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or a day, or a month, or a year; it is the main business of life, and consists in regulating the whole conduct in such a manner as may be most acceptable to God, and most beneficial to mankind. Now this implies first, that we form just conceptions of the rule of duty; and, secondly, that we use proper means to acquire all those affections and habits which contribute to the composition of a virtuous character. It is of unspeakable importance in this view to maintain an habitual impression of God upon the mind; and this is only to be acquired by meditation, and by stated exercises of devotion, public and private. Whatever may be said in disparagement of devotion, it will be found by experience that, without stated religious exercises of meditation and prayer, it is as impossible to preserve a commanding sense of God upon the mind, as it would be to become a skilful performer upon an instrument of music without having practised the first lessons of the art.

Habits of virtue are to be generated by the resolute practice of it in all circum

stances, how inconsistent soever with present inclination or self-interest, and whatever temptation there may be to the contrary. Duties which at the commencement are most difficult and disagreeable, gradually become easy and pleasant; and the practice of virtue insensibly grows habitual and delightful. But this is the effect of time and labour, and they who aspire to eminence must resolutely persevere in the practice of virtue, and must never grow weary in well doing.

And let them recollect, for their encouragement, that from labour of this kind the profit is certain, and the reward inexpressibly great.

A man may work hard and long to gain a competence, and yet, by unforeseen disasters, his exertions may be fruitless. He may study with unabating perseverance to solve some difficult problem, to unravel some interesting truth, but it may surpass his faculties, or he may take a wrong direction, and all bis labour may be lost. But he who labours after improvement in

religion and virtue, can never fail of success. Repeated acts will generate habits : and habits of all kinds gradually and insensibly strengthen till they become disinterested and invincible. And they who persevere in the practice of virtue, in opposition to temptations and discouragements, will gradually acquire a love to virtue for its own sake, and a facility and resolution in the practice of it which no temptation can shake, no opposition can overcome.

And success in this conflict is of the highest importance. Health and competence, ease, reputation, cheerful spirits and kind friends, are blessings of inestimable value: strength of mind, intellectual furniture, enlarged and comprehensive views of important truth, and the discovery of useful arts which embellish human life, which ameliorate the condition of man, and which transmit the name of the inventor with renown to distant ages and generations, are objects worthy of a generous ambition. But after all, that wisdom which consists in the practice of virtue, and in doing good

to mankind agreeably to the will of God, is the principal thing. It is this which elevates the human character to the highest dignity; and is the only sure and certain ground of hope and peace here and hereafter. Let us therefore not be weary of well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.

SERMON VIII.

TEKEL.

DANIEL, v. 27.

Tekel. Thou art weighed in the balances, and art

found wanting

The event recorded in this chapter is one of the most memorable in the history of the Old Testament. Belshazzar, king of Babylon, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, a weak and dissolute prince, upon a great annual festival, gave an entertainment to a thousand of his lords, and descending from the usual state of the monarchs of the east, he associated with them in their convivial pleasures. In the midst of their carousals, in the mirth and gaiety of their hearts, they sent for the precious vessels which had been taken out of the temple of Jerusalem, and in contempt and defiance of the God to whom they had been dedi

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