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false zeal which does not begin with the regulation of our own hearts. That will be an illiberal zeal which stops where it begins. A true zeal will extend itself throngh the whole sphere of its possessor's influence. Christian zeal like Christian charity will begin at home, but neither the one nor the other must end there.
But that we must not confide our zeal to mere conver. sation is not only implied but expressed in Scriptore.
The Apostle does not exbort us to be zealous only of good words but of good works. True zeal ever produces true benevolence. It would extend the blessings wbich we ourselves enjoy, to the whole human race. It will conse: quently stir ns up to exert all our influence to the extension of religion, to the advancement of every well con. certed and well conducted plan, calculated to enlarge the limits of human happiness, and more especially to promote the eternal interests of hunian kind.
But if we do not first strenuously labour for our owo il. lumination, how shall we presnue to enlighten others? It is a dangerous presumption, to busy ourselves in impro. ving others, before we liave diligently sought our own improvement. Yet it is a vanity not uncommon that the first feelings, be they true or false, which resemble devo. tion, the tirst faint ray of knowledge which has imper. fectly dawned, excites in certain raw minds an eager impatience to communicate to others what they themselves have not yet attained. Hence the novel swarms of uniu. structed instructors, of teachers who have had no time to learn. The act previous to the imparting knowledge should seem to be that of acquiring it. Nothing would so effectually check an irregular, and improve a temperate zeal, as the personal discipline, the self-acquaintance which we have so repeatedly recommended.
- True Christian zeal will always be known by its distin. guishing and inseparable properties. It will be warn indeed, not from temperament but principle.--It will be humble, or it will not be Christian zeal.- It will restrain its impetnosity that it may the more effectually promote it object. It will be temperate, softening what is strong in the act by gentleness in the nanner.-It will be tolera. ting, willing to grant what it would itself desire.-It will be forbearing, in the hope that the offence it censures may be an occasional failing, and not a habit of the mind.-It will be candid, making a tender allowance for those ini. perfections which beings, fallible themselves, ought to expect from human infirmity.-It will be reasonable-employing fair argument and affeetionate remonstrance, instead of irritating by the adoption of violence, instead of mortifying by the assumption of superiority."
He, who in private society allows himself in violent an. ger or unhallowed bitterness, or acrimonious railing, in reprehending the faults of another, might, did his power keep pace with his inclination, have recourse to other weapons. He would probably banish and burn, confis. "cate and imprison, and think then as he thinks now, that he is doing God service...
If there be any quality which demands a clearer sight, a tighter rein, a stricter watchfulness than another, zeal is that quality. The heart where it is wanting has no elevation; where it is not guarded, no security. The prudence with which it is exercised is the strest evidence of its integrity; for if intemperate, it not only raises enemies to ourselves but to God. It augments the natural enmity to religion instead of increasing her friends. .
But if tempered by charity, if blended with benevolence, if sweetened by kindness, if evinced to be honest by its inflaence on your own conduct, and gentle by it's effect on your manners, it may lead your irreligious acguaintance to inquire more closely in wliat consists the distinction between them and you. You will already by this mildness have won their affections. Your next step may be to gain over their judgment. They may be led to examine what solid grounds of difference snbsist between you and them. What substantial reason you have for not going their lengths. What sound argument they can offer for not goipy yours. ...
But it may possibly be asked, after all, where do we perceive any symptoms of this inflammatory distemper? Should not the prevalence, or at least the existence of a disease be ascertained previous to the application of the remedy? That it exists is sufficiently obvious, thongh it must be confessed that among the higher ranks it has nut hitherto spread very widely; nor is its progress likely to be very alarming, or its effects very. malignant. It is to be lamented that in every rank indeed, coldness and indifference, carelessness and neglect, are the reigning epi. demics. These are diseases far more difficult of cure, diseases not more dangerous to the patient than distres. sing to the physician, who generally finds it more difficult to raise a sluggish habit than to lower an occasional heat. The imprudently zealous man, if he be sincere, may, by: discreet regimen, be brought to a state of complete sani, ty; but to rouse from a state of morbid indifference; to brace from a total relaxation of the system, must be the immediate work of the great physician of sonls; of him who can effect even this, by his spirit accompanying this powerful word, “ Awake, thon that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” ...
INSENSIBILITY TO ETERNAL THINGS.
INSENSIBILITY to eternal things, in beings who are standing on the brink of eternity, is a maduess which would be reckoned among prodigies, if it were not so common. It would be altogether incredible, if the numberless instances we have of it, were only related, and not witnessed, were only heard of, apd not experienced.
If we had a certain prospect of a great estate, and a splendid mansion which we knew must be ours in a few days; and not only our's as a bequest, batan inheritance; not only as a possession, but a perpetuity; if, in the mean time, we rented, on a precarious lease, a paltry cottage in bad repair, ready to fall, and from which we knew we must at all events soon be turned out, depending on the proprietor's will, whether the ejectment might not be the next minute ; would it argue wisdom or even common, sense, totally to overlook our near 'and noble reversion, and to be so fondly attached to our falling tenement, as to spend great part of our time and thoughts in supporting its ruins by props, and concealing its decays by dec. orations? To be so absorbed in the little sordid pleasures of this frail abode, as not even to cultivate a taste for the delights of the mansion, where such treasures are laid up for us, and on the possession of which we fully reckon in spite of our neglect; this is an excess of inconsideration, which must be seen to be credited.
It is a striking fact, that the acknowledged uncertaio.
ty of life drives worldly men to make sure of every thing depending on it except their eternal concerns. It leads them to be regular in their accounts, and exact in their bargains. They are afraid of risking ever so little property, on so precarious a tenure as life, without insuring a reversion. There are even some who speculate on the uncertainty of life as a trade. Strange, that this accurate calculation of the duration of life should not involve a serious attention to its end! Strange, that the critical annuitant should totally overlook his perpetuity! Strange, that in the prudent care not to risk a fraction of property, equal care should not be taken, not to risk eternal salvation !
Weare not supposing flagitious characters, remarkable for any thing which the world calls wicked; we are not supposing their wealth obtained by injustice, or increased by oppression. We are only supposing a soul drawn aside from God, by the alluring baits of a world, which, like the treacherous lover of Atalanta, causes bim to lose the victory by throwing golden apples in his way. The shrining baits are obtained, but the race is lost!
To worldly men of a graver cast, business may be as formidable an enemy as pleasure is to those of a lighter turn : Business has so sober an air that it looks like virtue, aud virtuous it certainly is, when carried on in a proper spirit, with due moderation, and in the fear of God. To have a lawful employment, and to pursue it with diligence, is not only right and hononrable in itself, but is one of the best preservatives from temptation.*
When a man pleads in his favour, the diligence business demands, the self-denying practices it imposes, the patience, the regularity, the industry indispensable to its success, when he argues that these are habits of virtue, that they are a daily discipline to the moral pian, and that the world could not subsist without business, he argues justly :- but when he forgets his interests in the eternal world, when be neglects to lay up a treasure in heaven, in order that he may augment a store which he does not want, and, perhaps, does not intend to use, or uses to purposes merely secular, he is a bad calculator of the relative value of things.
• That accurate judge of human life, Dr. Johnson, has often been heard by the writer of these pages to observe, that it was the greatest misfortune which could befal' a man to have been bred to no profes. sion, and pathetically to regret that this misfortune was his ow!.
Business has an honourable aspect as being opposed to idleness, the most hopeless offspring of the whole progeny of sin. , The man of business comparing himself with the man of dissipation, feels a fair and natural consciousness of his own value, and of the superiority of his own pursuits. But it is by comparison that we deceive ourselves to onr ruin. Business, whether professional, commercial, or political, endangers minds of a better cast, minds which look down on pleasure as beneath a thipk. ing being. But if business absorb the affections, if it swallow np time, to the neglect of eternity ; if it generate a worldly spirit; if it cherish covetousness; if it engage the mind in long views, and ambitious pursuits, it may be as dangerous, as its more inconsiderate and fri. volous rival. The grand evil of both lies in the aliena. tion of the heart from God. Nay, in one respect, the danger is greater to him who is the best employed. The man of pleasure, however thoughtless, can never make himself believe that he is doing right. The man plunged in the serious bustle of business, cannot easily persuade hiniself that he may be doing wrong.
Commutation, compensation, and substitution, are the grand engines which WORLDLY RELIGION incessantly keeps in play. Her's is a life of barter, a state of spiritual traffic, so much indulgence for so many good works. The implication is, “ we have a rigorous master," and it is but fair to indemnify ourselves for the severity of his requisitions ; just as an overworked servant steals a holiday. “These persons,” says an eminent writer*, “maintain a meum and tuum with heaven itself." They set bounds to God's prerogative, lest it should too much encroach on man's privilege.
We bave elsewhere observed, that if we invite people to embrace religion on the mere mercenary ground of present pleasure, they will desert it as soon as they find themselves disappointed. Men are too ready to clanour for the pleasures of piety, before they have, I dare say, entitled themselves to them, but put themselves into the way of receiving them. We should be angry at that servant, who made the receiving of his wages a prelimi· nary to the perforinance of his work. This is not meant
to establish the merit of works, but the necessity of our seeking that transforming aud purifying change which
* The learned and pious John Smith.