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I have been glad to converse with men of experience and judgment, to find out the reasons why some fail and others 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 have 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 these tempers to religion? What is the reason that I, who have so often talked of the necessity of rules and methods, and diligence in worldly business, have all this while never once thought of any rules, or methods, or managements, 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 shew him how regular, exact, and wise he has been in small matters, that are passed away like a dream, and how stupid and senseless he has lived, without any reflection, without any rules, in things of such eternal moment, as no heart can sufficiently conceive them!
Had I only my frailties and imperfections to lament at this time, I should lie here humbly trusting in the mercies 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 diligent in a course of piety, as in the business of my trade.
I could have called in as many helps, have practised as many rules, and been taught as many certain methods of holy living, as of thriving in my shop, had I but so intended and desired it.
Oh my friends! a careless life, unconcerned and inattentive to the duties of religion, is so without all excuse, so unworthy of the mercy of God, such a shame to the sense and 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 stop
ped by a convulsion, which never suffered him to speak any 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 his, and fancy that he saw and heard all that is here described, that he stood by his bed-side when his poorfriend lay in such distress and 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 soften his heart into holy tempers, 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 Honour and Glory.
HAVING in the first chapter stated the general nature of devotion, and shewn, that it implies not any form of prayer, but a certain form of life that is offered to God, not at any particular times or places, but every where and in every thing; I shall now descend to some particulars, and shew how we are to devote our labour and employment, our time and fortunes unto 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, an attendance at the altar. 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 truly 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 humours and tempers, 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 all 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 rebellion 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, and must differ in their use, but yet they are all to be used according to the will of God.
Men may, and must differ in their employments, but yet they must all act for the same ends, as dutiful servants of God, in the right and pious performance of their several callings.
Clergymen must live wholly unto God in one particular way, that is, in the exércise 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 the 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 shewn that men might be vain, cove tous, sensual, worldly-minded, or proud in the exercise of their worldly business, then it will be allowable for clergymen to indulge the same tempers in their sacred profession. For though these tempers are most odious and most criminal in clergymen, who besides 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 holy sacred things, and who 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 use- -Yet as all Christians are by their baptism devoted to God, and made professors of holiness, so are they all in their several callings to live as holy and heavenly persons; doing every thing in their common life only in such a männer, as it may be received by God, as a service done to him. For things spiritual and temporal, sacred and common, must like men and angels, like heaven and earth, all conspire in the glory of God.
As there is but one God and Father of us all, whose glory gives light and life to every thing that lives; whose presence fills all places, whose power supports all beings, whose providence ruleth all events; so every thing that lives, whether in heaven or earth, whether they be thrones or principalities, men or angels, they must all with one spirit, live wholly to the praise and glory of this one God and Father of them all. Angels as angels in their heavenly ministrations, but men as men, women as women, bishops as bishops, priests as priests, and deacons as deacons; some with things spiritual, and some with things temporal, offering to God the daily sacrifice of a reasonable life, wise actions, purity of heart, and heavenly affections.
This is the common business of all persons in this world. It is not left to any women in the world to trifle away their time in the follies and impertinences of a fashionable life, nor to any men to resign themselves up to worldly cares and concerns; it is not left to the rich
to gratify their passions in the indulgences and pride of life; nor to the poor to vex and torment their hearts with the poverty of their state; but men and women, rich and poor, must with bishops and priests, walk before God in the same wise and holy spirit, in the same denial of all vain tempers, and in the same discipline and care of their souls; not only because they have all the same rational nature, and are servants of the same God, but because they all want the same holiness to make them fit for the same happiness, to which they are called. It is therefore absolutely necessary for all Christians, whether men women, to consider themselves as persons that are devoted to holiness; and so order their common ways of life by such rules of reason and piety, as may turn it into continual service unto Almighty God.
1. Cor. x. 31.
Now to make our labour or employment an acceptable service unto God, we must carry it on with the same spirit and temper, that is required in giving of alms, or any work of piety. For, if whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we must do all to the glory of God; If we are to use this world as if we used it not; if we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable Rom. xii. 7. to God; if we are to live by faith, and not by sight, and to have our conversation in heaven; then it is necessary, that the common way of our life in every state, be made to glorify God by such tempers as make our prayers and adorations acceptable to him. For, if we are worldly or earthly-minded in our employments, if they are carried on with vain desires, and covetous tempers, only to satisfy ourselves, we can no more be said to live to the glory of God, than gluttons and drunkards can be said to eat and drink to the glory of God.
As the glory of God is one and the same thing, so whatever we do suitable to it, must be done with one and the same spirit. That same state and temper of mind which make our alms and devotions acceptable, must also make our labour, or employment, a proper offering unto God. If a man labours to be rich, and pursues his business, that he may raise himself to a state of