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and hardships sustained, to escape some worldly evil or purchase some worldly good.
And next, the wisdom, as well as duty, of making some corresponding exertion to avoid a far greater evil and ensure a far greater good.
First then; No games, like those of antient Greece, are now celebrated; nor does any one spectacle
among us possess the same general attraction, nor employ the time and thoughts of an whole nation, as they did. Yet, during a long period after the introduction of Christianity, solemn assemblies were held to witness feats of arms performed by warriors of renown. And, though the origin of the Tournament cannot perhaps be traced to a principle of public utility like the games of Greece, yet were the thoughts of Christians as intensely occupied, and the labours and perils they underwent quite as severe, as in the days of Heathen contest. Less hardy and less glorious, even less susceptible of application to any purpose of public good, are some pursuits, which nevertheless excite the feelings and engross the time of too many amongst ourselves. Who amongst us has not heard at least of the crowds, that pour from this vast metropolis towards the scenes of periodical racing in its neighbourhood ? And here let me be understood, as not intending to direct any sour or indiscriminate expression of censure against every species of amusement; but only to suggest, that somewhat less of ardour in the pursuit of such objects, and somewhat more of devotion to higher and more permanent gratifications, might be more becoming to a Christian nation, and more conducive to the advancement of public interest, as well as individual good.
Again; the eagerness, with which every other object is accustomed to be sacrificed in the pursuit of gain; the little reluctance, with which even life itself is put in jeopardy for the chance of improving the comforts of life;. has been a theme with the moralists and satirists of old, as it is dwelt upon with still more force in the solemn admonitions of our Lord, and as it must continually form a part of those lessons, which are dispensed by His appointed Ministers. Here surely the heart-stirring question of our Lord carries to its utmost length the reproof implied in the text. “ What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul gna
You will bear in mind that the aim of the observations, now addressed to your attention, is not to discourage any engagements or pursuits, merely because they are connected with this world--for if such were conceived to be his duty, man would be placed in his present state in vain. St. Paul did not mean to to censure the ardour, with which the natives of Greece exerted themselves for temporary fame; but only to hold
their ardour in the pursuit as a proper subject of imitation to Christians. In like manner, I wish to call your attention to the eagerness and perseverance, with which you, and all around you, suffer yourselves to be engrossed by whatever contributes to your amusement, enhances your reputation or
a Matt. xvi. 26.
increases your profit-by objects of mere curiosity or diversion, or by objects of real utility-all centering in this scene of things—some of them vainer than vanity itself, others possessing higher interest and advancing the knowledge or power of communities; yet still confined to the well-being of ourselves and others in this transitory state.
In perusing the records of by-gone times; in tracing the toilsome march of the hero, or the adventurous track of the mariner; who does not admire, and with reason admire, the foresight with which difficulties are anticipated, the skill with which they are baffled, the courage with which they are combated, and the resolution with which, if inevitable or insurmountable, they are endured? But perhaps a more striking proof of the power of mind in vanquishing every obstacle, opposed to the attainment of a favourite object, cannot be supplied from the annals of the whole world, than the spirit of bold and patient daring, that has been displayed by our own skilful and enterprising countrymen in their attempts to advance the progress of science in the Polar Regions.
Here, as in various other instances, the most exalted talent and undaunted courage are shewn with a patience and cheerfulness, well worthy'a place in the catalogue of Christian virtues. Yet these admirable qualities, like the temperance practised by the Greeks of old, are exhausted in the pursuit of worldly fame to themselves or of worldly benefit to others." May such examples, while they receive the applause due to unwearied ardour and exemplary patience, rouse the attention and excite the imitation of us all in the persevering application of our time and talent to things more valuable as well as durable!
For, secondly, the impressive remark of the Apostle calls for all our attention. “ Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” If difficulties be manfully encountered and hardships cheerfully sustained to escape worldly evil or purchase worldly good; it is obviously the part of wisdom, as well as our bounden duty, to make some corresponding exertion in order to avoid a far greater evil and ensure a far greater good.
Now here, so far as the reason may be addressed, my task is easy. It is only necessary to state, in the weighty words of the Apostle, that “ the things, which are seen, are temporal; but the things, which are not seen, are eternal.". It is only necessary to contrast the certain glory of the future world with the uncertain and often deceitful views of the present. In a mere appeal to the judgement, the conclusion in favour of the former forces itself irresistibly. Yet the present acts with a power so much more direct, and immediate gratification stifles the voice of reason so effectually, that it requires à great constraint upon the inclination ; nay, it requires a strength superior to our own, to assist us in assigning to these different objects their relative value, and to give them their due place in our hearts and affections. We must betake ourselves with humble and fervent supplication unto that Being, who puts into our minds good desires, that He will be graciously pleased to bring the same to good effect. We must heartily implore the aid of His Holy Spirit to direct our erring imaginations, improve our imperfect designs, confirm our good resolutions, and co-operate with us in our virtuous and unceasing struggles against “ the world and the flesh.”
a 2 Cor. iv, 18.
In reference however to the strong hold which present gratifications take upon our senses, I would observe that the Apostle's argument has a force in it, which greatly tends to lessen the difficulty, which is so often urged against complying with the dictates of reason and duty. Every man,” he observes, “ that striveth for the mastery, is temperate in all things.” The privations undergone by antient Heathens in their preparations for victory; or by Christians in pursuit of knowledge, or glory, or gain; are of the very kind that religion exacts. .
We have here a direct proof, that it is practicable to do and to suffer what religion requires. Senseless then surely, as well as sinful, must be the conduct of those, who refuse to do for a great object, what they actually do for a less. The service of God is not so hard ; the duties He prescribes not so severe; the terms He imposes as the condition of His favour are not so unreasonable, as thoughtless or worldly-minded men may allege; because we see from almost daily experience that similar restraints are submitted to, similar privations, endured, for considerations less serious, and for objects less valuable, than such as the Gospel proposes to our meditation and our acceptance. This observation shews very clearly, that the struggle against present temptations is not so arduous, but