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to think of them. It is true we do read, even in the Bible, in one place, of the “pleasures of sin,” but they are styled, “ the pleasures of sin for a season," Heb. xi. 25; and many other passages, and facts without number, might be brought to prove that they are as vain, and hollow, and deceitful, as they are temporary. How forcibly does the apostle say to his Roman converts, " What fruit had ye, then, in those things of which ye are now ashamed ?" That is, however, but half the verse, what follows? “ The end of these things is death," Rom. vi. 21. We see the misery which sin brings in its train in the present world. We read in the inspired Book of God such sentences as the following :-"Be sure your sin will find you out;" “ Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap;" "The wages of sin is death :" see Numb. xxxii. 23; Gal. vi. 7, 8; Rom. vi. 23. Oh, what a prospect for those who choose " sinning!" To walk for a few short hours in the sparks we have kindled, and then to “ lie down in sorrow;" to stand in the
of Him whose mercy we have refused--whose anger we have despised; to have nothing to look forward to, but judgment and fiery indignation," from which we can never escape.
“ Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me,” Prov. i. 28.
But now is the golden opportunity; now God waits to be gracious—invites you to pray-promises to hear; only delay not, lest it be gone for ever. Do you say, you know not how to pray? It is God alone who, by his Holy Spirit, can pour out upon you a “spirit of grace and supplication;" but ask him to do so, and thus to
make before him." Are you at a loss for words ? Take with you those of the Bible itself, or of some approved form. - Not many years since, a thoughtless and irreligious soldier was dangerously wounded in the field of battle, and in consequence laid upon a sick bed, with the near prospect, as it appeared to him, of an eternity for which he was conscious he was unprepared. He endeavoured to pray, but could not. He neither knew how to approach the throne of grace, nor what words to make use of. At last he recollected that, when a boy, he attended a Sunday-school, and that, whilst attending that school, he had been in the habit of learning a collect every Sunday. The words he had learned were still fresh in his remembrance. He poured out his heart fervently in their language ; and,“ behold,” he “prayed !" It was the commencement to him of a new life. He recovered; but from henceforth he became a completely altered man—a praying Christian." Go and do likewise. “ Take with you words, and return unto the Lord, and say, Take away all iniquity, aud receive me graciously,” Hos. xiv. 2.
Though you may never have heard this expression, you cannot doubt that the purpose it expresses has been formed by multitudes. Perhaps, reader, it is the secret resolution of your own heart. It may have been formed, without thinking whether riches may be good for you—whether you might make a proper use of them—or whether God might not see it better to give you something else. It may be very possible that you even esteem it a virtue to get riches. We read in Scripture of some who suppose “ that gain is godliness," 1 Tim. vi. 5. If the conduct of many professors of religion were rightly interpreted, it would be something like this,—Godliness is all very well; but first let us have gain, and godliness afterwards. Hence the resolution, “I will be rich," and the forgetfulness of the declaration, “Godliness with contentment is great gain," 1 Tim. vi. 6.
It is plain that such persons are mistaken as to their own interest, for the instances
are many around us in which gain neither brings contentment nor happiness; and who has
“riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt ?"
Eccles. v. 13. There is, then, something better than riches; better for you; and that is well expressed by St. Paul, where
“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” Phil. iii. 8. Moses, too, esteemed “ the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt,” Heb. xi. 26. And why? "For he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”
Riches are not for ever: they cannot be taken into the other world—they purchase no deliverance from death ; give no title to eternal life-are in general a hindrance to the pursuit of heavenly happiness, and seem to appear to many preferable to the enjoyment of it.
Your affections ought to be set rather upon Him “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world,” Gal. i. 4. The salvation of your soul is your chief concern,—yet perhaps it is your last care.
To this hour it may have been neglected. Judge whether it is not so, and whether the chief cause of that neglect may not be found in your eagerness for getting money. You have not sought "first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," Matt. vi. 33, which are “durable riches and righteousness," Prov. viii. 18.
It may indeed be said, that he who covets money before godliness, or in preference to it, covets little gain rather than
great gain.” Even if he could turn all he touched into gold, he would still be poor in the sight of Him who gives riches for their proper use, but confers better gifts, even a treasure in the heavens, upon all those whose hearts are set upon Christ and the joys of immortality. This treasure is attainable by all; the Divine Giver forbids none to seek and obtain it. The conviction should be established in every mind, that we are pitiably poor till we can say, " I have laid up my treasure in the heavens: I know it cannot fail. Thieves cannot break through and steal it. The changes of life can never wrest it from me. I have it now in hope, and ere long I shall come into full possession."
Reader, then, let this “ Messenger," which has been put into your hand for a benevolent purpose, lead you to ponder seriously the question,--have you ever resolved, by Divine grace, to be "rich toward God," Luke xii. 21. Then, and then only will you
be contented with riches. All else will leave you really poor; and without this you will never be happy, though you should “heap up silver as the dust,” Job xxvii. 16.
It is the possession of the hope of salvation that will make you rich ; but never will you be so till you have it. If your purpose has been formed to become rich in this world; if you have proceeded to carry this purpose into execution; if you have
“I WILL BE RICH !"
be no presumption to affirm that still you are distant from contentment. You are still eagerly looking out for more, and it may be supposed you have not yet thought of the better gain, or if you have purposed to seek it also, still you have not practically set about it; you have not given it the preference in your efforts. It is still a purpose
for the future, till you have gained what you think will content your desire of riches. Ah! how blind is human covetousness ! No man ever has enough till he is contented; and that he might be before he begins to desire riches, if he only knew in what the true riches of his immortal soul consists. But if he covet and complain, God may give him riches in judgment, as he often does to his greatest enemies, yet say," he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver ; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase,” Eccles. v. 10. He that can say with St. Paul, “ I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content," Phil. iv. 11, is the only rich man. He who is really discontented, though called rich, is really the poor man, and the more to be pitied in the midst of rich poverty, because he has despised the only true and lasting richies.
Reader! if such is your case, salvation is not yet come to your house; and though it may be full of silver and gold, and your eye may rest upon it with a glow of vain delight; yet if you could be brought to think how soon it may all be taken away from you by death, the thought might then take hold upon your mind, that you have hitherto neglected “the one thing needful.” Is it then a truth of no moment to you which this " Messenger” conveys, that if you possess godliness, you are rich indeed; rich beyond the wealth of Indies ; rich beyond the reach of adversity; rich for time; and rich for eternity. This is being rich towards God.
Let it now be supposed that you have taken up our motto in that new and better sense- L“ I will be rich !" I have been hitherto
in the best sense of the term ; but I now see that all my efforts and projects would never make me truly rich, and if I should gain the whole world, and lose my own soul, it might well be asked, what have I gained ? Mark viii. 36. Think of the contrast between a rich sinner and a poor Christian, both arrived at their last hour: the one has no hope for a blessed immortality, but is full of fear and grief at the prospect of leaving behind the one entire object of his desire: he and his money must be parted, and that for ever. The Saviour
“The rich man also died, and was buried ; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments," Luke xvi. 22, 23. He leaves his all behind. The poor believer dies, and leaves nothing behind that it was desirable to take with him. He loses his poverty for ever, and is made for ever rich. The
Every man that feels his dependence upon God, that is conscious of the multiplied offences of his life, that is sensible to the fact that he is mortal as to his body, and immortal as to his soul, will surely admit that he has wants which riches can never
Unless therefore he seeks another kind of riches, and seeks them in due time, he must sink into everlasting despair. But why should any man resign himself to such an unhappy fate? Why should any man neglect such a matter as his prospects for eternity ? Why should the interests of the body engross the attention to the utter neglect of the soul that never dies, and whose capacities are so much higher and more important than those of the body? The gifts which enrich the soul are amply provided by its Creator and Redeemer ; they are freely offered to all that sincerely desire and seek them, without money and without price. The treasure is secured by the promise of God, to every one that believes in Christ as the Saviour, who has purchased salvation for sinners by the precious price of his own blood, and so granted to all that believe on him “unsearchable riches.” Accept, then, the gift of Divine grace, and dedicate your heart, your life, your soul to the Giver, and all is secure. Then you will be rich in love to God, which is better than gold, brighter than diamonds, fairer than jewels. Then you will be rich in faith, which overcomes the world, conquers death, unites to Christ, and saves the soul. Then you will be rich in contentment, which extracts from poverty what wealth cannot yield, and fits for a state which no wealth can purchase. Then you will be rich in hope, which never makes ashamed, which fears no storm, which never fails to reach the haven of eternal peace. Then you will be rich in those good works which " are manifest beforehand," and which never lose their reward.
The riches of the Christian may be viewed under another aspect; that is, as treasures laid up in another world—an incorruptible inheritance, to which, by the grace of God, he becomes entitled upon believing in Jesus Christ. These riches are described as the fulness or perfection of knowledge, 1 Cor. xiii. 12; as the fulness of joy, Ps. xvi. 11 ; as the perfection of moral beauty, Eph. v. 27. All these riches are incorruptible, and form the Christian's royal portion for ever.
Be entreated, in the strength of Divine grace, to adopt this explanation, as conveying the highest and strictest sense of the word riches—and then indeed with confidence, with hope, and with wisdom, you may resolve, “I will be rich !"