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adhere to one side or the other, “If the Lord be God, follow him ; but if Baal, then follow him *.” But what then are we to do 2 Are we to live in a state of perpetual warfare and hostility with that very world in which the hand of Providence has placed us, and which is prepared in various ways for our reception and accommodation ? Are we never to taste of those various delights which our Maker has poured so bountifully around us? Are we never to indulge those appetites which he himself has planted in our breasts 2 Are we so entirely to confine ourselves to the paths of righteousness, as never to enter those that lead to power, to honour, to wealth, or to fame? Are we to engage in no secular occupations, to make no provision for ourselves and our families 2 Are we altogether to withdraw ourselves from the cares and business and distractions of the world, and give ourselves wholly up to solitude, meditation, and prayer P Are
- We * 1 Kings, xviii. 21.
we never to mingle in the cheerful amusements of society P Are we not to indulge ourselves in the refined pleasures of literary pursuits, nor wander even for a moment into the delightful regions of science or imagination ? - Were this a true picture of our duties, and of the sacrifices which Christianity requires from us; were these the commands of our divine Lawgiver, well might we say with the astonished disciples, “who then can be saved f" But the God whom we serve is not so hard a master, nor does his religion contain any such severe restrictions as these. Christianity forbids no necessary occupations, no reasonable indulgences, no innocent relaxations. It allows us to use the world, provided we do not abuse it. It does not spread before us a delicious banquet, and then come with a “touch not, taste not, handle not*.” All it requires is, that our liberty degenerate not into licentiousness, our amusements into dissi
pation, * Coloss. ii. 21.
pation, our industry into incessant toil, our carefulness into extreme anxiety and endless solicitude. So far from forbidding us to engage in business, it expressly commands us not to be slothful in it”, and to labour with our hands for the things that be needful; it enjoins every one to abide in the calling wherein he was called-i, and perform all the duties of it. It even stigmatizes those that provide not for their own, with telling them, that they are worse than infidels. When it requires us “to be temperates in all things,” it plainly tells us that we may use all things temperately; when it directs us “to make our moderation known unto all men ||,” this evidently implies, that within the bounds of moderation we may enjoy all the reasonable conveniences and comforts of the present life. But how then are we to reconcile this participation in the concerns of the
present * Rom. xii. 1 1.-1 Cor. iv. 12. + 1 Cor. vii. 20. f 1 Tim. v. 8. § 1 Cor. ix. 25. | Philipp. iv. 5.
present life, with those very strong declarations of Scripture, “ that we are not to be conformed to this world; that the friendship of the world is enmity with God; that we are to take no thought for the morrow ; that we are to lay up treasures no where but in heaven; that we are to pray without ceasing; that we are to do all things to the glory of God; that we are not only to leave father, mother, brethren, and sisters, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, but that if we do not hate all these near and dear connexions, and even our own lives, we cannot be his
disciples *.” These, it must be acknowledged, are very strong expressions, and, taken in their strict literal sense, do certainly imply that we are to abandon every thing that is most dear and valuable and delightful to us in this life, and to devote ourselves so entirely to the contemplation and
* Rom. xii. 2.-Jam. iv. 4.—Matt. vi. 20.34. 1 Thess. v. 17.—Ephes, vi. 18.-1 Cor. x. 31. — Luke, xiv. 26.
and love and worship of God, as not to
bestow a single thought on any thing