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practical duties to his disciples, as the condition of their salvation; and pressed the performance of these duties upon them, with an earnestness and a force of expression, that
may well alarm the thoughtless and the make them reflect on the extreme danger of their situation. With regard to God, we are commanded “ to believe in him, to fear “ him, to love him, to worship him, to give “ him thanks always, to pray without ceaf
ing, and watch thereunto with all perse“ verance.” With regard to our neighbour, we are“ to do good unto all men, to be rich “ in good works, to be kind and tender
hearted, to feed the hungry, to cloath the “ naked, to remember them that are in bonds, " to minister to the fick, to visit the father« less and widows in their affliction.” With regard to ourselves, we are enjoined “ to be
temperate in all things, to keep under our “ bodies, and bring them into subjection, to “ set our affections on things above, to watch “ and pray left we enter into temptation, to 66 work out our salvation with fear and treinbling, to use all diligence to make our call. ing and election sure.” Such and so va. rious are the duties pressed upon us in every page
of the scriptures. And is this now a religion to be trifled with ? Is it not enough to employ every moment we can spare from the indispensable duties of our station, and the necessary refreshments of nature ; and how then can it be consistent with that inceffant hurry and dissipation, which, intent only on providing a succession of worthless amusements and ignoble gratifications, overlooks every obligation of a man and a Christian ; and supposes that the whole business of life is not to employ time usefully, but to consume it insignificantly? Can these men seriously imagine that they are all this time “ work. “ ing out their salvation,” that they are
pressing forwards towards the mark for the “ prize of their high calling t,” that they are every day drawing nearer and nearer to immortal happiness, and that they shall share the crown of glory with them who “ have '“ borne the burthen and heat of the day I ?” Is eternal life so very small an object, so ex,
Phil. iii. 14.
1 Matth. XX. 12.
tremely cheap a purchase, as to require not the least pains to obtain it? Or is the situation of the rich man represented in Scripture to be so perfectly safe and secure, that, while the rest of mankind are enduring afflictions, struggling with difficulties, subduing their passions, and
working out their salvation “ with fear and trembling;" he, and he only, may neglect all these precautions, may give up his whole time and thoughts to dress, and magnificence, and diversion, and good cheer; may center his whole care in his own dear perfon, and make it his sole study to gratify every with of his heart; may leave his salvation to take care of itself, and, as if he had obtained a promise of Heaven in reversion, think of nothing but present felicity; and say within himself, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid
up for many years, take thine ease, eat,
drink, and be merry* }” Be not deceived: This is not virtue; this is not religion ; this is not Christianity. It is, on the contrary, that very temper of mind, that indolent, soft, luxurious, dream of the soul, for which the rich man in the Gospel was condemned “ to
“ lift up his eyes in torments * ;” and let those who dread his punishment, be warned by his example.
It is then a fatal mistake to suppose, that a life of continual gayety and dissipation, because it is not marked with
notorious crimes, because it does not shock our consciences with palpable guilt, is therefore perfectly innocent. You have by this time seen, I hope, that it is far from being so. You have seen that it naturally leads to, and frequently terminates in, actual vice; that at the least it so totally unmans and enfeebles the foul, as to render it unfit for the reception of religious truths, incapable of exerting its nobler powers, unable to struggle through the common difficulties, or support the common afflictions, of life; and leaves neither time, nor inclination, nor ability, to perform the most important duties of a man, a social being, and a Christian.
The truth is ; although diversions may serve very well to quicken a palled appetite, they are much too poignant and high-seafoned to be the constant food and nourishment
* Luke xvi. 23.
of the soul. They not only destroy our relish for the more plain and simple fare of sobriety and virtue, but lay a foundation for the worst diseases; and though they do not fo instantly kill as the deadly poison of vice, yet, with a gradual and a fatal certainty, they undermine the vital parts, and sap the constitution.
Beware then of an error, which is the more dangerous, because it is not always perceived, or at least acknowledged, to be an error. And such of you, more especially, as are just setting out in life, full of those high spirits and gay imaginations which youth, and rank, and affluence, naturally inspire; beware of giving way to that feverish thirst of pleasure, to that frivolous turn of mind and levity of conduct, which will render all your great advantages useless, and totally defeat every grand purpose of your
creation. Do not imagine that you were born to please yourselves only. Do not entertain that false, that destructive notion, that your wealth and time are all your own; that you may dispose of them exactly as you think fit; may lavish the whole of them on your own pleasures and amusements, without