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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, 110 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 chearful amusements of society? Are we not to indulge ourselves in the refined pleasures of literary pursuits, nor wander, even for a moment into the delight-' ful regions of science.or imagination ? :)
Were thiş a true picture of our duties, and of the sacrifịceswhichChristianity requires fium us'; were these the commands of our divine Lawgiver, well might we say with the astonished disciples, “.who then can be sayed?". """.
But the God whom we serve is not so hard a master, nor does his religion contain any şuch seyere restrictions as these, Christianity forbids.po necessary occupations, no reasonable indulgences, no įnnocent relaxations. It allows us to use the world, provided we do not
abuse it. It does not spread before us a deli
cious banquet, and then come with a “ touch --2100, taste not, handle nat*." 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 itt, 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 S. 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 uuto all men q.”
This evidently implies that within the bounds of moderation we may enjoy all the reasonable conveniencies and comforts of the present life. * Coloss. ii. 21. .
§ 1 Tim. v. 8. · sf Rom. xii. 11. 1 Cor. iy. 12. || 1 Cor. ix. 25. . 1 Cor. vii. 20.
. | Philipp. iv, 5. N
But how then are we to reconcile this par ticipation in the concerns of the present life, with those very strong declarations of Scrip: ture, “ 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 trea
sures 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 connections, 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 contem plation and love and worship of God, as not
* Rom. xii. 2: Jam, iv. 4. Matth. vi. 20. 34. 1 Thess. V. 17. Ephes. vi. 18. 1 Cor. x. 31. Luke, xiv. 26.
to bestow a single thought on any thing else, gr 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 understood 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 imniediately 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 and what'ye shall drink, nor yet for your body what ye shall put on?" thisis most clearly explained a few verses after in these words, “ Seek ye first ihe 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 lunceasing anxiety and solicitude about them: for that'indeed is * Matth. vi. 25. 33: