Lawful pursuits

(Archibald Alexander, "Thoughts on Religious Experience")

Lawful pursuits are more frequently a snare than those
which are manifestly sinful. It is a duty "to provide things
honest in the sight of all men"--but while this object is
industriously pursued, the love of the world gradually
gains ground. The possession of wealth is then viewed
as important. Eternal things fade out of view, or viewed
as at a great distance, and the impression from them is
faint. Worldly entanglements are experienced; the
spiritual life is weakened; a sickly state commences;
and a sad declension ensues!

Alas! What a forlorn state he is now in! Where is the burning
zeal with which he commenced his course? Where now are the
comforts of piety, with which he was so entirely satisfied, that
the world was viewed as an empty bauble? Where now is his
spirit of prayer, which made this duty his delight? Where now
is his love of the Bible, which drew him aside often from worldly
business to peruse its sacred instructions? O! what a change!

Reader, it is perhaps your own case. "You are the man!" who
has thus fallen, and left your first love. "Repent, therefore, and
do the first works!"--lest some heavy judgment fall upon you!

God holds a rod for His own children, and when the warnings
and exhortations of the Word, and the secret whispers of the
Spirit are neglected, some painful providence is sent--some
calamity, which has so much natural connection with the sin,
as to indicate that it is intended as a chastisement for it.

These strokes are often very cutting and severe--but they
must be so to render them effectual
. "God disciplines us
for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline
seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those
who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11