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THE INDUSTRIOUS CLASSES.
You have lately been addressed on a variety of subjects, and by a great variety of individuals, all of whom profess to feel an interest in your welfare. He, who now claims your attention, will yield to none of them in the deep interest which he takes in you, or in the anxious desire which he feels, to contribute any thing in his power towards promoting your comfort, and bettering your condition. He has been long in habits of much intercourse with you, and has learned to know your wants, to enter into your feelings, and to estimate your character. He is now desirous to cultivate that intercourse more and more, and to communicate with you, from time to time, on subjects of the highest interest.
For some years past, this country has resounded from end to end, with discussions and contests which relate to the "times.” You, of the industrious classes,
have had your attention much occupied, shall I say distracted, with these discussions; and each new topic, as it was brought before you, was represented as carrying with it consequences and benefits of the highest importance to your prosperity and your comfort. Some experiments have consequently been made, and you are, in a measure, qualified to judge, whether they have answered your expectations, or fulfilled the promises which were made respecting them. Others are still proposed with equal confidence; what benefits may result from them time will show.
But, amid all this discussion on “the times,” has it never occurred to you, that life is passing quickly on, and will very soon be over; that a period is approaching with fearful rapidity, when, regarding each of us, “time shall be no longer.” Has it never occurred to you to think, with deep and personal interest, of that hour, when all that our best friends can do for us will be, to convey us with suitable decency to the
grave, to cover us with the green turf,—and then return to the tumult of life, with the same activity and interest as if we had never been. To them the face of nature shall bloom fresh and fair, as it bloomed before; and the full tide of life flow on, as it flowed before ; and some pageant shall again move on, and a busy crowd will follow it, till another and another of them drop
into the grave, and life, with all its dread responsibilities, shall close upon them for ever.
For life has dread responsibilities, when viewed in relation to a life which is to come. Whatever be our situation in this world ;-be it high or low ;-be it one of ease and affluence, or of labour, poverty, and suffering,-it is the one which has been assigned to us by the great Disposer of all things; and every rank and situation has attached to it peculiar duties and peculiar responsibilities, for which we must render a strict account to Him, at the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and every man shall be judged according to his works. Amid the bustle and the tumult of life, we are too apt to frame to ourselves excuses for violations of the law of God, and for the neglect of sacred and important duties : such excuses may satisfy ourselves, and they may sometimes satisfy our fellow-men, but the solemn question is, whether they will satisfy Him, whose law is holy, and whose justice is inflexible. Were such excuses admitted for the violation of human laws, the whole system of civil society would run into confusion and anarchy. Have we any ground for believing, that the moral government of God will be exercised in a manner which, in regard to human laws, would be reckoned a mockery of justice.
But, besides the actual obedience which we owe to
the laws of God, and the actual duties which pertain to our various relations to our fellow-men, there is a most solemn class of responsibilities which belong immediately to ourselves. There is a part within us which shall not die,—an immortal spirit, which must be eternally happy in the presence and enjoyment of God, or eternally miserable under the weight of his righteous displeasure. To every man is committed the solemn trust, of seeking to have this immortal being prepared for its appearance before God. It must be the subject of great, and careful, and anxious moral culture, in each man who is really alive to his high destinies as a moral and immortal being. This culture consists of a discipline within, open only to the eye of Him who seeth in secret. By his mercy
grace, indeed, ample means have been provided, and the allpowerful aid of his Holy Spirit is promised to every one who feels the need of a strength that is not in man; but an essential movement must be in the mind of the individual himself ;-leading him to the diligent use of these means, and the earnest and habitual application for this aid, -and, in the whole of this mighty undertaking, the great and solemn responsibility is
With these facts and considerations continually placed before us, and impressed upon our attention, it anncot but strike us as a matter of astonishment, that
the bulk of mankind seem so little to feel their importance. Engrossed by the cares, anxieties, and business of life,-or occupied by its frivolities and follies, year after
year passes over them, and life hastens to its close, while their eager and undivided attention is devoted to pursuits which they are soon to quit for ever. Thus old age, perhaps, creeps on, and the mind, so long unaccustomed to serious thought, continues to be occupied to the last with the concerns of the passing hour;—or acute disease, it may be, arrests the man in the midst of all the vigour and activity of life; and the truth bursts
upon him in a moment, that he is hurrying into an eternal world, while he has made no preparation for the wondrous change, and has scarcely devoted one serious thought to the fearful venture.
There cannot be a question of more intense interest, than what is the cause of this extraordinary and inconsistent conduct. It is simply and primarily to be ascribed to the want of calm and serious thought. Amid the occupations and tumults of life, men do not seriously question themselves, what they are,--and what they are doing,—and whither they are going —and what preparation they are making for the life which is to
There is nothing which makes so great a difference between one man and another, as the practice of calm and serious thinking. To those who have been unaccustomed to it, there is required at first an effort,