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last waves to our shores, let them shew to the foe as impenetrable a front, as the rocks of our land to the storms of the ocean.
And Thou, O God of Nations, and Lord of every host, "without whom nothing is strong, and "nothing is holy," if it is with such views that thy people of this land now assemble before Thee; -if they are, indeed, armed in defence of Thy eternal laws, and in the cause of the everlasting gospel ;-if Thou hast called them to be the instruments of thy Providence for the future welfare of mankind, let thy spirit go forth with them, which of old went forth with the brave and the virtuous of thine own people. Awaken in their hearts that love of Thee, and of thy laws, and pour into their souls that contempt of danger and of death, which befit those whom thy Omniscient will has summoned to scenes of difficulty and alarm; and, while thy Providence has so long watched over this favoured land, and while it now remains as the beacon to lead mankind again to happiness and truth,-grant that thy people may feel the extent of their duties! and know, that, while they are defending the independence of their own country, they are defending the sacred cause of order, of virtue, and of religion, throughout the world.
ON THE RELIGIOUS AND MORAL ENDS OF KNOWLEDGE.*
PROVERBS iii. 13, &c.
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding !—She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
IN these beautiful words Solomon describes the effects of wisdom upon the honour and happiness of human life. However warm or magnificent the praise which he bestows, it is not the extravagance of youthful enthusiasm. It is the sober decision of age and experience: the opinion of one who had known every pleasure which life could offer him; and who, in his grey hairs, tells the successor to his throne, that "wisdom is more "precious" than all the splendours which surround it, and "that all the things he could desire, " are not to be compared unto her.”
*Preached at the commencement of the Academical Session in Edinburgh.
I have chosen these words, my brethren, for our present consideration, because there appears something in the time not unsuitable to their application. The season has now returned, when the annual business of education again begins; when, for some months to come, the young of our congregation are to be employed in the acquisition of knowledge; and when this city itself exhibits one of its most honourable distinctions,—that of contributing to the instruction and improvement of youth. To the young themselves, it is the commencement of the most important and eventful period of their lives; and to us, my elder brethren, it is a scene which we can scarcely regard, without many feelings of interest and tenderness. It reminds us of that beautiful expression of antiquity, "that the young among the people are like "the spring amid the seasons.' It leads even the most insensible of us, to form some kind wish that the fruits of their harvest may correspond to the opening of their spring; and it leads us, too, very naturally, to the remembrance of our own youth; and, while we think what are the duties of the present young, to consider what we ourselves have been doing since that important era has passed to us. At this time, therefore, I trust I shall be forgiven, if I dedicate this discourse to the young of our congregation;-if I avail myself of the opportunity of the season, to encourage them in the pursuits which they have begun;-and if I
conclude, by pointing out to them the great ends to which all knowledge and wisdom ought finally to be applied.
I. In every period of life, the acquisition of knowledge is one of the most pleasing employments of the human mind. But in youth there are circumstances which make it productive of higher enjoyment. It is then that every thing has the charm of novelty; that curiosity and fancy are awake; and that the heart swells with the anticipations of future eminence and utility. Even in those lower branches of instruction which we call mere accomplishments, there is something always pleasing to the young in their acquisition. They seem to become every well-educated person, -they adorn, if they do not dignify humanity; and, what is far more, while they give an elegant employment to the hours of leisure and relaxation, they afford a means of contributing to the purity and innocence of domestick life. But in the acquisition of knowledge of a higher kind,-in the hours when the young gradually begin the study of the laws of nature, and of the faculties of the human mind, or of the magnificent revelations of the Gospel,-there is a pleasure of a sublimer nature. The cloud which, in their infant years, seemed to cover nature from their view, begins gradually to resolve. The world in which they are placed, opens with all its wonders upon their eye; their powers of attention and observation
seem to expand with the scene before them; and, while they see, for the first time, the immensity of the universe of God, and mark the majestick simplicity of those laws by which its operations are conducted, they feel as if they were awakened to a higher species of being, and admitted into nearer intercourse with the Author of Nature. It is this period, of all others, accordingly, that most determines our hopes or fears of the future fate of the young. To feel no joy in such pursuits ;-to listen carelessly to the voice which brings such magnificent instruction ;-to see the veil raised which conceals the counsels of the Deity, and to shew no emotion at the discovery, are symptoms of a weak and torpid spirit,—of a mind unworthy of the advantages it possesses, and which is fitted only for the humility of sensual and ignoble pleaOf those, on the contrary, who distinguish themselves by the love of knowledge, who follow with ardour the career that is opened to them, we are apt to form the most honourable presages. It is the character natural to youth, and which, therefore, promises well of their maturity. We foresee for them, at least, a life of pure and virtuous enjoyment, and we are willing to anticipate no common share of future usefulness and splendour.
In the second place, the pursuits of knowledge lead not only to happiness but to honour. "Length of days," in the words of the text, "is "in her right hand, and in her left are riches and