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Blessed Jesus ! look in mercy upon a wretched, lost creature. Were I to be crushed as in a moment, and sent quick into hell, it would be righteous judgment. But thou art gracious, thou art full of compassion, thou camest to seek and to save rebellious sinners.
Lord, save me, help me- undertake for me. Snatch me as a brand out of the burning. Deliver me from the jaws of that roaring lion who is ever going about, seeking whom he may devour. Lord, give me not over to him as a prey. Suffer me not to be carried captive by him at his will. Fill me with a constant dread of sin; make me ever watchful and vigilant. Bear me in thy arms of love, through all the dangers of my earthly course, till safe removed from every storm, I serve thee in thy everlasting kingdom.
O! thou gracious friend of sinners,
Save me from corruption's power,
As I wander through the desert,
Then, O! then, in sweetest rapture,
XLIX. ON THE DANGER OF RICHES. There is a beautiful harmony in the doctrines and precepts of Scripture, whether promulged under the Patriarchal, Mosaical, or Christian dispensation, which strikingly proves its divine origin.
Every enlightened reader of the Bible will perceive a rich vein of truth running through the whole of the sacred volume. What is obscurely revealed under the patriarchal dispensation, is more fully made known under the law, and exhibited in its brightest colours by the Gospel.
A short review of the Scriptures with respect to the sin of covetousness, will verify this observation.
Job, when vindicating his character, makes the following declaration : “If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, thou art my confidence; if I rejoiced, because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much: if Ī beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge ; for I should have denied the God that is above.” (Job xxxi. 24-28.)
We have here the closest connexion between covetousness and idolatry. The two sins are classed together as twin evils springing from one common source, the unbelief and earthliness of the heart.
This is in strict accordance with the other parts of the sacred oracle. St. Paul styles covetousness, idolatry, (Coloss. iii. 5.) and a covetous man an idolater. (Ephes. v. 5.)
Our Saviour explains the nature of this idolatry: " how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mark x. 24.)
To possess wealth, when imparted in the provi
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 salutary 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: 6 when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land, which hé 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
let note. In my death the Israelim work for ollect
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 with me. 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 happu 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. “I 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.” “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.”
increasinsess : whilus dissatis the very a
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 pleasure: 6 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 å 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