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III.

which surrounds them; and thus widen the SERMON sphere of their pieasures, by adding intellectual, and spiritual, to earthly joys.

For illustration of what I have said on this head, remark that cheerful enjoyment of a prosperous state which King David had, when he wrote he wrote the twenty-third Psalm; and compare the highest pleasures of the riotous sinner, with the happy and satisfied spirit which breathes throughout that Psalm.-In the midst of the splendour of royalty, with what amiable simplicity of gratitude does he look up to the Lord as his shepherd; happier in ascribing all his success to divine favour, than to the policy of his councils, or to the force of his arms! How many instances of divine goodness arose before him in pleasing remembrance, when with such relish he speaks of the green pastures and still waters beside which God had led him of his cup which he hath made to overflow; and of the table which he hath prepared for him in presence of his enemies! With what perfect tranquillity does he look forward to the time of his passing through the valley of the shadow of death; unappalled by that

Spectre

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SERMON Spectre, whose most distant appearance blasts the prosperity of sinners! He fears no evil, as long as the rod and the staff of his Divine Shepherd are with him; and through all the unknown periods of this and of future existence, commits himself to his guidance with secure and triumphant hope. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. What a purified, sentimental enjoyment of prosperity is here exhibited! How different from that gross relish of worldly pleasures, which belongs to those who behold only the terrestrial side of things; who raise their views to no higher objects than the succession of human contingencies, and the weak efforts of human ability; who have no protector or patron in the heavens, to enliven their prosperity, or to warm their hearts with gra titude and trust.

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II. RELIGION affords to good men peculiar security in the enjoyment of their prosperity. One of the first reflections which must strike every thinking man, after

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after his situation in the world has become SERMON agreeable, is, That the continuance of such a situation is most uncertain. From a variety of causes, he lies open to change. On many sides he sees that he may be pierced; and the wider his comforts extend, the broader is the mark which he spreads to the arrows of misfortune. Hence many a secret alarm to the reflecting mind; and to those who reject all such alarms, the real danger increases, in proportion to their improvident security.

By worldly assistance it is vain to think of providing any effectual defence, seeing the world's mutability is the very cause of our terrour. It is from a higher principle, from a power superiour to the world, that relief must be sought amidst such disquietudes of the heart. He who in his prosperity can look up to One who is witness to his moderation, humanity, and charity; he who can appeal to Heaven, that he has not been elated by pride, nor overcome by pleasure, but has studied to employ its gifts to the honour of the Giver; this man, if there be any truth in religion, if there be any benignity or goodness in the admini

10

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SERMON administration of the universe, has just cause for encouragement and hope. Not that an interest in the Divine Grace will perpetuate to a good man, more than to others, a life of unruffled prosperity. Change and alteration form the very essence of the world. But let the world change around him at pleasure, he has ground to hope that it shall not be able to make him unhappy. Whatever may vary, God's providence is still the same; and his love to the righteous remains unaltered. If it shall be the Divine will to remove one comfort, he trusts that some other shall be given. Whatever is given, whatever is taken away, he confides that in the last result all shall work for his good.

Hence he is not disturbed, like bad men, by the instability of the world. Dangers, which overcome others, shake not his more steady mind. He enjoys the pleasures of life pure and unallayed, because he enjoys them, as long as they last, without anxious terrours. They are not his all, his only good. He welcomes them when they arrive; and when they pass away, he can eye them, as they de

part,

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part, without agony or despair. His pro- SERMON
sperity strikes a deeper and firmer root
than that of the ungodly. And for this
reason, he is compared, in the Text, to a
tree planted by the rivers of water: a tree
whose branches the tempest may indeed
bend, but whose roots it cannot touch;
a tree, which may occasionally be stripped
of its leaves and blossoms, but which still
maintains its place, and in due season flou-
rishes anew. Whereas the sinner in his
prosperity, according to the allusion in the
book of Job, resembles the rush that
grow-
eth up in the mire *; a slender reed, that

may flourish green. for a while by the side

of the brook, as long as it is cherished by the sun, and fanned by the breeze; till the first bitter blast breaks its feeble stem, roots it out from its bed, and lays it in the dust. Lo! such is the prosperity of them that forget God; and thus their hope shall perish.

III. RELIGION forms good men to the most proper temper for the enjoyment of prosperity. A little reflection may satisfy * Job, viii. 11.

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