Imagens das páginas

The sun

and discipline, these things cannot be done : every man must have his post, and his work, and his time. And the reason is the same in common life : for every family is a lesser kingdom; life is a voyage, and a warfare ; in which the undisciplined must expect to suffer the inconveniences of confusion and anachy. Such is the dignity, propriety, benefit, and beauty of order, that it is from God himself, and shines throughout the whole world which he hath made. rises every morning at his time; light and darkness succeed regularly, for labour and for rest; the stars perform their courses with unerring certainty ; the tides ebb and flow at their hour ; there is a season for every change, and every change is in its season. Even brute creatures all follow their instinct in an orderly manner. Those that are made fer pasture spread themselves over the hills with the rising of the sun; while those which are made for prey are then retiring to their dens. The stork in the firmament knoweth her appointed time; the turtle, the crane, and the swallow observe their seasons; the bees, the ants, are examples of the most exact order and economy. The heavens above, the earth below, the seasons and the tides, beasts, birds, and insects, all instruct us, that we are to live by rule, and be exact in allotting our tiine to the several works and functions of life. And let me tell all those who have such an opinion of the brightness of their parts, and depend so upon the agility of their minds as to think they are above rules, that they are the persons, who stand most in need of them; to reduce their motions to some meaning, and oblige them to a certain time, in doing those things, which otherwise their wandering heads would never do at all. Fluid mercury is very bright, and wonderfully active; but we can make no vessel


out of it for the service of a family. For all such purposes, the solid metal is better, as well as more valuable in itself. Yet good wits may be regular, without any impeachment of their sufficiency. Our great Alfred was a man of wit, learning, magnanimity and accomplishment; but, from his wisdom and piety, such was his self-government, that no man ever lived by more exact rules, or did more business by the force of them. We have seen another character of modern times; not an Alfred, but very great as a man of parts, and a prince, and a general; who made his time of incredible value, and did wonderful things, by the observation of an exact method in the economical application of his hours. It may be difficult at first to live by rule : all restraint bears hard upon

the wildness of nature, like a bit in the mouth; but habit makes it pleasant, and they who have tried it find so much use in it, that they can never willingly depart from it; such is the facility with which it enables us to conduct our affairs; such the readiness with which we transact business, and pass through all the concerns of life. It renders our time of much greater effect and value : a regular man will do more business in one day, and with less trouble, than another will in two. Kings are not ashamed of regularity: the want of it is the mark of a vulgar education, or a weak understanding, or an irreligious and vicious disposition. Where regularity prevails, the cottage becomes respectable ; and without it, the palace itself is mean, unpleasant, and contemptible. Solomon, who is celebrated as the wisest man upon earth, was also the greatest and the most splendid, from the singular order of his kingdom, and the exact economy of his household. This produced such an appearance of prosperity and happiness, and was judged to be the result of so much wisdom, that the queen of Sheba was beyond measure astonished at the sight-Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Where the greatest wisdom was, there was found also the greatest order ; and with it the greatest dignity and splendor. Yea, and our blessed Lord himself, a greater than Solomon, with the business of heaven always before him, was yet never regardless of order and æconomy upon earth. He was exact in observing days and hours, times, places and persons, set apart for the services of the church. When he fed five thousand people at once, there was no tumult, no interruption, in so great a company. They were all exactly divided into parties of a certain number: what was to be distributed amongst them, was given first to the disciples, and from them to the multitude : and when they were all fed, the fragments were carefully gathered up, that nothing migh tbe lost or wasted. This was done by him, who could so easily supply all defects, who could even create and multiply with his word,' for a pattern of attention and consideration to us, in the use we make of the things of this world. After the two examples of Solomon and our blessed Saviour, I can only say, that no man should pretend to be wise, or great, or good, or happy, whose life is not conducted with order and regularity.

All the lessons of the inoralist may be reduced to this short one : “vice is evil, for it makes us miserable; virtue is good, for it makes us happy.” The truth of this is no where more apparent than in our present subject; when we compare together the man of extravagance, and the man of moderation. The Apostle admonishes us, to use this world, as not abusing it. The happiness of man depends on his atten








[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

tion to this distinction: for every creature of God, all the elements of the world, all the gifts and riches of his Providence, all the senses of the body and the faculties of the mind; all are good, as they are used; all disappoint and torinent us when they are abused. In this respect, beasts are in a safer way than men, being restrained by that instinctive wisdom, which hinders them from abusing what God hath given. They pass through life, without having the command of fire, or the use of gold and silver, which are so dangerous to man. They cannot burn their own stalls, nor bring themselves to beggary, by purchasing ar, ticles of luxury or vanity. From these dangers and temptations they are free : some things they cannot abuse, and they are not disposed to abuse other things: but live contented within the bounds of temperance ; and their instinct is an infallible direction for their preservation. They rise when the light appears, and lie down to rest when it is departing ; they eat what is natural, they decline what is hurtful, and observe such measures as secure to them the benefit of health and strength. But man is committed to his appetites, and is subject to the delusions of an imagination, in which causes and effects are falsely represented. He has no rule within him to direct him, no instinct to restrain him; and, if he is without religion, and the checks of prudence, he lives ill absurdity and uneasiness, and contradicts all the ends of bis being. He goes to a fire, not to warm himself, but to be burnt; he eats, not to be nourished, but to be bloated and surfeited; he drinks, not to be re. freshed, but intoxicated; he sleeps, not for rest, but for sioth and stupidity; he spends liis wealth on what will destroy him, and with that unthinking profusion which turns it into poverty. In short, he abuses all

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

the gifts of God, and all his creatures; and in so doing he turns the world upside down. This world ouglit to be a place of preparation for the blessedness of heaven; but he converts it into a place of disappointment and torment; as if it were intended only for an introduction to the kingdom of darkness, where man will associate with those evil spirits, who threw away the glory they possessed, and by reason of their own ill management found heaven itself insufficient to their happiness.

Physicians have a way of curing distempers, by enquiring into their causes, and counteracting them by others of a contrary effect. The method is good, and often proves effectual: I would, therefore, recommend it in the present case.

We have seen the causes of prodigality ; that it arises froin intemperance, affectation of appearance, gaming, love of novelty, of fame, of pleasure.

To guard against intemperance, we are to consider as Christians, that we are not sent hither for a life of .pleasure, but into a world of danger, to be surrounded with enemies, and wrestle with principalities and powers, who are snatching from us the prizes of eternity. If men in contests of little peril, and for objects of little value, are temperate in all thing's ; how shall we be intemperate, who are striving for the salvation of our souls ?

As to the love of shew and finery, how ridiculous is all extravagance of dress, when we remember that clothing was not known, till the innocence of man, and with it his happiness, was lost : that, as sin hath brought death, all our splendid equipages must terminate in the bearse ; and, that as we came paied into the world, we must go naked out of it. This is the real state of man. The pride of life throws a disguise

« AnteriorContinuar »