« EdellinenJatka »
THE IMPORTANCE OF ORDER IN CONDUCT.
1 CORINTH. xiv. 40.
Let all things be done-in order.
RELIGION, like every regular and well conducted system, is composed of a variety of parts; each of which possesses its separate importance, and contributes to the perfection of the whole. Some graces are essential to it; such as faith and repentance, the love of God, and the love of our neighbour; which, for that reason, must be often inculcated on men. There are other dispositions and habits, which, though they hold not so high a rank, yet are necessary to the introduction and support of the former; and, therefore, in religious exhortations, these also justly claim a place. Of
this nature is that regard to order, method, and regularity, which the apostle enjoins us in the text to carry through the whole of life. Whether you consider it as, in itself, a moral duty, or not, yet I hope soon to convince you that it is essential to the proper discharge of almost all duties; and merits, upon that account, a greater degree of attention than is commonly paid to it in a religious view.
If you look abroad into the world, you may be satisfied, at the first glance, that a vicious and libertine life is always a life of confusion. Thence it is natural to infer, that order is friendly to religion. As the neglect of it coincides with vice, so the preservation of it must assist virtue. By the appointment of Providence, it is indispensably requisite to worldly prosperity. Thence arises a presumption, that it is connected also with spiritual improvement. When you behold a man's affairs, through negligence and misconduct, involved in disorder, you naturally conclude that his ruin approaches. You may, at the same time, justly suspect, that the causes which affect his temporal welfare, operate also to the prejudice of his moral interests. The apostle teaches us in this chapter, that God is not the author of confusion. He is a lover of order; and all his
* Ver. 33.
works are full of order. But, where confusion is, there is its close attendant, every evil work.* In the sequel of this discourse, I shall point out some of those parts of conduct wherein it is most material to virtue that order take place; and then shall conclude with shewing the high advantages which attend it. Allow me to recommend to you, order in the conduct of your affairs; order in the distribution of your time; order in the management of your fortune; order in the regulation of your amusements; order in the arrangement of your society. Thus let all things be done in order.
I. Maintain order in the conduct of your worldly affairs. Every man, in every station of life, has some concerns, private, domestic, or public, which require successive attention; he is placed in some sphere of active duty. Let the employments which belong to that sphere be so arranged, that each may keep its place without jostling another; and that which regards the world may not interfere with what is due to God. In proportion to the multiplicity of affairs, the observance of order becomes more indispensable. But scarcely is there any train of life so simple and uniform,
* James, iii. 16.
but what will suffer through the neglect of it. I speak not now of suffering in point of worldly interest. I call upon you to attend to higher interests; to remember that the orderly conduct of your temporal affairs, forms a great part of your duty as Christians.
Many, indeed, can hardly be persuaded of this truth. A strong propensity has, in every age, appeared among men, to sequestrate religion from the commerce of the world. Seasons of retreat and devotion they are willing to appropriate to God. But the world they consider as their own province. They carry on a sort of separate interest there. Nay, by the respect which, on particular occasions, they pay to religion, they often imagine that they have acquired the liberty of acting, in worldly matters, according to what plan they choose. How entirely do such persons mistake the design of Christianity!-In this world you are placed by Providence as on a great field of trial. By the necessities of your nature, you are called forth to different employments. By many ties you are connected with human society. From superiors and inferiors, from neighbours and equals, from friends and enemies, demands arise and obligations circulate through all the ranks of life. This active scene was contrived
by the wisdom of Heaven, on purpose that it might bring into exercise all the virtues of the Christian character; your justice, candour, and veracity, in dealing with one another; your fidelity to every trust, and your conscientious discharge of every office which is committed to you; your affection for your friends; your forgiveness of enemies; your charity to the distressed; your attention to the interests of your family. It is by fulfilling all these obligations, in proper succession, that you shew your conversation to be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. It is thus make your light so to shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. It is thus you are rendered meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.—But how can those various duties be discharged by persons who are ever in that hurry and perplexity which disorder creates? You wish, perhaps, to perform what your character and station require. But, from the confusion in which you have allowed yourselves to be involved, you find it to have become impossible. What was neglected to be done in its proper place, thrusts itself forward at an inconvenient A multitude of affairs crowd upon you together. Different obligations distract you; and this distraction is sometimes the