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Providence, perhaps, may have called you to serve; but beware of being cumbered with much serving. It is not activity, diligence, and attention, we are here proscribing; but it is a too anxious spirit, a cleaving to the dust, a covetouş disposition, a worldly mind, against which we would guard you. “ For they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." i Tim. vi. 9, 10. " The cares of this world, and the de. ceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things, entering in, choke the word, and it becometh un. fruitful.” Mark iv. 19. · Let me recommend to you to be found much in prayer. By this mean you will be preserved from the evil of the world, while you are in it: you will carry a savour of divine things into your business; it will sweeten toil, and alleviate care. Now if ever, indeed, while surrounded with those things that have a tendency to wean the soul from God, is prayer necessary. Without grace from above, your danger will be great; but by.com. mitting yourself to Him who alone is able to keep you from falling, you will stand secure. Your prayers must be adapted to your circumstances; but few prayers will be more suitable in your situation than that of Agur: “ Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Prov. xxx.8, 9.
Reader, are you in the flower of life?-study to be useful : now you have health, strength, influence, and opportunity, be active for God, and the benefit of mankind, Let not this period be wholly engrossed with the cares of the world. Work while it is day. Let it not be said of you, that you are a blank in creation ; that you have talents, but they are hidden; property, but it is withheld; opportunity, but it is neglected. O
what a sad thing should this be your epitaph : .." Here lies one, who never did any thing for
God, for the church, or for mankind!” And yet of how many may this be said, and of how many professors too! The first part of life is lost in insignificant pursuits; the middle part is spent in anxious concerns about temporal things; and the last is burdened with complaints and infirmities. Reader, is the morning of life past with you? Recollect how soon it will be evening; how soon darkness and death will come upon you; how soon all opportunities will be gone to return no more. Be assured, when death draws near, you will not have to lament that you have done too much; rather you will regret the seasons that have been lost, privileges'undervalued, mercies slighted, and time misimproved. O, how miserable to pass away a life of inactivity and nothingness; and how. dreadful to be under the reflection, that nothing has been done to promote the glory of God, or add to the happiness of mankind ! May divine grace, dear reader, enable you to live and to work for God, that you may be saved from such
a reflection as this; and, at last, hear the happy sentence pronounced, “ Well done, good and faithful servant : enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
V HAT was said of the children of Israel, that they were much discouraged because of the way, may with great propriety be applied to many christians, while travelling through this vale of tears. It is true the Israelites were under the peculiar direction of the Almighty; he was their governor, benefactor, and guide ; yet they were exposed to a variety of difficulties and trials. Thus too it is with his people now : they are the objects of his love, directed by his grace, held by his hand, and supplied by his bounty ; yet they are not exempt from discouragements. Many, it is said, are the afflictions of the righteous, and through great tribulation they enter into the kingdom. What, then, it may be asked, Is the ser. vice in which they are engaged hard and intolerable? Is the cause in which they have embarked evil? Is the Master whom they serve despotic and tyrannical? Or is the object which they have in view insufficient to animate their hopes, and so unimportant as not to produce encouragement ? We answer, No. On the contrary, the system in which they believe, and the prospect they have before them, are every way calculated to inspire
their hopes, to remove their fears, and excite their confidence. But man is a feeble creature; nor does his conversion render him an angel. He is subject to many fears, attended with many infirmitics; and though even walking in the right road, too often, alas ! has reason to mourn over his deviations and follies. It may be observed, however, on the whole, that his sorrow arises not from the principles he holds, or the end he has in view, but from a sense of his defects. It is a supposition of the want of religion, and not the possession of it, as too many imagine, that causes him to mourn. Not but outward calamities, and the common afflictions of life, are felt by him as well as others; for though grace makes the christian, it does not unmake the man: he has the common feelings of humanity, though aspiring after the fortitude of the saint. These troubles are not, however, the chief sources of his grief, though they tend to accumulate it. Did he possess all that lively exercise of faith, that ardent love, deep humility, calm resignation, holy zeal, and con. stant gratitude, which he wishes, outward things would not much affect him: his spiritual foes would gain but little advantage, and his joy would be but seldom interrupted. But, alas! the best of men have at times to lament the want of these: hence their souls refuse comfort ; and in proportion as they possess sincere regard for their God, they feel unhappy in any departures from his laws. Nor is the present state of things calculated to cherish these divine principles. The world is polluted, and the streams of depravity flow in all directions. Those whose dispositions are still congenial with this corruption, feel no conflict, no
divinat statepartures their por.
disgust, no trial; but those who have participated of the divine nature, who are breathing after holiness, feel the opposition, and lament its banefut effects. Hence our Şaviour's words are verified in this as in many other respects : “ In the world
in this a have tribulatid, also, that on for dis
It is to be observed, also, that this is not peculiar to a few. It is too common for distressed christians to imagine that their case is singular : but, no; for though there may be some who do not feel the same pungent sorrow as others, yet at one time or other they all are discouraged. No, disconsolate christian : think not that you are alone. Thousands have been, and thousands now are, exposed to as painful exercises as you. Were you but better acquainted with them, you would find that their experience in a great measure resembles your's : and could you but ask the spirits of the just made perfect above, they would tell you that there were seasons in which they bore the same conflicts, and were filled with the same despondencies as you.
“ Once they were mourning here below,
And wet their couch with tears :
With sins, and doubts, and fears."
But reason asks, Why, why does the Sovereign Lord and Controuler of all events suffer these things? Does he not possess infinite love to his people? And is not love productive of every thing that is delightful where power is not wanting? To which it may be answered, That the wisdom of God hath so constituted it, and that, no doubt, to answer the most valuable ends. Nor