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sallies of impatience which we so often suffer to break forth, in the midst of
prosperity. By a more manly tranquillity and self-command, let us discover to the world, that, as men, and as Christians, we have learned in patience to possess our souls.
PHILIPPIANS iv. 5.
Let your moderation be known unto alt men.
The present state of man is neither doomed to constant misery, nor designed for complete happiness. It is, in general, a mixed state of comfort and sorrow, of prosperity and adversity; neither brightened by uninterrupted sunshine, nor overcast with perpetual shade; but subject to alternate successions of the one, and the other. While such a state forbids despair, it also checks presumption. It is equally adverse to despondency of mind, and to high elevation of spirits. The temper which best suits is expressed in the text by moderation ; which, as the habitual tenor of the soul, the apostle exhorts us to discover
in our whole conduct; let it be known unto all men.
This virtue consists in the equal balance of the soul. It imports such proper government of our passions and pleasures, as shall prevent us from running into extremes of any kind; and shall produce a calm and temperate frame of mind. It chiefly respects our conduct in that state which comes under the description of ease or prosperity. Patience, of which I treated in the preceding discourse, directs the proper regulation of mind, under the disagreeable incidents of life. Moderation determines the bounds within which it should remain, when circumstances are agreeable or promising. What I now purpose is, to point out some of the chief instances in which moderation ought to take place, and to show the importance of preserving it.
I. Moderation in our wishes. The active mind of man seldom or never rests satisfied with its present condition, how prosperous soever. Originally formed for a wider range of objects, for a higher sphere of enjoyments, it finds itself, in every situation of fortune, straitened and con
fined. Sensible of deficiency in its state, it is ever sending forth the fond desire, the aspiring wish after something beyond what is enjoyed at present. Hence that restlessness which prevails so generally among mankind. Hence that disgust of pleasures which they have tried; that passion for novelty ; that ambition of rising to some degree of eminence or felicity, of which they have formed to themselves an indistinct idea. All which may be considered as indications of a certain native, original greatness in the human soul, swelling beyond the limits of its present condition ; and pointing at the higher objects for which it was made. Happy, if these latent remains of our primitive state served to direct our wishes towards their proper destination, and to lead us into the path of true bliss !
But in this dark and bewildered state, the aspiring tendency of our nature unfortunately takes an opposite direction, and feeds a very misplaced ambition, The flattering appearances which here present themselves to sense ; the distinctions which fortune confers ; the advantages and plea
sures which we imagine the world to be capable of bestowing, fill up the ultimate wish of most men. These are the objects which engross their solitary musings, and stimulate their active labours ; which warm the breast of the young, animate the industry of the middle-aged, and often keep alive the passions of the old, until the very close of life. Assuredly, there is nothing unlawful in our wishing to be freed from whatever is disagreeable, and to obtain a fuller enjoyment of the comforts of life. But when these wishes are not tempered by reason, they are in danger of precipitating us into much extravagance and folly. Desires and wishes are the first springs of action. When they become exorbitant, the whole character is likely to be tainted. If we suffer our fancy to create to itself worlds of ideal happiness; if we feed our imagination with plans of opulence and splendour far beyond our rank ; if we fix to our wishes certain stages of high advancement, or certain degrees of uncommon reputation or distinction, as the sole stations of felicity; the assured consequence will be, that we shall become un