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dangerous to the souls of those who possess it. Yet the wise man had reason to
money “ answereth all things ;"2 as it may be made extensively useful to others, and thus eventually profitable to the faithful steward himself: and,“ the
wisdom that is from above” will teach the Christian to make this use of it. The wealthy are not required in scripture to part with their estates; nor is it generally advisable to abolish all distinction between them and their inferiors in their style of life. Nay, such men as are engaged in lucrative business, provided it be lawful, and they are on their guard against its snares, will generally be more useful by carrying it on as the Lord's servants, and using its profits as his stewards; than by retiring from it in the prime of life to a situation, which, perhaps, has not fewer snares, and certainly inferior advantages for doing good. -The consistent believer, however, will be influenced by his principles to retrench a variety of superfluous expenses, and exceedingly to moderate his desires of providing for his family, that he may raise a fund for charitable and pious uses : and, while he shews a readiness for every good work, by which the wants and miseries of men may be relieved, he will especially endeavour to render all his liberality subservient to the more important interests of religion. This may be attempted by disseminating divine truth in the world, as the only seed of genuine piety and holiness, dispersing useful books, assisting in the religious education
Matt. xix. 23–26. 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10. 17–20. ; Eccles, x. 19.
of children, training up pious young men for the ministry, or in various ways promoting the faithful preaching of the gospel. Wealth gives a man influence also; and the affluent Christian may use this influence to important purposes : and, when the leisure it affords is accompanied with a suitable turn of mind, he may do more good by an edifying example, pious converse, and prudent efforts, in his own sphere, (from which others are often excluded,) than by retiring from it, even though he should expend in charity what would be saved by that measure. His conduct may likewise be rendered very useful among his tenants, domestics, and neighbours, and, if he frequently disperse his charity with his own hands, accompanying it with pious exhortations, and affectionately serious discourse, it will have a vast effect in conciliating men's minds to his religious principles. But, indeed, the reflections already made suffice to shew in general how this talent may be improved ; and particulars on so copious a subject, in this compendious Essay, can scarcely be expected: only it may be added, that far more should be thus employed than commonly is.
They also who are in more narrow circumstances have yet, even in this respect, a talent to improve. Much might be saved from superfluous expenses by most Christians, to employ in those good“ works, which are, through Christ Jesus, to “ the praise and glory of God.”. Nay, such as
labour, working with their hands,” are expected to give something to those who are in want.
This specimen may illustrate what is meant by ‘ the improvement of talents.' Many other particular talents might be properly mentioned: but brevity must be consulted.-Time is an universal talent, which every Christian should redeem from useless
ways of spending it, that he may employ it in some beneficial manner: as idleness is intolerable in a disciple of him who “ went about
doing good.” Every man has influence in his own circle, however contracted, and may improve it to good purposes. For, did we duly consider our obligation to “ God our Saviour,” the great end for which our lives are continued, and the near approach of death; a desire would be excited in our hearts to live to his glory, and to serve our generation, which would induce us to improve all our advantages to that purpose. And were every professor of the gospel thus “steadfast, “unmovable, always abounding in the work of the “ Lord;" the blessed effects which would follow may in a measure be conceived, but can never be fully estimated
every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights ;" so none of those things “ that accom
pany salvation ” can be done in a proper manner, and to good effect, except as we seek communications from God by “ the
“ the prayer of faith.” It must therefore be essential to the design of this compendious publication to treat expressly on a subject of such immense use and importance.
The worship which God requires of us may be distinguished into adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication. Contemplating the glories of his nature, as displayed in his works and revealed in his word, we express our reverential awe of his greatness and majesty, and our admiring love of his infinite excellency, by adoring praises, and by celebrating the honour and harmony of all his attributes. Recollecting our personal obligations unto him, as our Creator, providential Benefactor, and Saviour, we declare our grateful sense of them in thanksgiving, general and particular : whilst the desire of holiness and happiness, and the love of our fellow-creatures, joined to a conviction of our weakness and poverty, and a confidence in the Lord's goodness and mercy, dictate prayers for ourselves and others : and in all these respects we“ render to the Lord the glory due to
“ his name.” In speaking therefore more particularly concerning prayer, it is not meant to exclude or overlook the other parts of divine worship; but rather to consider them as connected with it, and as bearing a proportion to the enlargement of our hearts“ in making our re“quests known unto God.” Yet, as prayer is especially the employment of poor and helpless sinners on earth, and the introduction to those praises and thanksgivings which are anticipations of the work and felicity of heaven; so it may be proper in this place to confine our inquiries principally to this part of divine worship.
Prayer, in its very nature, is the expression of dependence, indigence, desire, and expectation. Petitions can scarcely be offered with propriety to those, on whom a man has no kind of dependence. The rich will rather buy than beg : but he that has no money, and is unable to earn any, is likely to be induced by necessity to the humiliating expedient of supplicating relief. Yet he cannot heartily ask those things of which he is not in want, or which he feels no desire to obtain. And at last, whatever his dependence, indigence, or desires may be, he will not be disposed to petition any one whom he considers as totally unable or unwilling to relieve him.
Prayer therefore, in the most general sense, implies a belief, and contains an acknowledgment, of the being' and perfections of God, of his presence with us, and of our dependence on him for
life, and breath, and all things.” It includes a consciousness that we are insufficient for our own happiness; that we cannot defend ourselves from