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industrious habits. Let the words of the wise man be pondered, and from the fate of the sluggard let us receive instruction.
If bodily sloth is so injurious, how much more, my soul, is spiritual sluggishness! Thou hast a great work to perform; there are impetuous lusts to be crucified, an ensnaring world to be overcome, and a heaven to win, and canst thou afford to be idle? Cease to be vigilant, and thou wilt be surprised; neglect the work of God, and the great adversary will seduce thee into his service. Remember that here is not thy rest, but thou lookest for one to come. Whatever, then, thou findest to do, do it with thy might, for the night cometh when no man can work. To the faithful steward alone shall the welcome be given, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
RICHES profit not in the day of | rich, yet hath nothing: there is wrath but righteousness delivereth from death.
that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase :
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
It is possible, and perhaps not uncommon, for those who possess no wealth, to moralize on its vanity, from mere chagrin; but here we have the reflections of one who could be influenced by no such motive. Solomon "made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones;" and he had the most ample experience of all
the pleasures, power, and dignity, which their unlimited use could confer. He was not only the wisest, but wealthiest monarch of the East; and yet when he contemplated his overflowing treasury, he could emphatically say that wealth was vanity and wisdom better than gold.
Riches are not to be contemned, for they are often the gift of a kind providence, and may prove a blessing to their possessor. They become an evil only by perversion. The Scriptures do not affirm that money is the root of all evil, but the love of it, which, in fact, is too generally associated with its possession. Even when lawfully acquired, it requires a strong counterpoise of grace to keep the affections from resting on it.
The desire for wealth is almost universal. It is looked on as a talisman by which all the ills of life are to be expelled; and in its acquisition, no toils are too severe to be endured, no dangers too threatening to be encountered, and truth requires us to say, no vice is too odious or flagrant to be perpetrated. Treachery, fraud, robbery, and murder, have often been the means of acquiring it. Some seek it that they may spend it on their lusts, and others, that they may hoard it with a miser's jealousy. Worthy motives may impel to its acquisition, but oftener it is sought for under the most artful and self-deceiving pretexts.
Wealth unlawfully acquired is always a curse to its possessor; and generally a curse entailed upon his family. The revenue of the wicked is trouble, and it eats like a canker. How many are hurried by it into vice! For how many does it prepare a premature grave! Alas! how many are sunk by it into the regions of remorse and despair!
Even when acquired by honest industry, undue attachment to it may lead to similar disasters. Devotional habits are exchanged for worldly ones, the fires of the household altar are extinguished; the children of high promise become worthless, and that which has been so eagerly sought after, as an antidote to the ills of life, becomes its bane. Often do we see men, who seemed to live for heaven, become grovelling and lost to those finer and more dignified feelings which once animated them; and not unfrequently are we called to contemplate the miserable spectacle of a man who, when possessed of little, lived in joyful confidence on the promises of God, shrinking, amidst his crowded coffers, in dread of an imaginary coming poverty; ill used wealth, being thus deprived, by the judgment of God, of even the insignificant power of securing its possessor against the apprehensions of starvation.
The true use of riches is to employ them rightly, as the stewards of God. Whether there be one talent or ten, the eternal Judge will exact a strict account of their use, and woe to the rich man who deals unfaithfully with his trust. Money religiously employed in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, carrying comfort to the poor, and spiritual illumination to the destitute, never acquires that rust which eats the flesh as it were fire. On the contrary, it does good to the giver and receiver; it meets the divine approbation, and secures the divine blessing. If it be extremely difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and we are assured on the highest authority that it is, it is not because riches necessarily oppose an obstacle in the way of salvation; but because they are so generally in the hands of unfaithful stewards,
who, surrounded by innumerable opportunities of doing good, are still heartless idolaters of their wealth, and look with cool indifference on the calamities of a sin-stricken world. Infinitely better is it to be poor, than to be rich with such a disposition. To comprise all in a word, repress the love of money, let not its acquisition be the master aim of life, and if, in the providence of God, it be sent, be solicitous so to use it, that God may be glorified, mankind benefited, and your own souls uninjured.
My soul, let thy prayer be that thou mayest not love the world nor the things of the world. If riches increase, set not thy affections on them, but ask for heavenly wisdom to direct in their proper distribution. They are not thine, but only lent, and God will require his own with usury. Be not dissatisfied if thou art poor in this world's goods, for thus art thou freed from many temptations; and be not uplifted if rich, for either thy riches may suddenly wing their flight from thee, or thou mayest be called hence and leave them behind. Rest not thy hope in wealth; the fire may consume, the floods drown, the earthquake ingulf, or fraud strip thee of all thy possessions. But there are enduring riches; seek for them, and let thy affections be with them in heaven. They alone are secure against the fires of the final conflagration.