Графични страници
PDF файл

disease of envy is forming; that the poison is beginning to spread its infection over his heart.

The causes that nourish envy are principally two; and two which, very frequently, operate in conjunction; these are, pride and indolence. The connexion of pride with envy, is obvious and direct. The high 'value which the proud set on their own merit, the unreasonable claims which they form on the world, and the injustice which they suppose to be done to them by any preference given to others, are perpetual sources, first of discontent, and next of envy.

When indolence is joined to pride, the disease of the mind becomes more inveterate and incurable. Pride leads men to claim more than they deserve. Indolence prevents them from obtaining what they might justly, claim. Disappointments follow; and spleen, malignity, and envy, rage within them. The proud and indolent are always envious. Wrapt up in their own importance, they sit still, and repine, because others are more prosperous than they ; while, with all their high opinion of themselves, they have

done nothing either to deserve, or to acquire, prosperity. As, therefore, we value our virtue, or our peace, let us guard against these two evil dispositions of mind. Let us be modest in our esteem, and, by diligence and industry, study to acquire the esteem of others. So shall

So shall we shut up the avenues that lead to many a bad passion; and shall learn, in whatsoever state we are, therewith to be content.

Finally, in order to subdue envy, let us bring often into view those religious considerations which regard us particularly as Christians. Let us remember how unworthy we are in the sight of God; and how much the blessings which each of us enjoy are beyond what we deserve. Let us nourish reverence and submission to that Divine Government, which has appointed to every one such a condition in the world as is fittest for him to possess. Let us recollect how opposite the Christian spirit is to envy; and what sacred obligations it lays upon us, to walk in love and charity towards one another. Indeed, when we reflect on the many miseries which abound in human life; on the scanty proportion of


happiness which any man is here allowed to enjoy; on the small difference which the diversity of fortune makes on that scanty proportion; it is surprising that envy

should ever have been a prevalent passion among men, much more that it should have

prevailed among Christians. Where so much is suffered in common, little room is left for

envy There is more occasion for pity and sympathy, and inclination to assist each other. To our own good endeavours for rectifying our dispositions, let us not forget to add serious prayers to the Author of our being, that he who made the heart of man, and knows all its infirmities, would thoroughly purify our hearts from a passion so base, and so criminal, as envy. Create in me, O God, a clean heart; and renew a right spirit within me. Search me and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there be any


way in me, and lead me in the

way everlasting *

[merged small][ocr errors]




Matthew xx. 6. ..

Why stand ye here all the day idle? It is an observation which naturally occurs, and has been often made, that all the representations of the Christian life in scripture are taken from active scenes; from carrying on a warfare, running a race, striving to enter in at a strait gate ; and, as in this context, labouring in a vineyard. Hence the conclusion plainly follows, that various active duties are required of the Christian ; and that sloth and indolence are incon- sistent with his hope of heaven.

But it has been sometimes supposed that industry, as far as it is matter of duty, regards our spiritual concerns and employments only; and that one might be very

busy as a Christian, who was very idle as a man. Hence, among some denominations of Christians, an opinion has prevailed, that the perfection of religion was to be found in those monastic retreats where every active function of civil life was totally excluded, and the whole time of men filled up with exercises of devotion. They who hold such opinions proceed on the supposition that religion has little or no concern with the ordinary affairs of the world; that its duties stand apart by themselves, and mingle not in the intercourse which men have with one another. The perfect Christian was imagined to live a sort of angelic life, sequestered from the business or pleasures of this contemptible state. The gospel, on the contrary, represents the religion of Christ as intended for the benefit of human society. It assumes men as engaged in the business of active life; and directs its exhortations, accordingly, to all ranks and stations; to the magistrate and the subject, to the master and the servant, to the rich and the poor, to them that buy and them that sell, them that use and them that abuse the world. Some duties, indeed, require

« ПредишнаНапред »