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longer, in labors for the divine glory and human good, a state of recompense awaits him, where he shall no more for ever have any thing to do? He finds no encouragement in that promise. He owns no attractiveness in such a' state. He has reaped his best happiness hitherto in strenuous endeavors for objects, with which God is pleased, and men are benefited. In the busy devotion of his powers to such objects, he is sensible of having become best acquainted with whatever is excellent and happy in the nature which he bears. He has partially enjoyed what most his mind craves. He seems to himself to have then recovered most of the divine image, when he has been most an active instrument of the divine bounty; and rest from useful service he would regard as no better than exile from his proper joy. The Gospel is just, and full in its promises, to a noble sentiment which its whole influence goes to inspire. 66 Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”— And what is that joy? The place of “ruler over many things” is the worthy reward of having been “ faithful over a few.” A higher responsibility,-a larger power to bless, a sphere for more diffusive action,these, and not dispensation from further labor, are the reward of past labor well performed. The recompense of christian service corresponds to the dignity of that service. He who has well done God's will has loved to do it; and from
what he has worthily loved, his transition into the world of retribution is not to banish him.Reflecting on the constant benevolent agency of God, we seem forbidden to doubt that a benevolent agency of some kind makes everywhere part of the happiness of all good beings; nor, considering how much of his enjoyment the Christian actually finds here in the very presence and exercise of those benevolent sentiments, which it is the aim of his religion to form in him, can we perceive any room for a question whether,-on whatever different principles, from those of human society, the society of beings more advanced than men may be arranged,-opportunity will still be found for generous action, and so, at the same time, for those sentiments of devotion to which such action gives birth, and vigor, and expression. Everywhere in God's universe he has creatures to make happy; and they are doubly blessed in being empowered to bless each other. And the faithful servant, who has acquitted himself well of the tasks of usefulness in this inferior world of probation, and had success, and gained experience and confidence, and learned to love the work,his promotion to be “ ruler over many things,” his transfer to a sphere less circumscribed of similar action, is at once justified by the competency he has acquired for more responsible service, and by the reasonableness of assigning to him, for a reward, a larger extent of that trust, and a larger
communication of that power, in the exercise of which he has found his best enjoyments.
Once more; in the language of this parable we seem to discern indications that the trusts committed to the approved servants of God, are still, in another state, to bear a proportion to their capacity for executing such trusts.
“One star, in the constellation of the blest, “differeth from another star in glory,” and in shedding a more beneficent effulgence. In the distribution of probationary trusts, to each man was given."according to his several ability,” and we can suppose. no reason, why the principle, which guided these several allotments of service which was intended for trial, should be without application to service designed for reward. God's work, in both instances alike, is to be done; and so far there seems to be, in both, the same place for the rule which is expressly alleged in one, that in proportion as each servant, appointed to that work, is more or less equal to it, on him more or less is to be laid.. We read, indeed, in the parallel passage of St Luke's Gospel, that to him who had thriven best with his Lord's deposit, authority over ten cities was com mitted, and to his less successful fellow-laboren, authority over five. And though it may be said, that this was in acknowledgment not of more ability equally well used, but of a better use of the same, still there seems little presumption in believing that everywhere, under the wise and
equitable administration of God, a difference in the amount of trust reposed, will attend upon the difference of power to sustain it; so that the comparatively feeble may not be overburdened, nor any part of the service, which the strong might render, be lost for want of full employment. It is true, that it follows from this view, that,—as in this world, so in the world to come,-of minds equally controlled by the christian spirit, those which in their original structure were the more richly endowed by Providence, being commissioned to more extensive service, are also made participant of higher measures of happiness. But here does not seem to me to be presented any difficulty which needs much to disturb us. Why God should select this or that mind to be more or less largely endowed in its original constitution, is one of those “ secret things” which belong to him. But of course this must be, if that inequality of minds, which gives occasion to much of their useful action on one another, is to exist. And that this, as a feature of human condition at large, is deserving of all our gratitude,—is a vast common good,--no one can profess to doubt. Our differences from one another constitute no small part of our importance one to another. It is the varieties, in kind and degree, of the powers of different men, which place them in a condition of unavoidable mutual dependence in endlessly diversified respects, and should bind them together in
an indissoluble chain of love. An arrangement for some to encourage and some to follow, some to inspire confidence and some to repose it, some to take the harder tasks and others the less,—that is, a difference of efficiency, and thence of responsibility, while the spirit is the same,-seems essential, as far as our bounded vision goes, to the best condition of every society, as much as of the human. They to whom, in such a disposition, the less distinguished power and posts are assigned, have still cause to be devoutly grateful for their increased share of the common well-being thus increased, and for the abundant satisfactions to which the right use of such powers as they have gives birth.
And they, on the other hand, on whom the capacity for higher duties imposes a loftier obligation, and a more arduous and tempted service, need to be animated to their task by knowing that if, with all its extent and difficulty, accomplished well, a special richness of reward awaits it.
Such are some of the considerations which may have been invested with a peculiar interest in many minds, by that mysterious providence which has lately called this community to a deep, and, I may almost say, a universal mourning. Was not that, my brethren, an uncommon scene which has lately been presented to your view ? When a crowd followed all that was mortal of one who but now was moving among them, to this house where con