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planted in our breasts? 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 en, gage in no secular occupations, to make no provision for ourselves and our families ? 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? Are we never to mingle in the cheerful amusements of soçiety? 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 diz vine lawgiver, well might we say with the asta, pished disciples," who, then can be saved ?". -- But the God whom we serve is pot 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 dissipation, 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-t, 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 g. When it requires us “ to be temperate || 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 0," this evidently implies that within the bounds of moderation we may enjoy all the reasona
ble conveniences and comforts of the present life.
But how then are we to reconcile this pare ticipation in the concerns of the 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 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 connections, and even our own lives, we cannot be his disciples *.". ..iii..!!
These, it must be acknowledged, are very strong expressions, and taken in their strict literal sense, do certainly imply that we are to abạndon 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 love and worship of God, as not
* Rom. xii. 2 - Jam. iv. 4. Matth. vi. 20. 34. I Thess. v. 17. Ephes. yi. 18. i Cor. x. 31. Luke kiv. 26,
to bestow a single thought on any thing else, or to give ourselves the smallest concern about the affairs of this sublunary state. .: But can any one imagine this to be the real doctrine of Scripture ? You may rest assured that nothing so unreasonable and extravagant is to be fairly deduced from these sacred writings. .
In order then to clear up this most important point, three things are to be considered.
First, that were these injunctions to be un- . derstood in their literal signification, it would be utterly impossible for us to continue a week longer in the world. If, for instance, we were bound to pray without ceasing, and to take no thought whatever for the morrow, we must all of us quickly perish for want of the common necessaries of life.
2dly. It must be observed that all oriental writers, both sacred and profane, are accustomed to express themselves in bold ardent figures and metaphors, which, before their true meaning can be ascertained, require very considerable abatements, restrictions, and limitations,
3dly. What is most of all to the purpose; these abatements are almost constantly pointed out by Scripture itself; and whenever a very strong and forcible idiom is made use of, you will generally find it explained and modified by a different expression of the same sentiment, which either immediately follows, or occurs in some other passage of Scripture. .
Thus in the present instance, when Christ says, “ Ye cannot serve God and mammon ; therefore take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on;" this is most clearly explained a few verses after in these words, “ Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you*” The meaning therefore of the precept is evidently this; not that we are absolutely to take no thought for our life, and the means of supporting it; but that our thoughts are not to be wholly or principally occupied with these things. We are not to indulge an immoderate and unceasing anxiety and solicitude about them; for that indeed is