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sion. Many are the projects of men to get riches, and some of them are so probable, so likely to take, and come so near the desired effect, that the man thinks himself as secure of them, as if he had them already in his power: but by some unexpected accident the project fails, and the man is left as poor as before; yea much poorer and more miserable, as being fallen from a great expectation, and afflicted with the loss of that, which though he never had, yet he was in his own conceit as sure of as if he had possessed it.
And when a man hath gotten wealth, how uncertain is the keeping of it! how often doth the bird fly away on a sudden! Riches are uncertain, as being subject to many chances, to theft and fraud, and rapine and violence, and fire and water too; a few great wrecks at sea often undoing the richest merchant. Besides men generally seek after wealth, not so much for their own comfortable subsistence whilst they live, (for a little will suffice for that,) as for the raising of a family, and leaving a rich and flourishing posterity behind them when they are dead. But, alas! how vain is this design! Hear the royal Psalmist, Psalm xxxix. 6. Surely every man walketh in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. The provident man hath commonly a wasting prodigal, and the wise man a fool for his heir. And very often the heir utterly fails, and the family is extinct, and the name of it is perished from the earth, and the wealth gone to strangers that are no way related to the first gatherer of it.
But if the family be still in being, yet oftentimes the riches are fled, and the estate is gone. How
many great estates may we reckon up, that have within the compass of one age shifted several families! A good many years ago such a lordship was in such a family, (and perhaps their escutcheon is still to be seen in the wall or windows of the mansionhouse, as a sad monument of decayed and ruined gentility ;) afterwards it went to another, and now it is in a third or fourth family; and whither it will go next, who can tell? so vain a thing is it for a man to promise himself that he shall convey his inheritance to his heirs for ever. It is an excellent admonition to this purpose, that David gives to those that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches, Psalm xlix. 10, 11, 12. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. The sense of which place seems to be this:
The rich man that trusteth in his riches, seeth, or may see, that the wise man and the fool certainly die, the one as well as the other; and that the wisest man, by all his wisdom, cannot so secure the estate he hath gotten, to his own progeny, but that it may, and often doth, in a short time, pass to another family. And yet such is the folly of the worldling, that he promises himself a perpetual name in the world, and a never-failing, and always flourishing posterity. But indeed, as the richest and most honourable man must himself certainly die, and have
his own honour laid in the dust; so the honour of his house, family, and posterity generally lasts not long, but is also in a little tract of time buried in oblivion.
5. And lastly, riches will certainly fail, leave, and forsake the owners of them at last, when they come to die.
If riches could for the present cure all the evils of our minds and bodies; if they could secure us against all outward accidents in this world, if we were sure of them for our lives, nay, and that they should continue to our posterity; yet were it a vain thing to trust in them as our security and happiness. For we ourselves must certainly, after a few years, bid an eternal farewell to them, and we must die and for ever leave them. This is the meditation of David in the abovementioned Psalm xlix. 16, 17. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Now what a contemptible, or rather pitiful object is the rich man when he comes to die, if then he hath nothing else but his riches to trust in! Such an one dies with far greater regret and torment of mind, and is so much more miserable in his death than the poorest man. He is now for ever to leave all his wealth, together with all that pomp and grandeur, all those delights and pleasures that it afforded, and his body to be laid in the dark and silent grave; and as for his soul, (as little religion as he formerly had, yet,) he is now uncertain at least what will become of it; but he is certain, that if there be any place of misery for wicked souls, thither his must go. But on the other side, G g
the poor man hath no such temptation to make him fond of living or unwilling to die, but may rather look on death as a writ of ease, given him by Providence from a life of sorrow and labour.
But see the stupidity and infatuation of fallen man! The rich man knows he must certainly die as well as others, and that the time of his death is altogether so uncertain, that, for ought he can tell, the next day or hour may be his last. He knows that whenever he dies he must infallibly leave his wealth behind him, and carry none of his riches along with him. And to us, that live under the revelation of the Gospel, God hath given so full a demonstration of a life to come, wherein they shall be for ever happy that despise this world, and they miserable that dote upon it, that it seems almost impossible for any rational man, that duly and impartially weighs the evidence given him, to doubt of it; and yet the rich man still depends on and glories in his riches. Whereas if he did but reflect on the perfect vanity of his actions in so doing, and seriously consider with himself how foolish and imprudent he therein is, he would heartily subscribe to the truth of the second observation I proposed to discourse of, viz. That the religious acknowledgment of God's providence, in the wise and righteous government and disposal of all human affairs, joined with an humble dependence and firm trust on him, is man's best and indeed only security. But I shall reserve this subject to another opportunity.
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be given and ascribed all honour and glory, all religious worship and adoration, now and for evermore. Amen.
THAT THE RELIGIOUS ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE, IN THE WISE AND RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT AND DISPOSAL OF ALL HUMAN AFFAIRS, JOINED WITH AN HUMBLE DEPENDENCE AND FIRM TRUST ON HIM, IN THE WAY OF OBEDIENCE TO HIM, IS MAN'S BEST AND INDEED ONLY SECURITY.
JER. ix. 23, 24.
Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
IN my former discourse on this text I have stripped the carnal man of all his vain confidences, whether in his own wisdom, or in his might, or in his wealth, and have abundantly made good the first proposition contained in the text, viz. That it is a very sinful and vain thing for any man so to glory in his wisdom, might, or wealth, as to place his trust and confidence in either or all of them. But lest we should seem to discourse only in a destructive way, in taking off poor mortals from their false trusts, and then leave them in despair, and destitute of any other more sure and certain dependence; I proceed now to the second observation, which was this:
The religious acknowledgment of God's providence