3. The Length of Life.

THERE is something strange in it that life should appear so short in the gross, and yet so long in the detail. Misery may make it so, you'll say,-but we will exclude it;—and still you'll find, though we all complain of the shortness of life, what numbers there are who seem quite overstocked with the days and hours of it, and are continually sending out into the highways and streets of the city, to compel guests to come in, and take it off their hands; to do this with ingenuity and forecast is not one of the least arts and businesses of life itself; and they who cannot succeed in it carry as many marks of distress about them as Bankruptcy herself could wear. Be as careless as we may, we shall not always have the power;- nor shall we always be in a temper to let the account run thus. When the blood is cooled, and the spirits, which have hurried us on through half our days, before we have numbered one of them, are beginning to retire,—then Wisdom will press a moment to be heard;afflictions, or a bed of sickness, will find their hours of persuasion; and, should they fail, there is something yet. behind: Old Age will overtake us at the last, and with its trembling hand hold up the glass to us as it did to the patriarch.-Sermons.


4. Shimei.

THERE is not a character in the world which has so bad an influence upon the affairs of it as this of Shimei. Whilst power meets with honest checks, and the evils of life with honest refuge, the world will never be undone; but thou, Shimei, hast sapped at both extremes, for thou corruptest

prosperity, and 'tis thou who hast broken the heart of poverty; and so long as worthless spirits can be ambitious. ones, 'tis a character we shall never want. O! it infests the court, the camp, the cabinet!-it infests the church!go where you will, in every quarter, in every profession, you see a Shimei following the wheels of the fortunate through thick mire and clay!

Haste, Shimei! haste, or thou wilt be undone for ever! Shimei girdeth up his loins, and speedeth after him. Behold, the hand which governs everything takes the wheels from off his chariot, so that he who driveth driveth on heavily. Shimei doubles his speed, but 'tis the contrary way; he flies like the wind over a sandy desert, and the place thereof shall know it no more. Stay, Shimei! 'tis your patron-your friend-your benefactor; 'tis the man who has raised you from the dunghill. 'Tis all one to Shimei. Shimei is the barometer of every man's fortune; marks the rise and fall of it with all the variations from scorching hot to freezing cold upon his countenance, that the smile will admit of. Is a cloud upon thy affairs? See, it hangs over Shimei's brow. Hast thou been spoken for to the king or the captain of the host without success? Look not into the court calendar; the vacancy is filled up in Shimei's face. Art thou in debt? Though not to Shimei, -no matter; the worst officer of the law shall not be more insolent.

What, then, Shimei? is the guilt of poverty so black, is it of so general a concern, that thou and all thy family must rise up as one man to reproach it? When it lost everything, did it lose the right to pity too? or did he who maketh poor as well as maketh rich strip it of its natural powers to mollify the hearts and supple the tempers of your race? Trust me, ye have much to answer for; it is this

treatment, which it has ever met with from spirits like yours, which has gradually taught the world to look upon it as the greatest of evils, and shun it as the worst disgrace; and what is it, I beseech you,-what is it that man will not do to keep clear of so sore an imputation and punishment? Is it not to fly from this that he rises early-late takes rest—and eats the bread of carefulness?—that he plots, contrives, swears, lies, shuffles, puts on all shapes, tries all garments, wears them with this or that side outward, just as it favours his escape!

They who have considered our nature affirm that shame and disgrace are two of the most insupportable evils of human life the courage and spirits of many have mastered other misfortunes, and borne themselves up against them; but the wisest and best of souls have not been a match for these; and we have many a tragical instance on record what greater evils have been run into merely to avoid this


Without this tax of infamy, poverty, with all the burdens it lays upon our flesh, so long as it is virtuous, could never break the spirits of a man; all its hunger, and pain, and nakedness, are nothing to it; they have some counterpoise of good; and, besides, they are directed by Providence, and must be submitted to: but these are afflictions not from the hand of God, or Nature; for they do come forth of the dust,' and most properly may be said 'to spring out of the ground;' and this is the reason they lay such stress upon our patience, and in the end create such a distrust of the world as makes us look up, and pray,'Let me fall into thy hands, O God! but let me not fall into the hands of men.'

Agreeable to this was the advice of Eliphaz to Job in the day of his distress: 'Acquaint thyself (said he) now

with God.' Indeed, his poverty seemed to have left him no other friends; the swords of the Sabeans had frightened them away,—all but a few; and of what kind they were, the very proverb—of Job's comforters—says enough.

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It is an instance which gives one great concern for human nature, that a man who always wept for him who was in trouble-who never saw any perish for want of clothing— who never suffered the stranger to lodge in the street, but opened his door to the traveller,'-that a man of so good a character that he never caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or had eaten his morsel by himself alone, and the fatherless had not eaten thereof;'-that such a man, the moment he fell into poverty, should have occasion to cry out for quarter,-'Have mercy upon me, O my friends! for the hand of God has touched me.' Gentleness and humanity, one would think, would melt the hardest heart, and charm the fiercest spirit,-bind up the most violent hand, and still the most abusive tongue; but the experiment failed in a stronger instance of Him whose meat and drink it was to do us good, and in pursuit of which, whose whole life was a continued scene of kindness and of insults, for which we must go back to the same explanation with which we set out,—and that is, the scandal of poverty.

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This fellow, we know not whence he is,' was the popular cry of one part; and with those who seemed to know better, the query did not lessen the disgrace. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?-of Mary! great God of Israel! What!-of the meanest of thy people! 'for he had not regarded the low estate of his handmaiden,'-and of the poorest, too! for she had not a lamb to offer, but was purified, as Moses directed in such a case, by the oblation of a turtle-dove.

That the Saviour of their nation could be poor, and not have where to lay his head, was a crime never to be forgiven; and though the purity of his doctrine, and the works which he had done in its support, were stronger arguments on its side than his humiliation could be against it, yet the offence still remained;-they looked for the redemption of Israel; but they would have it only in those dreams of power which filled their imagination.

Ye who weigh the worth of all things only in the goldsmith's balance, was this religion for you?-a religion whose appearance was not great and splendid, but looked thin and meagre, and whose principles and promises showed more like the curses of the law than its blessings; for they called for sufferings, and promised little but perse


In truth, it is not easy for tribulation or distress, for nakedness or famine, to make many converts out of pride; or reconcile a worldly heart to the scorn and reproaches which were sure to be the portion of every one who believed a mystery so discredited by the world, and so unpalatable to all its passions and pleasures.

But to bring this sermon to its proper conclusion :—

If Astrea or Justice never finally took her leave of the world till the day that poverty first became ridiculous, it is matter of consolation that the God of Justice is ever over us; that, whatever outrages the lowness of our condition may be exposed to from a mean and undiscerning world, we walk in the presence of the greatest and most generous of beings, who is infinitely removed from cruelty and straitness of mind, and all those little and illiberal passions with which we hourly insult each other.

The worst part of mankind are not always to be conquered; but if they are, 'tis the imitation of these

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