Imágenes de páginas

different, their wages so different. How is it possible? Why then do we not choose between them, and be faithful? Because we like the service of the one and the wages of the other—that is, we wish to live in the service of Mammon, and die in the service of God—but how can we do this? We will enroll ourselves among the servants of God, and call him our Master, and in the mean time we will do the bidding of the other; or at least so divide our service as to get hire of both. You cannot—it is impossible. Ten times a day the balance will stand suspended, and demand the weight of a preference to turn it-ten times an hour duty and eternity will contend with the interests of earth for the unhallowed barter of your services, and risk to be out-bidden. No, it cannot be that the heart should be twice disposed of, and doubly occupied—the result must be, and is, what the prophet prophesies. “Either he will hate the one and love the other --or he will hold to the one and despise the other."

God has denounced and rejected a divided heart-but even that is more than is sometimes offered: or the di. vision is so unequal, the preference so decided, that the more favoured possessor bas small reason to complain of rivalship. Our love for the Mammon of this world is sufficiently demonstrable in the sacrifices so willingly, so gaily made to it—the toil, the care, the watchfulness bestowed on it. Conscience, our acknowledged duty, and our eternal interests, are not too much to be yielded to its demands--the three-score years and ten, or fourscore years allotted us, are not too much to be expended in restless anxiety to obtain, or as restless efforts to enjoy it: nay, when it has no more to bestow on us, and is about to depart from us for ever, our love is so true, so constant, it grows but the stronger for the recession of its object, and we love the world for nothing when it can give no more. The converse of the sentence is a fearful subject--there are few hearts so seared with earthliness as not to shudder at the idea that they should hate the

[ocr errors]

God that made them we would not that

any one should reflect upon it, and admit it of themselves. But we know very well what things are accepted in the world as symptoms of affection, and what would be construed as indications of averseness: to shun the presence, to dislike the name, to ridicule the words, to oppose the plans, to revile the friends, habitually, systematical, and of fixed design-we know by what name such conduct towards any earthly friend or master would be called.

But, whatever be true of the secret feelings of our hearts, however we may persuade ourselves we love what we do not serve, and prefer in the secret affections of our bosoms the being we thus outrage,-the actual share of obedience shown to each is too obvious to be denied. If drawing the inference from what we see, we may not conclude that men love the world and hate their God, we may take what we see in evidence of itself, and admit that men—the larger number of those who profess to serve both masters, do certainly, "hold to the one and despise the other.” In opinion, avowed opinion, how very little compara

, tive weight is allowed to the mind of God, even where clearly and unequivocally declared. It is the weakest of all arguments in human discourse, to prove that God has given his judgment on the point in question: the judgment of the world and its established maxims, are in the scale as all to nothing. In conduct—when is the despised, neglected master allowed to take precedence of his rival? Our time-if he ask that, he must wait till we have to spare—it is small portion we can yield to him, and that unwillingly and at inconvenience; so much are we pressed with the demands of our more honoured Master. And of that we spare to him, he must be content it is the worst we have our hours of sickness, inability, or enforced solitude—the wearisome seventh day-or more likely the seventh part of it-of an enjoyed and busy week-the pis aller of a mind that will not please itself or employ itself with him, till it can find


neither pleasure nor employment in any thing else. Our talents-some hold them for pleasure, and some for gain, some for the purchase of each other's love, and some for the benefit and improvement of mankind. But who considers that he holds them for his Maker's service, or expends them in the extension of his power and the furtherance of his glory? Our obedience-if we have any doubts as to the opposition of the commands of these two masters, we have but to look again through the preceding verses of this sermon, which we all receive as from the lips of Deity, to be satisfied that they are not agreed. But even to this we need not go-it will be enough to watch the movements of our own hearts for some little space attentively, to perceive that interest and inclination are perpetually in competition with the law of perfect holiness and God's just decrees, and do commonly prevail against them: this is so far from being a secret, that very few will venture, or may escape ridicule if they do venture to allege God's commands as a reason why they do a thing, or his prohibition as a reason why they determine to forego it. And in fact, it is no reason, so long as by preference they hire themselves to another master, and by preference take his wages: it must be that one is despised-left neglected and forgotten, if not openly denied and set at nought.

The secret of all our equivocations and defections is in the text of the Preacher. We have a Master kind, loving, and most bountiful—the giver of all that we have, the guarant of all that we expect-Maker, Preserver, Redeemer, and Disposer, in time and in eternity. By duty and by interest we should serve him, and him only should we serve. But we have chosen for ourselves another master in the Mammon of this transitory world-its pleasures, its profit, its business, its toys ease, credit, indulgence- any thing it is natural to the heart of man to love-would that sin itself, that loathsome object of most unnatural affection, were not among the number. If we have courage to make our choice

[ocr errors]

boldly for this new master, and deny the other or forget him, we may go on very successfully, perhaps happily in what seems to us an easy service-though God knows it is not always so !—to a certain point of time; when the service is done, and the last unwelcome wages are to be paid. If conscience refuse altogether to sanction this defeo tion, or dread the too certain issue, there is less hope of peace; but still it may be accomplished-selfdelusion will lend itself to the task-by dint of not reflecting, not believing, and not enquiring, the mind may go to rest in its own inconsistencies, confuse the differences of profession and principle, and fancy the despised Master has no clearer sight; till the full mid-day of eternal glory burst upon us, and disclose the grossness and absurdity of our delusion.

But if we determine to be the servants of our rightful Lord, honestly, openly, and loyally, then we have much indeed to do with these the holy Preacher's words we must take them as our study and write them on our hearts; for it is necessary, indispensable, that foregoing the opinions and the sayings of men, we come over to his mind, and judge with his judgment, and see things even as our Master sees them.

Surely it is idle to assert, that no change of heart, no altered principle, no direct separation, is exhibited in our Saviour's Sermon on the Mount, between the world in general and the people of God in particular, Words of more determined opposition could not be found, than those in which the Preacher describes what men in general are, and what his disciples must be opinions more irreconcileably adverse could not be propounded, than those from which the principles of his disciples are required to be changed. And in this text, as having brought the opposition to its climax, he declares the absolute impossibility of holding both"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon;" I have proved to you that you cannot hold to things so opposite-nothing, there, fore, remains, but the choice between them,

But these had chosen; and the Saviour of mankind addresses them as having done so, as his own beloved disciples and the servants of God his Father. To such only the succeeding verses are addressed; to them only they are reasonable ; to them only possible--nay, they are true to none others; for God does not pledge himself to the paternal maintenance and protection of another's servants—though, thanks to his forbearance and still loitering bounty, they share it yet abundantly.


The searcher after hidden wealth has sometimes found a treasure scarcely less valuable, though not the same, as that he looked for. The blighted autumn leaf encloses a bud of future promise; and the hour of disappointment is the birth-time, not seldom, of a hope more fair than that which it extinguishes. Even so do the defeats of our baffled wisdom bequeath to us a jewel of no common price--a lesson of humility, self-knowledge, and forbearance.

Such was my reflection, as, in the closing sentence of my last paper, I alluded to that self-esteem which makes to itself an idol of the things that are its own, and desires to conform to them the things of others. And I determined to make it the subject of future admonition to those who even now are setting out on the passage of life, with these Penates in their bosoms; prepared to immolate to them every thing that is most lovely, most excellent, and most generous in human intercoursejustness, forbearance, concord, good-humour, kindness, liberality, affection, harmony, and peace.

An opposition of interests, each one's selfishness taking arms in defence of its own, is undoubtedly the source of much of the misery of life, and much of the contention with which it is istracted. But if we observe the various

« AnteriorContinuar »