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must decide our hopes and apprehensions : and the wisdom, which, like our Saviour, cometh from above, will, through his merits, bring us thither, All our other studies and pursuits, however different, ought to be subservient to, and centre in, this grand point, the pursuit of eternal happiness, by being good in ourselves, and useful to the world. SEED.
SECTION VIII. On the importance of order in the distribution of our time,
Time we ought to consider as a sacred trust committed to us by God; of which we are now the depositaries, and are to render an account at the last. That portion of it which he has allotted to us, is intended partly for the concerns of this world, partly for those of the next Let each of these occupy, in the distribution of our time, that space which properly belongs to it. Let not the hours of hospitality and pleasure interfere with the discharge of our necessary affairs; and let not what we call necessary affairs, encroach upon the time which is due to devotion. To every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven. If we delay till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day, we overcharge the morrow with a burden which bę. longs not to it. We load the wheels of time, and prevent them from carrying us along smoothly. He who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows out that plan, carries on a thread which will guide him through the laborinth of the most busy life. The orderly arrangement of his time is like a ray of light, which darts itself through all his affairs. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidents, all things lie huddled together in one chaos, which admits neither of distribution nor review.
The first requisite for introducing order into the management of our time, is to be impressed with a just sense of its value. Let us consider well how much depends upon it, and how fast it flies away. The bulk of men are in nothing more capricious and inconsistent, than in their appreciation of time. When they think of it, as the measure of their continuance on earth, they bighly prize it, and with the greatest anxiety seek to lengthen it out. But when they view it in separate parcels, they appear to hold it in contempt, and squander it with inconsiderate profusion. While they complain that life is short, they are often wishing its different periods at an end. Covetous of every
pose session, of time only they are prodigal. They allow every idte man to be master of this property, and make every frivolous occupation welcome that can help them to consume it. Among those who are so careless of time, it is not to be expected that order should be observed in its distribution. But, by this fatal neglect, how many materials of severe and lasting regret are they laying up in store for themselves ! The time which they suffer to pass away in the midst of confusion, bitter repentance seeks afterwards in vain to recall. What was omitted to be done at its proper moment, arises to be the torment of some future season. Manhood is disc graced by the consequences of neglected youth. Old age oppressed by Gares that belonged to a former period, labours under a burden not its own. At the close of life, the dying man beholds with anguish that his days are finishing, when his preparation for eternity is bardly commenced. Such are the effects of a disorderly waste of time, through not attending to its value. Every thing in the life of such persons is misplaced. Nothing is performed aright, from not being performed in due season,
But he who is orderly in the distribution of his time, takes the proper method of escaping those manifold evils. He is justly said to redeem the time. By proper management, he prolongs it. He lives much in little space ; more in a few years than others do in many, He can live to God and his own soul, and at the same time attend to all the lawful interests of the present world. He looks back on the past, and provides for the future. He catches and arrests the hours as they fly. They are marked down for aseful purposes, and their memory remains. Whereas those hours fleet by the man of confusion like a shadow. His days and years are either blanks, of which he has no remembrance, or they are filled up with so confused and irregular a succession of unfinished transactions, that though he remembers he has been busy, yet he can give no account of the business which has employed him.
SECTION IX, The dignity of virtue amidst corrupt examples. The most excellent and honourable character which can adorn a man and a Christian, is acquired by resisting the torrent of vice, and adhering to the cause of God and virtue against a corrupted multitude. It will be found to hold in
general that they,who, in any of the great lines of life,having distinguished themselves for tbioking profoundly, and acting nobly,bave despised popular predjudices; and departed, in several things, from the common ways of the world. On no occasion is this more requisite for true honour, than where religion and morality are concerned. In times of prevailing li'centiousness, to maintain unblemished virtue, and uncorrupt. ed integrity ; in a public or a private cause, to stand firm by what is fair and just, amidst discouragements and opposition; despising groundless censure and reproach; disdaining all compliance with public manners, when they are vicious and unlawful; and never ashamed of the punctual discharge of every duty towards God and man ;-this is what shows true greatness of spirit, and will force approbation even from the degenerate multitude themselves. “This is the man,”'(their conscience will oblige them to acknowledge,)“whom we are unable to bend to mean condescensions. We see it in vain either to flatter or to threaten him; he rests on a principle within, which we canóot shake. To this man we may, on any occasion, safely commit our cause, He is incapable of betraying his trust,or deserting his friend,or denying his faith."
It is, accordingly, this steady inflexible virtue, this regard to principle, superior to all custom and opinion, which pecuJiarly marked the characters of those in any age, who have shone with distinguished lustre ; and has consecrated their memory to all posterity. It was ihis that obtained to ancient Enoch the most singular testimony of honour from heaven. He continued to swalk with God,” when the world apostatized from him. He pleased God, and was beloved of him; so that living among sinners, he was translated to heaven without seeing death ; " Yea, speedily was he taken away, lest wickedness should have altered his understanding, or deceit beguiled his soul.” When Sodom could not furnish teh righteous men to save it, Lot remained unspotted amidst the contagion. He lived like an angel among spirits of darkpess; and the destroying flame was not permitted to go forth, till the good man was called away,by a heavenly messenger, from his devoted city. When “all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth," then lived Noah, a righteous man, and a preacher of righteousness. He stood alone, and was scoffed at by the profane crew. But they bythe deluge were swept away; while on him, Providence conferred the immortal honour, of being the restorer of a better race, and the father of a new world. Such examples as these, and such honours
conferred by God on them who withstood the multitude of evil doers, should often be present to our minds.
Let us oppose them to the numbers of low and corrupt'examples, which we behold 'around us; and when we are in hazard of being swayed by such, let us fortify our virtue, by thinking of those who, in former times, shone like stars in the midst of surrounding darkness, and are now shining in the kingdom of heaven, as the brightness of the firmament, for ever and ever.
SECTION X. The mortifications of vice greater than those of virtue. Though no condition of human life is free from uneasiness, yet it must be allowed, that the uneasiness belonging to a sin ful course, is far greater, than what attends a course of well doing. If we are weary of the labours of virtue, we may be assured, that the world, whenever we try the exchange, will lay upon us a much heavier load. It is the outside only, of a licentious life, which is gay and smiling. Within, it conceale toil, and trouble, and deadly sorrow. For vice poisons human happiness in the spring, by introducing disorder into the heart. Those passions which it seems to indulge, it only feeds with imperfect gratifications; and tbereby strengthens them for preying, in the end, on their unhappy victims.
It is a great mistake to imagine, that the pain of self-denial is confined to virtue. He who follows the world, as much as he who follows Christ, must “take up his cross ;' and to him assuredly, it will prove a more oppressive burden, Vice ale lows all our passions to rage uncontrolled; and where each claims to be superior, it is impossible to gratify all. The predominant desire can only be indulged at the expense of its rival. No mortificationswbich virtue exacts are more severe than those, which ambition imposes upon the love of ease, pride upon interest, and covetousness upon vanity. Self-denial therefore, belongs, in common, to vice and virtue ; but with this remarkable difference, that the passions which virtue requires us to mortify,it tends to weaken; whereas, those whichvice obliges us to deny,it, at the same time,strengthens. The one diminishes the pain of self-deniad,by moderating the demand of passion; the other increases it, by rendering those demands imperious and violent, Wbat distresses that occur in the calm life of virtue, can be compared to those tortures, which remorse of conscience inflicts on the wicked ; to those
serere humiliations, arising from guilt combined with misfortunes, which sink them to the dust ; to those violent agitations of shame and disappointment, which sometimes drive them to the most fatal extremities, and make them abhor their existence ! How often, in the midst of those disastrous situations, into which their crimes have brought them, have they execrated the seductions of vice ; and with bitter regret, looked back to the day on which they first forsook the path of innocence !
On Contentment. Contentment produces, in some measure, all those effects which the alchymist usually ascribes towhat he calls the philosopher's stone ; and if it does not bring riches it does the same thing, by banishing the desire of them, Ifit cannot remove the disquietudes arising from a man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them. It has indeed a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmor, repining, and ingratitude, towards that being who has allotted him his part to aet in this world. It destroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption, with regard to the community wherein he is placed. It gives sweetness to his conversation, and a perpetual serenity to all his thoughts,
Among the many methods which might be made use of for acquiring this virtue, I shall mention only the two following. First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants; and secondly, how much more unhappy he might be than he really is.
First, a man should always consider bow much he has more than he wants. I am wonderfully pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one, who condoled with him upon the loss of a farm : “why,” said he, “I have three farms still and you have but one ; so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you, than you for me.” On the contrary, foolish men are more apt to consider what they have lost, than what they possess ; aud to fix their eyes upon those wbo are richer than themselves, rather than on those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniences of life lie in a narrow compass; but it is the humour of mankind to be always looking forward; and straining after one who has got the start of them in wealth and hononr. For this reason as none can be properly called rich, who have not more than