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modesty, and courteousness, and sweetness of disposition, which was to be seen in him. He was inoffensive in his manners and language; humble, obliging, and respectful towards his betters in age and station; not obstinate, setting up his own will against theirs; nor quarrelsome with his companions, otherwise he would not have been so well reported of, nor so befriended as he was. Now you can mind all this by God's help; and these are fruits you may bring forth now to his glory.
Further, observe the wise, industrious manner in which Daniel took care to improve himself. He refused the king's meat, because it was wrong to receive it; but not the king's books, because they could not be read without pains-taking. Your duty to God is to take pains with your lessons. You are never idle nor careless but he sees it, and sets it down; and one way or other you will be brought to suffer for it. Now remember, I tell you that from Him. That I may not overburden you, I will add but one thing more. Daniel took care to keep good company, and to behave well to his companions, when he had chosen them. Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, were the best and the most pious of all the young people there, so he picked them out for his friends; and then, when he had found out himself what was right about the king's meat, he let
them know what he thought. Go and do ye likewise. Turn your backs on the idle and evil, be as much as you may with the best; and if you can, in ever so small a way, do anything to bring them to be better, do it. "For he that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed;"* and he that tries to keep others out of mischief, shall be strengthened and helped himself. So Daniel behaved in youth: if you will strive to follow him, and pray to God to help you, I say not that you will grow up to be as great, but ye may grow up to be as good, and will come to be as happy everlastingly ;-which, dear children, is the main matter that all those are aiming at, who are so kind as to provide for your education.
I have left no time, my brethren, for a long exhortation to liberality; but I trust there is little need. If it has If it has appeared that this good may be done, or at least, in many instances, may be reasonably expected, that a child trained up in the way he should go, when he is old will not depart from it, then your principles will not permit you to withhold your co-operation. Cast your bread, then, upon the waters, and ye shall find it after many days."† Perhaps the means of some of you are not large, but I trust you all know this: that Christians must save last in * See Eccles. xi. 1.
*Prov. xiii. 20.
works of mercy, and sooner give up anything than their endeavours to spread the knowledge of salvation. For what is your loss of some indulgences, compared to these children's destitution of the bread of life? Walk by faith, and not by sight. If almsgiving is to stop where self-denial must otherwise begin, such alms-deeds will never amount to charity. But, beloved, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though I thus speak. Ye know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. To himself ye can make no return; but his own word hath spoken it. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."* But "let us not love in word, my brethren, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth."+
* 1 John iv. 11.
† 1 John iii. 18.
NO WISER OR HAPPIER MAN THAN THE
[A Visitation Sermon, preached at Church Stretton.]
PROVERBS xi. 30.
"He that winneth souls is wise."
THERE go two things in general to entitle a man to be accounted wise. He may be justly so esteemed, whose life is devoted to the pursuit of some worthy and noble end; and who, in that pursuit, employs, with fixed determination and persevering diligence, the best and most appropriate means. Now, our end, my brethren, to which, as ministers of Christ, we have devoted ourselves, is, by divine testimony, a most worthy and noble end indeed. For it is the same which
Solomon brings before us in the text, namely, "to win souls" to God. And God himself, in his infallible word, has given us explicit and
ample directions as to the means to be employed in the prosecution of it, and, at the same time, has fully authorised us, in the faithful and obedient use of them, to expect success.
If these things are duly examined and considered, it will not be difficult to prove this proposition following, and to evince the justice of the inference which I would deduce from it; namely, That there cannot be a wiser man, or one who has less need to envy the condition of others, than he who rightly understands and honestly discharges the duties and obligations of a minister of the Gospel. And that, therefore, whether we would consult for our own best interests, or act in the way which in itself is right, we must conscientiously bestow our time, our talents, and our industry, upon that work to which we are actually pledged by our ordination vows; thanking God, who hath called us to an employment so high and honourable; and renouncing, as evil and injurious in our case, and as idle and beneath our notice, all cares and studies which may interfere with it.
It shall be the business of my present discourse to confirm and illustrate these particulars.
I. To" win souls," then, is the work to which, as far as in us lies, we stand engaged. See, first, what is comprehended in these few pregnant words.
The soul is the spiritual and immortal part