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First. THE THINGS WE COVET ARE NOT NECESSARY TO HAPPINESS.
A man's life, &c., ver. 15. Happiness is of another nature than to be procured by money, or anything else we may have. Illustrations occur every day. The rich are liable to the same accidents, maladies, and disappointments as befall the poor.
And very often the poor are as happy in their poverty as the wealthy are in wealth. Wishes contribute to happiness or otherwise much more than possessions; and covetousness, or a strong, insatiable desire to get, is itself a miserable feeling.
The poor may have the favour of God, the knowledge of Christ, the hope of eternal salvation through him, so as to be more happy than the rich without these blessings.
Secondly. THE THINGS WE COVET BRING ANXIETY AND CARE.
The rich man in the parable was troubled by the increase of his possessions. He thought within himself, &c. He was like one brought into sore straits and difficulties. He was insensible to the goodness of God in giving him what he had, and so fell into sin.
And thus often the things we covet betray us into thoughtlessness of God, supreme selfishness, and unconcern about our best interests; and on this account we should watch against covetousness, and pray to be kept from it, Prov. xxx. 8, 9.
Thirdly. WHAT WE COVET CANNOT LAST.
The rich fool thought his increased goods would supply his wants and make him easy for years to come, ver. 19. But he had not a day to live.
If wealth does not leave us, Prov. xxiii. 5, life is uncertain and may soon fail, and so we shall have to leave wealth. &c., ver. 20.
PRACTICAL.-Covetousness is a vice of the poor as well as of the wealthy. It is a vice of the heart. The person who appealed to Jesus, ver. 13, very likely was not rich.
forget our souls and eternal interests, ver. 21. whether we be ready or unready.
Covetousness makes us Death cannot be delayed,
For Repetition.-Luke xп. 2-5. Reading Lesson.-Luke xm. 1—9. First. WHAT REPENTANCE IS.
By repentance we understand generally shame and sorrow on account of sin, and a hearty forsaking of it. The people were disposed to think of the suffering Galileans, ver. 1, 2, as especially sinners. They were sinners, unquestionably; but those to whom
the Saviour was speaking were sinners also. And their sin exposed them to suffering, perhaps in the same manner; but if not, most certainly it would destroy them, if it were not repented of.
It is observable, that the New Testament, in describing repentance, does not identify it with sorrow. It is an effect of sorrow, 2 Cor. vii. 10, 11 Repentance properly means a change of mind in relation to sin, manifested by pursuing a conduct the reverse of that which is lamented. If we be truly grieved that we have offended God, this will certainly be accompanied with a sincere disposition to please him, and obey His will in future. Sorrow is not otherwise real or sincere.
Examples of repentance, in Scripture, all show that the sin deplored was confessed; the justice of God in punishing it was acknowledged; and sin was renounced. Job xlii. 5, 6; Psa. li. 1—7; Dan. ix. 3-8.
Repentance includes a reception of Christ, and a glad acceptance of pardon and salvation through him. This was the repentance which would have prevented the ruin of the Jewish people; and only this can save us from final and everlasting ruin. Have you repented? Do you receive Christ, and salvation through him?
Secondly. REPENTANCE should not be delayed.
The parable which forms the second part of the lesson seems directed against delay of the repentance, without which ruin would be inevitable.
Perhaps, as some think, our Lord referred, in the three years, ver. 7, to his own ministry; or, probably the time is mentioned as the period within which, if a tree is barren, it was pronounced useless.
To whatever it refers, the sentiment no doubt is, that the time for repentance in those to whom he spoke, was fast passing away. Their opportunities would soon cease.
In like manner, opportunities of repentance, and escape from irretrievable ruin, are fast passing away from us. God mercifully
gives them now; but they will not long continue.
And if we have not repented, and obtained the salvation that was within our reach, even mercy will approve of our condemnation. Do not think of other people's sins, but think sorrowfully of your own. Confess sin, and forsake it now. Accept, while you may, the salvation which God provides, and makes known in the gospel.
SUNDAY SCHOOL ADDRESS.
THE BOOK OF THANKS, OR THE REMEMBRANCE OF MERCIES.
SOME time ago I read the story of a boy who kept a book, very like the books you use to write your copies in, and which he called his "Book of Thanks!" "Book of Thanks," do you say, "why, whatever sort of a book was that?" So, too, his cousin wanted to know, who happened one day to see it. He was very nearly getting out of temper with a companion of his, whose name was Ben; and in answer to his cousin's enquiry, he opened it and read, "March 8, Ben lent me his new bat. June 4, when I lost my shilling, Ben made it up to me kindly." "Well," said he, as he turned down the leaf, "Ben is a good fellow after all !" Now, I do not suppose you will have much trouble in telling what this book was for. The boy kept it to write down all the kindnesses which he received from his companions or friends, that whenever he was tempted to get angry with any one of them, he might look to this "Book of Thanks," and that would be the way to make him feel good humoured and happy again.
And had you looked at this book, you would have seen that, at the top of every page, there was written, "father, mother;" because, as he said, he was always receiving kindnesses from them; and had you turned to the very first page, you would have found this text, "Every good gift is from above;" "a text put there," to use his own words, "to make me remember that all the kind friends I have, were given to me by the Lord, and that while I am grateful to them, I should first of all be thankful to Him."
To make him remember was the reason why he kept this "Book of Thanks ;" and oh! that every one of you would, if not keep just such a book as he did, yet seek to learn, in whatever way you can learn it best, the lesson which he sought to learn, to remember your mercies; in other words, to be thankful.
We are always receiving mercies; but it is, alas! too true, that we do not always remember them. Some, indeed, never remember them at all. They are like the heath in the desert, upon which the rain falls, as it falls upon other plants, but which shows no sign of welcome to the refreshing shower. Others never remember them till they are taken away, and by that taking away they feel their value as they never felt it before. And then the gratitude of others is like the morning cloud and the early dew which soon passeth away-it never lasts long. And how many forget why all these
mercies are given them, forget that God's goodness is intended to lead them to love Him, and to serve Him, and only remember it when those mercies are taken away, never to be restored!
"Be ye thankful," is the lesson I want you all to learn; and I want you all to learn it while you are young; for, believe me, the longer you live forgetting God's mercies, the more difficult will it be for you to remember them at all. You will get so careless, so indifferent, that His mercies will have the effect upon you that the sun has when it shines upon the clay, it makes it harder and harder; and God will have to say of you as He said of His people of old, "My people have forgotten me times without number." "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."
God's mercies-have you ever thought how many they are? I have sometimes thought, that their number is one reason why we feel their value so little, and that those who have but few mercies are much more likely to feel thankful to God for the few, than those who have so many. A poor man was once going in a little boat away from his native home, a small desolate island, known by the name of St. Kilda. He was on a visit to an island very much larger than his own. Some persons in the boat told him of the wonders he was about to see, and were not ashamed to laugh at him for his ignorance, till at last one even went so far as to ask him, if he had ever heard of God in St. Kilda? The poor man looked at him. "Tell me," said he, "to what land do you belong?" "I," said the other, "come from a place very different from your barren rock. I come from the land of flood and field-the land of wheat and barley, where Nature spreads her bounties in abundance before us." "Is that," asked the poor man, แ the land you come from? Ah, there you may forget God, but a St. Kilda man never can! Elevated on his rock, suspended over a precipice, tossed on the wild ocean, he never can forget his God, he hangs continually on his arm." And, my dear young friends, be sure and remember, that whether you have much or little, many mercies or few, you owe them all to God; ah! and remember as well, what One said about those who have much given them, that "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required."
But let us think a little more about God's mercies; not only how many they are, but what they are. I cannot stay to tell you all of them, I must only mention one or two. Just think of life. a precious thing it is! What a happy thing it is to live! "Not for all," do you say ? Ah! I know it is not for all! I am afraid that there are a great many who are like a girl of whom I once
read, who said, as she saw a little bird hopping from tree to tree, seeming so happy, "Little birdie, I envy you !" Still I hope none of you feel like that; and yet if you do, let me tell you that there is a way which you may find, as that girl afterwards found, that it is a happy thing to live, and never have cause to envy the life of a bird again. For you know that your life is of much more value than the life of a little bird. One day that bird will cease to sing its pretty song, will never more hop from bough to bough, and you will find the poor little thing lying stiff and cold on the hard ground; and that is the end of it. And a day will come, perhaps very soon, when your eye which sparkles so brightly will be dull, your voice silent, your limbs no longer lively and active; and mother and father, with tears in their eyes, will have to say to friends that have called to ask about you, "He is gone," or 66 She is gone." Yes, not dead but gone; your body will be dead, but your soul will be gone: for the end of the bird is not your end; you are to live for ever; and only think how long for ever is; ah, and how happy that for ever may be !
"We sing of the realms of the blest,
Of that country so bright and so fair;
And oft are its glories confessed,
But what will it be to be there ?"
And what will it be for you to be there? And the youngest of you may be, and may say as you look upward to that bright world
"Heaven is my fatherland,
Heaven is my home."
But leaving that happy life which, if you believe on Jesus may be yours one day, I might tell you of the many mercies which God gives you in the life which you enjoy now; how He cares for each you with a care which never tires, keeping you "from harm by night and by day, and always doing you good." And I might tell you of the provision which He makes for you, of the earth which is "full of His goodness," made gay and beautiful with flowers, all that you may be happy; of the rain which he causes to descend, the sun to shine, "the summer's heat and winter's cold," that you may have "bread enough and to spare." But oh! I must tell you more! I must tell you that you are not worthy of the least of all the mercies which he has given you, for you have sinned against Him and broken His holy laws.
Sinned against One so kind! Oh! what a thought is that! It must lead me to pass by other mercies, and speak to you of one greater than them all. I have said that you are to live for ever, but how, and where? You are sinners-remember that, and remem