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is nothing, but a life of great piety, or a death of great stupidity, that can keep off these apprehensions.
Had I now a thousand worlds, I would give them all for one year more, that I might present unto God one year of such devotion and good works, as I never before so much, as intended.
You perhaps, when you consider, that I have lived free from scandal and debauchery, and in the communion of the charch ; wonder to see me so full of remorse and self condemnation at the approach of death.
But, alas! what a poor thing it is to have lived only free from murder, theft, and adultery, which is all that I can say of myself.
You know indeed, that I have never been reckoned a sot, but you are at the same time witnesses, and have been frequent companions of my intemperance, sensuality, and indulgence.
If I am now going to a judgment, where nothing will be rewarded, but good works, I may well be concerned, that, though I am no sot, yet I have no Christian sobriety to plead for me.
It is true, I have lived in the communion of the church, and generally frequented its worship and service on Sundays; when I was neither too idle, or not otherwise disposed of by my business and pleasures. But then, my conformity to the public worship has been rather a thing of course, than any real intention of doing that, which the service of the church supposes; had it not been so, I had been oftener at church, more devout, when there, and more fearful of ever neglecting it.
But the thing, that now surprises me above all wonders, is this, that I wever had so much, as a general intention of living up to the piety of the gospel. This never so much as entered into my head or my heart. I never once in my life considered, whether I was living, as the laws of religion direct, or whether my way of life was such, as would procure me the mercy of God at this bour.
Can it be thought, that I have kept the gospel terms of salvation, without ever so much, as intending in any
serious and deliberate manner, either to know them or keep them? Can it be thought, that I have pleased God with such a life, as he requires, though I have lived without ever considering, what he requires, or how much I have performed ? How easy a thing would salvation be, if it could fall into my careless hands, who have never had so many serious thoughts about it, as about any one common bargain, that I have made ?
In the business of life I have used prudence and reflection; I have done every thing by rule and method. I have been glad, to converse with men of experience and judgment; to find out the reasons, why some fail and other succeed in any business. I have taken no step in trade, but with great care and caution, considering every advantage or danger, that attended it. I bave always had my eye upon the main end of business; and have studied all the ways and means of being a gainer by all, that I undertook.
But what is the reason, that I have brought none of this temper to religion ? What is the reason, that I, who have so often talked of the necessity of rule and method, and diligence in worldly business, have all this while never once thought of any rule, or method, or management, to carry me on in a life of piety ? Do you
think any thing can astonish and confound a dying man, like this? What pain do you think a man must feel, when his conscience lays all this folly to his charge ; when it shall show him, how regular, exact, and wise he has been in small matters ; and how stupid he has lived, without reflection, without rule, in things of eternal moment.
Had I only my frailties and imperfections to lament at this time; I should lie here, humbly trusting in the mercy of God. But, alas ! how can I call a general disregard, and a thorough neglect of all religious improvement, a frailty and imperfection ; when it was as much in my power to have been exact, and careful, and dili. gent in a course of piety, as in the business of my trade.
I could have called in as many helps, bave practised as many rules, and been taught as many certain meth
ods of holy living; as of thriving in my shop; had I but so intended and desired it.
Oh! my friends! a careless life, inattentive to the duties of religion, is so without excuse ; so unworthy of the mercy of God; such a shame to the reason of our minds; that I can hardly conceive a greater punishment, than for a man to be thrown into the state, that I am in, to reflect upon it."
Penitens was here going on ; but had his mouth stopped by a convulsion, which never suffered him to speak more. He lay convulsed about twelve hours, and then gave up the ghost.
Now if every reader would imagine this Penitens to have been some particular acquaintance or relation of bis; and fancy that he saw and heard all, that is here described ; that he stood by his bed-side, when bis poor friend lay in such agony, lamenting the folly of his past life; it would in all probability teach him, such wisdom as never entered into his heart before. If to this, he should consider, how often he himself might have been surprised in the same state of negligence, and made an example to the rest of the world ; this double reflection, both upon the distress of his friend, and the goodness of that God, who had preserved him from it, would in all likelihood sosten his heart, and make him turn the remainder of his life into a regular course of piety.
This therefore being so useful a meditation, I shall here leave the reader, as I hope, seriously engaged in it,
We can please God in no state or employment of Life, but
by intending and devoting it all to his Glory. HAVING stated the general nature of devotion, and shown, that it implies, not any form of prayer, but a certain form of life, that is offered to God, not at any particular time or place, but every where and in every thing ; I shall now descend to some particulars, and, show, how we are to devote our labor and employment, our time and fortune upto God.
As a good Christian should consider every place, as holy, because God is there ; so he should look upon every part of his life, as a matter of holiness, because it is to be offered unto God.
The profession of a clergyman is a holy profession, because it is a ministration in holy things. But worldly business is to be made holy unto the Lord, by being done, as a service to him, and in conformity to his divine will. For, as all men and all things in the world as tru. ly belong unto God, as any places, things, or persons, that are devoted to divine service ; so all things are to be used, and all persons are to act in their several states and employments for the glory of God.
Men of worldly business therefore must not look upon themselves, as at liberty to live to themselves, to sacrifice to their own humor, because their employment is of a worldly nature. But they must consider, that, as the world and all worldly professions, as truly belong to God, as persons and things, that are devoted to the altar; so it is as much the duty of men in worldly business, to live wholly unto God, as it is the duty of those, who are devoted to divine service.
As the whole world is God's, so the whole world is to act for God. As all men have the same relation to God; as all men have their powers and faculties from God ; so all men are obliged to act for God with all their powers and faculties.
As all things are God's, so all things are to be used and regarded, as the things of God. For men to abuse things on earth, and live to themselves, is the same rebel. lion against God, as for angels to abuse things in heaven; because God is just the same Lord of all on earth, as he is the Lord of all in heaven.
Things may differ in their use, but yet they are all to be used according to the will of God.
Men may differ in their employment; but they must all act for the same end, as dutiful servants of God, in pious performance of their several callings.
Clergymen must live wholly unto God in one particular way, that is, in the exercise of holy offices, in the ministration of prayers and sacraments, and a zealous distribution of spiritual goods. But men of other employments are in their particular ways as much obliged to act, as servants of God, and live wholly unto him in their several callings. This is the only difference between Clergymen, and people of other callings.
When it can be shown, that men might be vain, covetous, sensual, or proud in the exercise of their worldly business, then it will be allowable for clergymen, to indulge the same temper in their sacred profession. For, though these tempers are most odious and criminal in clergymen, who beside their baptismal vow, have a second time devoted themselves to God, to be his servants, not in the common offices of human life, but in the spiritual service of the most sacred things, and are therefore to keep themselves as separate and different from the common life of other men, as a church or an altar is to be kept separate from houses and tables of common
-Yet as all christians are by baptism devoted to God, and made professors of holiness ; sọ are they in their several callings to live as holy and heavenly persons; doing every thing in their common life only in such