« הקודםהמשך »
“Ut lippum pictæ tabulæ, fomenta podagrum,
Auriculas citharæ collectâ sorde dolentes." 19. But there is at hand a greater trouble than all these. Thou art to die! Thou art to sink into dust; to return to the ground from which thou wașt taken; to mix with common clay. Thy body is to go to the earth as it was, while thy spirit returns to God that gave it. And the time draws on: the years slide away with a swift though silent pace. Perhaps your day is far spent; the noon of life is past, and the evening shadows begin to rest upon you.
You feel in yourself sure approaching decay. The springs of life wear away apace. Now what help is there in your riches ? Do they sweeten death? Do they endear that solemn hour ? Quite the reverse. "O death, bow bitter art thou to a man that liveth at rest in his possessions !" How unacceptable to him is that awful sentence, “This pight shall thy soul be required of thee!"-Or will they prevent the unwelcome stroke, or protract the dreadful hour? Can they deliver your soul that it should not see death? Can they restore the years that are past? Can they add to your appointed time a month, a day, an hour, a moment?-Or will the good things you have chosen for your portion here, follow you over the great gulf ? Not so; naked came you into this world ; naked must you return.
Liquenda tellus, et domus, et placens
Ulla brevem dominum sequetur ! Surely were not these truths too plain to be observed, because they are too plain to be denied, no man that is to die could possibly trust for help in uncertain riches.
20. And trust not in them for Happiness: For here also they will be found “ deceitful upon the weights." Indeed this every reasonable man may infer from what has been observed already. For if neither thousands of gold and silver, vor any of the advantages or pleasures porchased thereby, can prevent our being miserable, it evidently follows, they cannot make us happy. What happiness can they afford to him, who in the midst of all is constrained to cry out,
“To my new courts sad thought does still repair,
And round my gilded roof hangs hovering care ?" Indeed experience is here so full, strong, and undeniable, that it makes all other aguments needless. Appeal we therefore to
• « Such help as pictures to sore cyes afford,
As heap'd up tables to their gority lord." Vol. I, No. 8.
fact. Are the rich and great the only happy men? And is each of them more or less happy in proportion to his measure of riches? Are they happy at all? I had well nigh said, they are of all men most miserable! Rich man, for once, speak the truth from thy heart! Speak, both for thyself and for thy brethren!
“Amidst our plenty something still
To me, to thee, to him is wanting !
Corrodes and leavens all the rest." Yea, and so it will, till thy wcarisome days of vanity are shut up in the night of death.
Surely then to trust in riches for happiness, is the greatest folly of all that are under the sun! Are you not convinced of this? Is it possible you should still expect to find happiness in money, or all it can procure? What! Can silver and gold, and eating and drinking, and horses and servants, and glittering apparel, and diversions and pleasures, (as they are called,) make thee happy? They can as soon make thee immortal !
21. These are all dead show. Regard them not. Trust thou in the living God; so shalt thou be safe under the shadow of the Almighty; his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler. He is a very present help in time of trouble: such an help as can never fail. Then shalt thou say, if all thy other friends die, “ The Lord liveth, and blessed be my strong Helper!” He shall remember thee when thou liest sick upon thy bed; when vain is the help of man. When all the things of the carth can give no support, he will “make all thy bed in thy sickness.” He will sweeten thy pain: the consolations of God shall cause thee to clap thy hands in the flames. And even when this house of carth is well nigh shaken down, when it is just ready to drop into the dust, he will teach thce to say, “O death! where is thy sting ? O grave! where is thy victory ? Thanks be unto God, which giveth [me] the victory, through (my] Lord Jesus Christ.”
O trust in Him for happiness as well as for help. All the springs of happiness are in him, Trust “in Him who giveth us all things richly to enjoy,” T525XOVTI 72e51ws T. LUTZ EIS Q7.022001,--who, of his own rich and free mercy, holds them out to us, as in his own hand, that, receiving them as His gifts, aud as pledges of His love, we may enjoy all that we possess. It is liis love gives a relish to all we taste,-puts life and sweetness into all; while every creature leads us up to the great Creator, and all earth is a scale to heaven. He transfuses the joys that are at his own right hand into all he bestows on bis thankful children; who, having fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, enjoy Him in all, and above all.
22. Thirdly, seek not to increase in goods. “Lay not up for [thyself] treasures upon earth.” This is a flat, positive command, full as clear, as “ Thou shalt not commit adultery." How then is it possible for a rich man to grow richer, without denying the Lord that bought him ? Yea, how can any man, who has already the necessaries of life, gain or aim at more, and be guiltless ? Lay not up,” saith our Lord, treasures upon earth.” If, in spite of this, you do, and will lay up money or goods, which “moth or rust may corrupt, or thieves break through and steal; if you will add house to house, or field to field, -why do you call yourself a Christian ? You do not obey Jesus Christ. You do not design it. Why do you name yourself by his name? “Why call ye me Lord, Lord," saith he himself, “and do not the things which I say ? ” - 23. If you ask, “But what must we do with our goods, seeing we have more than we have occasion to use, if we must not lay them up ? Must we throw them away?' I answer, if you threw them into the sea, if you were to cast them into the fire and consume them, they would be better bestowed than they are now. You cannot find so mischievous a manner of throwing them away, as either the laying them up for your posterity, or the laying them out upon yourselves in folly and superfluity. Of all possible methods of throwing them away, these two are the very worst; the most opposite to the Gospel of Christ, and the most pernicious to your own soul.
How pernicious to your own soul the latter of these is, has been excellently shown by a late writer :: “If we waste our money, we are not only guilty of wasting a talent which God has given us, but we do ourselves this farther harm, we turn this useful talent into a powerful means of corrupting ourselves; because so far as it is spent wrong, so far it is spent in the support of some wrong temper, in gratifying some vain and unreasonable desires, which, as Christians, we are obliged to renounce.
“ As wit and fine parts cannot be only trified away, but will expose those that have them to greater follies ; so money cannot be only trifled away, but, if it is not used according to reason and religion, will make people live a more silly and extravagant life, than they would have done without it: if therefore you do not spend your money in doing good to others, you minst spend it to the hort of yourself. You act like one thai refuses the cordial to his sick friend, which he cannot drink himself without intlaming his blood. For this is the case of superfluous money: if you give it to those that want it, it is a cordial; if you spend it upon yourself in something that you do not want, it only inflames and disorders your mind.
"In using riches where they have no real use, nor ire any real want, we only use them to our great burt, in creating unreasonable desires, in nourishing ill tempers, in indulging foolishi passions, and supporting a vain turn of mind. For bighi eating and drinking, finc clothes and fine houses, state and equipage, gay pleasures and diversions, do all of them naturally burt and disorder our heart. They are the food and wourislıment of all the folly and weakness of our nature. They are all of them the support of something, that onght not to be supported. They are contrary to that sobriety and piety of heart, which relishes divine things. They are so many incizlits upon our mind, that make us less able and less inclined to raise our thoughts and aflections to things above.
“ So that money thus spent is not merely wasted or lost, but it is spent to bad purposes and miserable effects; to the corruption and disorder of our hearis; to the making us unable to follow the sublime doctrines of the Gospel. It is but like keeping money from the poor, to buy poison for ourselves."
24. Lqually inexcusable are those who lay up what they do not need for any reasonable purposes :
If it man bad hands, and cies, and feet, that he could give to those that wanted theil); if be should lock them up in a chent, instead of giving them to his brethren that were blind am lame, bould we not justly reckon beim an inhuman wreich! li he should rather choose to amuse himself with lioarding them up, than cotitle himself to an eternal reward, by giving them to those that wanted eyes and hands, might We not justly reckonlim mad?
Vennooty has very much the pature of cres and fect. If therefore we luck it up in crests, while the poor and distressed want it for their necessary 1350m, we are not to from the cruelty t' him, ilat chvosen raiherio hoard up the hands and eyes, Lan in veten 11'ler that want then. If we choose to lay it up, rather than to entitle ourselves to an eternal reward by disposing of one money rell, we are guilty of his madness thumther choose to lock up eyes and hands, than to make
himself for ever blessed by giving them to those that want them."
25. May not this be another reason why rich men shall so hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven ? A vast majority of them are under a curse, under the peculiar curse of God; inasmuch as, in the general tenor of their lives, they are not only robbing God, continually embezzling and wasting their Lord's goods, and by that very means, corrupting their ows souls, but also robbing the poor, the hungry, the naked; wronging the widow and the fatherless; and making themselves accountable for all the want, amiction, and distress, which they may, but do not remove. Yea, doth not the blood of all those who perish for want of what they either lay up, or lay out needlessly, cry against them from the earth? O what account will they give to Him who is ready to judge both the quick and the dead !
26. The true way of employing what you do not want yourselves, you may, fourthly, learn from those words of our Lord, which are the counterpart of what went before: “ Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.” Put out whatever thou canst spare, upon better security than this world can afford. Lay up thy treasures in the bank of heaven; and God shall restore them in that day. “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and look, what he layeth out, it shall be paid him again.” “ Place that," saith he, “ unto my account. Howbeit, thou owest me thine own self besides !”
Give to the poor with a single eye, with an upright heart, and write, “ So much given to God.” For “inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
This is the part of a “faithful and wise steward.” Not to sell either his houses or lands, or principal stock, be it more or less, unless some peculiar circumstance should require it; and not to desire or endeavour to increase it, any more than to squander it away in vanity; but to employ it wholly to those wise and reasonable purposes, for which bis Lord has lodged it in his bands. The wise steward, after having provided his own household with what is needful for life and godliness, makes himself friends with all that remains, from time to time, of the “ mammon of unrighteousness; that when he fails, they may receive him into everlasting habitations:"_that when