« AnteriorContinuar »
is the desire of having more ; the desire of obtaining, or of increasing in wealth.* Whoever therefore is habitually desirous of riches, is, in the estimate of heaven, a covetous man; whatever his station in life, or profession of religion may be. The language of a covetous heart is that of the horseleech's daughters, Give, give. The covetous man is always desirous of more, whether he have little or much: and, if a professor, he will always find some pretence to hide the iniquity of his idolatrous heart. But, however such a professor may cover his crime under plausible pretences of any kind; or however safe he may imagine himself, as being a member of some visible church, and free from her censure, the time is coming when the mask shall be stripped off, and then it shall be fully known where his affections have been, and what God he hath served. Then it shall plainly appear, whether Jehovah or Mammon swayed his affections and ruled in his heart.—Perhaps there are few sins for the practice of which so many excuses are made, and plausible pretences urged, as that of covetousness, or a love of the world: consequently, there are few sins against which professors have greater occasion to watch. It was not, therefore, without the greatest reason, that our Lord gave that solemn caution to all his followers, Take heed and beware of covetousNEss.”
* IIxsovešta. + None will suppose, from what is here asserted, that I mean
to encourage idleness or extravagance. No; far be it! Those who, through indolence, pride, or prodigality, waste their substance and fail in the world, can hardly be too severely censured. They not only impoverish themselves, but injure their neighbours; are the pest of society, and public robbers. The reader, I presume, will not be displeased, if I present him
We may, therefore. conclude, that though the absolute freeness of Christ, as exhibited in the gos
with a quotation on this subject, from my worthy and honoured friend, Mr. HENRY WENN.—“It is remarkable,” says he, “that the covetousness, against which we are so earnestly warned in God's word, is not of the scandalous kind; but such as may govern the heart of a man who is esteemed very virtuous and excellent by the world. In the tenth Psalm, the covetous, whom the Lord is there said to abhor, are the very persons of whom the wicked speak well; which could never be the case, did their love of money make them either villanous in their practice, or miserably penurious in their temper; for men of this stamp none commend—The same thing is observable in that solemn caution given by our Redeemer, Take heed and beware of covetousness. By which it is evident he meant no more, than a rooted persuasion that the comfort of life consists of abundance, and desiring, from such a persuasion, to be rich : this was the covetousness our Lord condemns. And, that this admonition might sink the deeper, he represents the workings of that avarice which he condemns, in a case which passes every day before our eyes. It is this: A man grows rich in business, not through fraud and extortion, but by the blessing of God upon his labour and skill. As is usual, he is highly delighted with his success; he exults in the prospect of being master, in a few years, of an independent fortune. In the mean time, he is determined to be frugal and diligent, till he takes his final leave of business, to enjoy all the sweets of ease and splendour. Luke xii. 19. Now, where are the people, governed by the common maxims and principles of human nature, who see any thing the least to blame in this man's sentiments or conduct 7 Who do not applaud and imitate it themselves 2 Yet this very man our Lord sets before our eyes, as the picture of one engrossed by a covetous desire of the things of this world. This very man he represents as summoned, in the midst of all his golden hopes, to appear a most guilty criminal at the bar of his despised Maker. Lo! this is the man whom our Lord exposes, as a miserable wretch, for all others to take warning by, and resist covetousness. So, such a fool, and such a sinner as this, is he that layeth up treasure for himself, that is, every earthly-minded man, who seeks after wealth, as if it was the foundation of happiness, and is not rich towards God; rich in faith, hope, and holiness. Luke xii. 21.
pel to the worst of sinners, must be maintained with confidence; yet we are bound to affirm, with equal assurance, That he who pretends to faith in Jesus, and does not habitually live under the benign influence of love to God, and of love to his brother for the truth sake ; and that he who does not manifest this heavenly affection by a suitable conduct, has no claim to the christian character.
“Paul, in perfect harmony with his Lord, forbids the desire of wealth as a criminal effect of avarice. Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Heb. xiii. 5. And where, instead of this self-denying temper, a desire of increasing in wealth is cherished, there, snares, defilement, and ruin, are declared to be the certain consequences. For they that will (the original word signifies the simple desire,) be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10. If it should be said, Do you mean then to affirm, that it is wrong for any man to arise to a state of great wealth 2 The scripture, I answer, condemns only the desire of riches and the passion for them, as defiling and sinful. Therefore, if whilst your whole heart is given to God, he is pleased to prosper, whatever you take in hand, and to give you an abundant increase; then your wealth is evidently as much the gift of God, as if it came to you by legacy or inheritance. It is God's own act and deed to call you up, who were content to sit down in a low place, to a higher point of view, and to entrust you with more talents, to improve them for his glory. Now the difference between possessing wealth, thus put into your hands, and desiring to grow rich, is as great as that between a worthless, ambitious intruder into a place of honour, seeking nothing but his own base interest; and a man sought out for his worth, and invested with the same office, for the public good. And those who can see no material, no necessary distinction in the two cases, are already blinded by the love of money.—Complete Duty of Man, p. 389, 390, 391, 392, 2d edit,
Of Grace, as it reigns in the Perseverance of the Saints to eternal Glory.
It appears, from the preceding chapters, that the state of believers, whether considered as relative or as real, in their justification, adoption, and sanctification, is highly exalted; and that the privileges attending it are of incomparable excellence, and of infinite worth. In each of these particulars it has also been proved that Grace reigns; that the exceeding riches of grace are manifested.
The believer, notwithstanding, who knows himself, will be ready to inquire with great solicitude, “How shall I persevere in this happy state 7 By what means shall I attain the desired end ? What provision has the Lord made, that, after all, I shall not come short of the expected bliss' Grace, I thankfully acknowledge has done great things for me: to reigning grace I own myself unspeakably obliged. But if grace, as a sovereign, do not still exert her power, I not only possibly may, but certainly shall finally miscarry.” Thus will every christian conclude, when he considers the number and power, the malice and subtilty, of his inveterate spiritual enemies, compared with his own inherent strength to resist them. For the world, the flesh, and the devil are combined against him. These, in their several ways, assault his peace, and seek his
ruin. These attempt, in various forms, to cause him to wallow in the mire of sensuality, as the filthiest brute; or to puff him up with pride, as Lucifer. By insinuating wiles, or open attacks; with the craft of a serpent, or the rage of a lion, they endeavour to compass his ruin; and, alas, how small his ability, considered in himself, to resist and overcome? The corruption of nature, even in the regenerate, renders the believer's desires after that which is good, too often exceedingly languid, and enervates all his moral powers. His pious frames are fickle and uncertain to the last degree; nor can he, with safety, place the least confidence in them.
This humbling truth was exemplified in the case of Peter. Though all men be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended— Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee-was his confident language. But, alas! in a very little while his frame of mind is altered. His courage fails. His pious resolutions hang their enfeebled heads : and, notwithstanding his boasted fidelity, he cannot watch with Christ so much as one hour, though there be the greatest necessity for it. He is brought to the trial, and, like Sampson, his locks are shorn; his presumed strength is gone. He trembles at the voice of a silly maid; and, shocking to think! denies his Lord with dreadful oaths and horrid imprecations.-Such are the inherent abilities of those who are to fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Such, considered in themselves, are the best of saints.
Now, can these unstable and impotent creatures hope to persevere, and to attain eternal life? Can those who know not how to trust their own hearts