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The advantages of order hitherto mentioned, belong to rectitude of conduct. Consider also how important it is to your self-enjoyment and felicity. Order is the source of peace;
is the highest of all temporal blessings. Order is, indeed, the only region in which stranquillity dwells. The very mention of confusion imports disturbance and vexation. Is it possible for that man to be happy, who cannot look into the state of his affairs, or the tenor of his conduct, without discerning all to be embroiled; who is either in the midst of remorse for what he has neglected to do, or in the midst of hurry to overtake what he finds, too late, was necessary to have been done?' Such as live according to order, may be compared to the celestial bodies, which move in regular courses, and by stated laws; whose influence is beneficent; whose operations are quiet and tranquil. The disorderly resemble those tumultuous elements on earth, which, by sudden and violent irruptions, disturb the course of nature. By mismanagement of affairs, by excess in expence, by irregularity in the indulgence of company and amusement, they are perpetually creating molestation both to themselves and others They depart from their road to seek pleasure; and, instead of it, they every where raise up sorrows. Being always found out of their
proper place, they of course interfere and jar with others. The disorders which they raise never fail to spread beyond their own line, and to involve many in confusion and distress; whence they necessarily become the authors of tumult and contention, of discord and enmity. Whereas order is the foundation of union. It allows every man to carry on his own affairs, without disturbing his neighbour. It is the golden chain, which holds together the societies of men in friendship and
In fine, the man of order is connected with all the higher powers and principles in the universe. He is the follower of God. He walks with him, and walks upon his plan. His character is formed on the spirit which religion breathes. For religion in general, and the religion of Christ in particular, may be called the great discipline of order. To walk sinfully, and to walk disorderly, are synonymous terms in Scripture. From such as walk disorderly, we are commanded, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw ourselves. * The kingdom of Satan is the reign of disor, der and darkness. To restore order among the works of God, was the end for which the
* 2 Thess. iii. 6.
Son of God descended to the earth. He requires order to be observed in his church. His undertaking is to be consummated in that perfect order which he shall introduce at the last day. In the new earth and the new heavens, undisturbed order shall for ever prevail among the spirits of the just made perfect ; and whatever farther preparation may be requisite, for our being admitted to join their society, it is certain that we shall never share in it, unless we make it now our study to do all things decently, and in order.
Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it
are the issues of life.
Among the many wise counsels given by this, inspired writer, there is none which deserves greater regard than that contained in the text, Its importance, however, is too seldom perceived by the generality of men. They are apt to consider the regulation of external conduct as the chief object of religion. If they can act their part with decency, and maintain a fair character, they conceive their duty to be fulfilled. What passes in the mean time within their mind, they suppose to be of no great consequence, either to themselves, or to the world. In opposition to this dangerous plan of morality, the wise man exhorts us to keep the heart ; that is, to attend not only to our actions, but to our thoughts and desires; and keep the heart with all diligence, that is, with sedulous and unremitting care ; for which he assigns this reason, that out of the heart are the issues of life.—In discoursing on this subject, I propose to consider, separately, the government of the thoughts, of the passions, and of the temper. But, before entering on any of these, let us begin with inquiring, in what sense the issues of life are said to be out of the heart; that we may discern the force of the argument which the text suggests, to recommend this great duty, of keeping the heart.
The issues of life are justly said to be out of the heart, because the state of the heart is what determines our moral character, and what forms our chief happiness or misery.
First, It is the state of the heart which determines our moral character. The tenor of our actions will always correspond to the dispositions that prevail within. To dissemble, or to suppress them, is a fruitless attempt,