« PreviousContinue »
have no absolute security, that they shall not end their days in a dungeon, or an alms-house. Un- ' foreseen failures often sweep away the property of the affluent and in publick calamities it is suddenly transferred, to the amazement of beholders; while the rich and noble are reduced to abject indigence and dependence, and their palaces are occupied by the lowest of the people! In many. cases, riches are considered as criminality; and the possessors are proscribed for the sake of confiscations. When famine visits a land, the provisions that avarice had accumulated, are frequently seized by an enraged multitude: nay, often the innocent possessor of abundance falls a victim to popular fury. Thus "riches are kept for the own"ers of them to their hurt." And if they prove insufficient for security in such cases; what can they avail in the agonies of pain, at the approach of death, or in the day of judgment?
But he who possesses that great gain, which the apostle recommends, is liable to none of this uncertainty: "No good thing will the Lord with"hold from them that walk uprightly." "Put thy "trust in the Lord, and do good, dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "Seek first "the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and "all these things shall be added unto you.
your Father knoweth what things ye have need "of." He hath all hearts in his hand, and all
riches at his disposal. He needs not to work mi
racles, (as in the case of Elijah,), in order to accomplish these promises: yet doubtless all nature would change its course, rather than God would disappoint an expectation warranted by his holy word. We know not indeed by what way our loving Father may see good in his infinite wisdom, to take us home to himself: but we are assured that every circumstance of that event shall be arranged in the most advantageous manner; and till the appointed period shall arrive, no famine can render us destitute, no pestilence can sweep, us away; the sword of war, the fury of a multitude, or the malignity of persecuting tyrants, cannot reach us. We are safe, and ought to be confident, though an host of men encamp against us: for "the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob "is our refuge." "All things are ours, if we be "Christ's:" we need not fear, though the earth be removed. Death is our gain: and this single effect of godliness infinitely exceeds in value the ideal philosopher's stone, the power of changing inferior metals into gold. Even "the day of "judgment, and perdition of ungodly men," will be the season of the believer's complete redemption, to which he may now look forward with joyful hope. "O Lord God of Hosts, blessed is the "man that trusteth in thee."
But riches are valued as the materials of future enjoyment." Soul, thou hast goods laid up for "many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be
merry: but God said, thou fool, this night "shall thy soul be required of thee'." Our present life is short and uncertain; "Man goeth to “his long home." On our journey we only want enough to bear our expences: yet many a traveller groans, through a great part of the road, under the weight of an useless burden, which he must leave behind him on the shore, when he embarks for his eternal residence!-If riches yield little additional enjoyment during youth and health, they will fail still more in old age. Then the relish for every pleasure becomes languid, desire fails, the organs of sensation wear out; but the passions retain their impotent dominion, unless subdued by divine grace. "Can thy servant taste "what I eat, or drink? Can I hear any more the "voice of singing men or singing women?"" The aged sinner resembles the sapless trunk of an old tree; when the branches are lopped off or withered. He clings to a joyless life from dread of death: yet the thought, that he must soon die, will intrude, and interrupt his expiring comforts. He becomes a burden to himself, and often to others: and the greater his wealth is, the more reason has he to suspect, that many wait for his death with concealed impatience.
Alas, and is this all!-The sanguine youth, the active man of business, looked forward, in scenes.
of peril and fatigue, with the cheering expectation of affluence or preferment; and of tranquil enjoyment in declining life, as the reward of intense application. But how great is the disappointment even of the successful! Most of the candidates terminate their course, before the expected season of repose, or languish out their lives in pain and sickness: the highest prize in this poor lottery has been described; while an eternal state is unprovided for! "Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities! "saith the preacher, all is vanity.
"But the hoary head is a crown of glory, if it "be found in the way of righteousness." The consistent Christian will not greatly regret the loss of pleasures which he has long comparatively despised: for he has resources in communion with God and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Even if poor in this world, he commonly engages the cordial affection of some valued friends, whose society and attention solace the eve of life. Bodily pains and the loss of relatives are rendered tolerable, by faith and humble resignation: while the near approach of death and the prospect of hea venly joys reconcile his mind to transient sorrows and separations. Past experience of the Lord's faithfulness and mercy inspires gratitude and confidence; which are rather increased than impaired by the consciousness of his own unworthiness. "His outward man decayeth; but the inward "man is renewed day by day." Consolation often
abounds when flesh and heart are failing. Thus he meets death with composure, and then enters on that "fulness of joy, which is at the Lord's
right hand for evermore." And is not godliness with contentment great gain?
When the lovers of this present world are silenced, in respect of these reasons for desiring increasing wealth; they excuse their conduct by pleading their families: and doubtless we ought to endeavour, that our children may be provided for, and enabled to maintain themselves, when we shall be taken from them.-But the desire of advancing them, much above our own station in the community, is injurious to them, both in respect to their temporal comfort, their character for prudence and good behaviour, and the interests of their immortal souls. How can any one greatly labour to enrich his children, if he do not himself idolize riches? How can he vindicate such an attempt, who believes the words of Christ; "It is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a nee
dle, than for a rich man to enter into the king"dom of God?" But a pious education, an edifying example, many fervent prayers offered by religious parents for their children and with them, and the little spared from superfluous expences to relieve the indigent, constitute a treasure of superior value: while habits of industry and frugality, the result of right principles, will, by the blessing of God, be far more advantageous, than ungodly