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ery rank indeed, coldness and indifference, carelessness and neglect, are the reigning epidemics. These are diseases far more difficult of cure, diseases not more dangerous to the patient than distressing to the physician, who generally finds it more difficult to raise a sluggish habit than to lower an occasional heat.
The imprudently zealous man, if he be sincere, may, by a discreet regimen, be brought to a state of complete sanity ; but to rouse from a state of morbid indifference ; to brace from a total relaxation of the system, must be the immediate work of the great physician of souls ; of him who can effect even this, by his spirit accompanying this powerful word, “ i wake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee
INSENSIBILITY TO ETERNAL THINGS.
INSENSIBILITY to eternal things, in beings who are standing on the brink of eternity, is a made ness which would be reckoned among prodigies, if it were not so common. It would be altogether incredible, if the numberless instances we have of it, were only related, and not witnessed, were only heard of, and not experienced.
If we had a certain prospect of a great estate, and a splendid mansion which we knew must be ours in a few days; and not only our's as a bequest, but an inheritance ; not only as a possession, but a perpetuity ; if, in the mean time, we rented, on a precarious lease, a paltry cottage in bad repair, ready to fall, and from which we knew we must at all events soon be turned out; depending on the proprietor's will, whether the éjeçtment might not be the next minute ; wouha
it argue wisdomy or even common sense, totally to overlook our near and noble reversion, and to be so fondly attached to our falling tenement, as to spend great part of our time and thoughts in supporting its ruins by props, and concealing its decays by decorations ? To be so absorbed in the little sordid pleasures of tbis frail abode, as not even to cultivate a taste for the delights of the mansion, where such treasures are laid up for us, and on the possession of which we fully reckon in spite of our neglect ; this is an excess of inconsideration, which must be seen to be credited.
It is a striking fact, that the acknowledged uncertainty of life drives worldly men to make sure of every thing depending on it except their eternal concerns. It leads them to be regular in their accounts, and exact in their bargains. They are afraid of risking ever so little property, on so precarious a tenure as life, without insuring a reversion. There are even some who speculate on the uncertainty of life as a trade. Strange, that this accurate calculation of the duration of life should not involve a serious attention to its end! Strange, that the critical annuitant should totally overlook his perpetuity! Strange, that in the prudent care not to risk a fraction of property, equal care should not be taken, not to risk eternal salvation !
We are not supposing flagitious characters, remarkable for any thing which the world calls wicked ; we are not supposing their wealth obtained by injustice, or increased by oppression. We are only supposing a soul drawn aside from God, by the alluring baits of a world, which, like the treacherous lover of Atalanta, causes him to lose the victory by throwing golden apples in his way. The shining baits are obtained, but the race is lost !
To worldly men of a graver cast, business may be as formidable an enemy as pleasure is to those of a lighter turn : Business has so sober an air that it looks like virtue, and virtuous it certainly is, when carried on in a proper spirit, with due moderation, and in the fear of God. To have a lawful employment, and to pursue it with diligence, is not only right and honourable in itself, but is one of the best preservatives from temptation.*
When a man pleads in his favour, the diligence business demands, the self-denying practices it imposes, the patience, the regularity, the industry indispensable to its success, when he argues that these are habits of virtue, that they
* That accurate judge of human life, Dr. Johnson, has often been heard by the writer of these pages to observe, that it was the greatest misfortune which could befal a man to have been bred to no profession, and pathetically to regret that this misfortane was his own.
are a daily discipline to the moral man, and that the world could not subsist without business, he argues justly : but when he forgets his interests in the eternal world, when he neglects to lay up a treasure in heaven, in order that he may augment a store which he does not want, and, perhaps, does not intend to use, or uses to purposes merely secular, he is a bad calculator of the relative value of things.
Business has an honourable aspect as being opposed to idleness, the most hopeless offspring of the whole progeny of sin. The man of business comparing himself with the man of dissipation, feels a fair and natural consciousness of his own value, and of the superiority of his own pursuits. But it is by comparison that we deceive ourselves to our ruin. Business, whether professional, commercial, or political, endangers minds of a better cast, minds which look down on pleasure as beneath a thinking being. But if business absorb the affections, if it swallow up time, to the neglect of eternity ; if it generate a worldly spirit ; if it cherish covetousness ; if it engage the mind in long views, and ambitious pursuits, it may be as dangerous, as its more inconsiderate and frivolous rival. The grand evil of both lies in the alienation of the heart from God. Nay, in one respect, the danger is greater to him who is the best employed. The man of