صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Can you

but murmuring and repining at the very seasons, and having something to dislike in every thing, which happens to him. conceive any thing more absurd and unreasonable, than such a character as this? Is such a one to be reckoned thankful to God, because he has forms of praise, which he offers to him? Nay, is it not certain, that such forms of praise must be so far from being an acceptable devotion to God, that they must be abhorred, as an abomination? The absurdity, which you see in this instance, is the same in any other part of our life ; if our common life have any contrariety to our prayers, it is the same abomination, as songs of thanksgiving in the mouths of murmurers.

Bended knees, whilst you are clothed with pride; heavenly petitions, whilst you are hoard, ing up treasures on earth; holy devotions, whilst you live in the follies of the world ; prayers of meekness and charity, whilst your heart is the seat of spite and resentment ; hours of prayer, whilst you give up days and years to idle diver. sions, impertinent visits, and foolish pleasures, are as absurd, unacceptable services to God, as forms of thanksgiving from a person, who lives in repinings and discontent.

So that, unless the common course of our lives be according to the common spirit of our prayers, our prayers are so far from being a real and sufficient degree of devotion, that they become an empty lip labour, or, what is worse, a notorious hypocrisy.

Seeing therefore we are to make the spirit and temper of our prayers the common spirit and temper of our lives, this may serve to convince us, that all orders of people are to labour and aspire after the same utmost perfection of the christian life. For, as all christians are to use the same holy and heavenly devotions, as they are all with the same earnestness to pray for the spirit of God; so is it a sufficient proof, that all orders of people are, to the utmost of their power, to make their life agreeable to that one spirit, for which they are all to pray.

A soldier, or a tradesman, is not called to minister at the altar, nor preach the gospel; but every soldier or tradesman is as much obliged to be devout, humble, holy, and heavenly minded in all the parts of his common life, as a clergyman is obliged to be zealous, faithful, and laborious in all parts of his profession; all this for this one plain reason ; because all people are to pray for the same holiness, wisdom, and divine

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

tempers, and to make themselves as fit as they can for the same heaven.

The merchant is no longer to hoard up treasures upon earth ; the soldier is no longer to fight for glory; the great scholar is no longer to pride himself in the depths of science ; but they must all with one spirit 'count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.'

The fine lady must teach her eyes to weep, , and be clothed with humility. The polite gen. tleman must exchange the gay thoughts of wit and fancy for a broken and a contrite heart.! Servants must consider their service,as done un, to God. Masters must consider their servants as their brethren in Christ, who are to be treated as their fellow-members of the mystical body of Christ.

Young ladies must either devote themselves to piety, prayer, self-denial, and all good works, in a virgin state of life ; or else marry to be holy, sober, and prudent in the care of a family, bringing up their children in piety, humility, and devotion, and abounding in all other good works, to the utmost of their state and capacity. They have no choice of any thing else, but must devote themselves to God in one of these

[ocr errors]

states. They may choose a married or a single life; but it is not left to their choice, whether they will make either state a state of holiness, humility, devotion, and all other duties of the christian life. It is no more left in their power, because they have fortunes, or are born of rich parents, to divide themselves between God and the world, or to take such pleasures, as their fortunes will afford them, than it is allowable for them to be sometimes chaste and modest and sometimes not.

They are not to consider, how much religion may secure them a fair character, nor how they may add devotion to an impertinent, vain, and giddy life ; but must look into the spirit and temper of their prayers, into the nature and end of christianity, and then they will find, that whether married or unmarried, they have but one business upon their hands, to be wise and pious, and holy, not in little modes and forms öf worship, but in the whole turn of their minds, in the whole form of all their behaviour, and in the daily course of their common life.

Young gentlemen must consider, what our blessed saviour said to the young man in the gospel ; he bade him 'sell all, that he had, and give to the poor.' Though this text should

[ocr errors]

not oblige all people to sell all ; yet it certainly obliges all kinds of people to employ all their estates in such wise, and reasonable, and charitable ways, as may sufficiently show, that all, which they have, is devoted to God, and that no part of it is kept from the poor, to be spent in need less, vain and foolish expenses.

If therefore young gentlemen propose to themselves a life of pleasure and indulgence, if they spend their estates in high living, in luxury and intemperance, in state and equipage, in pleasures and diversions, in sports and gaming, and such like wanton gratifications of their foolish passions, they have as much reason to look upon themselves to be angels, as to be disciples of Christ,

Let them be assured, that it is the one only business of a christian gentleman to distinguish himself by good works, to be eminent in the most sublime virtues of the gospel, to bear with the ignorance and weakness of the vulgar, to be a friend and patron to all, who dwell about him, to live in the utmost heights of wisdom and holiness, and show through the whole course of his life a true religious greatness of mind. They must aspire after such a gentility, as they might have learnt from seeing the blessed Jesus,

« السابقةمتابعة »