« PreviousContinue »
to the Redeemer, which ought to be more attended to than it has hitherto been in the visible church.
If, then, Christians in general, and especially wealthy Christians, admit that they are under inexpressible obligations to Him “who came in the name of the Lord, to save them”—is it compatible with such obligations, "to walk according to the course of this world," and to prevent, by their niggardly offerings, the gracious purposes of God, from being brought speedily into effect? If you profess to celebrate the praises of Him., 6 who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father”—shall you consider it as too great an expression of your gratitude, to devote a hundred or even a thousand pounds, at a time, for carrying forward the grand design of the death of Christ, and the regeneration of the world—when you have hundreds or thousands at your command ? If God were calling you to devote all your worldly possessions to his service, would you consider it as too great a sacrifice for the gift bestowed? If not, how can you stand aloof and grudge a mere tithe of your earthly estate, when it is called for at your hands, and when every needful comfort is still secured for your enjoyment ?
Let Christians seriously pause on such considerations, and judge, whether the general conduct of professors of religion, in regard to the dedication of their wealth, be consistent with the obligations they profess to Him who hath procured for them all spiritual and eternal blessings.
3. Consider that all the privileges and prospects of Christians are incompatible with the indulgence of covetousness.
Believers are brought by the gospel, into the high and honorable relation of " Sons of God," and consequently, “joint heirs with Christ Jesus” of the blessings of his mediatorial kingdom. They are under the special care of the Providence of God, who has promised, that “their bread shall be given them, and their water
shall be sure," and that " He will never leave them, nor forsake them.” But a spirit of conformity to the world, a covetous disposition, and an eager desire after earthly honors and splendor, are evidently inconsistent with such exalted privileges. The sons of God, must resemble the moral character of their Father in heaven, particularly in the display he hasgiven of his benevolence. But, “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him," and consequently, he can lay no claim to the prerogatives of sons.
Whosoever is born of God, overcometh the world," and, of course, he whose soul is absorbed in its pursuits and vanities, has never been brought into this Divine relation, but remains among
66 the children of the wicked one." The prospects to which the saints look forward in the future world are glorious and magnificent, beyond any thing which this world can present, or which human imagination can depict. In that world, there are scenes and objects calculated to gratify the sublimest faculties of the immortal spirit; an enlarged sphere of contemplation—the beatific vision of God in the effulgence of his glory—“fulness of joy”-a treasure in the heavens that fadeth not-an incorruptible inheritance, --and “an exceeding great and an eternal weight of glory.”
If Christians, then, believe in the existence of such grand and substantial realities, and have the lively hope of entering, ere long, into their full possession,—is it consistent with such exalted hopes, and such animating prospects, to have their chief affections placed on the vain and transitory objects of this earthly mansion, which must soon be snatched from their embrace? And how can they say, it is otherwise, if they are found grasping their worldly treasures so firmly, that nothing but a small fraction can be squeezed from them for the cause of God and the renovation of the world ? What should we think of a man come to his full stature, devoting the greater part of his time and attention, to amusing himself with tops, marbles, and cherry stones, as when he was a child, and setting a higher value up
on them than upon all the serious employments of life? We should immediately denounce him as a fool, or a maniac, or, at least, as one who acted with the most glaring inconsistency. What should we think of a set of mariners, sent to circumnavigate and explore a large continent, stopping in the midst of their course in an insignificant island, and employing themselves in catching musquetoes, or fishing for shrimps, without attempting to prosecute their course? or of a traveller, on an important embassy to a large city, taking up his abode at an inn, in the midst of his journey, and amusing himself for days and weeks, with gathering shells, or with the humors of a fair, instead of prosecuting the object of his expedition? It is equally preposterous, and inconsistent, for a man who professes to be “ born from above," and to be travelling to heaven, as the place of his ultimate destination, to have his heart glued to the treasures of this world, and “ to boast himself in the multitude of his riches."
Let Christians, then, throw off every earthly encumbrance, and arise and act in a manner befitting their celestial pedigree, and their high destination. For what are the treasures of time to him who is begotten to the lively hope of an incorruptible inheritance? What are the frowns of fortune, to him who claims the celestial world as his eternal portion? What are thousands of guineas, or dollars, to an exceeding great and an eternal weight of glory? What are the honors, the titles, and the pageantry of this passing scene, in comparison of the riches and grandeur of the New Jerusalem, and the dignity of being “ kings and priests” to the “ Father of glory," in the mansions not made with hands, eternal in the heavens? As heaven in its height far surpasses the circle of this lower world, as the earth is but a point, in comparison to the wide extended universe, and as time, with all its circling years, is but a moment to the ages of eternity; such ought to be the hopes and affections of Christians, in comparison of earthly possessions, and of every sublunary misfortune. Were such views fully realized, and duly appreciated ; were we living under the powerful influence of that
faith, which is “ the confident expectation of things hoped for, and the conviction of things which are not seen;" were the great realities of the eternal world, as they ought to be, ever present to our view, in all their grandeur and importance, a very different display would be made of riches from what we now behold, and multitudes, who now stand aloof, when called upon for contributions to the service of God, would come cheerfully forward, “ bringing their gold and incense, and showing forth the praises of the Lord.”
II. I shall next offer a few considerations to the COVEtous, whether professing or rejecting Christianity.
From what has been stated in the preceding pages, and particularly in the preceding article, it will not be difficult for any one to discern whether covetousness or an opposite affection rules in the heart. To those whose consciences declare that they are under the influence of this debasing passion, I would earnestly call, their attention to the following considerations.
1. Consider that wealth, however great, cannot secure you from misery and calamity. The rich man is as much exposed to the afflictions and accidents of human life as the
and sometimes his very riches, in which he trusts, are the means of exposing him to diseases and 'dangers. A chimney top, or even a tile falling from a house, will kill a nobleman as well as a beggar. When infectious fevers are raging around, when the cholera is sweeping away hundreds in the course of a day, can wealth prevent its ravages, or secure you from its attacks? When the thunders are rolling along the clouds, and the lightnings flashing amidst the dismal gloom, can riches secure you from the lightning's stroke, or prevent your hay or corn from being set on fire? When you are crossing the ocean in pursuit of gain—when you behold the tempest raging, and the waves rolling mountains high, can your treasures still the stormy ocean, or prevent your being engulfed in the devouring deep? In such cases, the king and the
peasant are on a level, and equally impotent to control the laws of nature, or to counteract the operations of the Most High. How many instances do we see of persons in the prime of life, possessed of wealth and honors, and in the midst of all their earthly hopes and schemes, cut off in a few days, and sometimes in a moment, by a burning fever, by a fall from a horse, the overturning of a chariot, or by an unexpected conflagration ? It was but a little while ago, that a lady of noble rank, of great wealth, adorned with the richest jewels, distinguished for her splendid entertainments, and, while she was preparing for a magnificent fete, on the ensuing day, was involved, while sitting in her apartment, in a sudden and mysterious conflagration, and her body and jewels reduced to an invisible gas, so that no trace of them except a few small burnt fragments of bones, has yet been found. But accidents apart-riches cannot ward off those diseases which may prevent all comfortable enjoyment from their possession, est wealth you can accumulate leaves you still liable to the attacks of the gout, the epilepsy, the palsy, the asthma, the burning fever, the gravel, the ague, and to the loss of sight, hearing, tasting, and feeling, and to innumerable other disorders, so that the most splendid spectacles, the most exquisite music, or the most costly viands, may be unable to convey any real enjoyment. Under such diseases, to which all are liable, the most splendid estate can afford little or no alleviation ; and the possessor of thousands or millions of pounds may feel far less enjoyment than the poorest peasant ; nay, may smart under pains of body and agonies of mind, to which the beggar expiring on a dunghill is an utter stranger. Wealth, with all its gorgeous trappings cannot prevent the pain of surgical operation, the bitter taste of nauseous medicines, the agonizing throes of suffering nature, the terrors of a guilty conscience, or the fearful forebodings of a future judgment. And, therefore, the man who, in such circumstances, has no better comforter than the idea of the greatness of his riches, is one of the most miserable objects in creation. 2. Consider the uncertainty of riches. It is only