Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Use of Life and its Purpose #JesusFollowers

Who is born for himself? Who is not capable of serving others? Who exists independently of a generation, to the advantage of which he may, in various ways, contribute?

Some possess a superior understanding: others are endowed with ingenuity. One man has strength, and another man has quickness and dexterity. The heart of one is firm and courageous: the heart of another melting and compassionate.

A paternal inheritance enriches one; prosperity another. Some are surrounded by friends and relatives; others having few or no private ties, are at liberty to embrace more public objects. Power and rank are talents of extensive influence.

But the lowest and poorest of the children of men have some sphere of service. In fact, what are we all but links in one great chain; members of one community, of which God is the father and head? A duty lies upon each one of us to support his own place in the world with a generous regard to those who are around him. Otherwise our powers and talents cannot have their full exercise, and the purposes of our existence will be very partially answered.

We cannot enjoy our own full and proper share of happiness, except by seeking that of others, and promoting it. There are various affections which draw us out of ourselves, and even the selfish passions find their full gratification in society only. He who serves his generation most effectually, serves himself. He has more and purer joys. He has a higher aim and more enlarged view. His existence promotes a great variety of purposes; and acquires a dignity from the generosity of his aims, and an importance from the extent of his services. He feels himself of some consequence in the creation; and he gains influence, which is so much power over mankind.

The blessings and benefits, which we derived from those who went before us, we perpetuate and hands down to those who succeed us. The lasting effects of our useful and active services will be felt, when we are no more: and when we have ceased to breathe, we will, by the effects of our exertions, continue to bless the world.

The knowledge, the liberty, the truth, virtue and happiness, which in our generation we advanced, will survive our powers of activity, and lay a foundation for higher degrees of improvement and perfection through the next and succeeding generations.

To fulfill this duty properly and to secure the best fruits of it, it is necessary that the active life be formed and regulated by the will of God.

To do the will of God by serving our generation; to be the benevolent and active agents of God in improving the virtue, alleviating the misery, and advancing the felicity of mankind, is an object to be coveted. Esteem, love, reputation, every blessing attend a life thus devoted to piety in the exercise of benevolence. The purpose of such a life is peace and hope!

(Adapted from an Oct. 27, 1793 sermon by Rev. Joshua Toulmin)

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