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nance to virtue, and fix a brand upon vice. By renouncing all the secret craft of the world, and all the sinister, though not unusual, methods of accumulating wealth, we may give the strongest proofs of our integrity. But contenting ourselves with the reasonable emoluments of our professions, and our employments, we may make our moderation known unto all men. By refusing to take advantage of public scarcity and distress, and disdaining to raise ourselves on the ruin of our fellow-creatures, we may display to the whole world a generous and disinterested love of our country. We may, in short, by a thousand instances of this kind, “ make to ourselves friends of the mammon “ of unrighteousness," and whether we eat, or drink, or work, or whatever we do, may do it all in such a manner as to promote the glory of God, and the salvation of our own souls.
Then, as to the positive duties of Religion, and the offices of piety and devotion, we can all of us spare one day in seven, at least, for the performance of them. By this we lose no ground in the race for riches and honours, because most of our competitors lose equally ; and they who spend it in idleness and debauchery lose more. We can all of us snatch a little time at morning, and at evening, and at noon-day, for conversing with our Maker and ourselves. We can all of us, in the very midst of our hurry, send up a short prayer, or a silent ejaculation to the throne of grace; whilst our hands are employed, our hearts may be with God; whilst our conversation is on earth, our thoughts and affections may be in heaven. No man, in short, can possibly, except by his own fault, be so circumstanced as to want the time that is indispensably necessary for working out his salvation. In cases of necessity, we must do what we can when we cannot do all we wish. We are sometimes obliged to give up to business part of the time allotted for the refreshment of our bodies ; but still we take care to give them what is absolutely necessary for their support. In the same manner, though we cannot always indulge ourselves in long and regular exercises of piety and devotion, yet should we never fail to feed and keep alive, at least, our sense of Religion by occasional supplies of spiritual nourishment. Such transient refreshments are often the sweetest, because we come to them with an appetite, and more will be sometimes done in them by men of quickness and dispatch, than in whole years languished out by the monastic drone in solitude and indolence.
But instead of making use of every opportunity that offers ; instead of conforming to those occasional seasons of retirement which the church has thrown in their way, men of business are apt to deceive themselves with resolutions of retreating some time or other from the world, in order to give themselves up to God and Religion without interruption. Under this persuasion, they postpone the settlement of their accounts with heaven, till the wished-for time arrives when they shall have nothing else to engage their thoughts. This is an error so very common, even to men of the best sense and the best intentions, that it well deserves a moment's consideration, before we dismiss this subject. And yet, it is very surprising, that so
many should fall into this snare, when every one may see, from daily experience, that these resolutions are scarce ever effectually carried into execution. And, indeed, how can it be expected ? It is the very nature of worldly pursuits to draw us on insensibly from one thing to another, contrary to our conviction, and even sometimes contrary to our inclination.
The ambitious man reaches what he thinks the summit of his wishes ; but this summit, when gained, he finds will serve as a step to some higher point, which makes his present situation seem little in his eyes. As he rises higher, he sees clearer and further; he condemns his first contracted views, and enlarges his desires as his prospects open. It is the same in the accumulation of wealth, as in the acquisition of power. There is always a certain sum we wish to compass, a certain design we wish • to accomplish. That design is accomplished, but our wishes are not completed. By thus having our eyes constantly fixed on some distant object, they are perpetually taken off from ourselves, and we never want a reason
for neglecting our duty, till it becomes too late to think of it.
Let me not, however, be understood as meaning by this to discourage in men of the world a real desire of breaking away from the incumbrance of business, and dedicating themselves in earnest to the service of God and the duties of Religion. I mean only to caution them against delusive and abortive projects of this nature ; against trusting all their hopes of future acceptance to distant and visionary plans of retirement, and in the meantime, living without God in the world. This is a risque to which no wise man ought to expose his most important interests. But if you sincerely wish to disengage yourself, at a convenient opportunity, from the cares and toils of a laborious occupation, think a little of the shortness and uncertainty of life, and the danger of long procrastination. Let the period of your retreat be fixed in due time, and resolutely observed ; and let it not be delayed from day to day, till your health, and spirits, and vigour of mind and body are gone; and all taste and relish for serious reflections,