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thy truth; may reverence thy holy name, may bless and praise thee, may worship and obey thee.

Grant that all the nations of the earth may come to the knowledge and belief of thy holy religion; that it may every where produce the blessed fruits of piety, righteousness, charity, and sobriety; that, by a con stant endeavour to obey thy holy laws, we may approach as near as the infirmity of our nature will allow, to the more perfect obedience of the angels that are in heaven; and thus qualify ourselves for entering into thy kingdom of glory hereafter.

us.

Feed us, we beseech thee, with food convenient for We ask not for riches and honours; give us only what is necessary for our comfortable subsistence in the several stations which thy providence has allotted to us; and above all give us contented minds.

We are all, O Lord, the best of us miserable sinners. Be not extreme, we beseech thee, to mark what we have done amiss, but pity our infirmities, and pardon our offences. Yet let us not dare to implore forgiveness from thee, unless we also from our hearts forgive our offending brethren.

We are surrounded, on every side, with temptations to sin; and such is the corruption and frailty of our nature, that without thy powerful succour we cannot always stand upright. Take us then, O gracious God, under thy almighty protection; and amidst all the dan gers and difficulties of our Christian warfare, .be thou our refuge and support. Suffer us not to be tempted above what we are able to bear, but send thy holy spi rit to strengthen our own weak endeavours, and ena ble us to escape or to subdue all the enemies of our sal

vation.

Preserve us also, if it be thy blessed will, not only from spiritual, but from temporal evil. Keep us ever. by thy watchful providence, both outward in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that thou, being in all cases our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal as finally to lose not the things eter

nal.

Hear us, O Lord our governor, from heaven thy dwelling place; and when thou hearest, have regard to our petitions. They are offered up to thee in the fullest confidence that thy goodness will dispose, and thy power enable thee to grant whatever thy wisdom seest to be convenient for us, and conducive to our final happiness.

The next thing which peculiarly demands our at tention in this chapter is the declaration contained in the 24th verse, which presents to us another funda mental principle of the Christian religion; namely, the necessity of giving the first place in our hearts and our affections to God and religion, and pursuing other things only in subordination to those great objects. "No man," says our Lord, " can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”*

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The word mammon is generally interpreted to mean riches only; but the original rather directs us to take it in a more general sense, as comprehending every thing that is capable of being an object of trust or a ground of confidence to men of worldly minds; such as wealth, power, honor, fame, business, sensual pleasures, gay amusements, and all the other various pursuits of the present scene. It is these that constitute what we usually express by the word world, when opposed to religion. Here then are the two masters who claim dominion over us, God and the world; and one of these we must serve; both we cannot, because their dispositions and their commands are in general diame trically opposite to each other. The world invites us to indulge all our appetites without control; to entangle ourselves in the cares and distractions of business; to engage with eagerness in endless contests for superiority in power, wealth and honour; or to give up ourselves, body and soul, to gaiety, amusement, pleasure, and every kind of luxurious indulgence. These are the services which one master requires. But there

Matth. vi. 24.

is another master, whose injunctions are of a very dif ferent nature. That master is GoD; and his com mands are, to give him our hearts; to love him with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; to be temperate in all things; to make our moderation known unto all men; to fix our affections on things above; to have our conversation in heaven; to cast all Our care upon him; and to take up our cross and follow Christ.

Judge now whether it be possible to serve these two masters at one and the same time, and to obey the commands of each; commands so perfectly contradictory to each other.

Yet this is what a great part of mankind most absurdly attempt; endeavour to divide themselves between God and mammon, to compromise the matter as well as they can between the commands of one and the seductions of the other; to vibrate perpetually between vice and virtue, between piety and pleasure, between inclination and duty; to render a worldly life / and a religious life consistent with each other; and to take as much as they can of the enjoyments and advantages of the present world, without losing their hold on the rewards of the next.

Yet, in direct contradiction to so extravagant and preposterous a system as this, Christ himself assures us here that we cannot serve two masters; that we cannot serve God and mammon. Our Maker expects to reign absolute in our hearts; he will not be served by halves; he will not accept of a divided empire; he will not suffer us to halt between two opinions. We must take our choice, and adhere to one side or the other. "If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him."*

But what then are we to do! Are we to live in a state of perpetual warfare and hostility with that very world in which the hand of Providence has placed us, and which is prepared in various ways for our reception and accommodation? Are we never to taste of those

* 1 Kings, xviii. 21.

various delights which our Maker has poured so bountifully around us? Are we never to indulge those appetites which he himself has planted in our breasts ? Are we so entirely to confine ourselves to the paths of righteousness, as never to enter those that lead to power, to honour, to wealth, or to fame? Are we to engage in no secular occupations, to make no provision for ourselves and our families? Are we altogether to withdraw ourselves from the cares and business and distractions of the world, and give ourselves wholly up to solitude, meditation, and prayer? Are we never to mingle in the cheerful amusements of society? Are we not to indulge ourselves in the refined pleasures of literary pursuits, nor wander even for a moment into the delightful regions of science or imagination?

Were this a true picture of our duties, and of the sacrifices which Christianity requires from us; were these the commands of our divine lawgiver, well might we say with the astonished disciples, "who then can be saved?"

But the God whom we serve is not so hard a master, nor does his religion contain any such severe restrictions as these. Christianity forbids no necessary occupations, no reasonable indulgencies, no innocent relaxations. It allows us to use the world, provided we do not abuse it. It does not spread before us a delicious banquet, and then come with a "touch not, taste not, handle not."* All it requires is, that our liberty degenerate not into licentiousness, our amusements into dissipation, our industry into incessant toil, our carefulness into extreme anxiety and endless solicitude, So far from forbidding us to engage in business, it expressly comands us not to be slothful in it,t and to labour with our hands for the things that be needful; it enjoins every one to abide in the calling wherein he was called, and perform all the duties of it. It even stigmatizes those that provide not for their own, with telling them that they are worse than infi* Coloss. ii. 21. † Rom. xii. 11. 1 Cor. iv. 12. + 1 Cor. vii. 20.

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dels.* When it requires us" to be temperatet in all things," it plainly tells us that we may use all things temperately; when it directs us" to make our moderation known unto all men," this evidently implies that within the bounds of moderation we may enjoy. all the reasonable conveniences and comforts of the present life.

But how then are we to reconcile this participation in the concerns of the present life, with those very strong declarations of scripture," that we are not to be conformed to this world; that the friendship of the world is enmity with God; that we are to take no thought for the morrow; that we are to lay up treasures no where but in heaven; that we are to pray without ceasing; that we are to do all things to the glory of God; that we are not only to leave father, mother, brethren, sisters, and for the sake of Christ and his gospel, but that if we do not hate all these near and dear connections, and even our own lives, we cannot be his disciples."{

These, it must be acknowledged, are very strong expressions, and taken in their strict literal sense, do certainly imply that we are to abandon every thing that is most dear and valuable and delightful to us in this life, and to devote ourselves so entirely to the contemplation and love and worship of God, as not to bestow a single thought on any thing else, or to give ourselves the smallest concern about the affairs of this sublunary state.

But can any one imagine this to be the real doctrine of scripture? You may rest assured that nothing so unreasonable and extravagant is to be fairly deduced from these sacred writings.

In order then to clear up this most important point, three things are to be considered.

First, that were these injunctions to be understood in their literal signification, it would be utterly impos

* 1 Tim. v. 8.

† 1 Cor. ix. 25.

Philip. iv. 5. Rom. xii. 2. Jam. iv. 4 Matth. vi. 20. 34. I Thess. v. 17. Ephes. vt. 18. 1 Cor. x. 31. Luke, xiv. 26.

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