Imatges de pàgina
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them which are due only to their Creator, yet may we shew a proper deference and fubmiffion to their more extensive faculties, and en. lightened understandings.

Lastly, We are assured that the joy of these immortal beings, their pleasure and happiness, is in giving glory to God, in hymning his praises, recording his mercies, and celebrating his perfections ; can there be a more pleasing, a more delightful employment? why then should we not join them in it? Let us all then, with one accord, join to bless and praise God for the creation of these immortal minifters of good ; together with those spirits, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, let us laud and magnify his holy name, everinore praising him and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hofts; heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be thee, O Lord most high.

O N R I C H E S.

S E R M ON

XXXIII.

MATTHEW XIX. 24. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a

needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdoin of God. 0 UR blessed Saviour, who at all times and

in all places endeavoured to convince niankind that his kingdom was not of this

world,

world, and to set them right in their mistaken notions of happiness, in the verses just pre. ceding my text, had commanded the young man who required of him the means of eternal life, 'to leave all his treasures and follow him : but when he heard that saying, (says the Apoftle) he went away sorrowful; for he had great poli (jions: whereupon Jesus immediately makes the following reflection, naturally resulting from the event : Verily I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Some learned commentators on this paffage have affected to give a different interpretation of it, and having discovered that the word in the original, which is here construed camel, will admit also of another fignification, have changed the image, and supposed that our Sa. viour faid, it is easier for a cable to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The propriety of the metaphor they contend is here better preserved, the sense equally clear, and the moral equally persuasive.

But it may be said in favour of the received version, that our Saviour here addresses him. self to the Jews,'and makes use of the oriental manner: in proof of which it

may

be observed, that this very sentence is to be met with in the Koran of Mahomet; and has been a common proverbial expression among the eastern nations, and is used as such even unto this day. This however must, after all, be no more than

a matter

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a matter of mere curiosity, as the inference from the passage in either sense must be the same; namely, the improbability of the rich man's entering into a state of future happiness: it is eafier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. An expreffion, no doubt, very firong and poignant, but which is by no means to be understood in the itriet and literal sense, as if the good things of this world should totally exclude us from the hopes of a better in another, or that we could not be happy here, without forfeiting all our claims to the blessings of an hereafter. The fole nieaning, scope, and intention of it was, to warn mankind against the great and imminent dangers arising to them from that affluence and prosperity which they seemed so warmly to delire, and so eagerly to pursue.

We may rest assured therefore, that what is here aflerted is a truth, because it came from him who could have no interest to deceive us : aad it is no less evident that he thought it also a truth worthy of our consideration, or he would not certainly have proposed it to us. It will well become us, therefore, to weigh and consider within ourselves the reasons which induced our bleiled Saviour to pass so severe a fentence on this great idol of mankind, that we may be the better enabled to avoid that which will obftruct our entrance into the kingdom of God, and at the same time turn our feps into that path which will most probably conduct us to it. To this end therefore it may

not

not be improper to observe, among the reasons which induced our Saviour to make the aftertion now before us, the following might probably be the most powerful and convincing; namely, that riches do naturally and of necef. fity contribute to render men proud, idle, voluptuous, covetous, and irreligious; and as the gates of heaven were always shut against such, it is impoflible that the rich can ever enter into them.

Let us then first examine, if it need an examination, whether the rich are proud. Surely we may venture to pronounce that man little skilled in the genealogy of vice, who doth not know that afluence is the parent of oppression, and pride the daughter of prosperity. When men are raised to a certain rank or degree of life, they are generally inclined to look upon their inferiors with contempt, and on their fellow.creatures with insensibility. One would indeed imagine, from the high looks of the prond, that they considered the rest of mankind as a species of beings infinitely beneath them, of powers

and capacities by no means on a level with their own; that they had there. fore an indisputable right to treat them accord, ingly, One would suppose that the faculties and abilities of the great extended with their fortunes; that beauty, ftature, wit, and wisdom, all the perfections, in short, of mind and body, never failed to increase in proportion to their abundance. It must at the same time be acknowledged, in extenuation of their insolence, that the opinion which the rich man entertains

of

of himself receives no small encouragement from a venal fawning world, who have meanness enough to stoop to the burthen, whilst they lament the weight of it. It is not that men judge partially of themselves, but that others also are apt to weigh them in this false fcale, and compliment them on this merely ideal superiority.

Past difpute it is, that pride is the natural attendant on riches; and it is equally indisputable that nothing can fo effectually exclude us from the kingdom of God, as our frequent in. dulgence in it. He that exalteth himself, we are expressly told, shall be abased, and he only who humbleih himself shall be exalted. Pride, we know, was the peculiar fin of satan, ard, all that rebellious crew who were the partakers of his crime, and of his punishment also: and it is highly probable that the same vice which expelled angels out of heaven, should prevent men from entering into it.

But secondly, That riches tend in a great measure to render man not only proud, but idle and diffolute also, is a point too self-evident to admit of any doubt or dispute concerning it, as we need but open our eyes to receive immediate conviction.

Look round among those whom we falsely term the great, among those whom riches and honours have raised to a superior rank, how do they for the most part repay the beneints which they have received? how are their hours employed? what traces do they leave behind of their existence? do they contemplate the book of knowledge, open the volume of wisdom or tread in the

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