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worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” They are likewise engaged in contemplating the glory of the Divine administration in the works of creation and providence, for such is the subject of their song: “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” But all such sublime exercises, being uncongenial to the ruling passions and pursuits of avaricious worldlings, could afford them no pleasure; and, consequently, for the reasons now suggested, they must be absolutely unfitted for participating in “the inheritance of the saints in light.” And, if they are found unqualified for the pleasures and enjoyments of the celestial world, “they cannot, in the nature of things,’ enter into the kingdom of God.” They will be banished from that blessed world, not in consequence of any arbitrary decree of the Almighty, but in virtue of the constitution of the intelligent system, and the fundamental laws of the moral universe. And the very circumstance, that they are unqualified for relishing the exercises and felicities of the heavenly world, will add a peculiar poignancy to those bitter reflections which will be felt when they find themselves forever excluded from the New Jerusalem.
What should we think of the degraded worshippers of Juggernaut, who prostrate themselves before the car of that abominable idol—of the priests of Baal who cut themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out upon them, and cried aloud, O Baal, hear us ! of the votaries of Moloch who threw their children into the burning arms of their idol, while drums beat and trumpets sounded to drown their cries—of the South Sea islanders who sacrifice human victims to their wooden gods, accompanied with rites the most horrid and obscene; what should we think of such debased and wretched idolaters, with their minds polluted with every moral abomination, being admitted into the society of saints and angels in the upper world? Would they be fit companions of the heavenly inhabitants, or could they join with intelligence and fervor in their sublime and holy employments? The supposition would be utterly repugnant to every idea we ought to form of the associations of heavenly intelligences, or of the arrangements of the Divine government. But, we have already seen, that every covetous man is an idolater, with a mind as grovelling and impure, as that of the votaries of Paganism to whom we have alluded, and, consequently, equally unfitted for the society of blessed spirits in the mansions above. The same impressive truth was announced by our Saviour, when he commanded the young man who enquired the way to eternal life, to sell all that he had and give to the poor, and come, and follow him! “Verily I say unto you that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of God.” And again ; “I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to-enter into the kingdom of God.” These declarations plainly imply the following things: 1. That a rich man, considered as such, or as it is elsewhere expressed, one who “trusts in his riches.” cannot be admitted into the kingdom of God; for such a trust partakes of the nature of idolatry, which necessarily excludes its votaries from the celestial kingdom. 2. That it is extremely difficult for a man who abounds in wealth, and has large possessions, not to trust in such uncertain riches, and to bring his mind to submit to the self-denying requisitions of the gospel, so as to be ready to resign his worldly treasures, when the laws of the gospel kingdom require it. The truth of this is apparent in the comparatively small number of rich men who have devoted themselves to the cause of evangelical religion, as humble and self-denied followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. There are men at this moment in the higher places of society, abounding in riches, ten times more than sufficient for all the lawful purposes of sensitive enjoyment, whom it would be as difficult to induce to give the tenth part of their incomes, for the support, and propagation of true religion, as it would be to drain the caverns of the ocean, or to hurl the mountains from their bases and toss. them into the depths of the seas, notwithstanding their pretended zeal for the external interests of the church. - .
| Such is their pride, and their attachment to the pomp and splendors of wealth, that nothing short of Divine power could detach their hearts from trusting in their uncertain riches, and induce them “to count all things but loss that they may win Christ.” Such is the powerful influence of wealth and external grandeur over the human heart, that none but those who have attained a strong and permanent conviction of unseen and eternal realities, can look down upon them with becoming indifference or contempt. And this consideration should form a powerful argument to the lower ranks of socie§: to encourage them to submit with contentment to the allotments of Providence, for their circumstances do not expose them to the same temptations as the rich to neglect the gospel and those things which belong to their eternal peace. Were the riches, after which they are sometimes apt to aspire, to be granted them, it might prove, as it has often done, the greatest, curse that can befal them, and lay the foundation of their eternal ruin. “For they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
3. Covetousness is inconsistent with the idea of our being redeemed by the blood of Christ. t
The apostle Peter declares, in reference to all Christians, that “they are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood. of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” And he brings forward this consideration as an argument against worldly lusts, and in support of universal holiness, that, “as obedient children, we ought no longer to fashion ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance; but, as he who hath called us is holy, so we ought to be holy in all manner of conversation.” And Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, declares, that one end of the death of Christ is, “that he might deliver us from this present evil world,” and con: sequently, from all its covetous affections and lusts, The work of our redemption is one of the most astonishing displays of Divine perfection, and the most glorious manifestation of Divine love towards the sons of men. Preparations for its accomplishment were going on in every preceding period of the world. Prophets, in different ages, were raised up to announce it; the cer
emonial law was instituted, and thousands of victims . were slain on the Jewish altars to prefigure the sufferings of Messiah and the glory that should follow ; the various events of Providence, the rise of empires, the fall of kings, and the revolutions of nations, were all directed in such a manner as to accomplish the purposes of the Almighty, and to bring about that great event—the death of Christ—in all the circumstances in which it actually happened. . Celestial messengers descended from heaven to earth to announce the birth of the Saviour to man; a series of august and striking miracles, such as had never before been exhibited, gave attestation of the Divine mission of the promised Messiah; and at length, our great High Priest humbled himself, and became obedient to the death of the cross, when the sun was darkened in his habitation, the earth, did quake, the rocks rent, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, the graves were opened and many of their inhabitants arose to life. ð. Redeemer, at length burst the bonds of death, arose to an immortal life, ascended to heaven amidst a choir of angels, and is now set down at the ight hand of the Majesty on high. The great end of all these solemn preparations in prophecies, in providences, in sacrifices, types, and shadows, and of the astonishing events which have accompanied and followed the death of Christ, was to counteract sin in all its various bearings and aspects—to emancipate the soul from the thraldom of the world and its affections and lusts, and “to purify” for the service of God, “a peculiar people zealous of good works.” - * * * Now, it is evident, so noble designs would be entirely frustrated, were a principle of covetousness to
to hold the ascendency over the human mind, however fair a character its votaries might exhibit in the sight of men. If we are not determined to “mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts,” and to make God the supreme object of our desires and affections; if, on the contrary, we are determined to give loose reins to avaricious propensities, to make wealth and grandeur, and worldly honors and distinctions, the chief object of our pursuit, then Christ “has died in vain” with respect to us, and we have no interest, and ought to claim no interest in the benefits which he died to procure. It is presumption, in the highest degree, for any man to claim an interest in the blessings of salvation, whose conscience tells him that this world and its enjoyments are uppermost in his affections. For, can we for a moment suppose, that the Most High God would form a design which is the admiration of angels, that the most solemn preparations should be made for its accomplishment, that all the events connected with his moral administration-should be so arranged as to have a special bearing upon it, that the laws of nature should be suspended and controlled, and a series of astonishing miracles displayed, that the Prince of life would suffer the agonies of an accursed death—that He “who thought it no robbery to be equal with God, should take upon him the form of a servant, and become obedient to the death of the cross;” that angelic messengers should take so deep an interest in such transactions, and wing their flight from heaven to earth in embassies connected with such events—can we suppose, that such an astonishing train of events would have been arranged and brought into effect, if a principle, which above all others has a tendency to estrange the affections from God, were to be permitted to rule in the human heart! The thing is impossible, and therefore, the covetous, whatever show of religion he may exhibit, cannot, with any consistency, lay claim to any of those eternal blessings which the Son of God came into the world to procure; since those effects which his death was intended to accomplish, have never been produced on his heart. . . . . . . . . .