« AnteriorContinuar »
- - • * - 4. - -
Love to God is the foundation and the first principle of universal holiness. In every renewed soul it reigns triumphant and supreme. . This holy affection includes in it, réverence, admiration, humility, and gratitude, and is uniformly accompanied with adoration of the perfections of God, and an unlimited dependence upon him, in reference both to our temporal comforts and our eternal destination. It pervades the hearts of all holy beings wherever existing throughout the amplitudes of creation, and inspires them o permanent and rapturous delight. It assimilates us to angels and other pure intelligences, and prepares us for associating with them and bearing a part in their labors of universal benevolence. Hence, we find, that this sacred emotion has formed the distinguishing characteristic of the saints in every age. We find the spirit of the Psalmist, in his devotional exercises, continually rising towards God, as his hope and confidence, and the source of his felicity: “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. As the hart panteth after the brooks of water, so my soul panteth after thee, O God. My heart and my flesh shall fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; in him will I trust. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God. Who in heaven can be compared with the Lord; who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to Jehovah? Behold as the eyes of servants look to the hands of their masters, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God. My soul trusteth in thee; yea in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpast. Blessed is the man who maketh
the Lord his confidence, and whose hope is in the Lord
his God.” * - * Throughout the whole range of Divine revelation,
such sentiments are expressed and such affections dis
played by the people of God. But, is it possible to be
conceived, that either the niggardly miser or the vain worldling can enter into the spirit of such sublime sentiments, or elevate his soul to such holy affections, however much he may attempt to mimic the external forms of devotion ? Though he should affect humility by bowing down his head like a bulrush, and profess to join in adoration of the Most High, “in the place of the holy,” yet God is not in all his thoughts, “and his his heart is still going after his covetousness.” Those eternal respects which are due to God, and that hope and confidence which his people repose in his perfections, are to him altogether unheeded and unknown. The world, with its riches and splendors, is the deity which he worships, while the attributes of the true God are seldom present to his mind. While the true Christian exclaims with exultation, “Thou art my portion, O Lord, therefore will I trust in thee,” the worldling
overlooks the Eternal Source of felicity, and “trusts in.
the abundance of his riches.” While the Christian hopes in God for every thing requisite to his happiness, both in the life that now is and in the life to come, the worldling makes “gold his hope, and says of the fine gold, ‘Thou art my confidence.’” While the Christian, in the view of every calamity that may befal him, boldly declares, “God is my refuge and strength, my high tower and fortress, a present help in the time of trouble;” on the other hand, “the rich man's wealth is his strong city, and a high wall in his own conceit.” Hence, the love of riches, and the love of God, are altogether incompatible; and hence the positive declarations and injunctions of scripture on this head: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Such declarations are plain and explicit, and ought forever to set at rest the question—whether cov
etousness and the love of God be consistent with each.
other ?—whatever form, either of avarice or ambition, the covetous principle may assume. And, if covetousness is inconsistent with love to God, it necessarily ex
cludes those who are under its influence from a participation of the joys of heaven. For the inhabitants of that world have their minds completely pervaded with this sacred principle, in testimony of which, “they cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art wor: thy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” “Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
5. The evils of covetousness, and its inconsistency with religion appears from the numerous cautions and exhortations delivered in Scripture on this subject.
Our Saviour frequently took occasion to admonish his disciples and the multitudes who attended him, on this point: “Take heed,” said he, “and beware of covetousness;” and he enforces the admonition from this argument.” “For a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth " that is, neither the happiness of our present existence, nor the continuance of that existence depends upon the abundance of earthly riches. For a moderate portion of them will suffice for all the purposes of human enjoyment; and where great riches are possessed, they usually bring along with them encumbrances, snares, and temptations, which foster viciouslusts, and affections,and not unfrequently lead men into destruction and perdition. Besides, they form no security against the diseases and accidents of life, from which nothing can secure us but the providential care of our heavenly Father. They cannot shelter us from the stroke of lightning, the shock of an earthquake, the fury of a hurricane or tempest, from palsy, consumption, sickness, or the hand of death. In regard to such accidents and diseases, the poor man is as secure as the rich. Our Saviour illustrates this truth by a very striking example: “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; . and he reasoned within himself, saying, what shall I do; for I have not room to store up my crops. And
he said, this will I do ; I will pull down my old barns and build larger ones, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, thou hast abundance of goods laid up for many years, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided ?” How often is this impressive representation realized in the case of worldly men who abound in wealth and are not rich towards God! How many are there at this moment as deeply engaged in ambitious schemes of hoarding or aggrandizement as the fool in this parable, to whom God will, in a few weeks or months, or perhaps this very night, declare, by the voice of his Providence, “Thy soul is required of thee.” The sin of the rich fool, denounced in this parable, did not consist so much in his being a niggardly miser, or being altogether void of charity to the poor; for none of these things are charged against him; but it consisted chiefly in his forgetfulness of God, and want of dependence upon him—in an irreligious presumption and confidence in himself, imagining that he had a sufficient security in his own hands against the accidents and calamities of life, and forgetting that the continuance of his existence depended upon the will and the power of his Creator. This is the natural tendency of riches when not counteracted by a principle of religion; and it is this tendency which renders riches so dangerous to their owners, so that a man who has any regard to his eternal interests, ought rather to fear lest riches should be forced upon him, than to make them the object of his pursuit. There are numerous injunctions of this kind interspersed throughout the scriptures; but instead of illustrating them separately, I shall only select a few passages which bear upon this subject, recommending them to the serious attention of every professing Christian. The following are some of those passages which denounce the sin of covetousness, the vanity of riches, and the dangers which attend them. “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God; lest when thou hast
eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied—then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, and say in thine heart “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to to get wealth.* The wicked hath swallowed down riches, but he shall vomit them up again. God shall. cast them out off his belly. In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits; when he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him while he is eating. Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.t. Deliver my soul from the mass of the world who have their portion in this life.
very man walketh in a vain show; surely they are disquieted in vain; he heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall gather them. They that trust in their wealth and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches, cannot by any means redeem their brother, or give to God a ransom for him. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, and when the glory of his house is increased ; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not descend after him to the grave. These are the ungodly who prosper in the world and increase in riches. Lo this is the man who made not God his confidence, but trusted in the abundance of his riches. If riches increase, set not your hearts upon them. Riches profit not in the day of wrath. +. silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord; they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels, because it is the stumbling-block of their iniquity. Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished. There is that maketh himself rich and yet hath nothing; there is that maketh himself poor, and yet hath great riches. Better is a little with the fear of the
* Deut. vii. 11–17. + Job xx. 15,22, and xxvii. 16, 17. t Psalm xviii, xxxix., xlix. - - -