« السابقةمتابعة »
But, as God has given you five talents, as he has placed you above the necessities of life, as he has left you in the hands of yourself, in the happy liberty of choosing the most exalted ways of virtue, as he has enriched you with many gifts of fortune, and left you nothing to do, but to make the best use of variety of blessings, to make the most of a short life, to study your own perfection, the honour of God, and the good of your neighbour; so it is now your duty to imitate the greatest servants of God, to inquire,how the most eminent saints have lived, to study all the arts and methods of perfection, and to set no bounds to your love and gratitude to the bountiful author of so many blessings.
It is now your duty to turn your five talents into five more; and to consider, how
, and leisure, and health, and fortune may be made so many happy means of purifying your own soul, improving your fellow-creatures in the ways of virtue, and of carrying you at last to the greatest heights of eternal glory.
As you have no mistress to serve, so let your own soul be the object of your daily care and attendance. Be sorry for its impurities, its spots, and imperfections, and study all the holy
arts of restoring it to its natural and primitive purity.
Delight in its service, and beg of God to adorn it with every grace and perfection.
Nourish it with good works; give it peace in solitude; get it strength in prayer; make it wise with reading; enlighten it by meditation ; make it tender with love ; sweeten it with humility ; humble it with patience; enliven it with psalms and hymns; and comfort it with frequent reflections upon
future glory. Keep it in the presence of God, and teach it to imitate those
guardian angels, who, though they attend on human affairs, and the lowest of mankind, yet' always behold the face of our Father, who is in heaven.'
This, Serena, is your profession. For,as sure as God is one God, so sure it is, that he has but one command to all mankind, whether they be bound or free, rich or poor ; and that is, to act up to the excellency of that nature, which he has given them, to live by reason, to walk in the light of religion, to use every thing, as wisdom directs, to glorify God in all his gifts, and dedicate every condition of life to his service.
This is the one common command of God to all mankind. If
have an employment, you are to be thus reasonable, and pious, and
holy in the exercise of it. If you have time and fortune in your own power, you are obliged to be thus reasonable, and holy, and pious in the use of all your time and all your fortune. .
When therefore you would represent to your mind, how christians ought to live unto God, and in what degrees of wisdom and holiness they ought to use the things of this life ; you must not look at the world, but you must look up to God, and the society of angels, and think, what wisdom and holiness are fit to prepare you
for such a state of glory ; you must look to all the highest precepts of the gospel ; you must examine yourself by the spirit of Christ ; you must think, how the wisest men in the world have lived ; you must think how departed souls would live, if they were again to act the short part of human life ; you must think, what degrees of wisdom and holiness you will wish for, when you are leaving the world.
All this is not over-straining the matter, nor proposing to ourselves any needless perfection. It is but barely complying with the apostle's advice, where he says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report ; if there be any vire
tue, and if there be any praise, think on these
On the great obligations of making a wise and religious
use of our possessions.
AS the holiness of christianity consecrates all states and employments of life unto God, as it requires us to aspire after universal obedience, doing and using every thing as the servants of God, so are we more especially obliged to observe this religious exactness in the use of our estates and fortunes.
The reason of this would appear very plain, if we were only to consider, that our estate is as much the gift of God, as our eyes or our
no more to be buried or thrown
away at pleasure, than we are to put out our eyes, or throw away our limbs, as we please.
But, besides this consideration, there are several other great and important reasons, why we should be religiously exact in the use of our estates.
First. Because the manner of using our money, or spending our estate enters so far into the business of every day, and makes so great a part of our common life, that our common life must be much of the same nature, as our common way of spending our estate. If reason and religion govern us in this, then reason and religion have great hold of us; but if humour, pride, and fancy be the measures of our spending our estate, then humour, pride, and fancy will have the direction of the greatest part of
Secondly. Another great reason for devoting all our estate to right uses is this; because it is capable of being used to the most excellent purposes, and is so great a mean of doing good. If we waste it, we do not waste a trifle, that signifies little ; but we waste that, which might be made, as eyes to the blind, as a husband to the widow, as a father to the orphan. We waste that, which not only enables us to minister world