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progress and movements of the social world around us? Good men differ and reject each other's light and countenance, and bad men, alas! agree but too well; wise men dispute, and fools laugh; the selfish grasp; the ambitious strive; the sensual indulge themselves ; and it seems, at times, as if the world were going surely, if not swiftly, to destruction! And why? Only, and always, and everywhere, because the mind is not right. Put holy truth in every false heart, instil a sacred piety into every worldly mind, and a blessed virtue into every fountain of corrupt desires ; and the anxieties of philanthropy might be hushed, and the tears of benevolent prayer and faith might be dried up, and patriotism and piety might gaze upon the scene and the prospect with unmingled joy. Surely, then, the great interests of society are emphatically the interests of religion and virtue.

And if we estimate the condition of society upon the great scale of its national interests, we shall find that intellectual and moral character marks every degree upon that scale. Why is it that the present grand era of promise in the world is so perilous too? Why is it that Europe, with her struggling multitude of states, and her struggling multitude of people, cannot safely work out that great political reform, to which the eyes of her thousands and her millions are anxiously and eagerly looking? Why is the bright and broad pathway before her, darkened to the vision of the philosophic and the wise-darkened with doubt and apprehension? Only, I repeat, and always, and everywhere, because the mind is not right. Put sound wisdom and sobriety, and mutual good-will, into the hearts of all rulers and people, and the way would be plain, and easy, and certain, and glorious.

But let us contract again the circle of our observation. Gather any circle of society to its evening assembly. And what is the evil there? He must think but little who imagines there is none. I confess that there are few scenes that more strongly dispose me to reflection than this. I see great and signal advantages, fair and fascinating opportunities for happiness. The ordinary, or rather the ordinarily recognised evils of life have no place in the throng of social entertainment. They are abroad, indeed, in many a hovel and hospital, and by many a wayside; but from those brilliant and gay apartments they are, for a time, excluded. The gathering is of youth, and lightness of heart, and prosperous fortune. The manly brow flushed with the beauty of its early day, the fair form of outward loveliness, the refined understanding, the accomplished manner, the glad parent's heart, and confiding filial love, and music, and feasting, are there ; and yet beneath many a soft raiment and many a silken fold, I know that hearts are beating which are full of disquietude and pain. The selfishness of parental anxiety, the desire of admiration, the pride of success, the mortification of failure, the vanity that is flattered, the ill-concealed jealousy, the miserable affectation, the distrustful embarrassment,—that comprehensive difficulty which proceeds to some extent indeed from the fault of the individual but much more from the general fault of society —these are the evils from which the gayest circles of the social world need to be reformed; and these, too, are evils in the mind. They are evils which nothing but religion and virtue can ever correct. The remedy must be applied where the disease is, and that is to the soul.

But now follow society to its homes. There is, indeed, and eminently, the scene of our happiness or of our misery. And it is too plain to be insisted on, that domestic happiness depends, ordinarily and chiefly, upon domestic honour and fidelity, upon disinterestedness, generosity, kindness, forbearance; and the vices opposite to these are the evils that embitter the peace and joy of domestic life. Men in general are sufficiently sensible to this part of their welfare. Thousands all around us are labouring by day, and meditating by night, upon the means of building up, in comfort and honour, the families with whose fortunes and fate their own is identified. Here, then, if anywherehere in these homes of our affection, are interests. And surely, I speak not to discourage a generous self-devotion to them, or a reasonable care of their worldly condition. But I say, that this condition is not the main thing, though it is commonly made so. I say that there is something of more consequence to the happiness of a family than the apartments it occupies, or the furniture that adorns them; something of dearer and more vital concernment than costly equipage, or vast estates, or coveted honours. I say, that if its members have any. thing within them that is worthy to be called a mind, their main interests are their thoughts and their virtues. Vague and shadowy things they may appear to some; but let a man be ever so worldly, and this is tru?; and it is a truth which he cannot help; and all the struggle of family ambition, and all the pride of its vaunted consequence and cherished luxury, will only the more demonstrate it to be true.

Choose, then, what scene of social life you will, and it can be shown, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the main concern, the great interest there, is the state of the mind.

What is it that makes dull and weary services at church ;-if, alas! we must admit that they sometimes are so. A living piety in the congregation, a fervent love of God, and truth, and goodness, would communicate life, I had almost said, to the dullest service that ever passed in the house of God; and if destitute of that piety, the preaching of an angel would awaken in us only a temporary enthusiasm. A right and holy feeling would make the house of God the place for devout meditation, a place more profoundly, more keenly interesting, than the thronged mart, or the canvassing hall, or the tribunal that is to pass judgment on a portion of our property. Do you say that the preacher is sometimes dull

, and that is all the difficulty? No, it is not all the difficulty; for the dullest haranguer that ever addressed an infuriated mob, when speaking their sentiments, is received with shouts of applause. Suppose that a company were assembled to consider and discuss some grand method to be proposed for acquiring fortunes for themselves—some South-sea scheme, or project for acquiring the mines of Potosi; and suppose that some one should rise to speak to that company, who could not speak eloquently, nor in an interesting manner: grant all that—but suppose this dull speaker could state something, could state some fact or consideration, to help, on the great inquiry; would the company say that they could not listen to him? Would the people say that they would not come to hear him again? No, the speaker might be as awkward and as prosaic as he pleased; he might be some humble observer, some young engineer—but he would have attentive and crowded auditories. A feeling in the hearers would supply all other deticiencies,

Shall this be so in worldly affairs, and shall there be nothing like it in religious affairs ? Grant that the speaker on religion is not the most interesting; grant that he is dull; grant that his emotions are constitutionally less earnest than yours are—yet I say, what business have you to come to church to be passive in the service, to be acted on, and not yourselves to act? And yet more, what warrant have you to let your affections to your God depend on the infirmity of any mortal being? Is that awful presence that filleth tho sanctuary, though no cloud of incense be there—is the vital and never-dying interest which you have in your own mind—is the wide scene of living mercies that surrounds you, and which you have come to meditate upon—is it all indifferent to you, because one poor, erring mortal is cold and dead to it? I do not ask you to say that he is not dull, if he is dull ; I do not ask you to say that he is interesting; but I ask you to be interested in spite of him. Ilis very dulness, if he is dull, ought to move you. If you cannot weep with him, you ought to weop for him.

Besides, the weakest or the dullest man tells you truths of transcendent glory and power. He tells you that “God is love;” and how might that truth, though he uttered not another word, or none but dull words—how might that truth spread itself out into the most glorious and blessed contemplations! Indeed, the simple truths are, after all, the great truths. Neither are they always best understood. The very readiness of assent is sometimes an obstacle to the fulness of the impression. Very simple matters, I am aware, are those to which I am venturing to call your attention in this hour of our solemnities; and yet do I believe, that if they were clearly perceived and felt among men at large, they would begin, from this moment, the regeneration of the world!

But pass now from the silent and holy sanctuary, to the bustling scene of this world's business and pursuit. Here, the worldly man will say, “we have reality. Here, indeed, are interests. Here is something worth being concerned about." And yet even here do the interests of religion and virtue pursue him, and press

themselves upon his attention.

Look, for instance, at the condition of life, the possession or the want of those blessings for which business is prosecuted. What is it that distresses the poor man, and makes poverty, in the ordinary condition of it, the burden that it is? It is not, in this country, it is not usually, hunger, nor cold, nor nakedness. It is some artificial want created by the wrong state of society. It is something nearer yet to us, and yet more unnecessary;

It is mortification, discontent, peevish complaining, or envy of a better condition; and all these are evils of the mind. Again, what is it that troubles the rich man, or the man who is successfully striving to be rich? It is not poverty, certainly, nor is it exactly possession. It is occasional disappointment, it is continual anxiety, it is the extravagant desire of property, or, worse than all, the vicious abuse of it; and all these too are evils of the mind.

But let our worldly man who will see nothing but the outside of things, who will value nothing but possessions, take another view of his interest. What is it that cheats, circumvents, overreaches him? It is dishonesty. What disturbs, vexes, angers him? It is some wrong from another, or something wrong in himself. What steals his purse, or robs his person? It is not some unfortunate mischance that has come across his path. It is a being in whom nothing worse resides than fraud and violence. What robs him of that which

is dearer than property, his fair name among his fellows? It is the poisonous breath of foul and accursed slander. And what is it, in fine, that threatens the security, order, peace, aud well-being of society at large; that threatens, if unrestrained, to deprive our estates, our comforts, our domestic enjoyments, our personal respectability, and our whole social condition, of more than half their value? It is the spirit of injustice, and wild misrule in the human breast; it is political intrigue, or popular violence; it is the progress of corruption, intemperance, lascivious. ness,—the progress of vice and sin, in all their forms. I know that these are very simple truths: but if they are very simple and very certain, how is it that men are so worldly? Put obligation out of the question ; how is it that they are not more sagacious and wary with regard to their interests? How is it that the means of religion and virtue are so indifferent to many in comparison with the means of acquiring property or office ? How is it that many unite and contribute so coldly and reluctantly for the support of government, learning, and Christian institutions, who so eagerly combine for the prosecution of moneyed speculations, and of party and worldly enterprises? How is it, I repeat? Men desire happiness, and a very clear argument may be set forth to show them where their happiness lies. And yet here is presented to you the broad fact—and with this fact I will close the present meditation--that while men's welfare depends mainly on their own minds, they are actually and almost universally seeking it in things without them : that among the objects of actual desire and pursuit, affections and virtues, in the world's esteem, bear no comparison with possessions and honours; nay, that men are everywhere and every day sacrificing, ay, sacrificing affections and virtues--sacrificing the dearest treasures of the soul for what they call goods, and pleasures, and distinctions.

SPIRITUAL INTERESTS, REAL AND SUPREME.

John vi. 27: “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which

endureth unto eternal life.”

The interests of the mind and heart—spiritual interests, in other words,-the interests involved in religion, are real and supreme. Neglected, disregarded, ridiculed, ruined as they may be-ruined as they may be in mere folly, in mere scorn—they are still real and supreme. Notwithstanding all appearances, delusions, fashions, and opinions to the contrary, this is true and will be true for ever. All essential interests centre ultimately in the soul; all that do not centre there are circumstantial, transitory, evanescent; they belong to the things that perish.

This is what I have endeavoured to show this morning, and for this purpose I have appealed in the first place to society.

My second appeal is to Providence. Society, indeed, is a part of the system of Providence; but let me invite you to consider, under this head, that the interest of the soul urged in the gospel is, in every respect, the great object of Ileaven's care and providence.

The world, which is appointed for our temporary dwelling-place, was made for this end. The whole creation around us is, to the soul, a subject and a ministering creation. The mighty globe itself, with all its glorious apparatus and furniture, is but a theatre for the care of the soul—the theatre for its redemption. This vast universe is but a means. But look at the earth alone. Why was it made such as it is? Its fruitful soils, its rich valleys, its mountain-tops, and its rolling oceans; its humbler scenes, clothed with beauty and light, good even in the sight of their Maker, fair-fair to mortal eyes—why were they given? They were not given for mere sustenance and supply, for much less would have sufficed for that end. They need not have been so fair to have answered that end. They could have spared their verdure, and flowers, and fragrance, and still have yielded sustenance. The groves might never have waved in the breeze, but bave stood in the rigidity of an iron forest; the hills might not have been moulded into forms of beauty, the streams might not have sparkled in their course, nor the ocean have reflected the blue depths of heaven; and yet they might have furnished all needful sustenance. No, they were not given for this alone ; but they were given to nourish and kindle in the human soul a glory and a beauty, of which all outward grandeur and loveliness are but the image-given to show forth the majesty and love of God, and to form in man a resemblance to that majesty and love. Think, then, of a being in such a position, and with such a ministry, made to be the intelligent companion of God's glorious works, the interpreter of nature, the Lord of the creation,-made to be the servant of God

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