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All these chagrins and disquietudes are happily avoided by him who keeps so troublesomê a passion within its due bounds ; who is more desirous of being truly worthy, than of being thought so ; who pursues the praise of the world with manly temperance, and in subordination to the praise of God. He is neither made giddy by the intoxicating vapour of applause, nor humbled and cast down by the unmerited attacks of censure. Resting on a higher approbation, he enjoys himself in peace, whether human praise stays with him or flies away.
With me it is a small thing to be judged of you, or of man's judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord. My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.
In the fifth and last place, The advantages which redound from the praise of men, are not such as can bear to be put in competition with those which flow from the praise of God. The former are necessarily confined within the verge of our present existence. The latter follow us beyond the grave, and extend through all eternity. Not only is the praise of man limited in its effects to this life, but also to particular situations of it. In the days of health and ease, it may brighten the sunshine of prosperity. It may then soothe the ear with pleasing accents, and gratify the inagination with fancied triumphs. But when the distressful seasons of life arrive, it will be found altogether hollow and unsubstantial ; And surely the value of any possession is to be chiefly estimated by the relief which it can bring us, in the time of our greatest need. When the mind is cast down with sorrow and grief, when sickness spreads its gloom around us, or death rises in awful prospect to our view, the opinion and the discourses of the world will appear trifling and insignificant. To one who is occupied with nearer and more affecting interests, the praise or the censure of the world will seem like the noise of distant voices, in which he has small concern. But then is the season when the praise of God supports and upholds the labouring soul. Brought home to the heart by the testimony of a good conscience, and by the divine Spirit bearing witness with our spirits, it inspires fortitude, and produces a peace which passeth understanding.
At present, we behold an irregular and disordered state of things. Virtue is often deprived of its proper honours, and yice usurps them in its stead. The characters of men are mistaken ; and ignorance and folly dispose of
human applause. But the day hastens apace; which shall close this scene of errors, and vindicate the rights of justice and truth. Then shall be rendered to every man according to his works. Envy shall no longer have the power of obscuring merit, nor popular prejudices be able to support the undeserving. Hidden worth shall be brought to light, and secret crimes revealed. Many who passed through the world in the silent obscurity of humble but steady goodness, shall be distinguished as the favourites of Heaven ; while the proud, the ambitious, and the vain, are left to everlasting dishonour. Judge hath declared, that whosoever hath been ashamed of him and of his words, of that man shall he be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with aŭ the holy angels. Every departure from duty shall, at the period of final retribution, terminate in ignominy. True honour and true virtue shall be seen to coincide; and when all human fame has passed away like smoke, the only praise which shall be for ever remembered, is that divine testimony, Well done, thou good and faithful servant ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
These arguments clearly show the importance of preserving the love of praise under proper subordination to the principle of duty.
In itself, it is an useful motive to action ; but when allowed to extend its influence too far, it corrupts the whole character, and produces guilt, disgrace, and misery. To be entirely destitute of it, is a defect. To be governed by it, is depravity. The proper adjustment of the several principles of action in human nature, is a matter that deserves our highest attention. For when any one of them becomes either too weak or too strong, it endangers both our virtue and our happiness. Keep thy heart therefore with all diligence ; pray that God would enable thee to keep it with success; for out of the heart are the issues of life.
ON THE PROPER ESTIMATE OF HUMAN LIFE.
ECCLESIASTES, xii. 8.
Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, all is
No serious maxim has been more generally adopted than that of the text.
In every age, the vanity of human life has been the theme of declamation, and the subject of complaint. It is a conclusion in which men of all characters and ranks, the high and the low, the young and the old, the religious and the worldly, have more frequently concurred than in any other. But how just soever the conclusion may be, the premises which lead to