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6 Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. How vain, then, all the triumphs of prosperity!
To behold the elation and proud independence which prosperity often inspires in the mind of man, the confident ardour with which he cherishes new schemes of wealth and power, and the bold presumption with which he defies the assaults of adversity, you would suppose that he was defended with an ethereal armour, and that the fabric of his felicity was founded on a rock enduring and stable. But the consideration of the uncertain tenure by which he holds his present enjoyments, exhibits in glaring colours the folly and the impiety of this. self-confident presumption, this proud and vainglorious boasting. « Thou knowest not what shall be on the morrow." The events of the morrow are beyond thy control. Hidden in the secret counsels of Providence, they mock thy most inquisitive scrutiny, elude thy most ingenious arts, and baffle thy most vigorous power, Some violent casualty, some change of affairs, which no foresight could discover, against which no prudence could provide, may, in the moment of fancied security, thwart thy best concerted plans, and demolish the towering structure of thy prosperity. Thy frail bark is tossed on an ocean which capricious tempests agitate ; and he who one moment mounts on the swelling surge, is plunged the next into the abyss which threatens to overwhelm him. Every day's experience proves that “ the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong;"* that the most prudent vigilance, the most strenuous exertions, will not always ensure success, nor the boldest arm of human power ward off the stroke of misfortune. How vain then thy elation and thy presumptuous confidence in that prosperity which a thousand accidents may subvert! The unseen arm of an almighty power irresistibly directs all events, and controls all thy actions. He will mock the puny efforts of thy presumptuous strength; he can defeat the best arranged schemes of thy inordinate ambition; whenever the suggestions of his infinite wisdom and sovereign power dictate, he will turn from thee the current of prosperity, and the blessings and advantages of which thou dost now proudly boast, will be the portion of another.
* Eccles, ix. 11.
Learn then, my brethren, from the uncertainty of all human enjoyments, to indulge with moderation in the blessings of prosperity. Let not those adventitious gifts elate you, of which the capricious events of the future may deprive you. Cultivate, even in the exhilaration of prosperity, that humble and dependent spirit, that deep sense of the uncertainty of all human enjoyments, which will lead you to employ aright the blessings which distinguish you, and prepare you to bear, at least with composure, the unforeseen stroke that may tear them from you. Consider all the advantages which you enjoy, as talents intrusted to you for wise purposes, by the Almighty Giver of all good; and, above all, remember he will call you to a strict and solemn account of the use you make of them while in your possession.
“ You know not what shall be on the morrow."
How absurd, then, a proud confidence in ourselves!
If all the events which affect our prosperity were placed perfectly within our eontrol, and if we could
always foresee the dangerous assaults to which our virtue would be exposed, we might then have some ground for confidence in the dictates of our own prudence and the efforts of our own strength. But since events which have the most important effect on our interest and our happiness often defy the kneenest foresight and baffle the provisions of the most consummate sagacity, since our virtue is exposed to the sudden and violent assaults of the most alluring temptations, a proud confidence in our own wisdom and power is not more presumptuous than dangerous. Self-confidence lulls that vigilance and caution which, fortified and guided by divine grace, are the only effectual guards of our piety and virtue. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."* How often does that self-confident strength which to-day boasts its efficacy and reposes in security, to-morrow fall a victim to an unexpected temptation dressed in some novel and alluring garb! The lesson which we should learn from the uncertainty of every thing human, is to distrust ourselves, to acknowledge our own weakness, and to seek that almighty strength which will give success to our efforts, which will enable us to sustain and to repel the most powerful assaults of our spiritual enemies. “ Ye know not what shall be on the morrow." Temptations may assail you, which in a moment may hurl
you from the heights of virtue into transgression, and shame, and remorse. Look forward, then, to thy future course, not with confident presumption, but with solicitude and apprehension. Reflect often on the number and power of the temptations which surround you, and on the weakness of your own resolutions and your own efforts, and turn with deep distrust from yourselves to that almighty Being who is ready to succour you. Bupplicate with earnest, with humble, with persevering fervour, that all-powerful grace which alone, by quickening and strengthening your own powers and exertions, can keep you from falling, can defend you through the vicissitudes of life, and through the seducing temptations to which, in this your state of probation, you are constantly exposed.
* 1 Cor. x. 12.
6 Ye know not what shall be on the morrow."
How unwise then that inordinate attachment to the world, which prevents us from preparing for the inevitable, but, as to the time of its occurrence, uncertain event which is to separate us from it.
If daily experience did not verify the lamentable fact, could we be persuaded to believe that man, who is doomed to sink under the stroke of death, who labours under fearful uncertainty in regard to the time when that stroke shall separate him for ever from the world, would yet remain in a state of indifference and insensibility as to those eternal interests that succeed the evanescent concerns of time; as profoundly occupied with sublunary objects, as if the tie that binds him to them were never to be sundered, or as if he could place this dread event at an immense distance ? Though every day conducts to the tomb some of his fellowmortals, arrested in that vigorous bloom of health which now freshens his countenance and enlivens his heart, in the full flush of that worldly desire and enjoyment in which he revels; though the unerring aim of death sometimes arrests, without warning, his careless victims, and instantly palsies the stoutest frame, man shuts his heart to this voice of warning which speaks from the chambers of the dead—“Be ye also ready."* He celebrates his impure pleasures over the ashes of his friends and kindred that are scarcely cold. What infatuation! what criminal folly! Boastest thou that thou holdest life. by a tenure that cannot be shaken ; that, mocking the assaults of death, thou canst securely prosecute thy ambitious projects, and indulge thy sensual desires ? Yes-whatever may be thy deliberate opinion, this is the language of thy conduct. To judge from the eagerness, the solicitude, the ardour, the supreme devotion with which thou dost pursue the objects of thy passions, we would suppose that here thou wast to terminate thy existence; that the world contained the only objects worthy of thy pursuit, and that could gratify thy desires. Ah! “ thou knowest not what shall be on the morrow." Thy separation from the world is inevitable. An eternal destiny awaits thee. The awful period of thy entrance on it is hidden in the gloom of futurity. It cannot be far distant. It may be near at hand. Perhaps now the sentence is passed from the lips of thy almighty Judgem" Thy days are numbered”and the angel of death is marking thee for his next victim. And wilt thou then indulge thy worldly passions, when the arms of death may be encircling thee? When eternity opens upon thee an irreversible destiny, shall the fleeting pleasures of time engross thy thoughts? When the tribunal of thy Judge is pronouncing thy eternal doom, wilt thou remain careless and secure? Alas! that the sinful indulgences, or even the lawful pursuits and enjoyments of to-day should entirely occupy us, when