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things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any * praise. By those means, wisdom, as the text asserts, bringeth us to honour.
In confirmation of this doctrine it is to be observed, that the honour which man acquires by religion and virtue is more independent and more complete, than what can be acquired by any other means. It is independent of any thing foreign or external. It is not partial, but entire respect which it procures: Wherever fortune is concerned, it is the station or rank which commands our deference. Where some shining quality attracts admiration, it is only to a part of the character that we pay homage. But when a person is distinguished for eminent worth and good. ness, it is the man, the whole man whom we respect. The honour which he possesses is intrinsic. Place him in
situation of life, even an obscure one; let room only be given for his virtues to come forth and show themselves, and you will revere him as a private citizen; or as the father of a family. If in higher life he appear more illustrious, this is not owing merely to the respect created by rank. It is, because there a nobler sphere of action is opened to him ; because his virtues are brought forth into more extended exertion; and placed in such conspicuous view, that he appears to grace and adorn the station which he fills. Even in the silence of retirement, or in the retreat of old age, such a man sinks not into forgotten obscurity; his remembered virtues continue to be honoured, when their active exertions are over; and to the last stage of life he is followed by public
* Philip. iv. 8.
esteem and respect. Whereas, if genuine worth be wanting, the applause which may have attended a man for a while, by degrees dies away. Though for a part of his life, he had dazzled the world, this was owing to his deficiency in the essential qualities having not been suspected. As soon as the imposture is discovered, the falling star sinks in darkness. - There is, therefore, a standard of independent, intrinsic worth, to which we must bring in the end whatever claims to be honourable among men. By this we must measure it; and it will always be found, that nothing but what is essential to man has power to command the respect of man's heart.
It is to be farther observed, that the universal consent of mankind in honouring real virtue, is sufficient to show what the genuine sense of human nature is on this subject. All other claims of honour are ambulatory and changeable. The degrees of respect paid to external stations vary with forms of government, and fashions of the times. Qualities which in one country are highly honoured, in another are lightly esteemed. Nay, what in some regions of the earth distinguishes a man above others, might elsewhere expose him to contempt or ridicule. But where was ever the nation on the face of the globe who did not honour unblemished worth, unaffected piety, stedfast, humane, and regular virtue ? To whom were altars erected in the Heathen world, but to those whom their merits and heroic labours, by their invention of useful arts, or by some signal acts of beneficence to their country, or to mankind, were found worthy, in their opinion, to be transferred from among men, and
added to the number of the gods ? - Even the counterfeited appearances of virtue, which are so often found in the world, are testimonies to its praise. The hypocrite knows that, without assuming the garb of virtue, every other advantage he can possess, is insufficient to procure him esteem. Interference of interest, or perversity of disposition, may occasionally lead individuals to oppose, even to hate, the upright and the good. But however the characters of such persons may be mistaken or misrepresented, yet, as far as they are acknowledged to be virtuous, the profligate dare not traduce them, Genuine virtue has a language that speaks to every heart throughout the world. It is a language which is understood by all. In every region, every clime, the homage paid to it is the same. In no one sentiment were ever mankind more generally agreed.
FINALLY, the honour acquired by religion and virtue is honour divine and immortal. It is honour, not in the estimation of men only, but in the sight of God; whose judgment is the standard of truth and right; whose approbation confers a crown of glory that fadeth not away. All the honour we can gain among men is limited and confined. Its circle is narrow. Its duration is short and transitory. But the honour, which is founded on true goodness, accompanies us through the whole progress of our existence. It enters with man into a future state ; and continues to brighten throughout eternal ages. What procured him respect on earth, shall render him estimable among the great assembly of angels and spirits of just men made perfect; where, we are assured, they who have been eminent in righteous
ness shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever. -Earthly honours are both short-lived in their continuance, and, while they last, tarnished with spots and stains. On some quarter or other, their brightness is obscured; their exaltation is humbled. But the honour which proceeds from God, and virtue, is unmixed and pure. It is a lustre which is derived from heaven; and is likened in Scripture, to the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds ; to the light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. † Whereas the honours which the world confers, resemble the feeble and twinkling flame of a taper ; which is often clouded by the smoke it sends forth ; is always wasting, and soon dies totally away.
LET him, therefore, who retains any sense of human dignity ; who feels within him that desire of honour which is congenial to man, aspire to the gratification of this passion by methods which are worthy of his nature. Let him not rest on any of those external distinctions which vanity has contrived to introduce. These can procure him no more than the semblance of respect. Let him not be flattered by the applause which some occasional display of abilities may have gained him. That applause may be mingled with contempt. Let him look to what will dignify his character as a man. Let him cultivate those moral qualities which all men in their hearts respect. Wisdom shall then give to his head an ornament of grace, a crown of
* Daniel, xii. 3.
+ 2 Sam. xxiii. 4.; Prov. iv. 18.
glory shall she deliver to him. This is an honour to which all may aspire. It is a prize, for which every one, whether of high or low rank, may contend. It is always in his power so to distinguish himself by worthy and virtuous conduct, as to command the respect of those around him; and what is highest of all, to obtain praise and honour from God.
Let no one imagine that in the religious part of this character there is any thing which casts over it a gloomy shade, or derogates from that esteem which men are generally disposed to yield to exemplary virtues. False ideas may be entertained of religion; as false and imperfect conceptions of virtue have often prevailed in the world. But to true religion there belongs no sullen gloom; no melancholy austerity, tending to withdraw men from human society, or to diminish the exertions of active virtue. On the contrary, the religious principle, rightly understood, not only unites with all such virtues, but supports, fortifies, and confirms them. It is so far from obscuring the lustre of a character, that it heightens and ennobles it.“ It adds to all the moral virtues a venerable and authoritative dignity. It renders the virtuous character more august. To the decorations of a palace it joins the majesty of a temple.
He who divides religion from virtue, understands neither the one nor the other. It is the union of the two, which consummates the human character and state. It is their union which has distinguished those great and illustrious men, who have shone with so much honour in former ages; and whose memory lives in the remembrance of succeeding