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has been practiced upon them. A long life of bitter experience is scarcely sufficient to correct our first impressions of the value of this world-make us see and confess, to our own hearts, that it is after all empty and vain. Why, what a fair and beautiful thing is human life, as the Deceiver paints it on the unpracticed vision of the youthful mind! It is a perfect paradise-a scene of enchantment. But alas! How the illusion vanishes, as we come to encounter the stern realities of life. How one fondly cherished hope after another fades and perishes, till all are gone—nothing more remains—and life without God is found to be an evil, and a weariness, and the earth a desert with no satisfying good. Whither have fled the pleasures of youth that once were so alluring, and for which we were so willing to let “Christ and heaven go ?” What have become of the stores of wealth, the barns of plenty, the abundant experience of good, that were promised us in manhood? Whence are to come the mellow fruit and the quiet blessings of old age? We reach at length the brink of the grave, and looking back over the waste of years, wonder if that be the life which our youthful fancy set out in colors so bright and fascinating?
And it is only by means of deception-making “ the worse appear the better reason”-holding out at every step the most alluring hopes, and disguising the odious character of sin, and hiding from view its certain and fatal consequences, that the Devil succeeds in ruining so many souls.
Sin itself is a monstrous lie ; there is no truth in it: it is "the doctrine of devils.” It is a lie against the being and every perfection of God; against all the laws of rectitude and of nature, as well as grace : it is a lie against the peace and happiness of the soul, and the universal good. The sinner is made the willing dupe and victim of a malicious lie from first to last. How mournful the spectacle! All his hopes will perish and his works be destroyed, for they are false. Death to him will be “a melancholy day,” for it will reveal the nature and extent of his deception. And his eternity will be embittered by the taunts and torments of the infinitely odious and lying deceiver.
If the Devil is such a deceiver why will men trust him? How can they take his word ? How be duped by his devices ? since he has done nothing but deceive and ruin men ever since he gained entrance into the world : why should he not be hated and detested as such a character deserves to be ?
How can men serve such a master? All his power is usurped. His character comprehends all meanness and vileness and infamy. His service is a hard one-his reward disappointment, misery, eternal death! He cherishes toward us not one kind feeling : he desires to make us as miserable as himself; and no ineans are spared to accomplish it. To serve him is to enslave our souls, and gratify his fiendish pleasure, and make our destruction sure.
* Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”
The revival of business is now the common topic of conversation with business men. There is no more complaining of “ a dull season," of “nothing doing;” but every sort of business is active, and there is promise of a season of unusual prosperity. For one. I am glad of it. As a Christian minister I rejoice in it; for dull times in business are apt to be dull times in everything. Though in a season of general distress, many may turn their thoughts to religion and eternal things, yet it is in a time of general prosperity that the cause of Christ, as a whole, moves forward. Then it is that men build churches, schools and colleges, plant missions, send forth evangelists, distribute freely the Word of God, in short, push forward with vigor all the enterprises of benevolence. The opening of a railroad through a certain county in Massachusetts wiped off some half-a-dozen churches from the list of beneficiaries of the Home Missionary Society. It revived business; it brought trade and money to the doors of the people, and thus gave them the means of supporting the institutions of the gospel. The same process is going forward in other States, both north and west. Religion has an interest in the railroad, the canal, the factory, the mine, the ship, the steamboat, the machine, the plow, the anvil, and the loom. Where the fruits of industry and commerce most abound, there religion may look for her largest tribute; as also, in turn, where religion is best sustained, there the arts and occupations of civilized life are most flourishing. Therefore let not Christians look upon the reviving of business as of course a hindrance to the reviving of religion, nor feel that nothing can be done to revive religion in a busy season. Let them not
set religion in opposition to all the temporal interests of men, neither let them separate their own business from their religion, and attempt to carry each forward at intervals only, and distinct from the other. While we congratulate our fellow-citizens on the revival of business, let us turn their thoughts to the higher blessing of the reviving of religion; making the return of tempo. ral prosperity the occasion of gratitude to God and of renewed activity in His service. In so doing, we shall carry out the spirit of the apostolic precept in our text.
I am aware that some understand by .business' here, the work of Christ,—referring the exhortation to “religious activity,” rather than to “the active performance of our several vocations.” The word translated “business” means, properly, haste, zeal, activity, diligence; and hence it comes, very naturally, to denote industry, labor. The meaning of the apostle may then be expressed as follows: As to diligence, activity, labor, do not be remiss or slothful,—do not grow weary or indolent. Thus taken, it is a general precept, corresponding with that given in Ecclesiastes 9: 10, “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” In this view of the text, we may say with Dr. Chalmers, “ Whether we retain the word business, or render it into any other of the relative terms, there is no mistaking the sense of this first clause, which is not to be slothful but diligent; and that whatever the business may be, if an expedient and a lawful one. The question whether it be a sacred or secular employment which is here referred to, will not embarrass him whose honest aim is to leaven with the spirit of the gospel every hour of his life, and every work which he puts his hand to. The man who studies to observe all things whatsoever' Christ hath commanded him, will still feel himself religiously employed when following the precept• Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. He will see no difficulty in making the advice here given to be of universal application, who aspires to a conformity with the say. ings— Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God;' Whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.'"
We may therefore apply the text, at least in its spirit, to secular business. Not only in the work of the ministry, not only in labors of brotherly love or of benevolence toward mankind, but in the daily vocations of life, in our every-day business, we are to be “not slothfui” but diligent.
In order to a full development of this idea, I remark,
1. The Christian religion favors activity and diligence in business. In this remark it is implied, of course, that the business is in itself lawful; not lawful merely according to the statute-book of the state or the code of commerce, but lawful according to the
great moral law of benevolence which extends to all the conduct and relations of life.
A business whose direct tendency is to injure the community, in property, health, or morals, like the sale of intoxicating drinks, though it may be licensed by the civil authority, is in violation of the law of love, and is therefore an unlawful business. There is no commendation of such business in the Word of God; no ex. hortation to faithfulness and diligence therein; but, on the contrary, the curse of God is upon it and its gains. “Wo to him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken; .... the cup of the Lord's right hand shall be turned to thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory." The very house built by such gains is accursed. “For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it; wo to him that buildeth a town with blood, and estab. lisheth a city by iniquity!" Any business which tends to injure mankind is unlawful, and is disallowed of God. But whatever business is of a useful tendency, whatever contributes in any way to the well-being of mankind--physically, intellectually, socially, or morally—that it is not only lawful for us to engage in, but being engaged in it, we are commanded to follow it with diligence. The scriptural rule is, that every man shall have some useful occupation, and that he shall be industrious in his calling.
Paul, in his letters to the Thessalonians, says: “ We beseech you, brethren,-that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing." And again: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among vou disorderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” He then refers to his own example. Though he might have called upon them to support him while he was laboring for their good, yet for example's sake he “did not eat any man's bread for naught, but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that he might not be chargeable to any." The Bible nowhere tolerates laziness. Both the Old Testament and the New abound in exhortations to diligence. The book of Proverbs is a manual of industry. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” “ The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” “ He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Christ condemns sloth in his own service, as in the sentence of the wicked and slothful servant in the parable of the talents : He was ever active in doing good, and doubtless, before entering on his public ministry, was industrious in his sphere as the carpenter's son. Paul labored at his trade of tent-making while in Ephesus, ministering to his necessities with his own hands; and he exhorts the Ephesians to labor, working with their own hands, in some good and useful occupation.
Thus much for the teachings of Scripture upon this point. Idleness is utterly discountenanced. It is condemned as a sin. The Christian religion enjoins industry and diligence in our secular concerns.
What Christianity thus enjoins by positive precept, it favors also by its influence, direct or indirect, in various ways. On this point, it has been well observed, that religion “draws off the mind from those pleasures and pursuits which generate and promote indolence.” Vain, frivolous, and vicious amusements are not only forbidden by the spirit and precepts of the gospel, but are superseded by those higher occupations with which it fills the mind. The pursuits of Idleness,-if that be not a contradiction in terms,—are foreign to the temper of the Christian. He has no relish for them. He can take no satisfaction in idling away his time. One can hardly conceive of such a character as a Christian loafer,-a devout, God-fearing idler. One of the first fruits of the gospel among a people who have been living in idleness and wantonness, is industry. When once a man realizes that he is immortal, he is no longer content to live like a beast; he forsakes the filthy hut for the neat cottage ; he gives up his roving, reckless manner of life, for the quiet occupations of husbandry, or for some mechanic art, or for the more active pursuits of trade and commerce. The thought that he is to live hereafter, leads him to set a higher value on the present life. He no longer walks in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries. The idler, the spendthrift, the prodigal, is transformed into a sober and industrious man, through the power of the gospel. Those who have watched the progress of civilization in connection with missionary labor at the Sandwich Islands, or among our own aborigines, will need no further argument or illustration on this point. The progress of Christianity is the progress of man in physical comfort and social refinement. The gospel makes the desert bloom, and covers the wilderness with gladness and plenty.
Again ; the Christian religion by holding forth the great idea of the renovation of the world, demands of all who embrace it, the active improvement of time. The Christian religion contemplates man in a state of degradation ;-the world in ruins. Its office is to bring man out of that state ; to build up those ruins. And in order to this, the whole fabric of society must be penetrated by its influence, and if need be, molded anew. Not only