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danger is not to be expected in this life. choose no path in which we may not meet with disappointments and misfortunes. Our life, at the best, is a pilgrimage, and perils surround it. Against these perils, the men of the world imagine that craft and dexterity furnish the best defence; and if, in any instance, they over-reach the upright, they consider it as a manifest decision in favour of their plan. But, instead of resting on a few instances, let us take an extensive survey of the course of hụman affairs. Let us enquire who the persons are that, in all the different lines of life, have gone through the world with most success; and we shall find, that the men of probity and honour form by far the most considerable part of the list; we shall find that men of plain understanding, acting upon fair and direct views, have much oftener prospered, than men of the deepest policy, who were devoid of principle. How few are the instances of persons who, by fidelity, worth, and stedfast adherence to their duty, have either lost their fortunes, or incurred general displeasure, in times when human affairs were proceeding in their ordinary train ? but how numerous and frequent are the examples of those whose prospects have been blasted, whose circumstances have been ruined, and their names sunk into contempt, by vice and dishonesty ? The man of the world aims at higher things, and
, more rapid success, than the man of moderation and virtue. But, at the same time, he incurs greater risks and dangers. No calculation of probabilities can insure safety to him who is acting a deceitful part. Amidst the unforeseen vicissitudes of the world, he has to dread not only disappointment to his plans, but the miseries also which detected fallacies may bring on his head.
on his head. He walks on the edge of precipices, where a single false step may be fatal. He follows a wandering light, which, if it fail of guiding him by a short path to the palace of ambition, lands him in the pit or the lake. Whereas he who follows the guidance of integrity, walks in the high road on which the light of the sun shines. He sees before him the habitation of peace to which his steps are directed ; and if he be longer in arriving at it,
; he is sure of neither wandering far astray, nor of meeting on his road with any forms of unusual terror. Let it be always remembered, that the principle of integrity which directs a good man, is far from excluding prudence in the conduct of life. It implies no improvident or thoughtless simplicity. On the contrary, it is closely connected with true wisdom. A man of enlarged capacity, and extensive views, is always upright. Craft is merely the supplement of inferior abilities. It characterises a narrow comprehension, and a little mind. --- As the path of integrity is on the whole the safest path of conduct; so,
In the second place, it is unquestionably the most honourable. Integrity is the foundation of all that is high in character among mankind. Other qualities may add to its splendour ; but, if this essential requisite be wanting, all their lustre fades. Were I drawing the character of one who claimed the admiration of the world; and after I had ascribed to him eloquence, valour, and every endowment that is most shining and captivating, did I add, that he was a man of too much art to be trusted, I appeal to
every one, whether by this single stroke, the whole character would not be sunk and degraded ? An interested and crafty man may perhaps rise into influence and high station; he may be a rich and a
a powerful, but will never be a great man. be feared, and externally honoured and courted; but
; in the secret thoughts of men he finds no respect. We all feel, that magnanimous sentiments cannot dwell in the same breast with selfishness and deceit.
He who rests upon an internal principle of virtue and honour, will act with a dignity and a boldness, of which they are incapable who are wholly guided by interest. He is above those timid suspicions; and cautious restraints, which fetter and embarrass their conduct. That firmness which the consciousness of rectitude inspires, gives vigour and force to his exertions on every great occasion. It adds double weight to all the abilities of which he is possessed. It even supplies the place of those abilities in which he is defective. They who oppose him are obliged to honour him. They look up to him with a secret awe, as to one who moves above them in a superior sphere; regardless of their good or ill opinion, of their promises or their threatenings: like one of those celestial luminaries which holds its course through its orbit, without being affected by any commotions among
the elements below. Such a man is trusted, and relied upon, as well as esteemed, because all know where to find him, and upon what system he acts. He attaches friends and followers to himself, without courting them; and though his progress towards fame should be slow, and interrupted at first, by crooked arts, it is nevertheless certain and sure. The public may be misled for a while, in judging of real merit; but it is seldom unjust at the last. As persons continue to come forward to view, and to act their part in trying circumstances, their characters are at length fully ascertained ; and, almost always, rated as they deserve. How corrupt soever the world may be, they cannot withhold approbation from him whose conduct is marked by uniform integrity and honour. Enemies he will have, but the public favours him; the multitude of men wish him success ;
and destine him, in their thoughts, to every step of his preferment, before he arrives at it.
In the third place, the plan of conduct on which the man of integrity proceeds, is the most comfortable; that is, attended with the greatest satisfaction in a man's own mind. Amidst the various and perplexing events of life, it is of singular advantage to be kept free from doubt, as to the part most proper to be chosen. He who consults nothing but worldly interest, must, upon every turn of fortune, undergo much painful suspense. He is obliged to listen with anxious ear to every whisper of report; and, upon every new aspect which the face of affairs assumes, must study how to place himself in a new posture of defence. But the man of
But the man of principle is a stranger to these inward troubles. His time is not lost, nor his temper fretted, by long and anxious consultations. One light always shines upon him from above. One path, the path of integrity, always opens clear and distinct to his view. But this is not his only advantage, to be freed from embarrassments, by having placed himself under the charge of one constant guide. He is also rewarded with the sense of having chosen his guide well and wisely. He is delivered from all inward upbraidings; from all misgivings of mind, from all alarms founded on the dread of discovery and disgrace. A good conscience enables him to look back on the part which he has acted, with satisfaction, and to look forward to the
; issue which it may bring, without concern. It is in the case of one issue only, that the man who acts from worldly interest can enjoy satisfaction; that is, when his designs have succeeded according to his wish. But it is the felicity of the man who acts under the direction of integrity, that, in every issue, he has something to comfort him. Though success has failed him, the consolation remains of having done his duty, and studied to approve himself to God.
This reference of all his actions to Divine approbation, furnishes another source of satisfaction and peace. He looks up, with pleasing hope, to a protector in the heavens, who loveth righteousness, and whose countenance beholdeth the upright. The man of worldly wisdom is conscious of having no title to the favour of that high administration which rules the universe. By quitting the path of righteousness, he has left that straight road in which God had appointed him to walk. He has taken the direction of his way to himself, and chosen to be his own guide and master. To his own abilities, therefore, such as they are, he must trust; and is become wholly responsible for the issue of his conduct. But the man of yirtue hath committed his way to the Lord. He follows the Divine signal. He co-operates with the Divine purpose. The power which sways the universe, is engaged on his side. By natural consequence, he has ground to expect that any seeming disappointments which he may now incur, shall be over-ruled