« PreviousContinue »
And this one common principle is neither more nor less than what the Scripture teaches; viz. that," since it is the Lord who hath appointed "us in life our several stations, and gifted us "with various talents, we all should be not
slothful in his service; but whatsoever it may "be our special work to do, we all should do "that heartily, as serving the Lord." Whether therefore it be a servant of the Lord ministering unto his people, or one that guideth the plough labouring in his daily toil, there is a Christian duty of exertion and of industry required of both and what pattern soever sets before us the example of a person dutifully diligent in his especial calling, that same example speaks to us to do the like, in that which is the proper business of our own calling. The lesson given is the lesson of the Wise-man ; "Whatsoever thy "hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, "nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest";" or of one greater than Solomon; "Work the "works of him that sent you, while it is day: "the night cometh, when no man can work'.”
III. It thus appears, that even in those points which might at first seem least suited to ourselves, Eccles. ix. 10.
* John ix. 4.
the patterns set before us in the Scriptures apply to our own cases in the principle, if not according to the circumstances.
But the particular ends for which St. Paul's example has been instanced now, have been to show that it is possible to join together those good qualities which God loves, and those which men approve; and to illustrate how a Christian may effect this happy fellowship, and grow at once in favour with the Lord, and also with all reasonable
Let it be called to mind once more, by way of conclusion, that the great secret, how that good example may be thus copied, is short and simple. It must consist, in laying that foundation for discharge of duty, which the Apostle laid; in the proposing to ourselves for a first object, to please and to obey God; in recollecting, be our station upon earth what it may, that we have all a Master in heaven; in acting under a continual sense of our accountableness to him. Let us secure this right foundation, and the rest will follow. Such ruling principle may not allow the heaping up of worldly treasures, to a high extent; it may forbid a man so to entangle himself in an excess of worldly business, as that he may be driven, by a sort of false necessity of his
own making, to the neglecting of his soul. It will, in truth, prescribe a Christian moderation, there and every where. Assuredly St. Paul so teaches us, both by his word and his example. But at the same time that it does this, it will as surely make a man industrious, honest, humble, kind; as the Apostle was. And in whatever measure it shall fail to work these good effects, in such proportion we may feel but too certain, that something yet is wanting in the principle, toward its perfection.
Whereas, if we proceed to build upon the wrong foundation, and only take the lower aim of pleasing men, the chances are that we shall rarely reach the higher excellence of a sincere piety. It may be so, in here and there an instance, by rare exertion of God's grace and mercy; but such exceptions are not to be looked for. The general course of things will be, that worldly entanglements-success in business-the influence of false shame-the fear of men and their revilings-the multitude of bad examples-all will prevail in turn, and in a thousand ways, to keep us back from holiness. The praise of men and that of God will be too surely separated; and we shall find too late, that we have chosen for our
Cf. Phil. iv. 5. and 11, 12.
portion only vanity and vexation of spirit, to the neglect of those more heavenly dispositions which are best pleasing unto God; the praise of which (for his sake, who hath shown and taught us them, and bid us live therein) endureth for ever.
PROFANENESS, OR THE DEFECT OF SPIRITUAL DISPOSITION, EXEMPLIFIED IN THE CHARACTER OF ESAU.
HEBREWS xii. 16.
Looking diligently.....lest there be any..... profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right.
IT is my purpose from these words of the Apostle, first to show what Scripture means by a profane person, as we may see such character exemplified in the behaviour of Esau; and secondly, to make such enlargement of the subject, and to offer such remarks on the features of his whole character, as may enable us to judge how far we may ourselves stand clear of this most evil disposition of profaneness, or how near any of us may approach to it. A few short words of caution will be added in conclusion. I hope the topics of inquiry will at once be felt to be both interesting and important.