« FöregåendeFortsätt »
studious ; but after all, the main-spring of his every-day diligence in study, is the work which he has in view at the close of his course.
The merchant whose mind is intent on the advancement of Christ's kingdom is not merely selling cotton, cloth, and calico, all the day long. but in doing that-if that is his business-besides providing for his own support and that of his family, giving employment to others, and contributing to the general welfare of society, he is also sustaining a church, supporting a missionary or a colporteur, founding a college, doing whatever the avails of that business shall do to promote Christ's kingdom.
A compositor or a pressman in the Bible-house may work merely for his daily bread ; and it may be to him a matter of indifference whether he prints the Bible or Paine's age of Reason. But if he is living for Christ, it will be a matter of great satisfaction to him, that, while laboring for his daily bread, he is also contributing to multiply copies of the Word of God. And in like manner, any lawful and useful occupation may be pursued as a religious duty, and with constant reference to the glory of God, though it may be simply mechanical and may terminate wholly in physical effects.
A minister calling early one morning on a parishioner, a currier by trade, the latter apologized for being in his working dress. “May I be found so," replied the minister, “when the Master shall come for me.” What!” exclaimed the other, " in such a filthy dress ?” “When Christ comes,” rejoined the pastor, "may I be found about my business."
In view of the subject, I remark : 1. That the Christian who makes his attention to business a pretext for inattention to the duties of religion, takes a wrong view both of business and religion, and sets against each other, things that were meant to be in harmony. True, indeed, it is, sadly true, that worldly employments often, perhaps commonly, draw off the mind from God. Sometimes this is owing to the nature of the employment; but it is often the case where the business is lawful, because it is looked upon as a thing distinct from the service of God, a sort of necessary bondage to the world, or a necessary temptation and discipline. And even those who aim to do business on Christian principles, do not always regard the doing of business as itself a duty to be performed in its own time and place, for the glory of God, as truly as the duty of prayer. "The right discharge of our duties in the various employments of life, is to be regarded as serving God. He has arranged the order of things in this life to promote industry; he has made industry essential to happiness and success. Не has required that all our employments should be conducted with reference to his will and to his honor." He who so conducts his business will not find it a hindrance to piety, and will be relieved of the painful strife between the claims of business and the claims of God.
2. In a time of general prosperity, we should seek the reviving of religion. It is a common saying, and a more common feeling, that nothing can be done for reviving religion in a busy season. Is tbis so? Has God subjected us to temporal necessities and laws which conflict with our spiritual welfare? The farmer, at certain skisons, must be engaged in husbanding his crops ; is this incompatible with the due performance of religious duties? Is there any s'ich necessary conflict be. tween the temporal and the spiritual ? Viewing the busy season as a temptation, you should resolve that you will not be drawn off from God. But why not regard your increasing prosperity with gratitude, as sent from God, and make it a new incentive to activity in his service? Do not bargain with conscience to serve the world so hard, and so long, with the promise of serving God when you shall have nothing else to do Let others see that, in being diligent in business, you are working for God. Do not conduct your business on selfish principles; and while you are making money, give, give, GIVE, God prospers you.
3. Men of the world may understand what we mean, when we call upon them to give up the world and become Christians. We do not ask them to give up their business, unless that business is an immoral and unlawful one. We do not ask them to be any less industrious and thrifty. But we show them how they may subbordinate their business to a higher end ; and instead of toiling for self and pelf, may labor for an object that shall last for ever. We show them how they may ennoble life, and enjoy it, and link it to heaven besides. What is it to make money ? For whom do you make it? What shall it profit you to gain the whole world, and lose your own soul? Oh, live to to do good ! live for God !—then shall you live forever, and when you are gone hence, your works shall follow you in lines of fadeless glory to the skies.
BY REV. JONAS PERKINS,
THIS LIFE MAN'S SEASON OF PROBATION FOR ETERNITY.
* For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may
receive the things done in his body, iccording to that he hath done whether it be good or bad.”_-2. Cor. 5 : 10.
This life is man's season of probation for eternity. That this doctaine is taught by the apostle in my text is evident. He uses the term " in the body," to signify continuence in the present life. He says ; " Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” He esteemed it desirable that his present life should terminate, because then he should enter heaven to enjoy the beatific presence of Christ. But he believed that to be prepared for that enjoyment, he must contirue to be faithful in his sacred calling. " Wherefore," he says, “we labor, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” He then expresses the same sentiment in a general proposition : "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” All must appear before Christ, to be judged ; and those who shall have done good, or obeyed the Gospel in their life-time, will be accepted; but those who shall have done evil, or disobeyed the Gospel in their lifetime, will be condemned. An addition al evidence that the apostle meant here to teach that this life is man's season of probation for eternity, is given in the words which he subjoined, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” That this life is a season of proba-tion for eternity, is confirmed by the following considerations :
1. Man's nature is adapted to such a state of probation. He is a moral agent. He is capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and of choosing or refusing. When the law of God is clearly exhibited to the mind of man, his conscience approves of it, and he is convinced that he ought to obey it. When he transgresses it he is conscious that he does wrong, that he renders himself blame-worthy, and that he ought to have rendered obedience. Or when the Gospel is intelligibly presented to bim, he cannot do otherwise than assent to it, as being worthy of acceptation. He is conscious that he ought to accede to its terms, and gratefully accept the great salvation. Man has not only ability to act as a moral agent, but he is susceptible of retribution. He is a proper subject for reward or pun. ishment. He is conscious that he ought not to be accepted and rewarded unless he does right; and that he deserves to be condemned and punished when he commits sin.
Man's nature, therefore, is adapted to a state of probation. He has ability and capacity to do right, and receive reward ; or to do wrong, and receive punishment. Since, moreover, man is an immortal being, he is by nature adapted to be in this life a probitioner for eternity. According to the character which he forms here, whether holy or sinful, he will be fitted either for a state of happiness or misery in eternity.
II. Man's condition in this life is adapted to a state of probation for eternity.
He has opportunity to do good or to do evil. He may exercise in his heart, and manifest in his life, benevolence or selfishness, love or hatred, faith or unbelief, piety or impietyobedience to God or rebellion against him. He not only has, as before stated, ability to distinguish between right and, wrong, and a consciousness that be ought to obey the law of God, and accede to the terms of the Gospel ; but such is the condition in which he is placed that he is of necessity constantly deciding the question whether he will obey or disobey, accede or refuse. I now speak of the condition of man while he has a knowledge of the Scriptures. He knows what his duty is to God, his fellow-man, and himself. Motives are presented to induce him to do his duty. At the same time his heart is tried by temptations. In this condition he cannot suspend his moral agency. He must voluntarily conform to the rule of moral rectitude, or voluntarily act in violation of it. If he is a sinner be must either repent, or persist in transgression; he must obey the Gospel in the exercise of faith, or continue in unbelief; he must yield to the authority and espouse the cause of Christ, and stand with him or continue to resist bis authority and oppose his cause. Thus, every person upon whom the light of revelation shines, is forming a moral character, either holy or sinful : is laying up a treasure either of heavenly blessedness with the siints in light, or of wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Nor are those only who have the Scriptures in a condition which is adapted to a probationary state : "for," says the ap.
ostle," when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these baving not the law are a law unto themselves ; who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one another.” Accordingly moral obligation rests upon the pagan world, and they are constantly forming a character as probationers for eternity:
III. The comparisons by which the scriptures represent this life, plainly teach that it is a season of probation for eternity. this life is compared to seed time. “Be not deceived," says the apostle, “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the Hesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well-doing ; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” In this life men sow their different kinds of seed. Some sow to the flesh. They occupy their time and talents in gratifying the carnal mind. They are caterers to the selfishness, pride, covetousness, or licentiousness of their own hearts. Their harvest time will come ; and as they have gowed to the flesh, they will of the flesh reap corruption. Their portion will be the wages of sin---the second death. Others sow to the Spirit. They occupy their time and talents according to the dictates and under the influence of the spirit of grace. They too will have a harvest. They will of the spirit reap life everlasting. As during the appropriate season the seed is sown, springs up, and is matured for the harvest, so, during this life, man forms his character as a probationer for the final judgment,--that harvest which will be at the end of the world, and the consequence of which will be the retributions of eternity.
Of similar import are the parables of the ten virgins and that of the talents. When the virgins were called to go out to meet the bridegroom, the wise having taken oil in their vessels were in readiness “when at midnight there was a cry made, behold the bridegroom cometh ; go ye out to meet him."
Whereas the foolish, baving neglected to prepare for the event, when they afterward came, saying Lord, Lord, open unto us,” received the reply, “ Verily, I say unto you, I know you not." Also the three servants, to one of whom were given five talents, to another two, to another one, were placed on probation ; and when their term was expired, their Lord came to reckon with them. The two former had been faithful to their trust, and had gained as much as had been committed to them ; to each of whom his Lord said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” But the other servant, under pretence that