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SERMON on by leisurely gradations; and that most frequently it is through harsh and unpromising beginnings things are brought to a favourable conclusion. This might be illustrated by many examples :-Take, for one instance, the progress of the seasons. Who that for the first time beheld the earth, in midst of winter, bound up with frost, or drenched in floods of rain, or covered with snow, would have imagined that Nature, in this dreary and torpid state, was working towards its own renovation in the spring? Yet we by experience know that those vicissitudes of winter are necessary for fertilizing the earth; and that under wintry rains and snows lie concealed the seeds of those roses that are to blossom in the spring; of those fruits that are to ripen in summer; and of the corn and wine, which are, in harvest, to make glad the heart of man. We perhaps relish not such disagreeable commencements of the pleasing season. It would be more agreeable to us, to be always entertained with a fair and clear atmosphere, with cloudless skies, and perpetual sunshine: while yet, in such climates as we have most knowledge of, the 6 earth,
earth, were it always to remain in such a SERMON state, would refuse to yield its fruits; and in the midst of our imagined scenes of beauty, the starved inhabitants would perish. for want of food.Let Let us therefore quietly submit to Nature and to Providence. Let us conceive this life, of whose evils we so often complain, to be the winter of our existence. Then the rains must fall, and the winds must roar around us. But, sheltering ourselves, as we can, under a good conscience, and under faith and trust in God, let us wait till the spring arrive. For a spring, an eternal spring, awaits the people of God. In the new heavens and the new earth, no storms shall any more arise, nor any unpleasing vicissitudes of season return. It shall then at last appear how former sufferings have produced their proper effect; how the tempests of life have tended to bring on an everlasting calm; in fine, how all things have wrought together for good to them that love God, and who are the called according to his purpose.
On the Love of our Country.
[Preached 18th April 1793, on the day of a National Fast appointed by Government, on occasion of the War with the French Republic]
PSALM CXxii. 6, 7, 8, 9.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy peace.
IT is one of the infirmities belonging to VI. human nature, that continued enjoyment of the highest blessings is apt to depreciate them in our esteem. This unhappy weakness shows itself, not only with respect
respect to the light of the sun, and the SERMON beauties of nature, which we have been long accustomed to behold, but also with respect to health, peace, religion, and liberty. Let any one of those blessings have been long familiar to us; let a tract of time have effaced the remembrance of the distress which we suffered from the want of it; and it is surprising how lightly men are ready to prize the degree of happiness which they continue to possess.-In the midst of that peaceful and secure state which the inhabitants of this land have long enjoyed; surrounded with the chief blessings that render life comfortable; how few have any just sense of the gratitude they owe to Heaven for such singular felicity? Nay, is it not much to be lamented that there should have sprung up among us an unaccountable spirit of discontent and disaffection, feeding itself with ideal grievances and visionary projects of reformation, till it has gone nigh to light up the torch of sedition ?When government has now, for wise and proper reasons, called us together in a religious assembly, our thoughts cannot be more suitably employed than in I 2 reviewing
SERMON reviewing the grounds on which, as good Christians and faithful citizens, we have
reason to entertain the warmest affection
for our native country, and to put a just value on that constitution of government, civil and sacred, under which it is placed. In the words of the text, you see with what zeal the heart of the pious Psalmist glowed for the prosperity of his country. By the accumulation of expressions which he employs, and the variety of topics he suggests, you see the fervour with which this subject animated his heart.—It will be proper to consider, first, the grounds on which love for our country rests: and next, the duties to which this affection naturally gives rise.
BUT, before entering on any of those topics, it may be proper to take notice of the speculations of some pretended philosophers, who represent the love of our country as hardly entitled to any place among the virtues. They affect to consider it as a mere prejudice of education; a narrow attachment, which tends to operate against more enlarged interests.