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concerns, to the neglect of present duty, lest they insensibly fall into a state of skepticism and infidelity. Errour is calculated to bewilder the mind, and gradually to efface the impressions of truth. For this reason, young persons should avoid the reading of books of infidelity as they would the poison of asps; and they should turn away from skeptical conversation as from an adder, that would bite them. The allurements of falsehood under the appearance of truth, whether from satan or his agents, will, in the end, bite like a serpent and sting like an adder. But we are apt to be deceived and embrace delusions, when in quest of that knowledge which edifieth not, but puffeth up. Would we conscientiously and prayerfully seek for truth as for hidden treasures, we should be alarmed at the appearance of falsehood and delusion, and contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. To be busy here and there, by reading. books, or hearing conversation, which is unprofitable and inconsistent with immediate duty, is one step towards fatal delusion. The conversation of that company which would treat with levity the gospel of Christ, breathes a poison deadly to the soul. Then may we beware and take heed to our ways, that we be not busy about remote concerns, to the neglect of immediate duty, lest infidelity and skepticism prove our ruin.
5th. Mankind should not be busy about remote concerns, to the neglect of immediate duty; but in early life should make religion their main business, or they will experience a great loss through the whole. of their existence. Youth is emphatically the golden period of life; and the season peculiarly favourable for obtaining an interest in the rich blessings of the gospel. Then the mind is most susceptible of serious and lasting impressions; and they who seek religion early, are encouraged by promises peculiar to themselves. Habits of resisting the truth and negJecting the various means of grace are not then formed
as in riper years. Those peculiar discouragements and difficulties, which are common to a more advanced life, do not set themselves in array to dissuade from the work. But, alas! how venturesome, if not fatal, to pass this period of existence, and not attend to the one thing needful! The greater part of those who pass the morning of their lives in impenitence, give no evidence, when their sun sets, that they are reconciled to God through the death of his Son. Sad reflection! to be on the decline of life, before the work of eternity is begun! And of the few who are constrained in middle age to walk in newness of life, how are their hearts pained when they reflect, that in their youth they were busy here and there; but were not then immediately and solicitously engaged to secure the salvation of their souls. They grieve and lament, that the bloom of life was spent in the ways of folly and service of Satan; and not in the ways of wisdom, and service of God. And their evidence that they are the subjects of renewing and saving grace, is not generally so firm and bright as that of those, who by a pious and godly life, remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Moreover, a life of early piety and devotedness in the cause of Christ, will reap a more glorious recompense of reward in eternity, than will the mere remains of life spent in his service. This must be
true, if the reward be according to the works. A life of engagedness for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, particularly that of youth and health, is more for the honour and glory of God, than it is to serve him only in the decline of life. Then let not youth spend their golden moments in remote concerns in the ways of vanity; but in the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. Thus may they reap peculiar blessings both in time and in eternity. But if they refuse, they forsake their own mercies; they turn away from their dearest interest. If they neglect immediate duty, for the sake of any
foreign pursuit, they are treasuring up sorrow, and throwing barriers in the way of their own salvation. Let them not be busy about remote concerns, to the neglect of their immortal interest; but in early life make religion their main business, or they will experience a great loss through the whole of their existence.
6th. If believers are busy about remote concerns to the neglect of present duty, they mar their own peace, and pierce themselves with many sorrows. As an encouragement for them to abound in every Christian duty, the joys of religion are in proportion to their faithfulness. They who daily keep the great end of their calling and profession in view, by their walking with God, anticipate some of the joys of heaven upon earth. But as a chastisement for unfaithfulness, they that wander feel the rod. They who are busy here and there, in some pursuit remote from duty, do not experience the smile, but the frown of heaven. Like rebellious Israel of old, some who profess the gospel of Christ, seem bent on going astray and backsliding. But such not only blight their fair prospects, but render their path a dreary wilderness, instead of that of the just, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Instead of their candle shining with the blaze as of noon day, it scarcely appears as the dim light of a taper. When believers are watchful and faithful, their souls enjoy a feast of fat things. But when they depart from the law of life, they wander over barren mountains or sandy deserts, where are no cooling shades nor living springs. How chilled the affections, how formal the conversation and sad the experience of believers, who leave their first love, and neglect their immediate duty.
7th. If believers are busied about remote concerns to the neglect of present duty, they are in danger of falling into grievous sins. The renewal of the heart by grace, is no security against sin; without resisting temptation, and watching unto prayer. Although
saints are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation; yet they must watch and pray, and attend to their immediate duty, lest they step into some forbidden path, and greatly dishonour his name. Noah, the preacher of righteousness, busied about remote concerns, falls into shameful intoxication. Moses, the meekest of men, the moment he neglects present duty, speaks unadvisedly and wickedly with his lips. Aaron, the priest, straying step by step, is persuaded to make a golden calf. The prophet Jonah, turning aside from duty, attempts to flee from the presence of his Maker; and after a merciful deliverance, he replies with presumption. David, the man after God's own heart, forgetting his honour and duty, commits adultery and then is guilty of murder. Peter, the ready follower of Christ, by turning aside a little, unexpectedly, with an oath denies his Lord and master. What stains in these characters! What dishonour to the cause of religion! And would believers at the present day, not wound their own souls and the cause which they have espoused, by some heinous transgression, let them be careful not to neglect their immediate duty.
8th. To be busy about remote concerns, to the neglect of present duty, proves the final destruction of many of the human race. Mankind have immortal souls committed to their care, which they are forbidden to neglect upon the pain of death. They, who are busy here and there, till they loose their souls, will experience an irreparable loss. As the man was unable to pay the talent of silver as a ransom for his life, so they will ever be unable to pay the uttermost farthing, or to redeem their souls from the curse of the law. Although heaven is at an infinite remove in consequence of sin; yet, through the atonement of Christ, and the means of grace, it is possible to be obtained. Notwithstanding, it may be lost; and some, instead of eternal life, reap eternal death. Not only open vice, but the neglect of im
mediate duty, the neglect of the great salvation, proves the final ruin of many. Let us again call to mind the words of the text. And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. It does not appear, that he was busy in sinful or unlawful pursuits. But he neglected safely to guard and keep the one delivered into his custody; and for the safe keeping and delivery of whom, he was responsible, even at the expense of his own life. Whilst he was engaged in other pursuits of less solemn importance; the prisoner made his escape. Just so many lose their souls by seeking mere trifles, instead of striving to enter in at the strait gate. Instead of engaging with seriousness in immediate duty, which is of infinite moment; they would be busy here and there in remote concerns, till they think it a convenient The gospel is committed to them; and they are charged to keep it unto the day of Jesus Christ. But when the Holy Spirit urges to immediate duty, whether of repentance, prayer, or perseverance, how do some resort to remote concerns? perhaps to a social circle, a pleasing anecdote, or some novel. Instead of making the word of God their guide, they follow the fancies of a lively imagination. In times of general awakenings, whilst some engage with all diligence, through divine grace, to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling; others, with unremitting perseverance, work out their own destruction. They suffer some pur-suit, remote from the great end of their being, to engage their attention, till death comes upon them unawares, and they are destroyed suddenly, and that without remedy. Thus their souls are gone; gone to the region of darkness and the perdition of the ungodly. Would they in time have laid their dearest interest to heart, they would not, with consternation in eternity, lament their criminal neglect. How so
lemn the fact! how alarming the truth! that the being busy about remote concerns, to the neglect of present