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They have, at once, recovered both a consciousness of his favour and the experience of the pure love of God. In one moment they received anew, both remission of sins, and a lot among them that were sanctified.
10. But let not any man infer from this long-suffering of God, that he hath given any one a license to sin. Neither let any dare to continue in sin, because of these extraordinary instances of divine mercy.
This is the most desperate, the most irrational presumption, and leads to utter, irrecoverable destruction. In all my experience, I have not known one, who fortified himself in sin, by a presumption that God would save him at the last, that was not miserably disappointed, and suffered to die in his sins. To turn the grace of God into an encouragement to sin, is the sure way to the nethermost hell!
11. It is not for these desperate sons of perdition, that the preceding considerations are designed; but for those who feel “the remembrance of their sins is grievous unto them, the burden of them is intolerable." We set before these an open door of hope: let them go in and give thanks unto the Lord. Let them know, that “the Lord is gracious and merciful; long-suffering and of great goodness.” “Look how high the heavens are from the earth! So far will he set their sins from them.” “ He will not always be chiding; neither keepeth he his anger for ever." Only settle it in your heart, I will give all for all, and the offering shall be accepted. Give him all your heart! Let all that is within you continually cry out, “ Thou art my God, and I will thank thee: thou art my God, and I will praise thee." 66 This God is
God for ever and ever! He shall be my guide even unto death."
THE DANGER OF RICHES.
1 TIMOTHY VI. 9.
" They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and
into many foolish and hurtful desires; which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
I. HOW innumerable are the ill consequences which have followed from men's not knowing, or not considering this great truth! And how few are there even in the christian world, that either know or duly consider it! Yea, how small is the number of those, even among real Christians, who understand and lay it to heart! Most of these too pass it very lightly over, scarce remembering there is such a text in the Bible. And many put such a construction upon it, as makes it of no manner of effect. “ They that will be rich, say they, that is, will be rich at all events, who will be rich, right or wrong; that are resolved to carry their point, to compass this end, whatever means they use to attain it; they fall into temptation, and into all the evils enumerated by the Apostle.” But truly if this were all the meaning of the text, it might as well have been out of the Bible.
2. This is so far from being the whole meaning of the text, that it is no part of its meaning. The Apostle does not here speak of gaining riches unjustly, but of quite another thing : his words are to be taken in their plain
obvious sense, without any restriction or qualification whatsoever. St. Paul does not say, “ They that will be rich by evil means, by theft, robbery, oppression, or extortion; they that will be rich by fraud or dishonest art;" but simply,
They that will be rich :” these, allowing, supposing the means they use to be ever so innocent, “ fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
3. But who believes this? Who receives it as the truth of God? Who is deeply convinced of it? Who preaches this? Great is the company of Preachers at this day, regular and irregular. But who of them all, openly and explicitly, preaches this strange doctrine? It is the keen obseryation of a great man, “The Pulpit is the Preacher's stronghold.” But who even in his strong-hold has the courage to declare so unfashionable a truth? I do not remember, that in threescore years, I have heard one sermon preached upon this subject. And what author, within the same term, has declared it from the press ?--At least, in the English tongue? I do not know one. I have neither seen or heard of any such author. I have seen two or three who just touch upon it; but none that treats of it professedly. I have myself frequently touched upon it in preaching, and thrice in what I have published to the world : once in explaining our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and once in the discourse on the Mammon of unrighteousness. But I have never yet either published or preached any sermon expressly upon the subject. It is high time I should ;—that I should at length speak as strongly and explicitly as I can, in order to leave a full and clear testimony behind me, whenever it pleases God to call me hence.
4. O that God would give me to speak right and forcible words! And you to receive them in honest and humble hearts! Let it not be said, “ They sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words : but they will not do them. Thou art unto them as one that hath a pleasant yoice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words; but do them not!” O' that ye may “not be forgetful hearers, but doers of the word, that ye may be blessed in your deed!” In this hope I shall endeavour,
I. To explain the Apostle's Words. And,
But, O! " who is sufficient for these things?” Who is able to stem the general torrent? To combat all the prejudices, not only of the vulgar, but of the learned and the religious world? Yet nothing is too hard for God! Still his grace is sufficient for us. In his name then, and by his strength, I will endeavour,
I. To explain the words of the Apostle.
1. And, first, let us consider, What it is to be rich? What does the Apostle mean by this expression ?
The preceding verse fixes the meaning of that, “Having food and raiment,” (literally coverings ; for the word includes lodging as well as clothes, “let us be therewith content.” “ But they that will be rich," that is, they who will have more than these, more than food and coverings, -It plainly follows, whatever is more than these, is, in the sense of the Apostle, riches, whatever is above the plain necessaries, or, at most, conveniences of life. Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place where to lay his head, and something over, is rich.
2. Let us consider, secondly, What is implied in that expression, " They that will be rich." And does not this imply, first, They that desire to be rich, to have more than food and coverings : they that seriously and deliberately desire more than food to eat, and raiment to put on, and a place where to lay their head, more than the plain necessaries and conveniences of life? All, at least, who allow themselves in this desire, who see no harm in it, desire to be rich.
3. And so do, secondly, all those that calmly, delibe, rately, and of set purpose, endeavour after more than food and coverings : that aim at and endeavour after, not only so much worldly substance, as will procure them the necessaries and conveniences of life, but more than this, whether
to lay it up or lay it out in superfluities. All these undeniably prove their desire to be rich, by their endeavours after it.
4. Must we not, thirdly, rank among those that desire to be rich, all that in fact “lay up treasures on earth?" a thing as expressly and clearly forbidden by our Lord, as either adultery or murder. It is allowed, 1, That we are to provide necessaries and conveniences for those of our own household : 2, That men in business-aré to lay up as much as is necessary for the carrying on of that business :3, That we are to leave our children what will supply them with necessaries and conveniencès after we have left the world : and, 4, That we are to provide things honest in the sight of all
men, so as to 56 owe no man any thing." But to lay up any more, when this is done, is what our Lord has flatly forbidden. When it is calmly and deliberately done, it is a clear proof of our desiring to be rich. And thus to lay up money is no more consistent with a good' conscience, than to throw it into the sea.
5. We must rank among them, fourthly, All who possess more of this world's goods, than they use according to the Will of the Donor; I should rather say, of the Proprietor, for he only lends them to us as Stewards; reserving the property of them to himself. And, indeed, he cannot possibly do otherwise, seeing they are the work of his hands; he is, and must be, the possessor of heaven and earth. This is his unalienable right; a right he cannot divest himself of. And together with that portion of his goods, which he hath lodged in our hands, he has delivered to us a writing, specifying the purposes for which he has entrusted".us with them. If, therefore, we keep more of them in our hands, than is necessary for the preceding purposes, we certainly fall under the charge of “ desiring to be rich:” over and above we are guilty of burying our Lord's talent in the earth: and on that account are liable to be pronounced wicked, because unprofitable servants.
6. Under this imputation of « desiring to be rich,” fall, fifthly, All “ Jovers of money.” The word properly means,