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to his Creator. Happy, if it were as easy, to affect our hearts, as it is to convince our judgments of this article! Happy, if the heart never appealed from the dictates of reason, and if the passions had no distinct and separate system! A system the more dangerous because reason is present only in the few moments of our attention; whereas the other, on the contrary, always carries us away when we follow the suggestions of our passions, that is in the usual course of our lives.
My brethren, let us act like intelligent creatures, let us form a just idea of sin, let us always have before our eyes this image, which the wise man hath given us, and which is so proper to demonstrate to us the extravagance of it. Let us remember that a sinner is an idiot, who attempts to resist God, who opposes his laws, and who undertakes to counteract him by superior skill or force. Let us seek in a reconciliation to God those succors, of which our silly pride offers us only an appearance. But you love grandeur, you are struck with the courage of a man, who opposes God, and who pretends to resist and triumph over him. Well, consider the path we open to you in this point of light. This Almighty God is armed against you, his anger is ready to crush you to atoms, his thunder roars, his lightnings flash in your eyes, his fire is kindled, and his justice requires your destruction: but there is an art of disarming God. This was the skill of Jacob, who wept and prayed, and said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me, Gen. xxxii. 26. This was the wisdom of Moses, who stood in the breach to turn away the wrath of heaven, of that Moses to whom God said, Let me alone, that I may consume this people, Exod. xxxii. 10. but Moses said, O forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book
which thou hast written, ver. 32. This is the art, which Jesus Christ taught us, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force, Matt. xi. 12. These are powerful weapons, which God will not oppose. These are arms always effectual. This was the method, which the Lord formerly taught his people by the ministry of Isaiah, Who would set briars and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. O, let him take hold of my strength, he may keep peace with me, he shall keep peace with me, Isa. xxvii. 4, 5. Let us not make a vain parade before God of fanciful greatness, let us rather appear in our own insignificance, let us shew ourselves as we are, poor, miserable blind, and naked. Let us not pretend to surprize him with the wisdom of our counsels: but let us endeavor to move his compassion by acknowledging our uncertainty, our darkness, our ignorance, our superficial thoughts on the government of the world, and on that of our families. Let us not appear before him intoxicated with pleasure, but mortified, contrite, bowed down under the weight of our sins, prostrate in the dust, and wounded with sincere repentance. Let us not resist him with a brutal security, but let us lay before him our timidity, our doubts and our fears. Let us conjure him by the sad objects of our frailty and insignificance to pity our condition. These are invincible arms, these are impenetrable shields, this is the infallible art of prevailing with Almighty God. May he deign to teach us how to exercise it! May he condescend to crown our efforts with success! Amen! To him be honor and glory both now and for ever! Amen.
IMAGINARY SCHEMES OF HAPPINESS.
ECCLESIASTES i. 9.
The thing that hath been, is that which shall be; and that, which
HERE are few people in the world, who do
not form in their minds agreeable plans of happiness, made up of future flattering prospects, which have no foundation except in their own fancies. This disposition of mind, which is so general among mankind, is also one of the principal causes of their immoderate desire to live. Some have questioned whether any mortal were ever so happy as to choose to live his life over again, on condition of passing through all the events, through which he had gone from his birth to his last hour. Without investigating this problem, I venture to affirm, that mankind would be much less attached to the world, if they did not flatter themselves with the hope of enjoying more pleasure than they had hitherto experienced. A child fancies, that as soon as he shall arrive at a certain stature, he shall enjoy more pleasure than he hath enjoyed in his childhood, and this is pardonable in a child. The youth persuades himself that men, who are what they call settled in the world, are incomparably more
happy than young people can be at his age. While we think ourselves condemned to live single, solitude seems intolerable; and when we have associated ourselves with others, we regret the happy days we spent in the tranquillity of solitude. Thus we go on from fancy to fancy, and from one chimera to another, till death arrives, subverts all our imaginary projects of happiness, and makes us know by our own experience what the experience of others might have fully taught us long before, that is, that the whole world is vanity, that every state, all ages, and all conditions have inconveniencies peculiar to themselves, and one which is common to them all, I mean a character of disproportion to our hearts; so that by changing our situation we often do no more than change our kind of infelicity.
Of this vanity I would endeavor to-day to convince you, my brethren, and I dedicate this discourse to the destruction of imaginary schemes of happiness. The thing that hath been, is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done and there is no new thing under the sun. It is not unjust to reason thus ; as I have hitherto found nothing but vanity in all the enjoyments of the world, which I singled out for myself as most likely to make me happy, this experience of what hath been shall guide me in my expectations of what shall be. I have reason to suppose that the world can offer me no object in future different in its nature from those, which I have always hitherto found inadequate to my happiness. All the past hath been vanity, and all the future will be vanity, to the end of the world. The thing that hath been, is that which shall be: and that which is done, is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun.
In order to enter into the views of the wise man,