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be done by those in authority, to men from it; prisons, workhouses, promote religion, consistent with hospitals, the army, the navy, &c., the most complete toleration. They may be supplied with diligent, able, may very properly repress, by the and pious teachers; and various power of the magistrate, various societies and plans may be formed kinds of vice and impiety, and and adopted, to promote this great endeavour to exterminate the semi- end, by rulers and magistrates, who naries and haunts of profligacy and are zealous for the honour of Christ, villany, and the schools of blasphe- and the interests of pure and undemy and profaneness: they may filed religion; and yet every man furnish the endowed seats of learn- may be allowed to worship God ing with teachers of sound principles according to his conscience; and and good morals: and countenance care also taken not to allure merceevery reasonable plan for the good nary men to an unprincipled conforeducation of youth, and especially mity. Thus the pious rulers of for instructing the children of the Judah, according to the dispensation poor: they may protect from insults, under which they lived, restrained and liberate from restraints, such vice and idolatry, and supported the ministers of the gospel " as labour worship of Jehovah; from Moses, in the word and doctrine;" and fa- Joshua, Samuel, and David, even vour their being placed in exten-to Nehemiah; and true religion sively useful situations; they may uniformly flourished in proportion select young persons, who give to their prudent and pious endeahopeful evidences of piety and vours: nor would it be easy to assign ability, and assist them in obtaining a reason, why the same talent may that learning, from which their cir- not be improved to similar purposes cumstances excluded them; they by Christian rulers, according to the may render the admission into the genius of the new dispensation: except ministry open to able, conscientious it be thought, that because many men, and close it against the vicious, have abused it by intolerance and the ignorant, and the mercenary tyranny, all the rest ought to bury they may show a decided regard to it in the earth; a conclusion well upright, diligent, and pious minis-suited to the lukewarm indifference, ters, who differ from them in some which in this age hath succeeded to forms or sentiments; and a marked fiery zeal and cruel bigotry, and asdisapprobation of the negligent and sumed the dignified name of modeprofligate, who pretend to be of ration! But all judicious Christians their judgment. Thus authority will, nevertheless, continue to bemay be improved as a talent, in seech the Lord, to make all kings promoting the cause of truth and and rulers like Jehoshaphat, Hezepiety; in the religious instruction kiah, and Josiah, that they may be of the people at large; in prevent-" nursing fathers to the church;" ing the effects of the indolence, and neither spare pains nor expense carelessness, ignorance, and vice of to disperse the knowledge of God's those who ought to instruct them; word by able, faithful men, through and in countenancing such as would whole nations (2 Chron. xvii. 7do all in their power for this pur-10; xxix-xxxii.; Neh. viii.) But pose. Books may also be dispersed, let this suffice on a subject, coinand multitudes taught to read; the cident indeed with the plan, but in attendance on divine worship may some respects, perhaps out of the be encouraged, and every thing sphere of these Essays.

discountenanced that tends to keep II. Natural abilities and acquired

knowledge, constitute a talent of all his actions; such as have emgreat importance; as they confer ployed “talents angel-bright,” dura distinguished reputation, and as ing their whole lives, in doing the they qualify a man to propagate with work of fallen angels, by poisoning effect whatever principles he adopts. the principles and corrupting the Nor is there any essential differ-morals of whole nations, and of ence, in this respect, between the successive ages, will one day receive more solid and the more showy a dreadful recompence for those kinds of genius and accomplish-works, which have given them the ment, for each gives a proportion-most flattering celebrity among their able degree of influence in different ill-judging fellow-mortals! But a circles. Philosophers, poets, ora- man may employ such endowments tors, historians, and other learned in a comparatively inoffensive manand ingenious men, possess a pecu-ner, and yet fall very short of liar advantage for giving a good or improving his talents. He may so bad bias to the sentiments and yield to indolence, diffidence, and conduct of mankind: though much love of retirement; or be so incapaless ability will enable a man to do ble of coming up to the standard of extensive mischief, than is requisite excellency, which he hath fixed for for enlarged usefulness; because himself; that he may totally slip our fallen nature powerfully inclines his opportunity of usefulness, waste to that side. But alas! it has the day of life in doing nothing to been abundantly proved that far any purpose; live plausibly to himmore abuse such distinguished ta- self; and instead of " occupying lents, than make even a tolerable with his Lord's money," or even improvement of them; and the " giving it to the exchanger," he fatal success, with which the defor- may "hide it in a napkin" and mity of vice, and the unreasonable-“ bury it in the earth." We may not ness of impiety and infidelity, have indeed conclude, that all, who are been varnished over, by vain reason-reprehensible in this way, are ings, ingenious misrepresentations," wicked and slothful servants" in and empty declamations, set off with their whole character: yet our all the charms of style and the Lord's language on this subject, and authority of deep erudition; and in the examples of those, who on a which the violations of God's law, death-bed have mourned over the the neglect of his worship, and the opportunities of usefulness which contempt of his gospel, have been were then for ever gone, should disseminated by men of genius and teach every disciple to "be diligent learning, in books of all kinds and while the day lasteth, and before on all subjects, can never be suffici- the night cometh, in which no man ently lamented. Nor has superior can work."

eminence in painting, sculpture, or But evangelical principle will other elegant arts; and the charms influence the consistent believer, of engaging conversation; or the whilst he is careful not to overrate fascinating powers of music; or the his talents, seriously to inquire what talent for fine speaking, or that for advantages they give him for gloritheatric imitation of nature and fying God and doing good: and to real life, been less fatally abused. endeavour to avail himself of them, If then every one must give an ac- without yielding to inactivity, descount to God, for the use he makes pondency, fear of difficulties, or of his natural and acquired endow-regard to the praise of men. A ments, and for the consequences of person of this character, who is held


in estimation for learning or genius, in any way to do mischief to manmay be very useful, even by sanc-kind, whatever lucre or credit it tioning with his decided approbation might give him: and he will endeathe faithful ministers of Christ; by vour, with persevering diligence, to recommending useful publications; do good in the world by every means and by professing and pleading for in his power: and if he have only the doctrines of genuine Christi- a mediocrity of talent, he will ocanity, answering objections to them, cupy with it according to the duty and stating them in a clear and of his station, as one who expects Scriptural manner. His character the coming of his Lord, and desires will introduce him to numbers from to be numbered with those faithful whom his undistinguished brethren servants whom he will bid to enter are excluded; and give him a into his joy.

sphere of activity, in which he may III. The pastoral office is a subsubserve the temporal interests of ject of too great importance, to mankind: and his principles will admit of any adequate discussion influence him to improve these ad- in this place. Yet as a talent that vantages with prudent zeal, to re- demands improvement, it must not commend the gospel to them. As be wholly omitted. Such persons books written by ministers of reli- as have just been mentioned, may gion are read with an absurd preju- often be led to examine how far the dice (for who objects to a treatise on due improvement of their talents medicine, because it was written by may require them to enter into this an eminent practitioner of physic?) sacred office; and though many so the learned and ingenious may considerations may induce them to do good service, by a testimony decline it, yet the love of ease and from the press to the truths of reli- lucre, or the fear of contempt, gion, which will not have this pre- should not deter them. The sacred judice to encounter: and the poor ministry, in every degree, is a good especially will be exceedingly pre-work: and he, who desires to be possessed in favour of such plain the Lord's steward in so important tracts, as men of this character a concern, should carefully scruticondescend to write and disperse nize his motives and intentions, among them. Nor can superior and seek, with unremitting diligence talents be better employed, than in and fervent prayer, every qualificarecommending those things "that tion for the due performance of it. angels desire to look down into," Alas! what numbers utterly neglect and in glorifying Christ and promot- these things, and rush into the ing the salvation of souls. Learned ministry, from the lowest motives, men would also do eminent service, and in the worst manner imaginif they would infuse into those able! Let us pity and pray for approved publications on various them, for alas! in general" they subjects, by which they attract the know not what they do:" and attention of mankind, a savour of perhaps they, who design them for evangelical religion; as an antidote this profession, and they, who conto the poison conveyed in the cur in admitting them into it, have poems, histories, and scientific trea- the greater guilt. But the apostle's tises, which are sent out by the message to Archippus may be conenemies of revealed truth. In short, sidered as addressed to all who are the consistent Christian will take actually entered; "Take heed to the care not to abuse his endowments ministry which thou hast received

of the Lord, that thou fulfil it," | brethren in the ministry, occasional (Col. iv. 17). Such are stewards of services, employment of time spared the mysteries of God; ambassadors from necessary duties, or money for Christ to sinners; watchmen to saved from current expenses, will give warning, as they will answer all be adverted to, in subserviency for it at their peril; shepherds to to the end he has in view; he will feed the flock of God, which he delight in his work, study the hath purchased with his blood; Scriptural rules and examples for labourers in his vineyard, and build- his conduct, and pray to be made ers in his holy temple. Surely, an able minister. But they who then, they who have received such are concerned in this subject may a ministry, should renounce" the easily enlarge on these hints in their works of darkness, and the hidden private meditation.

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things of dishonesty;" they "should IV. Wealth is a talent entrusted take heed to themselves and to their by the great Proprietor of the world doctrine;" they "should labour and to some, for the good of many; but not faint," but endure hardship, it is commonly so wasted in gratifyand face danger as good soldiers of ing all the senses and appetites, Jesus Christ: they should be instant" the lust of the flesh, the lust of the in season and out of season; and, eye, and the pride of life;" or laying aside all worldly pleasures, hoarded up in idolatrous avarice; diversions, and pursuits; all avarice, that it is considered in Scripture as ambition, and mere secular studies exceedingly dangerous to the souls which subserve not the end of their of those who possess it (Matt. xix. holy calling they should devote 23-26; 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, 17—20). their hours, health, abilities, and Yet the wise man had reason to say, influence to the service of the sanc- that " money answereth all things" tuary, giving themselves wholly (Eccles. v. 19; as it may be made thereunto." Nothing, however lu- extensively useful to others, and crative, creditable, or congenial, to thus eventually profitable to the their taste, should engross those faithful steward himself: and "the powers and that time which they wisdom that is from above" will have engaged to employ in seeking teach the consistent Christian to the salvation of souls: for the desire make this use of it. The wealthy of spending their lives in this good are not required in Scripture to part work, in preference to more lucra- with their estates; nor is it genetive and easy situations, seems to rally advisable to abolish all dis be that very work of the Holy Ghost, tinction between them and their by which men are indeed "moved inferiors in their style of life. Nay, to take this sacred office upon such men as are engaged in lucrathem." The consistent believer, tive business, provided it be lawful, therefore, whether his office in the and they are on their guard against church be more exalted or more its snares, will generally be more obscure, will certainly endeavour to useful by carrying it on as the Lord's improve it as a talent, by all means servants, and using its profits as his in his power, and with steady per- stewards, than by retiring from it severance. His example, domestic in the prime of life, to a situation concerns, converse, doctrine, public which perhaps hath not fewer ministry, private labours from house snares, but inferior advantages for to house, attention to the instruction doing good. The consistent beof children, influence over his liever, however, will be influenced



by his principles to retrench a talent to improve in this respect; variety of superfluous expenses, much might be saved from superfluand exceedingly to moderate his ous expenses by most Christians, to desires of providing for his family, employ in those good works which that he may raise a fund for chari- are through Christ Jesus to the table and pious uses: and whilst he praise and glory of God." Nay, shows a readiness for every good such as labour, working with their work, by which the wants and hands, are expected to give somemiseries of men may be relieved; thing to those that are in want. he will especially endeavour to ren- This specimen may illustrate what der all his liberality subservient to is meant by "the improvement the more important interests of of talents." Many others might be religion. This may be attempted mentioned: but brevity must be by disseminating divine truth in the consulted. Time is an universal world, as the only seed of genuine talent, which every Christian should piety and holiness, dispersing use- redeem from useless ways of killing ful books, assisting in the religious it, that he may employ it in some education of children, in training beneficial manner; for idleness is up pious young men for the minis-intolerable in a disciple of him, who try, or, in various ways promoting "went about doing good." Every the faithful preaching of the gospel. man has influence in his own circle, Wealth gives a man influence also: however contracted, and he may and the affluent Christian may use improve it to good purposes. For this influence to important pur-did we duly consider our obligation poses and when the leisure it af- to God our Saviour, the great end fords is accompanied by a suitable for which our lives are continued, turn of mind, he may do more good and the near approach of death; a by an edifying example, pious con- desire would be excited in our hearts verse, and prudent efforts, in his to live to his glory, and to serve our own sphere (from which others are generation; and this would influoften excluded,) than by retiring ence us to improve all our advanfrom it, even though he expend in tages to this purpose. And were charity what is saved by that mea- every professor of the gospel thus sure. His conduct may also be" steadfast, unmoveable, always rendered very useful among his abounding in the work of the Lord," tenants, domestics, and neighbours; the blessed effects that would follow and if he frequently disperse his may in a measure be conceived, but charity with his own hands, accom- cannot be fully estimated. panied by pious exhortations, &c., it will have a vast effect in conciliating men's minds to his religious principles. But, indeed, the reflections already made suffice to show in general how this talent may be


On Prayer.

improved: and particulars on so As " every good and every perfect copious a subject, in this compendi- gift cometh from above," so nothing ous Essay, can scarcely be expected can be done aright, in any of those -only it may be added, that far things that accompany salvation, more should be thus employed than except as we seek communications commonly is. They, also, who are in from God by the prayer of faith. It more narrow circumstances, have a must, therefore, be considered as

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