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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 je 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, .
1 let your whole soul pant-for them, or for some earthly
good, as the one thing needful. If you pursue worldly pleasures and advantages with such negligence, as to let your thoughts be wandering to the heavens as your chief joy, you have no great regard for me, therefore I cannot call you my servant.
The Lord enjoins it upon us to be honest in all our dealings with mankind, and not defraud or injure our neighbour. His commands are, Love your neighbour as yourself. Look not evety man on his own things; but every man also on the things of others. And as ye would that men should do unto you, do
ус even so unto them; for this is the law and the prophets. Mammon says, Others defraud, and take every advantage they can; and you must do so too, or you cannot live. If others cheat and strive to over-reach, you must do the same, or you will never get along in the world, so as to make any respectable appearance in the eyes of mankind.
If it will promote your worldly interest best to be honest and just in your dealings with some men, I would have you be upright with them; but still you must always consider it to be sufficient for you to look well to your own concerns, and have a sole regard for yourself.
God enjoins it upon us as a duty and privilege, to be charitable and liberal of the good things he has given us; to assist the poor, relieve the distressed, and support the important interest of his cause. With cheering words of encouragement he says, The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself.
The language of Mammon is, If you are always giving, you will always be poor; so you must keep what you bave got, and get what you can. When you behold objects of charity and distress, shut all bowels of compassion, for fear your gift will not be wisely bestowed. And do not promote religious concerns, till you feel yourself in safety in all your worldly circumstances. God commands us, To remember the Sabbath day
to keep it holy. The whole day must be spent in the varied private, social, and publick duties of religion. Both man and beast, on that day, are to rest from their labours, even in the time of earing and harvest. The duty of assembling together for publick devotion, and for the honour of God's holy name, and our growth in knowledge and grace, is clearly pointed out. On his holy day, we are not to think our own thoughts: that is, not let our minds be filled with perplexing cares about temporary affairs ; but so to improve it, that it prove a day of preparation for a glorious and eternal Sabbath of rest.
Mammon, on the other hand, says, You must not attend publick worship on the Sabbath, unless your secular concerns be all regulated. Otherwise, you must stay at home, and see to things, or else your business will lurry you, before the close of the next week. If the cause of God does require your attendance in his house ; yet one half of the day will be sufficient for you, who have so many calls to which you must attend, and who are already pretty well informed. You may find some sermon, which will be more instructive than the one your minister will preach; besides you can read in the evening by your fire-side. Moreover, in harvest time, especially, you must work on the Lord's day; for, if you should let one fair day slip, you may sustain considerable loss. And you may trade on that day for the sake of gain, if you are only careful to keep your bargain secret. Books may then be posted, to save time; and accounts settled, if your neighbour be willing. Or, if you are so far from your residence with your horse, carriage, or team, that you cannot attend publick worship in your own vicinity on that day, you may as well prosecute your journey. Mammon says, It will be expensive, if you have to pay for the keeping of yourself and horses; so you had better travel on, and make haste home. And whenever you do attend divine service in the house of God, would
your soul delighted ? let it be by having your thoughts dwell on what you have done and gained, during the last week; and by laying plans, how to prosecute your business, through the next.
God demands family worship; and threatens with a curse, those families that call not upon his name. The evening and morning sacrifice of thanksgiving, prayer, and praise must be offered to him from the family altar, and be considered a reasonable service.
Mammon says, Confine this duty to the Sabbath, , and even then esteem it no desirable privilege ; but account it as a weariness and burden of the soul. To lose half an hour every morning and evening in religious duties, especially when there is a multiplicity of business on hand, would be a serious and unnecessary evil.
The Lord commands us to serve him with all our hearts. His language is, My son, give me thine heart. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and him only shalt thou serve. He complained of some who honoured him with their lips, because their hearts were far from him. He does not consider any service as true obedience, unless it proceed from a heart of supreme love to his character, and delight in his service. Therefore, he does not call any his true servants, who do not yield entire and cordial obedience.
Mammon says, Give me the heart, or you are none of my servants. Give me the chief place in your thoughts and affections, or else you will be counted the servant of another master. God holds forth the rich treasures of his holy word, for the meditation and delight of our souls. He exhibits himself as the fountain and source of blessedness, to be the object of our pursuit and bighest joy. He proffers the glorious and inconceivable rewards of the righteous, as an excitement to faithfulness in his service. He calls upon the sons of men to look at the things which are unseen and eternal, and prepare