Page images
PDF
EPUB

their peace," "how very different would be their sentiments and conduct? They would be ever ready to approach the throne of Grace with hearts overflowing with praise and thanksgiving to the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;-they would not cease to bless him for the honor which they received at his hands, in being thought worthy of husbanding a richer talent than the generality of their fellow-creatures; they would learn to look up to the Almighty Father with habitual gratitude and adoration, and reverence Him only as the great object of their meditations and desires. Thus would they be deeply impressed with his divine Love; and the heavenly precept of our blessed Lord, "Freely have ye received, freely give," would never be forgotten. Then it would be their chief glory, instead of following the pomps and vanities of the world, to imitate, in an humble degree, the great Author of their being, and dispense the blessings which they received among those, who were intended to share them, and for the benevolent purposes for which they were bestowed. Duty would then be effectually practised on the one hand, and happiness enjoyed on the other. Good would be communicated from brother to brother, as the life-blood

Z

circulates from vein to vein; and the rich man would then enjoy more permanent and delightful pleasure, even in this life, from his "labors of love," and the silent satisfactions of his own heart, than the worldling can ever hope for, from following the caprices of fashion, the amusements of vanity, and the gratifications of vice.

But from the strange perversion, which sin produces in the human heart, it often happens, that those blessings in the dispensation of Providence, which ought chiefly to make us remember God, may be numbered among the common causes, that lead us to forget Him. These are the grant of existence, uninterrupted health, the supplying of our daily wants, unbroken spirits, and prosperity. Hence it is, that thousands are ready, under the pressure of calamity, or in the hour of danger, to cry out like the rash, enthusiastic Peter, when about to sink, "Lord, save me!" where there is one, who, for the enjoyment of ordinary, but substantial comforts, brings the free-will offering of praise and thanksgiving.

Man, indeed, has but a little heart; and that is often selfish, and woefully depraved. As our blessed Lord declares, "he cannot serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love

the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." Whatever attaches his weak, but headstrong passions, often directs the current of his days. The senses are ever open to gratification; and, as the prosperous man, like the centurion in the Gospel, may "say to one go, and he goeth; to another come, and he cometh; and to his servant, do this, and he doeth it;" he is too often the slave of appetite and passion. Soon, therefore, he becomes wedded to the world;-here is his "treasure, and here his heart is also."

The pleasure, indeed, which he enjoys, and the gratifications in which he revels, lie all before him. They require no efforts, but invite enjoyment; while the holy satisfactions of piety and virtue are the rewards only of vigilance and fortitude, or the fruits of long discipline, and much self-denial.

The present life is considered by the prosperous man, therefore, not as a pilgrimage, but as his resting-place and home; it is to him not a warfare, but a feast; not a school of discipline, but a continued banquet of pleasure; and he is ever ready to say to his soul, with the rich man in the Gospel, soul, "take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry," without reflecting, that

the very next night

of him."

"his soul may be required

Such is the intoxicating power of prosperity on the minds of some, that they seem blind to the most obvious truths, and deaf to the loudest calls of wisdom and experience. In the midst of riotous and intemperate pleasures, wisdom and discretion may, for a season, be banished from the mind; but it would scarcely be thought possible, (if we did not know it to be true) that the melancholy reflection, which tells us " we are but strangers and sojourners here, as all our fathers were," should not recur with such effect as to wean our affections, at least, in some measure, from the world, and turn them unto the Lord our God; but so it is, that the prosperous too often shew by their sentiments and conduct, that they think only of the present, and disregard the future; though the one is every hour vanishing fast away, and the other approaching with silent celerity.

Even of the vicissitudes of human life they are strangely regardless. They appear not to know that "riches sometimes make themselves wings, and fly away;" nor to reflect, that though "they are now rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; yet" (to continue

[ocr errors]

the language of Scripture,) they may be wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."

But the strong delusions that are supported by pleasure, and cherished by folly, must soon vanish. The voice of nature will be heard, though religion might have often warned, and commanded in vain. The frail tenement that now envelopes the immortal spirit, even when invigorated by exercise, and cherished by temperance, can last but a few years. The excesses and irregularities of a life of continued indulgence must hasten its dissolution, or bring it, by generating the diseases of luxury and intemperance, to the bed of languor and of pain. There view the wretched victim of worldly pleasure, repining for past enjoyments, and without hopes of future comfort. With a debilitated body, and a mind piteously irritable and weak, he is forced, for the first time, perhaps, to think seriously of eternity;-to meditate on what he has done, as well as what he has left undone, and to adjust the awful account between God and his own conscience. When life is gone, thinks of the purposes for which it was granted; and when he has no longer the power to do good, he remembers the many opportunities.

he

« PreviousContinue »