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in the world without it, is, I think, a general and plain truth, and is confirmed by experience, as well as dictated by reason: for although the name and pretence of religion have at divers times been made the name and pretence of sedition and of unjustifiable insurrection against established authority, religion itself never was.
But secondly religion is not only a source and support of national happiness, but the only source and support to be relied on. I mean, that there arise such vicissitudes and revolutions in human affairs, that nothing but this can be expected to remain, or is adapted to the changes which the course of this world is sure to bring along with it. To expect always to continue in health would be a most unreasonable expectation in any man living; and to possess a temper of mind which would be pleased and easy whilst we were well, but which could bear neither pain nor sickness, would be a very unsuitable temper, a very poor provision of spirits to go through the world with. It is just so in civil life. To be quiet whilst all things go on well; to be pleased in prosperity; not to complain when we thrive; not to murmur or accuse amidst affluence and plenty, is a state of mind insufficient to meet the exigencies of human affairs. Great varieties and alterations, both of personal and natural condition, will inevitably take place rich men will become poor, and the poor will become distressed, and this whatever course of prosperity a nation seeks. If a people go into trade and
manufactures, innumerable accidents will fall out in the circumstances either of the country itself, or of other countries with which it is connected (for it depends upon them also), that must check and interrupt the progress and extent of its commerce. No wisdom hath ever yet been able to prevent these changes, or ever can. If the cultivation of the soil be more followed, and trade less so; still, though the public security be greater, the security of individuals is not greater. A harsh season, a storm, a flood, a week or even a day of unfavourable weather, may spoil the hopes and profits of a year. Disappointments therefore, and losses, and those to a very great extent, will happen to many. Now there is but one temper which can prepare the mind for changes in our worldly affairs, and that is the temper which Christianity inspires. The Christian regards prosperity at all times, not only as subject to constant peril and uncertainty, but even at the best, and in its securest state (if any state of prosperity can be called secure), regards it as an inferior object of his solicitude; inferior to a quiet conscience, inferior to the most humble endeavours to please God, and infinitely inferior to the prospect of future salvation. The consequence of viewing worldly prosperity in this lightwhich is the safest and truest light in which it can be seen-is that the Christian uses it when it falls to his lot with moderation; considers it as a trust, as a talent committed to him; as adding to his anxiety, and increasing his obligation to do good, and thereby
bringing with it a burden and accountableness which almost overbalances its value. And for the same reason that he uses the good things of life temperately and cautiously whilst they are his, he parts from them, or sees the diminution of them, with equanimity. When he had them, he was far from making or considering them as instruments of luxury, indulgence, or ostentation; least of all, of intemperance and excess. Now therefore that he has them not, he has none of those pernicious gratifications to resign. Whatever be a man's worldly estate, a Christian sees in it a state of probation, of trial, of preparation, of passage. If it be a state of wealth and plenty, it is only that; if it be a state of adversity, it is still the same: the only difference is, whether he come at last "out of the fire," tried by the temptations of prosperity or by the strokes of misfortune and the visitations of want; and he who acquits himself as he ought in one condition will be equally accepted and equally approved, as he who acquits himself as he ought in the other. We are wont to admire the rich man who conducts himself with humility and liberality, studying to spread and diffuse happiness and goodness around him ;-and he is deserving of praise and admiration but I must be allowed to say, that the poor man, who, in trying circumstances, in times of hardship and difficulty, carries himself through with patience, sobriety, and industry, and, so far as he can, with contentment and cheerfulness, is a character not at all beneath the other in real merit; not
less entitled to the esteem of good men-but whether he receive that or otherwise, not less entitled to hope for the final favour of God.
Having seen, therefore, how beneficially religion acts upon personal characters and personal happiness, it only remains to point out how, through the medium of personal character, it influences public welfare.
Disputes may and have been carried on, both with good and with evil intentions, about forms and constitutions of government; but one thing in the controversy appears clear-that no constitution can suit bad men, men without virtue and without religion; because, let such men live under what government they will, the case with them must ever be this,-if they be born to, or happen to meet with greatness and riches, they fall into dissipation, dissoluteness, and debauchery; and then, if either the experience of vice, or any accident of fortune, deprives them of the means of continuing their courses, they become desperately miserable, and being so, are ready to promote any mischief or any confusion. On the contrary, let power and authority be granted to honest and religious men, they exercise that power without hurting any one, without breaking in upon any reasonable enjoyment, or any reasonable freedom; without either plundering the rich, or grinding the poor; by affording a protection to one as well as the other equally strong and equally prompt, and, so far as human means can do it, or as civil institutions can do it, by rendering both happy in their stations.
ON THE NEW YEAR.
ROM. XIII. 11.
And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
I HAVE made choice of this text, both because I always thought it a solemn and affecting piece of Scripture, and because it appears well calculated to raise in us a train of reflections suitable to the beginning of a new year. The Apostle, we observe, is speaking to converts—that is, to those who were converted from heathenism to Christianity, after they were come to years of discretion. Some of these, it is probable, did not at once change their course of life with their religion, but continued in that state of sin and sensuality,―of insensibility to the calls of conscience and duty, which Saint Paul frequently terms a state of sleep, of night, and of darkness.
The Apostle, in the text, tells them if they did not when they first believed-when they first took up the profession of Christianity-awaken out of their former sleep, out of their negligence and security about their conduct, it is now, at least, high time that