Page images
[ocr errors]

man, and that wisdom which is from above.
The former, as you have just seen in the in-
stance of the antient philosophers, does vio-
lence, by its false refinements in some of the
most essential truths of religion, to the clear-
est principles of nature and of reason. The
latter illustrates, corroborates, improves, and
perfects them. This has been shown to be
the case in one very important doctrine, and
might be shown in more. Our divine master
is indeed, in every instance, and especially in
that we have been now considering,
and whenever we are tempted to desert this
heavenly guide, and to go away, either to phi-
losophy or to any other instructor, we have
qur answer ready prepared for us, in that
noble and affecting reply of St. Peter to Jesus,

Lord, to whom shall we go ? Thou hast
« the words of ETERNAL LIFE ; and we be-
" lieve and are sure that thou art THAT
« GOD +."








• John xiv. 6.

+ Ib. vi. 69.



TITUS ii. 6,




[ocr errors]

HERE is fcarce any subject of exhorta

tion so necessary to youth, as that which is here recommended by St. Paul, Alacrity, emulation, benevolence, frankness, generosity, are almost the natural growth of that enchanting age. What it chiefly wants is something to regulate and temper these good qualities; and to do that is the province of

Let not the young man be frighted with the solemnity of the

It implies nothing unsuitable to his years, or inconsistent with his most valuable enjoyments. It tends to improve his chear




fulness, though it may restrain his extravagances; to give the warmth of his imagination and the vigour of his understanding a right direction; to single out such enterprizes for him as are worthy of his natural vivacity and ardour ; to prevent his talents and industry from becoming mischievous, his pleasures from proving ruinous, and to render his pursuits subservient, not only to present delight, but to substantial and permanent happiness.

It is evident that there is both a moral and an intellectual fobriety; a modest reserve, a rational guard upon ourselves, not only in acting, but in thinking: and the original word owQpovelv, which we translate, to be soberminded, includes both these kinds of fobriety, Its primary signification is, to be wise, pru, dent, temperate ; and this wisdom chiefly confifts,

I. In the government of the paffions.
II. In the government of the understands

ing. First then, we are commanded to teach young men the government of their passions, " To flee youthful lusts*,”

is an aposto* 2 Tim, ii. 22.

lical admonition, not very grateful, perhaps, to youthful ears; but so indispenfably requisite both to temporal and eternal happiness, that it must, at all events, and by every possible means, be inculcated and enforced. It comprehends all those irregu. lar desires, to the influence of which is owing much the greatest part of the vice and misery that desolate mankind.

“ From “ whence come wars and fightings among “ you ? Come they not hence, even of your “ lusts, which war in your members +?" From whence (may we add) come murders, frauds, breaches of trust, violations of the marriage-bed, the ruin of unguarded and unsuspecting innocence, the distress and disgrace of worthy families, the corruption and subversion of whole kingdoms ? Come they not all from one and the same impure source, from the violence of headstrong and unruly appetites, which, in pursuit of some unlawa' ful object, burst through all restraints of decency, justice, honour, humanity, gratitude ; and throw down every barrier, however facred, that stands between them and the attainment of their end?

[blocks in formation]

The passions, then, must be governed, ot they will govern us; and, like all other slaves when in possession of power, will become the most favage and merciless of tyrants. But at what time shall we begin to govern them? The very moment, surely, that they begin to raise commotions in the soul : the moment we know, from conscience, from reason, from revelation, that the gratifications they require ought not to be granted. This period may in fome be earlier than in others; but it can scarce ever be later in any, than the usual time of being transplanted to this place * Here then you ought at once to enter on the disposition of your studies and the regulation of your desires.

desires. There is no danger of your undertaking so arduous and necessary a talk too soon. If you hope to acquire any au- , thority over your passions, you must inure them to early obedience, and bend them to the yoke while they are yet pliant and flexible. It will, even then, indeed be a difficult task. But what is there worth having that is to be obtained without difficulties ? They arę infeparable from a state of probation, and

* Cambridge ; where this sermon was preached. See the table of contents.


« PreviousContinue »