Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

actions proceeding from us; that we should check our inclinations, curb our appetites, and compose our passions ; that we should guard our hearts from vain thoughts and bad desires ; that we should bridle our tongues from evil and from idle discourses; that we should order our steps in the straight way of righteousness, not deflecting to the right hand or to the left.

In the discharge of this service how many rough difficulties: are there to be surmounted, how many great obstacles to be removed, how many stout oppositions to be encountered, how many potent enemies to be vanquished, how many sore hardships, crosses, and tribulations to be endured !

How shrewd a task must we find it to circumcise our hearts, to mortify our earthly members, to crucify our flesh with its affections and lusts, to pull out our right eyes, and cut off our right hands, to renounce our worldly interests, to hate our nearest relations, to take up and bear our cross, whenever couscience and duty shall call us thereto!

Our calling therefore doth require great industry; and the business of it consequently is well represented by those performances, which demand the greatest attention, and laborious: activity ; it is styled exercise, (agonistic and ascetic exercise ; γύμναξε σεαυτόν προς ευσέβειαν, “ Exercise thyself to godliness ;' and év tovrw avròs doru, ‘ Herein I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men ;) wrestling, (nuwr í máln, our wrestling is not only against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers ;') running a race, (* Let us run with patience the race that is set before us :' • So run that ye may obtain :' I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling ;') a warfare, a combating, (“War a good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience :'

Fight the good fight :' Thou therefore endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ :' • Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things ;') offering violence, (* The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force :') watching, (* Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober :' • Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong :' Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.')

Hence the precepts importing the general tenor of Christian

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

practice are usually couched in terms implying great sedulity and contention of soul; 'Ayorizedbe, Strive to enter in at the strait gate :'• Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest :' * Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth to everlasting life.' "Give diligence to make your

• calling and election sure.' Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end. “Wherefore, brethren, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.'

Such is the work of our general calling, and so much industry it challengeth from us; with great reason indeed, for that such work is needful to our happiness, and that our labour will certainly be rewarded therewith.

The work indeed of itself is most worthy to employ us, doth most become us, doth much adorn us, doth best befit our divine extraction and large capacity; is the noblest, the handsomest, the sweetest employment that could take us up; but we have also the greatest inducements and encouragements possible for our industry therein.

There are, by the divine bounty and mercy, wages assigned abundantly correspondent to our work, yea, infinitely surpassing it; there is nodùs peods, a great (or a manifold) hire for our slender and simple performances; there are several noble prizes highly worth our striving for with our utmost strength and contention of soul.

In recompense thereof we shall assuredly gain even here in this transitory state the special favor and love of God, with his constant protection and care for our good; his faithful direction and friendly assistance to guide us and uphold us in all our ways, to bless and prosper our undertakings; to supply us in our needs, and comfort us in our distresses ; so that we shall lack nothing that is good, that no evil shall happen to us, that all things shall concur and co-operate for our benefit.

We shall thereby taste the satisfaction of a calma mind, and a sound conscience, quickened by the consolations of the divine Spirit ; 'the peace of God ruling in our hearts, which passeth all understanding.'

We shall afterward, when this moment is passed over, and our short day's work dispatched, receive from God's bountiful

[ocr errors]

hand an unconceivable affluence of good things, an eternal permanence of life ; undisturbed rest, indefectible wealth, ineffable joy, incorruptible glory, a kingdom unshakable.

*He,' saith our Lord, that reapeth, receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting.'

• To them,' saith St. Paul, who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, God in recompense will bestow eternal life. And,

I have,' saith that blessed laborer of himself, 'fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.'

What more effectual spur or incentive can there be to industry in this business, than to consider that which St. Paul so often doth inculcate : · Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same (a recompense for the same) he shall receive of the Lord;' and knowing that in consideration of our service done to the Lord) of the Lord we shall receive the reward of the inheritance ?'

What exhortation can be more firmly grounded, or strongly backed, than is that of the Apostle, “Therefore, my brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord ?

May it not also much encourage us to industry, to be assured that not only the kind of our work, but the degree of our labor shall be considered and requited, in just proportion; so that the harder we work, the higher we shall be rewarded; for “to each one,' saith our Lord, the Son of man shall render a reward κατά την πράξιν αυτού, according to his performance. • Every one,' saith St. Paul, shall receive idcov uiolòr kara rövidlov kórov, his proper reward according to his proper work;' whence we have reason to observe St. John's advice, · Look to yourselves, that ye lose not those things which ye have gained, but that ye receive a full reward.'

To be negligent or slothful in such a case, for want of a little care and pains to forfeit such advantages, what a pity, what a folly is it! Were an opportunity presented, by a little minding our business, and bestirring ourselves, to procure a fair estate, or a good preferment, would not he be deemed mad or sottish,

[ocr errors]

a

a

who should sit still, and forego that his advantage? How much more wildness is it to be drowsy and sluggish in this case, thereby losing eternal bliss and glory! Well therefore might the Apostle say, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ? How shall we escape, not only the sin and guilt of basest ingratitude toward him that graciously doth offer it, but the imputation of most wretched folly, in being so much wanting to our own interest and welfare ?

Is it not a sad thing, a woful shame, to observe what pains men will throw away on things of small or no concerment to them ? yea, what toil and drudgery they will sustain in the service of Satan, in pursuit of sin, in the gratification of their vanities and lusts ?

What pains will a covetous wretch take in scraping for pelf! How will he rack his mind with carking solicitude to get, to keep, to spare it! How will he tire his spirits with restless travail! How will he pinch his carcass for want of what nature craveth! What infamy and obloquy will he endure for his niggardly parsimony and sordidness!

How much labor will an ambitious fop undergo for preferment, or vain honor ! To how many tedious attendances, to how pitiful servilities will he submit! What sore crosses and disappointments will he swallow! What affronts and indignities will he patiently digest, without desisting from his enterprise !

How will a man, as St. Paul observed, márra éy«pareveolat, endure all painful abstinence and continence, in order to the obtaining a 'corruptible crown,' a fading garland of bays, a puff of vain applause !

What diligence will men use to compass the enjoyment of forbidden pleasures ! how watchful in catching opportunities, how eager

in quest of them will they be! What difficulties will they undertake, what hazards will they incur, what damages and inconveniences will they sustain, rather than fail of satisfying their desires !

What achings of head and heart; what pangs of mind, and gripes of conscience ; what anxieties of regret and fear, will every worker of iniquity undergo ! So faithful friends hath this vain and evil world;, so diligent servants hath the accursed

6

[ocr errors]

lord thereof; so careful and laborious will men be to destroy and damn themselves. O that we could be willing to spend as much care and pains in the service of our God ! O that we were as true friends of ourselves! O that we could be as industrious for our salvation ! that is, in the business of our general calling : which having considered, let us proceed to the other business belonging to us, which is,

II. The business of our particular calling; that in reference whereto St. Paul doth prescribe, . Every man as the Lord hath called him, so let him walk.' • Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called ' let him so abide, as faithfully to prosecute the work, and discharge the duty of it; the doing which otherwhere he termeth apácoelv idra, to do our own business,' (' working with our hands,') and enjoineth it in opposition to those tivo great pests of life, sloth and pragmatical curiosity; or the neglect of our own, and meddling with other men's affairs.

This the Apostle nameth our calling; because we are called or appointed thereto by divine providence ; for he supposeth and taketh it for granted, that to each man in this world God hath assigned a certain station, unto which peculiar action is suited; in which station he biddeth him quietly to abide, till Providence fairly doth translate him, and during his abode therein diligently to execute the work thereof.

Every man is a member of a double body; of the civil commonwealth, and of the Christian church: in relation to the latter whereof St. Paul telleth us, (and what he saith by parity of reason may be referred likewise to the former,) that God hath set the members every one in the body, as it pleaseth him ;' and as it is in the natural, so it is in every political and spiritual body, every member hath its proper use and function ; * All members,' saith St. Paul, have not in avrily #pativ, the same office, or the same work and operation ; yet every one hath some work. There is no member designed to be idle or useless, conferring no benefit to the whole ; but the whole body,' saith the Apostle, 'fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying itself in love;' each member

a

« AnteriorContinuar »