« PreviousContinue »
expenditures. Are those nations, who are yet gro« ping in moral darkness, to enjoy the enlightening and benign influence of the gospel? The money of christian societies, is to be the medium of effecting such unspeakable blessings. And must not a heart of charity or humanity grieve, to have little or no part in this, for the want of ability? How desirable to serious and reflecting minds, to have a dollar to spare
a frequently, to send a Bible and Testament to some destitute poor family! When we hear of the labours and successes of domestick or foreign missionaries, do not our hearts burn to give a helping hand by our alms, as well as by our prayers ? if we are unable to comprehend the extensive and blessed effects of such exertions, we may see that money is calculated to answer very desirable purposes. How does it answer not only all the purposes of commerce, but what charitable and benevolent ends are promoted by this means !
INIPROVEMENT. 1st. If money is so valuable, and answers so many important purposes as we have heard, then this subject must come with a reproof to the idle and prodigal like a two-edged sword. Is any one denied the privileges and enjoyments, which have been mentioned, a d is he unable to bear a suitable part in the support of the various branches of society for the want of money? But why? Have idleness, or prodigality rendered him unable? Then how should mortification, shame, and conscience be awake in his breast. His inability is for his disgrace before men, and his guilt before God. The acquisition of earthly good things demands seasonable attention, and forbids that time be squandered in sloth or rioting. If any one is in a state of poverty, to whose conduct, industry, economy, and frugality bear favourable testimony, such an one is a worthy person, and deserves not only pity, but consolation and assistance from his fellow men.
They, who by their criminal conduct, render themselves unable to bear their part in the various duties of social, civil, or religious life, do at the same time, render themselves the nuisances of the world, and the burden of mankind. The idle and prodigal do not only deprive themselves of the various comforts mentioned, but they heap up manifold calamities and sorrows upon others.
2d. If money will answer so many desirable purposes as we have seen; then we may conclude, that true religion is incomparably excellent, and the one thing needful. This is what will answer and effect that which money was never designed to do. This is calculated to give true submission and contentment in a state of affliction and poverty; and thus render the poor man happy, and in a certain sense, rich. This gives peace to a troubled conscience, is a balm for a broken and contrite heart, and enables the soul to sing the triumphant song of victory, in the solemn hour of death. This is indeed wisdom and excellence, which avails in time, and flourishes in eternity. Says Solomon, Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that geiteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver; and the gain thereof, than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire, are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand, riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness; and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her. How excellent and essential then, this heavenly treasure, these durable riches, which will avail when time shall be no longer; and crown the soul with glorious immortality.
3d. If money is calculated to answer all the purposes of commerce, and many other valuable purposes in life, then it is proper to be afflicted, and grieve for the loss of property. Sometimes by fire, or at sea, or by
the knavery of a neighbour, a man is at once stript of a fortune, and deprived of all his earthly substance. But such losses are real calamities, and are reasons why we should be afflicted in some measure. are not to be insensible to the advantages of property, surely we are not to be insensible, that it is a disadvantage, and a natural evil when we are suddenly deprived of an earthly treasure. Then we may clearly see, in the
4th. Place, that to be destitute of a heavenly treasure, demands, that for this we should be much more grieviously afflicted. If property has some value, the pearl of great price is infinitely more valuable. But it may be lost. How solemn and striking the inquiry of the Saviour! What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? It is answered in the Psalms, That the redemption of the soul ceaseth for ever. Surely, then, there is abundant reason for impenitent sinners, for all who have not believed to the saving of their souls; and by evangelical repentance made their peace with God, to be afflicted and mourn in the anguish of their spirit.
5th. Then let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : Fcar God and keep his commandments ; for this is the whole duty of man. But to do this we must neglect neither temporal nor eternal concerns. We must let the things of time have their proper place; and those of eternity, their due weight. A man who has proper views, and who is under the
influence of a christian spirit, will have a suitable regard for earthly concerns and enjoyments, and will not be slothful in business; while he is fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. What an unspeakable privilege that we may pursue and enjoy all the endearments of life; and, at the same time, have our affections on things above, and be laying up a glorious treasure for eternity. How happy must that man be, whose conduct is consistent in the things of this world and
in those of religion. May industry and economy, liberality and charity, and a heart devoted to the service of God, be our happy lot in time. May we be the servants of Christ, by seeking to obey all the commands of his Father, and at last hear the blessed plaudit, of Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord. Amen.
THE SERVICE OF GOD AND MAMMON IMPOSSIBLE.
Matthew vi. 24.
Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.
THIS is the declaration of him, who spake as never man spake. It contains an important truth, which should be clearly unders tood; for errour in our faith is most intimately connected with erroneous practice. As mankind by nature have hearts of enmity against God, so they are opposed to his true character, his providential government, and righteous requirements." Notwithstanding, the fancied good. ness of men, even in an unrenewed state, cause many to be slow of heart to believe that the Lord has a controversy with them. And though they read, yet how little do they realize, That the friendship of the world is enmity with God; that whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God. Great exertions are necessary to convince them of their true apostate character and condition; for they plead they are not sensible of the odious nature and criminality of the moral exercises of their hearts. Perhaps they confess, they have not done much in their lives to please God; still, they hope to be pitied for their imperfections, since they have never been guilty of any very great, outbreaking sins. And though with hearts supremely attached to the world, they think to render service acceptable to God. But, in opposition to such views, the Saviour declares, No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to