« PreviousContinue »
but what particular sort of improvement he calls you to, that you may learn from the station of life in which he has placed you. If you were born in a station, in which you would be called upon to work chiefly with your hands hereafter, then the strengthening of your bodies, the learning to be active and handy, to be bold and enduring of bodily pain and labour, would be your special duty, over and above that common duty of love to God and to man, which belongs to every age and every condition alike. But, as it is, you will be called upon to work chiefly with your minds hereafter : and although it be very true, that the mind works but feebly when the body is sickly; and that, therefore, you are called upon, like all other persons, to make yourselves, as far as you can, strong and active, and healthful and patient in your bodies; yet your especial call is rather to improve your minds, because it is with your minds that God calls upon you to work hereafter. And for the younger part of you, I need not go any further than this; for the particular calling in which you will have to work with your minds,-I mean the particular profession or situation of life which you are to fill,—can hardly yet be fixed : and at
any rate, you are yet too young to begin your professional course of studies, and your business is to attend to those studies which are pointed out for you as likely to be useful generally to your understandings, be your profession hereafter what it may.
But some of you are old enough to inquire what is God's call to you, as to the choice of a profession ; that is to say, what course of duty is pointed out to you by the particular dispositions and faculties of your minds. It is very true, that this choice does not always rest with yourselves : it is true, also, that you cannot yet fully judge of what your faculties may hereafter ripen to, nor how habit may make your inclinations conform to what now you may feel most strongly to dislike. These are circumstances, which naturally point out to you the benefit of listening to the greater experience of others; and not deciding for yourselves alone. But, although you should not judge for yourselves absolutely, and in defiance of the advice of others, yet it does become you, earnestly and carefully to look into your own hearts and minds, to observe, so far as you can, what your character is,what is its strength, and what its weakness ;—what are its intellectual faculties, and
what its moral tendencies ;—what faults it is most prone to, and what duties it seems best fitted successfully to perform. Few parents would refuse to listen to their son, when he laid before them the results of his own best inquiries into his own heart and mind, and accordingly represented his greater fitness for one particular calling, his greater unfitness for another. Nay, every wise parent would rejoice and be thankful to see his son thus opening his character before him; and furnishing him with the knowledge by which he could best judge what was best for him.
Undoubtedly, it is a solemn deliberation in what line of life God calls upon us to serve him ; and we know this, that it is beginning with most evil omens, if we enter upon any profession or way of living, to which we cannot humbly believe that he has called us. Family convenience, prospects of preferment, must not outweigh higher considerations ; and this applies especially to that most solemn of all callings, and in which, above all others, worldly well doing in it may be quite independent of the fitness of our hearts and minds for the discharge of its duties. A young man of very low understanding is not likely to be called upon by his friends, or tempted by his own inclination, to enter upon the profession of the law :-a young man of a feeble body and a weak spirit, unapt, both in body and mind, to encounter toil and danger, will not often wish, or be wished by his friends, to go into the army or navy. But how many do we see every day, who are wished, and who consent readily, to enter into Christ's spiritual warfare, to become ministers of Christ's Gospel, while their minds are wholly disinclined to heavenly knowledge, and their hearts without any relish for heavenly love. This, assuredly, is an entering into the sheepfold by another way than by Christ, the door ; it is a taking charge of the sheep, with the selfish feelings of the hireling, not with the real and affection of the good Shepherd.
But you are young yet, and you may hope, that before the time comes when you will actually enter on the ministry, you may have gained that desire to know and to do God's will, and to save the souls of others, which as yet you cannot pretend to feel. Then if you have this hope, do
. your best to realize it; if you think that God does call you into his service, live as worthy of that call: at school and at the University, if your friends' wishes and your own prepare you to enter hereafter into the ministry, see that you regard yourselves as vessels fashioned to honour, and to be preserved especially pure and bright for our heavenly Master's use. If you do so regard yourselves, and so strive to fit yourselves for your heavenly profession, it may be, and I trust will, that in the call of outward circumstances, and the wishes of your friends, you may hereafter recognise the true call of God.
Thus, then, God calls you, at your age especially, to improve yourselves in the studies placed before you ; and to consider in yourselves how you may best serve him hereafter, and in what particular way you may fit yourselves for his call to your several professions. The answer which you give to this call of God, and the punishment to which you render yourselves liable, will be the subject of my next sermon.