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require the application of time and bodily strength; skill and dexterity in various trades equally call for attention, and can only be the reward of industry.— So, in the very honourable and enlightened profession, of which you, my brethren, are members, the necessity for exertion and the reward of it are almost proverbial. I am not however asserting that what are called accident and good fortune may not occasionally interpose even here, so as to destroy that nice balance between desert and reward, which we have seen to be inconsistent with the state of things here below. But, generally speaking, there are few, if any, professions in which real industry and honourable conduct are more sure to obtain their share at least of recompense. It therefore holds out a bright encouragement to such, as are resolutely bent
upon the devotion of their time and talents to the attainments of the requisite knowledge and habits; and who will, for this purpose, put due restraints upon the love of ease and amusement;—while such, as refuse to incur 'the toil and submit to the restraints, cannot justly complain, if they find themselves “ forsaken," or if “ their seed” be reduced to “beg bread.”
Again, the natural constitution of things operates in favour of righteousness. Temperance is eminently beneficial to health ; intemperance generates various diseases. With bodily health, attended by an approving conscience, the mind is better secured against any
sudden uneasiness or disorder, and the temper is kept under far better management. Nor is industry less available to the production of mental comfort at least, if it be not always propitious to bodily health.
We must however remember that the noxious effects of habits too sedentary arise more from the abuse of what is in itself good, than from any quality necessarily belonging to employment. I much doubt whether any profession actually requires such devotion to its duties, as is really injurious to health. Generally speaking, occupation either of body or mind is favourable to it. Mental occupation in particular is inconsistent with those pursuits, which not only consume time, but endanger health. The mind, which is engrossed with the love of science, or with professional occupations, not only finds the approach closed to unwelcome and annoying reflections; but a consciousness of intellectual power is produced, which if it fails to make the possessor rich, leaves him respected and contented.
Again, in urging the beneficial effects of a manly and upright life, we must not pass over the operation of human laws, which, with all their imperfection, aid the gracious designs of Providence in restraining wrong-doers and encouraging the well-disposed. Their effect however is to alarm and terrify the unruly and violent, the dishonest and idle, rather than to supply direct encouragement to the upright and pious. Still, so far as they have effect, they manifestly inculcate the doctrine, that it is more profitable as well as creditable to live an honest, peaceable, and sober life, than to engage in any scheme of fraud, to give way to violent and contentious feelings, or to indulge any unseemly habits of intemperance.
Lastly, I must not forget to mention the happy effects of a good character, when I am anxious to shew the truth as well as importance of the Psalmist's declaration, that he had “ not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
We are placed in such a state as to be mutually dependent upon one another.— The rich are indebted to the poor for those accommodations and comforts, which arise from personal toil and from the effects of experience and skill in different branches of trade. The poor in their turn are indebted to their superiors for employment; and also for acts of kindness, when they stand in need of assistance from casual distress, from the number of their family, or the severity of the season. Now, as the poor themselves will naturally prefer the service of a master, who is just in his dealings and kind in his manner; so will those, who are placed above the poor, naturally select such, as have the best characters, for the purposes either of employment or of charity. It is scarcely necessary to observe that similar effects must take place in other conditions of life; although, in the higher and more enlightened classes, not only a clearer knowledge of duty, but a keener sense of honour, renders aberrations from the right path much less frequent. Nevertheless, the very rareness renders deviation more observable, perhaps more criminal. The more honourable a profession is esteemed, the deeper stigma is fixed
upon any violation of its honour; and the usual effects of disrepute will not fail to be traced, whensoever occasion shall unhappily arise to contrast the open and manly bearing of strict integrity, with the underhand dealings and mean subterfuges of duplicity and dishonesty. In every respect therefore, even the present condition of things affords encouragement to right conduct and to virtuous exertion. Wise, as well as happy, will they be, who take occasion from the recurrence of a New Year duly to reflect upon the advantages they may derive from a suitable improvement of the time now vouchsafed to them,-advantages, great as I have endeavoured to prove, even in this world; but far greater, if we extend our view to the next. Because blessings, which only with a high degree of probability attend upon righteousness here, will be enjoyed with certainty hereafter. Here too, at the very best they are incomplete, and continue but a short time. In the world which shall be revealed hereafter, the happiness of good men is represented as perfect, while the period of its enjoyment will extend through the countless
THE STUDIES OF RELIGION RECOMMENDED TO LAYMEN.
1 COR. X. 15.
I SPEAK AS TO WISE MEN; JUDGE YE WHAT I SAY.
It is the bounden duty of every preacher to adapt his instructions, according to the best of his ability and judgement, to the peculiar situation, as well as spiritual wants, of his audience; and those, whom I am called upon to address, neither require information upon common branches of knowledge; nor exhortation upon ordinary topics of morality. I have therefore, at various periods of my ministry among you, entered upon questions, which would be out of place in a country congregation. I have been anxious to lay before you a clear exposition of the principles, by which the interpretation of Scripture must be regulated ; and according to which you may yourselves be enabled to form a right judgement in cases, where different and even opposite explanations have been hazarded. It must however be obvious that, if you wish to profit effectually by the topics which have thus been brought before you, you must not confine the interest which they excite to the hours, which are so properly devoted to public worship; but you must