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ing to the opinion entertained of their merit, they can hope to be patronized by others. Hence it comes to pass that young persons of this description often advance themselves more quickly, and act their part more successfully, than others, who, from their birth and fortune, have enjoyed the benefits of a more improved and ornamented education; but whose, opulence sometimes supersedes labour, encourages indolence, and perhaps fosters dissipation and love of pleasure.
These are considerations which tend to bespeak public favour in behalf of the institution which I now recommend. Consider, my friends, that by befriending and assisting it, you contribute to bring forward a new race, who, like those of the same rank that have gone before them, may come in their day, to be beneficial to their country and to the world. It must not be forgotten, that assistance to bring them forward becomes now more necessary than it was to the former race, in consequence of the great additional expense which is well known now to attend every part of education. By seasonable generosity, on this occasion, you may be ripening in secret the seeds of future genius; you may be bringing forward to maturity those young plants which shall flourish hereafter in the land; and which may perhaps attain such strength, and rise to such a height, as to protect others under their shade.
To the honour of the present age, it must be acknowledged not to be deficient in a spirit of humanity. Frequent instances both of public and private beneficence come forth on every proper occasion. In this city, many a noble monument
appears of charitable foundations and institutions; some destined to educate the children of the needy; others to furnish maintenance for the poor, to provide for the aged, or to receive and relieve the sick and the distressed. By their means much timely succour is given, and many a distress is mitigated. The institution for the sake of which we are now assembled, partaking of the same benevolent spirit with the others, reaches to a more respectable class of men, and aims at a more extensive object. Its purpose is to prevent those evils which would arise to the public, from the children of worthy parents being left to languish in that hopeless indigence which throws them first as a burden on society, and may afterwards render them a dangerous nuisance to it. Instead of this, it aims at bringing them into such a state as affords a reasonable prospect of their proving useful members of the community, and perhaps of their ranking among its ornaments and supports.
So good a design Providence has already begun to favour, and we hope will continue to bless. After we are laid in the dust, the generation that succeeds. us may experience its happy effects. They who now contribute by their generosity to carry it forward, will, in the mean time, enjoy the satisfaction of having adopted the benevolent spirit of the Christian religion; they will enjoy the satisfaction of having imitated, as they could, that compassion of our heavenly Father, which, in so affecting a manner, is expressed by the words of the text; words which I hope will continue to dwell, with a lasting and tender impression, on all our hearts; Leave your fatherless children; I will preserve them alive; and let your widows trust in me.
On HOPES and DISAPPOINTMENTS.
PROVERBS, X. 28.
The hope of the Righteous shall be gladness; but the expectation of the Wicked shall perish.
ATTACHMENT to futurity has a remarkable
influence on the operations of the human mind. The present, whatever it be, seldom engages our attention so much as what is to come. Remembrance of the past may sometimes occupy our thoughts; but what for the most part fills them, is the anticipation of the future. The present is apt to be considered as an evanescent scene, just about to pass away; and in the midst of wishes and desires, of hopes and fears, which all respect futurity, we may be said to dwell. As on these the life of man is so much suspended, it becomes a very material part both of wisdom and of duty to attend to any regulations by which they may be properly conducted. For if expectations and hopes on one hand, and fears and alarms on the other, are suffered to arise with groundless precipitancy, and to acquire an undue ascendant, it is evident that they will produce much delusion in conduct, and often will engender much vice and guilt. As there is a hope of the Righteous which shall be gladness, so there is an expectation of the Wicked which shall perish. The anticipations of the former, con
ducted by prudence, and regulated by piety, mislead him not from his duty, and afford him satisfaction in the end. While the expectations of the latter, arising from fantastic imaginary prospects, delude him for a while with vanity, and terminate in misery. It will therefore be an useful subject of meditation, to consider, in a few instances, of what we may, and of what we may not, reasonably expect from the world, when we look forward to what is most likely to happen in the ordinary course of human affairs.
I. WE are not to expect the uninterrupted continuance of any measure of health, prosperity, or comfort, which we now enjoy. There is the greater reason for beginning with this admonition, as there is a strong propensity in human nature to imagine that what we at present possess, is always to remain. When no warnings of any approaching change appear, we are all inclined to look forward to futurity with a smile; and to indulge the hope that to-morrow shall be as this day, and even more abundantly. Hence, in the lives of thoughtless men, there breaks forth so much folly and presumption, so much pride and levity, and often so much impiety and contempt of religion. What is the Almighty, that we should serve
Or what profit shall we have, if we pray unto
On the lot of some men Providence is pleased to bestow a longer continuance of prosperity than on that of others. But as the term of that continuance is hidden from us, all flattering and confident expectations are without foundation. At one period or another, it is certain that the calm is to be troubled,
and the dark cloud is to arise; and how soon that period is to come, you cannot tell. In your health, or your fortune, or among your connections and friends, be assured that some trial awaits you. For human life never stands still for any long time. It is by no means a fixed and steady object, like the mountain or the rock which you always find in the same situation; it is a river continually moving and flowing. Neither is it the still and smooth stream which glides along with the same constant tenor; but a river which for a time may hold a regular course within its banks till, being interrupted by rocks, it foams into a torrent, or, swoln by foreign currents, it lays waste the neighbouring plains. Amidst such vicissitudes of time and life, who has any title to reckon upon the future?-To faults, all are subject; to troubles, all are exposed. As that man is the most virtuous who can be charged with the fewest faults, so that life is the happiest which suffers the fewest troubles. To look for entire exemption from them, is to court disappointment.
At the same time, I do not mean to hold it forth as any precept of religion or wisdom, that we ought always to sadden the present hour by dwelling on the thoughts of future disappointment. What is given us, let us cheerfully enjoy, and render thanks to Him who bestows it. Virtue, conjoined with prudence, may reasonably afford the prospect of good days to come; for God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. Such a prospect therefore he may innocently indulge, if he preserve always that temperance and moderation, that
* Eccles. ii. 6.