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manage which effects the work of a thousand hands—these have practically no tendency to produce idleness or even distress ; on the contrary, they are but means through which industry is enabled to meet increased demands, and every one is now busier though the vapor and the wheel have apparently taken his business on themselves. This is a very beautiful and striking arrangement of Divine Providence. Man is allowed to acquire prodigious powers, and those powers are augmenting with such amazing rapidity, that one hardly dares surmise what they may be in a few more years; but nevertheless, through some mysterious order of God, these powers are never more than commensurate with the demand ; employment grows with every discovery that you might have thought likely to encourage idleness if not make it an inevitable lot—and this is the first point of view under which we desire to present to you our text.

There is an extraordinary display of the carefulness and wisdom of God in those arrangements through which practically industry and discovery are made to go hand in hand. If nothing had been left to human invention, if all the arts and manufactures of civilised life had been matter from the first of explicit revelation, it may well be supposed that the mind of man would have grown listless through the want of sufficient stimulus for its powers; and hence it has been a most merciful appointment that man has been so circumstanced as to be compelled to use his faculties, that he has been necessitated to search out methods for sharpening the blunted edge of iron. But then it might have been expected that as discovery grew and nature gave up to human search her secrets and her powers, there would cease to be a sufficient demand for labor, so that man would escape from that most wise and benevolent ordinance, “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” If in the earlier days of our race man's progress in useful arts could have been foreseen, if his course could have been traced as he advanced from the rude instrument with which he could scarce turn the clod, to the varied and powerful implements which now make the mountain and the valley obedient to his wants, from the simplest contrivances which just sheltered him from the elements, to the wonder-working machines which make those elements his servants, and scatter over a land the clothing of its thousands, why the prognostication must have been that so vast an increase in power would bring with it an indisposition to exertion, and that men would settle into an indifference fatal to all moral greatness. But God has taken care to defeat such prognostication, and has provided, as we have shown, that the progress of discovery should keep pace with the progress of population, that wants should multiply just as fast as the mcans of supply, and that thus idleness should be no more at men's option when they had pressed into their service all the agencies of nature, than when they stood alone upon the earth, ignorant of its simplest properties, and had not developed the most ordinary resources. Oh! I do look on this as strikingly indicative of God's goodness in his providential arrangements. To bring the matter under the imagery of our text, he might have afforded man no means of whetting the edge, and then man, compelled to put to more strength, must hage spent his days in the worst drudgery, and there never could have been constructed the goodly fabric of a diversified community. On the other hand, he might have given man such a power of whetting the edge as would have destroyed all necessity for putting out his strength, and then there must have followed that universal dissoluteness which would be necessarily the produce of universal idleness. But God has guarded equally against both these disastrous results. The edge may be so whetted that man's strength shall not be overtasked ; the edge cannot be so whetted that man's strength is no longer needful. Wonderful, then, art thou, o God, in thy providential arrangements ! I see all that is worthy of thee in the ordinance that demands human industry; I see all that is worthy of thee in the limits that have been set to human discovery, and I extract nothing but cause for admiring and adoring God in his dealings with our race, from meditation on this simple but comprehensive appointment, “If the iron be blunt and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength : but wisdom is profitable to direct.”

Now, up to this point we have taken a very general view of our text, but one, we think, that has enabled us to survey Divine Providence under a most interesting aspect. We will now bring before you more precise illustrations of the passage, but still under such forms as may best excite you to observe and to praise the benevolence of God. It is the property, we might almost say the infirmity of man, that he cannot give himself incessantly to labour, whether bodily or mental, but must have seasons of relaxation and repose. The iron will grow blunt after having been a certain time in use, and if a man will then go on insisting in using it, there must be a desperate putting forth of strength, which is certain, ere long, to bring about a total prostration. But if he have wisdom to direct him, so that by a lawful recreation he duly whet the edge of his powers, he may, through God's help, long retain his strength and his usefulness. And however in general there may be more cause for fear that men will be too inert than too active, we are still persuaded of the frequency of cases in which the caution most needed is, that men whet the edge. The old proverb which one often hears, and which involves a great fallacy, “better to wear out than to rust out,” would seem constructed in opposition to our text, just as if the iron must rust, if it do not rapidly wear out; whereas, the truth is, that although through the putting to more strength the iron will be worn out, it will not be rusted out through the wetting the edge, seeing that in whetting the edge we brighten what we sharpen. ! And it is melancholy to think how frequently it happens in our seminaries of learning, that youths of high promise, with fine powers of imagination, and of large capacities for science, sink beneath the pressure of an over-tasked mindworking for themselves an early grave, and depriving world of the benefits

which might have been derived from their literature, or their piety, through the incessant use of the iron, and the continued neglect of the whetting the edge. And it is yet more melancholy to think how many of the ministers of Christ have shortened their period of usefulness, by devoting themselves to their work with uncalculating eagerness, even assuming as their principle the mistaken, or at least misapplied proverb, “better to wear out than to rust out,” regarding it as their duty to give themselves no respite, just as though to relax for an instant would mark a failing in their loyalty to God. They must be acting erroneously though we readily confess there is a beauty in the error which might well cause it to captivate and mislead. They must be acting erroneously, for God is undoubtedly too merciful a master to require—if we may use so homely an expression -that his servants should work themselves to death,

And something of the same kind may be said generally of all men, whatever the nature of their occupations. You are all aware of the obligations that men should devote themselves to various callings, and of the truth that they are all equally serving the Lord Christ when engaged in the diligent performance of their several duties ; and I now speak of the duty that, in pursuing their respective vocations, they take care not to overwork their powers, and thus entail upon themselves a premature debility. I believe that such a caution is far enough from out of place in a community like our own, where there is such a vast play for mercantile activity, where one man may be said to urge on another by the boldness of an enterprise, or the hardihood of a speculation. I do not believe that philosophy with all its mystery, nor theology with all its majesty, is more likely than commerce is to engross and work up the mind so as to produce a rash disregard of the consequences of excessive labor. You must all see that where a pursuit is one that has much greater agreement with natural inclination, there is increased likelihood of a man's devoting himself to it without sufficient pause. The clergyman is tasked with an occupation in which it can hardly be said that nature prompts him to excessive exertion; the merchant, on the contrary, has all the wishes in which he was born engaged on the side of his business, and the probabilities, therefore, are far more considerable of his disregarding the bluntness of the iron, and omitting to whet its edge. And we do consider it in every case a sin; and certainly, if in that of the minister, it must be in that of the merchant, to follow an occupation with such unremitting perseverance, that health is thereby sacrificed, and life is thereby shortened. We shrink from the thought and the mention of suicides, but there are other modes of self-destruction beside i that of laying violent hands on one's own person. There is the suicide by intemperance, the suicide by over-labor; and we cannot suppose a man altogether innocent in God's sight of the crime of self-destruction, who digs himself a premature grave, through unsparing demands on his mental and bodily powers, any more than another who wastes his strength on guilty pleasures, or daringly

invades the sanctuary of his own life. And we, therefore, derive for all classes a lesson from our text-a lesson that it is as much their duty to relax when they feel their strength overtasked, as it is to persevere whilst that strength is sufficient. It may be a duty to work with the iron whilst it is not blunt, but it is equally a duty to pause and whet the edge when the bluntness is apparent. And we cannot refrain from pointing out with what tender consideration God hath provided intervals of repose, and has made it emphatically a man's own fault if he sink beneath excessive labor. What a beautiful ordinance is that of day and night! How specdily would men exhaust themselves if they were not compelled to the taking rest in sleep! God has not left it altogether optional with man, whether or not he will whet the edge of the iron; he forces him, as it were, to his pillow, and that pillow, with all its softness, acts as a grindstone on which the blunted powers regain their accuteness. Then what a gracious appointment is that of the Sunday! I might almost say that there were comparatively little or no fear of a man's injuring himself by overwork, if he rigidly abstracted one day in seven, and devote it to the duties of religion. We may not doubt that it is in no sense an arbitrary division of time, that which makes every seventh day, rather than every third or every tenth day a Sunday. We must rather believe that God has herein had respect to the powers of the human machine, and that the repose of one day in seven is exactly what is needed to its being kept in healthful play. This is true, even if you set aside the religious uses of the Sunday, and consider only the secular advantages which its institution insures. We believe, as we have already hinted, that where the Sunday is duly observed, there will seldom occur the case of exhausted and overwrought powers; but, on the other hand, when the Sunday has been neglected, where men have made all the seven days, days of anxiety and of labor, we can point to instances as notorious as they are melancholy, of so rapid a derangement, and then so total an overthrow of the whole mental system, that the grave has been soon dug, or the madhouse soon entered. I doubt whether any cause has made more suicides or more maniacs than the making the seventh day a day of business. No doubtand I have my fears that here is more of this in our communities than appears on the surface-here is a vast deal of what may be called private Sabbath breaking; many a tradesman who closes his shop on the Sunday, perhaps opens his ledger. The Sunday is the day on which systematically he casts up his accounts, and makes out his bills. And there is, moreover, a vast deal of what may be called mental Sabbath breaking; the merchant, though he deserts the counting-house or exchange, takes no pains to dismiss his commerce from his thoughts; on the contrary, perhaps, he encourages himself in meditating and draws others into conversing on the state of the money market, or the prospects of trade; and thus is his mind still kept on the stretch, and allowed no season of thorough refreshment. So that now we can follow up our statements as to the

necessity and duty of whetting the edge of the iron, by showing you that God has had such gracious respect to your constitution and your wants, and that it is only by deliberately setting yourselves against his most sacred appointments, that you can run much risk of so blunting as to injure the instrument. We can lay down no general rules as to the degree in which business may be extended, and the quantity of labor which a man may safely undertake ; but we may at least assert this great principal, that a man has too much of worldly employment on his hands, if it at all require him to make a working day of the Sunday, and that he is too much engrossed with his trade if he cannot forget it on the Sunday, and cease during a few short hours, to calculate and to speculate. And certainly there is no excuse to be found for any one of you who may so strain as to weaken his powers, or to labor in such undue measure, as must rapidly debilitate him for future exertion, when every seventh day gives him at once warning and opportunity-warning that he is so constituted as to need periods of total cessation from secular employment, opportunity of enjoying such cessation. Oh, God hath done all that could be done to prevent that ordinance of labor, which he designed to be in every sense wholesome, from becoming in any sense injurious; seeing, that over and above the refreshing alternation of day and night, he hath appointed a division of time which continually reminds you with the most eloquent persuasiveness, "That if the iron be blant, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.”

Yes, my beloved brethren, the man who spends his Sunday, religiously remembering that it is God's day and therefore striving to devote it to God's service, necessarily abstracts his mind from secular cares and thus allows it to recover the tone and elasticity which was gradually destroyed under one uniform pressure, and far more than this; in studying the Scriptures and meditating on heaven, in attending the ministrations of the Sanctuary, praying with all fervency, and perhaps visiting the sick and the dying, how is he securing for himself fresh supplies of grace which will strengthen him for the duties and the toils of the week. The repose of a spirit that lives in eternity, the review of his conduct, the renewed consecration of himself to God, all these are specially appropriate to the Sabbath, in the shape, whether of duty or of privilege, which tend manifestly to prepare him for so using the world as not to abuse it; for he is so pursuing his earthly calling as to be neither too much engrossed by its occupations nor distracted by its solicitudes, And happy is the man who can give as his experience, that the Sunday has come to him as a delicions calm after the turmoil of an exciting week, and that after occupying this hallowed day in communion with God and the diligent use of the appointed means of grace, he has found himself enabled to return to his ordinary duties with invigorated powers; and the perplexities of the Saturday have disappeared before the improved strength of the Monday. The iron was blunted, and it he had attempted to proceed without interruption in his labour he must have put to more strength and thus rapidly disabled himself from fulfilling his duties. But he possessed that wisdom which is profitable to direct, wisdom from above, and this taught him to withdraw himself at God's bidding from earthly concerns and to forget time in his anxiety for eternity. And he has found a present reward as he shall do a future; divine grace has come down and in animating him with a hope full of immortality has quickened him for the discharge of every pressing duty. He has been brought into contact with hea, venly things and the attrition has sharpened him even for earthly occupations, so that when the iron has been again brought into use the edge is so keen that what seemed adamantine was divisitle, and what seemed inseparable might be cleft. And without confining attention to the sharpening influence of a well kept Sunday, we may affirm generally that there is a power in religion which makes it a man's best auxiliary in the performance of every day duties. Look, for example, at prayer, that religious act which is possible at all times and in all places; for inasmuch as prayer is the heart speaking to God, at what moment may it not

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