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If the rich have their luxury and pride, the poor have their envy and discontent, to answer for. If the wealthy man has the means of pursuing pleasure at his will, let him remember that he does it at his peril-That for all these things God will bring him to judgment.' If the poor man be pressed by want or distress, let him bear in mind that this is his trial, and that cheerful obedience, and devout resignation, will be amply rewarded in a better world. Let him drop on his knees when he feels disposed to complain, and thank God for all he has, and that he is not tried by stronger temptations. He will then be grateful that his lot is cast in humble life-that though poor he is in God's hand; convinced that all is for the best, he will cast himself entirely upon his providence. God will be in all his thoughts; at work, or at his meals; in his rising or his repose; amidst his walks or his retirement-he will continually turn his eye towards Him who watches him unseen. Religion will regulate his desires, guide his counsels, cheer his labours, and sooth his sorrows. When blessings descend on him, he will lift up his heart with thankfulness to the Giver of all Good things. If distress or sickness befall him, he will receive these chastenings with meekness, placing entire confidence in the promises of the Gospel, and accepting every thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil, with cheerful submission. But, alas! how inconsistent is man! We hear him exclaim-How short is life! while soliciting a longer span, he values not the passing hour. Though impatient for the close of day, he eagerly cherishes the prospect of another year. There is an old proverb in economy, which says "Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves.' We should apply this to the value of time. If we pay strict attention to the expenditure of those short portions of time into which our day is divided-if we keep in mind that we are answerable for every moment we live-when we come to reckon with ourselves at the end of the year, we shall be sure to find much profit to ourselves. Insensibility to the value of time is the ruin of most of us this is the reason why we live on without improvement. If any man could be prevailed on to examine himself every night, whether he had spent the day so as to please God, he could scarcely help advancing in true piety: it would be impossible for him to trifle with that of which every day recalled the value. Procrastination is the thief of time ;'-a sentence which we learn as children, and forget as men. Nobody but a fool, or a madman, but desires to live better; yet the love of the world overwhelms, or drives it from our hearts. When conscience knocks we say- Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.'
If we calculate the large portion of our lives consumed in the helplessness of infancy, and the infirmities of age; if we consider that nearly one-third of the remainder is given up to sleep, and that between idleness and sickness we commonly lose almost a third more-we shall at once see how very small a part of human life we can call our own: and yet this is all, and sufficient too if well employed, to prepare for eternity. But observe how we delude our
selves by thus neglecting to measure time by eternity. All know they must one day die; but because every man fancies he may be among those spared to longer life while others are snatched away, he rashly ventures to run the risk in spite of hourly experience. Now, if any person were favoured by a message from God to prepare for death, for that this day twelvemonths his soul would be required of him, all would agree that the whole period would be well employed in preparing for death-that such a man had no pretence to trifle with the awful message. But is it not in fact precisely the same thing, whether it be for one year or one hundred years: each of these periods is equal when compared with eternity; and have we not all received this solemn message already? The only difference between the case supposed and our own is, that such a man would be sure of a year, whereas we are not sure of an hour, and yet we shut our hearts against the conviction that should necessarily follow. What would thousands of our departed friends now give, could worlds purchase it, to recall one year, nay one day, of that life they once squandered away as heedlessly as we now do ourselves?
There are some who admit all this, but hope they may stand excused for neglecting the great affair of salvation, in consideration of their unceasing engagements with the concerns of this life, as though religion was a fit study for such as are unemployed, or in easy circumstances, but that the busy may well be spared the active duties of piety. The labouring man, for example, is apt to think he has no time for religion. He says it is all right and proper that they who have learning and leisure should read good books, and understand the Bible. So indeed it is; and a heavy account will they have to give by and bye, if, with all these opportunities, they waste the talents thus bestowed on them. But religion does not consist in reading or preaching, but in thinking and acting. A labouring man may be as pious as the most learned Bishop of the land-as wise as the greatest philosopher of the age. True wisdom is to do the will of God. The workman can gain all this without losing one hour from his labour, or one shilling from his pocket. It is true he begins his toil often before daylight in winter, and goes straight from his bed to his work; but before he leaves his home he can thank God in one short prayer for a good night's rest; he can beg a blessing on his wife and children, and on his own exertions for their maintenance; and if these few simple words come from the heart, assuredly they will rise to Heaven. The whole day is past in labour, nay, perhaps he does not return to his family till near bedtime. Some thus employed in unceasing toil might be disposed to ask-what leisure have we for religion in a life like this? The answer is plain. While at work, though your hands are busy, your thoughts are free: bestow some of them upon God, rather than allow them to wander upon sinful things. A profitable hour may often thus be spent in meditating upon God's great goodness and mercy. A pious man will take delight in recalling often to his memory the particular blessings he has experienced he will trace the hand of providence in all the
changes and chances of his life: he will reflect, that though his appointed station compels him to work hard, he thereby provides for those most dear to him: that though he has little leisure, he enjoys light and air, and protection and liberty, denied to thousands and ten thousands of human beings. Is it no small comfort when he returns to his humble roof to have his wife and children around him, while so many are obliged to wander far away from their families in some distant and dangerous calling? Let him reflect, too, what a blessing it is to be born in this happy land, where his life and property are secured by a just Sovereign and by equal Laws, while whole nations elsewhere groan under the rod of some cruel tyrant, and have no security from the merciless depredations of their own countrymen. Last of all, let him acknowledge the immense advantage he enjoys over millions and millions of his fellow-men who live as yet strangers to the Gospel, and never heard of that Redeemer who died to save them.
When the English labouring man puts together all these considerations, and thinks what a debt of gratitude is due from him to the Creator for all he enjoys, he may wonder that he has allowed himself to remain so long unmindful of these blessings. He will no more be tempted to complain of his lot, nor compare himself with those more richly gifted; but he will rest content with his condition, and bless God that he is not the slave of a foreign soil, uncheered with the glad tidings of salvation.
But a few short years and all these eminent advantages may be lost for ever. They have been bestowed, and we shall have to account for them. The opportunities of serving God, of studying his will, and joining in his worship, will all be numbered when we appear before him. The hours that fly away tell sad tales of us in Heaven.' If the Sabbath has been wasted in idleness, instead of being dedicated to devotion ;—if the duties of a son, a husband, or a parent, have been sacrificed to intemperance and debauchery-a day is coming when it will be vain to plead we had not time or taste for religion.
To-day, while it is called to-day, is all we can call our own. Where is yesterday ?-i is fled to mingle with the years before the Flood. Where is to-morrow ?-we dare not depend on to-morrow for that mercy which we must ask now. Look round and see, while the gay and the thoughtless, the busy and the worldly, are trifling with eternity, how many are daily dropping into the grave amidst all their fondest schemes and pleasures. Each of these unhappy victims of self-deceit proposed to himself some future time when he would begin to be religious, and set himself to prepare for death. Let us remember that our time must also come; we know not when, we know not how. May God so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.'
ATHEISM AND INFIDELITY REFUTED.
(From Bishop WATSON.)
[Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, was born at Haversham, in Westmorland, in 1737. His father was the village Schoolmaster. He became Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Professor of Chemistry, and afterwards of Divinity, in the University of Cambridge; and was consecrated Bishop of Llandaff in 1782. His principal works are his Defence of Christianity,' in answer to Gibbon; and his Apology for the Bible,' in reply to Paine's Age of Reason,'-He died the 4th of July, 1816.
It has been made a question both in ancient and modern times— whether a society of Atheists could subsist. This is no question with me! I think it could not. Many speculative opinions, in every system of religion, are of little consequence to the safety of the community; and in all well regulated States they are left to the free discussion of those who think themselves interested, as advocates for truth, in defending or opposing them; but atheism seems to be irre'concileably hostile, not only to the peace, but to the very existence of civil society. If there be no God, there can be no punishment for any crime, except what is denounced against it by the laws of the land, or what is connected with it by the laws of nature; and these are restraints incapable of controlling the selfish and licentious pas sions of human kind. He who removes from the mind of man the hopes and fears of futurity, opens the floodgates of immorality, and lets in a déluge of vices and crimes, destructive alike of the dignity of human nature, and of the tranquillity of the world. There never yet hath existed, and there never can exist, a nation without religion. If Christianity be abolished, Paganism, Mahometanism, some religious imposture or other, must be introduced in its stead, or civil society must be given up. But, in the opinion of BACON, (a philosopher with whom our modern philosophers cannot be compared) there hath not in any age been discovered any philosophy, opinion, religion, law, or discipline, which so greatly exalts the common, and lessens individual interest, as the christian religion doth ;' so that I know not which most to admire and deplore, their wickedness as men, or their weakness as statesmen, who have attempted to govern mankind without religion, and to establish society on the ruins of Christianity.
Modern atheists tell us that Nature and Reason are their gods. Let them not impose upon themselves and others by the use of words, the meaning of which they do not understand. What is Nature? What is Reason?—These terms ought to be defined, for there is cause to suspect that men who introduce, or who adopt, such impiety of expression, are rather ignorant of what atheism is, than that they are, what they affect to be thought, atheists on conviction. By nature, then, we may understand, the order and constitution of things composing the universe; and by reason, that faculty of the
human mind by which we are able to discover truth.-And can it be thought, that this system of things, consisting of au infinity of parts fitted to answer ends which human wisdom can never comprehend in their full extent, but which, as far as it can comprehend them, appear to be beneficial to man and all other percipient beings-can it be thought, that this system had not an intelligent, benevolent, powerful Author?
When a man makes a watch, builds a ship, erects a silk-mill, constructs a telescope, we do not scruple to say, that the man has a design in what he does. And can we say, that this solar system, a thousand times more regular in all its motions than watches, ships, or silk-mills-that the infinity of other systems dispersed through the immensity of space, inconceivably surpassing in magnitude and complication of motion, this, of which our earth is, but a minute part— or even that the eye which now reads what is here written, a thousand times better fitted for its function than any telescope-can we say, that there was no design in the formation of these things?
Tell us not, that it is allowed there must be intelligence in an artificer who makes a watch or a telescope, but that, as to the Artificer of the universe, we cannot comprehend his nature. What then? shall we on that account deny his existence? With better reason might a grub, buried in the bowels of the earth, deny the existence of a man, whose nature it cannot comprehend; for a grub is indefinitely nearer to man in all intellectual endowments (if the expression can be permitted) than man is to his Maker.-With better reason may we deny the existence of an intellectual faculty in the man who makes a machine; we know not the nature of the man; we see not the mind which contrives the figure, size, and adaptation of the several parts; we simply see the hand which forms and puts them together.
Shall a shipwrecked mathematician, on observing a geometrical figure accurately described on the sand of the sea-shore, encourage his followers with saying, 'Let us hope for the best, for I see the traces of man;'-and shall not man, in contemplating the structure of the universe, or of any part of it, say to the whole human race— We are not begotten of chance, we are not born of atoms, our fathers have not come into existence by crawling out of the mud of the Nile ; behold the footsteps of a Being powerful, wise, and good-not nature, but the God of nature, the Father of the universe.
The proof of the existence of a Supreme Being, which is derived from the constitution of the visible world, is of a popular cast; but you must not therefore suppose it to be calculated to convince only persons who cannot reason philosophically. What think you of Sir ISAAC NEWTON? He certainly could reason philosophically. He certainly, of all the sons of men, best understood the structure of the universe; and he esteemed that structure to be so complete a proof of the existence and providence of an almighty, wise, and good Architect of nature, that he never pronounced the word—God