« PreviousContinue »
279 you spend your years in pleasure ? then obey and serve God. Serve him with gladness of heart in the abundance of his gifts. The pious man, the Christian, goes his
way rejoicing : He walks in the light of God's countenance, and rejoices in his name all the day. Shall the mirth of the sensualift, or of the gay, or the pageantry of the great, be compared with the gladness of the upright man, to whom there ariseth light in the darkness? who shall not be moved for ever, his heart being fixed trusting in the Lord ?. The former walk through dry places, ever enquiring, Who will bew us any good? but never finding rest. The latter can say, “ My soul shall be satisfied as with mar“row and fatness. How excellent is thy loving-kind
ness, O God? Whom have I in heaven but thee? and “ there is none on earth that I desire beside thee.“ With thee is the spring of life. My flesh and my “ heart faileth ; but God is the strength of my heart. “ In thy presence is the fulness of unmingled, ever“ lasting joy. Delight thyself in the Lord; and he “ fhall give thee the desires of thy heart.”
Those who are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God are wholly insensible where their true happiness lies, and of the way that leads to it. The way of peace they know not ; because they have no fear of God before their eyes. They who are " given to pleasures,
dwell carelessly. They regard not the work of the “ Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.” They have no apprehension of danger, when destruction is at the door. Sunk in voluptuousness, ancient Babylon was thoughtless of the hour when all her pleasant things were laid waste. She trusted to her opulence, to her high wall and towers, her gates of brass and bars of iron. She glorified herself, and lived deliciously, and blafphemed God. Pleasures infatuate the wife, and enervate the strong. Lulled into fatal security, the king and nobility of Babylon, his wives and concubines, were dancing, drinking, revelling, the same night in which that great city fell. In the midst of laughter the heart is forrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness. Luxury, the unfailing attendant on opulence, takes off the heart from God : It drowns reflection, filences the voice of conscience, and banishes all concern for the foul. This country has advanced in dissipation and security as it has in wealth.“ Jesurun waxed fat, and kicked-Then he forsook 66 God who made him, and liglitly esteemed the rock “ of his falvation."
Will you then resolve to enjoy pleasutė, to the forgetfulness and contempt of God—the God who brought you into existence, and supports you in it? to whom you are indebted that you enjoy any thing in life? who, in addition to the outward favours which he heapeth upon you, hath above all given his own Son, to save you from sin and death? Would you banish this God from your thoughts ? then cast in your lot with the lovers of pleasures. Will you join with them, and forget and flight the blessed Redeemer, who gave his life a ransom for you? Will you be thoughtless of your immortal souls, and of all the dearest interests of time and eternity? The love of pleasures alienates all the excellent powers and faculties of the foul from the knowledge and life of God : It makes a sacrifice of the worship, service and enjoyment of this God and Saviour, to the indulgence of the lower appetites-ato superficial, evanescent joys-joys which are foon turned into heaviness.
What excuse? what vindication have you to offer for inconsideration, sensualityand addictedness to pleasures? Produce your cause ; bring forth your strong reasons, to defend the forgetfulness of God, of the Redeemer of the world, and of your souls—to defend your putting far away the evil day—to defend the cry of safety, when fudden destruction impends. Or if such carelessness, indifference and impiety admit no defence or excuse, then acknowledge the truth and force of Solomon's words, Madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go down to the dead.
You see, from the preceding discourse, the various and great facrifices which the lovers of pleasure make to their favourite object. Firft, the facrifice of their time. This is given to be spent in glorifying God and doing good; in laying up in store for ourselves a good foundation for eternity. But, forgetting God and a future reckoning, the men of pleasure fpend their years as though time was their own; and demand, Who is LORD OVER US? They rob God, the author and preferver of life; and rob fociety of the fervices they owe to it.
Therefore, secondly, they make a facrifice of their talents. The voice of reason unites with that of fcripture, “As God hath diftributed to every man, as God “ hath called every man, so let him walk." But the lovers of pleasures, whether they have received five talents, or two, or one, wafte their Lord's goods. They reflect not that they are stewards. They wander from their place, and seek whom they may devour. “ To every “ one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abund.
ance; but from him that hath” no improvement “ shall be taken away, even that which he hath. Take “ the talent from him, and give it to him who hath” improved his talents well.
A third facrifice is their reputation. A good name is as precious ointment. But what claim to this have the lovers of pleasure ? Instead of contributing to public order, virtue and happinefs, they make continual inroads on the peace and welfare of individuals, families, neighbourhoods, and the community. They make no due returns for what they constantly receive from others; but injure and abuse them. They merit contempt, and can but be abhorred by the friends of virtue.
Their substance is a fourth facrifice. They consume it upon their pleasures. They are reduced to the con
dition of the prodigal, who squandered his inheritance in riot and gallantry.
A fifth facrifice is their health. All excess impairs the animal frame. Whatever interferes with proper application to some laudable employment, and the useful exercise which animal nature calls for, brings on languor and disease.
A fixth facrifice is the tranquillity of the mind. They walk in a vain shew, and are disquieted in vain. I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doth it? A constant rotation of amusements, a laborious search for new ones, intense application to pursuits destructive of health, substance, reputation, order and morality, indicates a mind diffatisfied and restless, as well as vain and unprincipled—a mind resembling the troubled sea. They who know no enjoyment, but amidst amusements and pleasures; who borrow all their happiness * from the company, perhaps from the spoils, of others; who are always uneasy when alone, are at great pains, not to acquire contentment, but to sacrifice it.
Not content to sacrifice their own tranquility, that of all the tender relations of life is a seventh sacrifice.Those whose ease, comfort and delight, honour and usefulness they ought by all means to consult; to whom, by the laws of nature and society, their obligations are the greatest-To these they are a source of unutterable distress ; facrificing their comfort, depriv. ing them of all advantages to enjoy life, degrading them from their rank and respectability, and lessening their good offices in society. The lovers of pleasures facrifice every friendly and social affection, public and private virtue. Lastly, they facrifice their
souls. We no sooner read of the death of a dissipated character, than we are told, that be lifted up his eyes in tornients. His good things were all fied-fled for ever! An impassable gulf was fixed between him and bliss. In this probationary state he lived regardless of the voice of God in a standing
revelation. There is no reason to presume, that those, who are listless to this voice, would be convinced by an extraordinary interposition. Sayest thou, Soul, take thine ease? This night thy soul may be required. You may lift up your eyes in woe, and behold heaven irrecoverably lost. Guilty pleasures destroy foul and body in hell.
To what are the above mentioned great facrifices made? What pleasure is there in fauntering days and sleepless nights, in the depths of poverty and neglect? in reducing your kindred, friends, or household to indigence, infamy and wretchedness? in seeing them dishonoured, reduced to the last straits, and pierced through with grief and disappointment, by your means? What pleasure is there in violence of passion, the very common attendant on dissipation? Ye lovers of pleasures, ye neither enjoy the world, your connections, nor yourselves. Your vain and empty pursuits choke all impressions of virtue, all sentiments of order, propriety and gratitude, of righteousness, temperance and a judgment to come. You lay a fure foundation for endless pain. Consider these things, ye who forget God.
What then is the dictate of wisdom ? and what the course which her children choose? Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Put far away frivolous amusements, and learn to be sober minded. Consider the nature and end of every pursuit. Be emulous of order, economy and judicious arrangement in your private affairs, industry in the improvement of your time, and purity in your morals. Splendour and vain magnificence, waste of time, and the abuse of life can never unite with transcendent talents, patriotism, philanthropy, and true dignity of character. Indolence and any kind of profusion dishonour those who have the amplest fortune. Dignity consists in enjoying an abundance with strict virtue, and applying it to the best uses. Thus using the world as not abusing it, there