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SERMON

XII.

On a Life of Dissipation and Pleasure.

PROVERBS, xiv. 13.

XII.

Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful ;

and the end of that mirth is heaviness. PAINS AINS and sorrows occur so frequently SERMON

in human life, that it is not surprising that the multitude of men should eagerly court scenes of pleasure and joy. It is natural to seek relief from our cares, by whatever promises to substitute hours of gladness in the place of anxiety and trouble. But we have much reason to beware, lest a rash or unwary pursuit of pleasure defeat its'end, lest the attempt to carry plea. sure too far, tend, in the issue, to sink us into misery. There is a way, says the wise man in the verse preceding the Text, which

seeineth

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XII.

SERMON seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof

are the ways of death. There is a certain
course of life which a man may have chosen
to adopt, as leading to gladness and en-
joyment; but which he shall find at last
to be destructive of his happiness : for all
is not real gladness, which has the appear-
ance of being such. There is a laughter, in
the midst of which the heart is sorrowful ;
and a mirth, the end whereof is heaviness.

From serious admonitions of this kind
given in Scripture, it would be very unjust
to infer, that religion is an enemy to all
mirth and gaiety. It circumscribes our en-
joyments, indeed, within the bounds of
temperance; but, as far as this sacred limit
permits, it gives free scope to all the grati-
fications of life. It even heightens their
relish to a virtuous man. It enlivens his
cheerfulness, and allows him to enjoy with
satisfaction all that prosperity affords him.
The text is applicable only to that set of
men to whom temperance is no restraint;
who propose to themselves the unlimited
enjoyment of amusement and pleasure in
all their forms, as the sole object and busi-

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ness of life.

Such

XI.

of man.

Such persons, too frequently to be met SERMON. with in the age wherein we live, have utterly mistaken the nature and condition

From the participation of pleasure, as I just now observed, he is far from being excluded.

But let him remember, that a mediocrity only of enjoyment is allowed him, for his portion on earth. He is placed in a world, where, whatever his rank or station be, a certain part is allotted him to act;, there are duties which are required of him; there are serious cares which must employ his mind, how to perform properly the various offices of life, and to fill up the place which belongs to him in society.—He who, laying aside all thoughts and cares of this kind, finding himself in the possession of easy or affluent fortune, and in the bloom of life, says within himself, “ What have I to do, “ but to seek out every pleasure and amuse

ment which the world can afford me? « Let others toil in the common walks of « life, who have to make their fortanes by « sober and dull application. But to me “ labour is superfluous, the world is open. • Wherever amusement invites, or pleasure

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calls,

SERMON

XII.

calls, there I go. By passing my days “ and nights in whatever can entertain my

fancy or gratify my senses, life shall, " to me, be rendered delightful.”—He, I say, who thinks thus, vainly endeavours to counteract the intention of nature, and the decree of Providence. He attempts to render his state on earth, what it was never designed to be. He might as well expect that the physical laws of nature should be altered on his account; and that, instead of being confined to walk like ordinary men on the ground, he should obtain the privilege of treading on the air, as expect to enjoy a state of perpetual pleasure, by devoting himself to pleasure wholly, and setting aside all the serious cares and duties of life. Troubles, he may be well assured, are prepared for him, and await him. Where he expected satisfaction, he shall meet with disappointment; and in him shall be verified the saying in the Text, that even in laughter the beart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness. But lest, to persons of this description, such general reasoning, from the established constitution of Providence, may not be satis,

factory

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factory, I proceed to show them how clearly SERMON it is confirmed by facts. For this purpose let us observe,

XII.

In the first place, the obvious consequences of a life of pleasure and dissipation, to health, fortune, and character. To each of these, it is an enemy, precisely according to the degree to which it is carried. Character is soon affected by it. As the man of dissipation often makes his

appearance in public, his course is marked, and his character is quickly decided, by general opinion, according to the line which he is observed to pursue. By frivolity and levity, he dwindles into insignificance. By vicious excesses, or criminal pleasures, he incurs disapprobation or contempt. The fair prospects which his friends had once entertained of him die away, in proportion as his idleness or extravagance grows; and the only hope which remains is, that some fortunate incident may occur to check his career, and reclaim him to a better mind. In the mean time, the respectable and the grave smile at his follies, and avoid his company. In the midst of some fashionable assemblies

he

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