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airIam2worship
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« Reply #135 on: January 09, 2007, 10:47:01 AM »

Redeem time, from the vain pursuits of personal adornment and DRESS. This applies chiefly, though not exclusively, to the softer sex. It is shocking to think how much precious time is wasted at the mirror, in the silly ambition of rivaling the butterfly and the peacock! What a reproach to a rational creature, is it to neglect the improvement of the soul, for the adornings of the body! This is like painting the outside of a house, while the interior is left to be dark, damp, disheveled, and filthy.

Unprofitable reading is another consumer of time which must be avoided. Worldly amusements, and parties of pleasure, are also injurious. I do not by this mean to condemn the occasional communion of friends in the social circle, where the civilities of life are given and received, the ties of friendship strengthened, and the mind recreated, without any injury being done to the spiritual or moral interests. But the theater, the card-table, the billiard-room, are all to be avoided as vile thieves, which steal our time and hurt our souls! Pleasure parties in general are to be watched with care, and resorted to but seldom, for they seldom pay for the time that is spent. "There are a multitude of people in the world, who, being idle themselves, do their best endeavors to make others so—in which work, partly through a disposition in those others to be made so, and partly through a fear and false shame, which hinders them from fraying away such birds of prey, they are too often allowed to succeed. An assembly of such people can be compared only to a slaughterhouse, where the precious hours, and often the characters of all their friends and acquaintance, are butchered without mercy!"

We must redeem time from the TRIFLING CONVERSATION and gossip of IDLE COMPANIONS, "for no man," says Jeremy Taylor, "can be provident of his time, that is not prudent in the choice of his company; and if one of the speakers be vain, tedious, and trifling—he who hears, and he who answers, are equal losers in their time." "There are always some drones in society, who make much noise—but no honey." We should avoid all those who talk much—but say little, and watch against people whose conversation is like the buzz of moths and caterpillars, not only disagreeable—but carrying on a system of spoliation; and who eat into an hour before we are aware that the mischief is commenced. Such people should consider, that in consuming a man's time, they are committing a felony upon his property, for time is a part of his capital. And all others should retire from such people—for idleness is contagious!

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« Reply #136 on: January 09, 2007, 10:48:59 AM »

EFFICIENCY. If you would redeem the time, you should not only avoid absolute idleness, or doing nothing—but a slow and sauntering habit of doing anything. To use an old proverb, "We ought not to make greater haste, than good speed." There are some people who are always in a hurry, and all they do, bears marks of haste. Everything they do is half done, or badly done. But there is a wide difference between habits of efficiency—and bustling hurry. A thing is not better done for having twice as much time consumed upon it, as it needs. There are individuals who seem always to creep to an engagement, and almost to slumber over it. As it respects general habits, a parent can scarcely teach a child a more valuable art than efficiency without bustle—nor can any one that values his time, cultivate a more desirable one for himself.

ORDER and  PUNCTUALITY are essential to a right improvement of time. I mention these things together, because they are so closely connected, and have such a mutual influence on each other. One, indeed, is the order of 'place', the other is the order of 'time'. The best, and indeed the only rules, which any man can with propriety prescribe for himself, are these—"A time for everything—and everything in its time. A place for everything—and everything in its place." A habit of order may be fairly said to lengthen a man's life, not by multiplying its hours—but by enabling him more advantageously to employ them. Disorderly habits are perpetually wasting our time. When a person has no one place for any one thing—but lays everything down, just wherever he may happen to be, he is sure to spend his life in confusion. He never knows where to find what he needs. Let such a person conceive what an amount of time would be made up by all the minutes and hours which he has employed during his life in looking for misplaced articles; to say nothing of the trouble he has endured, and the inconvenience in which others have been involved. In business, order is property, and every tradesman deficient in this virtue, ought, in taking stock, to have this item on the loss side of the balance-sheet, "So much lost for lack of order." And, as disorderly habits waste our time, they are not only improper—but actually sinful.

PUNCTUALITY is another habit very important to a right improvement of time. Fix your time—and then keep it. Perhaps you know some people who are always behind-hand. The clock is to them an article without use—they do all things as if by whim or impulse. They are thus mischief-makers, without malice; and as far as in them lies, bring a chaos into human affairs. An individual who keeps a company of twelve people waiting for him but five minutes, wastes an hour! "Punctuality," says an elegant writer, "is a quality which the interest of mankind requires to be diffused through all the ranks of life—but which many seem to consider as a vulgar and ignoble virtue, below the ambition of greatness, or the attention of wit; scarcely requisite among men of gaiety and spirit, and sold at its highest rate when it is sacrificed to a frolic or a jest."

Punctuality
has another reference besides our time, I mean to our word. To promise without intending to perform, is absolute falsehood. But we ought to be very cautious how we bind ourselves by a promise, which is subject to contingencies beyond our foresight, or above our control. Many a man has subjected himself to the reproach of a liar without intending to deceive. Some people make all engagements with their eyes shut, and no sooner open them than they find it impossible to fulfill their word. We should always pause before we issue these verbal promissory notes, and calculate whether we have the means to meet them when they are presented for payment.

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« Reply #137 on: January 09, 2007, 10:50:09 AM »

Nothing can be more unjust or cruel, than a willful lack of punctuality in pecuniary transactions. It is unkind to keep, through our delays, a cook stirring a dinner in the kitchen. To thwart the expectation of a tradesman, dependent, upon our punctuality, is a species of inhuman cruelty.

A good method, wisely arranged and punctually observed in the distribution of our time, would materially assist us in rightly employing it. True religion, business, mental improvement, the exercises of benevolence, ought all, so far as the ever-varying circumstances of life will admit of it, to have their proper allotments. Each hour should know its proper employment, and receive its proper care in its season. No one should leave his days to be occupied by whatever accident or chance can seize them; for then, trifles being more common and clamorous than other things of greater importance, are likely to run off with the greatest share.

Have always some work in hand, which may be going on during the many spare intervals, for there will be many spare intervals in both of business and recreation. Pliny, in one of his letters, where he gives an account of the various methods he used, to fill up every vacancy of time, after several employments which he enumerates, says, "Sometimes I hunt—but then I carry with me a book, that while my servants are busied in disposing of the nets and other matters, I may be employed in something that may be useful to me in my studies; and that if I miss of my game, I may at the least bring home some of my own thoughts with me, and not have the disappointment of having caught nothing all day."

This is the way to excellence and wisdom; and it is a road open to all. Carry about with you, therefore, some book, or subject, which shall gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost; for these fragments, like chips of diamond, or fragments of gold—are too precious to be thrown away. It is with our property as with our time, when we look at it in the gross, we spend freely because it seems as if it would never be exhausted; and when we have hours, half hours, or quarters, we squander them because they are not worth keeping.

There is a proverb which our frugal ancestors have taught us, "Take care of the shillings, and the pounds will take care of themselves." So in reference to our time I would say, "Take care of your hours, and the years will take care of themselves." A man that is thrifty with his money, will grow rich upon what another throws away, as not worth saving; so a man that is thrifty of his time, will grow wise by those small vacancies which intervene in the most crowded variety of employment, and which many are foolish enough to squander upon trifles—or saunter away in idleness!

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« Reply #138 on: January 09, 2007, 10:51:39 AM »

Avoid procrastination. Do at once what at once ought to be done. Let not the season of action be spent in the hesitancy of skepticism, or the purpose of future effort. Do not let tomorrow be perpetually the time when everything is to be done, unmindful that the present time alone is ours—as the past is dead—and the future yet unborn.

A right improvement of time, then, my dear children, is the way to knowledge, which does not in every case require uninterrupted leisure; only keep the mind open to receive ideas, and diligently employ every spare moment in collecting them, and it is astonishing how rapidly the accumulation of mental treasure will go forward.

But it is chiefly in reference to eternity that I exhort you to redeem the time. Too many attempt to justify their neglect of true religion by pleading a lack of opportunity to attend to its high concerns. But how inadmissible such a plea is, the subject of this chapter plainly proves—for, as we have formerly shown, true religion is a right disposition of mind towards the great and blessed God, and we now see that such a disposition, besides the more solemn seasons of public and private prayer, will pour its influence over the whole of a man's life, and fill the vacancies which are left between the most crowded occupations, with short petitions to heaven, and the aspirations of a soul panting after God, and the anticipations of a renewed mind looking towards eternity.

Remember then, above all things, that time was given you to repent of sin, to pray for pardon, to believe in Christ, to work out your salvation, to lay up treasures in heaven, to prepare for the solemnities of judgment, and secure that happiness which is not measured by the revolution of years—but is, in the strictest sense of the word, ETERNAL!

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« Reply #139 on: January 10, 2007, 10:35:48 AM »

ON THE CHOICE OF A COMPANION FOR LIFE

The first piece of advice I offer is, not to think of this all-important affair too soon, nor suppose it necessary that a young person of eighteen or nineteen should begin to pay or receive particular attentions. Do not court the subject, nor permit your imagination to be forever dwelling upon it. Rather put it from you, than bring it near. Repress that visionary and romantic turn of mind, which considers the whole space that lies between you and the marriage altar, as a dreary waste, all beyond it as a paradise—in innumerable instances the very reverse has been the case, and the exchange of a father's for a husband's house has been like the departure of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to a wide uncultivated wilderness.

It is on this ground that novels, the most pernicious mental poison the press can disseminate, are so much to be depreciated; they inflame the imagination with visionary scenes and adventurous exploits, on a subject which the heart ought never to approach—but under the guidance of a sober judgment. Young people should be cautious in their social communion of converting this subject into matter of merriment, much more should they beware of aiding and abetting each other in the formation of such connections. Never, never be the confidant of individuals who are engaged in an affair of this kind unknown to their parents; nor be the medium of communication between them. Third people, who have been ambitious of the honor of match-making, have often done mischief to others, which, however they afterwards lamented, they were never able to repair. I know some whose lives have been embittered, and ever will be, by seeing the rueful consequences of those ill-fated unions, of which they were, in great measure, the authors.

My next admonition is, Take extreme care of hasty entanglements. Neither give nor receive particular attentions, which cannot be mistaken, until the matter is well weighed. Keep your affections shut up at home in your hearts, while your judgment, aided, by prudence, prepares to make its report.

When the subject comes fairly before your attention, make it immediately known to your parents. Conceal nothing from them. Abhor the very idea of clandestine connections, as a violation of every duty you owe to God and man. There is nothing heroic in a secret correspondence. The silliest girls and the weakest men can maintain it, and have been most frequently engaged in it. Spurn the individual who would come between you and your natural guardians—your parents. Hearken to the opinion of your parents with all the deference which is due to it. Rare are the cases in which you should act in opposition to their wishes.

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« Reply #140 on: January 10, 2007, 10:38:03 AM »

Be guided in this affair by the dictates of prudence. Never think of forming a connection until there is a rational prospect of temporal provision. I am not quite sure that the present age is in this respect more prudent than the past. It is all very pretty and pleasing for two young people to sing of love in a cottage, and draw picturesque views of two affectionate hearts struggling together amid the difficulties of life—but these pictures are seldom realized. Marriages which begin in imprudence generally end in wretchedness. Young people who marry without the consent of their parents, when that consent is withheld, not from caprice—but discretion, often find that they are not united like two doves, by a silken thread—but like two of Samson's foxes, with a firebrand between them. I call it little else than wickedness to marry without a rational prospect of temporal support.

Right motives should ever lead to this union. To marry for property only, is most sordid and vile. We are informed that in some parts of the East Indies, it is thought no sin for a woman to sell her virtue at the price of an elephant; and how much more virtuous in reality is she who accepts a man for the sake of his fortune? Where there is no affection at the altar of marriage, there must be perjury of the most awful kind; and he who returns from church with this guilt upon his conscience, has brought with him a curse to his habitation, which is likely to make his prize of little worth. When such people have counted their money and their sorrows together, how willingly with the price of their slavery would they buy again their liberty; and so they could be released from each other, give up all claim to the golden fetter which had chained them together.

Personal attractions alone are not enough to form a ground of union. Few things are more superficial or fleeting than beauty. The fairest flower often fades the soonest. There ought to be personal attachment I admit—but that attachment should be to the mind as well as to the body. Except we discern something lovely that will remain when the color of the cheek has faded, and the fire of the eye is extinguished, and the symmetry of the form has been destroyed—we are engaging our affections to an object which we may live to witness only as a sort of ghost to that beauty which we once loved. There should be temper, and qualities of mind which we think will please us, and satisfy us—when the novelties and charms of personal attractions have faded forever.

In the case of pious young people, neither personal nor mental qualifications, nor both together, should be deemed a sufficient ground of union in the absence of true religion. The directions of Scripture on this head are very explicit. "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness; and what communion has light with darkness? or what part has he who believes with an infidel?" 2 Cor. 6:14, 15. "She is at liberty to marry whom she will—but only in the Lord." 1 Cor. 7:39. This is a declaration of the will of God. It is a clear unequivocal annunciation of his mind on the subject. Viewed as advice, it is wise, for it is given by one who is infallible—but it is more than advice, it is the command of one who has authority to govern, the right to judge, and the power to punish. He who instituted marriage, has thus laid down the law, as to the principles on which it is to be conducted. Pious young people are here commended to unite themselves only with those who appear to be partakers of similar dispositions. An infraction of this law is followed with many evils–

It displeases others—it discourages ministers, grieves the church, and is a stumbling block to the weak. It is a source of inexpressible regret to parents. "At the age of forty, Esau married a young woman named Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite. He also married Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. But Esau's wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I'm disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living." This is deeply affecting, and it is but the feeling of every truly Christian parent concerning his children when they act as Esau did.

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« Reply #141 on: January 10, 2007, 10:39:00 AM »

But consider the influence of an unsuitable marriage on yourselves. We all need helps, not hindrances to heaven. Our personal religion requires props to keep it up, not weights to drag it down. In this case, not to be helped is to be hindered. The constant companionship of an ungodly husband, or wife, must be most injurious. The example is always near—it is the example of one we love, and which has on that account the greater power over us. Affection is assimilating—it is easy to imitate, difficult to oppose those we love. Your own religion is put in awful peril daily. But if you should escape unhurt, still what sorrow will such an association produce. What a dreadful, heart-rending idea—to love and live with those from whom you fear you shall be separated forever; to be moving hourly to a point, when you shall be torn from each other for eternity! How sweet the consciousness which lives in the bosom of a pious couple, that if separated tomorrow, they have an eternity to spend together in heaven—but the reverse of these feelings will be yours, if you marry not "in the Lord."

Besides, how many interruptions to marital felicity will you experience. Dissimilarity of taste, even in lesser matters, sometimes proves a great bar to happiness. Between those who are so nearly related, and so constantly together, there should be as great a likeness of disposition as possible. But to be unlike in the most momentous of all concerns, in an affair of perpetual recurrence! Is this the way to be happy? Will the strongest affection surmount this obstacle? or ought the experiment to be made?

And then, think on the influence it will have on all your domestic arrangements, on your CHILDREN, should you have any. You will be left alone, and perhaps counteracted in the great business of family religion. Your plans may be thwarted, your instructions neglected, and your influence opposed. Your offspring, partaking of the evil nature common to their species, are much more likely to follow the worldly example, than the spiritual one.

The Scripture is replete with instances of the evil resulting from the neglect of religious marriages. This was the sin which filled the old world with wickedness, and prepared it for the deluge. Some of Lot's daughters married in Sodom, and perished in its overthrow. Ishmael and Esau married ungodly people, and were both rejected and turned persecutors. The first captivity of the Jews, after their settlement in the Holy Land, is ascribed to this cause. (Judges 3). What did David suffer from this evil? The case of Solomon is a warning to all ages. This was the sin that Ezra and Nehemiah so grievously lamented, so sharply reproved.

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« Reply #142 on: January 10, 2007, 10:40:55 AM »

But I need not go to Scripture for instances of this nature—they stand thick all around us. What misery, what irregularities, what wickedness, have I seen, or known to exist in some families, where the parents were divided on the subject of true religion.

Young people often attempt to persuade themselves on very insufficient grounds, that the objects of their regard are pious. They evade the law of God by considering them as "hopeful". But are they decided Christians? In some cases they wish them to enter into church fellowship, as a kind of proof that they are godly. At other times they believe that, although their friends be not quite decided in their religious character, yet, by being united with them, they will become so. But are we to do evil, that good may come? Is marriage to be considered one of the means of grace? It is much more probable that such a connection will do injury to the pious party, than good to the unconverted one. I have seen the experiment often tried—but scarcely ever succeed, of marrying an unregenerate person with the hope of converting him. Dr. Doddridge says, he never knew only one instance in which this end was gained.

I do not mean to say that true religion, though indispensable, is the only prerequisite in the individual to whom you should unite yourselves. Temper, age, rank, mind, ability to preside over domestic cares, should all be taken into the account. Many, when expostulated with on their being about to form an unsuitable marriage, have replied, "O he is a very good man, and what more would you have?" Many things—a good disposition, industrious habits, a probability of supporting a family, a suitableness of age and station, a congeniality of general taste. To marry a person without piety, is sinful—to marry for piety alone, is foolish!

Again I entreat you to recollect that the marriage union is for life; and, if it be badly formed, is an evil from which there is no refuge but the grave—no cure but in death! An unsuitable marriage, as soon as it is found to be so, throws a gloom, not merely over some particular periods of your time, and portions of your history—but over the whole—it raises a dark and wide-spreading cloud, which extends over the whole horizon of a man's prospect, and behind which he sees the sun of his prosperity go down forever while it is yet noon. It is a subject on which the most delicate reserve, the most prudent caution, and the most fervent prayer, are indispensably necessary. It is not, as it is too frequently thought and treated, a mere sportive topic to enliven discourse with, or an enchanted ground for the imagination to rove in, or an object for a sentimental mind to court and dally with—it is a serious business, inasmuch as the happiness of many is concerned in it; their happiness not for a part of their lives—but for the whole of it; not for time only—but for eternity. And, therefore, although I would not surround the marriage altar with scarecrows, nor invest it with shadows as deep as those of the sepulcher, which men are more afraid than eager to approach; so neither would I adorn it with the garlands of folly until I have rendered it as frivolous as the ball-room, where men and women are paired for the dance with no regard to congeniality of mind, with no reference to future happiness, and no object but amusement.



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« Reply #143 on: January 10, 2007, 10:47:16 AM »

THE GREAT END OF LIFE

Never was there a more rational, or a more important question proposed for the consideration of the human understanding, than "What is man's chief end?" This, I say, is a most rational, and a most important inquiry; for every thinking being should certainly ask himself, "What is the great end of my existence? I find myself in a world where innumerable objects present themselves to my notice, each soliciting my heart, and each claiming to be most worthy of its supreme regard. I have faculties of mind capable of high pursuits. I perceive, by universal experience, that my stay in this world will be very short, for I am only a stranger and a sojourner here upon earth, as all my fathers were; and as I am anxious not to go out of the world without answering the end for which I came into it, I would wish to know the chief purpose for which I exist." Such a reflection is what every one should make—but which very few do make. Would they fritter away their lives as they do, on the most contemptible trifles, if they seriously inquired for what purpose their lives were given?

What, then, is the CHIEF end of man? You will perceive, I lay all the stress of the inquiry on the adjective; for there are many ends to be kept in view, many purposes to be accomplished, many objects to be sought. We must provide for our own sustenance, and the comfort of our family; we should store our mind with useful knowledge; endeavor to be useful, ornamental, and respectable members of society; and there are many other things which may be lawfully pursued—but we are now considering that ONE GREAT OBJECT, which is paramount to all others, to which all others must be subservient, and the loss of which will constitute life, whatever else we might have gained, a lost adventure.

There are five claimants for this high distinction, this supreme rank, in the objects of human pursuit—the pretensions of which shall be separately examined.

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« Reply #144 on: January 10, 2007, 10:49:30 AM »

1. RICHES, with peculiar boldness, assert their claims to be "the one thing needful," and multitudes practically confess the justice of the demand. Hence, there is no deity whose worshipers are more numerous than Mammon. We see many all round us who are obviously making this world the exclusive object of their solicitude. Wealth is with them the main chance. For this they rise early, and sit up late, eat the bread of anxiety, and drink the water of affliction. This is their language, "I care for nothing if I may but succeed in business, and acquire property. I will endure any fatigue, make any sacrifice, suffer any privation, so that I at last may realize a fortune!" It is perfectly evident that beyond this they have neither a wish nor an object. Money, money, money, is their chief good, and the highest end of their existence. God, true religion, the soul, salvation, heaven, hell, are as much forgotten as if they were mere fables, and all the energies and anxieties of their soul are concentrated in wealth. Is this rational?

Consider the uncertainty which attends the pursuit of this object. FORTUNE has been often described as a capricious goddess, not always bestowing her golden gifts on those, who by their prudence and industry seem most to deserve them. "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." The wisest and most industrious worldling sometimes ends in poverty. And shall we seek that as the end of life, which after all, we may never gain? Shall we deliberately devote existence to secure that which after all, we may never secure? How many miserable creatures are going down to the grave, confessing that they have spent their lives in courting fortune, and have scarcely obtained a smile—while others, who have hardly asked a favor, have been loaded with them. Poor creatures! they may say in reference to the world, what Wolsey did, "Had I served God with half the zeal that I have served Mammon, he would not now have forsaken me in my old age."

But even granting that the end is secured, do riches bring all the pleasures in their train which they promise? It is a very true remark, that a man's happiness is not in proportion to his wealth. "A man's life," said Christ, "consists not in the abundance of things which he has;" and yet many act as if they denied the truth of the sentiment. Do you think that all rich men are happy, and that all poor men are miserable? As to mere animal enjoyment, does the affluent man receive a larger share than his poor neighbor? Whose head aches less, for the costly plume that waves on the brow? Whose body enjoys the glow of health more for the rich velvet which enwraps it, or the lace which adorns it? Whose sleep is sounder because it is enjoyed on down? Whose palate is more pleased because it is fed with many dishes instead of one, and from silver instead of delft? Whose bosom is more free from pain because of the diamond which sparkles there? Do riches multiply the number of the senses, and give other inlets of sensation to the soul, or increase the power of those we already possess? Do they add to the just and natural appetites, or afford greater gratifications to those we already feel? Do they insure health, keep off disease? Nothing of the kind! Numerous servants, splendid clothes, rich furniture, luxurious living—add very little to a man's happiness! We may say of these things as Pliny did of the pyramids of Egypt, "They are only proud proclamations of that wealth and abundance which their possessor knew not how to use."

Anxious care is the shadow of possession, and the magnitude of the shadow will always be in proportion to the dimensions of the substance. Great wealth certainly makes a man many anxieties. What shall I do? is a question often asked by affluence, as well as by poverty. There is nothing in earthly things suited as a portion to the desires of the human mind. The soul of man needs something better for its provision than wealth. It is on this account, partly, that our Lord brands the rich man in the gospel for a fool, who, when he surveyed his treasures, said to his soul, "You have goods laid up for many years in store; eat, drink, and be merry."

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« Reply #145 on: January 10, 2007, 10:50:48 AM »

Then how precarious is the continuance of riches. They appear to us as in a dream; they come and are gone; they stand by us in the form of a golden image, high in stature, and deeply founded on a rock—but while we look at them they are transformed into an eagle with wings, and when we are preparing to embrace them, they fly away! What changes have we witnessed even within our own circles of observation. How many do we know, now suffering in poverty, who formerly rolled in affluence! They set out in life in the full sunshine of prosperity—but the storm overtook them, and blasted every comfort they had in the world!

But if riches continue to the end of life, how uncertain is life itself. How often do we see people called away by death in the very midst of their prosperity. Just when they have most reasons to desire to live, then they must die. Their industry has been successful, their desires after wealth have been gratified, they build houses, plant gardens, and when preparing for many years of ease and enjoyment, they leave all—for the grave! And then, whose shall those things be which they have amassed? "It is recorded of Saladin, the Saracen conqueror, that after he had subdued Egypt, passed the Euphrates, and conquered cities without number; after he had retaken Jerusalem, and performed exploits almost more than human, he finished his life in the performance of an action that ought to be transmitted to the most distant posterity. A moment before he uttered his last sigh, he called the herald who had carried his banners before him in all his battles; he commanded him to fasten to the top of a lance, the shroud in which the dying prince was soon to be buried. "Go," said he, "carry this lance, unfurl this banner, and while you lift up this standard, proclaim, This, this is all that remains to Saladin the Great, the Conqueror, and the King of the Empire, of all his glory!"

Yes, and that piece of shroud in which his perishing remains shall be enwrapped, is all that will be left of his wealth, to the rich man when he leaves the present world. Not one step will his riches go with him beyond the grave. What a sad parting will that be when the soul shall leave all its treasures behind in this world, and enter upon another state of existence, where it cannot take a penny, and where it would be useless if it could take it all. Then the miserable spirit, like a shipwrecked merchant, thrown on some strange coast after the loss of all his property, shall be cast on the shore of eternity, without one single comfort to relieve its pressing and everlasting necessities.

Can riches then substantiate their claims to be the chief end of man? What, when it is so doubtful whether, after all our endeavors, we shall possess them; when the possession of them contributes so little to our real felicity; when their continuance is so uncertain; their duration so short; their influence upon our eternal destiny worse than nothing? Will any reasonable creature have the folly to assert that the chief end for which God sent him into this world is to amass property, to build a splendid house, and to store it with furniture equally splendid, to wear costly clothes, and feed on rich food; to live in affluence, and die rich?

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« Reply #146 on: January 10, 2007, 10:52:19 AM »

2. PLEASURE. The next pretender to the distinction of being the supreme good, and man's chief object of pursuit, is  pleasure. To this many have devoted their lives; some are living for the sports of the field, others for the gratification of the appetites, others for the enjoyment of the round of fashionable amusements. Pleasure, in one form or other, is the object of pursuit with myriads. As to the gratification of our animal appetites, few will think it necessary to have much to persuade them, that to sink to the level of the brute creation, and hold communion with swine, and goats, and rats, cannot be the chief end of a rational being!

Who would not be ashamed to say, and even deliberately to think, they were sent into the world to consume so much property; to devour the produce of so many men's labor; to eat and drink away the little residue of wit and reason they have left; to mingle with this 'high and distinguished employment', their impure and vulgar jests—that they may befriend one another in proving themselves to be yet of human race, by this almost only remaining demonstration of it—that they can laugh as well as eat and drink. Surely, surely, that cannot be the chief end of man which sensualizes, brutalizes his nature; which drowns his reason, undermines his health, shortens his life, hurries him to the grave!

And then, as to what are called the pleasures of the sports of the field—will any man say that God sent him into the world to ride after dogs, to run after birds, or torture fish upon a hook? Are all the high faculties of the soul to be wasted, all the precious moments of life to be consumed, in seeing how many foxes, hares, pheasants, and trout, we can kill

Fashionable amusements seem to be with many, the end of life. Multitudes live for pleasures of this kind. Ball succeeds to concert; the private party to the public assembly; the card party to the dinner party; and in this busy round of fashionable follies does the life of many pass away. Can it then be the high object of existence to sing, and play, and dress and dance? Do not these things, when we reflect upon them, look more like the pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers, and canary birds, than of rational creatures? Is it not melancholy to see beings with never-dying souls, sinking to the amusements of children; and employing time as if it were given them for nothing but mirth; and using the world as if it were created by God only to be a sort of playground or tennis court for its inhabitants?

Does this kind of life satisfy those who pursue it? Far, very far, from it! Can any person, in reality, be farther from happiness than they who live for pleasure? You shall hear the testimony of a man who will be admitted by all to be no incompetent judge—I mean Lord Chesterfield. The world was the god of his idolatry, he tendered his service to act as high priest for this divinity, published its liturgy, and conducted its ceremonies. What happiness he found in the worship of his deity, and how fair he recommends others to the shrine, you shall learn from his own pen. And by the way, this language furnishes the most powerful antidote to the poison contained in his trumpery volumes, that was ever published.

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« Reply #147 on: January 10, 2007, 10:53:14 AM »

"I have run," says the man of the world, "the silly rounds of business and pleasure, and have done them all. I have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world, and consequently know their futility, and do not regret their loss. I appraise them at their real value, which is, in truth, very low; whereas those that have not experienced, always overrate them. They only see their mirthful outside, and are dazzled with the glare. But I have been behind the scenes. I have seen all the coarse pulleys and dirty ropes, which exhibit and move the gaudy machines; and I have seen and smelled the tallow candles, which illumine the whole decoration, to the astonishment and admiration of an ignorant audience. When I reflect back upon what I have seen, what I have heard, and what I have done, I can hardly persuade myself that all that frivolous hurry, and bustle, and pleasure of the world, had any reality. But I look upon all that has passed as one of those romantic dreams which opium commonly brings about; and I do by no means desire to repeat the nauseous dose for the sake of the fugitive dream. Shall I tell you that I bear this melancholy situation with that delight and resignation which most people boast of? No! for I really cannot help it. I bear it—because I must bear it, whether I will or no. I think of nothing but of killing time the best way I can—now that time has become my enemy. It is my resolution to sleep in the carriage during the remainder of the journey."

Poor, wretched, forlorn Chesterfield, and was it thus you did close your career? Is it thus that the worldling, in his last moments, feels and acts, looking back upon the past with disgust, and forward to the future with despair? Then, O God, in your mercy, "save me from the men of this world—who have their portion in this life!"

In alluding to the case of Chesterfield, Horne says, "When a Christian minister speaks slightingly of the world, he is supposed to do it in the way of his profession, and to decry, through envy, the pleasures he is forbidden to taste. But here I think you have the testimony of a witness every way competent. No one ever knew the world better, or enjoyed more of its favors than Chesterfield. Yet you see in how poor, abject, and wretched a condition, at the time when he most needed help and comfort—the world left him—and he left the world. The sentences above cited from him, compose, in my humble opinion, the most striking and affecting sermon on the subject ever yet preached to mankind. My younger friends, lay them up in your minds, and write them on the tables of your hearts; take them into life with you; they will prove an excellent preservative against temptation. When you have duly considered them, and the character of him by whom they were uttered, you shall compare them, if you please, with the words of another person, who took his leave of the world in a very different manner. 'I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day.' Say, shall your lot be with the Christian, or the man of the world; with the apostle, or Chesterfield? You will not hesitate a moment—but, in reply to those who may attempt to seduce you into the paths of vice and error, honestly and boldly exclaim, every one of you with Joshua, Choose this day whom you will serve—but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

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« Reply #148 on: January 10, 2007, 10:53:59 AM »

You will also call to remembrance, my dear children, that passage in the Life of Colonel Gardiner, whose history you have read, or should read, in which he tells us, that when living in all kinds of wickedness, and when complimented for the external gaiety of his demeanor, he was in reality so totally wretched, and so entirely disgusted with his mode of living, that, on beholding the kennel of his dog, he wished he could change places with the ignorant animal.

Is pleasure then the chief end of life? Yes, in Doddridge's explanation of it, in his beautiful stanza–

"Live while you live, the epicure will say,
And take the pleasure of the present day!
Live while you live, the holy preacher cries,
And give to God each moment as it flies!
Lord, in my view, let both united be—
I live in pleasure when I live to Thee."

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« Reply #149 on: January 10, 2007, 10:55:23 AM »

3. FAME is with some, the great end of life. This is an object which comparatively few can hope to obtain, and therefore for which few contend. Still there are some; and if they were honest, they would tell you that 'vanity', which is another name for 'the love of fame'—is a passion, which, like the venom of a serpent injected into its own body, tortures itself. The pursuit of fame is attended with a state of mind, which is the most remote from happiness.

"When fame succeeds, it degenerates into arrogance; when it is disappointed, (and it is almost always disappointed,) it is exasperated into malignity, and corrupted into envy. In this 'theater of fame', the vain man commences with envy—he detests that excellence which he cannot reach. He lives upon the misfortunes of others; the vices and miseries of his superiors are his element and his food. The virtues, talents, and genius of the eminent, are his natural enemies, which he persecutes with instinctive eagerness and unremitting hostility. There are some who doubt the existence of such a disposition—but it certainly issues out of the dregs of disappointed vanity; a disease which taints and vitiates the whole character, wherever it prevails. It forms the heart to such a profound indifference to the welfare of others, that 'whatever appearance he may assume', or however wide the circles of his seeming talents may extend, you will infallibly find the vain man in his own center. Attentive only to himself, absorbed in the contemplations of his own perfections, instead of feeling tenderness for his fellow-creatures, as members of the same family, as beings with whom he is destined to act, to suffer, and to sympathize—he considers life as a theater on which he is acting a part, and mankind in no other light than spectators. Whether he smiles or frowns; whether his path is adorned with the rays of beneficence, or his steps are dyed in blood; an attention to self is the spring of every movement, and the motive to which every action is referred."

When therefore we consider that perpetual restlessness of mind, that mortification, arising from disappointed hopes; that envy, which is increased by the success of competitors, that feverish excitement, which is kept up by the intense desire of victory; the love of fame will appear too torturing a state of mind to be the end of man's existence; it is plunging into a kind of purgatory for the mere chance of reaching a celestial summit.

Should the effort to gain distinction be successful, will it then reward the pains that have been expended to gain it? We have a striking illustration of the emptiness of the rewards of fame, in the memoirs of Henry Martyn. He tells us that after a severe contest with many distinguished competitors, for the prize of being the highest mathematical honor which the University of Cambridge can bestow upon its students, the palm was awarded to him; and having received it, he exclaims, "I was astonished to find what a 'shadow' I had grasped." Perhaps there never yet was a candidate for fame, whatever was the particular object for which he contended, who did not feel the same disappointment. The reward of fame may be compared to the garlands in the Olympic games, which began to wither the moment they were grasped by the hand, or worn upon the brow, of the victor!

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