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“Of other tyrants short the strife;
“The despot twists with hard control
But, with enlarged circumstances, be ye also enlarged. This is the case with a few we have the pleasure to know. Their fortune is a blessing to the neighbourhood and the nation. Their rising in life resembles the rising of the sun : the elevation illuminates and enlivens and fertilizes; and joy springs from its beams. Their wealth is like the dew, raised indeed from the earth, but only to be filtrated from its grossness, and to descend in silent refreshment, and vigour, and life. So it was with Job. He was the greatest man in the east; and he was also the most generous. His substance is mentioned; but it was not his possession, but his use of it that rendered him so estimable. I envy not the bosom of that man who can hear without emotion his touching and eloquent appeal. “If I did despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me ; what then shall I do when God riseth up; and, when he visiteth, what shall I answer him P Did not he that made me in the womb make him 2 and did not one fashion us in the womb? If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless have not eaten thereof; (for from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb :) if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate : then let mine arm fall from my shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone." David also had acquired much wealth : but hear his acknowledgment. “Now I have prepared with all my might, for the house of my God, the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood : onyxstones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal : the gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord ?” Here indeed was accumulation ; but the design of it was not for the pleasure of possessing. It was not for his own aggrandizement, or splendour, or indulgence; or those of his household ; but for a moral and religious purpose. It is a sad reflection, especially in our day, for a good man to die wealthy. But if he must die rich, let him die rich towards God. Let him not at his last hour testify only his selfish regards. Let the benefactor appear as well as the man; and the Christian as well as the friend and the relation. While he provides for his own, especially those of his own house, let him not forget the Saviour who loved us, and gave himself for us; and whose cause has claims infinitely above all mortal interests.
Thirdly, You are to improve your prosperity, in a way of Enjoyment. I need not say that there is a great difference between possession and enjoyment; and that many who have more than heart can wish, have yet no heart to use it. They are hungry in the midst of food ; and are parched with thirst, though the stream is at their lip. Solomon more than once notices this wretchedness; and considers it as one of the sorest evils under the sun. It is worthy of observation, that the Latin word for miserable, has been applied to designate an individual who possesses, but cannot enjoy. And well may he be called a miser; for of all men he is the most mean, and abject, and comfortless. And no one can more oppose the kindness of God in furnishing us with the supplies of his providence. For he obviously designs to show us, that he is concerned, not for our existence only, but for our happiness. He could have supported us by means of food, as disagreeable to our palate as medicine ; but he has rendered it grateful and inviting; and though eating is necessary to life, no one eats to avoid death. Our senses might all have been the inlets of pain only, instead of pleasure. Can any one question whether agreeable sounds were intended to delight the ear; or agreeable scents to gratify the smell? Look at the trees in a garden, or an orchard. The fruit could have been produced without the blossom ; but in this process his beauty appears in the one, before his bounty is seen in the other; and the eye is charmed as well as the taste. Well therefore does the Apostle say, “He gives us all things richly to enjoy." And there is therefore
truth in the remark of the Poet, “ To enjoy is to obey.” It is falling in with the indications of God's will; for he has given us an express injunction—" In the day of prosperity rejoice.”
Religion therefore, instead of being an enemy to the enjoyment of this state, enjoins it. And it produces what it requires. We are not afraid to advance it as a maxim capable of demonstration, that in proportion as men are religious, they are prepared to relish prosperity; and that though others may possess more, they will enjoy most ; for, even in this sense, 66 a little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of many wicked.”
Religion refines and exalts our relish of temporal things. How low and despicable is a life filled up only with sleeping, and eating, and drinking, and trifling! A Christian rises above such an ignoble mode of being. Even in his enjoyments, reason unites with sense ; and faith with reason; and devotion with faith. What is material is animated by mind; and what is animal, though its quality be not abolished, loses its grossness by intercourse with intellect and spirit. The earth grows richer by the reflections and touches of all that is heavenly. The rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley acquire a kind of sacredness and divinity in their fragrance and beauty, when they remind us of Him who is altogether lovely; and the charms of creation are hallowed and felt as means of grace, while they bring us into communion with the Creator, addressed and adored in language almost inspired
“ These are thy glorious works, Parent of good-
- And thus religion also enlarges as well as improves the enjoyment of prosperity. We readily allow that it forbids licentiousness and excess. But so does reason. So does health. Yea, so does pleasure itself. The moderate use of the indulgences of prosperity, unspeakably exceeds in enjoyment the intemperate use of the glutton and drunkard. The very restraints which religion imposes are useful and necessary to give the more lively and potent relish to our participations. For who needs to be informed that the measure of enjoyment corresponds with the strength and freshness of the desire or the appetite ? Thus the pleasure of eating depends upon hunger; and where no degree of this is felt, the most delicious viands would be insipid. The full soul loaths the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Thus the unwearied do not welcome repose; but the sleep of a labouring man is sweet. It is therefore easy to see that temperance is the handmaid of enjoyment. By not impairing our appetites and desires, it keeps us from the languor and irksomeness of the dissipated ; and by maintaining uninjured the capacities for enjoyment, it really cherishes and increases the resources which excess spoils and destroys.
– But this is not the only way in which religion befriends the enjoyment of prosperity. We must remark its moral influence in rectifying our dispositions and removing the causes of disquietude and dissatisfaction. All outward things affect us according to the state of the mind. It is well known to every man, that a scene which delights us at one time, will be perfectly uninteresting, if not repulsive, at another. The object in this case is the same, but