« ПредишнаНапред »
the most odious and enormous transgressions. Take care, therefore, of all approaches to it. It is of an insinuating and encroaching nature: it may steal into your hearts, and, before you are aware, inlist you among the servants of Mammon. He that will be a friend of the world, is an enemy of God.
III. I shall suggest a few considerations for the prevention or cure of covetousness. Endeavour then to be convinced of the vanity of all worldly posses. sions. They are insufficient and uncertain. · They are not able to satisfy the wants and wishes of those who depend most upon them, and have them in the greatest abundance. Look where you will, you will see that he who loveth silver is not satisfied with silver. If you had all the wealth of the Indies, it could not give you a moment's peace of conscience; it could not purchase a pardon for the sins of yesterday only; it could not procure for you a smile from God, or the least hope of “ an inheritance among them who are sanctified." These are the things which you need most, and these you must have, or be undone for ever: and yet, towards the acquirement of these, richès are rather a hindrance than an assistance. But they are not merely unsatisfying, but uncertain. They perish in the using. You cannot be sure of enjoying them a moment. There is a deceita fulness in riches: they may make to themselves wings and fly away, when you think yourselves most secure. It would be a great help against covetous thoughts, if you were to accustom yourselves to such medita. tions. Settle it therefore in your judgment, that what you have been so eagerly pursuing, is not wora
thy of such regård, but there are better things above, that will not deceive; and that if you seek them earnestly, you will find them satisfying and sure; for the moth cannot corrupt them, nor can thieves break through, and steal them.
Secondly, seek divine grace, to enable you to set bounds to your desires. We are generally faulty in giving our minds too great liberty. We suffer theni to grasp at one thing after another, till at length they are perfectly insatiable. But wisdon, as well as duty, would teach us to set limits to our wishes; and not to allow ourselves to indulge these useless desires of we know not what, but to be content with such things as we already possess. If it be but little, this will make it enough ; if it be only food and raiment, godliness, with contentment, is great gain. What a happy attainment was that of the apostle, when he could say, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content! I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need." If we aspire to a temper like this, we shall be but little endangered by the sin of covetousness.
Thirdly, learn to order your affairs with discres tion. It is for want of regularity and method, that many have their minds so distracted with worldly affairs. They let their desires run into disorder and confusion, and then, many things calling upon them at once, they waste more time in finding their work than would be necessary for doing it; and after all, nothing is done as it should be ; and they grow poor, notwithstanding all their activity. David says, that “ a good man showeth favour, and lendeth; he will guide his affairs with discretion.? Where you see that discretion is joined with liberality and kindness, Christian prudence will enable us to attend to our worldly engagements, and, at the same time, to be mindful of the duties which we owe to God and our neighbour; and it will sometimes lead to such an orderly disposal of affairs, that the most extensive business
be conducted with ease, and with comparatively very little bustle.
Finally, cast all your cares upon God. Till you can do this, it cannot be expected, but that worldly thoughts will continually harass you. While you undertake to manage for yourselves, and consider your health and fortune, and life, and, every thing as depending upon your own industry and skill, it is natural for you to feel many excessive anxieties. It is a wonder that you are not sometimes overcome with disappointment and vexation. But “commit thy ways to the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Trust him with the issue of all your concerns, and leave it to him to prosper the work of your hands or not; in full confidence, that all things shall work together for your good. This would quiet your hearts. This would effectually dispel covetous, distrustful and distracting thoughts, and give a composure and serenity to your minds, which nothing else can impart. Therefore “ be careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of these things. The young lions Jack and suffer hunger ; but they who seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Read the scriptures again and again, and if you really believe them, and your hearts be rightly affected, you will ardently join in that prayer of the Psalmist, “ In. cline my heart to thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.”
GOD THE PORTION OF HIS PEOPLE.
LAM. III. 24.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore
will I hope in him.
Say this, my fellow-worshippers, and abide by it, and what have you more to desire ? I shall be happy in the success of my labours, and you will be happy in the enjoyment of God. The painful task of warning and reproving every man will be over; and I shall have nothing to do, but to exhort you to make the best improvement you can of so excellent 'a treasure.
I shall then have need to caution you against labouring for the meat which perisheth, or minding earthly things only, or principally; for, possessed of such a portion, the kingdoms of this world, and all the glory of them, will seem trifles not worthy your notice. While the rich man glories in his riches, and says to gold, “ Thou art my hope, and to finé gold, Thou art my confidence,” conscious of your superior wealth, you will look down with contempt on his heaps of shining dust, and with secret exultation say, “ Thou art my portion, O Lord.” I shall have no need to caution you against being too much dejected at the prospect, or under the pressure of outward calamities, whether personal or public. If God's judgments . be in the earth, and the thunder come