« НазадПродовжити »
when other objects do not necessarily obtrude them.. selves. Consider, then, how many objects are perpetually occupying the minds of men in the present state of things in the christian world, and how forci. ble their hold is upon them, and consequently how difficult it must be to prevent their all prevailing influence, to the exclusion of that of christianity.
I. The age in which we live, more than any that have preceded it, may be said to be the age of trade and commerce. Great wealth is chiefly to be acquired by this means. It is, at least, the most expeditious way of acquiring a fortune, with any regard to the principles of honour, and honesty. But to succeed to any great extent in mercantile business of any kind, especially now that such numbers of active and sensible men are engaged in the same, a man must give almost his whole atten. tion to it, so that there will be little room for any thing else to occupy his mind. If he do not literal. ly, in the language of scripture, rise up early, and sit up late, it will occupy his thoughts when his head is upon his pillow. His anxiety will often keep him awake. Even at that season of rest he will be considering whether it will be prudent to make this or that purchase, whether this or that
man may be safely trusted, whether there will not be too much hazard in this or that undertaking, and a thousand things of this nature. : If such a person's business allow him any lei. sure, he is fatigued, and wants amusement, and cannot bear any thing that makes him serious. He therefore, engages in parties of pleasure, and vari. ous entertainments, that even more than business exclude all thoughts of religion. Anu' in this course of alternate business and mere amusement or feast. ing, do many men of business proceed day after day, and year after year, till christianity is as foreign to their thoughts as if they had been heathens.
If the man of business have any turn for reading, and that not for mere amusement, it is history, or politics, something relating to the topics of the day, but not the Bible that he reads. To this, if he have not read it at school, many a man of business is an utter stranger; and though in this book God himself speaks to men, concerning their most im. portant interests, their duties here, and their expectations hereafter, they will not listen even to their maker. On Sundays, which the laws of most chris. tian countries prevent men from giving to business, many never go to any place of christian worship;
but to relieve themselves from the fatigues of the week, make that their day of regular excursion, in company with persons of similar occupations; and their conversation, if not irreligious and profane, is at least on topics altogether foreign to religion.
II. The business of agriculture is much less unfavourable to religion and devotion. It does not occupy the mind in the same degree; and it is attended with much less anxiety. Nay the principal causes of anxiety to the cultivator of the ground, viz. the uncertainty of the seasons, and the weather, rather lead the thoughts to God, the author of nature, and of all its laws; from which he expects every thing that is favourable to his employment; and he passes his time in the constant view of the works of God; so that they must in some measure engage his attention. And if he attend at all to the objects with which he is continually surrounded, they must excite his admiration and devotion. This at least, is their natural tendency ; though even here other objects, and other views, foreign to his proper employment, may interfere; so that, in the language of scripture, seeing he shall not see, and hearing he shall not understand; and giving more attention to gain than to liis enaployment in any other view, even the farmer may be as A 5
destitute of religion as the tradesman; and great numbers, no doubt, are so. This however is by no means owing to their employment, but to other influences, which affect all men alike, without distinction of classes or ranks. This employment I therefore consider, as of all others, the most favoura. ble to the temper and spirit of christianity.
III. In this advanced state of the world, and of society, the profession of law and medicine require more study and time than formerly. Laws are necessarily multiplied, and cases more compli. cated. The study of medicine requires more knowledge of various branches of science, as natu. ral philosophy, chemistry, and botany, besides a knowledge of the learned languages, and other ar. ticles with which no physician of eminence can be unacquainted. Whether it be owing to these cir. cumstances, or to any other, it is remarked in England, and I believe in Europe in general, that but few either of lawyers or physicians are men of religion, tho' some few are eminently so. Physi. cians have an obvious excuse for not regularly attending places of public worship; and if men can spend the sundays without any exercise of religion, the whole week will generally pass without any, and the subject itself will find little place in their thoughts.
IV. The times in which we live may, in a very remarkable degree, be said to be the age of Politics, and from the very extraordinary state of the world it is in some degree necessarily so. Greater events are now depending than any that the history of any former age can shew; and the theory and practice of the internal government of countries, the circumstances that tend to make governments stable, and the people prosperous and happy, concerning which there is endless room for difference of opinion, occupy the thoughts of all men who are capable of any reflection. No person can even read the common newspapers, or see any mixed company, without entering into them. He will, of course, form his own opinion of public men and public measures; and if they be different from those of his neighbours, the subjects will be discussed, and sometimes without that temper which the discussion of all subjects of importance requires. Consequently, the subject of Politics, in the present state of things, is with many as much an enemy to religion, as trade and commerce, or any other pursuit by which men gain a livelihood. Many persons who read find nothing that interests them but what relates to the events of the time, or the politics of the day,