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continued for a while to act his part upon the public stage, and has been tried by the different occur. rences of life, his real character never fails to be discovered. The judgment of the public on the character of men, as to their worth, probity, and honour, seldom errs. In the mean time, the advantages of fortune or station, which the man of the world has gained, after having been enjoyed for a while, become insipid to him; their first relish is gone, and he has little more to expect. He finds himself embarrassed with cares and fears. He is sensible that by many he is envied and hated; and though surrounded by low flatterers, is conscious that he is destitute of real friends. As he advances in years, all the enjoyments of his troubled prosperity are diminished more and more, and with many apprehensions he looks forward to the decline of life.
Compute now, O wise man, as thou art! what thou hast acquired by all thy selfish and intricate wisdom, by all thy refined and double conduct, thy dark and designing policy! Canst thou say that thy mind is satisfied with thy past tenour of conduct? Has thy real happiness kept pace, in any degree, with the success of thy worldly plans, or the advancement of thy fortune? Are thy days more cheerful and
gay, or are thy nights more calm and free of care, than those of the plain and upright man, whom thou hast so often treated with scorn ? To thine. own conscience I appeal, whether thou darest say, that aught which thou hast gained by the wisdom of the world, be a sufficient compensation for incurring the displeasure of thy Creator, for forfeiting self-approbation within thy breast, for losing the esteem of the wisest
and worthiest part of mankind around thee? How long, ye simple ones, will yc love simplicity, and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after lies ?
From what has been said of the nature and the effects of worldly wisdom, you will now judge how justly it is termed foolishness with God, and how much it merits the severe epithets which are given it in Scripture, of earthly, sensual, and devilish. Opposite to it stands the wisdom that is from above, which is described by an Apostle, as pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good
fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. * -- This, and this only, is that real wisdom, which it is both our duty and our interest to cultivate. It carries every character of being far superior to the wisdom of the world. It is masculine and generous; it is magnanimous and brave; it is uniform and consistent. The wise man of the world is obliged to shape and form his course according to the changing occurrences of the world; he is unsteady and perplexed; he trembles at every possible consequence, and is ever looking to futurity with a troubled mind. But the wise man in God's sight moves in a higher sphere. His integrity directs his course without perplexity or trouble. He inquires only what is right, becoming, and honourable for him to do. Being satisfied as to this, he asks no further questions. The issue it is not in his power to direct; but the part which is assigned to him, he will. act; secure, that
* James, iii. 15. 17.
come what will, in life and death, the Providence of that God whom he serves, will effectually guard all his great interests. At the same time, the spirit of this wisdom is perfectly consistent with proper foresight, and vigilant attention. It is opposed to art and cunning, not to prudence and caution. It is the mark, not of a weak and improvident, but of a great and noble mind; which will in no event take refuge in falsehood and dissimulation, which scorns deceit, because it holds it to be mean and base; and seeks no disguise, because it needs none to hide it. Such a character is both amiable and venerable. While it ennobles the magistrate and the judge, and adds honour and dignity to the most exalted stations, it commands respect in every rank of life. When the memory of artful and crooked policy speedily sinks, and is extinguished, this true wisdom shall long preserve an honourable memorial among men, and from God shall receive everlasting glory.
On the GOVERNMENT OF HUMAN Arrains by
PROVERBS, xvi. 9.
A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth
ANY devices there are, and much exercise of
thought and counsel ever going on among mankind. When we look abroad into the world, we behold a very busy and active scene; a great multitude always in motion, actuated by a variety of passions, and engaged in the prosecution of many different designs, where they commonly flatter themselves with the prospect of success. But much of this labour we behold, at the same time, falling to the ground. The race is far from being always to the swift, or the battle to the strong, or riches to men of understanding. It plainly appears, that the efforts of our activity, how great soever they may be, are subject to the controul of a superior invisible Power ; to that Providence of heaven, which works by secret and imperceptible, but irresistible means. Higher counsels than ours are concerned in the issues of human conduct. Deeper and more extensive plans, of which nothing is known to us, are carried on above. The line is let out, to allow us to run a certain length; but by that line
l we are all the while invisibly held, and are recalled and checked at the pleasure of Heaven. — Such being now the condition of man on earth, let us consider what instruction this state of things is fitted to afford us.
I shall first illustrate a little farther the position in the text, that though a man's heart may devise his way, it is the Lord who directeth his steps ; and then point out the practical improvement to be made of this doctrine.
AMONG all who admit the existence of a Deity, it has been a general belief that he exercises some government over human affairs. It appeared altogether contrary to reason, to suppose that after God had erected this stupendous fabric of the universe, had beautified it with so much ornament, and peopled it with such a multitude of rational beings, he should then have thrown it out from his care, as a despised, neglected offspring, and allowed its affairs to float about at random. There was, indeed, one set of ancient philosophers who adopted this absurd opinion; but though they nominally allowed the existence of some beings whom they called gods, yet as they ascribed to them neither the creation nor the government of the world, they were held to be in reality Atheists.
In what manner Providence interposes in human affairs; by what means it influences the thoughts and counsels of men, and notwithstanding the influence it exerts, leaves to them the freedom of will and choice, are subjects of dark and mysterious nature, and which have given occasion to many an intricate controversy.
Let us remember, that the manner in which God influences the motion of all the heavenly bodies, the nature of that secret power