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RELIGION CONSIDERED AS A MEANS OF USEFULNESS.
To do good is God-like; to do evil is devil-like; and we are all imitating God or Satan, ccordingly as we are leading a holy or a sinful life. It is said in Scripture, that“ one sinner destroyeth much good;" he not only does not do good himself, but he destroys good in others. Instead of doing good he does evil. He not only leaves unassisted all the great means and instruments for improving and blessing the world, and has no share in all that is being done for the spiritual and eternal welfare of mankind; but he opposes it, and seeks to perpetuate and extend the reign of sin, and the kingdom of Satan. He corrupts by his principles, seduces by his example, and leads others astray by his persuasions. Who can imagine, I again
how many miserable ghosts await his arrival in hell, or follow him there to be his tormentors, in revenge for his having been their tempter. He is ever scattering the seeds of poison and death in his path. Religion happily saves from this mischief all who possess it: it makes a man an instrument of good and not of evil to his fellow creatures; it renders him a blessing, and not a curse; a saviour, and not a destroyer; a physi. cian to heal, and not a murderer to destroy. He
lives o do goou,-good of the noblest and most lasting kind; good to the soul, good to distant nations, good to the world, good to unborn generations, good for eternity. He is a benefactor to his species-a philanthropist of the noblest order. By a pious example, he adorns religion, and recommends it to others, who, attracted by the beauties of holiness as they are reflected from his character, are led to imitate his conduct. He connects himself, while yet a youth, with a Sunday school, and trains up the minds of his scholars in the
of virtue and religion. He associates with a Tract Society, and visits the habitations of the
with these admirable compends of Bible truth. As life advances, property increases, and influence becomes more powerful, his sphere of usefulness widens, his energies strengthen, and his devotedness becomes more intense. He consecrates a share of his gains to the funds of Bible, Missionary, and various other societies, and gives his time, his wisdom, and his labour to the committees that direct their affairs. He thus lives not for himself alone, but for the glory of God, the spread of religion, and the salvation of souls. To do good is his aim, his delight, his business. He catches the spirit of the times, and is a man of the age, and for the age. In secret he swells the cloud of incense that rises from the church, and which no sooner touches the throne of grace than it descends in showers of blessings upon the world. He needs not the intoxicating cup of worldly amusement, as a relief and
diversion from the toils of business, and the cares of life, but drinks a purer draught from the fountain, whose living waters he is engaged in conveying to those who are sinking into eternal death, He is consulted on every new scheme of mercy, and called on to assist in working it for the relief of human wretchedness. His name is enrolled on the list of benefactors, and pronounced with respect by all who know him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish comes upon him, and he has caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. Thus he lives. A happy death terminates a holy and useful life. “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” He is received into glory by the Lord Jesus, who with a smile bids him welcome, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And there, among the glorified saints, the spirits of just men made perfect, are some of the Sunday school chile dren whom he had taught to fear God in their youth; the poor whom he had been the instrument of converting by the distribution of tracts; and the heathen, whom, by his property, his time, and his wisdom, given to the support of missions, he had, in co-operation with others, been the means of turning from dumb idols to serve the living and the true God. Transcendent scene! glorious spectacle! His usefulness is seen in living forms of glory
everlasting. The good he did on earth follows him to heaven, and is a part of it. He will never cease to reap the rich reward of doing good, as with adoring wonder and rapturous delight he hears his name repeated with grateful praise, in the golden streets of the New Jerusalem.
Young man, have you ambition ? can your soul be fired with the name of glory or the prospect of noble deeds? Have you a pulse that beats to the sound of immortality, that word which has raised, and led to action an army of heroic spirits panting for fame? Oh, here, here, behold an object worthy to kindle this ardent flame in the human breast. Here is the high road to renown, and here alone. All else beside religion, and that which religion produces, shall perish. The garlands which are hung around the busts which have been placed in the temple of fame shall perish, for the temple itself shall perish in the great conflagration; but here is immortality. Souls are immortal ; religion is immortal; salvation is immortal; and so is the renown of him “who converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, and saveth a soul from death." This renown is within your reach. It is not an object of only official and ministerial ambition; nor merely within the scope of great wealth, or lofty genius, or commanding influence; but of real piety, even of piety in youth, and of piety in humble life. The honour of being useful, the glory of being instrumental in saving souls, is placed within the reach of the youngest, poorest, and most il
literate aspirant after the mighty, and truly sublime achievement.
Never, never, my young friend, were there such opportunities, or such means of a life of holy usefulness, as there are now, and never such incentives to it. The world is in movement, and so is the church. The age of stagnancy is past, the era of general action is come. The armies of good and evil are marching to the scene of conflict, and mustering in the valley of decision. The gospel trumpet is blowing, and calling on the hosts of the Lord to the battle, which is to rescue a world from the slavery of sin and Satan, and restore it to God. Victory is certain, and the shout of it will one day be heard, ascending to heaven from this regeneraed earth. Will you be idle? What! at such a iime? Will you have no share in such a triumph? But this is not all. Will you be in the routed army, and belong to the discomfited foe, which you must be if you are not pious ? The cause of reli. gion is but one, and all the pious belong to it; and the cause of sin is but one, and all the irreligious are identified with it. Religion is destined to victory over all the earth, and every true Christian does something to accelerate the triumph, and will share the honour of the glorious conquest.
What, then, is a life of sin, of worldly pleasure, of gay dissipation, compared with a life of religion! What a contrast in their nature, and oh what a contrast in their results! The former, is the course of a demon, the latter of a ministering angel; and