Billeder på siden

virtuous and benevolent ends. And, thirdly, by the neglect of those relative duties which are attached to the possession of property. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is an impressive intimation of God's displeasure at the callous indifference of a rich man to the privations of the poor, and the sufferings of the destitute. “ Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” 1 John iïi. 17. The argument is, that he who does nothing to relieve the wants or soothe the sorrows of his neighbours, has no love to God; and that he who loves neither God nor man, save in empty expressions, is in danger of lifting up his eyes amid the awful visions of the Creator's retributive justice.

Thirdly, I would mention some things which money CANNOT do.

It cannot satisfy a covetous disposition. Growth in wealth rather feeds the malady than subdues it. The hour of contentment to an avaricious man never comes. The spirit of accumulation becomes more grasping, or more raging, as riches increase. He who best knew the human heart has pictured this working of the passion in a parable. “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits ? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater ; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up


many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided ? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God,” Luke xii. 16-21.

Money cannot supply intellect, imagination, or sensibility. Neither can it bestow on the mind one graceful endowment. It cannot melt the frost of insensibility into the ardour of tenderness; nor awaken the tide of sympathy where the breast is a stranger to kind and gentle emotions. It cannot purchase purity of taste, or elevation of thought, or dignity of character. It leaves its covetous possessor drowsy in mental torpor, and unredeemed from the poverty of an intellectual incapacity.

Money cannot quiet conscience. Riches cannot deprive it of its ultimate authority, nor silence its admonitions, nor avert its eye from the pit of perdition.

Money cannot atone for sin. The frown of God hurls it from the balances of his eternal equity. God is insulted by the fool who dreams that he can purchase indulgence or pardon with


money. Its glitter is without a charm, and its power is without value at the judgment-seat. The law repudiates it as a satisfaction for sin. For “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing," 1 Cor. xiii. 3. “ For ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19

Nor can money bribe death to delay his march, or to come with a soft and gentle step. Mr. Tempest, for seven years before his death, had required the daily attendance of his physician. This arose from his fear of the last enemy, and from his anxiety to shield himself, by all the aids of human science, from any incipient or latent forms of disease. Yet his wealth could not save him from the last conflict of nature, and it came upon him with terrors beyond what his fears had magnified. For his conscience broke from the spell that had bound it, with a reaction acute and deep, and he expired, without a relative or friend near him, in a restless anguish of soul.

Reader, remember, with all the seriousness the subject demands, that wealth abused in any form renders you an unfaithful steward, and merits the retribution of heaven. this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, NOR COVETOUS MAN, WHO IS AN IDOLATER,


inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God,” Ephes. v. 5.

Wealth has many valuable uses, but your nature has great wants which

cannot supply “ For a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth,” Luke xii. 15. There are sources of happiness which it cannot command, and springs of misery which it cannot dry up. Your life has higher objects than its possession can realize, and a nobler vocation than to worship its material interests. Let me close these remarks in the language of inspiration : “ Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy ; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate ; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life," 1 Tim. vi. 17-19.

66 For



J. & W. Rider, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, London.


without any

SUFFER me, gentle reader, to present you with the sketches of two characters with whom you may not be altogether a stranger.

The first is that of a lady, born of christian parents, and trained in habits of public and private devotion. From the hour she could lisp a prayer or preserve a brief silence, she was accustomed to bow down at the family altar, and to attend the services of the sanctuary. The judicious care of a pious mother selected alike her companions and her pleasures, and thus hedged her in from the temptations of the world. Under these happy influences she grew up

marked faults, and with a full share of ordinary filial virtues. With advancing years, her friends were desirous she should make a personal profession of her attachment to Christ. Her father and her pastor held conversations of a very solemn and searching character with her. These, together with certain impressions produced by the fervid eloquence of a young minister whom she had occasionally listened to, determined her to present herself at the Lord's table. The anticipations of her first communion were full of nervous excitement; and yet on her return home she was conscious of something like disappointment that no sensible change had been produced in her feelings. In a short time the novelty wore away, and she continued to commune with no more amount of interest than habit gave to every religious exercise. Not long after, a member of the same congregation, equal in rank and circumstances, and highly respectable in character, though without any pretension whatever to piety, sought her hand in marriage. She could perceive no essential difference between his views and her own, and as her parents assented to the union, it was speedily celebrated in a style suitable to their position. Time passed on. Business prospered, riches increased, and a rising family demanded attention to their future interests and establishment. It was now felt that the congregation to which she had been for so many years attached, was too homely to afford a society sufficiently numerous and select for their improved circumstances; and as the children grew up into youth, the teaching was deemed too plain for their growing intelligence. It was, therefore, resolved to unite themselves with a more fashionable church, where families of a higher grade were wont to assemble. This, however, made no difference in the regu. larity of our friend's attendance. Indeed, so long as the ministry retained the force of novelty, it gave a fresh impetus

[ocr errors]

to the religious interest, and the hour set apart for private prayer was even more scrupulously observed than before. In the entire circle of her acquaintance, there was none who enjoyed a fairer name, none who caused her minister less anxiety, if she did not give him the highest satisfaction, than our friend. At last she was laid upon a bed of sickness, which proved to be a bed of death. The habits of a whole life furnished her with arguments of approval. Her favourite hymns and chapters were read, and she regarded the pleasure she experienced in hearing them as a sure proof that all was well with her soul. Her friends congratulated her on her religious life; and though habit taught her to profess that she had no merit, she made a secret merit of the very repudiation of it. And thus, full of confidence if not of peace, she died and was buried, and the next sabbath the church resounded with her praises.

The second character referred to is that of a country gentleman, who, alike at home or at school, had received the attention usually bestowed on the religious education of youth. He removed to a situation in London, where during certain hours of the evening and on the Lord's day he was his own master. His companions were well acquainted with the various scenes of pleasure in town, to which he was but too ready to be introduced. His sabbaths were spent in excursions to the neighbourhood, and he persuaded himself that there was no necessity for his uniting in forms of prayer which he could repeat from beginning to end. Among his associates was one who possessed a copy of Paine's “ Age of Reason,” and from that storehouse of blasphemy he was accustomed to shoot his artillery of obscene raillery and sneers at priests, and saints, and bibles. Not being initiated into the evidences of Christianity, and never having been acquainted with any truly pious men, the youth readily imbibed the ruinous principles of infidelity, and soon convinced himself that religion is but a pretence, and its ministers a “band of conspirators against the freedom of the human mind, and the happiness of the human family.” For years he continued to entertain and act upon this opinion. He became a married man; and though he broke off from every vicious course, spent his spare hours in scientific and literary pursuits, engaged in benevolent enterprises, felt the deepest interest in human progress, yet his scepticism was only confirmed by the self-reformation of which he could boast. Prayer appeared to him an insult to the goodness or a mockery of the unchangeableness of God. Grace seemed equally an insult to the firmness and decision of man. The Bible was to him nothing less than a collection

of myths, the production of a poetical and superstitious age. How long it might have continued thus no one can divine, had it not so happened that in the good providence of God he heard a minister speak at a public meeting on a topic in which he took considerable interest—that of universal peace. That the spirit of Christianity was opposed to war, was to him a new idea, and he began to think that he had been guilty of an injustice in forming his notions of religion from the arguments of its foes, or the follies of its professors, rather than from its Author himself. He determined on hearing that minister again, and, overcoming his scruples, went to hear him preach. The subject of discourse was the power of the gospel alone to heal the wounds and woes of humanity. His interest was awakened. His prejudices began to give way, and he felt that after all Christianity might be one effective means of improving the social condition of man. Again he resolved to hear, and the minister now rose from the social to the spiritual economy-he reasoned of sin, of righteousness, of judgment to come, and showed how God has provided in Christ all that a sinner can require. The Spirit applied the word—a cloud was lifted from his mind. He saw there was something higher for the human family to pursue than merely present competence and enjoyment. He returned home to think, and to weep, and to pray; to cast himself before that Messiah whose name he had ridiculed; to sit at His feet whose teachings he had despised; and to devote himself to His service whose very existence he had often been led to question. From this time forth he was regular in his attendance on the ministry of the word, for though a person of more general information than his pastor, he felt himself in the religious life but a child to be fed by the sincere milk of the word. He continued to interest himself in philanthropic movements, though on widely different principles; and in all attempts to advance the spiritual well-being of his fellow-men, he became even more ardent than in those which belonged only to time. Thus he grew in grace as he grew in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, until it pleased the Master to call him home, and introduce him to his reward.

Brief and imperfect as these sketches are, they may serve to illustrate the difference between the religion of habit and the religion of principle.

They differ in their source. The one is from without, the other from within. The one is the natural produce of external circumstances ; the other, the necessary result of a new principle imparted by the power of God through the word. The

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »