Page images
PDF
EPUB

thoughts, sentiments, opinions, perceptions, various kinds of knowledge, views and accomplishments, you take with you, so much the more opportunity and means will you meet with for exchanging your riches against the commodities that others possess, and at the same time improve and augment your stock.

Learn, thirdly, from what has been said, that the wise, the virtuous man, the real christian, whether in society or solitude, is in his proper place; that he constantly carries about him the most copious sources of pleasure, which he imparts to others and enjoys himself; that he every where runs the least hazard of either doing or suffering wrong, of affronting others or of being affronted by them; that he is every where eminently good and eminently happy; and that he has always the means at hand, in his reflecting mind, his honest heart, and his contented disposition, of rendering very indifferent, and in many respects disagreeable company, pretty tolerable.

His trained under, standing finds even there more materials for thought, his benevolent and philanthropic heart discovers there more of the beautiful and the good, overlooks and excuses more failings and follies, enjoys every pleasure and satisfaction in greater purity and perfection; and his temperate desires, his modest pretensions, are far more easily satisfied, than if hé brought with him into company an empty head, a drowzy mind, an austere or envious eye, a misan

thropical,

.

thropical, discontented heart, or ungoverned defires and proud pretensions.

Learn, lastly, that folitary and social life must be mutually interchanged for each other, if we would receive the greatest possible advantage from both, and that the social alone, without the folitary life, can have no great value. In the filence of folitude we should qualify ourselves for the satisfactions and pleasures of society. There we should learn to think judiciously in the christian sense of the term, if we would here speak rationally and agreeably. We should there collect and adjust the knowledge, acquire the virtues and the good qualities we are here to use, and by which we are to merit esteem and approbation and love. There we should form our taste to the beautiful and good, which we are here to cherish and apply. We must there procure our heart that peace, and fill it with those benevolent, generous sentiments and dispositions, which we find so neceffary here, and afford so much fatisfaction and delight both to ourselves and to others. We should there fight against the obstacles and temptations which may here lead us into error or plunge us into guilt. Combine them therefore together, and labour in solitude at the cultivation of your understanding and the improvement of

your moral condition, with so much the more zeal, as it is so necessary to you in social life, that you may be so much the more useful and agreeable to others, and that you may reap again in return more profit

and

[ocr errors]

and satisfaction from your intercourse with them. Yes, believe me, my dear friends, wisdom and virtue and piety, are and continue in all places, at all times, in all circumstances, in domestic and in social, as well as in solitary life, the best, the surest guides of man, the most solid basis of his fatisfaction, the richest, the only inexhaustible sources of his pleasure and his happiness.

SERMON XXIX.

The Value of Social Life, continued.

O GOD, how much more might we not be and

afford to others than we actually are and do ! How much more contented and chearful and happy might we live together than it commonly happens ! How much farther proceed in virtue and perfection! What incitement, what means and opportunities to that end halt thou not granted to us in social life! Every reciprocal office we perform, every business that we pursue in common, and every pleasure that we commonly enjoy, might and should at the same time be an exercise in virtue and an approximation to perfection; every assistance we afford our brethren, every fatisfaction we procure them, at the same time be a benefit and a blessing to ourselves ! Yes, if we fo much more esteemed each other as we might and should, so much more loved each other, so much more readily served each other, so much more closely connected our wants and businesses and pleasures together; if sincerity and affection accompanied us in every society, there animated all our discourses and actions; if we there looked not merely at our own things, but also and still more on the things of others, and our thoughts and sentiments were constantly in unison with our words and deeds : what a source of virtue and happiness would not social life be to us! What a preparation to that better fuperior life, that will unite all wise and good persons together, that kingdom of reason and virtue to come! O God teach us then properly to understand and to use our advantages. Grant us ever more and more to be kindly affectioned one to another. Infpire into us all a constantly greater avidity and zeal to serve and to afist each other, and to promote our reciprocal happiness to the utmost of our power. Grant that we may ever take a greater interest in the con. cerns and fortunes of our brethren, and fo cordially rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them

connected that weep.

Let our intercourse with each other be constantly more edifying, more useful, and the fatisfactions we mutually enjoy, be constantly more innocent, more generous and fruitful in good works. Oh that in this respect the spirit of christianity might animate and guide us, and dignify all that we think and do! Bless to this end the considerations in which we are now to be enaployed, and hear our prayer through Jefus Christ, our lord, in whose name we farther implore thee, faying: Our father, &c

?

6

« PreviousContinue »