Imatges de pÓgina

be ren

SERM. the needy, comforting the sorrowful, feed-

ing the hungry, or providing carefully and
prudently for the future prosperity of our
families : by so doing, riches may
dered our best friend; for when we are
called from our stewardship by death, and
summoned to our account, the blessings of
the poor and needy we have relieved, of the
sorrowful we have comforted, of the hun-
gry we have fed, of the naked we have
clothed, or the filial gratitude of a virtuous
prospering offspring, will go up to heaven
before us as evidences and memorials, to
smooth our reception into the kingdom of
God. And thus it is with other things;-
poverty may be rendered a blessing, or

a mammon of unrighteousness." We shall make friends of it if we bear it patiently, without any slothful repining or angry murmuring. If we are led to apply ourselves to the labours of honest industry to remove its weight, and lessen its difficulties; if we receive it at the hand of God with humility and confidence, persuaded in our minds, and acting up to such a faith, that if we do well our poverty will be our


gain; God being able and willing to give SERM. us as a recompence for our obedience, a more abundant weight of riches in the world to come ; but a sad mammon of unrighteousness will poverty be, if it tempts us to dishonest actions; to defraud others of their possessions by force or theft, cunning or deceit; to murmur at the decrees of heaven, and blaspheme the God that made us what we are. Every gift intrusted to us, and even every good withheld, may thus be rendered either friends to us at the day of account, to open the gates of everlasting life, or else bitter enemies here below, as well as evidences against us hereafter to convict and condemn us. Even health, that fairest boon of heaven, without which no comfort is to be had, even this may be rendered a mammon of unrighteousness, and a dangerous enemy, unless we are very careful always to render it our friend. See how carelessly and thoughtlessly many pass their time, on no other account but because health permits them. Their spirits are light, and their passions strong; sober thought, reflection,


SERM. industry, and application of all sorts are XVIII, dull and stupid to them ; riot and de

bauchery, intemperance and idleness, work in time their ruin ; but those who have been afflicted with sickness and disease, know better the value of health, the danger of intemperance, the delusions of vanity and idleness. Besides, they have seen the brink of the


and know by how many cross accidents they may be suddenly put out of their stewardship. When therefore sickness and sorrow are removed, their nerves braced, and their faculties strong and active, they waste no time in riotous living, they exhaust not their recovered strength, by intemperance and debaucheries, but they apply themselves to honest labour and prudent management; they set examples of sobriety, industry, and temperance, preserving theiv bodies strong, and their reason vigorous. When death calls these to account, they shudder not at the summons. They have made to themselves friends, of the blessings others have abused to their loss and ruin : and now that mortal life fails them, and their trust is at


an end, God and their Redeemer stand SERM. ready to receive them into everlasting ha- XVIII, bitations. It is thus that the children of light may render themselves wiser in their generations than the children of this world, not by more care, but only by equal care, for the objects are transcendently greater. If it is folly to neglect our earthly concerns, it is madness in the extreme to give no thought to our concerns beyond the grave; so, if it is wise and praiseworthy to give heed to the affairs of this life, the truest and most perfect wisdom must consist in preparing for that which is to come. The one relates to an existence of endless dun ration, the other to a moment only in comparison, so soon passeth it away, and it is

gone." There is another consideration still behind, and with that I shall conclude. -The unjust steward had no means of making friends of his Lord's debtors, but by inducing them to conspire with him against the interest of his master; thus transferring at once his services from his lawful Lord, to his unjust and fraudulent debtors. And this is too much the


of the

SERM. the world in general. Naturally the things XVIII. of this world stand in much opposition to

the things of heaven, as darkness to light. Of a hundred that we should advise to make to themselves friends of the transitory possessions of this life, ninety-nine probably would think it consisted in bestowing all their attention on them, to make them yield the most pleasure, and administer the most vain delight they were capable of; yet in fact the only way to make them real friends, is to bestow no more care on them than they strictly deserve: as far as they may help us to pay our great debt of duty and gratitude to the author of our being, so far it is right to attend to them ; but when the pursuit or enjoyment of them is in any way incompatible with the duty we owe to God, if they draw us aside froin the paths of virtue and religion, that instant they become our enemies ; the most insidious and base enemies, withdrawing us from our allegiance to the most gracious and best of beings; in short, we cannot serve God and mammon both: the latter must be made sub



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