« FöregåendeFortsätt »
certified where the boundaries lay?-or be fpeculative enough to know how far we may go with safety? ---I answer, there are very few who are not casuists enough to make a right judgment in this point.--For fince one principal reason, why God may be supposed to allow pleasure in this world, seems to be for the refreshment and recruit of our souls and bodies, which, like clocks, inust be wound up at certain intervals, — every man understands so much of the frame and mechanism of himfelf, to know how and when to unbend himself with such relaxations as are necessary to regain his natural vigour and chearfulness, without which it is impossible he should either be in a disposition or capacity to discharge the feveral duties of his life. Here then the partition becomes visible.
Whenever we pay this tribute to our appetites, any further than is sufficient for the purposes for which it was first granted, the action proportionably loses fome share of its innocence.—The surplufage of what is unneceffarily spent on such occafions, is so much of the little portion of our time negligently
squandered, which, in prudence, we should apply better; because it was allotted us for more important uses, and a different account will be required of it at our hands hereafter. · For this reason, does it not evidently follow,—that many actions and pursuits, which are irreproachable in their own natures, may be rendered blameable and vicious, from this single consideration, “ That they have made us wasteful of the moments of this short and uncertain fragment of life, which should be almost one of our last prodigalities, since of them all the least retrievable.”- Yet how often is diversion, instead of amusement and relaxation, made the art and business of life itself? Look round,—what policy and contrivance is every day put in practice, for pre-engaging every day in the week, and parcelling out every hour of the day for one idleness or another, --for doing nothing,—or something worfe than nothing ;-and that with so much ingenuity, as scarce to leave a minute upon their hands to reproach them.-Tho' we all complain of the shortness of life,—yet how many people seem quite overstocked with the days and hours of it, and are continually sending
out into the highways and streets of the city for guests to come and take it off their hands. -If some of the more distressful objects of this kind were to fit down, and write a bill of their time, tho' partial as that of the unjust steward, when they found in reality that the whole fum of it, for many years, amounted to little more than this,--that they had rose up to eat,-to drink,-to play,—and had laid down again, merely because they were fit for nothing else:
—when they looked back and beheld this fair space, capable of fuch heavenly improvements, --all scrauled over and defaced with a succesfion of so many unmeaning ciphers,-good God!-how would they be ashamed and confounded at the account !
With what refle&tions will they be able to support themselves in the decline of life so miferably cast away,—should it happen, as it sometimes does,—that they have stood idle even unto the eleventh hour.-We have not always power, and are not always in a temper, to impose upon ourselves.-When the edge of appetite is worn down, and the spirits of youthful days are cooled, which hurried us on in a circle of pleasure and impertinence,--then rea
fon and reflection will have the weight which they deserve ;-afflictions, or the bed of fick: ness, will supply the place of conscience; and if they should fail,---old age will overtake us at last,--and shew us the past pursuits of life, and force us to look upon them in their true point of view. If there is any thing more to cast a cloud upon fo melancholy a prospect as this shews us, it is surely the difficulty and hazard of having all the work of the day to perform in the last hour ;---of making an atonement to God, when we have no sacrifice to : offer him, but the dregs and informities of those days, when we could have no pleasure in them. · How far God may be pleased to accept such late and imperfect services, are beyond the intention of this discourse.—Whatever stress some may lay upon it,-a death-bed repenta ance is but a weak and flender plank to trust our all upon. Such as it is ;-to that, and God's infinite mercies, we commit them, who will not employ that time and opportunity he has given to provide a better security.
That we may all make a right use of the time allotted us, -God grant through the merits of his Son Jesus Christ. Amen.