Sidor som bilder

do ascertain a legal right to a man's poffef= fions, by having undisturbedly enjoyed them for a determinate number of years i yet this makes no alteration in reason and conscience : for what is vicious and wrong this year, will not be more right and virtuous the next. But on the contrary, If I be deprived of my right to-day, the damage I fuftain will be doubled by with-holding it from me to-morrow; the next day it will be still the greater, and lo on, continually increasing, until reftitution shall be made.

If any of us be the, unhappy children of those parents whom I spoke of under my last consideration, we are to reflect, that natural affection doth not look forward altogether, but hath a retrospect also to our parents and progenitors. Let us then wipe off the stain from their memory, by doing what they ought to have done had they been yet living.

If one may in any case suppose, that men's misery doth increase in the other world, in proportion to the increase of the bad effects of their fins which they committed in their lives; we can in no inCc 2


ftance admit it more reasonably than in the matter before us. And if so, this will lay an additionalcharge upon our minds, and fasten the duty upon us by all the ties which can engage human nature. If we have any regard to the most natural affections of our souls, if we have any love to our neighbours or to ourselves, to our children or to our parents, we must disburden our estates and our consciences, and make restitution.

I SHALL add but one motive more, to quicken the practice of this duty, and that is, the uncertainty of our lives. We must make haste, lest death be too nimble for us. We are but of yesterday, and perhaps may not be on the morrow. Let us not leave it in the power of a fever, or an unwholesome breath of air, or an ill compounded medicine, or the stumbling of an horse, to rob and spoil us of our eternal well-being.

When we defer our restitution to lickness or old age, we suppose many things herein which may not be granted us. We suppose that we shall live to be old; we suppose that we shall die of a lingering fickness; we suppose that we shall be more able and willing to do that in weakness and pain, which we will not do now in our health and strength; and that the nearer we hall be to the linking into eternity, the less we shall cling unto the world; and lastly, hereby we suppose, that in the distemper which will carry us to our graves we shall not be delirious, but shall enjoy the free use of our reason and senses to the last : But the only thing certain among all these suppositions is, that we are not in our right minds at present; otherwise we should not leave our everlasting welfare at the hazard of so many uncertainties. Death, we know, is subject to no controul. He mixeth himself with our pleasures and our business: He is prefent at our tables, and in our beds; and no man shall stay his hand, or say unto him what doft thou ? Let us then not delay what is so necessary to our well-being, to a time which perhaps we may never live to see; and if so, we must not presume to defer it to another day.


I shall only add one single inference from this whole discourse, and that is Cc3

this : this : If restitution must be made, it is better not to fin. For who would do an unjust thing, if he were sensible that he must undo it again, or perilh everlastingly? This is labouring to no purpose. It is troubling ourselves at present, only for the sake of creating to ourselves inore trouble hereafter. It is taking pains to make others miserable now, only that we ourselves may be more miserable in the time to come,

If restitution is a hard duty, it is best not to force ourselves upon the practice of ịt: Not to incur a danger, which we are not sure of surmounting; nor to fall into a temptation, which will be fo likely to work our shame in the conflict.

Let us therefore keep innocency, and do the thing which is right. Let us with-hold pur hands from violence; and our tongues that they {peak no guile. Let us do juftice, love mercy, relieve the oppreffed. defend the caufe of the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Let us not do that to others, which we would not have those others to do unto us; and let us metę unto them the same measure, which we think it reasonable for us to receive from them.

SERMON SERMON XXI. Motives to remember our Mortality, [From a Sermon of Dr. Scott's ]

ECCL. xi. 8. If a man live many years, and rejoice in 'them all; yet let him remember the days

of darkness, for they shall be many. T SHALL not trouble you with the

various renderings of these words ; - which, with a very little difference, do all amount to the same sense ; viz. That supposing it should be a man's good fortune to live very long, and exceeding happy in this world ; yet he ought to have great care, that the joys of this life do not fo wholly take up and ingrofs his thoughts, as to make him forget those days of darkness, which must ere long succeed this delightsome sunshine; which days will be many more, and of much longer continuance, than the longest life of happiness we can promise to ourselves in this world.



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