Imatges de pàgina
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paths of virtue? do we find them ftrenuous affertors in the cause of truth, exerting their influence in favour of the good, relieving the distressed, or adminiftering to the necessities of their fellow-creatures? Is the kingdom of God, or God himself, in all or in any of their thoughts? do they spend that leisure, and improve those faculties which God has given them, in the investigation of his works, in the study of his word, and the obedience to his laws.

On the other hand, do we not see them engaged in one continued round of idle frivolous employments: their industry, if they have any, laviihed away on trifles, and all their irreparable hours loft in flattering those they hate, censuring those they are obliged to, and associating with those whom they despise? and whence arise these foolish connections? this profusion of all that is precious and valuable, but from the superabundance of the good things of life, which makes them wanton and careless of every thing about them?

But riches not only cause us to throw away our time on those things which can be of no benefit or advantage to us, but also on those which are most fatal and pernicious; they not only make us idle, but luxurious allo; they give us opportunities of gratifying all those pafsions which we ought to repress, and in. dulging every appetite which it is our duty to restrain. There are thousands in the world, who would have been innocent if they had not

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been rich, and who perhaps would never have teen guilty, if they had not been great.

If we are the votaries of pleasure, affluence is the handmaid who is always ready to intro. duce us to her; to trick her out in the faireft attire, to heighten all her charms, and increase her allurements. There is indeed scarce any other way to the temple of Vice, but through the gates of Prosperity. The Tyrant Luxury, is a monarch which, like other potentates, will not be seen by the vulgar, and smiles only on the rich and powerful: admission to her presence must be purchased, and that gold which buys every thing can always procure it. Fortune, like another fatan, carries us to an emi. nence, shews us all the kingdoms of the world, and promises them too, if we will fall down and worship her. She can transform herself, as it were by enchantment, into every shape, and by a kind of magic power become in an instant every thing we can wish or desire. When she thus presents to us all her costly viands, and provokes our appetite, how shall we refrain from fitting down to the banquet? when the poisonous bowl is held as it were to our lips, and the liquor but too palatable, would it not be firange if we should refuse the drauglit? David was very probably a more happy, doubtless a more innocent being, when he fed his father's sheep, than when he sat on the throne of Israel: and if Solomon had not been corrupted by the allurements and pleasures of a crown, he would not perhaps have wandered after idols, and forsaken the living God.

Is it probable then that the rich man should ever enter into the kingdom of God ? that he who is thus revelling in the gardens of plea[ure, should ever quit that delightful manfion for the thorny and perplexing paths of religion and virtue? Instead of seeking the kingdom of God, he is hastening to the regions of satan; instead of approaching to this country, his road is directly contrary; and every step which he takes but leads him the further from it. Have we not reason then to acquiesce with our blessed Redeemer, and to cry out with him, that 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.

But if the disease of fulness and prosperity doth not break out and discharge itself in the heats and tumults of luxury and debauchery, it may rage inwardly with equal danger, and bring on the burning fever of avarice.

Avarice is a monster, whose appetite increases as it is fed; and the more it devours, grows but the more voracious. In other pleasures which draw aside the mind of man, the enjoyment of the object puts an end to the defire of it, and fruition is quickly followed by fatiety: but the covetous man is always in purfuit of that which is always at a distance from him. Covetousness is therefore in fcripture most properly and most emphatically ftiled idolatry; and it would be real matter of astonishment, if he should woréhip the true Go:!, who hath already set up a false one, to whom he pays all his duty and all his adoration. The

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kindgom of God is indeed a kingdom which the covetous man doth as little desire as de serve: as he is capable of no joy but that which arifes from his darling treasure, what pleasure could he propose to himself in a place whither he is fure it cannot poslibly follow him? But were he ever so willing, it is not probable he should be able to enter into it.

Unfortunately for the covetous man, all those qualities and perfections which alone can gain him admittance, are the very things which he is the greatest stranger to; all that could enfure his welcome is utterly foreign to his nature and disposition: before he can enter into the kingdom of God, he must acquire that for which he has no inclination, and part with that for which he has the greatest love, and the greatest affection?

But thirdly and lastly, Riches contribute to render men irreligious. For the truth of this, I would appeal to every day's and every hour's experience. What are the great and powerful? how do they act, lpeak, and live without virtue, without religion, without God, denying that very power which is exerted in their fa. vour, taking up arms against the Sovereign who protects them, the Being who presides over, the Providence that fecds and careiles them: even whilft they are enjoying the blessings, and tasting the goodness of their gracious benefactor, ungratefully refusing their acknowledgements of it; like the children cf Ifrael, whilft he raineth down mamma upon them, whilst the bread is yet in their mouths rebel

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ling against him, and whilft they are every minute happy in his bounties, and rejoicing in his indulgence, at the same time despise his omnipotence, transgress his laws, and trample on his commandments.

If then it is granted, and granted it must inevitably be, that riches make us proud, idle, luxurious, covetous, and irreligious, the only question that remains is, whether, whilft we are so, we can possibly enter into the kingdom of God? Can the proud enter into it, when it is expressly declared, that he is an abomination to the Lord; that unless we are humble, patient, and devout, we can never see the divine Being ? Can he that is idle, flatter himself with the delusive hopes of ever arriving at this delightful mansion, who will not set a foot forward towards it when we are assured, that is is not reserved for the slothful and indolent, but for those only who work out their own salvation? Can the voluptuous and luxurious man, who is perpetually wallowing in his own pleasures, and defiling his body in scenes of riot and de bauchery, think of daring to appear in the presence of that God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity? Can the covetous mail, whose views are all centered in himself, and who thinks of nothing but this world, look forward to another? Is it not written, that he cannot serve, and consequently cannot be entitled to any reward, both from God and Mammon? Lastly, can the irreligious, the atheist, and the scorner, hope the favour and protection of God, whilft he doubts his power, and denies

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