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moment ; and will be present with him in their full weight and measure, as much as those pains and pleasures which he feels at this very inlant. For this reafon, he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper happiness of his nature, and the ultimate design of his being. He car. ries his thoughts to the end of every action ; and considers the most diftant, as well as the molt iminediate effects of it. He supersedes every little prospect of gain and advantage, which offers itself here, if he does not find it confitent with his views of an hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality ; his schemes are large and glorious; and his conduct suitable to one who knows his true interest, and how to pursue it by proper methods.
SECTION V. On the Government of our Thoughts. A MULTITUDE of cases occur, in which we are no lefs accountable for what we think, than for what we do.
As, first, when the introduction of any train of thought depends upon ourselves, and is our voluntary ad, by turn. ing our attention towards such objects, awakening fuch pallions, or engaging in such employments, as we know must give a peculiar determination to our thoughts. Next, when thoughts, by whatever accident they may have been originally suggested, are indulged with deliberation and complacency. Though the mind has been paflive in their reception, and, therefore, free from blame ; yet, if it be active in their continuance, the guilt becomes its own. They may have intruded at first, like unbidden guests; but if, when entered, they are made welcome, and kindly entertained, the case is the same as if they had been invited from the beginning. If we are thus accountable to God for thoughts either voluntarily introduced, or deliberately in-. dulged, we are no less fo, in the lalt place, for those which find admittance into our hearts from supine negligence, from total relaxation of attention, from allowing our imagination to rove with entire license, “like the eyes of the fool, towards the end of the earth.” Our minds are, in this case, thrown open to folly and vanity. They are prostituted to every evil thing which pleases to take possession. The consequences must all be charged to our account ; and in vain we plead excuse from human infirmity. Hence it appears, that the great object at which we are te aim in governing our thoughts, is, to take the most effec
tual measures for preventing the introduction of such as are sinful, and for hastening their expulsion, if they shall have introduced themselves without consent of the will.
But when we descend into our breast, and examine how far we have studied to keep this object in view, who can tell, « how oft he hath offended?” In no article of religion or morals are men more culpably remiss, than in the unreAtrained indulgence they give to fancy; and that too, for the most part, without remorse. Since the time that rea. fon began to exert her powers, thought, during our waking hours, has been active in every breast, without a moment's fufpension or pause. The current of ideas has been always fowing. The wheels of the spiritual engine have circulated with perpetual motion. Let me ask, what has been the fruit of this incessant activity with the greater part of man. kind? Of the innumerable hours that have been employed in thought, how few are marked with any permanent or useful effect? How many have either passed away in idle dreams ; or have been abandoned to anxious discontented mulings, to unsocial and malignant paflions, or to irregular and criminal desires ? Had I power to lay open that storehouse of iniquity which the hearts of loo many conceal ; could I draw out and read to them a list of all the imagi. nations they have devised, and all the paslions they have indulged in fecret ; what a picture of men should i present to themselves! What crimes would they appear to have perpetrated in secrecy, which to their most intimate com. panions they durît not reveal?
Even when men imagine their thoughts to be innocently employed, they too commonly suffer them to run out into extravagant imaginations, and chimerical plans of what they would with to attain, or choose to be, if they could frame the course of things according to their desire. Though such employments of fancy come not under the fame description with those which are plainly criminal, yet wholly unblameable they feldom are. Besides the waste of time which they occasion, and the misapplication which they indicate of those intellectual powers that were given to us for much nobler purposes, such romantic fpeculations lead us always into the neighbourhood of forbidden regions. They place us on dangerous ground. They are for the most part connected with some one bad passion ; and they always nourilh a giddy and frivolous turn of thought. They unfit the mind for applying with vigour to rational pursuits,
or for acquiescing in sober plans of condu&. From that ideal world in which it allows itself to dwell, it returns to the commerce of men, unbent and relaxed, fickly and tainted, averse to discharging the duties, and sometimes disqualified even for relishing the pleasures of ordinary life.
SECTION VI. On the Evils which flow from unrestrained Paffrons. WHEN man revolted from his Maker, his pallions rebel. led against himself ; and, from being originally the minifters of reason, have become the tyrants of the foul. Hence in treating of this subject, two things may be assumed as principles : first, that through the present weakness of the undertanding, our paflions are often directed towards im. proper objects ; and next, that even when their direction is just, and their objects are innocent, they perpetually tend to run into excels ; they always hurry us towards their gratification, with a blind and dangerous impetuosity. On these two points then turns the whole government of our parlions ; first, to ascertain the proper objects of their pur. fuit ; and next, to restrain them in that pursuit, when they would carry us beyond the bounds of reason. If there is any passion which intrudes itself unfeasonably into our mind, which darkens and troubles our judgment, or habitually discomposes our temper ; which unfits us for properly discharging the duties, or disqualifies us for cheerfully enjoy. ing the comforts of life, we may certainly conclude it to have gained a dangerous ascendant. The great object which we ought to propose to ourselves is, to acquire a firm and readfalt mind, which the infatuation of passion shall not seduce, nor its violence shake; which, resting on fixed princi. ples, shall, in the midlt of contending emotions, remain free, and master of itself ; able to listen calmly to the voice of conscience, and prepared to obey its dictates without hesitation.
To obtain, if poslīble, such command of passion, is one of the highest attainments of the rational nature. Arguments to Ihow its importance crowd upon us from every quarter. If there be any fertile source of mischief to hu. man life, it is, beyond doubt, the misrule of passion. It is this which poisons the enjoyment of individuals, overturns the order of society, and Irews the path of life with so ma. ny miseries, as to render it indeed the vale of tears. All those great scenes of public calamity, which we behold with astonishment and horror, have originated from the source of violent paffions. These have overspread the earth with bloodshed. These have pointed the affallin's dagger, and filled the poisoned bowl. These, in every age, have furnilhed too copious materials for the orator's pathetic declamacion, and for the poet's tragical song,
When from public life we descend to private conduct, though pallion operates not there in fo wide and, de structive a sphere, we shall find its influence to be no less baneful. I need not mention the black and fierce passions, such as envy, jealousy, and revenge, whose effects are obviously noxious, and whose agitations are immediate misery. But take any of the licentious and sensual kind. Suppose it to have unlimited scope ; trace it throughout its course ; and we shall find that gradually, as it arises, it taints the soundness, and troubles the peace of his mind over whom it reigns; that, in its progress, it engages him in pursuits which are marked either with danger or with shame; that, in the end it waltes his fortune, destroys his health, or debases his character; and aggravates all the miseries in which it has involved him, with the concluding pangs of bitter remorse. Through all the itages of this fatal course, how many have heretofore run? What multitudes do we daily behold pursuing it with blind and headlong steps?
SECTION VII. On the proper State of our Temper, with Respect to one another.
It is evident, in the general, that if we consult either public welfare or private happiness, Christian charity ought to regulate our disposition in mutual intercourse. But as this great principle adınits of several diversified appearances, let us consider some of the chief forms under which it ought to lhw itself in the usid tenor of life.
What, first, presents itself to be récommended, is a peaceable temper; a disposition averse to give offence, and defirous of cultivating harmony, and amicable intercourse in society This supposes yielding and condescending manners, unwillingness to contend with others about trifles, and, in contests that are unavoidable, proper moderation of fpirit. Such a temper is the first principle of fe fenj y. ment, It is the basis of all order and happiness among mankind. The positive and contentious, the rude and quarrelsome, are the bane of society. They feem deltined to blast the small share of comfort which nature has here allotted to man. But they cannot disturb the peace of
others, more than they break their own. The hurricane rages first in their own bosom, before it is let forth upon the world. In the tempests which they raise, they are al. ways toit ; and frequently it is their lot to perish.
A peaceable temper must be supported by a candid one, or a disposition to view the conduct of others with fairness and impartiality. This stands opposed to a jealous and fufpicious temper, which ascribes every action to the worst motive, and throws a black lbade over every character. If we would be happy in ourselves, or in our connections with others, let us guard against this malignant spirit. Let us study that charity " which thinketh no evil ;" that tem. per which, without degenerating into credulity, will dispose us to be juit ; and which can allow us to observe an error, without imputing it as a crime. Thus we shall be kept free from that continual irritation, which imaginary inju. Fies raise in a fufpicious breast; and shall walk among men as our brethren, not as our enemies,
But to be peaceable, and to be candid, is not all that is required of a good man. He must cultivate a kind, generous, and sympathifing temper, which feels for distress, wherever it is beheld; which enters into the concerns of his friends with ardour; and to all with whom he has, intercourse, is genule, obliging, and hum.ne. How amiable appears such a disposition, when contrasted with a malicious, or envious temper, which wraps itself up in its owa narrow interest, looks with an evil eye on the success of others, and with an unnatural satisfaction, feeds on their disappointments or miseries! How little dues he know of the true happiness of life, who is a stranger to that intercourse of good offices and kind affections, which, by a pleasing charm, attaches men to one another, and circulates joy from heart to heart !
We are not to imagine, that a benevolent temper finds no exercise, unless when opportunities offer of performing actions of high generosity, or of extensive utility. These may seldom occur. The condition of the greater part of mankind, is a good measure, precludes them. But in the ordinary round of human affairs, many occasions daily present themselves of mitigating the vexations which others fuffer; of foothing their minds; of aiding their interest ; of promoting their cheerfulness, or ease. Such occasions may relate to the smaller incidents of life.
But let us remember, that of small incidents the system of human life is