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ciety and attention solace the eve of life. Bodily pains and the loss of relatives are rendered tolerable by faith and humble resignation: while the near approach of death, and the prospect of heavenly joys, reconcile his mind to transient sorrows and separations. Past experience of the Lord's faithfulness and mercy inspires gratitude and confidence; which are rather increased than impaired by the consciousness of his own unworthiness.— "His outward man decayeth; but the inward "man is renewed day by day." Consolation often abounds "when flesh and heart are failing." Thus he meets death with composure, and then enters on that "fulness of joy which is at the Lord's right "hand for evermore." And is not then " "godli"ness with contentment great gain ?"
When the lovers of this present world are silenced, in respect of these reasons for desiring increasing wealth; they excuse their conduct by pleading their families: and doubtless we ought to endeavour that our children may be provided for, and enabled to maintain themselves, when we shall be taken from them. But the desire of advancing them much above our own station in the community is injurious to them, both in respect to their temporal comfort, their character for prudence and good behaviour, and the interests of their immortal souls. How can any one greatly labour to enrich his children, if he do not himself idolize riches? How can he vindicate such an attempt, who believes the words of Christ; "It is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a "needle, than for a rich man to enter into the king"dom of God?" But a pious education, an edify
ing example, many fervent prayers offered by religious parents for their children and with them, and the little spared from superfluous expenses to relieve the indigent, constitute a treasure of superior value: while habits of industry and frugality, the result of right principles, will, by the blessing of God, be far more advantageous than ungodly riches, inherited with the encumbrance of the crimes with which they have been acquired.
Neither can wealth enable a man to be useful to his friends and relatives, in any way or degree that may be compared to the advantages derived from godliness. To be capable of conversing in a pious and prudent manner with our acquaintance, of exhibiting religion before them in an amiable example, of recommending them to the Lord in our daily supplications, and of using divers means to render them wise unto salvation; these things when accompanied with uniform endeavours to serve them in their temporal concerns, will render us far greater blessings to them than superior affluence could do.-And, though men flatter themselves with the imagination, that they should do much good when they are grown rich; yet, supposing the best, (which rarely happens,) the most liberal use of ungodly wealth seldom compensates the effect of corrupt principles and a bad example, thus varnished over. On the other hand, the godly man, however poor, is a light in his neighbourhood
and "the salt of the earth." He restrains the vicious, encourages the drooping, promotes piety and righteousness, professes and adorns the gospel, and in all respects is a blessing to every village, city, or nation in which he resides. The Lord pre
served all who sailed with Paul in answer to his prayers: ten righteous persons would have preserved Sodom: and the scripture fully warrants me to say, that our national preservation hitherto is vouchsafed in answer to the prayers, and for the sake, of the pious remnant among us. In all respects and in every view, "godliness with con"tentment is great gain," yea the greatest of gains; "It is profitable for all things; having the promise "of this life and of that which is to come."
III. Let us then conclude with some practical instructions.
Many young persons, being brought in the way of religion, think that godliness may be very proper in old age; as at that time of life people have little to do, and have no relish for juvenile pleasures. They perhaps allow that it will sometime be needful for them also; but they wish to defer the distasteful task to a more convenient opportunity. In the mean while, they purpose making a trial of the world; being determined not to believe that all is vanity and vexation, unless convinced by experience. The opinion, therefore, that religion is irksome and joyless, proves in this case a most fatal delusion of Satan. All desire present satisfaction; and few are willing to forego it for a distant and invisible felicity. Hence arises a procrastination that generally proves fatal. But, could we convince men that genuine piety would best promote their present satisfaction, one great obstruction to the gospel would be removed. You, my young friends, have doubtless found already, that disappointment and disgust often succeed to sanguine expectation: be persuaded therefore
we earnestly intreat you, to regard those who have dearly bought their experience, when they declare that this will more and more be the case as long as you seek that happiness in the world, which can only be found in God and religion. "Come" then, "taste and see how gracious the Lord is ; "and how blessed they are that trust in him." Make a fair trial, whether peace of conscience and joy in God be not preferable to turbulent mirth, with an aching heart and bitter remorse.
But are not religious people often melancholy and uncomfortable?-No doubt many who speak about religion, and live at open war with their convictions, are very miserable. Others, taking distorted views of truth, and prematurely or disproportionately studying matters too deep for them, disquiet their minds and cast a gloom over their piety: while negligence, unwatchfulness, evil tempers, or cleaving to worldly objects, will render those uneasy who fear God or have any tenderness of conscience. But these effects arise not from godliness, but from the want of it; and they would vanish were the scriptures more implicitly believed and obeyed. We ought therefore to infer from these things, that we should carefully compare our religion with the word of God; and pray without ceasing, that we may be enabled to have " our con"versation as it becometh the gospel of Christ."
Perhaps some of you, who have neglected godliness, meet with continual disappointment in your worldly pursuits. Does not the Lord then say to you, "Wherefore do ye spend your money for that "which is not bread? and your labour for that "which satisfieth not?
Hearken diligently unto
me-hear, and your soul shall live?" Few of the numerous candidates for wealth, honour, or power, are successful: and the most assiduous application has only the probability of success: but the unfailing word of God ensures the blessing to all, that "seek his kingdom and righteousness in the first "place" and in the way which he hath prescribed.
Are any of you, who trust that you possess godliness, oppressed by poverty, sickness, or trouble? Seek after contentment, my brethren: seek divine peace and consolations with redoubled earnestness; and strive to serve God cheerfully in the humble duties of your station. Watch against envy and covetousness, and a repining disposition. Learn to pity such as have wealth without godliness, and to pray for them: and be very cautious what measures you adopt to mend your outward circumstances: for" they that will be rich fall into temp"tation and a snare, and into many foolish and "hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction "and perdition," or " pierce them through with 66 many sorrows."
Finally, let the rich remember that they are only 66 stewards," and entrusted with wealth for the benefit of others. Let me charge you then, my brethren of superior degree, that you "trust not " in uncertain riches, but in the living God." That you be "rich in good works, ready to distribute, " and glad to communicate:" that you "do good "to all men, especially to the household of faith." Fear above all things having " your portion in this "life" and remember, that of all your possessions
1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.