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dence of God, is not sinful; for it was said of Abraham by his servant Eliezer: “The Lord hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great; and he hath given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and maid-servants, and camels and asses."
But the sin lies in trusting in these things; hence Job says; “ If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, thou art my confidence; if I have rejoiced, because my wealth was great, I should have denied the God that is above."
David was aware of the same danger arising from the possession of wealth, and he gives this sa lutary caution: “if riches increase, set not your heart upon
them.” Or in the words of Job: “make them not your hope and your confidence.”
: Solomon points out the same evil : “ he that trusteth in his riches shall fall.” (Prov. xi. 28.)
Moses strongly cautions the Israelites against this misuse of temporal things: “when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land, which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things which thou filledst not, and wells digged which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord.”
Whence arises this proneness to depart from God; this cleaving to earthly things? It springs from the fall of Adam. It is the very fault and corruption of our nature. We are all naturally idolaters, “ loving the creature, more than the Creator, who is over all, blessed for evermore;" and therefore this evil justly exposes us to eternal death.
Nothing but divine grace can save us from this
idolatrous attachment to earth. Who does not daily feel its influence ? Oh! how much I need the sovereign grace of God to wean my affections from the world, and cause me to seek my all in him. Herein consists true happiness. Till God in Christ be my all-sufficient, my all-satisfying portion, I cannot be truly happy. A divided heart must of necessity be a wretched heart.
Lord, unite my heart to fear thy name. Collect my scattered powers, and let them work for thee alone. As it was with the Israelites, so may it be
In my departure out of a wicked world, let not “a hoof be left behind.” May all that I possess, be wholly consecrated unto thee.
Were we told of some highly favoured individual, whose every desire after wealth and pleasure might be gratified; should we not be ready to exclaim: this must be a happy man? A slight acquaintance with human character would soon dissipate this illusion.
The desire of more, which is the very essence of covetqusness, makes us dissatisfied with what we already possess : whilst an increase of possessions, by increasing our solicitude, tends only to diminish our portion of actual enjoyment.
The experience of Solomon, so feelingly described in the book of Ecclesiastes, speaks volumes on this subject. He made the dangerous experiment of gratifying his desires, with an eagerness, which could only be equalled by his means of gratification. said to my heart, go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore cnjoy pleasure." "I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings, and of the provinces. 66 Whatsoever mine eyes desired, I kept not from them: I withheld not my heart from any joy.” “I made great works, so I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem."
But what was the fruit of such unbounded gratification, which by thousands is esteemed the climax of human happiness?
Hear the humiliating confession of Solomon, than whom, no one had ever a fairer opportunity of reaping happiness, if ever it sprang out of worldly plea
66 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had made, and on the labour that I had la boured to do; and behold, ALL WAS VANITY AND VEXATION OF SPIRIT; and there was no profit under the sun." And after enumerating a variety of vanities, he closes his book with these important words: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good,
or whether it be evil.” Nothing is so restless as the spirit of a covetous man. He is continually pursuing after a phantom. Dissatisfied and miserable," he sows the wind, and shall reap the whirlwind ; it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meat: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.” “Surely then every man walketh in a vain shew : surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them." Solomon felt this when he said : “I hated all my labour which I had taken under the kun: because I shall leave it unto the man that shall be after me, and who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or à fool? This is also vanity.”
How contentedly happy is the child of God. He views every event as directed by infinite wisdom; and receives every gift as the expression of infinite love. He knows that God is well acquainted with the nature of his own gifts, and is therefore satisfied with the portion which infinite love bestows; as well as with the dispensation by which infinite wisdom takes away. With childlike acquiescence in the divine disposals, he learns in whatsoever state he is, therewith to be content. He labours not to be rich. He finds by experience, that riches cannot confer happiness, or health, or honour. He sees many rich men miserable, and many poor men happy. He blesses God for his daily bread; eats his bread with gladness and singleness of heart; and praises God for his hourly mercies flowing to him through that precious medium of communication between heaven and earth, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has however covetous desires. He covets earnestly the best gifts. He longs and labours to possess these eternal blessings which never cloy, but increase the joy and happiness of the soul by their increased possession. He prays with fervent desire for the grace of faith and love, for humility and purity; for the indwelling of the Spirit; for the presence of the Saviour, for the love of the Father; for a heart filled with all the fulness of God.
This is the happy man, whose desires are accomplished. He delights himself in the Lord, and the God of all grace gives him the desires of his heart. The character of his life is, contentment with moderation in earthly things, combined with ardent desires after an increase of spiritual blessings. He is diligent in business as a duty; fervent in Spirit as a blessedness ; active in serving the Lord as his highest honour.
O! for this contentment, this thirsting after God, this devotedness to his service and glory.
He who trusts in riches, is like one who endeavours to repose upon the foam of a tempestuous sea. No sooner does he throw himself upon it, than it separates, and he sinks as lead in the waters. Whilst he who trusteth in the Lord, resembles the man, who securely stationed upon a rock, sees the
billows spend their fury at his feet. He views the wild uproar, and smiles at the storm.
In this fallen world, where sin has planted sorrows in awful profusion, is it not wonderful, that creatures, liable to continual change, are not solicitous to find a covert from the tempest ? They are anxious indeed to obtain rest, but they seek for it where it never can be found—in earthly things.
Men are apt to imagine, that if they can only amass a fortune, and reach the hill of
prosperity, they shall escape those troubles which overwhelm many who dwell in the vale below.
But are not mountains the most exposed to storms? Are they not the most bleak and barren parts of the earth ? Whilst the sheltered vallies stand so thick with corn, that in the poetic language of David, “they laugh and sing"?
History furnishes abundant proofs, that elevated stations expose men to perpetual dangers, and cause the soul to be barren in those fruits of peace, contentment, and piety, which enrich the heart of the lowly, retired believer. Why then should I envy the great, or labour to be rich? Even if I should happily escape the common snares of wealth, yet death will soon transfer it into other hands, and then what will all my riches protit, if at that solemn period I should be destitute of faith and love? Lord, make me anxious for the true riches. May I daily lay up my treasure in heaven. May my heart be there. "Let no idol be seated on the throne of
affections. Do thou reign the sovereign Lord within. O! may all my powers be subject unto thee. May I own no
All will then be well. Whether prosperous or afflicted, all things shall work together for my good.
The Scriptures point out in the strongest manner
sway but thine.