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As, therefore, some acquaintance with the laws of the country in which we dwell is requisite to teach us how to demean ourselves as good citizens and members of society; so a competent knowledge of the Divine will is indispensably necessary, to the right framing of our lives, and to the fitting us for those felicities which the righteous will hereafter attain.
Now, Holy Writ directs us to believe in Christ, for the pardon of sin; to apply for the grace of the Spirit, to sanctify our souls, and lead us into all needful truth ; and, finally, by cultivating heavenly dispositions, “ to be looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God mm."
Who can doubt, with eternity in view, that such a life is not only the most rational and happy, but also the best preparation for the appearing of the “ Judge of quick and dead?”
7. Above all, let each individual inquire, What talents has God committed to my care? and how can I most wisely employ them to His glory, and the advantage of mankind? There is no one, however mean or lowly his station in society may be, but what has talents entrusted to him; for the abuse of which, he will be punished at the day of reckoning. Amongst the most important gifts, for which we shall have to account, are, speech, reason, natural and acquired abilities, health, riches, and time.
8. Speech is a valuable faculty, by the aid of which we hold intercourse with our fellow-creatures : but it was given for far nobler purposes, namely, that we might sound forth the honours of God, and engage heartily with others in the vocal worship of his name. Language enables us to converse with each
1. 2 Pet, iri. 12.
other about his wonderful operations in creation, providence, and redemption.
What a pity it is that any one should ever debase this noble gift, by blasphemy or oaths, or by allowing his conversation to sink into frivolity, obscenity, calumny, and abuse !
9. Reason is the lamp of the soul. It is a celestial light, when under the controul of God's word and grace, to guide us from the way of error and falsehood and destruction, into the path of righteousness and truth and safety. By its inquisitive powers, we examine and compare things which widely differ in themselves, and thus judge of their fitness or unfitness. It is, then, a glaring misuse of this Divine gift by which we are so eminently distinguished from every other terrestrial being, when, through prejudice, we hastily reject the doctrines of the Gospel, or adopt a contrary belief, without examination. Many, it is to be feared, will awfully aggravate their final condemnation, by the manner in which they have misapplied their reason, to the dishonour of themselves, and the great detriment of the community.
Let us pray for grace to exercise our understanding and judgment with discretion, in order that we may avoid those fatal mistakes, into which the
perversion of them will certainly lead us.
10. Our natural endowments and acquired abilities should be duly esteemed and improved. With these, God may be glorified, and society be materially benefitted. By our wisdom, experience, advice, exertions, and influence, we may assist in supplying the wants of the needy, succouring the distressed, and rescuing the weak and defenceless and oppressed, from the hands of the violent and wicked man. God
has "put these treasures into some earthen vessels," for the general advantage of society. Woe, then, to that slothful servant, who either neglects the cultivation of his talents, or hides them uselessly in the earth! He will be covered with shame, when the Lord, who confided them to his management, shall accost him, saying, 'Wherefore hast thou wasted and despised the precious gifts with which thou hast been entrusted ?'
Nor will any advantages of an external kind, relating more particularly to our bodily welfare, be overlooked in the day of God.
11. Our health is a talent, for which we are deeply accountable, because it gives us ability for the employment of all the rest. To secure the benefits which it is capable of affording, we should carefully avoid all approaches towards luxury and intemperance, which have a strong tendency to enervate the mind, as well as to ruin the body.
12. The uses to which our property and estates have been applied, will be examined into hereafter. We are but stewards, under God, in the management of our worldly possessions ; from whom he will require an impartial and minute account.
At the time appointed, he will say to each of us, an account of thy stewardship"."
With what feelings will the covetous, who have steeled their hearts against the calls of humanity, approach their offended God? With what sensations of regret will the prodigal spendthrift, and the gay voluptuary, look at last on their conduct, when they come to reflect, that the wealth which might have been directed to alleviate the distresses of the poor, whom they have left to perish, has been lavished
» Luke xvi. 2.
away in luxury and extravagance, and in support of carnal pomp and festivity? The remembrance of mercies abused to such purposes, will occasion a torment of conscience, of which they have no conception.
Let none of those to whom the Lord has confided property, squander it away, in needless dress and ornaments; orinthegratification of improper desires, and keeping up mere appearances : rather let your superfluous wealth be used for instructing the ignorant, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked. By such acts of liberality, " we shall make the blessing of him that was ready to perish to come upon us, and cause the widow's heart to sing for joyo.
13. There is no talent, for the misuse of which we shall incur so heavy a responsibility, as time ; which multitudes waste in vanity or idleness. Time was bestowed upon us, that, by a life devoted to God, we "might make our calling and election sure;” and thus be prepared for a joyful immortality.
What, then, are they doing, who adopt every expedient which a depraved imagination can suggest, to rob themselves of those invaluable moments which should be employed“ in working out their salvation with fear and trembling?" How many ingenious triflers will be speechless at the bar of Christ, when they see the misery into which their mis-spending of time has plunged them! How many will awake from their dreams of vain-glory, each one wishing that he had been an irrational brute or insect, that he might never have been responsible for talents and privileges neglected or abused! Stung with remorse at the disappointment of their hopes, they will be
o Job xxix, 13.
ready to say, in language used on another occasion, “ The battle is fought, but the victory is lost for ever and ever."
Let us profit by the indiscretion of others, as well as learn wisdom from our own past miscarriages. Though we have never yet been duly impressed with the importance of time, yet, even now, let us redeem it, for the purpose for which it was given. It is not too late to enter on a religious course; which, through grace, will fortify us against the fear of death, and open to us, through the Divine mercy, the gates of everlasting life.
ON THE RESURRECTION. John v. 28, 29.-Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming, in
the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection
of damnation. Infidels, who have attempted to discredit every other doctrine of the Christian Religion, have not suffered that of the Resurrection from the dead to escape their furious attacks. They deny this leading article of our most holy faith, from a wish to be exempted from those consequences which its admission involves ; namely, a judgment to come ; and a visitation of their wicked conduct with a punishment commensurate to its deserts, the very thought of which is sufficient to mar their guilty pleasures : and hence, in order that they may live as they please, and indulge their insatiate thirst after the vanities of life, they find it expedient to divest themselves of a belief in the Resurrection, which solemnly teaches their responsibility to God.—Vain and wicked at