 

A preacher is, thirdly, not a man of a different 
kind or species from other men. He is no divine, 
so far as this term is used to imply either a man 
completely perfect, or one elevated above all sensible 
and terrestrial things. This mistaken notion pro- 
ceeds from the abuse of the term ; or, to speak 
more properly, the epithet itself was misapplied for 
the purpose of procuring in the earlier times to the 
teachers of religion a superiority over other men, and 
of placing them in higher respect. It was then, and 
it is at present, not unfrequently understood to ini- 
ply a man that is absolutely indifferent to every thing 
sensible, to all visible objects, to whatever cheers or 
saddens others ; who despises all such matters ; 
whom neither honor nor disgrace, neither riches 



446 Of the Pastoral Office. 

nor poverty, neither pain nor pleasure can at ail 
affect ; who is constantly employed in religious con- 
templation and peculiar exercises of devotion ; whose 
thoughts are unremittedly directed to the most im- 
portant and most exalted objects ; in whose sight 
cheerfulness and joy, wit and good humor £»/e hor- 
rible transgressions ; whose presence is baneful to all 
pleasure, and whose looks diffuse a sullen gravity on 
all around. No, my pious hearers, such men are 
we not, nor such ought we to be ; and if we eithef 
could or should be such, we should be either deserv- 
ing of contempt or compassion, and in any case be 
prejudicial to society. No, we are entirely like you 
in whatever constitutes a man in respect to his infir- 
mities, as well as in respect to his better side ; and 
when any of us excell you in wisdom and virtue, it 
is from no prerogative of our station, but a personal 
advantage which any one of you may have over us. 
It is true, our station and office afford, or seem to 
afford, us some resources for improving in wisdom 
and virtue which you have not. We employ our- 
selves frequently, and much oftener and more con- 
tinuedly than you, in reflections on God and his 
will, on the destination and duties of man. But how 
' vigilant must we be over ourselves, how much at- 
tention must we necessarily exert, in order to prevent 
these circumstances, so advantageous in themselves, 
from becoming detrimental to us ! For the very rea- 
son that we are obliged to employ ourselves so often, 
and so often solely in regard to others, in the doc- 
trines of religion, and this even at times when we 
have no particular motive and are not disposed to do 
so^ for this very reason they may lose much of their 
force in respect of us. These reflections, by their 
frequent recurrence, may become so habitual to us, 
as to make us think that we understand and feel the 
subjects themselves J though all the while we are only 



Oj the Pastoral Office. 447 

thinking of barren words. Hence it happens, that 
difficulties and doubts are frequently augmenting in 
proportion as we advance farther in knowledge ; and 
that on the other hand, the pleasure attendant on 
meditation and devotion may lose much of its poig- 
nancy by the abundance of enjoyment. What a 
comfort must it be to the christian merchant, or arti- 
ficer, or any other who is not a clergyman, when on 
having conscientiously performed the business of 
the day, in the evening he recollects his scattered 
thoughts, and can converse, for a shorter or a longer 
time, w^th God, and reflect upon his weightiest obli- 
gations ! Certainly, the pleasure this occupation pro- 
cures him, must frequently be far more lively than 
ours, just as a repast is much better relished by a 
man who has fasted long, than by one who has 
been almost ail the day sitting at a plentiful table. 
Besides, we preachers commonly have not so many 
opportunities and means for exercising ourselves in 
wisdom and virtue, and for applying their precepts 
to the various occurrences of common life, as he 
v/ho stands in more diversified connexions with oth- 
er men, who has such various affairs to mind, such 
various duties to fulfil, and so many dealings to 
transact with persons of such different opinions and 
manners ; and likewise in this respect may a well 
informed, honest christian, who is no clergyman, 
easily excel us in wisdom and virtue. 

As to the rest, we have no other duties and ob- 
ligations, that are not also incumbent on you. — 
What is true and right and good, that same is true 
and right and good, for you and for us and for all 
mankind. Whatever is false and wrong and bad, is 
equally so both to you and to us. Wliat is allowa- 
ble for you to do, is allowable for us. W^hat God 
forbids us in his word or by the light of reason, he 
forbids the same to you. We have all the same law. 



448 Of the Pastoral Office. 

We must all walk the very same way to praise, to 
honor, to immortality. If we must give an account 
hov/ we have discharged our clerical ol£ce, so must 
you likewise render account how you have fulfilled 
your civil offices, hov/ you have pursued your calling 
as a merchant, as a 'manufacturer, as a workman, 
how yoii have maintained your post as a master, as 
a guardian, as a servant, and the like ; and of you 
and of us, in all these respects fidelity and integrity 
will be required. 

We ought indeed to abstain from many things 
which you may do, or at least which you do. But,, 
either these things are in and of themselves bad, or 
they are not. Be they in and of themselves bad ; 
then have you as little right and leave to do or to use 
them, as we ; and they are not to be excused by 
any distinction between clergyman and laic. Poison 
will ever remain poison, let who will find pleasure in 
taking it. But are these things net bad, and we yet 
refrain from them ; we then do so out of respect to 
certain prevailing prejudices, which cannot perhaps 
be directly opposed or despised w ithout harm ; we 
do it, that Vv^e may not give offence to the weak ; w^e 
do it, that, by our total abstinence in these respects, 
we may probably prevent still greater abuses, and at 
least evince, by our example, that a man may de- 
prive himself of them, and yet be contented and hap- 
py. 

In fine, we should by all means set a good exam- 
ple to others ; and if we really wish our doctrines to 
be believed and our precepts followed, w^e shall cer- 
tainly be extremely careful to testify to ail men by 
our whole behavior, that we believe these doctrines 
ourselves, and acknowledge these precepts to be 
right and good. For the rest, we have these duties 
to observe in common with all you. No man is to 
give offence or scandal to another. Every one 



of the Pastoral Officci 449 

should let the light of his virtue shine before men. 
We should all mutually excite one atiother to good 
works. Our example can, however, never be so 
extensive and instructive as yours. Our mode of 
life is too uniform* Our connexions and businesses 
are not sufficiently diversified. Besides, the notion 
that we do many things solely on account of our 
office, which otherwise we should not do, often de- 
prives our best examples of all their efficacy. How 
frequently is it said, when we do any thing tolerably 
good, " Yes, that he does because he is a clergy- 
man ; if such persons did not do so, who should ? 
We are no more than common christians, who can- 
not be expected to carry our christian perfection to 
such a length ; nothing of this sort is to be expected 
of us !" How often is it said : Yes, he must needs 
do so, or abstain from this, if he will do honor to 
his profession, if he would act consistently* Were 
it not for this consideration, were he not restrained 
by fear, were he in our place, he would behave in a 
very different manner !" Thus do prejudice and 
partiality but too often enfeeble the influence of our 
example. With you this is not the case. Your 
good example operates more unim.peded and com- 
plete. When the merchant gives proofs of great 
probity and conscientiousness ; when the opulent 
and the noble are modest and humane, shewing bv 
their conduct how little their outward advantages a- 
vail in their eyes, and how little he that is poor and 
lowly ought therefore to be scorned ; when the man 
of the world, or the layman as he is called, testifies 
a reverence for God and religion, and mankind can 
discern his unfeigned piety ; when any one, v^^ho, in 
respect of his fortune, might indulge in luxury and 
magnificence, and revel in all kinds of amusements, 
yet lives in a becoming and orderly manner, and 
Vol. II. Y ^ 



450 Of the Pastoral Office. 

i-noderate himself in the enjoyment of sensual pleas- 
ures ; when persons adorned with the charms of 
youth and beauty seek to distinguish themselves, 
not by childish ostentation and vanity, but by wis- 
dom and virtue, display indeed an open countenance 
and a cheerful disposition, but not thoughtless and 
frivolous behavior ; this^ my dear friends, this 
strikes a far deeper impression on all beholders, than 
our discourses and actions can generally do. 

Having hitherto been encountering prejudices no 
less hurtful than common, we shall now find it so 
much the easier to illustrate the subject before us 
according to its true nature and quafity. If there- 
fore this be not the relation in which the preacher 
stands towards his congregation, what then ought it 
to be, and what actually is it ? 

First, he should be the teacher of the people, or 
of the c®ngregation. Certainly a very honorable, 
but at the same time a very arduous employment ! 
How important the subjects he has to inculcate ; and 
how much depends on the method in which he in- 
culcates them ! He should be a teacher of religion 
and of generally useful wisdom. As a teacher of 
religion, it is his duty to instruct his hearers in the 
regards wherein they stand towards God, their crea- 
tor and preserver, their father and benefactor, their 
lawgiver and judge, and tow^ards Jesus Christ, his 
son and ambassador, their deliverer and lord. It is 
his duty to furnish them with adequate and worthy 
conceptions of the majesty and perfections of God, 
of his protection and love towards mankind, of the 
sanctity and equity of his laws, of the wisdom and 
goodness of his providence, and of the benefits he 
has vouchsafed them by Jesus and his work on earth. 
He is to tell them how God is disposed towards 
them ; what he requires of them ; what they have to 
hope or to fear from him according to the difference 



Of the Pastoral Office, 451 

of their conduct ; to what they are appointed in the 
present and in the future world ; and what ihey 
should do for being and becoming that which, ac- 
cording to the gracious purpose of God, they ought 
to be and to become. He is to shew them how 
they are to apply the doctrines of religion to them- 
selves ; how they are to use them in all the events 
of life ; how they are to fight with them against 
temptations to sin ; to facilitate the practice of good- 
ness to them, to exalt their taste for the comforts 
and satisfactions which God has permitted them to 
enjoy, and to render supportable the troubles and 
burdens which he lays upon them. He therefore 
should chiefly labor to improve and to calm them ; 
to incite them to the abhorrence of all ungodly be- 
havior and all worldly lusts, and to a temperate, 
just and godly life ; inform them concerning their 
relations and duties towards each other, and strive 
to animate them with kind, beneficent and brotherly 
dispositions towards all their fellow christians and 
fellow creatures. lie must form them into good and 
public spirited citizens, peaceful and loving spouses, 
faithful fathers and mothers of families, affectionate 
friends and sincere worshippers of God. He should 
exhort them to conscientiousness in their dealings, 
humility and tenipcrance in prosperity, fortitude in 
afflictions, hope and cheerfulness in death. In short 
he should guide them on the way of virtue and re- 
ligion, to tranquillity of mind, to continued advances 
in perfection aqd happijiess. Thus should a preach- 
er declare to his hearers the whole counsel of God t© 
their felicity. Thus should he preach to them Jesus 
Christ, and him crucified, that is, the doctrine of 
Jesus Christ the crucified, in contradistinction to the 
Jewish expectations of a worldly Messiah, and in 
opposition to the idolatries of the heathens. A doc- 
trine which is of a large and indefinite comprehen- 



452 Of the Pastoral Office. 

sion, and which certainly excludes nothing that has 
a tendency to render mankind wiser and better. 

No, my pious hearers, as often as I preach such 
truths as tend to promote human perfection and 
happiness ; the truths that have a practical influence 
on the moral behavior, and on the repose and satis- 
faction of mankind ; so often do I preach Christ 
and him crucified ; so often do I contribute to carry 
on his work on earth ; so often do I proportionately 
supply his place among my brethren. For he came, 
he lived, he taught, he suffered and died, he arose 
again from the dead, and is now the head and the 
lord of his church, for disseminating truth and virtue 
and happiness among the human race ; and whatever 
advances them, is his work, is consistent with his 
aims, enlarges and confirms his kingdom ; even 
though it be not immediately connected with his 
history, nor expressly contained in such of his dis- 
courses as are come down to us. Though truth 
is unchangeable in itself, yet its extent and the man- 
ner of its delivery admits not of being fixed and 
established for all times and for all mankind. Each 
age, each society of men, has its own horizon, its 
own circuit of comprehension, its peculiar exigen- 
cies, its peculiar obstacles and means of assistance ; 
and the teacher of religion should conduct himself 
accordingly, if he be resolutely bent on doing his 
duty, so far as his frailty allows him, and determined 
to perform what Jesus or his apostles would have 
done, had they been placed in his situation, 

The teacher of religion should therefore also be a 
teacher of wisdom in a more general sense. He 
should deliver to his hearers, and particularly to the 
youth he instructs, not only the peculiar doctrines 
of religion, but should likewise subjoin such other 
useful knowledge as either is previously requisite to 
the knowledge of religion, may lie as a foundation 



Of the Pastoral Office, 453 

to it, promote and settle it/ or may otherwise contri- 
bute to the repose and improvement of mankind. — 
And here but too often do persons form wrong 
conceptions of the office and appointment of the 
christian teacher. They take it amiss, they even 
impute it to him as a sin, if he do not frequently, if 
he do not constantly discourse on the mysteries, as 
they are called, of Christianity ; that is, of things 
which we either do not understand at all, or but in 
an extremely imperfect manner. It is taken amiss 
if he do not continually enforce the peculiar articles 
of faith as they are termed, if he annex to them a 
variety of ideas as unavoidable, as harmless, and 
does not account every error to be as dangerous and 
fatal as vice. It is scornfully called philosophical and 
moral preaching when we discourse of the nature 
and destination of man, of the true value of the pos- 
sessions and satisfactions and occupations cf this life 
if we speak of particular duties and virtues of their 
influence on our present happiness, of the arguments 
which even sound reason affords for the fulfilling of 
these duties and the practice of these virtues and of 
the method in which we ought to fulfil and practice 
them in every occurrence. But how unjust are not 
these reproaches ! Is not reason then a gift and a 
revelation of God ? Is not all truth in perfect har- 
mony with itself ? What value then can a blind im- 
plicit faith possess ? Of what consequence is a faith 
without works ? A religion w^ithout morality ? Is 
not this the ultimate end of that ? Is not the aim of 
all religion to make us wiser and better ? And is 
any thing to be rejected that promotes this end ? 
Can the foundation of our virtue and hopes be too 
deeply laid, or too firmly settled ? 

No, the preacher, according to the present state cf 
things, is the only public teacher of generally useful 
wisdom to the generality of mankind ; and to main- 



454 Of the Pastoral Office. " 

tain this character shotild be at once both his endeav-^ 
or and his glory. By his means such persons as 
have no other opportunities of instruction^ should be 
brought to rational reflection, to the better use of 
their mental faculties, to greater attention to moral, 
invisible, and distant objects ; by his interposition 
should all prevailing prejudices and errors, which 
have a noxious influence on the conduct and serenity 
of mankind be refuted, the most generally useful, 
philosophical knowledge be ever farther spread, and 
by little and little, the sum of truths which every one 
knows and adopts, be incorporated into the common 
stock. He should, however, strive to deliver what 
he has to say in a manner adapted to the comprehen- 
sion of the unlettered mind, and to this end not em- 
ploy the language of the dogmatists or of the schools, 
but the language of common life in use among peo- 
ple of gentility and good breeding. If he do this ; 
if he be thus at once a teacher of rehgipn and of 
wisdom, he will certainly so much the more contri- 
bute to the improvement and happiness of mankind. 
To promote and to further this is the whole of his 
duty ; and whatever has a tendency to that is con- 
sistent with his oflice and calling. 

The preacher, should, secondly, be the interme- 
diate person, through whom the congregation arc 
united in their public worship, and the various acts 
of it socially performed. There should be order in 
every society ; and when certain matters are to be 
transacted in common, one of the society should take 
the lead ; he ^should be the organ whereby the rest 
express their sentiments, their desires, their joys, 
iheir hopes, and the like. And this the pastor, or 
the preacher is. He reforms the several acts of 
divine worship, he reads the scriptures, utters the 
prayers, and delivers such instruction as is adapted 
to the circumstances and exigencies of tlae congrega^- 



Oj the Pastoral Office. A^% 

tioiii He is, as it were, their mouth, when they 
confess their sins before their sovereign judge of the 
world ; when thej humble themselves in his awful 
presence, and adore his majesty ; when they implore 
his grace and succor, thank him for his bounties^ 
and renew their protestations of obedience. He 
unites himself with the whole society of the worship- 
pers of God and of Jesus Christ in these devout sen- 
timents and feelings ; and strives to express them in 
their behalf in such manner as may best serve to 
raise and support their devotion. \vl like manner, 
as president and minister of the congregation, he ad- 
mits members by baptism into the fellowship of the 
christian church ; and on these occasions, admon- 
ishes the rest concerning what, as christians, they 
are and ought to be ; to remember alwavs that 
baptism doth represent unto us our possession which 
is to follow the example of our savior Christ, and 
to be made like unto him ; that as he died and rose 
again for usj so should we, who are baptized, die 
from sin, and rise again unto righteousness, continu- 
ally mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, 
and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of 
living. So likewise at the administration of the 
holy communion, he takes the place of the father of 
the family, distributing the bread and the wine 
among those that present themselves with him at 
table ; exhorting them to take and eat in remem- 
brance that Christ died for them, and to feed on 
him in their hearts by faith with tlianksgiving ; to 
drink of the cup in remembrance that Christ's blood 
was shed for them, and to be thankful ; thus direct- 
ing their thoughts and their hearts to the awful con- 
cerns of this solemn celebration. But he performs 
all this, as 1 have already observed, not as a person 
whose meditation can confer on cur acts of devotion 
any greater viilue, or on our sacred rites anv peculiar 



456 Of the Pastoral Office^ 

efficacy, independent of the sentiments and piety 
of the partaker ; but he does it because order and 
the common edification require that certain persons 
should be ordained to the performance of this solem- 
nity, and because he is commissioned to do it by 
lawful authority. 

Lastly, the preacher is also to be the friend and 
the counsellor of his flock* If the christian preacher 
were or could be more so, he certainly might do 
more good in his sfation* But he can only be so as 
far as his congregation will allow him. No man 
can force himself upon any as their friend or their 
counsellor ; and if a person should attempt it, he 
would by that very means fail of the purpose he had 
in view. At the same time, the teacher should be 
always ready to embrace such opportunities as nat- 
urally offer, and use them with fidelity. It need 
hardly be mentioned, that he is not to interfere in 
extraneous matters, or misapply the respect which 
accrues to him either from his office or his personal 
qualities, to the prosecution of selfish views, or the 
gratification of disorderly passions. As a teacher> 
he is only to meddle with moral and religious ob- 
jects, and with the application of them to particular 
events and oecurrences of life. Since he may rea- 
sonably be presumed to have reflected on these mat- 
ters more, and to be more intimately acquainted 
with them, and the generality of his hearers ; and, 
as in his public discourses pronounced to a very 
mixt assembly, he cannot say every thing it were 
profitable and necessary for any one in particular to 
know ; it would certainly be of great utility, if op- 
portunities were afforded him to supply this una- 
voidable defect of instruction by private conversa- 
tion. By this channel might he convey direction 
and assistance to such as should be desirous of 
making farther progress in the knowledge of re- 



Of the Pastoral Ojffice. S57 

ligion : Thus might he deliver the candid and in^ 
l^enuous doubter from his doubts, or tranquillize 
him in them ; Thus might he remove many a preju- 
dice from the anxious and perturbed mind, and bring 
the sorrowful heart to a comfortable and joyful reli- 
ance on the gospel : Thus might he be enabled to 
speak courage to the sincere but feeble christian, 
and probably facilitate to him the conquest of him- 
self and the w^orld : Thus might he inform any indi- 
vidual how he should apply to himself and his par- 
ticular circumstances the general precepts and en- 
couragements of religion. So would the teacher be 
at the same time the leader and the counsellor of his 
flock ; and so might he likewise, in a stricter sense 
be said to watch over their souls, and labor more ef- 
fectually at their improvement and felicity. 

And this, my pious hearers, is the relation where- 
in the preacher stands towards his congregation ; he 
is their teacher, their leader, their friend and adviser. 
Allow me to conclude this discourse with drawing a 
few consequences from what has been said, and re- 
minding you of the duties which in this respect you 
are bound to observe. 

You plainly perceive from all that has been ad- 
vanced, that we preachers, require of you no blind 
faith, no servile obedience, no unlimited concur- 
rence. We feel our infirmities and frailties much 
too sensibly to pretend to this ; and the more we are 
animated by the spirit of Christianity, the more 
zealously shall we in these respects maintain the 
cause of freedom. No, try ail things that we de~ 
liver to you as truths, and enjoin on you as duties : 
Compare them Mith what reason and scripture tell 
you of God and his will ; prove all things, and ad- 
here to that which is good. The more carefully 
you examine our doctrines, the more you reflect 
upon them ; the more you discourse with each oth- 

VoL. IL G c 



458 Of the Pastoral Office. 

er about them, in honest intentions : So much 
the greater are our hopes that you will reap benefit 
from them. Only by such reflections, only by such 
examinations and discussions, can what we tell and 
teach to you assimilate itself with your own system 
of reflection, and either rectify or enlarge it. 

You see, farther, that we require no excessive and 
superstitious reverence from you. The office we 
bear is undoubtedly honorable, and they that bear 
it should be held in a certain degree of estimation, 
if their bearing of it is to be attended with success. 
When, therefore, you are candid towards us ; when 
you conceal as much as possible our failings and 
imperfections, from the consideration, lest the respect 
to our office should thereby be lessened and the 
useful effects of it be hindered ; you then act wisely 
and consistently with your duty. For the rest, 
judge of us with the same equity and philanthropy, 
you are accustomed to use in judging of your neigh- 
bors in general ; and let us experience the same 
justice and lenity that is due all mankind. 

You see, thirdly, in what regard we properly 
stand towards you. Require therefore, no more 
from us than you may accordingly, and with reason 
expect. Hequire neither supernatural gifts and 
powers, nor a perfection that is above the reach of 
humanity. Ascribe no greater importance to our 
w^ords and actions, no greater efficacy than they 
really possess. Rely not upon us in matters, where 
no man should or can rely upon another ; where 
every man must provide for himself and his own 
concerns. Think not that we either can or ought 
to do the generality or the principal of the things 
that relate to the salvation of your souls and your 
everlasting happiness. No, it is our part to shew 
you what, in this respect you have to do, and it is 
your parts actually to do them ; and the latter is in- 



Of the Pastoral Office. 459 

eontestably far ixiore important and difficult than the 
former. Seek not therefore to throw any responsi- 
bihty upon us, which will be required not of us, but 
of you; and constantly bear in mind the declara- 
tion of the apostle : " Every man shall bear his own 
burden ; every one of us shall give an account of 
himself to God." 

Lastly, you see how weighty and arduous our or- 
dination is* Alleviate then to us as much as you 
can, the concerns and duties of it. Alleviate them 
to us by the attention you afford to our discourses ; 
by the zeal and devotion with which you frequent all 
the rites of the public worship ; by the strict vigi- 
lance you keep over your children whom we in- 
struct ; by the encouragements you give them ; by 
conversations you hold with them on what they 
are learning, and what they have already been 
taught ; by ihe application you make of it to the cul- 
tivation of their heart, and the forming of their con- 
duct. In a more especial manner, lighten to us the 
burden of our office, and rev/ard us for our pains by 
the faithful use you make of our doctrine ; by the 
willing obedience you pay to our well founded ad- 
monitions and exhortations ; by the good deeds 
which you perfonn ; by the shining virtues by which 
you distinguish yourselves beyond others ; by your 
continual improvement in wisdom and piety. This 
will prove to us that our labors in your behalf have 
not been in vain ; and this assurance wdll render all 
the eiforts and toils we exert and undergo easy and 
pleasant. It will never allow us to become faint or 
weary ; and even in the hour of death', and at the 
day of judgment it will be our comfort and joy. 

END. 



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