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EIGHTH DISCOURSX UPON THE SERMON
EIGHTH DISCOUNSE UPON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 363 whole soul, to fill it with knowledge, and love, and peace, and which in fact does, so long as it is single, as long as it aims at God alone,-if this be darkness ; if it aim at any thing beside God, and consequently cover the soul with darkness instead of light, with iguorance and error, with sin and misery; O how great is that darkness! It is the very smoke which ascends out of the bottomless pit! It is the esseutial night, which reigns in the lowest deep, in the land of the shadow of death!
9. Therefore, “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust dotb corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” If you do, it is plain your eye is evil; it is not singly fixed on God.
With regard to most of the commandinents of God, whether relating to the heart or life, the Heathens of Africa or America staud much on a level with those that are called Christians. The Christians observe them (a few only being excepted) very near as much as the Heathens. For instance: The generality of the natives of England, commonly called Christians, are as sober and as tenperate as the generality of the Heathens near the Cape of Good Hope. And so the Dutch or French Christians are as humble and as chaste as the Choctaw or Cherokee Indians. It is not easy to say, when we compare the bulk of the nations in Europe with those in America, whether the superiority lies on the one side or the other. At lcast, the American has not much the advantage. But we cannot affirm this, with regard to the command now before ys. Here the Heathen has far the pre-eininence. He desires and seeks nothing more than plain food to eat, and plain raiment to put on; and he seeks this oply from day to day : he reserves, he lays up, nothing ; unless it be as much corn at one season of the year, as he will necd before that scąson returns. This command therefore the Heathens, though they know it not, do constantly and punctually observe. They “lay up for themselves po treasures upon eartb; " no stores of purple or fine linen, of gold or silver, which either “ moth or rust may corrupt, or thieves break through and steal.” But how, do the Christians observe what they profess to receive as a command of the most high God ? Not at all; not in any degree; no more than if no such command had ever been given to map. Even the good Christians, as they are accounted by others as well as themselves, pay no manner of regard thereto. It might as well be still bid in its original Greck, for any votice they take of it. In what Christian city do you find one man of five hundred, who makes the least scruple of laying up just as much treasure as he can,-of increasing his goods just as far as he is able? There are indeed those who would not do this unjustly: there are many who will neither rob nor steal; and some, who will not defraud their neighbour; nay, who will not gain cither by his ignorance or necessity. But this is quite another point. Even these do not scruple the thing, but the manner of it. They do not scruple the “laying up treasures upon carth ;” but the laying them up by dishonesty. They do not start at disobeying Christ, but at a breach of heathen morality. So that cren these honest men do 10 more obey this command, than a highwayman or a house-breaker. Nay, they never designed to obey it. From their youth p, it riever entered into their thoughts. They were bred up by their Christian parents, masters, and friends, without any instruction at all concerning it; unless it were this, To brcak it as soon, and as much, as they could, and to continue breaking it to their lives' end.
10. There is no one instance of spiritual infatuation in the world, which is more amazing than this. Most of these very men read, or hear the Bible read,-many of them every Lord's day. They have rcad, or heard, these words an hundred times, and yet never suspect that they are themselves condemned thereby, any more than by those which forbid parents to offer up their sons or daughters unto Moloch. O that God would speak to these miserable self-deceivers, with his own voice, his mighty voice; that they may at last awake out of the snare of the Devil, and the scales may fall from their eyes !
11. Do you ask what it is to “lay up treasures on carth ? " It will be peedful to cxamine this thoroughly. And let us, first, observe what is not forbidden in this command, that we may then clearly discern what is.
We are not forbidden in this command, first, to " provide things honest in the sight of all men,” to provide wherewith we may revder unto all their due,whatsoever they can justly demand of us. So far from it, that we are taught of God to « owe no man any thing.” We ought therefore to use all diligence in our calling, in order to owe no man any thing; this being no other than a plain law of common justice, which our Lord came “not to destroy, but to fulfil.”
Neither, secondly, does he here forbid the providing for oursclves such things as are necdful for the body; a sufficiency
of plain, wholesome food to eat, and clean raiment to put on. Yea, it is our duty, so far as God puts it into our power, to provide these things also ; to the end we may eat our own bread, and be burdensome to no man.
Nor yet are we forbidden, thirdly, to provide for our children, and for those of our own household. This also it is our duty to do, even upon principles of heathen morality. Every man ought to provide the plain necessaries of life, both for bis own wife and children ; and to put them into a capacity of providing these for themselves, when he is gone hence and is no more seen. I say, of providing these ; the plain necessaries of life; not delicacies ; not superfluities ;-—and that by their diligent labour; for it is no man's duty to furnish them, any more than himself, with the means either of luxury or idleness. But if any man provide not thus far for his own children, as well as for the widows of his own house, of whom primarily St. Paul is speaking, in those well-known words to Timothy,) he hath practically “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,”. or heathen.
Lastly: We are not forbidden in these words, to lay up, from time to time, what is needful for the carrying on our worldly business, in such a measure and degree, as is sufficient to answer the foregoing purposes ;-in such a measure, as, first, - to owe no man any thing ; secondly, to procure for ourselves the necessaries of life; and thirdly, to furnish those of our own house with them while we live, and with the means of procuring them when we are gone to God.
12. We may now clearly diseern, (unless we are unwilling to discern it,) what that is which is forbidden here. It is, the designedly procuring more of this world's goods, than will answer the foregoing purposes. The labouring after a larger measure of worldly substance, a larger increase of gold, and silver; the laying up any more than these ends require;is what is here expressly and absolutely forbidden. If the words have any meaning at all, it must be this : for they are capable of no other. Consequently, whoever he is, that, owing no, man any thing, and having food and raiment for himself and his household, together with a sufficiency to carry on his worldly business, so far as answers these reasonable purposes ; whosoever, I say, being already in these circumstances, seeks a still larger portion on earth;-belives in an open, habitual denial of the Lord that bought him. He bath practically denied the faith, and is worse than an African or American infidel.
13. Hear ve this, all ye that dwell in the world, and love the world wherein ve dwell! le may be “highly esteemed of men ;” but ye are “ an abomination in the sight of God!" How long shall your souls cleave to the dust? How long will ve load yourselves with thick clay? When will ye awake and see, that the open, speculative Heathens are nearer the kingdom of heaven than you? When will ye be persuaded to choose the better part; that which cannot be taken away from you ! When will yo seck only to “lay up treasures in heaven;" renouncing, dreading, abhorring all other? If you aim at “laying up treasures on carth,” you are not barely losing your time, and spending your strength for that which is not broad; for what is the fruit, if you succeed ? —You have mordered your own soul! You have extinguished the last spark of spiritual life therein! Now iudeed, in the midst of life, you are in death! You are a living man, but a dead Christian! “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Your heart is swk into the dust: your soul cleaveth to the ground. Your affections are set, not on things above, but on things of the earth ; on poor husks, that may poison, but canuot satisfy, an everlasting spirit, made for God. Your love, your joy, your desire, are all placed on the things which perish in the using. You have thrown away the treasure in heaven. God and Christ are löst! Yo: have gained riches,-and hell-fire!
14. () “how hardly shall they that barc riches, enter into the kingdom of God!" When our Lord's disciples were astonished at his speaking thus, he was so far from retracting it, that he repeated the same important truth in stronger ternis than before. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” How hard is it for them, whose every word is applauded, not to be wise in their own eyes! How hard for them not to think themselves better than the poor, base, uneducated herd of men: How hard not to seek happiness in their riches, or in things dependent upon them; in gratifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life! O ye rich, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Only with God all things are possible!
15. And even if you do not succeed, what is the fruit of your endeavouring to lay up treasures ou earth? “ They that will be rich,” (21 342.064Eva 77.HT:W, Thor that desire, that enderl ' after it, whether th e end or 10,) “fall into it
temptation and a snare,"-a gin, a trap of the Devil'; " and into many foolish and hurtful lusts;"Enroupas avontus, desires with which reason hath nothing to do; such as properly belong, not to rational and immortal beings, but only to the brutebeasts, which have no understanding;m" which drown men in destruction and perdition," in present and eternal misery. Let us but open our eyes, and we may daily see the melancholy proofs of this, men, who, desiring, resolving to be rich, coveting after money, the root of all evil, have already pierced themselves through with many sorrows, and anticipated the hell to which they are going!
The cautiousness with which the Apostle here speaks, is highly observable. He does not affirm this absolutely of the rich : for a man may possibly be rich, without any fault of his, by an over-ruling Providence, preventing his own choice: But he affirms it of a Bohoveyou #Ures, those who desire, or seek, to be rich. Riches, dangerous as they are, do not always “ drown men in destruction and perdition :" But the desire of riches does. Those who calmly desire, and deliberately seek, to attain them, whether they do, in fact, gain the world or uo, do infallibly lose their own souls. These are they that sell Him who bought them with his blood, for a few pieces of gold or silver. These enter into a covenant with death and hell; and their covenant shall stand ; for they are daily making themselves nieet to partake of their inheritance with the Devil and his angels!
16. O who shall warn this generation of vipers to flee from the wrath to come! Not those who lie at their gate, or cringe at their feet, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from their tables. Not those who court their favour, or fear their frown ; none of those who mind earthly things. But if there be a Christian upon earth, if there be a man who hath overcome the world, who desires nothing but God, and fears none but Him that is able to destroy both body and soul in hell; thou, O man of God, speak, and spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet! Cry aloud, and show these honourable sinners the desperate condition wherein they stand! It may be, one in a thousand may have ears to hear; may arise and shake himself from the dust; may break loose from these chains that bind him to the earth, and at length lay up treasures in heaven!
17. And if it should be, that one of these, by the mighty power of God, awoke and asked, “What must I dò to be saved ?" The answer, according to the Oracles of God, is clear, full, and express. God doth not say to thee, “ Sell all