Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

making them as effectually usurp the both for himself and for his children. It place of the Divinity, and dethrone the matters not for him, that all his enjoyment one Monarch of heaven and earth from comes from a primary fountain, and that that pre-eminence of trust and of affection his wealth is only an intermediate reservoir. that belongs to him.

It matters not to him, that, if God were to He who makes a god of his pleasure, set a seal upon the upper storehouse in renders to this idol the homage of his heaven, or to blast and to burn up all the senses. He who makes a god of his wealth, fruitfulness of earth, he would reduce, to renders to this idol the homage of his the worthlessness of dross, all the silver mind; and he, therefore, of the two, is the and the gold that abound in it. Still the more hopeless and determined idolater. | gold and the silver are his gods. His own The former is goaded on to his idolatry, fountain is between him and the founby the power of appetite. The latter cul- tain of original supply. His wealth is betivates his with wilful and deliberate per-tween him and God. Its various lodging severance; consecrates his very highest places, whether in the bank, or in the place powers to its service; embarks in it, not of registration, or in the depository of wills with the heat of passion, but with the and title deeds—these are the sanctuaries coolness of steady and calculating princi- of his secret worship-these are the highple; fully gives up his reason and his time, I places of his adoration; and never did the and all the faculties of his understanding, devout Israelite look with more intentness as well as all the desires of his heart, to towards Mount Zion, and with his face the great object of a fortune in this world; towards Jerusalem, than he does to his makes the acquirement of gain the settled wealth, as to the mountain and strong hold aim, and the prosecution of that aim the of his security. Nor could the Supreme settled habit of his existence; sits the be more effectually deposed from the howhole day long at the post of his ardent mage of trust and gratitude than he acand unremitting devotions; and, as he la- tually is, though this wealth were recalled bours at the desk of his counting-house, from its various investments; and turned has his soul just as effectually seduced into one mass of gold; and cast into a from the living God to an object distinct piece of molten statuary, and enshrined from him, and contrary to him, as if the on a pedestal, around which all his houseledger over which he was bending was a hold might assemble, and make it the obbook of mystical characters, written in ho-ject of their family devotions; and plied nour of some golden idol placed before every hour of every day with all the him, and with a view to render this idol fooleries of a senseless and degrading Papropitious to himself and to his family. ganism. It is thus, that God may keep up Baal and Moloch were not more substan- the charge of idolatry against us, even after tially the gods of rebellious Israel, than all its images have been overthrown. It is Mammon is the god of all his affections. thus that dissuasives from idolatry are still To the fortune he has reared, or is rearing, addressed, in the New Testament, to the pufor himself and his descendants, he ascribes pils of a new and better dispensation; that all the power and all the independence of little children are warned against idols; and a divinity. With the wealth he has gotten all of us are warned to flee from covetousby his own hands, does he feel himself as ness, which is idolatry. independent of God, as the Pagan does, To look no further than to fortune as the . who, happy in the fancied protection of an dispenser of all the enjoyments which moimage made with his own hands, suffers no ney can purchase, is to make that fordisturbance to his quiet, from any thought tune stand in the place of God. It is to of the real but the unknown Deity. His make sense shut out faith, and to rob the confidence is in his treasure, and not in King eternal and invisible of that supreGod. It is there that he places all his macy, to which all the blessings of human safety and all his sufficiency. It is not on existence, and all the varieties of human the Supreme Being, conceived in the light condition, ought, in every instance, and in of a real and a personal agent, that he every particular, to be referred. But, as places his dependence. It is on a mute we have already remarked, the love of moand material statue of his own erection. It ney is one affection, and the love of what is is wealth, which stands to him in the purchased by money is another. It was place of God -to which he awards the at first, we have no doubt, loved for the sake credit of all his enjoyments—which he of the good things which it enabled its poslooks to as the emanating fountain of all sessor to acquire. But whether, as the rehis present sufficiency-from which he sult of associations in the mind, so rapid as gathers his sondest expectations of all the to escape the notice of our own consciousbright and fancied blessedness that is yet ness--or as the fruit of an infection rupning before him-on which he rests as the firm- by the sympathy among all men busily enns: and stablest foundation of all that the gaged in the prosecution of wealth, as the Heart can wish or the eye can long after, / supreme good of their being-certain it is,

to of this inte

ho so Paraes to

Pre purchase

at nant, both
a whole life are
henne? Ho

il ture, it at

Do the CUTTEDE

man sad
a man who
en buedance.
en of an an

, OP
para subiek in
and his, will
antariul, it
head, which
being in its

her advan wacht about

[merged small][ocr errors]

that money, originally pursued for the sake will undergo all the fiercer tortures of the of other things, comes at length to be prized mind; and, instead of employing what they for its own sake. And, perhaps, there is no have, to smooth their passage through the one circumstance which serves more to liken world, will, upon the hazardous sea of adthe love of money to the most irrational of venture, turn the whole of this passage into the heathen idolatries, than that it at length a storm--thus exalting wealth from a serpasses into the love of money for itself; and vant unto a lord, who in return for the hoacquires a most enduring power over the mage that he obtains from his worshippers, human affections, separately altogether from exercises them, like Rehoboam his subjects the power of purchase and of command of old, not with whips but with scorpionswhich belongs to it, over the proper and ori- with consuming anxiety, with never-sated ginal objects of human desire. The first desire, with brooding apprehension, and its thing which set man agoing in the pursuit frequent and ever-flitting spectres, and the of wealth, was that, through it, as an inter- endless jealousies of competition with men vening medium, he found his way to other as intently devoted, and as emulous of a enjoyments; and it proves him, as we have high place in the temple of their common observed, capable of a higher reach of an-idolatry, as themselves. And, without going ticipation than the beast of the field, or the to the higher exhibitions of this propensity, fowls of the air, that he is thus able to cal- in all its rage and in all its restlessness, we culate, and to foresee, and to build up a have only to mark its workings on the walk provision for the wants of futurity. But, of even and every-day citizenship; and mark how soon this boasted distinction of there see, how, in the hearts even of its his faculties is overthrown, and how near most commonplace votaries, wealth is folto each other lie the dignity and the debase- lowed after for its own sake; how, unassoment of the human understanding. If itciated with all for which reason pronounces evinced a loftier mind in man than in the it to be of estimation, but, in virtue of some inferior animals, that he invented money, mysterious and undefinable charm, opeand by the acquisition of it can both secure rating not on any principle of the judgment, abundance for himself, and transmit this but on the utter perversity of judgment, moabundance to the future generations of his ney has come to be of higher account than family-what have we to offer, in vindica- all that is purchased by money, and has attion of this intellectual eminence, when we tained a rank co-ordinate with that which witness how soon it is, that the pursuit of our Saviour assigns to the life and to the wealth ceases to be rational? How, instead body of man, in being reckoned more than of being prosecuted as an instrument, either meat and more than raiment. Thus making for the purchase of ease, or the purchase of that which is subordinate to be primary, enjoyment, both the ease and enjoyment of and that which is primary subordinate; a whole life are rendered up as sacrifices at transferring, by a kind of fascination, the its shrine? How, from being sought after affections away from wealth in use, to as a minister of gratification to the appetites wealth in idle and unemployed possessionof nature, it at length brings nature into insomuch, that the most welcome intellibondage, and robs her of all her simple de- gence you could give to the proprietor of lights, and pours the infusion of wormwood (many a snug deposit, in some place of seinto the currency of her feelings ?---making cure and progressive accumulation, would that man sad who ought to be cheerful, and be, that he should never require any part that man who ought to rejoice in his pre- either of it or of its accumulation back sent abundance, filling him either with the again for the purpose of expenditure-and cares of an ambition which never will be that, to the end of his life, every new year satisfied, or with the apprehensions of a dis- should witness another unimpaired addition tress which, in all its pictured and exagge- to the bulk or the aggrandizement of his rated evils, will never be realised. And it is idol. And it would just heighten his enjoywonderful, it is passing wonderful, that ment could he be told, with prophetic cerwealth, which derives all that. is true and tainty, that this process of undisturbed augsterling in its worth from its subserviency (mentation would go on with his children's to other advantages, should, apart from all children, to the last age of the world ; that thought about this subserviency, be made the economy of each succeeding race of the object of such fervent and fatiguing descendants would leave the sum with its devotion. Insomuch, that never did Indian interest untouched, and the place of its sancdevotee inflict upon himself a severer agony (tuary unviolated; and, that through a series at the footstool of his Paganism, than those of indefinite generations, would the magnidevotees of wealth who, for its acquire- tude ever grow, and the lustre ever brighten, ment as their ultimate object, will forego of that household god which he had erected all the uses for which alone it is valuable for his own senseless adoration, and bewill give up all that is genuine or tranquil in queathed as an object of as senseless adorathe pleasures of life; and will pierce them- tion to his family, Belves through with many sorrows; andWe have the authority of that word which

has been pronounced a discerner of the some magical power of its own, has gotten thoughts and intents of the heart, that it the ascendency, then still it is followed after cannot have two masters, or that there is as the supreme good ; and there is an actual not room in it for two great and ascendent supplanting of the living God. He is robaffections. The engrossing power of one bed of the gratitude that we owe him for such affection is expressly affirmed of the our daily sustenance; for, instead of receivlove for Mammon, or the love for money ing it as if it came direct out of his hand, thus named and characterised as an idol. we receive it as if it came from the hand of Or, in other words, if the love of money be a secondary agent, to whom we ascribe all in the heart, the love of God is not there. the stability and independence of God. This If a man be trusting in uncertain riches, he wealth, in fact, obscures to us the character is not trusting in the living God, who giveth of God, as the real though unseen Author us all things richly to enjoy. If his heart of our various blessings; and as if by a mate: be set upon coverousness, it is set upon an rial intervention does it hide from the perobject of idolatry. The true divinity is ception of nature, the hand which feeds, moved away from his place, and, worse than and clothes, and maintains us in life, and atheism, which would only leave it empty, in all the comforts and necessaries of life. has the love of wealth raised another di- It just has the effect of thickening still more vinity upon his throne. So that covetous- that impalpable veil which lies between God ness offers a more daring and positive ag- and the eye of the senses. We lose all disgression on the right and territory of the cernment of him as the giver of our comGodhead, than even infidelity. The latter forts; and coming, as they appear to do, would only desolate the sanctuary of hea- from that wealth which our fancies have ven; the former would set up an abomi- raised into a living personification, does this nation in the midst of it. It not only idol stand before us, not as a deputy but as strips God of love and of confidence, which a substitute for that Being, with whom it is are his prerogatives, but it transfers them to that we really have to do. All this goes another. And little does the man who is both to widen and to fortify that disruption proud in honour, but, at the same time, which has taken place between God and proud and peering in ambition- little does the world. It adds the power of one great he think, that, though acquitted in the eye master idol to the seducing influence of all of all his fellows, there still remains an the lesser idolatries. When the liking and atrocity of a deeper character than even the confidence of men are towards money, that of atheism, with which he is chargeable. there is no direct intercourse, either by the Let him just take an account of his mind, one or the other of these affections towards amid the labours of his merchandise, and God; and, in proportion as he sends forth he will find that the living God has no his desires, and rests his security on the ascendency there; but that wealth, just as former, in that very proportion does he remuch as if personified into life, and agency, nounce God as his hope, and God as his and power, wields over him all the ascend- dependence. ency of God. Where his treasure is, his And to advert, for one moment, to the heart is also ; and, linking as he does his misery of this affection, as well as to its main hope with its increase, and his main sinfulness. He, over whom it reigns, feels fear with its fluctuations and its failures, a worthlessness in his present wealth, after he has effectually dethroned the Supreme it is gotten ; and when to this we add the from his heart, and deified an usurper restlessness of a yet unsated appetite, lordin his room, as if fortune had been embo-ing it over all his convictions, and panting died into a goddess, and he were in the for more; when, to the dullness of his achabit of repairing, with a crowd of other tual satisfaction in all the riches that he worshippers, to her temple. She, in fact, has, we add his still unquenched, and, inis the dispenser of that which he chiefly deed, unquenchable desire for the riches prizes in existence. A smile from her is that he has not; when we reflect that as, in worth all the promises of the Eternal, and the pursuit of wealth, he widens the circle her threatening frown more dreadful to the of his operations, so he lengthens out the imagination than all his terrors.

line of his open and hazardous exposure, And the disease is as near to universal and multiplies, along the extent of it, those as it is virulent. Wealth is the goddess vulnerable points from which another and whom all the world worshippeth. There is another dart of anxiety may enter into his many a city in our empire, of which, with heart; when he feels himself as if floating an eye of apostolical discernment, it may be on an ocean of contingency, on which, perseen that it is almost wholly given over to haps, he is only borne up by the breath of idolatry. If a man look no higher than to a credit that is fictitious, and which, liable his money for his enjoyments, then money to burst every moment, may leave him to is his god. It is the god of his dependence, sink under the weight of his overladen speand the god upon whom his heart is staid. culation; when suspended on the doubtful Or is, apart from other enjoyments, it by result of his bold and uncertain adventure,

Leba

he dreads the tidings of disaster in every | formidable of his wiles. And whatever may arrival, and lives in a continual agony of be the instrument of reclaiming men from feeling, kept up by the crowd and turmoil of this delusion, it certainly is not any arguhis manifold distractions, and so overspread-ment either about the shortness of life, or ing the whole compass of his thoughts, as to the certainty and awfulness of its approachleave not one narrow space for the thought ing termination. On this point man is caof eternity ;-will any beholder just look to pable of a stout-hearted resistance, even to the mind of this unhappy man, thus tost ocular demonstration; nor do we know a and bewildered and thrown into a general more striking evidence of the bereavement unceasing frenzy, made out of many fears which must have passed upon the human and many agitations, and not to say, that faculties, than to see how, in despite of the bird of the air, which sends forth its un- arithmetic,-how, in despite of manifold reflecting song, and lives on the fortuitous experience,-how, in despite of all his gabounty of Providence, is not higher in the thering wrinkles, and all his growing infirscale of enjoyment than he? And how mities,-how, in despite of the ever-lessenmuch more, then, the quiet Christian beside ing distance between him and his sepulchre, him, who, in possession of food and rai- and of all the tokens of preparation for the ment has that godliness with contentment onset of the last messenger, with which, in which is great gain--who, with the peace the shape of weakness, and breathlessness, of heaven in his heart, and the glories of and dimness of eyes, he is visited ; will the heaven in his eye, has found out the true feeble and asthmatic man still shake his philosophy of existence; has sought a por-silver locks in all the glee and transport of tion where alone a portion can be found, which he is capable, when he hears of his and, in bidding away from his mind the gainful adventures, and his new accumulalove of money, has bidden away all the tions. Nor can we tell how near he must cross and all the carefulness along with it. get to his grave, or how far on he must ad

Death will soon break up every swelling vance in the process of dying, ere gain enterprise of ambition, and put upon it acease to delight, and the idol of wealth most cruel and degrading mockery. And cease to be dear to him. But when we see it is, indeed, an affecting sight, to behold the that the topic is trade and its profits, which workings of this world's infatuation among lights up his faded eye with the glow of its so many of our fellow mortals nearing and chiefest ecstacy, we are as much satisfied nearing every day to eternity, and yet, in- | that he leaves the world with all his treastead of taking heed to that which is before sure there, and all the desires of his heart them, mistaking their temporary vehicle for there, as if acting what is told of the miser's their abiding home--and spending all their death-bed, he made his bills and his parchtime and all their thought upon its accomments of security the companions of his modations. It is all the doing of our great bosom, and the last movements of his life adversary, thus to invest the trifles of a day were a fearful, tenacious, determined grasp, in such characters of greatness and dura- of what to him formed the all for which bility; and it is, indeed, one of the most life was valuable.

A SERMON.

PREACHED IN ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH EDINBURGH,

BEFORE

THE SOCIETY

FOR

THE RELIEF OF THE DESTITUTE SICK,

APRIL 18, 1813.

“ Blessed is he that considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble."-Psalm xli. 1.

THERE is an evident want of congeniality respect is greatly impaired, since the wisbetween the wisdom of this world, and the dom of the man has taken só unaccountable wisdom of the Christian. The term "wis- a change in its object and in its direction? dom,” carries my reverence along with it. The truth is, that the greater part of the It brings before me a grave and respectable world feel no respect at all for a wisdom character, whose rationality predominates which they do not comprehend. They may over the inferior principles of his constitu- love the innocence of a decidedly religious tion, and to whom I willingly yield that character, but they feel no sublime or compeculiar homage which the enlightened, and manding sentiment of veneration for its wisthe judicious, and the manly, are sure to dom. All the truth of the Bible, and all the exact from a surrounding neighbourhood. grandeur of eternity, will not redeem it from Now, so long as this wisdom has for its ob- a certain degree of contempt. Terms which ject some secular advantage, I yield it an lower, undervalue, and degrade, suggest unqualified reverence. It is a reverence themselves to the mind; and strongly diswhich all understand, and all sympathize pose it to throw a mean and disagreeable with. If, in private life, a man be wise in colouring over the man who, sitting loose to the management of his farm, or his fortune, the objects of the world, has become alloor his family; or if, in public life, he have gether a Christian. It is needless to exwisdom to steer an empire through all its patiate; but what I have seen myself, and difficulties, and to carry it to aggrandize- what must have fallen under the observament and renown-the respect which I feel tion of many whom I address, carry in them for such wisdom as this, is most cordial and the testimony of experience to the assertion entire, and supported by the universal ac- of the Apostle, “that the things of the Spirit knowledgment of all whom I call to attend of God are foolishness to the natural man, to it.

neither can he know them, for they are Let me now suppose that this wisdom has spiritually discerned." changed its object--that the man whom I Now, what I have said of the respectable am representing to exemplify this respecta- attribute of wisdom, is applicable, with alble attribute, instead of being wise for time, most no variation, to another attribute of the is wise for eternity—that he labours by the human character, to which I would assign faith and sanctification of the gospel for un- the gentler epithet of " lovely." The attriperishable honours--that, instead of listen- bute to which I allude, is that of benevoing to him with admiration at his sagacity, lence. This is the burden of every poet's as he talks of business, or politics, or agri- song, and every eloquent and interesting culture, we are compelled to listen to him enthusiast gives it his testimony. I speak talking of the hope within the veil, and of not of the enthusiasm of methodists and deChrist being the power of God, and the wis-votees—I speak of that enthusiasm of fine dom of God, unto salvation. What becomes sentiment which embellishes the pages of of your respect for him now? Are there not elegant literature, and is addressed to all her some of you who are quite sensible that this sighing and amiable votaries, in the various

« AnteriorContinuar »