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exempt from the broad injunction, "let your light shine before men." Because from the stern necessity of circumstances they have little or no time to devote to works of mercy, or nature has been parsimonious of talents by which to exert any considerable influence over other minds, or of wealth, to alleviate human woe and make the face of sorrow smile, have they no way left by which to develope their graces and exemplify their religious principles? May they not be the salt of the earth and the light of the world as well as others? Most certainly they may. They are in nowise wanting in opportunities to show what spirit they are of.
Genuine piety is thus described: it is first pure; then peaceable; gentle and easy to be entreated; full of mercy and good works; without partiality and without hypocrisy. Good works are but the expressions of an internal sense or principle. Does not your condition allow you to abound in works of charity, technically so called? Yet you may be "pure," you may be "peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated-without partiality and without hypocrisy." You may abound in the fruits of righteousness-by a holy and peaceable life; by kindly affections and tender sympathies as you pass along this vale of tears; by gentleness, humility, sweetness of temper, sobriety and stern integrity; you may present to the world a fair representation of what that wisdom from above is.
Would we know the Christian, we must contemplate him in the relations in which he is placed and see how he discharges his duties there. We must follow him along the common paths of life, accompany him in his daily round of labors, trials, pleasures; inspect his commercial transactions, and we shall see how, in all possible conditions, are the amplest occasions for exemplifying the principles of our blessed religion. A brief consideration of each of these particulars may present some new-at least some comparatively little thought of views of Christian character and duty, and unavoidably conduct to the conclusion that, by whatever means manifested, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him. For religion is not merely the performance of a specified round of duties, but a principle, giving energy and character to his whole conduct. Its most indubitable evidence is to be sought in the manner of discharging the duties and meeting the events of life.
I. We will look for the Christian as the hard-working man-his bodily powers taxed to the utmost and his mind absorbed in his daily labors. How in this situation can he honor God and adorn a good profession? It must be in the mode of discharging his duties.
The husbandman, for example, may plough, sow and gather his harvest religiously or irreligiously. He may labor patiently, contentedly, with a holy gratitude and pious dependence, or he may toil on day after day, using up the energies of life for that meat that perishes, regardless of the Author and benevolent Agent who gives him strength to labor, gathers the clouds over him and sends on his fields the healthful showers, profusely scattering blessings about his path. There is all the difference of right and wrong, in the motives with which he pursues his daily avocations. If he toil merely to accumulate riches for their own sake, or to rear his children, principally that his worldly wishes may be gratified in them, it is sin. His ploughing, sowing, reaping is then sin-only developments of pride, ambition, or avarice. But if he regard himself only as the instru
ment of an all-controlling Providence, and the almoner of His bounty, and the guardian of interests committed to him by his heavenly Father, the end for which he now lives and labors is altogether changed. He is now steward, not proprietor; servant, not master. And so with the mechanic or the laborer of any craft. Though unable, except to a very limited extent, to show his loyalty to his Divine Master by devoting time, money or talents, he may do what is effective and equally acceptable. He may do all things in reliance on Divine aid. He may feel that health of body and of mind, domestic peace, success in labor, exemption from losses and disappointments, and general prosperity are the gifts of the same kind Hand. He may exercise all that patience and meekness, gratitude and dependence becoming one who has nothing which he has not received.
And where, if not in such circumstances, do we find occasions for the exercise of pious affections-motives for loving and honoring the great author of all good? Industry, diligence in business, economy-not spending time or money for that which profiteth not, are Christian duties, the right discharge of which may be as truly godly, as really indicative of a pious heart, as the discharge of duties more commonly denominated religious. A man may work religiously, as well as pray, exhort or give sincerely and with religious affection. Indeed, this is nearly the only way by which a large class of Christians can, in existing circumstances, develope their religious characters. Their commerce with the world is limited. The part they take in the public affairs of men is still narrower. Their characters are not tried by the vexations or the temptations of office or of wealth, or by the ambition of learning, or the fascinations of pleasure. It is theirs to rise early, to toil incessantly and to eat the bread of carefulness. But not the less on this account may they show forth the graces of a regenerate heart, and let their light shine. Their diligence and contentment; their patience to endure, with a right temper of mind, the many little vexations and trials which they must necessarily encounter; their fidelity in fulfilling promises and meeting engagements; the promptitude and cheerfulness with which they perform acts of neighborly kindness and sympathy; in a word, the whole manner in which they discharge duties which do devolve on them, whether on the farm or in the workshop, in the kitchen or in the parlor, by the wayside or the fireside these are their testimonials to the genuineness of their religion, as well as direct and effectual means of doing good. We must look for the reason of one's hope in the circumstances in which we find him. He must be a doer of the Word in the sphere in which Providence has called him to act. Religion is abundantly a practical thing, equally, perhaps, capable of being exemplified in every condition and occupation in life.
II. A further illustration of piety may be found in the adverse circumstances of life.
Sin has brought into the world a fruitful progeny of woe. The path of life leads through shades as well as lights. It is called the "vale of tears" —a state of suffering rather than of doing or of enjoying. The whole tissue of life indicates it to be a state of trial for a better condition of existence. We may therefore feel no difficulty in asserting that its adverse circumstances, its trials, disappointments, afflictions, are admirably adapted to test character. The mere events of life, whether adverse or joyous,
are of little moment. As the morning cloud they are soon passed. But not so with the influence they exert on character. Here their footsteps can never be obliterated-they are the very fabricators of character. By them God is training men for immortality. And more especially are life's chastisements designed to work out this noble purpose. They are our schoolmasters to bring us to Christ.
Do you then ask again, how the Christian in humble condition and limited means, is to show, in works, the sincerity of his faith? I answer, he is to do it, by patience in tribulation. Who has not taken note of the unlooked-for movements of Providence in his own individual history? How have his schemes been frustrated; his pleasant dreams proved delusions, and prospects fair and promising, been in a moment blasted? How often has his sun rose clear, but before he had run half his course, sunk beneath the darkness of the storm? But if earth's direst calamities do not befall him if his soul be neither withered by the unfaithfulness of friends or the malignity of enemies, nor his hopes dashed to the ground by some unforeseen catastrophe, yet he is the subject of an endless variety of lesser anxieties, annoyances, disappointments, and afflictions. These afford no less severe tests of character. For the soul may nerve itself for an extraordinary occasion-may be unnaturally fortified against the violence of the storm, while the common casualties of daily experience may unhinge the nerves, ruffle the temper, and irritate the mind more effectually than great calamities. The tree, beaten by the thunder storm, and reeling to and fro amidst the strifes of the tornado, strikes deeper its root and spreads broader its base, and rears by a sturdier growth its stately top, yet a noiseless drought, or the gnawing of a worm at the root, or the heedless boy with his hatchet, almost causeless to human ken, makes its boughs wither and its trunk leafless.
We must watch the Christian along the path of life's common occurrences, would we have a fair picture of the inner man. There he is acting out the principles of his inmost soul. Is he peevish, murmuring, unsubmissive, amidst the common incidents of life, watering the germ of bitterness with rebellious tears and cherishing it in discontent, he gives but doubtful signs of professing that patience in tribulation that spirit which suffereth long-and which is the first characteristic of a Christian temper. Nothing is real magnanimity-genuine patience and resignation to an all-controlling Hand, which does not preserve a Christian temper amidst the lesser evils and ills of life. Some of the most lovely growths of virtue, the most luxuriant and fruitful plants of piety, have lived, grown and flourished all their days in the vale of tears. The thorns and briers of adversity could not choke them, nor impede their progress onward and upward to the skies.
Do you ask for another evidence of grace in the heart: I point you again to the broad arena of common life. You may find it,
III. In men's commercial dealings.
The whole duty of man has been summed up in this narrow compass: "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly." To do justly is a work of mighty magnitude. For God has purposely made man's social and commercial relations such, that the discharge of their consequent duties involves a rigid test of moral character. Man is constituted a dependent
being. He cannot live to himself—at least not so as to develop the capabilities of his nature, and, except as a merc animal, to answer the ends of his existence. For protection, food and apparel, he is dependent. He must give and receive, assist and be assisted. And consequently it is vital to his interests here, and has an important bearing on his eternal interests, that there be a due adjustment and preservation of the rights of property and human rights in general. Here our fallen nature is peculiarly liable to defection. Avarice, pride, ambition, love of pleasure, selfishness in some of its manifold developments, are constantly invading the rights of equity and bringing man in conflict with man. Hence an honest man has been called God's noblest work. To be strictly and universally honest, to regard with unvarying integrity all the distinctions of mine and thine, not appropriating to our own use, because the vigilance of the law may be eluded, what, in moral right, is another's, is a virtue not only of high order, but of hard attainment. Indeed, so conditioned are we that we cannot subsist, in comfort and safety, without the constant development of our moral character. To some men God commits property that they may develop their characters by the use they make of it. They now have it in their power either to bless or oppress the poor-to relieve the necessities of others or to pamper their own lusts. God leaves them, as free moral agents, to act out themselves, and he will judge them according as they act. If found unfaithful as touching the "unrighteous Mammon," how shall he commit to them the true riches? On the other hand, withholding from others the bounties of his Providence, God puts their moral characters to the test, by seeing how they will walk in the paths of penury and dependence. I know not whether poverty or riches affords the severest test of character. Each has its peculiar temptations, the one to oppress, the other to murmur and defraud. The rich are tempted to overlook what is due to the poor; the poor quite as much what is due to the rich. God has placed both in their respective conditions, to see how they will perform their respective duties, and act in their allotted spheres. Each condition may be equally important. For the difference between the highest and lowest, the richest and poorest, is too trifling for observation when viewed from the heights of eternity. Yet immense consequences are suspended on the manner of discharging the duties of either condition.
Are you rich? Do you say to one, Come, and he cometh? The Author of your being and the Disposer of your destiny has placed you thus that he may, by means of the peculiar temptations and trials of your condition, fit you for the possession of the durable riches and unfading honors. He will not so much inquire how great have been your possessions, or how punctiliously or sanctimoniously you have performed any particular round of duties, as what principles you have imbibed, and what motives have moved you to action, and what character you have formed during this course of action. If you have not made justice, in all your commerce with men, your pole-star in life's adventurous voyage, and allowed mercy to fill your sails, you have not signalized that character and those principles which alone are a passport to the haven of the righteous. Or are you poor, dependent, afflicted, oppressed with toils and cares, laboring day by day for your daily bread, and glad to eat the crumbs which fall from the rich man's table; God, who makes your life a probation for
a better and an eternal state, has chosen your path for you in the dreary vale. He is submitting you to a course of discipline which, if rightly used, will fit you for a higher and holier inheritance in the skies. He has placed you thus that you may be examples of gratitude for favors received; of patience under the adverse circumstances of life; of submission to the sovereign will; and fidelity in the service of employers. Do not overlook, then, that your religion, if you have any, will show itself in the spirit and temper with which you conduct in your destined sphere. You are not on trial as rich, or wise, or noble, but as one living and acting in your own humble calling. Murmuring poverty, insubmissive affliction, or unfaithfulness in the employment of another, is as decisive a token of a wrong state of heart and a destitution of religious principle, as the oppression, the pride, or the extravagance of the rich.
In a word, would we know what is in man, we must choose our post of observation, not where we can see him only in his Sunday habiliments, or laced in the stays of a religious profession, but along the paths of his every-day life. We must see how he buys and sells, how he labors, how he fulfils his engagements, how he acts when in his power to overreach or defraud, to overcharge or underwork-to prey on men's necessities or ignorance to misuse or squander another's because in his power-to contract debts without the prospect, perhaps the intention, of paying; or in any way to appropriate to himself what in moral right belongs to another. If the fruit be good, we hazard nothing in pronouncing the tree good.
IV. Would you further trace the lineaments of one's christian character, follow him into his social and domestic relations-take passing note of the company he keeps, the books he reads, and the pleasures he most relishes. See how he acts the part of friend and neighbor, of partner in business or companion by the way, of an associate in pleasure, or a fellowlaborer in the field-follow him as he performs the offices of parent or child, brother or sister, husband or wife. True religion sanctifies and blesses all these relations, and helps to a better performance of their duties. But if, in meeting the events and discharging the duties of these relations, he be morose, selfish, supercilious, disobliging, unkind, avaricious, where is his religion? It is in vain that this has evaporated in the prayer meeting, or in the volubility of religious conference. If it be not a lamp to his feet in the common paths of life-if its influence be not seen and felt in the every day relations of business and friendship and pleas
that man's religion is vain. It may have enough of the effervescence of feeling, but not of the stamina of sound principle. It may gild over a few well-turned performances of the Sabbath, but leave the works of the six days "full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness." Heart-religion makes man better in whatever relation you find him-better about his fireside-in his field-in his workshop-a better member of society, more firm when right, more yielding when wrong, more indulgent of the foibles of others, more sensible of his own, and ever solicitous that if the society in which he lives be not happy and prosperous, harmonious and efficient, the sin shall not lie at his door.
And would you further apply the touchstone, inquire of the inner man what pleasures are there the most cordially relished-what book serves best to beguile a leisure hour-what company is the most congenial to