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So that whatever we have to occupy our time or talents, until our Master shall come, we should address ourselves to it with early diligence; persevering activity; and exclusive reliance on God, both as to the time, the degree, the character of success. This is the temper and conduct of those who sow and reap our fields, and is not the principle of their conduct, applicable to every duty of ordinary life?
Some may, perhaps, consider it beneath the importance of the pulpit, or detracting from the peculiar sanctity of the Sabbath, to dwell on the plain and homely duties of common life; but you have not so learned Christ, and indeed the credit of true piety, and the honor of the cause we love, are so nearly connected with our conduct in this respect, that we must suffer the word of exhortation. ny masters and mistresses have complained that inattention to their affairs has resulted from the profession of religion their servants have made; I say profession, for if they possessed the true and vital spirit of genuine godliness, its influence would pervade every part of their behaviour; if really related to Jesus, the living vine, and partaking of his riches, like Him they would be anxious to do the will of those who employ them.
In the world of trade, sarcasms and censures on
this subject have been applied to professors; and if unjustly, let none care for it; but let none suffer herein as an evil doer, as a thief; such are idlers and those who squander the property of others by their inadvertence, and slothful habits.
This sentiment must be the more pressed because of the temper of the times, which requires line on line, and precept on precept, on this plain and obvious duty; because of the prodigious perils which result from indulgence in this lazy vice; which may be considered, indeed, as the groundwork of every evil-as the seminal principle of ruin for both worlds: it clothes a man with rags; it is the less dreaded because of its imperceptible advances; like the delusions of the ancient heretics, it eats as doth a canker; it is as a moth fretting a garment. And finally :-this point must be the more strenuously urged, because it is one of those evils which many falsely imagine do not militate against the reputation of real piety, and is not inconsistent with a gracious state.* "Seest. "thou a man diligent in his business? he shall "stand before kings; he shall not stand before
* It is of the greatest importance to know the religious uses of time; the duty of consecrating to God every talent, every posses sion, every faculty; and of devoting the whole life to his glory. We should be more particularly on our guard against a spirit of
68 mean men.'
"Be thou diligent to know the
"state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds."† In every sense, God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him: and this leads us to notice
II. The application of this sentiment to all the engagements and transactions of a religious life; to the varied practices of piety.
Begin with that which most resembles the sowing of the seed; because the effects are often remotely apparent, and always preparatory to reaping the crop.
idleness, and a slovenly habitual waste of time; because the practise, by not assuming a palpable shape of guilt, carries little alarm to the conscience.
Even religious characters are in danger on this side, for not allowing themselves to follow the world in its excesses and diversions: they have consequently more time upon their hands; and instead of dedicating the time so rescued to its true purposes, they sometimes make, as it were, compensation to themselves for their abstinence from dangerous places of public resort, by an habitual frivolousness at home; by a superabundance of inappropriate small talk; idle reading, and a quiet, dull, frittering away of time. Their day, perhaps, has been more free from actual evil, but it will be found to have been as unproductive as that of more worldly characters; and they will be found to have traded to as little purpose with their master's talents.
Mrs. H. More.
* Prover!s, xxii. 29. † xxvii. 23.
1. Personal communion with God. To be spiritually minded, is life and peace. Every man is really what he is at heart: as he thinketh so he is; "out of it are the issues of life."
The spirit seen in our text, should mark all private intercourse with God. Early will I seek "thee; my soul followeth hard after thee O God! 66 on thee do I wait all the day;" was the language of the man after God's own heart; and which is in exact correspondence with our text.
The claims of the devotional closet must be thus early commenced, and perseveringly regarded. Cold and customary services profit nothing; he that cometh unto God, must believe that He is, and then will he diligently seek him. And as certainly as the harvest will reveal the labors of the sower, so surely will the conduct either complain of the neglect, or commend the attention of private religion. On the hallowed and sacred ground of the closet, we turn aside to examine ourselves as to the reality of our religion, or the progress of our piety. To enquire frequently, by a tedious process, whether we be in the faith; are the objects of the Father's choice; the Son's purchase; the Spirit's renovating and holy operation; and are these things to be coldly, carelessly, indolently undertaken? "Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence
"to make your calling and election sure; for if do these things, ye shall never fall.”*
The same diligence, both in nature and contin uance, should be evinced in our prayers to Almighty God, and in every act of spiritual worship. It is not sufficient to commence, we must proceed; we must not only pray, but continue instant in prayer; must not only assemble with the saints, but not forsake such associations, as is the manner of some. He that endureth to the end, shall be saved. Rapidity is not the only requisite for the racer: he must so run as to reach the goal. "which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth "not down first, and counteth the cost, whether "he have sufficient to finish it? lest haply, after "he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to "finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, "saying, This man began to build, and was not "able to finish. Or what king, going to make "war against another king, sitteth not down first, "and consulteth, whether he be able with ten "thousand, to meet him that cometh against him "with twenty thousand? or else, while the other " is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, "and desireth conditions of peace."†
2. Religious duties are relative as well as per
*2 Peter, i. 10. † Luke, xiv 28-32.