« السابقةمتابعة »
"he hath neither child nor brother; yet is there no "end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with "riches: neither saith he, for whom do I labour, and "bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity." Surely every man walketh in a vain shew surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, "and knoweth not who shall gather them." "In "the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits; every hand of the wicked shall come upon him. "When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast "the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it up "on him while he is eating."
Have you read this in the Bible only? Is it there alone that human life is reduced to a span, a tale, a dream, a nothing? Whom have you followed down to the grave? Who are perpetually falling around you? The aged and the infirm? Who has promised you length of days? Who has engaged to secure you from disasters and disease, till you have reached your aim? And what is the tenure of your possession, when the envied prize is acquired? Does the honour wither as we gather it? Do we come to an estate only to bequeath it? Do we lay out so much for a mansion which hangs on one dying life, and when we know the Lord of the manor will not allow us to renew? Shall we purchase at a great price articles which death has appraised and pronounced to be injured and nearly unserviceable? As strangers and pilgrims, shall we take a world of pains to beautify and enrich an inn which accommodates us only for a night, when in the morning we are to go on our way, a way by which we shall never return? "Lord, teach us to number
"our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wis"dom."
IV. IT IS NOT THE REFUSAL, BUT THE GRATIFICATION OF OUR DESIRES THAT OFTEN PROVES RUINOUS. God was provoked; and how does he fhew his anger and punish the offenders? By indulgence. Ah! well had it been for Israel, if God had turned away his ear from their clamour, and they had never seen a quail. Poor harmless birds! you unknowingly carry along the curse of heaven. Deluded suppliants! you hail their approach; but you are filling your laps with poison, and plague, and death! Rachel said, "Give "me children, or else I die." She had children and died. The Jews were impatient for a king; and says God, "I gave them a king in mine anger, and took "him away in my wrath." "Who knoweth what "is good for man in this life; all the days of his vain "life which he spendeth as a fhadow?" Connections paffionately sought may prove "scourges in your sides, "and thorns in your eyes." A well-spread table may be" made a snare, and a trap, and a ftumbling-block, "and a recompense." Your prosperity may destroy you. "They that will be rich fall into temptation, ❝and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lufts, "which drown men in deftruction and perdition."
When men are intemperate in their desires after worldly things, and succeed in obtaining what Divine Providence from a knowledge of its consequences was willing to withhold, the displeasure of God comes along with their unhallowed successes; and it matters not in what way the curse is inflicted; whether more
visibly or secretly; whether by miracle or by the natural influence of events on their depravity.
Sometimes the things so eagerly lufted after, prove injurious to HEALTH. Thus a man is enabled to resign business; but he becomes gloomy and melancholy. He lives more sumptuously and deliciously; but diseases, to which he was once a ftranger, spring from repletion and indulgence and becloud his future days.
Sometimes SATISFACTION IS TAKEN OUT OF THESE THINGS, and the man is far less happy than he was before he had gained them. His wishes multiply more than his means; his successes pamper every principle unfavourable to internal repose. "He that "loveth silver fhall not be satisfied with silver; nor "he that loveth abundance with increase." "There " is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men a man, to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wanteth "nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof."
Things so coveted have often proved MORRALLY INJURIOUS. They have been oil to feed the flame of those evil passions which ought to be extinguished. They have proved rain and sun-shine, to call forth and ripen a thousand seeds of temptation, which were buried under ground. By these the character has not only been developed, but formed.
The man has
changed with his condition; and has become the monfter he once abhorred. "He gave them their hearts' "desire, but sent leanness into their souls." And is this a matter of congratulation? Can that be a blesş
ing which injures your chief welfare, and deftroys the prosperity of the SOUL? Are you ftrangers to that spirituality of frame which you once discovered? Are you chilled in your holy affections? Are you become only formal worshippers? Are you deprived of the joy of God's salvation? Is your conversation less in heaven? Do you mind earthly things? Are you more unwilling to leave this world and enter a better? And are you gainers; because with the sacrifice of all these religious advantages you have risen in life, and increased in affluence?
Many professors of religion, not satisfied with the ftate in which God has placed them, greedily desire more, and upon what principle? Not their necessities; but their lufts. It is not a house they want; this they have already, but a mansion. It is not food and raiment they want these are provided, but superfluities. It is not an ability to travel they want; they have ftrength and feet already, but it is a carriage. They wish to be idle, luxurious, splendid, superior to others. He enlarges their resources; he indulges them, indulges their indolence, their pride, their arrogance, their carnality, their forgetfulness of God; and what is such. an indulgence? what is it for Providence to feed our sin? to give us permiffion to go aftray? and instead of hedging up our way with thorns, to render it alluring and seducing, by scattering it all along with flow
Men and brethren, the reflection is no less edifying than awful.
It fhews us, Firft, How impoffible it is to determine the love or anger of God from external circumftances.
Behold the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. See Lazarus laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from his table. But the for mer is the enemy, and the latter the friend of God; ; long ago the one has been comforted, and the other tormented; and there were the same dispositions in God towards them when they were upon earth. There is nothing concerning which we are more liable to err, than worldly success. It depends so entirely upon God, and it is so flattering to our feelings, that we can scarcely persuade ourselves that it is ever an unfavourable omen. But this is not unfrequently the case. It is sometimes sent in anger; and we should labour to ascertain the principle from which it is given. A natural man regards only the effect, but the Christian looks to the Source. A stranger would prefer the flower of a plant to the root, but the gardener who owns it values the root more than the flower. O it is well to be able to say "thou hast in "love to my soul" delivered me from the pit of corruption, formed for me such a union, prospered the labour of my hands, blessed my bread and my water.
"How sweet our daily comforts prove,
Secondly. This principle crushes envy. "thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory "of his house is increased." "Fret not thyself be"cause of him who prospereth in his way;" you are not certain that his condition is really desirable. Would you envy a man the wine he is going to drink, if you