Imatges de pÓgina

mechanical pursuit, are not only objects for exertion, but the means of enjoyment. Still the framing of wise and wholesome laws, or the projecting some great work for very extensive utility, affords a more ample field for the generous and noble powers of the mind, to be enlarged and delighted. It is by activity and diligence, that any of our talents can be improved, and the happiness of mankind advanced. As many as are the evils which can be enumerated, arising from sloth, so many are the opposite and rich blessings, arising from engagedness in the pursuit of some lawful, desirable, and noble objeet.

10th. In pointing out the path of human happiness, the last particular is naturally this: Religion is man's highest good. Happiness, consummate and durable, can be found only in the immediate enjoyment of the fountain and source of all excellence. The various particulars which have been noticed, are well calculated to promote true happiness, and wisdom loudly admonishes that we do not lightly esteem them. But still the human soul is capable of soaring after higher objects, and of aspiring after more perfect joys. The prophet Micah, exclaims, He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and whạt doth the Lord require

1; of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. Here justice between man and man, is pointed out; mercy is brought to view, to point men as sinners to Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life; and a humble walk with God is to be an evidence of their supreme love to him. Says Solomon, after giving abundant and good instruction, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. By these words we are taught, that they, who would be truly happy, should not make a selfish inquiry after happiness ; but their great inquiry should be, to know and do the will of their Father who is in heaven, as this was the great end of their being, and would raise their souls to immortal glory. Philosophy will teach men the importance of governing unruly passions ; but the spirit of Christ, reigning in the soul, leads to the forgiveness of injuries, and teaches men to be temperate in all things. The religion of Jesus, enables to lead godly lives, and leads to a habit of praying. It has a balm and cordial for the health of the soul, by causing it to hold converse with God as its chief joy. The Apostle Paul observes, That godliness with contentment is great gain. And in the view of his own trials and sufferings with those of his brethren, Christian submission by divine grace, enabled him to say with joyful and triumphant hope, Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.

The one who is rightly engaged in the things of religion, has prospects of happiness far more glorious than can possibly be conceived by the heart of man from any other pursuits

Reason and self interest, may teach the utility of cultivating all the moral virtues; but the gospel infuses those heaven-born graces, which will

, for ever expand in glory, and produce the rapturous joys of immortality. It is religion, which can give tranquillity in infirmity, can buoy up the soul in the storms of life, and at last safely land it in the heaven of eternal day. This is the one thing needful, which includes all that can be desired by an immortal and ever expanding mind. And it is only this, which can give sufficient peace and consolation in all the trying scenes of life, and cause the soul to triumph over death and hell, and join the innumerable company above. Then may this subject give us enlarged views of ourselves, and excite us duly to reflect on the momentous relations which we sustain. Shall not every one awake, and reflect that he is destined

or sources,

to eternity; and that if he become a holy being, he is to be associated with angels and seraphs, and admitted into the presence of his God and Saviour to go no more out for ever and ever? Let each one contemplate on the depths of his own immortal mind, and extend his thoughts down the line of endless duration, and inquire what he must be when the sun and stars shall have been blotted out for millions of millions of years; and his capacities of enjoyment or suffering, shall have expanded beyond the present dimensions of the highest seraph. With such reflections as these, may we by divine grace be enabled to pursue the true path of human happiness. Amen.



Luke xvi. 10.

He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also

in much. The holy scriptures are a peculiar fund of instruction in concerns both of the smallest and of the greatest moment. They teach the truth in reality, and according to the mind of God; not in appearance, and according to the views of men. And they decide the characters of mankind not merely from their external conduct, but from the motives of their hearts; not from a few splendid or glaring acts, but from the general deportment of life. Hence those exploits which are frequently the astonishment of the world, are of little esteem in the view of God; and on the other hand, a life of piety, of self denial, and devotedness in the ways of godliness, is of much value in his sight, although it obtain not the applauses of men. No doubt there are some, who by their fellow-men are honoured as good and great; but whom, at the same time, the Lord holdeth in abomination. And doubtless some who are thought not

. worthy to live, and who are accounted as the offscouring of the earth, will at last shine as stars in the kingdon of God for ever and ever. The words of the text are the inference and declaration of the Saviour concerning the steward, who, for his own worldly interest, had induced his lord's debtors to act dishonestly. And although he is commended as it respects worldly wisdom or selfish interest; yet, for his dishonest measures, he is condemned as an unfaithful steward. There was a certain rich man which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. And he called him and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said unto himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do; that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? and he said, An hundred measures of oil: and he said unto hiin, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he unto another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.

These words teach us, that little things make up the character of a man, and are a proper criterion, by which mankind are denominated either good or bad, faithful or unfaithful.

This truth might be extensively illustrated from natural objects, or the works of nature. The immensity of the divine works is composed of parts ; or in other words, innumerable worlds constitute the universe. This material world is composed of eleinents; and even

9 particles of matter comprise the

« AnteriorContinua »