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eagerly, and go on groaning ; but the pride of life does not allow of their descending and re-entering the privacy they envy. Can riches profit in the day of wrath? Can any abundance relieve the anguish of a wounded spirit? What a source of perplexity and anxiety is a prosperous estate! “In the midst of his sufficiency he shall be in straits." What an attraction is it of ill-will! What an excitement to envy and slander! The success of a rival; the superior display of a neighbour : yea, even the disregard of an individual seemingly incapable of annoying us even his neglect may spoil the relish of a courtier's bliss, the favourite of the owner of a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. “When he came home he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said, moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared, but myself; and to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."
People often wonder at your uneasiness; but the heart knoweth his own bitterness. You feel some worm at the root withering the gourd that overshadows you. Perhaps some personal or relative trial preys upon the peace of your mind. Perhaps the dear companion who once walked with you along your flowery path is removed far from you; and disinclined to retrace the spots once endeared by social
converse, you watch and are alone, as a sparrow upon the house-top. Perhaps, when you sit down at table, David's seat is empty-and tears are your meat day and night. Perhaps the heir, who was to perpetuate your name and inherit your property, now occupies a tomb on which you have inscribed, “And Thou destroyest the hope of man.” Perhaps an infirmity is entailed upon you for life. Perhaps some disease is gradually undermining your frame. Perhaps your senses are declining; and desire fails : and the days are come wherein you have no pleasure. « Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."
Fourthly, Think how little worldly prosperity has distinguished many of the excellent of the earth. When you are tempted to glory in wealth, remember what a multitude there is in poor life who would make you shrink into nothing, if you were morally compared with them : and what is gold to godliness? What superior grace and wisdom and usefulness dignified numbers of those servants of the Most High God and benefactors of men, who passed their days in a state of dependance, or ended them in a prison ! Read the history, examine the lives of those preachers and writers whose immortal works praise them in all the churches. Take Luther, that great Reformer, who has levied a tax of admiration and gratitude on every age. He has this passage in his last will and testament—60 Lord God, I thank thee that thou hast been pleased to make me a poor and indigent man upon earth. I have neither house nor land nor money to leave behind me. Thou hast given me a wife and children, whom I now restore to thee. Lord, nourish, teach, and preserve them as thou hast me." The Apostles could say, “Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffetted, and have no certain dwellingplace.” And the Lord of Glory, the image of the invisible God, had not where to lay his head-And yet we think wealth the standard of excellence.
- Again. Daily realize the assurances of Revelation. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” The influence of a greater good will abolish the impression of a less. The man who walks by sight, is sure to be conquered : the things which are seen are temporal, and he sees no other; these therefore strike and please and engross him. But the man who walks by faith, sees things invisible to the eye of sense; and these are eternal : and they are infinite. What is the honour that cometh from man, compared with the smiles of God? What is a handful of shining dust compared with “ a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ?” Can the stars be seen, in the shining of the sun? What saved Moses in circumstances far more perilous than those of his birth? “ By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." What led Abraham to 66 sojourn," even" in the land of promise, as in a strange land, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise ?" Faith. “ For he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God— These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but
having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned: but now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly : wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.” · Finally. Forget not the Admonition of the Saviour : “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." And what he has joined together let no man put asunder. In vain I invoke God, if I am careless; and expose myself needlessly in dangerous places and company; and leave without a sentinel, my senses, and appetites, and passions; and keep not my heart with all diligence; and use not all the means of preservation which are placed within my reachprayer without watching, is hypocrisy. And watching without prayer, is presumption. Our strength is in God alone. He will make us know this, not only by the testimony of his word, but by our experience. And we need not be afraid of the growing conviction. When we are weak, then are we strong. For He to whom a sense of our weakness will urge us to repair, is able to keep us from falling. Whatever be our inability and danger, if he holds us up, we shall be safe. Let not those be discouraged who seek his help. The very exercise of prayer tends to secure you. But you have more to rely upon than the moral influence of the duty. If there be any meaning in the Scriptures, God hears prayer; he grants our petitions ; he strengthens us with might by his Spirit in the inward man. "Ask," says the Saviour, 6 and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
Thus his grace shall be sufficient for you even in Prosperity. But a Christian should not only be concerned to use the world as not abusing it; he should not only be anxious to avoid the evils of his condition ; but to exercise its virtues, and perform its duties, and sanctify its resources.—And the
III. Part of our subject calls upon you to IMPROVE THE ADVANTAGES OF PROSPERITY.
This is to be exemplified in three things. Gratitude. Beneficence. And Enjoyment. The first regards God. The second, our fellow-creatures. The third, ourselves.
First, you are to improve your Prosperity in a way of gratitude. God is to be owned as the author of all. The streams of comfort are many, and flow in various channels ; but with him is the fountain of life. 6 Do not err, my beloved brethren: every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." The silver and the gold are his. However you have obtained it, whether from inheritance, or the legacies of friendship, or the labour of your own hands. He it is that giveth you power to get wealth. And your prosperity lacketh its firmest support, its loveliest ornament, its sweetest relish, if you do not acknowledge in it the Providence of him, whose blessing alone maketh rich and addeth no sorrow with it. Is this acknowledgment made ? And is it real ? And is it constant ? And is it fervent? What would you think of a dependant who had no