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SERMON XX.

ON THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WORLD.

2 Peter iii. 10.—But the day of the Lord will come

as a thief in the night; in which the heavens

shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements

shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and

the works that are therein, shall be burnt up 378

SERMON I.

ON THE TRUE HONOUR OF MAN

PROVERBS iv. 8.

Exalt her, and she shall promote thee ; she shall bring

thee to honour.

The love of honour is one of the strongest passions in the human heart. It shows itself in our earliest years; and is coeval with the first exertions of reason.

It accompanies us through all the stages of subsequent life; and in private stations discovers itself no less than in the higher ranks of society. In their ideas of what constitutes honour, men greatly vary, and often grossly err. But of somewhat which they conceive to form pre-eminence and distinction, all are desirous. All wish, by some means or other, to acquire respect

VOL. III.

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from those among whom they live; and to contempt and disgrace none are insensible.

Among the advantages which attend religion and virtue, the honour which they confer on man is frequently mentioned in scripture as one of the most considerable. Wisdom is the principal thing, says Solomon in the passage where the text lies, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee ; she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. It is evident that throughout all the sacred writings, and particularly in the book of Proverbs, by wisdom is to be understood a principle of religion producing virtuous conduct. The fear of the Lord is said to be the beginning of wisdom: and by this fear of the Lord, men are said to depart from evil; to walk in the way of good men, and keep the path of the righteous*. Man is then regulated by the wisdom which is from above, when he is formed by piety to the duties of virtue and morality; and of the wisdom which

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* Prov. ii. 20.

produces this effect, it is asserted in the text, that it bringeth us to honour.

On this recommendation of religion it is the more necessary to fix our attention, because it is often refused to it by men of the world. Their notions of honour are apt to run in a very different channel. Wherever religion is mentioned, they connect with it ideas of melancholy and dejection, or of mean' and feeble spirits. They perhaps admit that it may be useful to the multitude, as a principle of restraint from disorders and crimes ; and that to persons of a peculiar turn of mind, it may afford consolation under the distresses of life. But from the active scenes of the world, and from those vigorous exertions which display to advantage the human abilities, they incline totally to exclude it. It may soothe the timid or the sad: but they consider it as having 'no connection with what is proper to raise men to honour and distinction. I shall now endeavour to remove this reproach from religion ; and to show that in every situation of human life, even in the highest stations, it forms the honour, as well as the happiness of man.

But first, let us be careful to ascertain what true religion is. I admit that there is a certain species of religion, (if we can give it that name,) which has no claim to such high distinction; when it is placed wholly in speculation and belief, in the regularity of external homage, or in fiery zeal about contested opinions. From a superstition inherent in the human mind, the religion of the multitude has always been tinctured with too much of this spirit. They serve God as they would serve a proud master, who may be flattered by their prostrations, appeased by their gifts, and gained by loud protestations of attachment to his interests, and of enmity to all whom they suppose to be his foes. But this is not that wisdom to which Solomon ascribes, in the text, such high prerogatives. It is not the religion which we preach, nor the religion of Christ. That religion consists in the love of God and the love of man, grounded on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer of the world, the Intercessor for the penitent,

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