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usefulness and comfort. Although they are only temporal gifts, yet they are essential for our subsistence and for the support of society. Hence, then, we are not only to desire them; but to labour, and by all prudent means, endeavour to procure them. In time of health property is desirable, that we may have a competence; bear our part in the support of religious institutions, and contribute to the support of the poor and needy, and to the necessities of the sick and distressed. And how culpable must that person be, who by idleness or prodigality, has rendered himself unable to discharge such offices of humanity. Sin lieth at the door of him who will be busy here and there, in pursuits remote and inconsistent with his worldly interest. If the time and means for accumulating earthly goods be mispent, how can we comply with the kind exhortation, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness? Without the means of relieving the necessities of the afflicted, how can we succour them? To endure a distressing and lingering sickness, or to bear the infirmities peculiar to old age, and at the same time to be destitute of the comforts and aids requisite to such a state, through former indolence or extravagance, must fill the mind with keen reflection and painful reproaches. Youth is the season peculiarly favourable to a preparation and beginning, to accumulate the varied blessings of life. But parents, who are the instruments of bringing their children into the world, are bound to make suitable provision for their several wants. Hence says the apostle Paul, The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. Instead of this, however, we behold some profusely squander wealth, and waste their fortunes; and others, who are too indifferent to exert themselves for their children's welfare. They are busy here and there; but their daily employments are wholly incompatible with the peace and prosperity of their families. How should a parent's heart be pained at the thought of having his children dependant on others for support, when his own misconduct is the chief cause of such dependance. Then may industry and economy witness our conduct; that negligence, indolence, and trivial pursuits may not cause us to live in the want of the comforts and conveniences of life, and prove the ruin of our interests as it respects the temporal blessings of heaven.
3d. Mental improvement forbids, that we be busy about remote concerns, to the neglect of immediate duty. It depends upon our own exertions, whether our minds be employed in treasuring up trivial and vain ideas, or those which are interesting and useful. Some are busy here and there in the pursuit of knowledge, which cannot benefit themselves nor others, instead of that which is worthy to be remembered and communicated. But how important that the several faculties of the mind, be exerted on subjects suited to the dignity of its rational nature, that sensual and sinful thoughts be not intruding. Youth is the season peculiarly favourable to mental improvement; for then, with the growth of the animal frame, the mind is capable of the greatest expansion. If this precious season be unimproved, the intellectual nature must sustain a loss which no future exertions can possibly retrieve. Then may diligence, and a seasonable attention to study and reflection, refine the mind and enlarge the understanding. Let virtuous principles and habits be instilled into the minds of children, lest they indulge in those that are vicious. The mind that is uncultivated, like a field, is liable to be overgrown with thorns and briers; which, when deeply rooted and wide spread, can scarcely be eradicated. May our adorning be that of the inner man, that the mental powers be invigorated and brightened, and not stupified and darkened.
4th. Mankind should not be busy about remote
concerns, to the neglect of present duty, lest thes 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 hiduen 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 unprofita ble 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 inay we beware and take heed to our ways, that we be not busy about remote concerns, to the reglect 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 neg: lecting 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 faithulness. 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