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less mandate of Death; but the prospect of being united again, in a permanent state of happiness and glory, will allay and finally subdue this pain.
As to the first of the good things enumerated, Youth and Beauty, what are they in themselves? Our very entrance into life, is beset with wailings and weakness. More helpless than any other of the am'mal creation, we are no sooner born than manacled, and bound in swaddling cloths; our infancy exposed to nameless perils, unless guarded and protected by the hands of others; and when, through a course of Nature and education, often irksome to ourselves, and to those who are set over us, we approach to manhood, with all the blushing honours of our youth and beauty upon us—how often do we enter the wrong road to happiness, and usefulness; pursuing the path of pleasure with rapid and heedless steps; till at length, beneath the roses, with which we thought the way to be strewed, we are pierced with briars and thorns, which arrest us in our career, and lead us to meditate and inquire (if we yet remain capable of meditation and inquiry) whether the pleasures of this life, adventitious or real, are not far over-balanced by its temptations, its snares, and unavoidable dangers?
Oh, ye youth of these rising, and yet happy, American States! for whose admonition, instruction, and illumination, the past and best part of my lifp has been devoted, through a long term of years; receive, or rather bear, the repetition of a lesson, perhaps tin.last, of old age!
Boast not, therefore, of your youth or strength or beauty, but in the hopes you entertain, and the resolution you have formed of preparing yourselves, to live a life of future usefulness! and, to animate you in this resolution, look forward to the glorious scenes in which you will be called to act your part; and look back also "to the rock from whence you were "hewed, and the hole of the pit from whence you "were digged."* Think of the steps by which your virtuous and frugal ancestors rose into consideration, and say whether you can find one of their number that attained to any eminence but by virtue and industry in some settled calling or profession. Spurn from you, betimes, the syrens Sloth and Idleness; and seek to come forth on the theatre assigned to you, all energy and action, in the sight of mortal and immortal powers, striving to fill your post with diligence and dignity—abiding therein, but abiding with God! Spurn from you also the love of false pleasure; and seek to make a just estimate of that pleasure, which Cod in his goodness has ordained as the true alloy of our cares, and the reward of a virtuous course of action! / •
If you seek Pleasure, let: it be the pleasure of your whole nature and existence, considered with respect both to time and eternity! And in this view, the pleasure of a rational being, made in the image of his creator, ordained to bear his head on high, and to hold sacred intercourse with the Father of all—is not to stifle the sigh for happiness implanted in his bosom, nor bury the vital principle of action, in the inordinate pursuit of animal gratifications, which serve for little else but to enervate the soul and depress its native aspirations after the divine life. It is not to drink the deadly draught of poison, although served up to us in a golden cup. It is not to dance the giddy round of noisy revel, thoughtless whence we came, or whither we are going! It is not to riot in broad day, in practices which our sober fathers would have blushed to witness in secret. It is not to pursue phantom after phantom, like airy bubbles, bursting in the grasp. Nor is it to torture invention after invention, in contriving expedients to keep animal joy alive, till the palled sense recoils, and refuses the hated load! No, says the wise Solomon, who spoke from experience, and had sought pleasure and happiness through every avenue of life—No says he—" Thou mayest rejoice, O young man, and thy heart may cheer thee in the days of thy youth, whilst thou walkest in the ways of thy heart; but for all these things, know that God will bring thee into judgment*"—yea certainly judgment in another world, and probably judgment in this—For if we take a step among the sons and daughters of worldly pleasure, though all seems so gay and joyous without; yet how different if we could look within! What distraction, weakness and dissipation of thought? What fretfulness, jealousies and heart-burnings of disappointed pride, diming the fair eye of fairest beauty? What incumbrances of fortune; what embarrassments of business; what shame, remorse and painful reflections for neglected duties and deserted families; only to be avoided by suppressing or drowning the voice of
Reason, Conscience and Religion, by a speedy return to the round of giddy revel; till at last health and fame, and the fair paternal inheritance are shipwrecked at their feet—I tremble to speak the rest—What can \ve behold then, but wretchedness complete?— "Ancestors disgraced, posterity ruined! behind, nothing but guilt and shame! and before, nothing' but inextricable misery I What then remains—but that either driven by fatal necessity to rob and fall by the hand of the common executioner; or, unable to survive their shame, to plant the dagger in their own bosom; or else by disease to die the untimely martyrs of their own vices; or sink into a loathed old age, past even the small enjoyments of that feeble state^—the poor abject pensioners, perhaps, of that benevolence, which they never knew how to extend to others'.
Gracious heaven! can this be the real substance, or legitimate issue, of pleasures, designed for rational and immortal beings? Oh! no—ye generations of youth—(and why should I except any age or sex to whom these solemn truths are applicable?) The true pleasures " the sacred substantial never-fading bliss of all who are born into this world—high and low, old and young, is to exert the first efforts of their reason, guided by religion and revelation, to consider for what end they were sent into it, and to discharge; their part in this life faithfully; seeking to prepare, and not afraid to take their departure, for a better; always bearing in mind, that the short and transient now bears on its fleeting wing, an eternity of bliss or woe!
Let no age or condition of life, thrust these serious truths from the heart—Trust not to your youth or strength, ye whom I now more immediately address! Look but a few months back, and consider how many of your age, have in that short period been called to an eternal world; and what a mournful cry would have been heard, what earnest calls to repentance, and sorrow for time mispent, would have resounded through this city, had it pleased God then to withdraw the veil, and permit them to behold their sudden destiny.
Ye sons of Pleasure, ye who glory in your health and strength, who laugh at Sobriety, Temperance and Chastity, who count many days to come, and set Death not only at a distance, but even at defiance— if any such can indeed remain among us, after the late awful warnings—think of these truths and suppose it possible, nay probable, that on some day, not far distant, you may be called upon with all your unrepented sins about you, laid gasping in the burning heat of a mortal fever, and make your shameful exit, a martyr to false pleasure, under the dreadful curse which heaven has entailed upon intemperance.
With the impression of these truths, leaving the, devotees of pleasure and worldly joys among the young and gay, for the present; I shall proceed in my next discourse to estimate the bliss of those of higher ranks and ages, hoping the young also, if they hope for rank and age, will continue among the number of patient hearers—Amen!