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and the earth beneath, will afford scope for the most enlarged talents : and, after all, though men will ever find new motives for gratitude and stronger incentives to piety, in every discovery they make in the natural world, yet they will fall får short of finding out the Almighty unto perfection, or of fathoming his works, whose ways are past finding out. Nor are the labours of moral knowledge and virtuous discipline less various and difficult. To trace the faculties, operations, and tendencies of the mental powers,—to mark their several relations, subordinations, and uses,—to root out the inveteracy of prejudice, to bend the will, to correct
the temper, to subdue the passions, to keep the • heart with all diligence, to set a watch before
the door of the lips, to lay the foundations of spiritual improvement, and to grow in grace;these are duties which will leave the most unemployed no time to spare, no abilities to lie waste.
Again, Has any man particular talents entrusted to him by Providence? Is he distinguished by superior abilities, wealth, or influence? Let him not think that no account is to be given of them. No man is born for himself alone: his talents, whatever they are, were given him for the good of others. Does
he rise in all the majesty of genius, far above the level of his fellow-creatures ? Let him take for his pattern the great and incomparable Newton, whose abilities were always employed, through a long life, to improve men in knowledge or happiness; to discover the means of promoting their present conveniency by useful inventions; to explain the difficulties under which lower conceptions labour; to defend the cause of truth; to promote the interests of virtue and religion. Does he excel in wealth, and in the blessings of temporal prosperity? Let him follow the glorious example of the man of Ross, who was truly a faithful steward to the poor, and, on all occasions, the heaven-appointed friend of the friendless. There must be different ranks of men in life: the order of the world requires, and its changes and chances will always cause, that there should be low as well as high, poor as well as rich: his duty, therefore, is to obviate the necessary inconveniencies of this difference, by feeding the hungry and cloathing the naked, by providing for the children of affliction that cannot provide for themselves. And in the same way his superior influence is to be exerted in supporting the weak, and protecting the oppressed; in disçouraging presumptuous villany, and calling forth modest worth; in leading men on to
goodness, by the powerful attraction of superior excellence and shining example.
And his account of all these will be the greater at the day of judgment, in proportion to the greatness of his talents: for to whom much is given, of him much also will be required. And dreadfully will this account be aggravated, if, instead of using them to these good purposes, he has applied them to mislead, corrupt, oppress ;-if his eloquence has been employed to deceive, and his understanding to overreach;-if his riches have been squandered in luxury, and his influence exerted in seduction;--if he has stood foremost in the scenes of guilt, as well as first in the ranks of life,
2dly, The consideration of the approach of night suggests a lesson of still greater importance, when applied to the bụsiness of religion.
Man, as a reasonable creature, when he considers the purposes for which he came into the world, must see that he has enough to do, and therefore has need to do it with all his might, Religion is not the acquirement of a day, or the task of leisure. It requires the exertion of every faculty, and the improvement of every moment; seeing how much is to be done, and
in how short a time. The duties we owe to God are active duties, and call for all our abilities. Prayer and praise to a Lord of all power and might are not to be paid with listless lips and sluggish hearts, with cold insensibility or yawn, ing indifference: they must be gone through with seriousness and fervour; our devotion must glow: our hearts must throb. Nor is this earnestness and attention less necessary in the duties we owe to ourselves and mankind. It will call for all our care to discharge aright the duties of humanity, charity, justice, and fidelity; it will demand all our abilities and might to guard our hearts, to watch over our words and actions, to tread with safety amidst the numerous enemies that surround us; to baffle the wiles of Satan, to resist the smiles of pleasure, to subdue the allurements of lust, to shun the contagion of example. Nor is this all. There are also many heavenly graces to be acquired, many spiritual virtues to be practised, many trials to be sustained ; there is a warfare of the soul, there is a fight of faith, there is a race of glory, that awaits us in the christian course : in one word, in time we are to be trained for eternity; and that time how short ! how uncertain !
Yet let us not be discouraged. Though this be our service, yet it is a service which is the most perfect freedom in the world : it is a thousand times easier than the galling yoke of sin : “ The religious man has but one master, " and he a gracious one in heaven : but the " vicious man has as many tyrants over him as " there are sins and follies in the world.” And even if the labour of God's service were greater than it really is, yet the prize is proportionably great. An eternal reward, a crown of immortality, is a prize sufficient to animate the coldest, and make the weak strong. And for such a reward shall we grudge any pains ? Shall we scruple to labour with all our might? In other pursuits we want no spur. With what ardour do we follow the delusive call of pleasure? With what toil do we grasp for earthly treasures? With what violence do we rush into the entanglements of ambition ? With what unwearied perseverance do we tread the mazes of business? With what haste do we see men fly to supplant or undo a friend? With what fury do we behold them run to revenge themselves upon a supposed enemy? And shall we be less diligent and active to fulfil the great duties of humanity, to obey the sovereign commands of Omnipotence, and to be happy for ever ?