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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. If we 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: Fear 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 proper 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 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 goodness 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
the one, and despise the other: Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.
Mammon is a Syriack word for riches, and is significant of any earthly treasure or interest. Hence, we are taught in the words of the text, the impossibility of being the servants of both God and the world. And the term, world, is to be understood in its most extensive import; and to include any earthly good, possession, honour, pleasure, or enjoyment whatever.
That we may have a clear view of this subject, a few observations will be made to point out the character of a true and faithful servant. Every one must be sensible, that there is an essential difference in its very nature between any service that is mercenary, and that which is loyal.
Then a true and faithful servant is one, who devotes his whole time to the service of his master, and who exerts all his skill and ability to promote his master's interest, from a spirit of cheerfulness or voluntary obedience. The time of a servant is not his own; but his master's, to whom he belongs, and whose property he is. And a faithful servant will not spend this time in idleness, or vain amusements, nor forsake the service of his master, to attend the concerns of others. A servant, who is not devoted to his master's interest, but absents his business, is called unfaithful. On the contrary, the one who is faithful, is ever ready, at the call of his master, to engage in his employment; for he considers his time and service as the proper claim of the one to whom he belongs.
Moreover, a faithful servant will exert all his talents, and improve every scasonable opportunity, to promote his master's interest. A servant might be daily employed about the requirements of his master, and yet not execute them according to his knowledge and capacity. But such an one would be like a mere mercenary hireling; for a true and faithful servant will prosecute the concerns of his master with his utmost skill and ability..
Moreover, a loyal servant is one who is pleased with his master, and cordially engages in his service. A master could put no confidence in his servant, if he were not attached to him from upright affections of heart. He could not safely trust him with his affairs, except his eye were upon him, if he did not. render cheerful obedience. Doubtless all will grant how essential it is, that a servant be pleased with his master, and heartily engage in his service, in order to have the character of a true and faithful servant.
Now let us notice some of the claims of God and Mammon, and from their contrast we may see the impossibility of serving both.
The Lord demands us to spend all our time, and employ all our talents in his service, from a heart of supreme love to his character, and with a spirit of filial obedience. Time is the only state of probation for mortals to prepare for eternity; hence the command, Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Then the great end of our being, is to serve the Lord in all our ways; and thus lay up durable riches, and secure a glorious and everlasting inheritance.
But more particularly the Lord enjoins it upon us to regard him in all the common concerns of life. Whether therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. All our worldly concerns must be subservient to his will, and the interest of his moral kingdom. If we have property, or learning, or extensive influence in society, they must be devoted to his service. Even when we labour for the necessities, comforts, and conveniences of life, we must not esteem these as our treasure; but set our affections on things above, and be laying up for ourselves a treasure in heaven.
But Mammon says, Regard worldly concerns with special care, and be satisfied with a portion beneath the sun. Idolize riches, if you have them; and if not, let your whole soul pant for them, or for some earthly