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from waste; but, instead of this, men spend upon expectation ; and he that is prodigal of what he only expects, will hardly feel the uncertainty of what he actually holds. To such men I would repeat the serious admonition of St. James: Go to now, ye that say, to-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and buy, and sell, and get gain, whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow; for what is even your life? Is it not a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away
? Whereas ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that. But ye have lived in pleasure on the earth ; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient, and trust not in uncertain riches.
6. The last reason, which I shall offer, for the practice of frugality, is one which I wish you to feel, particularly on the present occasion. It is found in the purposes, for which wealth has been bestowed upon you by God, purposes, which prodigality utterly defeats. Do you ask, what are these purposes? We answer, that no man is born for himself alone, or for the short period in which he lives. You are related to the age which has preceded, and to the posterity which is to succeed you. If your present wealth is hereditary, those who bequeathed it lay their commands on you their heirs. Your ancestors cry to you from their tombs, that you have their riches in keeping; and beseech you to expend, with wise liberality, what they collected with toil. Is your wealth the product of your own exertions and of your own opportunities, the next generation puts in its claims, and avows its expectations. It tells you to look into futurity, and see descendants impoverished by your imprudences,
entering into life bearing the burden and reproach of your prodigality, and perhaps driven to crimes and despair by the want you have entailed upon them. Your contemporaries, also, rise up around you, and inquire by what right you waste that portion of the wealth of the world, which has been assigned you by the tacit conventions and guaranteed by the laws of society. We have a claim upon you, they cry, for all the good which your possessions may be made to produce, and you have not the right to place them out of your control by such rapid dissipation, or to reduce yourself to want which we must relieve, and then plead your incapacity to be useful.
Do you ask, why I have chosen this subject for such an occasion. I can only answer by saying, be frugal, that you may be charitable. Nothing exhausts the spirit of charity, as well as the sources of bounty, so surely as selfish and indiscriminate prodigality; and no man is so unwilling to give, as he who is accustomed to spend profusely upon himself. His wealth, which would have made many comfortable, is often expended upon one, without increasing the name, but merely the show of enjoyment. The young and vain are tempted by our ambitious extravagances to expenses, which they cannot support, while the riches of the community are wasted away, and the cries of the poor are unregarded.
By prodigality the encroachments of luxury are silently extended through all the classes of the community. T'he discontentment of your inferiours is excited by demonstrations of splendour, which they cannot imitate ; and the spendthrift, when he finds that his revenues will no longer support his poor attempts at extravagance, is driven to crimes, at which he would once have revolted, and a hard-heartedness, of which he would once have been ashamed. He is forced by very shame to petty frauds, to
frequent breaches of promise, to injurious oppression, and various means of supply, which deprave all the finest sentiments of benevolence and virtue.
Be frugal, then, that you may be charitable. In these days of increasing luxury, and of increasing want, how shall our beneficence keep pace with the demands of charity, unless we learn to retrench for the sake of beneficence ? It is not my object, in this discourse, to produce in you, at this time, any extraordinary degree of munificence, but to recommend to you a virtue, which if you can be persuaded to practise, I shall feel secure of your future bounty. I shall fear no diminution in your charities, and the poor, for whom I am called to plead this evening, will bless me much more, than if I could now empty your purses in one profuse contribution. They value the man, who, in all his expenditures, has a regard to their perpetual claims; they prize that constarit and well-principled bounty, which is nourished by frugality, much more than they esteem the occasional charity of the spendthrift, who is moved by some accidental feelings of compassion, but who forgets them as soon as his purse is emptied, and, at the next call of charity, has nothing to give.
To conclude, I have said, be frugal, that you may be charitable. Let me add, that charity is the truest frugality. As God lives, no man ever has lost, or can lose, by well-directed bounty. There is no waste in charity. Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it again. He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Abound, therefore, in the work of the Lord, inasmuch as ye know your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
HEB. XI. 1.
NOW FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS
Among the terms of theology, which have given rise to much useless controversy, and many differences of explanation, the word faith is not the least considerable. As, in different passages, it is used in different connexions, according to the object of the writer, and the subject of his reasoning, it is not surprising, that it should not always admit of an uniform interpretation, and that no particular definition of it should be found completely to explain its meaning in every passage in which it is used in the New Testament. The sense, however, in which it is employed in the celebrated chapter from which our text is taken, is one of the most extensive, and perhaps the most natural and intelligible of any; and this meaning of the word we propose, in the following discourses, to illustrate.
Faith, says the apostle, is the substance of things hoped for, and an evidence, or rather a conviction, of things not seen. Faith, therefore, is a principle, which naturally results from the constitution of the human mind; and the general import of the word is well understood, though it may not be well defined, by the most ordinary understanding, because it is of necessity exercised by all. It is not opposed to reason, which is its only just foundation, nor, except in a peculiar, theological sense, to works; but, properly, philosophically, and universally, it is opposed to knowledge. This principle is precisely the same, when exercised on other truths, as on those of religion. There is no peculiar strangeness in the faith of a christian, no especial mysteriousness in the nature of religious faith in general. The same constitution of the human mind, which enables us to believe, upon sufficient testimony, that there was such a person as Alexander, will not allow us to doubt, that there was such a teacher as Jesus.
It is the same principle, which leads us to believe in the conquests of the one and the miracles of the other. With respect, also, to future events, the act of faith is of a similar nature, whether the event belong to this world, or to another. The same principle, which would lead us to look confidently for an eclipse, predicted by a man of science, will not suffer us to doubt the authorized messenger of God, who declares, that the day is coming, when all they that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the son of man, and shall come forth. Religious faith is especially employed about every thing which relates to the will, the providence, and the character of God; and the faith of a christian is distinguished, from all other kinds of religious faith, only by its superiour extent, purity and influence. It embraces doctrines, of which, if true, it is infinitely dangerous for us to be ignorant ; and it is supported on evidence, which gives it a stability, and inspires it with an interest, which cannot properly belong to any other description of belief.
In the following discourses we propose to enumerate some of the OBJECTS, to explain the REASONABLENESS, and to urge the IMPORTANCE of faith. These are the three divisions of our subject.