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and I defy all the world to prove them to be marks of a saint; wherever we find any thus marked, we may say, " They have corrupted themselves; their spot is not the spot of God's children; they are å perverse and crooked generation,” Deut. xxxii. 5.
Ahimaaz. I have often wondered why Paul calls "the love of money the root of all evil.” The apostle seems to intimate that one single root is sufficient to produce the whole crop of wickedness: I wonder what he makes the root of all godliness to be!
Cushi. The root of all vital godliness is the love of God, operating on the affections of a regenerate soul; and this love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us; this is Paul's root: “ Be ye rooted and grounded in love,” Ephes. iii. 17. Job tells you that this root of the matter was found in him, as before hinted; and false professors not having this root in them is the cause of their withering away, Matt. xiii. 6.
These two roots are clearly seen in the ten commandments; for that which is therein required, is love to God and thy neighbour; and he that loveth God and his neighbour hath fulfilled the law: “ Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law,” Rom. xiii. 10. As love includes all obedience to the law, so covetousness includes all disobedience: “ Thou shalt not covet," Exod. xx. 17. “ I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet,” Rom. vii. 7.
Ahimaaz. By the apostle's calling the love of money a root, it'must take a deep hold in man; and, if so, nothing but the grace of God can root it up.
Cushi. Salvation, applied to the sinner's conscience by the Spirit of grace, will do it, and nothing else: “ There was a man named Zaccheus, who was chief among
e publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore-tree. But Jesus said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste, and come down, for to day I must abide at thy house. And when they (the Lord's followers] saw it, they all murmured, saying that he was gone to be guest to a man that is a sinner. And Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Luke xix. 2-9. Thus the presence of the Lord, and his salvation, applied by the Spirit of grace, opens the contracted bowels of a worldling, and make him disgorge half his property at once. This shews the purging quality of grace: “Every branch in me that beareth fruit my Father purgeth it, John xv. 2. If a chosen vessel hath" swallowed down riches,” when grace is revealed, it makes him “vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly," Job xx. 15.
Ahimaaz. Excuse my breaking in upon your discourse, which I should not have done, had I not thought you wrong in excluding covetousness from the sins of bible saints. You know we are all fallible creatures, and liable to err; I think the church of the Laodiceans is charged with covetousness, and that in express terms, “ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing," Rev. iii. 17
- Cushi. I do not pretend to infallibility; that belongs to God. Nor do I deny what you say of the Laodicean church; I take it for granted that there were some real saints in that church; but those whom the Saviour's charge concerned are said to be altogether ignorant of their state: “Thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," Rev. iii. 17. If these covetous professors were ignorant, wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, they were as destitute of grace as ever Judas was; and, if they were not graceless, they would not stand in need of the Saviour's counsel : “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see," Rev. iii. 18.
The love of money, the root of all evil, can never be rooted in a soil where the love of God keeps a proper hold: it is a sin from which hell itself will never purge a soul, any more than the sight of a gallows will destroy the love of evil in a felon who is going reluctantly to receive, at the hand of justice, the dreadful "wages of unrighteousness,” Rom. vi. 23.
Mammon, that fallen angel, has been in the horrors of hell nearly six thousand years, yet to this day he tempts thousands to covetousness, and thou- . sands are influenced with his disposition; yea, they serve him with delight, and are in friendship with him; though Christ declares, that, when they fail of heaven, they shall spend an eternity with him in hell: "And I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mámmon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may
receive you into their everlasting habitations,” Luke xvi. 10. Be not offended at my asserting that hell itself will not purge a soul from sin; for hell is not intended to be a place of purgation, as some affirm, but a place of punishment, 2 Thess.fi. 9.
Ahimaaz. Well, I cannot contradict, thee, my brother; but pray let me hear a little of the conversion of Prodigalis; for I can take comfort in the repentance of a sinner; but to hear of their wickedness is rather a terror to me.
Cushi. So can I; and am determined, through grace, to labour hard as long as I live to be instrumental, if God please, in bringing sinners to repent
After Mr. Prodigalis had wasted all his substance with riotous living he became melancholy; his past conduct began to recoil on his mind, with the sensible impressions of guilt; this quenched his popular spirit, and reduced his vigorous faculties to the gloomy recesses of silent solitude. Retirement best suited the melancholy frame of his mind; he abandoned all company, and chose to wander in the most dreary paths, judging himself unfit for society. In one of his solitary walks he was insensibly brought into a gloomy vale, where he was led in a vision to see the true state of his soul in the sight of God. This valley can only be seen in a vision: “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of dry bones, and caused me to pass by them round about; and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezek. xxxvii. 1-3. In this valley he saw his awful state; it was impressed upon his mind that the valley represented the fall of man, or the sinner's “low estate," Psalm cxxxvi. 23. The bones represented death, the trophies of sin and Satan, Rom. v. 12; and their being very dry exhibited the barren and fruitless state of a soul in the sight of God, which is here compared to dry bones, and by the prophet Isaiah to“ dry ground,” (Isa. xliv. 3) which represents the soul to be dead, without any affection to God, and without any motion toward him.
Ahimaaz. Indeed that is the true state of a sinner before he be quickened by the Holy Ghost; he is under the sentence of the law, and of his own conscience; as John declares, “ He that believeth not is condemned already,” John iii. 18. “ He is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself,” Tit. iii. 11. And, with respect to life or motion toward God, he hath none; as the apostle witnesseth: “ You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii. 1. And I believe the Saviour meant this when he said to one of his disciples, “ Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” He certainly meant, Let those that are dead in trespasses and sins bury those that departed this life in their sins, or in an unpardoned state.
Cushi. What you have said is true; man, fallen man, is dead in law, under the sentence of it, and spiritually dead to God; destitute of all good, either feeling, affection, or motion; and, as he daily heaps up sin upon sin, so he treasures up wrath against the day of wrath. The scriptures represent him as buried in his own transgressions: “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of