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VII.

flecting upon the disorder in which human SERMON nature plainly appears at present to lie ? We have beheld, in Haman, the picture of that misery which arises from evil passions ; of that unhappiness, which is incident to the highest prosperity; of that discontent, which is common to every state. Whether we consider him as a bad man, a prosperous man, or simply as a man, in every light we behold reason too weak for passion. This is the source of the reigning evil ; this is the root of the universal disease. The story of Haman only shows us, what human nature has too generally appeared to be in every age. Hence, when we read the history of nations, what do we read but the history of the follies and crimes of men? We may dignify those recorded transactions, by calling them the intrigues of statesmen, and the exploits of conquerours; but they are, in truth, no other than the efforts of discontent to escape from its misery, and the struggles of contending passions among unhappy men. The history of mankind has ever been a continued tragedy; the world a great theatre exhibiting the same repeated scene, of the follies

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SERMON of men shooting forth into guilt, and of their

passions fermenting, by a quick process, into misery.

But can we believe, that the nature of man came forth in this state from the hands of its gracious Creator ? Did he frame this world, and store it with inhabitants, solely that it might be replenished with crimes and misfortunes ? - In the moral, as well as in the natural world, we may plainly discern the signs of some violent convulsion, which has shattered the original workmanship of the Almighty. Amidst this wreck of human nature, traces still remain which indicate its Author. Those high powers of conscience and reason, that capacity , for happiness, that ardour of enterprise, that glow of affection, which often break through the gloom of human vanity and guilt, are like the scattered columns, the broken arches, and defaced sculptures of some fallen temple, whose ancient splendour appears amidst its ruins. So conspicuous in human nature are those characters, both of a high origin, and of a degraded state, that by many religious sects throughout the earth, they

VII.

have been seen and confessed. A tradition SERMON seems to have pervaded almost all nations, that the human race had either through some offence forfeited, or through some misfortune lost, that station of primæval honour which they once possessed. But while from this doctrine, ill understood and involved in many fabulous tales, the nations wandering in Pagan darkness could draw consequences that

that were just; while totally ignorant of the nature of the disease, they sought in vain for the remedy; the same divine revelation, which has informed us in what manner our apostacy arose from the abuse of our rational

powers, has instructed us also how we may be restored to virtue and to happiness.

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LET us, therefore, study to improve the assistance which this revelation affords for the restoration of our nature, and the recovery of our felicity. With humble and grateful minds, let us apply to those medicinal springs which it hath opened, for curing the disorders of our heart and passions. In this view, let us, with reverence, look up to that Divine Personage, N 3

who

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SERMON who descended into this world, on pur

pose to be the light and the life of men; who came in the fulness of grace and truth, to repair the desolation of many generations, to restore order among the works of God, and to raise up a new earth and new heavens, wherein righteousness should dwell for ever.

Under his tuition let us put ourselves; and amidst the storms of passion to which we are here exposed, and the slippery paths which we are left to tread, never trust presumptuously to our own understanding. Thankful that a Heavenly Conductor vouchsafes his aid, let us earnestly pray, that from him may descend divine light to guide our steps, and divine strength to fortify our minds. Let us pray, that his gracę may keep us from all intemperate passions, and mistaken pursuits of pleasure ; that whether it shall be his will to give or to deny us earthly prosperity, he may bless us with a calm, a sound, and well-regulated mind; may give us moderation in success, and fortitude under disappointment; and may enable us so to take warning from the crimes and miseries of others, as to escape the snares of guilt.

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WHILE

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WHILE we thus maintain a due de- SERMON pendence on God, let us also exert ourselves with care in acting our own part. From the whole of what has been said, this important instruction arises, that the happiness of every man depends more upon the state of his own mind, than upon any one external circumstance; nay more than upon all external things put together. We have seen, that inordinate passions are the great disturbers of life ; and that, unless we possess a good conscience, and a wellgoverned mind, discontent will blast every enjoyment, and the highest-prosperity will prove only disguised misery. Fix then this conclusion in your minds, that the destruction of your virtue is the destruction of your peace. Keep thy heart with all diligence ; govern it with the greatest care; for out of it are the issues of life. In no station, in no period, think yourselves secure from the dangers which spring from your passions. Every age

station they beset ; from youth to grey hairs, and from the peasant to the prince.

At your first setting out in life, especially when yet unacquainted with the

world

and every

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