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all is not right with them as to this matter, seriously examine their hearts on this point, and weigh the considerations which have already been adduced. Above all things, look up to God, who alone can heal your disease, and purify your affections, and say unto him, in the language of the Psalmist, “ Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Remember that your happiness through eternity is at stake; and give not sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eye-lids, till you have fled for refuge to the hope set before you in the gospel-till you have renounced your idolatrous affections, and consecrated your heart to God. Your feet are already “stumbling on the dark mountains," and, ere you are aware, you may fall, at the next step, into irretrievable ruin. And if you depart from this world, under the dominion of covetous affections, you are rendered unfit for the mansions of the just, and the happiness which will be their portion forever and ever.
5. Consider, in the last place, that your covetous affections, if obstinately indulged, will necessarily exclude you from the kingdom of heaven, and involve you in eternal perdition.
This has already been illustrated in various points of view, (see pp. 88, 148.)
It is the unalterable decree of the Most High, as recorded in his word, that “the covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God;" and, that those who are banished from this kingdom and its honours,“ shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” In the face of such awful declarations, to continue in the lust of covetousness, grasping incessantly after riches as the highest object of desire, is the greatest folly and madness of which men can
For what a poor compensation will men run the risk of such terrible and appalling consequences! Our Saviour tells us, that it would profit a man nothing, “ should he
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul." But how often does it happen, that men forfeit their eternal happiness for the merest trifle, and set their immortal souls to sale for a thing of nought! One will sell his soul merely to gratify his lust, or his revenge; another will rather go in the broad way to hell, than be out of the fashion of the gay world. That officer in the army, who lords over his inferiors, in all the pomp of his brief authority, what does he sell his soul for? “For the false glory of swearing expertly, and uniting blasphemy with politeness.” That perjured wretch, who bears false witness against his neighbour, or robs him of his property, by fraud or deceit—what price does he put upon his soul? A few guineas, perhaps, or a house, or a few acres of land. Few men ask a throne, a kingdom, a province, or even a barony, but will hazard the loss of their immortal spirits, for the most paltry compensation that this wretched world can afford. Be astonished O
“Be astonished O ye heavens, at this, and be ye horribly afraid."
O, my deluded brethren, arouse yourselves to consideration; and let not the encumbrance of this world's wealth sink you
down to the lowest hell. Listen to the dictates of reason, to the voice of conscience, and to the word of God. Consider the terrible reflections you will make upon yourselves, and the deep and inexpressible anguish and regret you will feel at the madness of your choice, should you fall into perdition. Your loss will then be found not only vast beyond comprehension, but absolutely irreparable. You will curse those false and flattering pleasures, and covetous lusts, which have cheated you out of eternal life, and rendered you vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and would be glad to part with a thousand worlds, were it in your power, for the opportunity of making a new, and a better choice; but in that prison of despair, no price will ever be accepted for your redemption.
Could I describe to you the geography of that dismal region, where hope never enters, and over which hangs the blackness of darkness forever; could I paint the gnawings of the worm that never dies," and the sharp
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ness of “the fire which is never quenched;" the raging anguish, the fearful despair, the want of the least pity or commiseration; the insolent scorn and cruelty of wicked associates; the “weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth,” which form only a portion of future misery; how would the folly of your conduct startle, and confound you, in hazarding such an awful, and interminable retribution, for the short-lived enjoyment of trifles light as air! Let such considerations sink deep into the heart of every worldling, and, without a moment's delay, let him take refuge from “ the wrath to come,” by betaking himself to “the hope set before him," and by consecrating to the service of God all his riches and treasures, all his powers and affections. To all the deceitful promises and prospects, which the world and the flesh may set before you, oppose those emphatic and momentous words of Him who is Lord of the visible and invisible worlds, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?"
III. Considerations addressed to CHRISTIANS, on whom God has bestowed wealth and influence.
To you, my beloved brethren, who know the truth as it is in Jesus," and who feel an ardent desire for its universal propagation, I would offer a few considerations and motives, “to stir up your pure minds, by way of remembrance."
In the first place, I would have you consider, that a far greater proportion of your substance than has ever yet BEEN thought of by Christians in general, should be devoted to the service of God, and the promotion of the best interests of your fellow-men.
God is the original proprietor of your estates; from Him you derived them; and if, by the exertion of your own powers and activities, you have acquired the wealth you possess, you are aware, that the faculties which enabled you to acquire riches, were gifts bestowed upon
you by his bounty, and that the train of circumstances which led to your success, was the result of the arrangements of his Providence. You might have been born a changeling, destitute of both bodily and mental energies; you might have been placed in other circumstances, which would have prevented your acquisition of wealth, and doomed you to perpetual poverty; or you might have commenced your existence in the centre of New Holland, or the wilds of Patagonia, where you could never have experienced the blessings and privileges you now enjoy. Over all such circumstances you had control; and, therefore, you are indebted to God for all these arrangements of his providence, which have placed you in the midst of your present comforts. It is God who “hath given you power to get wealth ;" for,“ both riches and honour come from Him.” These are truths which the world in general, and which even Christians themselves too frequently overlook.
You are, therefore, bound by every rational and scriptural tie, to consecrate the wealth and influence you possess to his honour and glory. He does not call upon you to part with any thing which is necessary to your rational and sensitive enjoyment. For the exuberant bounty of his Providence is such, that there is abundance provided, in the system of nature, for supplying the wants of all his creatures, rational and irrational, when their desires are confined within the bounds which reason and nature prescribe. But, he has judged proper to demand a portion of the wealth of voluntary agents, to accomplish his benevolent and gracious purposes in the world; and, it is a high honour conferred on man, that he is invited to be "a worker together with God," in promoting the regeneration of the world.
You are not, therefore, to imagine that the wealth you have acquired, is exclusively your own, and that you may do with it as you please. You are bound, as a Christian, by the most sacred ties, to devote all that is not essential to your rational comfort, in the situation in which you are placed, to such purposes as I have stated in a preceding chapter.* And, if you entertain a lively sense of God's providential goodness towards you, and of your obligation to Him, who hath redeemed your souls from destruction, and crowned you with spiritual and heavenly blessings; you will resign to his service, without a murmur, nay, with the utmost cheerfulness, a large portion of those treasures, which his bounty has bestowed.
But, to come to particulars :- I shall suppose you have an income of £800 a year. What would you think of devoting £300 annually, exclusively for the purposes to which I have alluded? You will, perhaps, think it is bearing too hard upon you, to make such a demand. But, can you deny, that with the remaining £500, you can enjoy all the sensitive pleasures which a Christian, or any rational man ought to desire. You would perhaps require to part with some luxury in dress, food, clothing, or equipage, which is not essential to human happiness; but, are no small sucrifices to be made for the general good of mankind, and to testify your love to the Redeemer? What, if you were called upon by God, as the Apostles were, to forsake friends, and houses, and lands, for Christ's sake, and to travel into foreign countries, depending every day for supply on the providence of God? What, if you were required, as was once done, in the case of a certain rich individual, to “sell all that you have, and give to the poor," as an evidence of the sincerity of your Christian profession? or what if you were required to submit to persecutions and torments, like the first Christians, or to flee to deserts, and rocks, and mountains, like the pious and persecuted Waldenses? Would you consider such sacrifices too great for the sake of your Redeemer, and for the certain prospect of an eternal weight of glory? If not, how small a sacrifice is that now demanded, compared with the privations and sufferings of those illustrious characters of whom the world was not worthy, “who wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins, in deserts, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth, being destitute, afflicted, tor
* See Chapter VI. throughout.