Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

nature innocent. God hath formed us for pleasing intercourse, and put mirth in our hearts with intent that we should exert it. The sprightly disposition of youth calls for gladsome activity : the fatigues of business, the infirmities of old age, the wearisomeness of ill health and low spirits, often require the best relief, that cheerfulness can minister. And not to allow, that our Maker considers whereof we are made *, would be giving an idea of religion both unamiable and false. But then, just how far each of us may lawfully carry our indulgence, cannot be minutely pointed out. And therefore, instead of being contented to speak and think mildly of others, which would be a right use of this uncertainty; we are apt to be negligent of restraining ourselves, which is a very wrong one. For there are numberless things, in which limits cannot be fixed precisely, and yet considerable excesses are destructive. Now in all these, our ignorance ought to teach us a reasonable, though not scrupulous, caution : but especially in matters of gay entertainment: because the present age hath confessedly a peculiar turn that way. Whether the preceding ones had not other faults as bad, is out of the question: our concern is to watch against our own: for which purpose the text affords us a most equitable and comprehensive and trying direction; that we are not to love pleasures more than God: meaning, than our duty to Him. For, this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments t. Now he hath enjoined us very important duties : of improving ourselves in every thing worthy, and being serviceable to our fellow-creatures. What influence then upon these will our amusements, as we conduct them, have? The more steadily we apply, without impairing our * Ps. ciji. 14.

+ 1 John v. 3.

[blocks in formation]

SERMON V.

2 TIM. iii. 4.

-Lovers of pleasures, more than lovers of God.

The wise and gracious Ruler of the world hath created us to obey him, and from that obedience to receive our proper share of happiness. He hath adapted a variety of satisfactions to the various parts of our frame : and taught us by nature, but more distinctly by his word, the due subordinations of each; and the circumstances, in which we may or may not lawfully partake of them. Some of these are capable of being exactly specified : and in such we cannot transgress, without either acknowledging our guilt, or daring to deny the authority of the law. Many take the humbler method of the two; and yet grow little, if at all, better: many the bolder, and grow continually worse. Both are frequently admonished, and may be left at present to their own reflections. But other cases admit only a general and less accurate description : which leaves room for those, who desire it, to go very improper lengths, and still imagine they are within bounds. Thus, in eating and drinking; to use the good creatures of God with delight is certainly allowable : and therefore too many set their minds to a strange degree on the practice and the study of this meanest of gratifications; and think they may load and inflame themselves without scruple, provided they stop but at all short of shocking intemperance. Thus again what we commonly call amusements are in their

nature innocent. God hath formed us for pleasing intercourse, and put mirth in our hearts with intent that we should exert it. The sprightly disposition of youth calls for gladsome activity : the fatigues of business, the infirmities of old age, the wearisomeness of ill health and low spirits, often require the best relief, that cheerfulness can minister. And not to allow, that our Maker considers whereof we are made *, would be giving an idea of religion both unamiable and false. But then, just how far each of us may lawfully carry our indulgence, cannot be minutely pointed out. And therefore, instead of being contented to speak and think mildly of others, which would be a right use of this uncertainty; we are apt to be negligent of restraining ourselves, which is a very wrong one. For there are numberless things, in which limits cannot be fixed precisely, and yet considerable excesses are destructive. Now in all these, our ignorance ought to teach us a reasonable, though not scrupulous, caution : but especially in matters of gay entertainment: because the present age hath confessedly a peculiar turn that way. Whether the preceding ones had not other faults as bad, is out of the question: our concern is to watch against our own : for which purpose the text affords us a most equitable and comprehensive and trying direction; that we are not to love pleasures more than God: meaning, than our duty to Him. For, this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments t. Now he hath enjoined us very important duties: of improving ourselves in every thing worthy, and being serviceable to our fellow-creatures. What influence then upon these will our amusements, as we conduct them, have? The more steadily we apply, without impairing our * Ps. ciji. 14.

+ 1 John v. 3.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

healths or faculties by it, to affairs of real use, the properer part we act in life. Do then indeed our serious occupations wear us down so, that we need all the time, which we take, to recruit ourselves? Or do we only, when we are tired of one trifle, run to another ? Is it matter of humiliation to us, that we are obliged to spend so much of every day insignificantly: or do we take a pride in spending it thus; lead as many into the same way as we can, and throw contempt on those, whom we cannot ? Have we impartially examined, what obligations, public and private, are incumbent on us: whether we are chiefly attentive to these, omitting none; or to what other things, and what the benefit of them is: whether it be any other than keeping ourselves in humour, like froward children! We should do well to state the disposal of our time: first set down, how much we employ in each of our concerns of moment; then how much goes in divensions of one kind or another, in preparing for them, in refreshment after them, in needless company af henre and abrud: and if the disproportion be great, think branchand, how wretched a void and blank, at best, our lives will appear at the close of them to have been, should the remainder of them be wasted in the Same manner.

We all wish to be distinguished to our honour. But in whose eyes will such persons, or a nation composed of such. be honoured and for what qualifications ? Rien ledage and prudence require industry and experience to attain them : worth and probity require thoughtful self-inspection. And one doth not see, how they, who claim only outside pre-eminences, can posvilly esferim one another; or why they should wish to her so much together, unless to take comfort in their mutual want of merit. At least rain opinion

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

will never convert shew into substance. We must surely know, that we are capable of more valuable accomplishments, and of delighting in them. Probably our education hath furnished us with some experience of improving our understandings and our tempers. Have we no room left then for farther improvements? Or have we lost the relish of them? And for what better have we exchanged it? Or how unhappily. soever we are bred, as indeed too many young people are extremely pitiable for having been taught the least of what was most worth learning ; yet we must be sensible, there are those who possess more solid endowments. Are they then of no value in life, or have they not in all ages been allowed to be of the highest? Why therefore should we not strive to resemble them, and take a little leisure to think, how we may live to more purpose ? It may be, we do not desire leisure to think. It is unentertaining: it is painful. But what a figure do we make to others and ourselves, if we cannot bear our own company, but must fly to any thing, rather than fail to get rid of it? Thought can be painful only because we are acting amiss : and then thinking so as to amend, is the only remedy; and no case is too far gone for it. Perhaps we are unable to carry on solitary meditation to any good effect. But we can have recourse to the assistance of proper books. Idle reading indeed completes the destruction of the time, that idle conversation spares us. But judicious writings on the subject of conduct, religious, moral, and prudent, are at once the medicine and the nourishment of the mind. If still after these we want farther instruction, every true friend we have, every good man we consult, will gladly give it us. And

« AnteriorContinuar »