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overspread with desolation and dead men's bones, and 6: only for a habitation to the beasts of prey. The very circumstance, that it has never yet produced such a terrible effect, is an evident proof that a moral Governor superintends the affairs of this world, and by his wise and merciful arrangements, sets " restraining bounds” to the passions of men, that his benevolent purposes in relation to our race, may be in due time accomplished.
It is evident, then, that an affection which produces such debasement of mind, and which naturally leads to such dismal and appalling consequences, must embody within it the ESSENCE of almost every evil, and of every species of moral turpitude; and, although it may appear comparatively harmless, when confined to a narrow sphere, and covered with a cloak of hypocrisy, yet it only requires to burst its confinement, to be blown into a flame, and to have free scope for its destructive energies, in order to undermine and overturn the whole fabric of the moral universe. This consideration deserves the serious attention of every one who feels the least rising of such an unhallowed passion, and should induce him to exercise holy jealousy over himself, and to use every Scriptural mean to repress and counteract its first emotions. His prayer to God should be like that of the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness, and lead me in thy way everlasting.”
I might likewise have enumerated among the evils produced by covetousness, the host of vices, and the anxious fears, and tumultuous passions connected with this affection-its baneful influence on friends and relatives, and on general society; that it incapacitates the individual in whose heart it reigns for enjoying substantial happiness; that it was one of the impulsive causes of the death of Christ; that, when fostered through life, it becomes inveterate in old age, and retains its strength and vigour, when almost every other vice has withered and decayed, and, that it has, to a certain extent, prevented the union of the Christian church, and the affectionate intercourse of its members. But without dwelling on these and such particulars, I shall only observe,
In the last place,—that covetousness indulged and persisted in through life, infallibly leads to misery in the life to come.
“Be not deceived,” says an ambassador of heaven, “neither idolaters, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” What a terrible and appalling denunciation, when contemplated in all its extent, and its eternal consequences ! Such characters shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And we are expressly told, that they who are banished from this kingdom, “ shall be cast into the lake of fire which burneth forever and ever;" and that “they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” A covetous man is, therefore, in as direct a course to eternal misery, as the most licentious profligate, or the most atrocious characters. If men really believed in the realities of an eternal world, and in the certainty of such terrible denunciations being accomplished, how would it make their whole frame tremble at the awful prospect! But no hearts are harder than the hearts of the covetous. They are surrounded as with a wall of adamant, and fortified against every admonition, so that neither the voice from Mount Zion, nor the threatenings from Sinai, can make the least impression; and the longer they live in the world, the more impenetrable do they become, till, in the righteous judgment of God, they are sometimes given up to a hardness which nothing will penetrate but the sharpness of “unquenchable fire.” This is a consideration which demands the serious attention of the young, and of those in the prime of life. It shows, with what care and holy caution, they ought to guard against the first emotions of every vicious passion, and particularly against the emotions of covetousness; for, if they be indulged, they will grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength, till they become inveterate habits, which no human power can eradicate.
I have already shown,* that the covetous must necessarily be banished from the kingdom of the just, because they are altogether unfit for relishing its pleasures, or engaging in its employments. But exclusion from the society and the joys of heaven, is not the only punishment they will suffer. They will be subjected to positive misery; and, among other sources of misery, they will be tormented with restless and insatiable desires, which will always be raging, and which will never be gratified. In the present life, while covetous desires were raging, they were partially gratified. But, in the future world, gold, and silver, and splendid possessions, such as are now the object of desire, will be forever beyond their reach; and, consequently, they must suffer all that is included in boundless desires and craving appetites, which are never to be gratified. Besides, all that is included in those striking representations of Scripture—“the worm that never dies; the fire that is never quenched; weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and the blackness of darkness forever," will be the portion of the ambitious and avaricious sinners, who are banished from the glories of the New Jerusalem. What will it then avail the covetous sinner, that he had heaped up gold as the dust, and silver as the stones of the field ? or the ambitious sinner, that he rolled on the wheels of splendour, and fared sumptuously every day? Will riches profit in the day of wrath? Will the recollection of bags of gold, and chests of dollars treasured up in this fleeting world for profligate heirs, alleviate the anguish of the miser's soul in the place of punishment ? Will the gay and licentious worldling find his torments assuaged by revolving the idea, that he was transported to hell in a splendid chariot ? and that he left his degenerate offspring to be conveyed with the same pomp and equipage to the place of misery? Alas! such recollections, instead of alleviating, will only enhance the unutterable anguish of the inhabitants of Tophet, and
* See pages 90, 91.
add new fuel to the fire which is never to be quenched. Oh, that the sons of avarice and ambition, were wise, that they understood these things," and that they would consider the eternal consequences of their present affections and conduct? Nothing can be more foolish than to prefer shadows to realities, trifles to the most momentous concerns, fleeting baubles to an enduring substance, riches that perish in the using to “a treasure in the heavens that fadeth not,” the fashion of the world that passeth away, to an incorruptible inheritance, and an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory.” What is the hope of the hypocrite when God taketh away his soul? Yea, “what will it profit a man, though he should gain the whole world, and lose' his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" It is therefore the dictate of true wisdom, and accordant with every rational principle, to mortify every unholy affection, 'to despise the vain blandishments of the world, thạt lieth in wickedness, to exercise contentment under the allotments of Providence, and to aspire after the enjoyment of that inheritance “ which is incorruptible, and that fadeth not away."
ON THE PRINCIPLES BY WHICH CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE DI.
RECTED IN THE APPLICATION OF THEIR WEALTH.
There are, perhaps, few things connected with the social state, of more importance than the proper distribution and application of wealth; yet there is no subject about which so many foolish and erroneous conceptions are entertained. Every man seems, in this respect, to consider himself as a kind of independent being, and to imagine that he has full power, both physical and moral, " to do with his own as he pleases.” That he is invested with a sovereign right, either to give or withhold his money, as he thinks fit, and that no one has authority to say to him, what dost thou ?” Even Christians have not yet learned the legitimate use and application of riches, notwithstanding the pointed injunctions and the specific principles on this subject laid down in the word of God; and hence it has too frequently been considered as no way inconsistent with the profession of Christianity, for Christians to act, in this respect, in accordance with the maxims of general society, and the common practices of the men of the world.
It is now more than time that other and nobler views were entertained and acted upon by those who prosess to be followers of the lowly Jesus—views accordant with the instructions of their Divine Master, and the admonitions of his holy prophets and apostles. In order to a slight elucidation of this subject, I shall in the first place offer a few general remarks, connected with this topic, and, in the next place, inquire what proportion of their worldly substance, Christians ought to consecrate to the good of society, and the promotion of religion.