Page images
PDF
EPUB

who quickeneth them : still the manner in which they must trust in him, is only by pressing forward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus. Hence human activity is a means of obtaining the blessing of sanctification from God.

IMPROVEMENT.

ist. If human activity is a means of obtaining blessings from God, then we may see, that they who neglect the means of grace, neglect their own salvation. We have seen from this subject, that both in the natural and moral world, the Lord has established means in order to obtain blessings; and they who neglect them, forsake their own mercies. The means of the gospel are external and internal. The external, are the Sabbath, the preaching or reading of the word, and other opportunities of instruction. The internal, are serious meditation, reflection, secret prayer, and a determination to shun evil and cleave to that which is good. And whilst we behold some highly prizing the means of grace, we may see them lightly esteemed by others.

So whilst the same means are proving a savour of life unto life to some, to others they are a savour of death unto death. Gospel means serve either to render the mind serious, and renew the heart; or they serve to harden those who resist them. They must prove means of conviction, conversion, sanctification, and salvation; or of an aggravated condemnation. They will not remain void; but will be a means of preparing for heaven, or of sinking the soul deeper in hell. It is a solemn truth, that to neglect the means of

grace, lect our own salvation.

2d. If human activity is a means of obtaining blessings from God, by contrast we may see, that there must be activity to draw down his curse. Some people imagine sin to be a mere calamity sent upon them, which they abhor, and from which they are groaning to be delivered. But would they open

is to neg.

their eyes, they would see that they roll sin as a sweet morsel under their tongues, and that they are not. anxious to be freed from it; but only from the ways of sin, which is the second death. They who drink down iniquity as the ox drinketh water, love all the sins in which they indulge; although they may dread their future punishment. Do any imagine that necessity or fate has fast bound them with the slavish chains of sin? Mistaken souls! Their own activity, their repeatedly hardening their hearts against the truth, their fixed habits of sinning, are the barriers and mountains in the way of their salvation. They are the active agents in forming their shackles of sin; and slaves to Satan, not by fatality, but by being willingly led as his captives. Let not any be deceived, and imagine they hate sin, merely because they have a slavish fear of punishment. They who hate it, seek to be delivered from its internal dominion, as from a loathsome and deadly leprosy of soul. They fold not their hands together in idle wishes, but awake to righteousness. To be dead in sin is not a mere calamity, but it is to be active in the ways of unrighteousness, and to love the paths of disobedience.

3d. From this subject we may see, that a person may be brought near the kingdom of God, and still fail of salvation. Although conversion is an instantaneous work, wrought by the Spirit of God, yet there are previous stages of awakening and conviction. And a person may be brought near that stedfast degree of seriousness and anxiety for his soul, in which the Lord generally shows mercy, and yet go back. He may by degrees turn back from the very gạte of heaven, and

at last have his conscience seared as with a hot iron. An affecting and alarming truth, which should sink with deep weight into the minds of the thoughtful. How heart-rending must it be to any in wo, to look back into this world, and see that they were just entering into the kingdom of God, and yet failed of salvation.

4th. The subject naturally suggests the inquiry, Why stand ye here all the day idle? Whether at the sixth, ninth, or eleverıth hour, the Saviour calls to work in his vineyard. Then let youth, middle aged, and aged, feel interested in this subject, and work while it is called to-day; for the night shortly cometh in which no man can work. There is work enough yet to do, and the reward is as great and glorious as is worthy a God to bestow. Heaven, earth, and hell, call loudly upon all to be active in doing the will of their heavenly Father. Time and eternity present motives of infinite magnitude. The salvation of the soul demands, That whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.. Shall a mortal creature in view of his immortal interests, remain idle? Rather by activity let us bear much fruit towards God, that so a glorious entrance shall be administered into the kingdom of his Son in eternal life. Amen.

SERMON IX.

THE VALUE AND USE OF MONEY.

Ecclesiastes X. 19.

Money answereth all things. To esteem every thing according to its real worth, is the part of true wisdom. But, for this it is neces. sary to have correct views of things earthly and temporal; and of those that ‘are heavenly and eternal. As manķind are in a state of apostacy from God, they are prone to idolize the good things of this life, and to make temporary pleasures their chief joy. On the other hand, some of a religious and melancholy turn of mind, have turned away from the sweets of social life, have sought solitary retreat, shut themselves up in cells, and lived a secluded and monas. tick life. But, still it is true, the Lord has given to man the world to be used, though not to be abused. Earthly enjoyments should not be viewed with indifference, for they demand gratitude and thankfulness. It is only by comparison, or by contrasting the m with the glorious and eternal blessings of the gospel, that they are to be considered as vanity, and to sink into nothing. All the blessings of this life are worthy of some attention; and says Solomon, Money answereth all things.

The experience of every one, as well as other passages of scripture, evince that the word all, is not used in this place in its universal and unlimited import. Money will not answer all things, in eve y respect that might be mentioned; but still, in a certain sense, it is true, that it does or would answer all things. It answers for all the purposes for which it

is designed. There is a value attached to it, which renders it useful; and for which it is desirable to be obtained. No doubt the true import of the words of the text is this, Money will answer all things as it respects the purposes of commerce. In order to illustrate this idea, I shall undertake to show the value and use of money, by noticing some desirable purposes which it answers. 1st

. For money the necessities of life may be obtained. It will buy food and raiment for the sustenance of life. Although mankind are directed to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, still it is essential to human existence, that the body be fed and clothed. That bread of life which cometh down from heaven, is infinitely more valuable for the soul than earthly bread is for the body; but this truth does not in the least invalidate the fact, that without provision for eating and drinking, death would be the inevitable consequence. And no case perhaps can be mentioned, where food and raiment could not be obtained from any one for money, unless in a time of siege or necessity, when individuals would only have a bare pittance merely sufficient to prevent final starvation. As it is important, that life should be prolonged; so is it equally necessary, that the means of life be procured. But money is the most convenient, advantageous, and effectual for this. Various other things might be mentioned as the necessities of life, and they might be obtained by various means of commerce; yet certainly money will have the pre-eminence as the best circulating medium.

2d. Money is valuable ; for with it not only the necessi. ties, but the varied comforts and conveniences of life may be procured. The přivileges and enjoyments of this world are many and greatly diversified. And though they be not essential to mere existence or subsistence; still they are desirable, and worthy of some degree of attention. It is not only commendable to seek for food, but for that which is wholesome and

« PreviousContinue »