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guides, set over the human conduct. wishes be moderate, solicitous about nothing so much as the friendship of your God, and the preservation of your virtue and good name!
Accustom yourselves to an early industry in business, and a wise reflection upon human life.
human life. Beware of idleness, and the pernicious influence of bad habits. Possess yourselves of just and elevated notions of the divine character and administration, and of the end and dignity of your own immortal nature. Oh! consecrate to your God the first and best of your days! When you enjoy health of body, strength of mind, and vigour of spirits, then is the heart a noble sacrifice, and best worthy of being presented to the great Creator of heaven and earth!
But, alas! when the prime of our years have been devoted to the ways of pleasure and folly, with what confidence can we offer to our God the dregs of vice and iniquity; an old age broken with infirmity, and groaning under the load of misery? Though heaven be all merciful, and even this last offering not to be neglected; yet, to a generous mind, there is something peculiarly painful in the thought. And certainly, when the soul is fittest for pleasure, then also it is fittest to be lifted up, in manly devotion, to its adorable maker!
That your souls may be the more disposed to this exalted intercourse, continue to adorn them with every divine grace and excellence.
and excellence. As far as your circumstances will permit, continue through life the votaries of Wisdom; and never drop your acquaintance with those sciences into which you have been
initiated here. But, in the prosecution of them, weigh well the strength of the human understanding. Keep to subjects within its reach, and rather to those which are useful than curious. In your inquiries, never suffer yourselves to be drawn from the main point, or lost in a multitude of particulars. Always keep first principles in view; life is short; we can go but little farther, and that little will then only be of use, when clearly deduced from them.
For this reason, beware, above all things, of valuing yourselves much on any temporary acquisitions, or falling into the error of those who think they shew the depth of their wisdom, by disregarding that sublime system, brought down from heaven by the son of God. Poor is the extent of human science at best; and those who know the most, know but just enough to convince them of their own ignorance. Vain, then, must they be who would be thought wise for despising the dictates of eternal wisdom, and would build up the pride of knowledge upon their ignorance of things of the most lasting consequence. In
my discourse before you this day, I shewed that such empty smatterers could have but small pretensions to common wisdom, much less to the exalted name of philosophy. The true votaries of this divine science will ever disclaim them; and I am persuaded you will heartily join in the suffrage.
Though we honour human reason, and think human virtue the glory of our nature, yet your education here will teach you to fix your hopes on a far more solid foundation. It will convince you that reason, when unenlightened, may be fallacious; and
consequently that virtue, by it alone directed, will be devious. There are mists, diffused before the temple of happiness, which are only to be penetrated by the purer eye of religion.
Hence, then, you will be disposed to seek a sublimer wisdom than any that is to be attained by mere human efforts, confined to the works of nature alone, those fainter exhibitions of the Deity! You will see the necessity of studying his character, as exhibited in his holy oracles. There you will receive such august impressions of him, as will correct your philosophy, humble the pride of reason, and lay you prostrate at his feet. You will be taught to renounce your own wisdom, however excellent; and your own righteousness, however distinguished. You will be made to rejoice in the name of Christian, and triumph in the glorious relation you bear to Jesus, as shedding the brightest lustre round the human character. And consequently you will love to inculcate his holy religion, as a scheme of wisdom salutary to mankind, unfolding their best interests, training them up for eternity, and conducting them to the supreme felicity and perfection of their nature !
Thrice happy you, when by divine grace you shall have obtained this dominion over yourselves, and through the Redeemer's merits are thus united to the supreme good; every wish resigned, and every passion raised to the throne of your father and your God! then, and not till then, you will have truly learned to live with yourselves, and with him that made you; till, after the close of your pilgrimage here, you are finally admitted to live and rejoice with him for ever!
I am now in the second place, to offer you a few plain directions, how to live with the world. And on this subject I shall be but brief. For, being once initiated into the true enjoyment of your own nature, and actuated by a deep sense of God's universal presence, all your other actions will be duly infu. enced thereby.
With regard to benevolence, that great law of Christ, and fruitful source of all social virtue, why should I recommend it to you? If you truly love God, you must necessarily love all his creatures for his sake, and disdain a narrow unfeeling heart, coiled up within its own scanty orb. Your charity will be of the most exalted and fervent kind; extending itself beyond the vulgar attachments of family and friends, embracing the whole human species and ready to sacrifice every temporal consideration to their good.
Actuated by such liberal sentiments as these, you will always be ready to do good and communicate freely your superior knowledge. Your counsel and your assistance, your hand and your heart-will never be refused, when demanded for the benefit of others, and in a virtuous cause. Or rather, you will never let them be demanded, but freely prevent the readiest wish. Modest merit will be the object of your peculiar regard; and you will always rejoice when you can produce it to public view, in an amiable and advantageous point of light.
Believe me, my dear youths, you can acquire no authority so lasting, no influence so beneficial, as by convincing the world that you have superior talents,
joined to inflexible virtue, and unconfined benevo. lence. Compared to such a foundation as this, the proud structures of vulgar ambition arebut rottenness, " and their base built on stubble.” A confidence placed as above, will give you a kind of dominion in the hearts of others, which you will, no doubt, exert for the noblest purposes; such as reconciling differences, enforcing religion, supporting justice, inspiring public virtue, and the like.
To this benevolence of temper, you are to add prudence, and a strict regard to the grace of character and proprieties of life. If you would be very useful in the world, beware of mixing too indiscriminately in it, or becoming too cheap in the vulgar eye. But, when you are in it, be affable to all, familiar with few, cautious in contracting friendships, stedfast in preserving them, and entering into none without the clearest virtue for their foundation and end.
Maintain such dignity of conduct, as may check the petulance of vice, and suffer none to contemnyou; yet shew such modesty of temper, as may encourage virtue, and induce all to love you. Preserve a cheerfulness of countenance, never affecting to appear better than you are; and then every good action will have its full weight. It is dishonouring God, and discouraging goodness, to place virtue in a downcast look, or in things external. The Christian life, far from being gloomy and severe, was meant to exalt the nature of man, and shew him in his best perfection-happy and joyful! When
you mix in company, you will often have occasion to be disgusted with the froth and levity,