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If, therefore, in reading the Holy Scriptures, we might sometimes indulge the laudable ambition of removing difficulties, instead of marking those truths, and enforcing those duties, which are clear and obvious to all; and if we should sometimes be perplexed with doubts and discrepancies, which we may not be able to reconcile, let us humbly suppose, that further light might in time teach us more ;-let us imagine that there is some corruption, some misapprehension, or mistake;-in short, let us admit any thing rather than entertain a doubt, for one moment, either of the truth, the justice, or the mercy of God.
I cannot better conclude, on the present occasion, than by repeating the devout petitions of the Collect in our excellent Liturgy-petitions which are at all times seasonable, and in which every sincere Christian may cordially unite. "Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour, Jesus Christ." Amen.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into tempta
THE Christian life, in our present state, has been deemed, with great propriety, a warfare with the world. Temptations beset us on every side; we are sometimes alarmed by unexpected dangers and calamities, or disappointments, originating from a variety of causes, perpetually surround us.
If we would, therefore, "fight the good fight of faith, and shew ourselves worthy of the Captain of our Salvation," we must add to every Mother virtue that of Vigilance. We must not rely
merely on our prudence, fortitude, and dexte
rity; but, as the Apostle exhorts, must "watch in all things,"-studiously avoiding every unnecessary danger, and trusting to the gracious assistance of God's Holy Spirit, co-operating with our own endeavours, to support us under those trials that must come. Let no one vainly imagine, that, in a world abounding with vice and folly, he has no evil to guard against; that would be presumptuous sin. The holy Apostle Paul could say, "I keep my body under and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away:" and our Lord's disciples, when only one of then was accused of betraying their divine Master, could all ask, in the wisdom of true humility, "Lord, is it I?" Human frailty therefore is not to be exposed to every hazardous encounter; but should be shielded by prudence, fortitude, and vigilance.
"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," is a warning which the best of men may listen to with reverence. From this liability to evil, every individual may listen to the same exhortation, which St. Paul addressed to the Ephesians ;-" See that ye walk - circumspectly;" and thus may we all hear with
reverence the words, which our heavenly Redeemer addressed to his frail disciples;-"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."
This watchfulness, which our blessed Lord and his Apostles so frequently inculcate, should be directed to various objects, and distinct branches of duty, according to the different seasons and circumstances of life. The vigilance of the young may well be roused to guard them against the ardor of the passions, the rashness and errors of ignorance, or inexperience, and the flattering, but delusive pleasures of hope. Those in middle life should beware of the snares of ambition, the abuse of liberty and power, and the eager pursuits of gain; while numberless are the evils and infirmities both of body and mind, that require the watchfulness and circumspection of the aged.
Farther, in solitude, we should all guard against the admission of evil thoughts, of secret repinings, extravagant desires, and the first elements of vicious passions; and in society, we should beware of the temptation of evil company, and the allurements of pleasure. We should check the first emotions of envy and discontent, and indulge not a wish, much less commit any action that might injure the re
putation, or disturb the happiness of our neighbour.
But as the consideration of Vigilance, under such a variety of circumstances, may be too general and diffusive; I shall, at present, endeavour to point out its importance and utility in a state of prosperity. On some future occasion, I purpose, by Divine permission, to consider the obligations of the same great duty, under adversity; and, lastly, in that intermediate condition of life, which may be said to be equally remote from both.
First, then, Prosperity, however flattering and desirable in some respects, is attended with many snares and temptations; and, therefore, our vigilance in the enjoyment of it should be proportionably active. One of its most general effects is intimated by the Apostle in addressing his son Timothy, that of making men "high minded," proud, and vain. The rich and prosperous think not of the gifts of divine Providence as a kind of sacred trust, or talent, which they are required to husband and improve; but consider them as the instruments of power and often oppression; or, at least, as the means of gratifying ambition, pleasure, and voluptuousness in every varied and fantastic form. The