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flames to which a false and a bloody religion has condemned them!
If this sad history and detail of the more publick causes of the miseries of man are not sufficient, let us behold him in another light, with respect to the more private causes of them, and see whether he is not full of trouble likewise there, and almost born to it as naturally as the sparks fly upwards. If we consider man as a creature full of wants and neces. sities, whether real or imaginary, which he is not able to supply of himself,
what a train of disappointments, vexations, and dependencies are to be seen issuing from thence, to perplex and make his being uneasy !-How many jostlings and hard struggles do we undergo, in making our way in the world !-How barbarously held back!-How often and basely overthrown, in aiming only at getting bread !-How many of us never attain it--at least not comfortably, but, from various and unknown causes,eat it all our lives long in bitterness!
If we shift the scene, and look upwards, towards those whose situation in life seems to place them above the sorrows of this kind, yet where are they exempt from others? Do not all ranks and conditions of men meet with sad accidents and numberless ca. lamitics in other respects ? which often make them go heavily all their lives long!
How many fall into chronical infirmities, which render both their days and nights restless and insupportable !-How many of the highest rank are tore up with ambition, or soured with disappointments! and how many more, from a thousand secret causes of disquiet, pine away in silence, and owe their deaths to sprrow and dejection of heart! If
we cast our eyes upon the lowest class and condition of life, the scene is more melancholy still. Millions of our fellow-creatures, born to no inheritance but poverty and trouble, forced by the necessity of their lots to drudgery and painful employments, and hard set with that too, to get enough to keep themselves and families alive !--So that upon the whole, when we have examined the true state and condition of human life, and have made some allowances for a few fugacious, deceitful pleasures, there is scarce any thing to be found which contradicts Job's description of it.-Whichever way we look abroad, we see some legible characters of what God first denounced against us, That in sorrow we should eat our bread, till we return to the ground from whence we were taken."*
But some one will say, Why are we thus to be put out of love with human life? To what purpose is it to expose the dark sides of it to us, or enlarge upon the infirmities which are natural, and consequently out of our power to redress?
I answer, That the subject is nevertheless of great importance, since it is necessary every creature should understand his present state and condition, to put him in mind of behaving suitably to it. Does not an impartial survey of man,—the holding up this glass to shew him his defects and natural infirmities, naturally tend to cure his pride, and clothie him with humility? which is a dress that best becomes a short-lived and a wretched creature.- Does not the consideration of the shortness of our life,
* Most of these reflections upon the miseries of life, are taken from Woollaston.
convince us of the wisdom of dedicating so small a portion to the great purposes of eternity ?
Lastly, When we reflect that this span of life, short as it is, is chequered with so many troubles, that there is nothing in this world springs up, or can be enjoyed without a mixture of sorrow, how insen. sibly does it incline us to turn our eyes and affections from so gloomy a prospect, and fix them upon that happier country, where afflictions cannot follow us, and where God will wipe away all tears from off our faces forever and ever! Amen.
JAMES I 26.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his
tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man's religion is vain.
Of the many duties owing both to God and our neighbour, there are scarce any men so bad as not to acquit themselves of some; and few so good, I fear, as to practise all.
Every man seems willing enough to compound the matter, and adopt so much of the system as will least interfere with his principal and ruling passion; and for those parts which would occasion a more troublesome opposition, to consider them as hard sayings, and so leave them for those to practise, whose natural tempers are better suited to the struggle; so that a man shall be covetous, oppressive, revengeful, neither a lover of truth nor common honesty, and yet, at the same time, shall be very reli. gious, and so sanctified, as not once to fail of paying his morning and evening sacrifice to God. So, on the other hand, a man shall live without God in the world, have neither any great sense of religion, nor indeed pretend to have any, and yet be of nicest honour, conscientiously just and fair in all his dealings. And here it is that men generally betray themselves, deceiving, as the apostle says, their own hearts; of which the instances are so various, in one
degree or other, throughout human life, that one might safely say, the bulk of mankind live in such a contradiction to themselves, that there is no character so hard to be met with as one which, upon a critical examination, will appear altogether uniform, and in every point consistent with itself.
If such a contrast was only observable in the different stages of a man's life, it would cease to be either a matter of wonder or of just reproach. Age, experience, and much reflection, may naturally enough be supposed to alter a man's sense of things, and so entirely to transform him, that, not only in outward appearances, but in the very cast and turn of his mind, he may be as unlike and different from the man he was twenty or thirty years ago, as he ever was from any thing of his own species. This, I say, is naturally to be accounted for, and in some cases might be praiseworthy too; but the observation is to be made of men in the same period of their lives, that in the same day, sometimes in the very same action, they are utterly inconsistent and irreconcileable with themselves.-Look at a man in one light, and he shall seem wise, penetrating, disCreet, and brave : behold him in another point of view, and you see a creature all over folly and indiscretion, weak and timorous as cowardice and indiscretion can make him. A man shall appear gentle, courteous, and benevolent to all mankind : follow him into his own house, may be you see a tyrant, morose and savage to all whose happiness depends upon his kindness. A third in his general behav-* iour is found to be generous, disinterested, humane, and friendly :-hear but the sad story of the friendless orphans, too credulously trusting all their little