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But the sanctions of his laws already take SERMON
Let us remark also, from this example,
more thoroughly wretched. We are seduced and deceived by that false glare which prosperity sometimes throws around bad men, We are tempted to
SERMON imitate their crimes, in order to partake of
their imagined felicity. . But remember Haman, and beware of the snare. Think not, when you behold a pageant of grandeur displayed to public view, that you discern the ensign of certain happiness. In order to form any just conclusion, you must follow the great man into the retired apartment, where he lays aside his disguise ; you must not only be able to penetrate into the interiour of families, but you must have a faculty by which you can look into the inside of hearts. Were you endowed with such a power, you would most commonly behold good men in proportion to their goodness, satisfied and
easy i you would behold atrocious sinners always restless and unhappy.
Unjust are our complaints, of the promiscuous distribution made by Providence, of its favours among men. From superficial views such complaints arise. The distribution of the goods of fortune, indeed, may often be promiscuous ; that is, disproportioned to the moral characters of men; but the allotment of real happiness is never For to the wicked there is no peace.
They are like the troubled sea when it cannot SERMON rest. They travel with pain all their days. Trouble and anguish prevail against them. Terrours make them afraid on every side. A dreadful sound is in their ears; and they are in great fear where no fear is.— Hitherto we have considered Haman under the character of a very wicked man, tormented by criminal passions. Let us now consider him merely as a child of fortune, a prosperous 'man of the world ; and proceed to observe.
II. How unavailing worldly prosperity is, since, in the midst of it, a single disappointment is sufficient to embitter all its pleasures. We might at first imagine, that the natural effect of prosperity would be, to diffuse over the mind a prevailing satisfaction, which the lesser evils of life could not rufile, or disturb. We might expect, that as one in the full glow of health, despises the inclemency of weather; so one in possession of all the advantages of high power and station, should disregard slight injuries ; and, at perfect ease with himself, should view, in the most favourable light,
SERMON the behaviour of others around him. Such
effects would indeed follow, if worldly prosperity contained in itself the true principles of human felicity. But as it possesses them not, the very reverse of those consequences generally obtains. Prosperity debilitates, instead of strengthening the mind. Its most common effect is, to create an extreme sensibility to the slightest wound. It foments impatient desires ; and raises expectations which no success can satisfy. It fosters a false delicacy, which sickens in the midst of indulgence. By repeated gratification, it blunts the feelings of men to what is pleasing; and leaves them unhappily acute to
whatever is uneasy. Hence, the gale which another would scarcely feel, is, to the prosperous, a rude tempest. Hence the rose-leaf doubled below them on the couch, as it is told of the effeminate Sybarite, breaks their rest. Hence, the disrespect shewn by Mordecai preyed with such violence on the heart of Haman. Upon no principle of reason can we assign a sufficient cause for a!the distress which this incident occasioned to him. The cause lay not in the external incident.
It lay within himself; it arose from a mind SERMON distempered by prosperity.
Let this example correct that blind eagerness, with which we rush to the chase of worldly greatness and honours. not, that it should altogether divert us from pursuing them; since, when enjoyed with temperance and wisdom, they may doubtless both enlarge our utility, and contribute to our comfort. But let it teach us not to over-rate them, Let it convince us that unless we add to them the necessary correctives of piety and virtue, they are by themselves, more likely to render ys wretched, than to make us happy,
Let the memorable fate of Haman suggest to us also, how often, besides corrupting the mind and engendering internal misery, they lead us among precipices, and betray us into ruin. At the moment when fortune seemed to smile upon him with the most serene and settled aspect, she was digging in secret the pit for his fall. Prosperity was weaving around his head the web of destruction. Success inflamed his pride ; pride increased his thirst of revenge ; the revenge which, for the