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for mansions of immortal glory. Mammon holds forth herself in various forms, with all her worldly charms to allure mankind to serve her most faithfully. Worldly riches, honours, and prospects are presented to engage the highest attention and affections of men. She would have them prefer worldly and temporal enjoyments, to those which are heavenly and eternal. Thus by contrast, as it respects the nature and requirements of God and Mammon, we may see the impossibility of serving both. Then he, who loves. and holds to the world as his master, will, whether he have little or much in the affections of his heart, be an enemy and despiser of God. But he who loves and cleaves to the service of God, will renounce the friendship, and despise the frown of the world. Thus the Saviour has declared, 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.
IMPROVEMENT. 1st. We may see why the scripturcs call Mammon, the Mammon of unrighteousness. It is because mankind use unlawful means to obtain it; as oppression, theft, violence, and other vicious ways. In such instances they despise the authority of God to obtain Mammon; disregard his law, and the peace and prospe rity of their fellow men. The civil law may have some restraint upon them; but we are sensible, that this is ineffectual to restrain many from openly vicious courses. Riches, or the acquiring of earthly good things, are not, in themselves, considered sinful, for by a proper management and arrangement of our worldly concerns, in subordination to religion, we may render them as a part of God's service. But worldly men make their religion subservient to the interest of Mammon; and whatever gratifies or delights mankind the most, will be pursued with
Hence we see,
eagerness. Then, if men have an inordinate desire for self gratification from the pleasures which Mammon affords, they will be led into all manner of unrighteousness, that they may indulge ungoverned appetites, and gratify sinful inclinations and passionis. Thus the inordinate desire of gratifying their avarice, their ambition, and other sinful lusts, hurries them on to Sabbath breaking, cheating, lying, robbing, and even to the crime of murder. when the thoughts and affections of men, are violent and criminal for the pleasures of Mammon, they excite to overt acts of iniquity, and all manner of unrighteousness.
2d. We may see, the most of the excuses that are made for neglecting religious duties, and doing what the Lord forbids, amount to a confession that it is more important to serve Mammon than to serve God. The reason why people work in the field, or shop, or journey on the Sabbath is, Mammon holds them fast with her claims. They know the Lord forbids such things; but they cannot obey him, when they have such a strong and cordial regard for another master. Some persons make it convenient to attend publick worship occasionally, but not statedly; and they can scarcely find leisure to attend church meetings, or religious conferences and prayer meetings; because Marmon hurries them with a multiplicity of her engagements. They cannot find time for reading the holy scriptures daily, for evening and morning devotion, for giving thanks for their daily food, or for the duties of the closet; for the god of this world troubles them frequently with very urgent and imperious calls. The most of the excuses that are made for neglecting the all-important duties of religion, are, my worldly concerns hurry me; my engagements bind me; and they are of so much importance that I am necessitated to neglect these duties. In these and other instances, confessions are virtually made,
that it is deemed more suitable and important to serve Mammon, than it is to serve God.
3d. Let us examine ourselves, and determine whether God or whether Mammon, have the chief place in our thoughts, affections, and pursuits; and then we shall decide whose servants we are. If it be our great inquiry and heart's desire, to know and do the will of God, to serve him with our whole hearts, we are his servants, and shall
reap rious rewards of the righteous. But, if we be anxious to know how we can gratify ourselves, by pursuing the pleasures of Mammon as our chief joy, we are her servants, and are preparing to reap the rewards of unrighteousness. Let us inquire, What we do more than others? Do we exceed them in morality and liberality ? Still, who has our hearts? If we have not a supreme regard for the honour and glory of God in our works, we are as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; and shall appear as unfaithful stewards, in that we chose a portion, which has the inscription, vanity of vanities. The Lord is jealous for the honour of his great name, and he calls the covetous man an idolater. And although men do not worship idols and images in the form and shape of those of the heathens, yet they are as really guilty of idolatry, by idolizing Mammon, or setting the world uppermost in their hearts. If we place our affections supremely on God, on heavenly and divine things, we take them from the world; but if we exercise our noblest affections in favour of Mammon, we deny them to God. Some persons say, We will devote a little of our time in the service of God, we will keep the Sabbath so far as to spend our time in a serious manner. But their hearts are given to Mammon, and buried in the cares of the world; therefore they cannot be the servants of God. Others are called to labour, and eat bread in the sweat of their brow; but the Lord has their hearts, therefore
they cannot be the servants of Mammon. The Lord looks upon all services, which do not proceed from a heart devoted to him, as hypocrisy, or solemn mockery. They who consider it sufficient, to serve him on the Sabbath, and a little on other days, should seriously inquire and examine, who has the most hearty affections of their souls. They should not be deceived: for God is not mocked. He knows and calls all his enemies, whatever their pretensions or performances, if they have not his love shed abroad in their hearts. Suffer one more remark. When men cannot part with earthly things for the cause of God, but choose rather to part with their interest in spiritual than in temporal blessings, they certainly cleave to them more than to God, and him they comparatively despise. Let us remember, that mankind are servants to whatever they make their chief concern or pursuit. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are, to whom ye obey? Then whatever engages
the thoughts and affections of men supremely, is their God. If the Lord possess their hearts, he is their God: but, if the world have their hearts, Mammon is their god.
4th. Let all be exhorted to comply with the direction of the Saviour, and make to themselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness. Whatever earthly good things we possess, let us realize that these are entrusted to us as stewards, and that we must render an account to God for our stewardship. We may be so covetous of earthly gifts as to exclude our souls from spiritual and eternal blessings. We may be so glued to the enjoyments of this life, that instead of their causing our souls to ascend with gratitude and thankfulness to heaven, they will drag them down to hell. There have been instances of persons in time of fire, war, shipwreck, and other perilous situations, who, foolish and presumptuous to save their goods, have lost their lives. So inay we be so heavily laden
with the earth, that our souls will be unable to ascend to heaven, and lay hold on eternal life. How kind the exhortation, then, To spend a suitable por
a tion of Mammon in deeds of piety and charity, that many being benefited by these gifts, may pray for blessings on us as their benefactors. With what satisfaction may the faithful steward expect the hour of dissolution, and the coming of his Lord, and anticipatethe joy of being then welcomed by such friends to the regions of perfect felicity. But, if men idolize their riches, and spend all upon themselves, they may expect to be turned out of their stewardship, and cast into outer darkness, where shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. If we do not have mercy on the poor, in vain may we hope for mercy from God: For, if any man have this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? The cries of the oppressed and neglected poor, will testify against unfaithful stewards, to their condemnation; but the prayers of widows and orphans for their pious benefactors, will testify for them, that they were wise and faithful stewards. And, when they leave this world, such as have died before them and
gone to glory, may be considered as standing ready to welcome them to their everlasting habitations. Earthly riches may be exchanged for heavenly; and temporal goods, for those which are eternal. The poor, the needy, and distressed, give us an opportunity of acquiring inconceivable gain. And who would not part with perishable objects, for those which are imperishable? Who would not give or lend things of trifling value, for a moment, and then receive those of inestimable value? How benignant and blessed the exhortation of the Saviour, Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. Amen.