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imagined affront, opens the door to new crimes and miseries. No wealth can exclude pain, sickness, the loss of friends, or death: and the most prosperous are often " consumed with terrors," by the foreboding of calamities. Peace of conscience and hope of future bliss cannot be purchased, and the way, in which the wealth of ungodly men has been acquired and employed, renders the thoughts of "giving an account of their stewardship" unspeakably tremendous.
Perhaps there is no delusion so general, or so easily detected, as the opinion that increase of wealth implies an increase of enjoyment. Where is that man, who has risen from a bare competency to great : ffluence, that can honestly say he has proportionably augmented his happiness? And what numbers confess that their prosperity has been disappointment, and that all is vanity and "vexation of spirit!"
But it has already been shewn, that true godliness is inseparable from contentment: that it affords cordials in affliction, doubles the enjoyment of prosperity, and makes way for triumphant exultation in the prospect of death. The scripture sets before us many examples of believers, in the depth of poverty, in pain and sickness, bereft of friends or forsaken by them, insulted by persecuting enemies, conversant with stripes and imprisonment, and daily expecting a painful death; who have nevertheless been full of comfort, and have manifested a satisfaction of soul, which made them rather the objects of congratulation than condolence: nor are similar instances wholly unknown at present. But who can conceive a man under
the wrath of God, with a guilty conscience, the slave of his domineering lusts, and the sport of his restless passions, to be easy or comfortable in any situation? Godliness therefore does more towards making a man happy, than all other gains and advantages combined together.
But is not wealth a security against future disasters? Is it not a resource in sickness or old age, when trade declines, or when public calamities deprive men of the ordinary means of subsistence? -In some cases it may be a duty, in many allowable, to make a moderate provision against such emergencies: but it is often impracticable, consistently with our various obligations to God and man; and in ten thousands of instances it is done in a degree and manner incompatible with the exercise of faith, and in a worldly selfish spirit. On the other hand, vast multitudes yield to impatience, distrust, envy, and other tormenting passions, because they cannot succeed in their attempts to make such a provision. But godliness is the best security against future distress. Riches still are "uncertain," after every effort to change their nature, as late events have loudly preached to all the inhabitants of Europe. The most wealthy have no absolute security that they shall not end their days in a dungeon or an alms-house. Unforeseen failures often sweep away the property of the affluent and in public calamities it is suddenly transferred, to the amazement of beholders; while the rich and noble are reduced to abject indigence and dependence, and their palaces are occupied by the lowest of the people! In many cases riches are considered as criminality; and
the possessors are proscribed for the sake of confiscations. When famine visits a land, the provisions that avarice had accumulated are frequently seized by an enraged multitude: nay, often the innocent possessor of abundance falls a victim to popular fury. Thus "riches are kept for the owners of them to their hurt." And, if they prove insufficient for security in such cases, what can they avail in the agonies of pain, at the approach of death, or in the day of judgment?
But he who possesses that "great gain,” which the apostle recommends, is liable to none of this uncertainty. "No good thing will the Lord with"hold from them that walk uprightly." "Put thy "trust in the Lord, and do good, dwell in the "land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "Seek first "the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and "all these things shall be added unto you." "For
your Father knoweth what things ye have need "of." He hath all hearts in his hand, and all riches at his disposal. He needs not to work miracles (as in the case of Elijah,) in order to ac complish these promises; yet doubtless all nature would change its course, rather than God would disappoint an expectation warranted by his holy word. We know not indeed by what way our loving Father may see good in his infinite wisdom, to take us home to himself: but we are assured that every circumstance of that event shall be arranged in the most advantageous manner; and, till the appointed period shall arrive, no famine can render us destitute, no pestilence can sweep us away; the sword of war, the fury of a multitude, or the malignity of persecuting tyrants, cannot
We are safe, and ought to be confident, though a host of men encamp against us:" for "the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob "is our refuge." "All things are ours, if we be "Christ's:" we need not fear, though the earth be removed. "Death is our gain:" and this single effect of godliness infinitely exceeds in value the ideal philosopher's stone, the power of changing inferior metals into gold. Even "the day of "judgment and perdition of ungodly men" will be the season of the believer's complete redemption, to which we may now look forward with joyful hope. "O Lord God of hosts, blessed is the man "that trusteth in thee?"
But riches are valued as the materials of future enjoyment. "Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry: but God said, thou fool, this night "shall thy soul be required of thee." Our present life is short and uncertain; "Man goeth to "his long home." On our journey we only want enough to bear our expenses: yet many a traveller groans, through a great part of the road, under the weight of an useless burden, which he must leave behind him on the shore, when he embarks for his eternal residence!—If riches yield little additional enjoyment during youth and health, they will fail still more in old age. Then the relish for every pleasure becomes languid, "desire fails," the organs of sensation wear out; but the passions retain their impotent dominion, unless subdued by divine grace. "Can thy servant taste what I
eat, or what I drink? Can I hear any more the "voice of singing men or singing women?" The aged sinner resembles the sapless trunk of an old tree, when the branches are lopped off or withered. He clings to a joyless life from dread of death: yet the thought that he must soon die will intrude, and interrupt his expiring comforts. He becomes a burden to himself, and often to others: and, the greater his wealth is, the more reason has he to suspect that many wait for his death with concealed impatience.
Alas, and is this all! The sanguine youth, the active man of business, looked forward, in scenes of peril and fatigue, with the cheering expectation of affluence or preferment, and of tranquil enjoyment in declining life, as the reward of intense application. But how great is the disappointment even of the successful! Most of the candidates terminate their course before the expected season of repose, or languish out their lives in pain and sickness: the highest prize in this poor lottery has been described; while an eternal state is unprovided for! "Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities! "saith the preacher, all is vanity!"
"But the hoary head is a crown of glory, if it "be found in the way of righteousness." The consistent Christian will not greatly regret the loss of pleasures which he has long comparatively despised: for he has resources in communion with God and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Even if poor in this world, he commonly engages the cordial affection of some valued friends, whose so
1 2 Sam. xix. 35.