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SERMON XIII.

THE STABILITY OF THE GOOD MAN AMIDST THE

CHANGES OF LIFE.

1 John, 11. 17. And the world passeth away and the desires thereof, but

he that doth the will of God abideth for ever.

The former part of this subject has lately occupied our attention; the transitory nature of the world and its desires. We are now to contemplate the brighter side of the picture: the stability of the good man

amidst the vicissitudes of life. He is the fixed spectator of the moving scene. In the wilderness of shadows, he alone has discovered and secured the possession of solid and durable satisfaction. He keeps his ground while the gaudy pageant glides away. While all things around him are in a state of unceasing fluctuation, he is landed on a rock above the reach of the

storm. The hope of immortality, and confidence in the divine promise, soothes and tranquillizes the mind amidst the tempests of a tumultuous world. He that doth the will of God abideth for ever.

We have here a character described and a privilege annexed.

First, All human virtue is comprehended in doing the will of God.

The only end for which existence is worth possessing, is happiness; without which it is far better not to be, for no .absurdity is greater than that of maintaining, that existence in misery is preferable to non-existence. This, indeed, is a position which some have advanced; but it is plain that they never duly attended to the import of their language. For, when life becomes a burden, how eager are the sufferers to get rid of the load!

Now it is plain that happiness must depend upon the will of the Creator. He that made us what we are, that gave us every power of perception, action, and en-, joyment that we possess; who' is present

with us every moment of our lives ; in whom we live, and move, and are, must possess the power of making his creatures as happy, or as miserable as he pleases. It is at his option to deprive us of the existence which he originally gave and continually supports. And as a capacity for pleasure is invariably accompanied with a proportionate capacity for pain, it is also in his power to cause the sensations of pain to outnumber and outweigh the perceptions of pleasure in any degree that he may think fit. So that, if the thought were not too horrible to be entertained for a moment, he might, if he pleased, condemn the universe of percipient being to inconceivable and eternal misery. And by parity of reason he might, if he thought fit, make every sensation a source of pleasure, and inight at once make all his creatures perfectly and for ever happy. But this is not the way in which infinite wisdom chooses to deal with moral agents; but rather to train them up under a course of suitable moral discipline, to the acquisition of those moral habits, and

to that excellence of moral character, to which the possession of the promised inheritance is annexed.

It is therefore the duty and the interest of every rational creature to do the will of God, and to secure the favour of his Maker and his Judge.

The will of God is made known by reason and revelation.

Reason, not however wholly unassisted, teaches that God exists, and that God is good ; that he wills the happiness of his creatures ; that they are then acting in the most entire subservience to his will, when they are exerting their utmost powers to make their fellow-creatures happy; and indeed when they place their chief happiness in doing good. And are convinced that they cannot serve their Maker more acceptably, or insure a greater portion of his favour, and final approbation, than when they are co-operating with him in his great and benevolent designs. Assured that he will not fail to remunerate in the most ample measure, either here or here

after, every exertion, and every sacrifice, which duty and benevolence may at present require.

This is the only consideration by which beings constituted as men, are, can, or ought to be influenced in the practice of virtue, and especially upon great and trying occasions. For if agreeably to the tenets of a philosophy, falsely so called, the idea of God, and the considerations of a future life, are to be entirely excluded, what obligation can any one feel to the practice of those social and public duties which require laborious exertion, and resolute selfdenial. It is in vain to say that ought to be governed by a sense of justice, and a view to the public good. The constitution of human nature must be changed before such principles as these can operate

any good effect, if they are not founded upon

the basis of a wise and rational selfinterest. Men must see and be convinced that their own ultimate good will be promoted by the practice of fortitude, temperance, justice, benevolence, public spirit,

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