« AnteriorContinuar »
ments; a gay, thoughtless indifference about a future life, and every thing connected with it; a neglect of divine worship, a profanation of the day peculiarly set apart for it, and perhaps, to crown all, a disbelief and contempt of the gospel ; these are the vices and the follies which riches too often engender, and which, I am sorry to add, they have with a fatal profusion disseminated over this kingdom. What proportion of these may have fallen to your share, I have hitherto had no opportunity of knowing; and it would therefore be as unjust, as I am sure it would be painful, for me to become your accuser. Let me rather, with the sincerity of a friend, and the tenderness of a guardian over you, entreat you to be your own judges in this important question. You have had a loud call to recollection. “ Judge therefore, yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord *.” Examine your own hearts thoroughly, look well, extremely well, if there be any way of wickedness in you, that if there be, you may turn from it into the way everlasting t. It is possible, that notwithstanding the unhappy state of our national morals, you may have escaped the general contagion, may have been able to separate the advantages of wealth from its dangers and temptations, and to enjoy the one without being corrupted by the other. Should this appear to be the case, you have been highly favoured of Heaven indeed, and have reason to thank God most devoutly for so rare a felicity. In general, however, it is certain, that the cautions so often given to God's peculiar people, are but too necessary for every other people in similar circumstances : “ Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his statutes which I command thee this day. Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein ; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God; and thou say in thine heart, my powerand the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth *.”. But admitting, what I hope may very safely
standing * Exhortation in the Communion Service.
+ Ps. cxxxix. 24.
be admitted, that you cannot be justly charged with such impiety as this, that you are not wholly insensible who it is that “ gives you power both to get wealth” and to enjoy it*; has your conduct been in other respects such as the gospel requires? Have you not only kept clear of “presumptuous sins,” but distinguished yourselves by every christian grace? Too many are apt to content themselves with a negative, a neutral kind of religion, and think they are in the high road to salvation, if they are guilty of no flagrant and enormous crimes. But deceive not yourselves, I beseech you, with such vain imaginations as these. Christianity not only requires exemption from vice, but sentiments of piety, and habits of virtue. It requires you not only “ to put off the old man, but to put on the new t;" Not only “to eschew evil, but to do good I.” It marks out a large circle of positive duties for you to move in, and requires activity, vigilance, vigour, and perseverance, in the discharge of them. As the foundation of all, it expects faith in God, and in the redemption wrought by Christ; not merely an
historical, * Deut. viii. 18. t Ephes. iv. 22. 24. 1 Pet. iii. 11. historical, speculative, ineffectual faith, but a lively, vital, practical belief, productive of good works. Have you then brought forth these evangelical fruits in any tolerable degree? Have you been christians not only in word, but in deed, and in truth? Have you not merely “confessed with your mouth the Lord Jesus, but believed with your heart unto righteousness *?” In obedience to the first and great command, have you loved the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and mind, and strength to? Have you constantly prayed to him in private, and worshipped him in public? Have you sacredly observed that holy day which is consecrated to his service, and never prostituted it, or any part of it, to the purposes of business or pleasure, of luxury or indolence? Has your worship been not merely that of the lips, but of the heart, “ in spirit and in truth;” and how were your thoughts employed at that very moment when the ground shook beneath you, and the walls of your churches trembled around you? If you have preserved a due sense of piety
in your own minds, have you endeavoured to transfuse it into those of your children, your servants, your manufacturers? Their souls, as well as their bodies, are to a great degree, in your hands. Have you been faithful to this trust, and consulted equally the welfare of both ? Have you more especially given your children, not merely a learned, a prudent, a worldly education, but (what is of infinitely more importance both to your happiness and theirs, and yet is now most dreadfully neglected) a moral and a religious one? Have you made them early acquainted with their Maker and their Redeemer; and explained to them the connection they have with another world? Is it on that world you have taught them to fix their hearts and affections, and have you been more anxious to instruct them in the means of securing an inheritance there, than in the arts of amassing wealth, and acquiring distinction here? What is it that has been principal in your intentions, and the ruling passion of your souls? For what purpose have you “risen early and taken rest late, and eat the bread of carefulness *?" Has it been solely