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to dwell. But to procure an equal atten- SERMON tion to what is inward and spiritual, is much more difficult. It is not easy to convince men that the soul hath interests of its own, quite distinct from those of the body, and is liable to diseases and wounds as real as any which the body suffers, and often much more grievous. What passes within the hearts of men, is always invisible to the public eye.
If it be of the pleasing and satisfactory kind, they have no occasion to disclose it; and if it be of a painful nature it is often their intent to conceal it. In the mean time, the heart knoweth its own bitterness: and from its being secreted from public observation and concentrated within the breast, it is felt the more deeply.-The spirit of a man will sustain 'his infirmity 3 the natural vigour and courage of his mind may enable him to surmount the ordinary distresses of life; to bear with patience poverty, sickness, or pain, as long as he is conscious that all is right and sound within. But if within him, the disease- rankles in his mind and his heart; if that which should sustain him serves only to gall and torment him; to what quarter can he then F 2
SERMON look for relief, or to what medicine apply,
when that which should have cured his other wounds is itself diseased and wounded? A wounded spirit who can bear?
The spirit or soul of man is wounded chiefly by three causes; by Folly, by Passion, by Guilt.
I. It is wounded by Folly; that is, by vain, light, and improper pursuits; by a conduct, which though it should not be immediately criminal, yet is unsuitable to one's age, character, or condition in the world. Good sense is no less requisite in our religious and moral behaviour, than it is in our worldly affairs. Whoever de parts far from the plain track of sober and reasonable conduct, shall, sooner or later, undergo the consequences of a diseased and wounded spirit.-It often happens, that under the notion of innocent pleasure and amusement, of only following their humour and indulging their taste, while, as they say, they hurt no man, and violate no material duty, many go on for a time, in a course of the most egregious follies, and all along conceive themselves to be, if not
very virtuous, at least very inoffensive men, SERMON The case is the same with the diseases of the mind as with the diseases of the body. They lurk for a time unperceived. The seeds of them may be working within, while the person affected imagines himself to be in perfect health: but at length a crisis comes, which brings the secret venom forth, and makes all its malignity be felt.
In this age of dissipation and luxury in which we live, how many avenues are constantly open that lead to the Temple of Folly? To how many temptations are all, but especially the young and the gay, exposed, to squander their whole time amidst the circles of levity, and haunts of pleasure? By idleness and extravagance, and the vain ambition of emulating others in the splendid show of life, multitudes run into expence beyond their fortune, The time which should be employed in training them for future significance in the world, they lose in frivolous amusements and pursuits; in the midst of these, bury the fruits of any good education they had already received, Idle associates are ever at hand to aid them
SERMON in inventing new plans of destroying the
time. If that fatal engine of mischief, the gaming table, then attracts and ensnares them, their career of folly will soon be completed; the gulf of destruction opens, and ruin is at hand.
Supposing some incident to befal, as befal at some time it must, which shall awaken persons of this description from their dreams of vanity; which shall open their eyes to the time that they have mispent, and the follies which they have committed; then, alas ! what mortifying and disquieting views of themselves will arise? How many galling remembrances will crowd upon their minds? They see their youth thrown away in dishonourable or trivial pursuits ; those valuable opportunities which they once enjoyed, of coming forward with distinction in the world, now irretrievably lost; their characters tarnished and sunk in the public eye;
and the fortune, perhaps, which they had inherited from their ancestors, wasted
idle coinpanions. They behold around them the countenances of their friends, angry and displeased. To the grave and the respectable, they dare
not look up. They, with whom they once SERMON started in the race of life as their equals, have now got far before them; they are obliged to respect them as their superiours, and with shame to view themselves left behind, disgraced and dishonoured.-Can any situation be more humbling and mortifying than this? Is not this to suffer in a high degree the misery of a wounded spirit, when a man sees that by mere thoughtlessness and folly, he has exposed and degraded himself; beholds his character, his health, his interest, sinking in the world; and is sensible that with his own hands, and by his own blind and ill-judged conduct, he has brought this ruin on himself? -Conscience now begins to exert its authority, and lift its scourge. At every stroke it inflicts, the wounds of the heart open and bleed: and though it exercise not the same dread severity as when it upbraids us with notorious crimes, yet still it is the voice of God within,' rebuking and punishing reasonable creatures for folly as well as for guilt; nor indeed are follies of such a kind as have been described, ever free from many
ştains of guilt.