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recommend, that, for these reasons, he who studies tranquillity should retire from all public business, and forsake the haunts of men. This were the retreat of a monk, not of a good and a wise man. a
Tranquillity were too dearly purchased by the neglect of those duties which belong to a man and a Christian. Nor indeed in absolute seclusion from the world, is tranquillity ever found. On the contrary, when the human mind is cut off from those employments for which it was designed by nature and Providence, it preys on itself, and engenders its own misery. Tranquillity is always most likely to be attained, when the business of the world is tempered with thoughtful and serious retreat. Commune with your hearts on your bed, and be still. Leaving this world to itself, let there be seasons which you devote to yourselves, and to God. Reflection and meditation allay the workings of many unquiet passions; and places us at a distance from the tumults of the world. When the mind has either been ruffled or cast down, an intercourse with God and heaven we find a sanctuary to which we can retreat. In the hours of contemplation and devotion, a good man enjoys himself in peace. He beholds nobler objects than what worldly men can behold. He assumes a higher character. He listens to the voice of nature and of God; and from this holy sanctuary comes forth with a mind fortified against the little disturbances of the world. Such habits, therefore, cannot be too much recommended to the lovers of tranquillity, as powerful subsidiary means far attaining that happy state.
I HAVE thus pointed out what appears to me the discipline of religion and wisdom for tranquillity of mind. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. During the early periods of life, vivid sensations of pleasure are the sole objects thought worthy of pursuit. Mere ease and calmness are despised, as the portion of the aged only and the feeble. Some longer acquaintance with the world, with its disappointed hopes and fallacious pleasures, teaches almost all men, by degrees, to wish for tranquillity and peace. But you must not imagine that these are blessings which will drop on men of their own accord as soon as they begin to desire them. No: the thoughtless and the profligate will ever remain strangers to them. They will remain the sport of every accident that occurs to derange their minds, and disturb their life. The three great enemies to tranquillity are, Vice, Superstition, and Idleness: Vice, which poisons and disturbs the mind with bad passions : Superstition, which fills it with imaginary terrors: Idleness, which loads it with tediousness and disgust. It is only by following the path which eternal wisdom has pointed out, that we can arrive at the blessed temple of tranquillity, and obtain a station there: By doing, or at least, endeavouring to do, our duty to God and man; by acquiring a humble trust in the mercy and favour of God through Jesus Christ; by cultivating our minds, and properly employing our time and thoughts; by governing our passions and our temper; by correcting all unreasonable expectations from the world and from men; and, in the midst of worldly business, habituating ourselves to calm retreat and serious recollection, By such means as these, it hoped, that, through the Divine blessing, our days
shall flow in a stream as unruffled as the human state admits. The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. But the work of righteousness is peace; and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever.
On the MISFORTUNES of Men being chargeable
PROVERBS, xix. 3.
The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his
heart fretteth against the Lord.
How many complaints do we hear from every
quarter, of the misery and distress that fill the world ? In these the high and the low, the young and the aged, join; and since the beginning of time no topic has been more fertile of declamation than the vanity and vexation which man is appointed to suffer. But are we certain that this vexation, and this vanity, is altogether to be ascribed to the appointment of Heaven? Is there no ground to suspect that man himself is the chief and immediate author of his own sufferings ? What the text plainly suggests is, that it is common for men to complain groundlessly of Providence; that they are prone to accuse God for the evils of life, when in reason they ought to accuse themselves; and that after their foolishness hath perverted their way, and made them undergo the consequences of their own misconduct, they impiously fret in heart against the Lord. This is the doctrine which I now propose to illustrate, in order to silence the sceptic, and to check a repining and irreligious spirit. I shall for this end make
some observations, first, on the external, and next, upon the internal, condition of man, and then conclude with such serious and useful improvement as the subject will naturally suggest.
1. Let us consider the external condition of man. We find him placed in a world where he has by no means the disposal of the events that happen. Calamities sometimes befal the worthiest and the best, which it is not in their power to prevent, and where nothing is left them, but to acknowledge and to submit to the high hand of Heaven. For such visitations of trial, many good and wise reasons can be assigned, which the present subject leads me not to discuss. But though those unavoidable calamities make a part, yet they make not the chief part, of the vexations and sorrows that distress human life. A multitude of evils beset us, for the source of which we must look to another quarter. – No sooner has
any thing in the health, or in the circumstances of men, gone cross to their wish, than they begin to talk of the unequal distribution of the good things of this life; they envy the condition of others; they
; repine at their own lot, and fret against the Ruler of the world.
Full of these sentiments, one man pines under a broken constitution. But let us ask him, whether we can, fairly and honestly, assign no cause for this but the unknown decree of Heaven. Has he duly, valued the blessing of health, and always observed the rules of virtue and sobriety? Has he been moderate in his life, and temperate in all his pleasures? If now he be only paying the price of his former, perhaps his forgotten indulgences, has he any title to