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helpers of each other's joy. Our reasoning on the previous particulars is clearly applicable to this point: the man who may do most in the cause of Zion, is the man bound to do most.
We must add, that the rule which thus applies to the church applies equally to the WORLD. Where the greatest command of time is, the largest portion of it should be given to promote the general, and particularly the religious, improvement of mankind. A man of leisure has no excuse for being ignorant of his duty; and as little for not being much employed in it. All the spaces of time granted to us, are granted with that solemn injunction-Occupy till I come. Hence the woe
denounced on those who are at ease in Zion. If to grow old in sin, be to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath; to grow old in barrenness as to these fruits, is to render it fearfully probable that we have only a name to live; especially if our means of abounding in such fruit have been much greater than are commonly possessed.
II. We have now to shew that the persons subject to these peculiar Obligations are exposed to peculiar Danger.
They are so exposed, from their disposition TO FOR
GET, THAT THERE IS ANY SUCH PECULIARITY IN THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AS WE HAVE NOW SHEWN TO EXIST.
It is admitted, that the various duties of religion and humanity, which have been noticed, are assuredly binding on all Christians; but it is not
so readily granted that they are binding on men according to their means. Or if it be admitted that such as have most property, or most ability in some other respects, should be most useful, the same consequence is not always supposed to attend on those who differ from their brethren chiefly as having greater leisure. We infer this from the fact, that not a few accredited believers, who, from their opportunities, should not only be the best informed, but the most devout and the most useful, are really the least so. Did their consciences sufficiently assure them that they ought thus to excel others, they would not be satisfied with being merely on the ordinary level, still less with falling visibly below it.
It may be, that the persons so circumstanced have been engaged in secular affairs during a series of years, and have laboured much in the hope of being able to provide, at some distant period, against the necessity of labour. Having succeeded in this object, they seem to conclude that they are entitled to enjoy the rest for which they have toiled. Others have been accustomed from their youth to have the command of time; and the apportionment of large spaces of it to amusement or indulgence has been so habitual, as to take place without any consciousness of impropriety. In some instances of this sort, the great business of life, to use the impious language of the delinquent, is to kill time.
But we have not now to do with the latter class:
our concern is with Christians; with such of these as are free from the necessity of exertion in regard to their present condition, and who are often tempted to suppose that they are thereby freed from the necessity of exertion in any way. To judge thus, is to overlook the momentous distinction between a moral exemption, and an exemption arising out of mere circumstances. But we must inquire of such persons,-if time has been at your command from your youth, or, if your industry has been so far successful as to place the years of advanced life at your disposal, from whom have these allotments proceeded? Surely, from the gracious Being who speaks to you in the gospel. He made the circumstances of your unconscious infancy what they were; and it is his hand which has provided every thing included in your cup of life to the present hour. In these things, we every day see that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong that the whole dividing thereof is from the Lord.
Shall we say, then, of the time which is manifestly given to us, that it is our own; and that, as we choose, it shall be wasted or improved? The mind shrinks from the folly and impiety of such language. But does not this impious weakness attach to the conduct of every indolent professorto every man having this important talent at his bidding, and heedless of the injunctions of scripture as to the proper use of it? If your heavenly Benefactor has given you much time from your youth
upwards, it has been that your personal religion, and your Christian usefulness, might be the more observable. Or, if he has permitted you to separate yourself from the cares and labours of the world in a more advanced stage of life, it is that your last days may be your best-best in your own case, and best in behalf of those whom your influence may befriend. If not inured to hardships in search of the bread that perisheth, it is that you may labour for that which endureth to eternal life. God has evidently put great honour upon you, in granting you so much opportunity of serving him; and he expects to be honoured accordingly. He has released you from those burdens which are a part of the consequences of the fall; and he has done this that you may labour with more freedom and effect in those services which are connected with your salvation-your greatness in eternity. You are made to differ from the bulk of mankind, not that you may sink below them by yielding to the habits of the sensualist and the sloth, but that you may rise above them by giving a more constant and devout attention to those things which are valued by dying men, and which go with them to the mansions of the just. You are severed from much of the bondage of earth, that your spirit may be more like heaven, and that you may strive to render the world you live in more like it.
We read of one whose lands brought forth plentifully, and the only effect was his memorable address to his soul, saying, Thou hast much goods
laid up for many years; take thine ease. But what said the voice of his Maker? It was the utterance of a fearful doom,-Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. It does not appear that this man designed to make an evil use of his substance: all that we may conclude is, that his plans did not embrace the glory of God, nor any immediate reference to the good of his fellow-creatures, but simply such a course of self-indulgence as is usually considered harmless; and, in the case of such men, every way natural. This was precisely the character of the rich man in the parable of Lazarus. In that record concerning him there is no sin laid to his charge: we are thus left to regard him as having his place with those to whom it will be said, Forasmuch as ye did it NOT unto these, ye did it NOT unto me. And it will be recollected that mention is made of one who was accounted wicked, and cast into outer darkness, not because he had abused the single talent entrusted to him, but strictly because he had not used it.
Thus it is manifestly the rule of scripture, that Christians should not only abstain from evil, but do good, and this according to their opportunities and their means.
We observe, in the next place, that, in the circumstances now considered, there is much that may serve to beget A PROUD INDEPENDENCE OF