« VorigeDoorgaan »
head, whose opening virtues are to blossom in a nobler clime; and the “hoary hairs,”, which descend at last to the grave, “ full of years and of honour."
This last scene, my brethren, we have lately witnessed. The same hours which closed the century, closed also the life of one, * who, for half its period, has been the greatest ornament of the church of this land, and who has left to every church a model of piety and virtue which no age can destroy. Over this recent and ever memorable grave, the tears of humanity will fall ; but it is not fit they should be the tears of unmanly sorrow: it is fit, on the contrary, while we stand around it, that our hearts should kindle at those ashes which yet are scarcely cold : that, while we see the “ death of the righte ous," we should pray that our life” and our “end may be like his ;" and that we should think what is the power of that religion, over which the “grave hath no victory,” and to which :66 death hath no sting." Happy, indeed, beyond the usual lot of mortality was that long and venerable life, of which, alast we have witnessed the close : and to Him 6 whom he had made good in his sight,” the Al
* THE REVEREND DR. HUGH BLAIR. This great and amiable man died a few days before this sermon was preached ; and, after the lapse of so many years, I confess that I have still a melancholy satisfaction in being able to pay this humble tribute to a memory which I have not ceased to love and to venerate.
mighty dispensed, even here, no common measure “ of knowledge, and wisdom, and joy." Happy in being called into existence in the most splendid age of his country, in being the friend and contemporary of all those who have enlightened or adorned it, and in sharing with them in the applause and admiration of mankind. Happy in an old age, in which “ his eyes waxed not dim," nor his "natural strength decayed;" and in a death, which, after no long suffering, removed him from the service of the " sanc, tuary below," to that of the sanctuary above: but happier far than all, in having devoted the great powers with which he was entrusted to the sole ends of religion and virtue; in being the minister of salvation to ages yet unborn; and in having established a name, before which all the future generations of man will rise up and call it blessed ! :
It is with this illustrious example before us that we enter upon a new age; upon
that thren, in which we are all to live, and all to die... May He who liveth for ever and ever be our Protector and Friend ! May He dwell in all our hearts, and strengthen all our resolutions, and listen to all our prayers. And whatever be the scenes that lie before us, may we so advance, under his guidance, upon the road of mortal life, that in the “ last day, when the Saviour of the world shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may all rise to the life immortal, through
age, my bre
Him who reigneth with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, now, henceforth, and for ever !"
THE LOVE OF PRAISE.
(Extract from an unpublished Sermon.) John xii. 43. “ They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
The desire of approbation is implanted deep in the human breast; and, like all our natural desires, is conducive to the most valuable ends. A due regard to the opinion of others is one of the strongest links of society. It counteracts our more confined and selfish dispositions, and often engages men in acts of mutual obligation and endearment, to which they might never have been prompted by the sense of duty alone, or by the general feelings of social benevolence. When better motives fail to operate, the love of praise is often sufficient to prompt men
e most laudable and beneficial deeds : and, even when the restraints of religion and morality have been thrown off, the dread of shame sometimes proves effectual in checking the extravagance of vice and folly, and thus preserving order and happiness in the world. 3.
Nor is it only in supplying the want of better mo
tives, that the beneficial influence of this principle is experienced. Even when virtue has established her empire in the soul, the love of praise is her most powerful auxiliary. It gives an additional spring to all our exertions, and often raises us to an elevation of excellence, which otherwise we might never have attained. Of those actions which have excited the gratitude and admiration of mankind, most of the credit has been due to a well directed love of praise. This has animated the exertions of genius, heightened the fervour of generosity, fanned the flame of patriotism, and quickened the activity of beneficence.
And surely, next to the love of God and of our neighbour, the most exalted and amiable motive by which we can be influenced, is the hope of esteem and applause. This is almost the only temporal reward which the virtuous are exclusively entitled to expect ; and it is certainly one of the highest which this world can bestow. “A good name," says Solomon, “is rather to be chosen than great riches; and favour is better than silver and gold.? The respect and affection which genuine merit 'inspires, afford a delightful gratification to the soul and impart to all our social connexions a degree of enjoyment which the virtuous only can know. The enjoyment is still heightened if that respect and affection be as unexpected, as it is readily and spontaneously bestowed. It is not easy to conceive a higher delight than that general good will must impart, which results from general approbation-it is not
easy to conceive a more welcome sound than the applauding voice of Fame, when it proclaims the secret actions of retired and modest worth, and repeats, in louder accents, the grateful whispers of an approving conscience.
To the merited approbation of mankind no well regulated mind can be insensible. The desire of this approbation is one of the most valuable principles in our nature. “ It is a flame lighted up by Heaven," which cannot be extinguished without the utter degradation of all that is great in human character,--a flame that burns with the greatest ardour in the most enlarged and elevated minds.
To cherish this love of praise, therefore, is not only allowable, but necessary. It is not only a propensity which we are permitted to indulge it is a talent which we are bound to cultivate.
It appears the more necessary to enlarge upon this subject, because the love of praise is often disparaged as one of the infirmities of our nature. It is acknowledged, indeed, to be “the infirmity of noble minds"_but still it is represented as an infirmity, which obscures the lustre of the brightest perfections, and tends equally to impair our excellence and our happiness. To allow our sentiments to be influenced, and our conduct to be regulated, by the opinion of beings frail and fallible as ourselves, is considered a mean and cowardly resignation of the privileges of reason, alike repugnant to wisdom and to duty. Now, we most readily acknowledge,