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that he who is diligent in his business, shall stand before kings, and not before mean men.” It commands « not to be slothful in business; to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord ; and him that ruleth to do it with diligence; and giving all diligence to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity ; and to give diligence to make our calling and election sure.”
Our religion refers the sluggard to the ant,for a lesson of foresight and industry, and threatens him with inevitable poverty if he neglects it. It declares that, if any will not work, neither should he eat, and commands and exhorts, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness its professors work and eat their own bread." To the careless and unconcerned about their eternal interests, it resounds, with a voice similar to that of the archangel on the day of judgment, “ Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
“Few and evil are the days of the years of the life of man.” “Every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” “ He is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." He
a Prov. x. 4 ; xii. 24; xxii. 29. b 2 Pet. i. 5—7, 10. c Prov. vi. 6, 11.
d 2 Thess. iii. 10-12. e Eph. v. 14–16. f Gen. xlvii. 9. Psal. xxxix. 5. Job v. 7. VOL. II.
lives in the midst of a scene constantly changing, is harassed by care and anxiety, subject to frequent disappointment of his hopes and pursuits, exposed to continual danger, and liable to disease and to pain, to calamity and affliction, in various forms. Death impends over him every moment. Scripture, therefore, represents his present life as a pilgrimage, as a race, as a fight, as a trial, in which we are to evince our qualifications for an everlasting inheritance and crown.” Hence, patience, perseverance, resignation, and fortitude become absolutely necessary to the Christian character.
Fortitude is one of the cardinal virtues inculcated by the sages of pagan antiquity. It was defined by the Stoics to be that “habit of will which stands up in defence of equity.” It is necessary for the conscientious and faithful discharge of all our duties: for he who
possesses not firmness of mind to assert and to practise what is right, in every circumstance and situation of life, who is either seduced by the hopes and allurements of advantage, or intimidated and quelled by the dread of suffering, is unable to maintain a steady and undeviating course of virtue, but is at the mercy of emerging circumstances. Christian resignation, patience, and fortitude are, however, of a very different complexion from the virtues
a Heb. xi. 13. 1 Pet. ii. 11. Heb. xii. 1. 2 Tim. iv. 7. 1 Pet. i. 7 ; iv. 12. b. Cicero De Offic. lib. i. cap. 19.
of this description inculcated by heathen morality. They are founded on principles to which that morality was an entire stranger ; are actuated by motives which it could not suggest ; and directed to objects of which its teachers could form no conception. Of resignation to the divine will, as wisest and best, and as always pursuing the highest happiness of the rational and moral creation, the sages of pagan antiquity could entertain no idea, because they were destitute of the revelation of that will. Neither could they suggest sufficient motives to patience and perseverance in duty, because they had no positive assurance of the support of heaven. As little could they promise that final and eternal reward which alone can prove an adequate compensation for all the evils and calamities of a present life. But what a difference is observable in the tone which, on this subject, our holy religion justly assumes, when it exhorts to be patient and resigned under distress, calamity, and affliction, and to be firm and undaunted in the cause of truth and righteousness! “ Blessed are ye,” says our Saviour, “when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad ; for great is your reward in heaven.”
“ Ye shall be hated of all men, for my name's sake. But there shall not a hair of
your head perish. In your patience, possess ye your
souls." “ He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” “ Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Thus, the apostle Paul,-“ Every one that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it, (competitors in the ancient games,) to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air ; (like the ancient andabatæ who fought hood-winked ;) but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection ; lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
“ Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."d “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Thus, the apostle Peter,--"Let them that suffer according to the
a Matt. v. 11, 12. Luke xxi. 17-19. Matt. X. 22. b Matt. X. 28. Luke xii. 4, 5. c] Cor. ix. 25–27. d 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. e 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”a Thus, the apostle John,_" I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth ; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”b Such are the principles that dictate, such the motives that incite, such the prospects that animate Christian fortitude. It is to be observed, that the whole of self-government, and the due regu. : lation of our minds in regard to ourselves, extends to speech and thought, as well as to ex: ternal conduct. Indeed, all virtue resides in the mind; and if its spring is not there, conduct will never be properly regulated, and be at best a specious appearance, which will be relinquished as soon as the selfish motives which suggested its assumption cease to operate.
“ A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good ; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for, of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.” “ Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, forni, cations, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies." Hence our Saviour's declaration, that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an ac,
c Matt. xii, 35,
a 1 Pet. iv. 19.
b Rev. xiy. 13. Luke yi. 45, Matt. xy. 19,