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be arranged with propriety, in method and train. Thus, and thus only, can you be masters of yourselves; your time and your life will be your own ; and what is serious and important, will not be justled out of its place, by that crowd of inferior cares, which are for ever pressing on the disorderly, and frustrating the plans which they had formed for the wise and proper regulation of life. - Consider, too, that if order be not studied, there can be no prudent economy in the management of your fortune and worldly affairs; and economy, be assured, is a great guardian of all the private and domestic virtues. When order and economy are neglected, you are in hazard of being first involved in distresses, and then inveigled into crimes; whereas, under the direction of regular conduct, both
your worldly and
religious concerns will be more in the course of prospering. - I have now only to add,
VIII. That we should give attention to all the auxiliary means which religion offers for assisting and guiding us to walk wisely in a perfect way. These open a large field to the care of every good man. We must always remember that virtue is not a plant which will spontaneously grow up and flourish in the human heart. The soil is far from being so favourable to it; many shoots of an adverse nature are ever springing up, and much preparation and culture are required for cherishing the good seed, and raising it to full maturity. — Among the means for this purpose, let me first mention the serious reading of the Holy Scripture. That sacred book, as the standard of our belief and practice, claims, on every account, our frequent perusal. In the New Testament, the
brightest display of our Lord's energetic example, joined with his simple, affecting, and instructive discourses, illustrated by the writings of his inspired followers : in the Old Testament, the variety of matter, the ardent glow of devotion in some parts, and the mysterious sublimity of others; all conspire to affect the mind with serious and solemn emotions. Passages impressed on the memory from those sacred volumes, have often, from their recurrence, had a happy effect. In our early years, most of us were accustomed to look with respect upon those venerable records; and woe be to them, who, looking back upon the days of their father's house, can trample with scorn on the memory of those whose pious cares were employed in forming them to good principles, and teaching them to reverence the word of God! --Let me next recommend a serious regard to all the established means of religious instruction; such as, attending regularly the preaching of the word, partaking frequently of the Holy Sacrament, and preserving a sacred reverence for the Lord's day. Whenever all regard to the Lord's day becomes abolished; when on it we are allowed to mingle without any distinction in our common affairs, and even in our ordinary diversions and amusements, we may account this a certain symptom of declining virtue, and of approaching general immorality. We have beheld in a neighbouring kingdom, how fatally it proved the forerunner of an entire dissolution both of moral and civil order in society. Whatever disregard certain modern refiners of morality may attempt to throw on all the instituted means of public religion, assuredly they must, in their lowest view, be considered as the outguards and fences of virtuous conduct; and even in this view must deserve the esteem and respect of all good men. We know and are often enough told, that the form of godliness may subsist without the power of it.
of it. But depend upon it, wherever the form of godliness is entirely gone, the ruin of its power is not far off. Whoever has studied the human mind, may soon be satisfied of this truth.
Besides attention to the public means of religious improvement, much will depend on our own private exercises of devotion and serious thought. Prayer, in particular, operates to our high advantage, both by the immediate assistance which we may hope it will procure from Him who is the author and inspirer of virtue, and by its native influence in softening, purifying, and exalting the heart. In vain would he attempt to behave himself wisely in a perfect way, who looks not frequently up to God for grace and aid; and who would presumptuously attempt to separate moral virtue from devotion, its natural and original ally. Besides the exercises of religious worship, both public and private, seasonable returns of retirement from the world, of calm recollection and serious thought, are most important auxiliaries to virtue. He who is without intermission engaged in the bustle of society and worldly occupation, becomes incapable of exercising that discipline over himself, and giving that attention to his temper and character which virtue requires. Commune with your own hearts on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. *
By the observance of such rules and maxims as
Psalm iv. 4, 5.
have been now pointed out, it may be hoped, that through Divine grace, we may be enabled to behave ourselves wisely in a perfect way, until, in the end, we receive the reward of such behaviour. The wisdom here spoken of, as conjoined with virtue, is that wisdom from above, which is appointed by God to enlighten and guide the course of integrity. It opens to us that path of the just, which is now as the shining light, and which will shine more and more until the perfect day.
On the IMMORTALITY of the Soul, and a FUTURE
2 CORINTHIANS, V. I.
For we know, that if our earthly house of this taber
nacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. THIS passage presents to us in one view the nature
of our present earthly state, and the future object of the Christian's hope. The style is figurative; but the figures employed are both obvious and expressive. The body is represented as a house inhabited by the soul, or the thinking part of man. But it is an earthly house, a tabernacle erected only for passing accommodation, and to be dissolved ; to which is to succeed the future dwelling of the just in a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here then are three great objects presented to our consideration. First, the nature of our present condition. Secondly, that succeeding state which is the object of good men's hope. Thirdly, the certain foundation of their hope; we know, that if our earthly house be dissolved, we have a building of God.
I. The text gives a full description of our present embodied state; as an earthly house, an earthly house of this tabernacle, and a tabernacle which is to be dissolved.