« EelmineJätka »
tation, in mitigating the punishment of the misguided men who had opposed themselves to the authority of the government.
ON DILIGENCE IN OUR PROPER CALLING.
This duty may be placed either under the head of justice or of benevolence, according to the particular. light in which we view it. It is enjoined in relation to both by the Apostle Paul. In the following passage he connects it with justice, or that regard which is due from us to the rights of others : “ We beseech you, brethren, that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you : that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have
, lack of nothing *.” He elsewhere enforces the practice of the same duty from a principle of benevolence: 6 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth t."
I shall have occasion, in a subsequent part of this work, to notice the evils of idleness. In the mean time, I remark, that christian benevolence, or a true regard to the happiness of others, will lead us to practice the duty of being quiet, and of diligently attending to our proper business. So true is this
* 1 Thess. ii. 11.
of Ephes. iy. 28.
observation, and so important a part of that character which is formed by the influences of the christian religion, is industry in our proper calling, that wherever it has been enjoyed unmingled with superstition, there have been growing improvement and prosperity.
I am aware that industry, like any other active principle, consists chiefly in habit; and that where this habit has not been formed in early life, it may not be easy to attain it afterwards. It was probably for this reason that the Apostle began his exhortation to diligence in business with the word, Study: imply, ing, doubtless, a reluctance to be overcome in steadily practising the duty enjoined. Does not the same remark, however, hold true in regard to many other virtues which we are commanded to cherish? It is not without difficulty that the intemperate man becomes sober, the fretful patient, the proud humble, and the implacable kind and merciful; yet we know that our religion disowns for its disciples the intemperate, the proud, and the implacable; and that it assures us that such persons cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
If the habit of diligence in business were not, in some cases, of more difficult attainment than the con. trary, there would, in such cases, be nothing virtuous in industry ; but so much stress does the New Testament lay on the active fulfilment of the duties of our vocation, that it refers the authority which enjoins it to the will of God. Its precepts on this head are applicable, I conceive, to us all, whether employed in manual or in mental labour ; and we are acting not less against the spirit than the explicit declarations of
the oracles of God, if we are neglecting any of the gifts with which we are intrusted, or are deficient in a zealous discharge of the offices which we occupy.
“ We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition he received of us : for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought ; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some among you which walk disorderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread * "
Numerous and obvious are the advantages which result from the practice of this duty. But that which I have at present more particularly in my view is, the ability which we thus acquire to discharge some of the most important duties of benevolence. We thus are capable, not only of meeting every claim of justice, but of giving to him that needeth. And if the happiness of giving, or the blessedness which accompanies the exercise of active benevolence, be greater than that which can be enjoyed in receiving, ought not every individual, however obscure or humble his rank, to aspire to the attainment of this felicity ? He is thus elevated in his sphere of duty; and in becoming the voluntary instrument of diffusing the bounty of the Great Parent of all, he increases the sum of his own virtue and happiness.
* 2 Thess. iv. 6-11.
CHARITY; OR, CHRISTIAN BOUNTY.
So important, as an effect of that love which is the fulfilling of the law, is almsgiving, that it is generally designated by the name of charity. The duty of distributing to the poor and needy according to our ability and opportunity, is so obvious from the light of nature, so congenial to those feelings of sympathy and compassion which the Creator has implanted in the human heart, and so clearly established and frequently enforced by revelation, that it has never been questioned. “ Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to
, thy poor and thy needy in the land*.” “
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy ; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready
* Deut. xv. 10. 11.
to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life *."
The account which Divine Revelation gives of the principles on which the last judgment will be conducted, is decisive on this subject.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not : sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not t."
It is not necessary, for my present purpose, to take notice of the various, and some of them very difficult, , points, connected with this important subject. I shall confine myself to the two following questions : First, to what extent, and in what manner, is it our duty to give of our property to the poor ? and, secondly, who are the persons to whom we ought to administer charity ?
First, To what extent, and in what manner, is it our duty to give of our property to the poor?
It will, I believe, be readily allowed, that we are
* 1 Tim. vi. 17.
• Matt. xxv. 34-44.