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When made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights were appointed to him, still he possessed his soul in patience, and declares in the consciousness of determined integrity, my righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. 11 Such is the resolution which, considered in the most comprehensive sense of the words, should be formed by every Christian, and attended to through the different circumstances of prosperity and adversity. For to hold fast our righteousness under the distresses of misfortune, or afflictions of whatever kind, does not perhaps require greater fortitude or attention, than are necessary in the luxury of affluence, or the carelessness of ease. по
When life looks gay around us, when every appetite is summoned to enjoyment, and every sense invited by its object of gratification, we rarely give admittance to serious considerations. Every thought that might interrupt us in the pursuit of pleasure is industriously avoided, and the delightful present robs the future of our care. 100P
Like the traveller, who, charmed with the flowery prospects that surround him, sits down forgetful of his destination, we are apt
to lose ourselves in the pleasing scenes of this life, and, while we enjoy the manna, we neglect the promised land.
To continue inflexible to the importunity of the passions, and to resist the solicitations of vice, when she bears before her the bewitching mask of pleasure, is a task to which we should summon all our fortitude. If every avenue is not watched with the utmost attention, and defended with the strongest guard, the vigilant enemy will have the advantage.
It would be superfluous to urge the necessity of this care. If we look around us, what numbers shall we see whó, overcome by the intoxication of sensual enjoyments, have fallen from their integrity! irresistibly borne away on the licentious tide of pleasure, or amused with the dreams of delusive vanity!
To retain our innocence in such a general corruption, when the influence of example and the tyranny of fashion reconcile us to the deformity of vice, and almost enforce compliance, requires no inferior degree of resolution. : The world is still so imperceptibly insinuating itself into our esteem, by a thousand stratagems which we cannot be aware of, that no
circumspection can be too minute if we would still hold fast our righteousness, and keep our virtue untainted.
However, to take an impartial estimate of the most flattering pleasures that this life can afford; “ to divest the gay phantom of tem"poral happiness, of that 'false lustré and “ ornament in which the pride, the passions, " and the follies of men have dressed her
up, would, perhaps, be the most effectual method to secure ourselves against her charms. Compared with the purity of virtue, and the valuable consideration of future happiness, all secular delights will appear but as the dust of the balance.
Thus necessary is the care of our righteousness, so far as it includes the virtues of temperance and sobriety; nor ought we to be less diligent in preserving it untainted in its other significations, particularly as it implies moral justice.
To observe strict equity in all our connections, sincerity in our professions, and humanity and moderation in every circumstance of life, requires a constant guard over our passions, and an unremitting attention to the laws of rectitude.
Self-love is so very active and industrious in our service, that unless we keep a constant
eye upon her, and direct all her motions, she will be imperceptibly encroaching on the properties of others.
Pride, which is likewise the gift of nature, and necessary as self-love, of which every man is possessed in a greater or a less degree, if not diligently attended to, and kept within its proper sphere, will betray us into censoriousness, insolence, or cruelty:
Emulation, if not duly restrained, will in the consequence be
envy; and even humanity itself insult with the kindness it confers.
Nothing is more true than that the heart may be deceived into vice by the appearance of virtue. Short-sighted creatures as we are, we can seldom foresee to what bounds the most innocent pursuits, when indulged, may lead us; nor are we apprehensive through what different directions a quality apparently good may tend to wickedness. It is necessary, therefore, that we should keep a strict guard over our conduct, and over the habit of our minds; that we should examine impartially the principles from which we act, and the tendency of the action; and that, under every circumstance, we should be cautious lest the prevalence of private passions should interfere with the practice of the social duties.
The necessity of this minute attention must
be obvious to every man who has made the least acquaintance with his own heart, and who wishes that it may not reproach him so long as he shall live.
The last mentioned circumstance is, indeed, of all others the most desirable ; for on the approbation of our own hearts depends all our quiet, all our happiness in this world.
He whose heart will not bear witness to the integrity of his conduct, must never know what it is to be truly at ease. Should the endeavours he uses to soothe and silence the remonstrances of his conscience, unfortunately for him, prove successful in that respect, yet he can never know that sensible, that home-felt pleasure, which is the inseparable attendant of a heart that is pure..
Behold here the happiness of virtue in the most essential respect! When the glories of that felicity, of which this world gave a promise, vanish away; when temporal hopes are gone, and distress and misfortune make their irresistible inroads, then it is that the conscious mind, secure in itself, and perfectly reconciled to its own reflections, affords a support that is, adequate to every transient evil.
This it was which sustained the afflicted patriarch under the greatest distresses that