« AnteriorContinuar »
trolled, his conscience at war (as the sinner's conscience for ever is) with his reason and better judgment, and his wealth will but minister to his unhappiness. Instead of being like the fire when kept in its proper place, a source of warmth, utility, and comfort, it will be like the same fire bursting forth, and kindling on, and wrapping his dwelling in flames, acting only to burn and destroy. Hoarding his riches, or using them only for self, not keeping them bright by good and holy uses, he will find that, even in this world, “his gold and silver are cankered, and the rust (ah! the rust !) of them is a swift witness against him, to eat his flesh as if it were fire !” Selfishly and sinfully breaking the bond that should unite riches with benevolence, and wealth with usefulness, he has broken the bond between himself and happiness. Taking his treasures, like the prodigal, into the far-off and forbidden country of selfindulgence, away from his father's house and the sympathies of suffering humanity, he shall find they are but husks to his soul, and be a stranger to abiding happiness, till like the prodigal he resolves, “I will arise and go to my father!"
To the one, on the other hand, whose principles are right, whose temper is governed, whose appetites and passions are controlled, whose conscience is at peace with himself and God, whose life is benevolent, that is, to the real Christian-wealth, like any other gift of God, is a blessing. Such an one, through grace, has discovered that the true value of wealth consists in its proper use. He has found out the divine secret, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” He keeps his gold from rust, and his silver from canker by constant and holy use. Possessing it in a benevolent spirit, and using it to benevolent ends, he so improves the mammon of unrighteousness, as not only to make sure of God's favor for eternity, but to enjoy to the full all the happiness it can afford here on earth. For their influence, then, in making wealth where possessed a blessing even for this world, the principles of the Bible are “ More to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold.”—Omitting, for want of time, several other thoughts that might illustrate and impress the lesson of the text, I remark, but once more,
4. That without the principles of the Bible, wealth is in vain, and in the end worse than in vain to the soul.
Centuries ago it was asked, and the question is one of fearful meaning, “ What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" Grant that the world could be gained, though well do we know it cannot, for at most we can pick up but a few of the sand-grains that compose it-grant that even the whole world could be gained, in a little while it will all be as nothing, and less than nothing, without God's favor and preparation for heaven. It will require but little to purchase the grave where we must soon sleep. It will be no comfort to the departing spirit to leave a little more by that
grave than is left by others. And if the universe were ours, as we pass to eternity, it could not blot out one single sin, or purchase God's favor, or bribe an entrance to eternal life. On the other hand, if misimproved, it would be the very ground of our condemnation, sinking us to the doom of him who asked, and asked in vain, in perdition, for a drop of water to cool his tongue !-Beware, then, of thinking too much of wealth. Seek it, if you will, as God's providence may permit, in the exercise of the virtues He enjoins, and for the ends His Word proposes; but see to it, that you seek first his kingdom and the righteousness thereof. Send forward your thoughts to the end of life, and follow after riches only with the feelings, motives, and aims that you can approve then. However you may possess gold, see to it that it does not possess you. Beware, I charge you in Christ's name, beware lest you so desire, or seek, or use wealth, that the footing up of the balance-sheet of your life shall read, “ Gained my wealth, but forfeited God's favor: saved my riches, but lost my soul!"
In view of the subject we have been considering, we are admonished in closing,
1. To beware of a covetous spirit.— The proper pursuit of wealth, as we have seen, is not only permitted but encouraged by God, as developing the character, cultivating the virtues, and giving us the very discipline that we need in probation and for eternity. But, on the other hand, of all astringents, covetousness is the strongest; of all vices, the meanest. More than all others it degrades the character, and belittles and debases the entire soul. It is the blight of every generous and manly and kindly feeling ; the root of all evil; the object of some of the fiercest woes denounced in the Word of God. It violates the entire moral law, for it is the love of self at the expense of both God and our neighbor. It destroyed Ananias and Sapphira ; cast down Balaam from the glory of the prophets, and sent Judas from the apostleship to perdition. Many it makes careful and troubled about other things, so that they neglect the one thing needful; and sends them away, sorrowful, from the Saviour, because they will not give up the world for him. Too often, alas ! it divides even the professed disciple's heart, so that while he prays, " Thy kingdom come,” his gifts do not keep pace with his prayers. More than all things does it tend to bind us to the world, generating envy, discontent, and the feverish anxiety of possession; leading if not to disgraceful, yet too often to that decent selfishness which may ruin the soul."" The love of money,” says another, “ will, it is to be feared, prove the eternal overthrow of more professors of religion, than any other sin, because it is almost the only one that can be indulged while a profession of religion is sustained.” Many there are that “did run well for a season, but like Bunyan's professed pilgrims, Mr. Graspthe-world, Mr. Money-love, and Mr. Save-all (names that may well stand for living realities), they have turned aside, at the call of Demas to look at the mine of silver; and like them, they have either fallen over the brink, or gone down to dig, or have been smothered by the damps of the place, but whichever it may be, they are no more seen in the pilgrim's puth!
And as deep as is the guilt of the covetous, so dark will be their doom hereafter. The day is near—it is speeding as on the lightning's wing—when, if covetous, your riches shall be corrupted, and your gold and silver cankered, and their rust shall be a swift witness against you. At the bar of judgment, your excuses shall be swept away. Having made gold your hope you shall be left to despair. Having laid up treasures only for self, God shall class you with the fool. Your riches shall testify to your folly, and the heavens shall reveal your iniquity, and the earth rise up against you, and hell open to receive you, and there, with the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, you shall lament for ever, that your very prosperity you have made your ruin !
Beware, then, of the spirit of covetousness, in whatever form it may appear. Prevent or cure it, by cherishing its opposite. Expand the soul with benevolence, and it cannot be contracted by the evil before us. Make it the abode of the good spirit of charity, and the evil spirit of selfishness will depart.-Bear in mind that you are God's stewards, and that on all you have he has written,
Occupy for me till I shall come.” Forget not that if above all things "you will be rich,” you will “ err from the faith and pierce yourself through with many sorrows." Remember the example of Christ, and the tender, touching thought, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor,” and be moved by the melting appeal of his life to be followers of Him. Reflect, that a benevolent spirit, is but a part of religion, and if destitute of the former you also are of the latter. Remember the wants and woes, especially the spiritual wants and woes of others, and by all the freeness with which you have received, cherish the spirit that will ever lead you freely to give. And remember, too, that God's claims are upon you, and his bar of judgment just before you; and so live, wherever you may be, that when at last your stewardship is reviewed, the reward of the faithful, and not ihe doom of the unfaithful may be yours !
Our subject also suggests,
2. That the circumstances of our country, especially in view of the present emigration to its western coast, are such as call for much prayer and effort on the part of every patriot and Christian. -Cotton Mather tells us, that when he was once in the midst of a sermon “On the voice of God in the thunder," a message which he received that his own house had just been struck by lightning,
gave a sensible edge to his discourse!”— And so the personal, the deep personal interest that so many have in the vast emigration alluded to, should give “ a sensible edge” to their sympathies, and prayers, and efforts. The emigrants who are going forth, are not
strangers, or from a strange land. They are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Multitudes will soon have sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, relatives, and friends on that distant coast. And if they are not to be left to the power of temptation,—to go forth like Lot, as he went to the vale of Sodom, only with worldly motives, and like him to danger and ruin, where even angels could not save all his family,—then the gospel must go with them, and the spirit of God attend them.
We cannot but hope and believe, that in this, one of the most wonderful movements of this wondrous year, God has purposes of mercy for our land and the world ; that He designs the planting of free States and Christian institutions, and the extension of commerce, the arts, and the Protestant religion; and that, on the rolling wave, He will roll civilization, and in the end salvation to a nation born in a day. But we must co-work with Him. Our prayers must ascend, and our efforts be put forth, and our gifts be sent, if we would see the gospel extended as fast and widely as our population spreads. When “HOME MISSIONS" meant the supply of a few feeble churches in New England, and a few more in New York and Ohio, feeble efforts might have been sufficient. But now that OUR HOME has grown to be a Continent; its roof the broad arch of heaven, its rooms the prairie and the forest, its halls the valleys of our mighty rivers, its walls two oceans on the east and west, and the torrid and frozen zones on the north and southnow, if we would keep that home, our house, in order, social, civil, moral, religious, we must not be wanting in corresponding prayer and benevolence. Now that “ Home Missions” has come to signify providing the gospel for half a world, our faith and effort must expand with its necessities. Said a gentleman, recently, in view of these necessities, “ I must quadruple my subscription for Home Missions this year, for the special purpose of sending the gospel to California. All should feel the same spirit, and as far as possible imitate so good an example.
3. Our subject suggests a word to those who are going forth to that distant part of our land.- A gentleman once speaking with a young man who was comparatively a stranger, asked what were his plans for the future. "I am now a clerk,” said the young man, “ and my hope is to succeed, and get into business for myself.” “ And what then ?" said the gentleman. “Why, then, I hope to prosper, and be able to set up an establishment of my own.” " And what next?” “ Then to continue in business, and accumulate wealth.” “And what next ?" “ To retire from business, and enjoy the fruits of my labors.” “And what next ?" ” “ It is the lot of all to die," said the young man thoughtfully, “and I cannot expect to escape.” “ And what next?”' once more said the enquirer. But alas ! the young man had no answer; he had no purposes or plans that reached beyond the present life! Thought
ful for time, he had no thought for eternity! Wise for this world, he was acting the fool for the next?
Many, yes, all of you have your plans for this world. Step by step, it may be, you could tell what next, and next, and on for years, or perhaps even down to old age! But ask yourself one question, What if death should meet you at some early stage of that future—what then? Or even, if you live to old age, still what then? What, when life shall end, and sickness and death shall come? What when eternity must be entered, and you must go and give up your account to God?_Tell me, O! tell me, what then-WHAT THEN?
BY REV. W. A. SCOTT, D.D.
of New Orleans, La.
HOPE OF REPUBLICS; OR THE ELEMENTS OF
PERMANENCE IN MODERN CIVILIZATION.*
“ There shall no man be able to stand before you ; for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as He hath said unto you.”—Deut. 11 : 25.
It has been said of Lafayette, that he was worthy of Liberty, for his stout and noble soul never despaired of her cause. Be. trayed, duped, and dying disappointed of the emancipation of his own country, in his own day, he lifted up his eyes to Heaven, and consoled his breaking and magnanimous heart, with the vitality, virtue, freedom, and greatness of future generations. Though born among a haughty aristocracy, his heart was with the people, and his creed their sovereignty. The ambition of a throne was base in his eyes. Despots and kings were with him synonymous terms. Had he not been Lafayette, his highest aim would have been to be a Washington. Generous and glorious Frenchman! ever dear to American Liberty-the more your tomb retreats into the shade of time, the more radiant will it be with glory to the eyes of posterity, And as the image of the sacred mountain, to which millions and generations of devotees are wont to go, grows in proportion as it recedes from view, until it stands
* Delivered on Thanksgiving Day, Dec. 21, 1848, in the Presbyterian Church, in Lafayette Square, of which Dr. Scott is Pastor. -Ed.