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of rare occurrence, nay, I may say, one that never

I mean a case, in which the life of any individual, especially a worthy individual as we are supposing, is one perpetually clouded scene of sorrow or of pain—one melancholy and unbroken series of calamity. So far is this from being generally the case, that any long continuance of disease or suffering is unusual ; and the greater part of life in any person of worth is at least free from serious evil, if it do not abound in positive enjoyment. Hence then it manifestly is the dictate of true wisdom, that we apply ourselves to the securing of those everlasting treasures, which do not much, if at all, diminish the real satisfaction, that is to be obtained in life. For, after all, a very strong reason for dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of the one thing needful; a reason, that very much increases the folly of not pursuing it, is, that it has very little tendency to diminish the comfortable enjoyment of life ; and in many cases, even promotes it. We are assured, by an authority which cannot deceive, that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. And in general we collect from experience, that a course of action, conformable to the dictates of religion, is more likely to produce health of body, peace of mind, and even the perishable, but still by no means despicable, gifts of fortune, than a course of conduct, in which the one thing needful is utterly abandoned for such things as are unnecessary, unprofitable, and deceitful. Surely there is no necessity that I remind you, how much more likely temperance and sobriety are to produce health of body and vigour of mind, than the unrestrained indulgence of passions, which procure gratification for a time, but leave a lasting sting behind them. When was it that industry failed to obtain some advantage, which was far beyond the reach of the idle and the disorderly? Honesty and activity, with a general reputation for kindness and worth, are surely more likely to attract respect and ensure friends, than the opposite character of a disregard to truth; a disposition to take advantage of the ignorance or the necessities of a neighbour; an unkind and morose indifference to their feelings and their wants ! Suppose however that a worldly-minded or dishonest man sometimes obtains the advantage over one, who is less wise in this generation ; yet if we view the two characters attentively, and consider what is likely to be passing within their bosoms; whether of the twain, think


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a 1 Tim. iv. 8.

the whole most to be envied ? He, who has a larger share of the outward advantages of life, while his heart is racked with distrust, with envy, with the consciousness of not deserving what he has here, and the dread of incurring what he will deserve hereafter ; or he, who has made the law of his God the object of his study, and the doing of His will the guide of his practice ?—whose wants are comparatively few, and therefore satisfied with ease—whose bosom is an eternal sunshine, because, without presumptuously rating himself too high, he knows that it has been his earnest desire and constant aim to attain “ the one thing need


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ful”; who relies on the gracious assurances of the Gospel, that God will accept his imperfect endeavours, and vouchsafe the aid of His own most holy Spirit to help his infirmities; and who, amidst every perplexity and every danger, is continually cheered with the tidings, that his Saviour has sealed his pardon on the cross, and will Himself guide him to an happy immortality? That Saviour will indeed guide this “ faithful servant”, and allow him to “enter into the joy of his Lord”; because he has seen him, full of faith and hope, resist the temptations of the world and the flesh ; despise their seducing enjoyments, if they were to be purchased at the expence of his virtue; and resolutely turn away from the career of ambition, or the prospect of wealth, or the allurements of pleasure, whensoever they may have invited him to forsake his duty towards either God or man.

Here then are some very cogent reasons, we may surely call them irresistible,- for following after the one thing needful. The first of these is, that there can be no comparison whatever between the extent of those periods, in which life may be endured, and eternity enjoyed; and next, that the pursuit of eternity, that is, leading a life of holiness and virtue, is not often found to detract from the comfort and proper enjoyment of the present existence. Supposing however that the loss of worldly good must necessarily be the consequence of pursuing a course agreeable to religion ; how does our blessed Saviour instruct us, if we be called upon to make a choice between the comforts of this life and the bliss of futurity ? “ What shall it profit a man, if he gain the


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whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” With equal truth, and with equal wisdom, in reference to the very

different durations of this life, and of the next, He shews how trifling are the objects of worldly fear, when compared with the terror of the Lord. “I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say unto you, Fear Him."

If therefore the profession of religion were attended with ever so many disadvantages in this world, nevertheless there ought not to be the slightest hesitation in adopting such a course, and adhering to “the one thing needful ”; because the advantages it holds out are not only of a kind so much superior, but will last for a period of time so much more long -nay even, until time itself shall be no more. But I have shewn


you must all of you be more or less satisfied of the truth of the remark; that irreligion, debauchery, dishonesty, idleness, have by no means, all things considered, any positive or lasting superiority in the present world over piety, moderation, integrity, industry: because these have in their very nature a tendency to promote health and tranquillity; to engage respect; and therefore ultimately, if not immediately, to forward our worldly views. Whereas, when worldly gain and pleasure are made the principal or sole objects of pursuit, they

a Luke xii. 5.

are seldom or ever found to produce the gratification, that was expected from them; and, at the very best, they soon satiate, because no lasting pleasure can be derived from any occurrence or any enjoyment, that does not create some portion of reflected satisfaction in the mind. This inward pleasure however which arises from reflection, cannot, as we have shewn, be enjoyed by any one, but by him, who pursues of the one thing needful”; and it is of such a nature too, as often to counterbalance any evil, which might other, wise weigh down a worthy and virtuous man, either in the loss of his substance, or in the severer loss which he must experience, in common with other sharers of mortality, the loss of relatives and friends. Assuredly then, “the kingdom of heaven ", that is, the one thing needful recommended by our Saviour,

is like unto treasure hid in a field ; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” a

And now, having pointed out the indescribable importance of seeking out and following after “the one thing needful”, it may be desirable to conclude with some notice of those qualities, which are really essential to it. By religion then, I do not mean merely a system of thinking, but a habit of acting; not merely correct opinions, but a virtuous and useful life. Re

a Matt. xiii. 44-6.

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