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SERM. salvation at the same time that he attends VI.
to his earthly concerns; and I shall expose its pernicious tendency, by proving, that to withdraw ourselves entirely from worldly business is not unnecessary, but criminal; that religion does not only not command such a desertion, but actually forbids it.
First, then, I am to shew that a man may work out his salvation at the same time that he attends to his earthly concerns,
Those who maintain the contrary, ground probably their opinion on the following precepts of our Saviour, and other of the like import; “ Take no thought for your life, “ what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;
or nor yet
*neither do they reap, nor gather into SERM. “barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them;" and again,
« Consider the lilies w of the field how they grow, they toil not “neither do they spin." Here it seems to be intimated that we ought to depend on the providence of God for food and raiment, and to use no more industry for obtain ing them than the fowls or the lilies do. There are various other texts of this kind, all of which there are two ways of explaining, and either is sufficient to overturn the conclusion drawn from them, that worldly employments and religion are incompatible.' One explanation is, that our Saviour does not mean to condemn all care what ever about the things of this life, but only that sort of care which is accompanied with anxiety and distrust; that he does not intend to decry every kind of diligence and industry with regard to our earthly concerns, but only such degrees of them as G 2
SERM. would take off, or too much withdraw, our VI.
attention from the duties of religion. The other explanation, which is most probably the true one, is, that these commands were not designed to be general and standing law's, but were only addressed to, and intended for the practice of the first disciples ; for it was necessary that they should always be attendant on our Saviour to be witnesses of his miracles, and hearers of his doctrines; and in those in particular who were to preach the gospel after his resurrection, a peculiar degree of contempt of the world, and disinterestedness, was requisite; since they must of course quit their homes, give up what prospects they had of advancing their fortunes, and expose themselves to persecutions and deaths of every kind.
An entire freedom from care and concern with regard to témporal comforts was absolutely requisite in these; but that it is not so in all men, is very evident from various
pássages in the gospel. When the fore- SERM.
VI. runner of our Saviour, John the Baptist, was asked by the publicans and soldiers what they should do, what conduct he would prescribe to them to fit them for the coming of the Messiah ; to the former he says,
Exact no more, than that which is appointed you ;" to the latter, “ Do violence “ to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and “ be content with your wages.
No mention, you see, of relinquishing their professions, which there certainly would have been had it been necessary; for John was sent for the express purpose of preparing the way for the preaching of the gospel. Nor is the counsel of Christ himself on a similar occasion different: on his being asked by a certain lawyer what he should do to inherit eternal life? he replies unto him, • What " is written in the law ? how readest thou ?" And 'the lawyer "answering, said, “ Thou '« shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
SERM. “ heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy strength, and with all thy mind, and
thy neighbour as thyself: " And Jesus said unto him, " thou hast answered right, “ this do, and thou shalt live.” No in- . junction, you see, to forsake the world, or to give up his business; nor is such meaning fairly to be drawn from any other of our Lord's discourses.
His advice to the rich young man to sell all that he had, and to give to the poor, is certainly much overstrained by those who would suppose it binding on Christians in general; it was probably meant as a trial of the sincerity of the person to whom it was addressed, and certainly extends not beyond them to whom our Lord may have directly enjoined it. It seems to be intimated, indeed. though even this has been otherwise explains ed, that many of the first converts to Christianity parted with all that they had, laid the money at the apostles' feet, and lived