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is forced, through mere old age, to relinquish life at forty. This, my brethren, is the natural and general course of things. Such are the laws impressed upon our conftitution by that omnipotent Being who giveth luftre and beauty to the fun, and regulateth the wind and the waves. By his appointment, peace and joy are the offspring of virtue. In the language of fcripture, the work of righteoufnefs is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietnefs and affurance for ever, whereas the wicked are like the troubled fea when it cannot reft, whofe waters caft up mire and dirt.
Confider with yourselves and tell me, when was it that you poffeffed a degree of joy which you can reflect upon at this moment with delight? was it not when you performed fome action which your confciences approved of and applauded you for? When is it that you feel a conflict within your own breafts, the fenfations of uneafinefs and difquiet which deprive you of folid fatisfaction, and unfit you for every valuable gratification? Honestly confefs the truth. Is it not when any irregular paffion or appetite has got the dominion
d Ifaiah xxxii. 17.
C Chap, Ivii, 20.
dominion over you, and hurries you precipitately to fome indulgence which your heart condemns? upon whom do the monsters of horror, remorse, and defpondency prey? and who are they that shall dread their power, and tremble left they feel their tyranny? do not these monfters dwell in the innermoft recesses of the cave of vice? and does it not require all her forcery to prevent their appearance at the very entry of it? On the other hand; whose mind is calm and equable like the unruffled ocean? who can allay the natural thirst of his foul at the fountain of happiness? who can trace the footsteps of peace and ferenity, and tread in them? Is it not the man in whofe mind confcience prefides as a judge, whofe life it regulates as a guide, the periods of whofe existence are filled up with every act of equity, meekness, charity, condefcenfion, and compaffion, which his circumstances require or permit? Does justice leave a fting behind it? or does it occasion a triumph? does the tear of fympathy, like the tear of disappointment in a vicious purfuit, rankle the foul? or does it not rather compofe and foothe it? does the abstemiousnefs of temperance ficken the heart, like the A 4
of drunkenness? do the gifts of generofity produce those anxieties which ever prey upon the avaricious?
Take the matter in another light. Did you ever dwell in the house with any man who was unjust, or malicious, or envious, or debauched; and could you fay of fuch a man, that you generally found him cheerful, ferene, and happy? that the day flowed on with an 'equal tenor, and that he faw morning, noon, and night with the fame temper? (I speak at prefent merely as to this world, and a man's immediate feelings.) It is impoffible in the nature of things. Who are they that most evidently display their ferenity and cheerfulnefs to their fervants, their domeftics, their dependants, and their connections? Is it not the virtuous and the temperate? Hail facred Virtue, thou parent of peace and of joy! let me ever bow at thy fhrine, and ever venerate thy power.
I derive, therefore, the first cause of that joy, which the religious poffefs, from their conforming to the laws of virtue and integrity, which are the laws of their nature. A machine cannot move cafily if fome of the principal fprings are weakened or obstructed,
An inferior animal cannot be happy if its appetite for food is not gratified, or if it is reftrained from yielding to any of its ftrongeft inftincts. Neither can man, in whofe conftitution the fenfe and approbation of virtue are interwoven by the hand of his Maker, if he gives himself up to be the servant of fin.
I enter at prefent into no laboured or particular difquifition about the nature of virtue. Who does not perceive and feel it? who does not approve it in his neighbour? who does not admire it, in the example of Jefus? whofe heart is not warmed with the enforcement and illuftration of it in his precepts and parables? Alas! did we but act suitably to our knowledge and our feelings, how many faints would there be amongst us, and how univerfally would happiness be diffused!
But I acknowledge that the joy which a virtuous practice infpires, if it were all that the chriftian were heir to, would, in the prefent state of things, be at the best but interrupted and imperfect. The present scene is various and complicated. The natural tendency of things is often obftructed. With respect to human characters and enjoyments, effects
effects are often observed that are contrary to what might have been expected. It might bear a dispute whether, if there was no world after this, good spirits, a healthy constitution of body, with strong propenfities to vice, accompanied with the natural feelings of remorse when these last are indulged, were not preferable to a fickly frame, with delicate perceptions of virtue, and ardent defires to practise it, accompanied with all the disappointments which the experience of the world teaches every man to look for. All the ferenity that virtue can of itself bestow may be greatly ruffled by adverfity. It may be deftroyed by misfortunes. We may affirm that joy is the first-born of virtue, and that she would in the paradifaical state have been an infeparable attendant upon her mother, but that the ftorms and tempefts of human life, in this degenerate state, often difunite those who were defigned for perpetual affociates.
Again, other creatures seem to be totally occupied with the present hour, and engroffed by the particular pains or pleasures which they feel; but man is a being of a different kind. His hopes and fears, his wishes and appre