« הקודםהמשך »
nours ; give us only what is necessary for our comfortable subsistence in the several stations which thy providence has allotted to us; and above all, give us contented minds.
We are all, O Lord, the very best of US, miserable sinners. Be not extreme, we beseech thee, to mark what we have done amiss, but pity our infirmities, and pardon our offences. Yet let us not dare to implore forgiveness from thee, unless we also from our hearts forgive our offending brethren. :. We are surrounded, on every side, with temptations to sin ; and such is the corrup" tion and frailty of our nature, that without thy powerful succour we cannot always stand upright. Take us, then, O gracious God, under thy almighty protection; and amidst all the dangers and difficulties of our Christian warfare, be thou our refuge and support. Suffer us not to be tempted above what we are able to bear, but send thy Holy Spirit to strengthen our own weak endeavours, and enable us to escape or to subdue all the enemies of our salvation.
Preserve us also, if it be thy blessed will, VOL. I.
not only from spiritual, but from temporal evil. Keep us ever by thy watchful providence, both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls ; that thou, being in all cases our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal as finally to lose not the things eternal. O Lord our governor,
from heaven thy dwelling place; and, when thou hearest, have regard to our petitions. They are offered
to thee in the fullest confidence that thy goodness will dispose, and thy power enable thee to grant whatever thy wisdom seest to be convenient for us, and conducive to our final happiness.
The next thing which peculiarly demands our attention in this chapter is the declaration contained in the 24th verse, which presents to ns another fundamental principle of the Christian religion; namely, the necessity of giving the first place in our hearts and our affections to God and religion, and pursuing other things only in subordination to those great objects. “ No man,” says our Lord, “can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and
love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon
The word mammon is generally interpreted tó mean riches only; but the original rather directs us to take it in a more general sense, as comprehending every thing that is capable of being an object of trust, or a ground of confia dence, to mén of worldly minds; such as wealth, power, honour, fame, business, sensual pleasures, gay amusements, and all the other various pursuits of the present scene. It is these that constitute what we usually express by the word world, when opposed to religion. Here then are the two masters who claim dominion över us, God and the world; and one of these we must serve; both we cannot, because their dispositions and their commands are in general diametrically opposite to each other. The world invites us to indulge all our appetites without control; to entangle ourselves in the cares and distractions of business ; to engage with eagerness in endless contests for superiority in power, wealth, and honour ; or to give up ourselves, body and soul, to gaiety, * Matth. vi. 04.
amusement, pleasure, and every kind of luxum rious indulgence. These are the services which one master requires. But there is an other master, whose injunctions are of a very different nature. That master is God; and his commands are, to give him our hearts; to love him with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; to be temperate in all things; to make our moderation known unto all mèn; to fix our affections on things above; to have our conversation in heaven; to cast all our care upon him; and to take up our cross and follow Christ.
Judge now whether it be possible to serve these two masters at one and the same time, and to obey the commands of each ;: commands so perfectly contradictory to each other.
Yet this is what a great part of mankind most absurdly attempt; endeavour to divide themselves between God and mammon, to compromise the matter as well as they can be tween the commands of one and the seductions of the other; to vibrate perpetually between vice and virtue, between piety and pleasure, between inclination and duty; to render
a wordly life and a religious life consistent with each other; and to take as much as they can of the enjoyments and advantages of the present world, without losing their hold on the rewards of the next.
Yet, in direct contradiction to so extravagant and preposterous a system as this, Christ himself assures us here that we cannot serve two masters; that we cannot serve God and mammon. Our Maker expects to 'reign absolute in our hearts; he will not be served by halves; he will not accept of a divided empire; he will not suffer us to halt between two opinions. We must take our choice, and adhere to one side or the other. “If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him *.
But what then are we to do? Are we to live in a state of perpetual warfare and hostility with that very world in which the hand of Providence has placed us, and which is prepared in various
for our reception and accommodation ? Are we never to taste of those vac rious delights which our Maker has poured so bountifully around us ? Are we never to indulge those appetites which he himself has
i Kings xviii. 21,