Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

this remark in the text. In the same manner as whert. the master is said to have commended the unjust Stew. ard; he did not mean to convey a general coinmendation of his conduct; but only intended, in a particular : instance to notice his. ingenuity and foresight.--The bighest excercise and.clmrest mark of true wisdom, is the choice of a right end; the fixing on such an object of pursuit as is deserving of our preference, and will repay our trouble. Prow in this respect, no comparison between the wisdom of worldly and of religious persons can for a moment be maintained.. The End, which . worldly men clroose, sufficiently marks their folly. The object which they lix on, in some shape or other, . is worldly: happiness. This they propose to them- . selves as the chief good, and follow it with all their : might. But it is an object which will never repay their trouble, and therefore is not deserving their preference. On the other hand, the End wbich religious people have in view, bears the broadest stamp of wisdom. Their object is one every way deserving their choice and labour ; for it is a treasure in heaven, an* enduring substance, the salvation of their souls, ans. eternal life with God in glory. Here then, so far asthe object in pursuit is concerned, „the Children of. light most decidedly surpass in 'wisdoin the Children of: this world.

Another mark of wisdom is to follow an end, when" chosen, by the most suitable. Méans. Having oncefixed on an object, a man's wisdom will appear in. the steps which he takes for attaining it. He who follorga it in a way the most likely to gain bis.end,

will in this respeut shew himself the wiser person: Such was the wisdom of the unjust Steward. As to the object which be had in view, namely, to support bimself'in idleness by defrauding his master, he was most unwise ; for dishonesty is always the worst policy. But at the same time, in the Nieans, to which he bad Prcourse, for gaining his purpose, he shewed his wisdom; wisdom indeed of a very bad quality, and not really deserving of the name, but still, such as discorered a large sbare of shrewdness and ability. He took a way the most likely to succeed and so far, in this respect, he “ did wisely."-And so far then, in this respect, " the Children of this world. are wiser than the Children of light." In the choice and use of Means, in the way of following their object, worldly people shew more wisdoin than religious people. They are wiser. “in their generation,” they act more.considerately, and consult be!ter for their worldly and temporal interests, than religious persons do for their spiritual and eternal concerns. And bere we distinctly see the meaning of the Remark in the lexi.- shall now proceed,

11. To point out in some particular instances, the Truth and propriety of this Regark. That worldly people consult better for their temporal interests, than religious persons for their spiritual concerns, will be plain from considering, in the first place, the degree of diligence and activity, which they severally exert. The worldly many be his object what it may, is unwearied in following it. Whether he aim at the enlargement of his trade, the advancement of his family, the im-

It is ever up

provement of his estate, the acquisition of a great name; or the enjoyment of pleasure, still his mind is always alive in pursuit of its favourite' object. permost in his thoughts. He is constantly on the watch fur some favourable opportunity of promoting its at tainment; and eagerly avails himself of every oppor.. tunity which offers itself. Not a day, not an hour passes, but some plan is formed, some steps are taken, for: furthering the accomplishment of his wishes. Nothing which may be done to-day is put off till to-morrow. Nothing which he has the means of doing is left undone. He rises early, he late takes rest; he eats the bread of carefulness; while increasing obstacles and discouraging appearances only quicken his endeavours, and call forth greater exertions. Such are the activity and diligence which worldly men exert in their worldly. callings. Are religious persons equally active and. diligent in their spiritual concerns ? Truth compels us to say that they are not. They have a great work on their hands; but they are oftentimes- sadly indolent in performing it. They have many enemies to overcome, many temptations to resist, many lusts to subdue, many duties to fulfil ; but, alas:! they are apt to give way to sloth, and to be careless and negligent, where they ought to be active and alert.. They suffer many opportunities of doing good to slip away unimproved. They defer till to-morrow, what ought to be done to.. day. They let their good resolutions be overcome fos: want of a more steady exertion. They do not strive as they ought to do. They do not derive from the di. kine ordinances so much good as they might. Even ia The House of Prayer, their “soul still cleaveth unto the dust." Their attention is often distracted, their hearts are cold, their devotions are languid. Instead of pressing forward towards perfection, they are too apt to be satisfied with present attaininents. Instead of going forth in the strength of the Lord, and fighting boldly in the good fight of faith, they are too prone to be discouraged at seeming difficulties, to give way to unreasonable fears, and to stop in the path of duty, saying, “ There is a lion in the way.”—Thus in respect to diligence and activity in following the object of their pursuit, the Children of this world far surpass the Children of light.

The same may be said in the next place, as to the Degree of Foresight and Circumspection, which they severaly exercise. As worldly men are very quicksighted in discovering their interest, so they are very long-sighted in discerning it afar off. They look forward to effects and consequences as connected with their worldly projects. They forecast in their minds whether such or such distant events will hinder or promote their favourite object. They provide against evils which they foresee are coming. They are seldom taken by surprise. They guard against disappointment. They profit by past experience. But how different in this respect, is oftentimes the conduct

of Religious Persons as to their spiritual concerns ! i How little Circumspection and Foresight do they, com

paratively, exercise ! Though repeatedly admonished of approaching dangers, they suffer themselves at last to be taken by surprise. Thougb repeatedly overcome 'by such or such a temptation, yet they do not waich and strengthen themselves as they might do, against future attacks from the same quarter. Though they cannot but know, by past experience, that some particular circumstances, employments, or companies, prove highly injurious to their spiritual interests, yet they are frequently very remiss in their endeavours to avoid this danger, or if it cannot be avoided, in preparing to meet it. Many a time are they thus constrained to lament their miscarriages, wbich a little precaution and vigilance might lave prevented, and to take shame to themselves for the want of that circumspection and foresight in which they see their worldly neighbours so far superior.

Take another instance of the Truth and Propriety of the Remark in the text. The Children of this world exceed the Children of light, not only in Activity and Diligence, not only in Foresight and Circumspection, but also in that decision and singleness of mind, with which they pursue their favourite end. Worldly men follow their worldly interests, with a determination, which makes every thing else either give way to it, or help to the attainment of it.

Whatever may

be the object of their pursuit, whether it be money, or pleasure, or honour, they suffer nothing to interfere with it, or to draw off their attention from it. Every thing else is -sacrificed to the acquisition of it. All their efforts are directed towards this one single point. Now it is plain, that this way of following an object, must be attended with great advantages. For the mind, being neither distracted by a variety of pursuits, nor turned aside by

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »